Sunday, March 31, 2013

Coldest UK Easter in 100 Years

This is what is called REALITY as opposed to all the lies about global warming. This is what real climate change looks like. Temperatures have been dropping for the last 17 years, especially in the northern hemisphere. In both the U.S. and the U.K. the obscene expenditures on global warming "science" must end. The restrictions on extracting oil, natural gas and coal must end. More nuclear utilities are needed, too. This "cold spell", like the previous little ice age could last for several hundred years.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Very Bad Idea--Redefining Marriage

By Alan Caruba

An America that abandons thousands of years of tradition and common sense is an America that has set itself firmly on a path toward decline. That is the central issue of gay marriage that the Supreme Court will struggle to determine. A similar experience in social engineering gave us the federal protection of abortion and the murder of an entire generation of the unborn.

What we are witnessing is the tyranny of a determined minority, gays, lesbians, and transsexuals in America, barely three percent of the population, demanding that their particular sexual orientation should be codified in law by redefining marriage for everyone else. This isn’t about equality. It’s about special privileges and the destruction of marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

Imagine if the court had agreed with the early Mormon Church and established polygamy as the law of the land? In 1890, the Supreme Court ruled in The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States that “the organization of a community for the spread and practice of polygamy is, in a measure, a return to barbarism. It is contrary to the spirit of Christianity and of the civilization which Christianity had produced in the Western world.”

The Tenth Amendment states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” If the Supreme Court strikes down the decision of voters in California to prohibit gay marriage, it will have to ignore the Tenth Amendment. At this point in time, 41 States have passed laws protecting traditional marriage.

As one observer noted, if gay marriage is deemed legal by the Supreme Court, what would prevent the North American Man/Boy Love Association from demanding that their claim that sex with children is valid?

A rational society must have rational laws and the Constitution, which limits the powers of the federal government, makes it clear that the states have the right to determine their own response to such issues. Throwing overboard centuries of English law and the Constitution to favor gays and lesbians opens the doors to an “anything goes” society.

As a March 27 Wall Street Journal editorial noted, “The Supreme Court wrapped up its second day of oral argument on a pair of gay marriage cases Wednesday, and the Justices on the left and right seemed genuinely discomfited by the radicalism of redefining the institution (of marriage) for all 50 states.” Make no mistake about it, the demand for gay marriage is radical and would transform our society from one that has respected thousands of years of tradition and practice to one that abandons a religious and cultural norm to one that undermines society.

The cases before the Supreme Court arrive at the same time the nation has reelected a President who made clear that his objective is to “transform” our society from one that became a superpower based as much on its moral leadership as on its military and economic strength. The result thus far has been to impose a huge debt that will impact generations to come, undermines our ability to project strength, and threatens the value of the dollar. The Obama administration is currently trying to deprive Americans of the Second Amendment right to own firearms in the event a tyrannical government should occur.

The result, not surprisingly, has been an increase in the use of nullification by the states as they pass laws making it clear they do not intend to implement Obamacare as in the case of Indiana, South Carolina, and others. Six state legislatures already have bills filed that would prohibit cooperation with any attempt to indefinitely detain people without due process under a provision of the NDAA.

Several states, including Wyoming, will consider blocking any federal actions violating the Second Amendment. Florida, Indiana, and Missouri will look at legislation prohibiting spying by domestic drones. The Tenth Amendment Center has developed a legislative tracking page on its website because of this growing movement to resist federal mandates.

Sexual mores, the devaluation of our currency, and the general decline of moral values has plenty of precedent in history, most notably the decline of the Roman Empire. America fought a Civil War over the moral issue of slavery, ending it. It granted the right to vote to women. It stumbled badly with Prohibition, but abandoned it. All central governments tend to over-reach.

The Supreme Court’s decision on abortion is now being resisted as states begin to pass legislation to limit this practice in order to protect the lives of the unborn.

The President and other politicians who favor gay marriage, supported by a liberal media, will not have the last word. This is not about equality. It is about fundamental morality and, should America abandon that, it will cease to be a great nation no matter what path other nations may take.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hillary's Burdens

By Alan Caruba

Am I the only one who thinks that speculations and predictions about whether Hillary Clinton will run for the presidency in 2016 are premature?

A nation that had eight years of the Bill Clinton administration, her years (2001-2009) being a Senator from New York, and four years of her serving as Obama’s Secretary of State may just be a little tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton at this point and the prospect of a Hillary presidency may be just too much to take except for those so besotted by the Clinton’s liberal aura.

A lot will depend on the outcome of the 2014 elections and if there is a shift in power from Democrat control of the Senate and increase of Republicans in the House—leaving Obama as a very lame duck—Hillary will likely read the writing on the wall. She was considered a shoe-in for the presidency in 2008 until a virtually unknown first-term Senator won the election. Her appointment as Secretary of State was intended to keep her wing of the party inside the tent.

As a recent Washington Post article, “Hillary Clinton’s Legacy of Mismanagement Abroad”, was a scathing review of her failures by the largely liberal newspaper that continues to distance itself from the Obama administration. It listed ten significant failures from the Russian “reset” to her inability to secure a status-of-forces agreement with Iraq. Hillary touted Syria’s Bashar Assad as a “reformer” and, of course, there is the Benghazi scandal in which the U.S. ambassador’s pleas for greater security were ignored, resulting in his death at the hands of al Qaeda terrorists. Her response to the ambassador’s assassination, “What difference does it make?” would come back to haunt her.

