Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Obama's "Change" is Spelled P-O-V-E-R-T-Y

By Alan Caruba

Among those whom I detest the most in this world are people who insist that they know better than I what I should eat, drink and smoke. Whenever they get in a position of power, they cannot wait to impose higher taxes on everything I enjoy and, by extension, things that millions of other Americans enjoy as well.

Part of the history of the long Great Depression was an endless success of excise taxes on anything that gave people a bit of pleasure in those dreadful years between 1929 and 1941. For example, you couldn’t go to the movies without paying a tax on your ticket. In a pre-television era movies were one of the few escapes available to working folk along with cigarettes and the neighborhood saloon.

Excise (use) taxes on various commodities are sometimes also called “sin” taxes. Booze has long been subject to them, but a big chunk of the cost of every gallon of gasoline is also subject to an excise tax. A further hidden tax is the requirement to include ethanol whose production is subsidized by the government.

We are seeing so many of the errors and abuses of the Great Depression era repeated that it is testimony to the adage that those who do not learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat it.

My grandfather smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and lived into his 90s. My late Father smoked a pipe and I have smoked cigars for decades. My Father lived into his early 90s with no ill effects and unlike a lot of my more health-conscious friends I am in my seventh decade. The only exercise I get these days is as a pall-bearer at their funerals.

You might well imagine I was less than thrilled to read a headline saying, “Tobacco tax to increase nearly 160% this week.” Yes, by all means let’s punish people who actually enjoy smoking. By now the long campaign to demonize smokers and to attack the tobacco industry in general has opened the door to allow the do-gooders to impose a draconian tax for the purpose of funding yet another federal entitlement program to the others that are going belly up.

As the Associated Press put it, “Tobacco taxes are soaring to finance a major expansion of health insurance for children. President Obama signed that health initiative soon after taking office.” One assumes that smokers may be thinking of voting Republican in the 2010 midterm elections.

Any time you hear, “It’s for the children” reach for your wallet because it is about to get thinner and anything you enjoy will become more costly.

I, myself, will vote for any Republican candidate for any office, including those with four legs, prehensile tails, and feathers if they will promise to bring a stop to the destruction of the nation’s economy and a restoration of Constitutional limits.

A government that can tax the simple pleasure of smoking to extinction can and will tax anything people enjoy and even things that they need to function. What possible sense does it make to import some 60% of the oil we require despite vast reserves that remain off limits to our use, thanks to a long succession of Congresses?

The government long ago set its face against the exploration and extraction of any source of energy the nation requires. No drilling. No mining. No new coal-fired plants for electricity. And when was the last time a new nuclear power plant was built? Billions for ethanol! Billions for solar and wind! Billons for hybrid cars no wants to drive!

Obama has decided he knows how to manage our auto industry. There’s endless blather that people need to use mass transit, but in New York City the cost of using the subway or bus system will soon rival hiring a limousine to take one to and from work.

Nothing the government puts it hand to has ever made a profit, nor functions well.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is printing more money and rendering the existing supply increasingly worthless. Don’t blame the bankers. They have no idea what new crazed demand the government will impose on them next week. Don’t blame the retailers. They are busy liquidating their assets and laying off workers.

One of the reasons why everything costs more and why lighting up a cigarette will become a luxury are government entitlement programs combined with proposed government regulation that threatens to include the most essential gas on Earth, carbon dioxide, vital to the growth of all vegetation and all life. If Obama could tax oxygen, he would.

The real change Obama will bring to life in America was mirrored by life in the former Soviet Union where much of the population drank vodka every day just to dull the pain of communism.

It will likely take the generations that have passed through the socialist indoctrination of our nation’s school systems since the 1960s a long time to finally wake up to the realization that the rising cost of everything is the only “change” that Obama has to offer.

We can only hope they will not let themselves be duped into turning their children over to “volunteer” programs or even a vast internal “security” militia because, if they do, it will mark the end of freedom in America.

America already puts more people in jail every week than any other nation on Earth. The concentration camps that Rep. Alcee Hastings wants to build are just one step away from the bad old days of Auschwitz.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama: Buyer's Remorse

By Alan Caruba

The Economist is a weekly magazine whose headquarters is London and which is widely respected for its global coverage of political, social and, of course, business news. It also has a relentlessly liberal outlook which is to be expected given Great Britain’s nanny state mentality.

Former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, a conservative and a contemporary of Ronald Reagan, pointed out that the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

It took from January 17, 2009 to March 28, 2009 for The Economist to lose its virginity so far as Barack Obama was concerned. Like most of the media, the magazine greeted his succession to the office of President with a schoolgirl’s gushing enthusiasm.

“Renewing America” was the January cover story welcoming him to high office saying, “Mr. Obama carries with him the hopes of the planet.” Not just America. The planet!

How far left is The Economist? “In some ways,” it opined in January, “the times cry out for more active government: for stronger regulation of banks and near-banks, for much more short-term government spending to counteract the contraction elsewhere in the economy, and for the establishment of a basic health-care system for everyone.” This tends to overlook the obvious fact that this is a description of the conditions that led to the current financial meltdown.

The existing regulation of U.S. banks was not accompanied by anything faintly resembling actual scrutiny and oversight. It was the government that had created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy up and “securitize” all those bad loans banks and mortgage companies were required by law to make.

The short-term spending in the billions that has been made is widely regarded as a massive waste of taxpayer dollars. And Britain’s health-care system is an appalling deathtrap for anyone in need of immediate care. It is one in which bureaucrats literally decide who shall die if they have the misfortune of having a particular form of cancer.

In January, The Economist noted that Obama had “put together a team which has impressed almost everyone with its caliber and centrism.” Oh yeah?

By late March, The Economist was echoing Hillary Clinton’s comment during the campaign that the Oval Office is no place for on-the-job training. “It went to the heart of the nagging worry about the silver-tongued young senator from Illinois; that he lacked even the slightest executive experience, and that in his brief career he had never really stood up to powerful interests, whether in his home city of Chicago or in the wider world.”

One can only imagine how he shall be judged by the heads of state at the upcoming G-20 meeting in the UK. One suspects that, if there is any candor to be had, they will take him into some room far from public view and beat the living tar out of him. It is an understatement to say they are very unhappy with this young Marxist.

From its optimism in January to its pessimism of March, The Economist concluded that Obama “has a long way to travel if he is to serve his country—and the world—as he should.” The tone of the editorial was not a hopeful one.

Indeed, many in the media that could not wait for Obama to take office are now experiencing some severe buyer’s remorse. It is instructive to watch them inch their way out of the cheering section, but it is altogether too late.

Barack Hussein Obama is the President and only the return of Republican control of Congress will be able to put any brakes on his intention to bankrupt the nation and take the rest of the world with it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Telling CO2 Lies to Destroy America

By Alan Caruba

My friend, the internationally famed climatologist, Dr. S. Fred Singer, calls them “the CO2 wars.” It is the last ditch attempt by the Greens, under the aegis of the Obama administration, to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant and thus open the door to its regulation.

Singer says such regulation “would be the equivalent of an atomic bomb directed at the U.S. economy—all without any scientific justification.”

I am increasingly of the opinion that the main goal of the Obama administration through CO2 regulation, exploding deficits, punishing taxation, and any other means at their disposal is the destruction of the economy and the complete control of impoverished Americans.

This is an administration that exists to impose an Orwellian socialist utopia after the smokescreen clears.

When it comes to CO2, Obama, his so-called science advisors, and the Environmental Protection Agency are all lying. It is governmental gangsterism.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, “The Environmental Protection Agency has sent the White House a proposed finding that carbon dioxide is a danger to public health, a step that could trigger a clampdown on emissions of so-called greenhouse gases across a wide swath of the economy.”

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind about carbon dioxide:

CO2 is not a “pollutant.” It is a trace gas necessary for all life of Earth because it is essential to the growth of all vegetation.

Without CO2 all vegetation—grasses, forests, jungles, crops such as wheat, corn and rice—dies. Then herbivores die. Then you die.

The CO2 produced by human industry or activity is a miniscule fraction of a percentage of greenhouse gases. In total CO2 constitutes a mere 0.038% of the atmosphere and the human contribution is barely 1% to 3% of that.

