Tuesday, January 31, 2012
By Alan Caruba
The sixteen names of the scientists who jointly signed the article in The Wall Street Journal, “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” on January 27th are mostly unknown to the general public. Perhaps the best known would be Harrison H. Schmidt, a former Apollo 17 astronaut and U.S. Senator. Others might recognize Burt Rutan, an aerospace engineer and designer of Voyager and SpaceShip One.
Moreover, not only were the signers distinguished scientists, but they came from places like Paris, France and Cambridge, England, Jerusalem, Israel, and Geneva, Switzerland. Mostly climatologists and meteorologists, some were physicists and astrophysicists. Antonio Zichichi, one signer, is president of the World Federation of Scientists. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the combined credentials of these men represent some of the best minds on planet Earth in their respective fields.
What brought them together? On the surface it was just another of the countless articles that have been published over the years as scientists of real merit and courage took on the juggernaut of those for whom global warming had become a vast flow of government and foundation funding.
The effort was to “prove” that carbon dioxide (CO2) was building up in the atmosphere and would soon incinerate Earth by trapping the heat from the sun. It had not done that in the 5.4 billion years of the Earth’s existence, but the “warmists” claims came day after day and year after year. They permeated every aspect of society and you can go into any school in America and find textbooks still selling this garbage.
Until, that is, 2009 when thousands of emails between the small clique of scientists working for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were leaked on the Internet and it became clear that even they knew the Earth had entered a cooling cycle around 1998. The challenges to their bogus computer “models” were coming like cannon balls against their academic castles in America and England.
Starting in 2008, The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based 27-year-old, non-profit research organization, sponsored six international conferences on climate change, attracting the top scientists and world leaders courageous enough to speak out against the global warming hoax. The momentum of opposition began to build against those who, from the late 1980s had warned that, in Al Gore’s words, “the world has caught a fever.”
The Wall Street Journal article said, in the plainest language, that candidates for public office “in any contemporary democracy…should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true.”
In fact, scientists had been signing petitions opposing the global warming hoax for a very long time. The problem was that the mainstream media either paid them no attention or dismissed them as "skeptics" and "deniers".
With a light touch, the Wall Street Journal article noted that “Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over ten years now.” It wasn’t as if the warmists did not know it. It was more like they regarded it as a problem to be solved by changing references to global warming to “climate change.”
Their current dying gasps have to do with warnings about “extreme climate events” that have been occurring for eons; tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, floods and earthquakes; now all routinely attributed to too much carbon dioxide.
The article calmly said, “The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant.” Indeed, more CO2 in the atmosphere is a good thing, aiding increasing crop growth and healthier forests and jungles worldwide.
Someone needs to tell that to the Environmental Protection Agency that is striving mightily to shut down coal-fired energy plants for emitting CO2. Add their efforts to do the same to a wide swatch of American industry and you get an agency that is in great need of being abolished.
“There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.
In time, historians may look back and conclude that the January 27th article was, in fact, global warming’s death certificate, signed by an international group of scientists who could not be disputed no matter how many times the warmists jump up and down and cry that the sky is falling.
It has taken a very long time for most of the public to come to the conclusion that they have been the object of an elaborate hoax. In America polls demonstrate that global warming is at the very bottom of their concerns these days. In time, wind and solar power, electric cars, biofuels, and other environmental delusions will join that list.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
I am pretty sure that, in their heyday, the Three Stooges, were looked down upon as low comedy by some folks. To this day, I still do. The truth is, however, even chimpanzees yuck it up when one of their fellow primates falls out of the tree. Since we share a great deal of our DNA in common with them it should come as no surprise that many people tune into “America’s Funniest Home Videos” to watch other people sustain a variety of injuries and humiliations.
In these horrid times, we all need a bit of entertainment and a few laughs, but it is hard for me to scan the evening’s television schedule without concluding that what passes for popular culture these days suggests that our collective IQs are scraping the bottom percentiles.
I will skip the usual stuff on the networks. Cops, lawyers, physicians are the stuff of most TV dramas from its earliest days. Many of these shows are well written, acted, and produced. The situation comedies, however, are the lowest, most vulgar stuff imaginable. The animated versions, “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy” or “American Dad” are generally cringe-worthy and, if you think about it, a wholesale attack on everything society generally regards as virtues. If you tear them down, what is left?
A show like “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” gets a bunch of fairly smart kids together and some really dumb adults to demonstrate how much they have forgotten or never learned when they were in fifth grade. There is a serious aspect to the question it asks.
I once wrote that if you wanted to lower your IQ, you should just watch the so-called History Channel, but to that I would have to add Animal Planet with shows like “American Stuffers” featuring a taxidermist and folks who had Fido and Fifi stuffed so they can be around in perpetuity. One can only hope they don’t feel the same way about the rest of their family.
This is the same channel that insists on broadcasting shows whose theme is that aliens from outer space are responsible for teaching the ancient Egyptians or Incas how to build pyramids. Let me repeat that, aliens from outer space! On a similar note, if the National Geographic channel keeps telling us that global warming is real, it should be dragged into court and heavily fined for every time it repeats this hoax.
Moving along, Animal Planet offers “Gator Boys” and the incomparable “Finding Bigfoot.” Why anyone would waste a minute’s time looking for Bigfoot defies the imagination, but watching them do so is comparable to announcing that you have reached a level of stupidity that embarrasses everyone who knows you.
Some shows are a category unto themselves like “Jersey Shore” in which a colony of morons is created solely for the purpose of providing viewers the satisfaction of saying they are not as stupid as the people they’re watching. There are gradations of this formula such as “The Real Housewives of” wherever, “The Bachelor”, etc.
I keep wondering when people who watch these shows will realize that “reality TV” has the same relationship to reality as junk mail does to a notice of eviction.
Over at TLC you can watch “Extreme Couponing” and shows about demented people who hoard everything until they are dragged from their homes for fear the stuff will fall and kill them. It’s mental illness as entertainment.
The ultimate channel for unremitting stupidity is TrueTV. They run “The Dumbest” series as a constant reminder that people who look and sound remarkably like your friends or relatives are morons. It’s truly a global thing as the clips come from all over. If you want to lose all hope for the future of the human race, watch this series.
I have come to suspect that far too much of what passes for “entertainment” on television is produced and aired by people who are convinced that if they provided anything intelligent, they would be off the air in days, if not hours. This stuff is an insult to the intelligence of most people, many of whom are smart enough to be doing something else to pass the time.
There was a book titled “They Became What They Beheld” and I am concerned that television is turning too many people—young and old—into complete, mouth-breathing trolls. It says a lot about our short attention spans and national mood swings during this election year.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
By Alan Caruba
Going back to the 1980s I have worked professionally with elements of the pest control industry providing public relations services The process of educating the public is necessary because new generations must be informed of the threats pests pose to health and property.
Back when it was still known as the National Pest Control Association, I even received a beautiful certificate of appreciation that hangs in my office. At some point several years ago, it and state organizations changed their name to “Pest Management” presumably to divest themselves of the image of actually killing the creatures that annually spread disease and do millions in property damage.
In past years environmental organizations devoted a lot of time and money to convince the public that the real problem was the pest controllers, not the pests. If they all changed their profession next Monday, the entire nation would be totally over-run with roaches, termites, rats and mice in a month. The work is not glamorous, but it is utterly essential to society.
A case in point is bed bugs that have emerged in a few short years into a full-fledged pest problem from coast to coast. Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency, the lack of pesticides registered to exterminate them has facilitated this new plague. There is, I believe, only one.
I have watched as the EPA has, since its founding, insanely strip pest control professionals and consumers of access to pesticides that formerly had protected their parents and grandparents, as well as their homes and businesses.
When you take away the pesticides, all you have left are the pests.
