Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Greetings

A special wish for a happy New Year
to all who visit this blog,
who are among its "followers", and
especially those who have donated to
Warning Signs in 2012
and who will hopefully continue
to support the work it requires.
Even a labor of love has to pay the bills!

The 2013 Anxiety Meter

By Alan Caruba

All through 2012 I kept telling myself that, if I could just wait it out until the elections, a majority of Americans would surely set things right by electing Mitt Romney, but we have since learned that he was a reluctant candidate who, if we are to believe his son—and I think we can—really didn’t want to get in the race, but thought the others in the primaries had little chance of winning.

I won’t blame Romney for the loss. Running against an incumbent President has rarely yielded victory. He had all the right qualifications, but he always struck me as just “too nice” and, as we know, Republicans were reluctant to tear into Obama’s appalling record on the economy and other issues. Like Romney, they are “too nice” despite being up against political thugs.

I think 2013 is going to be a very unlucky year for the United States and it has a lot to do with the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is now free to finish off his destruction of America because he does not have to run again for office.

Anyone who has seen Obama in action over the past four years has reason to fear 2013 and beyond. Any man who wants to be President has to have a lot of confidence in himself and a very thick skin. Obama, however, turns every occasion, including the recent funeral service of Sen. Denial Inouye, into an opportunity to talk about himself. A National Standard article noted that during the recent funeral for Hawaii senator Daniel Inouye, Obama “in the short 1,600 word speech…used the word "my" 21 times, "me" 12 times, and "I" 30 times.”

Obama is the center of his own Marxist universe.

In his first term, we had an opportunity to see how he judges leadership. His cabinet choices and his unconstitutional layer of unaccountable “czars” who really determine policy were the kind of people willing to say anything and do anything to advance some very dubious policies. Billions lost on “green” corporations that could not compete and the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler left the taxpayer for a loss of more billions. His energy policy has diminished the use of coal despite the fact that the U.S. sits atop hundreds of years of this energy source that was the source of 50% of all the electricity Americans use when he took office and is now in decline.

His famed “apology” tour to the Middle East included a speech in Cairo, a city that exploded in rebellion against Egypt’s president reflecting similar events in Tunisia and in Libya. Whoever was advising the President clearly did not see any of this coming and were unprepared with a cogent policy when they did. The on-going slaughter in Syria has left America weakened on the international scene where the President’s preference to “lead from behind” has rendered our Middle Eastern foreign policy a joke.

When our ambassador to Libya was killed along with three others on his staff, it was obvious that the State Department had failed to respond to his many requests for increased security. This was then compounded by the most outrageous lies about the actual attack which was witnessed in real time in the White House via satellite. Only a President with contempt for the intelligence of Americans would attempt to pass off the attack as being unrelated to al Qaeda and the result of a video no one had seen. This is a scandal that rivals Watergate, an earlier government cover-up in which no one died.

Here again, 2013 will not bode well if Obama’s choice for the next Secretary of State, John Kerry, is confirmed as is expected. America first became aware of Kerry when, as a young veteran of Vietnam, he accused his fellow soldiers of offenses that were later proven to have no basis in fact. He threw away his combat medals. In the 1980s, Kerry campaigned for a nuclear freeze and the Obama administration has been reducing our nuclear arms arsenal at the worst possible time. Iran is just months away from having its own nuclear arms and, after that, no one can predict what they will do with them, but you can be sure they will use them. Obama’s promises to ensure they do not are worthless.

Obama’s reported choice for the next Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, is already running into strong resistance for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the perception that he is an anti-Semite. He has a record of favoring the downsizing of the military and regarded as a defeatist during the conflicts with Iraq and Afghanistan. If the sequestration cuts kick in, the Pentagon will lose nine percent of its budget, affecting the nation’s defense industries, affecting thousands of jobs. It is preparing to furlough 800,000 civilian employees.

If she stays on, the Secretary of Health, Kathleen Sebelius, will continue her relentless attack on the nation’s health system, once widely regarded as one of the best in the world, but now a model of socialized medicine that will end up killing people judged too old or too sick to receive care. At the last count, at least twenty states are in open rebellion, refusing to set up “exchanges” to purchase insurance whose rates will rise exponentially. One can be fined for not buying it.

His Secretary of Treasury, Tim Geithner, has urged that Congress forego its constitutional duty to set the “ceiling” on borrowing despite the fact that no nation has ever been able to spend its way out of debt.

We arrive at 2013 with a Congress that has not passed a budget in three years, despite comparable bills to address spending put forth by the House and rejected by the Senate. Obama has refused to negotiate or compromise with the House, a process that has been going on since his failure to act on the recommendations of his own Simpson-Bowes Commission to reduce government spending. The debt has swelled by $6 trillion dollars in his first term to an unsustainable $16 trillion.

A Congress in political gridlock is the worst possible way to begin a new year. A U.S. population, half of which is dependent through various “entitlement” and government giveaway programs, is being purposely impoverished by policies that have thwarted job creation and economic growth. Too many Americans not only do not grasp this, but do not care.

Only the most feckless and indifferent President ever elected would have put the nation in this vice, but as I have written over the years, the choice of Obama, a virtually unknown first term Senator, was made by a cabal of those who have waited years to destroy the nation, once the only real beacon of freedom in the world.

Meanwhile, Americans are rushing to arm themselves and may well regard the government as the real threat; one that regards the Constitution as a pliable document it may interpret any way it wants.

2013 is likely to be remembered as the year that everything began to come unglued around the world. Islamic fanaticism is raging throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa. The Chinese are asserting increased control over their part of the world, challenging our allies, Japan, the Phillippines, and others. North Korea is making and selling missiles and nuclear arms as fast as they can. Russia senses opportunities to flex its muscles.

