“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” - Edward Abbey

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Airport Security - Bring Back the Cleaver Sleeve!



By now, we have all undoubtedly read about the failed attempt to blow-up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Xmas day by Abdul Abdulmutallab - the so called underwear bomber. In case you missed it, the 23-year old Nigerian student had 80 grams of the explosive PETN sewn into him underwear. He attempted to set-off the explosives while the plane was in flight, but was thwarted in his efforts by other passengers.

Now that details of Captain Underwear’s attempted bombing exploits are being exposed, they are raising quite a few eyebrows due to the apparent lapses in security that led to this guy getting on the plane in the first place. With all the hype and fear-mongering that has ensued, coupled with calls for the expansion of the police state and pleas for heightened airline security by the disaster capitalists, one can’t help thinking that this was part of a false flag operation designed to further some other agenda.

Let’s start with the obvious. How in the world does this guy get on the plane in the first place? As investigative journalist Webster Tarpley points out,

• [Abdul Abdulmutallab] had been denied an entrance visa to Great Britain.
• He had been denounced to the US Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria as a possible terrorist by his own father in mid-November.
• His one-way ticket to Detroit was bought in Ghana for cash.
• He reportedly entered Nigeria illegally.
• In Amsterdam , he was assisted at the Northwest Airlines gate by a “well-dressed Indian” who explained that [Abdulmutallab] had no passport.
• He had PETN, the same substance used by shoe bomber Richard Reid.
• In spite of all this, his US entry visa was never revoked.
• He never made it onto the no-fly list.
• He was never thoroughly searched.


The government has done their best to pitch the event as a security lapse and an intelligence failure, but there are too many “coincidences” for any thinking person to believe such a cock and bull story.


On the US home front, the disaster capitalists are exploiting the fear generated by the (orchestrated?) underwear bomber incident to impose new “security measures” at US airports. Within hours of the news breaking, there were passionate pleas for the use of airport body scanners. The scanners, which employ low level radio waves, are designed to peer beneath your clothing but not penetrate your skin. If effect, it allows security screeners to conduct a no-touch frisking and strip search on an individual. Despite fears of having our civil rights violated, the moneyed interests behind the technology assure us that the devices will actually protect our privacy. Protect our privacy? Really? Check the picture below and the one at the lead of this article. You decide!


No-touch strip search device.

Speaking of moneyed interests, it is interesting to see just what defense contractors and which individuals are set to cash in from the forced implementation of the body scanners. Among those set to cash in are Cha-Ching!!:

• Tom Blank - former TSA deputy administrator, now a lobbyist for American Science & Engineering, Inc.
• Chad Wolf - former assistant administrator for policy at TSA and current AS&E lobbyist.
• Kevin Kelly - former staffer to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who sits on the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee. Kelley is currently a lobbyist for Smiths Detection (screening manufacturer)
• Former Sen. Al D’Amato, R-N.Y., represents L3 Systems, manufacturer of scanning devices.


In addition to these people, it should also be pointed out the person who stands to profit the most from the sale of the full body scanners is none other than former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Chertoff is presently the head of the Chertoff Group, a firm that represents one of the leading manufacturers of whole-body-imaging machines, Rapiscan Systems. A quick check of Rapsican’s parent company, OSI Systems, shows that there stock price shot up over 43% in the two weeks following calls by the government for the use of the scanners.

What makes this whole story ironic and highlights the duplicitous nature of the events surrounding the incident is that the scanners would not have been sufficient to catch someone like Abdulmutallab from carrying out their plans. The scanners can not detect either thin plastic bags or the powdered explosives he had concealed in his tighty-whiteys. Nevertheless, we are set to spend millions upon millions of tax-payer dollars to have these scanner placed in every major airport in the US, and perhaps beyond. The only real effect they will have is to line the pockets of the corporatists who run the country. And they are going to invade your privacy, expand the police state, and violate your civil rights to do so! Ain't America great!

Is all this really necessary? Or are we being scared into turning over our civil rights under the rubric of security? All this non-sense we have to go through in the supposed name of airport security is becoming ridiculous. As it is now, you have to remove your hat, jacket, shoes, and belt to get through the TSA check-point. If you forget to take a dime out of your pocket, you stand the risk of being patted down by a stranger in latex gloves (for those of you who frequent the vicinity of 13th & Locust, there is no charge for a TSA pat-down!). If all that were not bad enough, now they want to install scanners to get their proverbial hands in to your pants. At this pace we may as well show up naked at the gate carrying only our boarding pass and passport.


Naked Airlines?

Or perhaps we can seek less drastic measures by making it easier for the Fed's to examine our chamber tackle. This could be done by adopting Max Keiser’s advice and requiring all traveling males to don their Elderidge Cleaver pants. By simply slipping our genitalia into the aptly named Cleaver Sleeve, we could present our tastefully accoutered appendages for easy examination by begloved government agents.


The answer to our airport security problems?

In all seriousness, if the government really wanted to prevent these underwear bomber type of incident from happening, they could very easily have do so by simply following common sense procedures which are already in place!. These would have stopped the underwear bomber in his skid marks – er, tracks. He should have been on a no-fly list in the first place. That aside, purchasing a one-way international ticket with cash should have raised several red flags. Boarding an international flight without a passport should have raised a few more, as well as set-off all sorts of alarms. Somehow they didn’t.

And the band plays on…

Friday, November 13, 2009

The US Dollar May Soon Be a Footnote



In case you missed it, India purchased 200 metric tonnes of gold last week from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In exchange for the gold, India had to fork over $6.7 billion.

While gold sales by the IMF are nothing new, the timing and magnitude of this sale caught the attention of financial players around the world. One reason for the surprise is that gold was trading at over $1000 per ounce. It is believed that India paid $1,045 per ounce. Why would India be so eager to buy gold bullion at its peak price? After all, isn’t one of the central tenets of investors buy low, sell high?

When you dig a little deeper into how the deal went down, the answer becomes quite apparent. For starters, India did not pay for the gold with Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). SDRs, loosely speaking, are a form of book entry “currency” used by the IMF for the settlement of international trades. India bought the gold with cold hard cash – specifically with US Treasury Bonds that were part of its foreign currency reserve holdings.

Translation: India is dumping its US dollars!

