Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten Predictions for 2010

1. The economy will remain sluggish. Reports of a recovery are premature. The economy will recover, it always does, but government spending and uncertainty about government regulation will dampen the recovery. The best-case scenario is that the early 2010s will resemble the 1970s. The worst-case scenario is that government policy under Obama will continue to mirror the policies that caused the recession in the first place, leading to another severe contraction in the economy.

2. A watered down version of healthcare reform will pass. The Democrats have put too much on the line to let healthcare reform fail. Some kind of bill is likely to pass, even if it is heavily watered down. Of course, this bill will make the healthcare problem worse.

3. Cap-and-trade will not pass. After the fight for the healthcare bill, President Obama, Senator Reid, and Rep. Pelosi will have no further political capital to spend on the passage of cap-and-trade. Businesses will breathe a sigh of relief.

4. The Democrats will introduce a value added tax (VAT). The VAT is similar to a national sales tax on all goods and services. This proposal will further anger voters.

5. The Democrats will suffer major losses in the 2010 midterm elections. Voters will be angered by their elected representatives who go against their campaign promises and voter wishes by supporting the present version of healthcare reform. The Republicans will take control of the House and possibly the Senate as well.

6. The US will suffer at least one major terrorist attack.

7. Iran will continue to flout UN resolutions. Iranian dissidents will continue to be brutalized while the country works toward a workable nuclear weapon. Meaningful sanctions will continue to elude passage thanks to Iran’s partnership with Russia. A larger regional war with Iran is likely in the long term, but unless Israel or the US launches an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, I doubt that it will happen in 2010.

8. More cells of home-grown Islamic radical terrorists will be discovered within the United States. The existence of these cells may be discovered through attacks or detection by law enforcement.

9. Unemployment will remain high. Although unemployment numbers may fall in the short term, the unemployment rate is likely to go even higher in the long term. This is due to anti-business government policies and the probability of economic stagnation.

10. President Obama’s approval rating will continue to fall. By the end of 2010, President Obama may very well be less popular than President Bush was when his term expired. This is due to President Obama’s abandonment of bipartisanship and key campaign promises such as tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and vigorous prosecution of the War on Terror.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Gifts of the Magi

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
Matt 2:9-12 (KJV)
An integral part of the nativity story is the journey of the Magi, or Wise Men, from the east to visit the young Jesus and His family. Ever since their visit, people have wondered about the nature of the magi and the gifts that they brought. A familiar Christmas carol, “We Three Kings,” describes the journey of the Magi.

The word “magi,” though similar to our word “magician,” referred at that time to philosophers, priests, and astronomers. Many of these Magi were from Persia, modern day Iran, although others lived in Arabia. Both areas would have been to the east of Judea. When the Bible says that they saw the star in the east, it refers to the location of the Magi in the eastern part of the world. The star actually would have appeared in the western sky.

In his research of the Star of Bethlehem, Frederick Larson details the astronomical signs in the sky that would have led the magi to Bethlehem. This can also be found on his website, Larson believes that the Wise Men saw the Christmas Star in the summer of 2 BC from their homes in the east. Their journey apparently culminated several months later in December, 2BC. We cannot determine exactly when or where their journey began.

The Wise Men first visited Herod, one of the several Herods who ruled Judea under Roman authority. The Herod who reigned at the time of Jesus’ birth was likely Herod the Great, who ruled from 40 to 4 BC, or his successor, Herod Antipas, who ruled from 4 BC to AD 39. The Herods were ruthless rulers who jealously guarded their power. Herod asked the Magi to return to him when they found the newborn King of the Jews that they sought. A divine dream warned the Wise Men not to return to Herod, however. When Herod realized that the Wise Men were not coming back, he ordered the murder of all Bethlehem children under two years old.

We do not know whether the Magi visited Jesus while He was still in the Bethlehem stable or whether His family had found a more permanent residence. We do know that their reaction when they saw Him was to fall down and worship Him. After worshipping Him, they presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The gift of gold is self-explanatory. Gold is and always has been of great value. Gold was often given as a gift on the birth of royalty in the ancient Middle East. Gold was also often paid in tribute by royalty to more powerful kings. Even today in the Middle East, it is common to bring a gift when visiting a person of a higher social status.

The gifts of frankincense and myrrh need a little more explanation. Frankincense was produced in Arabia, a possible origin of the Magi. Frankincense is a tree resin that is fragrant when burned. In ancient times, it was used in worship and the Jewish Temple included altars of incense. It is fitting that the Magi brought an implement of worship as a gift to the newborn Messiah because Jesus Himself was destined to assume the role of the preist for all of mankind. Christ is our intercessor and link to God.

Myrrh was also a product of Arabia and, like frankincense, was produced from a tree. The name “myrrh” denotes bitterness. Myrrh had several uses. It was used as an ointment in the purification of women, and thus may have been used by Mary after the birth of Jesus. In some instances it was used as a perfume. Additionally, myrrh was sometimes mixed with wine. In Mark 15:23, Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh while on the cross, but He refused it. Myrrh was also commonly used in embalming because it helped to preserve the body of the deceased and helped to cover the smell of decay. In John 19:38, Nicodemus brought myrrh to bury with Jesus after His crucifixion.

From a practical and economic view, these gifts would have been welcomed by Joseph, a poor carpenter with a struggling family. The gold could be used to buy a house or food. The frankincense could have been sold to help support the family. The myrrh could have been used by Mary for ritual purification or as a perfume.

In addition to their practical utility, in the gifts of the Magi we see a symbolic depiction of who Jesus is and of His future. Gold represents Jesus’ royalty as the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings. Frankincense represents His deity as Immanuel, “God with Us,” the Son of God, and the Word of God who was present “in the beginning” and who will return in the end. It also represents His role as a preistly link between humanity and God. Myrrh represents the willing sacrifice of His life as He died for our sins.

After their visit with Jesus and His family, the Magi departed back to their home country by a different route so that they could no betray Jesus to Herod. We have no way of knowing how meeting the infant Jesus impacted their lives after that.

We cannot know how much the Magi understood of their actions on that first Christmas, but through Divine Providence their journey and the delivery of the first Christmas gifts has become a part of the living history of the birth of Jesus. The story of how they became the first to worship the King of the Jews has inspired countless others to follow their example in making a spiritual journey to worship Christ. Their selfless gifts paint a picture of the life of Jesus the Christ, Yeshua the Messiah, who lived and died and lived again to conquer death and sin on our behalf. This is the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas!
Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Bible Explorer 4.0, WORDSearch, 2006.
Barnes’s Notes on the New Testament, Bible Explorer 4.0, WORDSearch, 2006.

Boston Massachusetts
December 19, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Enemies Within

It hasn’t been long since Major Nidal Malik Hasan became the most recent jihadist to launch a terror attack on US soil. The unique thing about Major Hasan’s attack, in which he murdered 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas was that he was not only a US army officer, he was a US citizen who was born and raised in the United States. Prior to Major Hasan’s attack, terrorist attacks in the US were primarily carried out by foreign terrorists.

The weeks since the Fort Hood attack have brought the discovery of more American jihadists within the United States. A developing story involves the Somali-American communities in Seattle and Minneapolis. Over the past few years, numerous Somali-American men have disappeared from their homes without a trace. At least three of these men have been turned up dead in Somalia. One of these men, Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis, gained the dubious distinction of becoming the first American suicide bomber when he detonated a car packed with explosives in front of the Ethiopian embassy in Somaliland on October 29, 2008, killing 20 people.

The FBI believes that the Somali men are leaving the US to train as terrorists and wage jihad. Some, like Ahmed, ended up in Somalia with al-Shabaab (“the youth”), an al Qaeda affiliated group fighting the Ethiopian presence in Somalia. A second Somali-American is believed to have carried out a suicide bombing against African Union peacekeepers in Somalia on September 15, 200, killing twenty-one.

Another American, David Coleman Headley of Chicago, was recently arrested on charges that he was a spy for the Lashkar, a Pakistani terror group. Headley, whose original name is Daood Gilani, is of Pakistani descent and spent his early childhood in Pakistan. Along with Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani businessman, Headley is accused of helping to plan an attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons about Mohammed and helping to coordinate the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India that killed more than 160 people.

Finally a group of five American college students from Washington were arrested in Pakistan in early December 2009 as they tried to make contact with Pakistani terrorist groups. The families of the men became concerned after discovering a farewell video in which they stated the need to defend Muslims. A Pakistani report states they “were of the opinion that a jihad must be waged against the infidels for the atrocities committed by them against Muslims around the world” [cnn]. The men had previously tried to contact terror groups through internet sites such as Facebook and Youtube.

Together with Major Hasan, these discoveries show a disturbing trend. They show that American Muslims are increasingly vulnerable to radicalization. In the past, this sort of radicalization has been seen in the Muslim communities of Europe, but has been rare in the US.

The cases have several factors in common. First, the terrorists in all cases come from a Muslim background. All were American citizens. Some were native born, while others immigrated and became citizens later in life. Additionally, a common theme among many of the jihadists is that their friends viewed them as normal Americans and could not believe their association with terror groups.

