Thursday, July 31, 2008

Take Your Choice. Pests or Pesticides?

By Alan Caruba

I have never been able to understand why people have no problem taking drugs for medicinal purposes—frequently never reading the listing of side effects or the warning that taking too much might kill them, but seem to have fits every time some nitwit self-appointed think tank announces that a pesticide poses a threat to all life on Earth.

This is how one of the greatest pesticides ever invented, DDT, got banned. It had nothing to do with its beneficial effect, i.e., saving millions of lives from malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, and everything to do with the fabricated “science” put forth by Rachel Carlson in her book, “Silent Spring.”

Since 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has done more to remove from use some of the best pesticides ever invented for the protection of property from termites to one all-purpose pesticide that was applied with nothing more toxic than water!

So, naturally, the July 31 announcement by the Center for Public Integrity that they had discovered a vast conspiracy to keep everyone from finding out that pyrethrins and pyrethroids were responsible for 1,030 deaths out of more than 300,000,000 Americans in 2007 must be analyzed as virtually worthlessness.

Countless people die every year from drowning, bicycle accidents, and dozens of other commonplace causes, but the Center is not interested in comparisons.

Nor is the Center interested in delving into whether the deaths attributed to the use of pyrethrins and pyrethroids involved people with serious asthma or other lung afflictions. Some rare allergies might well have triggered a lethal response, but just as surely as people allergic to peanuts can die from ingesting them, a particular and unusual susceptibility to some kinds of chemicals will account for some deaths.

It must also be noted that some people use pesticides for the purpose of committing suicide. Among the deaths noted by the Center, they too are unidentified.

The usual unidentified implications of those deaths are further magnified by the Center’s statement that “scientists are still unsure of the long-term neurotoxicity of pyrethrins and pyrethroids, particularly among children and those susceptible to allergies.” When your intent is to frighten people, referencing “children” is always a component. And, of course, this is an entirely speculative observation.

In point of fact, pyrethrins (a natural compound derived from an extract of chrysanthemum flowers) or pyrethroids (man-made synthetic compounds), are among the most benign pesticides that either pest management professionals or the public can use. They are an irritant to most insect pests and, while it may not kill them, it will cause them to avoid areas where it is applied. They affect the nervous system of insects.

A December 1998 study released by the National Pesticide Telecommunications Network (Oregon State University) notes that, “Scientists have no data from work-related, accidental poisonings, or epidemiological studies that indicate whether or not pyrethrins are likely to cause cancer in humans.” The same holds true for data related to reproductive problems or birth defects. There is no mention of any deaths attributed to them.

The potential of dying as the result of exposure to pyrethrins or pyrethroids is very small. Thus, deaths attributed to these pesticides are circumstantial at best. It is so small even the Center acknowledges that, “the EPA does not require product warning labels cautioning consumers with allergies to the dangers associated with pyrethrins and pyrethroids products.” The FDA requires label notification on shampoos that contain them. If people were dying from shampooing, that would be news!

In order to come up with its announcement, the Center had to make “more than a dozen Freedom of Information Act requests” before “crunching the data.”

“Crunching” indeed! You probably have better odds of being killed by a bolt of lightning than from any threat posed by these particular pesticides.

One of the earliest “threats” that the environmental movement cut its teeth upon were pesticides. Now that “global warming” is being discredited on a daily basis, we will probably see more of these pusillanimous announcements as they return to pesticides as a go-to scare tactic.

In the end, you have a choice between the diseases insect and rodent pests transmit and the vast amount of property damage they inflict annually or the proper, careful use of pesticides of every description. All must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and that process usually costs several millions of dollars.

As for the Center for Public Integrity (what does that mean?) the watchword is caveat emptor, buyer beware.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Apologizing for the Past

By Alan Caruba

I read and re-read the news report that on Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives had passed a resolution described as “the federal government’s first formal apology for the ‘fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity’ of slavery and the legal segregation of African-Americans.”

Apparently the reporter was unaware of two key Amendments to the U.S. Constitution or the Civil Rights Act.

The resolution passed with a voice vote. It had been offered by Rep. Steve Cohen, a white man in what is described as a Memphis voting district with a large black population. Forgive me for being cynical, but I’m thinking this is going to be the central theme of his campaign for re-election.

Rep. Cohen hailed the vote as “legislation (that) can open the dialogue on race and equality for all,” To which I ask, how much dialogue is needed, given the fact that I lived through the Civil Rights movement, heard Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. speak and met with him afterward, and recall that then-President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964.

That’s 44 years since the law was signed and you can add in a dozen or more years that led up to it. That’s a whole heap of dialogue. Back then you could use terms like Negro or Black, but now black Americans are all semi-officially Afro-Americans. Who do people think caught and sold their fellow black citizens of Africa to the white slave traders back in the days when there was good money to be made?

It wasn’t that long ago that one tribe in Rwanda hacked to death thousands of people from another tribe. It was 1994 and the crime was genocide. Such acts are not particular to either white, black or any other people. They are just crimes that humans perpetrate for all manner of really bad reasons and are thus deemed crimes against humanity.

I am not making any excuses for slavery in America. Slavery then and slavery now is despicable, but I must confess I asked myself why the U.S. House of Representatives is apologizing now? What is so significant about 2008 that makes this resolution necessary?

Rep. Cohen said, “Apologies are not empty gestures, but are a necessary first step towards any sort of reconciliation between people.” I do not need reconciliation. I value my white, black, Asian, and Latino friends, but I value them as individuals, not as members of racial or any other group. Most of all, I do not need empty gestures.

I happen to believe “I’m sorry” and “I apologize” are two powerful expressions of good will and remorse, but I think they should be expressed between individuals. I cannot imagine how the House of Representatives thought it was speaking for me or presumably for all white Americans.

Talk about presumptuous! Here’s the House speaking on behalf of a generation, some of whom worked very hard to bring about the end of segregation despite or because they were white and speaking for subsequent generations, all of whom have to read about segregation in history books.

I remember the segregated South because I lived there for a spell. It was not a nice place. Some of those that opposed the end of segregation used bombs and other violent means to express themselves, but most Southerners knew that blacks were being wronged in so many fundamental ways, that the world was changing, and they had to change with it.

There are a lot of Americans, mostly liberals, who can only see what was wrong about American history. Morally it was wrong to import slaves and work them to death on plantations. Morally it was wrong to chase the native-Americans from their lands. Morally it was wrong to deprive Japanese-Americans of their rights and property during World War II. These things occurred in different eras and virtually everyone involved are dead.

Why the present generation of Americans has to apologize for the actions of previous generations escapes my understanding.

But, then, I am not running for re-election in a Memphis, Tennessee district or any other district where, thanks to the 15th and 24th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Afro-Americans can vote.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why McCain Will Win

By Alan Caruba

The nice thing about politics in America is that everyone can have an opinion and even the experts are often as wrong as the rest of us.

Take, for example, the way the Democrat Party has selected an astonishing bunch of losers to run for President since the days Harry Truman exited the White House. Republican Dwight Eisenhower took over.

Here are the Democrats who won: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton.

JFK was canonized by assassination, but did well handling the Cuban Missile Crisis and he launched the space program. It was, however, JFK that took over the Vietnam conflict from the French. It was Lyndon Johnson who compounded that mistake to the tune of some 55,000 dead American soldiers. Despite civil rights legislation, LBJ is mostly recalled for making such a hash of things he declined to run for a second term on his own merits.

If Richard Nixon, a Republican, had not been totally paranoid, he might have left office a hero for ending the Vietnam War and opening up China, but instead he gave us Watergate and set us up for Jimmy Carter. People tend to forget how utterly incompetent Carter was, but the Iranians made the point by holding U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days until Ronald Reagan ushered in two of the best terms of the Presidency America has known.

Bill Clinton much-touted charisma did nothing for his wife’s run for the office. He can count himself fortunate that his first term cost the Democrats the loss of Congress. The legislation the Republicans passed was some of the best in years for which he, of course, took credit. When you say Clinton these days, the only thing that comes to mind are endless scandals.

Let’s look at the Democrat nominees for President since 1972 starting with George McGovern, 1984's Walter Mondale, 1988’s Michael Dukakis, 2000’s Al Gore, and 2004’s John Kerry. It is hard to imagine are lamer bunch of candidates. Voters looked at them and went “ugh!”

This brings us to Barack Obama. Thus far he has been unable to convince at least half the registered voters to give him the nod. The bounce in the polls that followed his triumphal tour of the Middle East and Europe disappeared within a day or two after he got back to the U.S.

Who will not vote for Barack Obama? The first and most obvious answer is, of course, Republicans. Lots of Republicans.

When you begin to look at various demographic groups, Obama will not do well among senior citizens. He has already touched the third rail of politics by suggesting he wants to mess around with Social Security. Bad move. Moreover, he wants to tax all those forms of income that old people depend upon to pay the mortgage, rent or groceries. Most importantly, old people come out and vote, and they are a large portion of the population these days.

Veterans vote too. Veterans don’t like what they hear and see in Barack Obama. They don’t like the people who he hangs out with like former Weatherman terrorists, convicted real estate developers, and ministers who say bad things about the U.S.A.

Evangelicals, still a potent voting block, are aghast at the brand of Black Liberation theology Obama listened to for twenty years. The anti-American views of Rev. Jeremiah Wright are a drag on his candidacy.

