We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Monday, June 25, 2007

Canadian Professor: Prepare for Global Cooling

From Newsmax:

Don't blame rising levels of carbon dioxide (C02) for whatever global warming is now taking place; put the blame on "old sol" — the sun may be getting ready to put the world into the deep freezer.

So say a growing number of scientists who have studied the effect of the sun on the earth's climate and concluded that the only thing scientists understand about climate change is that it is always changing.

"Climate stability has never been a feature of planet earth,” explains R. Timothy Patterson professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University in an article in the Financial Post.

"The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3 C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thousand-year-long ‘Younger Dryas’ cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6 C in a decade — 100 times faster than the past century's.”

Dr. Patterson insists that even though advocates of the global warming theory such as Al Gore are insisting that the "the science is settled," that is far from being the case.

"The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all," Patterson wrote." Inviting testimony only from those who don't question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of 'stopping global climate change.'”

He cited the assertion by Canadian parliament member Ralph Goodale that parliament should have "a real good discussion about the potential for carbon capture and sequestration in dealing with carbon dioxide, which has tremendous potential for improving the climate, not only here in Canada but around the world.” Patterson observed that it "would be humorous were he, and even the current government, not deadly serious about devoting vast resources to this hopeless crusade."

Patterson explained that an extensive scientific project he conducted for his government regarding the health of the Canadian fishing industry yielded results that concerned not just the condition of the native fishery, but how solar activity regulates climate.

The research that involved taking core samples of mud at the bottom of deep Western Canadian fjords used sophisticated technology that enabled him and his team to collect more than 5,000 years' worth of mud. "Clearly visible in our mud cores are annual changes that record the different seasons,” he explained.

Briefly, the research showed "a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called proxies ),” a find, he wrote, that is not unique since hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators.

Among his conclusions:

"I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of all energy on the planet.”

In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental Researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that "the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases." About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all.

"Ours is one of the highest-quality climate records available anywhere today, and in it we see obvious confirmation that natural climate change can be dramatic. For example, in the middle of a 62-year slice of the record at about 4,400 years ago, there was a shift in climate in only a couple of seasons from warm, dry, and sunny conditions to one that was mostly cold and rainy for several decades.”

"In a series of groundbreaking scientific papers starting in 2002, Veizer, Shaviv, Carslaw, and most recently Svensmark et al., have collectively demonstrated that as the output of the sun varies, and with it our star's protective solar wind, varying amounts of galactic cosmic rays from deep space are able to enter our solar system and penetrate the earth's atmosphere. These cosmic rays enhance cloud formation which, overall, has a cooling effect on the planet."

"Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the little ice age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada.”

Astrophysicist Nir Shariv, a prolific researcher and one of Israel's top young scientists who was cited by Patterson, no longer accepts the logic of man-made global warming. "Like many others, I was personally sure that CO2 is the bad culprit in the story of global warming,” Shariv wrote. "But after carefully digging into the evidence, I realized that things are far more complicated than the story sold to us by many climate scientists or the stories regurgitated by the media."

According to Dr. Shariv there is no concrete evidence — only speculation — that manmade greenhouse gases cause global warming. Even research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is bereft of anything here inspiring confidence.

"Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th-century global warming," he states, adding that the sun's strong role indicates that greenhouse gases can't have much of an influence on the climate — nor will cutbacks in future C02 emissions will matter much in terms of the climate.

Even doubling the amount of CO2 by 2100, "will not dramatically increase the global temperature," Shaviv states.

Finally, an article formally located at climatecentral.org, now found at iceagenow.com, states that should solar activity take a dive tomorrow, the temperatures would cool significantly.

"Solar activity has overpowered any effect that CO2 has had before, and it most likely will again,” the article avers. "In fact, we should be more afraid of a cooling trend because of a solar minimum that will peak in 2030 that could be fairly large. As we saw from a minor solar minimum in the mid 1900s, the earth suddenly started to cool. If we were to have even a medium sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than 'global warming' would have had.”

Good News about CAIR

By Fred Thompson
(yes, THE Fred Thompson)

I've talked before about the Council on American-Islamic
Relations -- most recently because it filed that lawsuit
against Americans who reported suspicious behavior by
Muslims on a U.S. Airways flight. Better known just as
CAIR, the lobbying group has come under a lot of scrutiny
lately for its connections to terror-supporting groups.
This time, though, The Washington Times has uncovered some
very good news about the group.

For years, CAIR has claimed to represent millions of
American Muslims. In fact, they claim to represent more
Muslim in American than... there are in America. This has
alarmed Americans in general as the group often seems to
be more aligned with our enemies than us -- which isn't
surprising as it spun off from a group funded by Hamas.
As you know, Hamas has been waging a terrorist war against
Israel and calls for its total destruction. It also
promises to see America destroyed. Nowadays, Hamas is busy
murdering its Palestinian political rivals.

Even with this history, and CAIR's conspicuous failure to
condemn Hamas by name, it has been treated as if represents
Muslim Americans by our own government. The good news is
that the financial support CAIR claims to have among
American Muslims is a myth. We know this because The
Washington Times got hold of the group's IRS tax records.

CAIR's dues-paying membership has shrunk 90 percent since
9/11 -- from 29,000 in 2000 to only 1,700 last year. CAIR's
annual income from dues plunged from $733,000 to $59,000.
Clearly, America's Muslims are not supporting this group --
and I'm happy to hear about it.

Of course, every silver lining seems to have a cloud;
and this cloud is that CAIR's spending is running about
$3 million a year. They've opened 25 new chapters in major
cities across the country even as their dues shrank to a
pittance. The question is; who's funding CAIR?

CAIR's not saying. The New York Times earlier this year
reported that the backing is from "wealthy Persian Gulf
governments" including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Obviously,
we have a bigger problem here than the one with CAIR.

The Lone Patriot does not necessarily endorse Fred Thompson for President

China’s Greatest Weapon

By Christopher Hancock June 22, 2007

A couple of months ago I walked into the Ritz Carleton in Washington D.C. for a meeting with a Russian hedge fund manager.

Over some painfully uninspired eggs, burnt toast and multiple cups of coffee, we spent the better half of two hours solving the world’s problems.

He shared his opinions on America’s long-term commitment in Iraq… I voiced my concerns regarding Moscow’s capacity to intentionally disrupt energy supplies for political capital.

He quickly responded, “Why do you think America is even in Iraq?”

I laughed…to beat the Chinese to the oil, of course. He laughed.

He certainly didn't disagree or show much concern. Maybe he knew something I didn’t…maybe he was privy to the possibility that Iraq would court (of all nations) China in their efforts to rebuild the nation's oil production.