It appears that the radicalization can be traced to local mosques and religious awakenings. It has been revealed that Major Hasan attended the same Virginia mosque as two of the 9/11 terrorists. Shirwa Ahmed and the other Somalis typically disappear after becoming involved in local mosques. David Headley became heavily involved in Islam after a series of drug arrests in the 1990s and moved to an area of Chicago known for Muslim immigrants. He attended a local mosque with Rana there. Finally, the Washington Five were all members of a youth program at a mosque in Alexandria, Virginia.

While not nearly all Muslim-Americans are at risk for radicalization, we do have to realize that out of the 1-2 million Muslims in America, there could well be thousands who are quietly becoming radicalized via radical internet websites or local mosques. In 2007, Pew Research polled Muslim Americans and found that five percent of American Muslims had a favorable view of al Qaeda. A further 27 percent responded that they did not know or refused to answer the question (Inside the Revolution, p. 144). Further, when asked if suicide bombings against civilian targets were ever justified, thirteen percent indicated that suicide bombings were justified “sometimes (7 percent), often (1 percent), or rarely but not never (5 percent).” An additional nine percent refused to answer the question. The numbers increase for Muslims between 18 and 29 years old. These younger Muslims also tend to be more radical and more religiously observant.

Estimates of the total Muslim population of the United States vary widely, but approximately 1.5 million seems to be an accepted figure []. This means that as many as 75,000 Muslim Americans have a favorable view of al Qaeda and a further 405,000 are unsure or refuse to answer. Additionally, some 195,000 Muslim Americans believe that suicide bombings against civilian targets are justifiable with an additional 135,000 refusing to answer. Other polls show that these percentages are even higher in other countries.

It would be very easy for homegrown terror cells to form and train via the internet and launch terror attacks on their fellow Americans. Timothy McVeigh, the original World Trade Center bombers, and the DC Sniper illustrate how easy it is to use common items for terrorist attacks. Stolen or legally purchased firearms or bombs created from common items with an internet instruction manual could wreak havoc in numerous cities and small towns around the country. Dozens of small-scale attacks scattered around the country would maximize terror.

The good news is that the silent majority of Americans of Muslim faith is beginning to show more support for the US government. In the case of the Washington Five, their families alerted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that has often been believed to be an apologist for terrorist groups. In this case, CAIR referred the families to the FBI.

Many, probably most, American Muslims do not share the radical desire for a worldwide Islamic caliphate. They have no desire to live under Sharia Law. They do not want to see suicide bombings and terror attacks become commonplace in the United States.

These arrests underscore the importance of establishing and maintaining close ties between the law enforcement community and the Muslim communities. Counter-terror and law enforcement must become aware of what is happening within the walls of mosques around the country. Likewise, steps should be taken to monitor or shut down websites that recruit and indoctrinate young Muslims into terror groups. The threat is real and cannot be ignored. Neither can the threat be countered without the help of loyal American Muslims.

Rosenberg, Joel C. Inside the Revolution. Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, IL. 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Obama's Birth Certificate

A rumor that won’t die is the myth that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is fake. There are different theories on where Obama was born, if he was not born in Hawaii as he claims. A prevailing belief is that he was born in Kenya, and as a native Kenyan, is not eligible to be President of the United States. Some have also claimed that his full name includes the name “Mohammed,” adding to speculation that Obama is a secret Muslim.

At this point, mountains of evidence are in and they all point to the fact that Barack Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States. As far back as July 2008, Obama had released a copy of his birth certificate. Obama had to release the birth certificate himself because in Hawaii, birth certificates are not public documents and must be requested by the family. Obama’s birth certificate can viewed here.

Almost immediately, the certificate came under attack due to the lack of an embossed seal and signature. The answer to that challenge is that in Hawaii, the seal and signature are on the back of the certificate. The political fact-checkers at emailed the copy of the certificate released by Obama to the Hawaii Department of Health. They were told by a spokesman that the copy was a valid Hawaii birth certificate. The name on the certificate is Barack Hussein Obama II.

According to Snopes.Com, Hawaiian government officials have vouched for the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate twice; once in October 2008 and again in July 2009. Additionally, Snopes also provides the testimony of a Hawaiian school teacher who actually spoke with the obstetrician that delivered the baby Barack.

Politifact also checked Obama’s other public domain records. These other records included his marriage certificate from Cook County, Illinois, his driver’s license records in Illinois, and his attorney registration and public disciplinary record from Illinois. All show that his name is Barack Hussein Obama. He also has no moving violations and has not been disciplined as an attorney.

If that were not enough, Obama’s birth announcements can be seen in both Honolulu newspapers. The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star Bulletin both record the birth of Barack Hussein Obama on August 4, 1961. The newspaper announcements can be seen here.

In August 2009, a birth certificate surfaced that purported to show that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. This birth certificate was quickly revealed to be a forgery. Among the tell-tale mistakes on the certificate are the phrase “Republic of Kenya,” which did not exist at the time, an incorrect age for Obama’s father, and the claim that Barack Jr. was born in Mombasa, which was located far from where Obama Sr. lived. In fact, Mombasa was so far from where Obama lived that it was not even part of Kenya at the time; it was actually then a part a part of Zanzibar.

A further claim is that US law at the time specified that if only one parent was a US citizen, to pass citizenship along to the child, that parent must have been a US citizen “for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16” [citation]. The claim is that since Obama’s mother was 18 at the time of his birth, she does not meet the requirement to pass along citizenship to Barack Jr. According to Snopes, this law applied only to children born to US citizens outside the US. Since the evidence is that Obama was born in Hawaii, this claim is moot.

There is also the claim that Obama’s Kenyan grandmother claimed to be present at his birth. Since she had never left Kenya, the implication is that Obama must have been born in Kenya. When the entire transcript is reviewed, it seems that there was confusion over the word “present” since Mrs. Obama did not speak English and was relying on a translator. Throughout the conversation, she continues to claim that Obama was born in Hawaii.

Finally, there have been two lawsuits regarding Obama’s birth certificate and citizenship. Suits filed by Philip Berg and Alan Keyes were dismissed as frivolous and without merit. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

While we can easily see that Obama’s does not and has never included the name “Mohammed,” it is not easy to see what is in Obama’s heart. Claims that Obama is a closet Muslim are not easily proved nor disproved. What can be shown is that Obama has long been a member of a Christian church, although one of a far left denomination. Obama’s family heritage includes many links to Islam so it is understandable that he would have sympathy for Muslims around the world. However, neither being a Muslim nor having sympathy for Muslims would be disqualifying for a president.

After having President Obama lead the United States for almost a year, it is easy to understand why wishful thinking could lead people to grasp at straws for reasons why he could not be president. Nevertheless, the evidence is overwhelming that Barack Hussein Obama II is a natural born citizen of the United States, having been born in a Honolulu hospital. To believe otherwise requires belief in a massive conspiracy that includes Obama’s entire family, the Hawaii Department of Health, his birth doctor, and countless others.

It makes more sense to accept the reality of Obama’s citizenship and fight him on the issues. His foreign policy favors dictators and terrorists over democracy. His domestic policy is built on unsustainable spending that must surely be followed by economy-killing taxes and inflation. To effectively fight his policies, Obama’s opponents must ground themselves in reality and facts, which can easily illustrate that Obama’s policies are all wrong for America.


December 7, 2009
Villa Rica GA

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Alcohol and the Bible

Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
John 2:7-10

I grew up in a small Baptist church in the country. In this church, and many others like it, we were taught that we should abstain from alcohol. A close reading of the Bible reveals that this is not what the Bible teaches however.

Ironically, instead of prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, the Bible tells us that one of Jesus’ first public miracles was the conversion of water into wine. We also know from the comments of the master of the feast that this was not weak or cheap wine, but was of high quality. Indeed, it was even better than the expensive wine that the groom had bought for his guests originally.

Alcohol, in the form of wine, goes back to the early chapters of the Bible. It is first mentioned in Genesis 9:20-21 when Noah planted a vineyard and promptly got drunk. Numerous other references to drunkenness in the Bible show that wines of Biblical times were intoxicating drinks and not just juices (Isaiah 5:11).

Wine was a part of many aspects of life in ancient times. It was used in feasts and consumed for entertainment as mentioned in Esther 1 and 5, Isaiah 5:12, Daniel 5:1-4, and the wedding feast of John 2. Wine was even used in the worship of the Lord (Exodus 29:40, Numbers 15:5). Wine was also used for medicinal purposes (Luke 10:34, 1 Timothy 5:23).

The Bible refers to abundant wine as a reward for the Israelites (Hosea 2:22, Joel 2:19, 24, Zechariah 9:17). Conversely, when the Israelites were disobedient, among their punishments were droughts, which led to shortages of wine (Isaiah 24:7, 11, Hosea 2:9, Joel 1:10, Haggai 1:11, 2:16). Wine is even referred to as cheering “God and man” (Judges 9:13).

