Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking Medical Leave

Your faithful blogger will not be posting for the next 24 to 48 hours depending on the efficacy of a range of medications we're taking for a minor disorder.

Love to read? The September edition of Bookviews, my monthly report on new non-fiction and fiction, has been posted.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Russian Warns Americans Against a Communist Takeover

By Alan Caruba

There is considerable irony involved when a Russian warns Americans against what is taking place before their eyes as President Obama seeks to transform and ultimately acquire dictatorial powers by a series of steps that are both bold and obvious.

In April, Stanislav Mishin’s post on his blog, Mat Rodina, was published in Pravda. The title was “American capitalism gone with a whimper."

You can read the commentary at

Having lived under Communist rule in the former Soviet Russia, Mishin and his fellow Russians were literally freed by the fall of that regime that began with the overthrow of the Czar in 1917 by the Bolsheviks. What followed was an experiment in Communism that killed millions of Russians as a succession of dictators, starting with Lenin, sought to impose an economic and political system that simply does not work.

Mishin enumerated the ways the path to the present effort to destroy capitalism and our political system has been laid in America.

“First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather than the classics.” There are few that would argue that the American education system is not controlled by the National Education Association, a union, and the American Federation of Teachers, a union. Both have long supported the Democrat Party. Virtually every way one can measure the system reveals its failure to educate the millions passing through government schools.

“Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different ‘branches and denominations’ were for the most part little more than Sunday circuses…” America is a “religious” nation if one looks at the survey numbers of those who say they believe in a supreme being. This, however, is not reflected in the breakdown of moral values as seen in the spread of pornography, the use of illegal drugs, the divorce rate, and the touchstone issue of abortion in America. Our popular culture is drenched in sex and violence.

“The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama,” says Mishin. I would argue that the threat Obama poses to the U.S. Constitution and to our economy is indisputable. “His spending and money printing has been (a) record setting,” all pointing to an America that “will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.” The former preceded the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s and the latter’s money is worthless.

What better way to destroy America than to destroy the value of the U.S. dollar, the standard against which all other currencies are set? If you want to know why Obama has instituted the spending of billions in just over a half year's time and imposed a $9 trillion deficit on the nation, you need look no further for an explanation.

Nor did it escape Mishin’s notice, having lived in a nation in which all industry was under the control of a central government, that under Obama the government now owns General Motors and that the President demanded and got the resignation of the company’s former president. Every other CEO in America got the message. No where in the Constitution will you find permission for public money to be spent in this fashion.

The ironies and the threat to our nation continue. “Prime Minister Putin…warned Obama…not to follow the path to Marxism, it only leads to disaster.”

In brief, here’s the case for free market capitalism as opposed to government-run enterprises and interference.

The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. It took 234 years to get it right. It is broke.

Social Security was established in 1935. It has had 74 years to get it right. It is broke. Cost of living increases to recipients will not be enacted for the next two years. It is broke.

Fannie Mae, an intrusion into the housing and mortgage market place was established in 1938. There have been 71 years to get it right. It is broke and it was a major contributing factor in the failure of the mortgage lending system and the present failures of banks across the nation. Likewise, Freddie Mac was established in 1970. After 39 years to get it right, it is broke.

The “war on poverty” set in motion in 1964 was a classic “redistribution of money” as a transfer to “the poor.” Now the nation is, for all intents and purposes, broke.

Medicare and Medicaid were established 1965. After 44 years, both are broke.

The Obama administration is allegedly seeking to “reform” both by rationing medical services to the elderly while expanding the systems to require all Americans to involuntarily purchase insurance. Universal healthcare requires more doctors. Until tort reform is enacted and until doctors can be free to practice in a free market, there will be fewer and fewer doctors.

The trillions of dollars spent by TARP and the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, are showing no signs of working. ACORN, a “community organizing” group received millions and is likely to be given a working role in the forthcoming U.S. Census, a program that is part of the Department of Commerce, but whose management has been transferred to the White House!

“The proud American will go down into his slavery without a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world how free he really is. The world will only snicker,” predicted Mishin.

If the town hall meetings and “tea parties” from coast to coast are any indication, Mishin is wrong that Americans will not fight. A forthcoming September 12 protest gathering in Washington, D.C., is likely to draw more than a million protesters to the capitol.

Obama and his panoply of “czars” have only a few months in which to manufacture a "crisis"as a pretext to transfer all power to the White House. They will fail.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Obama's Unconstitutional "Czars"

By Alan Caruba

Here’s a question that has been nagging me for months. Are Obama’s ever-growing number of “czars” constitutional? I am not a constitutional scholar, but I have read the document.

“Article II. Section 2. “He (the President) shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consults, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein provided for, and which shall be established by law; but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.”

As I read it, the Constitution is very specific about whom the President may appoint and he can do so only within parameters “established by law” and this applies specifically to the “heads of departments.” I interpret this to mean Cabinet Secretaries, all of whom must be vetted and approved for their positions by the Senate.

The Republican National Committee’s conservative caucus recently passed a resolution expressing their concern noting that “The U.S. Constitution explicitly states government officers with significant authority (called ‘principal officers’) must be nominated by the President and are subject to a vote of the U.S. Senate.”

Obama’s appointments are clearly “principal officers” though it will be argued that they are only advisors to the office of the President. Clearly, Obama’s appointments are not heads of departments, but they appear to have been granted an unknown degree of influence and control as regards their responsibilities. They function “in the dark.”

For example, since we have a Department of Labor why do we need an “Auto Recovery” czar, Ed Montgomery, who reports to Larry Summers, the President’s top economic advisor? What can he do to effect recovery? And, constitutionally speaking is it lawful for the United States to have “ownership” of General Motors? Or any other private enterprise? I think not.

Why does President Obama need a “Special Envoy for Climate Change”? Todd Stern reports to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but we have the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that includes the National Weather Service. What exactly does Stern do and why? Stern is best known for having helped negotiate the Kyoto climate pact which was based on the discredited claims of a global warming that is not happening. It was instantly rendered void by the exemption of nations such as China and India.

Meanwhile, the so-called energy and environment czar, Carol Browner, is reportedly coordinating policy in the same area as the “climate change” czar despite the fact that we have both a Department of Energy and an Environmental Protection Agency. Obama's choice for “Green Jobs” czar, Van Jones, is a Marxist radical.

I could go on, but the point, obviously, is that there is an enormous amount of overlap going on and it involves appointees who give the appearance of being doppelgangers to the existing Secretaries and the huge bureaucracies they oversee. They answer directly to the President, but presumably so do the Secretaries whom we occasionally see gathered around a huge table in cabinet meetings.

If these people who have not been approved by the Senate or occupy positions that have not been “established by law” and are not “heads of departments” exist solely at the pleasure of the President, are we not hip deep in some very muddy waters concerning who is answerable to the Senate or House committees?

I am of the belief that Obama has methodically gone about creating a shadow government of men and women with undefined powers, but who likely have even more influence with the Oval Office than those who hold office under the mandates of the Constitution.

To borrow a term from the White House, it all smells “fishy” to me in ways that go beyond just the provision of advice and which likely intrude deeply into the process by which laws and regulations are drafted and enacted.

There are now some thirty or more of these “czars” and they represent a threat to the authority of the Congress and could be utilized in some manufactured “crisis” to take control of the federal government, dispensing with the rule of law.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Journalism's Delusions

By Alan Caruba

“Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.”

The Society of Professional Journalists is holding its centennial convention August 27 to 30 in Indianapolis. I have been a member for more than 25 years. I haven’t earned a living at it since the 1970s.

I, for one, would not want to be among “the next generation of journalists” because it is likely to be one with few job opportunities and expanded requirements that include the mastery of a variety of technical skills. I became a journalist with a pen, a notepad, and a typewriter.

Today’s “professional” journalists are being replaced by “citizen” journalists, many of whom have real expertise in their area of reporting and have created blogs to share their knowledge. Their commentaries are often posted as well on sites that aggregate news on a broad range of topics and it is generally real news you cannot read in the mainstream press that day.

