Filed under: Canada, Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Junk Science, National Security | Tags: Meaningless Words, Pretentionness, World Energy Rankings
About those national rankings: A new World Economic Forum (WEF) survey on the world’s “best sustainable energy systems” places energy self-sufficient Canada below Latvia, Costa Rica, Columbia and Romania. Huh?
The Geneva-based think tank’s latest survey of countries with the most “sustainable energy systems” put Norway as the country with the best energy system in the world. You always have to watch out when they start throwing that “sustainability” word around. It is an ever-so fashionable word, always to be thrown in to any paper deemed to be truly “serious.” And Geneva is always to be considered “serious.”
Canada, our neighbor to the north, producer of one of the world’s largest amounts of crude oil, natural gas, wind, nuclear and hydroelectricity, suddenly finds itself ranked below Latvia, which is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its fossil fuel supply. It had, however, “diversified” enough to warrant a ranking four places above self-sufficient Canada.
“The WEF,” the Financial Post says, “arrived at its befuddling conclusion after ranking countries on economic growth, environmental sustainability and energy security performance, and ‘analysing the complex trade-offs and dependencies that affect country efforts.’”
This report is absurd, of course, but governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have fallen into a pattern of using words that are fashionable but essentially meaningless to show that they are “with it,” to be taken seriously. Call them navy blue pin-striped words, or Rolex words. And “sustainable” is one of the worst. Sustainable means it will last over time, and we clearly have no idea. Tomorrow is unknown.
“Diversity” is more popular in academia than in the energy business, but a way of sneaking in a bunch of unaffordable “alternate energy”systems, beloved by environmentalists, yet only exist with ongoing governmental subsidies. In either case, it is nonsense. In academia it is supposed to be desirable to have students of varying races and ethnicities, but undesirable to have diversity in their thought or politics. All will conform.
Other words that fall into the same general category are “fairness,” (who decides?), “equality,” (how?) “tolerance,”( regarding what?). The words become more meaningless as they are used to excess, and no thought is dedicated to what they really mean in the context where they are used.
Silly report. Canada ranked a paltry 14th, and the United States, soon to become the world’s number one energy producer ranked a distant 37th out of 124 countries.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Health Care, National Security, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: A Command and Control Economy, A Free Market Economy, American Individual Liberty
There is an apocryphal story about Dwight Eisenhower that someone quoted the other day that has stuck in my mind. Supposedly, when he was president of Columbia University, some new building on campus required sidewalks, but there were two warring camps who wanted the sidewalks placed differently. Eisenhower said they should table the decision for a year, and see where the students walked. The decision of the many would indicate the proper placement.
May not be true, but it’s an excellent example of the wisdom of the free market. And of the current battles in Congress. There are a lot of people out there who are angry with Congress because they are fighting so much and not peacefully getting anything done. Those people are wrong, and they should be extremely grateful that Congress isn’t getting much done.
All of the current battles in Congress — ObamaCare, the Budget, the Economy, Spending, the IRS, Defense, the Agreement on Iran, Foreign Policy, the National Debt and so many more issues — divide on the basis of a command and control economy on the left side, and a free-market economy on the right side.
The Left, and the Progressive movement, believe in a government run by wise experts who will manage everything far more efficiently. With a free market — you can never tell what people might do. There is no certainty, no order, not enough regulation. People might drink Big Gulp sugary drinks and contribute to a national obesity problem. People might not save energy with energy-saving CFL ‘twisty” bulbs. If everyone is limited to flow-restricted shower heads, then we might save water as a nation. Experts can always come up with wonderful ideas for improving the country and its people.
The Right: Conservatives, Tea Party, Libertarians and Republicans, all just want government to leave them alone, and stop interfering with the economy. They don’t believe that there are any “experts” who have better ideas for controlling everybody and everything. They believe that the Left’s urge to control everything is responsible for the economic downturn and the recession that just drags on forever. Overregulation, over-taxation and uncertainty have done serious damage to business, and produced a “recovery” that is 7.3 million jobs below the average for all recoveries. They believe that people cannot be fixed with just the right rules and regulations, and life requires a certain level of plain old stoical resignation.
That’s a huge division between the two sides, and affects everything in politics and government.
However: this simple straightforward division is thoroughly screwed-up with politics, lies and obfuscation. Barack Obama is notably the first black president of the United States, which has been extremely meaningful to black Americans. Most Americans, including those who did not vote for him, wished him well. Black Americans were deeply invested in his success. As the first, they wanted him to be outstanding. And it is somewhat natural that they would take criticism as a form of racism. MSNBC, the hate channel, has left any semblance of journalism in the dust while it devotes full time to the idea that all would be well if the racist Republicans would just stop criticizing Obama.
