Friday, May 30, 2008

Walk a Mile in Our Shoes

I was instantly intrigued by this foreign newspaper's headline: America Is A Global Force For Good

This from Britain's Telegraph is a fairly lightweight piece that spells out some basic facts and arguable opinions. Frankly it was the reader's comment section that was most interesting. Here are just a few...


As a Brit living in the USA for some 10 years, I look with pity upon these poor, jaded, narrow-minded Europeans. They think they know America and Americans, but they know no more than their embarrassingly liberal media tell them. Coupled with their real loss of power and influence in the world, they quickly blame America for their own failings.
These Europeans remind me of petulant teenagers who "hate" their parents for ruining their lives, while blind to the care and sacrifices their parents make. Perhaps a better analogy is one of europe being the bitter old senile pensioner being cared for by their hard working adult children.
In any case, I've lived both sides of this, and I ain't coming home to you ungrateful lot any time soon.

Now run along to M&S, buy some Kipling's French Fondant Fancies, and discuss evil America over a cup of tea and a copy of The Guardian with your friends; that'll show us.
Posted by MarkB. Rome, GA. 35yrs on May 30, 2008 3:43PM

Well said. I, for one, am grateful that we are ultimately under America's protection rather than Brussels' or Moscow's, even if we do not deserve it.
Posted by Philip Alsop on May 30, 2008 3:41 PM

I want to butt fists and high five Pro-American Brit - 3:01PM.
I am a British resident of the U.S.A. and you need to live here to appreciate the sentiments of this article. I was also a little sceptical of the 'Yanks' until I married one and moved to Virginia. The average American is friendly, open and welcoming. I have blossomed and thrived in the few years I have lived here. I LOVE the American patriotism and the way they display their flag. Try interrupting their National Anthem at a public event and see where it gets you. Men, try keeping your hat on during the playing of the Stars & Stripes and someone will soon whip it off your head. All you American bashers are just small town, narrow minded liberal pinko's who do not see the broad picture of this wonderful nation. I do not pretend that America is perfect but it's a darned sight nicer place to live in than Britain is becoming.
Posted by Proud To Be A Brit-American on May 30, 2008 3:39 PM

Unfortunately the American "brand" has been grievously devalued by the activities of Pres. Bush, and whilst I don't subscribe to the wilder conspiracy theories I do think he has been a disaster which will take decades to repair.

However the basic tenet I absolutely agree with - America is undoubtedly, as far as any country could be, a force for good, for freedom and individual political, economic and relgious rights, in the finest tradition of the British empire (cue here for more hysteria from the guilt ridden guardianistas) which stood similarly high amongst the crowd of moral pygmies such as France, Spain and Belgium.

Note the important "as far as any country could be" - let's look at the alternatives - radical islam, communism, no I don't think so thanks, not even for guardian readers, well perhaps maybe, anyway; the more serious alternative force for good would be our dear friends the EU, france Germany etc with their traditions of international brutality untempered by any nobler sentiments.

Don't make me laugh. With their protctionism, corporatism, casual corruption, the CAP, CFP and now the disgraceful consitution affair - how could they be descibed as a force for good.

As I say the US has a Bush/Iraq/Guantanamo sized blot on its escutcheon which thanks to Mr Blair's weakness, we share, but they are the least bad of all the alternatives.

It will always be impossible for the global superpower to be completely untainted, the important thing is that it should seek to occupy the moral high ground, and the US to a large extent does.

As always Churchill had it right - "you can always rely on the Americans to do the right thing - after they have exhausted the alternatives"
Posted by cuffleyburgers on May 30, 2008 3:15 PM

Nato has served us well and, with continued USA support, will be a far more reliable and professional defence system than anything the rest of the EU could muster, even if we could trust them.

The USA seems to have a thankless task yet surprisingly, given the continuous left-wing undermining, still supports us. An EU army would bring near the potential for "civil" war.

Without the USA we would not exist - we would have been the losers in WW2- something which the ill-educated and Left-wing forget or choose to ignore.

The USA has ensured that there is still such a thing as Democracy.

The silent majority indeed understand that the USA and NATO have ensured a relative stability for the West.

