Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy's Coup de Gras for Obama

By Alan Caruba

Remember how Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath was blamed on President Bush? Remember his words to then-FEMA director, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”?
No doubt FEMA is all geared up for the damage Hurricane Sandy will do throughout the Northeast and wide swatches to the West. And no doubt it will be the States and local communities and utilities that will do the heavy lifting as FEMA tries to give the appearance of doing anything useful.
All of which is bad news—actually more bad news—for President Obama who, insanely campaigning, flew to Orlando, Florida on Sunday and then immediately flew back to Washington, DC, without leaving the airport. Just how much did that little round-trip cost the taxpayers? How stupid and indifferent does one have to be to leave Washington as a major hurricane is bearing down on the Northeast’s coasts?
The good news is that the storm has closed down Washington and, for all intents and purposes, the federal government. New York City, too, is a ghost town as everyone hunkers down. The bad news for Obama is that he is likely be blamed for whatever occurs in the wake of the hurricane because that’s what we do.
Katrina was especially damaging because it was a category 5 hurricane and Hurricane Sandy as of this writing early Monday morning is still a category 1 and likely to be downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves over land. New Orleans, built in a bowl below sea level, was a disaster waiting to happen.
Since Obama’s response to such events is to get on television and read his Tele-Prompter, it will remind people of his penchant for giving speeches instead of actually producing results. His lack of candor—his lies—regarding Benghazi-gate is, for him, the perfect storm.
If the hurricane costs him votes, that will be good for America.
When the Des Moines Register that hasn’t endorsed a Republican for President in forty years endorses Mitt Romney, you know Obama is in trouble and other mainstream daily newspapers are endorsing Romney.
And if FEMA fumbles around as it has in the past that is likely to finish him off.
Hurricanes are a force majeure, acts of nature that should remind us that we do not control nature and can only clean up the mess afterword.
This writer has endured any number of hurricanes when I lived in Florida and countless storms and blizzards in my home state of New Jersey. I am very impressed with the way local authorities have responded at this point. As always, the closer government is to the people, the better it functions.
A huge, bloated central government was the last thing the Founding Fathers had in mind and that’s why the Constitution puts limits on the federal government it created. The Tenth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, says “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.”
Time to reduce the national debt.
Time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Time to rebuild our military.
Time to rid ourselves of the Environmental Protection Agency before it destroys our economy.
Time to replace the Federal Reserve, famous for plunging the U.S. into one recession after another.
Time to get back to the fundamentals.
Time to rid ourselves of the nation’s first Marxist President.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy's Message to America

By Alan Caruba
When Mother Nature demonstrates her extraordinary power, I always hope that people will draw a lesson from it, but they never seem to. Hurricane Sandy is just the latest example of the futility and foolishness of thinking that humans can do anything about a hurricane or similar demonstration of who is really in charge. It is the planet. Not us.
This suspension of common sense is worsened when our President goes on television, as he did last Friday on MTV, to say “I believe the scientists, who say that we are putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and it is heating the planet and it is going to have a severe effect.” This is literally junk science, long since debunked by legions of scientists who know that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with the Earth’s temperature. The planet has been in a cooling cycle since 1998.
I keep hoping, too, that lacking the vital lifeblood of our nation--electricity—millions of people sitting around in the dark will ask themselves where it comes from, what generates it, how does it get to their home, and perhaps even why its cost keeps increasing even though the U.S. sits atop enough coal and natural gas to provide affordable power for two hundred years at current consumption rates.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in March of this year electricity from coal has fallen from 50% production to less than 40% by the end of 2011. Other sources include natural gas at 26%, nuclear at 22%, hydroelectric at 7% and “other” was said to be 6%. It should be noted that oil is a transportation fuel and not used to generate electricity. I believe that the amount that solar and wind produces is more likely closer to three percent. It is unreliable and uncompetitive and requires a traditional plant as backup when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun is obscured by clouds and, of course, at night.
Not surprisingly, the environmental organizations such as Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club are already beating the drums about “climate change”, asserting “unpredictable, extreme weather.” The planet is always in a state of climate change if for no other reason that it is subject to the seasons. Blaming extreme weather on “climate change” is just a code for keeping the “global warming” hoax alive. The only reason President Obama talks about climate change is his hope that a carbon tax can be imposed to raise more money for the government to waste.
Electricity is not magic. Some form of energy must be burned to generate it and then it must be transmitted by a huge, very old grid to consumers.
In January of this year, The North American Electric Reliability Corporation warned that the reliability of the grid was in jeopardy. Thanks to the Obama administration’s (i.e. EPA) relentless attack on coal, the NERC noted that beyond the 38 gigawatts of electricity capacity that has already been announced to retire, it estimated that another 35 to 59 gigawatts will come off-line by 2018 depending on the “scope and timing” of EPA regulations. If you think the downed lines that Hurricane Sandy will produce are a problem, consider a future in which the electricity they are supposed to distribute will be significantly reduced.
What most Americans don’t know is that coal is the fuel of choice to generate electricity in many other nations of the world. Just five years ago it produced fifty percent of our electricity, but today it is less than forty percent, the lowest share since data began to be collected in 1949.  For example, China’s coal consumption grew 9.7% between 2010 and 2011. Last year China consumed 49% of the world’s coal supply. India’s coal consumption increased 9.2%
While the President blathers on MTV about CO2 emissions, my friend Dr. Jay Lehr, the Science Director of The Heartland Institute, dispatches that nonsense noting that “A simple volcanic eruption will cancel a decade of effort” to reduce emissions.
“Today,” says Dr. Lehr, “it is our government that is attempting to thwart our energy independence by blocking nearly every effort to develop our resources through completely unreasonable restrictions placed on us by the EPA and the Department of the Interior, and horrible policies of the Department of Energy which choose to throw unconscionable sums of money at renewable energy projects…”
Ultimately, while millions of Americans light candles in the dark or hope their flashlight batteries hold out, we have to ask WHY the Obama administration has waged a war on the provision of electricity.
This is a deliberate policy to weaken the nation’s capacity to function at every level and yet we are days away from an election where millions of Americans will vote to reelect Obama and send his Democratic Party minions to Congress.
It is in line with the Obama administration’s deliberate policy of reducing our military capacity on land, sea and air.
The only silver lining in the distress and disruption of Hurricane Sandy may be the awakening of voters to the critical need for more, not less, production of electricity, for improvements to the national grid, for more oil production for our transportation needs, and concurrent with this, the hundreds of thousands of jobs that such efforts would produce and billions it would generate to begin to reduce the national debt, now in excess of $16 trillion.
Long ago, the cartoon character, Pogo, famously said, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”
The enemy, I would suggest, is President Barack Hussein Obama, his many shadowy, unaccountable “czars” influencing energy policies, his Cabinet Secretaries of Energy and the Interior, and the rogue Environmental Protection Agency that is set to unleash regulations that will destroy the economy, aided and abetted by the nation’s environmental organizations.
That’s Hurricane Sandy’s message to America.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Revisiting Voting Blocs. Are They More Fluid These Days?