The modern pest control industry had its beginnings in the Middle Ages with the emergence of “rat catchers”, men who had developed a variety of poisons to rid homes and other properties of the ubiquitous rodent. Even the kings and queens of England had a royal rat catcher.
They were such a part of life in those times that the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin has been passed down to us. It was, of course, the combination of rats and fleas that spread the Black Plague in the Middle Ages, killing a third or more of the population of Europe.
So why, one must ask, have the burgers of Washington, D.C., responsible for passing the laws, passed the truly insane one titled the “Wildlife Protection Act” that requires pest control operators to not only capture rats in a fashion that does not harm them in any way, but to transport them twenty-five miles away to be set free?
As Dr. Don Boys noted in a recent Canada Free Press article, “Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Attorney General, said D.C.’s new rat law is ‘crazier than fiction’ because it requires vermin not be killed but rather captured, preferably in "families", and transferred to a ‘wildlife rehabilitator’”, presumably living in Virginia!
Here are a few facts about rats:
# Rats have a life span of approximately nine months.
# Rats are ready to breed within three months. Their gestation period is 22 days and they have an average litter of eight. An average female rat will provide 20 offspring.
# A single pair of rats has the potential, mathematically, of producing 359 million descendents in three year’s time.
# The average overall length of a rat is l6 inches, with a body measuring 9 inches and a tail of 7 inches. The average weight of a rat is l ¼ pounds. Their color can range from reddish brown to black.
# A rat’s sense of smell is excellent, as is its sense of taste. They are particularly suspicious of food. This results often in “bait shyness.” Rats will leave a poisoned bait untouched for almost a week. Other members of the pack will avoid food not eaten by other members and often warn other rats away by sprinkling it with their urine or feces.
# Rats can gain access to virtually any structure. They can climb 15 feet up a rough, surfaced vertical wall. They can jump vertically one foot from a flat surface and they can easily traverse telephone wires and ropes. They are, in addition, good swimmers.
Virginia and other states contiguous to Washington, D.C. do not want the District’s rats. They have plenty of their own. They also have a complete host of other rodents and wildlife that require the ministrations of pest control professionals.
There are a host of very good reasons why every American city and town has extensive laws regarding the control of insect and rodent pests, as well as wildlife that, in my home state of New Jersey, includes raccoons, opossum, squirrels, turkeys, coyotes, deer, and bears!
Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that rats must be killed to protect people and property, but not the idiots on the Washington, D.C. city council who were more intent on protecting the rats than their constituents.
A lot of Americans have concluded they need protection from Washington, D.C. and its incessant and insane production of laws and regulations that pose the greatest threat of all to our personal freedoms and to the nation’s economy, security, and future.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
By Alan Caruba
The only constant in the life of individuals and nations is change. Since the beginning of the last century, the process or rate of change has accelerated with the invention and availability of a myriad of machines, technologies that have altered the lifestyle of Americans as well as of millions around the world.
Let me put it in personal terms. When I was born in the late 1930s, my Mother washed the family laundry by hand and hung it out to dry on sunny days or in the basement of our home if it was raining. We were not poor. We were middle class. My Father was a Certified Public Accountant and we lived in a spacious suburban home in an upscale New Jersey community. Mass produced washers and dryers would arrive after the end of World War Two.
The differences between lower economic classes, the middle class, and upper classes were well defined back then. All, however, generally held the same values regarding societal institutions such as marriage, religion, national pride. Those values have eroded since the 1960s and Charles Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, whose new book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010” ($27.00, Crown Forum) tells you how and why.
Murray takes the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22,, 1963 as the starting point, noting, for example, that “Not only were Americans almost always married, mothers normally stayed at home to raise their children. More than 80 percent of married women with children were not working outside the home in 1963.”
“Part of these widely shared values lay in the religiosity of America in 1963” and Murray compares this to a 1963 Gallup poll in which “Only one percent of respondents said they did not have a religious preference, and half said they had attended a worship service in the previous seven days. These answers showed almost no variations across classes.”
“The racial differences in income, education, and occupations were all huge, noted Murray. “The civil rights movement was the biggest domestic issue of the early 1960s…” By 1963, “Poverty had been dropping so rapidly for so many years that Americans thought things were going well.”
The changes in values that many Americans deplore today were coming. “The first oral contraceptive pill had gone on the market in 1960 and its use was spreading widely.” Murray points out that “The leading cohorts of the baby boomers were in their teens by November 21, 1963, and, for better or worse, they were going to be who they were going to be. No one understood at the time what a big difference it could make if one age group of a population is abnormally large. Everyone was about to find out.”
“This book,” wrote Murray, “is about the evolution in American society that has taken place since November 21, 1963, leading to the formation of classes that are different in kind and in their degree of separation from anything that the nation has ever known.”
The culture that Americans shared uniquely and in contrast to much of the world, warns Murray “is unraveling” as “America is coming apart at the seams—not the seams of race or ethnicity, but of class.”
Murray defines the new upper class “as the most successful five percent of adults ages 25 and older who are working in managerial positions, in the professions (medicine, the law, engineering and architecture, the sciences, and university faculty), and in content-production jobs in the media.”
“As of 2010, about 23 percent of all employed persons aged 25 or older were in these occupations, which means that about 1,427,000 persons constituted the top 5 percent. Since 69 percent of adults in these occupations who were ages 25 and older were married in 2010, about 2.4 million adults were in new-upper-class families as heads of households or spouse.” That’s a very small slice of 330 million Americans.
They are not the “millionaires and billionaires” that President Obama is always blathering about. They are the new “establishment” that determine much about the nation’s culture, economy, and future.
To boil down Murray’s extensive research and reporting, that top 5 percent are largely isolated from the rest of the population because they tend to live where their counterparts live and interact mostly with one another in all aspects of their lives. They are the new “elite.”
“Rolling back income inequality won’t make any difference in the isolation of the new upper class from the rest of America.” They are wealthy by most standards and Murray expects them to become wealthier over time. Thus, all the talk of “fairness” and “a fair share” is meaningless.
“Fairness” as many point out, is just another word for “class warfare.” It has always been the siren call of communism.
Efforts in America and in Europe to create “fairness” in the form of our “entitlement” programs and the extensive European socialism have reached a point where they threaten to collapse our own and the economies of many European nations.
Murray says “We have been the product of the cultural capital bequeathed to us by the system the founders laid down; a system that says people must be free to live life as they see fit and to be responsible for the consequences of their actions; that it is not the government’s job to protect people from themselves; that it is not the government’s job to stage-manage how people interact with one another. Discard the system that created the cultural capital, and the qualities we have loved about Americans will go away.”
The system, of course, is free-market capitalism, deregulation, and lower marginal income tax rates, all within the context of the U.S. Constitution. It is under attack by the President of the United States and a cohort of civil service and industrial unions, along with liberal members of Congress.
It is why the Republican primaries have been, in part, a desperate effort to educate Americans to the reason America is in peril and why Americans must strive to restore the values that were shared on November 22, 1963.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Believe it or not, there was a time when, if you turned 65 and retired, you could expect to live in reasonable comfort. Social Security covered a portion of your expenses; your savings account yielded a modest amount of interest, and, if you had made investments, stock dividends provided a safety cushion. Not so anymore.
“More Elderly Find They Cannot Afford Not to Work” was a January 21 headline of an article in The Wall Street Journal, noting at one point that an 87-year-old woman who had retired in 2003 was now earning $7.25 an hour, four hours a week, collecting tickets at a movie theatre in my former New Jersey hometown. I had lived there for 62 years.
Thanks to ever-rising property taxes, I sold my home before prices plunged in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. I parked the money in an annuity.