Wine is also used as an illustration in many Bible passages. It symbolized the blood of Christ in Matthew 26:27-29. It shows the Lord’s blessings in Isaiah 25:6. Conversely, numerous passages also present wine as an image of judgment and violence (Psalm 75:8, Jeremiah 25:15, Proverbs 4:17, Revelation 17:2).

The Bible clearly condones the practice of consuming alcohol. If consuming alcohol were a sin and alcohol itself an evil substance, it would not have been allowed to be used in sacrificial rituals because it would have rendered the altar unclean. Likewise, if the consumption of alcohol was wrong, Jesus would not have created it from jars of water.

On the other hand, the Bible does repeatedly warn about the dangers of wine and strong drink. Many, but not all of these passages are found in the book of Proverbs. A well-known passage in Proverbs 20:1 says “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 23:29-35 is another famous warning passage that warns that wine “bites like a serpent.”

Warnings against drunkenness are not limited to the legalism of the Old Testament. The New Testament also abounds with calls for sobriety. Jesus Himself warned against drunkenness on multiple occasions (Luke 12:45, 21:34). Additionally, Paul’s letters include drunkenness on a list of “works of the flesh” which are to be avoided (Galatians 5:21). Furthermore, Paul tells us to be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:8) and to be filled with the Spirit of God rather than wine (Ephesians 5:18).

A balanced picture of Biblical attitudes toward alcohol is that the Bible condones its consumption, even for purposes of entertainment. However the Bible is also clear that alcohol should be used in moderation and that drunkenness should be avoided.

Probably the most important lesson that the Bible can teach us about alcohol is that we should not allow our consumption of alcohol to cause others to stumble. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:23-31, “Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others…. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble….” While the Bible does not prohibit the use of alcohol (although as one pastor confided, “I wish it did”), our enjoyment of alcoholic beverages in moderation is not worth causing a crisis of faith for our friends and neighbors.

“Wine and Alcoholic Beverages in the Ancient World,” NIV Archaeological Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005, pp. 2015.
New Topical Textbook, Bible Explorer 4, WORDsearch, 2006.
Nave’s Topics, Bible Explorer 4, WORDsearch, 2006.
December 6, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Top 10 Things Obama Won't Say at the Job Summit (But Should!)

From the home office in Villa Rica, Georgia (with apologies to David Letterman):

10. We are delaying healthcare reform until the economy is better. Even then it won't include a public option or a government takeover.

9. We realize that cap-and-trade is a hugely expensive and an ineffective solution to global warming, therefore we are going to table this measure and seek alternatives.

8. The last eight years really weren't so bad.

7. As Henry David Thoreau said, "that government is best which governs least."

6. The stimulus didn't stimulate anything except voter anger, so we won't try another spending bill.

5. The only jobs that the government can create are government jobs, so we are going to get out of the way of business.

4. Like individuals and families, we realize that our nation cannot spend its way to prosperity.

3. I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged.

2. I'm doing my part to create jobs for hardworking Carolina tobacco farmers.

And the number one thing that you won't hear President Obama say at the jobs summit:

1. Read my lips: No new taxes!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Climate Conspiracy

Conspiracy theories have become a hallmark of modern life. The modern conspiracy theory probably can be traced back to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the belief that undiscovered gunmen actually killed the president. Another long lasting conspiracy theory is the belief in a government cover-up of an alien spacecraft’s crash in Roswell, New Mexico. More recently, conspiricists on the left and right have been busy promoting theories that the Bush Administration was complicit in the 9/11 attacks or that President Obama’s birth certificate was fake.

From time to time, however, proof of an authentic conspiracy emerges. This was the case with the recent publication of hacked emails from East Anglia University’s Climate Research Unit. After years of hearing about climate science being “settled” and that there was a scientific consensus supporting the belief in human-caused global warming, the leaked emails present a very different picture. Ironically, the story has received scant coverage from most media sources in spite of the implications to the upcoming Copenhagen conference and cap-and-trade debate.

The conspiracy was revealed when an unknown hacker penetrated the Climate Research Unit’s computers and forwarded thousands of documents and emails to a server in Russia. Shortly after, a link was posted to the documents along with the message “"We feel that climate science is too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents. Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it" [1].

Global warming skeptics quickly learned that the documents revealed two important things about global warming proponents. First, much of the data that “proved” the reality of global warming was corrupt. As global temperatures flattened or declined in the years after 2000, climate scientists were at a loss to explain the lack of warming. For example, an email from Dr. Kenneth Trenberth, a scientist at the US Center for Atmospheric Research, said “This means we can't fully comprehend or understand exactly what is going on. We know that it cooled in 2008 but we are not 100 per cent sure why….”[1].

Second, the documents confirmed the belief that there was a widespread conspiracy to discredit dissenting scientists and deny publication of scientific papers that pointed out the flaws in global warming theory. Scientific journals rely on peer review of scientific papers to ensure their validity. The climate conspirators would use their status as article reviewers to prevent scientific journals from publishing articles critical of global warming theory. In one email, Phil Jones of East Anglia University writes of dissenting articles, "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow--even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" [4].

In 2003, after a paper questioning the extent of warming in the 20th century was published in the journal Climate Research, Dr. Michael Mann, director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center, sent emails to his colleagues to boycott the publication: "I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal" [3].

The scientists also discussed ways to mislead opponents. In one discussion of the medieval warm period, a period of extremely warm weather from AD 800-1300 which led to an economic boom, Dr. Trenbarth suggested creating a blog on a neutral web site and then referring inquiries to his own blog [5].

The email trail extended as far as the White House itself. One email was authored by President Obama’s science advisor, Dr. John Holdren. Dr. Holdren had sent an email in 2003 defending Dr. Mann’s research. Dr. Holdren was working at Woods Hole Research Center at the time.

Since many of the scientists who contributed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report were implicated in the email scandal, the conclusions of the report itself have been cast into further doubt. The inability of climate change scientists to explain the lack of warming also casts global warming and the need for expensive government programs to combat it into doubt. The Environmental Protection Agency has been on the verge of regulating carbon dioxide due to the conclusions of the IPCC report.

Global warming defenders have decried the leak of the emails claiming that not all emails were released; only those that were the most damaging. They do not, however, deny the validity of the emails.

Already, the release of the emails has sparked legal action. In Congress, Republican lawmakers have launched an investigation into the role of the implicated scientists in the formulation of the IPCC report. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has also announced the intention to sue NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies for failure to provide climate-related documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The obvious question is how the revelation of the climate fraud will affect the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen and President Obama’s attempt to pass a cap-and-trade energy tax in the United States. Hopefully, diplomats and lawmakers will step back and examine the science on both sides of the debate before rushing into climate policies that would be potentially disastrous for the economies of the world.

Q: How many climate scientists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. There's a consensus that it's going to change, so they've decided to keep us in the dark.
-James Taranto


A complete database of the emails can be found here:
Secaucus NJ

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why the New York Terror Trials Are a Bad Idea

Attorney-General Holder recently announced plans to move the trials of several Guantanamo detainees, among them Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to New York City. The plan has drawn opposition from both sides of the political spectrum and is a bad idea for several reasons.

Most obviously, the show trial is a bad idea because it is unnecessary. The detainees have already admitted guilt. KSM in particular has repeatedly confessed his role in planning the 9/11 attacks and has indicated his desire to be executed so that he can become a martyr [1 ]. As radio talk show host and author Michael Medved put it, “Normally I don’t agree with giving in to the demands of terrorists, but when they demand to be executed, that is one demand that we should give in to” [2].

The detainees were set to receive fair trials from military tribunal. A military trial would have saved the government millions of dollars. A criminal trial in the civilian justice system will be expensive, especially in light of the runaway spending habits the Obama Administration has already exhibited. A civilian trial will mean that the government must pay for civilian lawyers, court costs, and security in expensive New York City. A military trial could have been conducted on a secure military base with military lawyers at minimal cost.

Security is also a concern. It will be very difficult to provide security for the courthouse and for all the people involved in the trials. Securing the area will likely involve a huge disruption of buildings and streets surrounding the courthouse as well. In an era when one terror plot after another is being discovered – or carried out – a huge, well publicized trial will provide a tempting target for both homegrown radicals and international terrorists.

A show trial will necessarily be covered in-depth by the media. This media coverage will grant the defendents a golden opportunity to espouse their radical anti-American views and claim abuse at the hands of the United States. Likely defense strategies will involve claims of torture and attacks on US foreign policy. The defendents have already announced their plans to plead not guilty in order to justify their actions as a reasonable response to American actions abroad [3]. This publicity can do nothing but harm the United States and will likely serve to radicalize more Muslims and inspire them to carry on the jihad. Justice does not require that the US give terrorists a media soapbox from which to address the world.

There is also a question of jurisdiction. These detainees are not US citizens, they were not arrested in the United States, and their crimes were not committed in the United States. Most of the detainees were captured in Afghanistan. KSM was captured in Pakistan. None of the detainees were directly involved in the 9/11 terror attacks or any other attacks on US soil. Instead, they planned and supported attacks on the US and other countries from bases in other countries.