Today, a mainstream news reporter must often be adept with a television camera, albeit some are quite small and easy to handle. Some reporters, I’m told, also take still photos to accompany their stories. Presumably he must be able to take good notes. In smaller outlets, he may also be expected to help with page layout and design. And, of course, he is expected to be observant not only about what is occurring, but conversant with the larger events and trends as well.

Starting salaries are far less than just about any other skilled professional might expect and they remain low for most reporters and editors throughout their tenure. City rooms that used to buzz with activity, phones ringing, laughter and discourse, now echo with little more than the tap-tap of computer keys.

News is delivered fully written in the form of a deluge of emailed news releases. It is folly to send one by U.S. mail anymore. I know from personal experience that if a reporter doesn’t like what he’s receiving he will just email back “take me off your list” or a comparable message to the effect that your “news” interferes with his perception of the facts or conflicts with the unspoken shibboleths of his newspaper’s ideology.

A recent example of this is the astonishing general failure or refusal to report on the more than one thousand “tea parties” that took place around the nation. Too often these events with more than two or three thousand people in attendance received no notice.

There is little real “free flow of information.” Probably never was. News is what editors and reporters say it is. If they don’t like the news they are receiving they either ignore it, bury it, or find a way to put their own spin on it. Then they complain about its source; usually a former journalist-turned-public relations flack. The American Society of News Editors had to cancel their 2009 convention..

In the interest of full disclosure I have been one of those PR flacks for decades. The first thing a PR professional learns is to tell the truth. Anything else will come back to bite you. And let me also say that I like journalists, always have and always will. I am happy to count many as friends.

The real news at the Society of Professional Journalist’s centennial convention is the loss of advertising revenue that threatens what jobs are left. The Christian Science Monitor now exists solely on the Internet. Watch for this to become a trend. They will, however, still need professional journalists.

Among news magazines, U.S. News and World Report used to be a weekly. Now it arrives but once a month while offering subscribers Internet updates between issues. Time and Newsweek have put a picture of Barack Obama on their covers so many times in the past year that they are beyond embarrassment if they do it again…and again. They are virtually useless as sources of credible information.

The loss that is essential to the news business is their credibility. Consumers of news trust their newspapers less and less. And they have good reason.

The classic example is the way The New York Times continues to report evidence of “global warming” when the Earth is in a decade-old cooling cycle. An Associated Press science reporter is a disgrace. Newspapers are now in the daily “crisis” business, often without regard to whether a real crisis exists or not. Ordinary people go about their lives by ignoring the screaming headlines.

With a few notable exceptions is newspapers’ dogged liberal outlook in a nation where the bulk of Americans self-identify as being some degree of conservative. There’s a reason why people turn to Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh. They agree with them and they trust them. The basement ratings of CNN and MSNBC tell the story.

Journalism’s self-delusions pose a greater threat than the transition to the Internet, the sick economy, or any other factor. Reporting the news requires a genuinely objective examination of what is occurring. Without the capacity to do that, there is little reason to be among this or the next generation of journalists.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Healthcare "Reform" Can Make You Very Nervous

Don't Just Stand There. Panic!

By Alan Caruba

I am rather tired of having to panic every other day courtesy of the U.S. government. It started with seeing the former Secretary of the Treasury sweating profusely while demanding the Congress give him a blank check for $700 billion to bail out some financial institutions that probably should have been allowed to fail.

Many were given gobs of taxpayer money to avoid bankruptcy. Others were merged with those that hadn’t been as profligate.

In October 1929, Variety, the show business newspaper, had a headline that said “Wall Street Lays an Egg.” What followed was some ten years of a Depression that would not go away because the government did everything possible to prolong it in the name of ending it.

The so-called “brain trust” around Franklin D. Roosevelt made every wrong decision available. The Supreme Court had to step in to limit some of the damage at one point. Constitution? What Constitution?

About the only thing we are being told is not a cause for panic is the “war on terror”, a phrase that is no longer allowed to be used in official Washington where, apparently, if you don’t call a duck a duck it is no longer a duck. Nonetheless, we are also told that Afghanistan is the “front line” of the war on you-know-what even though there are no “front lines” in insurgencies or guerrilla wars.

Aside from the economy and the former war on you-know-what we are being assured that there are still sufficient causes for panic. We were told that unless the Cap-and-Trade act was passed, the planet would be destroyed by global warming. Apparently this will happen well before any member of Congress actually reads the bill.

Al Gore has been telling us this for quite some time and recently the Secretary General of the United Nations said we only had four months to act before we were doomed. Americans have, however, concluded, based on empirical observations of cold temperatures, expanding glaciers, and other indicators, that the Earth is cooling. No need for panic after all.

Having failed to panic about global warming, the very same Congress told us that we had to “reform” Medicare or terrible consequences would occur. Some sacrifices will have to be made to save Medicare. These include sacrificing crippled veterans and most of the old people in America because they require too much care. After that, Medicare will be okay, unless you get ill, are over age 65, and actually need medical care. The bill has been renamed KennedyCare to avoid any connection to Barack Obama.

Perhaps the most genuine cause for panic involves the economists on the President’s staff who managed to miss the amount of the federal deficit by two trillion dollars the first time they made their calculation. After that, feel free to panic about a deficit that your great grandchildren will be working to pay off.

Another likely cause for panic is the growing list of “czars” being gathered around the President. They are in charge of all the big things in the nation as well as things such as the Great Lakes and something called Green Jobs.

Following an attack on the homeland which could easily be perpetrated by hired thugs, the President is likely to get on television, peer deeply into his TelePrompter, and announce that his “czars” are now in charge and Congress has been dismissed along with the members of the Supreme Court. Remember, it only took 19 real terrorists to attack the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Lastly, the CDC is presently spending $16 million dollars to ensure that Americans panic over the H1N1 flu which will be arriving the same time as all previous flu seasons. We call them seasons because some form of flu arrives in the autumn. This one, however, is raising questions, not about its lethality, but about the shots that will be involuntarily administered to school children to prevent its spread. Word is circulating that the new vaccine is more lethal than the flu. Were I a parent I would not permit my child to be innoculated with the swine flu vaccine, but if an alternative exists. it's probably a good idea.

Simply said, if you have ever had the flu, your immune system has already built up antibodies against a new strain and the vast number of people who get the flu feel lousy for a week and then recover. There is at this writing, no indication of a massive die-off occurring.

If you get the impression I no longer trust anything the President says or that our government is doing, you’re right. That is why I am refusing to panic.

Instead, I will be attending tea parties and will try to make it to Washington, D.C. on September 12 to join a protest that I hope will cause the White House and Congress to panic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shovel Ready in America

By Alan Caruba

The only thing that is “shovel ready” in America today is Teddy Kennedy’s corpse and casket. Fortunately for his mortician, Kennedy had already embalmed himself.

One can only pray that his brand of insane, unrealistic, and very expensive liberalism will be buried with him, but that is not likely so long as our Marxist President draws breath.

With considerable schadenfreude I watched as William Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard, choked back his utter disdain for Teddy Kennedy during a panel discussion on the Fox News. Columnist Charles Krauthammer had nothing good to say of Kennedy either and it was to both their credit they did not feign any regret over his passing beyond the standard expression of sympathy for his family.

After prayers are said over his bloated remains, he will be interred in Arlington cemetery beside his brothers Jack and Bobby. The baby of the family, an indifferent student, boozer, womanizer, and bloviator, Teddy managed to get to the far Left of his more distinguished brothers.

Their careers in public service were as proxies for their power-mad father who rose from poverty as a bootlegger. These days he would probably be driving an 18-wheeler full of cigarettes from North Carolina to Boston.

He wanted, believe it or not, to be president, but FDR put an end to that nonsense. When oldest son, Joe, Jr., died in World War II, he turned to Jack to fulfill that ambition. The dutiful son complied, greatly assisted by the brilliant Ted Sorenson and the flamboyant, best character of the group that got him elected, Pierre Salinger. To the astonishment of everyone, Jack picked brother Bobby to be his Attorney General. They were a tight-knit family, the Kennedys.

