Friday, November 30, 2007

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

By Alan Caruba

Enemies of Energy: A November 30 news release from Friends of the Earth announces that this environmental group “has been working behind the scenes to kill a provision in the Democrat’s energy bill that would force taxpayers to underwrite a new generation of nuclear reactors.”

It does not mention that taxpayer’s are forced to underwrite the production of ethanol, a gasoline additive that is (1) driving up the cost of driving your car and all 3,000 products that involve the use of corn, (2) that ethanol generates less energy efficient than gasoline, and (3) provides no savings to the consumer because it requires so much energy to produce it.

However, at a time when all the politicians keep telling us that America must become “energy independent” and “reduce greenhouse emissions”, a leading environmental organization is lobbying hard against subsidies that would encourage the building of nuclear facilities to provide the electricity a nation of 300 million people will need. Nuclear facilities are famously non-polluting.

In a nation in which subsidies to agriculture and all kinds of industrial activities are commonplace, Friends of the Earth is opposed to those which will provide the energy we must have to remain economically competitive and provide for the needs of a growing population.

Nanny Government: We now hear that the Food and Drug Administration wants to regulate the amount of salt (sodium) in our diets. Since when did we cede the right to decide what we eat and how much to the federal government?

Even if it is true that 75% of the salt the average American consumes comes from processed foods and restaurant meals, where is it written in the Constitution that the federal government can and must regulate this? I am all for the FDA protecting Americans against drugs that may harm health and food that may pose a threat, but there’s a big difference between ensuring that meat is not diseased and deciding just how much salt an individual may consume.

There’s a reason there is a high percentage of sodium in packaged foods. Since ancient times it has been known that salt is a preservative, protecting food against spoilage, and it also adds to the taste of food.

I am sure we shall hear numbers cited as to how many people die every year from too much salt in their diet, but one should be suspicious of such statistics as they generally leave out a lot of other factors that may well have also contributed to high blood pressure—such as a genetic inclination in some families towards this—and the fact that many of the people who are said to have died from too much salt may well have died from something else.

Hurricane Hysterics: What do we know as the annual hurricane season comes to an end? We know that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), along with some meteorologists who have gained recognition for their predictions of how many hurricanes will occur both got the 2007 predictions wrong.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, in a November 30 news release, believes that NOAA “is inflating the count of tropical storms and aiding a political campaign to regulate energy use in the process.” It notes that 2007 is the second year in a row that NOAA got its predictions wrong.

We need to understand that there have always been hurricanes as part of the earth’s bounty of disasters that afflict human beings. There were hurricanes before there even were human beings. They are a natural part of the earth’s climate system, so except for the problems they cause whether there are more or less of them has absolutely nothing to do with global warming because there is no dramatic or unusual global warming. The earth has warmed about one degree Fahrenheit since the end of the last mini ice age around 1850.

And, yes, hurricanes have become politicized in the effort by environmentals to convince everyone the earth is doomed.

I like to tell people that Mother Nature’s message to humans is “Get out of the way! Here comes a hurricane, a tornado, a flood, an earthquake, a blizzard, a wild fire, et cetera.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Mesopotamian Cauldron

By Alan Caruba

We reap what we sow. Today’s Middle East is a perfect example. If one takes the long view of history, the region is a series of battles that left various groups under the control of invaders of every description.

Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum is a prolific writer, published from the Jerusalem Post to the New York Sun. In a recent rumination about Turkey’s growing anger over attacks from a Communist group, the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PPK), Pipes reached back to the end of the Ottoman Empire following World War I to provide the background necessary to understand why Turkey presently has about 100,000 troops, backed by aircraft and tanks, on Iraq’s northern border.

The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 essentially created a number of nations and mandates to insure that the British and French would extend their colonial control into the Middle East after the Ottoman Empire threw in with the losing side. Iraq, Trans-Jordan, French hegemony over Syria and Lebanon, the British Palestine mandate and other perturbations arose from the efforts of the great powers.

A very naïve President Woodrow Wilson wanted a League of Nations, presumably to prevent future wars, but the United States not only gained no territory at the Paris conference, but the Senate wisely rejected membership in the League to protect our national sovereignty. Today we have the United Nations and the great powers are still calling the shots. The United Nations has proven as impotent as the League and infinitely more corrupt.

Events from a long ago time, yes, but 9/11 transpired to put the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq today. A previous 1991 invasion had been mounted to retrieve Kuwait from the clutches of Saddam Hussein. Go back a decade and the U.S. was Iraq’s ally in its eight-year war with Iran that ended in stalemate.

When the Bush administration decided to remove Saddam in 2003, the Turks made it clear they would not cooperate to permit U.S. troops and supplies to move through Turkey. A democracy, the Turks are also Muslims and perhaps because they saw more danger in destabilizing Iraq than in deposing Saddam?

In 1919 the winners of WWI had originally left Turkey, the home of the Ottoman Empire, with little more than its northwest Anatolian state. The Treaty of Sevres had divvied up Turkey among separate Armenian, French, Greek, Italian and Kurdish control. What the allies had not anticipated were Kemal Ataturk’s 1919-1922 military victories that reasserted Turkish power.

Goodbye Treaty of Sevres, hello Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 that established all of Turkey’s present borders except for the one with what was then British-occupied Iraq. Eventually the League of Nations assigned Mosul Province with its 600,000 Kurds to Iraq. By 1926, the matter was settled.

It became unsettled as the result of the 1980-88 Iraq war with Iran. The further collapse of Iraqi authority after the 1991 Kuwait war turned the northern Kurdish section of Iraq into a virtually independent entity. Even while in power, Saddam had turned a blind eye to Turkish intrusions as they chased the PPK. The Turks began to think about reacquiring Mosul Province. Since 1995 the Turks have crossed the Iraq border “in hot pursuit” 29 times. Aside from trying to punish the PPK, the Turks reasoned that the province had been part of the Ottoman Empire and some no doubt are thinking it could become part of modern Turkey.

A lot of the present problems the U.S. is confronting in Iraq stem from the fact that it is essentially an artificial nation. The leaders in 1919 Paris had no more idea about the differences between Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds than our present-day policy makers in Washington or London.

Unwittingly they ignored the concentration of Shiites in Iraq and neighboring Iran, and all but dismissed the importuning of the Arabian Peninsula’s sheiks who vied for control of those “sacred” sands. The descendent of one of them, a Hashemite, now rules Jordan, but it was ibn Saud, a Sunni, who would seize control of Arabia. In Islam, the Shiites are a minority population and generally held in contempt by the Sunnis. Even so, they comprise millions who live in southern Iraq and all of Iran.

If the word “oil” has come to your mind while this history has been discussed, you will begin to understand the dynamics at work in Mesopotamia these days. The U.S. and its allies invaded Saddam’s Iraq twice; first to protect Kuwait, the neighboring Gulf States, and Saudi Arabia from his clutches. Too much oil power in his hands would have posed too great a threat to the entire region and the interests of the West.

