Day: November 8, 2017

Playing the Trump Card in Vietnam


The White House has confirmed that President Donald Trump will be attending the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Da Nang, Vietnam on November 11-12.  Most of APEC’s key activities will be held at the InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort.  The resort is owned by the Vietnam Sun Group, which, in collusion with the corrupt and unelected government of Da Nang City, stole the land on which it is built from the 142-year-old Catholic parish of Con Dau and the surrounding Catholic community.

On May 4, 2010, the Da Nang City government sent hundreds of police troops, including paramilitary “anti-riot” units, to assault parishioners and their families with tear gas, metal batons, electric rods, and rubber bullets as they attended the funeral of a 93-year-old church member.  The city police stole the casket and the corpse; beat up more than 100 mourners, including children, pregnant women, and the elderly; and desecrated hundreds of their ancestors’ tombs.  Sixty-two Catholic parishioners were arrested and tortured, and six were later sentenced to prison.  One man who escaped the onslaught was later arrested, and died the following day from torture-induced injuries.  Many of the Con Dau parishioners were left homeless and penniless, with no means to sustain their lives and those of their families.

On June 19, this year, under threat of further violence, the Da Nang City government issued an ultimatum ordering all of the remaining members of the Catholic Con Dau Parish to surrender their remaining residential and farm lands – some of which are the property of American citizens – to the city. 

The expropriated lands, worth an estimated U.S. $1.2 billion, will be turned over to the Vietnam Sun Group to sell to high-end investors.  The Sun Group is a holding company partnered with a number of corporations, including InterContinental, a British multinational hotel company with multiple holdings in the U.S.; the Accor management group; and Falcon’s Treehouse LLC of Orlando, Florida.

Since 2005, the Vietnamese regime has expropriated vast amounts of land and real property without just compensation, much of it rightfully owned by Americans.  If it were ever paid, this compensation would total tens of billions of U.S. dollars. 

  

Thousands of religious refugees, including parishioners from Con Dau, have fled the brutal regime for Thailand and other countries, where they remain in limbo, unable to support themselves or their families, and largely ignored by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR).  These refugees represent a wide variety of ethnicities, including Montagnards, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Khmer Krom, and religions, including Christians, Buddhists, and members of the Cao Dai faith, some with relatives in the United States.  Unfortunately, the State Department has yet to express to UNHCR the willingness to accept these refugees.

On May 31, President Trump welcomed Vietnam’s prime minister to the White House, after which the two leaders announced a number of trade deals.  Yet the Vietnamese government disregards core human rights values dear to all Americans and directly violates our national interests.  Religious persecution; police brutality; torture; extra-judicial killings; and imprisonment of political dissidents, bloggers, human rights defenders, and people of faith have significantly increased in recent months.  The communist regime even retaliates against the families of dissidents. 

In an open letter sent to President Donald Trump on June 30, 2017, eighteen representatives of various victim and religious groups asked the president to refrain from dignifying the Sun Group venue of the upcoming APEC Summit with his presence.  The letter summarized the theft of land by the Da Nang City mafia and the brutal police attack on Catholics in the Con Dau Parish and concluded:

The appearance of the President of the United States and his high-visibility entourage in Da Nang City and your stay at the Sun Group-owned facility would send exactly the wrong message: that America not only tolerates but also gives its blessing to acts of religious persecution against an entire Catholic community and expropriation of the properties of U.S. Citizens.

President Trump should speak out against the wrongs inflicted upon the peoples of Vietnam and the Con Dau Parish.  If boycotting the Sun Group-owned facility is deemed politically awkward, an alternative would be for the president to acknowledge the Con Dau parishioners by meeting with them on their remaining, contested lands to show America’s support for their basic human rights.

Michael Benge spent eleven years in Vietnam as a Foreign Service officer and is a student of Southeast Asian politics.  He is active in advocating for human rights, religious freedom, and democracy for the peoples of the region and has written extensively on these subjects.

The White House has confirmed that President Donald Trump will be attending the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Da Nang, Vietnam on November 11-12.  Most of APEC’s key activities will be held at the InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort.  The resort is owned by the Vietnam Sun Group, which, in collusion with the corrupt and unelected government of Da Nang City, stole the land on which it is built from the 142-year-old Catholic parish of Con Dau and the surrounding Catholic community.

