Saturday, June 29, 2013

It Can Happen Here

Auschwitz - Nazi Death Camp
By Alan Caruba

“How the Jews Defeated Hitler” is the title of a new book by Dr. Benjamin Ginsberg PhD, subtitled “Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism.”  The title is counter-intuitive because, as is well known, the Nazis murdered six million Jews in Europe during the course of a deliberate genocide that has since become known as the Holocaust.

The author is a professor of political science and is chair of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the book is more than just a history of that horrific period of history. It is not that long ago. I was a child at the time so, within the living memory of the survivors, their children and grandchildren, as well as others like myself around the world, it is living history.

The value of the book is the way it explains how many of the Jews of Europe, particularly those herded into ghettos, failed to grasp what was happening. “It was initially difficult for most Jews to believe that the Germans actually intended to kill them all.”

Another major factor was that the Nazis ensured that they were disarmed and unable to defend themselves, as were others who opposed the regime.

Where resistance fighters emerged, Ginsburg notes that “Germany relied, especially in Western Europe, on the help of local police forces to deal with partisans, and, especially in France and Holland, whose local police were quite helpful.” In occupied France, “The French police helpfully compiled a card index of all the Jews of Paris by name, street, occupation, and nationality.”

Therein lies the fears and concerns of Americans as they slowly come to realize that their government not only knows where they live, but a great deal of information about them courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, right on down to their local law enforcement authorities.

If or when Obamacare is fully implemented, anonymous bureaucrats will be able to “target” selected Americans who are seeking medical care for death simply by denying it. No need to set up concentration camps to kill them en mass. Just as the little girl who needed a lung transplant that was initially denied by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, individuals identified as “patriots” or other enemies of the state could simply be allowed to die.

So, yes, it can happen here.

The focus of the present day animus against Jews in general—extremely active throughout the Middle East and a major trend in Europe—is the nation of Israel. Zionism, the political movement that supports Israel, is a handy substitute for anti-Semitism.

Dr. Ginsberg, however, notes that “In actuality, Israel’s founding was very much the result of the West’s postwar unwillingness to accept Jewish refugees. Governments that felt that even one Jewish refugee was one too many had to find someplace to resettle several hundred thousand Jews.” The State of Israel, like the mythical phoenix, literally rose from the ashes of Europe’s murdered Jews.

“To the Americans and eventually even to the British, the State of Israel seemed the least undesirable alternative. Within two decades of Israel’s creation (in 1948) though, the reasons for its existence were forgotten or had become irrelevant, and new configurations of political forces gave rise to a renewed European anti-Semitic discourse taking the form of anti-Zionism…The European Left loudly proclaims its anti-Zionism by denouncing Israel as a racist and apartheid state and calling for boycotts of Israeli products, citizens, and ideas.” The United Nations is a hotbed of anti-Semitism.

During World War II, however, Jews played leading roles in the partisan efforts to disrupt German aggression, often held leadership positions in the allied military forces and served within them, were active throughout the FDR New Deal administrations, supported the U.S. bond drives to finance the war, and were instrumental in breaking the codes of the Nazis and Empire of Japan. Jews were also the core of physicists and engineers who developed the atomic bombs that speeded the end of the war in the Pacific.

The same authoritarian and leftist forces, whether it is the rise of Islamic ambitions to conquer the world or the efforts of the Left to impose a one-world government via the United Nations or just to undermine the former power and position of the United States as a defender of freedom, are at work today.

You need not be a Jew to fear the growing centralization of power in the federal government.

If you are a gun-owner, you know that the Obama administration and some in Congress seek to amend and erode the Second Amendment in an effort to take your arms away from you; a common goal of fascism.

If you are a member of the Tea Party or a patriot movement, you now know that the Internal Revenue Service sought to deny applications for tax-exempt status needed for fund-raising.

If you fear that your Fourth Amendment right to privacy is being eroded then you know that the Constitution is under attack.

If you are concerned about government by executive order, then yes, it can happen here.
© Alan Caruba, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wind Power Lunacy

By Alan Caruba

Can you love nature when it is covered with wind turbines? Or solar panels?

Putting aside the scientific, engineering, and economic idiocy behind the use of wind turbines and solar panels to generate less than three percent of the electricity used nationwide—or that, if the wind is not blowing and the sun not shining, electrical energy must be supplied by back-up traditional coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric plants.

My personal objection to wind power is the sheer ugliness of these devices. The notion of covering hillsides and plains with them is an offence to the land—to the nature Greens profess to love—and to the many thousands of birds they slaughter every year.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect that the only reason we have any wind energy, i.e. windmills and solar panels, anywhere in the U.S. is a combination of the huge propaganda power of the Greens, bribery, the stupidity and chicanery of politicians, and the gullibility of people who actually believe that wind—which does not blow all the time—is a rational source of power generation.

Suffice to say, the wind power industry would not exist without state government mandates for its use, federal tax credits, and the deafening silence of environmentalists who want to save every species on Earth with the exception of the wind turbine's slaughter of a million of eagles, hawks, geese, bats, and other flying creatures every year.

