Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Goose and The Gander

Authors Note: Please take 10 minutes to read this short story. It is premised on a near future scenario that is quite likely to occur if we allow our "leaders" to follow climate change scare mongers.

The Goose and The Gander

Robert Redford Goes Home To Roost

A Short Story by Craig Willms

Robert Redford, the fine Hollywood actor, was well pleased. Watching CNN on his 90” plasma TV in the living room of his expansive Utah ranch house he silently smirked as the redneck being interviewed went completely ballistic. It had finally happened, he mused, that colossal energy waster and air polluter that was NASCAR is banned out of existence.

NASCAR was just latest. Nothing was sacred in the fight against global climate change.

Over the years he had watched with glee as one by one they fell. First GM, Ford and Chrysler were taken down. Saddled with the dual mandates of fuel efficiency standards and workers pension rights Chrysler quietly went under while Ford and GM had essentially become resellers of tiny Asian automobiles. Next it was the energy industry. Big coal, gas and oil endured stringent (some would say excessive) environmental regulation and taxation. People everywhere dutifully packed into buses and trains suffering long, uncomfortable commutes before coming home to the specter of not having power or lights – again. The initial blackouts were met with more legislation requiring the public to turn down their thermostats and curtail the usage of power hungry appliances.

This is good, thought Redford, Americans had grown fat and lazy. It’s about time they learn the value of hard times and deprivation. He smiled at his housekeeper Conteza as she closed up the dishwasher and turned it on.

“Thanks, sweetie,” he said affectionately. “Don’t forget to turn off the lights in there before you leave – we all have to do our part.”

“Yes, Mr. Redford. Will there be anything else?”

“Yeah, on your way out poke your head in the pool room and make sure I turned off the hot tub.” With his eyes again riveted on the giant TV he shouted over his shoulder, “See you tomorrow. Oh, wait, I’m going to LA tomorrow… See you next week.”

“OK, have a nice trip, sir.” Conteza disappeared down the long hall on her way to the pool room.

The conversation reminded him that he needed to call his pilot. The jet would need to be fueled up for a very early flight and the tanker bringing jet fuel out to his private airstrip would be arriving at the crack of dawn.

He looked forward to this trip more than most. He had finally found funding for his next movie. It amazed him that it took so long. Who wouldn’t want to be involved with this magnificent project? A chance to produce a biography of a living legend didn’t come along everyday. “An Inconvenient Man” would surely net him a best director nomination. He smiled and let his mind wander until he realized there would be no gala event to celebrate his achievement. Large, energy wasting public gatherings had been abandoned by the entertainment industry. Still, any honor for his treatment of the Albert Gore Jr. story would be reward enough.

The show biz industry had changed so much as he approached his 85th birthday that he hardly recognized it. Spectacular opening night premieres were a thing of the past. They were so wasteful with all those spotlights, limousines, TV crews and paparazzi. Still, the real-time Internet events never had the same appeal. It really didn’t matter now; most of his friends he shared those moments with were either dead or had moved to France where the lights never went dark. He sighed… It was a sign of the times – movies were downloaded now – the age of the cineplex had come and gone. Oh how he missed it.

Snapping out of his nostalgic trance he remembered why he should be grateful instead of melancholy. The strip mall culture that had spawned those grotesque multiplex theatres in the suburbs had ended when gas prices finally turned suburbia into a ghost town. The enormous amount of energy used by all those consumer palaces of wretched excess made him sick. Not to mention the inefficiency of all those gas guzzling cars dragging lazy Americans around one at a time.

His phone rang jarring him back to the here and now. “Hello.”

“They did it again!” It was his ranch manager, Pedro Santiago. “Eleven more trees down over by Fonda Creek.”

“Damn it!” Redford cursed. “Jesus H. Christ? Why are they doing this, Pedro?”

“I suppose because they need the wood…”

“Oh, shut the hell up.” Redford said, more irritated with Pedro than the loss of the irreplaceable trees.

“Firewood, I guess. Fuel prices are so high…”

“Yeah, but what gives them the right to take my trees? This is private land.”

“Yes, sir. People who need to keep warm just don’t give a darn about private land.”

Redford half suspected Pedro was in on it but lacked any proof. “OK, get yourself a couple of guys. I want around the clock patrols. Catch the bastards in the act. Hold them at gun point if you have to until the sheriff gets out here.”

“Hard to find anyone with guns these days, sir – maybe some old hunting rifles that were spared confiscation under the Family Heirloom Protection Act…”

“Oh, for God’s sake Pedro, take a couple of mine if you have to! Just get them.”

