Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Making Predictions

By Alan Caruba

If there is one thing pundits like to do it is to make predictions. If they turn out to be right you can always look back and quote them as proof of your prescience and if they are not, you can always ignore them.

The best ones, of course, are those filled with doom and I suspect they are the most prevalent. We all live to some degree in fear of the future. It is, after all, unpredictable and we are conditioned to believe something awful will happen. That’s what keeps insurance companies in business. Governments continue to create problems and then promise to solve them.

For example, at some point there will be a huge earthquake in California thanks to the San Andreas Fault and in a comparable fashion the Yellowstone National Park will have an even bigger event due to a huge volcano that lies beneath it. The loss of life and economic impact will be historic no matter when they occur.

What is predictable will be natural events such as hurricanes and tornadoes, but what is largely unreported is that both have been occurring less in recent years. As noted this year, “the Atlantic basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, produced the fewest tropical cyclones and fewest named storms since 1997.”  Worldwide, there are some 40,000 tornadoes and the U.S. averages some 1,200 a year. So the weather guarantees some unhappy news for some of us some of the time.

Blaming natural phenomenon on “global warming” which is not happening or on “climate change” which has been happening for 4.5 billion years is the way the merchants of fear keep everyone scared of real and imaginary weather events. The planet has been in a natural cooling cycle for the past nineteen years because the Sun is in one as well, producing less radiation.

As for climate, it is measured in units as small as thirty years and as big as centuries and millenniums. Nothing mankind does has any impact. The Pope is wrong. The President is wrong. And lots of others who claim that climate change is an immediate threat.

What interests most people is the state of the economy and the good news is that it appears to be improving although relying on government issued statistics is problematic because they are often mathematically skewed to show a favorable trend. There is a natural dynamism to the U.S. economy which would be even greater if the government would eliminate the hundreds of thousands of regulations that interfere with the conduct of business and stop issuing more. Less taxation would boost the economy as well.

I am hopeful people will stop being taken in by the talk about “income inequality.” If the economy improves there will be jobs and the marketplace will determine the salaries they will pay. By contrast, legislating minimum wage increases reduces jobs. We’ve been watching machines replace humans for a long time now.

Elsewhere in the world, the economy is very iffy. The drop in the price of oil will have a dramatic impact on nations whose economies are dependent on it. The Russian Federation will likely be less aggressive with neighboring nations. Venezuela is already in a world of trouble. The Middle East will feel its impact as well. The reason traces back to the increase in the technology of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking. It had its beginnings in 1947 and today it is unlocking huge amounts of oil and natural gas. It will make the U.S. energy independent and that’s a very good thing. It will also continue to generate jobs and revenue.

Will there be wars in the world? The short answer is that there will always be conflicts because that is the nature of the world. Wars are very expensive and most nations want to avoid them. The big problem in 2015 will focus on two nations. North Korea is led by a mentally unstable dictator, a threat to others in its region thanks to its nuclear weapons, missiles, and huge army. Iran will be a threat if it is allowed to acquire the ability to make its own nuclear weapons. When that happens the threat level to Israel and the U.S. increases, along with every other nation its missiles can destroy.

What is entirely predictable will be the horrific attacks of Islam’s “holy war” on all other religions and, testimony to its lack of internal cohesion, its attacks based on whether Muslims are Sunni or Shiite.

It would be nice to predict that science will find cures to many of the ills of mankind and the fact is that it has been doing that for much of the last century and will continue to do so in this one. In 1973, life expectancy in the U.S. was 71 years of age and it is now up to 78. In much of the world people are living longer and that is having some interesting demographic impacts in nations that are trying to cope with providing care for a growing older generation.
In the sphere of U.S. politics the most encouraging trend as seen in the last two midterm elections has been voters—those who actually show up and vote—toward conservatism. The Republican Party has regained control of the Senate and expanded its control of the House. The majority of U.S. states have Republican governors. The Tea Party has played a significant role in this, but it is a movement and will continue to take the lead in seeking to reduce the size of the federal government that is far too large for a society based on the idea of freedom and liberty. In what is likely to be an increasing bipartisan effort, the new Congress will work to control as much as possible the damage Obama seeks to inflict.

It takes no great prescience to predict that Barack Hussein Obama will spend his remaining two years in office doing what his Communist roots and ideology has trained him to do; stir as much racial divisiveness as possible, encourage more illegal immigration, keep the increasingly unpopular ObamaCare alive, undermine our moral structure, degrade our military strength, and other such mischief.

Two years sounds like a long time, but he will be gone by January 20, 2017 when a new President takes the oath of office that he has ignored. One prediction about him is easy. He will be judged the worst President the nation has had and, in fact, that judgment has already been rendered.

What is not predictable are the directions the U.S. Supreme Court will take the nation in 2015. Despite its august name, it has made some supremely bad decisions in the past. Wouldn’t it be nice if it undermined ObamaCare after having helped inflict it on a health system that was the best in the world and is now suffering greatly from it?

If any of my predictions turn out to be true, I will claim bragging rights, but mostly what I intend to do is maintain my personal sense of hope, sensing that more people worldwide are discovering that others share their desire for less corruption and more freedom.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Quote of the Year

People I Don't Like

By Alan Caruba

At the end of every year it is customary to offer up lists of all kinds—the best this, the worst that—and it is a brief, generally amusing exercise.