By any measure, her service as Secretary of State is a warning against a second President Clinton.

This is not to dismiss the Democrat’s capacity for self-delusion when it comes to selecting its next candidate for the presidency. The never-ending Obama campaign machine will be at her disposal, but Hillary is no spring chicken and the physical toll of the campaign will quickly become evident if she chooses to run.

Then, too, there was the aborted effort during her husband’s term to impose a health care program that resembled Obamacare. It was rejected and Obamacare is losing public support (if it ever had any). When it is fully implemented in 2014, the backlash will be enormous in purely political terms. Many states have refused to implement the “exchanges” and the rise in the costs of insurance premiums, bureaucratic denial of medical services (particularly for the elderly) will severely harm any run for the presidency she might contemplate.

There are so many things that could derail a Hillary candidacy that the current speculation should be taken with a grain of salt. The only good news for her at this point is Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential ambitions. The man is a walking gaff-machine, saying more stupid things in an hour that any Democrat opponent in a month.

Meanwhile, over in the Republican camp, there are a number of rising stars who are contemplating a run in 2016, but the one I regard as having the least chance is Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida. The reason is simple. His name is “Bush” and the idea of a third Bush presidency may not sit well among a new, growing cohort of younger Republicans. There is something about family political dynasties that is antithetical to the way American politics should be practices.

It is too early, as well, to speculate about who the Republican candidates will be in 2016. Events could intervene to affect the outcomes for both Hillary and the GOP hopefuls. The political demographics, however, favor a younger candidate than an older one. As noted, much depends on the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections.

A Hillary presidency is likely to be an extension of the Obama presidency and that has not served the nation well. The huge national debt is beginning to penetrate the dull minds of liberals, the “sequester” has generated many news articles and reports about the government’s enormous waste of taxpayer dollars. Rising prices of everything are affecting Americans, no matter their political orientation. Foreign policy will be affected by events in the Middle East and elsewhere. None of this bodes well for a Hillary run for the presidency.

So Hillary, if she would run for the Democratic Party nomination, would do so with an enormous amount of political “baggage.”

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Very Old Congress

By Alan Caruba

It struck me the other day that every time I see some member from the Senate on television that I am often looking at an elderly person. Recently, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said, “I think the legislature is about ten years behind the public. I would argue that the Senate is not up to date with what the people want.”

It’s worth noting that Sen. Paul (age 50) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL, age 41), along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX – age 42) are among the rising stars in the Republican Party. Rep. Paul Ryan who ran on the 2012 ticket is 43.

There only a dozen Senators in their forties. The youngest Senator is Chris Murphy (D-CT) at age 39. In the House, the youngest is Patrick Murphy (D-FL) at age 29 who was elected in 2012. The average age of Senators, however, is now higher than in the past.

The Constitution bars anyone under the age of 25 from serving in the House and under 30 from serving in the Senate.

The Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) 73 years old and it should be noted that the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is 71.

My home State of New Jersey has the distinction of being represented by Frank Lautenberg (D) who is 89 years old, the older member of the Senate. He was succeeded in age by the late Robert Byrd (D-WV) who was the longest serving Senator. Byrd died at age 93 in 2010 having served from 1953 to 2010. My most enduring memory of Sen. Byrd was watching him on C-SPAN in his final year, assisted by an aide seated beside him as the befuddled Senator struggled to speak from his chair and deal with the papers before him.

At age 75, I can testify to the toll that time takes on anyone reaching an advanced age, so the question of a Senate in which 21 members are in their 70s raises some questions about their ability to cope with the complex issues on which they must vote. I think the greatest problem that people of that age encounter is being out of touch with the present, particularly with all the advances in communications technologies that can be a challenge to those who may have mastered the typewriter, but now must adjust to computers, texting, tweeting, and other inventions that speed up the need to process an ever-growing torrent of information.

Many of the issues with which the Senate must engage relate to a very different era than the one in which older members were born and in which they grew up. Social issues, in particular, involve the current debates over same-sex marriage, illegal immigration, environmental and energy issues, to name just a few.

A recent article on, “Democracy or Gerontocracy?” by Brian Palmer noted that “The 111th Congress, which took office in 2009, was the oldest in U.S. history, with an average age of 57 in the House and 53 in the Senate. The previous 112th was only slightly younger.” Historically, however, the average age in Congress “has remained within a rather small range since World War II” with the House aging more substantially than the Senate whose average age was 62 in 2011.

“Congress is decidedly older than the populace it represents” said Palmer, noting that “only ten percent of House members have been under the age of 40 in recent years. By comparison, 22 percent of the general population and 30 percent of registered voters are between 25 and 39 years old. The average American is more than 20 years younger than the person who represents him or her in the House.”

This brings me to the Millennials, also called Generation Y, born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Along with a previous generation, they are also known as “Generation Me.” There have been many surveys of the Millennials that indicate personality traits such as narcissism.

Millennials have distinctly different behaviors, values and attitudes from previous generations and much of this is due to technological and economic implications of the Internet. A survey by the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future, conducted continuously since 1975, and the American Freshman survey conducted by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, reveal that the proportion of students who said being wealthy was very important to them increased from 45% for Baby Boomers to 70% for Generation X and 75% for Millennials.

