Sunday, August 26, 2007

Did the President Lie on Iraq

Did the President lie? Did the President hype intelligence?

The President ordered military action in Iraq and addressed the American people saying:
· [The] “mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.”
· “to protect the national interest of the United States and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.”
· “Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.”
· “to oversee the elimination of Iraq's capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass destruction, and to verify that Iraq does not attempt to rebuild that capability.”
· “at the end of the Gulf War … Iraq agreed to declare and destroy its arsenal as a condition of the ceasefire.”
· “With Saddam, He has used them…even against his own people …and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.”
· “The UN Security Council voted 15 to zero to condemn Saddam's actions and to demand that he immediately come into compliance.”
· “Saddam [had] one last chance to prove his willingness to cooperate.”
· “along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.” “So Iraq has abused its final chance.”
· “the inspectors are saying that even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.”
· “This situation presents a clear and present danger …The international community gave Saddam one last chance …And so we had to act and act now.”
· Otherwise “Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years. .. someday -- make no mistake -- he will use it again as he has in the past.”

For the complete transcript of President Bill Clinton’s December 1998 remarks, go online to

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ethanol a Scam and Hurts the Environment

Ethanol Scam: Ethanol Hurts the Environment And Is One of America's Biggest Political Boondoggles

According to historian John Steele Gordon, oil was drilled in western Pennsylvania in 1859 and the U.S. produced 2,000 barrels that year. Ten years later, production of oil was 4.2 million barrels. Today, the American economy consumes 7.6 billion barrels of petroleum a year.

Since the burning of oil produces pollution and carbon dioxide, a Greenhouse gas, many believe that it is crucial that we turn to alternative sources of energy. Most of these believe in big government financed research and mandates to make this change. I hope those folks will read the July 24, 2007 article by Jeff Goddell at “Ethanol Scam: Ethanol Hurts the Environment and Is One of America's Biggest Political Boondoggles”.

In the article, it claims:

■ “Ethanol doesn't burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper. Our current ethanol production represents only 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption -- yet it consumes twenty percent of the entire U.S. corn crop, causing the price of corn to double in the last two years and raising the threat of hunger in the Third World”

■ “giving farmers in South America an incentive to carve fields out of tropical forests that help to cool the planet”

■ “Corn is already the most subsidized crop in America -- twice as much as wheat subsidies”

■ “ethanol subsidies amount to as much as $1.38 per gallon -- about half of ethanol's wholesale market price”

■ “Ethanol is nothing more than 180-proof grain alcohol…It can be distilled from a variety of plants, including sugar cane and switch- grass. Most vehicles can't run on pure ethanol, but E85, a mix of eighty-five percent ethanol and fifteen percent gasoline, requires only slight engine modifications”

■ “But as a gasoline substitute, ethanol has big problems: Its energy density is one-third less than gasoline, which means you have to burn more of it to get the same amount of power. It also has a nasty tendency to absorb water, so it can't be transported in existing pipelines and must be distributed by truck or rail, which is tremendously inefficient”

■ “In Brazil, ethanol made from sugar cane has an energy balance of 8-to-1 -- that is, when you add up the fossil fuels used to irrigate, fertilize, grow, transport and refine sugar cane into ethanol, the energy output is eight times higher than the energy inputs. That's a better deal than gasoline, which has an energy balance of 5-to-1. In contrast, the energy balance of corn ethanol is only 1.3-to-1 - making it practically worthless as an energy source”

■ “Ethanol is propped up by more than 200 tax breaks and subsidies worth at least $5.5 billion a year”

■ “Under the Senate bill, only 15 billion gallons of ethanol will come from corn, in part because even corn growers admit that turning more grain into fuel would disrupt global food supplies. The remaining 21 billion gallons will have to come from advanced biofuels”

■ “even if ethanol producers manage to hit the mandate of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, that will replace a paltry 1.5 million barrels of oil per day -- only seven percent of current oil needs. Even if the entire U.S. corn crop were used to make ethanol, the fuel would replace only twelve percent of current gasoline use”

■ “corn production depends on huge amounts of fossil fuel -- not just the diesel needed to plow fields and transport crops, but also the vast quantities of natural gas used to produce fertilizers. Runoff from industrial-scale cornfields also silts up the Mississippi River and creates a vast dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico every summer. What's more, when corn ethanol is burned in vehicles, it is as dirty as conventional gasoline”

■ “E85 reduces carbon dioxide emissions by a modest fifteen percent at best, while fueling the destruction of tropical forests”

■ “biggest problem with ethanol is that it steals vast swaths of land that might be better used for growing food”

■ “since America provides two-thirds of all global corn exports, the impact is being felt around the world. In Mexico, tortilla prices have jumped sixty percent, leading to food riots”

■ “By 2025, according to Runge and Senauer, rising food prices caused by the demand for ethanol and other biofuels could cause as many as 600 million more people to go hungry worldwide”

■ “imagines a future in which such so-called ‘energy crops’ are fed into giant refineries that use genetically engineered enzymes to break down the cellulose in plants and create fuel for a fraction of the cost of today's gasoline

■ “could provide a gateway to a much larger biotech revolution, including synthetic microbes that could one day be engineered to gobble up carbon dioxide or other pollutants”

■ “replacing fifty percent of our current gasoline consumption with cellulosic ethanol would consume thirteen percent of the land in the United States - about seven times the land currently utilized for corn production”

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Medellín, Colombia Now a Safe Fun City

Travel Reporter a Political Pundit?