Only strident Left wingers hope for a Soviet-style broken World.

Thank goodness the USA is still motivated to help the EU and deal with the very real threat from terrorism and regimes like Iran's.

In response to the blinkered ranting of Tina Sidwell 2.29pm,Palestinians were responsible for terrorist atrocities - we all remember hijackings and innocent people being seized in the apparent name of Palestine.

Palestinian political entities appear to not want peace - they are perceived as terrorists who have repeatedly targeted and murdered Israeli citizens including children and students, despite numerous attempts to broker peace by the USA and others.

Until the ruling Islamic factions have renounced their desire to see Israel destroyed, we should not be funding the current state of affairs - it is unbelievably naive to think that anything will change while there are sufficient funds for terror.

"Hand-wringing" is futile and reflects misplaced blame. It is those in Gaza who continue to destroy themselves. The blockade has been a consequence of Palestinian actions - Israel's military actions are responses to Palestinian attacks on innocent people.

Nothing will change unless the Palestinians do.

As for surveys purporting to show that the USA is polling badly, remember that people were stupid enough to vote Labour in the UK.

Luckily, media hype does not bother the USA nor the vast majority who do actually support USA action.
Posted by Paul Butler on May 30, 2008 3:10 PM

i have to agree with the article, even if it puts me
in the small minority! america embraces the
politics expected of traditional telegraph readers
and to great success. living standards and
freedom is dealt plenty in america, and there is a
fantastic balance between the private sector that
supports the vast majority of the economy and
the federal/state sector that props up the private
sector. i have never lived in america and nor do i
have any family there, i just personally believe
america to be a force of good.
Posted by Chris on May 30, 2008 3:09 PM

To be perfectly clear there were an equal number (if not more) comments that poured on the hate for America. I thought the comments written by the ex-patriots were very telling - walk a mile in our shoes. In other words you can't believe the media narrative, all is not what it seems.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fool's Nation: PART II

If you really want an eye opener just take a look at this chart which was offered up by Chevron at the recent congressional hearings on oil company profits: My source was

How comical that Congress takes our American energy companies to task for the high prices we are paying when it is 30 years of congressional interference (Democrats and their eco-nut friends) with drilling bans and environmental policies that make impossible to develop America's own vast natural resources.

It's clear with a cursory glance at this chart [click chart to enlarge] that American and European private energy companies are small potatoes. For Congress to chastise ExxonMobil for reaping a 9% return on their enormous investments is priceless. The reality is the federal government itself reaps 5% at today's prices from every gallon pumped while doing everything in their power to make it harder for ExxonMobil. This does not take into account the other taxes the government collects before the gas is ever pumped into your car. So who is gouging the American people?

So Congress has its whipping boy and the American public justs eats up. We are being jerked around all right. The jerkers are coming at us from every corner of the globe, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Washington DC.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Fool's Nation

America is reaping what it has sown. We accept what was set in motion decades ago, namely a crisis oriented model instead of pursuing an energy plan to provide us with a reliable, abundant, and cheap supply of energy. Now we indignantly complain about control of sources of petroleum - the oil companies, the sovereign nations and the cartels. We have no right to tell them how and when to market their products? By not developing our own national resources in an effective manner we are at the mercy of interests that are not our own. We acquiesce to environmentalism without a serious examination of how it effects our economy and way of life. A nation with vast coal reserves is replacing it with natural gas, an incredible waste of a precious resource. We will not drill for oil in the places we know it is. We will not develop new refining capacity. We will not install new nuclear power plants. Instead we install a windmill and then pat ourselves on the back. Rich yuppies drive in hybrid cars and pat themselves on the back. How virtuous...

We have seen the enemy and he is us. We have had no real leadership for decades on this most critical aspect of our economic and national security. Now when the rest of the world desires to join the rich western nations with a lifestyle to rival our own we are taken aback that we now have to compete for resources we once claimed for our own. We hobble ourselves with unrealistic environmental impact statements and a N.I.M.B.Y mentality.