By contrast, the percentage who said it was important to keep up to date with political affairs fell, from 50% for Boomers to 39% for Generation X and 35% for Millennials. Too many are clearly not paying as much attention these days than former generations. This may have been a factor in the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012.

Maybe they should begin to pay more attention. A think tank called Generation Opportunity issues a Millennial Job Report for those aged 18 to 29. In February 2013, their unemployment rate was 12.5% and when you factor in the 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed”, the rate rises to 16.2%. For African-American youth, it is 22.8% while Hispanics come in at 13.4%.

Millennials are in for sticker-shock when Obamacare goes active in 2014, but an estimated 11% to 13% have already migrated into the conservative political sphere, so there is hope.

The vast gap between those in Congress and the rest of the population is likely to have an impact on future elections and could result in younger members being elected. For now and for the foreseeable future, a much younger population is going to be victimized by the decisions of a much older Congress.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Carbon Tax Would Destroy America

By Alan Caruba

If you want to know what a carbon tax on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would do to America you need only look at the destruction of industry and business in Australia, along with the soaring costs for energy use it imposes on anyone there.

“The carbon tax is contributing to a record number of firms going to the wall with thousands of employees being laid off and companies forced to close factories that have stood for generations”, Steve Lewis and Phil Jacob reported in a March 18 issue of The Daily Telegraph, a leading Australian newspaper.

“Soaring energy bills caused by the government’s climate change scheme have been called ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ by company executives and corporate rescue doctors who are trying to save ailing firms.”

The passage of a carbon tax in America would have the exact same results and it remains a top priority for the White House and Democrats in Congress who see it as a bonanza in new funding for the government.

As Paul Driessen says in a commentary, “More rational analysis reveals that dreams of growth are nothing more than dangerous tax revenue hallucinations. They would bring intense pain for no climate or economic gain.”

Too many Americans still believe that CO2 is causing global warming, but CO2 plays no role in climate change and is barely 0.038 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. More to the point, there is no warming and hasn’t been for the last seventeen years as the Earth is in a natural cooling cycle that has prolonged the advent of spring with severe snow storms throughout the nation.

There is no scientific justification for such a tax, but those advocating it don’t care about the science. They care about raising revenue for an ever-growing government to spend and waste.

Driessen points out that “Hydrocarbons (coal, oil, and natural gas) provide over 83% of all the energy that powers America. A carbon tax would put a hefty surcharge on everything we make, grow, ship, eat, and do. It would put the federal government in control of, not just one-sixth of the economy, as under Obamacare, but 100% of our economy and lives. It would make the United States increasingly less productive, less competitive globally, less able to provide opportunities for our children.”

The case for a carbon tax simply doesn’t exist, but there are powerful forces in Congress and the support of the White House to impose such a tax. The power of the environmental movement and its long history of lies about the climate, primarily the global warming hoax, cannot be dismissed or ignored.

In Australia, “The Australian Securities & Investments Commission reports there were 10,632 company collapses for the 12 months to March 1—averaging 886 a month—with the number of firms being placed in administration more than 12 percent higher than during the global financial crisis.” It represents “a record high…led by widespread failures in manufacturing and construction, which accounted for almost one-fifth of collapses.”

Greg Evans, the chief economic economist for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that “It defies logic to adopt a policy which even the Treasury acknowledges will lower our standards of living and be harmful to national productivity.” Adding to Australia’s struggling companies, the carbon tax and one on mining were showing up as “sovereign issues” in discussions with foreign investors.” Who would want to invest in Australia if these two taxes were destroying the economic strength of the nation?

Politics in Australia is no less a battleground than here in America. Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who introduced the carbon tax, just beat back a bid by her Labor Party’s dissidents to reinstall former leader Kevin Rudd who lost to her in 2010 and 2012. Much of the opposition to her comes from the harm being inflicted by the carbon and mining taxes.

Marlo Lewis is a senior fellow in energy and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. During the 2012 campaign, he described a carbon tax as “political poison for the Republican Party.” Mitt Romney opposed it, but ‘the big attraction of carbon taxes these days is not as a global warming policy but as a revenue enhancer. In both parties, deficit hawks and big spenders (often the same individuals) are flailing for ways to boost federal revenue.”

That is precisely the problem afflicting a nation whose Congress and President could not find a reason to cut anything from the federal budget. The result was the “sequestration” that imposed cuts neither party could agree upon.

In a Fox News article, “Here comes Team Obama’s carbon tax”. Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment and author of “Democracy Denied” reported that “The Treasury Department’s Office of Environment and Energy has finally begun to turn over documents about its preparations for a carbon tax in response to transparency warrior Chris Horner’s Freedom of Information Act request. The documents provide solid evidence that the Obama administration and its allies in Congress have every intention of implementing a carbon tax if we fail to stop them.”

President Obama’s nominee to be the next Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, is on record wanting to double or triple the cost of energy, much as his predecessor wanted.

A carbon tax, if enacted, would totally undermine a nation that has a debt climbing toward $17 trillion and millions unemployed in an economy that is struggling to inch its way out of the depths of the financial crisis.