Iran, China, and others were very happy to let the United States fight that battle. They are now very eager to see us leave. That is not going to happen. It is irrelevant who becomes the next President of the United States. We shall stand guard for our oil-rich friends and keep the sea lanes open.

If the Supreme Leader in Iran hasn’t figured that out, he will find out the hard way.

Meanwhile, can the tribes of Mesopotamia be left to govern themselves? No more now than in 1919 when the area was carved like a Christmas turkey. No pun intended.

With oil hovering around $100 a barrel and gold having reached $850 an ounce, the Middle East is promising to create even more trouble for the West and other interested parties around the world. This is the kind of thing that leads to very big wars. We had two big wars in the last century and are barely into a new one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thinking Long Term in the Middle East

By Alan Caruba

Guess who’s going to be in Iraq for a very long time? If you said the United States, you are right. One doesn’t invade a nation without taking on long term obligations.

Thanks to a Clinton Administration initiative we are, after all, still in Kosovo. Whether there will be a unified Iraq in the years to come is up to the people who currently constitute that nation, but it’s worth noting that what was Yugoslavia is now Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, so don’t be surprised if Kurds decide to declare independence, followed by the Sunnis and the Shiites.

Thanks to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, Iraq was literally an invented nation, put together without any attention to the wishes of those who lived there.

On November 26, President Bush signed a deal that set in motion the draw down of most of the U.S. troops currently in Iraq. By July—well before the national elections—the troop total will be around 50,000 and they will be billeted outside the major cities. Add Iraq to the list of nations where the presence of American troops is actually welcome. The policeman of the world is everywhere because trouble is everywhere.

For everyone who keeps saying that Bush is a moron, he has just engineered a deal that completely eviscerates Democrat claims that the war is “lost” and who keep demanding we leave Iraq to the tender mercies of the insane Islamic jihadists. Since Iraq and Iran share a very long common border, the fact that there will be 50,000 battle-ready American forces next door is not likely to be lost on the Iranians.

The presence of U.S. troops in Europe since the end of World War II gave the former Soviets cause for caution and concern. History proves that strategically putting our guns and tanks in place actually works. Expecting the United Nations to achieve peace does not.

In the meantime, we can equip and train the new Iraqi military to become some of the toughest fighters in the region. As the Iraqis sort out their issues over oil revenue, they will need a strong army for national defense. Meanwhile, the Kurds are already putting out contracts (with American firms) for exploration to determine just how much more oil they have in their part of Iraq.

By the time this all plays out, the dynamics of the Middle East will begin to rather dramatically shift because Iraq will be a functioning democracy and an example to others that self-government can work as opposed to the top-down sheikdoms and dictatorships of the region. Arabs everywhere will take notice.

In essence, America will have quite literally “connected” the Middle East to the rest of the world, albeit at the point of a gun. I would remind you we did this in World War II by decimating both Germany and Japan, and then guiding them toward becoming thriving democracies and economies.

As Iraqi oil begins to flow, watch the price of a barrel begin to fall to more realistic rates. It sits atop the second largest known reserves in the world.

The “unknown” in this scenario is Iran, but if the remaining Bush neocons can just resist bombing Iranian nuclear facilities, we may yet achieve a long-term goal of undermining its regime and seeing a democratic Iran emerge.

And this is what it is all about, thinking long term. The crybabies in Congress who want to leave are thinking about November 2008. The realists are thinking about 2028.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Leaving New Jersey in Droves

By Alan Caruba

Why do I pick on New Jersey? Because it’s so easy and because I was born, raised, and have lived here for most of my life. It is home to some really wonderful people, but it is home to fewer and fewer of them.

A study by two Rutgers economists, James Hughes and Joseph Seneca, reveals that people are abandoning the Garden State at a rate three times higher than just five years ago.

“Census Bureau data reveal a sharp downturn in New Jersey’s population growth in the 2002-06 period and a sharp upturn in the number of people leaving the state,” the two wrote in a commentary published by the largest circulation daily, The Star-Ledger. On its front page, it published an article with the headline, “Jerseyans leave at alarming rate.” New Jersey has the distinction of joining California, Louisiana, and New York as having more people leaving than arriving or just staying.

Comparing these four states is dicey at best. After 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, a lot of Louisianans didn’t even have a home to which to return. The Hurricane, possibly the worst in U.S. history, decimated a big chunk of that state, along with parts of Mississippi.
No homes and no jobs was a good reason for that migration. As for California, the reasons for leaving are so vast as to require a book. Unchecked migration of illegal aliens comes to mind. A failure to anticipate and provide adequate energy generation and enough environmental regulations to drive any business elsewhere come to mind. New York? Well, it elected Hillary Clinton its Senator and has a Governor who wants to give illegal aliens driver’s licenses. Enough said.

A Monmouth University/Gannett polling institute announced in mid-October that a poll they conducted revealed that, “49% of New Jersey adults would like to move out of the state at some point, compared to 44% who would prefer to live out their lives here, and 7% are unsure. Moreover, 51% of those who want to leave the state say they are in fact very likely to make good on that wish. Another 36% say they are somewhat likely to eventually leave New Jersey and 10% are not too or not at all likely.”

The reasons even the Sopranos are thinking of moving to North Carolina or Florida are easy to understand. New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation. We have one of the highest sales taxes as well. It costs more to buy auto insurance here than anywhere else. It has had, with the exception of Christie Whitman, one Democrat after another running the state. Whitman borrowed more debt to add to that created by other administrations. She left the job of Governor to head the Environmental Protection Agency. President Bush fired her. She is rumored to be up for the lead in the sequel to the movie, “Clueless.”

By April 2007, the state’s debt ranked it fourth among all other states. It closed out 2006 with $33.7 billion in public debt. It has been among the most indebted states since 1998. One would think our legislators might take some lesson from this, but you would be wrong. Only California, New York, and Massachusetts ranked higher.

This is a state that elected Democrat Jim Florio Governor (1990 to 1994) who immediately raised taxes and almost as immediately was defeated for a second term, replaced by Republican Whitman. This is a state that elected Democrat James McGreevy Governor only to watch him resign (with his wife at his side) for placing his alleged lover, an Israeli citizen, in a high paying state homeland security job. It turned out that McGreevy was gay. Who knew?

Now the state is run by Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat gazillionaire who was bored after having bought the job of U.S. Senator, so he bought the job of Governor. He’s been in hot water ever since it became known he was giving lavish gifts to his ex-girlfriend and her family members. The fact that she also heads up the state’s largest union of civil servants adds a bit of drama to the revelations. Were legislators surprised to learn in July that they have an unfunded bill of about $69 billion for the health insurance they promised to current and future public retirees? Answer: Yes, probably.