He threw the phone across the room. He tried to imagine how anyone could cut down eleven giant trees in the middle of the night without anyone seeing anything. He remembered reading a story on the New York Times Online of how it had become a huge problem out east. Entire forests were disappearing in the Catskills and all up and down the Appalachians. There were times the entire east coast was buried under the pall of wood smoke. It was enough to choke a horse. What was this world coming to?

Still angry as he drifted off to sleep he finally let his thoughts return to the coming day when he would be in LA to start putting together his masterpiece.

The phone at his bedside erupted with a cacophony of bell tones wrestling him from the depths of REM sleep. Outside the nascent dawn set his impressive floor to ceiling windows aglow with a soft pink light. His eyes only saw red.

“What now!?” Redford shouted into the phone.

“Sir, it’s me John, John Malloy. We’ve got a problem.”

“Sorry, John…” Malloy was his personal pilot and long time friend. “What’s going on?”

“The tanker truck that was supposed to deliver the jet fuel was hijacked early this morning.”

“Hijacked? For goodness sake, who the hell would steal jet fuel?”

“It’s essentially kerosene. Heating oil.”

His thoughts raced back to the conversation he had with Pedro just a few hours ago. First his trees and now this, was it really that bad? “How does someone hide a tanker truck? Shouldn’t be that hard for the authorities to find, you’d think.”

John chuckled. “There a hundred barns between here and Provo big enough to hide it in. Five thousand gallons of kerosene will heat a lot of homes - I don’t think anyone is going to talk. The state police told my buddy at Great Lakes Express that this is third one this winter in Utah alone. The rigs eventually show up at truck stops empty but undamaged. I guess the state police are going to start escorting them.”

“So, now what? Can we get more fuel out here today?” Redford asked.

Again Malloy chuckled, “Not going to happen, my friend. We’d be lucky to see any by this time next week.”

“What the hell, John, I have to be in LA today!”

“Well, I guess we drive down to Provo and catch a commercial flight. Probably have to hop through Salt Lake or Vegas, no direct flights from Provo to anywhere.”

“Damn it, I’m screwed… How close are you? We need to get going.”

“I’ll be there soon - if the battery in this rolling death trap holds out.” John Malloy hated the electric Honda he drove. He pined for the days when he could mash his foot down and hear the roar of a hearty V8. These plastic wind-up toys they called cars these days were so depressing. “Get your things off the plane and meet me at the garage in about ten minutes.”

Speeding toward Provo on U.S.189 at ninety miles an hour the big BMW seemed to float over the long gray pavement. John Malloy knew that it was a patently stupid question asking Bob Redford if he wanted to take the Toyota E-Car or the 9-Series. He had never seen the man in the Toyota. But ask he did.

“You’re joking, right? I am not driving all the way down to Provo crammed into to that thing. These hills are full of 1200lb bull elks (the Toyota weighed 1300lbs soaking wet.) I want to get there in one piece.”

Malloy steered the luxury car through the twisting hills as Redford talked on the cell. The majestic and serene landscape that filled his eyes was continually offset by the bouts of cursing that filled his ears coming from the man in the seat next to him.

“What is going on with this God damn thing?” Redford pushed frantically on the key pad trying to reconnect with some industry hack in LA. “I can’t get a signal, nothing! We never used to have this problem. How the hell am I supposed to get anything done?”

“These cell towers go down all the time, Bob, you know that. These extended blackouts last longer than the battery back-up does. The closer we get to the city the less chance of that happening.”

John Malloy silently shook his head. Maybe it was age, maybe it was intentional. Did Bob Redford actually not get the connection between the “battle against global climate change” and all the inconveniences he seemed to be suffering from lately? In the rarefied air men of his stature inhaled it was inconceivable that he, Robert Redford – the Sundance Kid - should be constrained by the same daily hassles as the peasants that worshiped him. Malloy stole a sideways glance at his old friend as he battled with the cell phone. No one could be that clueless, could they?

When they finally arrived at the airport they parked the car in a nearly empty parking garage and made their way to the terminal. John had called ahead only to find out there were no flights out until 6:30PM. A dreadful four hour wait.

Along the way they were besieged by beggars looking for handouts. Many of them dressed very nicely, all seemingly out of place in provincial Utah.

“Tell me this is Provo, John, not Trenton New Jersey.” Redford said as he brushed off a beggar in a three piece suit. “Don’t these guys have anything better to do?”

“I guess the recession has hit way out here by now. Utah is not immune.”

“God damn conservatives, that what the problem is, you know.” Redford fumed. “Constantly calling for lower taxes, won’t let us help these people.”

“The Republicans have been out of power for years… Don’t see how you can keep blaming them. Yeah, they’re all slimy, but pretty impotent these days.”