By Alan Caruba
It has long been a tradition in American politics to speak of voting blocs, but in an era of 24/7 news and instant communications, that may be less likely as an indicator of who votes for who.
For example, The Jewish Press, the largest orthodox Jewish weekly, came out with a strong endorsement of Mitt Romney, but the political pundits keep wondering how Jews—usually Democratic and liberal—will vote on November 6.
In point of fact, Jewish voters are a minority at best and not likely to move the dial except in South Florida, and urban centers such as New York, Los Angeles, and their environs. What can be said is that Obama’s hostility to Israel is going to play a role in how Jews vote. Traditionally Democrats and liberals, they are generally close observers of the political winds and, while not all Zionists, they have a strong attachment to the Holy Land.
In a similar way, not all Catholics oppose abortion and they can be found in both political parties. The notion, however, that the government demands that their institutions like hospitals act counter to the Church’s fundamental beliefs has surely angered many Catholics. Hispanics, generally Catholic, tend toward a more conservative point of view, but the thought that they will vote as a bloc also seems a reach. Hispanic citizens come from many different places and cultures. And evangelicals could care less at this point that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. They know a man of faith when they see one.
The current wisdom regarding blacks is that they will support Obama, but it is also widely believed among observers that many will simply not vote in the dramatic numbers of 2008. Blacks are said to be disappointed with Obama regarding the economy and offended by his support for gay marriage. Overall, the African-American community has seen few gains, if any, in an economy gone south.
Women are regarded as a major factor in the election and both the Obama and Romney camps are said to be making a big effort to secure their vote, but I suspect women will either vote within their party affiliation if they are Democrats or cross party lines because of economic issues—lack of employment opportunities, the rising cost of food and gas, children who graduated college this year and are still living at home, et cetera. The Democrat’s farcical “war on women” has no traction.
Political consultants and advisors make their living reading the tea leafs of a campaign, but this one will come down to the economy, jobs, and inflation. These issues affect people no matter what religion, race or gender.
The Wrath of the Seniors
There is one very large group about which and from whom little has been heard. They represent all the other voting blocs and can be regarded as one themselves; senior citizens.
In 2008 the CIA Fact Book estimate of the number of senior citizens, age 65 and older, represented 12.7 % of the population; males 16,263,255 and females 22,426,914. There are more now because baby boomers are entering the ranks of seniors in the millions these days. In 2011 the first of 79 million Americans born between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s will turn 65, swelling the ranks of Medicare and Social Security recipients.
A lot of the seniors, no matter race, gender, or political affiliation are very worried about Obamacare and they should be. Many already know that Obama took over half a trillion out of Medicare to fund Obamacare and you can be damned sure they are not happy about it.
At the other end of the age cycle Generation, a non-profit group devoted to mobilizing young Americans (18-29) on important economic issues, reports that its polling says 76% of Millennials plan to vote.
Fully 89% say that the current state of the economy is impacting their lives and not in a good way. The youth unemployment rate is 11.8% and, for blacks it is a whopping 21%. The declining labor force participation rate has created 1.7 million young adults who are not even counted as unemployed; bad news for a candidate who promised hope and change four years ago.
No doubt exit interviews and other post-election studies will reveal trends, but if, like 23 million Americans, you’re out of a job, still looking after several months, or just stopped looking, you have plenty of motivation to go to the polls and cast your vote for the only real “hope and change” available, the election of Mitt Romney.
One factor in the election has received little attention, but it should not be overlooked. A lot of states where energy reserves, particularly coal, represent a significant economic factor, have little reason to reelect Obama. An estimated 90 percent of coal reserves are concentrated in ten states, but it is mined in 27 states. Even though the U.S. coal reserves represent as much energy as all the oil in Saudi Arabia, Obama has waged a war on this valuable resource.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal production has fallen 6.5% during the Obama years. So that is one promise he’s kept; largely due to draconian EPA regulations. The EIA expects 8.5% of coal-fired plants will retire by 2016 and 17% by 2020. Coal has fallen to 32% of net electricity generation from 48% when Obama took office.
While indicting the oil industry, the Obama administration has managed to squander billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars on uncompetitive wind and solar companies, electric car production, and at one point he was advocating algae—pond scum—as a source of energy.
Instinctively, Americans know that the U.S. must maintain a strong defense and they know that is not the case these days. They love their fighting forces and their veterans. Obama does not.
For me, the most interesting aspect of the 2012 campaigns has been the total absence of blather about “global warming” and only a few references to “climate change” by either candidate. When Al Gore and John Kerry ran, they were all over this like a doggy chew bone. President Obama who has unleashed the Environmental Protection Agency to impose an insane list of economy-killing regulations has had little to say about an issue that we have been told for decades was the most serious one of all.
While I am still fearful about the apparent close divide in the polls—which are trending now toward Romney—I keep thinking that Obama is going to crash and burn on November 6th. Even people who are not glued to the news channels or who refuse to process negative information about Obama now know he is a pathological liar and the administration’s response to the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three others in Benghazi, Libya put this on full display.
At least Democrats could believe Bill Clinton when he said he felt their pain, but Obama makes no effort to even pretend he cares about them. He’s fixated on “millionaires and billionaires.” He’s concerned that Muslims not be offended. He’s offering four more years of the worst economic conditions Americans have endured since the Great Depression.
Poor Obama, he can’t blame his failures on George W. Bush any more.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fidel Castro: The Quintessential Communist