The days when the unions wielded any clout are over, but the Democrat Party which depends heavily on their money and manpower may discover on Election Day that a lot of union members will have voted for McCain. Obama simply does not resonate among working people. He lacks the common touch, if, indeed, he ever had one.

Let’s also throw in the gun-owners too, 80 million of them, who did not take kindly to his “clinging to guns” remarks.

There are also all those people in “fly over” America who don’t much care what those on the East and West Coast think.

There’s not much point getting into the various religious groups, but it is safe to say that Jews, traditionally Democrat, may find it difficult to vote for anyone named Barack Hussein Obama. That could cost him Florida.

Too much parsing of various ethnic, religious, and racial groups is essentially useless with the exception of Afro-Americans. They will surely vote for Obama. Not generally known, however, is that Hispanic-Americans outnumber blacks in America these days and how they will vote remains to be seen.

Obama’s biggest problem is that the majority of Americans racially are white. Even Hispanics, racially, are white. Once you get by all the usual politically correct blather about race, the likelihood that whites will vote for Obama is slim to none when they get in the privacy of the voting booth.

That is why John McCain, unless he selects a serial killer as his vice president running mate, is likely to be the next President of the United States of America.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bin Laden Morphs into Che Guevera

By Alan Caruba

It’s become so commonplace as to receive only a minor mention in the news. Predator drones under the command presumably of the CIA or the Air Force find and kill some ranking member of al Qaeda in far-off Waziristan.

Silently traversing the skies above the otherwise impenetrable region, death must come as a surprise to the masters of Islamic hatred and terror.

Recently a senior Saudi cleric, Sheikh Saleh bin Muhammad Al-Luhaidan, the head of the Saudi Supreme Judicial Council, had some harsh words for al Qaeda and its founder. The scion of one of Saudi Arabia’s most distinguished families outside of the royal one, Osama bin Laden has been a pariah there for years. The Saudis were among the earliest to recognize the danger he posed.

“His actions speak for him,” said the Sheikh of bin Laden. “He is not the one to direct a person onto the right path. Indeed, he is a promoter of evil and depravity, and whoever follows him, pursues depravity.”

The Sheikh said of his followers, “These deviants, who were not tolerated in their (own) countries, went to Iraq and to other countries with the purpose of destroying of (Saudi) kingdom.” He called them criminals.

I don’t know what he thought of the 15 Saudis who participated in 9/11, but presumably he thinks they’re criminals as well. The fact is that Saudi Arabia has been a major center for al Qaeda recruitment for years. The Sheikh’s comments reflect this unpleasant truth.

It is a great irony that a nation that has spent billions for the propagation of Islam around the world has spawned this terrorist response as an outgrowth of its efforts. Worse yet for them, the jihadists want to overthrow the Royal family.

While the U.S. predator drones circle lazily above the frontier areas of Pakistan, Osama bin Laden is morphing slowly into the Che Guevera of the Islamist movement; more symbol than active participant.

Bin Laden is frequently said to be dead, but when one of our drones finds him, he will join the growing list of others who have been delivered to paradise with an assist from a guided missile or two.

We can take comfort in knowing that terrorists tend to rapidly wear out their welcome. Iraq is a perfect example of that. Those who continue to insist it was a mistake to go there and kill jihadists have been proven wrong. Unfortunately, one of them is running for President.

The fact is, we have neither heard, nor seen much from Bin Laden. As Martha Stewart would say, “That’s a good thing.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Are Newspapers Dinosaurs?

By Alan Caruba

My local Sunday newspaper was not delivered, requiring me to drive to my local newsstand to pick up a copy. They, too, had experienced a delay in receiving a batch of them for sale.

When I got back home, the Sunday edition was so anemic that I wondered what there was about it that merited its $2.00 newsstand price. Once the usual advertising inserts were removed and I tossed the sections devoted to real estate, auto sales, and classifieds for employment, there was little left. The alleged news sections had little to offer except the usual “who got killed” stories of murder and such. Politics was mostly about who was going to jail or likely to.

This sliming of the news content has become increasingly dramatic in recent times. Were it not for the obituaries, there would be little that passes for news. Most certainly in my case (and I suspect other’s) the unremitting editorials and commentaries about global warming and the wickedness of the George W. Bush go unread. Too boring.

Journalists may be the last people to learn that the Earth is a decade into a cooling cycle that began in 1998. The fact that the Earth and certainly the United States is not running out of oil, natural gas, or coal has yet to have penetrated newsprint. Or Congress.

What this suggests, of course, is that anyone paying any attention to anything other than the sports pages, the horoscope, and movie listings knows that the print news media is so out of touch with reality that purchasing a thin newspaper for the price of a bag of cookies gives the reader pause.

I mean, I really want the cookies and I can get my news from the Internet or the business and trade magazines I receive each week. I read The Economist, a British publication with a tilt toward the European Union, but one that truly does an excellent job of covering world affairs and business trends. It is equally savage to British and American politicians.

Business Week does a credible job of explaining why everyone is on the verge of panic and the current financial cycle is essentially just your typical “correction” when enough people are caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Reading Time or Newsweek is a huge waste of time. Their knee-jerk liberalism and bizarre devotion to failed economic and political “solutions” is utterly pathetic.

I am a former journalist who began my adult life as a reporter and editor on weekly newspapers, graduated to dailies, and swiftly concluded that the real money was in public relations. Today, being a journalist for a daily newspaper is a hazardous occupation subject to buy-outs and lay-offs. Some newspapers are contemplating letting “eye-witnesses”, i.e., ordinary folk, write the news of local events.

No matter how many blogs and forums daily newspapers add to their Internet sites, the fact remains that their pages are fewer as advertisers seek alternative means of reaching the public. Were it not for real estate and automobiles, supermarkets, mass retailers, and furniture stores going out of business there would be even less scant advertising.

Aside from the economic pressures, I harbor the notion that people simply trust their local newspaper less and less these days. They look at the news and then compare it to what they are hearing on talk radio or the cable television news shows, and conclude that it is hopelessly biased. The daily Rasmussen Report polling confirms this trend.

These days the daily newspapers are desperately trying to get Sen. Barack Obama elected as the next President. They are besotted with the notion that the future of America depends on electing a semi-black man (he’s half-white) to the office. Despite the gusher of gushing about him, quite a few Americans have their doubts.

I don’t expect daily newspapers to entirely fade away, but I do expect them to remain slim vestiges of what they used to be. They are the dinosaurs of our times. When people can get news from their cell phones, it suggests the next day may just be a late delivery.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ceaseless Hot Air and Wasted Dollars

By Alan Caruba

There is a point at which one’s contempt for the environmentalists and their allies is irredeemable. There is no longer the usual excuse that’s there’s room for argument or discussion regarding global warming. Having been labeled “deniers” for years, the sense that the end of this hoax is in sight brings no desire to forgive and forget.

Recently, Dr. Roy Spencer, an atmospheric scientist who formerly worked for NASA, testified before a Senate committee. Free now to speak without the impediments of bureaucratic oversight, Dr. Spencer told the committee, “I am pleased to deliver good news from the front lines of climate change research.

“Our latest research results, which I am about to describe, could have an enormous impact on policy decisions regarding greenhouse gas emissions. Despite decades of persistent uncertainty over how sensitive the climate system is to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, we now have new satellite evidence which strongly suggests that the climate system is much less sensitive than is claimed by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…the warming we have experience in the last 100 years is mostly natural.”

Read that again, “mostly natural.” The notion that human beings have had any impact on the Earth’s climate, while absurd when compared to that of the Sun, the Oceans, and other natural factors, is now headed for the trash bin of really bad ideas.

As Dr. Spencer put it, “If climate change is mostly natural then it is largely out of our control and is likely to end—if it has not ended already, since satellite-measured global temperatures have not warmed for at least seven years now…”

Why then has the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Center for Integrative Environmental Research at the University of Maryland, financed by the Environmental Defense Fund, just announced that, “climate change threatens New Jersey’s economy and coastal communities”?

Let me put the question another way. If it’s a short summer, filled with lots of rain, with a spate of colder weather before Labor Day, everyone who makes a living at Jersey’s famed shore knows that their economy has been affected by “climate change.” That’s because the climate or, more specifically, the weather changes all the time.

We don’t need a report saying that coastal residents and businesses could, might, possibly will, be affected by changes in the weather. We know that already! This report, like all the others that have preceded it, is about “scaring” people into believing that policy makers, i.e., legislators can do anything whatever about the climate.

They can’t. They never could. This, however, will not stop them from coming up with all manner of laws whose justification is “climate change.” These people should be driven from office with a combination of votes and pitchforks.

We have in this nation, an army of so-called scientists who devote themselves to conjuring up this kind of hogwash because it means a paycheck. The environmental scam has put their children through college, put a new car in the garage, and provided a vacation for the whole family. All they have to do is keep churning out idiotic, useless, and very expensive “research.”

Consider the Environmental Protection Agency announcement that they are going to throw $2.25 million at a study of “biodiversity” because it is deemed “critical for environmental well-being.” You cannot make up stuff like this. Several institutes and university entities will divvy up your money to study whether the “differences in animal community composition affect the risk of Lyme disease transmission in Duchess County, New York.”