And they are not alone. China, the biggest foreign owner of US debt, has been trying to unload their US dollars as well. Currently, China owns about $900 billion in US Treasury bonds. All the quantitative easing (i.e. printing money) that the US Treasury has recently engaged in to "stimulate the economy" and bail-out failing companies has not gone over well in Beijing, as it dilutes the value of the dollars they hold.

China is fed up! They have been very vocal in their calls for a new reserve currency to replace the dollar. Moreover, China, along with Russia, Japan, France and several Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar), have suggested dropping dollar pricing of oil.

If the new currency plans do come to fruition, China will need a hedge to protect against the inevitable losses it will see in its dollar holdings. Because of this, many gold traders thought China would have been the one to buy the IMF’s gold. Actually, they may be doing so as you are reading this, as the IMF still wants to unload another 200 metric tonnes of gold to balance its book.

Translation: China, Russia, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar don’t have much faith in the dollar either!

You can also add Brazil and Iran to the list.

Brazil said it would support non-dollar payments for oil. And in September, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered his county’s foreign currency reserves to be switched to euros. Incidentally, Saddam did the same thing just a few months before the neo-cons unleashed “shock and awe”. I'm not trying to imply the two events were related. I’m just sayin’.

I don’t think it takes to much brain power to realize what is going on. We are witnessing a major shift in global economic power from the West to the East. World Bank President, Robert Zoellick essentially confirmed this, stating. "One of the legacies of this crisis may be a recognition of changed economic power relations".

When you boil it all down, there are several inescapable conclusions. The world is losing faith in the dollar. This is bad news for the US. Currently, our economy is being fueled by the willingness of foreign countries – primarily China – to loan us money by buying our debt. The fact that they are dumping dollars and stocking their reserves with gold suggest that they won’t be loaning us much money much longer. The feds will then turn on the printing press to pay the bills, which will trigger hyperinflation. As a result, the value of your dollars will steadily decline until the point where they are essentially worthless.

Long before this point has been reached, the world is going to dump the dollar for a new international reserve currency (more likely a basket of currencies). With all the gold heading East, those countries will be the ones who decide what currencies go in to the basket. As history has shown, a shift in military power will likely follow.

With all this in mind, it might be a good idea to exchange your dollars for some tangible assets. But you might not want to dump them all. You never know, they may come in handy.


Image Source: Retarded Minds

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The UN Is a Source of Division in the World



Looks like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad outdid Colonel Gadaffi yesterday at the UN. Although Gadaffi's made some valid points, his speech was disjointed and poorly delivered. His antics may have also overshadowed the message he intended to deliver.

Not so with President Ahmadinejad!



His speech was well written, and was presented with a flare of polish. Although I do not agree with everything the Iranian leader said, such as his insistence that his county's pursuit of nuclear energy is entirely for peaceful purposes, I believe that Ahmadinejad made a very strong case against the UN. He clearly delineates and explains the points Gadaffi alluded to in his speech. Specifically, Ahmadinejad details just how the major powers in the UN Security Council, specifically the US and the UK, use their veto power and their permanent status to persue their own ends at the expense of smaller and weaker nations.

Following are a few excerpts from Ahmadinejad's speech that, I believe, firmly justify his anger toward the West. The full transcript of his speech can be read here.

[J]ustice has become a victim of force and aggression. Many global arrangements have become unjust, discriminatory and irresponsible as a result of undue pressure from some of the powerful; Threats with nuclear weapons and other instruments of war by some powers have taken the place of respect for the rights of nations and the maintenance and promotion of peace and tranquility; for some powers, claims of promotion of human rights and democracy can only last as long as they can be used as instruments of pressure and intimidation against other nations. But when it comes to the interests of the claimants, concepts such as democracy, the right of self-determination of nations, respect for the rights and intelligence of peoples, international law and justice have no place or value.


Ahmadinejad continues,

The question needs to be asked: if the Governments of the United States or the United Kingdom who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the UN can take them to account? Can a Council in which they are privileged members address their violations? Has this ever happened? In fact, we have repeatedly seen the reverse. If they have differences with a nation or state, they drag it to the Security Council and as claimants, arrogate to themselves simultaneously the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner. Is this a just order? Can there be a more vivid case of discrimination and more clear evidence of injustice?

Regrettably, the persistence of some hegemonic powers in imposing their exclusionist policies on international decision making mechanisms, including the Security Council, has resulted in a growing mistrust in global public opinion, undermining the credibility and effectiveness of this most universal system of collective security.


Apparently, several Western delegates walked out during the speech. Perhaps they could not bear to hear the truth.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gaddafi Wows the UN General Assembly



Libyan leader Muammar al Gaddafi addressed the UN Assembly yesterday afternoon. It was his first such address, and unfortunately probably his last. The UN normally allots a 15 minute window for heads of state to address the assembly. Gaddafi opened that window really wide and jumped right through – extending his remarks to 100 minutes!



Gaddafi’s speech was not well received, particularly by the five permanent countries sitting on the UN Security Council. His speech has been described by many with a variety of colorful adjectives and phrases, such as accusatory, derogatory, a hate filled rant, and a rambling diatribe.

Call it what you want, but I thought it was great!

Certainly, it will not go down in the annals of history as one of the most poetic or prosaic speeches. It was not even eloquently delivered. Rather, an obviously sleep-deprived Gaddafi, with a catepillar resting on his upper lip, was rambling, looked confused, and displayed what one might just consider anti-social behavior. At one point, he even took a copy of the UN Charter, ripped out a few pages and tossed the charter itself across the room. But one must look past these idiosyncrasies to see the beauty of his speech.

Gaddafi essentially exposed the UN for the sham that it is. Obstensibly created for the purpose of securing peace among nations, the UN has failed to prevent over 65 wars that have occured since its inception in 1945. It is nothing more that a vehicle employed by the self-anointed world “elites” to extract the resources of poorer nations - particularly African nations.

Among the more salient points raised by the Libyan leader was the fact that representation in the UN is decidedly biased towards the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States). To address this discrepancy, Gaddafi suggested that the veto power of the five permanent members be abolished or that the Security Council be expanded by adding additional member states. Without these changes, Gaddafi stated that the Security Council should more rightly called the “Terror Council”, due to the unfair sway it holds over smaller nations.

