Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Legislators Must Oppose a Carbon Tax

By Alan Caruba

One of the most disturbing pieces of news has been the way some Republicans in Congress have gone wobbly on the greatest hoax of the modern era, global warming or climate change or whatever other name is being applied to it as the effort to impose an insane tax on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is getting a push.

Let’s briefly examine the facts:

There never was any global warming if you apply Al Gore’s definition—“The Earth has a fever.” There was no dramatic increase in the Earth’s overall temperature at the end of the mini ice age that ended in 1850 after some three hundred years of significant cooling. An increase of about one degree was sufficient to produce warming.

Carbon dioxide plays NO role whatever in the increase or decrease of the Earth’s overall temperature. The single determining factor was and is the SUN. The seasons reflect the Earth’s circumnavigation of the Sun, warming in the spring and getting colder in the winter.

Carbon dioxide represents 0.033 to 0.038 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. By contrast, nitrogen represents 78.084 percent, oxygen is 20.94 percent, argon is 0.934 percent, and trace elements represent 0.002 percent.

Carbon dioxide is not a warming gas. It is a cooling gas.

There is no “consensus” among scientists that the Earth is warming or that CO2 plays a role in this alleged, utterly false claim.

There has been no warming for some sixteen years since the Earth entered a natural cooling cycle.

Carbon dioxide is vital to all life on Earth. It is the “food” that all vegetation requires for growth. In greenhouses, CO2 is pumped in to stimulate growth. Without vegetation in the form of crops, all other life on Earth dies. Seeking to reduce CO2 emissions is an idiotic idea.

Taxing so-called greenhouse gas emissions was originally a scheme to enrich those selling “credits” to do so in various exchanges, many of which have since ceased to operate. The carbon tax has a lot of appeal to a dead broke U.S. government. Raising tax rates and revenues allows the government to continue ignoring the larger problem of debt.

What happens when government entities, federal and states, get more income? In general they waste it. Or they allocate it to pay for the benefits, pensions, and healthcare of civil service union employees. Most such obligations are under-funded these days due to their size.

One of the most famous lobbyists against raising taxes, Grover Norquist, a man who has bound Republican lawmakers in Congress to a pledge against draining more money out of the economy, was required to deny reports in the National Journal that he advocated a “carbon tax swap.”. Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has sued the Treasury Department for failure to be more transparent about any deliberations it has engaged in regarding a carbon tax.

If Republicans allow the door to “climate change” to crack open, this utterly baseless tax will be on its way to being law and, like the income tax, will grow to such proportions that it will suck the life out of the nation’s economy, if there is an economy.

It has no basis in science and even a simple understanding of economics and history tells us that it is one of the worst ideas ever put forth. In a recession, you lower taxes, not increase them in order to get more money circulating. In a recession you find ways to encourage job creation, investment, and saving.

On November 13th The Institute for Energy Research released a study that demonstrates the many ways a carbon tax is plagued by theoretical and practical problems. “Conservative proponents of the free market, of all analysts, should be wary indeed of any plan to introduce a new carbon tax in the name of promoting economic growth,” warned IER Senior Economist Robert P. Murphy.

Simply put, “The U.S. government, acting unilaterally, cannot significantly slow global carbon dioxide emissions.” Other nations will continue to rely on coal-fired utilities to produce the electricity they need to maintain and expand their economies. China is a major factor as is India and all others. Only France that relies on nuclear energy would be exempt.

Moreover “Federal and state governments already have in place many policies that discourage carbon-intensive activities and encourage alternatives such as gasoline taxes, CAFÉ standards, renewable energy mandates.” None of these incentives combined have had any significant impact on reducing CO2 and none of them make the least sense at all. Renewable energy is the most inefficient, impractical and unreliable forms of energy production.

California has just introduced the first tax on emissions and California has been bleeding citizens, industries and businesses for years as life there becomes economically unsustainable.

So, one can only pray that conservative legislators do not fall prey to the desperation and depression that has followed the reelection of President Obama who has been speaking, as usual, out of both sides of his month about climate change.

The climate changes. It has for 4.5 billion years. Humans, a relatively new species on Earth, do not have any control over the climate which is measured in centuries or the weather which cannot be accurately predicted more than two weeks to a month in advance.

Doing anything about “global warming” is the equivalent of Indian rain dances. It may make people feel that they are influencing the climate, but all they are doing is dancing in a circle to the sound of drums.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Middle East Minefield

By Alan Caruba

I often wonder whether Americans really care about the outcome of events as regards Israel. I know that a segment of American Jews are concerned and that evangelical Christians may care even more.

I can’t escape the feeling, though, that other than the horror of an Iranian nuclear missile blowing up Israel and killing its citizens (both Jewish and Muslim), that most Americans are not that committed to its survival. I suspect that most Europeans are even less committed.
I cite Israel because of the hostility of all others in the Middle East, but they may not be as hostile as things appear. Israel is a major deterrent to Iran’s ambitions.

Things are never what they seem in the Middle East.

 A recent article in by Doug Hagmann suggests that the Benghazi affair that the Obama administration is trying to get passed actually masks a major arms movement from Libya to the Syrian rebels in order to overthrow its dictator, Bashar Assad. Hagmann asserts that it was a CIA operation, not a diplomatic one, and what was attacked was not a consulate, but rather a site for the storage and transmittal of weapons. The attack was an effort to disrupt it by those seeking to keep Assad in power, both Russia and Iran.