The oceans emit 96.5% of all greenhouse gases, holding and releasing CO2 as it has down through the millennia of Earth’s existence.

In past millennia, CO2 levels were often much higher than the present.

CO2 levels rise hundreds of years after temperature rise on planet Earth.

The Sun is the primary source of warmth on Earth. Rising CO2 is an effect of global warming, not a cause.

Both global warming and cooling are natural phenomenon over which humans have no control.

The Earth is not currently warming. It has been cooling for a decade and likely to continue for at least another twenty years or longer. If a new Ice Age is triggered, it will last at least 10,000 years.

Polar ice is now at record levels and still growing.

If you had a choice, would you prefer a warmer or colder Earth?

And consider this, if only the United States was to significantly cut its CO2 emissions, how much effect, if any, would that have in a world where most other nations, including China and India, have no intention of doing so? Both are exempt from the UN Kyoto Protocol. The answer is zero!

The EPA proposal is not about science. It is about power and it is about money. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “The administration has proposed a cap-and-trade system that could raise $646 billion by 2019 through government auctions of emission allowances.”

The federal government, though the aegis of the EPA, would have control over the destinies of an estimated 13,000 facilities if this regulatory obscenity were to become law.

“Coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and domestic industries, such as energy-intensive paper, cement, fertilizer, steel and glass manufacturers, worry that increased cost burdens imposed by climate-change laws will put them at a severe competitive disadvantage to their international peers that aren’t bound by similar environmental rules.”

Such industries would flee the United States as the most toxic place on Earth in which to do business.

This would be the fulfillment of the Obama administration’s goal and explains in part why this new assault on science, industry, and common sense has been put forth by the EPA.

One of the best sites for information about carbon dioxide is http://www.ilovemyco2.com/
I recommend you visit and browse through its extensive data.

A tip of the hat as well to http://ilovecarbondioxide.com/2009/01/about.html.

For some of the best information on a daily basis, check out http://www.climatechangefraud.com/

Friday, March 27, 2009

Saturday: Keep Your Lights on Tonight!

By Alan Caruba
March 28, 2009

Does it sometimes seem like everything you read, see or do has the word “Green” attached to it?

We have a Green President and a Green Congress. More and more products and services tout themselves as Green. We are paying more and more with greenbacks—dollars—that are in danger of losing what value they once had.

Green was not always the great, amorphous dream of achieving oneness with Mother Earth. People still talk about being “Green with envy” or “Turning Green” just before a projectile vomit attack.

We have reached this nauseating time in our society as the result of a vast environmental movement, truly worldwide, that are masters of propaganda and possessed of the millions necessary to brainwash a lot of people into accepting an endless assault on all the advancements in science, engineering, and technology we accept as part of our everyday lives.

So, naturally, the World Wildlife Fund has come up with “Earth Hour”, an event in which at 8:30PM, Saturday night, in everyone’s respective time zone, people will be asked to turn off their lights and, presumably, the use of all electricity to increase awareness of “energy conservation.”

Two questions: What does this have to do with wildlife? And why should anyone bother?

What need is there to “conserve energy?” One either uses it or does not. You can’t “conserve” it. You can use more or less of it, but you cannot save it up for later. Electricity is always “now.”

Is the Earth running out of coal? Hardly, the Chinese can’t build coal-fired plants fast enough to generate the electricity to grow their economy. In India, they’re launched on a huge program to build nuclear plants for the same reason. A nation without adequate electricity is strictly Third World.

Nor is the Earth running out of oil. The rumor is that there are vast amounts in the Arctic and both the U.S. and Russia are making nasty noises at one another to ensure that neither one or the other gains control of it. Brazil just struck oil way offshore of its beautiful beaches and you don’t hear them complaining about it.

The U.S., of course, has vast untapped reserves of oil offshore and an estimated 3 to 4.3 BILLION barrels of it in the Bakken Formation under North Dakota and Montana. There’s oil under Utah as well. We’re not running out of oil in the United States. We just can’t drill for it thanks to Congress and the White House.

We can’t build coal-fired plants either because the Greens keep telling us that coal is “dirty.” The electricity it provides—just over half of all that’s used nationwide—isn’t dirty. Soon, though, they’re won’t be enough of it because our Green President thinks that solar and wind can provide it. It can’t and it won’t. Ever.

There’s just one way to “conserve” energy. Don’t use it. Don’t turn on the light. Don’t turn on the computer. Don’t turn on the television. Unplug your refrigerator, your heating and cooling system. Don’t wash and dry your clothes in a machine. Don’t use it.

Otherwise, the next moron that talks about conserving energy should be stuffed in a barrel and allowed to float over the Niagara Falls which, during Earth Hour, will not be lighted.

We will all be treated to the idiotic sight of a darkened Empire State Building and other similar structures around the world such as the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Las Vegas strip, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the London Eye Ferris wheel, and the Pyramids of Egypt.

For a whole hour they will go dark to remind us to “conserve energy” that does not need conserving. It needs to be expanded into parts of the world where there is no electricity and, as a result, there is no economy which is another way of saying there is a lot of poverty, sickness, and early death.

Healthcare is Your Business, Not the Government's

By Alan Caruba

I know spring has arrived because my seasonal allergy has returned. When it goes from winter to spring and sometimes fall to winter, I suffer all the usual symptoms. It happened last night, but I got up and took a Claritin pill and was able to survive the first attack. I renewed my supply today, giving thanks for Schering-Plough, the pharmaceutical company that spent millions to invent this drug.

No one ever talks about the millions pharmaceutical companies spend on “research and development”, nor the fact that for every new drug they discover there are any number that simply do not make it to the medical community or the shelves of your local pharmacy.

Yes, these companies do reap profits, but they need them in order to continue looking for the next new drug. They need those millions to get through the onerous and costly Food and Drug Agency’s approval process.

The Heartland Institute has published “More Choices, Better Health” a booklet ($2.95) by Bartley J. Madden, an independent researcher, about the FDA monopoly on which drugs make it to the marketplace and which do not.

Madden points out that we have grown accustomed to the monopoly, “but prior to 1962, new drugs had to pass only safety trials to be legally marketed.” It was left to physicians and consumers to determine how effective they were.

Today, it is a three-step process that takes an average of 8.5 years! If you want to know why drugs cost so much more, try calculating the millions involved in the R&D phase that is then followed by the millions that the approval phase costs.

In addition to an insane budget that Barack Obama wants the Congress to approve—one that will drive the nation’s spending through the ceiling and imposes huge deficits for years to come—the other item on his wish list is healthcare coverage for those people who are not insured.

This does not mean they will not be cared for if they are ill. The law requires that hospitals tend to the ill even if they arrive penniless and quite a few do. As often as not, they are illegal aliens.

The figure we keep hearing is that “46 million” Americans are uninsured. In a recent American Spectator article, Philip Klein dissected “The Myth of the 46 Million.” The figure comes from the Census Bureau in 2007.

As Klein points out, statistics can lie and liars can use statistics. For example, the same data shows “that 9.7 million of the uninsured are not citizens of the United States.”

The reality is that the Census Bureau made a guess about the number of people without health insurance and the figure they cited “more closely approximates the number of people who are uninsured at a specific point during the year” such as those between jobs that provide such insurance and “the number of people uninsured for the entire year.”

That brings the number closer to between 31 and 21 million people. At least 18.3 million of the uninsured were under 34, an age group that might conclude they are healthy enough to do without the cost of coverage.

A BlueCross BlueShield study determined that 8.2 million Americans are without coverage for the long haul because they are too poor to purchase health care insurance, but earn too much to qualify for government assistance. Remember, though, they too will receive health care when they show up at the emergency room.

The law requires that no one in need is ever turned away unless, of course, they showed up at the hospital for which Michelle Obama was formerly an executive. She devised a plan to send the poor to other hospitals in Chicago.

We have now come a long, long way from the “46 million” that Barack Obama and news media keep repeating.

What they don’t tell you, however, is just how astonishingly bad universal healthcare as practiced in England and Canada can be. In a recent article in Health Care News, a monthly Heartland Institute publication, Devon Herrick , a senior fellow and health care economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, noted that in Canada, “at any given time, nearly 750,000 Canadians are waiting for a medical procedure. According to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, 42% of Canadians with chronic illnesses said they had to wait more than two months to see a specialist.”