Add into this mix a state Supreme Court that cannot interpret the state constitution that it forbids any other element of the state government but the legislature to initiate spending of any kind. Instead, these robed savants saddled the state with billions in the name of “the children” by requiring a school construction program that transfers money to urban and Democrat-controlled districts from suburban districts. The court has ordered free preschools for 3 and 4 year olds in urban districts even though the state constitution requires schooling only for those ages 5 through 18. Apparently a lot of people in those suburban districts are leaving.

This is also the same state that passed a Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act that instantly destroyed the value of homes and farmlands in a 1,300 square-mile region. As noted in a December Star-Ledger editorial, “Development controls are so sweeping that perhaps less than 20 percent of land in the region is left available for construction, even in the half of the region lawmakers had targeted for future growth.” Killing all growth in a huge swath of the state’s northwestern counties is yet another reason people are leaving.

The result of all of this spectacular stupidity is a projected state income and sales tax loss of $539 million in 2005. “Based on 2006 population out-migration data, the tax losses are estimated to have increased to $680 million in 2006.”

There is, of course, an astonishingly high rate of corruption among our elected leaders of every description; yet another reason for people to head for the exits.

If you tax people to a point where being middle-class is meaningless and punishable, they will leave for places where they are not regarded as a cash cow to be milked by public servants and where their children and grandchildren are expected to pick up the bill. New Jerseyeans are deciding to leave in droves.

If Americans put Democrats in power in 2008, New Jersey will be the template for the entire nation. Whole industries will want to leave. Jobs will disappear. Land values will drop. We will begin to live in a nation that limits personal liberty and choices in ways few can even imagine.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Where's Bush? Where's Paris?

By Alan Caruba

It isn't exactly a blinding insight, but it occurred to me that, other than watching President Bush "pardon" two turkeys prior to Thanksgiving, I have seen very little of him on TV news and he hasn't exactly been page one news of late.

That will change when an Annapolis conference to do what no conference or international body has ever been able to do--bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians--will be the short, pointless focus of attention on November 28th.

Some pundits think this is some sort of major effort, but I think it is mostly window-dressing and further "making nice" with nations in the Middle East to demonstrate how "even handed" the U.S. is with regard to the poor Palestinians.

Nevermind that Mr. Abbas of the Fatah group created by Yasser Arafat cannot go anywhere these days without Hamas trying to kill him. Their last clash chased him out of Gaza and he is now somewhere on the West Bank. He is described as "timid" by most. Hamas is described by everyone as "crazy sons-of-bitches."

I suspect we may see little of President Bush in 2008 simply because he is not running for office again (Thank you, U.S. Constitution, Amendment XXII) and because it will be up to whoever the Republican candidate is to either distance himself from the Bush policies or defend them, possibly both at the same time.

It has occurred to me as well that I have not seen much of Paris Hilton. In time, someone is going to figure out that she was (a) smart enough to disappear long enough for her prison time to be forgotten and (b) smart enough to have built a fortune of her own by branding herself as the party girl of the decade.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Waste of Time at Annapolis

By Alan Caruba

The upcoming conference at Annapolis to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is doomed from the git-go. None of the parties with the exception of that idiot Olmert are prepared to concede anything and even the Israeli people don't have that great a death wish...despite recent evidence otherwise as in Olmert's transfer of guns and other military gear to Abbas and his little band of Fatah murderers.

The Saudis are so afraid of even being there (they see themselves as the leaders of all the Arabs since they are home to Mecca and Medina) they won't even shake hands will the Israelis. What a bunch of craven cowards.

As to the others, the Egyptians and the Jordanians have long since signed off on peace treaties with the Israelis and neither wants any more military action (both got soundly whipped in 1967). So that leaves Hamas and Hezbollah, neither of which has any intention to make peace and accept Palestinian statehood.

Back when the British mandate over Palestine was lifted, the UN offered the Palestinians the status and territory as a separate state and they refused.

In every negotiation with them since they have refused.

What the Bush Administration hopes or expects to achieve with the Annapolis conference is beyond understanding. It surely is not peace because the Palestinians have never demonstrated any evidence of wanting to make peace with Israel, i.e., stop sending suicide bombers, drive-by shooters, and stop rocketing Israel.

And the Israelis will never relinquish control over Jerusalem to the descendents of goat herders whose religion didn't even exist 1,700 years ago.

About the only predictable thing that will occur is that the conference will be played out against the background noise of terror and rocket attacks on Israel.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

By Alan Caruba

It's an "age thing", but I can barely watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade because--to me-- it is just one long commercial. Every balloon and every float seem to have some kind of tie-in with a buy-me message. But then again, it is a parade sponsored by a chain of department stores!

And, again, is it just me or has Broadway had a total melt-down of creativity? Every musical appears to have begun as a movie. Having grown up in an era when Broadway musicals had their own original plots and some truly memorable songs, I was unimpressed by the brief performances I watched. Is everything a spin-off today? Also the dancing more resembles a work-out at the local weight-loss or fitness emporium than what used to be real choreography.

Where's Bob Fosse when you need him? Or Hal Prince? Or Rogers and Hammerstein?

I also have a limit for how many bands I can watch at one sitting. So, in truth, I didn't watch much of the parade, though I did try to watch parts of it.

The rest of the day was devoted to rest. I mostly napped in between reading.

Sorry, no big family dinner. Those days are gone with loved ones who have passed on and what is left of the family otherwise occupied.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oh, the Horror of Thanksgiving CO2

By Alan Caruba

Millions of Americans will, by plane, car and rail, move around the nation for the next few days for the sole purpose of getting together with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.

It is impossible to calculate all the carbon dioxide (CO2) that will be generated by this, but I am willing to bet that the Greens will be curiously quiet about it.

Masters of public relations, they know better than to rain on everyone's Thanksgiving parade by reminding them that they are, by their interpretation, contributing to a disaster they call global warming.

Instead, the media is filled with reports of how swiftly people are being processed through airports and what parts of the nation will encounter bad weather conditions. Meanwhile, around the world there are reports of unusually early and unusually cold weather. That's another thing the media will not report.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The True Cost of Wars

By Alan Caruba

I read a column by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne today. This man has a reputation as a deep thinker and, one presumes, is influential inside the Beltway.

“It’s time that we subject the Iraq war to the same cost-benefit analysis that we are called upon to impose on other government endeavors,” wrote Dionne. And, immediately, I thought to myself that this was a fairly idiotic idea. What if, halfway through World War II, it was determined that it was costing the United States too much and that we should cease our efforts to defeat the Axis powers? What if we had decided that the Korean conflict was too costly and the whole of the peninsula should be abandoned to the Communists of the North?

The United States has engaged in any number of military endeavors, large and small, and I cannot remember anyone saying, “Hey, this is costing too much money. Let’s quit.”