When Bobby was assassinated during his campaign to become president (by a Palestinian—something that nobody ever bothers to mention), daffy, pudgy little Teddy was shoved in line to fulfill the same demented ambition. Only the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne, something he failed to report for many hours, put a stop to his presidential ambitions.

This is America’s “dynasty”? That was “Camelot”? The Soviet Union’s clownish Nikita Krushchev took a look at Jack and decided he could get away with putting long-range missiles in Cuba. He was mistaken.

Can you even imagine what comparable world leaders today are thinking of Barack Obama who wet his pants trying to decide whether to kill some Somali pirates that were holding an American ship captain captive and for ransom? Who couldn’t find a good word to say for the brave Iranians in the streets of Tehran protesting that monster, Ahmadinejad and the crazed ayatollahs? Et cetera!

Now the Democrats, who can’t find enough votes among their own pathetic herd in Congress, the majority party, intend to rename the totally Socialist “universal healthcare” bill after Teddy in a lame effort to ram it through despite polls and town hall meetings, phone calls, emails and faxes by the hundreds of thousands denouncing it.

If passed it would hasten the bankruptcy of a nation rendered bankrupt by Obama and the Democrats. What a legacy!

As the Irish are fond of saying, let us be about our Father’s work. Let’s shovel Teddy under and get on with saving the nation from the likes of him and those to whom he has passed the torch.

Wheat, Yes, Wheat!

By Alan Caruba

Today, we shall talk of wheat. Yes, wheat!

Since 98% of Americans have no connection to farming beyond a visit to the supermarket, most give no thought to how food products get to the shelves.

However, if you do a quick inventory of the foods you eat on a daily basis, you will discover that a significant number have some connection to wheat. Pizza crust is a wheat product. Some cereals (Wheaties!) and all pastas begin as wheat.

All breads. All cookies. All cakes and pies. All pancakes. Donuts, too. Hhhhhmmmm, donuts!

Born and raised in the suburbs, I never gave any thought to farming until my work as a writer and photojournalist took me to the fields of farmers around the nation to document aspects of their work. It was a revelation.

Indeed, as revelations go, if you are at all familiar with the Old Testament, you should swiftly begin to add up the many references to this king of all grains. From “give us our daily bread” to “cast your bread upon the waters” wheat has played an essential role in the development of civilizations dependent upon it or which thrived based on its export.

Little wonder that the lyrics of “America the Beautiful” begin, “O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties, Above the fruited plain!”

Wheat still plays an important, though largely unreported role among nations today. China recently completed a three-month inventory and, with a population of more than a billion, it is little wonder that Chinese officials say that “grain has always been the first and foremost issue to maintain peace and stability.”

I had a college professor who suggested that no government is ever more than two weeks of being overthrown and replaced if it cannot feed its people.

Saudi Arabia just purchased 440,000 tons of hard wheat from the U.S. A desert nation, it needs about 2.3 million tons of wheat per year. The disruption to life in Pakistan, thanks to al Qaeda and the Taliban, has affected its wheat production and the U.S. is providing $26 million to go toward the purchase of wheat and other food. The world’s largest importer of grains is Japan and it is looking to use overseas investments in nations like Brazil, Argentina, Romania and Hungary to ensure a stable supply of food as global demand increases.

So maybe now wheat isn’t as boring a topic as you might have thought, eh?

While most people think of Kansas when you say wheat, the State of Washington is a major producer and Dr. David Bragg, Ph.D., an extension entomologist, recently enumerated the insect pests that can be depended upon to attack wheat.

They include the Russian Wheat Aphid, the Ladybird Beetle, the English Grain Aphid and Rosy Grass Aphid. Then there’s the Haanchen Barley Mealybug and Wireworm Beetle Larvae, as well as the False Wireworm, the Cereal Leaf Beetle, Cutworms and Armyworms. By no means should we leave out the Wheat Stem Maggot, the Wheat Stem Saw Fly, and the Wheat Joint Worm.

I want you to think about this army of insect predators the next time some environmental group is demanding that all pesticides be banned and that all grains and vegetables be grown “organically.” They feel the same about the herbicides that counter the affect of an astonishing range of weeds that also want to take up residence in Farmer Jones’ fields.

America is blessed to be the “bread basket” to much of the world that imports our wheat. Agricultural exports account for a major part of our national wealth and, other than the producers of the energy we use, our farmers and ranchers are among the most essential citizens we have in this great nation of ours.

And that, dear reader is today’s tribute to wheat!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Obama Vs. the CIA

Welcome to Obama World

By Alan Caruba

There’s the Real World and then there is Obama World. They are like parallel universes that only look alike

You can tell them apart because the Real World is full of dangerous and demented people who think they are fulfilling Allah’s command to kill unbelievers or even believers with whom they disagree. It’s a world where suicide is okay so long as you are killing others in the process.

In the Real World, there are people who think it’s okay to fly commercial aircraft into the Twin Towers and Pentagon. It’s a world where video tapes of al Qaeda victims being beheaded are the deranged Looney Tunes of the Middle East.

And then there is Obama World. It is a world in which the President of the United States must apologize if any terrorists or their supporters were offended when the U.S. drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan and then invaded a nation controlled by a psychopath who had previously invaded Iran and then Kuwait. When not so engaged, Saddam Hussein was content to use poison gas against the Kurds in his nation and to fill his prisons with victims whose fate it was to be raped and executed in the most fiendish ways imaginable.

In Obama World, the President of the United States kow-tows to a Saudi Arabian Prince while insulting the Queen of England and its Prime Minister. In Obama World North Korea feels free to launch missiles and insult our Secretary of State, but eagerly welcomes her husband, a former U.S. President, sent to free two girls too stupid to avoid the place.

In Obama World you are always campaigning and running against former President George W. Bush even though you won the election and he remains discretely quiet and does not publicly criticize you. In Obama World, you must demonize the former Vice President, Dick Cheney, and do whatever you can to indict him for the crime of doing whatever was in his and the President’s power to protect Americans after 9/11.

In the Real World, you don’t spend time looking at cases involving the interrogation techniques that kept the nation free of any further attacks. You especially don’t do this when the nation is facing a financial crisis of colossal proportions and you don’t try to impose a “reform” on the healthcare system that would turn into yet another failed government enterprise; essentially destroying one sixth of the nation’s economy.

In the Real World, you don’t claim that carbon dioxide, a gas vital to all life on the planet, is a “pollutant” that must be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and you don’t try to engineer a Cap-and-Trade scheme to sell worthless “carbon credits” to stop a “global warming” that is not happening.

In Obama World, you do all of these things.

In Obama World, you try especially hard to undermine the effectiveness of the Central Intelligence Agency that was created to protect us from our enemies. You announce that, henceforth, all interrogations of terrorists will be done instead by the FBI and that yet another “czar” will be hired to oversee the process. Because in Obama World, terrorists are accorded the protection of the U.S. Constitution and the rights we routinely extend to pickpockets and prostitutes.

In Obama World, you desecrate the meaning and memory of 9/11, now called Patriot’s Day, by accusing those in the clandestine services of being evil. You dilute the meaning of the day by proclaiming it a day of service to America instead of a day to mourn the loss of those killed by our enemies and vow to find and kill them wherever they are.

In Obama World, Dick Cheney is not a man with a remarkable record of public service that included being White House chief of staff for President Ford, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming—elected five times and serving as the House Minority Whip before being selected to be George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense during the 1991 Operation Desert Storm. During the Clinton years he was chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company. George W. Bush selected him as his running mate and he became his Vice President, serving for eight years.

Under normal circumstances, such a man would be accorded the thanks and respect of his nation, but not in Obama World.

In Obama World you decide to shut down Guantanamo where enemy combatants too dangerous to release are kept. You do this only to discover that most nations will not accept them and most U.S. States do not want them even in their maximum security prisons.

In Obama World who release information that can only benefit our enemies and you engage in an obvious witch hunt to deflect attention from the real issues that threaten to destroy the nation’s economy.

Welcome to Obama World. It’s not a happy place.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Time to Resign, Mr. President

By Alan Caruba

If you had purchased a stock in January of this year that had lost as much of its value as Barack Obama, you would be desperate to sell it by now. The problem is, the only buyers would be the mainstream media and their stock has been falling too.

