Monday, February 28, 2011

Watching the Democratic Party Implode

By Alan Caruba

It’s déjà vu for me as I think back to the last two years of Jimmy Carter as his “progressive” program of “sacrifice” and his impotence in the face of the Iranian hostage taking of U.S. diplomats left him looking weak and overwhelmed by events.

George W. Bush did not appear to be anything more than a garden variety Republican President until September 11, 2001. It transformed his presidency from peace to war and Bush had the right instincts for war, but wars in the post-WWII era all seem to stall and stalemate.

No one was in much of a mood to listen to George W. in the final years of his second term. The voters served up a Democrat-controlled Congress in 2006. If this reminds you of the November 2010 elections that transferred power to the Republicans, you’re right

The leviathan of independent voters has moved restlessly back and forth between Democrats and Republicans looking for either party to address the nation’s problems.

While the House changed hands in 2010, the margin in the Senate fell sufficiently for the Republican Minority Leader to have some clout there. Harry Reid has begun to bend to the new reality.

Most effected, however, is President Obama. Politics, events in far-off places, and unpopular domestic decisions have gelled into a general public discontent.

Symbolically in recent weeks Robert Gibbs, his original press secretary, left and was replaced by Jay Carney. While Gibbs was facile, Carney is uncertain, hesitant, and weak at the podium. Then came news that the new social secretary at the White House was an openly gay man, a high profile job historically held by a woman. Two surprising and I predict bad choices.

People talk about turning points in history and I would suggest that, so far as the White House is concerned, those new faces will be regarded in retrospect as a turning point.

The timing was especially bad for the White House as the Democratic Party was once again revealed to be the hostage of the union movement and what people saw on their television screens was ugly and thuggish. Cowardly Democrat Wisconsin senators ran away.

In times when millions of Americans are out of work, union members left their jobs to descend on the state house in Madison, Wisconsin and to hold rallies in Trenton, New Jersey demanding they retain their privileged status. It looked bad. It smelt bad.

Beyond our shores events mercilessly erupted as nations in the Middle East and Africa were caught up in a contagion of anger against a rogue’s gallery of despots and monarchs. The White House issued statements that literally conflicted, one with the other, on a day to day basis. If there was a coherent foreign policy it was barely detectable.

Unprepared, incompetent, the façade surrounding the Obama presidency continued to crumble.

It is an implosion. It is the failure of “progressive” ideas that have not changed and have not worked for a century dating back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt.

It revealed the contempt this President and the Democrats have for the Constitution; ballooning the government with schemes like Obamacare to grow an already too large government larger and more intrusive.

Every new piece of legislation added more people to the government payrolls while ordinary Americans watched the cost of everything rise. So-called stimulus plans did little more than retain government workers or put a bandage on Medicaid behind the façade of short-term construction projects.

We are living in ugly times and Obama’s lies are falling on deaf ears.

The Democrats can no longer convince people that acres of wind farms or solar panels can even begin to provide the electricity the nation needs.

The Democrats cannot make a case for $40,000 electric cars when the nation’s entire transportation structure is based on gasoline and diesel.

The Democrats can no longer justify refusing to let American companies drill for American oil, particularly when it always cheaper than imported oil.

The Democrats forced legislation on voters who showed up, a million strong, in Washington to demonstrate their opposition.

The Democrats ran away from state legislatures rather than debate and vote.

The Democrats favor the unions over the vast majority of non-union workers.

The Democrats will not defend the sanctity of marriage or of life.

Throw the bums out.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

From Hiroshima to Iran

By Alan Caruba

These days it is fashionable to decry the use of not one, but the two atomic bombs that were used to convince the emperor of Japan and his warlords that the United States would destroy its cities if forced to invade. Within days World War Two was over.

America, since December 7, 1941, when it was the victim of a Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, had been fighting in the Pacific theatre as well as in the European one. There was no doubt that, just as Germany had been reduced to rubble to achieve victory, so too would Japan if needed. Expectations of American casualties if an invasion was required were huge.

Long before September 11, 2001, war had been declared on America by Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of al Qaeda. The destruction of the Twin Towers shocked Americans. A decade later, however, they were debating whether Muslims have “a right” to build a mosque within a short walk of Ground Zero. That’s blindingly stupid.

Short memories can lead to big defeats. It is worth reminding Americans that our troops did not lose in Iraq. We went there to depose a psychopathic despot who killed his own people with impunity. We went there to see whether democracy could take root in a region where it never had. (Only a secular Turkey was the exception; its military kept the Islamists at bay, but that too is changing.)

In the midst of the turmoil that has taken much of the Middle East and northern Africa, along with the rest of the world, by surprise, it is worth noting that the only thing keeping Israel from being attacked and utterly destroyed and that is its nuclear arsenal.

A people who lost six million of their families, their brethren, whose motto became “Never again”, will not to fail to use them to defeat what has been grandly called “an existential threat.” There’s nothing existential about it.

The U.S. has developed a sophisticated arsenal of weapons in the years since 1945 and has become the world’s policeman, fighting a Cold War with occasional hot outbreaks in Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere. We have tolerated a Communist Cuba just off the border of Florida. We have watched Venezuela go Communist.

We have not used our nuclear arsenal and we presently have a President who wants desperately to reduce it in order to appease the Russians who are not our friends.

I have no doubt that Israel will use its nuclear weapons and I can think of no reason why they should not.

It is the barbaric leadership of Iran that is the enemy, not its people. Israel understands that. Thus, attacks would likely target Iran's nuclear and military facilities, not its cities.

Throughout its sixty-two years, Israel been repeatedly attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Despite a cold peace with Egypt and Jordan, both nations find themselves challenged by a largely Islamist movement. Israel watches and waits.

As the first Iranian warships recently passed through the Suez Canal the Iranian puppets, Hamas, celebrated by firing two long-range Iranian-made Grad missiles rockets at Beersheba and Netivot from Gaza . It is a signal of what is to come

Israel, a democracy whose population includes over a million Arabs, has thrived. All around Israel the threat to its existence has continued. In this decade, it has required Israeli military operations against Lebanon’s  Hezbollah and, in Gaza, against Hamas. Absolutely nothing Israel has done to secure peace has been successful and yet it is constantly importuned to do more.

Only the fact that it has nuclear weapons and a trained, dedicated defense force has kept its enemies at bay. However, as the Iranians creep toward nuclear parity, it will demand a Hiroshima to thwart another Holocaust.

The Second World War was one of unimaginable carnage, but the allies were able to rebuild and even our former enemy, Germany, was converted to an integral power in Europe. The American occupation of Japan left it a truly democratic nation and an ally. A South Korea under the protection of America is an economic dynamo. We have embassies in Vietnam.

There are the lessons of history that entire new generations of Americans need to learn and need to understand.

The war to protect, restore, and project Western values was worth fighting. A war against an Iran that has declared itself an enemy is one that Israel will have to fight. Just as in 1945, nuclear weapons will restore clarity and peace.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

America's Gay White House

By Alan Caruba

A news item by Agence Press France flew under the radar of many American news media. On February 25th it reported that “The White House on Friday named Jeremy Bernard to serve as social secretary to President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama, the first male and first openly gay person to hold the position.”

Barack Obama, married and father of two girls, may be straight, but he has proven to be the most active President when it comes to efforts that would establish homosexuality as a “normal” lifestyle in America. He is not alone in this; it is the goal of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement (GLBT) in America.