As noncitizens, the detainees are not entitled to the protections of the US Constitution. As illegal combatants who were not members of an organized national army, they are entitled to only limited protection under the Geneva Convention. To move military prisoners from a war into the civilian criminal justice system is unprecedented. In World War II, prison camps in the continental United States housed German and Italian prisoners-of-war. These POWs were not granted habeas corpus and were not allowed to challenge their detention in US courts.

Additionally, since these prisoners of the War on Terror were captured by the military, the standard of proof of guilt is different that what is required for arrest by a civilian police officer. For example, a defense attorney might object because soldiers never advised the detainees of their Miranda rights. It may also be difficult for a prosecutor to show enough evidence to a jury to assure a conviction without compromising intelligence sources. Rules are very different for soldiers and police officers because they serve different roles.

Along the same lines, if US soldiers are required to abide by civilian standards in order to protect prosecution in future cases, the result will be more dead soldiers and more terror attacks. Applying peacetime civilian standards to soldiers in combat will mean that more terrorists go free. If more terrorists remain on the loose, it means that they will be free to attack US soldiers abroad or civilian targets here at home. It might also mean that US forces are less likely to take prisoners in the future if it becomes apparent that lawyers are intent on forcing the release of terrorists based on legal technicalities.

In some cases, civilian criminal courts are an appropriate venue for trying terrorists. For example, when a terrorist is a US citizen he has a constitutional right to a trial by jury. Likewise, a foreign terrorist who is apprehended within the US by civilian authorities can correctly processed in the civilian criminal justice system. However, it is gross mistake to place foreign terrorists and guerillas, captured abroad, into a criminal justice system better suited to dealing with common murderers and burglars.

Attorney-General Holder and President Obama’s plan for show trials in New York City is a bad idea on many levels. It will be expensive, dangerous and embarassing to the United States. It will waste millions of dollars in a time when our national treasury is already depleted. It will attract terrorists to the cameras like moths to a flame. It will provide a means for the terrorists on trial to broadcast their views to the world and recruit more disaffected Muslims. Finally, it is legally questionable and completely unnecessary. It grants unprecedented rights to illegal combatants and sets a frightening precedent for how the US will handle terrorist trials in the future. Such decisions by President Obama and the members of his administration cannot help but have a negative affect on the prosecution of the War on Terror and consequently make us all less safe.

November 23, 2009
Enroute to White Plains NY
2. As heard on the Michael Medved radio show. Available on podcast at
3. “Lawyer: 9/11 Suspects Won’t Deny Roles,” USA Today, November 23, 2009.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Are Insurance Companies Evil?

Activists on the left have recently denounced insurance companies as evil. Some believe that health insurance companies are evil because they profit off the misery of others. Charges have been made that health insurance companies make money by denying medical benefits to their policy holders and that they, and the Republicans, actually want people to die so that they can make more money. This is similar to the claim a few years ago that oil companies were evil because they made “obscene profits” as oil prices reached record highs.

Like the charges against the oil companies, the charges against the insurance companies are patently false and do not stand up to logical evaluation. In the first place, health insurance companies cannot and do not force anyone to buy their service. For each and every policy holder, the decision to do business with their insurer was entirely voluntary. Even in the case of people who participate in health insurance plan chosen by their employer, the decision to participate is still a voluntary choice by the employee. If the employee does not like the health insurance company that provides their company’s group plan, they have the options to either not buy health insurance at all or to select an individual health insurance plan of their own choice.

Health insurance companies do not make money by denying care. Health insurance companies make money by selling policies. If a health insurance company continually denies care that should be provided under the terms of their policy, people will exercise their option to buy a policy from another insurer. They also have the option to sue the insurer for breach of contract if the insurer does not follow the terms of the policy. In general, health insurance companies want to be seen as “a good neighbor,” as one insurance company slogan says. Companies do not get a reputation as a good neighbor if they are constantly losing lawsuits from their insureds.

What about the claim that health insurance companies are evil because they profit off the misery of sick and dying people? The purpose of health insurance companies is to make a profit. If a health insurance company does not make a profit, they will not stay in business. A health insurance company that is no longer in business can provide medical care for no one.

Granted, some companies do abuse their customers. We have all heard cases of insurance companies who improperly deny coverage or cancel the policies of sick customers. These cases, while rare, are serious. In many such cases, the insurance company attracts the attention of regulators or legislators who help to rectify the problem. Additionally, the company also attracts unwanted negative publicity which invariably hurts their bottom line. An insurance company cannot operate this way indefinitely and stay in business.

Insurance companies are held accountable by numerous parties. First and foremost is their customers. If an insurance company has poor customer service, their customers will go elsewhere. No one is required to deal with any particular insurance company or even to buy health insurance at all (yet). Second, insurance companies are held accountable by their shareholders. Negative publicity and poor management adversely affect stock prices and investment values. Shareholders can also vote with their feet. If a company has a poor record of paying claims and is financially unsound, they can also be rated poorly, which affects their ability to sell policies. Finally, if an insurance company breaks a contract or violates the law, they can also be held accountable by the courts or government regulators.

Some people in the public discourse today, seem to believe that profits are unethical in general. In truth, the desire for profits encourages people to make wise choices. A company cannot be profitable without a buyer for their goods or services as countless businesses from General Motors to the US Postal Service have discovered. However, if a company does not make a profit, it cannot stay in business. Furthermore, the lure of profits draws more companies into the business, increasing competition and driving down costs for consumers.

Businesses don’t necessarily set out to do a public good, yet that is precisely what happens. Business owners do not open their business to provide jobs for their fellow citizens, yet that is the result of a successful business. Business owners do not open their business out of an altruistic need to provide people with their wants or needs, yet that also happens. Businesses are not created to pay taxes to the government, yet, if the business is successful, its taxes do support the government.

It is no different for insurance companies. The insurance company is in business to make money for its owners and shareholders. In the course of making money, they also provide medical care for their policy holders. They also provide jobs directly for their underwriters, adjusters, actuaries, and support and management personnel. Indirectly, insurance companies help to provide jobs for physicians, nurses, and their staffs.

Insurance companies are not inherently evil. However, like any human endeavor, they are tainted by human frailties. Insurance companies serve a valuable role in society by spreading the risk of an expensive illness or injury among thousands of policy holders. Without insurance companies, thousands of people would not be able to afford advanced treatments that save or prolong their lives.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Unmentionable Fact About the Ft. Hood Shooter

On November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Malik Hasan arrived at the Soldier Processing Center in Fort Hood, Texas. Maj. Hasan was an army psychiatrist whose job was to help soldiers deal with the stress of combat. This day, however, he sat at a table and mumbled a prayer to himself according to witnesses. A few minutes later, he jumped up, shouted, “Allahu Akbar,” and pulled out a .357 Magnum pistol equipped with laser sights. At that point, he began a shooting rampage in which he fired over 100 rounds and killed thirteen people, wounding 38.

Government spokesmen and news organizations make little mention of the obvious fact that Maj. Hasan’s Muslim faith is the likely motive for the attack. Maj. Hasan was of Jordanian descent who claimed that he was discriminated against because of his Muslim background. Other acquaintances claim that Maj. Hasan was a vocal opponent of US foreign policy who brought many of his personal problems upon himself. Regardless, Maj. Hasan was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan soon.

It is believed, but not yet confirmed, that Maj. Hasan had authored internet blogs likening suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save their buddies. The postings, under the name NidalHasan, also compared Islamic suicide bombers to Japanese kamikazes and stated that they died for a cause, “to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers” [citation]. Even though Maj. Hasan may not have been involved with terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, his actions qualify him as a homegrown terrorist.

Though the investigation is ongoing, it is likely that Maj. Hasan’s belief that the US is waging a war against Islam played a prominent role in his decision to kill his army comrades. Even though authorities downplay the shootings as not a terrorist incident, Maj. Hasan is the latest in a growing line of Muslim-American threats to national security.

In 2002, former soldier John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo terrorized the District of Columbia and surrounding areas in a series of sniper attacks that left ten people dead. At Muhammad’s trial in 2006, Malvo testified that the pair planned to shoot as many as six people a day for thirty days and to attack school children and police officers with bombs [citation]. They also planned to set up a terrorist training camp in Canada for young homeless men, who would then spread out across the United States “to shut things down” [citation]. John Muhammad is scheduled to be executed on November 10, 2009. [I have a personal link to this series of attacks. I was working in the DC area as a First Officer with Atlantic Coast Airlines during John Muhammad’s reign of terror.]

The night before the Iraq War began, another Muslim soldier in the US Army also attacked his comrades at their camp in Kuwait. On March 23, 2003, Sgt. Hasan Akbar, of the elite 101st Airborne Division, tossed a single hand grenade into each of three tents occupied by officers. The attacks killed one soldier and wounded fifteen others. As with Maj. Hasan, Sgt. Akbar opposed US foreign policy in the Middle East. He wrote shortly before the attack that “I may not have killed any Muslims, but being in the army is the same thing. I may have to make a choice very soon on who to kill” [citation]. Sgt. Akbar was sentenced to death in 2005.