I am fortunate that there is no age limit on the ability to write for a living. The writing trade has always been a tough one. The former market for magazine articles is a shrinking pool paying little for one’s labors. Self-published books, particularly fiction, have flooded the marketplace and mainstream publishers rely on older, established authors with a following. As often as not, bestselling non-fiction is written by people who anchor television news or have some other form of celebrity.
As the Wall Street Journal article noted, “In 1981, Social Security paid 52% of the average worker’s pre-retirement earnings, according to the Social Security Administration.” I turn 75 this year and my Social Security is little more than “grocery money.” Interest on my savings account is a joke.
For too many of my fellow senior citizens, not working is not a choice The Wall Street Journal notes that “The unemployment level among Americans 75 and older—measuring the number of people seeking work—is relatively low but twice what it was five years ago. The rate was 5.6% last year…compared with 2.5% in 2006.”
When I was born in 1937 it was in the depths of the Great Depression. I have lived long enough to be swept up along with everyone else in the Great Depression 2.0.
Naively, I and many others of my generation thought the years of economic growth that began in the 1950s would go on forever. We survived a number of investment “bubbles” and predictable, but short-lived recessions, but this one is different. It has been exacerbated by an ever-growing federal government, job-killing “environmental” regulations, and burdened by “entitlement” programs whose cost understandably keep increasing along with the nation’s growing population of older Americans.
“”Federal spending on Social Security and Medicare is rising,” said the Journal article. “both in total dollars and percentage of the budget. Social Security made up 20% of the federal budget in the 2010 fiscal year, up from 13% in 1962. Combined spending on Social Security and Medicare represents 9% of GDP and is projected to grow to 12% in 2035.”
The nation’s debt now equals its Gross Domestic Product. The U.S. is broke and so are Europe’s nations with the exception of Germany. That is simply not sustainable—something the Congressional “super committee” discovered when it punted on any solution to the nation’s fiscal woes.
Part of the problem is the nation’s aging population. No one anticipated that health care would improve to the point of extending people’s life expectancy from 65 in the 1930s to an average of 78 years today. As it is, both my parents lived into their 90s, I have an older brother in his 80s, and a nephew in his late 40s who just became a father again.
We can thank short-sighted “social justice” programs such as Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s appalling “sub-prime mortgage” programs and “bundled assets” that sank banks from sea to shining sea. The U.S. taxpayer has had to bail out these two “government sponsored entities” to the tune of billions and they keep coming back for more.
In the space of just three years, President Obama has increased the nation’s debt by five trillion in horribly misspent, wasted dollars. Since 2010 when control of the House was returned to Republicans, they have fought against pressures to raise taxes that would suck more money out of the economy and have put forth sensible plans to restructure Social Security and Medicare. Naturally, they have been accused of being heartless.
Any senior citizen who votes for Obama or a Democratic Party candidate is putting themself at further risk of having to work until they die or seeing their savings eaten by illness or other rising costs before that occurs.
Editor’s Note: The author’s editorial services site is here.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
|The gates of Auscwitz - a Nazi death camp|
By Alan Caruba
The late Israeli scholar and diplomat, Abba Eban, (1915-2002) said, “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.”
Similarly, Winston Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else.” In Churchill’s case, he was referring to the U.S. reluctance to become involved in another war in Europe, but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 changed that overnight. By 1945, along with our allies, the wars in Europe and Asia were over.
Sixty-seven years ago, on January 27, 1945, elements of the Soviet army came upon the Auschwitz concentration camps to discover a Nazi killing machine, one of several such camps created to exploit forced labor and to systematically kill Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, clerics, prisoners of war, and anyone else deemed an enemy of the Nazi state, right down to children and infants.
A January 25th Agence France-Presse article reported that “One in five young Germans has no idea that Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp, a poll released Wednesday showed, two days ahead of Holocaust memorial day. Although 90 percent of those asked did know it was a concentration camp”, the Stern magazine poll revealed “that Auschwitz meant nothing to 21 percent of 18-29 year olds.”
It is essential that people in their respective nations know their own and other’s histories. A hallmark of the former Soviet regime in Russia was the way it rewrote history and, in George Orwell’s classic “1984”, a work of fiction about communism, there was a Ministry of Truth in which history was rewritten.
In the United States, since around the 1960s, strenuous efforts have been made to alter the teaching of the nation’s history. The Founding Fathers are often portrayed as slaveholders to downplay their devotion to liberty.
Even they knew that slavery was an abomination, but their task was to create a new nation, one dedicated to liberty. The U.S. Constitution was approved by twelve state delegations in 1787, but in 1861, barely 74 years later it would take a Civil War to put an end to slavery and another hundred years to end the exclusion of African Americans from access to their full rights under the Constitution.
Several generations of Americans have passed through our school systems—literally controlled by the federal government after the creation of the Department of Education in 1979 after being transferred from the former Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, a legacy of Jimmy Carter’s single term. All curriculum taught in the schools comes from the DOE thanks to its control over a national, one-size-fits-all testing system introduced with the “No Child Left Behind” program championed by George W. Bush.
To not know about Auschwitz, whether one is German, American, or any other nationality is a failure on a grand scale because it means that it can be repeated. To not know America’s epic struggle to fulfill its promise of liberty leaves new generations at a disadvantage, as in the case of a fifth of young Germans today, ignorant of their nation’s past.
In today’s world, many worry about the fate of Israel, surrounded by hostile nations and openly threatened by an Iran seeking nuclear weapons. Its independence was declared in 1948, barely three years after the end of World War II. Its first task was to absorb, not only the survivors of the Nazi regime throughout Europe, but those who were forced to flee Arab nations in the wake of the war. Its independence was greeted with the first of several wars against it. The general hostility to Jews that preceded the Holocaust by centuries is a stain on humanity.
So there is cause for concern when one in five young Germans have no idea what went on in Auschwitz and the other Nazi death camps.
It is a concern when the Syrian dictatorship has already killed 5,000 of its own people to maintain itself.
It is a concern for Iraq, already falling back into an internal conflict after decades of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the end of the U.S. occupation.
It is a concern for an Iranian dictatorship on the cusp of creating its own nuclear weapons.
It is a concern for Venezuela, held in the grip of Hugo Chavez’s dictatorship, an acolyte of Communist Cuba’s Fidel Castro.
It is a concern for Europeans whose political experiment, the European Union, threatens the financial stability of its member nations with the sole exception of Germany.
It is a concern for Americans who witnessed the unilateral limited nuclear disarmament of the nation and the huge reduction of its military power by the Obama administration, less than the lifetime after the end of World War II.
The world remains a dangerous place. That is the lesson of history.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
It seems like a bizarre notion, but does Barack Obama want to lose the election in November?
I think he does!
One is struck by the way Obama has visibly aged in the job. He may well have grown weary being POTUS.
By any rational standard, one would say he wants a second term, but Obama has always operated in a fantasy world where mere words are supposed to translate into reality. And he has repeatedly talked about being a one-term president.
He is, after all, his own invention; the author of two memoirs of a life that had little achievement to point to other than getting elected first to the Illinois legislature and then to the Senate where he lingered a bare two years before running for president.
I raise the question because Obama seems to be deliberately irritating the very people who are supposed to be his “base”; the hard core liberals, the Hollywood crowd, youth, and unions, among others. His partisanship has put Congress into total gridlock.
When members of the Occupy movement showed up in Washington, D.C., one of them threw a smoke bomb onto the White House lawn. Others who have been camped out in a park there are likely to be tossed out if for no other reason than the place is overrun with rats and has become a public health hazard.
The decision to stop the Keystone pipeline is a deliberate offense to the unions that have contributed millions to his campaign. Why? It pleased the environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth. Americans, however, understand the pipeline represented both jobs and oil, two things they deem worth having.
Then there are all the vacations Obama and his family takes. They have one thing in common. They are ostentatiously expensive. Obama or Michelle always seem to be going on vacation or returning from one. The characterization may be unfair, but perception is everything.