Others will “investigate the relationships between diversity in plant, bird, and mosquito populations and West Nile virus prevalence in urban wetland community in northern New Jersey. Not to be left out, the University of California, Los Angeles, will investigate “the role of migratory birds in West Nile Virus transmission and use earth observations to better understand how climate and anthropogenic changes to the environment might predict risk.”

Those getting this money are going to dine out on your hard-earned dollars and eventually tell you that various species of ticks and mosquitoes are known to transmit these diseases. This, I assure you, is already well established and well known, but you have just forked over $2.25 million to be told the obvious.

The Greens specialize in taking the obvious and turning it into costly research that always results in a scary headline that we’re doomed in some way.

Meanwhile real scientists like Dr. Roy Spencer will try to make the boneheads we elected to high office understand that THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING BEING CAUSED BY HUMAN BEINGS, DRIVING CARS, USING AIR CONDITIONING, OR ANYTHING ELSE WE DO.

Since I live in New Jersey, I will wait breathlessly for the results of the EPA’s $2.25 million research grants. In the meantime, I will give thanks to the sensible folks who, decades ago, before the advent of environmental charlatans, set up a mosquito eradication program to protect people from this well known transmitter of a variety of nasty, nasty, nasty diseases.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama: The Politics of Showmanship

By Alan Caruba

For political theatre, there is no denying that the speech Sen. Barack Obama delivered in Berlin drew a huge, adoring crowd and was filled with the kind of talk intended to impress, not just Berliners, not just Europe, not just America, but the entire world that a new leader has appeared on the scene to work miracles.

Chuck Todd, the NBC News political director summed it up best when he pointed out that the same speech could have been delivered by Sen. John McCain because its content was ideologically the same in many ways. The critical difference is that McCain is imbued with the values of a family that has fought to protect American values, American freedoms for generations.

Both believe that industrialization and modern society is contributing to a climate apocalypse of melting Arctic ice and rising sea levels. Both believe the free world must defeat Islamofascist terrorism. The former is a corruption of science. The latter is the single most important issue of our times. At one point, Obama sounded a call for Iran to relinquish its nuclear weapons ambitions.

“People of the world, this is our moment, this is our time…”, said Obama, followed by an echo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, citing freedom from fear and freedom from want. The other freedoms Roosevelt cited on January 6, 1941 were freedom of speech and expression, and freedom to worship as one chooses. Islam opposes both.

The date of the Roosevelt speech is worth noting because eleven months later, on December 7, 1941, the United States suffered a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, plunging it into World War Two. Congress declared war against Germany as well. Not since those days has a craven Congress formally declared war on any nation despite the Constitutional requirement to do so.

Roosevelt had called for “a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor-- anywhere in the world.”

In Berlin, Obama made a similar call for a reduction of nuclear weapons, but this ignores the fact that once invented, no technology can be un-invented and a new technology can be used for good or evil. It took a nuclear weapon to end Japan’s aggression.

The notion that nuclear weapons will be reduced or the threat of their use be eliminated is no more plausible today than FDR’s wish for a reduction of armaments in 1941. Those in leadership positions seem to feel they have to say such things, but they know better.

Obama and McCain should know better when they talk about global warming and say stupid things about either of the poles melting or rising sea levels. Talk of reducing carbon emissions is baseless given the fact that carbon dioxide plays virtually no role in climate change. The Earth has been through any number of ice ages, has seen mass extinctions of life, and, after 4.5 billion years, continues as the only place in our galaxy with life forms as complex as ours.

An estimated 100,000 gathered to hear Obama and one cannot help but be reminded that Germans gathered in the 1930s to hear another spellbinding speaker. That one plunged Europe into war. The urge to be part of a huge movement is a powerful component of the human psyche, but that doesn’t mean that any good will come of it. As often as not, it has led to bloodshed and misery.

So listening to Obama toss off phrases about “global citizenship” and the need to “share the benefits (of wealth) more equitably” because such wealth should not “favor the few” tended to get my attention amidst the bursts of applause. That is the promise of communism, not capitalism.

When I hear Obama talk of welcoming immigrants I think of the twelve million or more here in America living illegally and parasitically off native-born and naturalized Americans. There are good reasons why nations have borders.

When I hear him say that “this is our moment, this is our time” I think that this is always everyone’s moment, everyone’s time, and that is an individual thing, not something to be melded into a vast collective ideology that will ultimately destroy individual rights, human rights.

What we are witnessing is the showmanship of politics. What we are hearing are ideas and beliefs that obscure the same dangerous ideologies that have caused so much conflict and misery that, if we fall prey to the theatrics of Barack Hussein Obama, we will surely pay a fearful price.

© Alan Caruba, July 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Do Not Send a Boy

By Alan Caruba

It is an old adage. Do not send a boy to do a man’s job.

That appears to be what a lot of Americans intend to do when they vote for Barrack Obama.

Perhaps it is from my vantage point of some seven decades on Earth, but when I listen to or see Obama on television, what I see is a very appealing young man who needs to put some time in, oh say, the U.S. Senate. Barely halfway through his first term, he has spent most of his time running for the highest office in the land. Talk about audacity!

Some might say that the experience he gained as an Illinois legislator counts for something but he mostly voted “present” during that term in office. The job of legislator requires taking a position on weighty issues. Just being “present” suggests a lack of any strong convictions except, perhaps, for wanting to be the President of the United States of America.

Previous “experience” appears to be something called “a community organizer” and he has certainly organized a heck of a campaign. He’s quite skilled at mass rallies and reading speeches from a teleprompter; speeches presumably written by someone else, full of rhetorical grandeur, but devoid of any substance, leaving us at a loss to know what he believes in other than wanting to be the next President.

When one of the leading liberal daily newspapers in the nation, the Washington Post, takes a candidate to task, that candidate should begin to worry. In its Wednesday, July 23 edition, an editorial called into question his assertion that those whom he met in his Iraq tour agreed with his view of a swift withdrawal of troops. They did not.

The Post then took him to task for his rather odd view that Afghanistan is “the central front” of combat in the Middle East when clearly the very oil-rich and centrally located Iraq is. The Post noted that al Qaeda is not in Afghanistan—the Taliban is—and that the U.S. cannot operate militarily in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden is presumably located.

Visiting a whole bunch of nations in a week’s time doesn’t quite strike me as “experience” in foreign affairs. I have a cousin who has traveled all over the world and can tell you what shots to take before going to Africa or India, but I don’t ask him for an opinion on how to resolve long-standing, often intransigent international issue.

Obama’s military “experience” doesn’t exist. All things considered, I have more military experience, having been drafted into the U.S. Army and being honorably discharged with a good conduct ribbon. By comparison, Sen. McCain, a graduate of Annapolis, a Vietnam War fighter pilot, and former prisoner of war leaves young Obama in the dust.

The policies of the Bush administration have resulted in what most people agree is a belated, but successful conclusion to the war in Iraq. The only debate about Iraq is how soon to leave and, as the Washington Post has noted, Obama is increasingly vague, saying he will be guided by our generals there. That’s been Bush’s policy for the last five years! When he fired Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and actually started to listen to them, we began to win.

What we do know about Obama is that he is possibly the most politically liberal candidate since Jimmy Carter to run for the office. If elected, he and the Democrats will introduce every tried and failed “solution” to America’s present problems, making them worse if that is possible. And it is.

These are, after all, the same people who have resisted any drilling or mining for America’s vast natural energy resources. They are the same people still talking about “global warming” a decade into a scientifically certified cooling cycle that began in 1998. They are the same people who see nothing wrong in letting millions of illegal aliens ignore our southern border. These are people who think banning the sale of the incandescent light bulb will save the Earth.

John McCain is always being called “old.” Ronald Reagan was called “old.” Reagan did a pretty good job as a result of having real governing experience and real convictions. Rejecting real experience and the often sage advice that comes with it is something that children do. Ask any parent.

Voting for Barrack Obama because he can sink a basketball and is skilled at contriving a variety of photo opportunities is just not good enough. Obama supporters need to grow up. So does their candidate.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Apparently We Have Won the Iraq War

By Alan Caruba

I had an odd thought the other day. Apparently we have won the Iraq war.

The president of Iraq thinks so and he wants us to leave. That's good enough for me, but apparently not for George W. Bush or John McCain. Neither of these gentlemen seems inclined to be leave. Meanwhile, Barack Obama is still trying to make up his mind when to leave. If elected, my bet is that he will find an excuse to stay.

There's all this talk of departure "horizons" versus "timetables." The good news is that we not engaged in shoot-outs every day and that the Iraqi army and police force now numbers over 500,000 men.

As matters stand now, Rasmussen Reports has posted notice that 63% of those surveyed as of July 22 want the troops to return home. That is a virtual mandate.

This war has been marked by endless absurdities starting with the USS Abraham Lincoln where President Bush announced that combat had ended and reconstruction would begin. That was in 2003. The war had been pursued on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Turns out he didn't by the time we invaded, but—surprise—he did have tons of "yellowcake", the stuff you need to make nuclear weapons.

Was there ever a more political round of absurd nonsense than the fuss over The New York Times opinion piece by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, followed by the revelation his wife worked for the CIA? A massive and needless investigation of White House aides ensued, led by a prosecutor who knew exactly who leaked the facts about her. Wilson had written that he had found no evidence that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy yellowcake. He has been proclaiming his indignation ever since. Nobody likes a crybaby.