In addition to accusing the security council of being an al-Qaida like terrorist body, Gaddafi demanded that George Bush and Tony Blair be put on trial for war crimes, demanded that African nations be paid $7.7 trillion in compensation for the pillaging that was (and is) western colonialism, and suggested that the swine flu is a biological weapon that was intentionally released from a military laboratory so that Western companies could profit on vaccines.

The speech also had a few awkward moments, such as when Gaddafi offered to move UN headquarters to Libya so that jetlag and cumbersome airline security measures could be avoided. He called for a one state solution for the Middle East crisis - suggesting that the newly created state be called "Isratine". Gaddafi also called for investigations of the MLK, JFK, and Dag Hammarskjold assassinations.

Albeit a lengthy, disjointed and unpolished speech, the message Gaddafi delivered was essentially a good one. The UN has not lived up to the promise it was created for. Its charter is not worth the paper it was written on. Rather than acting as an agent of world peace, the UN has helped to foster neo-colonialism in under developed countries. Perhaps it's time for a change.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Life, Inc

I saw this article on Reality Sandwich. There is also a companion video worth watching. Check it out below.

Here is a summary of the article and video:
In his new book, Life Inc., media ecologist and author Douglas Rushkoff tells the story of how the corporation has made us over into its own image, how we have altered our reality to serve its needs, and how we can take it back. In this conversation, Douglas illuminates the Dark Ages, reveals why there's a God on our money, and explains what we're really buying into when we buy that mortgage. We have the code to open-source everything, he says. Time to go to work!


Life Inc. The Movie from Douglas Rushkoff on Vimeo.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Patriotism: The Last Refuge of Scoundrels


Public Domain Image


Woo-hoo! It’s the 4th of July!

As the nation prepares to celebrate its 233rd year of Independence, we must stop and remind ourselves of the great price our forefathers paid to secure the freedom we enjoy today. In most of the towns and cities across the nation, there will be flags hung out on the front porch, picnics in the back yard, parades down Main Street, concerts & speeches in the town square, and fireworks lighting-up the night sky. Most of the revelry will focus on our history. The founding fathers will be resurrected, and the talk will focus on patriotism.

That got me to thinking. What exactly is patriotism? And what role does it play in our present lives?

According to Merriam-Webster, patriotism is defined as a “love for or devotion to one's country.” Surely something we should all aspire to.

I should think most Americans would like to claim to have at least some level of patriotism, however shallow that may be. Hanging the flag from the front porch, wearing red,white & blue, and singing the National Anthem at the ball park are all swell and everything, but I don’t think that doing these things necessarily makes one patriotic. Nor is blindly supporting the actions of our government.

It seems to me that patriotism requires more than that. If one truly loves one’s country, he/she will demand that his/her country champion a higher standard, and hold it accountable when it violates that standard. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn summed it up best, stating, “Patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them”.

If only such men were alive today.

Instead, we have a Congress composed of careerist politicians who act as agents for corporate interests, be they national or global. Acting as such, our Congress has betrayed those who voted for them – those people whom they maintain they represent. The Executive Branch of our country is no different. Here again, corporate interests reign supreme. The Oval Office has been reduced to a lobby for moneyed interests.

This betrayal of America is evidenced by the sell-out of American workers through so-called “fair trade” treaties like NAFTA, GATT, and CAFTA. It is manifested in tax-payer funded bail-outs of private industries, the tax breaks given to large corporations, the surrender of our monetary system to a private interest - the Federal Reserve System, the government-approved raping and pillaging of our land and environment for the short-term interests of industry. The list goes on…

And we still have on-going wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Wars whose primary aims are to secure access to oil, to protect oil pipelines, and to establish a more stable political environment for corporate ventures. It goes without saying that these wars are being funded by the taxpayer, and paid for with the blood of our soldiers and the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians. Meanwhile, the oil industry and private corporate interests rake in the profits.

Selling-out our country and going to war are no small feats. They require a lot of support from the citizenry to allow Congress to authorize such actions. So just how did previous administrations garner the public support that made these actions possible? How is the current administration maintaining that support?

They exploit patriotism!

Government appointees and industry experts tell us that free trade is in the best interest of the American worker. It will create jobs that will keep America strong. We are warned that corporate giants are too big to fail. We all have to chip in and make sacrifices like our parents and grandparents did during the Great Depression to help get America back on her feet. We are told that America is the envy of the world, and industry fuels the engine that keeps America running. To meet our energy needs, we need to drill for oil in National Parks, we need to clear mountain tops to erect wind turbines, we need to dam our great rivers, etc, etc.

Going to war requires a more orchestrated campaign – one that turns the notion of true patriotism on its head. The American flag is dragged out, displayed prominently, and waved freely. Falconers released their trained eagles to soar over public gatherings while the band strikes-up its repertoire of Sousa marches. Emotional speeches memorializing past heroes, warnings of imminent dangers, and calls for immediate action are made against this star-spangled back-drop. Brilliant images of what America’s future could be, if and only if we stand together behind the war machine, are described for us in poetic language. It is a performance that would make Himler envious.

Anyone questioning the motives or objectives of the war is cast as unrealistic and cowardly – even a traitor. In a nutshell, the expression of true patriotism is made to seem, well - unpatriotic. Nazi Luftwaffe Commander, Hermann Goering summed the strategy up best, stating, “Naturally the common people don’t want war…But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along... All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”

So that's patriotism for you: Blind allegiance to one's country, Unquestioning support for official policy, Right or wrong - the best nation on earth.

Well, I love this country too much to follow the lemmings over the cliff. I consider myself as American as Johnny Cash and apple pie. But please, please, please, do not call me a patriot!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Conservationists or Commodity Farmers?


Image Source: Nebraska Game & Parks Commission

I needed a new hat. I left my #88 Dale Jr. hat at the Cheesecake Factory in Chicago last week. So this week, I found myself in the local big box retail store searching for a new Dale Jr. hat. Unfortunately, all they had were Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch hats. I couldn’t find any of those old school Richard Petty STP hats either. After several frustrating minutes, I figured that I didn’t necessarily need a NASCAR hat. I could do with something else.