Redford mumbled to himself but let it die. He turned his attention toward the task at hand. The small terminal was eerily quiet. Few of the little shops were even open, making their choices rather easy. It was the coffee shop or the bar. Redford steered them toward the bar. Malloy was happy with that – since he wasn’t piloting the plane today a little Southern Comfort was just the ticket. They each wheeled their luggage carts up to the bar and pulled up a chair.

“Geez, it’s cold in here…” Redford said to the bartender. “Chivas please, on the rocks.”

The bartender took his gloves off and shook his head “All out of Chivas.”

Malloy raised his eye brow “You must have Southern Comfort? A Southern seven?”


Irritated, Redford barked at the bartender. “Well, what do you have?”

“Got some Canadian Windsor and Olympia beer.”

“What is matter with this place?” Redford asked not really expecting or even wanting an answer. “This place looks like a ghost town. It’s freezing in here, and all you got back there is some pale whiskey and piss beer.”

“Sorry, sir.” The bartender said with mock sincerity. “The trucks only run once a month out of Salt Lake. Costs too much. By the time they get through Sandy, Lehi and Lindon there’s not much left for us. We take what we can get, so will you.”

Redford turned away. “Get me a Windsor, John. I’m done with this guy.”

Flying commercial was something Robert Redford rarely did anymore. He was utterly frightened to climb aboard the 30 year old Boeing 757. Thankfully the plane was almost empty. The tickets for a round trip jaunt to LA with a 4 hour lay-over in Las Vegas were $1500 a piece. There was a $50 fuel surcharge tacked on top of that. While a man used to paying a full time pilot and maintenance on his own Lear Jet would think nothing of a $1500 ticket, the average traveler was priced out of such an extravagance. It didn’t help that only two domestic airlines were still flying, and just barely at that. United American Southwest and Delta Northwest were the finalists in the merger wars of the last decade. There was talk in Washington of nationalizing the airlines since both companies continued to lose money and market share. Business had abandoned the airlines for the most part and relied more and more on Internet conferencing. It had its virtues but it had its limits too. Redford was all for nationalizing the airline industry. Once all the unnecessary duplicate flights were stopped millions of pounds of the greenhouse gas C02 would stop contributing to global climate change – and that’s what really mattered. He smiled inwardly until he thought about another 4 hour wait in Las Vegas. It would be tomorrow when he finally arrived in LA.

Once on the ground in Las Vegas John Malloy was busy trying to reschedule a limousine service to meet them at the airport in LA. Most celebrities didn’t use them anymore – too conspicuous in this era of energy awareness, but Redford couldn’t stand driving in LA.

“Bob, no luck.” Malloy said. “Had to rent an E-Car, a Hyundai.” Redford frowned but said nothing. Malloy could see his irritation escalate with each passing minute. If they didn’t get to LA soon old Bob was going to lose it. “There just aren’t that many limo services anymore, even in LA.. It’ll be OK, I’ll drive.”

“Whatever," Redford mumbled, "this trip is turning into a nightmare. Used to be a flight from Vegas to LA every 10 minutes… Fours hours… Ridiculous.” Flying commercial was indignity enough but suffering these infernal lay-overs was more than he could take. “John, let me make one thing clear… I do not want my jet fuel tanks to run dry ever again. Do you understand? I don’t care that the trucks only roll once a week. That will not be MY problem. It will be YOURS.” His face was beet red and his eyes had that wicked look of someone on the verge of a full blown psychotic episode. “This,” he swirled his index finger, “will not happen again.”

John Malloy accompanied his friend Bob Redford to the meeting with the assistant executive producer and the production manager. This was something he wouldn’t normally do as Redford’s personal pilot, but this time he insisted because he was genuinely worried about Redford’s current mental state.

In a cramped rented conference room the four men and two female staffers sat around the table ready to pencil in the production schedule for the new film “An Inconvenient Man”.

Redford perked up as the meeting got underway, as if the previous day had not occurred. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to get this schedule set up; I think we have a big hit on our hands. Shall we start with the location schedule first - since we are going to have to work around this unusually cold winter…”

His words were met with blank stares all around the table. Samuel Fraber, the production manager was first to speak. “Bob, I’m afraid there’s been some misunderstanding…” Fraber looked at Simon Goldberg the assistant producer for GreenEarth Entertainment’s An Inconvenient Man project. “Didn’t Mr. Redford get the memo?”

“I was sure he did, at least I thought he did.” A slightly confused Goldberg said.

“Memo,” Redford said warily, “what memo?”

Goldberg nodded to Fraber as he leaned closer to aging director and said. “There aren’t going to be any locations, Bob.”

“What? What is that supposed to mean?”

“An Inconvenient Man is going to be a CG movie.” Fraber said quietly.