The major actors in this are the U.S., Turkey, and Egypt. The main benefactor would be Saudi Arabia whose oil fields are within the range of Iranian missiles. The Russians are part of the picture because they do not want to lose a key Syrian port for its naval ships, but Russia, too, is a major oil producer and anything that might harm its interests is seen as a bonus.

After 9/11 when the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked Americans supported an energetic response, but after George W. Bush committed troops to Afghanistan and Iraq it wasn’t long before Americans decided it was a bad idea. Too many memories of Vietnam along with too much cost in blood and treasure took the edge off of the reprisal in Afghanistan or the deposing of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Iraq is an oil producer as well, but is now allied with the Iranians where its president found sanctuary during Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror.

Leon Trotsky, an associate of Stalin, once said, “You might not be interested in war, but war may be interested in you.” Wars occur in various ways, deliberate and accidental, but it is the latter that would seem the case these days in a Middle East where Hamas engaged in a lengthy barrage of rockets and then acted surprised that Israel responded, killing a number of their top people and inflicting a lot of damage in Gaza.

Hamas was acting under the orders from Iran. The president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, brokered a cease fire deal, but also decided he wants to be the next dictator of Egypt. Who saw that coming? The Egyptians had risked life and limb in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to depose Hosni Mubarack and then turned around and voted Morsi into office.

What were they thinking? Why didn’t they embrace a more secular leader? The answer is that Islam is everything in the Middle East. Muslims cannot change and it is foolish to think they will. If you loved the seventh century, you will love the Middle East.

Egypt is important to the U.S. What happens there determines much of the direction the Middle East takes. That explains why the Obama administration wants to forgive a billion in debt and to throw another billion or more at Morsi by way of enlisting him to act as a counter weight to Hamas. On Nov 24 Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad was on the phone to Hamas’s Ismail Haniya and with Jihad Islami leaders to assure them they would be receiving munitions to refill their arsenals.

Reportedly, Obama has agreed to send U.S. troops to Egypt’s Sinai to interdict the arms smuggling routes through the desert to Gaza. Indeed, it was this offer that is said to have gotten Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to back off a ground invasion, but in this three dimensional game of chess, Israel, Egypt, and Turkey are all working with the U.S.

The U.S. Navy has been busy throughout the brief conflict and earlier. For years it has taken up permanent residency off the coast of Iran and in the Persian Gulf. Other elements are presently positioned off the coast of Syria where their Russian counterparts can also be found.

Bashar Assad has made Turkey very nervous. Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus want to keep him alive. Turkey borders Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and is in proximity of Russia, bordering Georgia. It has its hands full just tending to the thousands of Syrians that have fled there. The U.S. is providing Turkey with Patriot missiles and AWACs, manned by U.S. military, and that could become yet another flashpoint.

None of the nations involved want a really big war to break out.

The wild card is Israel whose very existence is threatened by Iran. The U.S. is doing what it can to avoid that. So far the cooperation is working. If Iran announces it has nuclear weapons or Israeli intelligence determines that's the case, all bets are off.

The major beneficiary of all of this is Saudi Arabia and, as the leader of the majority Sunni Muslims worldwide, it has no love for Shiite Iran. In effect the U.S. intelligence capabilities and its military have become its mercenary army, eliminating Saddam Hussein, standing aside when Mubarak and Gaddafi fell and now working to eliminate Bashar Assad.
The U.S. doesn't mind working with dictators, so long as they are "our" dictators, friendly to our interests.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The U.S. is Blocking Energy Wealth and Jobs

By Alan Caruba

What if I told you that the government was blocking America’s prosperity in the form of enormous untapped energy reserves that represent wealth and jobs that would once again put America on the path to fiscal security and growth?

Recently, Matt Vespa, on reported that the International Energy Agency released a report that said the United States has the capacity to outpace Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s leading producers of oil. It projected that the U.S. could become a net oil exporter around 2020. It could become entirely self-sufficient.

Even so, the Obama administration just moved to cordon off 1.6 million acres estimated to represent one trillion barrels worth of oil in the name of conservation. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to so encumber hydraulic fracturing—fracking—with so many regulations it will thwart increased use of this extraction technology that has been safely in use for decades.

As Dan Kish, Senior Vice President for Policy at the Institute for Energy Research, warns, there is a major government effort “to federalize hydraulic fracturing regulation” which is already being done by states “in a very professional and knowledgeable way. Take fracking away, the oil and gas production drops.”

For years, through many administrations, the federal government has been doing everything in its power to restrict drilling domestically and off-shore where billions of barrels of oil remains untapped. In October, a Wall Street Journal editorial noted that “The latest example is the Interior Department’s little-noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.”

As far back as 1976, Congress designated the Reserve a strategic oil and gas stockpile to meet the “energy needs of the nation”, but oil and gas that is not extracted meets no needs. It keeps the nation dependent on imported oil and gas. In an August 22 letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from the entire Alaska delegation in Congress called it “the largest wholesale land withdrawal and blocking of access to an energy resource by the federal government in decades.”

Noting that “Most of the other 11.5 million acres are almost indistinguishable from the acreage owned by the state that is being drilled safely nearby” the Journal pointed out that drilling on privately owned land has seen North Dakota pass Alaska as the second highest oil-producing state behind Texas.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, “The federal government owns roughly 635-640 million acres of the land in the United States. Four agencies administer 609 million acres of this land; the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service, all in the Department of the Interior.” The Bureau of Land Management manages 248 million acres and is responsible for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources.