The one thing that will ensure health care providers will provide the best care at the lowest price is the competition based on price and quality that is the hallmark of a free market economy.

It’s socialists like Obama who keep insisting that the government has to determine who gets health care, what kind of health care they receive, and how much hospitals and physicians can charge for it.

As Herrick says, “Instead of wasting time on a system that limits our choices, creates long waiting times, and can jeopardize our health, the United States should opt for a system of innovation and choice.”

Instead, Obama wants the government to creep ever more into every aspect of your life, every choice you make about anything essential to your well being, and to begin pre-school programs to indoctrinate your toddlers while requiring older ones enroll in “volunteer” programs that are anything but voluntary.

In October 2010, U.S. voters will have an opportunity to take control of Congress away from the Democrats and make Obama wait two years while he is rendered unable to do any more harm.

To enjoy the cartoon better, click on it to enlarge the image

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama & Congress Shrink Freedom in America

By Alan Caruba

Whether it was the Hitler Youth or Mao’s Red Guard, one of the elements of every totalitarian regime is to create organizations that indoctrinate a nation’s youth to blindly follow the leader.

They are a far cry from America’s Boy and Girl Scout movement in which patriotism mixes with learning a wide variety of useful skills and, if you’ve been paying attention, the Boy Scouts refusal to permit gays to participate has cost them various forms of support. In June 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the Boys Scouts were within their Constitutional rights hold this position.

The Boy and Girl Scouts are private groups, but a far more insidious government sponsored youth corps is making its way through Congress. In late March the House of Representatives approved a plan to set up a new “volunteer corps” for the nation’s youth. The legislation makes references to “uniforms” and the need to train future “public sector leaders.” Nothing much about it sounds voluntary.

The vote reauthorized the National and Community Service Act of 1990 and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973; acts that originally were intended to fund AmeriCorps and the National Senior Service Corps.

The current problem is all that talk by Barack Obama of a “National Civilian Security Force” which he envisioned as being as big and well-funded as the U.S. military. That would put it somewhere in the vicinity of more than a million, all goose-stepping around your city or hometown like some homegrown Taliban.

To assist this Force, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced a bill in February (H.R. 645) to construct no fewer than six “national emergency centers” that reek of the camps the Nazis set up initially to imprison their political enemies and later to kill Jews, Catholics, trade unionists, homosexuals, and gypsies.

Meanwhile, over on Capitol Hill, Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy F. Geithner wants more and more power to regulate everything in the nation’s financial sector. Banks stocks plummeted on that news.

If the existing government entities such as the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Security Investors Protection Corporation to name a few were blind to the growing threat to the nation’s financial system, why would we think some supra-agency would offer any more protection?

“It all comes down to whether these agencies were actually willing to exercise their authority,” an insider with decades of experience said to me when I posed that question. It was not just their failure, but included the cover up by members of Congress who protected Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac until both government sponsored entities had to be seized before a complete implosion occurred.

For a bit of legerdemain, while everyone was watching the White House scoundrels, the House of Representatives voted 285-140 in late March to put approximately 1.2 million acres off limits for any natural resource development. By this vote, they denied Americans access to 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 300 million barrels of oil according to the Interior Department’s Bureau of land Management.

The BLM oversees 26 million acres designated as part of the National Landscape Conservation System that environmentalists say permanently “protects” the land. This Green Talk for further denying Americans access to our vast natural resources, leaving us forever dependent on foreign oil and natural gas despite the endless nauseating talk of becoming “energy independent” in the name of national security.

From proposed youth corps, to civilian security forces, to expanded regulation of the nation’s banking and investment sectors, to the set-aside of lands representing natural resources that will never be available, the net grows wider and tighter to curtail the freedoms Americans take for granted and deny them the energy they require.

It’s something to think about before the knock on the door late at night or in the early morning hours before you’re taken off to a concentration camp for having dared to express an opinion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A "Green Bank" to put us Further in the Red

By Alan Caruba

I am increasingly convinced that the Democrats who control Congress have gone completely insane. I am provided with evidence of this almost every day.

Consider the press release I received on Tuesday, March 24, the day of President Obama’s press conference. It was from the Office of the Assistant to the Speaker, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

“Van Hollen Introduces the Green Bank Act of 2009” was the title. The subtitle was “Bank will provide range of financing support to clean energy and energy efficiency projects in the United States.”

I can think of a whole range of projects to enhance and expand energy in the United States. The grid that transports and distributes electricity is in great need of expansion and upgrade.

People, however, have a lot of difficulty understanding that electricity is not magic.

In my home state of New Jersey eight towns in two counties are fighting the building of a much-needed high-voltage line. In the White House, President Obama keeps saying bad things about coal, the energy source of just over 50% of all the electricity Americans use. On television moronic commercials portray coal as “dirty” instead of invaluable.

Congressman Van Hollen, however, asserts that “Energy independence is central to our security, our economy and our environment. By creating the Green Bank, we will accelerate the development, deployment, and production of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies across the country.”

To do this the Green Bank would be “an independent, tax-exempt, wholly owned corporation of the United States” with “an initial capitalization of $10 billion through the issuance of Green Bonds by the Department of the Treasury.” The upper limit would be $50 billion in Green Bonds outstanding at one time.

A number of things seem to have escaped Cong. Van Hollen’s notice. The nation is in a deep financial funk as the result of having borrowed ourselves into an untenable position that threatens to devalue the U.S. dollar to a point where the purchase of anything these days is increasing.

We shouldn’t be creating new government entities to BORROW MORE money.

Beyond that, Cong. Van Hollen does not seem aware of the way the U.S. Congress has, since the late 1970s, destroyed the nation’s formerly thriving oil industry by refusing to let it drill anywhere, making the process of building a new refinery so onerous and costly that not one has been built in decades, and by requiring that virtually the entire annual crop of corn be converted into ethanol. This last mandate ensures less mileage per gallon of gasoline and an increase in auto emissions of CO2. It also guarantees worldwide food riots.

Energy efficiency sounds good, but what we need is more energy sources and the Green Bank will be making big loans exclusively to wind and solar energy projects that could not get funding elsewhere because they are so impractical and inefficient no sensible banker or venture capitalist would loan them any money. Without government subsidies and mandates, they would not exist. Together, wind and solar provide a minuscule 1% of the electricity we use.

The other initial sponsors of this idiotic Green Bank are Cong. David Loebsack (D-IA), Cong. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Cong. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Cong. Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam).

This is not an “investment” in anything more than an increase in the financial burden we now must bear and the future burden being proposed in an insane budget that will triple the national debt.

As the saying goes, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging!”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sailing on the USS Obama

By Alan Caruba

There’s a song, “Smooth Operator”, sung by the incomparable Sade that kept running through my head as I listened to Barack Obama conduct an hour-long press conference Tuesday evening.

At the very end, he referred to the American government and economy as “a big ocean liner” that doesn’t turn around swiftly and the last image that passed through my mind was that of the Titanic sinking beneath the waves of the chill Atlantic.

One is reminded why the crowds loved him as he campaigned for the presidency, their hearts beating as one, seeing before them the man who would bring “change” when elected.

He has brought change. His proposed budget would triple the national debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obama’s proposed budget would generate deficits averaging almost $1 trillion a year in red ink over 2010-2019. Moreover, the deficit would never go below 4% of the size of the economy, which an Associated Press report noted were “figures that economists agree are unsustainable” The figure cited was $9.3 trillion over the next decade, “more than four times the deficits of Republican George W. Bush’s presidency.”

None of this seemed to perturb Obama.

What was most noticeable, if one was actually paying attention to the substance of what he was saying, was the repeated use of the word “invest”. Democrats never “spend” money, they “invest” it.

Obama wants to “invest” lots and lots and lots of money, most of which will have to be borrowed. He is focused on “long term growth” scanning the far horizon from the bridge of the USS Obama, plowing through a dark night of financial distress.

He offered a host of extremely bad ideas in order to get to the next shore. The Democrat Congress has set its face against any growth in the actual energy sources upon which the nation depends for electricity and for transportation.