Stunned, Redford was without words. Goldberg stepped in. “Sorry Bob, we thought you knew. Frankly, making a traditional movie is just too energy intensive. How would it look if this tribute to the savior of the planet consumed more raw energy than an average family of 4 will use in 10 lifetimes?”

“F%$& the average family!” Redford cursed. “A God damned CG movie – you’re f%$&ing kidding me!”

“Settle down Bob.” Goldberg said. “You know as well as I that if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. Do you have any idea how much energy is needed to make one conventional movie? It’s phenomenal, mind boggling really.”

“But, but, this is an important film, damn it!” Redford stammered. “It has to be done right.”

“Of course it is, Bob.” Fraber said as if consoling an upset child. “We all know that. And we are going to do it right.”

“You expect me to attract actors to work entirely in front of a green screen?” Redford stopped as Goldberg and Fraber once again exchanged glances. “What now?”

“We’re not using actors, Bob. It will be state of the art CG actors with voice-overs.” Fraber said with the enthusiasm of a high school cheerleader.

Robert Redford looked sick. He hated CG with a passion. He grudgingly accepted it in place of dangerous, resource wasting stunts and explosions in past films, but he always drew the line at the actors. No damn CG actors in his films. Not ever!

“But, but…” In a moment of clarity he buckled. He knew they had him. Every other production house turned him down cold. People were tired of being reminded that their lives had been made miserable by the righteous act of saving the planet. The average person just wanted to be entertained. GreenEarth Entertainment was a godsend and if he wanted to get this film made he would have to let them dictate. The fight had left him, he was beaten. “Okay, we’ll make it work, whatever it takes. Which CG house are we going to use here in LA?”

Once again Goldberg and Fraber looked at each other and then over to one of the young women, the petite Asian with a wide, white smile. Goldberg said, “Bob, we are going to be working out of Shanghai for this one. Before you get too excited, hear me out. California has problems right now. Power is just too unreliable here. The better CG operations have already moved to China or Europe where the power stays up 99% of the time. We can’t have these massive computer systems going down hard in the middle of a huge compiling job. It’s ugly out there in Silicon Valley. For Christ’s sake it’s been nicknamed Silicon Death Valley. We just can’t risk it.” Goldberg paused, seeing no reaction from the legendary actor/director he simply said. “Have you been to China, Bob?”

Redford said nothing. He felt his dream slip away. An Inconvenient Man would be a joke, a cruel joke.

Goldberg turned to Fraber. “I understand you brought some preliminary sketches for the Al Gore character. Do you prefer the fat Al Gore or the skinny Al Gore?”

The End

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winter Escapism

dateline San Diego

It sucks to be home. It's cold. While it is also winter in San Diego it was on average 70 degrees warmer there than it was in the upper midwest. As we found out this is the off season in San Diego and good deals, small crowds and easy commuting was there for the taking.

The people of San Diego were exceedingly nice. Everyone was gracious and genuinely glad to serve. We spent a majority of our time in the Pacific Beach neighborhood. We were fortunate enough to see a pod of (wild) dolphins including several babies from the fishing peer, very cool indeed. We also visited Sea World, the world famous San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. There is much beauty to see - and a lot of gorgeous, glorious green landscape. (Here in Minnesota it is white, brown and gray.)

I submit a sampling of the hundreds of photos we took (aren't digital cameras great!)

Sea World's Shamu!

San Diego Zoo Icon

Downtown San Diego - the old and the new

Pretty duck

Pacific Beach Sunset

Pacific Beach Fun! My son and daughter...

Pacific Beach boardwalk

Meekats at sunset

Pacific Beach beauty

Authentic Mexican food, authentic Mexican music, authentic American money

Sea World Icons

Balboa Park

Pacific Beach surfer dude...


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Adiós América, Buenos Dias La Raza

I think it goes without saying that illegal immigration is equally as dangerous - perhaps more dangerous - to the continuation of the United States of America as radical Islamism. Both issues factor greatly in the upcoming presidential sweepstakes. Clearly on the issue of fighting the war against the Ayatollahs John McCain would be my choice hands downs. However, when it comes to illegal immigration neither McCain nor the Democrats warm the cockles of my heart.

We as a nation, as a culture, have to come to grips with this problem or we will cease to be a nation within 50 years. Look at the this graph and try to fathom the implications:

What we have here is a population growth curve that can't be sustained.

If you want to really understand the future if we don't do something soon then click over to particularly to the article The Balkanization of America. It is enough to throw you hands up in surrender - but please don't.

The article puts into focus what has gone wrong.

For the most part, legal immigrants come to the United States because they want to become Americans. Historically, immigrants integrated fairly quickly into American society, adopting our language and culture. However, this is not what is happening now.