Wars are expensive. Modern wars are especially expensive. And wars yet to be fought will be even more expensive. But defeat is costly, too. Just ask the Soviet Union, rumored for decades to be a great superpower equal to the United States. Then Ronald Reagan rebuilt our military and made it clear he would outspend any Soviet effort to threaten Western Europe or anywhere else in the world. Then, one day, after being defeated in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

It took some 45 years of a very expensive Cold War, but today it can be argued that it was worth every penny for that fleet of bombers that ceaselessly flew to guard against the prospect of a sneak attack or the Navy that guarded the waters of the world. All the protective actions the United States took, spending billions, in retrospect seem worth it now.

How many times do you think the U.S. should have had to invade Iraq? The first time under Bush 41 was deemed a success in that it restored Kuwait’s sovereignty and denied Saddam Hussein access to its oil reserves. Saddam had previously waged war on Iran for eight years for the same purpose. But Saddam had been permitted to remain in power and the result was the necessity for a second invasion to remove his threat to the region.

Costly? Yes. However, the result is that Saddam’s evil regime is gone. The Shiites and the Sunnis appear to have begun to sort out their differences. And al Qaeda, drawn like moths to a flame, has suffered greatly in Iraq. Initially driven from Afghanistan after 9/11, all the reports out of Iraq suggest how unpopular it is there. Even the Saudis have issued warnings against any more of their young men, the backbone of al Qaeda, leaving to engage in jihad.

So, despite the enormous costs of the Iraq war perhaps history will look back at George W. Bush and the neocons, and conclude it was all worth it.

By way of contrast, more than 40,000 Americans lost their lives on the streets and highways of America last year. That is carnage on a scale that humbles our military casualties in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the United States has continued to undergo a wholesale invasion across our southern border of millions of illegal aliens and, with it, growing and ever more dangerous Mexican drug cartels. Americans spend an estimated $40 billion on illegal drugs every year. Between the illegal aliens and the illegal drugs, the costs to America are in the billions, and we are hard-pressed to read any influential columnist address this “war.”

And, finally, since 9/11 when U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and to remain there to protect a nascent democracy, and since they invaded Iraq and destroyed the evil Saddam dictatorship, there has not been a single major attack on the United States homeland. You know what I would call that?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

IPCC Lies: Driving the Human Herd Before Them

by Alan Caruba

It is clear from the Sunday news coverage of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's draft report, agreed to in Valencia, Spain by the representatives of some 140 nations, that the drive to impose a massive attack on the world's economic structure is now under way.

It is the equivalent of a cattle drive in which masses of the world's population must be deceived to permit a change in everything we associate with the modern world, its use of energy, its modern agricultural techniques, its vast transportation system, and the transformation of its economic system by the imposition of a "cap-and-trade" marketplace for "carbon credits" that will transfer billions of dollars to the scheme's creators, all in the name of saving the earth from immediate and near-future disaster.

If anything can and should totally discredit the United Nations, it is the IPCC. If anyone gives credence to the U.N, Secretary-General's statements, it will only be out of ignorance of the truth. Ban Ki-Moon says that, "Only urgent, global action will do" to avoid scenarios one would only expect to find in a science fiction movie or novel.

Ki-Moon decries both the United States and China as the world's two biggest producers of carbon dioxide. So what? Carbon dioxide's contribution to the earth's atmosphere is so small that it can hardly be measured. What ordinary sensible people call "the air", environmentalists call "greenhouse gases." Carbon dioxide represents barely 0.038% of the atmosphere! The primary elements are nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (20.95%).

Despite this, an Associated Press report states that the IPCC claims, "As early as 2020, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will suffer water shortages and residents of Asia's largest cities will be at great risk of river and coastal flooding, according to the report."

"Europeans can expect extensive species loss, and North Americans will experience longer and hotter heat waves and greater competition for water."

These cataclysmic predictions are all based on computer models, all of which since 1988 when the IPCC came into being, have had to be revised over and over again as obvious and deliberate errors have been found and disputed.

However, it is the computer models themselves that are of no value no matter what they predict. No computer model or group of models can possibly begin to represent the unimaginable complexity of the earth's weather and climate cycles.

No computer model can even include the actions of the earth's clouds, but clouds are significant elements of the earth's weather, changing minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour across the face of the globe.

As for claims of massively rising oceans, these too are lies. It would take centuries for the IPCC's claims to even approximate the rise they predict. As to "fiercer storms and more frequent droughts", there have been and will always be storms and droughts. This is how the planet functions.

These and all the IPCC claims are a desperate effort to do great injury to the economies of the Western industrialized nations, and to those nations like China and India that are beginning to reflect the modernization that the West has innovated and developed.

Cloaked in the apocalyptic language of religion and purporting to be a "moral" issue, the IPCC and all the environmental groups supporting the global warming lies know that even a casual examination of the so-called "science" behind their claims will destroy them and their evil agenda.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is the U.S. Getting Ready to Betray Israel?

By Alan Caruba

Rice: Israelis must be prepared for "difficult and painful sacrifices" now that they have a negotiating partner in President Abbas
November 14, 2007, 4:22 PM (GMT+02:00) –

"In an address to the United Jewish Communities meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, Tuesday, Nov. 13, the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Israelis must sacrifice some of their “longest held aspirations” in talks with Palestinian leaders. A strong Palestinian state was more urgent than ever, she insisted, as a bulwark against threats from violent extremists."

For the record, the Palestinians are the violent extremists. They have rejected every proposal for a separate state since Israel proclaimed its independence. Suicide bombers are Yasser Arafat's gift to the worldwide war on the Islamic Jihad.

The notion that Israelis and Jews worldwide will sit back and do nothing if Israeli Prime Minister Olmert tries to trade away Jerusalem and the West Bank in search of peace with either Fatah or Hamas is a diplomatic pipedream. No, make that a nightmare.

Worse, it is both strange and disconcerting that the Bush Administration which has been engaged with Islamic jihadists from the earliest days of its first term of office would think that Israel, which has battled them before and since its independence for sixty years, should make “sacrifices.”

Despite wars waged against it, Israel unilaterally pulled out of southern Lebanon in the late 1980s, only to be repaid for this with a short war by Hezbollah last year. It later pulled out of the Gaza, forcing Israelis who lived and had thriving businesses there to leave. It has been repaid with ceaseless rocket shelling ever since.

And yet the U.S. has the temerity to demand that the Israelis negotiate with organizations whose leaders have repeatedly gone on record saying they will only be satisfied when Israel ceases to exist.

Nothing good can come of this. It ranks as nothing less then a betrayal of a steadfast ally—the only democracy in the region—at a time when Arabs should see the U.S. standing behind Israel, not deserting it and its rightful claim to the Holy Land that was the biblically granted homeland of the Jews for more than two thousand years before Islam ever existed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Climate Lies on Page One

By Alan Caruba

It was the lead story on page one of my November 16 daily newspaper. “A little time left on global warming” was the headline and the sub-headline said, “U.N. draft report seen as world ‘how-to guide.’”

Yes, but it is a guide on how to mislead people into believing that the world is warming dramatically or just about to. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been at this since 1988!