There will be no exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas off the nearly 85% of the continental shelf where huge amounts are believed to exist. There will be no drilling in ANWR. There will be no new leases in states known to be sitting atop huge untapped reserves. As for the coal which provides just over 50% of all our electricity, the entire industry has been targeted for destruction by the President.

The notion that “clean” or “renewable” energy (solar and wind) will ever provide more than the 1% of electricity it presently does is a pipedream. That, however, is Obama’s only “solution.”

Imposing a "cap-and-trade" program of emissions credits on all energy use would chase major industries from the nation while doing nothing to end a global warming that is not happening.

There was much talk of reforming healthcare. A more competitive healthcare system would undoubtedly reduce costs, but that is not Obama’s vision, nor does he acknowledge that healthcare costs are rising in response to an aging American population, living longer lives, requiring more care.

He spoke of investing in education. We spend more per pupil in America than any other nation on Earth and we have one of the most failed educational systems in the world. Eliminating the Department of Education and one-size-fits-all programs would go far to improve education. Loosening the grip of the teacher’s unions would liberate the system entirely.

In point of fact, Obama, the smooth operator, just signed a “stimulus” bill with 9,000 earmarks that is not likely to achieve any real stimulus any time soon. His budget simply exacerbates the Democrat spending frenzy going on in Washington, D.C.

So, here we all are, sailing along on the USS Obama. The captain looks and sounds like he knows what he’s doing, but he is either clueless or deliberately plotting a course for the biggest ice berg he can find.

It’s time for the band to start playing “Nearer My God to Thee”.

Wild Turkeys in the North Ward

By Alan Caruba

Every so often you will hear the usual weeping and wailing about how we terrible humans have displaced Mother Nature’s wild creatures by selfishly building houses and other structures in “their” habitat. For years it seemed the only thing the mainstream media could write about was “urban sprawl.”

The Sunday edition of my local daily carried a story about wild turkeys showing up in the North Ward which just happens to be part of Newark, New Jersey! It doesn’t get more “urban” than Newark.

Newark is not famous for its wild turkey population, but the fact is that sightings of wild turkeys have been quite common throughout northern New Jersey for many years. The television series, “The Sopranos”, made various locations around this part of the state famous and in one episode, Tony actually sighted a black bear in his suburban back yard.

I recall a personal encounter with a turkey in my back yard before I moved to the relative safety of an apartment complex one town over. They come equipped with a bad attitude which I suppose for New Jersey is not surprising especially if you’re trespassing. I swiftly concluded that, short of a shotgun, I was better off inside the house until it left.

As Pat Scheuer, director of the wildlife center Lorrimer Sanctuary in northern Bergen County noted, “It’s pretty normal.” Bouncing back from having been over-hunted about two decades or more ago, the turkeys are everywhere. And it’s not just New Jersey.

The turkeys have made a nuisance of themselves in Jackson, Michigan and Tilburn, California, to name just two places where they have been reported for destroying landscaping and scratching automobiles.

Another animal-related activity was also reported in the local daily. It was the culling of the state’s deer population by bow hunters. This culling process is now so commonplace that PETA and other animal rights folks have stopped showing up to protest. Given a choice of some demented PETA person in their yards or a bunch of deer, most residents would take the PETA nutcase because they won’t eat the expensive shrubbery.

So, let’s see, wild turkeys, deer, and black bears. When you add in the Canada geese that are everywhere despoiling public parks and other large stretches of greenery, New Jersey is a veritable zoo.

One hardly bothers to mention the vast population of raccoons that share our suburbs because of the multi-course dinners that are available in garbage cans. Opossum and battalions of squirrels complete the wildlife. The songbirds, of course, are welcome, but the rest of these critters keep an army of animal control officers on the move when not corralling stray dogs and cats.

The next time someone says we are depriving such creatures of their habitat, take them on a tour of beautiful New Jersey, the most densely populated (by humans) State in the Union. A drive up Route 78 with the dead deer lying by the roadside should convince them that there are likely too many deer in the vicinity.

If you happen to be in the North Ward of Newark, keep an eye out for those wild turkeys.

A hat tip to Sam Delgado who took the photo in the North Ward.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mr. Wonderful

By Alan Caruba

Years ago there was a Broadway show, “Mr. Wonderful”, built around Sammy Davis, Jr. On the matinee that I saw it, Davis decided he was too tired or bored to continue and called the second act to a close by turning to the audience to tell them how the show ended and sing a short encore.

No one complained. After all, he was Sammy Davis, Jr., already a famed member of the Las Vegas “rat pack” that included his pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

For many in the mainstream media Barack Hussein Obama is Mr. Wonderful.

Obama’s growing problem, however, is that a lot of people are already beginning to complain about his act. He is already the object of derision for never going anywhere without a Teleprompter.

He probably thinks he can get away with it, but Mr. Smooth, Mr. Imperturbable, Mr. Wonderful, is growing old and doing so quickly.

When “Sixty Minutes” reporter, Steve Kroft, opened his half-hour interview with Obama, he did so noting that, other than his political campaign, Obama had no previous executive experience. Kroft looked increasingly skeptical and even uncomfortable with the President.

At one point Kroft chided him for treating the financial crisis and other issues with a smile that came too easily in the course of discussing them. Obama referred to it as “gallows humor” but few people are smiling at the prospect of rising unemployment, housing foreclosures, and business failures.

Obama’s studied effort to portray himself as in control of events and issues is less and less convincing.

It was instructive when, on the same Sunday, the uber-liberals of The New York Times, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, were both busy expressing doubts about Obama and his advisors. Even the editorial reflected dissatisfaction.

In a piece titled, “Has a ‘Katrina Moment’ arrived?” Rich bluntly wrote that, “To get ahead of the anger, Obama must do what he has repeatedly promised but not always done: make everything about his economic policies transparent and hold every player accountable. His administration must start actually answering the questions that officials like Geithner and Summers routinely duck.”

Transparency and oversight, however, was supposed to be the job of Congress and various regulatory agencies that utterly failed to act on repeated warnings about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the activities of hedge funds such as the one run by Bernard Madoff, and the general practices of the banking and investment community.

In “Toxic R Us”, Dowd who apparently is still enamored of Michelle Obama took note of the symbolic vegetable garden being planted behind the White House. “The tableau of Michelle Obama hoisting a pitchfork on Friday with her sinewy arms and warning that the commander in chief would be commandeered into yard work left me wondering if the wrong Obama is in the Oval.”

Whether the right Obama, Barack, is also the right man to be in the Oval Office during this time of crisis is being voiced by New York Times columnists and a whole lot of other people barely two months since his inauguration.

For his part, Obama told Kroft that many of the decisions that arrive at the Oval Office are between the bad and the worse choices.

So far, however, Obama has endorsed and repeated nearly all the errors made in response to the Great Depression; raising taxes instead of cutting them, rolling out costly “stimulus” programs instead of instituting changes that will make it easier for small business owners to survive, offering financial assistance to people who should not have received mortgages in the first place, and attacking banks and bankers instead of reassuring them that their government is going to help by removing their “toxic paper” in order to let them get back to lending.

Simply giving the banks billions appears to have been foolish in the extreme, but so were the meaningless “stimulus” checks dispensed during the last year of the Bush administration. What Americans have been witnessing are responses to the crisis that we might expect from children as opposed to people who presumably know how the financial system is supposed to work.

From Jay Leno to Sixty Minutes, increasingly Obama’s problem is seen as being over-exposed in the truest sense of the word. His weaknesses are being exposed despite his bravado. People are noticing. It worries them.

If you think the media chatteratti and just ordinary folks are worried, consider what it must be like for the heads of state of allies around the world? Consider, too, that our enemies are beginning to think that the President of the United States is, at heart, weak.

Think back now to the feeling of confidence we had following 9/11 when President Bush showed up at Ground Zero and promised swift retribution to al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Think about the many United Nations resolutions Saddam Hussein had ignored and the satisfaction you felt when he was toppled from office, fished out of a hole in the ground, and finally hung.

George W. Bush was a victim of Hurricane Katrina like all those folks along the gulf coast, but probably no one was more surprised than he to discover how incompetent the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans were, along with his own director of FEMA.

Katrina has become the perfect example of how poorly a huge, centralized government functions in a perfect storm.