Mostly by stealth, more and more privately owned land is being purchased by the federal government. In September 2011, Audrey Hudson, writing for Human Events, reported that “The Obama administration is spending $35 million to buy 30,000 acres of private property across the U.S. this year to make permanent homes for mice, fairy shrimp, mussels, prairie bushes and beetles. Those are just some of the 70 critters and plants to benefit from the land purchases in a dozen states as part of the government’s habitat conservation plans for endangered species.”

Quoting Rob Gordon of The Heritage Foundation, Hudson reported that “The federal government already owns more land than Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Poland combined.” The Endangered Species Act is just an excuse to secure ownership of more land and, in particular, to restrict development of every description from housing to hospitals.

Instead of a future in which our oil and gas reserves could unleash all manner of economic growth and the generation of thousands of new jobs, Ben Wolfgang, reporting in the November 22 edition of The Washington Times, “The drilling process that has brought the U.S. energy independence within reach faces renewed scrutiny from the Obama administration and an uncertain future in many states.”

“Next month, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a draft of its long-awaited report on suspected links between water pollution and fracking, which uses huge amounts of water, combined with sand and chemical mixtures, to crack underground rock and release trapped oil and gas.” Fracking, however, occurs well below underground water levels and has been shown to have no effect on it.

What we are witnessing is the deliberate effort by the Obama administration, in concert with earlier administrations, to deny the economic benefit of tapping the nation’s vast reserves of oil and gas domestically and off-shore. This was evident, as well, in the President’s decision about the XL Keystone pipeline on the grounds that it threatened aquifers if allowed to proceed. Thousands of jobs were lost in that single decision with no evidence of the truth of the assertion.

As the nation sinks further into economic decline and default, it is obvious that the nation’s energy sector is being thwarted at a time when it holds the promise of lifting it out of growing unemployment, higher energy costs, and the drumbeat of utterly false environmental claims about greenhouse gas emissions.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

What the Political Gurus Kept Telling Us

 By Alan Caruba

Throughout the year leading up to the November elections, I had a friend who called regularly for reassurance that whoever the Republicans nominated would defeat Obama. I began to keep a file of what the political commentators had to say on the subject. Suffice to say, I ended up convinced that Romney could not lose.

An article by Mark Knoller, CBS News White House correspondent, on December 31, 2010 is a good place to start. “No numbers in the year just ending are more consequential for President Obama than the results of the midterm elections. His party lost seats in the Senate and its majority in the House.” Like many, I concluded that Obama’s reversal of fortune would be reflected in 2012.

By April 2011, however, a Wall Street Journal article noting that Mitt Romney was the early front-runner for the Republican nomination reported that “Some 43% of 1,000 adults polled said they would probably vote for Mr. Obama, versus 39% who said they would likely vote Republican, a five-point lead that is unchanged from February.” I should have paid more attention, but didn’t. I would have voted for the GOP candidate if he was Charlie Sheen.

I paid close attention to Karl Rove’s weekly commentaries in The Wall Street Journal. This is the man George W. Bush called “the architect”, crediting him for his reelection. In late June he wrote, “President Barack Obama is likely to be defeated in 2012…The reason is that he faces four serious threats. The economy is very weak and unlikely to experience a robust recovery by Election Day. Key voter groups have soured on him. He’s defending unpopular policies. And he’s made bad strategic decisions.”

A week later Rove was giving advice to the GOP on how to avoid losing the election, noting that many who voted for Republicans in the midterms “still like Mr. Obama personally.” He advised the GOP nominee to avoid questioning Obama’s “motives, patriotism, or character.” For many Republicans, however, that was the central issue. Rove also warned that “Republicans also must not confuse the tea party movement with the larger, more important tea party sentiment.”

By July 2011, Charles Krauthammer was challenging Obama to “Give us one single structural change in entitlements.” Adding that Obama offered nothing regarding what is now called “the fiscal cliff”. Krauthammer lamented that “The Republicans are being totally outmaneuvered” on issues regarding the economy and tax reform. He was right.

That same month, in the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar said “The race for president isn’t a national contest. It’s a state-by-state battle to cobble an electoral vote majority” noting that polls regarding the president’s popularity did not bode well for him. “In every reputable battleground state poll conducted over the past month, Obama’s support is weak.” Oh, yeah?

By August 2011, Newsmax was reporting that “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters the nation’s largest labor federation will scale back their involvement with the Democratic Party in advance of the 2012.” Oh, wow, I thought. Is labor deserting Obama? Turns out they weren’t. They were knocking on doors, giving out Obama campaign literature, registering voters, going into neighborhoods—black and Hispanic—that Republicans avoid.

In early November 2011, prior to the Iowa caucuses, Rove wrote “Obama’s prospects look perilous” adding that no president has won re-election since 1989 when people told pollsters that the nation was on the wrong track and based on a Gallup poll “no president has been re-elected a year after having a job-approval rating as low as Mr. Obama’s today—43%--since Gallup began asking the question in 1945.”

The election was just a year away. January 2012 began with a Washington Times news article noting that “Congress ended its least-productive year in modern history after passing 80 bills—fewer than during any session since year-end records began being kept in 1947.” Did it matter to voters? Apparently not.