Americans are very keen on their military and, of all the government programs Obama could have chosen to trim, he’s had the knives out for the Pentagon since he took office. While a war-weary public was likely pleased when he withdrew troops from Iraq (neither Bush, nor Obama had a choice as the Iraqis made it clear they wanted U.S. troops out), the fact remains that the main news out of Iraq these days are bombings as the Sunni versus Shiite conflict has returned. Afghanistan remains a millstone.
Even in the face of a clear threat, it is unlikely that Obama would respond militarily between now and Election Day. The most likely scenario, however, would be an Israeli decision to strike at Iran before it becomes a full-fledged nuclear threat. It must be said, however, that Obama and other NATO nations have positioned some military assets in the Persian Gulf, but would he pull the trigger? It’s doubtful.
The most obvious problem Obama faces is unemployment. It’s variously set at anywhere from 11% to 20% depending on the part of the nation you’re discussing. It still is far too high everywhere and he gives every impression of being, if not indifferent to it, at least in no hurry to address it. Most certainly none of his programs have reduced it. His alleged “stimulus” was little more than a political slush fund that added billions to the national debt and failed.
Every President is subject to “events” and the likely default of Greece and financial troubles of several European nations are likely to impact the national election as Americans try to sort out what effect it will have here. Obama has already presided over the first downgrade of America’s debt rating and we shall surely be reminded of that in the months ahead.
The other event will be the Supreme Court hearing of the case against Obamacare in March. They may not issue a decision right away or they might issue one just before November 6th.
There are two lines of thought about the forthcoming national election. Past Presidents were relieved to leave office despite its power and prestige. (1) Obama may not like being President and (2) he has concluded that he will be defeated. He gives the impression of not caring about public opinion anymore.
The only people publicly defending him seem to have Attention Deficit Disorder. Either they haven’t paid attention to what a disaster his term has been thus far or they just don’t think it’s his fault.
I think he will go through the motions, but I also think a majority of voters no longer believe a word he says anymore.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
It’s a comment I hear all the time these days. “The voters are stupid.”
I am not sure that those saying it mean literally that the voters have a low level of intellect or academic achievement, but rather that they mean voters seem prone to making their choices based more on emotion than on a serious examination of the candidate’s qualifications and character.
The best example of this was the 2008 campaign in which a candidate was presented in much the same way companies seek to “brand” their product or service, repeating the same message (Obama’s was hope and change) until it becomes part of the consumers’ decision-making process. It’s why we buy a particular brand of cereal or car. We have come to associate values with it that go beyond the taste or the look.
Barack Obama had served barely two years in the U.S. Senate before he made an unprecedented leap from there to the White House. He was, for all intents and purposes, an unknown quantity with a legislative record—if anyone bothered to check—that was a straight Democratic Party line vote.
In his earlier incarnation as an Illinois legislator, he had voted “present” so many times it was clear he was avoiding taking any position he regarded as politically dangerous; a vote that would come back to haunt him and very few did. The media cooperated in this, avoiding calling attention to anything that might be deemed controversial.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton, whether you liked her or not, was a candidate with a full cart of baggage from her years as the former governor’s and president’s wife, and her years as a U.S. Senator who served, not from Arkansas where she first came to notice, but from New York where liberals thrive. The process of campaigning wore her out and, being the first women to seriously contend to be president, she had even more of a challenge to overcome. Her raw ambition tended to make people afraid of her.
What elected Obama had nothing to do with the slim qualifications he put forth. Few candidates had less to offer. He had never met a payroll. All information regarding his academic records was sealed from view. The press made no effort to ask what passport he had traveled on to Pakistan at one time and did not raise any question about his Social Security number, issued in Connecticut where he had never lived or worked. Famously, he released a “birth certificate” that anyone in Hawaii could attain for the asking, not the “long form” which is deemed credible.
The voters have paid a fearful price for electing Obama; increased unemployment, a huge national debt, a hollowed-out military, billions wasted on “Green” energy, unprotected borders, a Congress in near total gridlock, and a world beyond our shores that perceives an America made weaker by Obama’s three years in office.
I have worked as a public relations counselor for most of my life with earlier years spent as a journalist. I know something about how a product, a service, or an individual is “packaged” to present a positive “image.” What we have all learned since 2008 was that Obama was superbly “packaged” and that the image of an articulate, highly intelligent, well informed candidate was without substance. His inability to speak publicly without a TelePrompter swiftly became a joke.
So, to say that those who voted for him were “stupid” is to misread the new era of politics, one that has more to do with “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars” than with the serious selection of the leader of the nation and the free world.
As they say in advertising, voters bought the sizzle, not the steak.
We are seeing this process continue as the Republican candidates vie for votes. The Gingrich “surge” in South Carolina came after he had two successful debates. It is true that Gingrich is a good debater, but the real question is whether he would be a good president. Questions about his character remain.
Gingrich has been comfortable sharing a couch with Nancy Pelosi to advocate the bogus global warming “theory” or taking money from Freddie Mac.. Now he is trying to appear to be a “real” conservative as opposed to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and the quixotic Ron Paul.
While his judgment on issues has been called into question, Romney’s character never has. There has never been a hint of scandal in his life. In terms of policy, he was the Governor of one of the most liberal states and he did support Romneycare there. Politics is rarely pretty and even New Jersey’s fire-breathing Governor, Chris Christie, has taken some extraordinarily liberal positions and made some questionable appointments.
There might have been a time when Gingrich was, indeed, a bona fide conservative, but his long years in Washington, D.C., have taught him that “to get along you have to go along” In the end, even his colleagues in the House, for reasons of policy and personality, could no longer support him as Speaker.
From the days of Bush41 until the 2010 elections the Republican Party looked so much like the Democratic Party, voters had an increasingly hard time telling them apart. The Tea Party movement changed that. They and the “independents” are going to decide the 2012 elections that are currently making history with endless debates.
The debates are proving to be a succession of sound bites and vitriol between the candidates. They increasingly demonstrate how the mainstream media, the debate sponsors, are visibly seeking to influence the outcome of the election and they demonstrate that many voters are easily swayed by matters that have little to do with actual policies and issues.
There has been less and less substance with each debate.
I fear that too many Republican voters are having too many mood swings, relying on a moment or two from the most recent debate than on a serious examination—I repeat myself—of the candidate’s qualifications and character. Romney is carefully scripted and a tad robotic, but Gingrich could become the GOP nominee simply because he is entertaining.
Without doubt, President Obama and the Democrats are enjoying the Republican free-for-all and, without doubt, they have concluded that the voters are stupid.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
The Tuesday morning post of the Heritage Foundation’s “Morning Bell” is worth sharing in part. You can read the whole post here.
“Tonight, Americans who tune in to the State of the Union will watch the work of a rhetorical master with a flair for illusion,” says Mike Brownfield. “President Barack Obama will take the to the floor of the Capitol in hopes of laying the groundwork for a political debate on his terms—one where he stands on emotional appeals, populism, and class warfare, not the shaky ground of his crumbling record.”
“And looking right back at him will be the U.S. Senate, which has for the past 1,000 days failed to pass a budget—a total shirking of their fundamental duty to be diligent stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.”
That about sums up the situation in which voters on both side of the political spectrum, from liberal to conservative, find themselves and for both it is a portrait of failure of spectacular dimensions. Government, as we envision it, is not functioning.
Instead, Americans will have to listen to a great deal of nonsense about “fairness” and Obama’s view that government, as Brownfield warns, “should be the guarantor of equal outcomes and that ‘fairness’ of achievement should be decided by legions of bureaucrats in Washington.”