On May 4, 2010, the Da Nang City government sent hundreds of police troops, including paramilitary “anti-riot” units, to assault parishioners and their families with tear gas, metal batons, electric rods, and rubber bullets as they attended the funeral of a 93-year-old church member.  The city police stole the casket and the corpse; beat up more than 100 mourners, including children, pregnant women, and the elderly; and desecrated hundreds of their ancestors’ tombs.  Sixty-two Catholic parishioners were arrested and tortured, and six were later sentenced to prison.  One man who escaped the onslaught was later arrested, and died the following day from torture-induced injuries.  Many of the Con Dau parishioners were left homeless and penniless, with no means to sustain their lives and those of their families.

On June 19, this year, under threat of further violence, the Da Nang City government issued an ultimatum ordering all of the remaining members of the Catholic Con Dau Parish to surrender their remaining residential and farm lands – some of which are the property of American citizens – to the city. 

The expropriated lands, worth an estimated U.S. $1.2 billion, will be turned over to the Vietnam Sun Group to sell to high-end investors.  The Sun Group is a holding company partnered with a number of corporations, including InterContinental, a British multinational hotel company with multiple holdings in the U.S.; the Accor management group; and Falcon’s Treehouse LLC of Orlando, Florida.

Since 2005, the Vietnamese regime has expropriated vast amounts of land and real property without just compensation, much of it rightfully owned by Americans.  If it were ever paid, this compensation would total tens of billions of U.S. dollars. 

  

Thousands of religious refugees, including parishioners from Con Dau, have fled the brutal regime for Thailand and other countries, where they remain in limbo, unable to support themselves or their families, and largely ignored by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR).  These refugees represent a wide variety of ethnicities, including Montagnards, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Khmer Krom, and religions, including Christians, Buddhists, and members of the Cao Dai faith, some with relatives in the United States.  Unfortunately, the State Department has yet to express to UNHCR the willingness to accept these refugees.

On May 31, President Trump welcomed Vietnam’s prime minister to the White House, after which the two leaders announced a number of trade deals.  Yet the Vietnamese government disregards core human rights values dear to all Americans and directly violates our national interests.  Religious persecution; police brutality; torture; extra-judicial killings; and imprisonment of political dissidents, bloggers, human rights defenders, and people of faith have significantly increased in recent months.  The communist regime even retaliates against the families of dissidents. 

In an open letter sent to President Donald Trump on June 30, 2017, eighteen representatives of various victim and religious groups asked the president to refrain from dignifying the Sun Group venue of the upcoming APEC Summit with his presence.  The letter summarized the theft of land by the Da Nang City mafia and the brutal police attack on Catholics in the Con Dau Parish and concluded:

The appearance of the President of the United States and his high-visibility entourage in Da Nang City and your stay at the Sun Group-owned facility would send exactly the wrong message: that America not only tolerates but also gives its blessing to acts of religious persecution against an entire Catholic community and expropriation of the properties of U.S. Citizens.

President Trump should speak out against the wrongs inflicted upon the peoples of Vietnam and the Con Dau Parish.  If boycotting the Sun Group-owned facility is deemed politically awkward, an alternative would be for the president to acknowledge the Con Dau parishioners by meeting with them on their remaining, contested lands to show America’s support for their basic human rights.

Michael Benge spent eleven years in Vietnam as a Foreign Service officer and is a student of Southeast Asian politics.  He is active in advocating for human rights, religious freedom, and democracy for the peoples of the region and has written extensively on these subjects.



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Trump's Latest Education Nominee Steps into the Maelstrom


No sooner had President Trump nominated Kenneth Marcus, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under the Law, to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education than extremist anti-Israel groups mounted an aggressive campaign to derail the appointment.

This is a remarkable affront to a civil rights lawyer who has spent his career fighting for the rights of women, the disabled, and members of many minority groups: black Americans, Hispanics, and Asians, as well as Sikhs, Arabs, and Muslim Americans.  Marcus’s prior tenure at the federal Office for Civil Rights was widely lauded for effective leadership and support for the rights of all students.  For this reason, most civil rights groups have thus far refrained from subjecting Marcus to the vituperation other recent Trump nominees have faced.