Only the military and diplomatic power of the United States has held the world together since the end of World War II when the U.S. became the world’s policeman for lack of any other power to protect the global sea lanes and deter despots. Those days are over.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just How Awful will 2013 Be?

By Alan Caruba

Pundits and experts of every description love to predict and pontificate. That they are often famously wrong doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

The Great Depression began on October 29, 1929 with the stock market crash. On October 17th, Irving Fisher, a professor of economics at Yale University, said, “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”  A month later Fisher said, “The end of the decline of the stock market will probably not be long, only a few more days at best.” The Great Depression stretched for ten years, in good part due to the “progressive” policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was elected and reelected to four terms!

Not to be outdone, the Harvard Economic Society issued a number of predictions that were equally idiotic. “Since our monetary and credit structure is not only sound, but unusually strong…there is every prospect that the recovery which we have been expecting will not be long delayed.”  It took the advent of World War II to energize the manufacturing sector and increase employment. By the time the war was over the U.S. had, for its time, a huge national debt, but it was far better positioned for recovery than Europe or other war damaged nations.

Every recession since then has had experts predicting upturns just around the corner, but as Obamacare and its hidden taxes kicks in this year and next, when the Bush tax cuts have been allowed to expire, at a time when the nation is $16 trillion dollars in debt (and growing), and when its credit rating—for the first time in its history—was downgraded, a new recession is not going to go away any time soon. And this time Obama will not be able to blame it on George Bush.

Matthew 26:11 says, “The poor you will always have with you”, but there is a strong possibility that most progressives have not read either the Old or New Testaments or, if they did, dismissed them as fairy tales. 

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “So here is the Great Society. It’s the time—and it’s going to be soon—when nobody in this country is poor.” How did that government program work out? Johnson would be been better served if he had listened to Thomas Jefferson who said, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” And “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.”

Like Europe before it, America has succumbed to the siren call of Communism because (a) no one seems to learn anything from history and (b) most people would rather have the government tell them what to do and how to spend what little money they are permitted to keep. When Karl Marx died, most of his obituaries were wrong. The Neue Freie Press in Vienna, Austria wrote “Marx’s scholarship was an imaginative lie, his doctrine despair. The damage he created will pass like a corpse.”

Published in 1997, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression documented a history of repressions by Communist states that included genocides, extrajudicial executions, deportations, and artificial famines. At the time of its publication, the total stood at 97 million.

Former Soviet premier, Nikita Krushchev, addressing Western diplomats in 1956, said “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.” It helps that Americans elected—twice—a dedicated Communist. The history of Communist infiltration goes back to the Russian revolution that took power in 1917. By the 1950s, the U.S. government was shot through with Communists and “fellow travelers”, sympathizers. In the 1960s the subversion of the nation’s schools began in earnest and it should come as no surprise that former domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, a longtime ally of Obama, transitioned to academia where he became an “expert” on education in America.

Just as liberals would wish away war, there hasn’t been a day since the end of World War II when war has not been occurring somewhere on the planet and the U.S. engaged in them in Korea, in Vietnam, and in the Middle East, not counting peace-keeping efforts and minor engagements. War is the natural condition of mankind, occasioned by the lust for power in the hearts of despots of every description.

In the run-up to World War Two, Frank Knox, the publisher of the Chicago Daily News and a former Republican Vice President nominee said “It is simply unthinkable that we will ever again send overseas a great expeditionary force of armed men.” The year was 1940. So, yes, Republicans can be wrong, too. That same year, Franklin D. Roosevelt told Americans, “I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I say it again and again and again; your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” That changed on December 7, 1941.

You could fill a book about how wrong those making predictions and promises have been, so it behooves us all to view what is being said in the White House, in Congress, and elsewhere as to the direction the nation is taking. Extreme skepticism is the only way to approach the politicians and the “chatterati” on the airwaves.

The nation’s media has already hidden the scandals of ‘Fast and Furious’ and of Benghazi from public view. They make no mention of how an unread, 2,000-plus “Obamacare” was foisted on the nation by a Democrat party-line vote in the Senate on December 24, 2009, Christmas Eve! Obama signed it into law in March 2010.

There’s a reason thousands of Americans have been purchasing guns of all description and laying up stores of ammunition and it may go beyond concerns of gun bans. A lot of patriots think that 2013 could turn very ugly, very fast, with fears of martial law, Homeland Security goons, mass arrests, secret incarcerations, and worse. I have doubts about these scenarios, but they have long been a part of the arsenal of oppressive governments.

The trigger, however, for such scenarios would be the collapse of the U.S. dollar and there are signs—the massive national debt, the continued government borrowing and spending—that suggest this is a very real possibility. If and when that occurs, all bets are off.

What stands between most Americans and those who might wish to engineer the end to the Constitution is the fact that America is home to hundreds of thousands of hunters who comprise, by virtue of being armed, the largest army in the world. A goodly portion of our law enforcement community and our military are going to refuse orders to turn their guns on their fellow Americans and doing so would prove to be unhealthy.

Revolution is never pretty, but Americans did it once and can do it again to protect the Constitution and our rights. In a sharply divided nation, however, the level of resistance is unknown when so many now depend on the government for support. Many will prefer their chains.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Is Every Single Animal and Reptile Endangered?

Prairie Chicken

By Alan Caruba

If it sometimes seems to you that every single animal and reptile is endangered, you can thank that element of the environmental and animal rights movements that has spent millions to foster this absurd belief. Animals and reptiles, fish and birds, lizards and turtles, all are born in the wild and all are food for other species. Nature doesn’t pick favorites, but thanks to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), humans do.

I say “the wild”, but the wild is not some far off place, but rather, for example, it is the vast forested area along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Virginia and beyond. The “wild” has become our backyards as suburbs have become the home of choice for most Americans.

As often as not, those creatures are simply pawns in the environmental movement’s effort to close off vast portions of the nation’s landmass to access from the energy industries, the timber industry, agricultural interests, and any form of development from new housing to hospitals.