In fact, that’s exactly what’s happening. Baghdad hopes to revive a $1.2 billion dollar oil deal originally established with China National Petroleum Corp. before the war.

That’s the principal reason behind Iraqi President Jalal Talabani arrival in Beijing on Wednesday. The two nations are expected to discuss international and regional “issues” of common interest.

Iraq is slightly more than twice the size of Idaho, sporting a 64.8 percent annual inflation rate and a GDP per capita on par with a month’s mortgage payment here in Baltimore. So apart from phosphates, sulfur and sand, the only tangible assets of any value to the Chinese are, of course, oil and natural gas. Iraq controls the world’s third largest oil reserves. Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. So we’re not so surprised to learn that Iraq plans to actively seek foreign assistance in the reconstruction process, as we are to see their active pursuit of America’s greatest competition in the race for dwindling oil supplies.

We'll let you decide. But for me, I find it quite interesting to see that after spending more than four years and nearly $500 billion in Iraq, we're left with nothing more than arguably the world’s most unstable government openly seeking Chinese assistance in fixing their most valuable domestic resource.

In pre-departure statements, President Talabani told reporters that he hoped "Iraq's debts to China would be written off."

Debts to China… Are you kidding me? I’m sure Washington loved that one.

But before losing all hope, it’s true that many Western companies want nothing to do with Iraqi oil right now. I certainly don't blame them.

But you have to hand it to the Chinese on some levels. I don't remember any cries from Beijing in the past five years over losing their $1.2 billion oil exploration deal. And that's real restraint considering China's ever-growing dependence on oil imports.

Beijing basically sat still and waited. Why America's international image eroded, the world's opinion of the Chinese has only strengthened.

The French philosopher/mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote, "Most of men’s problems arise from their inability to sit quietly and alone."

I'm not sure what Washington plans to do next, but I can tell you what I believe the Chinese will do. They'll sit back and watch. They'll wait for their moment... They'll know when the time is right, and then they'll pounce.
Before you know it, the Chinese will have established deep economic ties with governments all over the globe.

And despite sensationalist headlines toting China’s “massive” military buildup, they won’t use force to do it either.

They’ll use a weapon more potent than bombs or bullets. They’ll use debt. It worked in Iraq. I suspect it may work here as well.

You see, the Chinese know it's best not to use a cannon to crush a mosquito.

Until next time,Chris Hancock

Pork-barrel spending: Greasing the "Dawn of the Solar Age"

by J. Christoph Amberger

Lobbying groups, popular wisdom has it, are bad. Evil. Criminal even. Nefarious shysters pushing shady deals out of sheer self-interest on corrupt politicians who will squander the taxpayers’ hard-earned money on lining the pockets of a few fat cats with filthy lucre.

By and large, I believe this description to be accurate... and the outrage at the practice as futile as it is staged. Because, let's face it, squandering your money on Bridges into Nowhere, endowments of experimental theater, and grants for the scientific exploration of flatulence in mice are what government is all about -- independent of what party wields the majority whip.

Fueled by billions in government money, politics creates economic realities. Alternative energy technologies, for example, still wouldn't be able to exist on a rational, commercially viable level, if they were not greased with liberal applications of pork-barrel spending, a fact that is not lost on anyone involved in the industry.

What most people don’t realize is that solar energy in particular owes a large part of its viability as an investment to the efforts of a high-powered lobbying group. Silicon Valley’s lobby group, TechNet, pushes for new laws that encourage solar energy. Quite successfully, if you look at the recent spate of "renewable energy" legislation rolling out of Sacramento... and even Washington.

TechNet executives -- including Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers -- just recently made the rounds in Washington for closed-door meetings with cabinet-level lawmakers. Their message: double spending on energy research. For Silicon Valley, solar energy has “tipped” from a cottage industry into a global market that will reach $40 billion in three years. Celebrities from politics, finance and entertainments are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into solar technologies, whose cost side will be buffered and absorbed by direct and indirect government subsidies:

State and federal subsidies helped push the U.S. solar-energy market up 33% in 2006 over the previous year, says market researcher Solarbuzz.

President Bush created solar-energy subsidies of up to $2,000 for homeowners, with even more in store for businesses.

In New Jersey, incentives make it more affordable than ever to own a solar energy system. The rebates can cover more than 50% of the cost. The program proved so popular that New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program is currently oversubscribed.

And as part of its Million Solar Roofs program, California intends to create 3,000 megawatts of new solar-produced electricity by 2017. That equals the peak output of six modern natural-gas-fired power plants.

With this kind of setup, is it any wonder that Peter Lynch, who managed the enormous Magellan Fund to 29% average annual returns, called 2005 “The Dawn of the Solar Age"?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stalin Lives!

By Byron KingLong Beach, U.S.A.

YES, DEAR READERS, Stalin lives on Russian television. The Los Angeles Times recently published an article on the late-deceased absolute leader of the late-deceased Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and on that I will comment shortly. But first, allow me to explain the byline.

The Man of Steel

I mentioned above that last week the LA Times published an article about a television series currently being broadcast on Russian television concerning Joseph Stalin. This prompts some thoughts about the late comrade and generalissimo, and what the revival, if not the rehabilitation, of Stalin’s legacy may tell us about what is happening in Russia.

The man’s real name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, born 1878 in Georgia, and died 1953 in Moscow. Early in his adult life, Dzhugashvili studied for the Russian Orthodox seminary. But not long into his godly pursuits, he gave up notions of sacrificing material things on Earth for the prospect of gaining them in heaven. Instead, young Dzhugashvili pursued material things on Earth, adopting and embodying a hard line of Marxism and communism in the process.

Through his own brand of that ideology, the man pursued these material things with a vengeance. “The death of one person is a tragedy,” he once commented. “The death of a million is a statistic.” You have to be a hard, cold person to think like that. And the Georgian adopted a name that suited his character. He called himself Stalin, which in Russian means “man of steel.”

One would truly have to be a child who was, as the modern expression goes, “left behind” in school not to have heard about and to know at least something of Stalin. Stalin was one of the key players in the Bolshevik Revolution of Russia in 1917.

He worked with Vladimir Lenin to found the USSR out of the remains of the Russian monarchical government. After Lenin’s death in 1924, a death in which some scholars believe that Stalin played a role, Stalin rose rapidly to power in the USSR and ruled that nation with a grip of…well, with a grip of steel, until his own demise due to complications from a stroke. Yes, a stroke. At least that is what the Soviets said about how Stalin died, back in 1953. Not long afterward, they blamed a conspiracy of Jewish doctors.