While I fully expect to evoke howls from the GLBT movement in saying this, the fact remains that no where in nature is homosexuality the norm. It is always an aberration because heterosexuality ensures the propagation of any and all species. It is abnormal for members of the same sex to prefer one another. The recognition of this fact reaches back to the origins of humanity.

I am not advocating that homosexuals be stoned, hanged, or denied their civil rights. Gays (I will use the term to describe homosexuals of both genders and all those who are confused about their gender) are protected by the 14th Amendment, passed in 1886 after the Civil War to ensure that Afro-American’s civil rights were not abridged or denied.

I have always thought that “gay” was an odd choice of words to describe homosexuals because those whom I have known rarely evinced much happiness about being regarded by the rest of society as aberrations. They may have made their personal peace with it, but the notion that a society based on heterosexuality should regard them as “normal” defies logic.

Granting homosexuals the right to marry is an act of societal suicide. I will cite some examples below.

In late February, the White House and its Department of Justice announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. It is a warning of moral decay that America has reached a point where it requires a law to assert this definition, recognized from the dawn of civilization, of mankind itself.

Attorney General Eric Holder noted that federal agencies would continue to abide by the act, but made it clear that he and the President consider it unconstitutional. No where in the U.S. Constitution is there any reference to homosexuality, nor a suggestion that it is normal. It is being challenged by homosexuals in a number of court cases including Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.

Robin McGehee, director of GetEQUAL, which describes itself as a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, said, “For 15 years DOMA has been a thorn in the side of the LGBT community, preventing loving couples from being fully equal under the law.” They are fully equal. They just can’t get married because marriage is the keystone of society. Weakening the definition of marriage can only serve to weaken society.

When Massachusetts’ Supreme Court, on November 18, 2003, announced its Goodridge opinion, ruling that it was unconstitutional to not allow same-sex “marriage” it opened the floodgates to events that have appalled much of that state’s heterosexual population.

It particularly hit the school systems throughout Massachusetts. There were instances of school assemblies to celebrate same-sex “marriage” and swiftly moved from middle to elementary schools where the teaching of homosexuality became part of the curriculum. Kindergartners were given picture books that depicted homosexual “marriage” as just another kind of family, second graders were exposed to a book, “King and King” about two men who have a romance and marry with a picture of them kissing. School libraries across the state instituted shelves of books presenting homosexual behavior as normal. “Gay days” in schools were considered necessary to fight “intolerance.”

This is giving parents fits, but it was President Obama who installed Kevin Jennings as the White House “safe schools” czar in the Department of Education even though Jennings is a major homosexual activist who has pushed the homosexual agenda in the nation’s schools. Jennings, prior to his appointment, was the founder and executive director of the nationwide Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network.

President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to a lifetime position as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court despite her activism as Dean of the Harvard Law School during which she expelled military recruiters over the Armed Forces’ ban on homosexuals. She called it a “moral injustice of the first order.” She was known for recruiting homosexual activists to the school’s faculty such as the former ACLU lawyer, William Rubenstein, to teach “queer” legal theory and elevated an outspoken lesbian professor, Janet Halley. She encouraged Harvard students to get involved in homosexual activist legal work.

These White House appointments are just one part of what millions of Americans have come to realize as measures taken to undermine the nation’s moral authority, its legal system, its economy, its military strength and defense, and its energy security.

In 2012 Americans will clean house in the White House and the Congress, electing men and women who understand that homosexuality is an unfit condition for marriage, for service in the military, and that its justification in the states and the courts is a stealth attack on the nation.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cartoon Round Up

How Expert Are the Experts?

By Alan Caruba

We live in a society that apparently has experts on everything stacked ten deep. You cannot turn on the television without being introduced to experts of every description about everything.

That being the case, why is the nation on the brink of insolvency despite the fact that I can order a product, receive email confirmation, and a tracking notice of its shipment without once having to talk to a living person?

That, I submit, is pure genius, whereas creating programs for the wasteful redistribution of wealth, mine and yours, is my definition of really, really stupid.

Why stupid? Because communism and/or socialism, sooner or later always fails. Because banishing the ownership of private property—this is MY stuff, not yours—runs counter to everything we humans strive to achieve and because people don’t want to interact with the government in some fashion every damned day, unless it’s the postman.

As Thomas Paine put it, “that government is best which governs least”, calling it “a necessary evil.”

I got to wondering how many PhDs there are in the United States and, it only took a bit of Googling to conclude there is a huge glut of PhDs, not just here, but worldwide. Considering that it takes from 7.5 to 10 years to nail the diploma to the wall that is a lot of time acquiring something that often does not kick open the door to prosperity, although it does look good on their resumes.

Let us grant that we want our physicians, Doctors of Medicine, to have spent a good stretch of time learning how not to kill us in the process of curing us. Other fields critical to our well being include engineers who design bridges, buildings, and such. We want smart people to ensure that the vast preponderance of dumb people don’t kill us prematurely.

Anyone who has spent any time around PhDs or, in my case, answering their emails, soon concludes that many of them are just nitwits. The greatest drawback of being a PhD is, apparently, concluding that you are smarter than everyone else and then wanting to make that point on an hourly basis, particularly with strangers.

So, forgive me if I have grown old and skeptical listening to or reading PhDs and the views of “experts”, people who are supposed to know what they are talking about.

Permit me to cite just a few examples.

“So here is the Great Society. It’s the time—and it’s going to be soon—when nobody in this country is poor.” – Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965.

“You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” Jim Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, firing Elvis Presley after one performance on September 25, 1954.

“Get your feet off my desk, get out of here, you stink, and we’re not going to buy your product.” – Joe Keenan, president of Atari, responding to Steve Job’s offer to sell him rights to the new personal computer he and Steve Wozniak had developed, 1976.

“There is not the slightest indication that (nuclear) energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” – Dr. Albert Einstein, 1932. (PS. He changed his mind).

Let me close this observation on expertise or the lack of it, by noting that all politicians lie. The best and most noble of them lie on occasion and the rest of them lie all the time. Our current President has managed to lie ceaselessly, with or without the aid of a TelePrompter. Other than the hardcore 25% of Liberals, most Americans have concluded that he is not to be trusted.

Likewise, far too many scientists have taken to lying a great deal as well and this has been particularly obvious as regards all those telling us that global warming is real, carbon dioxide is a lethal pollutant, and just about anything involving the use of a chemical is suicide.

In Proverbs it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Let me amend that by suggesting that wisdom includes regarding all those experts on the television, radio and print media with a degree of skepticism. This is another way of saying take the time to do your own research. A republic such as ours requires people to seek the best answers to present problems.

The views of Liberals defy history, science, economics, and logic. They are wrong. Their experts are wrong. That is why we are struggling to put right, to eliminate, all their governmental “answers” to our present crisis.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Rise of the States

By Alan Caruba

I am pretty sure that future historians will look back on our present times and declare that it marked the rise of state power after years of being under the federal thumb.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
--Tenth Amendment

Contrary to what a bunch of spoiled brats calling themselves “progressives” may believe, the U.S. Constitution actually means what it says. The genius of the Framers was that they knowingly and deliberately created a system of government that slows down the process of passing laws and permits any one of the three branches to put a stop to bad laws.

This is the kind of civics lesson that used to be taught in our nation’s schools until they were utterly subverted by the largest union in the nation, the National Education Association, which is, of course, not an "association" (even its name is deceptive!) It shares ownership of the Democrat Party, along with the other huge union, Service Employees International Union, composed of government workers at the state and federal level.

For decades everything went along merrily as these unions negotiated salaries above what everyone else in the private sector was receiving, along with health benefits and pensions that drove up the liabilities of states to a point where most are literally bankrupt.