I don’t usually make lists, but lately though I have been thinking a lot about people I don’t like and at the top of the list are the monsters of the Islamic State, the Taliban, and Boko Haram, all “militant” Islamists who justify their barbaric immoral slaughters, kidnappings, and other crimes in the name of Allah. I have had a bellyful of these horrid people and am weary of hearing they are only a small part of Islam.

There are more than a billion Muslims in the world and, if the Islamists are “just” ten percent, that means there are a hundred million who are active waging their “holy war” or who support them. Among those whom I do not like are the millions of silent Muslims who do nothing to organize and speak out against them. It is true, however, that the handful that do speak out literally risk being killed. What kind of a religion is predicated on making war on all other religions?

Closer to home among the people I do not like are those who joined marches to denigrate our nation’s police corps, defaming them with charges of racism and murder. The events that followed the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, one of self-defense by a white cop against a black thug and the death in Staten Island that resulted when a long-time offender refused to be arrested, were simply an excuse by those who apparently prefer the streets to be filled with criminals whom the police are not supposed to “profile.”  Well, cops make judgments about the people on their beat all the time, black, white, or otherwise. That’s their job!

I do not like people crying “racism” every time the commission of a crime goes badly for a black perpetrator are people I do not like. People in high office who use these events to exacerbate racial divisions are high on my list of those I don’t like.

Among the much discussed social issues, I am less than sympathetic for those women who enter into consensual sex and then cry “rape.” If they have been raped, they need to contact the police. I am not sympathetic to those colleges and universities who think it is their job to regulate the private sexual activities of students with all manner of “codes” that one can add to those that crimp freedom of speech and other Constitutionally-protected behavior.

At this time of year, I really don’t like those people who insist that one cannot or should not say “Merry Christmas” or that communities should not display Christmas scenes on public property. These are the same dreadful people forever declaiming against any public display of religious belief such as the kind that has for centuries opened government and legislative meetings of every description in America. The atheists among us have every right to be atheists, but they have no right to insist we deny a greater power because they refuse to do so. Even the Supreme Court has ruled against them.

While I see no practical or even moral way to deport the eleven million illegal aliens among us, that doesn’t make them any less illegal. Like a lot of others, I want to see our borders made more secure and less open to swarms of invaders—not “refugees”—that we saw occur when 75,000 children and their families who invaded the U.S. this year and who must now be absorbed at a cost that comes out of the pockets of every native-born and naturalized citizen. That must stop. For those illegals who have been born here or lived here for five years or so, they should be permitted to go to the back of the line and seek naturalization. For others, temporary work permits are a common sense option.

A group of people I have not liked for decades are the environmentalists. The reason is very simple. They lie about everything they champion in the name of “global warming” or “climate change.” Both are hoaxes that, like most everything else the Greens protest, result from the way they debase meteorological science or their absurd claims about the use of fossil fuels. As far as Greens are concerned, anything that benefits mankind from new housing to more industry producing more jobs, and anything that requires the use of chemicals in their manufacture (that is everything!) is just a tiresome scare campaign that is promulgated to line their pockets with the millions they receive every year. I don’t like the liberal foundations that give them millions.

In America politics has always been a blood sport. It’s vigorous. It sometimes produces real leaders. It increasingly requires millions of dollars to run for high office and that has led to a high degree of control by those entities that have deep pockets. I suspect it has always been thus though not at the levels of cost that exist today. I am not a big fan of those politicians of the Far Left or the Far Right. Those in the middle and those who understand that a republic requires compromise are often seen as too willing to go along, but finding a middle way to solve problems is usually the best way.

In the last midterm elections those who showed up to vote sent a clear message to Congress and to a President who claimed he heard them as well as those who didn’t vote. Those who didn’t vote should shut their mouths because their message was surrender.

I don’t like the Obama administration that has produced six years of unrelenting failure domestically and internationally. That’s what happens when the voters put a Marxist and very likely a Muslim in office. I don’t like Barack Hussein Obama, a man many regard as the worst President this nation has ever had.

If the last two midterm elections are any indication, voters have learned their lesson—which leaves the 2016 election. Don’t listen to anyone who says they know who will run or who will win. Two years in American politics is an eternity and people vote differently in national elections than in midterms.

There are a lot of people I do like.

I like the ones who go to sporting events or concerts and share the enjoyment with everyone around them without regard to race, gender, or any other reason.

I like the ones who volunteer in their community to make it a better place in which to live and raise children.

I like the ones who put their lives on the line—police and firemen—for the rest of us.

I like those who are members of our armed forces at a time when they are being treated in a shabby fashion, but believe enough in America to defend it.

I like those in the medical professions who devote themselves to helping cure and treat the ill.

I like the legion of caregivers who look after older family members and others.

There are others I like, but this is a pretty good list, right?

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Leaving Afghanistan, Repeating Iraq

By Alan Caruba

You don’t have to be a soldier or diplomat to ask whether President Obama’s withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan on December 31 is a good idea or not. Consider what happened when he withdrew our troops from Iraq in 2011. The answer to that is the Islamic State which filled the vacuum left behind.