See “A Drug-Runners’ Stronghold Finds a New Life” August 12, 2007 New York Times Travel section article by Grace Bastidas. A hellhole can be brought back to a desirable place for living. Article includes:
■ “Medellín, once considered the most dangerous place on earth”
■ “During the 1980s, Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city, was home to the drug lord Pablo Escobar, whose infamous cartel turned the city into a bloody battleground and the world’s cocaine capital. Gangs roamed the narrow streets, extortionists preyed on the city’s residents and narcotics traffickers staged attacks against police.”
■ “’You couldn’t step outside,’ said Bibian Gomez, 28, a commercial real estate broker who sought refuge in the resort town of Cartagena at the height of the violence. ‘Whenever you saw a young guy on a motorcycle you thought that he was an assassin’.”
■ “Mr. Escobar and his minions are gone and the cocaine trade has been largely dispersed. Bullet-riddled neighborhoods are coming to life with art museums and well-designed parks. And the constant rumble of construction — new shopping malls, flashy casinos and luxury hotels — can be heard throughout the city.”
■ “The renaissance is most noticeable in Santo Domingo Savio, a once impenetrable slum of tin-roofed shanties on a hillside in northern Medellín … now home to paved roads, colorful murals and the gleaming new Parque Biblioteca España. The hulking opal structure has a library, an auditorium, computer rooms, a day care center and an art gallery.”
■ “Getting there has gotten much easier, too. What once took an hour on a rickety bus, now takes 10 minutes, thanks to a shiny gondola that opened in 2004, part of a growing public transportation network that is uniting the city and making it more accessible, especially for the poor.”
■ “Sprawling nightclubs draw thousands with thumping Latin music that keeps the young crowd dancing until dawn.”

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Behind the U.S. Mortgage Mess

See August 11, 2007 Wall Street Journal and Nick Timiraos writing Behind the U.S. Mortgage Mess. It includes:

■ “On Thursday [August 9, 2007], market jitters escalated after French bank BNP Paribas SA said it would freeze some $2.2 billion in three funds because the market for mortgage-backed securities had practically evaporated. That made it impossible for BNP's funds to sell those securities or determine what they were worth.”

■ “What's causing the credit crunch? Growing delinquencies in "subprime" loans, those made to borrowers with poor credit, have hit hedge funds and investors. Lenders in the past few years had been packaging these loans into securities and selling them to investors eager for bigger returns. Delinquencies stayed low at first because U.S. home prices were rising at a rapid clip, and borrowers who fell behind on payments were able to simply refinance their mortgages. But that ended as home prices peaked in most markets in 2006, leading more homeowners to fall behind on payments.”

■ “Could more Americans feel economic pain? While it already has become much harder for subprime borrowers to get a loan, nervous home-mortgage lenders have also begun raising rates or cutting off credit for other types of loans, including Alt-A loans, a grade between prime and subprime. Standard & Poor's said this past week it would downgrade 207 classes of Alt-A mortgage-backed securities.”

• Certain "no-doc" subprime loans didn't require the lender to verify the borrower's income. In extreme cases, lenders offered what was dubbed a "ninja loan" that required no income, no job, and no assets.

• “Homeownership rates rose to a high of 69.2% in 2004, from an average of 65% through the 1990s, according to government statistics.”

• “As a share of all mortgage originations, subprime loans nearly doubled to 19% in 2004 from 9% in 2003, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is Justice Breyer Correct Saying "It is not often so few have quickly changed so much”

I was chatting with a liberal friend of mine who was very upset at recent Supreme Court decisions quoting Justice Stephen G. Breyer who said "It is not often so few have quickly changed so much". See,1,122
1510.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage Breyer's comment was made when he was dissenting in the cases that struck down the use of race for school assignment plans in public schools in Louisville and Seattle.

I asked what about Associate Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts and a "switch in time"? See President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs were consistently declared unconstitutional and then Justice Roberts decided they were OK and very quickly the same laws became constitutional.

After Roosevelt became President in 1933, Congress passed much New Deal legislation. "Over the next few years Roberts and the other justices ruled unconstitutional the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) and ten other New Deal laws." For example in Schechter Poultry Corp. the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the regulations including price and wage fixing set forth by the NRA were unconstitutional.

"On 2nd February, 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt made a speech attacking the Supreme Court" outlining his proposal to pack the Supreme Court. "On 29th March, [Associate Supreme Court Justice Owen] Roberts announced that he had changed his mind about voting against minimum wage legislation..the Social Security Act and the National Labour Relations Act (NLRA) and by a 5-4 vote they were now declared to be constitutional."