By Alan Caruba

My foremost memory of Fidel Castro dates to 1961 during the Cuban Missile Crisis when, as a young soldier, the Second Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia was put on full readiness in the event the U.S. had to invade Cuba. I was informed that I would remain in the Army “for the duration” thereby extending my enlistment. Happily, the crisis was resolved in 13 days, but everybody was holding their breath.
I had begun to hear of Castro as he pursued his efforts to overthrow the Cuban dictator General Fulgencia Batista who had overthrown an elected government. Throughout my college years, 1955-1959 at the University of Miami I had become friends with the sons of wealthy Cubans who were sent to the U.S. for a higher education. There were discussions as to whether they should return if he was successful. I knew nothing of Batista beyond the fact he was a dictator, but I harbored doubts about Castro even then. It was during the Cold War and anything that suggested a communist revolution made me wary.
Castro had been born into a wealthy family in 1926 and had drifted into the communist orbit like so many who thought it would bring "social justice" to the masses. He was intellectually gifted and had attended the law school at the University of Havana. The talk at that time was all about nationalism, anti-imperialism, and socialism.
He would engage in a number of unsuccessful coup attempts and even ended up in one of Batista’s jails, but was released in a 1955 amnesty. He went to Mexico where he met up with a psychopath named Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Returning to Cuba in 1956 with his brother Raul and a group of insurgents, they eventually fled to the mountains of the Sierra Madre. From there they mounted a number of successful military campaigns until Batista’s government collapsed in 1959.
The media made no mention of Castro’s communist beliefs for a long time, portraying him as some kind of Cuban Robin Hood, a man of the people. All that gave way to his affiliation with the Soviet Union and by 1961 outgoing President Eisenhower cut off all diplomatic relations and his successor, John F. Kennedy, inherited the CIA’s plans to put their own insurgents in Cuba to overthrow Castro. The Bay of Pigs invasion was a total fiasco. By 1962 Castro’s reliance on the Soviet Union led to the installation of offensive missiles and, as they say, the rest is history. It was a miscalculation by then-Soviet Premier, Nikita Krushchev.
The media kept reporting about things such as Castro’s creation of 10,000 new schools and the improvement in Cuba’s healthcare system, but what was happening was Castro’s positioning himself as the leading anti-American spokesperson in Latin America and encouraging revolutionary movements there and in Africa and Asia.
Meanwhile, Cubans did what they could to escape a prison nation. In 1980 alone, 120,000 fled when Castro let Cubans living in exile—mostly in Miami—to claim freedom for their relatives who wanted to leave. Castro also packed the boats with prison inmates, mental patients, and other social undesirables.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 took down Cuba’s economy with it. In 2001 Cuba suffered massive damage from Hurricane Michelle and President George H.W. Bush offered humanitarian aid in the form of food. To deal with energy needs, Castro ordered thousands of Cuban doctors be sent to Venezuela in exchange for oil imports.
By 2008 Castro’s deteriorating health caused the then 81-year-old dictator to turn the day to day running of the nation over to his brother who was 76 at the time, but he retained power as the First Secretary of the Communist Party.
Castro remains one of the world’s most despicable despots and Cuba’s jails are filled with anyone who openly expresses any opposition to his regime. Others were simply shot. Two Americans are being held hostage these days.
I will break open a bottle of bubbly when I hear the news that he is dead. I will do the same for Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Poverty Nation