As noted by ex-Colorado Governor Dick Lamn in an August 8, 2002 article, One Nation, One Tongue, published in the Rocky Mountain News (link gone but a version is archived here):

"The Southwest, and to a lesser extent, the whole nation, is in danger of backing into becoming a bilingual nation without debate or forethought. This seems to me to be a grave mistake. I look around the world in vain for an example of where bilingual nations live in peace with themselves.

This absolutely what is going on as I write this from my hotel room in San Diego. The state of California may be a lost cause in fighting ESL battles, but the rest of the nation must stand firm and start demanding English as the official language of the land.

For further reading visit these websites and try to keep your chin up. Perhaps McCain would be marginally better than Hillary and Barrack on this issue, certainly the judges he would choose for the federal courts would be more helpful than any chosen by the other two.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

The New Ice Age?

A story that has been getting some traction in certain areas of the media (though certainly not ABC,CBS,NBC,NYT,WaPo,CNN,MSNBC,PBS etc etc) is the embryonic solar cycle 24. SC 24 has stalled and it is beginning to concern some solar scientists. According to the sun has been blank for 16 days in a row. The Sun's activity is as low as anyone has ever seen it.

Not so paradoxically the winter of 2007/08 has been very, very cold all over the world. The southern hemispheric winter was one the coldest in memory from Australia to South America. The question of Global Warming is becoming a question of an new Ice Age in some scientific circles.

Alan Caruba of has a nice synopsis of this phenomenon in his piece called Calm Sun, Cold Earth. He gets to the heart of the matter here:

Up to now, the mainstream media has ignored the cold reality of the Earth’s known cooling cycles. They have been in complete thrall to the howling of Al Gore with his endless lies about an imminent warming. Given the accolade of a Nobel Prize and even a Hollywood Oscar, why should people unschooled in science believe otherwise?

The United Nations International Panel on Climate Change whose reports have been based, not on hard science such as observations of solar activity, but on flawed, often deliberately false computer models, has been the driving factor behind the global warming hoax. What better way to assert political and economic control over the Earth than to create a global crisis? To their credit, many participants in the IPCC have protested these reports. Large numbers of scientists have sold their soul to the global warming lies in order to receive millions in research grants, but increasingly other scientists have been coming forth to tell the truth.

On March 2-4, several hundred will convene in New York for the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change to offer papers and serve on panels disputing and debunking the global warming hoax.
Beyond the climatic threat of a cooling planet is the one posed by U.S. politicians and their counterparts in Europe who are seeking to impose all manner of regulation and limits on energy use based on the false assertion that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming.

The Global Warming lobby has so instilled their dogma into the popular culture that they have people believing that even the extreme cold and snow is caused by man-made global climate change. Funny, even the least scientifically educated among us (and they are legion) are beginning to understand that the global warming hysteria mongers have over played their hand.

If we are entering a new (hopefully mini) ice age then the effects on humanity will dwarf the scare mongering the CAGW crowd has been frightening us with. Let's just hope they are all wrong.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Will the Real Dean Kamen Please Stand Up

Remember back at the turn of the century all hub bub about Dean Kamen's "Ginger"? It was a secret project that was going to change the world. Well, after a lot of build-up and excitement it turned out to be a high tech scooter. It was indeed a very cool gizmo and a marvel of engineering, but change the world it didn't. Frankly it was a huge disappointment.

So, imagine what was going through my mind while being introduced to the humble Thane Heins on my favorite science, technology and futurist web site I thought this Mr. Heins could be the real Dean Kamen - the man who would change the world.

Thane Heins, the amateur inventor, may have actually stumbled across the heretical perpetual motion machine. With a set of magnets attached to a rotor driven by a shaft coming off a typical electric motor Heins places a wire coil in front of the moving magnets. Verifying that voltage potential was present from his induction coil he then sets up a load to generate some amperage. Instead of the back EMF dragging down the motor it inexplicably accelerates it.

Heins believed that the steel shaft connected to the rotor he used for the magnets conducted the magnetic resistance away from the coil and back into the motor. He was figuring the Back EMF was actually boosting the motor's flux fields. Did his unlikely configuration result in a positive feedback loop that accelerated the electromagnetic field causing the motor to go faster? To be sure, he replaced steel shaft between the rotor and the motor with a plastic one. There was no acceleration. On the face of it this seems to mean the ferrous steel of the connecting shaft was doing something. Something no one would have expected.

Thane Heins without an electrical engineering background has had trouble getting anyone to take this phenomenon seriously. Lately he has attracted some attention. He has contacted some very wealthy men who has been known to have ambitions to change the world themselves. He now has some hot irons in the fire. Recently MIT’s professor Markus Zahn saw the demonstration and came away perplexed, calling the idea something worthy further examination.