The people I know who criticize President Obama are not criticizing the color of his skin, but the actions of his administration. The recovery should have long been over, and the administration is at fault. The administration cannot seem to stop or even lower spending, waste and crony-capitalism. ObamaCare was a disastrous mistake and is going to harm most Americans.
Fifty-five percent of Americans say they want to go back to the health care system that was in place before the current health care system. Only 34 percent like ObamaCare. Fifty-seven percent of Americans told the Reason-Rupe Poll that the Obama administration is not the most transparent administration in history, and 52 percent disagree with the president’s views about the proper size and power of the government. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed feel that government is generally a “burdensome part of society that impedes the ability of people to improve their lives.” Ouch.
Nearly ¾ of Americans, 73 percent, believe members of Congress do not understand health care or how health care laws impact Americans. And just 25 percent think members of Congress understand the consequences of the health care laws they pass.
No one is yet operating under their new ObamaCare insurance, which kicks in on January 1st, so they haven’t really experienced it yet — only experienced the bills that they will be facing. It’s going to be interesting.
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, Military, Music, The United States | Tags: Joy to the World, Mational Air and Space Museum, USAF Band Flash Mob
The United States Air Force Band performed a surprise flash mob at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on December 3. Lovely!
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Foreign Policy, History, Iran, National Security | Tags: Embarrassing!, Obama's Iran Deal, The Saban Forum at Brookings
President Obama appeared at the Brooking’s Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington D.C. He responded to questions put to him by Haim Saban, the forum chairman. The discussion focused on the “interim deal” with Iran, although it covered the Israel-AP peace talks and the agreement with Syria to destroy its chemical weapons as well.
The Washington Times covered Obama’s appearance here, and Politico here, if watching the video is beyond your tolerance level. If Mr. Obama believes that he is actually getting anything in exchange for the relaxation of sanctions, he is far more ill-informed about foreign policy than I thought.
In spite of our current economic problems, the United States has the power to impose crippling sanctions on Iran and to enforce them. Iranian chants of “Death to America” are not children’s playground taunts. We were told, before Geneva, that Iran was just a month from a bomb. Iran is well supplied with oil and gas, and does not need nuclear power to keep the lights on. Their sole interest is nuclear weapons and the ability to strike Israel and America at will. They have in mind the return of the Mahdi and the reestablishment of the Caliphate. When they keep telling us so, sooner or later, we possibly should start believing that they mean it.
We don’t require Iran’s agreement to accept crippling economic sanctions. We just impose them.
Iran, Obama said, will always retain some nuclear enrichment capability simply because it is no longer a terribly difficult process.
“Theoretically, they will always have some capability because technology here is available to any good physics student at pretty much any university around the world,” he said. “And they have already gone through the cycle to the point where the knowledge we are not going to be able to eliminate. But what we can do is eliminate the incentive for them to want to do this.”
As he has before, Obama defended the six-month deal to relax some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for some weapons inspections as not ideal, but better than the alternative of doing nothing.
When I hear people criticize the Geneva deal say it’s got to be all or nothing, I would just remind them that if it’s nothing, if we did not even try for this next six months to do this, all the breakout capacity we are concerned about would accelerate in the next six months,” Obama said. “They’d be that much closer to breakout capacity six months from now. And that’s why I think it’s important for us to test this proposition.”
“Not ideal but better than doing nothing?” “You see we can’t expect Iran to relinquish its nuclear program because it won’t!”
If one thought that preventing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons was the object of the exercise, then the Geneva deal is incomprehensible. The only real explanation of the deal is that we seek to protect Iran’s nuclear program and accept their development of nuclear weapons.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Foreign Policy, History, Military, National Security, The United States | Tags: Pearl Harbor 1941, Remembrance and Preparedness, The Battleship Arizona
(Republished from Last year)
Every year on December 7, we say “Remember Pearl Harbor” but fail to point out why we should be remembering. John Steele Gordon in his essential history An Empire of Wealth: the Epic History of American Economic Power, outlines the state of the world:
In a fireside chat on December 29, 1940, Franklin Roosevelt first used a phrase that would prove enduring when he called upon the United States to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”
…..War had broken out in Europe on September 1, 1939, after German troops invaded Poland, and France and Great Britain stood by their pledges to come to Poland’s aid. Few Americans thought the Nazis anything but despicable, but public opinion in the United States was overwhelmingly to stay out of the conflict. Many newspapers…were strongly isolationist. In 1934 Senator Hiram Johnson of California had pushed through a bill forbidding the Treasury to make loans to any country that had failed to pay back earlier loans. That, of course included Britain and France. On November 4, 1939, Congress had passed the Neutrality Act, which allowed purchases of war materiel only on a “cash and carry” basis.