By Alan Caruba
Lyndon B. Johnson, President from 1963 to 1969, is probably unknown to the generations since then except for having escalated the Vietnam War. A memorial in Washington, D.C., is a sad reminder of the more than 58,000 young lives sacrificed. As time went along, it became so unpopular LBJ decided not to run again for a second full term. He is likely recalled less for his “War on Poverty”, a classic, liberal government program that to this day has not eliminated poverty in America.
The syndicated columnist and John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, Walter Williams, recently wrote about “Poverty Nonsense”, saying, “There’s nothing intellectually challenging or unusual about poverty. For most of mankind’s existence, his most optimistic scenario was to be able to eke out enough to subsist for another day. Poverty has been mankind’s standard fare and remains so for most of mankind.”
One need only read the Old and New Testaments to realize that poverty in ancient times was a concern. "Tzedek, tzedek you shall pursue" -- justice justice you shall pursue (Deut. 16:20). There's a basic human responsibility to reach out to others. Giving of your time and your money is a statement that "I will do whatever I can to help." This reflects the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. In Matthew 26:11, Jesus says “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”
It is a liberal fantasy that a society can eliminate poverty, but that does not mean a society does not have an obligation to help the less fortunate. It is the tension between these two views that separates conservatives and liberals, but every time a liberal president has held office, it has become a budget-busting  calamity.
The most recent example has been the soaring spending on welfare since Obama has been president.  The financial crisis did require some effort to provide “a safety net” for those laid off from their jobs and some argument could be made to help homeowners, although many of their mortgages were granted by banks under pressure from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with the full knowledge they were bad loans. They would become known as “toxic assets” that dragged down banks, requiring a massive government bailout to avoid a collapse of the entire system.
A recent article by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, based on an October report of the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, spells out the current state of government welfare spending.  “Roughly 100 million people—one-third of the U.S. population—receive aid from at least one means-tested welfare program each month.”
“ Average benefits come to around $9,000 per recipient. If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the United States.”
            Federal: At $746 billion, federal means-tested spending exceeded spending on Medicare ($480 billion) , Social Security ($725 billion), or the defense budget ($540 billion).
            State: In 2011, state contributions into federal welfare programs came to $201 billion, and independent state programs contributed around $9 billion.
            Combined: Overall means-tested welfare spending from federal and state sources reach from all sources totaled $956 billion.
This is money from taxpayers whose personal budgets are squeezed by the rising cost of everything or which has to be borrowed by the federal government.
Rector said “Obama’s big spending plans will result in ruinous and unsustainable budget deficits.”
Why federal welfare requires eighty separate programs is testimony to the slow creep of government growth over the years since LBJ’s War on Poverty. That war was lost before it began, but it reflects the way such programs buy the votes of those dependent on them. It is a bad way to run a nation. It is bad politics. It is bad economics. And it will lead to an inevitable collapse in an economy that has shown virtually no growth in the past four years, an anemic 1.7 percent in the gross domestic product.
Voters disillusioned by the failure of Obama’s “stimulus” or Biden’s promise of a “recovery summer” in 2010 have the opportunity to end this cycle of national impoverishment in November. It may be our last chance.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The EPA's Planned Destruction of the U.S. Economy

By Alan Caruba
If there was no other reason to defeat President Obama in November, it would be the planned destruction of what is left of the U.S. economy by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In “A Look Ahead to EPA Regulations for 2012” the minority staff (Republican) of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has issued a chilling review of a massive rise in the costs of living for all Americans, massive layoffs in all sectors of the economy, and the destruction of the nation’s energy and manufacturing sectors.
The report provides a nightmarish look at the regulations that EPA plans to initiate, having put them under cover prior to Election Day in order to hide President Obama’s agenda of attacking the energy sector and businesses large and small.

Here’s a list of the regulations:

Greenhouse gas regulation via the Clean Air Act
An Ozone rule
Hydraulic Fracturing
Florida’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria
EPA’s water guidance under the Clean Water Act
Stormwater regulation
Tier II Gas regulations
Boiler MACT rule
Cement MACT rule
316(b) Cooling Tower rule
Coal ash
Farm dust regulation
Spill prevention control and Countermeasure rule
These proposed regulations in aggregate, if enacted—that is to say if not stopped by congressional action based on Republican control of both the House and Senate—would prove disastrous, starting in 2013.
For example, the utterly bogus greenhouse gas regulations are based on the debunked global warming theory that says too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is causing the Earth to heat when, in fact, the Earth has been cooling since 1998 and there is zero evidence that CO2 has any impact on the temperature of the planet.
The greenhouse gas regulations would, the report estimates, “cost more than $300 to $400 billion a year, and significantly raise the price of gas at the pump and energy in the home. It’s not just coal plants that will be affected: Under the Clean Air Act, churches, schools, restaurants, hospitals and farms will eventually be regulated.”
If you love poverty, you will love what the EPA intends to impose on the nation.
One astonishingly stupid aspect of greenhouse gas regulation is called the “cow tax” in which ranchers will be required to pay a cost-per-animal permitting fee. More than 37,000 farms and ranches would be subject to greenhouse gas permits at an average cost of $23,000 per permit annually. It would affect more than 90% of the livestock production in America and drive the cost of meat and pork out of sight.
As to regulating ozone, the EPA itself “estimated that its ozone standard would cost $90 billion a year, while other studies have projected that the rule would cost upwards of a trillion dollars and destroy 7.4 million jobs.” Ozone is created and destroyed naturally in the atmosphere by the sun. It is most noticeable over the poles where it has waxed and waned for billions of years.  So-called ozone holes show up over active volcanoes. Apparently the EPA wants to regulate the sun and volcanoes.
The technology of hydraulic fracturing occurs well below the water levels and frees up access to natural gas and oil. Naturally, many agencies in the Obama administration are doing whatever they can to shut it down with costly permit and efforts to link it to water contamination. It holds the promise of driving down energy costs nationwide.
If President Obama is reelected, billions of dollars would be imposed on virtually every aspect of life in America, either directly or through the rise of the cost of everything. This reflects the Greens obsession with destroying the greatest economy the world has ever seen, our standards of living and the quality of life for every man, woman and child in America.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Islam's Many Murders of Americans