If the potential is true what Heins calls "regenerative acceleration" could one day provide us with a car that would need no charging from the grid, would not need ANY gasoline, would literally cost nothing to fuel up. This would definitely change the world.

Let's hope this thing turns out much better for us than Kamen's over-hyped, over-priced Segway scooter.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sunny San Diego Here I Come

For the first time in my life I am escaping the frozen north in mid-winter for warmer climes. The family and I are going to San Diego for a vacation, yes, I said a vacation.

I have gone south many times during the brutal months of January and February but always as a business traveler.

This should be fun. We have a date with Shamu and some other wild and crazy dudes at the Zoo. (no, no the San Diego Zoo, not some hip, happening night club).

I shall be back!


Dude, Where's My Economy?

For the last 7 years the President's opponents have been talking down the economy as if it were 1979 or something. Truth is despite the huge run up in energy (and food) costs the economy has been clipping along with low unemployment, low interest rates and low non-energy related inflation. There are a myriad of complicated reasons beyond Bush's oil buddies that energy is so expensive, not he least of which is good 'ol supply and demand. Contrast this with the late 1970's and sky high inflation, unemployment and interest rates as well as high energy costs complete with long lines at the gas pump. Frankly we have it pretty good right now.

Part of the reason we are in better shape is that the service and information age based economy is more diverse than the industrial economy of the 60's and 70's. Also, consider that in spite of the domestic economic disruptions of today's hyper-globaization the door has been opened for American business around the world like never before. This is a good thing.

Still, there are two fundamental areas of the economy that are struggling. These constitute the most important things average Americans spend their money on. Houses and cars.

The subprime mortgage mess is profound, but I believe it will right itself in a few years. Housing prices will start moving up again but hopefully at a more reasonable pace - provided lending discipline has returned to banks and mortgage companies.

The auto business in America is a much tougher nut to crack. The big three - GM, Ford and Chrysler have the deck stacked against them, their backs are against the wall and have their own gun pointed squarely at their own feet with the union ready and willing to pull the trigger. Foreign makers are successfully and profitably manufacturing cars in this country. What's with the big three? Well, there is a union legacy that doesn't affect the foreign companies who have for the most part put their factories in right-to-work states. Also, Detroit has forsaken the small, high quality, high mileage economical car to the Japanese and Koreans. They have been betting on low energy prices lasting forever and then pushing large trucks, SUV's, luxury and performance cars to fill their coffers. Bad bet.

So, based on these developments today's economy is riding on the precipice of recession. Clearly the fault of Bush and conservative economics, right? Not necessarily.

For one, the continual denigration of the economy by the Democrats and the media can produce a self fulfilling prophecy. Second, the liberals and civil rights groups continually pushing banks and lenders (and legislation) to loosen lending restrictions to sell houses to those clearly unable to get mortgages under normal circumstances. Unscrupulous businesses smelling blood in the water, began a terrible cycle of the outrageous run-up of real estate prices. The inevitable foreclosures and then the do-gooders desire to ease the pain with (government) bailouts are going to make the necessary corrections linger on - further hurting the economy.

As for the domestic car business, well... Most of my really liberal friends, all very good people, do not, will not buy American made cars. They claim to be sympathetic to the working man, the union man, but that goes right out the window when they are shopping for a new car. It is clear that Toyota and Honda make extremely good cars, but so does Buick and Chevrolet. American manufactures are making incredible strides in quality and design since the low point of the 70's and early 80's. By now reputations have been made and destroyed and it is going to be hard for the big three to attract the Honda and Toyota buyer - particularly the well-to-do liberals.

My own experience showed me that the Japanese car is a fine machine, but my Pontiac is also a very good car. There is no comparison, however, when it comes time to pay for repairs. Perhaps the foreign car needs fewer repairs, but my God talk about expensive!!!

In the end, unless the Democrats completely forsake American business with their empty populist economic prescriptions, the American economy will push on with a sustained growth curve for the foreseeable future. Profit driven companies and venture capitalists will continually remake our dynamic economy just as they have since the founding.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Desert Flowers Just for You

In the grips of below zero temperatures and frostbite inducing wind chills we face the epic battle ahead of us called the War on Global Warming. I thought I'd give us all a quiet respite before the shooting begins. Here now my latest painting called "Desert Flowers". Click on picture to see a larger image

"Desert Flowers"

18 X 24

Commissioned by my wife who saw this photo in a friend's 2008 calendar. Unfortunately I failed to write down the photographers name. I always like to attribute the true artists from whom I draw my inspiration. I apologize to said unnamed photographer.