On December 25, Obama addressed troops stationed at Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. He told them that their service had given Afghanistan a chance “to rebuild its own country” whatever that means. Having been invaded over and over again for centuries, one wonders what country Obama was referring to.
“We are safer,” said Obama, “It’s not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again.” This is an illusion. Obama cannot make such predictions anymore than the Afghans can. So far, when it comes to foreign policy, Obama has a nearly unbroken record of failure.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, Afghan civilian casualties are estimated to have been 10,000 while  2,200 U.S. troops have been killed. The war is estimated to have cost $1 trillion, plus another $100 billion for reconstruction.
We have been in Afghanistan for 13 years and are scheduled to completely leave the country at the end of 2016 when Obama leaves office. As 2014 comes to a close, the White House had planned to have 9,800 troops there. Together with Iraq, we will have 15,000 troops where we have been fighting al Qaeda since 2001. In Iraq, the war on Islamic terrorism forced the U.S. to return to fight ISIS. There are about 6,000 other international troops aiding us.

Afghanistan is likely to be a repeat of what occurred in Iraq. The cruel truth of the world we share is that the United States must be the planet’s policeman, leading coalitions of others who join us, or the bad guys who threaten us all will take over. From the Roman Empire to the British one, this role is a vital one.
Corruption is the Enemy 

Afghanistan has a Taliban problem, but close observers identify its corruption as the main enemy of progress. You can fight an enemy you can see, but fighting an inbred cultural problem is a whole other problem.

In April, testifying before a Senate subcommittee, framing his opening remarks in the form of a letter to whoever would win the presidency in then forthcoming elections, retired Gen. John Allen, a former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013, said that corruption, not the Taliban is the greater threat. “For too long we focused our attention on the Taliban as the existential threat to Afghanistan,” but compared to the scope and magnitude of corruption, “they are an annoyance.”

Gen. Allen is so highly regarded that he is the President’s “special envoy” to more than 60 nations and groups that have joined a coalition to defeat the Islamic State. From just one reconnaissance mission per month after our withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. now flies 60 per day. That’s what happens when you don’t maintain a force to defeat an enemy. Referring to the Islamic State Gen. Allen testified that “We’re not just fighting a force, you know, we’re fighting an idea.”

Gen. Allen’s view of the issue of corruption in Afghanistan was supported by John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction who addressed a gathering at the Middle East Institute in May, saying “corruption is more serious than the insurgency.” Not only does it waste money, Sopko noted that it prevents helpful projects from being completed, robs the Afghan people of the resources they need, and makes them lose faith in their government.

Still hopeful for change, Afghans went to the polls in September and elected Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former finance minister as their new president to replace Hamid Karzai. He will share power with a former foreign minister, Abdullah Avbudullah. Typical of Mideast politics, Ghani is an ethnic Pashtun and Abdullah was backed by Tajiks.

When the then-Soviet Union decided to invade Afghanistan in 1979 following a Marxist coup, hundreds of Afghans left the country as refugees. By the time the Soviets withdrew in 1983, there were 3.2 million refugees, mostly in Pakistan. The invasion so weakened support within the Soviet Union that it collapsed in 1991.

When President Bush struck back at al Qaeda after 9/11 he successfully bombed them out of existence there, but decided to send troops as well. Bush’s goal was to deprive al Qaeda of a safe base, but also to establish a modern democratic government there as a model for the Islamic world. He repeated this in Iraq when he invaded to remove its dictator, Saddam Hussain. A tribal culture, the Middle East has had difficulties emerging into the modern world.

Prior to Obama’s reassurances to the Marines, the White House announced the release of four more prisoners from Guantanamo. They were repatriated to Afghanistan. If he continues to empty out Guantanamo, the U.S. will not lack for enemies bent on revenge.

As for our troops, they have remained in Afghanistan and Iraq ever since 9/11. Obama may want to withdraw or at least reduce the number of troops, but recent history suggests that until ISIS and comparable forces are defeated, future U.S. Presidents will have to maintain our forces there for many years to come.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Peace on Earth? I Don't Think So

By Alan Caruba

 Around the world millions of Christians joined together to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to pray for “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

The 2015 World Almanac puts the number of Christians in the world at 2,347,171,000, by far the largest group sharing the same spiritual beliefs. It puts the number of Muslims at 1,633,173,000. Of the seven billion residents of planet Earth, more than six billion identify themselves as part of one of the many different faiths, to include Hindu, Buddhist, and others.

As it has for 1,400 years, Islam continues to pose the greatest threat to peace on Earth and is not displaying much good will even toward other Muslims. A website, maintains an on-going, virtually daily record of those slaughtered around the world in the name of Islam and Allah.

The killing is daily, but earlier this month, Canon Andrew White, a clergyman known as the ‘vicar of Baghdad’, reported that Islamic State militant Islamists had beheaded four Iraqi Christian children, all under the age of 15, for refusing to convert to Islam. The barbarity of the ISIS killings and the numbers of others by Islamists add up to a record of atrocities that rival any in history.

The silence from Muslims condemns this so-called religion.

The Jewish genocide of the last century is being matched by the Christian genocide that is continuing in this century.

The human price paid for the Islamic fascism currently adds up to more than 57 million displaced refugees in 22 countries, a humanitarian disaster equal to the entire population of Great Britain. The UN’s emergency aid chief is asking for $16 billion in funding to address the crisis of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan, in addition to places like the Central African Republic, Somalia, and Ukraine.

There are other events that undermine the prospect of peace. One need only watch as Western nations attempt to negotiate a deal to stop Iran from making nuclear weapons. It is an exercise in futility. Iran is tempting an attack from those nations that understand the enormity of the threat that represents. The Obama administration seems oblivious to it.