By Alan Caruba
Editor’s Note: This commentary was written prior to the third presidential debate.
Moments in history are markers from which we are expected to draw some lessons. Thus, October 23, 1983, twenty-nine years ago, was the date of the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. It had been preceded by the bombing of our embassy there on April 18. A year later, our CIA station chief, William F. Buckley was kidnapped, dying after 15 months of torture by Islamic “militants.”
You can Google the lists of attacks on Americans, our embassies, hijackings of commercial air flights, housing abroad of U.S. military, and embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The USS Cole was bombed in the port of Aden, Yemen in 2000, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors. Other lists are of Americans killed by various Muslim jihadists here in America.
A key date worth remembering is November 4, 1979 when Iranian Islamists seized our embassy in Tehran, taking 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days. Then-President Jimmy Carter offered such a weak response to an offense against our nation and international laws that he was voted out of office and replaced with Ronald Reagan. Until Barack Obama came along, he was known as the worst president the nation ever had.
Americans tend to think of attacks in terms of September 11, 2001 when commercial aircraft were flown into the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon. A fourth was brought down by passengers in a Pennsylvania pasture. Nearly 3,000 Americans died.
The truth—the fact--is that America has been under attack for 33 years at this point, at home and abroad, and we still can’t bring ourselves to speak the name of the enemy, Islam.
President Obama whose first and middle names are of Arab origin is testimony to a lethal capacity to forget just how many times America has been attacked by its Islamic enemies and his term in office has seen the Middle East become a bastion of even greater Muslim militancy, culminating with the murder of our ambassador to Libya and three of his staff.
Americans are understandably weary of war having been drawn into conflict in Afghanistan after 9/11. We are still there to no effective purpose. Twice America waged war on Iraq, first to lead a coalition to force it out of Kuwait and then to depose Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein. It took over a decade to finally withdraw our troops from Iraq and, in neither nation, can we point to anything resembling a successful outcome. Both the Taliban and al Qaeda have returned despite the occasional drone strike.
The problem, however, is that Islam in general and the Middle East, along with other Muslim nations in Africa and elsewhere, continues to pose a threat to America and the West. In the past Islam was stopped at the gates of Europe and Crusades were fought against the Muslims in the Holy Land.
A cult built around Mohammed has a “holy book” that requires them to make war without end until everyone is under their domination and all the advances of civilization are reversed. There are more than a billion Muslims in the world and it is not likely they are going to convert to some other religion any time soon.
As for terrorism, much of it is directed out of Iran these days and Iran is perilously close to making its own nuclear weapons. Iran must literally be stopped before that happens and, so far, the only nation intent on actually doing that is Israel.
The Saudis continue to fund all manner of Islamic activity worldwide to the detriment of America and the West.
Having rid themselves of dictators, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt do not appear to be likely allies in the future. The conflict in Syria threatens to escalate and intrudes into Lebanon. The so-called Palestinians remain a festering problem, kept going by nations in the region and the United Nations. Africa remains ripe for increased Islamic conflict.
In his book, “The Audacity of Hope”, President Obama said, “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”
America is closing in on an election that poses a choice between the most pro-Islamic President to ever hold office and a challenger who is on record as saying he will support Israel in its effort to avoid nuclear annihilation.
There is no real “choice” here except between four more years of a presidency that actually encourages Islamic militancy, sinking further into an abyss of national poverty, the loss of our position in the world as a power for freedom and democracy, and a life of misery for the present and future generations of Americans.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Newsweek: An Obituary

By Alan Caruba

Newsweek, founded in 1933 by a former Time magazine editor, will cease to publish a print edition at the end of 2012. As a former journalist it pained me to read there will be cuts to its staff of 270 reporters and editors, but Newsweek has been a dinosaur for a long time, destined for extinction as a newsstand magazine and mailed to subscribers.
It always trailed Time magazine in circulation, a perennial bridesmaid, but the obvious reason is that digital news, delivered instantaneously, killed it; its declining advertising and circulation was simply the arithmetic of failure. It will live on as Newsweek Global in the Internet, but I have some doubts about whether even a $24.95 annual subscription price will keep it going. I suspect that most of its most faithful readers are themselves dying off.
Newsweek used to arrive at my home and was devoured by my Dad, Mom, and I. It was pretty good journalism until it was purchased by The Washington Post Company in 1961. Its liberal bias began to take a toll in much the same way it has done for other news organizations.
The decline of anything resembling journalism was captured when reporter Michael Isikoff learned of President Clinton’s dalliance with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky only to have the story spiked by Newsweek’s editors. When the story broke on The Drudge Report it launched Matt Drudge and his news aggregation site into the Internet’s stratosphere of success.
In 2004, a study by Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo concluded that Newsweek, along with all other mainstream news outlets except for Fox News and The Washington Times, were irredeemably liberal and, by definition, no longer reliable sources of news.
Newsweek’s Washington Bureau Chief at the time, Evan Thomas, had acknowledged that Newsweek was “a little liberal.” He would later become its Assistant Managing Editor and, in 1996, he went on the record after leaving the magazine saying “there is a liberal bias at Newsweek.” Well, duh!
Things just got worse when, in the May 9, 2005 edition, Isikoff reported that interrogators at Guantanomo had “flushed a Quran down a toilet” to intimidate a detainee, but the magazine later admitted that its anonymous source for the story could not confirm the story. By then, however, the story had sparked the predictable anti-American riots and deaths in the Islamic world. The story was retracted under heavy criticism.
Newsweek’s only concession to a conservative point of view has been the columnist, George W. Will who has been a contributor since 1976. Writers need a steady paycheck like everyone else, but I am sure it must have pained Mr. Will to be associated with a news publication that was suffering a progressive form of suicide.
The Internet has put great strains on the mainstream liberal news media. It came as a shock when historian Niall Ferguson’s article, “Hit the Road, Barack: Why We Need a New President” was the cover story on August 27, 2012. I am betting that Newsweek will still endorse Obama before the election, but as I watch as one daily newspaper after another endorses Mitt Romney, there might be one last gasp of reality at Newsweek. I doubt it.
Liberalism killed Newsweek.
Yes, the Internet pushed it into its coffin, but the mainstream media still haven’t gotten the message. In a world where news is delivered 24/7 and available from a wide variety of sources, putting out a magazine once a week is untenable. Putting out one that endorses liberal politicians and policies is like drinking hemlock.
It is likely that Time magazine will suffer a similar fate and I suspect a host of newsstand magazines will also begin to disappear.
I may be among the last generation to have enjoyed magazines, but I rarely read any these days. I am letting my Bloomberg Business Week subscription lapse for the same reason I stopped reading The Economist.
It gets tiresome to keep reading references to global warming or climate change in these publications when that huge hoax began to come apart in 2009 with the revelations of “climategate.” The emails between the “scientists” who were cooking the books on climate data revealed how worried they were over the beginning of a new climate cycle in 1998 in which the Earth was cooling, not warming.
It is sad to see how formerly respected news organizations have abandoned any pretense about reporting the truth. Perhaps the ultimate example of this was, as media critic Bernie Goldberg put it, their “slobbering love affair” with Barack Obama that has afflicted America with a President who does not like America and may not have spoken a word of truth since he was an infant.
As a young reporter I used to write obituaries. Now I find myself writing one for Newsweek and doing so with a great sense of relief.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Christian Arabs Targeted Throughout the Middle East