I cannot think of a single President in our 233 year history that was so disliked by so many Americans in so short a time. His polling numbers drop daily and he is poised to make history by losing the confidence and support vital to the ability to lead, let alone to administer the federal government.

It is his judgment that is the issue and, concurrent with that, his actions. If anyone would have predicted that he would impose so much debt on the nation in so short a time they would have been called mad. Barely seven months into his administration the estimated national deficit will be reset at nine trillion dollars between now and 2019.

The federal government now owns General Motors after advancing $60 billion to avoid bankruptcy and then standing by as it went into bankruptcy. We own a huge insurance company, AIG. The recent “Cash for Clunkers” program swiftly ran out of cash and may end up bankrupting participating auto dealers. It has already severely impacted the sale of used cars, a major part of the auto market.

Under Obama, an ever-increasing shadow government of “czars” has been established; people who are presumably not encumbered by the laws that govern appointed Cabinet secretaries. Most have not been vetted, nor approved by Congress and too many have unsavory backgrounds and beliefs.

The current attempt to take over one-sixth of the nation’s economy by socializing the healthcare system is being resisted by millions of Americans, some of whom are showing up at town hall meetings and creating “tea parties” to air their grievances. As many as a million will likely fill the streets of Washington to protest on September 12.

With the exception of liberalism’s “true believers”, some 28 percent of whom will always think Obama is doing a great job, people are wondering if there is some way to remove him from holding the office for the remainder of his term, doing even more damage.

Can a President resign? Yes, Richard Nixon did; the first in the history of the nation, undone by his own paranoia and over-zealous White House henchmen. That scenario is beginning to loom large in the minds of Americans when they give thought to those “czars” and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the man who never wants to “waste” a crisis.

Americans want to clean house. Congressmen returning from a stormy recess are going to assess the value of supporting the President, the Senate Majority Leader, or the Speaker of the House. The Democrats have near total political power in Congress, but there is a limit to party loyalty and it’s called getting re-elected.

Congress has tried the “bread and circuses” approach to calming the masses. It hasn’t worked. It has tried demonizing protesters as “un-American”. It hasn’t worked. It is running out of options and those that remain include internment camps.

America has demonstrated the ability to right itself after making bad decisions such as Prohibition and previous poor leadership. It is being put to the test again by Barack Obama.

It’s time to resign, Mr. President.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Short-Term Memories

By Alan Caruba

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Arabs, Arab culture, or Arab history, but I do know a bit about our own as Americans. And that worries me.

While our American values are deep-seated and enduring, our short-term memories are such that we have to be severely provoked to call on them. We tend to forget the many attacks and abuses Americans have suffered at home and abroad at the hands of Arabs and others of the Muslim faith.

I was thinking about this while watching Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, greet the returning “hero” of the Lockerbie bombing that, in December 1988, killed all 259 passengers on board, many of whom were returning college students and eleven on the ground in Scotland. A large crowd showed up to cheer for Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.

As this is being written, all across the Arab world, this acknowledged Libyan intelligence officer is being portrayed as an innocent victim of the Lockerbie bombing; someone wrongly convicted of being part of the plot. That’s what the Arab press is saying. There is virtually no crime an Arab commits that cannot be explained away so long as it involves revenge for one of their long-standing grievances.

My mind went back to the images of the Palestinians who went in the streets when they heard news of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They, too, cheered.

In Somalia, in the wake of the Black Hawk helicopter that went down in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 some of our dead warriors were dragged through the streets while crowds cheered.

When news of the abuses at Abu Graib prison became known, Americans were outraged, but in prisons across the whole of the Middle East, such abuses and much worse are commonplace. American values, however, would not permit them to go unpunished.

For three decades, Saddam Hussein maintained rape rooms and executions proceeded without trials in Abu Graib and elsewhere within his prison regime. This does not excuse what a handful of American military did, but it does put it in some perspective.

By contrast, the detainees at Guantanamo have received humane treatment with the exception of those whose information served to protect and save American lives. Even our so-called “torture” methods (enhanced interrogation) do not leave those on the receiving end maimed or dead. Ironically, our pilots and other members of the military have been subjected to water-boarding in order to prepare them for this procedure if captured.

No, it is the cheers that bother me most. It is the joy that infuses Arabs and other Muslims celebrating the killing of Americans that is a reflection of some very bad values that have kept them despised for centuries. They are values embraced by those who join or support al Qaeda or the Taliban.

So, in the wake of the latest bombing in Baghdad, I was amused to see a man-in-the-street interview with an Iraqi who complained that the American soldiers had been withdrawn too soon. He wanted them and the security they provided back.

That is the case all over the world. Our military is seemingly never welcome until after they are gone and the same threats to peace in the streets and a nation occur again.

Then there is no cheering. Only pleas for our return.

America's Empire of Trust

By Alan Caruba

Though most Americans are unaware of it, the rest of the world is taking an active interest in the sometimes heated debate we are having regarding the alleged healthcare “reform” that is, in fact, yet another effort to push the nation further into the same socialist tentacles that have been embraced elsewhere.

Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in America doesn’t stay in America. As the world’s sole superpower, the man we select to be our president becomes the de facto president of the world insofar as his decisions reach into dusty villages in Afghanistan, affect global stock and commodity markets, and can determine the success or failure of movements toward freedom everywhere.

There would be no “Pax Americana” if we were seen to abandon our allies.

The similarities between the Roman Empire and the young American Empire are examined in an excellent book by Thomas F. Madden, “Empires of Trust.”

When I was born in the late 1930s America was a resolutely isolationist nation. We didn’t want to get involved in European wars. We had gotten into World War I because our ships were attacked by German submarines. When it was over, we pulled out our troops.

Not so for World War II, yet another conflict we resisted joining until the attack on Pearl Harbor. At the end of that war, we left troops in Europe to fend off the threat of the Soviet Union. We left troops in Japan to occupy it until democracy could be introduced to replace the emperor. In both cases, we spent billions to rebuild these shattered nations.

American troops are still in Europe and still in Japan. Though asked to withdraw from Iraq, a contingent of American troops will remain there long into the future and it is likely too that they shall be in Afghanistan as well. Americans were twice forced to invade Iraq; initially to force them out of Kuwait and, after 9/11, to remove Saddam Hussein, a threat to the entire region, but most particularly to Saudi Arabia, a major source of oil to the West.

While America always invades as part of a “coalition”, that is a charade because no other nation has the military strength and power to swiftly bring an offending nation to heel. It is not the conquest that is difficult. It is the clean up afterwards.

In point of fact, America maintains military units all over the world and they are there by invitation. Another element of America’s Empire of Trust is that the wars in which we have engaged since the end of World War II have all been in distant places. That pattern began with the Korean conflict in the 1950s. That was followed by the distress when America took over the conflict in Vietnam from France.

After initial enthusiasm for revenge following 9/11, our current participation in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts in Iraq has long since cooled. Americans, as did the citizens of Rome, do not like extended military engagements.

There are any number of similarities between the citizens of Rome who sought their own security by slowly having to conquer neighboring enemies in Italy, subdue the Carthaginian threat from North Africa, and disturbances in Greece.

The growth of the Roman Empire took place over centuries, but the reluctant Romans did not seek conquest; only peace for themselves. They did this by turning conquered enemies into friends and, since they were so successful in war, they were continually entreated to extend their protection further and further from Rome. The result was an Empire of Trust.

The Romans created the first republic in which power resided in its citizens. The American republic was, in many ways, patterned after the Roman republic, but the Founders also sought to avoid the errors of Rome, dividing power within government and ensuring that our military’s allegiance was to the Constitution, not a particular leader. Our wars must be approved by congressional resolutions.

Even in Rome there were early predictions that their empire would end. By 146 BC the Romans were the most powerful nation of those bordering the Mediterranean from Spain to Egypt and they would remain so for some sixteen centuries.

