"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"The War Against Girls"

I read this fascinating article in The Wall Street Journal today entitled "The War Against Girls." The article is actually a review of the book Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl. Unnatural Selection details the systematic targeting of female babies for abortion in many countries of the world, most notably China and India. In China, largely due to forced abortions resulting from the country's One Child policy, 121 boys are born for every 100 girls, with the ratio topping out at over 150 in some towns. In India, the ratio is 1.12. Sadly, Hvistendahl concludes that approximately 163 million girls that would otherwise have been born based on biological averages have been aborted over the past three decades by parents seeking sons. Aside from the obvious tragedy of females being systematically targeted for destruction, Hvistendahl points out the problems inevitably resulting from such a significant gender imbalance, including increased social turmoil and violence and the booming of a global female underclass through prostitution, forced marriage, and mail-order-bride businesses. And institutions such as the United Nations and Planned Parenthood have been instrumental in promoting such sex-selective abortion overseas.

The reviewer points out that Hvistendahl is adamantly pro-abortion and expresses fear that the facts in her book will jeopardize legalized abortion; yet, despite her biases she has documented something very important and tragic that should cause all of us to wake up and see where the culture of abortion has taken us. Ironically, a practice touted as a basic woman's right has resulted in tremendous harm to -- indeed in the systematic extermination of -- women in many countries around the world. It turns out that women themselves are the greatest victims of abortion.

Jonathan Last sums up his review this way:

Despite the author's intentions, "Unnatural Selection" might be one of the most consequential books ever written in the campaign against abortion. It is aimed, like a heat-seeking missile, against the entire intellectual framework of "choice." For if "choice" is the moral imperative guiding abortion, then there is no way to take a stand against "gendercide." Aborting a baby because she is a girl is no different from aborting a baby because she has Down syndrome or because the mother's "mental health" requires it. Choice is choice. One Indian abortionist tells Ms. Hvistendahl: "I have patients who come and say 'I want to abort because if this baby is born it will be a Gemini, but I want a Libra.' "

This is where choice leads. This is where choice has already led. Ms. Hvistendahl may wish the matter otherwise, but there are only two alternatives: Restrict abortion or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Correction to Yesterday's "Green Hoax" Post

After doing a little more research into my post from yesterday regarding electric cars, I discovered that there are some things I need to both correct and clarify. First, when I wrote that post, I was confused about whether the increased carbon emissions for manufacturing and disposing of electric vehicles were included in the overall calculation of carbon use over the vehicle lifetime. I originally thought they were not (based on some rather ambiguous language in one of the links I used), but in fact they were. Obviously, if I had taken more time to research the issue, I would have realized this. So I appreciate the commenter who pointed this out to me. His point was well taken that is always good to go directly to the source if possible.

So here are the baseline numbers, taken from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership press release. The study found that from the beginning of manufacture to the end of disposal, an average mid-size gasoline car would be responsible for emitting 24 tonnes of CO2. An average mid-size electric car would be responsible for emitting 19 tonnes of CO2. This is, of course, a carbon emissions savings, but not one I would consider to be all that significant given the hype surrounding electric cars.

However, there is more to the story than just these overall numbers. When you read the full report issued by the LCVP, you find that if you factor in a replacement battery for an electric car, total carbon emissions for the electric car go up significantly to 23 tonnes of CO2, nearly identical to that of a conventional gasoline car. These numbers were the ones used by the two articles to which I originally linked as a basis for the argument that electric cars have little advantage in terms of carbon emissions. Will most electric cars need a second battery after a few years? This has been a problem with electric cars to date. The LCVP argues that in a few years the technology for electric car batteries will have improved enough that replacement batteries will not be necessary. But obviously, that organization is a cheerleader for dramatic reductions in carbon emissions, so it's hard to know who to believe.

There's another thing to consider too. Electric cars, at least so far, are not suitable for long trips because their batteries must be recharged frequently. They are really only feasible for short mileage commutes. Therefore, it is likely that many of them will not end up accumulating a very great amount of mileage over their useful life. This reduces their apparent energy savings. Remember, close to 50% of their total carbon emissions occur at the beginning of their life cycle, during manufacture. They must be driven 80,000 miles just to break even with gasoline cars on total carbon emissions. It is entirely possible that many of them will not pass the 80,000 mileage mark in their lifetime, and therefore will prove to be LESS green than conventional vehicles. This point, coupled with the possible necessity of replacement batteries, helps to explain why the articles I originally linked to can claim that electric cars may be less green than gasoline cars. LCVP's study found that electric vehicles are only marginally greener than gasoline cars, and when you include other factors like the ones I have mentioned which were not factored into LCVP's study, electric cars may not even be greener at all.