The Iraq War will likely qualify as one of the most curious in our very long history of military interventions in the Middle East. The troops, bless'm, were in Baghdad within in a week or so, but once there the Iraqis began looting everything that wasn't nailed down and burning a great deal of their own infrastructure including schools, libraries and universities.

Having gone in with too few troops, nothing could be done to secure the city and, after the looting, the nation became a killing ground as various internal and external factions made war on each other and on us. In the process we lost some 4,000 troops. Eventually, the level of Iraqis killing Iraqis reached a point where even they found it nauseating.

The result? Peace, glorious peace!

Americans tend to forget that, in the Middle East, most political disagreements are settled with assassinations such as the murder of Egypt's Anwar Sadat and, more recently, the killing of Benezir Bhutto in Pakistan. In Lebanon, the Syrians assassinated a whole raft of politicians whom they found irksome. Several efforts have been made to kill Hamid Karzi of Afghanistan. In Gaza, Fatah was forced out by Hamas at gunpoint. Having achieved zero cooperation for decades, world leaders keep insisting that the Israelis negotiate with Fatah, giving them land and lollypops.

In the midst of the speculation about a possible war with Iran, people forget that, under Saddam's leadership, Iraqis fought Iranians for eight years in the 1980s. The result was a million casualties and a total stalemate. Then Saddam invaded Kuwait, occasioning our first visit there. And people still wonder why Bush43 concluded that it was cheaper in the short run to just invade and kill Saddam.

The history of conflict in the Middle East suggests that Arabs are not very good at fighting wars. If Lebanon's Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, decides to attack Israel again, the only thing left of Beirut and the rest of the nation will be its wall-to-wall smoldering ruins. It's always a bad idea to attack Israel, particularly for a second time.

Listening to presidential candidates arguing back and forth about withdrawing from Iraq is a tad surreal. Realistically it will take at least a year or more to get out of Iraq because we have a ton of hardware there. Most of it will be warehoused in Kuwait and Qatar.

Tucked away in desert wadis, encampments of American troops will likely be pulling duty in Iraq for a very long time to come. Once we invade a nation we never really leave.

The Middle East is what it has always been; a festering cesspool of oppression, corruption, backwardness, and despair. What else is new?

In truth, the United States has been sending troops to the Middle East since Thomas Jefferson commissioned our first Marines to kill Barbary pirates. We built the first U.S. Navy precisely for that purpose.

No doubt there will be some kind of big international confab to conclude the recent unpleasantness in Iraq and everyone will toast each other with champagne and toss back some really good caviar.

Saddam Hussein is dead. We won. It's time to redeploy to some other nation foolish enough to get our attention.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not as Dumb as They Think

By Alan Caruba

One thing that both journalists and politicians hold in common is their belief that the American public is really dumb. This is why politicians keep telling us that there’s only enough oil in Alaska for six month’s use, that puddles left over from a rain storm should be regarded as “navigable waters” and every species known to man and God is “endangered.”

It is written that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, but I would add that contempt for some politicians and journalists is also a sign of maturity and insight.

Rasmussen Reports conducted two telephone surveys and posted news of them today (7/21/08). In one it revealed that most Americans are confident about the U.S. banking system. “Nearly seven out of ten Americans (69%) are confident in the stability of the U.S. banking system…” Will some banks fail? Probably. Are deposits secure? Yes. In fact, 65% of those surveyed expressed little or no worry of losing their money.

I thought it was interesting that Rasmussen noted that, “Democrats are twice as likely (39%) as Republicans (19%) to be worried about the money they have in the bank. Once, long ago, I was a Democrat, but as St. Paul says in Corinthians, when I became a man I put aside childish fears.

It was also reported today that the results of another Rasmussen survey revealed a whopping 50% of Americans believe “the media makes economic conditions appear worse than they are.”

No one is suggesting that the economy is not having a difficult time navigating through $4-a-gallon gasoline or that some have seen the value of their homes decline, but overall the economy is remarkably resilient and people know that. This is the filter they apply when they read or hear dire reports and predictions served up by journalists.

“Only a quarter (25%) think reporters and media outlets present an accurate picture of the economy and 18% believe they actually portray it as better than it is. Just 34% trust reporters more when it comes to news on the economy, and 32% see stockbrokers as more reliable.”

That’s an impressive 75% who are wary of what reporters have to say about the economy, though it would be well to keep in mind that stockbrokers often have no better idea than the rest of us. Their job is to sell stocks and any reason to do so is sufficient. Stock market going down. Great bargains to be had. Time to buy. Stock market going up. Don’t miss out on great opportunities. Time to buy.

In truth, given the volatility of the stock market, one can see the role that emotion plays in the whole buying and selling equation. A wafting rumor is sufficient to create a wave of buying and selling.

This is also why the siren call of “change” and “the future” is likely to lose a lot of momentum by next November.

Part of the reason for the present volatility is the gradual expansion of economic power in Asia, but recall too that Japan, South Korea, China and India will be subject to the same limits on energy resources, an educated workforce, the introduction of new technologies, and other factors that affect the entire global marketplace.

Proceed at your own risk, but risk is what Capitalism is all about!

The good news is that the majority of Americans who actually take time to pay attention to the many sources of information about events, issues and personalities are capable of sorting through it to conclude that the U.S. economy is essentially sound, that will we get passed this mortgage loan bubble and debacle, and barring something horrid like another 9/11, we shall get on with our lives with relatively little discomfort.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Obama the Intellectual

By Alan Caruba

Anyone who has ever studied history knows that intellectuals have been the cause of more misery in the modern world than any other group.

It was an intellectual, Karl Marx, who decided he could cure the ills of society by coming up with an economic system designed to redistribute a nation’s worth by destroying every pillar of human society and assigning all power to the “state” which is, of course, composed of very imperfect humans.

The result, Communism, has killed more people than all the wars in modern times and been the source of such misery as to defy description. Other forms have included Fascism and the watered-down version, Socialism. None of them work. All of them make people into beggars, forever trying to manipulate the system for their advantage.

The latest version is the charade of sending economic “stimulus” checks to taxpayers instead of letting them keep they own money and decide how to spend it.

Did you know that Harry S. Truman was the first U.S. President who did not attend college? Compare the remarkable legacy he left behind to that of Woodrow Wilson, a former president of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey. Undoubtedly a man of intellect, he also managed to lay waste to every institution he led. The wreckage he left behind at the Treaty of Versailles following WWI led inevitably to WWII.

By comparison, Truman and the men he selected to serve the nation rescued Europe from Soviet domination after WWII, began the transformation of Japan and Germany into democracies and thriving economies, saved South Korea from communist domination, and are remembered for the Berlin Airlift that defied the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

So now the nation is being asked to elect a classic intellectual, Barack Hussein Obama, to lead us and, typically, he has no idea about the lives of ordinary Americans holding jobs, raising families, and trying to survive the idiocy of several previous administrations that have left the nation hostage to foreign oil and locked in battle with the worst elements of resurgent Islam.

I personally take some comfort that John McCain finished far down in the bottom half of his class at Annapolis. Smart enough to graduate, smart enough to fly fighter jets, smart enough to rise in the Navy’s command structure and tough enough to survive five years of torture by his North Vietnamese captors. Despite his differences with his own political party and inclined toward the element that greases any government action, compromise, McCain offers the capabilities and character that suggests an understanding of human nature.

Compare this with Barack Obama whose interpretation of the 9/11 attack on America was due to “a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers.” If Obama took the time to learn why Osama led the attack, he would have discovered that in 1998 he was a leader in the World Islamic Front for Combat Against the Jews and Crusaders. Since the Koran repeatedly commands attacking unbelievers and killing apostates to Islam, Obama has demonstrated extraordinary ignorance and foolishness.

Indeed, Obama attributed the attack and its lack of empathy to feelings that grow “out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.” Bin Laden is a university graduate with a degree in engineering. He comes from one of the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia. His close associate, Ayman El Zawahiri is a doctor of medicine. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who planned the attack is a graduate of the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University with a degree in engineering. Mohammed Atta who flew one of the airliners into the World Trade Center was a graduate of Cairo University, an architect. They were neither poverty-stricken, nor ignorant.

They are or were intellectuals who took great pleasure in destroying the lives of 3,000 Americans and bringing down two great skyscrapers in New York and destroying a big chunk of the Pentagon.

In a similar fashion, Obama expressed the view that Americans in “small towns in Pennsylvania and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest” are guided by feelings of bitterness. “They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

In short, Obama hasn’t a clue about ordinary Americans who go to church, may enjoy hunting or the concept of self-defense, and are angry with a government that has done nothing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants who will deny jobs to Americans and drive down their wages in the process. Americans are not anti-trade. They buy stuff from China and everywhere else in the world if the price is right.

Obama’s stint as a community organizer managed mostly to make a number of Chicago developers wealthy without improving the lives of those he was supposedly trying to help. He got himself elected to the Illinois legislature where he was reluctant to vote much of the time and then to the U.S. Senate where he has served less than half of his first term in office, having devoted himself solely to getting elected the next President of the United States. His attendance record in the Senate is worse than a joke. It is an offense to those who elected him.

He is, in a word, clueless.