The Founding Fathers knew that life is not fair and that government can only provide the circumstances under which Americans are provided not happiness, but “the pursuit of happiness” based on a host of factors that include the good luck of being born to good parents, receiving a decent education, and being willing to work hard for a portion of success in life. Even without these factors, many Americans succeed while most just settle.
Joe Wilson, a Republican Representative of South Carolina’s Second District, gained fame at a previous State of the Union speech when in 2009 he shouted out “You lie!” at the president. He has said that “Giving the same value to fiction as to fact in the interest of so-called fairness is to mislead the American people and the press has become party to that.”
That kind of straight talk is rare in politics. Commentators and political pundits are more free to express themselves than politicians and Charles Krauthammer has said that “Fairness through leveling is the essence of Obamaism.”
I doubt that Americans want to be equally poor, but that is the end result of Obama’s socialist policies.
Most certainly, a large element of the mainstream press has bought into Obama’s policies and the result is a growing distrust and disdain for it. Fox News’ Brit Hume has said that “Fairness is not an attitude. It’s a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.” It is reflected in Fox’s famed “fair and balanced” motto, though any journalist will tell you it is a very high standard to achieve.
We would do well to keep in mind Lincoln’s advice:
“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”
At the heart of Obama’s State of the Union speech will be the direct opposite of the values expressed by Lincoln.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
By Alan Caruba
Conservative commentators read what liberals have to say if only to get a glimpse into their current memes on various topics. It is always daunting because one cannot do this without coming away convinced that they are lunatics, devoid of any sense of history or reality, both of which they routinely invent to defend their opinions.
A recent case in point is New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, whose January 22nd, Sunday commentary was titled “Showtime at the Apollo.” Ms. Dowd has been disappointed with Barack Obama for a long time, but she still struggles to find something laudatory while at the same time revealing just how defective he is.
Call it schizophrenic journalism; a liberal writer for a liberal newspaper who is torn between the party line and what she is forced to witness.
“For eight seconds, we saw the president we had craved for three years: cool, joyous, funny, connected.” Eight seconds out of three years is not much to cheer. Dowd was referring to Obama’s “seductive imitation” of singer Al Green and a song that begins “I, I’m so in love with you.” Oh, please!
The event was a fund-raiser at the Apollo Theatre in New York’s Harlem. Dowd noted, however, that “Times have been bad and sad, and The One did not turn out to be a messiah, just a mortal politician.” Surely a columnist who has written about politics for so many years had to know that, but the liberal media was and is too busy spinning fantasies about him.
Blame Bush Syndrome
“The man who came to Washington on a wave of euphoria has had a presidency with all the joy of a root canal”, opined Dowd and then immediately destroyed what little credibility she has by saying Obama had been “dragged down by W’s recklessness.”
One might think we were passed the Blame Bush mantra, but what is spectacular is the way Dowd and other liberals ignore the fact that Democrats had been in control of the 103rd Congress since January 3, 2007.
Liberals hate facts. For example, on January 3, 2007, the Dow Jones closed at 12,621.77. The GDP growth for the previous quarter was 3.5%. The unemployment rate was 4.6%. Bush’s economic policies had set a record of 52 straight months of job creation.
Dowd might well have been unaware that George W. Bush had, on seventeen occasions, asked Congress to stop the recklessness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would cause the September 2008 financial collapse based on trillions in “sub-prime mortgages” the two “government sponsored entities” had pressured banks to make. Then they purchased and bundled them into what would become known as “toxic assets” that nearly destroyed the nation’s banking system.
Dowd quoted Obama’s view of the critiques he’s received, when he said that he didn’t go to a lot of Washington parties and that the Washington press corps “just doesn’t feel like I’m in the mix with enough with them”, blaming him for being “cold and aloof.” Obama is cold and aloof. He and the press mix all the time at various White House and other events, but Obama claimed he couldn’t do more because “I’ve got a 13-year-old and 10-year-old daughter.” How lame an excuse is that?
Truman had Margaret. Clinton had Chelsea. Bush-43 had twin girls. Come on!
Anyone with any memory of Obama’s early press conferences can recall what disasters they were the minute he stopped reading from his TelePrompter and tried to answer their questions. He virtually stopped engaging in press conferences after two years.
Referencing a fellow New York Times reporter’s new book, Jodi Kantor’s “The Obamas”, Dowd concludes that the president disdains “the irrational nature of politics.” Well, yes, the failures of Congress are irrational insofar, as a recent report concluded, “Congress ended its least-productive year in modern history after passing 80 bills—fewer than during any other session since year-end records began being kept in 1947.”
Kantor’s book suggests that “they (Barack and Michelle) feel over-assaulted and under-appreciated.”
The obvious conclusion, said Dowd, was that “We disappointed them.” I assume this is irony.
To her credit, Dowd pointed out that “They’ve forgotten Rule No. 1 of politics. No one sheds tears for anyone lucky enough to live at the White House,” adding that “The Obamas truly feel like victims.”
No, Maureen. The real victims are the millions of Americans out of work, some with mortgages that cost more than their homes are worth, while the price of gas and everything else rises, and their president cannot come up with a better campaign theme than “economic fairness.”
I’d feel sorry for Maureen Dowd and all the other liberal loonies except that it is their political philosophy and programs that have gotten us into this mess.
Feeling sorry for the Obamas is not at the top of my list of political priorities. Listening to them feel sorry for themselves while dining on steak and lobster, vacationing in expensive and exotic places, and demanding that “millionaires and billionaires” should pay more taxes is as pathetic as it gets.
I don’t expect Maureen Dowd and her fellow liberal pundits to stop desperately making excuses for the worst president in the history of the nation. It just reinforces my belief that they are all mentally defective.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
By Alan Caruba
One could make a very long list of reasons why Barack Obama will lose in the November election. Here’s a short list why Obama has already worn out his welcome among the majority of Americans, including some of those who formerly supported him.
As Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, his theme will be “economic fairness”, but more net jobs have been lost on his watch (1,663,000) then any previous president going back to Harry Truman, none of whom presided over such an economic disaster.
1. Blamed all problems on George W. Bush, not the Democrats who had controlled both chambers of Congress since January 3, 2007 until 2010 when the Republicans gained control of the House.
2. Obamacare: challenged by 28 States as unconstitutional, subject of a Supreme Court hearing in March.
3. Supported passage of Cap-and-Trade carbon regulation legislation.
4. A strong advocate of “global warming”; revealed to be a hoax in 2009.
5. His failed multi-billion dollar “stimulus” program.
6. Admitted there were no “shovel-ready jobs.”
7. Mortgage refinance plan deemed a complete failure.
8. Appointment of White House policy “Czars”, one of whom was a Communist.
9. Failed foreign policy; Israel, Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
10. Mishandling of BP oil spill; slow to react, shut down all drilling in Gulf of Mexico.
11. Abortive outreach to Muslims
12. Bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia.
13. Stopped the building of the XL Keystone pipeline. Has opposed offshore and domestic oil drilling
14. The Solyndra “Green energy” bankruptcy whose loan guarantee cost taxpayers a half billion dollars.
15. The “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal.
16. Sued Arizona for trying to control illegal immigration.
17. A rogue Environmental Protection Agency.
18. Highest federal spending since World War II.
19. Highest budget deficit since World War II.
20. Highest federal debt since just after World War II.
21. Increased federal debt more than all Presidents from Washington to Clinton combined.
22. Highest long-term unemployment since the 1930s.
23. Lowest employment (58.1% if population) since 1983.
24. Lowest home ownership rate since 1965.
25. First downgrade of U.S. debt rating in nation’s history.
26. Refused to support the Defense of Marriage Act.
27. Wanted to shut down Guantanamo.
28. Has expressed hostility to banking sector, pharmaceutical companies, physicians, coal industry, oil industry, and other sectors of the economy.