Enacted in 1973, the ESA has become the most pernicious piece of legislation foisted on a public that loves animals, but usually only in the abstract except for those who are pet owners who enjoy the companionship, mostly of dogs and cats. Other species may co-exist in beneficial ways, but they don’t adopt one another, nor do they intervene in the way the ESA does.

A couple of recent news stories illustrate how a noble human emotion, empathy, results in some outcomes that don’t reflect good judgment. Take, for instance, the Tampa Bay, Florida woman who ignored signs prohibiting contact with manatees. Videotaped climbing on several of them, she faces a stiff fine against touching them. Florida wants to protect these gentle vegetarians and to ensure they can continue their lives while avoiding dangers from boats whose propellers can cut or kill them. That just makes sense.

Contrast that with an article in New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper about Clinton Township residents who believe coyotes killed a deer. One family reported that is common to hear coyotes howling at night. Ah, Nature! But New Jersey?

Yes, New Jersey where its huge deer population thrives, often becoming road kill when a car crashes into them, endangering the drivers and passengers. A year ago the county in which I live had to authorize a deer kill in a reservation area, a watershed I have lived nearby my whole life. The deer were destroying it by eating the ground cover and any new trees. Where you find deer, you are likely to find clusters of Lyme disease since the ticks that are their parasites spread it to humans.

A large bear population requires New Jersey to have a hunting season for them. In recent years, this has been regularly challenged by those who have appointed themselves their guardians, but ask any Garden State resident that finds one in their back yard or on their porch and you will learn of the fear they generate. The state, like others, is home to Canada geese. Huge flocks of these birds befoul parks, golf courses, and other open areas they favor with their droppings. It was a geese collision that forced US Airways Flight 1549 to ditch in the Hudson River in 2009.

As a lifelong resident of New Jersey, I can assure you that there is no lack of raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and other wildlife. We have been told for decades that the growth of the suburbs is adversely affecting wildlife, but you would not know that if you lived here. They adapt! The bears break into garbage cans, eat the seeds in bird feeders. The coyotes will make off with a family pet for a tasty dinner. The deer eat expensive foliage and the crops that our farmers raise. It’s not called the Garden State for nothing.

This phenomenon is so widespread that Jim Sterba has authored “Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds.”  The woods that Dorothy passed through to get to Oz was filled with “lions and tigers and bears, oh my”, but throughout suburban America, they also include cougars, coyotes, deer, and bears.

In general, the ESA has been a huge failure. Only a handful of species of the hundreds deemed “endangered” have been restored to a larger population. The real purpose of the ESA is not about protecting creatures. It is about thwarting all manner of development, but most especially, access to areas where vast amounts of oil, natural gas, and coal exist, waiting to be extracted. The most endangered species in America today are the hundreds of jobs (and revenue) that this represents.

An example of this was described by David Porter in a recent Wall Street Journal commentary, “Playing Chicken in Oil-Patch Politics.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it will formally consider listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken—whose habitat includes some of the nation’s major energy fields—as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.” Porter identified this as “a desperate ploy by the Obama administration to further its campaign against oil and gas drilling.” The chicken is a ground-nesting bird native to portions of Texas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

The effort to list the prairie chicken is similar to an earlier effort to list the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, overlapping the same area as the chicken. Fortunately it failed, but it drains revenue and time from those states that must invest both to resist such listings in the effort to protect access to the energy reserves beneath their ground.

By September 2011, the Associated Press reported that there were more than 700 pending cases to declare “endangered” everything from the golden-winged warbler, the American eel, and the tiny Texas kangaroo rat. Yes, a rat!

The U.S. Forest and Wildlife Service had “issued decisions advancing more than 500 species toward potential new protections under the Endangered Species Act.”

It is time to end the Endangered Species Act as a very bad piece of legislation whose intent has nothing to do with protecting these creatures whose populations are exploding everywhere and everything to do with harming the economy of the nation. They don’t need protecting. They are surviving in spades!

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

End the Wind Power Tax Credit

By Alan Caruba

Like so much else that involves the absurd “renewable energy” scam—wind, solar power and ethanol—the public remains largely in the dark about its actual costs. They come straight out of their pockets in the form of higher costs for electricity and, in the cast of ethanol, lost mileage and engine damage.

At the end of this year, unless Congress does something spectacularly stupid—always a possibility—the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) will expire. If extended for just one more year, it will cost $12 billion. If wind energy was (1) reliable and (2) economical, one could make a case for it, but it is the very opposite.

Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, says “The wind industry claims a PTC extension will create 37,000 jobs. At a $12 billion price tag, that’s $327,000 taxpayer dollars for every job. But even with the PTC, the industry lost 10,000 jobs between 2009 and 2010, a 12% drop.” 

Another way the wind industry has stayed in business, but not in the competitive sense of other industries, has been renewable energy mandates that require state utilities to purchase wind powered electricity generation. Many states have opted out of such mandates as they realized the cost to consumers.

The wind industry in America, according to Pyle, has cost taxpayers $20 billion over the past two decades “and, today, the PTC is so lavish that wind producers are actually paying the electricity grid to take their power, just so they can collect more taxpayer money.”

All the economic advances America has made have been the result of the discovery and utilization of energy generation from oil, natural gas, and coal. If you want to harm America in the most fundamental way, you would attack these sources of energy and that is exactly what the Obama administration has been doing since it took power. For decades coal represented fifty percent of all the electricity used, but incessant attacks by the Environmental Protection Agency, using clean air regulations, has reduced this significantly.

The reality is that 94% of all electricity generated in America comes from traditional sources, coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric power. America is home to century’s worth of inexpensive coal, is the largest producer of natural gas, and invented nuclear power.