This is a common characteristic of intellectuals who are convinced they know how everyone else should live their lives and convinced that only an all-powerful central government can and should determine the content of those lives.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tilting at T. Boone Picken's Windmills

By Alan Caruba

You may have seen the television commercials with T. Boone Pickens, a multi-millionaire who made his money in oil and is now trying to double up selling wind. That is wind as in wind power—as in hundreds and hundreds of wind turbines to generate electricity.

That’s why I find it more than strange that Picken’s television and print ads all start off talking about oil. In the current edition of Business Week magazine he has a full-page ad with a headline that says “It’s time to stop America’s addiction to foreign oil.”

Well, first of all, we are not “addicted.” We buy foreign oil because, back in the 1980s the White House and Congress set out to reduce domestic oil exploration and drilling. It was and it is a deliberate policy in which the U.S. guarantees the security of Middle Eastern nations so they can sell us their oil instead of our being able to compete with them in the global marketplace with our own extensive reserves of oil.

So, no, we are not “addicted.” It turns out that virtually every car, truck, and other vehicle on the roads and highways of America uses gasoline or diesel. That’s not addiction. That’s internal combustion. We don’t drive vehicles that run on lemonade or beer.

Virtually all of the oil we import goes to use for transportation and that includes, of course, aircraft, boats, tractors, off-road and recreational vehicles. There is nothing inherently wrong or sinful in this. It’s the way they’re made.

So why does T. Boone’s ad then go on to say “In 1970, we imported 24% of our oil. Today, it’s 70% and climbing”? Is this some kind of revelation he’s sharing with us? Is there anyone left in America that doesn’t know our politicians won’t let our oil companies drill for our own oil (while blaming them for not doing so)?

Here’s where it gets weird. T. Boone isn’t even interested in oil. What he’s really selling is wind power. If it weren’t for the photo of a wind turbine, you might not know that from his advertisement.

And, guess what? Vehicles, unless they have a big sail attached to their roof, don’t run on wind power.

Wind power is about electricity and, except for limited, small projects like running a farm off of a wind turbine or some other small usage application, wind power is just about the dumbest way to generate large amounts of electricity you can name.

My friend, Robert Bryce, an authority on energy and the author of “Gusher of Lies”, points out that, “even in the best locations, wind turbines produce power only about one-third of the time. And many produce at lower rates.” There is no comparison between the kilowatts generated by wind power and the billions from America’s nuclear or coal-fired power plants.

It’s not like it’s a secret that wind turbines are an unreliable source of electrical power. Bryce points out that, “In July 2006, for example, wind turbines in California produced power at only about 10 percent of their capacity; in Texas, one of the most promising states for wind energy, the windmills produced electricity at about 17 percent of their rated capacity.”

That means that there has to be nuclear, coal-fired or natural gas power plants functioning fulltime as a backup to the pathetically unreliable and inefficient wind farms. Moreover, what electricity they do generate is lost to some degree in the process of transmitting it over long distances to distribution facilities.

No one wants to live near a wind farm. You could have a nuclear power plant in your backyard and not know it was there unless you looked out the window. Wind farms are noisy neighbors and can make people crazy listening to them. Legislatures have to pass laws to exempt them from law suits identifying them as a public nuisance.

I do not fault T. Boone for wanting to make more millions, but his advertisements and public relations campaign talks about oil to divert people’s attention and awareness from what he really wants to do and that is build lots of wind farms and sell electricity. That’s deceptive.

Are we running out of coal in America? Not for hundreds of years. Can we build more nuclear power plants? You bet.

Like all the other hoaxes perpetrated by the environmental movement, “clean energy” is just another way for a few folks to get rich while the rest of us get screwed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Let's Ban Al Gore

By Alan Caruba

[Warning! This is satire. If there is any resemblance to reality in the text below, it is purely intentional.]

Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and winner of a Hollywood Oscar for his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”, was at it again, giving another of those “The End is Near” speeches in which he advises the rest of us to stop driving, get rid of our air conditioners, and do everything else to avoid global warming.

He says we only have ten years in which to do this. After that, says Al Gore, there will be so much carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere we will all be fried like ants on the sidewalk. Considering that there’s only 0.038% of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, listening to his idiotic bloviating can and has impaired the mental health of countless people.

His latest Gore-a-tion is that we need to stop using fossil fuels to generate electricity because, as he put it in his usual understated way, “The future of human civilization is at stake.”

Briefly, it’s worth noting that coal accounts for just over 50% of all the electricity we use, nuclear for another 20%, natural gas for just under 20%, and the rest from minor sources like hydroelectric. Solar and wind power, combined, accounts for less than 4% because it remains a really stupid way to generate electricity.

Instead of banning everything Al Gore and his Little Green Friends want eliminated from modern life, why can’t we just get Al Gore banned?

Frankly, I think a case can be made that Al Gore represents a compelling reason to set aside the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and free press. (But only for him!)

Single-handedly, Al Gore has frightened more pre-school and school-age children in the history of the nation. These tots are all convinced that the end of the Earth is coming in their lifetimes. The reason for this is that they’ve all been forced to sit through “An Inconvenient Truth” several times, often to the point where they weep uncontrollably and beg to be allowed to leave the room.

I know that Constitutional purists will say that Al Gore cannot and should not be banned, but I maintain that anyone who wrote, as he did in his book, “Earth in the Balance”, that the internal combustion engine should be eliminated has no right to speak in public or be published for any reason.

This is such bizarre and demented nonsense that the real question is why Al Gore has not been institutionalized?

It can be argued, I maintain, that anyone who crammed as many lies into his award-winning documentary as Al Gore did should not be allowed to roam freely. Here again, I know that some will say that if we locked up every liar in public life, the nation’s Capitol Building would be empty along with many of Washington, DC’s various bureaucracies whose job it is to steal private property and fleece taxpayers.

I repeat, I only want Al Gore banned.

I maintain that it would be a public service to put Al Gore under house arrest where he could continue to burn through more energy than twenty average homes in Nashville, Tennessee. This single act would render the entire world a Gore-Free Zone where polar bears would not be exploited for being cute to everyone except seals and some citizens of Alaska for whom the word “cute” does not come instantly to mind when one of them is in the backyard.

A Gore-Free Zone would be one in which the rest of us could devote more time to figuring out what to do as the Earth enters its second decade of atmospheric cooling and, unless the Sun warms up soon, slides into the next Ice Age.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Stimulus Bribe

By Alan Caruba

I received my stimulus check yesterday. It was $600 and I put it into my checking account and immediately paid a bill that accounted for half of it. I have serious doubts that it did anything to stimulate an economy that is undergoing a crisis of confidence in its financial and government institutions.

There is a serious crisis of trust in Congress. Polls indicate that most Americans think it is the worst in modern memory. They have good reason as they watch two horribly polarized political parties ignore some of the nation’s most pressing problems. These are the morons who banned the future sale of incandescent light bulbs. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans concentrate on seizing enough control to decide who gets to spend and waste our money.

It is, of course, our money. Or more precisely, it's the money the U.S. government borrows from other nations in our name. Giving everyone who paid taxes a pittance in return suggests that Congress thinks we are so stupid that we will actually be grateful.

Why should we be grateful to a government that, as it grows larger and larger, seems increasingly less competent to address common sense solutions to our energy needs, refusing to permit the exploration, drilling and mining of our own national resources?

Why should we be grateful to be told that we need to drive slower, purchase cars the size of golf carts, or use mass transit when we have ample, known reserves of oil?

Why should we be grateful for government mandates for ethanol that do nothing other than drive up the price of food and drive down mileage per gallon?

Why should we be grateful for the push to impose a bogus “cap and trade” system that will do nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions? Why create a market for “credits” that will make those trading in them immensely wealthy? Why do this when, in addition to oxygen, CO2 is the most essential gas to the maintenance of all life on Earth, vital to the growth of all vegetation?

Why should we be grateful for the privilege of being the world’s policeman when Europe thinks we’re a chump for defending it long after they should have taken on that responsibility? Or when a prolonged occupation in Iraq is greeted with the perfectly natural request that we leave? There are 566,000 Iraqis in police or military uniform these days.

Why should we be grateful when we might be taken into a war with Iran over its demand to be a nuclear power when it is surrounded by nuclear powers in Pakistan, India, Russia, and China to name just four? Isn’t a nuclear Iran their problem too? Why do we assume that the prospect of having its cities obliterated and millions of its citizens killed would not have a sobering affect on Iran’s leaders?

Why should we be grateful to a government that, during the Bush administration, spent $45 billion on "climate change" research at a time when the Earth is a decade into a natural cooling cycle that any freshman in Meteorology 101 could understand? Could the billions spent on the mission to Mars been spent more wisely on repairs to our nation’s infrastructure of roads and bridges?

Why should we be grateful to a government that is inattentive to millions of illegal aliens crossing our southern border, taking up residence while taking jobs that might otherwise be available to native-born and naturalized Americans, and draining the financial resources of states and cities that must educate their children and pay for their medical care?

Why wouldn’t a wall along the southern border have some effect on illegal immigration and the huge flow of drugs into the nation? Surely that has a greater priority than Mars?

Why should we be grateful to a government that adopted an idiotic policy to not manage our nation’s forests, leading to California's catastrophic fires and the previous loss of countless forested acres in Yellowstone? Removing aging and dead trees and underbrush protects forests. Instead of a thriving timber industry, we have Smokey the Bear.