If you wanted to destroy America, you could do it with a carbon tax. Australia is reeling from the cost to its economy and the higher energy costs its people are paying. We don’t want that here.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Are We All Metaphorically Jewish?

By Alan Caruba

America is rightly called a Christian nation. The new Pope Francis represents 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. There are 1.5 billion Muslims. There are more than 959 million Hindus and more than 467.5 million Buddhists. The world’s Jews, however, are a scant 14 million or so. The two main locales of their population are Israel and the United States with about six million each.

So why does it feel like I live in a society and a world where the imprint of Judaism is so large?

One obvious reason is that Israel looms large in coverage by the U.S. news media for a multitude of reasons that include the large evangelical Christian support for Israel, the presumed attachment American Jews have for it (some do, some do not), and because it is regularly threatened by its neighbors in the region. While President Obama was there, the Iranian Supreme Leader was threatening to destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv. There were rockets from Gaza.

On Monday evening Jews around the world will begin the celebration of “pasach” which is also known as Passover. The Jewish lunar calendar dates this year as 5,773. In general terms, Judaism is about 3,800 years old, dating back to Abraham. Rabbinic Judaism which arose after the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem and subsequent exiles is about 2,000 years old. The influence of Judaism, however, began when Moses went up Mount Sinai and came back with the Ten Commandments. For Western civilization, they have been enduring moral guidelines ever since. 

I doubt that most Americans and others are aware of the enormous imprint on civilization, religion, science, physics, medicine, technology, the arts, and virtually all other aspects of our lives that has been made by Jews. Christianity, of course, has its roots in Judaism and even Islam borrowed some of its precepts from it.

In the West we live in a metaphorical Jewish world.

Passover is a good time to contemplate such things. We know, for example, that Albert Einstein developed the Theory of Relativity, an enormous contribution to physics and our understanding of the universe.  Or that Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine for polio and that Albert Sabin developed the oral vaccine for polio. Two generations ago it was a dreaded disease. Selman Waksman discovered Streptomycin and every time you say “antibiotic”, you are using a word he coined. I won’t list all the names of Jews who advanced medicine because it is long. The same holds true for various Nobel Prize categories.

Do you like those sexy or just plain denim jeans you wear? Levi Strauss, a Jew. They were sewed on a machine invented by Isaac Singer, a Jew.

For Americans, the impact, influence and participation in our popular culture is so hugely Jewish that whole books could be written about it. George Gershwin composed the Rhapsody in Blue, starting it with a clarinet solo that is straight out of the Klezmer tradition of Yiddish music.
The American theatre has been peopled with Jews from playwright Arthur Miller to the team of Rogers and Hammerstein that created iconic musicals. Movies were transformed by Jewish directors such as Cecil B. DeMille, Billy Wyler, and Woody Allen. It’s a long list.

As for actors and actresses, it’s also a very long list. Born in the 1920s, there’s Mel Brooks and Lauren Bacall, Jerry Lewis and Carl Reiner. Move ahead to the 1930s and we have Dustin Hoffman, Alan Arkin, and, for Star Trek fans, there’s William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. The decade of the 1950s gave us comedien Jerry Seinfeld, actor Richard Dreyfuss, singer Bette Midler and music legend, Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman. From the 70s generation, younger fans will recognize Sarah Michelle Geller of “Buffy” fame, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joaquin Phoenix, and Maya Rudolph from Saturday Night Live. Born in the 80s, there’s Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and a bevy of talent on the big and small screens.

In my lifetime, six million Jews from throughout Europe were murdered during the Holocaust and one must wonder at the loss of physicists, physicians, chemists, artists and others who might have contributed to our lives. The Iranian threat of a nuclear weapon to be used against Israel is described as” existential”, but it is so real that it must never be allowed to occur. No nation or group of nations can “contain” a nation determined to kill millions and dominate, not just the Middle East and Africa, but the entire world.

A recent Wall Street Journal commentary, “Israel’s High-Tech Pipeline to the U.S.” by Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollack examined the extraordinary role in high tech played by Israel where its computer and communications geniuses have already developed much of the technology we take for granted; “applications such as instant messaging, Internet telephony, and data-mining.” The authors note that Israelis “have helped the U.S. preserve its military edge.” Microsoft’s Bill Gates says “innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of the technology business.”

And now you understand better, after enduring four years of Arab intransigence, turmoil, and the threat of jihad—holy war—why President Obama began his second term with a visit to Israel. It was a global platform to warn Iran against going ahead with its nuclear ambitions and threats. No nation in the Middle East wants that to happen, but especially Israel.

On Passover 2013, Jews as they have for centuries will gather at the Seder table and repeat the story of having once been slaves in Egypt and of how, with the help of God, they escaped to the promised land. “They tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat” is the joke they tell, but the story of the Jews over the centuries is perhaps better reflected by what a founder and Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, once said, “To be a realist in Israel, you have to believe in miracles.”

Consider the empires that tried to destroy the Jewish people--ancient Egypt, Philistines, the Assyrian Empire, Babylonian Empire, Persian Empire, Greek Empire, Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Crusaders, Spanish Empire, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union. None of them exists today.