We should absolutely strive for the end of the oil age - but we have to be realistic. Green energy is a laudable goal but a viable alternative to oil is a ways off. Electric cars for commuting provide a promising concept, but we have to have cheap and abundant electrical power generation to provide any real relief. Nuclear and coal could fill the gap. Without some real leaders with a backbone we will never see it. Bio-fuels are also a promising concept, but again, it is years away from supplanting any significant portion of the oil we now use. The leadership on this issue has done nothing but pander to farmers and agribusiness, they clearly have not developed a sound strategy. Solar power and wind power are not ready for prime time, it's as simple as that.

Absent leadership from Congress and the President Americans can start getting used to outrageous energy costs and a reduction in our wealth and well being. Does anyone have any faith that a country run by Nancy, Harry and Barack will tackle this issue in a way that preserves our economic might? Well Dennis, Trent and George certainly didn't either.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

I Feel Threatened

Never has there been a more blatant political motivation for adding a species to the threatened species list than than there has been with the polar bear. Not only are polar bears thriving but the so-called "loss of habitat" is a pure and simple myth.

This ruling prompted by the findings of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has far reaching implications. This is not simply putting certain habitats off limits to development it is literally a stake in the heart of the U.S. economy and the American way of life. That's exactly what the environmentalists want. They honestly could care less about the polar bear.

Population Bomb
Some polar bear experts claim that numbers have increased not because of climate change but due to the efforts of conservationists. This is demonstrably true. Polar bear populations have been growing for 20 years now, estimated at 25,000 animals which is up from under 10,000 in 1970's. The reasons for the thriving population is primarily due to changes in hunting habits of the native populations in polar bear country. Protection of the harp seal has led to an increase in food sources, and the fact that polar bears themselves are no longer hunted like they once were have seen their numbers soar in 18 of the 20 distinct populations.

Pathetic photos of a polar bear floating precariously on a tiny iceberg have become the defining image of global warming, but it is misleading, intended only to curry favor for the radical environmental movement among the masses. With this ruling - if left standing after certain challenges - we are witnesses to the latest in a series of suicidal actions threatening a continuation of America as we know it. While other nations are scrambling to secure the resources they need to grow and develop America is slowly but surely cutting itself off. All the while dupes and reporters are nodding their heads.

Fight Back, For God's Sake
Fortunately there are some who will not take this lying down. The state of Alaska yesterday questioned the scientific justification for proposals to add polar bears to the US endangered species list. Gov. Sarah Palin said "First and foremost, I will do everything within my power as Governor to protect the interests of the people of Alaska . I also want to do my part to minimize the impact of the Secretary’s decision on the economy of the nation." Other groups are preparing their legal challenges to this ruling as I write this. This issue could wind its way all the way to the Supreme Court. Some comfort that...

The true motivation for this act is not to save the polar bear but to force the U.S. (and only the U.S.) to decrease CO2 emissions - which will mean serious harm to our economic fortunes. This is coming at a time when the facts are slowly eking out that show rather clearly that global temperatures do not follow increasing atmospheric CO2.

This is one of those issues that the uniformed masses will applaud until they realize that their own wealth and well being is the thing that is really threatened. By then it will be too late.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's the Batteries, Stupid

Barring an unforeseen technological breakthrough of monumental proportions we simply have to come to grips with the FACT that we will be dependent on fossil fuels for a long, long time. According to the author of "Gusher of Lies" and "Cronies", Robert Bryce, we are deluding ourselves with talk of energy independence - or more precisely we are being lied to.

Bryce is a high energy individual (pun intended). He is a journalist/author and pulls no punches with the liberal left, the conservative right and especially the fool hardy greenies. He is currently making the rounds promoting "Gusher of Lies" and he is making a lot of sense. His recent CSPAN Book TV appearance was a real eye opener for yours truly.

Politically he hails from the liberal left - but, to paraphrase him - he was a liberal who was mugged by reality. He now considers himself a centrist with conservative leanings when it comes to energy policy. He is extremely critical of the Bush administration, but not for the reasons you'd think. It's the Administration's schizophrenia on energy policy and ecology that gets him wound up. Me too. He is equally critical of the liberals and the "greens" and the whole alternative energy zealotry that abounds in the media today.