There is nothing like bankruptcy to get people to focus on questions like why the kids keep graduating from school with poor reading, writing, and just plain old thinking skills? Why do we pay more and more into local school systems and get such a shoddy product? Why do I have to pay more for gasoline that has ethanol that decreases its mileage? Why can’t I buy a damned incandescent light bulb if I want?

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

While government grew larger, property taxes increased, and—surprise—the mortgage market collapsed because of—you guessed it—government sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that utterly corrupted the nation's banking system and other mortgage lenders. While all this was going on, politicians—Democrats—kept telling Americans that everything was fine. They lied. It was not fine. It was a house of cards.

Enter the new governors, Republicans, who got elected by explaining why the education and government unions were bankrupting their states and what they intended to do about it. Americans embraced New Jersey’s Chris Christie who set the tone. He began an effort to crush the strangle-hold the state teachers union had on the legislature.

These days, Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker has stood his ground against the unions and, not surprisingly, the Democrat children in his state’s legislature ran away to Illinois to avoid have to actually debate and vote on the steps needed to put its house in order. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is also looking at Illinois to find the Democrat members of his legislature who ran there as well.

The Democrat Party, including the President, has set itself up to be slaughtered in the 2012 elections because this is the kind of behavior voters remember for a long time.

We applauded when Arizona’s Governor Janice Kay “Jan” Brewer, a Republican, went nose to nose with President Obama over the immigration issue. Arizona is still in court seeking the authority for a state to enforce immigration laws the federal government will not.

In a similar fashion, 26 states took Obamacare to court and stomped all over it. Many governors are instructing their staff to take no action to enforce it, knowing perhaps that by the time it gets to the Supreme Court it will be DOA.

Anyone who does not think the States are asserting the power “reserved” for them is not paying attention. It will transform how the U.S. is governed for decades to come.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Killing the U.S. Oil Industry Since 1980

By Alan Caruba

As President Obama’s term drags into its second half, it is increasingly being compared to the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter. Having increasingly thwarted the ability of the U.S. to access its own vast reserves of oil, successive administrations now burden Americans with billions more in costs at the gas pump.

My “go-to guy” for information about the U.S. oil industry is Seldon B. Graham, Jr., the author of “Why Your Gasoline Prices are High”, a man with more than fifty years experience in the oil industry, first as a petroleum reservoir engineer and later as an oil and gas attorney.

The turmoil in Libya, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the oil cartel, is causing the price of a barrel of oil to rise due to the usual speculation that occurs on Wall Street and around the world by those seeking to cash in on the prospect of reduced oil production and supplies.

What it most demonstrates, however, is the inane and unnecessary dependence on foreign oil that America has imposed on itself  thirty years after former President Jimmy Carter’s energy policies began this insanity.

As Graham notes, “As to the actual price of oil, last week (Feb 13-19) the average OPEC oil was $97.20 a barrel while the average U.S. oil price was $90.13 a barrel. Let’s stop for a minute and savor the fact that U.S. oil was $7.16 cheaper than OPEC oil.”

“U.S. oil is always cheaper than OPEC oil. Most Americans don’t know that.”

There’s a lot that Americans don’t know about their domestic oil industry and for that we can thank a succession of U.S. presidents since Carter who have misled Americans on the subject. We have arrived at the latest President who, like Carter, is doing everything he can to kill the U.S. oil industry when not bowing low to the King of Saudi Arabia.

If America could drill for its own, domestic oil and replace dependence on the Middle East and other foreign sources, “it would save American gasoline consumers an estimated $28 billion annually,” says Graham, “as well as put millions of Americans to work.”

On April 2, 1980, Carter signed the Domestic Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax, a direct attack on U.S. oil companies. “The result,” says Graham, “was that half a million oil workers lost their jobs. In January 1980, U.S. oil production was 8.7 million barrels a day. Foreign oil imports went from 2.9 million barrels of oil per day in February 1983 to the current 9 million barrels of oil per day.”

You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to understand these numbers. From 8.7 million barrels of oil a day in 1980, U.S. oil production has fallen to 5.6 million barrels of oil a day today. That’s a lot of oil that remains untapped domestically and offshore of America.

Like Carter, President Obama keeps blathering away about “alternative” or “green” energy sources such as ethanol, an additive to every gallon of gasoline that insanely burns a major food source, corn, as fuel. His administration has thrown billions at solar and wind energy producers despite the fact that coal represents half of all the electricity we use daily and despite the fact that both of these "alternative" energy sources have failed miserably in European nations that turned to them.

How crazed are Obama’s oil policies? Steve Maley, an operations manager for a shallow-water Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production company located in Lafayette, LA, noted in a Human commentary on February 18 that “Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget proposes to increase the tax liability of energy companies to the tune of $46 billion over the next ten years.”

Maley compared “recent quarter (2Q 2010) oil and gas industry profit (net income) to a sales ratio of 7.1%, versus 8.7% for all manufacturing companies. In terms of return-on-investment, oil and gas usually lag in the S&P 500.” The myth of huge oil and gas profits simply does not stand up to Obama’s State of the Union claim of “huge profits.”

Then factor in the Obama administration’s moratorium on both deep-water and shallow-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the administration’s new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Michael Economedes, an internationally respected expert on the oil industry, notes that “offshore permitting has come to a virtual standstill”, adding that “thousands of companies in the energy sector are nearing the point of collapse after almost a year of inactivity.”

U.S. courts have twice demanded that the Obama administration end its moratorium and continued to be ignored.

The U.S. was an oil and gas producing giant before successive White House administrations declared war on this vital sector of our economy. The industry, representing the potential of millions of jobs and millions of barrels of oil and cubic feet of natural gas, has been stalled by appallingly stupid energy policies since the 1980s.

U.S. dependence on foreign oil producers, mostly state-owned in places like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and elsewhere, makes us vulnerable to events in far-off places when we could be producing our own oil and natural gas more cheaply right here in places like the Gulf of Mexico, in Alaska’s ANWR, and off-shore of our coasts where estimates are in the billions of barrels and cubic feet of our own untapped energy reserves.

We can thank the environmental organizations whose war on America’s energy sector has been going on now since the 1970s. It is their anti-coal, anti-oil, and anti-nuclear campaigns that will literally leave America at a standstill and in the dark if they are not reversed.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Using Fear to Ban BPA - The BPA File, Part Two

By Alan Caruba

Writing for Health News in early February, Michael D. Shaw noted that bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics and an ingredient in the epoxy resin used as a protective coating in metal cans, “is one of the most heavily studied chemicals of all time. Indeed, there are more than 6,000 scientific papers devoted to this compound.”

That’s a remarkable amount of research. What’s more remarkable is that no peer-reviewed research has ever shown any harm to humans from BPA in normal consumer use. After a three-year study published in the Oxford journal Toxicological Sciences, even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that there is no threat from BPA.

Despite decades of studies that show no harm, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration still wants to take what it calls “reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply.” Yet it is BPA’s use in lining cans and plastic containers that reduces human exposure to botulism and other deadly food-borne illnesses.

What is “reasonable” about limiting something that protects public health and safeguards the American food supply?

Shaw called BPA the “perhaps the favorite target of fear entrepreneurial and ‘environmental’ fund-raising groups, even though there is not a scintilla of evidence shows harm to humans at any rational level of exposure to this chemical.”