…..Seven months later France fell to the Nazi onslaught, and Britain stood alone. In the summer of 1940 Germany proved unable to defeat the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain and thus gain the air superiority necessary to mount an invasion across the English Channel. It tried instead to bludgeon Britain into submission with the blitz and to force Britain into submission by cutting off its trade lifelines across the Atlantic. It nearly worked. …
…..At the time American military forces were puny. The army had about three hundred thousand soldiers—fewer than Yugoslavia—and was so short of weapons that new recruits often had to drill with broomsticks instead of rifles. The equipment it did have was often so antiquated that the chief of staff, General George C. Marshall, thought the army no better than “that of a third-rate power.” The navy, while equal to Britain’s in size, lacked ammunition to sustain action, and much of its equipment was old or unreliable.
Roosevelt realized what was at stake in terms of America’s own security, but he felt that Britain must survive long enough to hold the Nazis at bay while the U.S. rearmed and he was able to bring the American people around to see where their own true interests lay. This was easier said than done.
On September 16, 1940 Congress approved the first peacetime draft in American history and 16.4 million men between the ages of 20 and 35 registered. But it specified that none was to serve outside the Western Hemisphere and that their terms of service were not to exceed twelve months. In 1941 Roosevelt was able to get Lend Lease through Congress, and after Pearl Harbor, isolationism vanished from the American political landscape.
Japan ran loose over the Pacific for the next six months, taking Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, the Dutch East Indies, and Burma while threatening Australia and India.
The rearming of America was one of the most astonishing feats in all economic history. In the first six months of 1942, the government gave out 100 billion in military contracts— more than the entire GDP of 1940. In the war years, American industry turned out 6.500 naval vessels; 296,400 airplanes; 86,330 tanks; 64,546 landing craft; 3.5 million jeeps, trucks, and personnel carriers; 53 million deadweight tons of cargo vessels; 12 million rifles,carbines, and machine guns; and 47 million tons of artillery shells, together with millions of tons of uniforms, boots, medical supplies, tents and a thousand other items needed to fight a modern war.
We weren’t ready for Pearl Harbor, nor for Africa, nor the European front. We disarmed after World War II and we were once again not ready when North Korea invaded the South. We weren’t ready when Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait and we weren’t ready for 9/11. America’s national character is perhaps always ready to assume that the war just finished was the last — ever.
Does anyone assume that now, we would have six months to a year to begin to produce the necessary equipment and round up and train the necessary troops? I seem to remember Donald Rumsfeld saying, to vast scorn from the American media—”you go to war with the army you have.”
It’s quite true, and the threats don’t always come from the direction you expected. When America is perceived as weak — as we are today, and indecisive — we are in greater danger. The “Arab Spring” has “unexpectedly” not turned out to be a people seeking for freedom and democracy. Instead the goal appears to be Sharia and dictatorship. Al Qaeda is again on the rise, and we seem to be rearming them. Syria’s Assad evidently is preparing to gas his own people. And we are cancelling missile protection for Eastern Europe because Obama wants a reset button with Russia, and now has more “flexibility.”
We must remember Pearl Harbor as a warning from the past. The troubled world keeps sending us reminders, and we fail to pay attention.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Iran, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Progressivism, Terrorism | Tags: John Kerry's Incompetence, The Geneva Accords, The Islamic Republic of Iran
So many of President Obama’s policies leave one puzzled. What can he possibly be thinking? Why would he do this? Why would he assume this to be a good idea? Particularly in the case of the interim agreement that the United States and its partners cut with Iran last week in Geneva which seems to be a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The core objective of the past two decades — preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — and threatening fundamental regional and global interests have been ignored. Nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, strengthening the forces of radicalism and terrorism in the region — what can he be thinking?
We have compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who pursued a policy of appeasing Adolf Hitler, and agreed to the Nazi demand that Czechoslovakia should cede the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany to stave off a threatened invasion — without consulting the Czechs.