Stamp out Religion in Russia

After seizing power in the 1920s, Stalin, the former seminarian, moved to stamp out religion in Russia, a place where Orthodox Christianity had traditionally been thought of as part of the very soil. Thousands of churches were destroyed, and the clergy sent away, which in Russia is very far away (to Siberia). As the 1920s and 1930s wore on, Stalin presided over the collectivization of property in Russia, to include establishing state ownership of essentially all resources both natural and man-made.

Stalin collectivized Russian agriculture and drove off or killed any who opposed him, and many who did not. Similarly, Stalin forced a pattern of massive heavy industrialization on Russia, at something approaching a breakneck speed. And he broke many necks in the process. Stalin’s secret police arrested and imprisoned anyone who was considered an enemy of the state, and of those there were many. Stalin was responsible for the deaths of well over 20 million of his fellow Soviet citizens, “a statistic” in his words, but a statistic that staggers the mind.


In the late 1930s, Stalin purged his army of tens of thousands of its most senior and experienced officers. And then, in 1939 through his foreign minister Molotov, Stalin signed a nonaggression pact with Germany and its leader, Adolph Hitler. When Hitler’s German armies attacked Russia in June 1941, they sliced through the ineptly led Russian formations and battered their way to the gates of Moscow.

When, in July 1941, Stalin initially addressed his Soviet people to urge resistance to the Germans, the first word out of his mouth called his millions of listeners “brethren,” a devout reference back to his seminarian days, and to the ancient Orthodox religion that he had done so much to destroy. When all else was failing, Stalin attempted to enlist God into the Red Army.

A Common Soviet Soldier

During the war with the Germans, Stalin’s son Yakov was captured by the invading troops. At one point, the Germans sent a message offering to bargain with the Soviets over the return of Yakov. Stalin replied with words along the lines that the leader of the Soviet Union does not concern himself with the fate of a single “common Soviet soldier.” Yakov eventually died in German captivity. The Man of Steel had settled the issue.

The fate of this “common Soviet soldier” concerns us in this article because a rather idealized and sentimental, even maudlin, version of Stalin’s relationship with his son forms part of the background to a 40-part series currently running on Russian television, called “Stalin Live.” The theme of the show is a rather flattering portrayal of an elderly Stalin, a few weeks before his death, recalling and flashing back to events from the past. The show is presented as a history of the Stalinist period in the USSR, as recalled by the “Best Friend of Soldiers” himself.

The Legend of Stalin

To admirers of Stalin, of whom there are many in Russia today, the show is an educational and informative vehicle by which to bring the legend of Stalin to a younger generation of Russians.

To many critics, however, the show is a long campaign of historical distortion and outright propaganda that glosses over and whitewashes the inexpiable crimes of a horrific dictator.
Georgian actor David Giorgobiani, who plays Stalin in the series, states that “Many more years have to pass before we can make an unbiased judgment on that great man [sic]…One hundred years from now, no one will pay attention to the fact that so many people perished and the costs were so terribly high.” In reference to the war against the Germans, Giorgobiani states that “Everyone will remember that such a great country was saved” by Stalin.

However, Danill Dondurey, editor of a film-themed Russian newspaper, states that “In the show, Stalin is portrayed as the savior of the people, the country, and all of civilization, the leader who destroyed fascism…Not for a split second do we see Stalin soaked in blood up to his elbows, as he really was.” And because the TV series is focused on Stalin just before his death, there is no plot device through which to offer the perspectives of Stalin’s contemporary critics.

There were, of course, those who knew Stalin well, such as Nikita Khrushchev who as Soviet premier later gave the famous “anti-Stalin” speech that denounced much of Stalin’s legacy and sowed the seeds of the illegitimacy of the founding myths of the USSR.

“The message is clear,” states Dondurey. “Russia needs a wise leader…The main goal of this show is to preserve and nurture in the people the desire to obey a supreme leader, to take pride in having a supreme leader, to see no alternative to this model in the development of society.”

Apparently, this message is getting through, if not touching nerves. The LA Times article quotes one satisfied Russian who has a fond recollection of the good old days. States one fan of the series, a viewer named Viktor Kurenkov, “Under Stalin, we had the best weapons, the best planes, the best tanks. He built the country that was first to send a man into space. As for the repressions attributed to him, their scale was always exaggerated.”

Mr. Kurenkov’s sentiments are not exactly a minority view in Russia. In fact, no less an authority and scholar of the USSR than Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the demise of the USSR “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.”

A Word From the Sponsor

Interestingly, the Russian network NTV, which broadcasts the Stalin series, is owned by the state-controlled entity Gazprom, the massive energy company that has effective monopoly control over the vast natural gas resources of Russia. According to editor and critic Dondurey, by sponsoring and broadcasting such a program that glorifies the Stalinist past, the Russian state is essentially promoting and encouraging the trend toward authoritarianism in contemporary Russian political life. So the broadcast of the “Stalin Live” show is not exactly the equivalent of, say, Texaco sponsoring the New York Metropolitan Opera over the past many decades.

The show’s producer, Grigory Lyubormirov, states that his goal is to portray both the historical Stalin and the myth of Stalin. “Our Stalin is not only Joseph Dzhugashvili. It is Comrade Stalin, (whose) myth is still alive in the minds of Russian citizens.” No doubt it is.

Lyubormirov goes on, “I categorically refuse to show Stalin as a paranoid, bloodthirsty wolf, because everything Stalin did had ironclad logic to it…Stalin was doing all that for logical reasons. Stalin was responsible for everything that happened in the Soviet Union after 1924, everything good and everything bad.”

The Medium and the Message

So we see in Russia a popular television program, sponsored by energy giant Gazprom, which tends to glorify Stalin and the days of his dictatorial reign over the USSR. The show depicts Stalin in the context of using communism and political repression to build a strong nation, defend Russia against foreign invasion, and save the Soviet state, if not the world, from German fascism.
The series glosses over the almost bottomless, decades-long brutality of the Stalinist period. The series also elevates Soviet Communist cultural myth over historical reality, and recalls how a supreme leader was able to offer some semblance of what the producer depicts as domestic stability and security from external threat to the Russian people.

All of this may well be emblematic of the current political evolution within Russia. There is no question that Stalin was a critical player on the history of the 20th century, and understanding Stalin is helpful to understanding how our world came to be in its present state. But the message of the Russian series “Stalin Live” is ominous, particularly because it fits with so much else of what we are currently seeing in Russia, particularly in the area of Russian resource nationalism.

That is, the Russians are going out of their way to rewrite and reform, if not simply to renege and abrogate, agreements from the 1990s. Their goal is to recover Russian state sovereignty and control over natural resources from any semblance of foreign control, particularly foreign control over energy resources.