The cliché is that great minds think alike and recently there have been a spate of editorials and commentaries, all coincidently written by colleagues of mine. One of them is Dr. Jay Lehr, the science director of The Heartland Institute, for which I am a policy advisor along with others with far more impressive credentials than my own as a longtime science and business writer. On June 17, The Wall Street Journal published Dr. Lehr’s commentary, “The Rationale for Wind Power Won’t Fly.”

“After decades of federal subsidies—almost $24 billion according to a recent estimate by former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm—nowhere in the United States, or anywhere else, has an array of wind turbines replaced a single conventional power plant.” Dr. Lehr inferentially raises the question of why any nation would spend that kind of money without receiving sufficient and equivalent electrical power. It is a very good question.

As Dr. Lehr noted, “It’s known to everybody in the industry that a wind turbine will generate electricity 30% of the time—but it’s impossible to predict when that time will be.” There are about 24,000 of these hideous machines according to the American Wind Energy Association and, given their lobbying, that number could double in the next decade. They will still not produce sufficient electricity—let alone predictable and constant electricity—for a small city.

Neither wind nor solar power will provide sufficient electrical energy. This begs the question why they even exist.

The short answer is that wind and solar have been sold to the public (which pays more for the electricity they produce) as not producing “greenhouse gas emissions” that are blamed for a global warming which is not happening, but the main gas, carbon dioxide, is vital to all life on Earth, being the “food” for all plant life, much of which we consume as crops such as wheat, corn, and rice. As a demonstration of the idiocy and hypocrisy of environmentalists, huge quantities of corn are, by government mandate, converted to ethanol—moonshine—that must be added to gasoline.

Another colleague, Rich Kozlovich, has a commentary in circulation that asks why the “Precautionary Principle” that is beloved by the Greens is not applied to wind turbines. Rich quoted another colleague of mine, CFACT’s Paul Driessen, “The Precautionary Principle insists that no new technology should be permitted until it can be shown that it will pose no threat to human health or the environment.” If fully applied, humanity would be denied another medication, chemical, or technological innovation.

“The hard reality is that the green movement does not care about facts, wildlife or humans,” says Kozlovich, “and logical consistency is totally alien to them…Green elites ‘know’ what is best for all of humanity,”

I doubt he will get the plaudits and recognition he deserves, but Dr. John Droz, Jr., a physicist, has devoted his knowledge to providing the best collection of scientific date available regarding the futility and stupidity of wind power. Dr. Droz has a website where you can learn the FACTS about wind power or you can Google his name to find his many excellent articles on the subject.

I have cited some of those facts, as has Dr. Lehr, Paul Driessen, and Rich Kozlovich, but it does not take an advanced degree in physics or any other science to grasp why constructing thousands of wind turbines to produce a miniscule amount of electricity has been one of the most idiotic enterprises to emerge from the vast global warming/climate change hoax.

Instead, we live in a nation whose president insists that climate change is the greatest threat to mankind and who is devoting the powers of government to shut down coal-fired plants, deter exploration and extraction of energy reserves on lands owned by the federal government, delaying the construction of a new pipeline, and the construction of new nuclear facilities. One of his suggestions for power generation is algae, pond scum.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Super-Dooper Snoopers

By Alan Caruba

While in the U.S. Army in the early 60s, I worked in the G-2 (intelligence) office of my battalion. I was surely no James Bond, but I did need a security clearance and quickly was granted one to be around documents marked “secret.” There are now thousands waiting for their security clearances and 4.8 million who already have one!

When Edward Snowden, an analyst for a national security contractor, decided to tell the world that the National Security Agency was actually gathering meta-data about all of our communications (and the rest of the world’s), I was among those who were not surprised. Whole books had been written about this practice before and since 9/11.  James Bamford had published “The Puzzle Palace” about the NSA way back in 1983!

The Justice Department has charged Snowden with conveying classified information to an unauthorized party, disclosing communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. The charges, each of which carries a potential 10-year prison term, were filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Well, at least that beats a firing squad.

Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media thinks a lot of notable news media personalities have been duped. “Those who claimed NSA traitor Edward Snowden was a patriot or hero have egg all over their faces, as the former NSA contract worker has fled from China to Russia…”  I am inclined to agree.

It is a fact of life in this year of our Lord 2013 that information about you is so available that there are few if any of your purchases and preferences that are not known to every company with whom you do business. Your local supermarket knows the brand of cereal or shampoo you prefer. This is called “open source” information and it is not only gathered, but sold to anyone who wants it.

The information you voluntarily or unwittingly give to those with whom you do business as well as the information may post daily on your Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In accounts is all accessible and accessed.

The NSA has long had powers to scoop up scads of information about communications by, to, and from Americans. Its roots go back to the earliest days of the Cold War. Until recently revelations, we thought that the information we provide to the Internal Revenue Service was closely guarded and never to be used for political purposes, but in the Age of Obama, that illusion has been shattered.

In a recent Business Week article, Ashlee Vance reported “Less recognized is that, in this era of open-source software, the NSA gets direct access to the inventions of thousands of the smartest computer science minds on the planet for free.”

“It started,” said Vance,”with the founding of Google in 1998. The search engine giant needed to collect and analyze so much data that it couldn’t afford to buy systems from big-name tech companies. Instead, Google created its own open-source software program that ran across hundreds of thousands of computers. Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter have been even more aggressive about open-sourcing their underlying infrastructure.”