29. Attempted to stop Boeing from building a manufacturing unit in South Carolina.
30. Government takeover of General Motors.
31. Authorized military action in Libya without Congressional approval.
32. Advocates major cuts to Pentagon budget for U.S. military
33. Continues to hide college records, passport and Social Security number information.
34. Questions exist about whether he is a “natural born” citizen as required by the U.S. Constitution.
35. Does not tell the truth.
And Obama gives little indication that he likes America, its values, its history, its military, and its role in the world.
I could go on, but voters who ignore any or all of these factors, keeping Barack Obama in office for another four years, would doom the nation to a Third World status, to default, and the end the greatest experiment in freedom and liberty the world has ever known.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
It is the crime of the century that America, home to some of the world’s greatest reserves of coal, natural gas and oil, is being deliberately destroyed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior as they do everything in their power to restrict access and drive energy producers out of business.
It is common sense that a nation that cannot produce sufficient electricity to turn on its lights and power its manufacturing sector will be destroyed if current Obama administration regulations and actions continue. Our vital transportation sector and all others that utilize petroleum-based products will suffer, too.
While President Obama babbles about millionaires and billionaires, everyone will be impoverished by the loss of jobs and revenue our energy sector produces now and can produce in the future.
This isn’t an “energy policy.” It’s a “no-energy policy” and it is a guarantee of economic disaster.
Obama’s decision to reject a permit for Canada’s XL Keystone pipeline is just one example. It is a job-killer and a revenue-killer. There are thousands of pipelines serving America’s energy needs and the XL Keystone pipeline would ensure that Canada’s own vast energy reserves would flow to America. It is one of our key trade partners and Obama has slapped it in the face.
In early January, Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, announced a new 20-year, million-acre ban on uranium mining for federal lands in Arizona, despite the fact that these lands hold the highest-grade of known uranium deposits in the United States. It is an outrage that a new GOP-Congress will have to overturn if the nation is to be assured of sufficient uranium to power its nuclear plants and for weapons development. If the ban remains, these uranium resources would be inaccessible until 2023!
Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research said that Salazar’s announcement “further compounds a man-made energy crisis that has been planned and executed in Washington, D.C.”
At the same time we are learning of enormous natural gas discoveries that can reduce our energy bills and turn sleeping little towns into boomtowns, environmental organizations have launched a vast propaganda campaign against “fracking”, a technology that has been safely used for more than fifty years. Their claims about dangers to the nation’s supply of fresh water are baseless. Their claims that fracking has caused earthquakes in Ohio are absurd.
Need it be said that the Environmental Protection Agency has turned its eyes on fracking and is working on a report due later this year that will likely call for harsh crackdowns on its use and more regulations to throttle the expansion of natural gas extraction?
The EPA has just released a report of those power plants that top the list of its regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. There is no basis in science to justify the reduction of CO2. Indeed, since it is a gas on which all vegetation depends, much as oxygen is vital to all animal life, reducing it would impair great crop yields and healthier forests.
These regulations are based on the global warming hoax that blamed CO2 for warming the earth. That is utterly false. The Earth is currently in a perfectly natural cooling cycle and the climate of the Earth is almost entirely based on the Sun—solar radiation—along with the actions of oceans, clouds, and even volcanic activity that spews tons of particulates into the atmosphere.
Coal-fired power plants account for fifty percent of all the electricity generated in the United States. Fifty percent! And yet the EPA is determined to shut down dozens of them providing that vital factor in the lives of all Americans and the economy, nor does this take into account the billions that energy producers have spent to upgrade their technology to reduce emissions.
The Obama administration fuel economy agenda, a call for 54.5 miles per gallon ignores simple physics. There is a finite amount of energy a gallon of gas can generate. If you dilute it with ethanol as is currently required, you get even less mileage. The administration is trying to circumvent Congress by issuing standards based on regulating “greenhouse gas emissions”, but there is no need for this. It is a false argument. The Center for Automotive Research says that the proposed new standards would cause the retail price of average motor vehicles to increase by more than $11,000.
Americans and the nation’s future are being victimized by Obama administration policies. The 18th annual Index of Economic Freedom, was released on January 12th by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, measures the many factors that contribute to the economic health of a nation—things like property rights, regulatory efficiency, open markets, free trade and labor policies.
Economic freedom is declining worldwide as governments try to spend their way out of the global recession. The United States fell to 10th place. In 2009 it ranked 6th, in 2010 it was 8th, and in 2011, it was 9th.
We are witnessing the deliberate murder of a superpower.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
In the run-up to the South Carolina primary election on Saturday, it strikes me that the overwhelming coverage of the campaign process has shoved some important stories to the sidelines.
There is noticeably little coverage of the nation’s obscene unemployment problem; one that is comparable to the Great Depression.
With ample good reason, we no longer hear anything about (a) global warming or (b) climate change. We don’t hear “renewable energy” stories in the wake of the Solyndra scandal or the demise of comparable “Green” companies, but Obama’s decision to refuse to permit the XL Keystone pipeline was a reminder that all his talk about job creation is just that—talk.
The rising price of a gallon of gasoline is never mentioned in the news, up from $1.86 when Obama took office to $3.40 now. That sort of thing used to get incumbent presidents defeated in the past.
Events beyond our shores continue whether we are in a primary season or not.
The future of the European Union is still somewhat precarious. Whether the Euro continues as the currency of the EU is an important issue affecting America’s trading partners. The U.S. Sovereign debt rating has already been reduced but now nine EU nations have been put on notice as well.
The Obama/Clinton foreign policy in the Middle East continues to erode. Egypt, a major player, is moving into Islamist—anti-American, anti-Israeli—control. For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood was suppressed as a political force in Egypt and today they have emerged as the biggest player. Egypt is moving out of our orbit of influence.
Iran continues inexorably toward acquiring the capacity to make its own nuclear weapons. Its growing desperation regarding the sanctions is generating a lot of bellicose threats. The entire Middle East is silently praying that Israel attacks and disables its nuclear capabilities. Anything else is morally indefensible.
Following the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Iraq is in shambles once again with bombs going off in its cities and little likelihood it will be able to function as a nation despite its vast oil riches. Libya has lots of oil, too, but it is still struggling to create a functioning government in the wake of Gaddafi’s overthrow. Syria has everyone in the Middle East on edge watching to see if Assad can avoid what appears to be his inevitable overthrow. His late father, though, did just that by slaughtering thousands.
The seemingly endless political debates continue minus Jon Huntsman who is backing Mitt Romney and Rick Perry who has endorsed Newt Gingrich. Pretty soon we shall be calling Romney “Teflon Mitt” because the voters appear to be bored with all the sniping from his opponents regarding his success in the private sector. Newt Gingrich seems to have no idea what capitalism is or does.
Even the calumnies heaped on the Tea Party movement don’t get much attention these days. We have learned, however, that the current Congress has been the least productive, accomplishing less in 2011 than any other year in recent history. Records have been kept since 1947. In light of the disaster called Obamacare, that is probably a good thing.
One trend is noticeable. With the exception of the Keystone decision, any news that might harm the reelection of President Obama is hard to find in the mainstream media.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
By Alan Caruba
Future historians may conclude that President Obama’s decision to reject a permit for the building of the XL Keystone pipeline was a key factor in his defeat for a second term in 2012.
One can only hope that, in the course of the campaign, Republicans will focus public attention on the deliberate “no energy” policies of the Obama administration that have thwarted the creation of jobs, the generation of electrical power for homes and businesses, as well as fueling our transportation needs.
The Obama administration policies also meant that billions in tax revenue have been lost. Tapping U.S. energy reserves of coal, natural gas, and oil would also be a major step toward greater national security, freeing the nation from dependence on foreign oil.
In a recent article posted on The Heritage Foundation’s website, Rob Bluey reported that “oil and natural gas production on federal lands is down by more than forty percent (40%) compared to ten years ago.”