The recent well-publicized troubles that Exxon and Shell have had with their projects on the Russian island of Sakhalin, or BP and the Sakhalin gas project in northern Russia, fit neatly into this new political paradigm. To the extent that any foreign business interests are permitted to operate in Russia, especially energy interests, it is only so long as they play the game, suffer along with whatever indignities are hurled their way, and look the other way when the Russian state displays its iron fist.

As more than one nation has learned to its eventual sorrow, the Russians will go their own way in this world. And it is not as if we in the West could (let alone, should) ever muster, let alone apply, sufficient resources to change the fundamental trajectories of Russian history. But we should at least understand the risks inherent in where the world’s largest country is headed. And wherever that trajectory is headed, it is not reassuring to learn that a show distorting history and glorifying Joseph Stalin is among the most popular items on Russian television.

Until we meet again…Byron W. King

Is the grass greener on the other side?

By Andrew Snyder, Volume Spike Alert

The official editorial silence is broken. For months, the world has wondered and speculated about Fidel Castro’s supposedly failing health. Purveyors of freedom, fellow dictators, and even plain old communist-haters have been begging for official word from the Cuban leader.

We shall wait no longer. The man has spoken.

After months out of the spotlight, Castro picked up his official pen not to write about his health, the war in Iraq, or even America’s immigration policies. Instead, he is slamming America’s plans for ramping up ethanol production.

Of all the controversial topics to write about, the old man of the Caribbean chose what is probably one of the most non-debatable subjects of them all.

In today’s issue of Granma, published by Cuba’s Communist Party, Castro ranted about America’s plans to turn “food” into fuel. If the world ramps up its ethanol production, the dictator argues, millions of citizens of third-world countries will starve as food is removed from the market in order to fuel vehicles and produce electricity. Plus, the world’s ecology will be dramatically thrown out of whack.

“The sinister idea of converting food into fuel has definitely been established as an economic lineament in U.S. foreign policy,” Castro wrote.

He argues even if America dedicates its entire annual corn crop to ethanol production, it would still not be nearly enough fuel for its needs. The remaining demand will have to come from the mouths of folks relying on the cheap food to survive.

“If you apply this recipe in third world countries, you’ll see how many people of the hungry masses of our planet will stop eating corn,” says Castro.

I have to admit, the man has a point.

Already, corn prices are reaching record levels, and ethanol is nothing more than a “subject to entertain.” None of the nation’s big players are backing ethanol.

When/if they do, corn and sugar prices will soar and the folks who depend on cheap food to survive are in trouble. Hopefully the grass truly is greener on the other side. Millions of folks may have to munch on it.

Ethanol is not the ultimate saving grace most politicians would like you to believe it is. There are a lot of kinks still to be worked out.

Anytime a planet is as addicted to something as we are to energy, problems will occur. Replacing crude oil with ethanol is nothing more than replacing heroin with cocaine. They are both expensive, extremely addictive, and never lead to anything good.

Unfortunately, ethanol production, on a global scale, may cause more harm than good.

John Edwards will give you Free Health

By William F. Buckley

The word among professional Democrats is that John Edwards
has set the stakes on the matter of health care, and no
one who wants to be president can offer less than he is
offering, which is -- of course -- guaranteed health. That
is to say, guaranteed free health care.

Mr. Edwards' primary complaint is that 47 million Americans
do not have health insurance. In a free society, one scans
this datum in search of its component parts.

If health insurance were without cost, one assumes that
everyone would have health insurance. A corollary of this
is that everyone, in a society of allegedly free health
care, would actually be paying the collective costs of
health care. The political challenge lies in disguising
the cost.

When a commodity is quantifiably measurable, yet universal-
ly available, like air, one can talk about its being
"free". Only people in submarines need to measure air, and
to pay the cost of supplying it. Health care, unlike air,
can't be free, because doctors and nurses and drugs are
not in infinite supply. So can we generate what amounts to
a public subsidy by reducing the costs of health care?

To look that problem in the face, we search out relevant
figures. One set of these reveals that the cost of health
care for an American is twice what it is for a Western
European. If in Germany it costs $100 per day per patient
at a hospital, while a comparable hospital stay in the
United States costs $200, one reaches for an explanation.
Is it that American health care is twice as expensive
because it is twice as comprehensive, twice as resource-
ful? Or is it simply that, for other reasons, doctors
and nurses and drugs cost twice as much in the United

In any case, how do we go about reducing these costs?
Either you pass a law that doctors and nurses and drug
companies have to slash the cost of their services and
products by one-half -- a proposal nowhere hinted at by
Mr. Edwards -- or else we need to reduce the number of
people entitled to receive that health service. How do
you do that?

Not by going in the direction proposed by Candidate
Edwards, but by going in the opposite direction. His
proposal is that more people should be covered. But
if more people are insured, they will increase their
consumption of health care, and therefore increase the
total U.S. expenditure on health care.

But John Edwards calls for something different -- a fiscal
frumpery by which the cost of health care is somehow
dissipated. This is done by obscuring the agent by which
health care is provided. It has frequently been noticed by
social philosophers that from about 1943, when income taxes
were first collected so to speak at the source, via with-
holding, the average worker does not think of himself as
being taxed -- because the instrument by which the money
is taken is so automatic as to be more or less invisible.
When an American worker is hired at $700 per week, he
reckons his income not at $700, but at $500, which is the
size of his paycheck.

Mr. Edwards speaks grandly about health coverage for
47 million people who do not now have it. But unless there
is a diminution in the cost of health services, they will
be paid for by somebody. If it is so that the 47 million
without insurance are the identical 47 million who are the
nation's poorest, then it might be said that all we are
really engaging in is more redistribution. There is a case
to be made for this, and indeed, redistribution has been
accepted for years. The wealthiest 5 percent of Americans
pay 54 percent of all taxes, which means they are paying
taxes that would otherwise be paid by the 95 percent of
Americans whose tax rates are lower.

Therefore, Mr. Edwards is doing nothing more than to call
for increased taxes on the wealthy. They used to call
that socialized medicine, when it was instituted by Great
Britain after the war. It crossed the Atlantic into Canada,
which is a tidy country in which to get sick, provided you
can afford to travel across the border to an American

A Sobering Prediction

About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government." "A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury."

"From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage"

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul , Minnesota , points out some interesting facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:

Number of States Won By: Gore: 19; Bush: 29
Square miles of land won by: Gore: 580,000; Bush: 2,427,000
Population of counties won by: Gore: 127 million; Bush: 143 million
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Gore: 13.2; Bush: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty-million criminal invaders called illegals and they vote, then we can say good-bye to the USA in fewer than five years.

Pass this along to help everyone realize just how much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.