Shaw’s observation is best illustrated by news stories promoting studies showing that BPA has been detected in the urine of more than 90 percent of Americans, but those same stories do not mention that BPA measured in human urine samples amounts to 2.6 micrograms per liter, which is 1,000 times less than the EPA reference dose.

If humans were exposed to massive amounts of BPA every day of their lives, they would still face no harm, but actual “exposure” is so small as to be virtually beyond measure.

If science does not support the many claims against BPA then why are there efforts by legislators to introduce new laws to ban BPA and other beneficial chemicals? Politics and fear are no substitute for science. They are used as fund-raising tools for environmental groups and to give politicians the appearance of acting in the public interest.

Unfortunately, the failure to check the facts has made some news media co-conspirators in this scare campaign, whenever they repeat baseless claims about BPA.

This false BPA narrative is so prevalent that in January, Rep. Edward Markey, (D-MA) introduced a bill to prohibit BPA in food and drink containers. Never mind the innumerable studies showing no harm from BPA, the complete absence of any study showing consumer harm from BPA and the half century of safe BPA use.

Rep. Markey claims his bill “will help keep BPA out of our bodies while also ensuring that all food and beverage containers are free from dangerous chemicals.” The truth is that banning BPA from use in metal or plastic food containers would invite potentially fatal health risks from food poisoning.

Eight states, plus Canada and the European Union have already approved limitations on BPA, none of which is based on any evidence that BPA causes harm to human health. The justification has always been the “Precautionary Principle” which requires the banning of something unless it can be proved to be not harmful. Use of the Precautionary Principle in science is akin to malpractice because it is impossible to prove a negative.

The confusion over BPA has so far resulted in sharp divides over whether and how to further regulate it. While the Massachusetts Public Health Council approved new BPA restrictions last year, the California Senate rejected a similar ban in that state in 2010. In Maine, state regulators sought draconian restrictions on BPA only to have Governor Paul LePage offer a regulatory reform program reversing those regulators in favor of having Maine’s standards parallel those of the federal government.

At the federal level, the U.S. Senate last year defeated attempts by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to impose a federal ban on BPA in certain products while the World Health Organization last November recommended against any further regulations to further limit or ban BPA.

Fear tactics, not scientific fact, are the primary drivers being used to deprive Americans of a necessary and safe component in valuable shatterproof plastics and a proven method of protecting food and drink. Only by overcoming a legion of fear-mongers can BPA continue to do so.

Editor's Note: You can read The BPA File - Part One here.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unions: Dupes, Thugs, and Politicians

By Alan Caruba

Growing up in New Jersey and having been a journalist here, my memory of news about unions in the Garden and Empire States is that of headlines concerning the indictment and sentencing of various union chiefs and their underlings.

The alignment between unions and the Mafia is so well known it has been the subject of movies such as “On the Waterfront”, “The Godfather”, “Goodfellas” and “Casino.” To this day the rumor persists that Jimmy Hoffa is buried somewhere between the goalposts of Giants stadium in the Meadowlands.

As events unfold in the very progressive capital of Wisconsin, Madison, the public is being treated to the way unions have very nearly always functioned. Intimidation has been their stock in trade with campaign contributions running a close second. We are watching an epic battle between Wisconsin voters and entrenched, self-serving unions.

In his 2006 book, “Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America’s Promise”, Robert Finch, a former labor organizer and later a faculty member at Cornell and New York University, told the story of how and why unions were and are rotten to the core.

Finch’s book reads like a Hollywood movie script, replete with the names of Mafia families like that of New Jersey’s Vito Genevese and a host of others throughout the nation.

“Corruption,” says Finch “had been built into the labor movement from its very inception.” The politicians who benefited from union support have always done their best to ignore “five generations of racketeering, Mafia rule, bribery and extortion, job selling, benefit fund theft, and simple thievery, going back to the days of the early-twentieth-century labor czars.” This dates back as well to the creation of the National Labor Relations Board created by Congress in 1935. It is another legacy of the FDR years that have left the nation on the brink of bankruptcy.

Suffice to say that the National Labor Relations Board is a useless, allegedly “independent” government entity, often looking with favor on the union’s unceasing demands. Among the issues conservatives want to thwart are card check regulations to enhance union power. Reportedly, Republicans have cut $50 million from the NRLB’s budget as a part of the effort to cut the bloated Obama budget.

Finch notes that “In 1986, the President’s Commission on Organized Crime had identified the four most mobbed-up unions; the Teamsters, the Laborers, the Hotel and Restaurant Workers, and the East Coast Longshoremen. The close relationship between labor unions and the Democratic Party is too often obscured by the mainstream media. “According to the Center for Responsible Politics”, Finch noted, “seven of the top ten campaign contributors in the last decade are not Fortune 500 corporations. They’re AFL-CIO unions.”

Little wonder that public service union members are howling for the head of Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker or that several Wisconsin Democrat politicians have fled to Illinois to avoid debating his proposals. His demand that unions forego collective bargaining rights is, in fact, not that unusual. Twenty-two States have curbed union power with “right to work” legislation.

Perhaps the greatest error regarding the union movement came in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order to grant all federal government employees the right to unionize and collectively bargain with departments and agencies. This accounts for the rise in power of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) with its 1.8 million members and the deceptively named National Education Association (NEA), a union, the largest in the nation. It has 3.2 million members and employs more than 550 staff.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the NEA is responsible for the horrid test scores of U.S. students throughout the nation despite their incessant demands for higher wages, along with healthcare and pension programs well in excess of the private sector. Since the 1960s, they have been at the heart of the deteriorating condition of education in America. A four-part series on this topic is posted on the website of The National Anxiety Center which I founded in 1990.

Leading the SEIU is Andy Stern whose many visits to the White House since Obama was elected have become legendary. His rise in the union began with organizing hundreds of thousands of home care and day care workers. Despite unionizing, their pay has never really improved. “The SEIU,” Finch noted, “is now the largest AFL-CIO union.”

During his campaign and since, President Obama has never made any secret of how beholden he is to the SEIU and the union movement that contributed millions toward his election. It should come as no surprise that he has spoken up regarding the Wisconsin riots on the side of the union members. This ignores the fact that a majority of Wisconsin voters put the Governor in office, along with giving political power to Republicans there. They campaigned on the very issues the unions are protesting against.

Wisconsin, like other States that are essentially broke, must win the struggle to reduce the taxpayer burden that government worker and public sector unions represent.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wheat, the Stuff of Revolutions

By Alan Caruba

In a recent column, Lawrence Kudlow, an economist and popular radio host, opined that “the sinking dollar and skyrocketing food prices (may have) triggered the massive unrest now occurring in Egypt—or the greater Arab world for that matter.”

When barely two percent of America’s population is engaged in agriculture, growing the crops we eat or that is fed to livestock, it is perhaps understandable that the other 98% has no clue how all that food shows up in their supermarkets and restaurants.

Methinks that the turmoil we are witnessing in Middle Eastern nations derives more from the rumblings in empty bellies than in any real concern for human rights.

Historically, food is the stuff of revolutions. It was the origin of the French revolution that toppled the monarchy and, as we watch the Middle East and the Maghreb nations of northern Africa, it was food that was the match that set off the present popular demonstrations against dictatorships of varying description.

The monthly edition of Wheat Life, a publication of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, always features a look at the status of the “wide world of wheat.” It is particularly instructive this month.

“There’s a reason governments make every effort to keep food affordable. Just ask the deposed president of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. A popular uprising in the mostly desert country of 10 million was sparked by the self-immolation of a man who was arrested for selling vegetables without a license as well as rising prices, particularly bread.” Ben Ali was sent packing after decades of tight-fisted control.