By Alan Caruba

The nations of the Middle East have been steadily forcing out Christian Arabs that have lived there for centuries, often in the most brutal fashion. This is the hallmark of Islam that has no tolerance for any other religion. Islam is a cult that has been at war with all religions, using terror, intimidation, and deception to achieve its goal.
The process has a long history. A recent Wall Street Journal commentary, “When the Arab Jews Fled”, tells a story rarely told; the story of how an estimated 850,000 Jews living in Arab nations, many of whose families had lived in Middle Eastern nations for centuries, were forced to leave. What happened to them after Israel declared its sovereignty in 1948 is now occurring again, but for Christians in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, the ascendency of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the militancy of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Cynically, Arab nations have pointed to the Palestinians as an example of people made refugees by the creation of Israel but, generally unknown to most Americans and others has been the role of the United Nations in maintaining the myth of refugees via its Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), established to aid Palestinians in the wake of the 1948 war on Israel.
As Middle East experts, Steven J. Rosen and Daniel Pipes, pointed out in a Jerusalem Post article on July 10, 2012, “UNRWA’s most consequential problem is its mission. Over 63 years, it has become an agency that perpetuates the refugee problem rather than contributing to its resolution.
URNWA does not work to settle refugees; instead by registering each day ever more grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have never been displaced from their homes or employment, artificially adding them to the tally of ‘refugees’. It adds to the number of refugees said to be aggrieved by Israel. By now, those descendants comprise over 90 percent of UNRWA refugees.”
This presupposes that there is or ever was a state of “Palestine”, but that is a name given the region by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to replace the name of Israel. It was unsuccessful but centuries later was incorporated into the Palestinian Mandate given England to administer following WWI. In point of fact, Palestine was never a state, has no borders, has no capitol city, has no currency, and was declared by Yassir Arafat as a means to wage war on Israel. Today, this so-called state is divided into two separate entities; the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. They cordially hate one another.
After 1948, the Wall Street Journal article noted, “Jews began fleeing—to Israel, of course, but also to France, England, Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.” Yemen had been home to more than 55,000 Jews’ in Aden, (where) scores were killed in a vicious program in 1947. An airlift dubbed ‘Operation Magic Carpet’ relocated most Yemenite Jews to Israel. In Libya, once home to 38,000 Jews, the community was subjected to many brutal attacks over the years.”
“In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jews continued to pour out of the Muslim countries. The Six-Day War of June 1967 brought some of the most violent anti-Jewish eruptions.
UNRWA, however, was only concerned with the so-called Palestinian Arabs. “The number of UNRWA refugees has steadily grown since 1949, from 750,000 to almost five million. At this rate,” wrote Rosen and Pipes, “UNRWA refugees will exceed 8 million by 2030 and 20 million by 2060.” This is, of course, absurd. The “Palestinians” are now the world’s oldest “refugee” population.
In addition to the obstinence of UNRWA, its existence has been an obstruction to a resolution of the conflict between the “Palestinians” and Israel. This is a violation of the UN Refugee Convention. In a January 16, 2012 article by Anne Bayefsky in The Jerusalem Post, noted that “Years of UN-driven anti-Semitism have clearly deadened the nerve-endings of democracies…”
The UN General Assembly has annually sponsored a Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, followed by the usual anti-Israel agenda items.
“By the end of a year of double-standards, discrimination and hate-mongering eighty percent of all 2010 General Assembly resolutions criticizing specific countries for human rights violations were directed at the Jewish state alone. Only six of the remaining 191 UN member states face human rights criticism at all, one of which was the United States.” The United States!
Will the UN declare its solidarity with the Arab Christians now under siege throughout the Middle East and across northern Africa? Don’t count on it.
The world, worried about the spread of war in the Middle East as the result of the Syrian conflict, is not paying much attention to the plight of the millions of Arab Christians being driven from their homes. It is a tragedy of immense proportions and it is one that is entirely the result of the inherent hatred by Islam for all other faiths.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Son of John Adams

By Alan Caruba

I often wondered what it must have been like to have been the son of George H.W. Bush, the 41st President. The man had so many accomplishments in life that it must have been both inspiring and daunting, especially if you were George W., a free spirit and perhaps the one whom observers might think would be the least likely to follow in his father’s footsteps. Like brother Jeb who was a Governor of Florida, politics and public service is the family business.

This brings to mind the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. His father, John Adams, the second President, had already made a lot of history as one of the Founding Fathers. Imagine having to follow George Washington into the presidency? Whew!

And then imagine following your father, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe in the most critical years of a young nation that needed a navy, indeed, an entire military to protect its interests and citizens. John Quincy knew them all. To be surrounded by such genius would have been daunting, but John Quincy possessed a mighty intellect as well and would devote his entire life to the service of his nation; for him it was a sacred calling.