That’s when the Ducks Unlimited hat caught me eye. It was a handsome shit-brown hat with a big duck logo on the front. I thought to myself, “Hey, I am a big bird watcher, and I really like ducks.” So I went ahead and bought the hat.

I must admit, it does look good on me.

As I was driving around, I began to think about the hat I just purchased. More precisely, I was thinking about Ducks Unlimited and what they were going to do with the $10 I just gave them. I know that they are really in to preserving habitats for ducks. Surely that is a good thing. As I said, I really like ducks, so I am all for that. But I started to think a little deeper (always a dangerous thing), what exactly is the goal of the organization? Why are they so fond of ducks?

When I got home, I figured I would check out their website to see what they were all about. According to their mission statement, “Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.

Sounds good, but I already knew that. A bit more surfing around, and it became apparent that DU is primarily a interest group for duck hunter’s.

Certainly, DU has done quite a bit to preserve crucial habitat for ducks. By their own count, they have conserved 12.6 million acres of wetland habitat across North America. Quite impressive! But the important question is, Why? Is it to protect ducks because they deserve to be protected for their own sake, as living, sentient creatures? Or is there some ulterior motive?

As it turns out, there is an ulterior motive. The wetlands are being conserved to save for hunting. In other words, they want to save the ducks now so that hunters can shoot them later, mostly for shits and giggles.

The problem I have with DU specifically, and with all hunters in general, is philosophical more than anything else. For starters, the people at DU describe themselves as “conservationists” that ”treat wildlife with respect”. On their face, both statements are disingenuous. It would be more accurate to call them farmers. As for ducks, they are treated as nothing more than a commodity.

There is also the ridiculous notion of duck hunters calling themselves sportsmen. While I am sure there are a few out there, most duck hunters are anything but. Many have substituted gadgetry and technology for sport.

The average duck hunter finds himself sitting in a light-weight motor boat, way out in the marsh where his online satellite migration tracker told him the ducks would be. To attract waterfowl, he resorts to lies and deception. He tells the ducks it is safe by seeding the water with a bevy of decoys. Meanwhile, he deftly draws them out of the sky with his Rich-N-Tone Quack Stacker Duck Call. The ducks begin to move in. Like an overly exuburant boy during his first sexual experience, he prematurely fires at the flock before it is completely in shooting range. He really wants to bag his prize before the other hunters beat him to the punch. BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! He misses. Actually, he winged two ducks which subsequently limp off somewhere else to die. Because he hasn't bagged his limit, he can keep shooting. If he eventually does drop one, he heads straight to the taxidermist to have his trophy immortalized.

Organizations like DU create a real dilemma for those of us who love nature for its own sake. Should one support them or not?

On the one hand, they conserve habitat for ducks, which keeps it out of the hands of real estate developers and municipal waste engineers. On the other hand, sportsmen shoot and kill animals for fun. When you boil it all down, the net effect is to protect more animals than there would otherwise be if a garbage truck filled in a wetland and a developer paved it over to put in a shopping mall. Therefore, I think the answer to the dilemma is to support them, while teaching people to sincerely look at the world a different way. The alternative is just too costly.

That beign said, there is something about the whole thing just doesn’t sit right. It makes me feel a bit queasy. It's sort of like looking down your sister’s blouse.

While some may think I am making much ado about nothing, I would counter by saying that the way hunters view their game is a microcosm of a much deeper anthropocentric world view which maintains that man shall have dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26). To my way of thinking, the piece of paper that holds that statement is more suitable for the lining of a bird cage. With such a distorted view, man justifies his measuring of things by their utilitarian and economic value, as opposed to the values inherent in them as part of our ecological community. I think Thomas Berry put it best in The Dream of the Earth.

Most often we think of the natural world as an economic resource, or as a place of recreation after a wearisome period of work, or as something of passing interest for its beauty on an autumn day when the radiant colors of the oak and maple leaves gives us a moment of joy. All these attitudes are quite legitimate, yet in them there is what we might call a trivializing attitude. If we are truly moved by the beauty of the world around us, we would honor the world in a profound way. We would understand immediately and turn away with a certain horror form all those activities that violate the integrity of the planet.

That we have not done so reveals that a disturbance exists at a more basic level of consciousness than we dare to admit to ourselves or even think about. This unprecedented pathology is not merely in those more immediate forms of economic activity that have done such damage; it is even more deeply imbedded in our cultural traditions, in our religious traditions, in our very language, in our entire value system.

My Monkey Wrech



After several years and almost 200 blog articles, I have decided to shut down my previous blog - John Wayne’s Holster - and start this new blog.

I had contemplated keeping the old blog and posting new articles that reflect my current thinking. However, my political, social and philosophical world views have changed considerably over the past several years. I don’t believe that the ideology underlying what John Wayne as a cultural icon represents is appropriate to my new way of thinking.

John Wayne represents an outdated American ethic - an ethic that was embodied in the images of the cowboy, the cavalry man, the soldier, and the patriot. It was an image that pitted man against the frontier, against nature, against other men, in a battle for dominance. It was an ethic that insisted that “might makes right”. It justified the violence that was Manifest Destiny. It promoted the rights of the few, at the expense of the rights of many. It hid its crimes behind the banner of patriotism. It is an ethic rooted in fascism.

This so-called ethic still exists today. It is the ethic where technology has replaced the cowboy in the battle to control nature. Where the lawyer and the politician have replaced the cavalry man in clearing the way for corporate interests. Where big business, with politicians as their puppets, have misused our soldiers to secure for themselves the resources that rightfully belong to others. Where politicians prostitute themselves to those with the deepest pockets, rather than representing the people who voted them into office. Where public relations firms and spin doctors, with the integrity of used car salesmen, sweep all the dirt under the rug (or more appropriately, behind the flag) with their lies and misinformation campaigns.

Sadly, I was a sucker! I bought into the lies. I wanted to. I wanted to believe my government was right, that it was ethical. Now I know better.

Now that I have seen the light, so to speak, my current world view is something more akin to a shotgun marriage between an economic libertarian and a social liberal. This blog, Monkey Wrench Revival, will reflect those views. In addition, it will focus more on my social and environmental views and less on politics.