NSA and, indeed, the President, could have put a lot of the consternation to rest by coming out early and explaining what it does and the limitations under which it works. While it is most certainly a very secretive agency, there is much that is common knowledge about its mission.

In the post 9/11 era with a massive Homeland Security Agency charged with keeping us safe, it is a good, if not essential, idea to have a public discussion about the role of the Fourth Amendment protection of our privacy. Even though the Founders had no idea of modern communications they still believed that our privacy must be respected. Meanwhile, we live in a world of enormous electronic connectivity that is subject to surveillance.

Moreover, there are those who believe all the surveillance we are learning about is just the tip of the iceberg. There is widespread speculation that the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and other agencies has been working on a massive consolidation of power in the White House, preparing for the deliberate collapse of the U.S. dollar, and the chaos that would follow.

On June 19, the president of the Associated Press, Gary Pruitt, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. saying that the DOJ seizure of journalist’s phone records has had “a chilling effect” on newsgathering, not just for the AP but other newsgathering organizations.  He described the collection of records affecting more than a hundred journalists was an “overbroad and sloppy fishing expedition” that failed to follow procedures on notification. If the intent was to impact legitimate news gathering, it was successful.

We still trust that law enforcement must secure a warrant to tap our phones, but the information about with whom we speak is routinely gathered, as it must, by telephone companies. It can be a useful tool to determine patterns, especially if they are between Americans and foreigners with bad intentions.

Inherent in all this data-gathering is the potential for its misuse—and worse—but that is true of much of what government does. The need for congressional oversight was never more paramount, but it comes at a time when the Congress is held in low esteem and sharply divided.

The greater present concern must be that we have a White House engaged in a plan to render the Constitution useless with a manufactured crisis to deliberately impose an authoritarian control over all of us.

We now living in an Orwellian era of super-dooper snoopers

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beware! Media Will Support Obama's Climate Lies

By Alan Caruba

In the same way the U.S. media has long supported and disseminated all the lies about global warming—now called climate change—you can expect extensive support President Obama’s Tuesday speech based this hoax.

Call it the audacity of deceit. At the heart of the President’s speech is his reference to “carbon pollution.” It has no scientific basis. You will not read that in Wednesday’s newspapers, nor hear it on radio and television unless you are tuned to conservative media.

The claim that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant is absurd insofar as it is, next to oxygen, the second most vital gas for life on planet Earth. It is responsible for the growth of all vegetation, including crops vital to feeding humanity and the livestock on which they depend as a food source.

If you want to learn the truth about CO2, you can visit:

You can be certain that no journalist will visit these websites because the last thing they are interested in learning or reporting is the truth. In this regard, they will saturate the print and broadcast media with accolades about the President’s climate policies.

His policies are better understood as anti-energy policies and you would be well advised to keep in mind that all nations are totally dependent on access to sufficient, indeed, abundant energy to function. Poor nations are energy-poor.

Since the first days of the global warming scare campaign in the late 1980s, the media have repeated every lie until 2009 when the posting of thousands of emails between the core conspirators working for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were found to be deliberately distorting and publishing false climate data.

Even “climategate” has not deterred the media from continuing to publish falsehoods, repeating the way Greens attribute every natural phenomenon from hurricanes to tornadoes, droughts and forest fires, to “climate change.”

As promised during his 2008 campaign, the President made good on his war on coal which, as he said, would necessarily “skyrocket” the cost of electricity. His speech outlined further efforts to deter the construction of any new coal-fired plants while forcing others to shut down. Prior to his first term, coal produced fifty percent of all the electricity generated and this has now begun to drop. There is no indication that Obama cares about the cost of everyone’s electrical bill, particularly at a time of economic stagnation.

The media have also been the cheerleaders for the so-called “renewable energy”, wind and solar power, which would not exist without government subsidies, tax exemptions, and mandates for its use. As Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, notes, “Accelerating renewable energy development on federal lands will likely lead to more bat and avian mortality and a further retreat from honest enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.” The Obama administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind far for killing a protected bird species

Obama intends to do this at the same time that a vast, new abundance of natural gas has been discovered and is being extracted; another major source of electricity generation in the nation. Between coal, natural gas, and oil, America could be energy independent and reap the benefits of exporting these energy reserves as well. Obama’s speech offers the opposite of this bounty and path out of the current stagnation of the economy.

You can depend upon the liberal press quoting liberals such as Carol Browner, a former EPA director and now a “distinguished senior fellow” the Center for American Progress. “The President’s plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants is the latest in a series of steady and responsible steps he has taken to address climate change that threatens the health of our kids and the planet.”

Like the President’s speech, this is pure Leftist bilge without a scintilla of common sense or science. Interpreting natural events from volcano eruptions to floods as “climate change” is comparable to pagan religions that think “the gods must be angry.”

Beware of Obama’s lies and policies and beware of the media coverage that will ignore the falsehoods and the outcomes.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Will White Guilt Convict George Zimmerman?

By Alan Caruba

“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” said President Barack Obama on March 23, 2012.

We have been told that the President is a constitutional scholar of sorts, having taught a course on the subject at the University of Chicago. If his comment about Trayvon Martin was not intended to influence public opinion and, later, a jury than surely pigs can fly.