The absolute least sensible way to generate electricity is wind power, followed closely by solar power. Since the wind does not blow all the time or with sufficient ability to turn the blades of the huge turbines, it would seem obvious that wind is a moronic way to produce electricity, but that has not kept those reaping taxpayer tax credits and benefitting from mandates for its use from lining their pockets.

It is a curiosity of the debate over wind power that its impact on bird and bat species is rarely, if ever, discussed or reported. In a recent article, Paul Driessen noted that “The impact of mandated, subsidized and ‘production tax credited’ industrial wind facilities on eagles, whooping cranes, bads, and other value species is horrendous, ecologically devastating, intolerable—and growing. In fact, it is infinitely worse than the widely quoted figure of 440,000 birds per year…the actual USA death toll is 13,000,000 to 39,000,000 birds and bats every year!”

The expert I turn to for information about wind power is John Droz, Jr., a physicist and a leading activist against its use whose website is worth visiting.

Wind power doesn’t meet any of the major criteria for the generation of electricity. Droz points out that it only produces about 30% of the power it allegedly can or should produce. This is because “it takes over one thousand times the amount of land for wind power” that a single nuclear power plant produces. Moreover, that land has to be located far from the cities and suburbs that need to access its power.

Is wind power reliable or even predictable? Compared to traditional power generators, it doesn’t come close compared to the standards set for them. Indeed, “when power is really needed,” notes Droz, such as hot summer afternoons, “wind is usually on vacation.” It most certainly cannot be depended upon to dispatch power to the grid on demand, nor can it supply power reliably to meet a 24/7 demand.

Along with the Wind Protection Tax Credit, the industry is subsidized far more than any conventional power source, Cost per megawatt-hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, is subsidized to the tune of $23 per megawatt-hour. Compare that with coal that receives 44 cents! Natural gas at 25 cents! Hydroelectric at 67 cents, and nuclear power at $1.59.

The advocates of wind power are the same charlatans who keep shouting about carbon dioxide (CO2) as the cause of global warming—and now “climate change—when CO2 plays no role whatever in causing or changing the climate. It is also touted as being environmentally beneficial, but tell that to the thousands of bird and bat species the wind turbines kill every year.

Allowing the PTC to expire at the end of the year will not mark the end of wind power, but it will surely make it even less competitive in the years ahead and, like other nations that bought into this fairy tale, those dependent on it are going to suffer some dire consequences, particularly as the current cooling cycle the Earth has been in for the last sixteen years deepens.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Failed Congress

By Alan Caruba

This is for all those who voted to reelect Obama or those who stayed home on Election Day 2012 because they found Republican candidates who talked about unemployment and the need for more jobs unappealing.

The blame falls on the Democratic Party that controls the Senate and the White House. The blame falls on the Republican Party that needs to grow a new backbone instead of looking for ways to compromise with an administration bent on the destruction of the nation.

What awaits Americans in 2013 is the largest tax increase in the history of the nation and it is not because the Republicans in the House of Representatives did not propose and pass one plan after another to avoid it.

What awaits Americans in 2013 is the result of the failure and refusal of Congress to reform a huge and horrible tax code that even Certified Public Accountants and IRS bureaucrats cannot fathom and, unless an alternative minimum tax "fix" is quickly approved, the IRS has notified Congress that up to 100 million taxpayers will have to wait to file while it overhauls its computers.

Failing to act on the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowes Commission to reduce government spending, reform the tax code, and save the “entitlement” programs, and ignored by the President, resulted in a “sequestration” program of automatic, draconian reductions that will cut the defense budget at a time when it is our primary deterrent to attacks on the homeland and  the protection of our interests around the world.
Across the board cuts will impact all aspects of life in America; reductions in government spending that should have been introduced in a sensible, reasoned manner.

Remember George W. Bush who Obama insisted was to blame for the economy he “inherited”? The roll-back of the Bush-era tax cuts will impose increased taxes on families making between $50,000 and $75,000 that are estimated to take $2,400 from them according to one non-partisan study.
Investment taxes will increase as well. The capital gains rate will increase from 15% to 20% for investors. Dividends would be taxed like regular income, affecting decisions to purchase stocks that aid the growth and expansion of corporations large and small.
An estate tax will impact families seeking to pass on their properties and savings to the next generation.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts the nation could lose 3.4 million jobs in 2013. Meanwhile, jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed are set to expire next year. The maximum 73 weeks in state and federal benefits will fall to 26 weeks, affecting two million jobless Americans now receiving them.

The U.S. has functioned without a budget for the past three years and one that was submitted by the President was soundly rejected by Congress.

Millions of Americans who saved for retirement and those on fixed incomes will suffer as these tax increases occur.
Millions of employers will put their workers on a “part-time” status to avoid Obamacare mandates, reducing their income.
Obamacare was judged to be a tax by a Supreme Court that failed to give weight to the requirement that Americans must now purchase health insurance whether they want to or need to. This directly contravenes the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Some twenty states have refused to set up the insurance “exchanges” required by the law. Others struggle under the current Medicaid mandates.

This is misfeasance—the improper and unlawful execution of an act that in itself is lawful—by a Congress charged with the governance of the nation.

Politics has always been understood as reasoned compromise between those elected to office, but as we have seen in the weeks leading up to the so-called “fiscal cliff”, the President has refused to negotiate in good faith or to compromise. No doubt he plans to blame the Republicans for the ills of the nation.

As a result, Americans will keep or spend less of their earnings and millions more will be thrown into unemployment.

Most are unaware of these realities. While all this occurs, the nation’s debt of $16 trillion continues to grow in a nation whose Gross Domestic Product—the earnings from all its goods and services—stands around $14 trillion. This is unsustainable and it threatens the future of the nation whose credit rating is likely to be reduced.