On July 28, 2006, Naveed Afsal Haq entered the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Armed with two pistols and a knife, Haq grabbed a fourteen-year-old girl and forced her to use the intercom to ask to have the door unlocked. Once inside Haq walked through the offices shooting at workers inside. One woman was killed and five others were wounded, including a woman who was about twenty weeks pregnant. Haq stated that he was angry at Jews, Israel and the United States government for the war in Iraq. In spite of this, the FBI said, “There’s nothing to indicate that it’s terrorism-related” [citation]. Haq’s first trial resulted in a hung jury due to claims of mental illness and a second trial began in October 2009.

Additionally, there have been several cases of Muslim members of the US military who were accused of spying for the terrorists. Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi pled guilty to lesser charges after being accused of illegally taking 200 hundred documents from his job as an Arabic translator at Guantanamo Bay in 2003. In 2004, Specialist Ryan Anderson of the Washington National Guard was charged with attempting to pass information about weapons systems and military organization to al Qaeda. Anderson, who also calls himself Amir Abdul Rashid, was court martialed and sentenced to five consecutive life terms. Also in 2004, Captain James Yee, a Muslim US Army chaplain, was accused of espionage after a customs agent found a list of Guantanamo detainees and interrogators in his belongings. Due to mishandling of evidence, the charges were reduced and later dropped. Yee received an honorable discharge and later became a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and cast a nominating ballot for Barack Obama. Yee had worked with Airman Halabi.

There have also been numerous cases of American Muslims traveling to countries such as Afghanistan and Yemen to take terrorist training. John Walker Lindh was captured with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in 2001. Many terrorist cells broken up in the United States since 9/11 have included American Muslims who had made trips to the Middle East for training.

Not all, or even most, Muslims in the United States support terrorism, but these cases should raise concern that there may be a considerable number who do and who are willing to take action to support their beliefs. In 2007, Pew Research polled Muslim Americans and found that five percent of American Muslims had a favorable view of al Qaeda. A further 27 percent responded that they did not know or refused to answer the question (Inside the Revolution, p. 144). Further, when asked if suicide bombings against civilian targets were ever justified, thirteen percent indicated that suicide bombings were justified “sometimes (7 percent), often (1 percent), or rarely but not never (5 percent).” An additional nine percent refused to answer the question. The numbers increase for Muslims between 18 and 29 years old. These younger Muslims also tend to be more radical and more religiously observant.

Estimates of the total Muslim population of the United States vary widely, but approximately 1.5 million seems to be an accepted figure [citation]. This means that as many as 75,000 Muslim Americans have a favorable view of al Qaeda and a further 405,000 are unsure or refuse to answer. Additionally, some 195,000 Muslim Americans believe that suicide bombings against civilian targets are justifiable with an additional 135,000 refusing to answer. Other polls show that these percentages are even higher in other countries.

The good news is that the vast majority of American Muslims are law abiding citizens who abhor terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. The bad news is that it only takes a small group of radicals to kill a large number of innocent people. We have seen the havoc and chaos that a single killer can cause. If even a small percentage of the pro-terrorist American Muslims ever choose to take violent action on behalf of their beliefs, a few hundred or a few thousand homegrown terrorists could bring the United States to its knees with random shooting attacks or suicide bombings in shopping malls, stores, amusement parks, churches, restaurants, or any of scores of unprotected potential targets. A logical course of action for al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to would be to infiltrate American mosques to recruit, indoctrinate and train local Muslims for local attacks. This is the course that has been taken in other countries.

It is vital that the United States take steps to minimize the risk of homegrown Islamic radicals. It is absolutely not necessary to deport or intern Muslim Americans as we did to the Japanese-Americans in World War II. Muslim Americans are Americans and should not be subjected to any sort of second-class status or religious harassment.

On the other hand, the FBI and other counter-terror organizations should investigate mosques that preach anti-American zealotry. In other countries, radical imams have used local mosques as centers for recruitment and propaganda, often using Wahabi Muslim materials provided by Saudi Arabia. Radical Muslims have similarly infiltrated US prisons. The religious freedom of Muslims to worship in the US should be protected vigorously, but that freedom does not extend to subversive activities such as planning terror attacks.

The worst thing that we can do in the wake of the Fort Hood massacre is to pretend that Maj. Hasan’s religion had nothing to do with his actions. To ignore the threat means that other homegrown terrorist plots will hatch into bloody action. Denial of the threat does not mean that it will go away.
An ironic aspect to the Fort Hood shooting is that the victims, while trained by the government to wage war against terrorists, were defenseless to rules against carrying weapons on military bases. Much the same as the way the anti-gun rules at Virginia Tech ensured that Seung-Hui Cho would meet no resistance, Maj. Hasan had nothing to fear from his highly trained, yet unarmed, victims.

It was left to a civilian police officer, Sgt. Kimberly Munley, of the Fort Hood Police Department, to protect our soldiers. Sgt. Munley, a true hero, shot Maj. Hasan as he was on his rampage, saving the lives of countless others. Sgt. Munley was also wounded in the attack.

In light of the ongoing threat of terrorists and other violent crime, it is time to rethink anti-gun laws. Americans have a need - and a right – to be able to protect themselves.
Rosenberg, Joel C. Inside the Revolution. Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, IL. 2009,2933,572574,00.html
Villa Rica GA
November 9, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Pilot's Perspective On the Northwest Laptop Incident

There has been much discussion recently of the unfortunate Northwest Airlines crew that became distracted and flew 150 miles past their destination. The crew flew for 78 minutes without talking to air traffic controllers (ATC) and only became aware of their mistake when a flight attendant called to ask when they would arrive.

Northwest Airlines Flight 188 was enroute from San Diego to Minneapolis (MSP) when the incident occurred. While the Airbus A320 cruised at FL370 (37,000 feet), the crew apparently took out their laptop computers and became engrossed in a program that helped them submit bids for their monthly schedules. At some point, they missed a call from ATC telling them to change to the next sector’s frequency. When they missed the frequency change, they soon flew out of the range of the transmitter for the frequency they were listening to.

This is not unusual in itself. There have been several instances in my flying career in which I have suddenly realized that I have not heard an ATC transmission for some time. It seems to be especially common in the western states where there are fewer controllers covering larger areas, but it does happen in the east at times.

The standard procedure in the case of lost contact for ATC is to attempt to contact the aircraft on the emergency frequency, 121.5 MHZ. This is commonly referred to as the “guard” frequency. For years, the FAA has encouraged pilots to monitor this frequency on backup radios. In addition to providing an alternate method of ATC contact, it also allows pilots to listen for aircraft in distress that might not be heard by ground stations.

If the aircraft cannot be contacted on guard, ATC expects it to follow a predetermined route and altitude. When the pilots realize that they are out of contact, they normally take steps to find the appropriate ATC frequency for their area and reestablish contact.

In the case of the Northwest crew, the problem was that they were so engrossed in their computers that they never realized that they were out of contact. They should have realized that something was wrong as they drew closer to Minneapolis with a clearance from ATC to start their descent into the airport. Since the autopilot flew the airplane 150 miles past MSP without drawing their attention away from their computers, it is apparent that they were not paying much attention to the airplane or their location. This is why they are currently in trouble with the FAA.

It is tempting for pundits to say that the pilots should have no distractions in the cockpit. This is also unrealistic. A flight from San Diego to Minneapolis can take three to four hours depending on a number of variables such as aircraft speed, wind speed at cruising altitude, weather, and other air traffic. Some flights can be even longer. The aircraft that I currently fly has transcontinental range. A trip from the east coast to the west coast, slowed by westerly winds, can take as long as six hours.

Even though the flight might take several hours, the pilots are not constantly working. The busiest times of the flight are the takeoff and climb phase and the descent and landing phase. It typically takes about half an hour to take off from the airport and climb to cruising altitude. Similarly, it takes about half an hour to descend and make an approach and landing at the end of the trip. That leaves several hours of cruise flight in which the pilots have little to do except talk to ATC, monitor the autopilot’s flying, and monitor the aircraft systems. Since many of these flights are just one part of a long duty day, often with little rest, and are frequently made on “the back side of the clock,” when people are normally sleeping, the long periods of inactivity at cruise flight can easily lead to mind-numbing boredom and drowsiness.

Boredom and drowsiness are more than just an annoyance. In extreme cases, pilots can nod off to sleep. In other cases, this fatigue can negatively affect the ability of pilots to perform their jobs. Studies in pilot fatigue show that the effects of pilot fatigue can cause slow reaction times and lead to degraded decision making. To keep themselves sharp, it is not uncommon for pilots to bring distractions into the cockpit.

I have never seen any pilot use a laptop computer in flight, but other distractions are more common. Some pilots bring reading material, DVD or MP3 players, crossword puzzles or Sudoku, or paperwork such as schedule bids or chart revisions. Even if pilots bring nothing extra into the cockpit, most airliners are equipped with an ADF radio that can pick up commercial AM radio broadcasts. Having something to focus on actually helps pilots keep their minds sharp and reduce fatigue on long flights.