Is there anyone in America at this point who does not know that George Zimmerman was a volunteer neighborhood watch coordinator for The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida, a multi-racial gated community where the shooting took place? I keep waiting for anyone to ask why the community felt the need for a watch.

At the time of the shooting, Trayvon Martin had been suspended from school, his third disciplinary suspension of the year; one that involved a marijuana pipe and an empty bag containing marijuana residue that were found after he was searched by Miami-Dade school police officers. He was, however, at The Retreat with his father who, divorced, was visiting his fiancée.

Much as I wish it were not so, I think George Zimmerman is going to get a fast ticket to jail for having defended himself against Trayvon Martin. On February 26, 2012, when the local police inspected the scene and examined the injuries George sustained, they declined to arrest him. Not only did Zimmerman’s injuries cry out “self-defense”, but Florida has a “Stand Your Ground” law.

Never one to let an opportunity pass to get attention, the Rev. Al Sharpton showed up the day of Zimmerman’s arrest, April 11, to say, “Forty-five days ago, Trayvon Martin was murdered.” The Rev. Jesse Jackson also chimed in, referring to Martin as “murdered and martyred.”  Oh, let’s not rush to judgment here! Let’s not create any race-based anger and discord before the facts are presented in a court of law.

I am not going to try the case because there are larger issues to examine here; one of which is white guilt. Along with a 90+ percent turnout of the black vote got Barack Obama elected—twice, he received votes from whites who wanted to demonstrate to the world that America could elect a black president.

At some point, whites have to stop feeling personally responsible for the issue of slavery (white people led the abolition movement) and the disgraceful era of Jim Crow laws that existed in the South for a century after the end of the Civil War.

Too many blacks are ignorant of the history of the Democratic Party that advocated the spread of slavery as new states were established and steadfastly opposed the end of segregated schools, while supporting other noxious examples of racism.

Lincoln was a Republican. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.

The other issue is the way the news media treated the story. I suggest that, if George Zimmerman had been black instead of Hispanic, it would only have been a local story. Instead, the media went all out to convict Zimmerman, including an instance where his call to the police to report a suspicious young man was edited to make him appear to be racially biased.

Citing Bureau of Justice Statistics, columnist Walter E. Williams, noted that each year approximately 7,000 blacks are murdered and 94% of the time, the murderer was another black person. Between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Using the 94% figure, that adds up to 262,621 who were murdered by other blacks. It is astonishing that, while blacks are 13% of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50% of homicide victims. The Bureau also notes that blacks are most of the victims of violent personal crimes such as assault and robbery.

Williams also noted that, at the rally that Sharpton and Jackson held to condemn Zimmerman, the former NAACP leader, Pastor C.L. Bryant said that “The greatest danger to the lives of young black men are young black men.” When President Obama piped up about Trayvon, T. Willard Fair, president of the Urban League of Greater Miami, told The Daily Caller, that “the outrage should be about us killing each other, about black-on-black crime.”

Was George Zimmerman attacked by Trayvon Martin? Did he have cause to fear for his life? Those are just two of the questions a jury composed entirely of women will have to decide, but my money is on a verdict of guilty. That’s the verdict inferentially declared by the President and the media.

For my part, based on the information that has preceded the trial, I believe that George Zimmerman should be found innocent of second degree murder. That’s what the police at the scene swiftly determined. That’s why he was not arrested until the event became politicized in the weeks that followed.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Obama's Enormous Climate Lies

By Alan Caruba

Putting aside Obama’s intention to further reduce our nuclear arsenal as articulated in his June 19 speech in Berlin, he has solidified his position as the World’s Greatest Liar with his statements about climate change, aka global warming, which he called “the global threat of our time.”

Let us stipulate that the global threat of our time is the rise of Islamic fanaticism in its pursuit of a worldwide caliphate. It threatens some six billion of the world’s population that represent other faiths. It is on the rise throughout the Middle East and into northern Africa’s Maghreb. It has cells in South America and it threatens the lives of millions of Americans if the jihadists acquire nuclear arms.
Regarding the President’s call for nuclear disarmament, veteran journalist Bill Gertz observed that “The president is using a new term to support his earlier disarmament call back in 2009 in Prague, and it’s called ‘peace with justice’ which has a very Marxist-Leninist ring to it. All the rhetoric of the communist groups around refer to peace with justice, (and) now the president has employed it for the first time.”

Obama continues to conjure up global warming despite overwhelming evidence that it does not exist. Dubbed “climategate”, revelations in 2009 made clear that a small group within the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were deliberately falsifying their climate models.

There is nothing that humans can or should do regarding the Earth’s climate. It is a force that is so vast and powerful that calls for renewable energy, energy conservation, and a “carbon tax” on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are utterly false, a danger to human life, a threat to global economic development, and the work of scoundrels and charlatans.

At present, there has been no warming for almost seventeen years. The Earth is in a natural cooling cycle as the result of another natural cycle, the reduction of the Sun’s radiation that warms the Earth.

 “For the grim alternative affects all nations,” said Obama. “More severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise.”

The President is lying!