Bush just soldiered on through 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and other problems. You knew he would do his best and his best would get us through.

You can’t say that about Barack Obama.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

U.S. News Goes Green

By Alan Caruba

Warning! Avoid the April edition of U.S. News & World Report because it is devoted to the question, “Can America Prosper in the New Green Economy?”

What is wrong with this? For one thing, we are not in a “new Green economy” and, if the folks at U.S. News had taken time to notice, we are closing in on having no economy thanks to the stupidity of several Congresses and the deliberate effort to repeat all the errors of the successive Franklin D. Roosevelt administrations that prolonged the Great Depression for ten long years.

There is no great plethora of new Green jobs unless, perhaps, you are referring to the minimum wage jobs that involve picking up dead birds slaughtered by the wind turbines in the States that were foolish enough to think they might actually generate electricity on a scale that one good nuclear or coal-fired plant could. They can’t. They never will. They exist only because of government subsidies and the increased energy bills for consumers.

What offends me most (aside from the fact that I actually subscribed to this pathetic, knee-jerk, liberal excuse for “news”) is the way this news magazine and all of the mainstream media repeatedly fail to get the message about all things Green. It’s a SCAM.

After decades of claims that have been repeatedly debunked, these alleged news magazines are still propagating the same old Green lies. Newsweek and Time have tried to outdo one another with the scariest covers about a global warming catastrophe that never happened and never will. So, why should we expect U.S. News to step up to the plate with anything other than the same tired Green message?

The editor, Brian Kelly, revealed the real bias of the issue. “What’s changed, in a word, is Obama. The president and the tide of voters who swept him into office want a change in the way we manage energy and the environment—and to put them at the top of the country’s agenda. It looks like that will happen.”

Earth to Brian! Humans do not manage the environment! We are not in charge of the Sun, the oceans, the clouds, the volcanoes, the blizzards, the tornadoes, et cetera.

Moreover, Obama did not get elected with a huge mandate or tide of voters. The vote was separated by five percentage points, a relatively small margin. The only mandate Obama has is the one in his fevered, socialist mind.

More to the point, how can a so-called news magazine devote itself to yet another sorry Green message in the midst of the worst financial crisis this nation has experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s? Perhaps they were too busy congratulating themselves for printing “the entire magazine on what’s called ‘manufactured carbon-neutral paper.’”

Carbon-neutral paper? Considering that paper is created from trees and those trees formerly absorbed a lot of carbon dioxide, how did the paper magically transform itself into something “neutral”? And didn’t all the emissions involved in physically transporting the trees to the paper mill, processing the pulp, then transmitting the paper to the printing plant, and applying the ink, and then transporting the magazines to be mailed or sold at newsstands not involve CO2?

This is the kind of gibberish that magazines like U.S. News & World Report and the endless daily and weekly newspapers have been shoveling for decades. In case it has missed your notice, U.S. News & World Report is no longer a weekly magazine. It’s a monthly now.

The bottom line is this: Just about everything the Greens advocate, when they are not trying to stop the drilling or mining or building of anything that might provide energy, will cost you more. It will also degrade life in the U.S. because they are against building new roads, against the building of any new homes and apartment structures for our increasing population, against the use of pesticides to protect people from the diseases spread by insects and rodents, against the use of automobiles and trucks; against letting you enjoy our national parks and reserves except on their terms, against the use of plastic, against, against, against!

I am against stupid magazines offering stupid “solutions” to non-problems like global warming or what has conveniently been dubbed climate change as if the Earth’s climate hasn’t always been in a state of change for billions of years.

Obama's War

By Alan Caruba

“I’m retired from the United States Air Force and couldn’t stand being away from the wars, so I signed up to become a defense contractor/military advisor here in Helmand Province—home to some of the fiercest fighting in this theatre.” From far-off Afghanistan, I heard from a gentleman who typifies the kind of warrior spirit that can be found in the U.S. military.

He is busy helping to train members of the Afghan National Army on matters of military human resources as part of the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO mission in Afghanistan. He was responding to a commentary I had written about the insurgency in Afghanistan.

I did not and still do not favor putting U.S. troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan and had pointed out that both a British and a French general had concluded the same. To put things in perspective, I wanted the troops that former President Bush had sent to be withdrawn and I now heartily disagree with President Obama’s plan to transfer some 14,000 more troops there.

In all candor I was among the many who grew disenchanted with the lengthening war in Iraq prior to the “surge” there and I was wrong. Moreover, I am not a military strategist, so I draw my conclusions from analysis by those who are and, better still, from people who have served or are serving there.

Here’s a snapshot of just how bad the situation in Afghanistan truly is. The day before President Obama’s special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, arrived in Kabul, eight suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the justice and education ministries, killing 26 and wounding 57, The ministries are just down the street from where Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, conducts business.

To suggest that a functioning government exists in Afghanistan is tenuous at best. From everything I have read, not only does it not control Kabul, it barely functions beyond the city limits of the capitol, although the Afghan army under U.S. training has gotten some good marks.

The primary “industry” in Afghanistan is the growing of poppy for the manufacture of heroin. It is a major source of funding for the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist group that provided hospitality to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda prior to 9/11 and likely still does. Here’s what you need to know about the poppy trade. Karzai’s government, such as it is, does not want to eradicate it. Neither does the U.S. The drug lords are allies because they do not want the Taliban to benefit and neither does the U.S.

“The irony of ironies here,” says a trusted source, “is that in flying over Helmand province you can see all the desired indicators of a devastated economy coming back to life; paved roads, small business shops, even electricity. Everything the U.S. is committed to achieving for the Afghans and seemingly a real role model of a successful counter-insurgency campaign and it all comes from opium profits!”

After 9/11, the U.S. retaliated by sending in the CIA and military to presumably chase the Taliban out of Afghanistan. It shares a long border with Pakistan and that’s where the survivors headed in 2001. It is Pakistan, not Afghanistan, that is the real hotspot in the Middle East these days.

Pakistan barely qualifies to be considered a nation. It was created when India declared its independence in 1947 as a place, along with Bangladesh, where Muslims could flee rather than become Indian citizens. Great numbers were slain and, although many remained in India, they are second-class citizens there. Wherever Muslims are not in the majority, they are heartily disliked by those who are. Bangladesh later broke with Pakistan to declare its own independence.

Simply put, Pakistan has almost always been ruled by its military, as was the case most recently of President Musharref, who also retained his rank as a general. The current president just agreed to a deal with the Taliban to relinquish control over a large portion of the nation. Even under Musharref it was never able to exercise any real control and it is the Taliban’s intention to take over all of Pakistan, imposing Sharia law.

Militarily, there is virtually no way the American military, even including NATO forces and the Afghan army, can effectively conduct a counterinsurgency there. The society and the terrain are not hospitable. Re-supply of our forces now comes through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as routes through Pakistan are viable, but increasingly lethal.

Writing jointly in Small Wars Journal.com, officers from the United States Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps offered a lengthy analysis of what would be required to win out over the Taliban. The question they addressed was “How Should the U.S. Execute a Surge in Afghanistan?” The paper does not reflect official policy.

They noted that the failure to execute an effective counterinsurgency (COIN) to date has resulted in a security situation that “has steadily deteriorated since 2006 largely due to the lack of forces required.” Keep in mind, Afghanistan is not Iraq and the two cannot be compared in terms of the application of a military solution.

It is not that the U.S. does not know how to conduct a counterinsurgency. The principles involved were known to the Romans who conquered Gaul. Afghanistan differs from Iraq in that it has “a predominantly rural population with strong tribal loyalties, a historically weak central government, and (a) large, porous border (that) make the operational environment in Afghanistan much more challenging.” Or, in other words, damn near impossible.

“There are approximately 42 million Pashtuns spread throughout the region with 14 million living in Pakistan. These Afghan Pashtuns serve as the center of gravity for the Taliban” that are estimated to number between 10,000 and 15,000 “hardcore insurgents.” Two-thirds of the Pashtuns live in Western Pakistan along a 2,430 kilometer border with Afghanistan. They were the original source of the Taliban movement and are “unlike any operational problem faced in Iraq.”