And why should I believe that my $600 is going to make any difference in the resolution of an economic mess created by banking and investment institutions that gave away billions in mortgage loans to people who could not afford them and now want to be bailed out…with our money? Right now, some of these same institutions are driving up the cost of a barrel of oil by gambling in the world’s mercantile exchanges.

The nation is being run by people who are clearly delusional over a non-existent “global warming” or committed to a failed “No Child Left Behind” law that transfers control over the nation’s schools to a central government. There is no Constitutional authorization for federal involvement in education.

We need a stimulus in rational solutions to real problems. We need something that a government must earn, not confiscate, and not secure through a bribe. It’s called trust. It’s called confidence.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Where's Our National Guard? Overseas.

By Alan Caruba

Here’s an interesting fact. Between now and the end of President Bush’s term in office, almost half of the soldiers who are scheduled to deploy to Iraq will come from the National Guard.

Here’s another; At least 35 states have deployed more National Guard units to Iraq and Afghanistan than to any war since World War II.

I learned these facts from the Veterans for America (VFA), an organization that describes its mission as encouraging the American public to support policies that address the needs of those currently in the military, veterans, victims of war overseas, as well as initiatives to make our world more secure.

“VFA builds on the 26-year history of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation—cofounder and coordinator of the Nobel Prize-winning Campaign to Ban Landmines. There is a social contract between a nation and those it sends to war.”

I cannot tell you how much of VFA’s agenda is pro-veteran and how much is anti-war, but I suspect it tilts to the latter much of the time. It should definitely not be confused with the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion.

That said, the statistics it cites are worthy of consideration. For example, more than half of the National Guard combat units deploying to Iraq between now and the end of Bush’s term will be on their second tour.

In the months ahead, units from Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington will send units to these combat zones. In the spring of 2009, by which time the U.S. will have a new President, the following states will send National Guard troops; Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania (again), Tennessee, Texas (again), Vermont, and Wisconsin.

This has got to be highly disruptive to families, employers and communities in the states where this is occurring and it raises the question of why the federal government is so dependent on these men and women as opposed to the full-time military. In our zeal following the Vietnam War to end conscription--the Draft—and create a professional Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force from enlistees, somewhere along the way we have failed to meet adequate manpower needs.

The fallback has been the National Guard whom governors traditionally call upon for assistance in times of natural disasters. Here’s what the Congressional Research Service has to say about the National Guard:

“The National Guard plays a major role in the defense and security of the United States under the federal component of its mission. Although the military reserve component’s responsibilities and duties have increased since 2001, a March 2007 report by the congressionally chartered independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves has found that many Army and Air National Guard units stationed in the United States are rated “not ready.” That rating is based primarily on current military equipment shortages and concerns for long-term operational reserve capacity.”

Not ready? No long-term operational reserve capacity? What’s wrong with this picture?

It has been many decades since I served in the Army and I lay no claim to understanding much about the role of the National Guard, but common sense suggests that the heavy reliance on it for combat roles in Iraq and Afghanistan reveals a real need to build up the troop strength in our current, fulltime professional military.

The only other option would be a return to the Draft to meet present and future needs, but I don’t see that happening for a whole range of reasons. The nation currently depends on a fairly thin slice of Americans willing to serve.

For now, the dependence on the National Guard should be a cause for concern. Given the other things Americans are concerned with, it is not likely to be high on the list.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Let's Declare Victory and Leave

By Alan Caruba

At a point in the Vietnam War when it was dragging on, costing lives, and there was no end in sight, some politician suggested that the United States simply declare victory and leave. In the end, we did leave and it was pretty much a rout.

I was reminded of this with all the back and forth statements being made by Iraq president Maliki and the response of the White House. Maliki wants the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal of troops and the White House made it known that some troops might, indeed, be coming home sooner. There is also the possibility some may be transferred to Afghanistan where things are looking bleak.

Like a lot of people I went from the notion that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a good thing (it was) to the realization that there were too few troops to secure the nation while it came up with something resembling a democratic government. As time went along the U.S. mismanagement of the situation in Iraq became the fodder for dozens of books by observers and participants.

There is a point at which people in an occupied nation, no matter how grateful they may be to be rid of a tyrannical despot, want the foreign troops to go home. After five years, we are well passed that point.

If George W. Bush could declare “mission accomplished” on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, then he can declare victory tomorrow and announce that the troops will be out before the end of 2009. What he also said that day was that “our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”

With oil selling near $150-a-barrel, my guess is that Iraq has the money to reconstruct itself without another U.S. dollar except for the oil billions we are shipping to the Middle East as it is.

My initial reaction to the White House statement that our troops would begin to come out was that it was a cynical political ploy to help the lackluster McCain campaign, but I think now it was just part of the bargaining going on with the Maliki government.

I have no doubt that the administration wants to leave a hefty contingent of U.S. military permanently billeted in Iraq given the bellicosity of Iran, but I also think the Iraqis and Iranians remember the eight-year war that Saddam waged with Iran and want no part of a similar conflict. They share a very long common border.

The U.S. did for Iran what it could not do for itself by getting rid of Saddam Hussein and this raises the question of just how capable Iran is militarily. Could it invade Iraq or any other nation in the region? Would it do so if it meant risking attacks on its oil fields, its command and control facilities, and, of course, its nuclear facilities?

With the exception of Turkey which had a secular government imposed on it by an enlightened leader and backed up by its military, there has been no true, functioning democracy anywhere in the Middle East.

I am not ignoring Israel when I say this because it is a Western enclave, not a Muslim nation. Lebanon had a democratic government of sorts thanks to an agreement that apportioned key roles to Christians, Muslims, and Druze, but the nation was essentially run by an oligarchy of wealthy families. The influx and growth of its Muslim population has ended that bit of political theatre.

The United States has a window of opportunity to leave without looking like it is running away or has been defeated.

That leaves the mess in Afghanistan, purveyor of 80% of the world’s supply of heroin, and home to tribes that have been competing with one another since the dawn of civilization. If the Afghanis don’t like the Taliban (and they don’t), let them kill them on their own. We can supply the guns and bullets.

Then there’s Pakistan where, if anyone is paying any attention, we have propped up a very unpopular dictator and where a real demand for democracy is being led by that nation’s lawyers and judges.

In the same way previous colonial powers have learned to their regret, the Middle East defies any control imposed by the West. Empires have foundered there. Ships of state have gone aground there.

All is not lost. We have a serious military presence in the Gulf States and a carrier fleet or two that have been there since we guaranteed the security of the Strait of Harmuz back in the 1980s and stopped drilling for oil here at home.

We also have a military that is stretched too thin and is tired from this occupation without end. We are beginning to offer huge benefit packages to retain soldiers. The generals have even begun to turn a blind eye to the homosexuals serving our nation. We need to recruit and re-equip across all of the branches.

Politically, we have voters who will vote for anyone who says he will pull out U.S. troops.

Ultimately, the world cannot take the kind of uncertainty that the Middle East represents. The speculative price of oil is testimony to that.

Left to their own designs, the Arabs (and Persians) will go back to what they know best, dictatorships that use some of their oil income to pacify their population. There is no great demand for democracy in the Middle East. It won’t occur because we want it to.

Iraq has become a distraction. It is time to declare victory in Iraq and come home.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Nation's Governors Sleepover Party

By Alan Caruba

Take heart, America! Your nation’s governors have been meeting in Philadelphia this weekend for the National Governors Association centennial meeting. From Friday through Monday they are attending various sessions that are almost all devoted to the environment.

On Saturday, America’s most famous former philanderer-in-chief, William Jefferson Clinton, gave the keynote address. When he was the Governor of Arkansas, he also had served as chairman of the NGA. I am sure it was a stirring address on one of the great mysteries of our times, why Hillary lost the nomination and how many speeches he will have to give to retire her campaign debt.

Sunday had sessions such as “Creating a Diverse Energy Portfolio” and “Options for a Secure and Affordable Energy Future.” Visions of endless windmills and acres of solar panels must sure have been the highlight of these sessions, but I doubt that a word was spoken about building any nuclear or coal-fired plants to generate electricity or the possibility of actually drilling anywhere in the United States for oil or natural gas. Well, the Governor of Alaska probably was thinking about this, but few others.

At $4-a-gallon for gasoline, I suspect there was a big banner in the conference hall that said, “We can’t drill our way out of this!” I’m not a governor, but even I know we can and we must begin to drill.

Monday’s plenary session is devoted, of course, to “Clean Energy Technology: What’s here and What’s Coming.” What's here is $4-a-gallon gasoline and what's coming is $5-a-gallon gasoline.

What’s here are some heavily subsidized wind farms that only provide a small among of electricity when the wind is blowing, and must be backed up at all times with standard generation facilities powered by coal, gas or water/hydro sources. There may even be some solar farms contributing, but their combined contribution is less than 5% of all the electricity the nation uses. The subsidies are a form of hidden taxation on consumers.

You have a choice between so-called “clean energy” or no energy if the governors don’t start endorsing the construction of a lot more plants. These plants will use either the cheapest, most abundant energy source in America, coal, or they will use nuclear energy. Thanks to Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), the nation’s nuclear plants still cannot get rid of their waste despite the fact the U.S. government has spent $7 billion for a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, that is still not yet permitted to operate.