Some anti-Israel groups, however, have broken ranks, attacking the administration’s Jewish civil rights nominee with reckless and malicious falsehoods.  One of these groups, Palestine Legal, whose mission is to bolster the anti-Israel movement by challenging efforts to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitism, immediately issued a letter smearing Mr. Marcus as an “anti-Palestinian crusader” and opposing his nomination in terms of the so-called Livingstone Formulation.  Under that formulation, as identified by British sociologist David Hirsch, anti-Semites accuse Jews of fabricating anti-Semitism claims in order to silence decent people concerned about Israel’s supposed human rights violations.  In this way, Palestine Legal’s director, Dima Khalidi, levels the spurious charge that “Marcus is the architect of a strategy to abuse civil rights law to suppress campus criticism of Israel.”  In other words, she contends that Marcus’s campaign to ameliorate campus anti-Semitism is not based on a virtuous desire to end bigotry, but is a disingenuous attempt at “shielding Israel from scrutiny,” consistent with the Livingstone Formulation.  Part of that notion is “the counteraccusation that the raisers of the issue of antisemitism do so with dishonest intent, in order to de-legitimize criticism of Israel. The allegation is that the accuser chooses to ‘play the antisemitism card’ rather than to relate seriously to, or to refute, the criticisms of Israel.”

Those who refuse to acknowledge that their speech or behavior may, in fact, be anti-Semitic normally resist such designations, but the allegation of Palestine Legal against Mr. Marcus is particularly odious because it seeks to impugn his integrity as someone fighting anti-Semitism, suggesting instead that his true motive, carefully hidden from view and masked as benign activism, is actually to serve the interests of Israel by trying to delegitimize and libel Israel’s campus critics.  Moreover, Palestine Legal claims, in order to shield Israel from scrutiny, to insulate its policies and state behavior from critique, Mr. Marcus pretends to be interested in anti-Semitism but is actually creating a smokescreen to shield Israel “at the expense of civil and constitutional rights.”

In addition to the Livingstone Formulation, these groups are also going after Marcus with the classic charge that Jews are attempting to gain control of government power for nefarious purposes.  “Marcus has no business enforcing civil rights laws when he has explicitly used such laws to chill the speech activities and violate the civil rights of Arab, Muslim, Jewish, and other students who advocate for Palestinian rights,” Khalidi charged.  It is not coincidental that a group dedicated to undermining efforts to fight anti-Semitism is aware of the efforts of Mr. Marcus and his colleagues as they attempted to identify the causes and corrosive impact of campus anti-Semitic speech and behavior.

For at least the last decade, the primary source of anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic activism on campuses has been anti-Israel individuals and groups, including the Muslim Student Association and the radical Students for Justice in Palestine, among others.  So even as Ms. Khalidi would have one believe that Mr. Marcus launched a campaign to silence pro-Palestinian activists merely as a tactical ploy to insulate Israel from critique and condemnation, the anti-Israel activism she so ardently defends has regularly spawned instances in which agitation against Israel has included speech and behavior that have been considered, and, in fact, often were, anti-Semitic.

Of great concern to those who have observed the invidious byproduct of this radicalism is the frequent appearance of anti-Israel sentiment that often rises to the level of anti-Semitism, when virulent criticism of Israel bleeds into a darker, more sinister level of hatred – enough to make Jewish students, whether or not they support or care about Israel at all, uncomfortable, unsafe, or hated on their own campuses.

That is precisely the type of “hostile environment,” created by generating hostility toward Jewish students over their perceived or actual support of Israel, that may violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the legal tools Mr. Marcus has used and may well continue to use in his new role to ensure that universities take steps to ameliorate situations in which such prejudice-laced campus climates are allowed to develop.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), another anti-Israel group that also, not insignificantly, supports the BDS movement, published an open letter denouncing the choice of Mr. Marcus for the OCR appointment as well, repeating the spurious charge that the use of Title VI statutes, and such guidelines as the U.S. State Department Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, would have the perverse side-effect of suppressing the free speech of “pro-Palestinian” activists.  