Now do the math. For a successful counterinsurgency it will be necessary to have a 20- to-1,000 security force density in the Pashtun areas. This would require more than 280,000 military personnel. There is simply no way the U.S. alone could achieve this “for an Afghan population well over 32 million, even with the help of NATO and Afghan National Security Forces.

The latest report from Kabul is that the International Security Assistance Force, established by the United Nations in 2001, now numbers about 55,000 troops of which nearly half are U.S. military. If it cannot even secure Kabul, what are the odds it can have any success throughout some of the worst terrain for battle to be found anywhere in the world?

The British forces in poppy-rich Helmand province have been trying without success for three years to establish a measure of security there.

The decision by the new Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, to move more troops into this situation ignores the reality of waging war in Afghanistan. If he had no stomach for the war in Iraq, it is doubtful he will be willing to sustain the increased casualties that will result from simply putting more of our troops in harm’s way.

Islamic militancy throughout the Middle East and extending its deadly intensions worldwide is going to be a long fight. The U.S. would do well to pick somewhere other than Afghanistan to wage that war. If the Russians with some 100,000 troops were eventually defeated by the local tribes (with weapons assistance from the U.S.) it seems clear that the current mission has little hope for success. The Russians had 14,000 casualties by the time they left.

We should leave now. The Taliban are analogous to the street gangs that every city in America has had for decades and longer. Meanwhile, the U.S. needs to protect the Gulf States, Iraq, and Israel. The odds are that we will have to engage Iran at some point and tying up troops elsewhere is a bad strategy. It is now Obama’s war.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The First Day of Spring

By Alan Caruba

The early morning snowfall that greeted the first day of spring on parts of the East Coast seems symbolic to me of the undeniable fact that the Earth is into its tenth year of a cooling cycle. As it continues to cool, perhaps for another twenty to thirty years, such snowfall will not be regarded as anything but old news.

These seasonal and climate cycles are, of course, entirely natural. The last mini ice age lasted from around 1500 to 1850. It changed history in a lot of ways by causing in part the French Revolution when crop failure caused the price of bread to soar. Here in the colonies, soldiers in the Continental Army spent a frozen winter at Valley Forge.

For me, the date has personal significance because March 21, also occasionally the first day of spring, marks my late parent’s anniversary. Robert and Rebecca Caruba married in 1928 just in time to witness the crash of Wall Street the following year and to begin raising a family, my older brother and I, throughout the whole of the Great Depression. It was made worse by the then-Congress and White House, and we are watching this spectacle repeat itself.

Though it may seem odd, the first day of spring for me also rings the bell for the opening of the termite season. As a public relations counselor, I have several decades of experience working with the New Jersey Pest Management Association and have gained a healthy respect for all manner of pest species. They don’t care about economic cycles, wars, or other human problems. They are the great masters of survival.

Annually termites do more damage to homes throughout the United States than the combined effects of storms, fires, and earthquakes. Rarely covered by homeowner’s insurance, it is estimated they cause $5 billion in damage every year. A lot of homeowners are going to discover they have been playing host to large colonies of termites that have been eating the guts out of their house for three to five years. Those winged termites that cluster around window sills are the tell-tale sign.

Poets, of course, have always celebrated spring for its symbolic value. Spring is about the Earth’s astonishing ability to renew itself after the hibernation of winter in the northern hemisphere. Trees sprout leaves again, flowers pop out of the ground, and all manner of life returns or begins as eggs hatch and the cycle of birth continues among the creatures who share the Earth with us.

The first day of spring is as good a time as any to help yourself to a large amount of humility about the human race. There have been billions of such first days as the Earth spins its merry way around the Sun. After numerous mass extinctions, life has always renewed itself with new species.

Those who keep telling you that humans are to blame for the climate or various natural calamities are idiots.

Humans have been around for about 10,000 years. Our “carbon footprint” has no impact on the climate, nor does that of the countless other creatures with whom we share the planet, including the termites that produce an amazing amount of CO2 as they chew through your home.

It’s time for the poets to pen a thousand new odes to spring.

It’s time for the flowers to blossom again.

It’s time to get your home inspected by your local pest management firm.

It’s time to pay your taxes so Obama can “redistribute” them.

It’s a good time to fall in love with life itself and someone other than yourself.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Embracing Evil

By Alan Caruba

An interesting and disturbing pattern is emerging in the Obama White House. It evoked little comment in the mainstream press when he returned a bust of Winston Churchill to the British embassy and then gave short shrift to a recent visit by UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, albeit the UK’s support of this nation through thick and thin.

This was pre-dated by Obama’s calls for negotiations with Iran, an implacable enemy since it first took U.S. diplomats hostage in 1979. It includes more recent comments to the effect that we should be negotiating with members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. What’s next? An invitation to Osama bin Laden to share a glass of camel’s milk some weekend at his convenience?

The last century and now this one is testimony to the liberal embrace of every totalitarian regime and, in particular, those that engaged in mass murder, whether it be the Soviets, Mao’s Red China, the communist Vietnamese, or Fidel’s Cuba.

You could call it a fatal attraction and it is exposed in Jamie Glazov’s excellent new book, “United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror” ($29.95, WND Books). I recommend it because, as you read it, you will begin to understand why so many “intellectuals” of the Left and many of the Hollywood community were and continue to be eager to embrace the enemies of freedom throughout the world.

The most famous of the latter is Jane Fonda who visited North Vietnam at a time America was engaged in war with that nation. More recently, Sean Penn disgraced himself as an apologist for the tyranny of the late, unlamented Saddam Hussein, as well as becoming the new-found friend of Venezuela’s Huge Chavez. Jimmy Carter has never met a dictator or Islamist terror organization he could not embrace.

In the tradition of Eric Hoffer’s breakthrough book, “The True Believer”, Glazov points to the way those that blame America for its capitalism, its economic success, and its celebration of consumerism, as the reason why some hate us. They always profess to be advocates for “peace”, “social justice” and “equality.”

They are people who profess to love “humanity” and who empathize with the alleged “victims of capitalism.” Glazov says “The megalomania and narcissism from which most believers suffer reinforce this dynamic.”

“To keep this toxic mindset in place, the believer must convince himself that he knows something that ordinary human beings do not.”

One of the most distinguishing factors of totalitarian regimes, aside from the fact that they murder or imprison countless people deemed “enemies of the state” is the way they make mush of words that describe reality.

We saw this practice emerge in the Obama administration when the new Director of Homeland Security could not bring herself to actually say the word “terror” when testifying before Congress. Memorandums are flying around DC agencies to avoid words like Islamist and terrorist, substituting “extremist” instead.

Glazov points out it should come as no surprise that “fascism and communism were centrally involved in the birth and development of Islamism. The Nazis, for instance, helped create Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a pioneering Islamic extremist group founded in 1928.”

Why, for example, would the Obama administration offer nearly a billion dollars to Hamas to “rebuild Gaza” when they spent the last four years rocketing Israel?

Conservatives know there is evil in the world and they have their antenna on alert for signs of it here at home and abroad. Too many celebrated and party line Liberals, however, are drawn to today’s ideological butchers like moths to a flame.

Read Glazov’s new book. Watch who Obama calls his friends, appoints to position of power, and how he steers America’s foreign policy to reflect the Left’s love affair with murderous regimes while dissing our real friends.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Looking for Someone to Blame

By Alan Caruba

Barney Frank makes me want to puke.

I would like to blame the entire financial meltdown on him, but unfortunately there are plenty of others in Congress on whom the blame must fall. In the case of AIG, TARP, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and all the other assaults on every dollar any one of us plus our children will earn, the blame must fall on Congress. Not just this Congress, but those stretching back to the late 1960s and earlier.

As of March 15, 2009, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the national debt had reached $11 trillion, the largest in U.S. history. The annual Gross Domestic Product, the value of all the goods and services the U.S. sells to the world is estimated to be between $13 and $14 trillion. Do the arithmetic.

Then pause and consider that a vast portion of the annual federal budget is already committed to entitlement programs like Social Security that began in the 1930s as a response to the Great Depression.

Social Security, along with Medicare and the endless permutations of programs that redistribute money from the public treasury, constitute at least two-thirds of any budget from the gitgo. It breaks down to Social Security: 23%; Medicare: 12%; Medicaid: 7%; other means-tested entitlements: 6%; mandatory payments (pensions, etc.): 6%; and the net interest on debt: 11%.