The price of food along with his thirty years of control toppled Egypt’s Mubarack. As Kudlow noted, the mainstream media are so focused on the turmoil in the streets that it is “overlooking the impact of rising inflation, driven mainly by record food prices.” Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer but “Egyptian inflation is now over 10 percent while some experts estimate that Egyptian food inflation has risen as much as 20 percent.”

Much of the world’s inflationary woes come right back to actions being taken here in the United States. “Commodities are priced in dollars, and the Federal Reserve has been overproducing dollars for more than two years." As the value of the dollar declines, it drives up the cost of everything everywhere. The rise in food costs said Kudlow is “a global phenomenon. It is a monetary phenomenon as much as anything.”

“In dollar terms,” noted Kudlow, “ the price of wheat has soared 114 percent over the past year. Corn has surged 88 percent. These are incredible numbers.” There is a reason for the increase in corn prices and it is the United States’ idiotic and insane mandate that ethanol, made from corn, be added to every gallon of gasoline. There is no justifiable reason for ethanol.

A look around the world also shows how Mother Nature is playing her role in the availability—or lack of it—of wheat. Do not fall for the “climate change” blather that hides the global warming fraud. Droughts and deluges alike are a normal part of the Earth’s weather and quite beyond the control of dictators or democracies.

In Russia, drought cut the 2010 wheat production of wheat by a third. Its government declared a moratorium on exports until the 2011 harvest. By contrast, China has had seven years of rising wheat harvests, but Chinese agricultural experts worry that grain production is increasingly concentrated in the water-scarce northern region of the nation.

So, while people around the world watch the Middle Eastern turmoil in the streets, it is factors such as the declining value of the U.S. dollar, the U.S. ethanol policies, and Mother Nature that are driving revolution.

A government that cannot affordably feed its people, it will not last for long.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Good Riddance to Fannie & Freddie

By Alan Caruba

I have this theory that we, the adults, all function at the emotional level of 13-year-olds, the age of bar mitzvahs in which the young man can declare to the congregation, “Today I am a man.” (Insert laughter here)

They are, of course, not adults and must wait until the ancient age of 18 to vote and 21 to get plastered. At that age, one would think that getting a bank loan to purchase a home would be difficult. Until the housing bubble burst, it wasn’t.

Before the financial collapse of the housing mortgage market in late 2008, some banks were making “Ninja” loans—no income, no job, no assets.

In a recently published book, “How the West was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly—and the Stark Choices Ahead”, internationally acclaimed economist, Dambisa Moyo, delivers the bad news.

“When, as early as the 1930s, the United States government embarked on an aggressive homeownership strategy designed to get millions of Americans on the housing ladder,” wrote Ms. Moyo, “it did not foresee what it was letting itself in for.”

“Distracted by the siren call of home ownership for all, policymakers inadvertently launched a fifty-year culture of debt and spawned a generation that set their economies firmly down a path of economic destruction.”

At the heart of the collapse were two “government-sponsored entities”, familiarly called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “By promoting a strategy of broad homeownership sweetened by subsidy, Western governments have done more harm than good and are actually contributing to the demise of Western economies as a whole.”

Ladies and gents, I give you the socialist economies of Greece, Spain, England, Ireland, et al. To which one must add, of course, the United States of America, the greatest economy on earth since the end of World War Two and one that still generates a gross domestic product annually of $14 trillion.

Writing on, Chris Isidore summed up the problem. “When the dust settles, the federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be the most expensive government rescue of the financial crisis—it already stands at $153 billion and counting.”

American taxpayers are on the hook for the debt Fannie and Freddie accumulated before the mortgage loan collapse.

This explains why, on February 9th, The Wall Street Journal reported that the “White House Plans Revamped Mortgage Market.” How about a headline that says “White House Plans to shut down Fannie and Freddie”?

In October 2010, that’s what Emil W. Henry, Jr., the CEO of Henry, Tiger LLC and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from 2005 to 2007, proposed in a Wall Street Journal article. He suggested it was time to eliminate the government-sponsored entities (GSEs) “moving their activities to the private sector.”

How poor was the oversight by the Treasury Department? “By the mid-2000s, the GSEs’ process of debt approval had devolved to a single notification process of Treasury, without any formal process of approval.” Fannie and Freddie sent Treasury a note!

In January, Peter J. Wallison, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was published in the Journal, “Moving Beyond Fannie and Freddie”, in which he wrote “If the 2010 election means anything, it is that the American people want the government to stop pursuing policies that put the taxpayer at risk for private failures.” You think?

“As off-budget vehicles with virtually unlimited resources,” wrote Wallison, “Fannie and Freddie were ready-made for political exploitation and advocates for low-income housing…by 2008 half of all mortgages in the U.S.—27 million—were subprime and other high-risk loans, often with little or no down payments by borrowers.”

Ms. Moyo wrote “Remember, these banking activities are not illegal. Banks and bankers are simply operating under the policies stipulated by the governments. These are the rules of the game.”

“It is perhaps no surprise that the industry which over time has shown the greatest appetite for risk is precisely the industry that had the most government guarantees on its debts: the banking sector.”

Now, if you have noticed that the word “government” keep popping up throughout this discussion to shutter Fannie and Freddie, it is no accident. They are creatures of the government despite the fiction that they were private enterprises.

The government does not belong in the mortgage loan business and never did. It doesn’t belong in the railroad business either.

The government controls all of the energy assets of the nation either as public land or through its regulatory apparatus.

It allegedly oversees the activities of Wall Street, but that didn’t stop Bernie Madoff from fleecing people of $50 billion. Or the “toxic assets” collapse.

To avoid a complete breakdown of the nation’s financial system the government had to loan billions to several banks and one “too big to fail” insurance company. Lehman Brothers did not receive a loan and failed. Other elements of the nation’s financial sector were forced to merge to avoid collapse or, in the case of Freddie and Fannie, were seized by the government.

It is the same government that not only can’t seem to find a commonsense answer to the awaiting disaster of Social Security, but it is the one that forced a bill through Congress—Obamacare—to increase the number of people on Medicare while taking $500 billion out of its account.

If 13-year-olds were running our government, these are the results you could expect.

The decision by voters to give majority power to the Republicans in the House and to elect some tough Republican Governors suggests that progress is being made against the excesses and abuses of power that have brought the nation to the brink of financial collapse. And that’s a good thing.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Lebanese Tinderbox

By Alan Caruba

Readers of the Old Testament know that Lebanon is mentioned in Deuteronomy, Judges and Joshua, Chronicles and Kings, in the Psalms, and the erotic poetry of the Song of Solomon.

Today’s Lebanon was one of several new nations that followed World War One when the Versailles Treaty divided up the Middle East, re-creating Lebanon by splicing it from Syria, while also creating Trans-Jordan for the Hashemite tribe, Iraq, and making Palestine a British mandate to administer. In 1948, Israel declared its independence and sovereignty.

A French colony until it was granted independence in 1943, Lebanon’s political system was created to make sure its Christians, Druze, Maronites and Muslims all had a place at the governing table. For decades it was known as the Paris of the Mediterranean, a place where multiculturalism actually worked.

That ended in 1975 when Palestinians, many of whom had been driven out of Jordan after attempting to overthrow the king, fled into Lebanon, and over time began to demand a larger role in the political life of the nation. A civil war that lasted fifteen years until 1990 ensued. It enabled Syria to insert its troops in Lebanon in the guise of peacekeeping.