So yes, I was confused about some facts in my original post. And I concede that my language about "green hoaxes" was a little over the top. I have no doubt that most proponents of electric cars are sincerely trying to help the environment and are not deliberately trying to pull the wool over consumers' eyes. However, I still think it is far from clear that electric cars will reduce carbon emissions very significantly. And so far, the evidence shows they are both inferior to gasoline cars for many purposes and also significantly more costly. Will the technology improve? Doubtless, but the technology used in the manufacture of gasoline cars is also improving. Furthermore, the whole premise behind radical reductions in carbon emissions is the idea that our emissions are causing global warming. I think it is far from clear that global warming is being caused by man-made activities at all, and highly doubtful that any reduction in carbon emissions will have an impact on global temperatures. So in my mind, the government is foolish to pour millions of taxpayer dollars down the drain to subsidize electric cars. And I stand by my original point about the environmentalist movement as well. I disagree with their values and believe their track record has been very poor.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Green Hoax

A new study on electric cars has come out by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, an organization jointly funded by Britain's government and automobile industry. Its findings? Electric cars actually are likely to produce HIGHER CO2 emissions over their lifetime than gasoline cars. The study found that mid-size electric cars produce only slightly less CO2 than their mid-size gasoline counterparts during their lifetime. This is not near enough to make up for the fact that it takes 50% MORE energy to manufacture electric cars in the first place and also 50% MORE energy to dispose of them. Not to mention the fact that most electric cars need a battery replacement after a few years (more carbon emissions!), and that some of the materials needed to manufacture the batteries are only available from countries like China and are difficult to dispose of in an environmentally safe way. And then there's the point that most electric cars are not suitable for long trips because they only drive a short distance on a single charge.

So tell me again: why is our government spending massive amounts of money subsidizing the electric car industry and incentivizing people to buy these very expensive cars?

The environmentalist movement in this country has gotten pretty extreme. Some of their causes, such as banning DDT worldwide and trying to stop industrialization in Third World countries, have left people in extreme poverty and even resulted in loss of life. Environmentalism is more than just a cause – it’s a religion for a lot of people. They worship Mother Earth, which they believe is eternal and is responsible for creating all life through the process of naturalistic evolution. For them, Mother Earth must be preserved in an untouched, pristine condition, no matter how many people must suffer as a consequence. Thus, they pass legislation that costs thousands of loggers their jobs because somewhere deep in the woods there may be a spotted owl somewhere that might have its habitat disrupted. Environmentalist concern for some obscure endangered species caused California to shut off the water supply to the central valley area of the state, one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the country, turning it into a dust bowl and costing thousands of farmers their livelihoods. Environmentalists are obsessed with global warming and are pushing for massive regulation to prevent it that will destroy industry and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs (the Kyoto Treaty for example), even though there is little or no evidence that human activity is causing global warming and even less evidence that scaling back on our activity will prevent it from occurring. (And recent Climategate email leaks have shown how much deception is present in the global warming alarmist camp.) Environmentalists are obsessed with the evils of fossil fuels and want to replace them with “renewable” energy sources, even though there are no such alternative energy sources that can come close to matching the usefulness and productivity of fossil fuels. I have no problem with researching to find better alternative energy sources, but in the meantime we have huge untapped supplies of fossil fuels that will sustain us for hundreds of years. Fossil fuels created the economic productivity that has given us so much wealth. I guess the earth was more pristine back in the days of the cavemen, but I don’t want to go back to that lifestyle just for the sake of being green. Environmentalists are obsessed with population growth and want to dramatically reduce the earth’s population. I watched a documentary on this, and in fact the earth is not overpopulated at all and dramatic reductions in the population would cause tremendous economic harm to our country and our world (and already has contributed to a lot of Japan and Europe’s economic problems).

That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the environment and think we should just trash it. I don’t worship the earth and I don’t believe I owe my existence to it, but I still believe it is the good creation of God and as such we should seek to take care of it and protect it. A lot of environmental legislation from earlier in our history was good and necessary. It is good that companies are no longer allowed to dump raw sewage into the river. It is generally good that we are recycling. It is good that factories can’t pour out dangerous pollutants unrestricted. It is good that companies are responsible to clean up environmental damage they cause. It is good that littering is a crime. It is good that there are rules preventing the destruction of forests and wetlands. It is good that our national park system is preserving our most special natural landscapes for generations to come. I support all of those things and what they have done to preserve our environment. But the modern environmentalist movement has gone far beyond simple good stewardship and conservation. Now they want to regulate how much water I can have in my toilet and what kind of light bulbs I can use and how much fuel my auto uses. I think that the environmental movement cares more about a pristine earth than about the lives of people, and that's wrong.