I chose the name Monkey Wrench Revival in honor of Edward Abbey’s classic novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang. The novel is essentially about a group of people who have become aware of the damage that industrial development has done to the land that they cherish. They join together in an effort to drive out the developers, thereby saving the land. In much the same vein, I have seen what my government, as an agent of corporate interests, has done to my country. And I want to do my part in taking it back.

This blog will be my Monkey Wrench!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Below are some old article that were posted on my previous blog John Wayes's Holseter.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stress Tests: Don’t Bank on the Results


Image Source: Phil’s Favorites

Yesterday, the Federal Government released the results of so-called “stress tests (pdf). Ostensibly, the tests were designed to determine whether the nation’s largest 19 banks would be able to withstand an even deeper recession than we are presently experiencing. The results show that 10 of the 19 banks needed about $75 billion in additional capital to withstand heavier losses that would likely come if the recession worsened. The ten banks in question immediately put forward plans as to how they intend to raise the required capital, and further suggested that more bail-out money won’t be need (beyond the $700 billion already approved last year).


What, Me Worry?

Great! I suppose we can all go back to sleep now. The banks are all fine and there is nothing to worry about. Right?

Wrong?

The stress tests were lame. They are just another piece of misinformation designed to lull the public into a false sense of well-being – or complacency. For staters, as Money & Markets points out, the test results are based on a bank’s “self-evaluation - not only for loan loss estimates that can be derived from past data, but also for the future performance of trading accounts, which can be far more subjective”. And guess what else! If the banks don’t receive favorable grades, they can appeal the final results and ask for a better score.

The conditions of the tests, and the underlying assumptions upon which they were founded, were designed so that most banks would pass, and the others would have problems that could easily be addressed. According to Money & Markets, the Stress Test don’t fully consider the banks total exposure to derivates, particularly those backed by commercial real estate debts. To make matters worse, the test only assumes ONE YEAR of further decline. Moreover, that rate of GDP decline is assumed to be only 2%. Those are both bogus numbers designed to mislead. Most market forecasts are predicting a much longer recession, and the current rate of GDP decline is closer to 6%.

Martin Weiss, president of Weiss Research, Inc., conducted his own stress test, based on data provided by TheStreet.com Ratings, by the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and in first quarter financial statements. Employing more objective economic assumptions, Weiss concluded that 15 of 19 of the nation’s largest banks would FAIL. According to Weiss, “Our analysis directly contradicts the overall conclusion by the banking authorities that most bank holding companies are well capitalized.”

That’s quite a different picture!

When you look behind the curtains, the Fed’s Stress Test doesn’t really give a true picture of what could happen if things get worse. In other words, it was a farce. The results were essentially pre-determined. Increasing bank supervision seems to be a top priority for the Fed. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke basically said so himself. According to Bernanke, the purpose of the stress tests is to “provide a guide to improvements in financial supervision and regulation.” Foreshadowing this, Bernanke stated Wednesday, "We hope that the Congress will consider revising the provisions of Gramm-Leach-Bliley to help ensure that consolidated supervisors have the necessary tools and authorities to monitor and address safety and soundness concerns in all parts of an organization."

In other words, it’s a power grab! And the stress test was used to generate the results to justify it. As Texas Congressman Ron Paul stated, the tests are “propaganda”, they are “nothing more than a pretense that they can have central economic planning by manipulating money and credit through the Federal Reserve system.”

More Federal Control! Isn’t that how we got into this problem in the first place!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Moses: The Father of Fascism


Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments

I read. A lot. It’s not that I have no social life, its…. OK, it’s true! I have no social life. What’s the big deal anyway. Back to my point. I read a lot.

One of the rags I read is World Net Daily. It’s mainly a right wing conservative website. Although I consider myself more of a libertarian, I do find some if its articles and a few of its columnists (e.g. Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter) worth reading, regardless of whether I agree with them completely or not. They, particularly Ms. Coulter, are entertaining if nothing else.

In addition to the political component of the website, there are strong fundamentalist Christian overtones in much of the website content. Although I don’t particularly enjoy having someone else’s faith pushed in my face at every opportunity, I realize that there are some folks who are so inclined. In fact, I would venture a guess that most of WND’s readership consists of Christian fundamentalists. I guess that’s OK. After all, no one is forcing me to read it. I can always find another rag to read.

As you may have guessed from WND’s description as a “right-wing, fundamentalist Christian” publication, they are not big fans of President Obama. A recent article by columnist Ellis Washington even made Obama out to be a fascist.

While I have no debate with WND over this moniker for the Commander in Chief, I find it quite ironic that it is a columnist at a Christian fundamentalist publication who has bestowed this title. Out of curiosity, I went to the WND search engine and dropped the terms “Obama” and “fascist” in the query box, and several pages of articles popped up!


Image Credit: The Indypendent

If that’s not the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is!

Perhaps the editors and columnists at WND should go back and read the Bible again before throwing the “fascist” bomb around. Even a casual reading of the Bible, which serves as the basis for fundamentalist Christianity, reveals that it is rooted in fascism. In fact, it would not be much of a stretch to say that Moses, the supposed author of the first five books of the Bible, is the Father of Fascism!

For starters, Moses lays out his plans for building and maintaining a patriarchal society in the Bible. Accordingly, a woman is considered the property of a man, and her value lies in her ability to provide valet services and to breed. As for breeding, women must be pure (i.e. virgins), so that the male does no have to deal with the possibility of cuckoldry. Women who are not "pure as the driven snow" bring shame to their families, defile their father and husband, and are thereby not worthy of life. Here are a few gems outlining Moses' chauvinistic and misogynistic view of women, with links to the actual Biblical passages for your reference.

Genesis 3:16 16 To the woman [God] said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Genesis 16:1-2 1 Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant.

Leviticus 21:9 9 If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.

Deuteronomy 21:10-13 10 When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.


Moses also condones slavery.
Exodus 21:20-2120 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

Leviticus 25:44-46 44 " 'Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life.


There is also the whole notion of nationalism and racial superiority inherent in the Mosaic laws. Apparently, we are to believe that God loves us all, but he just loves his “chosen people” more. He loves them so much, that He has apparently set aside land for them. All the “chosen” have to do to claim the land is to drive off its current inhabitants, enslave those who may prove useful, and kill those who resist. Not exactly my idea of peace and love, but to each his own.