In February 2012 Wall Street Journal columnist, Daniel Henniger, noticed something else and wrote about it in “Obama’s Maddening, Winning Speech.” “Mr. Obama may not know much about the private economy, but he knows a lot about the uses of human anxiety. Proposing to replace his own bad economy with a virtual substitute ‘built to last’ allows Mr. Obama to place himself outside the White House and on the street making common cause with the genuine economic anxieties of the American people.” Perceptively, he wrote, “If we know nothing else about Barack Obama it is that he can play ‘hope’ like a Stradivarius.”

In a June 2 commentary, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd noted that “On Friday, an ugly job market report led to the stock market’s worst day of the year”, but that Obama seemed to have dodged that bullet by telling a crowd in Golden Valley, Minnesota, “our economy is still facing some serious headwinds.” By that time, Romney was hammering away at his campaign theme of jobs, jobs, jobs.

By August 8, Karl Rove was telling readers that “Wednesday’s Gallup poll had President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney essentially tied, with Mr. Obama at 47% and Mr. Romney at 48%. That’s good for the challenger…historically, undecided voters tend to break late for the challenger.” In September Rove said that “youthful enthusiasm for Mr. Obama has waned. In October 2008, 78% of voters 18-29 told Gallup they would definitely vote that year. Now it’s 58%.” The youth vote went to Obama. So did single women, blacks and Hispanics.

In September, Dick Morris, former President Clinton’s political guru, was telling people “Republicans are getting depressed under an avalanche of polling suggesting that an Obama victory is in the offing. They, in fact, suggest no such thing!” Like Rove, he pointed out that “the undecided vote always goes against the incumbent.” Both were clinging to this mantra of former elections.

On November 6th, in a sharply divided nation of voters, a sufficient number reelected Barack Obama. Many Republicans, it seemed, stayed home.

Looking back, Daniel Henniger, wondered if “business experience is now a political liability.” He thought that “Mr. Obama’s passage of such a monumental social entitlement as the Affordable Care Act with zero bipartisan votes displayed muscle but was madness for our political system.”

“The Republicans’ self-inflicted wounds, however, pale against the willingness of an American president to use his office to blow up the country itself,” said Henniger. He’d been more right than wrong throughout the long campaign with its uninspiring party conventions and unremitting economic bad news.

In the end it didn’t matter to the Obama voters.

I always wondered how Franklin D. Roosevelt kept being reelected throughout the Great Depression years of the 1930s despite little success turning the economy around, but much success creating Social Security and other programs that put a few dollars in people’s pockets. When World War II began for America on December 7, 1941, the voters kept the incredibly popular president in office until he died in 1945.

There’s something to be said for popularity. It trumps competence in American politics.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

UN Climate Change Thieves Gather in Qatar

By Alan Caruba
Unlike previous gatherings of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 18th one occurring in Doha, Qatar between November 26 and December 7 is likely to shun media coverage of their schemes to enrich participants who want massive transfers of money from developed to undeveloped nations. Thieves work best in the dark.

These are the folks who came up with the Kyoto Protocols that were intended to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), in order to save the Earth from becoming a crispy desert as the result of global warming. Adopted on December 11, 1997, the protocols set “binding targets for 37 industrialized nations and the European community with the goal of reducing 1990 levels of CO2 over a five-year period 2008 to 2012." Two major emitters, China and India, were exempted from the Protocols, thus rendering it even more idiotic than it already was.

The UN explained this, saying “Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of 'common but differentiated responsibilities.'” In other words, developed nations have more money and any “industrial activity” must be punished for causing “global warming.”

The problem for the Protocols was that the United States Senate unanimously rejected to signing on to this hoax. Then, in 2009, the exposure of emails between the “scientists” responsible for the data the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was putting out to scare the pants off of everyone about “global warming”—since dubbed Climategate—revealed they were not only rigging the computer models, but were increasingly worried that the planet had entered a new, perfectly natural, cooling cycle.

It is worth noting that, in 2011, Canada, Japan and Russia announced they would not take on further Kyoto targets. The Canadian government invoked Canada's legal right to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on December 12 2011. Having initially committed to cutting its greenhouse emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, Environment Minister Peter Kent had earlier cited Canada's liability to "enormous financial penalties" under the treaty unless it withdrew. Smart people those Canadians, leading the way for Japan and Russia to depart as well.

The Kyoto Protocols were an international deception perpetrated by the UN. The Earth has been cooling for the past sixteen years. Carbon Dioxide has nothing—zero—to do with the planet’s temperature and all warming comes from the Sun.

Even so, representatives to COP 18 are gathering to create a “Green Climate Fund” for the same purpose that existed in 1997.

Not long ago Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, was interviewed by Elizabeth Kolbert of Yale Environment 360, and it appeared in the Nov 21 edition of The Guardian, a British newspaper. She babbled on about “the inevitability of world economies making the transition to a low-carbon future” and “the need for politicians to feel the same urgency as climate scientists about the threats posed by global warming.”

As we have seen, there are bad climate scientists who rig the computer models representing a huge rise in the Earth’s overall average temperature and there are good climate scientists who have waged a long and increasingly successful effort to debunk the greatest hoax of the modern era. The bad ones profit from the grants and other financial support they receive. They good ones are defamed as “skeptics” and “deniers.”