Every Day Is A Gift...Unwrap It !Rodney Lyle

Two Busted Flushes: The U.S. and Iranian Negotiations

By George Friedman

U.S., Iranian and Syrian diplomats met in Baghdad on March 10 to discuss the future of Iraq. Shortly afterward, everyone went out of their way to emphasize that the meetings either did not mean anything or that they were not formally one-on-one, which meant that other parties were present. Such protestations are inevitable: All of the governments involved have substantial domestic constituencies that do not want to see these talks take place, and they must be placated by emphasizing the triviality. Plus, all bargainers want to make it appear that such talks mean little to them. No one buys a used car by emphasizing how important the purchase is. He who needs it least wins.

These protestations are, however, total nonsense. That U.S., Iranian and Syrian diplomats would meet at this time and in that place is of enormous importance. It is certainly not routine: It means the shadowy conversations that have been going on between the United States and Iran in particular are now moving into the public sphere. It means not only that negotiations concerning Iraq are under way, but also that all parties find it important to make these negotiations official. That means progress is being made. The question now goes not to whether negotiations are happening, but to what is being discussed, what an agreement might look like and how likely it is to occur.

Let's begin by considering the framework in which each side is operating.

The United States: Geopolitical Compulsion Washington needs a settlement in Iraq. Geopolitically, Iraq has soaked up a huge proportion of U.S. fighting power. Though casualties remain low (when compared to those in the Vietnam War), the war-fighting bandwidth committed to Iraq is enormous relative to forces. Should another crisis occur in the world, the U.S. Army would not be in a position to respond. As a result, events elsewhere could suddenly spin out of control.

For example, we have seen substantial changes in Russian behavior of late. Actions that would have been deemed too risky for the Russians two years ago appear to be risk-free now. Moscow is pressuring Europe, using energy supplies for leverage and issuing threatening statements concerning U.S. ballistic missile defense plans in Central Europe -- in apparent hopes that the governments in this region and the former Soviet Union, where governments have been inclined to be friendly to the United States, will reappraise their positions.

But the greatest challenge from the Russians comes in the Middle East. The traditional role of Russia (in its Soviet guise) was to create alliances in the region -- using arms transfers as a mechanism for securing the power of Arab regimes internally and for resisting U.S. power in the region. The Soviets armed Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and so on, creating powerful networks of client states during much of the Cold War.

The Russians are doing this again. There is a clear pattern of intensifying arms sales to Syria and Iran -- a pattern designed to increase the difficulty of U.S. and Israeli air strikes against either state and to increase the internal security of both regimes. The United States has few levers with which to deter Russian behavior, and Washington's ongoing threats against Iran and Syria increase the desire of these states to have Russian supplies and patronage.

The fact is that the United States has few viable military options here. Except for the use of air strikes -- which, when applied without other military measures, historically have failed either to bring about regime change or to deter powers from pursuing their national interests -- the United States has few military options in the region. Air power might work when an army is standing by to take advantage of the weaknesses created by those strikes, but absent a credible ground threat, air strikes are merely painful, not decisive.

And, to be frank, the United States simply lacks capability in the Army. In many ways, the U.S. Army is in revolt against the Bush administration. Army officers at all levels (less so the Marines) are using the term "broken" to refer to the condition of the force and are in revolt against the administration -- not because of its goals, but because of its failure to provide needed resources nearly six years after 9/11. This revolt is breaking very much into the public domain, and that will further cripple the credibility of the Bush administration.

The "surge" strategy announced late last year was Bush's last gamble. It demonstrated that the administration has the power and will to defy public opinion -- or international perceptions of it -- and increase, rather than decrease, forces in Iraq. The Democrats have also provided Bush with a window of opportunity: Their inability to formulate a coherent policy on Iraq has dissipated the sense that they will force imminent changes in U.S. strategy. Bush's gamble has created a psychological window of opportunity, but if this window is not used, it will close -- and, as administration officials have publicly conceded, there is no Plan B. The situation on the ground is as good as it is going to get.

Leaving the question of his own legacy completely aside, Bush knows three things. First, he is not going to impose a military solution on Iraq that suppresses both the Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militias. Second, he has successfully created a fleeting sense of unpredictability, as far as U.S. behavior is concerned. And third, if he does not use this psychological window of opportunity to achieve a political settlement within the context of limited military progress, the moment not only will be lost, but Russia might also emerge as a major factor in the Middle East -- eroding a generation of progress toward making the United States the sole major power in that region. Thus, the United States is under geopolitical compulsion to reach a settlement.

Iran: Psychological and Regional Compulsions

The Iranians are also under pressure. They have miscalculated on what Bush would do: They expected military drawdown, and instead they got the surge. This has conjured up memories of the miscalculation on what the 1979 hostage crisis would bring: The revolutionaries had bet on a U.S. capitulation, but in the long run they got an Iraqi invasion and Ronald Reagan.

Expediency Council Chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani already has warned the Iranians not to underestimate the United States, saying it is a "wounded tiger" and therefore much more dangerous than otherwise. In addition, the Iranians know some important things.

The first is that, while the Americans conceivably might forget about Iraq, Iran never can. Uncontrolled chaos next door could spill over into Iran in numerous ways -- separatist sentiments among the Kurds, the potential return of a Sunni government if the Shia are too fractured to govern, and so forth. A certain level of security in Iraq is fundamental to Iran's national interests.

Related to this, there are concerns that Iraq's Shia are so fractious that they might not be serviceable as a coherent vehicle for Iranian power. A civil war among the Shia of Iraq is not inconceivable, and if that were to happen, Iran's ability to project power in Iraq would crumble.

Finally, Iran's ability to threaten terror strikes against U.S. interests depends to a great extent on Hezbollah in Lebanon. And it knows that Hezbollah is far more interested in the power and wealth to be found in Lebanon than in some global -- and potentially catastrophic -- war against the United States. The Iranian leadership has seen al Qaeda's leaders being hunted and hiding in Pakistan, and they have little stomach for that. In short, Iranian leaders might not have all the options they would like to pretend they have, and their own weakness could become quite public very quickly.

Still, like the Americans, the Iranians have done well in generating perceptions of their own resolute strength. First, they have used their influence in Iraq to block U.S. ambitions there. Second, they have supported Hezbollah in its war against Israel, creating the impression that Hezbollah is both powerful and pliant to Tehran. In other words, they have signaled a powerful covert capability. Third, they have used their nuclear program to imply capabilities substantially beyond what has actually been achieved, which gives them a powerful bargaining chip. Finally, they have entered into relations with the Russians -- implying a strategic evolution that would be disastrous for the United States.