His message is not all doom and gloom, in fact he is actually optimistic about the energy future provided we all take off the blinders and act reasonably and realistically.

He believes the decarbonization of fossil fuels - something that has been happening for centuries anyway - is the solution to pollution. Natural gas, methane, butane etc are the fossil fuels of choice. Clean coal and nuclear power are also important components in the energy mix. What he doesn't put any stock in is wind, solar and ethanol to replace a significant portion of our energy needs we now rely on with oil. He has particular ire for ethanol which he believes is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on this country. I tend to agree on the grounds that it is highly subsidized with tax dollars and does very little to help the overall energy situation and/or pollution issues. He thinks using corn for fuel instead of food is immoral. Solar and wind are neither immoral nor effective. Hydro-electric may be the single most effective power source for electricity, emitting no carbon and producing highly reliable energy. But it also is so environmentally destructive that few places outside China are building new hydro dams.

It's the Batteries, Stupid
The problem with renewables is the intermittent nature of the wind, sunshine and crop availability. The Holy Grail in this scenario is the ability to store the energy - make hay while the sun shines - for those times when the wind isn't blowing and the sky is overcast. Bryce's most creative recommendation is the establishment of a Superbattery Prize of $1-10 billion for the development of a super-high-capacity battery system. The prize to paid by the government, of course. The point here is that the government would not be betting on the winner or the loser (read: ethanol) it would "incentivizing" all scientists and inventors in a competition.

His other thrust is the continued growth of Natural gas usage as a huge part of the solution for the so-called greenhouse gas problem. CO2 emissions from natural gas are half of those of coal. Natural gas is being found at a rate faster than that of new oil reserves, it is relatively abundant, and our reserves are longer lived than our oil reserves. As Bryce explains in his interview in Mother Jones Magazine "And yet, in the current energy discussion, natural gas is kind of the redheaded stepchild. It does not get the kind of attention it deserves."

As it stands right now oil is king. Nothing short of the aforementioned breakthrough is going to supplant it. Many analysts conclude that it is going to take a mix of approaches to get us to the promised land without said miracle. The current alternatives in the renewable arena of solar, wind and bio-fuels combined will not amount to a hill of beans as the world population increases and steadily moves out of poverty. As for his particular ire for ethanol Bryce makes some good points:

...the stickiest question about ethanol is this: Does making alcohol from grain or plant waste really create any new energy?

The answer, of course, depends upon whom you ask. The ethanol lobby claims there's a 30 percent net gain in BTUs from ethanol made from corn. Other boosters, including Woolsey, claim there are huge energy gains (as much as 700 percent) to be had by making ethanol from grass.

But the ethanol critics have shown that the industry calculations are bogus. David Pimentel, a professor of ecology at Cornell University who has been studying grain alcohol for 20 years, and Tad Patzek, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, co-wrote a recent report that estimates that making ethanol from corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel itself actually contains.

The two scientists calculated all the fuel inputs for ethanol production—from the diesel fuel for the tractor planting the corn, to the fertilizer put in the field, to the energy needed at the processing plant—and found that ethanol is a net energy-loser.

All this on top of huge subsidies from federal, state and local governments. There are many other irons in the fire when it comes to making bio-fuels that look far more promising than corn based ethanol. Are they getting the attention they deserve? No. Even after reading Herbet Meyers impassioned defense of bio-fuels I still can't get past the subsidies and the tariffs imposed on imported ethanol.

Meyers rightly points out that fuel and food price spikes are more a result of increasing demand as more and more people on this planet rise out of poverty. This is fine, but it still doesn't explain our country's totally insane energy strategy or lack thereof.

One thing that Bryce says that is entirely true: the energy business is the most important and the most complicated of human institutions. I don't entirely agree with all his conclusions or his slash and burn style, particularly when it comes to politics, but, the points he raises and the evidence he cites is compelling food for thought.

Could advanced battery technology be the breakthrough we are waiting for? I for one hope so.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Next Big Thing

Please visit to read my article "The Next Big Thing".

I discuss how every thirty years or so a new innovation or invention comes along to fundamentally change our way of life.


Monday, May 05, 2008

Adding Insult to Injury

You just have to wonder about some people in America...