Generally neglected among the panoply of the early presidents, John Quincy had the misfortune of an unremarkable single term and was followed in office by the towering figure of Andrew Jackson. He would return to Congress as a Representative from Massachusetts.

I recently finished reading Harlow Giles Unger’s captivating biography of John Quincy and, if you love history, it was a narrative I could barely put down. Few men in our nation’s early history witnessed and participated in so much of it from his birth in 1767 to witnessing the Battle of Bunker’s Hill in 1775 with his extraordinary mother, Abigail Adams, from a hillside near Boston.

That, however, was just the start. In 1778 he set sail for France with his father who was sent as an emissary of Congress to seek financial aid for the Revolutionary War. In 1781 he went to St. Petersburg and the Russian Court as secretary for the American minister Francis Dana. He rejoined his father at The Hague, then Paris, resuming his studies, until returning to the United States from 1785 to 1787 to earn a degree at Harvard College. He was admitted to the bar in 1790 and practiced law until 1793, but found it all rather tedious.

In 1794 George Washington appointed him minister to Holland where he honed his skills as a diplomat. In 1797 his father became the second President and he was appointed minister to Prussia, taking time to marry Louisa Catherine Johnson. In 1800 his father lost his bid for reelection, but in quick succession, John Quincy was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate and then to the U.S. Senate, but was forced to resign by the Federalists whose party he had earlier abandoned. In 1809, President Madison appointed him minister to Russia. In 1813 he negotiated the end to the War of 1812, and in 1817 President Monroe appointed him Secretary of State which, at the time, was the stepping stone to the presidency.

Though the credit goes to those whom he served, John Quincy was involved in most of the major events and issues, negotiating the acquisition of East and West Florida from Spain, along with the extension of the U.S. border to the Pacific Ocean. He would write the key passage of the Monroe Doctrine.

In 1825 the House of Representatives elected him President after an inconclusive Electoral College vote. In 1828 he lost the next election to Jackson, but by 1830 Massachusetts sent him the House of Representative where he became an early and ardent abolitionist. The infamous “gag rule” was instituted to stifle his advocacy of the end of slavery.

Perhaps most famously, he argued a case before the Supreme Court in defense of black prisoners of the slave ship Amistad, winning their freedom. In 1844, the gag rule was finally defeated.

Throughout all this time he had also fathered children, George Washington Adams, the first born, and John Adams II, and knew the loss of his beloved parents; his father dying on July 4, 1826, on the same day as Thomas Jefferson, as well the loss of his son, GW Adams.

In a long life of service to America, on February 23, 1848 he died in the House of Representatives.

It was not so much he was the son of a famous, gifted man, but that he too became one as well by dint of long years in the service of his nation. He was a patrician, multi-lingual, devoted son, husband and father, but he was also the last in the lineage of the Founders and those presidents who followed him would seem smaller until a young Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln was elected.

America has, for the most part, been fortunate in the choice of men who were elected to its highest office. We need to get lucky again.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fear, Anxiety, and Anticipation

By Alan Caruba

I will watch the next and last presidential debate, but only reluctantly. It is the job of pundits to keep informed, but I have been suffering from an overload of information about Barack Obama since before he was elected and all of it suggested he would do a lot of damage before he left office.
The fact is we are all stuck with him through January 20, 2013 when—and if—Mitt Romney takes the oath of office. One can only ponder how much more damage Obama could do between November 7, the day after the election and then?
And, of course, one hopes the election results will not end up with the kind of situation that occurred when Bush defeated Gore, but not until the Supreme Court ruled. I keep seeing signs and indications that it may not be a close election insofar that significant numbers of Democrats—many of whom may be out of work or know someone who is—will vote for Romney.
It’s the waiting that is weighing on my mind and spirit. The first debate lifted my spirit and that of many others, but the second has been deemed a tie of sorts. For me it was just a cascade of more lies from Obama who is so crazy he actually believes what he is saying or so sly he doesn’t care.
There is a school of thought that Obama really doesn’t want a second term and the more I watch him, I am leaning toward that theory. I know he is raising money, appearing on late night talk shows, giving speeches in key swing states, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t just doing it to avoid the stigma of throwing the presidency away in favor of a life less rigorous.
One former White House aide to both Clinton and Obama has said Obama “doesn’t like people.” That is an odd trait for a politician, but not odd when you consider that he rather absently referred to the killings of our Benghazi diplomats as “bumps in the road.” It astounds me that liberals keep saying he loves the common people, but he surely does not comport himself like one of them.
It is, of course, the waiting that is beginning to wear on my nerves. Just about the only thing my fellow pundit-friends are writing about these days are analyses and jeremiads concerning Obama’s lies and lack of qualifications, failed policies, and such. Listening to the chattering class on Fox and other news channels is an endless dissection of polling data, most of which seems to be dubious at best, wrong at worst.
I confess that, having voted since the age of 21, starting with John F. Kennedy in 1960, I have never feared so much for the future of the nation, dependent on the election of a candidate. And I was a Democrat right up to Reagan’s campaign and have voted Republican ever since. My late Mother, a Democrat her entire life, changed her registration status after Clinton’s first term in office. She was in her 90s by then, but better late than never.
Put simply, another Obama presidency for four years terrifies me. He doesn’t like America.