In his 2008 speech in Chicago’s Grant Park following his election, Obama said, “It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America”

The change has been, not just the election of the first black American as president, but the first president to consistently lie to Americans. The change he has wrought in his first term and is seeking to bring about in his second includes the largest seizure and nationalization of the American health system in our history and a “stimulus” that wasted billions of dollars that accomplished nothing to reduce unemployment and avoid economic stagnation.

Obama’s promise of change has reduced America’s standing in the world as the protector of peace and his decisions have helped advance the spread of the Islamic jihad.

It has produced a war on coal, the energy resource that, prior to his taking office, provided fifty percent of all the electricity Americans use every day. It has reduced access to oil and natural gas on federal lands. Obama will pursue more action in the name of climate change in the form of more regulation of power plants, new subsidies for so-called clean energy, and other big, futile, farcical, and costly government programs  

Obama’s administration has given us scandals from “Fast and Furious” to the failure to come to the aid of our ambassador to Libya in Benghazi; the revelation that the IRS engaged in a deliberate program against Tea Party, patriot groups, and even Jewish organizations. It has reduced and degraded the U.S. military with programs to permit homosexuals to serve and women to be in combat units. An outbreak of sexual assaults—26,000 and most men-on-men—in the military has resulted.

In Berlin, the President said, “Our generation must move towards a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late, that is our job; that is our task.”
On June 25, he will announce new executive orders to implement “climate change” mandates in the face of congressional resistance. He says it will be “my vision for where I believe we need to go—a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it.”

Carbon dioxide is not “pollution”; it is, along with oxygen, the other gas most vital to all life on Earth.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gas Prices Should be a Lot Lower

By Alan Caruba

In the past whenever gas prices began to climb, whoever was president usually got the blame for it, but there never was anything he could do about it.  The price at the pump was and is dependent on global factors. What can, however, be said about Barack Obama is that he has led the most anti-energy administration in the history of the nation.
A nation’s economic stability and growth depends on affordable, abundant energy, especially hydrocarbon energy in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas. In the U.S. so-called “renewable” energy—wind and solar--has been a huge, costly bust as billions in loans during Obama’s first term were lost as one “green energy” company after another went belly up. At the same time, a war on coal closed mines and shut down plants using it to generate electricity. Look for it to continue.

Production of coal, oil, and natural gas on federal lands is now the lowest in ten years according to data collected by the Energy Information Agency (EIA). It was four percent lower in fiscal years 2012 than the previous year. By contrast, fossil fuel production on state and privately owned lands rose twenty-six percent over the past decade.

Without soliciting public comment, the White House recently raised its estimate of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), an estimate of the alleged economic damages associated with increasing carbon emissions.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) is blamed for a global warming that is not happening. The growth of all vegetation on Earth is dependent on Co2 and, despite an increase in CO2, the Earth slipped into a cooling cycle seventeen years ago. There is NO connection between CO2 and the climate.

The Institute for Energy Research points out that raising the SCC “could impose hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs on energy-intensive businesses and American consumers alike.” If you wonder why the economy seems unable to climb out of its slump, this is just one example of an administration bent to using bogus science to justify its war on consumers.

At the gas pump, that war includes a law that requires U.S. refiners to blend 12.8 billion gallons of ethanol—made from corn—into the fuel they sell to domestic consumers. Ethanol actually reduces the mileage per gallon and damages automobile engines.

Refiners do not need all the ethanol the government forces them to purchase. They, in turn, must purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) whose cost has jumped from seven cents a gallon at the beginning of the year to more than a dollar by March. The cost is passed along to consumers. Ethanol actually reduces the mileage per gallon and damages automobile engines.

Summertime is traditionally a time when Americans drive more, but thanks to the economy which did not respond to the “stimulus” and bailouts during Obama’s first term, they are driving less. Four and a half years after he took office, Obama continues to drive the economy into a ditch.

On June 13, The Wall Street Journal’s page one lead article was “U.S. Oil Notches Record Growth.” Under the normal laws of supply and demand, the price of gas at the pump should be declining. “U.S. crude-oil production grew by more than one million barrels a day last year, the largest increase in the world and the largest in U.S. history.”

You can thank “fracking”, a tested, safe technology—hydraulic fracturing—for the increase in oil and natural gas production. It is, of course, a target of major environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth. After all, who wants affordable, abundant energy?

“Indeed,” reported the Wall Street Journal, “U.S. crude-oil production has raced ahead of new pipeline infrastructure to move it from oil fields to refineries.” In the meantime, “railroads move more crude around the country.” Obama’s delay of the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline is just another example of his anti-energy agenda. The pipeline would connect to Texas refineries and provide an estimated 20,000 construction jobs at a time when millions of Americans are out of work.

In March, Business Week reported that “For the first time since 1995, the U.S. will likely produce more oil than it imports. That’s great for the country’s trade balance, but the benefits of cheap domestic crude still haven’t shown up at the one place it matters most: the gas station…So far this year, gasoline prices have risen eleven percent nationwide, to $3.65 a gallon.”

“Without realizing it, U.S. drivers are competing for American-made gasoline with consumers in Latin America and Asia, where demand is rising.” Thus, the global marketplace for oil is keeping gas prices high and U.S. refineries shipped a record 3.2 million barrels a day of refined fuel this year!