On Passover, you too might want to bow your head and say a prayer for Christians throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa who are being killed or driven from their homes, just as Jews have experienced from the days of ancient Egypt.
(c) Alan Caruba

Happy Passover

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kiss the European Union Goodbye

I rarely re-post a commentary, but this one is relevant to what is occurring in Cyprus and what may lay ahead for the European Union and the Euro.

Reuters – (3/24/13) Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades held last-minute talks with international lenders on Sunday in an attempt to save the Mediterranean island from financial meltdown and possibly becoming the first country to leave the euro zone.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kiss the European Union Goodbye


By Alan Caruba

In Paris on October 15th, a group of finance ministers and central bankers known as the G20, representing major nations, gave the European Union until October 23red to find an answer to the financial crisises that are tearing apart the EU and its monetary structure.

Don’t hold your breath. If not now, at least in the foreseeable future, the EU will collapse for the oldest reason, national sovereignty and national self-interest.

If you visit Wikipedia and enter “European Wars”, it will kick out a list that’s several pages long in small print starting with the Trojan Wars, 1193-1184 BC. The Romans conquered everyone for a while. The Spanish tried to invade England. For a while Napoleon was invading everyone. There were the hundred year wars, thirty year wars, and wars for the hell of it. Suffice to say the Europeans have a long record of going to war with one another.

World War One impoverished its participants and led to World War Two. After the devastation of World War Two and with the threat of the Soviet Union to the East, European leaders concluded that the only option to avoid future wars or being overrun by the Russian bear was to form a kind of United States of Europe.

In a newly published book, “The End of the Euro”, subtitled “The uneasy future of the European Union”, Dr. Johan Van Overtveldt, the editor-in-chief of Trends, Belgium’s leading weekly on business and economics, takes us through the history of the European Union and the creation of a common currency, the euro.

For people like me who thank a merciful God that Internet banking makes it possible to actually know my checking account balance, Overtveldt’s book is both a blessing and a challenge because it deals with some very complex issues of finance. He also provides some very useful history with which to understand the past and predict the future.

My knowledge of history was sufficient to have huge doubts about the formation of the European Union and it looks like I am about to be borne out in my pessimism. “While efforts at European integration have without question contributed to peace on the continent,” Overtveldt points out, “at least three other factors are also at play.”

“First, broader international cooperation and consultation” have been the order of the day since the end of World War Two. “Second, the presence of American troops throughout Europe, and certainly in Germany, helped maintain the military status quo. Third, the sense during the Cold War of “a common, non-democratic enemy increased cooperation and cohesion among Western European nations.”

Then Overtveldt identifies the central weakness of the European Union. “History teaches us that, in particular, the lack of real political union is a major barrier to the durability of a monetary union and its single currency.”

The problem of the EU and the euro “is the loss of an independent monetary policy” because what works for Germany does not necessarily work for France, Spain, Italy, and the other EU members.

This has become abundantly evident as Greece totters on default of its debts and the contagion of a sovereign debt crisis threatens to spread. Simply said, the Germans are not inclined to want to “bail out” the Greeks because the Germans have a wide conservative streak when it comes to the conduct of their financial affairs while the Greeks were inclined to fudge the books and run up a huge debt.

In addition to Greece, Portugal and Ireland are likely to find that they have no choice except to leave the EU and Spain, Italy, and Belgium have their problems, too. For that matter, add France to the list.

The U.S. financial crisis no doubt sped up the process, but our government bailed out the banks for the simple reason there never was a choice not to. One or two big investment banks were allowed to fail, others were forcibly merged, but a nation without a functioning banking system is nothing but lines on a map.

In a recent column by Patrick J. Buchanan, titled “Is the New World Order unraveling?” he notes the rise of “economic nationalism” in Europe as well as warning against the foolish American trend of signing away our sovereign rights by joining globalist organizations from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization, along with a slew of treaties and agreements.

The export of whole U.S. industries has been one result “while emerging powers like China, India, and Brazil are demanding to be exempt from restrictions developed countries seek to impose.” The world is a nasty place in which to live. The Moon and other planets, however, are less habitable and do not have cable TV.

As Americans vainly look to their Congress to redress its own authorization of the spending excesses of present and past administrations, the rest of the world, protected by our military strength and moral values, has decided it no longer has to pay us the attention it did in former times.

So we shall surely witness the end of the euro and the European Union as that continent returns to its normal levels of national self-interest that one might argue are not a bad thing in a competitive world. So long, of course, as those nations do not decide to declare war on one another.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Living in Obama's Mad House

By Alan Caruba

Like everyone else I get up each day and do my best to make sense of my life. I turn on “Fox and Friends” while I pour a cup of my morning coffee. I give a quick read to The Wall Street Journal’s editorials and scan the news until later in the day when I devote more time to its content. I spend about an hour at the beginning of each day, reading and responding to those emails I have not deleted as fraudulent schemes or matters of no interest.

I “surf” the news and opinion sites to which I contribute and move on to The Drudge Report, a news aggregator that has an influence on the day’s issues comparable to Rush Limbaugh.  The news is invariably bad whether it is about the nation’s imperiled economy, the gridlock in Congress, or events around the world. As an old journalist I understand well that bad news sells and good news is relegated to the “lifestyle” or “entertainment” sections of the newspaper or news sites.