Obama does manifest some of Chamberlain’s trusting naïveté and insular self-righteousness. More important perhaps, like Chamberlain, Obama thinks his job is to accommodate domestic war-weariness and to keep us out of foreign conflicts. Also like Chamberlain, Obama in the Middle East has inclined toward appeasing Muslims at the expense of Jews in the Holy Land. And like Chamberlain, Obama will go down in history as a failed leader of the leading Western democracy, one whose policies will have to be reversed—one hopes this time at less cost—by his successor.
Churchill succeeded Chamberlain in 1940 and saved the West.
The Obama administration apparently believes that the supreme leader might forsake his historic quest for nuclear weapons begun under the Ayatollah Khomeini and carried forth under Khamenei and every Iranian president. The United States, “the epicenter of evil” has rallied the West against the Islamic Republic.
The idea seems to be that the supreme leader, and his Revolutionary Guards who control the nuclear program, terrorist operations and domestic riot-control aren’t sufficiently committed to developing a nuclear weapon that the persuasive voices of moderation from the Obama administration can seduce them from this dangerous path. Um, they seem to believe that the newly elected president Hassan Rouhani, and foreign minister Mohammad Zarif are forces for moderation. The evidence for this is a nice smile and a lot of fantasy. They believe that Rouhani must be a reformer — he has a PhD from a Scottish university. Ruel Marc Gerecht, who is an expert, spells out the evidence for fantasy. Do read the whole thing.
At the core of Washington’s debate about Iran’s nuclear program is a confluence of naïveté and fear of another war in the Middle East. The latter reinforces the former and bends the analysis of Iran’s internal politics. It makes America’s foreign policy elite, which has never been a particularly God-fearing crowd, even more blind to the role of religion in Iran’s politics. The president himself appears to believe passionately that an irenic American foreign policy insulates the United States from Muslim anger and terrorism.
No one in the Middle East believes that Obama would order a strike. The Washington foreign-policy establishment have conceded the bomb to Iran. They argue for “containment.” The only thing that matters is that we will not bomb Iran’s nuclear sites. Most on the Left do not envision any need for a militarily strong and aggressive America pushing back against Iranian adventurism. Containment is a synonym for patient, peaceful engagement and American withdrawal. Gerecht summarizes:
President Obama’s eagerness to avoid an unpleasant binary choice—surrender publicly to Tehran’s nuclear fait accompli or preempt militarily—will have led him to a situation where he confronts the same choice, but with Iran’s hand stronger and America’s weaker. Khamenei will have called Obama’s bluff—and will have billions more in his bank account. In all probability, the president has bought into a process of diminishing returns that he cannot abandon for fear of the cruel binary choice. For that matter, he may already have decided that the left-wing of the Democratic party is right.
Well, that’s what we get when the president can’t be bothered to attend his intelligence briefings. Does he worry at all about the new ICBMs being developed by North Korea and Iran?
Dan Bongino, former Secret Service member, now running for Congress in Maryland, has said that the White House staff were like kids with a shiny new toy. No one knew anything about government, and they treated the president like a cult figure — if he said it, it must be true. Nothing could be more dangerous than an ideologically-driven megalomaniac surrounded by obsequious yes-men in the White House.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Israel, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: Appeasing the Enemy, Foreign Policy Mistake, Nuclear Deal With Iran
The headline read: “Iran: White House Lying About Details of Nuke Deal.”
Iranian officials say that the White House is misleading the public about the details of an interim nuclear agreement reached over the weekend in Geneva. …
The White House released a multi-page fact sheet containing details of the draft agreement shortly after the deal was announced. However, an Iranian foreign ministry official on Tuesday rejected the White House’s version of the deal as “invalid” and accused Washington of releasing a factually inaccurate primer that misleads the American public.”
Iran’s right to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, is fully recognized under the draft released by Tehran. Iran proclaims no limits on their right to continue enriching uranium which should set alarm bells ringing loudly. They want time off from the sanctions that are disrupting their economy, so they can enrich in peace. John Bolton, who has long experience with Iran, says:
In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing, weaponization research and fabrication, and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.
Second, Iran has gained Legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club. Much as the Syria chemical-weapons agreement buttressed Bashar al-Assad, the mullahs have escaped the political deep freezer.
Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more. Tehran correctly assessed that a mere six-months’ easing of sanctions will make it extraordinarily hard for the West to reverse direction, even faced with systematic violations of Iran’s nuclear pledges. Major oil-importing countries (China, India, South Korea, and others) were already chafing under U .S. sanctions, sensing President Obama had no stomach either to impose sanctions on them, or pay the domestic political price of granting further waivers.