Europe is concerned about the threat that the Russian Federation poses with its intent to split eastern Ukraine off from its western half. Former Soviet satellite nations are also concerned about Russian nationalism and the desire to reclaim its former empire. While not overtly aggressive, the West and Asian nations in China’s sphere of influence worry about its intentions too and, as always, North Korea continues to threaten its neighbors.

All this is happening as the residents of planet Earth are gaining the increasing ability to communicate with one another via the Internet, to learn about the events affecting their lives and others, and, as in the case of the “Arab Spring”, to come together to overthrow dictators in an effort to establish governments that provide more freedom and justice. It transformed Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia to name just three nations affected by it. In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power, outlawed, and is under attack these days in the Sinai.

In the United States there has been a dramatic political shift from the progressive policies of the Obama administration to a growing conservatism opposing ObamaCare, amnesty, and attacks on the nation’s energy sector. When right-wing Republican and left-wing Democrats joined together to oppose elements of the $1.1 budget, something significant is occurring. As 2015 dawns, a Congress controlled by the Republican Party will have to demonstrate that it reflects the will of the people who put it in power.

What has caught many Americans by surprise is the utter contempt with which they were held by the Obama administration and its leaders, from the President on down, who deliberately lied to voters and regarded them as “stupid.” 

Politics in America does not generate peace even within the two parties, but this exercise in democracy is a worldwide phenomenon except in nations still ruled by despots and monarchs. It is a healthy republic in which issues are vigorously debated.

Peace on Earth is a noble aspiration and one for which I suspect the vast population of the Earth yearns. It is threatened by the vanity, greed, and desire for power that too often defines the leaders of large bodies of people who are themselves threatened by such men. Peace needs to be pursued because the alternative is Hell on Earth.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Get 2015 Off to a Good Start

If you have been telling yourself that you have wanted to make a donation to Warming Signs because you visit and enjoy it, I urge you start 2015 with a donation of any size. Your support will help pay office and related expenses (just had to buy a new copier) that make it possible to devote the time and effort necessary to provide the commentaries that bring clarity to a complex world. Click on the PayPal icon and make your donation today.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Christmas Wish for You

Ruining Christmas 2014

By Alan Caruba

As usual, those for whom laws, ethics, and good will mean nothing have come together to try to ruin Christmas for the rest of us.

Christmas means different things to different people and depends to a large degree on age. For the young it is a magical time of getting gifts. As one grows older it is a time of giving gifts and sending cards. And for the very old who have outlived many family members and friends, it is tinged with sadness. In between is an orgy of advertising using Santa Claus to sell cars and much else.

I will begin with a fulsome condemnation of those who go to court or raise a cry about the presence of Christmas displays or any religious symbol on “public land.” The Constitution does not forbid this. It forbids “the establishment of religion” which was understood to mean laws that made a particular religion a state religion such as the Church of England that exists today. The fact that some courts today do not understand this does not change the meaning or intent of the Constitution.

Christmas 2014, it must be said, is fraught with all manner of threats to our society and our nation.

After several weeks of portraying police as the problem, two of them were assassinated as payback for the deaths of a Ferguson, Missouri thug and a Staten Island petty thief. Insanely some people marched in the streets shouting that they wanted “More dead cops.” From the President and his “advisor” Al Sharpton, the Attorney General, and even the Mayor of New York, the message was that the police are the enemy.

It is progressives—Communists—who are the enemy. Welcome to the 1950s all over again.

Obama and Holder have been ginning up racial division since they took office. It casts a pall over a nation that prides itself on having a BLACK President, a BLACK Attorney General, and a legion of BLACKS who have worked hard to achieve success in public service and the private sector.

All this may strike some as strange given the outcome of the recent midterm elections in which the Republican Party won 54 of the Senate’s 100 seats, expanded its majority in the House, and now have 31 governors because the voters want real CHANGE. Will they get it? Sadly, Americans are beginning to think that there is a third party, the Government Party, composed of those in Washington, DC for whom our demands hold little merit while they toil to make government bigger. I hope the GOP proves me wrong in 2015.

Another sad feature of American politics these days is the fact that it is owned by two families, the Bushes and the Clintons. America is a Republic, not a monarchy. Something is terribly wrong when both parties have no one else to offer than Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, members of two political families that have been around since the 1970s. Enough is enough!

There is no question among those of us old enough to remember when America had a set of beliefs, some spiritual, some secular, that held our society together for the good of all. One of those was the belief that marriage was between a man and a woman. It has been that way for thousands of years, yet for Americans in 35 states “marriage” is now something between members of the same sex.  I doubt, too, that you have read that the FDA has taken a first step to lift the ban prohibiting gay men from donating blood because of the high incidence of AIDS among them.

The same destruction of society can be found in the movement to legalize marijuana. It is a dangerous drug.

Beyond our shores, the nation has always had its enemies. They are more often than not nations who grant no freedom to their own citizens. The most recent example is North Korea and, for a variety of complicated and interrelated reasons (China!) the U.S. has been unable to respond with strength to its nuclear threats. The hacking of Sony Pictures was an act of cyber war, not “vandalism” as the President would have you believe. The threats that accompanied it made that clear.

The irony of our immigration problem is that America is still regarded with such high esteem that many want to come and live here. Some want it bad enough to sneak in. We now have several million illegal aliens living among us and both political parties do not see them has having broken the laws of our nation, but as potential new voters! That’s crazy and it’s dangerous when a President makes it known that he doesn’t think our borders must be defended. We have immigration laws for the same reason every other nation does and they must be enforced.