Finally, on top of the Obama administration policies of denying access to drilling on federal land, you will continue to hear that Big Oil is making obscene profits and gauging customers at the pump. “At a time when oil companies are making more money than ever before, how can we justify giving them billions more in taxpayer subsidies every year?” Obama energy and environment adviser Heather Zichel recently asked.

What you are not being told, however, is that the oil and gas industry paid an effective tax rate of almost forty-five percent according to the American Petroleum Institute while the healthcare industry paid about thirty-five percent and pharmaceuticals paid around twenty-one percent. In addition to federal taxes, oil companies pay state and local taxes as well. The “tax loopholes” Greens complain about are available to all other manufacturing and mining companies.

Lying to the American public is the stock-in-trade of Green organizations and those directing the Obama administration’s anti-energy policies. When and if the obstacles to fossil fuel exploration and production are removed, the price of a gallon of gas will drop dramatically while, at the same time, the U.S. economy will gain from the sale of its fossil fuels around the world.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our Suicidal Middle East Policies

By Alan Caruba

Take a look at the map of Afghanistan. It borders Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and a tiny eastern tip borders China. It exists in the worst neighborhood of nations on planet Earth.

A Reuters news story on June 18 reported that “Afghanistan will send a team for peace talks with the Taliban, President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday, as the U.S. and NATO coalition launched the final phase of the 12-year war with the last round of security transfers to Afghan forces.”  The next day, the Associated Press reported that “Afghanistan’s president says he will not pursue peace talks with the Taliban unless the United States steps out of the negotiations and the militant group stops its violent attacks on the ground.”

He made the initial announcement at an international coalition marked the beginning of the end of the handover of security to Afghan forces, attended by some 2,000, including the NATO Secretary-General, dozens of Western ambassadors, and senior Afghan and international officials.

Peace talks with the Taliban are about as useful as talking to the Iranians about their nuclear weapons program in an effort to get them to abandon it. In that region of the world, both Pakistan which shares a long border with Afghanistan and India have nuclear weapons, as does China and Israel. Both Syria and Iraq would have had them if the Israelis had not destroyed their nuclear reactors.

I have been writing about Afghanistan and the U.S. military engagement there since 2009. In November of that year I wrote that “The President is going to address the nation about his plans for Afghanistan and if ever there was an exercise in futility, this is it.”

At the time, Obama had been referring to Afghanistan as a war of necessity, He already had plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq and, after they left, that nation turned into a battlefield again with endless bombings reflecting the Sunni-Shiite animosities that have existed from the earliest days of Islam. In 2011, while announcing a “surge” of U.S. forces into Afghanistan, he also announced that the U.S. was leaving. The Taliban were given notice that all they had to do was to wait.

In theory, the U.S. was going to train and equip the Afghani forces to defeat the Taliban, but I suggest now, as in 2009, this was an effort in futility. It is doubtful at best that the Karzai government ever had the support of the population and, indeed, the Taliban made sure it was aware of their presence by continually bombing various government buildings. The latest was on Tuesday in Kabul that targeted a senior member of the peace council.

The Taliban are a barbaric group who in early June beheaded a boy of ten and one aged 16 for “spying.” They had been scavenging among the rubbish bins near the police headquarters in Kandahar and then accused of accepting food from the police in exchange for information. They have outraged even the Pakistanis for attempting to kill Malala Yousulfzar, a 14-year-old girl who publicly advocated education for girls, but she was just one victim among thousands of girls there and in Afghanistan whose schools have been shut down amidst efforts to poison some of them who were attending them.

The latest count of Afghan forces was a 352,000 who, in theory, will carry on the fight with the Taliban, but their allegiance to Kabul is questionable. They could conclude it isn’t worth dying for and that a deal with the Taliban was preferable. That deal, as noted, will begin with the peace talks, presumably held while the bombings continue. Whether the members of the peace council will even escape such talks with their lives depends on holding the talks somewhere neutral.

Afghanistan, if you will recall, is where al Qaeda set up headquarters after participating in the war that drove out the Soviet troops that, in turn, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The U.S. had played an active, though covert, role in equipping al Qaeda forces and was rewarded for that with 9/11.

The same day of Karzai’s initial announcement, Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East expert, was published on with an article titled “The Calm Before the Jihadi Storm”, saying that “The same U.S. policies that helped create al Qaeda in the 1980s are today creating many al Qaedas in many Muslim countries, promising to deliver future terror strikes that will make 9/11 seem like child’s play.”

The problem with U.S. Middle East policies that Ibrahim identifies with clarity is that it has been based on “the short-sightedness of American policymakers whose policies are based on their brief tenure, not America’s long term wellbeing.” Presidents serve for four to eight years, members of Congress must stand for reelection every two to six years, in the House and the Senate.

Our wars in the Middle East have come to bad ends as Americans quite understandably grew weary of casualties and the wounded. Even the Roman Empire was brought to an end as the result of similar long and costly wars. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, it was bad news for Alexander the Great and later the British Empire.