Deuteronomy 14:1-2 1 You are the children of the LORD your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead, 2 for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.

Deuteronomy 20:10-14 10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.

Exodus 23:31-33 31 "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me.


With these examples in mind, examples which are drawn from the texts upon which fundamentalist Christianity is rooted, the zealots at WND should be careful of just who they are calling fascists. But as the old saying goes, it apparently “takes one to know one”.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Easter is a Pagan Holiday


The Sun of God

Two weekends ago, many Americans celebrated the Easter holiday by coloring eggs, hunting for easter eggs, and awaiting the arrival of the Easter Bunny. In addition to these festivities, Easer also signifies the arrival of spring. All in all, it makes for a joyful holiday.

For others, Easter is an exalted religious holiday signifying the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal salvation.

To each his own, I suppose. Or perhaps not...

Many self-righteous religious folks despise the fact that the Easter holiday has a secular dimension. They carp about the way “their” solemn holiday has been hijacked and desecrated by the godless heathen. They yammer that the secular traditions are nothing more than unadulterated pagan rituals.

Perhaps they are right! However, what they fail to recognize is that they too are celebrating a pagan ritual. Their so-called Christian rituals have been carefully primped and preened, thus concealing their pagan origins behind the pretext that they were heavenly ordained. In fact, the whole of Christianity, from the Immaculate Conception to the Resurrection, is all drawn from mythology and astrology. Christianity (and Judaism for that matter) is essentially a rehash or repackaging of the same allegorical traditions that have formed the centerpieces of various cultures for millennia.

It is even fair to say that Jesus Christ as a historical person probably never existed! After all, despite the suppossed importance of the Christ character in the first century, and the fuss he is said to have created for both the Romans and the Jewish clerics, there is no historical record of his existence. And as for the Nativity story, Christ’s ministry, the Passion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, etc, it’s all been done before by various other sun gods and other deities, such as Dionysius (Greece), Horus (Egypt), Mithra (Persia), Zoroaster (Persia), and Krishna (India) - just to name a few. The elements of their stories are all similar and share a number of common themes.

These pagan mythologies were co-opted by the Romans, repackaged, and sold to the early pagan communities as the Jesus story in order to unify the empire under a common or shared mythology. Read the stories of any one of these pagan gods and you will find that they were all sons (suns) of god, their births were announced by star, they were born of a virgin, they were miracle workers and healers, they were crucified, resurrected and returned to heaven, they were memorialized in a sacred cannibalistic ritual involving consumption of their body and blood, etc, etc. On top of all that, their births and deaths coincide with the astrological calendar to occur around the time of the spring equinox and the winter solstice.

There is nothing new or unique in Christianity!

In addition to all the astrological tie-ins, the stories presented in the gospels are beyond credible. Walking on water, raising of the dead, turning water into wine, feeding thousands with a few loaves and fishes, etc. No one in their right mind could believe such yarns. Some of the miracles themselves even contradict what is written in the bible itself. For example, Jesus is supposedly descended from the Royal House of David. The genealogy given in the gospels (Matthew 1:1–17) traces his lineage from David through his earthly father Joseph. Yet the gospel also claims that Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:16-25M) - a claim made by many otherwise good girls and supported by an equal number of obstensibly pious lads.

Putting the powers of logic to work, one can readily see that these two passages, which are from the same gospel account, are contradictory. Either Joseph sired Christ, keeping the line of descent from the Royal House of David intact, or he didn’t. Christianity maintains the veracity of the virgin birth. That means that no member of the “royal swim team” made its way up the immaculate fallopian tubes. Therefore, Joseph can not be the father, and that there is no royal blood flowing through Christ’s veins. And no post-facto fulfillment of vague Old Testament prophesies (see Psalms 89:3-4).

When you boil it all down, Christ is rendered into nothing more than the latest version of the ever-morphing, new and improved, sun god. The supposed documented aspects of Christ’s life and times that are contained within the various gospel accounts are nothing more that fraudulent histories retrofitted onto a concocted fairytale. His alleged life story is just an allegory to describe the movement of the constellations and the precession of the equinoxes. As Acharya S suggests, a more appropriate title for Christ would be the Solar Avatar of the Age of Pices.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Impressions of Dubai


Burj Al Arab
Photo Credit: Kellogg, NWU

I spent the first week of March in Dubai (UAE) visiting friends, watching birds (see the report here), and checking out the business climate. Due to my dress and accent, it was fairly obvious to most people that I was American. While a few people did give me the fish eye, I found the majority of people in Dubai to be warm and friendly. The presence of a large ex-pat population was undoubtedly a factor. However, even among Emiratis, my family and I felt welcomed.

Economic Growth

On the surface, Dubai has a thriving economy. It has enjoyed one of the highest levels of GDP growth in the world of the last several years. From a western perspective, one would conclude that the standard of living there surpasses that in the US – at least economically. The average price of a home there is comparable to that here in the states. Most families have two vehicles. And the average annual income is about the same. However, there are no income taxes in Dubai! Thus, the people get much more benefit from the fruits of their labor.

As far as personal freedoms go, Emiratis enjoy less freedom than we do here in the US, although I would not call it oppressive. For starters, there is no democratic electoral system. Each of the seven emirates is ruled by a Sheik whose power is hereditary. The Sheiks, in turn, are subservient to the Sheik of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. All laws are reviewed by a Supreme Council composed of the seven ruling sheiks and a appointed Council of Ministers. All the emirates have both secular and Sharia (Islamic) law for civil, criminal, and high courts. Islam is the de facto religion. While religious freedom is tolerated, non-Islamic proselytizing is illegal.

There is also significant to overwhelming social pressure to conform to Islamic standards in dress and personal conduct. Native woman are expected to cover with an abaya and head scarf. Ex-pats and foreign nationals are expected to dress modestly, although they don’t always do so. In truth, I found it quite comforting. One does not always need to be affonted by testosterone-raging Hercules wanna-bes on their way from the gym, or college age women with the pillows of motherhood leaping out of their blouses.