I'm sick of all the group think and distortions when it comes to the environment. I want to protect the environment, but I refuse to buy into all the fashionable ideas currently on the market. I want our government to show the same concern for the truth and the facts.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jay Nordlinger Rocks!

The main point of this blog post is simply to say that if you have never read Jay Nordlinger's weekly Impromptus column on National Review Online, you have been missing out on a treat. Unlike many political pundits on both the left and the right, Nordlinger is a delight to read, never coming across as bitter, harsh, or angry. Every time I read him, I am struck by the paradox in his writing. Here is a man with tremendous knowledge of contemporary politics, strong conservative beliefs, and an impressive awareness of American history, especially American political history. He has been covering all the important players in Washington for decades and has forgotten more about politics than most people will ever know. And yet, it is so obvious from his writing that he doesn't let politics consume him. He loves life in all of its variety, quite apart from politics, and freely opines on a broad range of topics in his Impromptus column, from grammar to music to the arts to geography to culture. He is passionate about international human rights. His writing style is conversational. You can't read a column of his without concluding that this is a genuinely happy person who looks at the world in an eminently level-headed, commonsense sort of way. Even when he criticizes others, he generally does so in an indirect and gentle sort of way. (Wish I were better at doing that!) One of my favorite things that he does is jot down his quick thoughts and reactions to major speeches, debates, etc. They are always well worth reading.

Anyway, I thought his column this week was especially good. He has some great thoughts on the left's reaction to the Anthony Weiner scandal. Read it here. And then click on the "Archive" button at the top of the page and read all the other Imprompuses you've missed!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Radical Environmentalism Is Destroying California

Those who think the modern environmentalist movement is harmless should read this excellent post on Forbes magazine's blog entitled "California's Green Jihad" by Joel Kotkin. Kotkin explains how green policies have made California the least business-friendly state in the nation, given it the second-worst unemployment rate in the nation (higher even than Michigan's), and driven away hundreds of thousands of jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and technology.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memorial Day Is a Day to Celebrate America

Monday was Memorial Day. For most of us, it is a day to celebrate America and remember the sacrifices made by our armed forces on behalf of our country and our freedoms. In particular, it is a day to honor our fallen heroes. Apparently, other people - and not just lefties - see Memorial Day as a golden opportunity to spew hate against our military and our country and accuse our troops of mass murder of innocent civilians. Someone sent me this delightful article from the libertarian site LewRockwell.com entitled "An Open Letter to the Troops: You're Not Defending Our Freedoms."

I am not going to respond in detail to every point in the article, partly because I don't think the author deserves that much respect, and partly because I don't have the time. But I have a few basic observations in response.

1. The timing of the article speaks volumes. I think it shows real disrespect to all Americans who have lost family members or friends in war to write such an insulting attack on our military on a day set aside to remember and honor those fallen soldiers. Whatever your opinions regarding recent American military operations, those soldiers died courageously in the service of our country and deserve our respect, as do their families who sacrificed so much. Further, the article shows real disrespect to our country. Memorial Day is a national day of remembrance, and honors fallen heroes throughout our history, including those who died in wars that presumably even the author would recognize as legitimate. Apparently the author feels the need to ignore and disrespect our entire national history simply to make his current political point about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

2. The language used in the article speaks volumes. Over and over again, the author uses words like the following to describe our country, its military, and its policies: occupation, aggressor, maimed, tortured, cruel, brutal, crimes, killing innocent people, empire, kangaroo courts, etc. This is the language we use to describe evil. One could be forgiven for thinking he was recounting the history of Nazi Germany or the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, insteading talking about America. He repeatedly says that the U.S. created the terrorists by our policies. Apparently he believes, like Obama's infamous pastor Jeremiah Wright, that the attacks of 9/11 were simply America's "chickens coming home to roost." It is very clear that this is not about policy differences regarding the War in Iraq. In fact, he even says that the U.S. has been following these same policies for a long time -- long before 9/11. The author is writing this article because he despises what America stands for. He thinks -- indeed he says! -- that we are an evil empire that goes around slaughtering innocent people and conquering and exploiting weaker countries for our own financial gain and to enhance our global power. In his twisted mind, the bin Ladens and the Saddam Husseins of the world are the freedom-fighters trying to defend themselves against an evil and powerful aggressor known as the United States. Our country's alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel have turned kindly, peace-loving moms and dads into crazed terrorists who behead American journalists on camera and fly planes into tall buildings filled with women and children.