Most Americans draw their “knowledge” of ancient Rome from Hollywood films, but the scenes of decadence and apparent tyranny are wrong in many ways. A pious people, the famed decline in morality and the necessity to subdue religious chaos in the Middle East actually occurred by the time the empire had largely converted to Christianity as the state religion. They occurred late in its long history of having imposed the “Pax Romana” on the known world. The last elements of the empire would disappear in 1453.

A world at peace was always the Roman goal and, following World War II, it has been America’s goal. However, as Madden points out, “War—not peace—is the normal state of affairs in human history.” What is called peace “is an intermission, a time to prepare for more war.”

America was forced to enter two wars in Europe in the last century because, as Madden, notes, “The countries and leaders of Europe waged nearly constant warfare for more than fifteen centuries.”

This is why, too, that American soldiers and marines, assisted by troops contributed by a relatively few and greatly reluctant allies, are now fighting a “hot” war in Afghanistan after a lengthy engagement in an Iraq. Americans do not like long wars, but Madden bluntly says that “Americans need to accept that the War on Terror is going to be a long one.

Liberals always claim that “war never solves anything”, but history demonstrates that war always solves something. We have a United States of America because we fought a long, bloody Civil War. We are not subject to the dictates of a Nazi Germany in control of Europe or an Empire of Japan controlling Asia because we fought and won World War II. Our proxy wars weakened the former Soviet Union.

Former President Bush was right when, in 2002, he said, “We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign nonproliferation treaties, and then systematically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long…we must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.”

That is the definition of “Pax Americana” and it is the mission of the American Empire.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday's Random Thoughts

By Alan Caruba

Nine Trillion Dollars. That is what the Obama administration now says will be the national budget deficit in ten years. Our current GDP, give or take a trillion, is fourteen trillion a year so you do the math. In seven months President Obama and his Democrat minions in Congress have plunged the nation into debt not seen since the waging of World War II.

Medicare. A million Baby Boomers a year will sign up to receive their Medicare “entitlements” because the members of the population bulge that followed the end of World War II is now officially old. In 1965 Medicare was signed into law as part of the older Social Security system. The enrollment age was based on the fact that 65 was about when people started dying off back then. Now the average life expectancy is 78. And that’s just the average! Little wonder anyone with any sense doesn’t want a rationed Obamacare that will, indeed, let old people suffer in lieu of caring for them. And these are people who paid into the system.

Obesity. I still cannot understand why government at any level should have anything to say about what you eat, how much you eat, and whether you are fat. A lot of fat people had fat parents and fat grandparents. Much of the condition is genetic. The rest involves lots of very affordable and tasty so-called “junk food.” Your weight is your responsibility.

Obama. I am likely to be saying this for years to come. Barack Obama is stupid. He’s stupid in the way a spineless salesman will make up things in order to make a sale. I don’t mean stupid in that he couldn’t get through college and law school. A lot of people do that and they remain essentially stupid because they cling to some very bad ideas and bad attitudes that warp their lives and, if granted power, wreak havoc on hapless victims. That’s us. He’s stupid because he thinks spending billions and billions of our dollars has no consequences or, at the very least, he won’t have to suffer them.

Mainstream Media. The Society of Professional Journalists was founded in 1909 and on August 27 it will hold a convention celebrating its centennial, but I’m betting relatively few of its 10,000 members will attend. This is because a large and growing portion of them will be out of work and unable to afford to rub shoulders with their brethren. I have been a member for some 25 years, having joined back when I was a reporter. They will have many panel discussions during the convention, but I suspect none of them will address the way journalism has shed its credibility like a cloak of invisibility. The news media, print and electronic, now stands naked for its appalling abdication of truth-telling. The biggest lie remains “global warming” which it continues to tell every time it can. The other is the notion that Barack Obama is even minimally fit to be President.

Offshore Oil Drilling. Toward the end of his eight years in office, former President Bush lifted the ban on drilling for oil and natural gas on the nation’s continental shelf. Some 85% of the area beyond our shores remain, for all intents and purposes, banned now that the Obama people hold power, nor is there any prospect of drilling in ANWR, a God-forsaken Alaskan wilderness perched atop billions of barrels of the stuff. Meanwhile, Cuba has signed deals with Russian and China to drill off its shore which just happens, at one point, to be ninety miles from Florida. This week we learned that the Obama administration has authorized lending $2 billion for offshore drilling. To Brazil! This is obscene.

The Greens. It’s summertime and, in the summertime, it gets hot. On August 25th, the National Wildlife Federation along with the Physicians for Social Responsibility will host a conference call for the media warning about heat. “Perspectives will be provided regarding the latest scientific research on heat waves and global warming,” says their announcement, claiming that heat will have “disproportionate impacts on people of color.” They are going to try to turn heat into a racial issue. The truth is that the Earth is now firmly into a cooling cycle that began in 1998 and it is likely to last another ten to twenty years. Heat waves occur naturally and global warming is a hoax. We may well see summers in the years to come that are unnaturally brief or non-existent because it will get cold and stay cold.

The Jews. What will the Jew-haters do when the world runs out of Jews? The results of a recent study, a survey of U.S. religious identification, have been released and it turns out that the number of American Jews has decreased from 5.5 million in 1990 to between 5.2 to 5.4 million today. Jews are inter-marrying out of the faith or just not showing up in the synagogues as they become increasingly secular. It’s not a big drop, but let’s put it in perspective. There are 12.5 million people living in Los Angeles and some 19 million living in New York. In Israel, there are some 7 million people, but a million of their citizens are Muslims. In terms of population, you could put all of America’s Jews in a small city in Iowa. If the Israelis don’t bomb the hell out of Iran’s nuclear facilities, there will be another Holocaust and then even the Jew-haters will miss them because they will have no one to blame for everything.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Kennedy Death Watch

By Alan Caruba

Brace yourself, when Sen. Teddy Kennedy dies—and it looks like that could be any day now—the mainstream media will launch an orgy of tributes, minute-by-minute coverage of all the hoopla that will surround the event. It may make the coverage of Michael Jackson’s recent passing seem mild by comparison.

The Kennedy’s have acquired a mythic quality despite the fact that this was and is a deeply flawed family. John F. Kennedy’s time as president was quite brief, but it was enough to engage in one of the great blunders of the post-war era, the aborted invasion of Cuba by a CIA-trained and funded group of mercenaries.

JFK was later able to redeem himself in the confrontation with the Soviet Union over the placement of missiles in Cuba. As Dean Rusk, his Secretary of State, put it, “The other side just blinked.” It was, however, Kennedy who signed off on the growing U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Military “advisors” metastasized into more than 50,000 dead when Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency in the wake of his assassination.

Unquestionably the most liberal among his Senate brethren, we can thank Teddy for the ghastly “No Child Left Behind Bill” and all others that have advanced the interests of the National Education Association. His support for Obama critically turned the tide against Hillary Clinton’s nomination. He has worn Big Government blinders for years, eager to see it grow for any reason.

Most famously, the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne on July 18, 1969 became a scandal etched into the political history of the nation. What is not in doubt is that Kennedy was at the wheel of a car that went off a bridge in Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts, trapping the girl, a campaign volunteer for brother Bobby, while Teddy was able to extricate himself. The details of what followed seem to confirm that he was more concerned with avoiding responsibility than for the victim.

The incident mercifully ensured he would never be able to secure the Democrat nomination for president.

His death will occasion 24/7 news coverage, endless colleagues and journalists blathering away and striving to out-do one another in lavishing praise on the old sot. It's rumored that sailors used his bulbous, glowing nose to guide themselves through the waters off Hyannisport.

His brain tumor would appear to confirm “the Kennedy curse” because almost all the prominent members of the family have fallen to some awful end; Joe Jr., the oldest son, died in World War II, John and Bobby were both assassinated, and, in 1999, John Jr. managed to nosedive his plane into the Atlantic Ocean off of Martha’s Vineyard.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. lives on as an environmental wacko who is far too comfortable shilling for Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez than any Kennedy should ever be. Caroline embarrassed herself in an aborted effort to become a Senator from New York.