It is a perfect storm.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Adam Lanza Killed Christmas 2012

By Alan Caruba

Adam Lanza didn’t just kill twenty children and six teachers and staff on December 14th. He killed Christmas 2012 with his dark shadow of insanity and evil. He killed the zone of safety that we ascribe to elementary schools when we send our children there. He made us all afraid for our own safety.

Lanza’s act sparked a dash to gun stores and shows across the nation to purchase guns and he gave all the gun-grabbers an excuse to propose still more laws against gun ownership that fail to protect people in the moments when they are threatened.

In the week that followed, during the media coverage of Christmas Day, and around the dinner tables of America as families gathered, his deranged act took away some of the joy of the holiday. For the families of the victims, it turned Christmas into a day of mourning.

There will be many more Christmases to come and this one in 2012 will fade from memory, but this one, when recalled, will be done with a shudder; a reminder that there is incomprehensible evil in the world and a constant need to be armed against it.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

American and Worldwide Blizzards

By Alan Caruba

Reports of recent blizzards in the Midwest and Northwest filled the television news and print media, but blizzards have always been part of the history of the nation and are occurring worldwide, taking a human toll.

We tend to dig out and forget them, but they are testimony to the power of Nature and have nothing to do with “climate change.” The four seasons are “climate change.” Blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods are “climate change.” It is wise to keep this in mind.

In the northeast, the great blizzard of 1888, March 11-14, wrote a chapter in the history books as one of the most severe. Snowfalls of 40-50 inches fell in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. It had sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour and produced snowdrifts as high as 50 feet.

In a new book, “Disaster! A History of Earthquakes, Floods, Plagues, and Other Catastrophes” by John Withington ($14.95, Skyhorse Publishing, softcover) provides a look at some of the greatest blizzards to strike the nation. Writing about the Blizzard of 88, the author notes that “It paralyzed the east coast of the United States from Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as affecting parts of Canada.” The great plains of the nation had been hit by a comparable blizzard just three months earlier in January 1888. It killed an estimated 236 people.

The Blizzard of 88 literally shut down life for those impacted by it. “On land, an estimated 400 people died, including 100 in New York City. At least 100 seamen died.” It led to the creation of a subway system that was authorized in 1894.

There was no blather about “climate change” because people understood it was a natural event. Just like Hurricane Sandy or, earlier, Hurricane Katrina, that struck New Orleans and the Gulf States.

While there have been any number of big storms that  have struck the nation, a blizzard in March 1993 was called “the storm of the century.” As with Hurricane Sandy, it was forecast due to advances in meteorology such as weather satellites. “On 12 March, though, snow began to fall as far south as Georgia and Alabama, with Birmingham recording twelve inches.” It closed airports from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Atlanta, Georgia. Altogether, 500 people died, many from heart attacks as they shoveled snow.”, a website maintained by Robert W. Felix, the author of “Not by Fire, But by Ice”, arguably the leading authority on past ice ages and based on the best science available, notes that the planet is on the cusp of a new ice age. His website tracks news of frigid weather events.

Since December 21, IceAgeNow has reported that dozens died in a Ukrainian “cold snap” that recorded at least 83 deaths, gripping that nation. In Poland, more than 60 have died since October. At the same time, heavy snowfalls occurred in Bulgaria. Russia has been particularly hard hit.
In the U.S. up to 18 inches of snow fell on West Virginia and we have noted the recent blizzard that hit the Midwest. California’s mountains have experienced heavy snowfall with 13 feet recorded on Mt. Shasta.
There is a strong possibility of more monster storms in America and worldwide. It could portend a new ice age because the average length of interglacial periods between ice ages is 11.500 and that is the length of time since the last ice age.
In addition, solar scientists are worrying about a natural cycle of the sun which is producing less radiation (warmth) in recent years.
When people like Sen. John Kerry, nominated to be the next Secretary of State, cites global warming as “the greatest long term threat to our national security” you need to pay attention because it demonstrates not just ignorance of the facts, but a dangerous stupidity.
As Dr. E. Kirsten Peters says in her new book, “The Whole Story of Climate: What Science Reveals About the Nature of Constant Change”, “Thus, if the Earth continues to behave as she has for the past two million years, we must expect a return to bitter cold at some point, with ice sheets that reach as far south as Nebraska once again. And, as scientists have recently learned, the change to that bitterly cold climate regime is likely to be fast, happening over a generation or two.”
“If we think of climate change as our enemy, we will always be defeated.” The last ice age was one in which “glaciers had once buried much of Europe and a good measure of North America.”
This is the reason to ignore the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that has been falsely predicting global warming since it conjured up the Kyoto Protocols in 1997 to require participating nations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that it claims cause global warming; a warming that is not happening and a baseless claim.
It is a reason to ignore and excoriate Al Gore who has greatly profited from the global warming scare campaign. It is a reason to be deeply suspicious of President Obama who continues to speak of “climate change” and the members and agencies of his administration such as the Environmental Protection Agency that justify a flood of regulations based on this false claim.
The politicians and pseudo-scientists have misled Americans and others worldwide who are beginning to experience a very different reality.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Christmas Wishes and Thoughts

“A good conscience is a continual Christmas.”
-- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
“Next to a circus, there ain’t nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit.”
-- Kin Hubbard (1868-1730)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Living in a Forest

By Alan Caruba

Driving around my hometown and surrounding communities in New Jersey, a familiar sight has been tree stumps, the wreckage left behind by Hurricane Sandy. Having lived here with few breaks my entire life, it never occurred to me how many trees there are. From a lookout point in the Essex County South Mountain Reservation area one sees in the distance the city of New York.

As far as the eye can see, it is entirely forested.