“Under the Obama administration, 2010 had the lowest number of onshore leases issued since 1984. The Obama administration held only one offshore lease sale in 2011.”
Following the President’s announcement regarding Keystone, the president of the Institute for Energy Research, Thomas Pyle, said that “Tens of thousands of American jobs died today because of the president’s rejection of the Keystone EL pipeline permit. For more than two years, the administration has delayed, hoping to get past 2012 without having to reveal the president’s true anti-job, anti-energy agenda. Because of today’s announcement, Americans will continue to send $70 billion overseas every day to purchase foreign oil.”
The secret President Obama wants to keep from Americans is that the price of domestic oil is always cheaper than foreign oil. Oil industry expert, Seldon B. Graham, Jr. says that this price deferential is “never reported by the media. The media only reports Wall Street speculators’ guesses of oil prices six months in the future…the U.S. price is always lower than the OPEC price.”
In February 2011, a CNS News article reported that “A new study says drilling on Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf could make Alaska the eighth largest oil resource province in the world—ahead of Nigeria, Libya, Russia and Norway.”
In announcing the decision on the Keystone pipeline, the President boasted that, under his administration, “domestic oil and natural gas production is up”, but Bluey pointed out that “The vast majority of America’s new oil and gas production is happening on private lands in states like North Dakota, Alaska, and Texas.” Private, not public lands. One result is that North Dakota’s unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, the lowest in the nation.
Who favored the president’s decision?
An environmental organization, Green for All, hailed the decision. Its CEO, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, said, “This project would have helped Big Oil and their allies get richer at the expense of American workers and permanently damaged our environment.” How does it help to kill 20,000 jobs and an estimated 100,000 related to the pipeline?
The Sierra Club, another environmental organization, claimed that the pipeline would bring “toxic, highly corrosive tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada to refineries and ports in Texas.” If it was corrosive, it could not be transported by a pipeline, but ethanol which is mandated for use in gasoline is so corrosive it cannot be transported by pipeline and requires fleets of trucks instead. Echoing Green for all, the Sierra Club said, “Thank President Obama for standing up to Big Oil and rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline.”
Friends of the Earth, another environmental organization, branded Big Oil as “one of the most profitable and most unscrupulous industries on the planet.” Profits equal dividends for investors in oil companies. Profits equal jobs for thousands of Americans. Profits ensure that more oil can be discovered and extracted…except on federal lands and offshore because of present administration policies.
By contrast, James M. Taylor, a Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy of The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, said, “The Obama administration has confirmed the fears of everyday Americans that it is more interested in paying off environmental extremists and other far-left groups than it is in laying the foundation for a growing economy.”
“The Obama administration’s decision to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline demonstrates as poignantly as a slap in the face that President Obama is either completely out of touch with the American people or is callously indifferent about our ongoing economic woes,” said Taylor. “I suspect that in the November elections voters will severely punish President Obama for this foolish decision.”
I suspect Taylor is right!
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
It was quite a sight. The Republican Governor of New Jersey strode into the cavernous legislative chamber in the Trenton statehouse, filled mostly with Democrats, and proceeded to receive one round of applause after another.
Chris Christie is rotund in a way that suggests you wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark ally. Before becoming Governor in 2011, as the U.S. District Attorney he had amassed an impressive record of putting bribe-taking legislators in jail, along with a long list of other criminals.
Moreover, he arrived on the scene to put an end to former Governor Jon Corzine’s fiscal destruction of the State; a feat he accomplished with MF Global, the investment firm that made headlines when it collapsed with unaccounted billions in “lost” customer funds.
New Jerseyeans were sick of governors who made promises they did not keep. From 1994 to 2001, Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican, had held the office until resigning to become President Bush’s director of the Environmental Protection Agency. She was quickly fired from the post.
She was followed by a series of interim governors until James E. McGreevey was elected in 2002. McGreevey, a Democrat, discovered he was a homosexual after his appointment of a boyfriend to a high paying state job was exposed. He resigned, was replaced by a congenial old “pol”, Richard Codey from 2004 to 2006, when Corzine was elected.
In the course of all this, New Jersey, thanks to massive mismanagement became a State famed for having the highest tax rates in the nation. People and businesses had began to flee, reducing its tax base. By fiscal year 2011, the State had a record deficit of $11 billion.
Gov. Christie literally taught a largely Democrat legislature conservative principles. He held town halls all over the State and became famous for his confrontational style. YouTube videos of his slap-downs were viewed by millions of people. They liked what they saw.
In his State of the State speech, delivered on Tuesday, January 17, you would think he was addressing a Republican legislature. He was interrupted with applause and got a standing ovation at the end of it.
“We had spent too much as a State. We had lived beyond our means. And, by trying to tax our way out of it, previous governors and legislators had left New Jersey in 50th place—dead last among the States—in the total tax burden it placed on our citizens. We had the highest tax rate in the nation, the highest unemployment rate in a quarter century, and the largest budget deficit per person of any State in the Union.”
How blunt is that? Little wonder he was talked of as a possible candidate for President in 2012. Gov. Christie decided to finish his first term and has since become a vocal supporter for Mitt Romney.
The real miracle was the way he worked with Democrats to turn the State’s fiscal problems around. “We cut 375 programs in that first fiscal year, saved two billion dollars for the taxpayers and brought Jon Corzine’s budget into balance.” Together, they cut spending in every department of State government.
Then, together, they put a cap on property taxes that had risen 70% in the decade that preceded his election. The legislature imposed a 2% cap on property tax increases. They did the same for arbitration awards. “We must never forget that the root cause of rising property taxes is always excessive government spending.”
His speech turned to a variety of changes he wants. He already has the results to justify them. “Since our administration came into office, New Jersey has added over 60,000 new private sector jobs. Remember, in 2009, the State had lost 117,000 jobs.”
Gov. Christie made national news when he proposed reducing the State income tax rates for every New Jerseyean. “In every tax bracket. By 10%, across the board.”
If the next two years are any indication of the last two, New Jersey’s lawmakers will institute education reforms to loosen the grip of its powerful teacher’s union while improving the quality of education and providing a financial option for parents who want to move their children to better performing or private schools.
He proposed mandatory treatment “for every non-violent offender with a drug problem in New Jersey, not just a select few.” This would empty out the jails and prisons. “We will require you to get treatment. Your life has value. Every one of God’s creations can be redeemed. Everyone deserves a second chance.”
Gov. Christie knows what ails America. “Our economy suffocated under the wet blanket of over-taxation, over-spending, over-borrowing and over-regulation.”
To this writer, a lifelong resident, born and bred in New Jersey, it was very impressive to listen to the stark opposite of the policies advocated by previous governors and the President of the United States. It was pure conservatism, presented without apologies because none were needed. The results have already demonstrated that it works.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
In 1991, the Soviet Union, arguably the greatest experiment in Communism, collapsed. After Mao Zedong died in 1976, his successors moved to shift its Communist economy to one that embraced Capitalism while retaining centralized government control.
Following World War Two, the recovering nations of Europe were rescued from Communism by the Marshall Plan, but adopted Communism-Light in the form of Socialism. The U.S. was already headed in that direction, creating programs that we now call “entitlements.” For most of the nation’s history, such “entitlements” did not exist.
What binds together the financial problems of the West is the common thread of infantile behavior and thought. One might call it wishful thinking. Instead of encouraging people to provide for old age and possible illness, politicians decided to turn government into Big Daddy, the eternal source of money for everything.
Need to go to college, start a business, or plan for retirement? Government would be there to help. All this ignored the need to actually pay for these programs. In the case of Social Security Congress began to dip into its funding to pay for other programs! This is what children do.