The Kennedy’s always seemed to find ways to shorten their lives or to end their marriages after begetting still more kin. The women born to this family or married into it suffered greatly. Only old Joe Kennedy of infamy (he was an admirer of Hitler’s Germany and made no secret of it) managed to live to a point of antiquity. His wife, Rose, did as well.

A graceful and beautiful Jackie Kennedy Onassis alone managed to bring some real glamour and style to this ragged group of ambitious and libidinous power brokers, though her marriage to the Greek shipping magnate took some edge of the legend.

I will have to keep the television turned off for days after his passing in order to avoid the din of coverage. His casket will surely be rolled to the center of the Capitol rotunda to ensure that some final moments of worship can be lavished on him. He may be buried in Arlington in the plot where his older brothers reside in perpetuity. The cameras will follow every lugubrious moment of the ceremonies.

I am willing to bet that future historians will be less forgiving of his role and his contribution to the nation, particularly as regards his voting record. If the nation ever erects a monument to those who have benefited overly from their family connections, the name of Edward Moore Kennedy surely will be engraved on it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Signs of Sanity

By Alan Caruba

I have this theory that nations go crazy from time to time. Collectively they lose their wits or, as is often the case, the people either elect or have imposed on them a complete lunatic, discovering it in slow stages as reports of various horrors make their way to the countryside.

These days, those stages are greatly speeded up by the mass media that swiftly spread the word. Unlike the United States, in many nations the news is what the government says is news, but it must also be said that the mainstream media has utterly disgraced itself over the course of the recent campaign and the first months of the Obama administration. There are signs, however, some have rediscovered their role in our society.

The most vigorous signs of sanity among the general populace of America have been the recent town hall meetings. The tea parties, too. And just wait for the big march in Washington, D.C. on September 12!

That will surely put the fear of the people into the hearts of Congress men and women. It is far better that they fear us than the other way around.

The sage of Baltimore, journalist H.L. Mencken noted that, "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." Healthcare “reform” is a perfect example of this warning.

Healthcare is far too important to be left to the machinations of politicians and bureaucrats. A society that does not put a high premium on life, from newborn to the elderly, is itself sick.

The concept of caring for the ill, looking after widows and orphans, is as old as the Torah, the Old Testament. You can find the foundation of charity there, too. A society, whether it was an ancient city-state or a massive modern one, that does not tend to those who have fallen on bad fortune or illness is not worthy of existence.

Though Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are “liberal” concepts, I think they reflect the religious roots of the nation and a belief that the common good is served when those citizens who have contributed to these systems benefit and require care.

These two systems, however, are in trouble because they have been poorly managed and their funds have routinely been taken by Congress that left IOU notes in their place. If these two systems cannot be trusted to Congress, why would anyone want to turn our entire healthcare system over them?

Americans, even in the early days of the Republic, had developed a unique capacity to organize themselves for all kinds of public service and purposes. Alexis de Tocqueville, in his famed “Democracy in America”, was especially impressed by this aspect of our society because it was so uncommon in the Old World of Europe.

So I think Americans have collectively looked at the insanity coming out of the Obama administration and decided to reverse course on what looks like a very bad political decision; first to turn power over to the Democrats in Congress and, second, to have entrusted the present and the future of America to a man who can barely speak without uttering a new or old lie and is laughably dependent on a TelePrompter.

It is insanity, when the nation is reeling from the financial crisis of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, to spend billions to take over General Motors instead of permitting established bankruptcy procedures to occur. It is insanity for the government to own a huge insurance company.

It is insanity for Congress to vote, sight unseen and unread, on a multi-billion dollar spending bill for the purpose of “stimulating” the economy when everyone knows it is just a huge compilation of political pork projects, often of dubious merit.

It is insanity to expect Congress to vote, again largely unread, a massive “reform” of the nation’s healthcare system, one sixth or one seventh of the economy, when the government is clearly not empowered by anything in the Constitution to do so.

It is insanity for Congress to vote for a “cap-and-trade” bill based on the utterly false assertion that America must save the planet from a global warming that isn’t happening. It is a cap-and-tax bill on the provision and use of the most vital element of society, the energy it uses. It will drive up the cost of electricity and drive out jobs and industry.

It is insanity to triple the national debt in the midst of a Recession or, as Vice President Biden said, to spend more to avoid a Depression.

Despite this, I am not ready to despair for America. There are Americans, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, who understand the threats and who are showing up to demand that Congress do their bidding. That is exactly the way our system is intended to work.

If the Democrats in Congress ram through healthcare and cap-and-trade they will destroy their party, but since it is now led by people whose lust for power renders them irrational we need to keep in mind that next year’s midterm elections are the remedy and that, even if passed, these bills can and will be repealed

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


By Alan Caruba

“Mouthpiece” is one of those wonderful words that just says it all. As slang, it refers to a lawyer for a mobster, but its more respectable definition is “a person, newspaper, etc., that conveys the opinions or sentiments of others; a spokesperson.”

There are many thankless jobs, but surely being the White House spokesperson, the individual who must face the reporters every day to explain policy, make announcements, and respond to criticism of the President, must surely rank high on the list.

Bush began with Ari Fleischer, a very skilled and apparently well-liked White House spokesman, but when Fleischer left, he was replaced by Scott McClellen, a man so out of his depth that the occasional missteps of Bush were magnified by his inability to put any kind of spin on them. After he left the office, he wrote a bitter book about the experience, further confirming that he was a weasel.

Some, however, were very good at it. I think immediately of Tony Snow who joined the Bush administration at a time when it was under fire for its Iraq policies. Tony dealt with all questions with amazing grace and good spirits. Only cancer could and did get the best of him.

Dana Perino stepped in after Snow’s passing and turned out to be a poised and perfect replacement. As they say in the world of sports, a natural. It didn’t hurt that, in a male dominated news corps, she was very easy on the eyes.

Both Snow and Perino were fortunate insofar as they spoke for a man who was pretty much what you saw. Bush took the job of president seriously, but not himself. He, like Reagan and his own father, was completely at ease in the job and, when he said something, his spokesman didn’t have to explain it a dozen times in varying shades of differing interpretations.

That brings us, of course, to Robert Gibbs, Obama’s mouthpiece. A New York Times profile in December swiftly passed over the fact that Gibbs has never spent a day as a working journalist.

Gibbs began as a campaign volunteer, initially for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential run, while still a student at North Carolina State University. He was John Kerry’s press secretary until a colleague was fired and Gibbs quit in solidarity with him. Casting around for a similar position, he would join the Obama team and, to his great good fortune, establish a very close bond and rapport with the future president.

The Times profile described him as “a journeyman campaign flack who latched onto Barack Obama’s race four years earlier and has been his chief spokesman ever since.” He was also described as “an affable Alabaman” and, if affability were the only factor the job requires, there would be little to criticize. However, truthfulness, especially in an administration that trumpeted its “transparency”, is the priority.

Gibbs does a daily tap dance in a room full of human land mines and he is skilled at it, but he looks increasingly disturbed by events that have understandably turned very ugly. His preternatural calm demeanor is coming undone.

I have no confidence in anything Gibbs says about anything. One notices that much of what he does say is accompanied by a measure of nervous laughter and quick, automatic smiles.

Measured against previous White House spokespersons, Gibbs represents a new, tech-savvy generation. He is generally impenetrable, always “on message”, and completely loyal to Obama.

To that extent his job is comparable to the one that involves walking behind the elephants as the circus makes its way down Main Street. The Obama circus is leaving a lot to clean up every day.

The Obama Healthcare Reform Plan

From with a hat tip to Shelly and Peter Dunn:

Obama's health care plan will be written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it and whose members will be exempt from it, signed by a president who is a closet smoker, funded by a treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that is nearly broke. Great role models.

What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cap-and-Trade Insanity

By Alan Caruba

To understand how insane the Cap-and-Trade bill really is you need to know that it based on the belief that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to avoid a global warming that is NOT happening.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act is a giant scam involving “carbon credits” to be sold and traded. It is also about billions in taxpayer’s dollars being wasted on wind and solar generation of electricity. If this was a sensible way to produce energy, it would be a dominant producer, but it isn’t. Short of producing electricity by peddling bicycles, it is as inefficient and impractical as possible.