In an interesting new book, “Nature Wars”, by Jim Sterba, a veteran journalist, takes the reader on a journey to America’s long ago past and brings him to the present. In the process, he removes a lot of mythology and replaces it with some extraordinary facts that are the background for the way our modern lifestyles put us in conflict with many species that are not only thriving, but some which faced virtual extinction from over-hunting, especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

“In the eastern United States over two and a half centuries,” Sterba notes, “European settlers cleared away more than 250 million acres of forest. By the 1950s, depending on the region, nearly half to more than two-thirds of the landscape was reforested, and in the last half-century, states in the Northeast and Midwest have added more than 11 million acres of forest. These new forests grew back right under the noses of several generations of Americans.”

The storm surge of Hurricane Sandy, the waters that flooded the coastal areas of New Jersey, Manhattan and Staten Island did a lot of damage, but the loss of electricity was largely the result of countless fallen trees disrupting the huge network of electrical wires that our way of life depends upon. We live in a forest. Indeed, much of the U.S. population lives in a forest.

What I found interesting about “Nature Wars” was the way Sterba revealed that, despite what the growing population of the Northeast did to alter the landscape, particularly as regards the clearing of land for the agriculture they depended upon, in addition to hunting its wildlife for meat and fish, Nature quite simply reclaimed the land as the farmers abandoned the rock-filled lands of Massachusetts and other early colonies. In the wake of Independence are more people arrived, Americans pushed westward.

The “wilderness” of earliest settlers was often nothing more than ten miles inland. By the time of Independence in 1776, “The colonial population stood at three million and people were already trickling across the Appalachians.” Wood, however, was the primary fuel and was used for construction. “By 1850, the U.S. population had grown to 23.3 million, and wood supplied 90 percent of the nation’s energy needs.”

What saved the forests was the discovery of oil, natural gas, and the use of coal as new sources of energy. For farming, the use of draft animals became obsolete. By 1990 new technologies enabled farmers to grow five times more food per acre than farmers in 1930 had grown and they farmed fewer acres.

What saved the forested areas was a growing conservation movement. “By 1909, at the end of the Theodore Roosevelt presidency, some 172 million acres of public land in the West had been designated as national forests.” In the 1930s, an estimated one million acres of trees were replanted during the 1930s.

As Sterba notes, “Most of the eastern forest that grew back in the nineteenth of twentieth centuries remained forest in the twenty-first century, including 79 percent of the landscape of New England.”

By 2000, “For the first time an absolute majority of American people lived not in cities, not on farms, but in an ever-expanding suburban and exurban sprawl in between. Never in history have so many people lived this way.”

One of the great ironies of the renewal of forests everywhere, but especially in the areas where so many Americans live, has been the way many animal species have adapted to their human neighbors and have caused endless disputes as they have thrived and grown in numbers. As Sterba says, “Sprawl has become their home.”

If more Americans understood these relationships instead of taking their understanding from films like “Bambi” or the many documentaries we can watch in the comfort of our homes, there would be a greater understanding of the vast forces of Nature with which we can only seek to accommodate our lifestyle choices and a greater respect for forces like Hurricane Sandy that are well beyond our ability to do anything other than to clean up and rebuild.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Shouting from the Rooftops

By Alan Caruba

For years, decades actually, I and others have been shouting from the rooftops that global warming was a hoax. We were called “deniers” and “skeptics.” A lot of time has passed since the late 1980s when Dr. James Hansen, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, kicked off the global warming hoax with testimony before Congress.  

Global warming gained momentum because the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seized on it as a means to redistribute the wealth from developed nations to those that have lagged behind and because the media love stories of imminent danger. The media remains largely committed to global warming despite ample evidence it is (a) not happening and (b) a complete lie.

While many regard former Vice President Al Gore as the poster boy of global warming, it has been the IPCC that has been the main culprit in advancing the hoax, issuing reports of dire consequences if nations do not reduce their “greenhouse gas” emissions (mainly carbon dioxide abbreviated as CO2) to avoid a dramatically increased warming in ten, twenty, or fifty years. As time went along, global warming was coming any day now, but it never seemed to arrive.

The problem the lead scientists providing the bogus data to support the IPCC reports encountered was the perfectly natural cooling cycle the Earth entered about sixteen years ago. In 2009, a leak of emails between them was dubbed “Climategate” as it revealed how these conspirators were panicked by the cooling that began to occur around 1998. It also revealed their efforts to smear scientists who dissented from their claims as “deniers” and “skeptics” and plotted to deny them access to leading science publications.

The primary claim made by the IPCC and other “warmists” was that there was a “consensus” among the world’s scientists, but anyone familiar with science knows that it does not operate on consensus. Instead, each new hypothesis or theory is always challenged, often for decades, until it is proven to be reproducible and resistant to alternative interpretation.

Recently I received a report that one of the IPCC researchers, Alec Rawls, no longer wanted to be a party to its reports. Rawls reportedly said, “I participated in ‘expert review’ of the Second Order Draft of AR5 (the next IPCC report), Working Group 1 (“The Scientific Basis”) and am now making the full draft available to the public. His reason for taking this action, a break in the confidentially agreement, was the “systematic dishonesty of the report” which he said was corrupted by “bad faith” and “fraud.”

It might seem obvious to most people that the Sun is the most powerful factor in climate change, given the records of the gains and reductions of solar radiation, the Earth’s many ice ages, and the simple fact that it gets colder at night than during the day!

The solar mechanism is, of course, the Sun.

The global warming—now called climate change—hoax depends on convincing people that greenhouse gases, the exhalation of carbon dioxide by humans and mammals, and emissions based on the use of coal, oil, and natural gas pose a threat to the planet’s temperatures. In a very real way, hard core environmentalists favor reducing the world’s population by any means possible and the reduction in all the modern technologies that use energy, coal, natural gas and oil, to enhance life around the globe.

“The (IPCC) admission of strong evidence for enhanced solar forcing changes everything,” said Rawls. “The climate alarmists can’t continue to claim that warming was entirely due to human activity over a period when solar warming effects…were acknowledged to be important.”