The truth, however, is somewhat different. Iran has sufficient power to block a settlement on Iraq, but it lacks the ability to impose one of its own making. Second, Hezbollah is far from willing to play the role of global suicide bomber to support Iranian ambitions. Third, an Iranian nuclear bomb is far from being a reality. Finally, Iran has, in the long run, much to fear from the Russians: Moscow is far more likely than Washington to reduce Iran to a vassal state, should Tehran grow too incautious in the flirtation. Iran is holding a very good hand. But in the end, its flush is as busted as the Americans'.

Moreover, the Iranians still remember the mistake of 1979. Rather than negotiating a settlement to the hostage crisis with a weak and indecisive President Jimmy Carter, who had been backed into a corner, they opted to sink his chances for re-election and release the hostages after the next president, Reagan, took office. They expected gratitude. But in a breathtaking display of ingratitude, Reagan followed a policy designed to devastate Iran in its war with Iraq. In retrospect, the Iranians should have negotiated with the weak president rather than destroy him and wait for the strong one.

Rafsanjani essentially has reminded the Iranian leadership of this painful fact. Based on that, it is clear that he wants negotiations with Bush, whose strength is crippled, rather than with his successor. Not only has Bush already signaled a willingness to talk, but U.S. intelligence also has publicly downgraded the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons -- saying that, in fact, Iran's program has not progressed as far as it might have. The Iranians have demanded a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, but they have been careful not to specify what that timetable should look like. Each side is signaling a re-evaluation of the other and a degree of flexibility in outcomes.

As for Syria, which also shares a border with Iraq and was represented at Saturday's meetings in Baghdad, it is important but not decisive. The Syrians have little interest in Iraq but great interest in Lebanon. The regime in Damascus wants to be freed from the threat of investigation in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it wants to have its interests in Lebanon guaranteed. The Israelis, for their part, have no interest in bringing down the al Assad regime: They are far more fearful of what the follow-on Sunni regime might bring than they are of a minority Alawite regime that is more interested in money than in Allah. The latter they can deal with; the former is the threat.

In other words, Syria does not affect fundamental U.S. interests, and the Israelis do not want to see the current regime replaced. The Syrians, therefore, are not the decisive factor when it comes to Iraq. This is about the United States and Iran.

Essential Points

If the current crisis continues, each side might show itself much weaker than it wants to appear. The United States could find itself in a geopolitical spasm, coupled with a domestic political crisis. Iran could find itself something of a toothless tiger -- making threats that are known to have little substance behind them. The issue is what sort of settlement there could be.

We see the following points as essential to the two main players:

The creation of an Iraqi government that is dominated by Shia, neutral to Iran, hostile to jihadists but accommodating to some Sunni groups.

Guarantees for Iran's commercial interests in southern Iraqi oil fields, with some transfers to the Sunnis (who have no oil in their own territory) from fields in both the northern (Kurdish) and southern (Shiite) regions.

Guarantees for U.S. commercial interests in the Kurdish regions.

An Iraqi military without offensive capabilities, but substantial domestic power. This means limited armor and air power, but substantial light infantry.

An Iraqi army operated on a "confessional" basis -- each militia and insurgent group retained as units and controlling its own regions.

Guarantee of a multiyear U.S. presence, without security responsibility for Iraq, at about 40,000 troops.

A U.S.-Iranian "commission" to manage political conflict in Iraq.

U.S. commercial relations with Iran.

The definition of the Russian role, without its exclusion.

A meaningless but symbolic commitment to a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Such an agreement would not be expected to last very long. It might last, but the primary purpose would be to allow each side to quietly fold its busted flushes in the game for Iraq.

'Atlas Shrugged' – 50 Years Later

WHEN AYN RAND finished writing Atlas Shrugged 50 years ago this month, she set off an intellectual shock wave that is still felt today. It's credited for helping to halt the communist tide and ushering in the currents of capitalism. Many readers say it transformed their lives. A 1991 poll rated it the second-most influential book (after the Bible) for Americans.

At one level, Atlas Shrugged is a steamy soap opera fused into a page- turning political thriller. At nearly 1,200 pages, it has to be. But the epic account of capitalist heroes versus collectivist villains is merely the vehicle for Ms. Rand's philosophical ideal: "man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." In addition to founding her own philosophical system, objectivism, Rand is honored as the modern fountainhead of laissez-faire capitalism, and as an impassioned, uncompromising, and unapologetic proponent of reason, liberty, individualism, and rational self-interest.

There is much to commend, and much to condemn, in Atlas Shrugged. Its object – to restore man to his rightful place in a free society – is wholesome. But its ethical basis – an inversion of the Christian values that predicate authentic capitalism – poisons its teachings.

Mixed Lessons from Rand's Heroes

Rand articulates like no other writer the evils of totalitarianism, interventionism, corporate welfarism, and the socialist mindset. Atlas Shrugged describes in wretched detail how collective "we" thinking and middle-of-the-road interventionism leads a nation down a road to serfdom. No one has written more persuasively about property rights, honest money (a gold-backed dollar), and the right of an individual to safeguard his wealth and property from the agents of coercion ("taxation is theft"). And long before Gordon Gekko, icon of the movie Wall Street, she made greed seem good.

I applaud her effort to counter the negative image of big business as robber barons. Her entrepreneurs are high-minded, principled achievers who relish the competitive edge and have the creative genius to invent exciting new products, manage businesses efficiently, and produce great symphonies without cutting corners. Such actions are often highly risky and financially dangerous and are often met with derision at first.

Rand rightly points out that these enterprising leaders are a major cause of economic progress. History is full of examples of "men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision." In the novel, protagonist Hank Reardon defends his philosophy before a court: "I refuse to apologize for my ability – I refuse to apologize for my success – I refuse to apologize for my money."

But there's a dark side to Rand's teachings. Her defense of greed and selfishness, her diatribes against religion and charitable sacrificing for others who are less fortunate, and her criticism of the Judeo-Christian virtues under the guise of rational Objectivism have tarnished her advocacy of unfettered capitalism. Still, Rand's extreme canard is a brilliant invention that serves as an essential counterpoint in the battle of ideas.

The Atlas characters are exceptionally memorable. They are the unabashed "immovable movers" of the world who think of nothing but their own business and making money. "... I want to be prepared to claim the greatest virtue of them all – that I was a man who made money," says copper titan Francisco d'Anconia. But these men are regarded as ruthless, greedy, single-minded individualists. They are men (except for Dagny Taggart, who could be confused for a man) who always talk shop and give scant attention to their family. In fact, no children appear in Rand's magnum opus.

Her chief protagonist, John Galt, is an uncompromising superman. He is the proverbial Atlas who holds the world on his shoulders. He has invented a fantastic motor, yet is so frustrated with state authority that he withdraws his talents – hence the title, Atlas Shrugged – and spends the next dozen years working as a manual laborer for Taggart International.