For the record, the earth has warmed only a net 0.2 degrees Centigrade of net warming since 1940. Human-emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) is estimated to represent only half of that or 0.1 Centigrade of warming over 67 years!

There has been no warming since 1998 and, in the United States, the warmest year occurred in the 1930s at the height of a historic drought that affected the nation’s heartland. What warming has occurred began with the end of the last mini-ice age in 1850, so it should be understood as a natural response to that climate event that began in the 1300s.

In 2001, the IPCC predicted that human-emitted CO2 would likely drive the planet’s average temperature upward by 5.8 degrees Centigrade. This is would constitute a greater average warming than the planet has experienced in the last 100,000 years.

The new IPCC report, just six years later, has scaled back, predicting that, “For the next two decades, a warming of about (1 degree Fahrenheit) per decade is projected for a range of emissions scenarios.”

“Beyond the next few decades, projections increasingly depend on future greenhouse gas emission scenarios.” You know what a scenario is? The dictionary defines it as “a possible situation or sequence of events” and as “an outline of the plot of a play or opera.”

In other words, the IPCC is inventing, forecasting, projecting and predicting something it cannot possibly know. It is doing so based on seriously flawed computer models programmed to confirm the misleading assertion that the earth’s atmosphere will be critically affected by the amount of CO2 emitted by human activity.

Moreover, that water vapor is 99.999% of natural origin, as is the case of the other atmospheric greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and miscellaneous other gases with the exception of CFC’s. All the gases other than water vapor play such a small role that the IPCC’s demand constitutes criminal nonsense.

I have long since despaired that science reporters or other so-called journalists in this capacity will ever report the truth about the IPCC’s reports or the truth about any of the other utterly specious claims made in the name of global warming.

How many world-class climatologists have to publicly denounce the IPCC’s reports before any journalist will begin to exhibit the slightest skepticism?

How can real science compete with the totally politicized Hollywood Oscar awards to Al Gore for the collection of lies that passes for being a documentary? How does real science compete with five Swedish politicians—not scientists—who decide to give Gore and the IPCC a Nobel “Peace” Prize as if climate has anything whatever to do with advancing worldwide peace? This is the same group that gave an award to the father of all modern terrorists, Yasser Arafat.

This is theatrics, not science. Just as the “scenarios” of the IPCC are more worthy of a movies’ science fiction plot. End of the world scenarios have been around since the earliest recorded history of civilization. Virtually all major religions include their own version.

Claiming that “Human activities could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate changes and impacts”, as the IPCC report suggests, is the worst kind of fear mongering, but it is consistent with the kind of lies the environmental movement has engaged in since it metamorphosed from the socialist movement to one based on pseudo-science.

It’s enemies remain the same, corporations, industrialization, the greater use of energy resources by developing nations, and the sovereignty of individual nations.

That’s why many of the two thousand scientists whose opinions are sought by the IPCC have joined in opposition to its report because they know their objections and corrections to its text have been consistently ignored.

The report is not about science. It is pure propaganda intended to further the utterly false “theory” of global warming. If you want to read something comparable, read the history books published by the former Soviet Union.

You want to know what will cause a real catastrophe that could kill millions of people? Think of Iran, run by a handful of lunatics, having nuclear weapons. Don’t expect the United Nations to do anything about it.

The Celebrity of Hillary Clinton

By Alan Caruba

The cover of the November 19 issue of U.S. News & World Report has Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger smiling demonically, his huge head filling the page. Though nominally Republican, Arnold is more a Democrat and crazed environmentalist. It is the last page of the issue that is worth a brief comment.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the Editor-in-Chief, can usually be counted upon to write something thought provoking and, indeed, the title of his weekly commentary is “Hillary Hits a Pothole.” Proving that a week in politics is a very long time, Zuckerman was reflecting on her poor performance in a debate in which she took several positions on the issuing of driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.

Within days, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer who had advocated it, decided it was a bad idea, The fact that 75% of people polled on the subject hated the proposal might have had something to do with it, but more likely Elliot got a call from the Clinton campaign to help him change his mind.

By the time of the Nevada Democrat candidate’s debate on November 15, Hillary was once again being proclaimed the front-runner. The media is desperate to insure she will be the Democrat candidate.

While Zuckerman’s commentary might have seemed a cautionary view based on its title, its full text is one long accolade for Sen. Clinton. Acknowledging that her lead over Sen. Obama had shrunk and that she was “vulnerable” on the war in Iraq, Zuckerman spent half of his text singing her praises. “She has a quarter century of national political experience; a grasp of policy that makes the other Democratic contenders look shallow or uninformed; a willingness to work unbelievably hard; a prodigious memory; and a formidable campaign machine, including fundraisers who have brought her an overflowing war chest.”

In case you still hadn’t got the message, Zuckerman declared she has “star power.” However, the White House is not about celebrity, but competence. As Gov. Mitt Romney has noted, Sen. Clinton has never run a single business, a single city, or any other enterprise. Not exactly the best credentials to run the nation. Nor has she produced a single piece of significant legislation while in the Senate.

Indeed, her only real credential is that she is the wife of a president who served two terms, both of which were filled with scandal. Halfway through, voters turned Congress over to the Republicans. As to the other attributes Zuckerman cited, they mostly speak to her knowledge of waging political campaigns, not actually being in charge of anything as important as the government of the United States. She wasn’t even in charge of a husband whose philandering is legendary.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Green PR to Influence Presidential Candidates

By Alan Caruba

Have you ever wondered why hardly a day goes by without your reading or hearing about some Green program? It’s not just happenstance. The environmental movement has one of the most varied and impressive public relations programs extant. And it spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on it.

Take, for example, a $250,000 contract that Fraser Communications, a Los Angeles PR and advertising firm, just secured to promote the Presidential Climate Action Project. It is described as “an academic, government and interest group push to make climate change a priority for the next U.S. president.” Think about that, we haven’t even had a primary yet, but this program is already thinking about how to bring pressure on whoever is elected to continue dealing with climate change or, as it used to be known, “global warming.”

About the only person still using the term “global warming” is the gaseous former Vice President, Al Gore. He has, despite his Nobel Prize, evolved into a laughing stock for his near-term predictions of global catastrophe.

The Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) has an “advisory committee” that includes the Johnson Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and the National Wildlife Federation, among other groups.

One almost instantly wonders why a governmental agency like NOAA that presumably takes its direction from Congress is involved in trying to influence a future president? Isn’t that just a tad inappropriate? Unethical?

As to the others, from the beginning when the environmental movement first took off, it has been leftist foundations that have provided the funding, so there’s no surprise in that. Here again, however, one wonders what the National Wildlife Federation’s interest in climate change is all about? Since the Green mantra is that climate change is manmade, the result of human activities, why is a group devoted to bison, bunny rabbits, and other furry creatures involved?