Hezbollah, a Palestinian group and an Iranian proxy has been supplied with weapons for years. In July 2006, Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, setting off a 34-day conflict with Israel, despite the fact that Israel had previously withdrawn its troops from southern Lebanon in May 2000. That action led the United Nations Security Council to call for a withdrawal of Syrian troops in 2004.

The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and twenty others in February 2005, widely believed to be by agents of Hezbollah acting for Iran and Syria, led to massive demonstrations in Beirut against the Syrian presence. The remainder of its military force was withdrawn in April 2005.

Hezbollah has been so fearful of the outcome of a current UN investigation into the Hariri assassination that it recently pulled out of the Lebanese government. Having been heavily rearmed since the 2006 conflict with Israel, Lebanon could be used to create a diversion from the expected verdict that it came to power via this murderous route.

All this is related in order to provide a brief insight into the way Lebanon has been used as a pawn of other nations in the region and prepared as a platform for Iran’s long stated intention to “wipe Israel from the map.” Israel, caught between Lebanon to the north and Gaza to the south where Hamas is also an Iranian proxy, will once again face another war.

Lebanon has its own small army, supported by French UNIFIL peacekeeping troops. The latter has been sporadically attacked in Hezbollah-controlled towns. They are there presumably to keep the lid on Hezbollah. The UN, however, will run when the first shot is fired.

The situation in Lebanon is now extremely volatile given the withdrawal of Saudi Arabia from efforts to mediate its political crisis. Observers believe that Hezbollah has gained control of Lebanon without firing a shot.

All this is happening as the Obama administration is about to show its true hand in the United Nations. If it fails to veto a Palestinian-Arab Security Council motion to condemn Israel for its settlement policy in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Obama will become the first U.S. President to let an anti-Israel motion stand.

Attention is understandably focused on Egypt, but what happens in Lebanon could have an explosive impact on peace in the region. Much depends on the position the U.S. takes in the U.N.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Deconstructing the Global Warming Fraud

By Alan Caruba

I have been reviewing books for fifty years and have long since lost count of how many books were written to propagate the global warming fraud, nor how many have been written to deconstruct it. That’s how the war of ideas is fought these days, along with documentaries, blogs and websites, conferences, and all the other ways lies are defeated by the truth.

From the earliest days the global warming “theory” was proposed I knew that it was a complete hoax. It never made any sense to me that an element of the earth’s atmosphere, carbon dioxide that measured an infinitesimal 0.0389%, could have an effect on the planet’s climate. Just one of the so-called “greenhouse gases”, water vapor—clouds—is 51 times greater than CO2.

Moreover, not one single computer model can factor in the effect clouds have on the planet’s weather because not one single meteorologist, living or dead, has a clue why they do what they do. They appear and disappear in the very definition of chaos. So it struck me as odd that all the computer models of the advocates of global warming always came to the same conclusion; it’s coming and the earth's temperature will rise dramatically IF…

IF is the key word that global warming advocates, now called “warmists”, kept saying. If you don’t stop using coal and oil for energy, we’re doomed. If you don’t reduce your personal “carbon footprint”, we’re doomed. If we don’t immediately start using ethanol, wind and solar power, we’re doomed.

Beyond IF came an endless avalanche of claims that global warming was altering or affecting every single natural phenomenon in the world. The claim was that glaciers were melting. Polar bear populations were disappearing. Hurricanes were increasing. The seas were rising. Eventually, just about everything happening anywhere was blamed on global warming.

Follywood and the mass media signed onto this absurdity, ignoring the science involved and the most obvious fact that an entirely natural cooling cycle began in 1998 and continues to this day. The worst of it, however, was a combination of the way the government and the nation’s educational system became parties to this massive fraud. And still are!

The EPA claim that it has the authority to regulate CO2 is a pure lie and it is based on the global warming lie.

Ultimately, however, not one "warmest" ever once pointed to the single greatest factor in the earth’s climate, the sun.

All this brings me to a new book, “Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory”, by eight co-authors, contributors whose expertise ranges across climatology, meteorology, physics, and mathematics, along with an expert in the legal aspects of the hoax. All have been derided as “deniers” and “skeptics.”

I know several of them as Internet friends, I count Hans Schreuder, Joseph A. Olsen, and John O’Sullivan among the many people who have helped me, over the years, to understand the complexities of climate science.

This book is not light reading. Indeed, if you don’t come equipped with an understanding of physics, for example, some chapters will remain beyond your grasp. And mine! Happily, most is easily comprehended. In sum, it is a damning condemnation of the great hoax of the modern era, perhaps the greatest hoax since the bogus economic theory of communism.

Real science is not arrived at by “consensus.” Real scientists actually seek to disprove the findings of other scientists until they cannot be disproved, affirming them finally as accurate.

Real science can be corrupted in the same way as other aspects of society can be. For me, the real crime of global warming is the way governmental agencies, beginning with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, deliberately falsified data, mostly based on computer models, to underwrite the global warming fraud. That is also what NOAA, NASA, and the EPA, have done, to name just three.

Now add in billions of dollars lavished on “climate research” conducted on university campuses from coast to coast. There were exceptions. Some university-based scientists disputed the bogus research and some were threatened with the loss of their jobs. The other crime involves the corruption of formerly respected science journals and general science-related media such as National Geographic.

I have used the words “hoax” and “fraud” interchangeably, but the latter refers to the way global warming was never about the climate and all about a handful of people becoming quite wealthy by setting up exchanges to buy and sell bogus “carbon credits” mandated by governments in order to emit CO2 in the normal process of manufacturing production and other applications.

Others have cashed in building solar and wind farms, or became producers of ethanol. None of these ventures would survive without government mandates requiring their use.

The Cap-and-Trade Act is one such fraud and is currently in the U.S. Senate’s political dead zone, hopefully to never be enacted. It is the global warming equivalent of Obamacare; the death of thousands of jobs and the economy.

I recommend you read “Slaying the Sky Dragon” as the definitive answer to more than twenty years of global warming lies.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

President Stupid

By Alan Caruba

Remember when everyone was calling George W. Bush stupid? I do. Since then, his published memoir of his years in the White House has been on the bestseller lists following two years of Barack Obama unrelenting blunders and lies.

From the beginning of the Obama administration, there were all manner of evidence that a group of hapless, moronic ideologues had been handed the reins of power. Early nominees for key posts were jettisoned or withdrew from consideration for a variety of reasons. This was followed by a huge overlay of “czars” for everything, with undefined power over and above the Cabinet Secretaries in charge of various departments.

Two years later, the candidate who campaigned against the Iraq war decisions and implementation, against Guantanamo, and deemed Afghanistan to be the “real war” is pursuing the same Bush programs. The general credited with victory in Iraq has been put in charge of Afghanistan and not been heard from since.

When the Iranians protested in the streets of Tehran last year, Obama missed a major opportunity to throw U.S. support behind them. Instead he said he did not want to “meddle” in Iran’s internal affairs! Fast forward to Egypt and President Stupid was declaring on worldwide television that President Mubarak had to go “now.” Well, he’s gone and, thank God, the military is still in charge.

Surrounded by imbeciles and ideologues, President Stupid’s national security director declared that the MUSLIM Brotherhood was a “secular” organization. His science advisor thinks all the ice at the North Pole is melting. His EPA Director thinks that carbon dioxide, a gas vital to all life on earth, is a “pollutant” and is asserting the authority to regulate it.