In other words, humans play a very small role in the Earth’s climate, especially when compared to the power of the Sun.

This is what some very brave climate scientists and meteorologists have been saying for decades! They have been ignored or derided by the mainstream media who are wedded to the global warming hoax. It had the power of the federal government behind it (and still does) because it remains the justification for costly programs. From the Environmental Protection Agency to the Defense Department and all federal agencies in between, they continue to pump out propaganda and regulations based on this Big Lie.

The United Nations program exists to redistribute billions from developed nations to those who have lagged behind. The recently concluded IPCC conference made the transition from global warming to climate change to “sustainability” with the demand that less developed nations receive funding if they are affected by natural weather events such as hurricanes, heat waves, floods, droughts, and tornadoes.

As Ralph B. Alexander, a physicist and the author of “Global Warming False Alarm”, recently noted, “The link between extreme weather and global warming has as much scientific basis as the pagan rite of human sacrifice to ensure a good harvest.”

Alexander noted that weather events “show no long-term trend whatever over more than a century of reliable data. Weather extremes have occurred from time immemorial, long before industrialization boosted the CO2 level in the atmosphere.”

Indeed, the increase of CO2 has not induced or deterred the current climate cycle; cooling. Since the length of interglacial periods between ice ages is about 11,500 years, the Earth is on the cusp of a new ice age. Ironically, the CO2 increase may be delaying it.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Doomsday Et Cetera

By Alan Caruba

America and the rest of the world are in a confluence of events that are causing widespread anxiety and fear. The Connecticut massacre is just one, isolated example.  

It is being reported that the killer’s mother was as mentally unstable as her son. A report in the British daily, the Mail, said “Friends and family portrayed Adam Lanza’s mother Nancy as a paranoid ‘survivalist’ who believed the world was on the verge of violent, economic collapse” who had been “stockpiling food, water, and guns in the large home she shared with her 20-year-old son in Connecticut.”

Why Adam Lanza decided to kill children and staff will never be known, but it fits into a larger picture of the widespread fears surging over the planet like winds of doom. The tens of thousands of Syrian civil war victims are too great a number to grasp, but twenty children and six teachers and staff is.

We view the world through the prism of our own life experiences and the young among us have considerably less on which to draw in terms of understanding a world that appears to be—and is—a dangerous place where our freedoms and our lives are seen to be in imminent danger.

On Friday, December 21, millions around the world will await the fulfillment of a Mayan prediction that it will come to an end. When one considers that the end came long ago for the Mayan civilization, there is some irony in this, but it is testimony to the many end-of-the-world predictions that are embedded in religions that billions adhere to and believe.

There are Bible stories such as Noah’s flood preparations to avoid an angry God’s decision to start over again or with the story of Armageddon. When the first atomic bomb tests were successful, Robert Oppenheimer, one of its creators reportedly said, “I have become Shiva”, the god of death and the destroyer of worlds from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.”
It was an apt quote because mankind has arrived at a point where nuclear weapons can kill millions. In the back of our minds, we all worry that Iran, a nation ruled by fanatical Muslims who believe that widespread death and destruction is necessary to bring about the return of a mythical Twelfth Imam and the rule of Islam over the world. These leaders regard the U.S. as “the great Satan” and Israel as the “Little Satan.” Irrationality has never been a deterrent to war and, in the last century, we witnessed two world wars and many lesser ones that arose from the human instinct to conquer and kill.

It is noteworthy that the Iranians and other Muslims adamantly deny the Nazi Holocaust that systematically killed six million Jews in Europe during World War II. The resurrection of the state of Israel is one of the true miracles of modern times after the passage of two thousand years.

The prospects for avoiding a Middle East cataclysm are growing slimmer as the Obama administration has hued closely to the belief—disproven throughout history—that one can resolve such outcomes by talking to one’s enemies, even those who have openly stated their wish to kill us. In a world filled with nations in the grip of despots—often elected to office—this is wishful thinking to the point of national suicide.

Then, too, since the 1980s the world has been assailed by the greatest hoax, global warming claiming the destruction of all life on Earth due to the rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. It has been rising although it remains a trace gas, barely 0.038%, but the Earth has been in a natural cooling cycle for the past sixteen years and shows no evidence of warming, nor ever could be affected by CO2 which plays no role in climate change. What does? The Sun.

Religious zealots have been joined in recent times by a new priesthood, the many scientists who have been predicting the end of mankind. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich, a biologist who worked closely with the current science advisor to the President, John Holdren, predicted that “The battle to feed all over humanity is over.” He predicted that millions would die. They didn’t.

The Bulletin of the Atomic scientists moved its Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight at the start of 2012, saying “The global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth’s atmosphere.” Rubbish! The Earth’s climate has gone through many epochs that were filled with catastrophes, including Ice Ages and magnetic reversals that brought with them mass extinctions of species.

The classic Bible story in Revelation depicts the Four Horseman, conquest, war, disease and death.  Despite these, the world population quadrupled in the 20th century, given improved agricultural advances in seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, transport, and irrigation. Even so, we’re told that family size continues to shrink on every continent, despite predictions that it will top out at around nine billion by 2050. But they are only predictions, much like the Mayan calendar prediction.

Lastly, for Americans, there is the prospect of debt that could render the dollar useless and yet we continue to see Congress relentlessly borrowing and spending more money than the economy can possibly sustain; $4.8 billion is borrowed every day. All good and bad things come to an end if prudence and good governance is not exercised.

All this has long been known. In 55 BC, the Roman philosopher, Marcus Tillius Cicero, said "The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."

Finally, America is as deeply divided among its citizens as it has ever been since 1861 when it engaged in a Civil War that killed a tenth of its population. A nation this divided has little hope to sustain itself, especially when one half of the population is heavily taxed to sustain the other half that ops to live on government handouts.