Rush caught a lot of heat recently when he said he was “ashamed” of America, but I think a lot of us are ashamed of a nation being run by people of low-to-no character that we elected to office. We are ashamed of ourselves for being duped by some Republicans who are more closely aligned with Democrats, of a Republican Party that seems hapless and unable to unite around its values with a strong message of fiscal prudence, strong defense, and a host of other issues upon which we generally agree.

The United States used to feel like a rational place where, even when we had differences, they would be negotiated, compromises would be made, and our general welfare would be the guiding principle. We used to have cause to believe that the Constitution would determine our governance, but after four years without a budget and government still funded by “continuing resolutions”, there is cause to believe otherwise.

We used to have confidence that the Supreme Court would interpret that Constitution in ways that even the average citizen would if they took the time to read it. Obamacare blew that up. Declaring it a “tax” and ignoring its totally unconstitutional mandate to purchase insurance or be fined if you do not, the Court left the door open for worse mischief.

We now lurch from crisis to crisis with no resolution in sight. The cliché of “kick the can down the road” has become an everyday expression to describe a government that governs via presidential executive orders, ever more regulations, and the aforementioned continuing resolutions.

Americans cannot buy guns fast enough in the face of a government trying to negate the Second Amendment. It says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That’s definitive. The people is us!

We wonder why the Justice Department can unilaterally decide that it does not intend to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act and seeks to get it overturned by the Supreme Court.

We wonder why the Department of Defense can no longer afford to send a second carrier group to the Persian Gulf in the face of Iran’s impending acquisition of nuclear weapon status. How weakened has our defense capability become?

We know our economy is burdened by more than $16 trillion in debt that it is mounting by the hour. Yet President Obama cannot find any waste in government to cut despite ample evidence of multi-billion dollar waste. Stop White House tours? Who is he kidding?

A year ago the government gave $3 million to researchers at the University of California to study video games. The U.S. Department of Agriculture once gave researchers at the University of New Hampshire $700,000 to study methane gas emissions from dairy costs.  Despite borrowing billions from China, the government gave it $17.5 million for social and environmental programs and once spent $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly. The list of insane expenditures defies the imagination.

Obama’s answer is that taxing anyone who has earned any level of wealth from $250,000 a year and up—deemed “rich”—will close the gap, but he cannot spend the nation into growth. He tried that with the failed stimulus, with the idiotic “cash for clunkers” program, and with the increase in tax revenue he wrung out of the Republicans while demanding more and more. He could take all the money from the “rich” and it would not run the government for more than a month.

Despite this consumer confidence is up. Banks made large profits last year. Housing prices are increasing.  Wall Street responded to the sequester cuts with a surge. And the President’s popularity continues to hover around fifty percent even though he lies about everything including promises to control the climate!

When veteran Washington, D.C. journalist, Bob Woodward, described Obama’s claim that he could not defend the nation as the result of the sequestration cuts he called it “madness.”

We are living in a mad house called America, courtesy of Barack Obama.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Unhappy Birthday for Obamacare

Thursday, March 21, 2013

An Hour of Darkness. Or Light!

By Alan Caruba

On Saturday, Greens around the world will turn off their lights in a symbolic “Earth Hour” gesture against climate change, the term they adapted in the face of the fact that the Earth has been cooling for seventeen years and is on the cusp of a mini-ice age that will ensure cold weather for many years to come.

Earth Hour is a protest against the use of electricity—energy—to light our lives in countless ways. Anyone who has gone through an outage as I did in the wake of Hurricane Sandy will tell you that life without electricity is an immediate return to primitive times. Mine lasted a week and included the loss of access to the Internet and the ability to use my computer and every other piece of equipment in the apartment. It was not fun.

We derive electricity from burning coal, from natural gas, from nuclear fission, and from hydroelectricity generated by huge dams. The least amount of electricity we use comes from oil and, in particular from wind and solar, a bare two percent or so. These latter two sources exist only because of government subsidies and mandates. Without these they could not compete against far more affordable and effective sources. Oil, of course, fuels all our vehicles.

What Americans generally have not absorbed is the fact that the large, multi-million dollar funded environmental organizations oppose every form of energy we use. Here is a week’s schedule of events planned to lead up to and follow Earth Hour in New Jersey by the Sierra Club chapter.

# On Thursday, March 21, they sponsored a “Fracking Waste Ban Lobby Day” in the state capital of Trenton.

# On Saturday they will sponsor an “adventure aquarium trip” devoted to sea turtles and a lecture on “how our plastic addiction impacts them.” We are no more “addicted” to plastic than to oil from which it is produced and found in virtually everything we use. Energy is not the enemy. It is the lifeblood of a successful economy and society.

# On Sunday there will be a town hall meeting about “clean energy solutions” in concert with Climate Mama, and the Sierra Club with a panel that will discuss how clean energy, solar and wind, “can dramatically reduce our use of fossil fuels and move our state forward without the pollution.” It will also discuss how “climate change has impacted you.” Americans are not going to reduce the use of fossil fuels, oil, coal, and natural gas. We already enjoy the cleanest air and, more importantly, the Earth in general and America in particular has enormous reserves of these energy reserves.