The whole object of this endeavor and the charge that its PR firm will undertake is to apply “public persuasion” strategies related to policy and the environment. The key goal is to “set the stage for candidates running for public office in 2008 to take positions on specific proposals to address climate, energy, and national security.”

Whoa! The name of the project is “Climate Action”, but it turns out that this Green project is also about energy and national security.

One can understand “energy” because the primary goal of the Greens is to cripple the ability of the U.S. to acquire the energy resources it requires to maintain our economy and our lifestyle. Using the Endangered Species Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, and every other means, the bottom line is to insure that no coal-fired electricity utilities be built anywhere and to continue to slow any progress toward nuclear facilities. As for oil, they hate it. That’s why they have conspired to limit access to the billions of barrels of oil untapped in ANWR, Alaska’s North Slope, and 85% of our nation’s continental shelf.

You want national security? You better be able to fuel our Air Force squadrons, our Army’s tanks, and our Navy’s carrier fleets. You better cut our current 75% imports of oil and become more self-sufficient.

But somehow I suspect that PCAP’s agenda is about influencing presidential candidates to take positions that they genuflect to the myth of global warming. That means a President who will sign off on carbon dioxide limits on every industry and activity that might emit CO2. And that includes backyard barbeques.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Billions of Barrels off Brazil's Shoreline

By Alan Caruba

It's not getting much news coverage, but the Associated Press had a story on November 9th that "a monster offshore oil discovery and promising fields near the find could help Brazil join the ranks of the world's major exporters...."

There's lots of oil to be found in and offshore South America. The new field called "Tupi" is significant, not just for the size of its estimated reserves of some eight billion barrels, but because it is "light crude", the most favored type. Initial production is anticipated to exceed 100,000 barrels a day. Petroleo Brazileiro SA will start pumping in 2010 or 2011.

Brazil intends to keep the oil as a nationally owned commodity and not sell it off to foreign international oil players. Considering that the major Big Oil companies combined own only about 4.8% of the world's reserves, this is not good news for them, but oil is sold in a global market and Big Oil does not set the price.

Indeed, I doubt they are too happy about oil flirting with $100 a barrel because the more it costs the consumer, the less the consumer wants to buy it. Granted, we all need gasoline for the car, oil to heat the house, but if people decide to switch to natural gas for heating purposes or buy a hybrid car, that just cuts into future profits. Affordable gasoline and oil is their objective.

The Tupi field, by the way, "lies under 7,060 feet of water, almost 10,000 feet of sand and rocks, and then another 6,600 thick layer of salt." That, my friend, is a hell of a lot of drilling, but the payoff is going to be worth it.

There's lots and lots more oil to be found, but like Tupi it is going to be more costly to find it and then to extract it.

It's worth noting that Brazil's oil reserves currently rank it 17th in the world. Add in Mexico's oil reserves and the oil tar fields of Canada, and there's going to be plenty of oil in the North and South American continents to meet our needs for a long time to come. The wild card is Venezuela whose dictator's ravings are part of the geopolitical reason the price of oil is rising.

Now if we can only get those idiots in Congress to open up Alaska's ANWR where America has billions of untapped barrels of oil and to permit exploration of the 85% of the Continental Shelf they have declared off-limits, Americans might actually have a smile on their face when they pull into the gas station.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day - 2007

Naming of Parts

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

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

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

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

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

Henry Reed, 1946

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Was Norman Mailer Over-Rated?

By Alan Caruba

The author Norman Mailer is dead at 84 after a life being hailed as a great author, six wives, several bad film ventures, and generally a liberal bloviator on any and all subjects.

I always thought him over-rated despite his Pulitzer Prize and other honors. We know by now that the liberals who determine who wins these things have their favorites that they keep celebrating so long as they write and speak the Party Line.

A colleage and top-notch writer, Maurice Zolotow, openly accused Mailer of plagerizing his own writings on Marilyn Monroe for a book Mailer produced and, since Maurice was one of Hollywood's top chroniclers, I have little doubt that he was telling the truth.

Mailer, to me, was the quintessential dilettante, trying his hand at many things and, despite a better than average writing talent, not succeeding much in any of them. Yes, he sold books. That can be said of a lot of writers.

His first book, "The Naked and the Dead", gained him instant fame at age 25 and, after that, he garnered more renown from the journalistic form of writing than fiction. The novels that followed never really achieved the recognition of his first book and several were panned and deserved to be.

Who reads Mailer any more? That question cannot be answered with a quick response such as with the works of Hemingway, Steinbeck or Faulkner, but then one doesn't hear much about James Michener's writings either. Some authors exist for their particular era.

Mailer was a good, not great, writer... but he was a better self-promoter. Like a good actor, he always knew where to find the spotlight.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Dopey "News" About Oil Prices

By Alan Caruba

“Why Oil is Rising” was the headline on the November 8th article in the business section of my local, daily newspaper. First of all, the headline makes no sense. It should, of course, ask why the price of oil (per barrel) is rising and, subsequently, take note of the fact that everything that is made from oil—think plastics—is going to rise in cost.

Now, one should have a reasonable expectation that a “business news reporter” should have some fundamental understanding of business trends, economics, the stock market, commodities, and comparable topics.

So, when a reporter, addressing why the cost of oil has risen, begins his article saying, “Blame it on the weak dollar and the world’s insatiable demand for oil,” my first reaction is that he’s a dope. It got worse. In a sidebar listing the “winners and losers”, at the top of the list of winners was “oil companies that continue to rake in profits.”

Whoa! Does this guy even read newspapers? We have a weak dollar, not because of energy use, but because of a surfeit of bad housing mortgage loans, plus a deficit that keeps rising, thanks to the insane spending spree that Congress, under both Democrats and Republicans, continues to pursue.

The fact is that oil companies are all reporting decreasing profits. As Michael J. Economides, the editor-in-chief of the Energy Tribune, points out, “On November 1, the US largest public company and the world’s largest oil company reported a ‘steep’ 10 percent decline in its profit to below a market expectation level of $9.41 billion!”

Economides points out that the real reason why the price per barrel of oil is high is because of “geopolitical headlines” resulting from the threats issued by people running oil-producing nations like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the Iranian mullahs, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Add in a lot of trouble on the ground in oil-rich nations like Iraq and Nigeria, plus the fact that the United States has pursued a policy since the 1970s of restricting exploration and extraction of our own national oil resources, and you have high prices.

The cost of gasoline is further impacted by the obstacles that have thwarted oil companies in the U.S. from building more refineries. Not one new one has been built since the 1970s. Fully 85% of the continental shelf off the East and West Coast of America is off-limits to any exploration and, of course, the billions of barrels of oil in ANWR cannot be accessed thanks to a refusal by Congress to permit it.

And then we have all those idiot politicians running around saying the United States has to become more “energy independent” or the President claiming we are “addicted to oil.” No, we are not addicted. We require and need an energy source critical to the function of our society and economy. Other nations need oil, too. It’s called supply and demand!

