Archive for June, 2008

Heritage Reminds Us that Cap and Trade is Not Halting Emissions in Europe

This article from December 2007 says:

…the world has already witnessed many unpleasant surprises with Europe’s ongoing efforts to impose a cap and trade program under the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, European efforts have racked up significant costs while failing to reduce emissions.[5] Nearly every European country participating has higher emissions today than when the treaty was first signed in 1997. Further, despite ongoing criticism of the United States from Kyoto parties for failing to ratify the treaty, emissions in many of these nations are actually rising faster than in the United States.

What is Cap and Trade

I’ve heard rumors that cap and trade will ultimately affect individuals, but so far US legislation being considered directly affects energy companies. Various estimates exist as to how much cap and trade laws will affect each family. We’ve already had one round of cap and trade, and apparently it wasn’t as expensive as people thought it would be. Here’s an explanation of Cap and Trade from the Center for American Progress:

Each large-scale emitter, or company, will have a limit on the amount of greenhouse gas that it can emit. The firm must have an “emissions permit” for every ton of carbon dioxide it releases into the atmosphere. These permits set an enforceable limit, or cap, on the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that the company is allowed to emit. Over time, the limits become stricter, allowing less and less pollution, until the ultimate reduction goal is met. This is similar to the cap and trade program enacted by the Clean Air Act of 1990, which reduced the sulfur emissions that cause acid rain, and it met the goals at a much lower cost than industry or government predicted.

It will be relatively cheaper or easier for some companies to reduce their emissions below their required limit than others. These more efficient companies, who emit less than their allowance, can sell their extra permits to companies that are not able to make reductions as easily. This creates a system that guarantees a set level of overall reductions, while rewarding the most efficient companies and ensuring that the cap can be met at the lowest possible cost to the economy.

Potential Effects

Heritage lists the following negative effects of cap and trade schemes:

  • A regressive tax, which has a greater negative affect on the poor who are least likely to be able to afford energy cost increases.
  • Net job losses. Some jobs will be gone for good. Others will be lost to lower cost workers in foreign countries (unless these countries adopt similar laws).
  • Little environmental benefit to show.  Even if all signatory nations achieve their Kyoto promises, and if the US signed on to Kyoto in a similar fashion, only a .07 degree Celsius improvement would occur.

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O’Reilly Doesn’t Care About History When it Is Inconvenient

In a September 10, 2007 interview of Ron Paul on the O’Reilly Factor went, in part, like this:

RON PAUL: …they want another war. They want to spread this war. This has been the plan by the neoconservatives to have this major overall — this revamping of the whole Middle East, precisely the reason the Al Qaeda is growing. The Al Qaeda is growing because of our policy. Our national security is threatened because of our policy. And it makes it much worse.

So I see the Iranians as acting logically and defensively. We’ve been fighting the Iranians since 1953. We overthrew their government through the CIA in 1953. We were allies with Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s. And we encouraged him to invade Iran…

O’REILLY: All right, so I just want to — we don’t need the history lesson…

RON PAUL: But you have to understand…

O’REILLY: I do understand the region…

RON PAUL: You have to understand the history.. If you don’t understand the history, you can’t….

O’REILLY: But we don’t have time to do the history lesson tonight.

Actually, Mr. O’Reilly, we do, because far too few people understand how it got us to where we are today with a megalomaniacal madman staring us down with intent to barbecue us from afar with nuclear warheads.

The Neocons Don’t Care Either

Dinesh D’Souza is none to interested in history–at least the nuances–either. In his book, The Enemy at Home, D’Souza shows that the intricate facts of history do not comport with his theory (that the Muslims attacked us because the don’t like our way of life). He says

It may have been a mistake for America to get involved [in the overthrow of Mossadegh], but the idea that Mossadegh was some kind of elected democrat is spurious.

When, during an August 3, 2007 interview, Human Events asked Ron Paul whether the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953 led to the Iranian hostage crisis, Ron Paul said it absolutely did.

HUMAN EVENTS: You’re saying overthrowing Mossadegh in 1953 and putting in the Shah led to the hostage-taking and 9/11?

RON PAUL: Absolutely.

Now, to give Dinesh D’Souza and Bill O’Reilly a history lesson.

(1) Mossadegh was indeed “some kind of elected democrat”. (What does it matter anyway–if he’s not a democratically elected leader, does that give us any more moral authority to attack Iran?) Because of the political situation after the assassination of General Ali Razmara, “the shah felt compelled to name Mossadegh to succeed Razmara as prime minister.” In Overthrow, author Stephen Kinzer writes that

currents of nationalism…carried an outspokenly idealistic Iranian, Mohammed Mossadegh, to power in the spring of 1951. Prime Minister Mossadegh embodied the cause that had become his country’s obsession. He was determined to expel the [British and American oil interests].

Overthrow, p. 118

Isn’t it funny how things never change. Western manipulation of a Middle Eastern country begets anger over being manipulated begets Western expressions of surprise that they hate us because of who we are.

The subsequent removal of Mossadegh as prime minister was at the instigation of Mi6 and the CIA, because of Mossadegh’s intense desire to nationalize the oil industry to get the profits out of the hands of Western masters. But Mossadegh had been elected to the Iranian parliament several times previously. The overthrow of Mossadegh led to government repression and loss of liberties (see #3 below).