In 1992, Al Gore launched his global warming career and road to riches with a book, “Earth in the Balance.” Among his more insane recommendations was the elimination of the internal combustion engine within twenty-five years. Those engines can be found under the hood of the millions of cars that are a very popular form of transportation.

Ron Arnold, Executive Vice President of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, recently cited a report by the Virginia-based Science and PublicPolicy Institute—a leading opponent of global warming—regarding the complete futility of any effort by the U.S. to reduce CO2 emissions. Its author, Paul Knappenberg, based his assumptions on an IPCC report spelling out a scenario in which “the U.S. as a whole stopped emitting all carbon dioxide emissions immediately.” He found that “the ultimate impact on projected global temperature rise would be a reduction or a ‘savings’ of approximately 0.08 degrees Centigrade by the year 2050 and 0.17 degrees Centigrade by the year 2100”; results that would be negligible.

Arnold noted that “not only do the rest of the world’s new emissions completely replace ours in just 6.6 years, but China’s growth alone replaces them in less than 11 years.”

If you want to know about the Earth’s “balance” than it is useful to know that the release of carbon dioxide comes in part from its several hundred active volcanoes, from forest fires, and from the many animals, including humans, who exhale it. Without CO2, every tree, every blade of grass, and all the crops of the Earth would die and, shortly thereafter, all human and animal life would die as well. The Earth balances CO2 emissions with carbon sinks that absorb and release it as they have done for much of its 4.5 billion years of existence.

If there was any truth to the claim that CO2 is heating the Earth, one would have to ignore all of its previous ice ages that were followed by natural warming periods, including the most recent mini-ice age from about 1300 to 1850.

In addition to COP 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is about to unleash an avalanche of new regulations all aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by everything from utilities to major industries, as well as smaller ones such as your local bakery. The “science” the EPA cites is totally bogus. It will close many of the coal-fired utilities that produce the bulk of the nation’s electricity. Inside of a decade the EPA may put them all out of business.

There are vast forces, all masquerading as “saving the Earth”, at the international and national level that are seeking to wreck all the technological advances the people of the Earth take for granted and the citizens of the United States need to survive. That’s all you really need to know about COP 18 and the EPA.

© Alan Caruba, 2012


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fear, Everywhere, Fear

By Alan Caruba

If my emails and the headlines I am reading indicate anything, there is widespread fear among Americans that something terrible has occurred with the reelection of President Obama. Not all Americans, though. Those who voted for Obama appear to remain oblivious despite the threat of a “fiscal cliff” or the new taxes in Obamacare that will kick in on January 2nd.

We have a Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy, Geithner, calling for an end to debt ceilings, apparently believing that America can continue to borrow money to pay for the interest on its escalating debt, now pegged at $16 trillion and growing daily. The U.S. borrows $4 billion a day. Anyone with a credit card knows that their payments increase as they struggle to deal with their personal debt. Eventually they either declare bankruptcy or turn to companies that negotiate a payment to release them.

If America was to default on its debt, the dollar, already in free fall, would be worth nothing. We would be bartering shiny beads and anything else to buy food and other necessaries. We would become Zimbabwe where you need a million of their dollars to buy a loaf of bread.

Writing recently on her Fox Business blog, Gerri Willis spelled out the huge rise in taxes Americans are facing. “All told, next year, total taxes will go to almost 50% for the middle class; the very group that the president says he wants to protect. That means 50 cents out of every dollar earned has to go to the government. Half of everything will go to an entity that didn't earn that money, and shouldn't be entitled to all that dough.”
What kind of madness is it that the Teamsters union would impose such senseless rules that it would weaken Hostess to the point of bankruptcy, preferring to let the company die rather than to protect the jobs of 18,500 bakers? Other unions are engaged in attacks on a weakened economy. What kind of nation is it that its government employees are lobbying Congress to not only increase their pay, but to exempt them from the impact of the spending cuts scheduled to kick in?

There is a full-scale attack on the privacy Americans have taken for granted, protected by the fourth Amendment that says “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

On November 14th, the Heritage Foundation asked “Do you trust the government with your computer?” The government has had “13 breaches and failures of its own cybersecurity just in the last six months.”  Even so, “the President and his allies in the Senate are pushing forward to regulate America’s cyber-doings, without any clues about how much this will cost or how it will work.”

“It has become the norm with this President—if Congress fails to accomplish his objectives, he goes around it with executive orders and federal regulations. He’s doing it again. Congress did not pass the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 before the election, so the President has issued a draft of an executive order to put much of that legislation in place without lawmakers voting.”

This is the very essence of tyranny and the President has had four years to perfect it. Are conservative think tanks the only ones paying any attention? It would appear so.

A new proposed law in the Senate would strip Americans of any privacy as they communicate with one another by email. A vote for the law would allow warrantless access to American’s email and is scheduled for a vote shortly. It would allow 22 federal agencies as well as state and local law enforcement to access one’s emails with nothing more than a subpoena. This is totally unconstitutional.

Already $16 trillion in debt, the government is looking for ways to take over the $3 trillion that is held in private retirement plans such as 401(k) plans and IRA’s. A recent hearing by the Treasury and Labor Departments addressed the nationalization of the nation’s pension system. The director of the National Senior’s Council, Robert Crone, warns “It is clear that this is the first step towards a government takeover. It feels just like the beginning of the debate over health care and we all know how that ended up.”