The problem now, as Ibrahim points out, is that President Obama’s policies have turned over much of the Middle East to al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Under the cover of the “Arab spring” and the illusion of democracy, as various populations overthrew their dictators, Obama threw our long-time Egyptian ally, Mubarak under the bus, then Libya’s Gaddafi, and has dithered while Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad, has slaughtered an estimated 90,000 of his own people, supported by Iran and Russia. The poison gas arsenal was no doubt Iraq’s former dictator, Saddam Hussein’s, moved there to protect it when the U.S. invaded to depose him.

All of these former dictators had successful suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, the same forces seeking to overthrow Assad. They are now in the ascendency throughout the Middle East and across the northern tier of Africa known as the Maghreb. Ibrahim asks, “What price will America later pay now that it’s betraying several major nations to the jihadis who are turning them into bases?”

“In short,” says Ibrahim, “just as it was before 9/11, when the jihadi storm eventually does break out—and it will, it’s a matter of time—those American politicians who helped empower it, chief among them Obama, will be long gone, and the talking heads will again be stupidly asking “what happened?’ ‘Who knew?’ Why do they hate us?’ Except then it will be too late.”

They hate us because they are Muslims. The Middle East and the Maghreb was kept in check by a few dictators who knew who the enemy was. The ones taking power, especially in Egypt, hate us, but the U.S. continues to send Egypt billions and weapons. How idiotic and treacherous is that?

Meanwhile, Barack Hussein Obama is doing his best to reduce our nuclear arsenal and the size of our military. Could there be a connection here?

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Common Core Straight Jacket

By Alan Caruba

American education was based on some very fundamental principles and, from the 1640s until the 1840s, they were, in the words of Joseph Bast, the president of The Heartland Institute, “real civics, real economics, and real virtues.”

Bast is the co-author of “Education and Capitalism” and in a recent speech at the Eighth annual Wisconsin Conservative Conference took a look at the way an education system that produced citizens who understood the values that existed before “progressives” took over the nation’s school system, turning it into a one-size-fits-all system of indoctrination.

“One-size-fits-all is easier for bureaucracies, but it’s not good for kids. No two kids learn the same way, and no two teachers teach the same way”, but Common Core not only makes this assumption, but enforces it.

The good news is, as Bast notes, that “since the early 1960s, parents and activists have been fighting to return to the country’s education system to what had worked so well for 200 years.”

In a Wall Street Journal commentary by Jamie Gass and Charles Chieppo, they called Common Core “uncommonly inadequate” and documented the way it destroys student academic achievement. Gass directs the Center for School Reform at the Boston-based Pioneer Institute where Chieppo is a senior fellow.

The brain child of Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education, and spelled out in a letter to Hillary Clinton following Bill Clinton’s election in 1992, Gass and Chieppo quoted its stated intention “to remold the entire American system” into “a system of labor-market boards at the local, state, and federal levels” where curriculum and ‘job matching’ will be handled by government functionaries.”

Gass and Chieppo cited the way in Massachusetts Common Core’s English standards “reduce by 60% the amount of classic literature, poetry, and drama that students will read. For example, the Common core ignores the novels of Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, and Mark Twain’s ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ It also delays the point at which Bay State students reach Algerbra I—the gateway to higher math study—from eighth to ninth grade or later.”

Common Core is not a plan to produce a new generation of citizens who understand the values on which the nation was based and built, but rather one that focuses on job skills to the detriment of civics, economics, history, the arts, and traditional values. It is a system for serfs, not citizens. It is yet another example of  how progressives view people as mere instruments of the state and how they have used the schools to indoctrinate and train them for that purpose.

“We have a president,” says Bast, “who thinks wealth is created by redistribution, that the producers of the world will continue to produce no matter how high the taxes or how heavy the regulations. High school and college students are taught to think the same way” to the detriment of “honesty, hard work, self-responsibility, faith, hope, and love. Are these things being taught in public schools today?” asked Bast. “Maybe in some, but not in many.”

“As long as government owns and operates ninety percent of the schools in the United States,” Bast warns, “we have no right to expect that fewer than ninety percent of students who graduate will be socialists.” The result of the two Obama elections are testimony to that.

In a commentary on leftist school indoctrination, Bruce Thornton, a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a professor of classics and humanities at the California State University, described the distortions today’s students are being taught in K-12.

“The founding of the United States, then, was not about things like freedom and inalienable rights, but instead reflected the economic interests and power of wealthy white property owners.”

“The civil war wasn’t about freeing the slaves or preserving the union, but about economic competition between the industrial north and the plantation south.”

“The settling of the West was not an epic saga of hardships endured to create a civilization in the wilderness, but genocide of the Indians whose lands and resources were stolen to serve capitalism exploitation.”

This is not what students who attended American schools in the 1940’s and 1950’s learned, but starting in the 1960s these distortions were, as Thornton noted, “married to identity politics, the defining of ethnic minorities and Third World peoples on the basis of their status as victims of capitalist hegemony and its imperialist and colonialist mechanisms.” Feminism added women to the list of victims “sacrificed to the white male structure.”

The result, said Thornton was “a student population ignorant of the basic facts of history, the vacuum filled with melodramas of victimization, racism, oppression, and violence that cast the United States as the global villain guilty of crimes against humanity.”

It’s a noticeable, though small, trend as parents homeschool their children. A report in Education News states that, since 1999, the number of children who are homeschooled has increased 75%, however that still represents only 4% of school-age children nationwide. These children do far better on standardized assessment exams than those in government schools.