Mr. Galt somehow succeeds in getting the world's top capitalists to go on strike and, in many cases, strike back at an increasingly oppressive collectivist government. Rand's plot violates a key tenet of business existence, which is to constantly work within the system to find ways to make money. Real-world entrepreneurs are compromisers and dealmakers, not true believers. They wouldn't give a hoot for Galt.

Rand, of course, knows this. And that's OK, because Atlas Shrugged is about philosophy, not busness. In her world, there are two kinds of people: those who serve and satisfy themselves only and those who believe that they should strive to serve and satisfy others. She calls the latter "altruists."

Rand is truly revolutionary because she makes the first serious attempt to protest against altruism. She rejects the heart over the mind and faith beyond reason. Indeed, she denies the existence of any god or higher being, or any other authority over one's own mind. For her, the highest form of happiness is fulfilling one's own dreams, not someone else's – or the public's.

Galt crystallizes the Randian motto: "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine." No sacrifice, no altruism, no feelings, just pure egotistical selfishness, which Rand declares to be supreme logic and reason.

This philosophy transcends politics and economics into romance. The novel's sex scenes are narcissistic, mechanical, and violent. Are the lessons of her book any way to run a marriage, a family, a business, a charity, or a community?

To be sure, Rand makes a key point about altruism. A philosophy of sacrificing for others can lead to a political system that mandates sacrificing for others. That, Rand shows with frightening clarity, leads to a dysfunctional society of deadbeats and bleeding-heart do-gooders (Rand calls them "looters") who are corrupted by benefits and unearned income, and constantly tax the productive citizens to pay for their pet philanthropic missions. According to Rand, they are "anti-life."

But is the only alternative to embrace the opposite, Rand's philosophy of extreme self-centeredness? Must we accept her materialist metaphysics in which, as Whittaker Chambers wrote in 1957, "Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world"?

No, there is another choice. If society is to survive and prosper, citizens must find a balance between the two extremes of self-interest and public interest.

Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, may have found that Aristotelian mean in his "system of natural liberty." Mr. Smith and Rand agree on the universal benefits of a free, capitalistic society. But Smith rejects Rand's vision of selfish independence. He asserts two driving forces behind man's actions.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, he identifies the first as "sympathy" or "benevolence" toward others in society. In his later work, The Wealth of Nations, he focuses on the second – self-interest – which he defines as the right to pursue one's own business. Both, he argues, are essential to achieve "universal opulence."

Smith's self-interest never reaches the Randian selfishness that ignores the interest of others. In Smith's mind, an individual's goals cannot be fully achieved in business unless he appeals to the needs of others. This insight was beautifully stated two centuries later by free-market champion Ludwig von Mises. In his book,
The Anti-Capitalist Mentality, he writes: "Wealth can be acquired only by serving the consumers."

Golden Rule Anchors True Capitalism
Smith's theme echoes his Christian heritage, particularly the Golden rule, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matt. 7:12). Perhaps a true capitalist spirit can best be summed up in the commandment, "Love thy neighbour as thyself" (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39). Smith and Mr. von Mises would undoubtedly agree with this creed, but the heroes of Atlas Shrugged – and their creator – would agree with only half.

Today's most successful libertarian CEOs, such as John Mackey of Whole Foods Markets and Charles Koch of Koch Industries, have adopted the authentic spirit of capitalism that is more in keeping with Smith than Rand.
Theirs is a "stakeholder" philosophy that works within the system to fulfill the needs of customers, employees, shareholders, the community, and themselves. Their balanced business model of self- interest and public interest shows how the marketplace can grow globally in harmony with the interests of workers, capitalists, and the community – and can even displace bad government.

The golden rule is the correct solution in business and life. But would we have recognized this Aristotelian mean without sampling Rand's anthem, or for that matter, the other extreme of Marxism-Leninism? As Benjamin Franklin said, "By the collision of different sentiments, sparks of truth are struck out, and political light is obtained."

John Galt – it's time to come home and go to work.

Regards – AEIOUMark Skousen

Where’s the Party?

Along with most of America, my feelings about George Dubya have been pretty wobbly of late. Not that they were ever as cheerleader-ish as many of my critics would claim…

However, I’ll admit there have been moments when the man’s, uhh, uncomplicated leadership has loaned a much-needed singularity of vision to certain political endeavors, in my opinion. His was the opposite of Carter’s “analysis to paralysis” style -- and a refreshing change from Clinton’s finger-to-the-wind, ask-the-wife-first, what-they-don’t-know-can’t-hurt-’em method of governance.

I say “was” because Bush has clearly morphed -- like most modern lame-duck American politicians -- into a shapeless, spineless entity more worried about his legacy than his country. Borrowing a page from the Democrats’ playbook, Bush has tailored his rhetoric and agenda toward not principles or leadership, but appeasement and capitulation to those in power, and a more favorable depiction among those who write tomorrow’s accounts of today’s history…

Seriously, all partisanship aside (literally -- I’m feeling like a man without a party these days), I want those of you reading this who actually watched the State of the Union address to ask yourselves this question:
If you somehow didn’t know that George W. Bush was a Republican president, could you have figured it out by what he said in his speech?

I’ll tell you right now that I couldn’t have, at least not by any of the yardsticks the GOP likes to claim as its own. Aside from a token bit of nebulous rhetoric about erasing the deficit and balancing the federal budget -- laughable coming from the mouth of what has to be one of the biggest-spending, government-bloating presidents in history -- many of Bush’s talking points sounded like some of Bill Clinton’s, and Al Gore’s, from various speeches during their tenure…

Only not as well (or even as convincingly) articulated.

That’s one of the main reasons I’m writing this rambling discourse today: Because I’m alarmed at the fact that the rhetoric of the two dominant political parties in the U.S. today seems always to inexorably blend together when there’s a balance of power between them in our government -- like a pair of amoebas mating... Actually, I’m not alarmed. That’s what they do, politicians. They test the wind, kiss each other’s butts, line each other’s pockets, and then tell us what they think we want to hear while telling each other whatever pays them the most. And we all know it. What’s worse, we’ve all grown to expect and accept it. What disgusts me about it is that they all tell the same lies, just at different times -- yet ALWAYS toward the same goal: a bigger and more intrusive government.

In this respect, at least across the span of the election and reign of the current administration, the Democrats are far less deceptive than their Republican rivals. Though they try to understate it in election years, most times, the left makes little effort to conceal its desire to expand government -- they see it as the cure to all our ills. The GOP, however, rides to power on the votes of millions of Americans who cling naively to the hope that it is the “smaller government” party it claims to be…

Then it legislates and spends us into the governmental equivalent of a diabetic coma too!