So-called “clean energy” accounts for just over one percent of all the electricity Americans use every day and it exists only because the government subsidizes it by taking your tax dollars and giving them to wind and solar energy producers. Some States require utilities to buy electricity from them.

As for “security”, how much energy security does the United States enjoy if it must import 60% of the oil it uses for transportation and a wide range of products, not the least of which is anything made from plastic?

Real security means drilling and mining right here, right now. There’s plenty of oil in ANWR and offshore. The government forbids access to it. And, where’s there’s oil there’s natural gas as well. As for coal, the U.S. has enough for centuries of affordable electricity, but the environmental organizations have in recent years stopped the building of a hundred coal-fired plants and they brag about it.

A study of the economic impact of the bill by the American Council on Capitol Formation and the National Association of Manufacturers concluded that, if passed, Cap-and-Trade would decrease the Gross Domestic Product of the United States by $2 and $3 trillion by 2030. That’s lost jobs and lost industrial production.

That’s because Cap-and-Trade would increase the cost of all activities, business and others, by increasing the cost of electricity, the master resource that powers everything in the nation.

Remember, this would be done to limit “greenhouse gas emissions.” This cost would solely be on the backs of Americans while other nations of the world would be free to continue emissions, i.e. providing jobs and producing goods.

Remember, too, that global warming is not occurring. The Earth has been in a cooling cycle for a decade.

This bill is so horrible, Americans can only guess at the consequences of its passage. One thing is certain. It would massively expand government because thousands would have to be hired to administer it.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it would cost $8 billion over a ten-year period because to operate efficiently it would require the approval of approximately 1,500 new regulations and mandates involving at least 21 federal agencies.

The introduction of Cap-and-Trade would “create the nation’s largest commodity market in which polluters would buy and sell rights to emit carbon dioxide” according to a recent Washington Times article, but it is essential to understand that emitting CO2 is not “pollution.” Carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant. It is a gas vital to all plant life on Earth. If CO2 were a pollutant, than surely oxygen is as well because oxidation causes rust.

The Cap-and-Trade’s carbon credits could “be a $2 trillion market within five years,” said Bart Chilton, commissioner of the Commodities Futures Trade Commission.

So Cap-and-Trade is NOT about greenhouse gases or global warming. It is about trading credits for the right to GENERATE or USE ENERGY.

How insane is that?

Keep in mind that the present financial crisis is the direct result of the GOVERNMENT getting into the mortgage loan market in the form of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, purchasing loans from banking institutions and mortgage lenders who were required by law to make bad loans. Those loans, in turn, were “bundled” and resold as assets, but they were worthless.

Nothing is more worthless than carbon credits. Nothing is more dangerous to the economic future of the nation than the Cap-and-Trade Act. The U.S. Senate must defeat this bill which has already been passed by the House. YOU must defeat this bill by demanding your Senators vote against it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Watch for the Signs

By Alan Caruba

There are some lessons one learns from a life spent first as a journalist and then for many decades as a public relations professional. You cannot succeed in PR if you cannot spot the early signs that the media herd is heading in one direction or the other.

It was obvious from the beginning that the mainstream media (MSM) fell in love with Barack Obama. Like Chris Matthews, it was a complete crush. Obama was the anti-Hillary, come to save America from her shrill voice and to redeem our sad history of racism.

At this point, however, it is just as obvious that he has managed to say and do any number of things that have aroused the distrust of the all but the 28% of those convinced he is a dandy President. The rest no longer feel that way.

The MSM is presently sticking its finger in the wind to find out which way it is blowing. They are checking Rasmussen and Gallup polls. Once they conclude that Obama is unpopular to a point beyond which they can no longer obscure or influence, they will do what all fearless MSM do; they will begin to gang up on him.

By the time Jimmy Carter left office, even the Peanut Farmer’s Gazette was glad to see him go.

Watch the signs. The week that either (or both) Time Magazine and Newsweek publish a cover story asking, “What Went Wrong?” or “Healthcare Reform is Very Sick” or anything similar that suggests—gasp!—Obama has suffered a major political setback, you can be confident that, in their editorial board offices amidst leather chairs and a huge polished mahogany table, someone will have intoned, “It’s not going well for Obama.”

The other beacon to watch is, of course, The New York Times. When Maureen Dowd can tear herself away from berating Sarah Palin to say an unkind word about Barack Obama, you know the beginning of the end will have arrived. When Paul Krugman thinks out loud that maybe a three trillion dollar debt is probably not a good idea, the banana peel will have been thrown into the Rose Garden.

When the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson can no longer find an excuse for Barack Obama’s blunders and inability to sell a very bad healthcare reform and even worse Cap-and-Trade tax on energy, you might as well break out your GOP lapel pin and start to wear it in public.

There’s a reason for the rapid demise of the Obama Dream. It’s called reality.

Americans are not great fans of those who spend all of their time “apologizing” for the U.S.A. and blaming others for why the job they wanted has turned out to be a real stinker. It is now Obama’s foreign policy, Obama’s economy, and Obama’s gay rights agenda. Despite all the “green shoots” and other alleged signs that the economy is getting better, real people know it’s not.

Coming to a town near you or maybe your street, will be more mortgage foreclosures. Banks are being closed and their assets sold to other banks, but while that is a palliative measure to protect customers, it doesn’t change the fact that credit flow is still a trickle. A credit card meltdown is likely on the way. Job losses? Yes, that too.

Plainly speaking, the federal government is running out of monetary tricks to make the Recession go away. It will never dawn on them to actually cut spending. It is only now just dawning on them that the public hates the billion-dollar “bailouts” and “stimulus” bills.

The MSM is shedding jobs as if a plague has struck their newsrooms. And it has. First they shed their credibility as objective and reliable sources of news and now they are shedding consumers of news who prefer Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

We are all just weeks from the first significant cracks in the MSM herd mentality regarding Barack Obama, his ever growing circle of “czars”, and those wacky Congress critters like Pelosi and Reid. By the end of the year, the MSM will desert him.

As a PR Counselor, I would advise Obama to say something critical about al Qaeda’s perpetrators of 9/11 and not blame the victims when that anniversary comes around. Otherwise, he’ll be able to watch the slow drift of the MSM turn into a stampede.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The New Dark Ages of Britain & The U.S.

By Alan Caruba

I have long believed that the environmental movement, particularly in America, is quite literally an internal enemy, no less insidious than the efforts of the former Soviet Union to infiltrate spies and agents of influence into our government to affect policy.

I know that sounds harsh, but one needs only look at Great Britain where environmentalism has turned that once great nation into a virtual police state where every bizarre and insane environmental policy is culminating in a nation that will soon be experiencing blackouts and brownouts to its entire system of providing electricity.

“In the frigid opening days of 2009, Britain’s electricity demand peaked at 59 gigawatts. Just over 45% of that came from power plants fuelled by gas from the North Sea. A further 35% or so came from coal, less than 15% came from nuclear power and the rest from a hotchpotch of other sources.” The problem England faces, according to the August 8th edition of The Economist, is that it will soon be dependent on “Vladimir Putin’s deeply unreliable and corrupt Russia.”

This report comes when both the Russians and the Chinese have signed agreements with Cuba, just ninety miles from Florida, to begin to explore and extract its offshore oil. America, however, denies access to 85% of all of its offshore oil and natural gas reserves along its extensive east and west coasts. It further denies access to its huge deposits of coal in its Midwestern States. We import 60% of the oil we consume; much of it comes from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela.

There hasn’t been a new refinery built in the United States since the 1970s. The bulk of our electric grid for the distribution of electricity was built in the 1950s and 60s. In the last days of his administration President Bush rescinded the ban on offshore exploration and extraction, but that ban has been reinstated by the Obama administration.

As The Economist noted, regarding the United Kingdom’s energy policy, “this is almost criminal.” It is no less so for America, a nation’s whose success has been based on vast amounts of coal, oil and natural gas. It is coal that provides just over 50% of our electricity. It is nuclear power that proves another 20%. The rest comes from our own hotchpotch of gas and hydroelectric power.