# On Wednesday, March 27, another panel will engage in “pipeline education”, ignoring the fact that America has 170,000 miles of pipelines that transport oil and natural gas throughout the nation. They are safe and secure, but none carry ethanol, a chemical that erodes not only pipelines, but damages the engines of millions of cars and trucks. The pipeline panel will likely take note of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada that has been delayed for five years now and cleared of any charges of environmental harm.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute suggests that Earth Hour is a good time to celebrate “Human Achievement Hour”, a way to debunk the global warming hoax and the nonsense surrounding “climate change”, a process that has gone on for billions of years on the planet. The notion that people can do anything about the climate is so absurd it defies the imagination.

Earth Hour is just one more way for the Greens to continue spreading their lies about fossil fuels, plastic, and chemicals they want to demonize despite the advances in health and longevity, the manufacture of products we use, and the extraordinary lifestyle we enjoy with abundant food and protection against the multitude of insect and rodent pests that afflict us, along with the many species of weeds that affect crops.

Not that long ago, Greens were spreading nonsense about “peak oil”, saying that the Earth was running out of this energy source, but new reserves of oil are being found all the time. Between 1945 and 2010, the United States alone produced 167 billion barrels of oil, more than eight times more oil than the amount of proven oil reserves it had in 1944. Oil doesn’t merely fuel our cars and trucks, but as fracking techniques have been developed, more and more of it is available. Between 1980 and 2010, the U.S. produced 77.8 billion barrels of oil and still had 20.7 billion barrels of oil reserves left.

What Americans should keep in mind during Earth Hour is that we have a White House that has done everything in its power to deprive us of the coal, oil and natural gas that we have at our disposal. It has restricted the exploration and extraction of billions of barrels of oil from offshore of our east and west coasts, and in Alaska. It has generated regulations that have already shut down coal-fired plants and is seeking to impose greater restrictions despite the fact that we have enough coal to keep them operating for hundreds of years.

With more than 1.7 trillion barrels of recoverable oil under our soil, we have enough oil to fuel our present needs for the next 250 years. Delaying the Keystone XL pipeline has deprived the nation of thousands of jobs and will result in $5 billion being spent annually to import oil. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has wasted billions on “clean energy investments.”

Americans know their energy bills are increasing as the result of anti-energy policies, know that the energy sector, if allowed to flourish, would provide thousands of jobs, and should know that every drop of oil and cubic foot of natural gas we secure from our own reserves would reduce the cost to everyone in every way.

Turn on your lights at 8:30 PM on Saturday. Turn them all on. Send a message to the White House and to the world that energy is the heartbeat of life and economic growth for America and the world.

Hating energy is another form of hating humanity.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Roger Ailes, Superstar

By Alan Caruba

After more than fifty years of reviewing books, I only occasionally come across a biography that gets my juices flowing; a book so well written that it is almost a physical pleasure to read it and a subject that is totally engrossing. This was the case for me when I began to read Zev Chafet’s “Roger Ailes Off Camera.”

Like many people I was aware that Ailes had created Fox News with the backing of print and broadcast tycoon, Rupert Murdoch. He literally did so from scratch. There were no studios, no equipment, no staff, and no infrastructure. When he suggested the venture to Murdoch, the media giant asked “How much will it cost me?” “Nine hundred million to a billion,” Ailes replied, adding “And you could lose it all.” “Can you do it?” asked Murdoch. “Yes.” “Then go ahead and do it.”  That took a lot of courage and confidence on the part of both men and it transformed television news.

Ailes is a Horatio Alger story, born into a family of modest means, a boy from a small Ohio town with the great talent and virtue of telling people the truth even if they did not want to hear it. He had a passion for television and the luck of being in the right place at the right time. When, in 1961, KYW-TV in Cleveland decided to launch a daytime variety show hosted “by a little known song-and-dance man, Mike Douglas”, Aisles, just out of Ohio University joined the team producing it. The show would go onto run in national syndication for more than twenty years. It took long hours and hard work to make it one of the most popular shows on TV, but Aisles thrived on it.

“Ailes was a legend at a very young age,” says Marvin Kalb, who was a reporter at CBS News at the time. “His success at the Douglas show struck a chord. He was talked about in the seventies in New York, in television circles.”

As Chafet’s notes, “Ailes came out of Ohio with Middle American taste in entertainment.” His years with the Mike Douglas show afforded him the opportunity to meet and befriend many of the leading personalities of the time.

When he met former Vice President Richard Nixon who, at that point, had lost the presidential election to John F. Kennedy and been defeated for Governor of California, Nixon dreaded television in the wake of his famed debate with JFK. Chafet says “Ailes was a cocky young man who knew, he said, how to make Nixon shine on screen.” After a meeting with the Nixon media team, he was offered the job of producing Nixon’s television appearances, but he went beyond that, creating the Man in the Arena campaign. Chafet says the campaign “made it possible for Nixon to control his media environment” via a series of town meetings with carefully screened audiences.

Aisle did not join Nixon in the White House. Instead, in 1969, he left Washington for New York where he started his own company, Ailes Production, later changed to Ailes Communications. He went on to an illustrious career as a political consultant with an uncanny knack for winning. By 1988 the election made him “the first superstar political consultant, so famous and infamous that his mere participation became an issue.”

There is so much more to his life, the personal as well as the professional, told skillfully and entertainingly by Chafet, He would run CNBC for several years and, when he left to create Fox News, “he was followed by more than eighty staffers in what is known in the lore of Fox News as ‘the jailbreak.’” He had a knack for spotting and supporting talented people.
He wrote an employee’s handbook that says much about his success and that of Fox News. It is still given to new employees.