And in this State of the Union speech, I heard not only the same old lies in frilly, updated verse, but also a whole pack of new ones that I find so brazen and absurd I can’t stay quiet about them. Here are just a few of the low spots, for me…

The Speech As Spin

Aside from being one of the least meaty State of the Union addresses I can remember, Bush 43’s latest effort rung throughout with a kind of desperation, in my opinion -- not the desperate will to persevere in policy leadership against newly empowered political adversaries, but the need to simply be a relevant part of changing policies that are well beyond his control.

Though well delivered (for him), the speech smacked more of issue ownership than initiative. In other words, the status-quo “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality that so frequently pervades two-party American politics. A few examples…


Dubya spoke with conviction about a return to “spending discipline” in government. But does this mean “spending cuts”? Because I didn’t hear much in the speech about what programs, entitlements, or benefits are in line to get the ax. In the address, Bush never makes the promise to actually trim any spending at all. Instead, he appears to be relying on future tax revenues computed from his own rosy economic forecasts to eliminate the federal deficit and balance the budget -- without raising taxes.

Yet in the real world of an ever-older American citizenry coupled with a draining invasion of parasitic illegal immigrants (from a free benefits standpoint), his pledge to restrain the spending appetite of the federal government seems contradictory to his stated desire to “fix” Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid with nothing more than “good sense and goodwill.” Again, without raising taxes.

It takes MONEY to bail out these programs. That means other programs have to go or revenue has to increase. Simple as that. Since Bush seems unwilling to do anything but expand programs and entitlements (not to mention tax cuts), where is this money going to come from? Especially in time of war?
Let me be clear: I’m all for tax cuts. They worked to stimulate the economy in Kennedy’s era (he was a fiscal conservative, you know), during the Reagan years, and have arguably worked in the current administration. But how overheated would our economy have to get to sustain tax cuts AND new programs AND a massive benefits bailout AND an expensive war?

Is a boom of such scope even possible, never mind likely? More importantly, were it to occur, would the government REALLY be able to resist the urge to fritter away all that shiny new money squaring the books, instead of on a bunch of programs aimed at increasing your dependence on them?

Uhh, no.


In keeping with Bush’s tone-deafness toward those who got him into office, his plans to double the size of the Border Patrol and to fund “new infrastructure and technology” run contrary to what the American people want -- on both sides of the political fence (but especially on the right). A Rasmussen poll in 2005 revealed that more than 60% of Americans favored the construction of a barrier along our nation’s southern border. Surveys closer to the election pegged this number at as much as 80%. Candidates from both parties promised strong action on illegal immigration in the run-up to the 2006 midterm election, with the border fence an oft-mentioned solution…

Yet here we are, talking about the same old stuff. Increasing the Border Patrol. “Guest worker” programs. Employer accountability. These things all expand the scope and reach of government, and increase spending in all the wrong ways -- yet do nothing to curb the influx and cost of illegals who come here not for work, but for the free benefits and instant citizenship status for their babies.

To be fair about it, BOTH parties want the illegal tide to continue unabated. The Republicans want it for cheap labor for businesses and the Democrats want it to expand dependency on government, which translates into votes.

But think about it: If ever there were an opportunity for Bush and the Republicans to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people, it’s with this issue.

The GOP already knows that most Americans want the fence. It’s far cheaper and more reliable than expanding the Border Patrol, and people know it. You’d think that even if Bush doesn’t want the fence in his big-business heart of hearts, he would at least aggressively push for it rhetorically to make the Democrats show their true colors by shooting it down…

But NO, he’s got to roll over into the great wishy-washy middle ground that inevitably prevails for both parties. Meanwhile, we pay out ever more in benefits to illegals, lose ever more in taxes from under-the-table wage paying, and STILL live with the most lax border security imaginable!


Here’s a gem: Bush is going to cut U.S. gasoline consumption by 20% in 10 years. Did you see Cheney’s expression in the background as the Prez unleashed this one? Was that a smirk I saw?
Yeah, this’ll happen. Our country’s population is exploding exponentially. Air travel is such a god-awful pain in the ass that people are driving more for vacations. Cities are expanding into greater and greater sprawl, so commuting distances are getting longer and longer…

Aside from this, “hybrid” gas-electric vehicles aren’t proving as fuel-efficient as they’re touted to be (look this up -- it’s true). Ethanol takes more energy to produce than it saves and is a bona-fide nonstarter, as almost any of my Agora Financial comrades can tell you. Hydrogen “fuel cells” are potentially decades off -- if manufacturers can work out the safety, range, and supply issues. And although rechargeable electric cars may someday indeed curb gas usage, they would increase consumption of air-polluting coal for electricity generation, not to mention present environmental challenges from this battery disposal.

Basically, this is nothing more than an attempt at issue control. The Republicans know that rank-and-file Americans (especially tomorrow’s voters) are turning greener, and are against dependence on Middle East oil -- yet they’re also unwilling to tolerate ramping up domestic oil production…

So they try to rebrand themselves as being on the cutting edge of conservationist policies to: A) garner future votes, B) steal some of the opposition’s core thunder, and C) be able to blame a Democrat Congress when this ridiculous proposal fails.

It’s just more of the same type of typical political rhetorical game-playing that marks the Republocrat party that’s perennially running things.

Small Gov Snubbed Forever?

I’m usually pretty good about putting a “bottom line” on these missives, but today I haven’t really got one. I just wanted to vent a bit about the mealy-mouthed, double-tongued nature of two-party American politics, as revealed by the latest State of the Union address -- not that this one is so unique in the modern age. And of course, there’s a lot more I could say about the speech to buttress my points (health insurance, the war, etc.), but you already get my drift…

That all American political rhetoric is a crock of crap we’ve come to accept without outrage -- and that the two parties are basically dedicated to the same insidious goal of governmental expansion. The fact that they marginally disagree about how best to do this is immaterial.

Basically, the frustrating bottom line for me is this: Not that this would even be possible, but in order for this country to once again have a true two-party parity of ideas, there’d almost have to be a viable THIRD party in the mix (are you listening, Libertarians?). In my opinion, the Republicans are too far gone to reverse course and become the smaller-government “yin” to the Democrats’ “yang.” They’ve sipped from the fountain of big government and found that it was sweet…

Now, the two parties are only truly distinct from one another at their fringes. For the most part, neither is dedicated to preserving our freedoms (perish the thought!) or protecting our citizenry -- only extracting the most money out of us to sustain the greatest possible dependency on government.

And at this, they should be toasting each other to their great and continuing success.
Wishing for a State of Disunion,

Jim Amrhein,Contributing Editor,

Whiskey & Gunpowder