(2) Yes, the younger Ayatollah Khomeini didn’t like Mossadegh, but that hatred mostly came later on. Robert Dreyfuss reminds us that the ayatollahs initially supported the Mossadegh National Front, which, among other things, attempted to nationalize the Iranian oil industry, taking away profits from the British and American overlords. When the CIA offered lots of money to those who participated in Mossadegh’s ouster, the mullahs switched their allegiances (Devil’s Game, p 109). Because the Muslim clerics abhorred the abject atheism and materialism of Communism, a major part of the CIA plot was to paint Mossadegh as a communist-controlled pawn. At least one ayatollah, Behbehani, received CIA payment to send out fliers and pamphlets associating Mossadegh with the communist Tudeh party. (p. 116-117)

A key aspect of the plot was to portray the mobs as supporters of the Tudeh party in order to provide a suitable pretext for the coup… “The purpose” [another writer said] “was to frighten a majority of Iranians into believing that a victory for Mossade[gh] would be a victory for the Tudeh, the Soviet Union, and irreligion.

It worked. And it didn’t take long for the ayatollahs to realize that they had been duped.

(3) The mullahs hated the Shah much more than they ever hated Mossadegh. After all, Mossadegh was nationalist–like the ayatollahs–and the shah was not. After realizing their mistake in taking the CIA’s money, they urged a compromise with the Shah when, after he wanted to set up a secular republic like Kemal Ataturk’s Turkey, they persuaded him to set up a monarchy. Robert Dreyfuss writes that

The very same, cleric-led, right-wing Islamists that toppled the shah in 1979 were paid by the CIA in 1953 to support him.

Khomeni himself…took part in the CIA-organized, pro-shah demonstrations against Mossadegh. It is a supreme irony. …in 1978, that same Khomeini [led] a religious mob, this time to unseat the shah…

But for the mullahs, the real threat to their power in Iran came from the shah, who disdained the clergy as medieval relics opposed to his efforts to modernize the country.

Devil’s Game, p. 109-111

Thomas Sowell claims that Iran is currently America’s greatest threat…

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June 7, 2008

Monopoly Goes Green

I was reading the Amazon blog this morning to figure out why they were down for a couple hours yesterday, and I can across this about the new Monopoly World Edition

“Refuse to play Monopoly because you fear Electric Company sources its power from coal? Fear not! Game-maker Hasbro is updating everyone’s favorite interminable game, and in the Here and Now: World Edition, Water Works and Electric Company will be replaced with Wind Energy and Solar Energy.”

Hamas: Israeli Pawn and Palestinian Peacebreaker?

The 2005 book, Devil’s Game, by Robert Dreyfuss, offers up the hypothesis that Hamas is a tool of the Israeli secret service. There are a lot of instances of fighting between Fatah (the main component of the PLO) and Hamas, such as this and this.

In 1983, a Palestinian Arab named Ahmed Yassin was arrested by the Israelis for coordinating the stockpiling of firearms, some of which were found in his home. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but released after only a year–fueling claims that he was secretly in alliance with the Israeli Shin Bet organization.

In 1986 and 1987, Yassin organized the founding of Hamas. It is widely believed that Israel gave their support.

There were persistent rumors that the Israeli secret service gave covert support to Hamas, because they were seen as a rival to the PLO,” says Phillip Wilcox a former U.S. ambassador…who headed the U.S consulate in Jerusalem at the time.

Yasser Arafat claimed that Yitzhak Rabin told him of that support, admitting that it had been a “fatal error”.

The PLO accused Yassin and his Hamas organization of conspiring with “reactionary Arab regimes” and “…in collusion with the Israeli occupation.” Arafat pointed to the hundreds of schools, mosques, and other institutions that the Israelis had ceded to Hamas, and he said “Hamas is a creature of Israel.”

Circumstantial evidence, at the least, points to this likelihood. Whenever PLO/Fatah tried to make an accord with the Israelis, Hamas seemed to be there to scuttle it.

“Undermining the peace process has always been the real target of Hamas and has played into the political ambitions of Likud”, wrote one analyst. “Every time Israeli and Palestinian negotiators appeared ready to take a major step toward achieving peace, an act of Hamas terrorism has scuttled the peace process and pushed the two sides apart.”

The following video illustrates the ongoing tensions between Hamas and Fatah.

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June 5, 2008

Obama Comes Out of the War Closet

The Democratic nomination securely in hand, Barack Obama promised the American Israel Public Affairs committee that he would never allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

The Seriousness of the Mortgage Crisis

The Mortgage Bankers Association, which began keeping such statistics in 1979, has never seen so many home buyers in trouble with their mortgages.  The figure now stands at nearly 9%.

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June 1, 2008

Will Gaza Palestinians Be Able to Use Fulbright Scholarships?

A day after Israel was criticized for not allowing seven students to leave the Gaza strip for America to study under Fulbright scholarships, Israel is considering actually allowing the students to travel to the US.  One student initially said

I am against Hamas. Their acts and policies are wrong. Israel talks about a Palestinian state. But who will build that state if we can get no training?

After learning that it is likely that he and six others now will be able to study in the US, he stated further that

Gaza students should not be deprived of the right to education and the fact that we have been able to convey the message is a success but our joy is not complete because there are at least 700 other students who want to study abroad.

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