“Excellence requires hard work, clear thinking, and the application of your unique talent,” was rule number one. “Nothing is more important than giving your word and keeping it. Don’t blame others for your mistakes” was rule two. Rule number three was “Our common goal is the success of Fox News. Only teams go to the Super Bowl. Volunteer to help others once your own job is finished. Ask for help when you need it. Solve problems together and give credit to others.”

And rule number four was “Attitude is everything. You live in your own mind. If you believe you’re a victim, you’re a victim. If you believe you’ll succeed—you will. Negative people make positive people sick. Management relies on positive people for all progress.”

The man at the center of Chafet’s book has transformed television news and made superstars of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, along with Brit Hume, Bret Baier and others, seeing in them some special qualities that others might have been overlooked by a less canny judge of character. He made sure to include liberal contributors as well. In the process, he created a remarkable team of on and off-air people at Fox News. Millions turn to the channel for “fair and balanced” news.

Editor’s note: Caruba is a founding member of The National Book Critics Circle and maintains a monthly report on new books at

© Alan Caruba, 2013 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Barry Goes to Jerusalem

Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem

By Alan Caruba

On March 20-21, the world will be treated to President Obama’s first visit to Israel since he was elected in 2009.

Here’s what he will do:

"The President will examine the Iron Dome missile defense system, meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres, and hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after which they will hold a joint press conference and have dinner together."

"On Thursday, the President will visit the Israel Museum, where he will see the Dead Sea Scrolls and a technology exhibit put together by Israeli universities. He will then travel to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He will then return to Jerusalem and give a speech to students at the International Convention Center, which will be followed by a state dinner with President Peres."

"On Friday, President Obama will lay wreaths at the graves of Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin and then meet with an Israeli opposition leader at Yad Vashem, before concluding his trip with a visit to the Church of the Nativity."

It will generate a torrent of reporting and analysis regarding the content of his speeches and anything else he may say or do. This, however, is a President who lies about everything. The Israeli leaders know that and the Palestinians likely will have even less confidence in whatever he tells them. For decades they have resisted any two-state relationship with Israel, vowing to destroy it whether the threats come from the Palestinian Authority or the Iranian proxy Hamas.
The Palestinians have little support from the nations in the region.

As noted Israeli authority, Barry Rubin, the director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, recently wrote, “the Palestinian torpedoing of peace between 1993 and 2000 has been forgotten.” There have never been any good faith negotiations by the Palestinians and the more militant Hamas has never ceased from rocketing Israel from its base in Gaza. Israel has long since abandoned its hopes of “land for peace.”

The one thing Obama does not want to do is to let the U.S. get dragged into another war in the Middle East. His predecessor, whom he has finally stopped blaming for his own failures, did not fare well with either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.

The lesson has not been lost on Obama who “led from behind” in Libya only to find himself mired in the Benghazi scandal. The other nations, Tunisia and Egypt are in turmoil as the Muslim Brotherhood struggles to establish itself as their governments. The president of Afghanistan has taken to claiming that the U.S. is working with the Taliban.

In short, the Middle East is a minefield and has been ever since Israel declared its sovereignty in 1948. That event has been blamed for all of its problems, but the problem is Islamic arrogance and intransigence. Israel isn’t going to go away. It was there 3,000 years ago and, by the grace of God, it is there today.

The civil war raging in Syria is a concern for Israel as well as other neighboring states. No doubt Obama will make some reference to the emergence of democracy there, but this has not occurred with any success in Iraq, Egypt, or Tunisia. With the exception of Lebanon that was once a democratic nation Arabs have no experience with democracy and little inclination to make it work. Iran is ruled by a cabal of ayatollahs.

No doubt President Obama will repeat his assertion that the U.S. will never accept a nuclear Iran, but he will. Sanctions and “containment” are not going to work.

“The reality is, however,” says Rubin, “that Obama will continue to deny that his strategy is one of containing Iran but rather of preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. That will go on until Iran gets nuclear weapons and Obama switches to a containment strategy.”

Rubin writes, “Personally, I don’t believe that Obama will ever attack Iranian nuclear facilities or support such an Israeli operation.” If history is any guide, the Israelis will act unilaterally as they did when they destroyed Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear reactors.

Israel is not only surrounded by nations that have attacked it in the past, but which continue to hate its existence. It also exists in a world where anti-Semitism is widespread, particularly in the nations of the European Union. Ironically, Americans may be the only real friends it has and that is because Americans—Christians—are major supporters of Israel.

The nations of the Middle East have seen, since 9/11, what U.S. intervention has done to them or their neighbors and they don’t like it. Billions spent for nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan has been squandered and, in 2009, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged $900 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, including $300 million for rebuilding Hamas-controlled Gaza. More recently, more millions have been pledged to Egypt.

None of it has improved the opinion of the U.S. in the region. None of this has been lost on the current Israeli leadership

Whatever promises Obama makes to the Israeli leaders, whatever he says publicly, will be for the consumption of Americans back home and for those in the region, but the most duplicitous President to ever hold that office will not be trusted there and should not be trusted here.

© Alan Caruba, 2013