The hotspot in the world is the Middle East. Does anyone find it ironic that the “Prince of peace” was born in a nation, Israel, that much of the rest of the world wants to destroy? I find that depressing. The Arabs, supported by Europe and the Obama administration, are trying to get the U.N. to declare that the “Palestinians” are a state or nation. Only there has never been a Palestinian nation, a term invented by Roman Emperor Hadrian for the land 3,000 years of history records as Israel.

When you add in the butchery and slaughter of the Islamic State, you have everything you need to know about Islam; those who believe in cutting off the heads of Americans and others because they are unbelievers—infidels—need to be destroyed down to the last man. Add in al Qaeda and Boko Haram, and you have more enemies of mankind. There are over a billion Muslims and an estimated ten percent support the “holy war.” That’s a hundred million people and that’s a lot of trouble.

About the only good news is the way their dependence on oil has displayed the weakness of nations like the Russian Federation and Venezuela, among others. These nations have failed to develop a viable private sector. Cuba, dependent for years on Soviet support and then Venezuelan, both Communist, just scored a coup when President Obama granted it U.S. diplomatic recognition.

How many more Christmases will the world celebrate before we understand that Communism is a threat to mankind? There’s still too much of it in the world. It has found a home in the White House.

America has celebrated Christmas in the midst of two world wars in the last century and a score of lesser wars. We are a resilient people. We are reviving an economy that suffered a great financial crisis in 2008 thanks to bad government policies regarding mortgages and housing. The bad news is that those policies have been reinstated.

My Christmas will pass like the last 77 have. I wish it were a happier one.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Trying to Use the UN to Destroy Israel

By Alan Caruba

The right of Israel to exist as a nation was officially recognized by the United Nations on November 29, 1947 when it adopted Resolution 181 favoring the partition of the area claimed by the Zionist movement. The resident Arabs refused to accept the land set aside for a "Palestinian" state.

The British “mandate” of the area dated from the Versailles Treaty in 1919. Previously the Balfour Declaration was issued by the British government, favoring the establishment of a Jewish national home in what was then referred to as Palestine.

In 1946 following World War Two and in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust that killed six million Jews in Europe President Truman announced his support for the creation of a Jewish state. Throughout 1947 the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine had examined the issues involved and recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.

The Arabs, then and now never ceased to oppose the existence of a Jewish state. To have a state of their own would require acknowledging Israel and that is why, to this day, there is no Palestinian state, nor ever was one.

In the wake of several Jewish revolts against the Roman Empire, Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea, Samaria and the Galilea to “Syria Palaestina” and the name of Jerusalem to “Aelia Capitolina.” The name change did nothing to eliminate Israel whose restoration remained an active dream for two millennia.

Now, having refused to come to any agreement with Israel despite years of negotiations and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza to give the Palestinians living space in addition to an area in the West Bank, the Arab League is turning to the United Nations.

In the years since the 1947 resolution the U.N. has long engaged in anti-Israel activities. As Anne Bayefsky wrote in the Jerusalem Post, “From November 24, 2014 until December 5, 2014, the UN human rights headquarters in Geneva mounted a public exhibit that was pure incitement. UN-driven anti-Semitism that takes the form of seeking to demonize, disable and ultimately destroy the Jewish state.”

“The exhibit was entitled: ‘La Nakba: Exode et Expulsion des Palestinians en 1948’ or ‘The Nakba: Exodus and Explusion of the Palestinians in 1948.’  The occasion was the annual UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Solidarity Day marks the adoption by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947 of the resolution that approved the partitioning of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state.” It was rejected by Arab states. “Thus,” wrote Ms. Bayefsky, “the Arab war to deny Israel’s right to exist began.”

The day following the Fatah (formerly the Palestinian Liberation Organization) announcement of its intent to seek a U.N. resolution, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with a delegation from the Arab League to discuss the resolution that sets a timeline for an Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. Indeed, they want to declare East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and want the assurance that “refugees” could “return”. The Obama administration has been the first to break with the long tradition of good will and solidarity that has existed between the U.S. and Israel.

As Rabbi Aryah Spero noted in a December 17 CNS News commentary, “Despite the partnership between the terrorist organizations Hamas and Fatah (the new name for Arafat’s PLO) some European nations are demanding that Israel immediately accede to the Hamas/Fatah demands or they will proceed in the U.N. to declare a Palestinian State and impose on Israel conditions that will not only strip her of her capital, Jerusalem, but place Israelis in instant jeopardy from rockets launched against her from this newly declared state abutting Israel. Like Gaza before, this newest Palestinian state will become a terrorist state and a proxy of Iran.”

European anti-Semitism is steeped in centuries of enmity and it is reasserting itself again within the living memory of the Nazi Holocaust that sought to kill every Jew in Europe. U.S. pressure is a major departure from decades of support for Israel. At the same time President Obama has lifted sanctions against Iran, giving it more time to develop nuclear weapons he has been threatening sanctions against Israel if it continues to permit the construction of housing in Jerusalem.

The Arab demand that it is the heir to “Palestine” and that Jerusalem is a holy city is absurd. As Rabbi Spero notes, “Unlike the Jewish Bible that mentions Jerusalem over 700 times, the Koran never mentions Jerusalem, even once. Jerusalem is simply a location they conquered and has become, as with other places, a symbol of Islamic power and control over Judaism and Christianity.” By this thinking, the Arabs should demand the return of Spain which they had also conquered.