I hope you enjoy looking at this as much as enjoyed painting it. Be sure to stop by my online art gallery


Friday, February 08, 2008

Give Us Your Tired, Give Us Your Hungry, Give Us Your Diseased

So you think all this hysteria (from the right-wingers) about illegal immigration and unprotected borders is pure reactionary hatred? Simple racism? Think again.

Read this and get back to me. Leprosy Outbreak Causes Concern In Northern Arkansas
(Interestingly enough the Arkansas TV station that posted the original article yanked it after just a few hours. Luckily it was captured and reposted elsewhere.)

Seriously. There was a time when the diseased were not permitted entry - and for very good reasons. This country needs to return to sane immigration practices. What is going on now is pathological. I defy anyone to explain to me how the current situation is anything but national suicide...

Immigration = good
Invasion = bad


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Let the Future Save Itself

I have said that I actually like reasonable budget deficits and leaving the debt to "our children". Most people look at me and say you're crazy, that's an awful thing to do. Not really. Why should I have to live a poorer life so that "our children" can live a richer life at our expense? Aren't these roads and baseball stadiums we current tax payers are paying for going to be used by "our children"? Of course they are. Why shouldn't "our children" have to pay something for them too?

But I digress...

When John McCain or more likely Hillary or Obama christen the next administration America will launch the official start of the climate change mitigation the rest of the world has been waiting for. Never mind that the science is not settled no matter what Al Gore says. Never mind that the evidence actually points to a greener, better fed, happier healthier world if warmer global temperatures extend our growing seasons and reduce our heating seasons. Never mind that the Solar cycle is entering it's quietest phase in a millennia that actually portends drastic global cooling. Never mind that some of the proposed draconian regulations and taxation will sink the U.S. economy and by extension the global economy.

We are supposed to as a people, as a generation, drive ourselves into the poor house to "pay" for a richer future for our even richer progeny.

John Tierney, the New York Times blogger, cites a study by Indur Goklany of the Cato Institute that works from the assumption that even if these dire temperature forecasts are accurate, he remains critical of the exaggerations of the economic costs of global warming. Here is the money paragraph from Goklany's paper:

For the foreseeable future, people will be wealthier—and their well-being higher—than is the case for present generations both in the developed and developing worlds and with or without climate change. The well-being of future inhabitants in today’s developing world would exceed that of the inhabitants of today’s developed world under all but the poorest scenario. Future generations should, moreover, have greater access to human capital and technology to address whatever problems they might face, including climate change. Hence the argument that we should shift resources from dealing with the real and urgent problems confronting present generations to solving potential problems of tomorrow’s wealthier and better positioned generations is unpersuasive at best and verging on immoral at worst.

I couldn't agree more. Am I expected to live like a pauper in order to pay for my rich child's house and car? Of course not. Paying (or helping to pay) for college is different in the same respect as we don't make the kids buy groceries or pay the heating bills while they're growing up. College is an extension of that. We make an investment in the kids just as we make an investment in our society. Eventually they inherit what we started and continue to make payments for future generations and so on.

But what about ecological degradation? What about the current trashing of the environment while we selfishly use up all the resources? Good questions? Not really.

In the 70's Paul Erlich predicted mass starvation as the world population explosion surpassed our ability to feed the people. Didn't happen. The world is richer and food production is increasing just like Goklany's report asserts will be the case in regards to "climate change". Yes, we still see famines in places ravaged by war or afflicted with inept governments, but it's not because of a lack of our capacity to produce food. Today there’s more than enough to feed the entire world even after adding another billion since Erlich's prediction was made.

We have been taught to be scared by the Peak Oil scenario since the 70's. There is still a lot of oil even as the easily accessible oil is used up. Technology is already solving the problem of extracting the not so easy to get oil. Better yet, technology is being developed as we speak to do away with this "limited resource" for the betterment of future generations.

Critics of Mr. Goklany take him to task for "believing that global warming is not the biggest problem now and won’t be the biggest problem in the next century". Goklany's claims that the most important environmental problems are loss of habitat and reduced biodiversity are right. This situation is caused largely by increasing human populations in poor countries. Intransigent poverty or environmental poisoning is caused largely by corrupt and/or incompetent governments and those they supposedly regulate. See Africa and China for prime examples. Does calling for more growth make it worse? No.

If growth equals prosperity and prosperity leads to cleaner environments and decreasing fertility rates then bring it on.

Goklany's argument is similar to the one Bjorn Lomborg has been making since the “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” came out almost a decade ago. In essence we could spend the billions wasted in some vain attempt to lower carbon emissions on valuable measures to help people here and now instead of trying to save the world for future generations. Let the future save itself.

Does that mean we should be wasteful and careless? Umm, no. Wasteful and careless won't deliver us into a more prosperous future. We need to be good stewards of the planet and we have a quite ways to go toward that end. The oceans are in a bit of trouble, there can be no doubt about that. Countries like China are poisoning themselves during this period of unprecedented economic growth. Eventually that kind of pollution will be personally and economically unacceptable as the people themselves demand better.