The wailing about AIG paying bonuses is pure populist political theatre. Because of various regulations regarding the highest levels of compensation, financial houses have always sought ways to reward productive executives by other means, among them being bonuses.

The history of this mess can be fairly easily tracked, going back to 1968 when the government converted the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) from a government entity to a “government sponsored enterprise” purchasing and securitizing mortgages. This removed Fannie Mae’s debt from the government’s books. Two years later in 1970, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) was created by Congress to buy mortgages in the secondary market.

The notion that the government had to get involved in the private mortgage loan marketplace goes back to the geniuses who prolonged the Great Depression during the successive administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, a liberal, and a man with absolutely no experience in the private sector.

Congress continued to pass one piece of legislation after another to involve itself in the banking sector of the nation all in the name of social justice and things like community investment. In essence they encouraged people to take on more debt than they could afford.

In 1974, household debt was $705 billion. By 2000, it would total $7.4 trillion. Since by then people could not deduct interest on their consumer loans such as credit cards and auto loans, but could take out home equity loans to pay off debt, they were sucked down a rabbit hole of mortgage-related debt.

The fragility of the banking system was evident to all when, starting around 1989, savings and loan banks began collapsing, requiring the government to create a Resolution Trust Corporation which closed hundreds of insolvent banks. It cost the government $105 billion to resolve the crisis and the net loss to taxpayers was estimated to be $40 billion by the end of 1999. Chump change compared to the enormity of the present problem that is also tied to bad loans and the subsequent securitizing (bundling) and resale of such loans.

At the heart of the issue was the government requirement that banking and mortgage loan companies abandon centuries of knowledge and experience when it comes to evaluating who qualifies to receive a loan in favor of making loans to virtually anyone with a pulse.

By 2000 there were $160 billion in subprime loans, up from $40 billion in 1994. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could not buy this essentially worthless paper fast enough. The Department of Housing and Urban Development would soon require Fannie Mae to dedicate 50% of its business to low and moderate-income families with the goal of financing more than $500 billion under the auspices of the Community Reinvestment Act.

In 2004 U.S. home ownership peaked at 69.2%. The actual re-sale value of homes began to dip leaving homeowners with properties against which they could no longer acquire equity loans. Although it must be said that the vast majority of mortgages are still being paid today, many were unable to meet their payments. (The government’s answer, of course, is to use public monies to bail them out or to directly interfere with the terms of their mortgages.)

Subprime loan institutions began to go belly up. Having obeyed laws requiring that they make bad loans, they now were out of business. Companies like AIG that had bought billions in “securitized” mortgage packages found themselves with “toxic” paper, much of which could not even have a dollar value assessed.

By 2007, home sales continued to fall as fewer loans were being made as the collapse of the subprime mortgage industry reached warp speed. In April, the Federal Election Commission fined Freddie Mac $3.8 million for having made illegal campaign contributions to members of the House Committee on Financial Services that oversees it.

Suffice it to say that just about everything Congress did, along with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, worsened the situation for banking, investment, and insurance companies like AIG. Throughout the decline, those charged with the responsibility to oversee it were getting sweetheart mortgage deals and pulling in lots of campaign funding. In 2008, the economy headed south in terms of the stock market and existing home sales. It wasn’t a trickle. It was a flood.

By October 2008 the then-Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, asked for and received $700 billion in order to stem the bleeding in the banking and investment sector, but some went under anyway and others were purchased for pennies on the dollar. Some of the sales were made on the demand of government officials, including Timothy Geithner, the current Secretary of the Treasury.

All of which brings us to the latest round of House Committee hearings in which the perpetrators of the financial meltdown and current recession rant about AIG bonuses in an effort to divert public attention from their own malfeasance.

This recession is a wholly-owned result of the U.S. government’s involvement in the private sector. I like to remind people that the government has owned Amtrak for some forty years and it has never made a profit.

Did I mention that President Barack Obama received $101,000 in AIG contributions during his campaign?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Visit Beautiful ANWR

By Alan Caruba

It’s called the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve and I urge you to visit it. It’s a tad bleak during the winter months which only seem to go on forever and, during the summer months, if you love mosquitoes the size of a Hummer, you will love the Reserve.

If you would like to see some pictures of ANWR, visit the Heritage Foundation website at
http://blog.heritage.org/2008/06/29/the-truth-about-anwr/ and if you want some actual facts about it, visit http://www.anwr.org/.

It’s doubtful you will run into any members of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, or the dozens of other environmental groups who blather away about how drilling for oil there will mean that thousands of caribou, hundreds of polar bears, and whatever critters call it home will die and vanish from the face of the Earth forever.

To put it mildly, ANWR is a very inhospitable place and only people who absolutely have to be there for any reason actually go there. That includes crazed zoologists, entomologists, and bird watchers. And, with luck, some petroleum engineers and crews.

“Geologists agree that the Coastal Plain has the nation's best geologic prospects for major new onshore oil discoveries. According to the Department of Interior's 1987 resource evaluation of ANWR's Coastal Plain, there is a 95% chance that a 'super field' with 500 million barrels would be discovered. DOI also estimates that there exists a mean of 3.5 billion barrels, and a 5% chance that a large Prudhoe Bay type discovery would be made.” That’s from the ANWR Internet site linked above.

Deep below the surface of ANWR are potentially billions of barrels of untapped oil. Every time our national idiot, Barack Obama, talks about our “dependence” on foreign, imported oil, I think of ANWR and want to ship him there with a box of matches, a small ax, and a sleeping bag.

In the news of late is word that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would consider tapping oil in ANWR if it can be done from outside the refuge’s boundaries, “leaving animals and other wildlife undisturbed.” He, too, is an idiot. Just look at the photos on the Heritage Foundation page that show the way the animals are totally indifferent to those Alaska locations where oil is being pumped from the bowels of Mother Earth.

Salazar called ANWR is “a very special place.” Oh yeah. If you want to know what it’s like on the far side of the Moon with only the occasional Alaskan Loon to keep you company, you will love vacationing in ANWR. Salazar has never seen an acre of land he would not instantly want to put off limits to development or use of any kind.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has introduced legislation that would allow oil companies to access oil in ANWR via directional drilling from platforms outside the refuge itself. This suggests that building platforms inside the Reserve will somehow so severely damage the environment that it should not be done. We’re talking about a small patch of land the size of a couple of football fields, compared to 19.5 million acres!

Do you think it might be less costly to build one or two such platforms than have to drill miles and miles of “directional” pipe to get to where the oil is?

The entire national energy debate is so fretted with deception by the Greens and the politicians too frightened to offend them that it is impossible to get at the simple truth of how much oil, natural gas, and coal we have and the how great the need for new energy sources is as our population continues to grow.

We continue to live with a tsunami of lies regarding ANWR and the whole issue of “energy independence”, “dependence on foreign oil”, ad infinitum. The Obama administration so hates the oil and coal industries that, if they are mentioned, staff fall to the floor, spastically flailing about, and foaming at the mouth,

If Americans want to go back to $4 a gallon gasoline, they need only wait a while because that price will return as the result of not permitting our own vast national oil reserves to be accessed anywhere in Alaska, the lower 48, and our continental offshore shelf.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Electing a Child to be President

By Alan Caruba

The last time America elected a young President it was John F. Kennedy, age 44 when he took office.

The result was the Bay of Pigs fiasco involving an ill-fated invasion of Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro and the decision to step in for the defeated French in Vietnam. Other comparable decisions were cut short by his assassination. We remember him mostly for his stirring inaugural speech, but his choice of Lyndon Johnson as his Vice President gave us the escalation of the Vietnam War and Great Society social spending that proved to be a waste of billions.

Now we have a President who is 47, a very young age to be running the greatest economic and military power in the world. He had, on taking office, already written two autobiographical memoirs, but people are slowly becoming aware of the fact that there is virtually no paper trail by which to measure him. His birth certificate and legal standing to be President are in dispute. Records from his college days are hidden from view.

His record as a one-term Illinois legislator is replete with “present” votes that revealed little about his political positions. He did not even wait to complete a full term as a U.S. Senator before almost immediately beginning to run for the highest office in the land.

In terms of political leadership, he is a child among grownups and a petulant one at that.