A random, senseless act of violence such as occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, only exacerbates our fears. There are, however, far greater things to fear—real, not imaginary—and individually we feel helpless to avert them.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Time to Buy a Gun

By Alan Caruba

Over the past year I endured a hefty measure of stress due to a “noisy neighbor” in the apartment adjacent to mine that caused me to lose thirty pounds. I could never enter my bedroom without pausing to listen for the pounding, rhythmic sounds of music he favored. I would be awakened from an afternoon nap by them. In the evenings I could often not watch my television or read a book.

This neighbor was visited four times by the local police, responding to the noise ordinances that prohibit such behavior, but it did not cause him to lower the volume or when he chose to play his music. He received numerous calls from the management office to lower the volume, but ignored them. In the end, management, based on his behavior and other incidents, served him with an eviction notice. He remained in his apartment for the sixty days, as per the law, after he was given notice to leave and management was working on a court order to force him out when, two weeks beyond his end date, he “voluntarily” moved out.

I cite this because, from the first day he moved in and shortly thereafter, I was confronted by him in an aggressive fashion and had cause to be concerned for my personal safety. As a gun owner, I began to routinely carry one, albeit concealed and despite the fact that it would have taken me months to secure, if ever, a concealed carry permit. My State, like Connecticut, has some of the strictest gun laws on the books.

Among gun owners, the cliché is that “A gun in the hand is quicker than a cop on the phone.”

I cite this personal experience in light of all the calls for more gun laws, most of which I regard as totally idiotic. A background check is probably a good idea, but it also probably says nothing about the mental stability of the person under review. Certainly, we don’t want convicted felons to receive a permit to purchase, but criminals are not famous for obeying the law. Those with a history of mental illness should clearly be prohibited from gun ownership.

I am reminded that the Colorado movie killer. James Holmes, was under the care of a psychiatrist and she surely had cause to alert authorities, but by the time she did it was too late. Even if someone is seeking psychiatric counseling, it does not mean that local law enforcement authorities can intervene because there is no actionable cause to do so. There are often good reasons to seek help.

There is, in reality, little one can do under circumstances when a crazed gunman is loose in a school, a mall, a movie theatre, or anywhere else, other than to have the option to shoot him; waiting for the police to show up only results in a higher body count.

For this reason, I have no problem with laws permitting the concealed carry of handguns and in those states that permit this option the homicide rates and home invasion rates are considerably lower than in states that do not.

It is not the guns that are the problem, it can be the “noisy neighbor” or a crazed person bent on killing as many people as possible before either committing suicide or “suicide by cop.”

By the end of this month, the incessant, 24/7 media coverage of the Newtown massacre will have abated. This will be followed by congressional hearings that will repeat all the known facts about gun ownership in America and the Second Amendment that grants Americans the right to own and bear guns. By “bear guns” it means the right to carry them.

By this time next year, the Newtown massacre will have been largely forgotten in the same way the Columbine school tragedy and similar incidents have faded from memory and discussion.

The fear that 9/11 generated served only to create a huge government bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, and the expansion of surveillance of every citizen. It did not stop the “underwear bomber” on Christmas in 2009. He was, instead, read his Miranda rights when the bomb failed to detonate and kill everyone on the plane. The realization that the U.S. is engaged in a vast counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism endeavor has barely penetrated the awareness of most Americans.

In a 2007 commentary, “Buy a Gun”, by Chuck Baldwin, he wrote: “One thing the national news media will always ignore is the practice of lawful self-defense. For example, most people are probably not aware of the fact that American citizens use a firearm to defend themselves more than 2.4 million times EVERY YEAR. That is more than 6,500 times EVERY DAY.”

“This means that, each year, firearms are used 60 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives. Furthermore, of the 2.4 million self-defense cases, more than 192,000 are by women defending themselves against sexual assault. And in less than eight percent of those occasions is a shot actually fired. The vast majority of the time (92%), the mere presence of a firearm helps to avert a major crime from occurring. That is what Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) concluded after extensive research. According to Rep. Bartlett, the number of defensive uses is four times the number of crimes reported committed with guns.”

America does not have a “gun culture.” It has a “gun history” based on their use by its earliest colonists and settlers. It exists because guns were widely owned by men who formed local militia prior to the Revolution, stopping the British at Concord, and, afterword, when the Constitution was written by men who understood the long history of tyranny, they ensured that every American had the fundamental right of self-defense and a need to be armed in the event the government turned away from law and toward oppression.

Americans have reelected a President who passionately believes that diplomacy, talking—often unconditionally—with our avowed enemies, is the path to peace. It has never been the path to peace. It did not stop World War One or World War Two. Wars break out by intension and by inadvertence.

Talks with North Korea have not deterred that nation from developing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Talks with Iran have only provided that nation’s leaders, fanatical Muslims, with the time to do the same thing. Talks with Syria did not spare the lives of tens of thousands by that nation’s dictator. Both the President and his Attorney General have made no secret of their wish to restrict gun ownership.

The whole world is one huge armed camp and it needs to be.

Reportedly the mother of the Newtown killer owned several guns, including handguns, an assault rifle, and two hunting rifles. She had taken her sons to ranges to instruct them in their use, was a “survivalist”, was unhinged over the prospect of a world she believed was on the verge of violent, economic collapse. The school massacre was a tragedy waiting to happen. The guns were just the means with which it was carried out. Had any of the teachers or administrators at the school been armed, it might have been stopped or mitigated.

These are matters that go well beyond defending oneself against a neighbor acting in ways that disturb those around them. The four visits by police to my noisy neighbor had no effect except to build a file that could be used to evict him. He’s gone. I am safe again.

America already has thousands of laws on the books regarding the purchase and carry of guns. In Colorado in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre, more than four thousand people applied to secure permits to purchase guns. We need less laws and more guns. They will protect people in ways a desperate call to the local police cannot.

© Alan Caruba, 2012