Imagine if you will someone proposing the Holocaust Memorial structure built in the shape of a swastika. Obscene isn't it. So when the plans for the United Airlines Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, PA was announced you can imagine how some people would be outraged that is was going to be in the shape of a crescent and it was facing Mecca, to add insult to injury it was going to be called the"Crescent of Embrace".

[See this FOX News article for a graphical representation]

form the article:
Some critics say its crescent-shaped design call to mind Islam or subtly include the hijackers alongside the passengers and crew.

The National Park Service, which is managing the construction of the memorial, denied those claims, but changed the design to more of a circle, and dropped the name.

Please... OK, if they are being upfront why would they use the word "Crescent" in the first place? Another feature is a separate section of the wall – centered exactly on the bisector of the giant crescent – that is in the exact position of the star on an Islamic flag.

My guess is that somewhere in all of this is the attitude that America is to blame for victimizing the Islamic world for all these years - that the hijackers had legitimate grievances and they just chose an inappropriate way the redress these grievances.

The architectural firm Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles claims Islam has nothing to do with the memorial and that a vast majority of the families of the victims are endorsing the design. I would just ask them the same question I asked at the beginning of this post... Such a design should never have made it off the drawing board.


Friday, May 02, 2008

San Pietro at Dusk

In honor of the papal visit to the United States I painted this colorful image of St. Peters Basilica in Rome. OK that's not really true - this was painted for my daughter who received this picture on a post card from a friend who was visiting Italy. (Click on the image to see a larger view)

"San Pietro at Dusk"
20 X 24 (acrylic)

Please click over to my online art gallery to see more of my paintings. I hope you enjoy!


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Global Cooling Making the News

How interesting that more and more articles are appearing in the news speaking to the possibility that global cooling is actually taking place before our very eyes. Despite the sky is falling hysteria about Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, real data on the state of the global climate is starting to become hard to ignore. This is particularly interesting in light of the never ending winter we seem to be afflicted with as May 1st comes rolling in with March-like temperatures.

Recent articles in mainstream publications and websites have raised some doubts that CO2 has anything to do with rising global temperatures. NPR's article on the unexpected "missing heat" data collected by ocean buoys deployed in 2003 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been cited in other high profile news sites and blogs.

Thankfully more and more scientists are finally coming forward and putting the brakes on "the debate is over" rhetoric. Deroy Murdock has an excellent synopsis of this welcome trend in this Scripps-Howard News Service piece today: Globe may be cooling on Global Warming

from the article...

Chapman [Dr. Phil Chapman was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology staff physicist, NASA's first Australian-born astronaut, and Apollo 14's Mission Scientist.] believes reduced sunspot activity is curbing temperatures. As he elaborates, "there is a close correlation between variations on the sunspot cycle and Earth's climate." Anecdotally, last winter brought record cold to Florida, Mexico, and Greece, and rare snow to Jerusalem, Damascus, and Baghdad. China endured brutal ice and snow.

NASA satellites found that last winter's Arctic Sea ice covered 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) more than the last three years' average. It also was 10 to 20 centimeters (about 4-8 inches) thicker than in 2007. The ice between Canada and southwest Greenland also spread dramatically. "We have to go back 15 years to find ice expansion so far south," Denmark's Meteorological Institute stated.

"Snows Return to Mount Kilimanjaro," cheered a January 21 International Herald Tribune headline, as Africa also defies the "warming" narrative.

These facts extinguish the smoking gun the true believers cite every time the subject is raised on the TV news or the History/Discovery Channels. The polar ice caps are melting! The glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro is disappearing! The oceans are boiling, killing the coral reefs leading to more frequent and more severe hurricanes! My personal favorite - polar bears - victims of SUV's.

Of course one cold winter proves nothing, I'm willing to accept that. But trends (and facts) point to a real possibility of significant global cooling. Nothing good will come of it, nothing. The sooner serious scientists can exonerate CO2 the closer we will come to averting the real disaster - politicians monkeying with energy policies. I hope we're not already too late.

When one of those smug "the debate is over" jerks gets all up in your face I have the perfect come backer: "How would you like my carbon footprint up your ass, buddy?"