3. At every turn, the author does whatever he has to do to paint the U.S. in the worst light possible, ignoring or distorting any facts that might stand in his way. He keeps saying over and over again that we killed many innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Regarding the War in Iraq, he ignores the fact that our military action was based on reports from intelligence agencies of our country and other countries that stated that Saddam Hussein had WMD's that he intended to use against his neighbors or sell to terrorists. This intelligence turned out to be badly wrong, but it was believed by almost all of our political leaders at the time. (By the way, we never provided Iraq with WMD's, as the author claims, merely conventional weapons.) He ignores the fact that our intelligence had uncovered meetings between Hussein and top Al-Qaeda operatives. He ignores the fact that we tried hard to work through the U.N. to avoid military conflict, and that war only came after 17 U.N. resolutions that were disregarded by Hussein and after weapons inspectors were denied access to Iraq for years. He ignores the fact that Hussein was a brutal dictator whose torture chambers (real torture, as opposed the tough interrogations methods that the author loosely calls "torture") were notorious and who kept his people in fear. He ignores the fact that the Iraqi people welcomed us as liberators when we initially invaded the country, and that they tried and sentenced Hussein to death for his crimes. He ignores the fact that the Iraq people welcomed the new democracy set up by the U.S. and turned out to vote numerous times in large numbers despite threats against their lives. He ignores the fact that most of the civilian casualties in Iraq were not caused by our troops but by the insurgency, which was largely made up of terrorist fighters pouring into Iraq from other terrorist-supporting countries like Iran and Syria to undermine the young Iraqi democracy. He ignores the fact that the Taliban was sympathetic with and supportive of bin Laden and Al-Qaeda at every turn and refused to stop its cooperation with Al-Qaeda even after 9/11. He ignores the fact that the Taliban was a brutal totalitarian regime that sentenced people to have their limbs chopped off for simple theft and women to be gang-raped for crimes like allowing their face to be seen in public. He ignores the fact that our military followed careful rules of engagement in both Iraq and Afghanistan in which they targeted only known terrorists and tried to avoid injuring innocent civilians whenever possible. (In fact, I think our rules of engagement were too strict and caused our war effort to suffer in both countries.) He ignores the fact that those terrorists deliberately embedded themselves among innocent civilians in order to maximize civilian casualties to turn public opinion against the U.S. He ignores the fact that our "occupation" of Iraq lasted only long enough to ensure the Iraqi democracy was somewhat stable and capable of protecting itself and that all combat troops have now withdrawn from the country. He ignores the fact that we have did not exploit Iraq for financial gain and did not steal their oil for ourselves. And these facts are just the tip of the iceberg -- just the ones that come to my mind at first glance. Many, many more could be mentioned.

Oh yes. Here's a big fact that somehow also failed to make it into that author's article. Our Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, the great enemy of our country who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist attacks against Americans. There is no doubt that this, coupled with the capture or killing of many other top Al-Qaeda operatives since 9/11 by our troops, has made us much safer and has been a big reason why we have not had another major attack on our soil since 9/11. Our soldiers risked -- and in some cases forfeited -- their lives to achieve these victories against the people who attacked our country and to keep us free and secure. Maybe that author, like his hero Ron Paul, is upset that we tracked down and killed the terrorist who murdered thousands of our citizens in cold blood without reading him his Miranda rights.

The point of listing out all these facts is not to say that the U.S. hasn't made mistakes in prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have made some big mistakes. And our military made some big mistakes, like Abu Ghraib. But there is a big difference between saying we made mistakes and saying that we are an evil empire that attacks other countries for no reason to exploit them for financial gain and kill innocent civilians. I can respect someone who argues that the War in Iraq was unnecessary for our national defense, or was prosecuted in an incompetent way. I cannot respect someone who argues that the U.S. is an evil imperialist empire.