In both the first and second State of the Union speeches, President Stupid rambled on about green jobs, solar and wind energy, and now the need to spend billions on a “high speed” rail system in a nation where Amtrak has been losing money from the day it opened for business. In a time of severe deficits and national debt, how dumb do you have to be to want to throw billions at an unneeded new rail system?

Obamacare is the pinnacle of President Stupid’s “achievements” thus far. It has been declared unconstitutional by two lower courts and is likely to be declared null and void by the Supreme Court before he leaves office. The House Budget Committee just released a report that estimates the loss of 800,000 jobs if it becomes law. You have to be stupid to keep handing out “waivers” to Obamacare in all directions as an admission of its failure to apply only to those who do not have friends in the White House.

You have to be stupid to keep defending “global warming” or “climate change” when this huge, global hoax was exposed in 2009 as a fraud. Meanwhile, a natural cooling cycle caused freezing weather that just wiped out 80-100% of Mexico’s crops.

You have to be stupid to openly declare that you want to drive the coal industry out of business when it provides half of all the electricity the nation uses every day, but that is precisely what President Stupid’s administration is doing.

You have to be stupid to declare a moratorium on drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico after courts have twice told you to remove it.

You have to be stupid to lecture the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on how to create jobs when your economic policies have been killing them for two years. And then tell them they have to redistribute their profits to their workers. They already do that. It’s called wages!

You have to be stupid to have spent the first two years of Sundays playing golf and then expect people to believe you are deeply religious.

You have to be stupid to keep bowing to foreign leaders of nations from Saudi Arabia to Japan to China when the President of the United States must never bow to anyone. We don’t even lower our flag in the presence of foreign leaders.

You have to be stupid to believe you can get away with telling lies when even an adoring press is finding it increasingly difficult to cover up or defend this behavior.

Watch now as the press begins the run-up to the 2012 elections by emphasizing how brilliant President Stupid really is.

Already the talk is about a surefire reelection if the unemployment rate gets down to eight percent when its average over the pre-Obama years has usually been around five percent and actual unemployment is twice the official figure of 9.6 percent.

You have to be stupid to think Americans will be fooled again.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bankrupting America

By Alan Caruba

The very word “budget” suggests a financial plan that one expects to live within, based on how much money one earns. It suggests prudence, plus the intention to put aside some earnings as savings for future or unexpected needs.

None of this applies to the Congress of the United States of America, nor White House administrations stretching back to the days when Franklin Delano Roosevelt won election in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944. He would die in 1945, three months into his fourth term.

That’s right, his fourth term! This was so unprecedented and so fearful that, in 1951 the 22nd Amendment was added to the Constitution, limiting any future president to two elected terms.

The financial crisis in which the nation finds itself today can be traced to FDR’s four terms, during which the nation went through the Great Depression. It was an economic event that could have and should have been much shorter if liberal “solutions” had not been initiated. FDR never saw an entitlement or regulatory program he would not endorse, starting with Social Security. His successor to office, Harry Truman, pushed through Medicare.

The debacle known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began back then, growing out of the notion that the government had to guarantee everyone they could live in their own home. By the time they neared collapse, they owned more than half of all the mortgages in the nation.

My friend, Ziad K. Abdelnour, president and CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc., a venture capital firm, recently had one of his excellent commentaries posted on the website of the Financial Policy Council.

The collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to their being put in a conservatorship. If you owned stock in either of these “government-sponsored entitles” its worth dropped to pennies while, noted Abdelnour, all Americans “became the underwriters of $5 trillion in mortgage backed securities.”

“In September of 2008, we witnessed one of the most brazen and daring crimes ever to take place,” wrote Abdelnour. “It was pulled off, for the most part, in broad daylight and in full view of the whole world. In the space of a few days, this nation was the victim of an orchestrated theft of nearly six trillion dollars.”

September 2008 was when then-Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, former chairman of Goldman Sachs, told Americans that he had just asked Congress to give him a blank check to spend billions of public funds to bail out Wall Street and avoid a financial collapse.

Among the financial firms bailed out was Goldman Sachs that ended up with “at least $53 billion dollars from the U.S. government via the AIG bailout, Paulson’s ‘Troubled Assets Relief Program’, and Timothy Geithner’s later FDIC bailout called the ‘Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program.’” Geithner is the present Secretary of the Treasury.

Throughout Abdelnour’s commentary, the same names keep showing up, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve.

Events do not just “happen.” They are caused.

On Thursday, September 15, 2008, in the midst of the Obama-McCain election campaigns, the Federal Reserve stepped in after noticing a tremendous drawdown of money market accounts in the U.S. in the amount of $550 billion dollars. It occurred in barely an hour or two as money was taken out electronically. The Fed closed the accounts. Had they not done so, $5.5 trillion would have been withdrawn and the U.S. economy would have collapsed.

The financial crisis catapulted Barack Obama into the Oval Office with his promise of hope and change.

Obama has just submitted his 2012 budget to Congress proposing to spend $3.75 trillion and still have a deficit of $1.65 trillion. Several leading D.C. think tanks have rational proposals for downsizing the federal government, but the Obama White House is not interested.

The nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the value of what we produce annually, is around $14 trillion. Obama’s budget would increase the debt to $15 trillion. His budget has so few cuts in it you need a magnifying glass to find them.

Meanwhile, the Republicans in the House, where all spending bills must originate, are fussing and feuding over whether to cut $50 billion or $100 billion from the budget. Someone needs to tell them that the U.S. is broke. We are rapidly on our way to becoming Greece, Italy, Ireland, or Zimbabwe.

“Current unemployment is officially about 9%; unofficially, it is almost twice that. Forty-five million Americans now receive government assistance to purchase food; nearly two million have filed bankruptcy, and more than a million have lost their homes in foreclosure proceedings.” Abdelnour cites factors few in Congress want to address.

Despite this, in his first two years in office, President Obama has increased the size of U.S. debt more than all previous presidents combined. His new budget proposes $3.75 trillion in spending.

I have always been wary of conspiracy theories, but sometimes the dates, the facts, and the personalities involved come together in too neat a package to ignore.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fortune Tellers, Tarot Readers, and Me

By Alan Caruba

On the day Mubarak stepped down as Egypt’s president and the crowds in Tahrir Square were going bananas over the news, I paused to post a comment on my blog saying that Egyptians, ten years or less into the future, might look back at his thirty years of dictatorship as “the good old days.”

This rather casual approach to what is, in Vice President Biden’s words, is a “big f-ing deal”, so far as Egypt and the Middle East is concerned, gave me cause to reflect on how difficult it is to make any predictions about the future except in the most general way. Even then, the prospect for being wrong is constant.

When one looks back in history, the temptation is to say things like “Of course America was going to win World War Two”. That's pure 20-20 hindsight. America was very late to the party; the war in Europe had begun in 1939 and we didn’t get in until December 1941 when we were attacked  by Japan. Americans were hugely opposed to getting into another European conflict, nor eager to take on one in Asia. After Pearl Harbor, however, we could not wait to get into the field and kick some butt. Sort of like after 9/11, eh?

It is unlikely that those Iranian students back in 1979 had any idea that the Ayatollah Khomeini would return from his exile in France a month after it started and impose one of the cruelest regime imaginable. The Shah, of course, was no choir boy, but he did try to modernize Iran, not drag it back to the seventh century. Despite pronouncements by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, most Iranians have a great affection for America.

I doubt any one of the victorious parties who signed the Treaty of Versailles after World War One had any idea they were handing an unknown malcontent called Adolph Hitler the red meat he needed to (1) build the National Socialist party in Germany into one that (2) won a democratic election, (3) catapulted him into the Chancellor’s job, and imposed a totalitarian regime that (4) jailed all of its opponents and (5) enjoyed a lot of support among the common folk.