Try to imagine sitting in a small room with another person for four hours. You cannot get up and walk around. You can’t watch television. You can’t take a nap.
You can’t do anything except monitor a few screens and gauges or talk to your seatmate. Now imagine that you do the same thing several times a day and as many as twenty days a month. That situation is similar to sitting in a cockpit at cruise for an airline pilot.

To the confinement is added the problem of airline crew schedules. As airlines lay off (furlough) their employees, the remaining crews fly tougher schedules. The FAA allows airlines to schedule their crews with as little as eight hours of rest. This means that the crew has only eight hours to travel from the airport to the hotel, eat, sleep, shower, dress, and travel back to the airport to start their next day of flying. While airline crews are limited to eight hours of scheduled flying per day, their duty day can last as long as sixteen hours (unless further limited by union contract or company policy).

These problems are compounded by jet lag as the crew crosses multiple time zones (in both directions) and the fact that a crew can have their schedule alternate between extremely early and late flights, which makes it difficult for one’s body to adjust and causes sleep problems. The FAA and airlines would take a dim view of pilots reporting to work after drinking alcohol, but the Federal Aviation Regulations regarding crew rest and airline scheduling policies ensure that many crews report to work with the physiological equivalent of several stiff drinks.

The FAA investigation may ultimately reveal that some or all of these factors were involved in the Northwest crew’s problems. Regardless of the circumstances of this particular flight, the issue of fatigue and boredom is one that many crews face on a daily basis in the real world of jet aviation. Congress and the FAA should not hastily make rules to ban all diversions from the cockpit in cruise flight. Such a rule would be unenforceable and unnecessary. If puzzles and electronic devices are banned from the cockpit, there’s always the ADF.

Palwaukee, IL
November 4, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"It's NOT healthcare, stupid!"

During the 1991 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton famously displayed a sign in his campaign headquarters that read, “It’s the economy, stupid.” This sign served to remind Clinton and his staff of what was important to their campaign and keep them on message. Ultimately, Clinton convinced voters that he could bring the country out of the recession caused by President George H. W. Bush’s tax increases.

Now that he is in office, President Barack Obama could use a similar sign to remind him of what is important, not to his campaign, but to the country. Obama’s sign could easily read, “It’s not healthcare, stupid!”

Currently, the United States faces two major crises. The first and most obvious is the economy. The second is the threat that the US faces from radical Muslims, both in the form of terrorist groups and rogue nations. Obama’s response to these twin crises has been to focus his administration’s efforts over the entire summer of 2009 into an overhaul of the US healthcare system. Healthcare reform is necessary, but should have a much lower priority given the current world and national situation.

President Obama’s efforts to reform healthcare are likely having a negative effect on the economy. After the dramatic increase to the federal deficit caused by the stimulus package passed in February 2009, Obamacare is now being estimated to cost $1.5 trillion. This will ultimately mean that Americans will either pay more for their health insurance or receive coverage that is not as good as what they have now or both. It is increasingly likely that many of Obama’s promises on healthcare, from allowing people to keep their old plans to being cost neutral to not having taxpayers fund abortion, will not be kept in the final version of the bill.

In the meantime, speculation as to what will be included in the final version of the bill is working against the markets attempts to spur an economic recovery. As business owners see the prospect of numerous government mandates and taxes, they elect to delay investment and hiring decisions. Few want to make long-term plans in a business climate that involves the possibility of drastic and negative changes to government policy.

To help the United States recover from the current recession, President Obama should take steps to reassure the business community and spur investment. One quick and easy way to do this would be to enact a corporate tax cut rather than a tax increase. By allowing business owners to keep more of their own money, rather than sending it to the IRS, President Obama would ensure that businesses would have the money to hire more workers, expand their operations, and provide capital for investment in businesses that drive the economy. Such tax cuts, even if only a temporary basis, would help jumpstart the economy.

Additionally, President Obama should promise to veto any legislation that would place new and onerous restrictions and regulations on business. The government should seek to strike a balance between making it cheap and easy to do business in the United States and preventing fraud. The government should not try to micromanage private businesses.

The flat economy and steadily rising unemployment rates illustrate the fact that President Obama’s economic policies are not working. The stimulus bill did not only did not revive the economy, it eroded consumer confidence due to the widely held beliefs that such a large increase in federal debt will inevitably lead to a increase in taxes, a decline in the value of the dollar, or both. Obama’s focus on the creation of a vast new healthcare bureaucracy and carbon regulation have also led to a stagnation in the economy as business leaders take a wait and see attitude.

The combination of lower taxes and streamlining regulation has done much in the past to help economies grow, both in the United States and abroad. In our own history, such policies under Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan, and George W. Bush have caused rapid economic expansion. Other countries, such as Ireland and the former Baltic republics of the Soviet Union, have seen similar results with the enactment of low flat taxes.

Even more dangerous is President Obama’s neglect of the war against the terrorists. President Obama has pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detainment facility even though no credible plan for doing so has been revealed. Some terrorists, such as bomber of the USS Cole, have had the charges against them dropped. Others, including fighters captured on the battlefield, have been moved to the criminal justice system for trial. The civilian criminal justice is ill-equipped to deal with foreign paramilitary fighters due to rules of evidence that did not apply when they were captured and concerns about the release of sensitive intelligence information.

After the Gaza War between Israel and Hamas last winter, President Obama announced $900 million in federal aid to Gaza, even though Gaza is still ruled by the terrorist group Hamas. This money was pledged without preconditions that Hamas stop attacking Israel. In fact, the only country that President Obama has shown any interest in placing preconditions upon for aid or diplomacy is Israel. In May, President Obama demanded that Israel freeze expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Additionally, after vowing to fight and win in Afghanistan, as well as committing additional US troops to Afghanistan last spring, Obama has delayed for weeks his response to General McChrystal’s request for 40,000 additional troops. The request is similar to General Petraeus’ request for a troop surge in Iraq that was bitterly opposed by most Democrats, including then Senator Obama, and a majority of the US public as well. President George W. Bush bucked public opinion to send the additional troops, and, as a result, the war in Iraq is largely to considered to be a US victory.

As with the Iraq surge, most Democrats and a majority of the public now oppose sending additional troops to Afghanistan. President Obama must find the intestinal fortitude to go against public opinion to prevent a Taliban victory in Afghanistan. The Taliban would likely reopen Afghanistan’s terrorist training camps as well as stepping up the insurgency against the nuclear-armed government in neighboring Pakistan.

If that weren’t bad enough, the Obama Administration also doesn’t seem to take seriously the threat of Iran’s imminent acquisition of nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Clinton has indicated the intention of the Obama Administration to let diplomacy continue as Iran plays for time by making agreements and then not following through with them.

Obama’s anti-Bush rhetoric and frequent apologies for America’s actions make it impossible for dictators such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take seriously his deadlines and promises of action if Iran continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. To put it simply, Iran’s government does not believe that it will face severe consequences for continuing along the path to nuclear weapons.

Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons is a direct threat to the United States. As far back as the 1990s, Iran tested the capability to launch missiles from cargo ships, a tactic that would be useless against Israel. Iran has tested missile launch profiles that simulate the use of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warhead. Such a weapon could be exploded high over the United States to wreak havoc on our electrical power grids resulting not in the crash of all electrical and computer systems, but also mass starvation as transportation networks and food storage facilities lose power.

When considering the damage that the economy has already sustained and the possibility of severe, even catastrophic, terror attacks, it suddenly seems less urgent to ram through a massive expansion of the government healthcare bureaucracy. President Obama and Congress should set more realistic priorities. Their most important job is to protect the American people from foreign enemies and that should be their top priority.

Palm Springs CA
November 2, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thomas Jefferson on the Role of the Federal Government

Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward (township) direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating of all cares powers into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.
-Thomas Jefferson

As quoted in the 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen

Friday, September 11, 2009

My 9/11 Story

On September 11, 2001 I was working as a flight instructor at Flight Safety International in Vero Beach, Florida. Unlike many pilots that morning, I wasn’t flying. Instead I was working in the academy’s flight simulator lab.

While in the lab, I noticed that the internet abruptly stopped working. A little while later, a woman who worked in the building came in and said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

My first thought was that it was an accident. I had heard about an army bomber in the 1940s that had accidentally flown into the Empire State Building. Those thoughts vanished abruptly when the word came a few minutes later that a second airplane had hit the WTC. Airplanes don’t just fly into buildings… especially two airplanes within minutes of each other.

Little by little, word trickled in about the attack on the Pentagon and the mysterious crash of United 93 in Pennsylvania. The internet didn’t work again for weeks after that, although I never found the connection between its disruption and the attacks, if any. Confined to the room by my work, I learned slowly what little was known about the attacks at the time.

At lunch, I was able to go down to the school café and watch the news coverage on television there. The small café was filled with people watching the replays of the airplanes striking the towers of the World Trade Center and the collapse of the towers.

I learned that American Airlines Flight 11 had hit the north tower at 8:46 am. I learned that at 9:05 am United Airlines Flight 175 had crashed into the south tower. I learned that at 9:37 am American Airlines Flight 77 had crashed into the Pentagon. At 9:59 am, the south tower collapsed. The north tower followed at 10:28 am.