And despite Palestine Legal’s fear that the conflation of “criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism    …  has really serious consequences for those who advocate for Palestinian human rights and are being condemned and censored and punished as a result of the enormous pressure being placed on universities by the likes of Marcus and dozens of other Israel advocacy groups,” the fact that “pro-Palestinian” activists support a minority group does not justify their misbehavior and extremism, even for what they clearly believe to be a noble cause.    

Pro-Palestinian advocacy on campus – the very activism Palestine Legal is so intent on preserving – has been shown to correlate directly with an uptick in anti-Semitic speech and behavior.  For example, in two studies it conducted of anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses, the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that investigates and documents anti-Semitism at U.S. universities, found that “[s]chools with instances of student-produced anti-Zionist expression, including BDS promotion, are 7 times more likely to have incidents that targeted Jewish students for harm than schools with no evidence of students’ anti-Zionist expression and the more such anti-Zionist expression, the higher the likelihood of incidents involving anti-Jewish hostility.”  This “anti-Zionist expression” and “BDS promotion” are the central aspects of Palestinian activism.

That is the issue here, and why it is necessary and important that, in the effort to promote the Palestinian cause and help the Palestinians to achieve statehood, another group – Jewish students on American campuses – do not become victims themselves in a struggle for another group’s self-determination.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., president emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and the author of Dispatches from the Campus War against Israel and Jews, is also a member of the board of directors of the Brandeis Center for Human Rights under the Law and the AMCHA Initiative.

No sooner had President Trump nominated Kenneth Marcus, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under the Law, to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education than extremist anti-Israel groups mounted an aggressive campaign to derail the appointment.

This is a remarkable affront to a civil rights lawyer who has spent his career fighting for the rights of women, the disabled, and members of many minority groups: black Americans, Hispanics, and Asians, as well as Sikhs, Arabs, and Muslim Americans.  Marcus’s prior tenure at the federal Office for Civil Rights was widely lauded for effective leadership and support for the rights of all students.  For this reason, most civil rights groups have thus far refrained from subjecting Marcus to the vituperation other recent Trump nominees have faced.

Some anti-Israel groups, however, have broken ranks, attacking the administration’s Jewish civil rights nominee with reckless and malicious falsehoods.  One of these groups, Palestine Legal, whose mission is to bolster the anti-Israel movement by challenging efforts to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitism, immediately issued a letter smearing Mr. Marcus as an “anti-Palestinian crusader” and opposing his nomination in terms of the so-called Livingstone Formulation.  Under that formulation, as identified by British sociologist David Hirsch, anti-Semites accuse Jews of fabricating anti-Semitism claims in order to silence decent people concerned about Israel’s supposed human rights violations.  In this way, Palestine Legal’s director, Dima Khalidi, levels the spurious charge that “Marcus is the architect of a strategy to abuse civil rights law to suppress campus criticism of Israel.”  In other words, she contends that Marcus’s campaign to ameliorate campus anti-Semitism is not based on a virtuous desire to end bigotry, but is a disingenuous attempt at “shielding Israel from scrutiny,” consistent with the Livingstone Formulation.  Part of that notion is “the counteraccusation that the raisers of the issue of antisemitism do so with dishonest intent, in order to de-legitimize criticism of Israel. The allegation is that the accuser chooses to ‘play the antisemitism card’ rather than to relate seriously to, or to refute, the criticisms of Israel.”

Those who refuse to acknowledge that their speech or behavior may, in fact, be anti-Semitic normally resist such designations, but the allegation of Palestine Legal against Mr. Marcus is particularly odious because it seeks to impugn his integrity as someone fighting anti-Semitism, suggesting instead that his true motive, carefully hidden from view and masked as benign activism, is actually to serve the interests of Israel by trying to delegitimize and libel Israel’s campus critics.  Moreover, Palestine Legal claims, in order to shield Israel from scrutiny, to insulate its policies and state behavior from critique, Mr. Marcus pretends to be interested in anti-Semitism but is actually creating a smokescreen to shield Israel “at the expense of civil and constitutional rights.”

In addition to the Livingstone Formulation, these groups are also going after Marcus with the classic charge that Jews are attempting to gain control of government power for nefarious purposes.  “Marcus has no business enforcing civil rights laws when he has explicitly used such laws to chill the speech activities and violate the civil rights of Arab, Muslim, Jewish, and other students who advocate for Palestinian rights,” Khalidi charged.  It is not coincidental that a group dedicated to undermining efforts to fight anti-Semitism is aware of the efforts of Mr. Marcus and his colleagues as they attempted to identify the causes and corrosive impact of campus anti-Semitic speech and behavior.