I am convinced that civilized humanity can and will achieve a sort of harmony with nature. Prosperity and the growth of freedom along with free markets is key. There is far too much pessimism being fueled by the hysterical environmental crowd and their cheerleaders in the media. Augments and debate over the environment are good things - valuable change can result by the bell ringers. But progress needs to march on or millions upon millions of the poor - the very people the hand-wringers claim are being hurt by our resource gouging growth - will never have the opportunity achieve the prosperity we in the West enjoy.

More study is required, unfortunately the alarmists won't concede this, but we must forestall their desires before acting out of ignorance to remedy a poorly understood situation.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Admit it America You're Yesterday's News

Not So Fast...

While the New York Times Sunday Magazine gives us "Waving Goodbye to Hegemony'' America's economic and military dominance need not be so sentimental. We really don't need to do any chest beating because according to every measurable statistic the United States of America has no equal. None.

Even as we consumers notice that every single thing we buy seems to be labeled "made in China" we wonder how this country can possibly survive if we don't make anything anymore. According to statistics I have read just the manufacturing sector of the U.S. is larger than the entire Chinese economy. Believe it or not we still do make things in this country.

Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute points out in his Bloomberg piece called "Ignore the Obituaries, U.S. Reign Will Endure" that with less 5 % of the world's population the U.S. generates about 20% of the global GDP. It has been that way since 1975 or so after peaking at 28 % in the 1950's. Hassett's overriding point in this article is that a minor 1% tick down from 21% in 2001 does not a cover story make. Again the New York Times is bent on manufacturing dire economic news where none exists.

Hassett explains:
The U.S. economy continues to be positively awe-inspiring compared with the competition. The value of U.S. imports in 2006 was roughly the same as the entire GDP of France. The U.S. is the world's largest exporter; indeed, if all U.S. exporters banded together and seceded from the country, they would have the eighth-largest GDP in the world.

The economy of Brazil is about the size of the economy of Texas. The economy of India is about the size of the economy of America's Plains states. The economy of Venezuela is about the size of the economy of Alabama.

This is awe-inspiring indeed. After listening to the news these last several years you'd think American economic obituary was a forgone conclusion. The only thing possibly more awe-inspiring is the military might of the U.S. While you may ask why does America need to be the world's policeman with this massive (and expensive) military - hearing the words "well someone has to do it" - isn't all that satisfying. Satisfying or not it is essentially the truth and the point is - who would you rather have in that position? Russia, China, Iran or for God's sake France?

Yes, we have our flaws but, don't kid yourselves the world is a far better place because of the United States. The fate of the world economy sways in the wind in the face of stagnant U.S. economy (and the rest of the world knows it). Without the U.S. leading this technological marvel called the new economy and stoking the economic engine of the world this obsession with the environment would take a backseat behind a desperate race for mere survival. I boggles the mind to hear the very rich and privileged in the celebrity class denigrate American exceptionailsm as if the world would better off with another very large Mexico.


What The World Needs Now... someone like Barack Obama to run for President of the United States.

But... Wait a minute... Barack Obama is running for president. You do realize that, right?

Indeed. I said "someone like Barack Obama". The things that are appealing about Obama to me (and I suspect to a lot of other people as well) is the packaging and the bows and ribbons, not necessarily what's inside the box. Frankly, he is fun to listen to. His soaring oratory lifts the soul. He is young, ambitious, charismatic and inspiring. The idea of America transcending its racially divided past and putting a man with black blood raised in a white man's world into the oval office is just too delicious.

Someone like Obama would take away the ammunition of international snob class that discounts Americans as redneck racists. How sweet that would be.

Problem is Obama is a dyed-in-the-wool socialist. I could never support anyone so far to the left. Give me a straight up centrist with Obama's appeal and we can talk. Obama has a voting record to the left of Hillary, and has, as a matter of fact, of voting card more to the left than Teddy Kennedy's.

For all his "refreshing" qualities his solutions to what ails America are stale and already proven losers. He would, if left to his own devices replay the failed measures of LBJ's Great Society. Try to remember what the late 70's looked like after LBJ social prescriptions, Nixon's wage and price fixing and Carter's complete incompetence. These young people that are so energized by Barack do not know what it was like in the 70's. The 2000's after Bush II look like the Renaissance compared to the 70's. We don't want to go back.

Where is that centrist who looks and sounds like Obama? I realize that as a fiscal conservative this country is not ready for a right-winger after George W. On the other hand I can guarantee you our prosperity and continued national strength is not ready for a left-winger in the person of Barack Obama.