While all this was happening, the passengers and surviving crew were fighting for their lives aboard UAL 93. At 10:06 am, they lost their struggle as the plane crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside. Their courage saved countless other lives.

At that time, the academy had a contract to train the pilots of a large Saudi Arabian airline. These students had been the source of much amusement in the past. In one case, several Saudi students had gotten drunk and ran their car into the school’s sign. In another, some Saudi students had been caught watching pornographic videos on VCRs in the school library.

Today though, the Saudi students in the café seemed to be the ones who were amused. They were talking animatedly in Arabic and I saw more than a few smiles. Their antics drew angry glares from many of the Americans in the room, but they seemed not to notice.

That afternoon I had been scheduled to fly with several students, but the word reached us that every airplane in the United States was grounded until further notice. I went home and watched the coverage for the rest of the afternoon.

There were early reports speculating on what had happened on the four hijacked airplanes, including UAL 93. There were rumors of other hijacked airplanes. There were guesses as to who was responsible. There were reports from Ground Zero in Manhattan where concrete dust choked the air and firefighters searched the rubble for survivors.

The story doesn’t end on September 11. Flight Safety was one of the schools investigated by the government because it was believed that some of the hijackers might have trained there. The school was eventually cleared, but federal agents were there in large numbers for the next several days.

The airport remained closed, along with the rest of the nation’s airspace for several days. The only airplane I remember seeing move was a lone Coast Guard jet that brought in federal agents. The local newspaper headlines for the next few days covered stories of raids by FBI agents and SWAT teams on the houses of Saudi students in town.

Airliners started flying again a few days later, but it took several days longer for general aviation aircraft and flight schools to get back to business. Since we couldn’t fly, we got our students into ground school sessions instead. Along with millions of other Americans, I gave blood to help the survivors of the attacks, or whoever else needed it.

A few days later, on September 18, a second wave of terror started as envelopes containing anthrax spores started turning up. One of the envelopes was sent to American Media in Boca Raton, Florida, about an hour away from Vero Beach. One of the employees died from the attack.

At the time, I assumed, along with everyone else, that the anthrax attacks were linked with the 9/11 attacks. For days and weeks afterward, I expected more attacks. I wondered if the next wave might be suicide bombers who would simply walk into restaurants, shopping malls, or other crowded areas and kill more people at random.

I remember going an airline flight not long after. As we walked through the security line, a soldier in combat fatigues with a very large, very imposing automatic weapon watched us.

Shortly after, President Bush announced that the perpetrators of the attack were a previously unheard of (at least my me and most other Americans) group called al Qaeda, which was led by Osama bin Laden. He was hiding in Afghanistan and American troops were sent to get him and destroy al Qaeda’s camps.

After Afghanistan came Iraq, and with that came controversy. Bush’s reputation became tarnished by the lingering insurgency there. There was partisan bickering over who was at fault for not stopping the attacks and the justification for toppling Saddam.

I’m convinced that, as historians look back, President Bush’s most important and enduring legacy will be that he held the nation together after September 11. He was the strong voice of unity and determination that kept us from despair and held us together. His swift and decisive actions are directly responsible for the fact that the US has not had another major terror attack since 9/11, in spite of numerous attempts.

After the attacks, students all but stopped coming to Flight Safety. With no students to fly with, I was lucky enough to find my first airline job about nine months after the attacks.

When the government announced the creation of a program to arm airline pilots to prevent another 9/11-type attack, I volunteered and became a Federal Flight Deck Officer. I carried a gun protecting my flights without incident until I left the airlines to fly private jets.

Today, al Qaeda still exists, although it is a shadow of the organization it once was. The larger threat today comes from Iran, a longtime sponsor of terrorism and a nation that has quietly been at war with the United States since 1979. Their current push to obtain nuclear weapons is almost complete and could result in attacks that would make 9/11 seem trivial.

Dear Lord,
Please comfort the families of all the people who have died or been injured in this war,
Please keep us from harm,
Please restore peace to the world,
Watch over and protect those who protect us,
And help us to learn from the past
So that we don't have to repeat it.
In Jesus name,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trickle Down

In the 1980s, opponents to President Reagan’s policy of cutting taxes to stimulate economic growth coined the term “trickle down” economics. His policies were also popularly known as “voodoo” economics. Reagan’s belief in tax cuts was ultimately justified as the US economy began a long period of strong economic growth.

Today we are seeing a trickle down of a different sort. Our current economic crisis began with a banking crisis last fall. Bad mortgages led to a rise in foreclosures. As these bad loans metastasized like a cancer throughout our financial system, banks were unable to borrow or lend and the economy was in danger of grinding to a halt.

Several prominent banks failed or were forced to merge to avoid failure. Thousands of Wall St. financial workers lost their jobs. At this point, many Americans believed that the crisis was a Wall St. crisis that did not affect them.

Over the next few months, this belief was shattered as the economic pain trickled down. At the same time that the credit markets froze, the stock market crashed. Companies could not find financing to expand and, in many cases, could not even make their payroll. 401(k), pension trust funds, and other retirement accounts were halved in value.

As demand for goods and services plunged, companies began to lay off workers. A friend who is an architect was one of the first victims after it became difficult to fund construction projects. Almost a year later, he still out of work. As layoffs increased, there were more foreclosures and demand dropped further.

My own industry provides a good example of the economic carnage of the past year. I work in the fractional aviation industry. My company sells shares of private jets to individuals and companies who need to fly, but don’t want the hassle and expense of owning their own airplane. We manage the airplane and provide crews for the owners. All the owners have to is let the company know when and where they want to fly… and make sure they pay their ownership fees. Before last fall, this was a thriving and quickly growing business.

After the onset of the crisis, paying the fees became a problem for many owners. Many had lost their shirts in the calamity and could no longer afford even part of an airplane. Owners began selling back their shares. Prospective owners, worried about the state of the nation and the markets, elected not to buy into an airplane. To top it off, government officials began demonizing corporate aircraft as a waste of investor’s money. Suddenly, we had too many airplanes and not enough flying to do.

Not surprisingly, my company decided that it had to lay off employees. As the economic situation continued to deteriorate, approximately one quarter of the company’s pilots were laid off, furloughed in aviation parlance, along with a large number of office employees. The most recent furlough was announced last week. Older airplanes were grounded and deliveries of new airplanes were canceled or deferred to a later date.

Similarly, other general aviation companies were also ravaged. Cessna, a manufacturer of private jets, shut down many production lines and laid off over 8,000 workers, over half of the company. FBOs, private aircraft terminals, also went out of business, or laid-off employees. Charter companies that depended on companies like mine for much of their business folded or downsized. Startup companies like small jet manufacturer, Eclipse, and air-taxi operator, Day Jet, went completely out of business. The aircraft market, both new and used, collapsed.

As employees of these and other companies lost their jobs or portions of their income, other businesses and workers were affected. They weren’t able to buy cars, leading GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. When they couldn’t pay their mortgages any longer, more banks failed. Their lack of disposable income meant that other businesses, from restaurants to boutiques, had to lay off employees or close their doors entirely.

As the economic situation spiraled out of control, the government passed a stimulus bill. Four months later, the unemployment rate has continued to rise and will continue to rise even further in coming months as more workers, my friends among them, lose their jobs. In fact, many believe that the real unemployment rate is much higher than the official 9.5% because many unemployed workers have dropped off the rolls after not finding a job even after their unemployment insurance runs out. If many companies had not cut pay and hours, many other workers would be totally out of a job.

So trickle down economic theory has worked several times in recent years. Under Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush we saw examples of positive trickle down in which wealthy people and businesses had more money. They used this money to invest in other businesses and buy things. This created more jobs and wealth for the middle and lower classes.

Under President Obama, we are witnessing a negative example of trickle down. The wealthy and businesses have lost millions of dollars in a matter of months. They are frightened of the future and, in any case, have little money left to spend. Consequently, lower and middle-income workers are suffering.

If we can acknowledge the reality of trickle down, then we can make appropriate choices that will enable good things, rather than bad, to trickle down in the future. The option that Presidents Reagan and Bush chose was to put more money in the hands of the American people. They cut taxes. With the government withholding less of each worker’s pay in taxes, they had more money to spend. As businesses paid less money in taxes, they had more money to grow and hire new workers. In both cases, the economy grew, jobs were created, and the government collected more money in spite of taxing at a lower rate. Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Kennedy also successfully used this strategy.

In contrast, the Obama Administration is taking the opposite tack. President Obama had said last January that without the stimulus bill unemployment could exceed 10%. In reality, the stimulus bill passed shortly after Obama took office, but unemployment is still at 9.5% percent (citation). Much of the stimulus money has not been dispersed. Much of the money that has been spent has been wasted on pork barrel projects. Even worse, the American public has become alarmed at the ballooning deficit.