As for those evil oil companies, Richard W. Rahn, a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute and adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute, points out that “Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest privately owned oil company, owns only 1.08 percent of the world’s oil reserves, and the five largest private global oil companies together own only about 4 percent of the world’s oil reserves.”

“If there were a truly free market in oil,” said Rahn, “with both the reserves and production owned and controlled by many competitive companies, the price of oil would be a fraction of today’s price.”

That’s not happening. Venezuela nationalized its oil company. Mexico has always had a national oil company. Russia’s is a state-run company. The Saudis and Gulf states are all government-run operations.

We don’t need dopey news blaming the oil companies and claiming they are making big profits when they are not. We need news that informs people of the need to begin to find and extract the oil we have and stop pushing inefficient and costly “alternative” energy like wind and solar power. We need to end the government-mandated inclusion of ethanol in gasoline. We need to stop punishing Americans for getting in their cars and driving to work or anywhere else.

Mostly we are in need of accurate reporting on energy issues and I don’t hold out a whole lot of hope of that from the same people who keep telling us the earth is heating up and we’re all going to die unless we return to a golden transportation age of horses.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Green Exercise in Idiocy

By Alan Caruba

Hardly a day goes by anymore without some breathless announcement of some new “Green” initiative. It’s all rather boring really, but politicians are eager to associate themselves with these idiotic exercises in futility. Obviously, the greatest of these is “saving the Earth” as if anyone could actually do a thing about it if an asteroid hit, the Sun decided to fry us all, or more likely, a new Ice Age arrives any day now.

Anyway, on November 7, the National Governors Association (NGA) announced “an innovative clean energy partnership with the “Climate Savers Computing Initiative” (CSCI).

Try and wrap your mind around this. A bunch of computer manufacturers and at least two utterly besotted state Governors think they are going to save the Earth by instituting “a 50 percent reduction in current energy consumption from state-owned computing equipment over the next four years.”

NGA Chair, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius will be “the first governors to commit their states to this partnership and will be sending a letter to all governors encouraging them to join the program as well.”

In case no one noticed, a large bridge in Minnesota collapsed not long ago and apparently the state had not allocated proper attention or funds for its maintenance. Kansas just voted to kill off several proposed coal-fired electrical utilities and one can only guess where its growing population is going to get more when they really need it. But cutting the amount of electricity that some computers use is their real priority.

Why? Because "The wasted electricity is dispersed as heat and increases the cost of powering the computer, as well as the emission of greenhouse gases." Say what? Computers are giving off greenhouse gases? Hell, human beings exhale two pounds of CO2 every day!

This is the kind of feel-good window dressing that governors and other politicians just love, but it does absolutely nothing to address the real, human problems that beset their states such as enticing and keeping businesses from deciding to set up shop in India or China. It has no affect on crime, poverty, and the provision of education or health services.

Instead it gives politicians a change to blather about reducing the amount of electricity some computers use and all in the name of “saving the Earth.”

This is why anyone with half a brain hates most politicians.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Quotable John Wayne

By Alan Caruba

It was a fortunate generation or two that grew up watching John Wayne movies. We learned how to be men from his films because we intuitively understood he was the real thing. In a sense—and he would tell you as much—he never really played anyone but himself.

There’s a great little book out just in time as a perfect gift for the man in your life who took John Wayne as a role model or is just now discovering his films in television re-runs. It’s “The Quotable John Wayne: The Grit and Wisdom of an American Icon”, compiled and edited by Carol Lea Mueller.

There’s some irony in that a woman could capture his essence in his words so well, but even Wayne said, “I’m a demonstrative man, a baby picker-upper, a hugger, and a kisser—that’s my nature.”

Wayne was unique in the Hollywood of his day. He was politically conservative in a town that, like today, was filled with liberals and, indeed, with people who were Communists. In the 1950s, as the Cold War between American and Soviet Russia began to heat up, some of them got blacklisted. As we now know, even the highest levels of the U.S. government had been thoroughly infiltrated by American Communists who were often Soviet agents.

Wayne said, “If you’re in a fight, you must fight to win, and in those early years of the Cold War, I strongly believed that our country’s fundamental values were in jeopardy. I think that the Communists proved my point over the years.” A fellow actor, Ronald Reagan, discovered Communists in the union he headed and that no doubt set him on a path in politics with the purpose of defeating the Soviet Union. He succeeded.

“Success is not measured by your wealth,” said Wayne, “but in your worth…Honorable men and women have a right to stand up for the things they hold dear…It’s the American way.”

The book is just filled with wonderful quotes, including a number from the films in which he starred. One of my favorites was from The Shootist, his last film in which he plays an old gunfighter dying of cancer. In a scene with a very young Ron Howard, he is asked why he became a gunfighter. He replied, “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.”

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Letting the Air Force Languish

By Alan Caruba

In the long ago era of the 1940s one of my classmates was youngster who grew up to become an Air Force General. Considering that I grew up to become an itinerant scribbler, I confess to being more than a little impressed. He remains my friend today and recently he sent me some statistics that made me wonder about the priorities of those in Congress and the White House.

Gathered by Michael M. Dunn, CEO of the Air Force Association, here are a few facts that are just ever so scary.

Said Dunn, “When I entered the United States Air Force in 1972, the average age of a USAF aircraft was about 8 years old. Today it is approaching 25 years old.”

The Air Force’s top procurement priority is the KC-X, a replacement for the KC-135 tanker. The oldest KC-135 flying today was delivered in November 1957.

The active duty Air Force today presently has 333,000 people. It is smaller than the Army Air Corps was on December 7, 1941 (354,000).

The President’s budget request in FY08 for the Department of Defense was $459 billion. By comparison, the request for the Department of Health and Human Services was $700 billion.

The President’s defense budget request amounts to 3.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). During the Reagan build-up that lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union the nation spent 8% of GDP. During WWII, the nation spent almost 40% of GDP. In the year prior to WWII, the defense budget was 1.7% of GDP. These numbers make it clear, Dunn, points out, “When we are unprepared, it costs us more in the end.”

Much like the run-up to WWII, the world has become increasingly more dangerous. The entire Middle East is experiencing extreme destabilization. The Russians keep threatening, obliquely, to cut off vital energy supplies to Europe. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan dictator, keeps trying to drum up trouble for the U.S.

For the United States to have an ancient fleet of aircraft and fewer people than the day before WWII is an ominous problem that needs to be aggressively addressed.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Amidst the Din of Global Warming, Growing Global Skepticism

by Alan Caruba

This week an entire American network, NBC, has devoted its news programing to promoting the claims that global warming is going to destroy the world. It invited Al Gore on one of its shows and he reeled off a list of things--well, just about everything--which he attributed to man-made (anthropogenic) climate change.

Given its billions of years, the notion that mankind is dramatically and dangerously changing the climate of the earth is so idiotic as to defy belief, but a lot of people do believe it and for that we can thank the United Nations' propaganda machine called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the media that have spread its lies.