4. The author clearly thinks there should be no attempt to defend against terrorists at home either. He doesn't like the Patriot Act or tough interrogation techniques (what he calls "torture") or detaining terrorists or military tribunals or Guantanamo Bay. After all, in his view, terrorists don't really exist -- they're just artificially manufactured by our imperialistic policies. Apparently his idea is to let all the terrorists go (detaining them is illegal!) and make sure we don't ever do anything they don't like again. Whatever they demand from us, we just do it to make sure we don't make them upset. We can't support Israel because they don't like that. We can't have troops anywhere in the Middle East because they don't like that. We don't dare have a working relationship with any Middle East dictatorship because they don't like that. We can't publish cartoons that make fun of Mohammed because they don't like that. That's probably how the author advises his kids to deal with bullies too. Just be nice to them and they won't pick on you. What kind of a pathetic way is this to carry out foreign policy?

All right. I'm done fighting with people who hate America. They can go live with their freedom-loving Al-Qaeda friends in the Middle East, for all I care. Memorial Day is more than just a day off work or an occasion for a cookout. It is the day when we remember our brave men and women in uniform who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of their country and its liberties. Despite many present problems and future challenges, America continues to offer its citizens a level of individual political and religious freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and justice virtually unmatched anywhere else on earth, both now and throughout history. We owe these blessings first and foremost to God, who graciously gave us life and sovereignly placed us in such a great country. But secondarily, we owe these blessings to our country's military heroes -- leaders and soldiers -- who fought to win us our independence in the first place and who risked their lives throughout our history to protect our soil from foreign attack and to defeat the enemies of freedom. Over more than two centuries, they have suffered hardship and danger on the battlefield and in the trenches so we could enjoy comfort and peace; hundreds of thousands of them died so that we can live in freedom. Such freedom was purchased at great cost to them, and at the very least, we owe them remembrance and honor. And we owe, at the very least, gratitude and support to all past and current members of our military and their families.

Most of America's wars, first against English rule and then later against the global threats of Nazism, fascism, Communism, and radical Islam, have been first and foremost to protect our country from actual or imminent threats by tyrannical movements and governments. A few of our wars (such as the wars in Kosovo and Libya, for example) have seemed more motivated by humanitarian considerations than imminent national security threats. There is honest disagreement about whether every war America has fought has been necessary or worth the cost, and certainly some wars such as Vietnam were executed very poorly. But I think there can be no honest disagreement that the wars America has fought, without exception, have been fought on behalf of freedom and democracy and to make the world a safer, more peaceful, and better place. Unlike most other great nations and empires throughout history, our wars have not been wars of conquest or aggression. They have been intended to free others, not to enslave them.

I believe few institutions have done more good for the world than the U.S. military. A non-exhaustive list of nations who owe their present freedom to the U.S. military includes England, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Grenada, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Kuwait, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Iraq. Our soldiers have died to protect us and keep us free, but have also died to bring peace and freedom around the world.

What can we do to honor the memory of our fallen heroes and their sacrifice for us? We can donate our money and efforts to support organizations that help veterans and their families -- Hugh Hewitt provides some helpful links here. We can express our thanks to those who are currently serving or those who have served in the past and their families. We can vote for politicians who respect our military and want to keep it strong instead of using it as a showcase for political correctness. We can stand up to the militant left and the radical libertarian right which hate our military and undermine our country's wars at every opportunity. Most of all, we can thank God for the freedoms we have and use them to honor Him and serve others.

Here is another great link by Victor Davis Hanson that honors our military on Memorial Day.

Finally, the words to the song "The Other Little Soldier" by Josh Gracin, which reminds us just how great our soldiers' sacrifice is:

He used to play in Daddy's uniform
With the stripes across the sleeve,
And he knew when he was all grown up
What he was gonna be.
He used to like to ambush
Every careless cat or dog
That had the nerve to cross the
Battle lines that he had drawn.

And even though he didn't know
What his dad was fighting for,
He was proud to be the other little soldier
In this war

The phone rang in the middle of the night
When they called his dad to go,
Kissed him and his mom goodbye,
He said, "God, I love you both!
Now I know that it's a lot to ask
Of such a little man
But hold the fort and I'll be home
As quickly as I can."

And even though he didn't know
What his dad was fighting for,
He was proud to be the other little soldier
In this war

A wall could not begin to hold
The names of all the kids
Who gave the greatest sacrifice
That any child could give

It was the first time he'd ever seen
A flag from up that close,
And he watched them as they folded it
So careful and so slow;
As they gave it to his mother
He knew what he should do:
He raised his little hand
And gave his dad one last salute.

And even though he didn't know
What his dad was fighting for,
He was proud to be the other little soldier
In this war.

May God bless America and our troops, today and always!