None of this, of course, has anything to do with providing affordable fuel for the nation’s 300 million autos, trucks, tractors, and other vehicles.

Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty, this year’s chair, says, “America is ready for bold, innovative energy policies that will make us safer, more independent, and better stewards of the planet. We’ve been asleep at the switch for too long—the time for action is now.”

America’s governors are not elected to be “better stewards of the planet.” They are elected mostly to tend to matters in their own states such as appallingly bad schools, crumbling highways and bridges, attracting business and industry, and overseeing insanely bloated budgets. The occasional natural disaster gets their attention.

A word in your shell-like ear, Gov. Pawlenty; America’s governors, in addition to Congress and the White House, have been and still are a very big part of the nation’s energy problems since the 1980s.

Resisting the building of coal-fired or nuclear plants has been part of the problem. Not demanding that congressional mandates for ethanol use be rescinded is part of the problem. Opposing offshore exploration and drilling is part of the problem for governors of our coastal states and not encouraging mining and drilling for those in between is part of the problem.

Talking for three days about “clean energy” while ignoring America’s real energy problems will not solve those problems. At what point will the rest of us hear any of you discuss and act upon some real solutions?

Friday, July 11, 2008

A New Definition of Agriculture

By Alan Caruba

When is a car not a car? When you decide to call it a bicycle. When is a horse not a horse? When you decide to call it a cow. Just because you call something a name that does not properly describe it does not change its reality, but I live in New Jersey where reality is subject to the whim of the morons we elect to represent us.

Thus, I give you a piece of legislation sponsored by State Senator Bob Smith that would redefine wind turbines and solar panels as “agriculture.” And all this time you thought agriculture was about growing crops and raising livestock.

An Associated Press article in the July 1 edition of The New Jersey Farmer, one of my favorite publications, the headline read, “N.J. weighs bill encouraging alternative farm energy.” It would define solar and wind energy generation as an “agricultural activity.”

Now, I grant you some savvy farmers have installed solar panels to generate electricity to run their farms, but to suggest that covering acre after acre of preserved farmland with solar panels and wind turbines is a truly bad idea. In fact, it’s so bad that the bill offers those who would do this protection “from nuisance complaints from neighbors, similar to protections farmers have from complaints about the smell of manure, for instance.”

If you don’t like the smell of manure, it’s probably not a good idea to build your home near a farm, something that people who think food magically appears on the shelves of supermarkets, were unaware of when they decided to retire to the bucolic areas of the state.

“Despite New Jersey being the most densely populated state, it is a leader in farm preservation, with more than 18 percent of its farmland preserved.” This was one of the few good ideas the legislature enacted. It has cost the state $680 million and another $358 million from local government and charities to ensure that our little paradise is not entirely paved over or turned into wall-to-wall strip malls and housing developments.

I am not alone in thinking it is a bad idea. Alison Mitchell, a policy director with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation points out that “farm preservation is meant to save agriculture and farmland—not spur new construction on preserved land.” You think?

The bill has cleared a N.J. Senate committee and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate. It has yet to have received assembly consideration. New Jersey is a state in which its entire Congressional delegation and Governor remains unalterably opposed to offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas, but apparently covering farmland with solar panels and wind turbines is a good thing.

Imagine the joy of going to the shore and enjoying one of our many beaches and then driving home past miles and miles of wind turbines or solar panels, some of which are actually producing a small measure of power if the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. The rest of the time they would just be a giant eyesore.

And then imagine that they are “agriculture” and not some demented politician’s idea of what farming and ranching really should be.

Here's what everyone should worry about. Laws like this get picked up and enacted by other States.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Greens HATE Oil

By Alan Caruba

I have marveled for years at the failure of Americans to make any connection between the hatred for oil that has dominated environmental activities and the reason why we are all now paying over $4.00 a gallon at the pump.

Take, for example, two recent news reports. The Associated Press on July 1 in a report from Billings, Montana, noted that “Groups Seek Oil Drilling Ban Near Sage Grouse Habitat.” I suspect one could make an “endangered species” pitch that any oil drilling anywhere involves some poor “endangered species” even if it included areas over which birds migrate.

In this particular case, “two conservation groups have asked the federal government to impose new restrictions on oil and gas development in the West to protect the greater safe grouse, a popular game bird on the decline.” Well, if it is a game bird and a popular one at that, the likelihood that hunters are dining on them is probably causing a decline in their population. On the other hand, hunters have been doing this since the earliest Native Americans discovered what a tasty meal they make.

Here’s where it gets troublesome. “Federal rules now say oil and gas companies cannot drill within a quarter of a mile of sage grouse breeding areas.” No doubt there are a dozen more such species whose existence is used to justify a ban on drilling for oil or gas. This is how the idiotic Endangered Species Act works and, indeed, why this useless piece of legislation was enacted. Why Congress continues to renew it is part and parcel why Americans can’t get access to their own oil and natural gas.

If Congress were actually to authorize drilling offshore, the environmentalists would be filing law suits to protect dolphin or jellyfish.

Meanwhile, in Whiting, Indiana, the National Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit on July 9 “intended to stop the expansion of a BP oil refinery” on the grounds that the permits granted to BP by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management “simply do not protect the public and do not live up to the law.” One can be fairly sure that the NRDC did not ask any member of the public their opinion regarding this action.

One of the major contributing factors to the rising cost of gasoline has been the failure to build a new oil refinery anywhere in the United States since the late 1970s. Some expansion of existing ones has occurred, but how do environmentalists expect a population of 300 million in a nation where there is at least one car or truck for every one of them to get anywhere without expanding the capacity to refine oil into gasoline and other products like jet fuel?

The answer is, of course, Greens don’t want us to have additional gasoline and they have been instrumental in securing Congressional mandates that the gasoline we do use includes a mixture of ethanol. Ethanol requires more energy to produce than gasoline and provides less mileage than gasoline. Its drawdown on the nation’s corn and soy crops also drives up their cost per bushel and the cost of the literally thousands of foods and products that utilize them in some fashion.

Meanwhile, in the name of reducing greenhouse gases that have no impact on a global warming that is not occurring, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it is “considering” fuel efficiency standards for autos that are far more stringent than the current mandate for 35 miles per gallon.

Experts at The Heartland Institute such as James M. Taylor, a Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy asked, “Does EPA have any heart at all? If the agency mandates still-tighter fuel economy standards, consumers will needlessly feel the double-punch of higher gasoline prices and higher automobile prices.” Over at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Sam Kazman, General Counsel, noted that no matter what it costs consumers, “none of this is good enough for politicians and bureaucrats who think technology mandates are a cost-free panacea.”

Then there is the immutable law of thermodynamics that says that there is only so much energy that can be gotten from a gallon of gasoline and even less if you mix it with ethanol.

The answer, of course, is that the EPA is the same agency that banned the manufacture and use of DDT, a pesticide that could have prevented the deaths of millions in Africa from malaria, along with a bunch of other pesticides whose purpose is to protect the rest of us from the diseases that insects and rodents spread. After the introduction of West Nile Fever on the East coast, it took barely five years for it to reach the West Coast.

The bottom line is that, along with oil, environmentalists hate anything that might keep us alive and gets us from point A to point B without costing a fortune.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back to the Democrat Future

By Alan Caruba

Are we in some kind of weird time warp? Is it the 1970s all over again? Or the 1980s?

Why is it that Democrats are unable to look to the future unless it involves dopey computer models that say the Earth is doomed. According to the Democrats we have give up using any energy that might produce carbon dioxide, a gas that is vital to the growth of all vegetation.

Recently Sen. John Warner recommended that the oil crisis can be solved by requiring that everyone drive 55 miles per hour as in the good old days of the 1970s. That was when OPEC decided to jack up the price of oil because it was pissed that the Israelis had beaten the pants off of some pan-Arab army that, as usual, wanted to destroy it. Seems the U.S. took the position that Israel had a right to exist. Talk about radical.

So for a while there were lines of cars at the pumps and the mandate that we all drive slower to get anywhere. This is what politicians call a “solution” and everybody else calls really stupid. It didn’t work then. It won’t work now.

The fact that anyone would suggest this “solution” to our energy problems today is testimony to the fact that Democrats are forever stuck in the past and the only way they can see the future is by returning to failed ideas that, as I recall, lost them the White House in the 1980s and eventually control of Congress in the mid-90s.

They are back in control of Congress now and, boy, are they doing a bang-up job of solving the nation’s many problems. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot. We’re talking about Democrats here.

The Senate Majority Leader says oil and coal are making everyone “sick” and global warming (which doesn’t even exist) will destroy the Earth. The rest of the idiots keep blathering away about solar and wind energy when the problem is $4-a-gallon gasoline while U.S. oil sits idle in the ground. Madame Pelosi wants the President to open up the Strategic Oil Reserve, but doesn't seem to understand why it's called "Strategic."

Drill for oil? Oh no, we can’t do that say the Democrats. Consider the polar bear, the caribou, the Alaskan Loon. Fear for the migrating birds on our coasts. Consider a rare breed of crab that seagulls regard as dinner. But drill offshore? No we can’t do that. Drill in the most desolate place on the North American continent? No, we can’t do that.