In sum, the Arab League, Europe, and Obama's U.S. policy want Israel to accept terms that amount to suicide.

That is not going to happen. The months and years ahead will be no less filled with the kind of turmoil and threats that Israel has lived with since it declared its independence in 1948. A world that turns its back on Israel is asking for its own apocalyptic destruction.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fracking is Fundamental

By Alan Caruba

“It is a sad day when a state chooses to listen to the fear, uncertainty, and doubts spread by anti-fossil fuel agitators rather than making a decision for economic strength that would benefit schools, communities, and many of its poorest citizens—especially when the vilified technology, hydraulic fracturing, has been used safely and successfully for more than 60 years and has brought prosperity to other formerly struggling regions.”
Marita Noon
Executive Director, Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

Responding to the announcement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that the state would ban fracking, Ms. Noon joined others, bringing their expertise to bear on a topic that remains a concern only because environmentalist enemies of energy in America continue to lie about it every chance they get.

In his book, “The Fracking Truth--America’s Energy Revolution: The Inside, Untold Story”. Chris Faulkner wrote “Furthermore, it’s been commonplace for decades. Worldwide, it’s estimated that more than 2.5 million wells have been fracked and the U.S. accounted for about half of those. Today, about 35,000 wells are fracked each year in all types of wells. And it’s impact on industry? It’s been estimated that 80% of production from unconventional sources such as shales would not be feasible without it.”

The Governor’s decision has everything to do with wooing the support of environmentalists in New York and nothing to do with the jobs and billions in tax revenue that fracking would have represented.

New York’s acting health commissioner, Howard Zucker, justified the decision saying that “cumulative concerns” about fracking “give me reason to pause.” Are we truly expected to believe that five years of study since the initial 2009 memorandum about fracking any provided reason to ban it?  If the use of fracking technology dates back to 1947 without a single incident of pollution traced to it, what would it take to create “cumulative concerns” except ignorance or prejudice against the facts?

Even the Environmental Protection Agency has never found evidence of the chemicals used in fracking entering the nation’s groundwater. Moreover, fracking fluid is 99.5% water and sand. The rest is a mixture of chemicals similar to household products that could be found under the kitchen sink.

As Dr. Jay Lehr, Science Director of The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, points out, “Today we only fracture wells that are drilled horizontally and that requires 1,500 feet of vertical depth for the well” and thus “all such wells are way below local water wells.”

How idiotic, then, is it to seal off some twelve million acres of the Marcellus Shale, an underground rock formation with natural gas reserves that have helped create energy production booms in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Colorado, and Ohio? 

A December 19 Wall Street Journal editorial noted that just across New York’s border with neighboring Pennsylvania, “A 2011 Manhattan Institute study estimated that each Marcellus Shale well in Pennsylvania generates $5 million in economic benefits and $2 million in tax revenue.” Companies there have generated more than $2.1 billion in state and local taxes since the fracking boom began. As one observer noted, “The ban ignores New York’s “6% unemployment rate, a depressed upstate region, and the fourth highest electricity prices in the nation.”

I don’t know how long it will take for the vast majority of the U.S. population to conclude that everything the environmentalists and their propagandists in the nation’s schools and media have to say about energy is as vast a hoax as the now discredited “global warming”, since renamed “climate change.”

Energy is the master resource, the lifeblood of ours and the world’s economy, the basis for electricity, for the ability to travel vast distances, for machines that enable vast harvests of crops by barely 2% of the U.S. population, to power all manufacturing, and to heat or cool our living and workplaces.

Fracking is yet another technological miracle and, of course, the environmentalists oppose it.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Cold War Cuban Detritus

By Alan Caruba

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 the Cold War that had existed between it and the U.S. since the end of World War Two came to an end, but there was ditritus, loose ends like Cuba and it has taken until now for an end to the diplomatic obstacles whose roots reach back to the Eisenhower administration. In 1960 it had approved a CIA plan to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime.

The Cuban dictator, Flugencio Batista, fled Havana on January 1, 1959 and Fidel Castro and his rebels entered the capital a week later on January 8. One sees the world through the prism of one’s own life and, that event was six months prior to my graduating from the University of Miami.

Among my friends in college were young men who were the children of well-to-do Cubans, so I was more aware of what was occurring than most my age when Castro took over. In 1960 I was inducted into the army and it was big news when the Bay of Pigs invasion occurred on April 14, 1961. President Kennedy had moved ahead on the CIA plan, but it was a failure and it was followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. The nation was literally on the edge of nuclear confrontation.

In the lead up to that the Second Infantry Division of which my unit was a part ceased its training mission and converted to one of battle readiness. In my case, however, I had already been discharged in April 1962. Kennedy declared a blockage of Cuba which had installed the Soviet missiles. Wisely, the Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev agreed to remove them.
Cuba was and is the classic Soviet-style Communist regime. During the 1970s Fidel Castro dispatched troops to Soviet-supported wars in Africa. Cuba’s economy was always lean and its workers make about twenty dollars a month in U.S. dollars. In 1962 Cuba was suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS) that imposed sanctions against Cuba, but 1975 the OAS lifted its sanctions with the approval of sixteen member states and the U.S. but the U.S. has maintained its own sanctions from the days of the missile crisis.