Iran declares regularly its radical hatred for Israel and the United States. It continues to sponsor terrorism on a wide scale. It regularly states its wish to annihilate Israel even at the risk of its own self-destruction. From the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran and imprisonment of embassy personnel for 444 days until today, we have had no reason to trust Iran at any time. It is appeasement of the worst kind, and puts one of our greatest allies at greater risk.
If President Obama thought he was changing the subject from the ballooning disaster of ObamaCare with a “deal” that Americans would like, he was mistaken. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) spoke out at the end of October about a report claiming Iran is one month away from a nuclear bomb, ‘extremely alarming. ‘ The Institute for Science and International Security says Iran could produce one bomb in as little as 1 to 1.6 months, or using only 3.5 percent low enriched uranium, could make 4 bombs in 1.9 to 2.2 months using all of its existing 3.5 percent enriched uranium. Seems like a fine time to go for appeasement.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Iran, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: "The Deal of the Century", A Nuclear Pact With Iran, The Lessons of History
Secretary of State John Kerry returned from
Munich Geneva waving a document and proclaiming peace in our time “we have a deal.” The Obama administration regards the deal as a great accomplishment for the U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. Journalist Claudia Rosett describes the negotiations:
The world powers have been itching to hand Iran what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accurately described as “the deal of the century — the ticket to the nuclear arsenal the Tehran regime covets, and for which the infrastructure would be left in place.” So eager are some of these world powers to produce a signed piece of paper that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, for the second time in a month, decided to race to Geneva, ready to close the deal. Evidently it is no deterrent to the Obama administration that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei chose to punctuate rounds two and three of these nuclear talks by delivering a speech to Basij militiamen (who greeted him with chants of “Death to America”) in which he compared Israel to a “rabid dog,” said its officials “cannot be called human,” and added,” the Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.”
History is not a strong point of the Obama administration, but we have many examples of pacts with enemies, when the West is desperately hoping for peace, and anxious to avoid confrontation.
“Chamberlain returned from Munich to England. At Heston where he landed, he waved the joint declaration which he had got Hitler to sign, and read it to the crowd of notables and others who welcomed him. From the windows at Downing Street he waved his piece of paper again and used these words, “This is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace in our time.”*
At the Nuremberg Trials, Colonel Eger, representing Czechoslovakia, asked Marshal Keitel: “Would the Reich have attacked Czechoslovakia in 1938 if the Western Powers had stood by Prague?”
Marshal Keitel answered: “Certainly not. We were not strong enough militarily. The object of Munich was to get Russia out of Europe, to gain time, and to complete the German armaments.”*
Claudia Rosett adds:
Then there is the also-obvious. Talks like these are a great boon to rogue regimes — just ask North Korea (which has parlayed two decades of nuclear freeze deals into time and resources for three nuclear tests, and appears to be preparing its underground nuclear test site for a fourth detonation). Iran’s regime is a terror-sponsoring government under sanctions for its rogue nuclear weapons program, and in theory its rulers are being shunned and “isolated” — or so we’ve been told. … Negotiations such as these, especially if they lead to a deal, serve as credentials, painting a veneer of legitimacy on regimes that deserve none.
The media, given to hyperbole, has declared this an historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions. ($6 billion+)
The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade. Kerry said the goal of the talks was to “require Iran to prove the peaceful nature of its program and ensure that it cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Iran keeps its enrichment program and reactor in Arak, and just halts work. There is no indication that their pursuit of a nuclear weapon is peaceful in intent. They have also announced plans for two more nuclear power plants. I think history has lessons for us, and we do well to pay attention.
*from The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill.
Filed under: Capitalism, Education, Freedom, History, Law, Politics, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Philadelphia 1787, Separation of Powers, The U.S. Constitution.
From Bernard Bailyn’s The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution:
“At the Philadelphia convention, with exquisite care and with delicate nuances, they devised a complex constitution that would generate the requisite power but would so distribute its flow and uses that no one body of men and no one institutional center would ever gain a monopoly of force or influence that would dominate the nation.”
In every generation, we need to remind the people of the care and wisdom that went into the making of the Constitution. It has worked for 286 years, and remains unique among nations in its establishment by “We the People,” and the limited powers that it grants to the government. And it is up to us to remind our representatives in government of its meaning, and to insure that our schools teach its history and its meaning .
See also: Catherine Drinker Bowen’s Miracle at Philadelphia