So, overall, the standard of living in Dubai is fairly good, at least for those who are financially comfortable. However, one thing I found worrisome was the cultural and economic stratification that is developing. As it turns out, most of the lower paying labor and social service jobs in Dubai are not provided by Emiratis. They are provided by foreign nationals - mostly from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China. Go to any hotel, restaurant, or construction site, and you will be hard pressed to find an Emirati among the ranks. This is particularly true in the construction industry. Like all capitalist societies, the upper class extracts its comforts and pleasures off of the sweat of the exploited classes. (OMG, I sound like a communist!)

Construction Boom


Burj Dubai Tower
Image Credit: WeeklyDrop.com

Speaking of construction, Dubai has gained a lot of notoriety over the last few years due to all its construction projects, and there are a LOT of them. Projects from the Palms to the Burj Dubai (world’s tallest building) to the Lagoons. In fact, almost everywhere you look in Dubai there are construction projects underway. From one vantage point alone, I counted over 15 construction cranes in action. Due to the worldwide economic turmoil we are experiencing right now, some projects have been put on hold; however, there is still plenty of work going on.

Where is all the money for these projects coming from? The popular opinion is that the money is coming from Dubai’s oil; however, these does not seem likely to me. Contrary to popular opinion, Dubai is not an oil country. In fact, oil revenues account for only 6% of Dubai’s economy. Most of their money comes from tourism, trade, and commerce. That leaves the investment banks. They are the ones pumping the economy full of steroids.

If one were to take a quick view around the city, this fact becomes apparent. The city is dominated by western banks (Barclay’s, Citibank, HSBC, Credit Suisse) and western/asian companies (IKEA, Armani, Sony, Toyota, McDonalds). If you were to theoretically step out of your teleporter into the heart of Dubai with out knowing where you where, you would be certain you were in the middle of New York or Hong Kong (sand, palm trees, and ever-present mosques aside). I must say that I find these developments saddening. It seems as if the entire culture and economy in Dubai is coming under the sway and control of western interests – interests whose only concern is their own self-interest.

Environmental and Social Impacts


Jumierah Palms
Image Credit: Emirates Network

This boom in the commercial development of Dubai is not without its side-effects. Of particular concern are the Palm and Lagoon projects. There are, and will be, huge social and environmental repercussions.

The Palm Projects essentially involve the creation of artificial islands off the north coast of the Dubai – in the Arabian Gulf (don’t say Persian Gulf, nobody knows what that is). Sand is dredged from the gulf or excavated from the desert to build up the islands. Then high-rise condos, hotels, and apartments are put up. Developers then charge top dollar to buyers who want beach front property. In most cases, the buyers will be greatly disappointed, as the only view they will get is the back door of their neighbors home on the adjacent “palm frond”.

There is also the issue of the environmental impact. I visited the Jumeirah Palm Island while there. I took an opportunity to walk along the “beach” in my obsessive quest to watch birds. I was disheartened by what I saw, or more correctly, didn’t see. The beaches were sterile! There were virtually no birds to be seen. No gulls patrolling the coast. No stints combing the surf line. No terns diving for fish. There was also the hint of a stagnant marsh in the air. The only creatures we did see were a few starfish - several of which were dead, and a few bivalves. With several Palm Projects still underway, the prospects for a the ecology of the coast do not look good.

Then there is the Lagoons. Similar to the Palms, the goal of the Lagoons projects is to create more artificial waterfront property around which residential communities and commercial centers will be built. We drove by one of the soon to be developed Lagoon sites on our way to visit the Ras Al Khor Wildbird Sanctuary on the Dubai Creek. The sanctuary, located at the base of the creek, is home to over 5000 Greater Flamingos and a variety of other shore birds.


Flamingos at Ras Al Khor
Photo Credit: Gulf News

While admiring the Flamingos, I began to wonder about the Lagoons Project site we passed on the way. The construction site is visible from the sanctuary – in fact, it’s just upstream. To make the project go, the banks of the creek will have to be dredged and an artificial inlet will have to be put in to let water into the soon to be build residential and commercial areas. Roads will be laid down, buildings will be put up, and eventually cars and people will move in. I can’t imagine the adverse impact this will have on the wildbird sanctuary.

And what about the land where other Lagoon projects will be undertaken? Some of it is desert, some of it is of ecological significance, but the vast majority of it is presently occupied by residential areas. In other words, there are already neighborhoods with people living in them. What will happen to these neighborhoods and their residents? Can you say eminent domain?

The government is forcing the people to move out and find other housing. While it’s true the people are being compensated, they are not getting real value for their homes. This also does not take into account the social cost of the break-up of communities that have been living in the area for generations.

The recent worldwide economic crisis has also had an unforseen impact. People who were told to move from their homes began selling furniture and stripping their houses to get cash for their doors and windows. Since some of the projects are now on hold, the government did an about face and told the people to stay in their houses – houses that now have no furniture, no doors, and no windows. Those who already moved or purchased new properties are now stuck with their original property which they can not sell.

Conclusions

Overall, Dubai is a thriving state (emirate) with a potentially bright future - provided they don't follow the example of the west. With the impending collapse of the U.S. dollar, the massive construction boom in the Emirates, along with expanding markets in India and China, it seems that the financial center of the world is moving east. Dubai will undoubtedly emerge as one of its hubs.

For Dubai to avoid repeating the mistakes of the west, it will have to learn from our history and put appropriate safeguards in place. Unfortunately, Dubai does not appear to be doing so. Rather, they are following in our footsteps. Their economy is driven by credit. While I have no statistics to determine the level of personal debt, my converstations with locals lead me to believe it is significant.

Dubai must also take steps to avoid the loss of its culture, and its supplantation by western culture. Emirati culture is getting lost behind the facade of capitalism and consumerism. They are losing touch with nature and with their identity as a people. They are quickly become like westerns clad in a dishdash and a headscarf. Just how far Emiratis have strayed from their culture can clearly been seen by making a breif trip over the border in to Oman. Hopefully, Emiratis will do more to preserve and safeguard their culture... Insha'allah.

Audit the Federal Reserve!



Ron Paul’s bill, H.R. 1207, to audit the Federal Reserve continues to gain momentum. Please write to your Congressman to urge them to support the bill. Here is a link to help you find all the current members of the US House of Representative.

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to my Congressional representative. Feel free to use it, edit it, write your own, or use a template available at RonPaul.com. The important thing is that you do something to get your Congressional Represeantative involved on your behalf.