Suffice to say Cuba has a long history of human rights abuses. It represses any political dissent and life for Cubans is devoid of free speech, free association, privacy, and due process of law; rights which Americans and others in free nations take for granted.

For some 53 years, the U.S has had no direct diplomatic relations with Cuba and when President Obama made the announcement that he was moving to normalize relations it was big news. It had been preceded by 18 months of secret negotiations about which, reportedly, no member of Congress was informed about. While it infuriated the Cuban-American communities most people, inside and outside of government agreed it was time, if not overdue, for this action.

There will be much speculation that normalization will be good news for the Cuban people and one can surely hope so, but until the brothers, Fidel and Raul—declared the new president in 2008 when Fidel resigned—are dead, the likelihood for any real improvement in their lives is distant.

In a similar fashion, many American business and agricultural interests are no doubt making plans to become a part of the Cuban economy, but they had better proceed with care. Cuba is still Communist in most respects despite Raul Castro’s efforts to portray himself as a reformer and Cuba a place where foreign business are welcome and can thrive. In 2012 he relaxed property rights, expanded land leases, and licensed businesses from pizza joints to private gyms.

In reality, Raul Castro has, as reported in McClean’s magazine in 2012, “scared off more joint ventures than he has attracted, jeopardizing the investment Cuba needs to succeed. Spanish oil giant Repsol quit the country. Canada’s Pizza Nova, which had six Cuban locations, packed its bags, as did Telecom Italia.” In one case after another, those who hoped to do business in Cuba were disappointed. In 2013 a British company, one of the biggest and most important business partners of Castro’s military and a key investor in the tourism industry was suddenly confiscated and its principals were imprisoned.

One dramatic example is Stephen Purvis, a British architect who, since 2000 had developed tourism projects, factories and docks through his company that was financed by private European backers. After living in Cuba for ten years with his family and investing heavily in it, he was rewarded by being imprisoned after being accused of spying. He would spend 16 months in Cuban jails until being able to flee. Everything his company owned was confiscated. He has since warned others against doing business with the Castros.

Since 1959, more than one million Cubans, about ten percent of the population, have fled Cuba, many of whom found a new home in America. When that many people wanted to leave, it tells you something is terribly wrong with life in Cuba. The tentative steps toward normalization after all this time are necessary, but the American government should proceed with care in the years ahead.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Worrying About China

By Alan Caruba

If there is one thing various experts and pundits like to do most it is to worry about all manner of speculative threats. I can recall when much of their focus was on the Soviet Union until 1991 when it collapsed along with the decline in the cost of oil. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled that it was no longer the feared power it had been. 

Despite its invasion of Ukraine to annex the Crimea, the Russian Republic is in the same position its predecessor was because, once again, the price of a barrel of oil is falling. Turns out that the fracking technology that many environmentalists fear has also produced large increases in both oil and natural gas here in the U.S., that have created an oil glut that is driving its price down.

Largely unnoticed, however, have been the growing ties between Russia and China. They haven’t been this friendly for a very long time. Even so, Communist China does not give any indication that it regards the U.S. as an “enemy” in the way Vladimir Putin does the European Union and NATO.

China has recently emerged as a larger economic power than the U.S., earning $17.8 trillion in terms of goods and services, compared to the U.S. $17.4 trillion. Not a great difference, but surely a symbolic one. China is a curiosity in that it has an authoritative Communist government and a burgeoning capitalist economy.

In 2013, China took steps to expand property rights (something that does not exist in Communist nations), expand fair and transparent market regulation, and prices set by the market.

When you have to govern more than 1.3 billion people, you have to find a way to lift as many as possible out of poverty. China’s problem is that many of them are elderly thanks to its one-child policy. In 2013, China took tentative steps to loosen its one-child policy and it’s a good guess they will get rid of it entirely at some point in the near future.

Examples of its economic power often make page one of The Wall Street Journal such as a December 9 article reporting that “In the past two years, Chinese investors have bought stakes in New York’s most valuable office power, one of its largest development projects and the country’s most expensive hotel ever sold.”  Should we worry about this? No, a few decades ago, such stories were about Japan’s purchases of American properties and that nation has been in an economic stagnation for quite a while.

Back in 2008, Robert Samuelson, a Washington Post columnist, was worrying that “The real threat from China lies elsewhere. It is that China will destabilize the world economy. It will distort trade, foster huge financial imbalances, and tripper a contentious competition for scare raw materials.”  That’s a pretty good description of what is being said about the United States today!

A new study by the Rand Corporation, “Blinders, Blunders, and Wars: What America and China Can Learn”, devotes a chapter to U.S.-China relations saying “Whether and how the United States and China can settle their differences without war is among the most important questions of the twenty-first century.” That has got to be one of the most presumptuous questions asked by the respected think tank. It borders on foolishness because there is no good reason why either nation would engage in a war on one another.

There is no question that China, the largest nation in Asia, has been flexing its muscles, building up its military capabilities, and seeking to expand its authority over the China Sea and adjacent areas. Any nation of its size would be expected to do the same thing. Even Russia is keeping its neighbors on edge with its Ukraine incursion, knowing perhaps that neither NATO nor the European Union would go to war over its complete takeover. The threat is there, but that does not mean it will occur.

The good news from Rand is their observation that war between the U.S. and China “could be catastrophic” and therefore “both powers are strongly inhibited from starting one.” You do not need to be a think tank expert to figure that out, but the Rand study also says “The danger of Sino-U.S. war by misjudgment is related to but different from that of Sino-U.S. war by accident.