Now that was a situation where "so few have quickly changed so much", that is to those who know United States history. By 1942 the Court ruled unanimously that the Federal Government had the power to set the prices and regulate what a farmer could grow on his own land even if he did not sell it, but fed the wheat to his own livestock.

Understanding this one could conclude that Justice Breyer is a dope. However, it is very unlikely that Justice Breyer does know about this Court history, but was deliberately trying to mislead citizens including my friend.

Letter to the Editor published in August 10, 2007 Laguna Beach Independent.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bottom line: Democrats Party Pushing Expansion of Slavery

Letter to the Editor published in August 3, 2007 Laguna Beach Independent.

The state of education in the United States is pathetic, but I was surprised by the ignorance displayed in the letter-to-the-editor published by the Laguna Beach Independent including “Gene Felder believes that the Democratic Party is responsible for slavery … or at least more responsible than the Republicans.”

Students should be taught that slavery in the United States dates to the early colonist 15th century well before the forming of fractions or political parties. “The first record of African slavery in Colonial America occurred in 1619.” See

Students should know that the Republican Party preserved the Union and freed the slaves. “The Republican Party was officially formed in July 1854. The party's founders totally opposed slavery. The platform adopted at the party's first national convention in 1856 … maintained that Congress could abolish slavery in the territories and ought to do so.” See

I previously wrote “the Democratic Party continually and consistently pushed or facilitated the expansion of slavery”. I noted that Ulysses S. Grant had criticized President James K. Polk [Democrat of Tennessee] writing “annexation [of Texas and the Mexican War] were, from the inception of the movement to its final culmination, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.” see

Students interested in this history should read Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 “House Divided” speech when he was running for US Senator from Illinois; see Lincoln criticizes President Franklin Pierce [Democrat of New Hampshire], President James Buchanan [Democrat of Pennsylvania], Chief Justice Roger Taney [Democrat of Maryland], and Senator Stephen A. Douglas [Democrat of Illinois] for conspiring to produce the 1857 US Supreme Court Dred Scott decision.

Students should know about the Dred Scott decision see “In March of 1857, the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney [Democrat from Maryland], declared that all blacks -- slaves as well as free -- were not and could never become citizens of the United States. The court also declared the 1820 Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, thus permitting slavery in all of the country's territories.”

Another source might be Cindy Sheehan who wrote July 22, 2007 in San Francisco Chronicle “The Democrats are the party of slavery” see

RESPONSE: Environmentalist Bush - a hard concept to grasp

Letter to the Editor published in August 3, 2007 Laguna Beach Independent.
Environmentalist Bush - a hard concept to grasp
I was amazed to read Gene Felder’s letter last week. Regardless of one’s political views, the suggestion that G.W. Bush is a great environmentalist is a hard concept to grasp.
Gene is correct that Mr. Bush does own a house in Texas, which is as Green as they come. This house has been designed to reduce the need for space heating and air conditioning and to meet its own power and water supply needs.
So why does our president own such a house?
Lets us bear in mind that this is the same president who reversed his campaign pledge to regulate CO2 as a pollutant as soon as taking office. This is the same president that in March 2001 had the EPA Administrator announce that the US had no further interest in negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. I guess that is okay considering the USA is 5% of the world’s population but produces 25% of the world’s pollution! What a wonderful way to ensure that the world’s largest polluter maintains that impressive title.
This is the same president that has opposed minimum fuel efficiency standards for our cars. I guess standards would hurt the US car industry. This is the same president whose lack of environmental leadership has forced 590 US cities to take it upon themselves to combat climate change by joining the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement (the same goals as the Kyoto Protocol).
The list is almost never ending:
Dec 2002: EPA exempts oil and gas industry from storm water pollution rules.
Dec 2003: Bruce Buckheit, director of the EPA’s air enforcement division, cited the administration’s lax litigation strategy against utility companies who violate the Clean Air Act’s new source review program as the reason he will retire after nearly 30 years.
April 2004: National Council of Churches, representing 50 million people in 140,000 denominations, sent a letter to President Bush expressing “grave moral concern” for the administration’s air pollution policies.
Jan 2005: The energy industry got the go-ahead to construct 50,000 new natural gas wells in Montana and Wyoming with no regulations on air pollution built into the contract. The Bureau of Land Management approved the deal despite grave warnings from environmentalists and scientists from the BLM, National Park Service, EPA and Forest Service.
So why does Mr. Bush have a home that is capable of running completely “off grid”?
I don’t think it’s for environmental reasons. Maybe he knows that in the near future oil prices will skyrocket since almost all sources agree we have passed peak production and that wars will be fought over potable water as our climate changes and populations grow. Water will become our most scarce and essential resource.
Of course, G.W Bush-hugger will be sitting pretty in his self-sustaining house.
Max Isles
Laguna Beach