People realize that the Obama spending spree has a hefty price tag. The money to pay for all of this spending has to come from somewhere. It is widely expected that taxes will be increased on 100% of Americans to pay the bills. In recent weeks, members of Congress have been discussing the possibility of a national value-added tax, which is similar to a national sales tax. The administration is also proposing a national health plan and a cap-and-trade energy tax. Both of these plans would add new taxes that would ultimately be borne by American consumers.

As taxes rise to pay for the increased government spending, consumers find themselves with less money to spend. Businesses find themselves with less capital with which to expand, hire new workers, pay shareholders, and develop new products. As a result, the economy inevitably contracts and more people lose their jobs.

To turn the economy around, we need to put more money in the hands of the private sector. Tax cuts for everyone is the easiest way to do that. If workers and businesses have more money, they will spend and invest more. Banks will, in turn, have more money to loan and credit will become easier to get. Demand for cars and other consumer items will increase and companies will need more workers.

To put it in real terms, if tax cuts for the wealthy enable them to buy an airplane share from my company, then that will put people back to work throughout the economy. Pilots and office staff will need to be recalled to meet the increased demand for flights. Aircraft manufacturers like Cessna will need to reopen production lines to build more airplanes. FBOs around the country will need to hire more workers to service the increased numbers of airplanes flying in. And that is just the immediate impact.

Beyond the aviation industry, the affect would be felt throughout the nation. Newly recalled or rehired workers would need new houses and cars. They would need work clothes and food. They would have more money to spend on entertainment. And their increased income would mean that they would pay more income taxes and sales taxes, helping all levels of government. People would also have more money to donate to charity.

The future depends on President Obama and Democratic majorities in Congress since the Republicans are not able to introduce and pass legislation. Neither do they have the votes to stop the spending and taxes without help from Democratic defectors.


Newark NJ

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obama Makes History

President Obama made history yesterday. On July 13, 2009, President Barack H. Obama became the first president of the United States to preside over a federal budget deficit of $1 trillion.

According to the Treasury Department, the deficit for the current fiscal year, which started in October 2008, reached a total of $1.09 trillion by the end of June (citation). The rising deficit was due to both increased government spending, such as this year’s stimulus package, as well as falling tax revenues due to business difficulties and rising unemployment.

According to the Obama Administration’s own projections, the deficit will continue to rise. The administration’s forecast is that the deficit will reach $1.84 trillion by the time the fiscal year ends in October. The passage of additional costly programs, such as national health care plan or a second stimulus plan, would drive the deficit even higher.

The federal debt is now equal to 80% of the US gross domestic product (GDP), the annual output of the US economy. Federal debt levels have not been this high since WWII when they reached 120% of GDP as we fought for survival against Japan and Nazi Germany.

Disturbingly, Obama has not revealed any plans for actually repaying the borrowed money that he is spending. His projections show the federal government running trillion dollar deficits well after he leaves office and into the next decade.

Many analysts believe that there are only two possible ways to repay such staggering deficits. One way is to raise taxes. The problem is that the debt is so mind-blowingly large that to raise taxes enough to pay it would cripple the economy.

A second possible course of action is to devalue the dollar. If the government simply prints more money, it will have the money to pay the debt but, at the same time, the money (and the debt) will be worth less in real terms. This will lead to inflation, in which everyone’s money is worth less and won’t buy as much. This also leads to economic problems such as the stagnant growth and high unemployment seen in the 1970s.

A third course of action is that Obama may not believe that action on the deficit is necessary at all. His economic plan hinges on the belief that government spending will produce economic growth. This view has not been supported by reality since unemployment has risen to almost 10% since the passage of the stimulus bill.

Criticism of past government relief plans such as FDR’s New Deal and the Japanese recovery attempts of the 1990s has been that the governments involved did not keep spending long enough. This theory holds that the government should keep spending to maintain the (illusion of) economic recovery. There seems to be no consensus on when, or if, the government can phase out its spending programs.

If Obama holds this view, it is likely that he will make no serious effort to reduce spending. In this case, the government is likely to keep running deficits that are greater and greater until investors who buy US government debt and securities become concerned enough with the risk of their investment to put their money elsewhere.

If countries such as China stop buying our debt, the US might find itself insolvent overnight in much the same way that banks such as Bear Stearns found themselves bankrupt last year. For the United States, however, there will be no bailout package.


Orlando FL

Friday, July 10, 2009

What's Ailin' Palin?

When Sarah Palin announced recently that she would resign as Alaska’s governor and leave office a year early, it was probably one of the only things that could have could have bumped Michael Jackson’s death from the headlines, even if only for a moment.

When Governor Palin became John McCain’s surprise pick as a vice presidential nominee last fall, she became the talk of the nation. She electrified conservative audiences with her homespun humor and charismatic speeches. She became the woman that the liberals loved to hate. Her record as a reform governor, her refusal to abort her son, Trig, born with Down Syndrome, and her call to “Drill, Baby, Drill” at a time of record-high oil prices made her a lightning rod for liberal attacks.

To be fair, Palin made her share of gaffes on the campaign trail. In a moment made famous by Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live, Palin claimed that her governorship gave her foreign policy experience since Alaska was so close to Russia. The line turned into “I can see Russia from my house” in a Tina Fey skit, although Palin never actually said those words. Palin faced extremely tough scrutiny and criticism from the media during the campaign.

In contrast, Barack Obama, who also had no foreign policy experience and less executive experience than Palin was given a pass on the many gaffes that he made during the campaign. Referring to babies as punishment for sexual mistakes and the claim that he had visited fifty-seven states “with one to go” were two of his best-known bloopers, but these were largely ignored by the mainstream media. Obama was covered in such little depth, that by the time he was elected, very few people had any idea who he really was or what he stood for other than “change.”

The attacks on Palin soon crossed the line from policy differences to vicious personal attacks. Soon after her introduction to the country, liberal bloggers at the Daily Kos started rumors that Palin’s young son, Trig, was actually her grandson by her daughter, Bristol. In spite of the fact that the rumor was pure speculation, it was covered in the mainstream media as well.

When Bristol Palin was revealed to be pregnant a few weeks later, it should have disproved the internet rumor, but Sarah Palin faced even more criticism and attacks. She was alleged to be a hypocrite and an unfit mother since Bristol was not married.

On the heels of Bristol’s pregnancy came a new scandal. Hackers broke into Palin’s personal Yahoo email account. Her personal email correspondence was then posted on the internet. David Kernell, was arrested and indicted in the crime, which was minimized by the media.

Even long after the campaign was over, Palin and her family still faced attacks. In June 2009, David Letterman joked about Palin’s daughters having sex with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and Yankee Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez. Letterman later apologized for the joke.

Any of these attacks would make most people have second thoughts a life in the public eye. But Palin’s problems were not limited to media attacks on her family. A former state trooper made allegations that Palin improperly dismissed the state Public Service Commissioner because he would not fire a state trooper who divorced Palin’s sister. A month later, Palin was cleared of wrongdoing by the Alaska Personnel Board. This announcement was made the day before the presidential election after the damage to the campaign had already been done.

The ethics problems did not stop there. There have been at least thirteen separate ethics inquiries against Governor Palin. Each complaint has been resolved with no finding of a violation of state ethics law. If Palin had been found to have violated the law, it is safe to assume that we would all know about it as we did during the campaign when the first inquiry was damaging for her.

There are three likely possibilities as to why Governor Palin is resigning. Many people assume that she is leaving office to work on plans for a presidential campaign in 2012, but I think that this is unlikely. If Palin were truly interested in a presidential campaign, she would still have plenty of time if he had fulfilled her full term of office.

Additionally, Palin has consistently joined Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee as leading contenders for the 2012 nomination. She must realize that a resignation will most likely hurt her chances since many people would perceive her as a quitter. A recent poll indicates that 40% of Republican voters believe resigning will her chances in a presidential run. For a candidate who is already portrayed as an intellectual lightweight by a hostile media, resigning doesn’t seem to be a smart strategy.

It seems far more likely that Palin will either retire from public life entirely or cash in on her fame. After the ordeal that Governor Palin and her family have endured in the past year, no one could really blame her if she decided to withdraw from the spotlight and return to a life of hunting, fishing, and family (of course that isn’t the same as saying that no one would blame her). Her claims that the relentless attacks against her have hurt the state of Alaska make sense in light of the millions of dollars that it costs to investigate each allegation.

In my mind, the most likely scenario is that she will use her newfound free time to enter the private sector. It has been reported that Palin owes legal fees of more than $500,000 from defending the accusations against her (citation). It is likely that she can make millions of dollars from a book. It is also possible that she could host a television show like former candidate, Mike Huckabee. A third possibility is that she might take a position with a conservative organization or think tank. She might even start her own advocacy group for issues that are important to her. Any combination of these is possible.

Entering the private sector would also have the advantage of keeping Palin in the public eye. She could continue to build her image and fight the stereotypes that the media has been creating about her. If she believes that she is well placed to start a presidential nomination, then she will still have that option.

Whatever Governor Palin’s thinking, it does seem that she has made her political future more difficult, if not impossible. It may not be an insurmountable obstacle, but at least for the moment, she is damaged in the eyes of many potential voters.


Villa Rica GA
July 10, 2009