As we move closer to an Electoral College vote confirming Obama’s reelection, whistleblowers are coming forth in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere to reveal that significant voter fraud was a contributing factor, but it receives little or no media coverage. One must ask how 99% of votes in Philadelphia districts went to Obama and ask why nothing is being done to investigate this and other offenses such as the 141.1% of the vote recorded in Florida’s St. Lucie County. That is statistically impossible, but it robbed Rep. Allen West (R) of his seat in Congress.

This isn’t government. It is gangsterism. It is “the Chicago way.”

The monster Homeland Security Agency just graduated its first class of FEMA Corps, kids aged 18-24, recruited from the President’s Americorps volunteers, that will become a full time, paid standing army. Fears of FEMA camps abound and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, people seeking shelter and food were herded into one that resembled a concentration camp of the Nazi regime and told not to use various means of communication to contact the media or outside community. They went from hurricane victims to prisoners of the government.

In so many ways, the freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution are in danger of disappearing along with the separation of powers it requires.

Little wonder that citizen’s petitions from a growing number of states are called for secession. Or that governors are refusing to set up the Obamacare exchanges required by a law that has taken control of twenty percent of the nation’s economy; their budgets held hostage to Medicaid.

On an individual level, people who have jobs are fearful of losing them. College graduates are fearful of the huge debt they carry for the loans they received. People wonder if they can afford to get married. Married couples fear the cost of having another child. Homeowners fear not being able to pay their mortgages. Seniors fear that their savings won’t last as they live longer.

There is ample reason to fear not only the collapse of the nation’s economy, but the loss of liberty in America.  

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gaza Déjà Vu

By Alan Caruba

While everyone welcomes a cease fire between Hamas in Gaza and the Israelis, no one should expect it to last very long or that relations between the two will change. In point of fact, the Israelis struck a bargain with terrorists, not a nation-state.

Reflecting on the cease fire, David Singer, a lawyer, noted that “The document is not an Agreement, but merely an Understanding” and that “the parties to the Understanding are not specifically identified, nor has the document been signed by any parties that are supposed to be bound by the Understanding.” At best, the “Palestinian factions” who have the greatest interest in attacking Israel are not a party to the cease fire, nor is al Qaeda or Iran for whom Hamas is a proxy in Gaza as Hezbollah is one in Lebanon.

Israel has merely bought some time in which to determine what it will do next. Time is running out, not just in Gaza, but with regard to Iran’s nuclear program, deemed by observers to be mere months from being able to put a nuclear warhead on a missile and send it hurtling toward Israel to kill millions of its citizens and essentially destroying it as a viable nation.

If there is any good news out of the recent conflict, it is that its “iron Dome” defense system against rockets worked remarkably well. The bad news is that its enemies have learned that it can be overwhelmed if enough rockets are fired at the same time. Moreover, Iranian rockets have the capacity to hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum had some reflections on the Hamas-Israel hostilities, noting that “The old Arab-Israeli wars were military clashes; the recent ones are political clashes. The wars of 1948-49, 1967, and 1973 were life-and-death struggles for the Jewish state. But the wars of 2006, 2008-09, and now 2012 are media events in which Israeli victory on the military battlefield is foreordained and the struggle is to win public opinion.”

In the U.S. evangelical Christians are the largest group of supporters for Israel. Among those with far less sympathy for Israel are a significant percentage of Democrats and the first term of the Obama administration made it clear that the President is no friend to Israel. At one point he called for a return to the 1967 borders and opposed housing construction in Jerusalem. Dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to engineer a cease fire ensured that the U.S. would not be drawn into the conflict.

Many have expressed surprise that Egypt would take a significant role as a mediator, but few missed the fact that the U.S. was in a position to withhold $1.5 billion in foreign aid to Egypt whose economy is in serious trouble. Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's president has been traveling far and wide in the Middle East to secure aid, including from the Saudis, a leader of the Sunni majority of Islam, and always the hidden hand influencing events in the region, as well as the nation most fearful of the Shiite nation Iran.

Morsi has been walking the thin edge of a sword and a November 21 New York Times article spelled It out:

Read More...Both sides in the conflict appear to be testing Egypt’s new leader. Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, is wondering how much support it may draw from its ideological cousins now that they control the Egyptian state, while Israel’s hawkish leadership seem to probe the depth of Mr. Morsi’s stated commitment to the peace treaty as well.”
“For Mr. Morsi, the test is forcing him to reconcile conflicting elements of his own persona: as the Islamist firebrand who has denounced the Israelis as ‘vampires’ for killing Palestinian civilians and lauded Hamas for resisting an illegal occupation, but also as the newly elected president promising stability, economic revival and friendly relations with Israel’s Western allies.”
Despite the Times reference to “an illegal occupation”, the fact is that Israel withdrew from Gaza in a “land for peace” effort that has clearly failed. Israel does not illegally occupy land that is rooted in the millennia of its existance.
Dr. Pipes reflected on the timing of Hamas’s ramping up of rocket attacks on Israel that had been going on for months. He conjectured that the last attacks were to “test the waters in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s reelection”, to “rouse public opinion against Israel and make it pay a price internationally”, “refute accusations by Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it has abandoned resistance”, and remind the Palestinian Authority, as it seeks statehood at the United Nations, who controls Gaza.”
The effort of Fatah, based in the West Bank after having been driven out of Gaza, to secure statehood went nowhere in the U.N. Indeed, the so-called Palestinians have never had anything but rhetorical support and have been dependent on a U.N. refugee agency for actual support. They constitute the oldest unresolved refugee population in the world.
In August 2010, The New York Times reported on a survey by Al Arabiya television network in which “a staggering 71 percent of the Arabic respondents have no interest in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.”
It noted that “For example, it was common knowledge that the May 1948 pan-Arab invasion of the nascent state of Israel was more a scramble for Palestinian territory than a fight for Palestinian national rights” and that “from 1948 to 1967, when Egypt and Jordan ruled the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Arab states failed to put these populations on the road to statehood.”
So, yes, while it’s a good thing that the rockets are not flying, the “Iron Dome” proved successful, and the Israeli Air Force was able to kill some of the militant leadership and degrade its arsenal and ability to proceed to some degree, the current cease fire is a largely meaningless “understanding.”
What remains to be understood is the unremitting hostility to Israel that exists throughout the Middle East and globally where anti-Semitism has existed for centuries. The Israelis have merely bought some time until the next attacks.
The wild card remains Israel’s need to attack Iran’s nuclear and military facilities. Only by inflicting major damage will Israel have any chance of survival. Long a nuclear nation, Israel must stop Iran from becoming one.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Memories of Thanksgiving's Past

By Alan Caruba

This Thanksgiving Day I will dine alone. I will think about what I have to give thanks for—my health, the fact that I have seen 75 Thanksgiving Days come and go, a life with few regrets—but my day will be a sad one, not for myself, but for my nation.

I have always been an optimistic person, but that optimism has been drained by four years of Obama’s regime and the prospect of four more. It is compounded by a Congress that has steadily marched toward turning America into a European socialist economy now on the brink of financial collapse and, worse, by a nation that has abandoned many of the values and shared beliefs that made it great; a beacon of freedom for those who chose to come here, a superpower following World War II, a compassionate and largely tolerant nation.

I mark its long decline from the 1960s when the sons and daughters of a generation that had worked hard and followed the rules thought it was cool not to believe “anyone over thirty”, and, in 1967, adopted Timothy Leary’s drug-induced advice to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” He was speaking at a “Human Be-in” gathering of 30,000 “hippies” in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

That generation is now in charge of the nation, has long since debased the nation’s educational system, comprises the membership or supporters of countless “environmental” organizations, and voted for Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama.
They believe that the Republican Party is composed of “old white men”, and that government is all about “entitlements.” When I was a lad, we used to admire, respect, and even elect old white men.

From the earliest years of the last century, the nation began to adopt a lot of progressive ideas such as the income tax, the Federal Reserve, support for the union movement, and, in general, class warfare.

My childhood years were those in which the nation defeated two totalitarian threats to freedom and liberty in Europe and in Japan. By my teenage years in the 1950s all manner of technologies we take for granted emerged to make life so much easier and more entertaining. My Mother used to hang the wash on clotheslines to dry. Summers meant heat and mosquitoes.

Entertainment was the radio and a Saturday movie matinee. Then came washing and drying machines, air conditioning, television, pesticides that suppressed the mosquito population and killed the legions of ants, cockroaches, and termites that spread disease and damage homes. There were medical breakthroughs that ended the scourge of polio and provided relief from other diseases.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other national holidays were joyous times; particularly the Fourth of July and the respect for fallen heroes expressed on Memorial—now Veterans—Day. There were symbols of these holidays that were proudly displayed, but now we live in a nation where atheists protest the cross and the crèche in the public square, where prayer is banned in schools, and where even displaying the flag evokes protests, but burning it is deemed free speech.

Americans strove to repair the ills of the past. A hundred years past the Civil War, the civil rights movement, amidst marches and riots, they secured legal guarantees for African-Americans, formerly called Blacks or Negroes. Despite those laws, the Black community in America has remained mired in social pathologies seen in their crime rates, their school drop-out rates, their drug problems, and their broken families. The good news is that many Blacks have overcome obstacles to achieve success in various sectors of life in America. They did it the old-fashioned way, through education and hard work.

On June 28, 1969, a group of men at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn grew angry at the harassment by police. They took a stand and a riot broke out. It was the beginning of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered movement that has since infiltrated our school systems and is demanding same-sex marriage nationwide. They are a distinct minority.

In 1973 the Supreme Court decided that abortion was a woman’s right. The pharmaceutical industry would introduce “the pill” and the nation’s morals shifted in a dark direction.

Around my family’s dinner table on earlier Thanksgivings these events were discussed. My parents were Democrats and liberals, early supporters of the United Nations, and not given to racial intolerance.

Both were the children of immigrants. My father was of Italian heritage and my Mother’s father was a Russian. Her response was to learn how to prepare all of my Father’s favorite dishes and it grew into a career teaching haute cuisine and authoring books. She became internationally famed for her knowledge of wines; the first woman to become a member of the board of the Sommeliers Society. In his day, my Father was one of the youngest men to become a Certified Accountant in New Jersey.

In 1942 they had moved from Newark to a suburban town of Maplewood, well known for its excellent educational system. An older brother would follow in his father’s footsteps, join his firm, and marry. I would become a journalist and then a public relations counselor. My parents and I would live there for 62 years, participating in the life of the township. After they died the rising property taxes prompted a move to a rental complex in an adjacent community after the house was sold.