Forever looking backward, the presumptive Democrat candidate for President, Barack Obama, cannot wait to impose the same failed “windfall profits” tax on the oil industry that Jimmy Carter did back in the 1980s.

The result of that has been a sixty percent reduction of exploration and drilling for oil in the United States of America.

The result of that was our dependency on foreign oil.

The result of that is the greatest transfer of money in history from the U.S. to guys who think we’re idiots. They’re right.

The rest of the Democrat platform is pretty much the same old tax-the-rich (that’s you, dummy) and redistribute the money to people who think you’re an idiot. They’re right.

All that’s left are two convention speeches by former Democrat Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. I would stay up late to hear those two, wouldn’t you? One of them thinks Palestinians are terribly misunderstood and the other still can’t figure out how Hillary lost. (Hint: Look in the mirror!)

Apparently, we are either in a time warp or Congress and a large portion of the population of America is suffering a terrible case of the stupids. Or both.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Learning to Love Nuclear Energy

By Alan Caruba

For those of us who have been warning that America is going to start running out of electricity soon if the governors of our various states do not permit the construction of either or both coal-fired and nuclear plants, the news that Republican candidate, John McCain, says he wants a crash program to build nuclear plants should be greeted with joy.

So let’s at least give a hurrah to a politician who says something, anything, nice about more energy.

McCain has proposed at least 45 nuclear plants be built by 2030, twenty-two years from now. Considering how difficult it is to fund and build a single nuclear plant in the year 2008, the likelihood that anywhere near this goal will be achieved is small.

Happily, nuclear energy now produces about 20% of the electricity Americans use. In Europe, France famously gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear so maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to make fun of the French.

The U.S. got off to a start in the 1970s, but a phony scare generated by Three Mile Island, plus a history of delays and overruns combined to virtually kill the industryfor a decade or two. Today it is making a return with off-the-shelf designs for standardized reactors, along with a much more streamlined federal licensing process.

Still, you don’t put up one of these babies overnight. A 1,500 megawatt reactor used to cost $2 or $3 billion dollars not long ago, but the rising cost of everything, including concrete, steel, other construction materials, and labor now peg the price at closer to $7 billion.

When you throw in the Not-In-My-Backyard crowd, plus the usual environmental groups eager to sue for any reason, you have other factors that slow down McCain’s dream to a crawl. If a migratory bird happens to fly over the area where a plant is sited, you can be sure that the bird will get the first priority from the Greens while the rest of us get another kind of bird.

Naturally, the industry that builds such plants is not going to take on that kind of debt or lay out that kind of cash without federal guarantees that it will receive a certain amount of money per kilowatt hour of electricity and loan guarantees in order to raise the cash in the first place. So, in effect, the public will end up footing the bill and, frankly, if that is the only way to ensure sufficient electrical power, so be it.

There is, however, a much cheaper alternative. It’s coal. The U.S. has centuries’ worth of coal and, since coal-fired plants provide just over half of all the electrical power we use, the obvious question is why not build more?

The answer, in part, is that Greens like Friends of the Earth are waging a huge propaganda campaign against “dirty fuels” and, for several years now, state governors have been resistant to giving their blessing to this common sense answer.

The less obvious answer is that these politicians have thrown in their lot with the Greens and McCain is one of them, a true believer in a global warming that isn’t happening. It is to his credit, however, that he has begun to talk about drilling for oil in the U.S. continental shelf and even that he is proposing nuclear energy.

Unless more politicians begin to respond to America’s growing need for electrical power at some point their refusal to do anything is going to leave you in the dark.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Optimists vs. Pessimists

By Alan Caruba

We all know someone who is either an optimist or a pessimist. In general, optimists are more fun to be around. They are the ones with the most enthusiasm, the risk-takers, and the ones who pick themselves up after encountering a problem and consider it a learning experience.

Pessimists tend to see setbacks as a signal of more to come around the corner. They are rarely happy with anything or anybody. They assume a gloomy outcome. As such, they are more likely to be a pain in the asterisk than not.

Perhaps the most identifiable national characteristic of Americans is that they have been, as a group, optimists. Their belief that science and technology can solve any problem comes out of a long history of innovation and invention. They are proud of their history, but tend to be more focused on the future.

When President John F. Kennedy said that America would put a man on the moon few doubted that we could or would. The optimists saw an end to the Soviet Union. The pessimists were astounded when it fell apart. You don’t win military or ideological conflicts by assuming defeat.

Since the 1970s, however, America has been beset by the biggest, best funded, and more ideologically dedicated group we have seen in the modern era. They are the environmentalists who, back in the 1970s, were predicting an ice age and a decade later were predicting “global warming.” In both cases they said that we had to drastically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and abandon our lifestyle of consumption.

Instead, what we have witnessed since those days is a world where nations with huge populations like China and India have lifted themselves out of a Third World status and are emerging into dynamic economies, producing goods, using energy, improving the living standards of their citizens.

While all nations talk the environmental game, few if any commit totally to it because they understand that people need to eat every day, can see how others in the world live, want success for themselves and their children, and in general there is the lingering suspicion that environmentalism is just a different name for communism.

It’s not that we don’t want clean air and clean water. We do. It is instructive that the most advanced nations like the United States have not hesitated to spend the money to achieve this. Poorer nations must allocate their money to more immediate needs.

In a Rasmussen telephone poll taken just before July Fourth, voters were asked whether America’s best days were ahead or behind us. It should be kept in mind that almost from week to week the mood of the voters changes with various events and news. It was instructive, though, that just 32% of those polled thought that the nation’s best days were yet to come. A whopping 50% thought America’s best days were in the past.

These people are probably too young or too lacking in the knowledge of America’s history to know that the America of the past included decades of slavery, a huge and bloody Civil War to end it, a population that was mostly agrarian until the Industrial Revolution kicked in, a huge push to open the doors to immigrants to man the factories and build the nation’s infrastructure, leading to the creation of unions to oppose the widespread exploitation of workers. There were epidemics of influenza that killed thousands and polio that crippled or killed as well. Along the way the nation fought a number of wars including two in Europe and three in the far East, and a couple in the Middle East.

The past was a place of widespread disease and turmoil in addition to one of great achievement in the creation of goods and services that were and are the hallmark of a dynamic, optimistic society.

The last thing America needs right now is half the voters thinking that America is in decline and the future is bleak.

The survey revealed that 39% of Republicans think the best days lay ahead as opposed to 28% of Democrats and 30% of unaffiliated voters.

The November election may not reflect the mood of the nation in July 2008. One candidate is running on nothing more than vague promises about the future, but the future is always unknown while his experience and qualifications are slim at best, thoroughly inadequate at worst. The other candidate is a known quantity, tested in war, with a long career in public service.

So the question is whether the optimists will prevail or the pessimists?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Loony Harry Reid

By Alan Caruba

This nation is in serious trouble because it has people in very powerful elected positions that say crazy things.

Take, for example, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) who is the Senate Majority Leader:
“The one thing we fail to talk about is those costs that you don’t see on the bottom line. That is coal makes us sick. Oil makes us sick; it’s global warming. It’s ruining our country, it’s ruining our world. We’ve got to stop using fossil fuel.”

Where does one begin to dissect this totally idiotic statement? Well, fortunately, my friend Ron Arnold, Executive Vice President of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, has a response.

“The one thing we fail to talk about is how much America needs fossil fuel. Coal powers 22%, oil 40%, natural gas 22%, nuclear and hydropower 11%. Biofuels, wind and solar less than 5%. Junking fossil fuels for non-existent substitutes is sick. We’ve got to get rid of infected politicians.”

Arnold is probably citing overall national percentages, but I can tell you that just over 50% of all the electricity in the nation comes from coal-fired plants. In a nation of more than 300 million people and growing, we need more coal-fired and nuclear plants for electricity. As for transportation, oil in the form of gasoline and diesel represents virtually every car and truck on the highway today. We have nearly as many cars and trucks as people, about one per person in use.

Since Sen. Reid is not even vaguely concerned with reality, the actual percentages are superfluous.

Where did this loony Senator come up with the notion that coal and oil make people sick? I suspect he’s been reading too much of the “dirty fuel” propaganda that the environmental organizations have been publishing of late.

It’s all a part of the Big Lie that carbon dioxide (CO2) is such a threat to the Earth’s atmosphere and climate that it must be drastically reduced. The fact that energy use generates CO2 might just have something to do with this lie. Here, though, is a bit of truth as tiny as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 constitutes 0.038% of the Earth’s atmosphere. The rest is mostly water vapor (H2O). CO2 plays virtually no role whatever in terms of the Earth’s climate.

And part of the Big Lie is the intention to impose “carbon taxes” on every single activity of mankind, thus generating billions for governments around the world to waste and corrupt officials to steal. Others, like Al Gore, will engage in the buying and selling of utterly worthless “carbon credits” that will make them as wealthy as the oil sheiks.

Why actually have to produce a commodity like oil when all you have to do is print up some certificates that say it’s okay for you to bake bread or make candles or do anything else that requires energy?

The other crazy thing I keep hearing from people like the Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is, “You can’t drill yourself out of an energy crisis.” Oh yes, you can! It is just about the only way the price of oil can be reduced. It is called supply and demand, but apparently the members of Congress think that this immutable law can be or should be suspended. That’s crazy too.