The good news is that parents and activists across the nation are fighting back to ensure that school choice, based on a voucher system, and other options that include tuition tax credits, special needs scholarships, and education savings accounts. These empower parents to enroll their children in schools that have demonstrated higher standards and traditional values.

“If we can return to a free-market education system,” says Bast, “we can solve most of our political problems.”

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Big Government is Stupid Government

Obama Cabinet Meeting
By Alan Caruba

Nothing enhances a president’s reputation than to be seen in the company of other world leaders and Obama will have an abundance of photo-ops as he meets in Ireland with the G8 to address the many woes of the world. Too bad they think he is a dunce.

Given the unrelenting headlines about the Obama administration, it is worth worrying that Big Government is Stupid Government. It is inherently a danger to freedom. Just ask anyone who ever lived under communism.

While there are many fine people in government, those at the top of the current roster seem to be a collection of the most incompetent, inept, naïve, ignorant, and uninformed morons to have ever gathered around that big table where the cabinet meets. If, in fact, they really do get together except for the occasional photo-op.

The last Secretary of State and President-in-Waiting, Hillary Clinton, flew a million miles in the job, but no one can point to anything she actually accomplished and she, apparently, had no idea what was going on at State. The present Secretary, John Kerry, is convinced that global warming is the greatest threat to, well, everything and is still trying to get the Palestinians to agree to peace terms with Israel; something they have refused to do since it opened doors for business in 1948.

Eric Holder, the Attorney General, cannot seem to remember anything. Usually you expect a lawyer to keep a few facts in mind such as the contents of the U.S. Constitution, but Holder is an exception or, like Obama, he read it and didn’t like it.

Other than Valerie Jarrett, only the White House reporters seem to know the names of his closest advisors. Jay Carney, the spokesman for Obama, has carved out a place in history as the biggest, lying weasel to ever hold that job. Oh how I miss the beautiful and intelligent Dana Parino, Bush43’s spokesperson. Happily I get to see her on “The Five”, a Fox News daily gab fest.

After Rahm Emanuel left the job as Obama’s chief of staff to become the Mayor of Chicago, the city has turned into a killing ground the equal of downtown Baghdad.

Obama is utterly devoted to Big Government and, thanks to Obamacare, the IRS is trying to hire the equivalent of an armed forces division to administer it. The popularity of Obamacare, plus the scandals, currently is plunging to depths that even the pollsters are beginning to measure in single digits. The President’s numbers are reaching new lows as well.

A notable aspect of Big Government is the increasing size of various pieces of legislation such as the so-called immigration reform and the Common Core education bills. Beginning life as No Child Left Behind under Bush43, this latter bill is not likely to be reauthorized. Any piece of legislation that exceeds a thousand or more pages in a one-size-fits-all is doomed to failure.

At this writing, the House is getting ready to vote for a trillion-dollar food stamp and farm bill about which few Americans are even aware. It’s a huge giveaway for a nation that is essentially broke. As Congress gets close to its summer break, all manner of comparable mischief will occur. Recall that Obamacare was passed on Christmas Eve 2009!

For the same reason, the ever-expanding surveillance of everyone’s electronic communications comes with the built-in limitation that the more signals intelligence it gathers, the less likely it will produce any results, except after the next attack. The NSA employs tens of thousands of analysts to deal with all the “signent” is acquires and, other than that which focuses on places like Yemen, the rest is not likely to yield much of value.

A government big enough to access every phone call and email from 310 million Americans is also failed to take serious action when the Russians
warned that two jihadists were living in Boston.

The other aspect of Big Government is the way the Obama administration has enlarged the numbers of Americans receiving food stamps, disability payments, and other “free” stuff that is not free, but dependent on those who still have a job. Social Security and Medicare are barely solvent and Medicaid is bankrupting the states that must contribute to it.

According to the American Enterprise Institute,The number of federal employees has risen under President Obama. There were 2,790,000 federal workers in January 2009 when the president took office, and now there are 2,804,000 workers. The fact is that there is no month during President Obama’s term when the federal workforce was smaller than it was in the first month of Mr. Obama’s presidency. The president took over in January 2009. Every month after January 2009 has seen more federal workers than were employed in January 2009.

It would be wrong to suggest that federal workers are not productive, but the sheer size of this workforce suggests that Big Government takes a lot of people out of the private sector and provides them with employment that comes with a multitude of perks that adds to the federal debt for which everyone must be taxed.

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have,” is attributed to Thomas Jefferson, as is “Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” This was true in the 1700s and is true today.

With considerable foresight, the Founders wanted a central government that was intended to remain limited in size, scope, and power. The Department of Homeland Security—the hasty reaction to 9/11—has metastasized into an Orwellian giant that should, at the earliest moment possible, be disassembled into its component parts.

The nation would no doubt benefit from putting an end to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, the government mortgage companies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and comparable entities that are mostly the result of government’s vast expansion in the latter half of the last century and this new one.

Term limits is another idea worth considering. I sometimes think that the longer a Senator or Representative stays in Congress, the more senile, incompetent, and indifferent they become to the voters.

© Alan Caruba, 2013