Here is a copy of my letter,


Dear Representative Thompson,

We are currently faced with a slew of corporate and banking failures brought on by greed, selfishness and downright deception from Wall Street. Are we letting these companies go under, as they should in a free market? Or are we propping them up, thus rewarding their failure and mismanagement? Unfortunately, we are propping them up by bailing them out.

Where is the money for the bail-out coming from? The Fed simply sits back, makes a few key stokes on a computer, and literally creates money out of thin air. They then give this money to bad companies, and charge the principle and interest to ordinary people like the citizens of Centre County, effectively putting us and our children in perpetual debt. In the meanwhile, the bankers at the Fed are raking in profits on interest payments - on money they created from nothing. As if that were not bad enough, the bail-out money is going toward the paying of bonuses to the very people whose mismanagement and greed created all the problems in the first place.

For all this, the Federal Reserve is not even accountable. Despite the rhetoric from Washington, there is little or no transparency at the Fed. We do not even know who they are lending money to, and they won’t even tell us when we ask. Nevertheless, we are expected to foot the bill. Sounds like downright highway robbery, to me. It is about time this stopped.

We need more transparency and accountability at the Fed! As citizens, we have stood by for decades an allowed ourselves to be fleeced by our government via the Federal Reserves system. You, as our elected representative, can and must help! The Federal Reserve must be audited! If you or I were in a similar position as the Fed, we would be legally required to account for every dollar that passes through our hands. Why has the Federal Reserve never been held to the same standard?

Please co-sponsor or support H.R.1207.

Sincerely,
Joseph A.Verica

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Turbines Give Me the Wind Something Terrible


Wind Turbines Are Bad for the Environment
Image Source: Keepers of the Blue Ridge

I recently came across an article on the web stating that RWE Innogy - European energy supplier - is planning on building a 960 megwatt "wind farm" in the North Sea. The "farm" will be built 40 kilometers north of the island of Juist and cover an area of sea about 150 square kilometers. Construction is slated to begin sometime next year, with an estimated completion date of 2015.

To many worshippers at the alter of Al Gore, this may seem like a great thing. After all, wind power is touted to be the next great thing in the energy field. It will supposedly free us from the use of fossil fuels. On top of all that, it is "clean", and "green". In other words, it's environmentally friendly.

Or so they say.

Although I am no big fan of oil or other fossil fuels, and we be ecstatic to see a decline in or an elimination of their use, I don't think wind energy or any of the other alternative energy sources we are being pitched are going to solve much of anything. The whole thing is just a big scam to find more ways to waste more energy. And contrary to what the Goregoyles tell you, these forms of energy are not without their environmental impacts.

The whole naming of the above mentioned facilities as "wind farms" is misleading. There is nothing pastoral about them. There are no animals, there are no barns, there is no cultivation, and there is no husbandry of any kind going on. The misnomer is really just a way to soften the reality that the facilities are production plants. Perhaps the term wind industrial complex would be more appropriate.

Besides being noisy and unattractive, wind plants pose significant problems. For starters, the energy produced by wind power can not be stored. It must be produced on demand. It is alos unreliable. Winds are higly intermittant, with daily fluctuations between 50% to 100%. If the wind is not blowing, you get no energy. And on top of all that, it is inefficient, having a capacity factor of only about 30%. This means that you need a non-wind based back-up source of energy to meet the 70% short-fall.

Wind turbines also have a negative impact on the environment. Turbines generate a lot of turbulence which can have a significant impact on local weather patterns. It is estimated that it would require about 250,000 wind turbines to meet U.S. energy needs. Such a vast array of turbines would alter wind speeds and cause a local drying of soils in their vicinity, leading to increased evaportation and thus the need for increased irrigation.

Turbulence created by wind turbines at sea causes upwelling, wherein deep ocean water is drawn up to the surface. This, in turn, drives the surface water down to replace it. The overall effect of this is to alter the temperature flow within the water, which could potentially effect currents and the resulting weather patterns they influence. In addition, the drag created by the turbines has been shown in modeled systems to shift wind currents substantially in a manner that could impact the movement of storms.

Although wind facilites have been promoted as "green", in that they generate no greenhouse gases, this in not the same as saying that they don't lead to an increase in greenhouse gases. Many of the land-based wind turbines are located on mountain ridges, where winds are typically high. The construction of the turbines themselves requires a significant amount of forest clearing (pronounced - deforestation) for the access roads and turbine pads, not to mention that needed to make space for above-ground powerlines and trenching for underground power lines. This, in turn, results in less carbon dioxide uptake by the trees that are no longer there. You do the math.

Wind plants are detrimental to wild life. Many turbines, particularly those on mountain ridges, are positioned along vital migration routes for birds. Because birds typically migrate at night, the flashing lights on the turbines act as an attactant. This results in collisions with the turbine blades, and the killing of tens of thousands of birds every year. In Northern California, the Altamont Wind Turbines alone kill up to 1,300 birds each year. Bats don't fare well either. There is also the matter of habitat fragmentation resulting from forest clearing.


Birds Don't Fare Well Near Wind Turbines
Image Source: Keepers of the Blue Ridge

When you add it all up, wind energy does not turn out to be the free lunch that its proponents make it out to be. There are significant environmental and ecological costs. There is also the matter of the economic costs due to decreased in property values and the tax increases that are required to subsidize the wind facilities, but that is another matter.

One could always make the argument that, despite these costs, we would still be better off than we are in our current situation with fossil fuels. Perhaps. But then again, perhaps not. According to a study on the Point Petre Wind Plant in Canada, the amount of carbon saved by a single turbine is canceled out by a "18 wheel truck traveling at 60 mph". This is not to say that any offset in carbon emmissions is waste of time.

The real issue is that the promotion of alternative energy sources completely misses the point. It glosses over the real problem - that we use and waste way too much energy! It is also not clear that the use of alternative energy sources will have much of a positive impact, as world energy consumption in increasing, not decreasing. Wind power and its alternative energy cousins turning out to be nothing more that supplemental energy sources. As such, they are just adding to the problem. We should really be focusing on more efficient forms of energy and, more importantly, energy conservation.

As it stands now, all this wind power stuff give me the wind something terrible.