In recent years, leading environmental organizations have been crowing about having thwarted the building of more than one hundred coal-fired new plants. Wilderness areas like Alaska’s ANWR have been put off-limits to extraction despite estimated reserves of oil in the billions of barrels.

Comparable areas in America known to have vast reserves of coal have been put off-limits as well. The process of securing the permits to build a nuclear plant has slowed it to a crawl and often meets with NIMBY (not in my backyard) resistance.

If a foreign enemy denied this “master resource” of energy to America, we would go to war with it, but the enemy is internal and, at present, it occupies the White House and is in control of the Congress.

Much of the policy of the current administration is aimed at imposing a massive tax on all energy use in America. That is the purpose of the Cap-and-Trade act currently moving through Congress.

Meanwhile, several of those people chosen to be the nation’s “czars” as well as several Cabinet Secretaries, are determined to impose on America the same fate awaiting Great Britain.

The energy and environment czar is Carol Browner, formerly the Clinton administration director of the EPA. She was (is?) a member of the Socialist International’s Commission for a Sustainable World Society and is famous for not wanting to put any of her machinations on paper despite the Obama administration claim of “transparency.”

Obama’s green jobs czar is Van Jones. He has twice been arrested at the Los Angeles riots in 1993 and at the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization. He is a self-described “revolutionary”, a devotee of Communism.

Obama’s science czar is Dr. John Holdren whose appointment has attracted the most attention because of his often bizarre views on global warming and population reduction. He is a strong advocate of “greenhouse gas reduction” even though carbon dioxide plays no role in climate change and the Earth has been cooling for a decade.

Obama’s Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, is a global warming believer and advocate of “alternative energy” such as wind and solar power. These two sources are so inefficient and inadequate that they would literally not exist without billions in government subsidies. They constitute barely one percent of all the electricity generated in America.

Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Kenneth L. Salazar, has already blocked leases to mine coal.

Obama’s Director of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, served under Carol Browner when she was in charge and is currently leading the effort to declare carbon dioxide a “pollutant” so it can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. It is a gas vital to all plant life on Earth and the current concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere is about 380 parts per million; that’s 380 molecules of CO2 versus a million others, mostly water vapor.

As Great Britain heads into its new Dark Ages, the United States will follow suit unless we undertake a radical program to build more plants to generate electricity. We have enough coal for hundreds of years’ worth. We have nuclear technology that can provide much of what we will need.

What we have is neither the political will, nor intention, to provide it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Middle East Maze

By Alan Caruba

Referring to a 1990 report in The Economist, the editors recently said, “To revisit the Arab world two decades later is to find that in many ways history continues to pass the Arabs by. Freedom? The Arabs are ruled now, as they were then, by a cartel of authoritarian regimes practiced in the arts of oppression.”

The central problem affecting the Middle East and much of northern Africa where Arabs rule is Islam. The Islam of the Middle East is utterly resistant to change. Not all of the world’s billion-plus Muslims practice Islam with the same intensity as many Arabs do (and we should note, as Iran’s Persians have pursued since their revolution in 1979.)

Trying to understand Arabs is like trying to find one’s way out of one of those cornfield mazes where most turns lead to a dead end. In a recent analysis by Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post the lament was familiar. It referred to a meeting in Khartoum after the loss of the 1967 war on Israel in which the participants agreed to the “Three No’s”; no to peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel, and no to negotiations with Israel.

Reflecting the observations of The Economist, Keinon wrote that Syria still regards its loss of the Golan Heights and its demand for its return as “non-negotiable.” Add to that a meeting of Fatah rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call for a Palestinian recognition of Israel. This reflects the position of Hamas as well. And, finally, at a recent event at the U.S. State Department Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that Israel could forget about any confidence-building measures from that nation.

In starkest terms, the Obama administration efforts to “re-set” its relations with the Middle East have hit the same brick wall that all previous administrations encountered. You cannot negotiate with people who have no intention to negotiate. The Israelis cannot find a partner for negotiations with the Palestinians because Fatah and Hamas would far prefer to kill one another than sit down together.

The Economist’s 14-page report, titled “Waking from its Sleep” correctly noted that there is no unanimity among the various Arab nations and not all Arabs are on the same page in much the same fashion as being “European” means different things to those identified as such. Nor are most of the world’s Muslims Arabs. Indeed, other than Israel, the only thing the Middle East’s Arabs agree upon is the common danger posed by Iran, a Muslim, but Persian nation.

On the political front, the Arab League “does little more than organize bad-tempered summits” and works “to fend off Western criticism of human-rights abuses by its members and (to) denounce Israel.”

It is a curious irony of history that neither the ancient Romans, nor modern American people ever wanted to create an empire, but both ended up in charge of one in an effort to fend off the enemies of peace. In the case of Rome, its allies asked for Roman protection and, in the case of America, following World War II, it emerged as the only superpower capable of fending off the threat of the Soviet Union and capable of interceding to stop conflicts.

America’s protection is understood to be the only reliable one worldwide and accounts for the many bases it maintains on the invitation of its many allies. Following WWII, America determined to stay in Europe to avoid a repeat of WWI and to fend off Soviet aggression. It helped found both the U.N. and NATO.

There is a further irony in the fact that the Arab nations in the Middle East are all fervently praying that Israel destroys the Iranian nuclear facilities in the same way it previously did in Iraq and, more recently, in Syria.

Is change coming to the Middle East? Yes, but it is likely to be very ugly and violent. Most of the nations are the product of British and French colonization following World War I that cobbled together the new “nations” such as Iraq and Jordan out of a desire to extend their own empires of trade.

As for Afghanistan, that ancient “nation” has been little more than warring tribes for millennia. Invaders have never had any success there though the goal of destroying al Qaeda and the Taliban is a sensible, necessary one.

America’s intervention, particularly after 9/11, was the act of an empire seeking to impose some measure of peace in the face of the rise of Al Qaeda and the endless wars by Saddam Hussein on his neighbors, Iran and Kuwait. Peace is the last thing that is likely to break out in the Middle East whose vast reserves of oil require that the West continue to intervene to protect its dependence on it.

“It is not difficult,” noted The Economist, “to paint a bleak picture of Arab failure, based on a broad spectrum of underperformance in investment, productivity, trade, education, social development, and even culture.” Thanks to Islam, it remains rooted in the seventh century sensibilities of marauding bands of Arabian tribes led by Mohammed that spread the “faith.” To this day, hardcore Muslims believe that the entire world must bend to Islam’s dreams of a caliphate, a single religion, and the brutal justice of Sharia law.

Thus, while Americans believe that more democracy is the answer to the problems of the region, what “democracy” that actually exists there is a sham. Despite the presence of parliaments, all real power resides with the monarchies and their governments are rubber stamps for the despots of varying descriptions.

One factor will have a significant role in the Mideast’s future and that is population. “By next year the region’s population will have doubled over 30 years from fewer than 180 million people to some 360 million.” The majority of Arabs are under 25 years old. That is a recipe for revolution and war.

What too many in the West desire is not attainable. The West wants the region to adopt a measure of justice and freedom that took hundreds of years to develop in its own area of the world. As a huge population of young Arabs seeks some measure of real freedom, they will likely turn to revolution and rebellion to achieve it. Or they may unite through sheer numbers to impose Sharia law on the West in a misguided attempt to determine their own fate. This factor is already transforming Europe with its growing Muslim population.

If there is one thing common to the Mideast it is their infinite capacity to blame everyone other than themselves for their own wretched state of oppression and lack of progress.

Meanwhile, the United States is desperately trying to restructure its own financial mess thanks to profligate spending and borrowing. Much of the West and the prosperity of trading partners such as China and Europe depend on this. Failure could plunge the world into chaos.

Unfortunately, the U.S. has chosen to turn power over to the first Marxist President ever elected and to a Congress dominated by a Democrat Party whose socialist inclinations threaten to bankrupt the nation with insane taxation of all energy use and a huge bureaucratic program to nationalize its healthcare system.

None of this bodes well for the future and the likelihood of wars, large and small, in the Middle East, spreading out to engulf the rest of the world remains a nightmare scenario.