All around us, the nation drifted into a moral decline, best seen perhaps in the drug culture, but also in what passed for entertainment. Pornography became a pastime. Sex and violence, always a mainstay of films, became more blatant. Television sitcoms went from the fun of watching the “Dick Van Dyke Show” to the coarse humor of “Married With Family” and to current offerings that feature casual sex, gay families, and general vulgarity.

Politics, always a blood sport in America, has degenerated into the present gridlock. America drifted into wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. Communism took over China. The Soviet Union collapsed. And the world witnessed the rise of militant Islam.

In the span of my life we went from Pearl Harbor to 9/11. We went from the Great Depression to an economy that is barely recovering or even growing. It is stagnating.

In 2008, America elected its first Black President, a man whose personal biography was a carefully crafted fiction and whose personal paper trail remains hidden from public review. A war hero and longtime Senator, John McCain, and in 2012 a successful venture capitalist, Mitt Romney, were both defeated by a combination of white guilt and class warfare. Both Republicans were labeled “old white men”, as if their long history of service to their nation meant nothing.

On this Thanksgiving Day, an estimated 23 million Americans are unemployed or have stopped looking for work, 47 million are on food stamps, and millions receive some kind of government payments from Social Security and/or Medicare/Medicaid; programs going broke along with the rest of the economy. Dozens of other government programs dispense public funds, most of which must be borrowed.

We will watch the Macy’s parade and football games. We will gather with our families. We will hope that Congress and the White House can avoid a “fiscal cliff.” We will find things for which to give thanks, but the reality is that an America that credited both God and our own self-reliance has been abandoning the values and beliefs that made it great for a long time.

There is one prospect—I told you I was an optimist—that may turn the economy around. It is the enormous reserves of natural gas and oil that will be tapped via fracking in the years immediately ahead. America can become energy independent and an exporter of gas and oil. Coal, too, if it is still being mined. This would generate billions for the nation’s economy. It will, however, also allow the federal government to grow larger.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Hamas Versus Peace

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Hurricane of Global Warming Lies

By Alan Caruba

At his recent press conference, President Obama, in response to a question, said “You know, as you know, Mark, we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even ten years ago.” That is a flat out lie. The temperature of the Earth has been cooling for at least sixteen years.

The devastation that Hurricane Sandy wrought defies the imagination, particularly for those on the East Coast where so much destruction was inflicted. It mirrored 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and it is only natural for people to believe there has been an increase in hurricanes striking the U.S. homeland, but there hasn’t.

Despite 2009’s “Climategate” that revealed that global warming is a hoax, many still believe it exists. In a letter to Fred Upton, the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on November 11th, meteorologists and climatologists joined to warn that “Global warming that has not actually occurred can scarcely have contributed much to vast destruction wrought by Sandy.”

Dr. Bill Gray, the nation’s expert on hurricanes, was joined by Dr. Willie Soon, Prof. Fred Singer, and Lord Christopher Monckton, a science advisor to Britain’s former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to say that “Hurricane Sandy was a freak storm, not the type of extreme weather event that climate scientists have said will become more frequent and more severe if we fail to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.”

“After almost 16 years without global warming, there are still a few who implausibly try to blame this non-existent global warming for causing various weather-related disasters in the past two or three years.” The letter advised against holding hearings on the recent hurricane. “With the election behind us, we will have an opportunity to begin again and give this matter the attention it deserves—none at all.”

Writing in Forbes magazine, James Taylor, the Heartland Institute’s editor of Environment and Climate News, spelled out the actual record of hurricane activity in the decades prior to the global warming hoax which began in the late 1980s and since.

“The National Hurricane Center (NHC) provides information on major U.S. hurricanes during the past 100-plus years. According to the NHC, 70 major hurricanes struck the United States in the 100 years between 1911 and 2010. That is an average of seven major hurricane strikes per decade.”

In all the decades back to 1961, the 100-year average remained intact with major hurricanes ranging from as few per decade as four and as many as seven. Not a single decade varied from this.

In the decades since the 1980s when alarmists began warning of a major increase in the overall temperature of the Earth, claiming it would trigger major weather events like hurricanes, nothing changed. In the decades in which carbon dioxide emissions were said to be the cause, the average remained the same.

Taylor examined the preceding 50 years before “the alleged human-induced global warming crisis.” He spelled out the data from 1951 to 1920 that reveals that the 100-year average was unchanged.

Despite the global warming claims “during the past four decades, the time period during which global warming alarmists claim human-induced global warming accelerated rapidly and became incontrovertible, the fewest number of major hurricanes struck during any 40-year period since at least the 1800s.”

In the first two years of this current decade “exactly zero major hurricanes struck the United States.”

Despite this, the calls for carbon taxes are being heard; taxes that would affect all industry and businesses nationwide. Such a tax, already in place in California, would drive large scale manufacturing out of the nation and take with them hundreds of thousands of jobs. It would impact the nation’s utilities and drive up the cost of electricity, the life blood of the nation.

If Americans do not wake up to this threat, do not realize that hurricane activity has not increased, and realize, too, that the Earth has been in a cooling cycle since 1998, they will fall victim to the vast matrix of environmental organizations, government agencies, and the mainstream media that continues to spread alarm in the name of global warming and climate change.

© Alan Caruba, 2012