The study’s reason for this is that “China sees America’s East Asian alliances as throwback to Cold War thinking and, more alarmingly, as indicative of America’s new intent to align the region against China.” That’s think tank talk for China’s paranoia based on centuries of control and exploitation by outside forces such as the former British Empire, subjugation by the former Empire of Japan, and its fear of America’s longtime naval presence in the Pacific.

China most certainly has nothing to fear regarding war with the current U.S. administration that doesn’t want to even admit that it has reengaged in the war occurring in Iraq. In a similar way, the U.S. has no reason to disturb its financial dependence on a China that owns much of its debt.

Think tanks like Rand will not cease to worry about all the options and events that affect the China-U.S. relationship, but for the near future, there are other factors such as the threat the Islamic jihad represents. The only constant in international affairs is change.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

International Emissions Idiocy

By Alan Caruba

Most of the people of the world have concluded that the decades of warnings about “global warming” and its successor, “climate change”, is just idiotic nonsense. Few believe that humans ever had or ever will have any role in what the weather will be tomorrow or a thousand years from now. They are right.

One of the most distinguishing factors about the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory has been the way its advocates have always predicted major changes decades into the future. When the future arrived, as it has since the first doomsday predictions were made in the late 1980s, they simply push off the next arrival date for another couple of decades. A classic example is the prediction that that Arctic and Antarctic sea ice would have all melted by now. Instead the global cold weather have been making new records of late.

Delegates from two hundred nations attended the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol which took place from December 1 through 12. COP 20/CMP 10 was hosted by the Government of Peru in Lima. The event is part of the United Nations agenda that began with the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988.

The Kyoto Protocol dates back to 1997 and sets limits on how much “greenhouse gas” emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), nations could permit. The theory, now long since debunked, that CO2 was rising and would cause the Earth to warm too much was right in only one respect. There is more CO2, but the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for some 19 years at this point. The U.S. did not ratify, i.e. sign onto the Protocol. The Senate unanimously rejected it. Canada later withdrew from it. China and India were both exempted from it!

So what we have been witnessing have been a bunch of international officials wrangling over something that did not happen and will not happen.

The hard core “Warmists” wanted the climate change agreement to be legally binding under international law. They were led by those from the European Union. They and others wanted more money to be spent on renewable energy, wind and solar, and money given to poor countries to help them deal with climate change.

The COP20 conference was not about the climate. It was about funding wind and solar energy projects that have proven globally to be huge, expensive failures, and about providing money to poor countries that, as often as not, are poor because they are poorly governed. It’s a scheme based on totally false “science.” 

As to the “science” proclaiming a warming Earth and that “greenhouse gas emissions” are responsible, the easiest and most entertaining way to learn the real science is to read Anthony Bright-Paul’s new book, “Climate for the Layman.” 

Bright applies the known knowledge of the universe in which we live with the kind of logic you are not likely to hear from the likes of Al Gore or Bill Nye the “science guy.”  Add to them the blissfully ignorant legions of “leaders” of various nations who have signed off on “global warming” without a lick of knowledge with which to refute the lies and you get idiotic conferences and demands to end the beneficial use of fossil fuels which improved our lives long before and since the IPCC was created.

“So how does one measure the temperature of something that has a multiplicity of temperatures and is constantly on the move?” asks Bright-Paul. “It is clearly impossible.”  How difficult is that to understand?

“In my dictionary,” says Bright-Paul, “’Global’ is defined as ‘worldwide’. So let us ask ourselves the question—has there been a worldwide warming of 0.07 degrees Celsius? Has there been a uniform increase in temperatures worldwide? The answer is simple. It is utterly impossible to make such declaration”, adding that “It is completely impossible to measure the temperature of the atmosphere which is 100 kilometers high and which has a huge range of temperatures in a continuous state of flux.”

If it cannot be measured then years from now the climate cannot be predicted. The weather—what is happening where you live—can only be predicted in general terms for the next few days and that is largely thanks to modern satellites. Moreover, the weather is never exactly the same from day to day. Meteorologists focus on what’s happening now, but climatologists measure the climate in units of decades, the smallest of which is thirty years. The largest take in millions of years.

Carbon dioxide is such a minor “trace” gas—0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere--that most people are astonished to learn that it is Nitrogen and Oxygen that make up 99% of the atmosphere. Both are transparent to incoming and outgoing radiation. It is the Earth that acts as a conductor of heat, affected as always by solar radiation. It is the Sun along with the actions of the oceans and volcanic activity that determines the weather and, long term, the climate.

Virtually everything you have heard or been told about “greenhouse gas emissions” is pure bunkum.

The Earth is not a greenhouse closed in by heat trapping gases. It is the mass of the Earth that absorbs the Sun’s radiation and reflects it into the atmosphere. The process is so dynamic that there is no way to accurately predict what the temperature anywhere on any day.

The IPCC and its idiotic “climate change” conference wants you to believe it can predict the climate of the entire world! And control it.

Not a single dime of U.S. taxpayer’s money should be devoted to either the U.N. or any bogus “global warming” claims. We could begin by defunding the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations to limit “greenhouse gas emissions”, the reason they give for closing coal-fired plants to produce electricity.

We should laugh Secretary of State John Kerry off the stage every time in claims that climate change is the greatest threat to life on Earth.

© Alan Caruba, 2014