That may sound simplistic, but no other President heaped so much publi debt on the books. From Washington through Bush43, Obama has managed to add more debt than all of his predecessors combined.
Beyond our shores, an America that stood strong against the former Soviet Union for over 45 years until it collapsed has a President who reassures the present leaders in the Kremlin that he can be “more flexible” if and when he’s reelected. I don’t like the sound of that, do you?
All positions of power attract a legion of sycophants and, in our system of government, supporters who seek access to that power—often through “bundling” campaign funds—or who have just concluded they like him.
It remains a mystery to me that the polls show how closely divided the nation is between Obama’s supporters and detractors. I doubt it has ever been this divided since just before the Civil War.
And that is what worries me the most. It’s those people who just don’t hear his lies or even know he’s lying.
It’s the mainstream media that has always been liberal, but which now sees its job as protecting Obama against the truth that everyone can see on countless outlets for information, including of course Fox News that often seems fair and unbalanced given the liberal puppets that spout more lies.
I am compelled to do what every republic expects. I am compelled to wait on the will of the people as expressed through the electoral system. It makes me anxious. It makes me fearful.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What I Heard at the Debate

By Alan Caruba

As civil as the debate may have seemed, it was a brawl. Central to it were all the lies President Obama continues to tell about his record in office and about his challenger, Mitt Romney. And Romney would not let him get away with it. Time and again he rose to his feet to rebut and debunk those lies and I suspect a lot of people who saw him in the first debate were in agreement with him in this second debate.
In a column on Tuesday, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens perfectly anticipated Obama’s lies. Under the headline, “To the Wavering Voter” it repudiated the Obama campaigns assertions about a totally bogus “war on women” saying, “No, abortion rights and access to contraception will not be jeopardized if Mitt Romney becomes president. Not remotely, not vaguely, not even close.”
He went through the claims that Romney would engage in another Middle East War or that the nation would become a global pariah with Romney as president. Moving on, Stephens said, “No, your taxes will not go up by a couple of grand” noting that “As for the $5 trillion tax cut the Obama campaign insists Mr. Romney is offering, Obama campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter admitted on CNN that ‘It won’t be near $5 trillion,’ once deductions and loopholes are closed.”
I cite Stephen’s prescient column because, if he could anticipate Obama’s lies, than you can be sure Mitt Romney did and that was demonstrated throughout the debate. At the very end, Obama could not resist misrepresenting Romney’s earlier “47%” comment during a closed fundraising event. Romney described that as an “inelegant statement” and then repudiated it, but Obama repeated it in his closing statement.
Throughout the debate Romney called Obama a liar in the most gentlemanly way possible, but a liar he was and is.
One lie that jumped out at the very beginning of the debate was Obama responding to a college student’s question saying “Your future is bright”, adding “I want to build on the five million jobs we’ve created.” What jobs? Half of today’s college graduates cannot even find a job comparable to their educational level, if at all. And the future is most demonstrably not bright.
Romney responded with the fact that there are 23 million Americans out of work. The truth! He cited the phony official unemployment rate and said it was a lot closer to 10.7%. Obama said, “What Gov. Romney said just isn’t true.” Obama lied. Romney cited figures that appear daily in newspapers.
Throughout the debate Obama demonstrated how obsessed he is with class warfare, returning time and again to observations about the nation’s wealthiest class.
He lied about his energy policies and claimed that Romney’s plan was “to let oil companies write energy policy.” The absurdity of this was seen as Romney cited the cost of gas at the pump, Obama’s veto of the Canadian pipeline, and the refusal of his administration to allow drilling for oil and natural gas on federal lands. He cited the fact that the coal industry was targeted and the loss of coal-fired plants to generate electricity.
And Obama’s response was to lie again! “Very little of what Governor Romney said isn’t true.” But it was and it is. It’s not even a secret.
Romney scored some good points promising that he would fix the tax code, promising “No tax on your savings, interest, dividends and capital gains.” This is the money that investments generate and the nation is experiencing slow growth because such investments have been discouraged or rendered meaningless with the Federal Reserve’s low-to-no interest rates. And Obama’s only response was that “We have to make the wealthy do more.”
This is how a man worth ten million dollars responded, but surely Obama knows that the wealthy in this nation, through their taxes, represent 60% of the revenue collected annually.
Romney showed himself in control throughout the debate and showed something that has been sorely missing for nearly four years; leadership!
And all Romney had to do is cite facts that most voters already know; that Obama “doubled” the deficits, that 23 million are out of work, that millions more are on food stamps, that millions have slipped into poverty while Obama and Michelle lived and vacationed like royalty on the taxpayer’s dime.
On the issue of inequality in the workplace for women, Romney masterfully told how as Governor of Massachusetts he sought out women for his cabinet, then pointed out that “in the last four years 558,000 women lost jobs and many moved into poverty."  
“It’s not a strong economy,” Romney said and anyone listening knew he was telling the truth.
And yet Obama actually claimed there had been “31 months of job growth.” Then he criticized Romney for investing in companies in China. The fact is that Obama’s chairman of his jobs council, GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt closed GE divisions here in the U.S. and moved them to China!
In an understated, but quite symbolic moment, an African-American, Michael Jones, stood up and told Obama “I’m not optimistic about the future.”
Obama’s response was “Osama bin Laden is dead.” “We saved the auto industry.” And then he rattled on about “millionaires and billionaires.”
Romney’s response was “I think you know better”, adding “The President has tried, but his policies haven’t worked.
There were many other issues, but on the issue of the assassination of a U.S. ambassador in Libya, Obama first dodged the question and then claimed he had instructed that all embassies “beef up” their security when that was a lie. Then he had the audacity to claim Romney was trying to make “political points” from the attack, but Romney referenced the weeks that went by as the White House lied about a “spontaneous” attack. All Obama could cite was a speech in the White House Rose Garden that day after the killings.
Obama does not seem to understand that Americans do not want or need another speech.
In the end, Romney said “We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through.”
One can only hope that a lot of Americans, particularly those yet undecided, agree with him.
© Alan Caruba, 2012