One can look around the world and see what a failure both Communism and Socialism have been. Governments spending more than their tax and other revenues have suffered grievously from this path to default and that includes the United States of America. It can be argued that, with few exceptions--the Reagan years come to mind—Presidents have been poorly served by their economic advisors.
Politicians make poor economists because, in America, members of the House must think of getting reelected every two years and Senators every six. Moreover, being politicians, they believe that the more federal largess they can bring back to their State and then brag about is the one true path to reelection.
At the very beginning of the nation, Thomas Jefferson said it best. “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.”
How many commissions and special committees have earnestly produced reports intended to deal with a government grown too large? At the federal level, some two million or more Americans are employed promulgating a deluge of regulations and pushing paper.
Now President Obama says he wants to streamline the federal government.
The real issue is not “streamlining” government agencies by gathering them together under one roof and one administrator, but the failure to end government departments and agencies that no longer serve a useful purpose and whose removal would also remove countless obstacles to economic growth.
In April 2011, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute warned that “the federal government is on track to spend more than $3.5 trillion this year. What most people don’t know is that government actually costs about 50% more than what it spends. That’s because complying with federal regulations costs an additional $1.75 trillion—nearly an eighth of GDP. And almost none of that cost appears on the budget.”
The United States of America, the greatest engine of wealth the world has ever seen, is bankrupt. The national debt exceeds the Gross Domestic Product, the sum total of all revenue generated by goods and services.
The President has asked that the debt ceiling be raised another trillion or so and Congress will comply. That, I submit, is insane.
I also submit that, since Barack Obama was sworn into office on January 20, 2009, the nation has been witness to the economic insanity personified in the man and in the Democrat-controlled Congress that was his partner until 2010 when the control of the House of Representatives was wrested away by the Tea Party movement and its support for Republican candidates.
The only constant in life is change. America’s demography has changed. We have, thanks to medical care and other advantages, a much older segment of the population than ever before, but the nation from the 1930s to the 1960s had committed itself to ensure they would have Medicare and Medicaid at a time when people more often than not died in their 50’s and 60’s. We now have an average life expectancy of 78 years. My parents lived into their 90s.
Politics, not economics, continues to make it impossible to revise and restructure both Medicare and Social Security to reflect this reality. Instead, we had Obamacare foisted upon us which took trillions from Medicare and imposes rules that will let elderly heart attack or stroke victims die rather than pay for a level of care to which they contributed during their working years.
If the Supreme Court declares Obamacare unconstitutional it will go away. If we elect a Republican Senate, the repeal already passed in the House will be passed and it will go away.
But America’s economic problems will not go away until Americans insist that the shackles of Big Government be cut loose to enable the growth of an energy industry that can not only make the nation energy independent, but produce billions in revenue as far as the eye can see into the future.
The tax system with its thousands of pages must be revised to a simpler, fairer program. It makes no sense that forty percent of Americans pay no taxes at all.
It’s not that we don’t know what must be done. Conservative think tanks like The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, The Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and others have spelled out programs that can and will save America, but the nation must be led by a president who understands that Capitalism involves budgeting, planning, hard work, and—yes—risk.
The federal government is running on “continuing resolutions.” It has not had a formal budget since Obama arrived. This is no way to run the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. America is on a suicide watch and we are just an election away from saving it.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Monday, January 16, 2012
By Alan Caruba
It is clear that Barack Obama’s main campaign theme is going to be about “fairness.” This is one of those words like “hope” and “change” that can mean many different things to different people. No one can ever accuse Obama of clarity. He is a consummate sloganeer, but the results of those slogans hardly represent anything resembling fairness. Or success.
The one incontrovertible fact about life is that it is not fair.
Some are born into wealth and some into moderate means and some into poverty. Moreover, some are born with inherent gifts and talents, while others are not. Some are born into “dysfunctional” families where a parent or parents are alcoholics or use illegal drugs, in jail or just gone.
The list of the plus and minuses in life are long and varied; city-born, country-born; the lure of gang life versus the expectation of rising early to do farm chores. Inner city schools versus suburban ones with greater budgets and opportunities. There is no real fairness and those who see the obstacles and overcome them do so because of an innate desire to achieve their goals.
One young man who comes to mind was born to a white mother, Stanley Ann Dunham in Hawaii with a black father, Barack Obama Sr., from Kenya who in fairly rapid order divorced her and returned to an African wife he already had. His mother then married another foreigner, Lolo Soetoro, a Muslim from Indonesia, moving to Jakarta with her young son whom he adopted. When that marriage collapsed, she turned the care of her son over to her parents. One might not consider this the most promising beginning in life.
Barack Obama, however, got lucky. His grandparents ensured he attended a private school, Punahou, where he received an above-average education. He enrolled in colleges, eventually making his way to Columbia University and onto Harvard University Law School. Much of the information regarding his academic life remains shrouded. Indeed, we only “know” what Obama told us in two “memoirs” written at an early age about a life of relatively little achievement until politics propelled him into office in Illinois and then to the U.S. Senate where he spent barely two years before seeking the presidency.
Where did fairness play a role in any of this? Was it “fair” to be biracial? Was it fair to secure an education at well-respected institutions to which others were not admitted? So much of Obama’s life seems to hinge on remarkable, impenetrable happenstance and good fortune, but at this point he tells us that he is obsessed with the issue of “fairness.”
In a speech in December he talked of everyone engaging in “fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share.” It sounds nice, but it has nothing to do with hard work, self-improvement, personal motivation, and good values.. We look around us in any office or workplace and can pick out one or two that fit this description while the rest engage in psychological warfare and backstabbing.
For all this talk of fair share and fair play, Americans have lived through three years of Obama and have nothing to show for it beyond massive unemployment, lost homes, dislocation, food stamps, graduating into the world with a national debt that is equal to the Gross Domestic Product.
There are fewer real opportunities, no matter what one’s background or resume may be. It is fair the nation has been saddled with six trillion dollars in new debt since he took office? It is fair that future generations must pay this debt?
Obama is obsessed with what he regards as the unfairness of the income tax system, forever decrying what he perceives as differences in the rate the wealthy pay. In fact, the wealthy pay far more taxes than most Americans and some 40% of Americans pay no tax whatever.
The National Taxpayers Union’s figures for 2009 reveal that the top 1% of taxpayers paid 36.73%, the top 5% paid 58.66%, the top 10% paid 70% to the point where the top 50% paid 97.75%. The rest paid a mere 2.25% of incomes taxes that year. Is that fair?
Obama’s belief in the redistribution of income is hardly fair. Taking money from decent, hard-working Americans and giving it to those who won’t work or came here illegally hardly fits the description of fairness. It is, however, the classic definition of “economic justice” which gave us the 2008 financial meltdown when bad housing loans nearly destroyed the banking system.
As Mitt Romney campaigns in South Carolina for its primary election, a collection of yelping dogs are nipping at his heels, crying about how horrible it was that he was a practitioner of venture capitalism, cruelly destroying jobs, and growing wealthy. Newt Gingrich called it “vulture capitalism.” It is all a distortion of the truth and, worse, betrays a total lack of understanding of capitalism, the greatest job creator in the history of the world.
As The Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial, “Bain Capital has been a net job and wealth creator.” Citing just one example, Staples, Romney’s investment enabled the company to grow to a point where it currently employs 90,000 people. Also noted was the fact that some of Bain’s investments did not pan out. That is the nature of capitalism and it is often not fair.
Americans got burned by Obama’s “hope and change” mantra in 2008 and those who fall for his “fairness” mantra in 2012 will suffer a similar fate.
As for me, I am going to cast my vote for a man who made his wealth within and because of a system that rewards risk and the ability to pick more winners than losers.
I am going to avoid a president who has proven to be the biggest loser this nation has ever seen.
© Alan Caruba, 2012