His first months in office have demonstrated an astonishing lack of judgment regarding those who he appointed to office, many of whom were revealed to be tax cheats and others who have since demonstrated a distinct lack of competence or preparation for positions of critical importance. Why, for example, would he appoint a longtime political operative like Leon Panetta to be the Director of the CIA?

His initial policy decisions and statements panicked Wall Street and were it not for grownups like Ben Bernacke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the steps taken by President Bush prior to his taking office, the economy might have suffered even greater damage. His decisions in office, however, are widely decried as a repetition of all the errors made by the FDR administration that prolonged the Great Depression.

While babbling endlessly about “energy independence” he has again banned any offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas. His preferences for solar and wind energy ignore the fact that, while heavily subsidized by taxpayer funding, these two “clean” energies provide barely one percent of the electricity the nation requires and are the two least efficient and impractical means of generating power.

While deploring “earmarks” he signed an “imperfect” stimulus bill that contained nine thousand of them.

Foreign policy under President Obama has been characterized by ignoring the human rights and security needs of nations like Poland, Tibet, and Israel. Despite more than a half century of resisting the communist domination of Cuba, he has softened that and is likely to abandon it.

He has insisted on a swift withdrawal of troops from Iraq despite the obvious need to provide vital protection against the forces that would undermine its newly minted democracy. He insists on transferring troops to Afghanistan in a war that few regard as anything other than a prolonged insurgency with little prospect of a successful outcome.

Obama may be our first President with Attention Deficit Disorder. He went from declaring we faced an economic “catastrophe” to saying the economy was still strong in just over a month. Maybe that accounts for his dependence on the TelePrompter which, we’re told, goes everywhere he does.

We’re watching an already long list of fatally flawed decisions and I suggest that we are looking at a combination of his socialist ideology, his youth and inexperience, and a narcissism that cannot tolerate criticism no matter its source.

His greatest support comes from a younger generation of Americans with virtually no knowledge of the nation’s history, no grasp of the economic issues affecting it, and no more political insight than to rely on “hope and change” without understanding that these are not, nor ever were sufficient to the task of being in charge of a great nation with great challenges.

Politically, emotionally, and intellectually, Barack Hussein Obama is a child. This has become increasingly evident with every passing day.

It is not too soon to demand those hidden documents. It is not too soon for the Democrats in Congress to realize that supporting his policies represents a grave danger to the nation and their reelection. It is not too soon to begin working to neutralize him by electing a Republican controlled Congress in 2010.

The military’s meritocracy is based on experience that comes with age and proven leadership. We require that our police act in a disciplined and mature way when dealing with law-breakers. We don’t put children in charge of our schools.

We don’t believe or support people who regard carbon dioxide—vital to all life on Earth—to be a “pollutant” that must be regulated and used to raise billions for a profligate government while wrecking its economy.

“The secret of eternal youth is arrested development,” said Alice Roosevelt Longworth, a keen observer of life and the politics of the nation’s capitol. She passed away in 1980, but she would reaffirm the truth of that opinion if she was watching the Obama administration at work.

Additions to our Website and Blog Roll

Warning Signs has added two other blogs to our links. They are The Freedom Post by one of our own "family" of readers, "The Capitalist", and Tom Nelson by, well, Tom Nelson. The latter is one of the best blogs following the intrigues of the environmental movement and their fellow travelers. The Freedom Post is a lively blog on political personalities, events and trends.

I recommend them both to you, along with the others listed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Greens Hate Energy, America, and You!

By Alan Caruba

I doubt that most Americans have a clue what the leading Green organizations like Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club have as their agenda for 2009. They have already made it known to their members, so I will share it with you.

There are literally dozens of these groups in the United States and each has their own particular focus of attention, but the largest among them play well together in the giant sandbox of Green utopian fantasies. That’s why both FOE and Sierra Club announced they are looking forward to “a clean slate” from the Obama administration.

“There’s nothing like a fresh start. On his first day in office, President Obama could make four decisions that would start 2009 with a ‘clean slate’ of energy policies,” said Friends of the Earth at the same time, the Sierra Club announced its own “Clean Slate Energy Agenda” that—surprise—was the same.

The focus of both is on energy use and accessibility. Both want a lot LESS energy use. Along with all other environmental organizations both use the bogy man of “global warming” to demand huge reductions in “emissions.”

The Sierra Club informed its members that it wants to “reduce global warming emissions quickly by making it possible for over a dozen states to implement their clean car requirements.” This is the objective of one of President Obama’s earliest executive orders. Driving up the cost of owning and operating a car directly strikes at the ability of Americans to be mobile and independent. Justifying it as necessary to reduce global warming is just a big fat lie. There is NO global warming.

Friends of the Earth are totally opposed to any economy stimulus that might include improving the nation’s infrastructure of highways. They warned the plan “is in danger of being hijacked by the road-building lobby, which wants billions of dollars for unnecessary new roads that would increase global warming pollution.”

Over the years I have come to marvel at the ability of environmental organizations to conjure up statistics faster than a magician can pull a rabbit out of a hat. “”Transportation is responsible for 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of our oil consumption” warned Friends of the Earth. What does it matter that carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) have no impact whatever on the Earth’s climate? And just what is wrong with oil consumption if it contributes to the success and growth of the nation’s economy?

“Just 10 miles of a new four-lane highway lead to emissions that are equivalent to the lifetime emissions of 46,700 new Hummers,” said Friends of the Earth. To which I reply, who cares? With oil prices plunging, those Hummers, particularly in parts of the nation hit by bad weather, look like a good idea. Bottom line: if you can afford a Hummer, where is it written you should not be allowed to own one?

Friends of the Earth, however, want to “shift the debate” in the environmental community to get the nation to avoid “car-centric highways and toward sustainable alternatives such as transit, biking, walking, and smart growth development, that will help fight global warming.”

What are these Green groups going to do when the vast population of the United States and elsewhere around the world concludes that there is no global warming? That day is not far off insofar as the Earth is now fully a decade into a cooling cycle that promises longer, harsher winters and a shift to generally cooler temperatures that will affect all northern hemisphere nations in particular and to an extent those in the southern hemisphere as well.

This explains why the United Nations environmental program has shifted into high gear to get the bogus Kyoto Protocols ratified. Not surprisingly, the U.S. has never signed on to it and even European nations that did are balking at emission reduction mandates. Meanwhile, neither China, nor India, nor many under-developed nations are subject to any of the restrictions. It’s a plan to undermine the economies of developed nations because greens hate humanity in general and successful economies in particular.

We’re not even halfway through the “clean slate” proposals. They include Sierra Club’s call to “require new and existing coal power plants to limit their global warming emissions” and to “end destructive mountaintop removal mining…” Finally, they want to “restore America’s international leadership in the fight to end global warming by publicly committing the U.S. to cut its CO2 emissions at least 35 percent by 2020.”

The Greens are so demented that the American Bird Conservancy released a statement in mid-December hailing the appointments of the new Obama administration. Its idea of stimulating the economy was to “invest $29 million dollars over the next four years in the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act” because “bird watching is now big business.” The Conservancy wants the U.S. to “invest “$540 million in America’s 543 national wildlife refuges” to create more “green jobs.” What a big help that will be to Americans who live primarily in America’s cities and suburbs.

The bird-lovers are a bit conflicted over another recommendation to “invest $30.5 million in the five year extension of the renewable energy production tax credit and making renewable energy tax incentives fully refundable. Wind energy is one of the alternative sources of energy” they recommend, but “if left unregulated, has the potential to kill large numbers of birds and bats and harm fragile habitats.” Well, which is it? Dead birds or more “alternative” energy? Both are extremely bad ideas.

The Greens for all their enthusiasm to spend tax dollars on their favorite notions remain opposed to any real energy generation by coal-fired or nuclear plants to meet current and future needs for electricity. They are utterly opposed to people driving around in cars for any reason and, one must assume, trucks that deliver the goods we require to live.

The longer one listens to what the Greens want, the more one becomes convinced that the members of these organizations must be utterly brain dead and that their objective is to render America a third-world nation by opposing the building of new power plants, along with the exploration and extraction of our natural resources of coal, natural gas, and oil.

Does this sound like a good plan to you?