The same treaty divided up the Middle East when British and French diplomats, Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot, took out a map, used colored crayons to create new nations, partition others, and set in motion everything we have been living with ever since 1919. Back then, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to create an international organization, the League of Nations, to ensure no new wars would occur. He was, of course, a liberal. By the 1930s Hitler and Japanese Emperor Hirohito had other plans.

A liberal like Wilson, Roosevelt set about to create the United Nations after World War Two and now we have a huge, corrupt, totally ineffective organization that hasn’t stopped a single war since it came into being in 1945. It was and is an exercise in futility and pure evil. Its interim first Secretary General was Alger Hiss, a Soviet spy who, like many others, held high level State Department posts in the FDR and Truman administrations.

Which, for no particular reason, brings me to the Central Intelligence Agency that I seriously doubt could predict tomorrow’s weather. Reportedly, the news of Mubarak’s decision to step down came to the current CIA Director, Leon Panetta, from CNN. This is on a par with the former CIA chief, George J. Tenet’s pronouncement to then-President George W. Bush that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Few were found after the invasion.

We keep being told that we only hear of the CIA’s failures and never of its successes. I am old enough to recall they were taken completely by surprise when both Pakistan and India achieved nuclear weapon parity. I can even recall the debacle of the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a happy surprise. In fact, I keep searching my memory for any reports of its successes. But of course they are a SECRET.

I would love to sit in on one of those daily CIA briefings for the President. I suspect I might find myself laughing out loud much of the time. Some of our spies gave their lives to protect us, but as patriotic they and the folks over at the National Security Agency are, predicting crises and events is not their forte, probably because they are unpredictable in any but the most general terms.

For example, largely unreported is the news that, since 2006, Pakistan has increased its nuclear arsenal to more than a hundred atomic bombs. It is one of the most unstable governments in the Middle East. The U.S. has given Pakistan billions despite the fact that a large portion of the country is controlled by the Taliban, it is generally anti-American, and it is bankrupt. More jihadists come out of Pakistan then anywhere else.

The Obama administration has banned the use of terms such as “jihad”, “Islamic terrorism”, and “radical Islam” in U.S. documents. This is a self-inflicted, ideological blindness on a galactic scale.

So it is left to imbeciles in the news media to tell us what is happening, why it is happening, and what is likely to happen.

That’s how we ended up with Walter Cronkite reporting from Saigon that Tet was a huge defeat for the American forces when it was, in fact, a huge victory or Dan Rather’s utterly false report about George W. Bush’s National Guard history. We end up with a rabid anti-Semite like Helen Thomas reporting from the White House since shortly after the Lincoln assassination (okay, she’s not that old).

Since the late 1980s, this mush-for-brains crowd has been telling us that global warming was real and we had to all switch to riding bicycles, driving electric cars, and whizzing around at a huge 60-miles-per-hour in so-called “high-speed” trains instead of taking a plane. When people start getting their genitals fondled by TSA agents in order to get on Amtrak, all travel in America will revert to automobiles and horses.

All of which leads me to believe that those in the White House, in the past and the present, have no more grasp of events than your dentist.

When I make a prediction—and it is very rare—it is almost always based on history and, in case you haven’t noticed, history is speeding up thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

I suspect ideology, uninformed speculation, ignorance and fear are the basis for most “strategery”. You will understand then why I lean toward the Latin admonition, “Si vi pacem, para bellum.” If you want peace, prepare for war.

Ronald Reagan reminded us, "Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong"

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

May your heart be filled with happiness
throughout the year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Multicultural Suicide

By Alan Caruba

In his famed poem, Mending Wall, the American poet, Robert Frost chided the rock wall that he and his neighbor would mend each spring, replacing fallen rocks. “He is all pine and I am apple orchard. My apple trees will never get across and eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

You can see the Great Wall of China from outer space. It is an astonishing piece of work

Begun in the fifth century B.C. and added to by later dynasties, it succeeded in defending China from invasions by northern tribes. In 1600, it helped the Ming dynasty defend against the Manchu, but when the gates at Shanhaiguan were opened in 1644 by a dissident Ming border general, the Manchus quickly seized Beijing and that was the end of the Ming dynasty.

There has been a growing call for a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico. Given the way Mexico has fallen into a state of barbaric anarchy by warring narcotics gangs, including increasing murders of Americans foolish enough to go there, it is a very good idea.

There are currently an estimated twelve million Mexicans and “other” illegal aliens residing in the United States, enjoying many benefits. Instead of aggressively dealing with the problem, the government under several administrations and the current one has opted to offer “amnesty” and grant them a citizenship they have not earned and do not deserve in the context of our laws.

The only thing these amnesties managed to accomplish was to encourage more millions of illegal aliens to cross our borders, to stay on beyond their visas, and to otherwise flout our immigration laws. They are not “undocumented”. They are criminals.

Naturally, when British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently gave speeches or expressed their opposition to “multiculturalism”, it made news when it turned out they were appalled by the failure of this idiotic concept. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had already expressed that opinion.

There was a time when someone was proudly British, French or German. Today, their distinctive cultures are being hollowed out by waves of immigrants who have no desire to assimilate or adopt the values of their new homelands.

All of which raises the question of why, here in America, you have to “press one” to conduct a conversation in English, Islamic foot baths have been installed in the Kansas City airport, why ‘Islamic immersion’ classes have been inflicted on children in a California school district, there was a demand an Arabic public school in New York and a mosque within sight of Ground Zero, and why government documents are often printed in foreign languages.

The victory over Europe that the Muslims could not achieve by invasion and which ended with the defeat of a Muslim army outside of Vienna on September 11, 1683, has been achieved by a constant flow of immigrants from the Middle East and northern Africa as Europe opened its doors because their indigenous populations failed to reproduce in enough numbers to maintain their economies.

It is a principle of demographics that, as a nation becomes more prosperous its population tends to replace itself more slowly. Birthrates in America across the racial spectrum are in decline, reflecting those in Europe By contrast, places like China and India are where you find a billion or more people.

In 2008 Los Angeles County, population 10.2 million, was where 42% of workers were paid cash and did not pay taxes; 90% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles were for illegal aliens; more than two-thirds of all births were to illegal aliens; nearly 40% of all inmates in California were Mexican nationals who were there illegally; and, nationally, while less than 2% of illegal aliens were picking crops, 37% were on welfare.

These and a mountain of other statistics testify to the failure of the American government to enforce its immigration laws and deter an army of illegal immigrants from invading the nation.

The argument will be raised that America is “a nation of immigrants”, but that was then and this is now. The earlier flow of immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Germany and Russia were needed in the 1800s to provide workers for the nation’s industrial base and as farmers for its expanding land mass. And they were white and Christian.

The importation of Afro-Americans as slaves, starting early in America’s history, led to the Civil War, followed by the horrid “Jim Crow” era until the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. These days they are minority population smaller than Hispanics and, thanks to a variety of liberal welfare programs, are too often a dysfunctional element of American society.

There is an unrelenting tyranny to demographics; the statistical study of migrations and birth rates of peoples throughout the world. Unless Europe and America address it, putting the breaks on further immigration, they are at risk of falling prey to it and failing as a result of it.

England, France and Germany’s leaders have finally begun to speak out about and against it. It may be too late. America refuses to even acknowledge it.

© Alan Caruba, 2011