Beginning some two decades ago, the IPCC began to pump out some hot air of its own and the other so-called environmental organization climbed on board realizing that this was a great way to sabotage any kind of development worldwide. Their particular target being all of the energy industries and then moving out from there like ripples in a pond.

In a November 5 article posted on Tech Central Station Hans H.J. Labohm, a Dutch economist and co-author of "Man-Made Global Warming: Unravelling a Dogma", shared the good news that finally the skepticism being expressed in America is now spreading to Europe. Noting Al Gore's Nobel Prize, he pointed to the fact that it was given by five Swedish politicians, saying "So the Democrat Gore owes his prize to a constellation of Progressives, Social and Christian Democrats, and Green socialists." The Prize is not about science, it is about politics.

Nation by nation, Labohm took note of the growing skepticism being expressed within various scientific communities whether it be Italy, the Netherlands, or the efforts of Czech Republic President, Vaclav Havel.

Of most interest to me, however, are the outspoken Russians, such as astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, who has declared that the earth will experience a mini-ice age by the middle of this century. I happen to agree, given the fact that the earth is at the end of an interglacial period between ice ages, having lasted 11,500 years at this point.

As the earth, particularly in the northern hemisphere, begins to cool off, a lot of people raised to believe it was heating up, are going to ask why anyone believed Al Gore and the rest of his cohorts, but by then these liars will be long gone.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Middle East is in Play

by Alan Caruba

Far from the stability the Bush Administration neocons thought they would bring to the Middle East by overthrowing Saddam Hussein, today the region is "in play" as various elements of it seek to secure power and/or territory or both.

Today martial law was imposed in Pakistan. While obstensibly a democracy with its own constitution, legislature and supreme court, the nation is a laboratory study of what happens when large portions of the population think al Qaeda would be preferable to democracy. Desperately trying to keep the nation in one piece while keeping himself in charge, President Musharref suspended the constitution. What happens next is anyone's guess. Miss Bhutto should probably grab the first plane out of Karachi.

Meanwhile, Turkey has 100,000 troops, backed by planes and tanks, on its border with the Mosul Province of Iraq where the Kurds live and where a Kurdish Communist group, the PPK, has been staging attacks on Turkey for years. Even Saddam turned a blind eye when Turkish troops came across the border in hot pursuit, but the only real power in Iraq these days is the U.S. and it lacks sufficient troop strength to allocate any to the northern border to deal with the PPK. Since Turkey has wanted the return of Mosul since the end of the Ottoman Empire, you can bet that some of its politicians are thinking this would be a good time to put troops in and make that a fait accompli.

Lebanon is relatively quiet these days but that could change overnight. The Syrians want it back under their control and they, along with their surrogates, Hezbollah, may be able to cause enough mayhem to make that happen. The only problem they face is the presense of so-called United Nations peace-keeping forces, but they could be withdrawn at the sound of the first shot fired. That would leave Israel with almost no option except to intervene for its own security. Been there. Done that.

And all the while, U.S. allies are quietly withdrawing their troops from Iraq. The British are leaving southern Iraq which, for all intents and purposes, is under the sway of Iran thanks to the fact that it is a stronghold of Shiite Muslims for whom Iran is not an enemy.

Ironically, the most stable nations in the area are Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates. Let's hope they stay that way.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Gold Sells for $800 an Ounce. Can War Be Far Behind?

By Alan Caruba

The news today is that the price of gold has reached $800 an ounce. Gold is the traditional refuge for money in times of war and that is why a great deal of money is moving into gold.

Men are looking at the price of oil flirt with an unprecedented $100 a barrel, the instability in the Middle East from Afghanistan to Iraq to Iran, and watching as well the 100,000 troops Turkey has posted to its border with Iraq.

They are keeping an eye on the machinations of Syria in Lebanon that have included several assassinations of Lebanese leaders, plus their Hezbollah surrogates who are poised to attack Israel. And finally they are watching the chaos in the Gaza in what amounts to a civil war between Palestinian factions there and on the West Bank.

Lurking in the background throughout the Middle East, but especially in Pakistan, is al Qaeda. Wounded and fractious, it still remains a force that wants to take over Saudi Arabia and the Gulf State emirates.

The conclusions and calculations of men are that these represent the kind of conditions that lead to very big, very bad wars.

The West, America, England and Europe, will have no option except to intervene because Middle East oil is just too critical to their own economies and need for the energy resource it represents. They got together to resist Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait.

They got together again after 9/11 to bless the Afghanistan venture to drive out the Taliban and they grumbled a great deal about the U.S. decision to depose Hussein's regime, but they know the real stakes.

Don't blink!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

One Hundred Young Americans

By Alan Caruba

As a longtime book reviewer, I get lots of them. I average about 140 a month. Every so often, though, one stands out from the others and Michael Franzini’s One Hundred Young Americans” certainly fits that description.

It is a big coffee table softcover filled with color photographs of teenagers from around the nation staring directly into the camera. This is Franzini’s trademark. He says, “I like eye contact.” As striking as many of the photos are, it is the text that accompanies them that gives pause. It is a portrait of a generation of Americans unlike any previous one.

What Franzini set out to do was to photograph a cross-section of America’s teenagers. Every generation of America’s adults worries about the nation’s teenagers. They are full of promise, have tons of energy, and their world is often quite different from the preceding one. In the case of today’s teens, Franzini notes that, “Teenagers today have instant access to people, information, and entertainment on a scale that their parents could not have imagined.”

Just as all teenagers have striven to become independent, i.e., not reliant on their parents, today’s teens have access to technology that facilitates this. “Cell phones, the Internet, and instant messaging give these teenagers a brand-new level of freedom. Their social networks literally span the globe.”

What is clear from this book, however, is that all teenagers are not the same, just as no demographic group is the same. Still, one can draw some interesting, frequently unpleasant insights from this book.

I think a lot of people will find most of these photos and their brief, accompanying descriptions disturbing. While there are a number of teens growing up with what we might call “family values” or typically American dreams, there are also quite a few who are frankly sexually active (one is a Nevada prostitute). A lot of them are mega-consumers for whom what they can buy largely defines them.

They may have a large circle of “friends”, but these are frequently distant and derived from Internet social sites like Facebook and MySpace. While “in touch” with others, teens appear to remain oddly isolated from the real world, seeing it through a media that defines it for them in a highly politicized fashion.

What I came away with was the notion that childhood—real childhood free of the fears and concerns of adults—has been taken away from this generation of teens. Still too young to sort out the complexity of the world (something with which adults struggle with as well), they are far more aware of what a dangerous place it often is.

The book is a bit of anthropology, a bit of glam photography, a bit of sociology, and a generally disturbing look at the next generation of Americans who are going to inherit this nation.

For a report on the latest in new non-fiction and fiction, check out