For at least the last decade, the primary source of anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic activism on campuses has been anti-Israel individuals and groups, including the Muslim Student Association and the radical Students for Justice in Palestine, among others.  So even as Ms. Khalidi would have one believe that Mr. Marcus launched a campaign to silence pro-Palestinian activists merely as a tactical ploy to insulate Israel from critique and condemnation, the anti-Israel activism she so ardently defends has regularly spawned instances in which agitation against Israel has included speech and behavior that have been considered, and, in fact, often were, anti-Semitic.

Of great concern to those who have observed the invidious byproduct of this radicalism is the frequent appearance of anti-Israel sentiment that often rises to the level of anti-Semitism, when virulent criticism of Israel bleeds into a darker, more sinister level of hatred – enough to make Jewish students, whether or not they support or care about Israel at all, uncomfortable, unsafe, or hated on their own campuses.

That is precisely the type of “hostile environment,” created by generating hostility toward Jewish students over their perceived or actual support of Israel, that may violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the legal tools Mr. Marcus has used and may well continue to use in his new role to ensure that universities take steps to ameliorate situations in which such prejudice-laced campus climates are allowed to develop.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), another anti-Israel group that also, not insignificantly, supports the BDS movement, published an open letter denouncing the choice of Mr. Marcus for the OCR appointment as well, repeating the spurious charge that the use of Title VI statutes, and such guidelines as the U.S. State Department Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, would have the perverse side-effect of suppressing the free speech of “pro-Palestinian” activists.  

And despite Palestine Legal’s fear that the conflation of “criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism    …  has really serious consequences for those who advocate for Palestinian human rights and are being condemned and censored and punished as a result of the enormous pressure being placed on universities by the likes of Marcus and dozens of other Israel advocacy groups,” the fact that “pro-Palestinian” activists support a minority group does not justify their misbehavior and extremism, even for what they clearly believe to be a noble cause.    

Pro-Palestinian advocacy on campus – the very activism Palestine Legal is so intent on preserving – has been shown to correlate directly with an uptick in anti-Semitic speech and behavior.  For example, in two studies it conducted of anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses, the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that investigates and documents anti-Semitism at U.S. universities, found that “[s]chools with instances of student-produced anti-Zionist expression, including BDS promotion, are 7 times more likely to have incidents that targeted Jewish students for harm than schools with no evidence of students’ anti-Zionist expression and the more such anti-Zionist expression, the higher the likelihood of incidents involving anti-Jewish hostility.”  This “anti-Zionist expression” and “BDS promotion” are the central aspects of Palestinian activism.

That is the issue here, and why it is necessary and important that, in the effort to promote the Palestinian cause and help the Palestinians to achieve statehood, another group – Jewish students on American campuses – do not become victims themselves in a struggle for another group’s self-determination.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., president emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and the author of Dispatches from the Campus War against Israel and Jews, is also a member of the board of directors of the Brandeis Center for Human Rights under the Law and the AMCHA Initiative.



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It's Time for a Climate Change in the Climate Change Dogma


This week, a horde of junketeers is amassing in Europe for yet another conference: COP 23 IN Bonn, Germany.  The token host is the president of Fiji.  This one event will consume more fossil fuels than some small nations use in one year.

Some of the fully indoctrinated attendees will be full of trepidation that the climate sky is truly falling and that we are on the edge of yet another dire tipping point.  The ruling elites from the E.U. will be hoping to strengthen their grip on international energy and thus accomplish their globalization dreams.  Christiana Figueres, an outspoken and extreme anti-fossil fuel proponent, will hope to be one more step closer to putting the final nail in the coffin of capitalism, to fulfill her fantasy of a perfect world order under socialism.  And the predatory green industrialists will be salivating over the scraps of meat thrown their way at this Bacchanalian feast.

The purported common enemy is carbon dioxide, the colorless and odorless gas that is vital to all of life.  We are asked to believe that this harmless gas is the sole driver of climate change.  The real enemy is anyone who does not agree, which includes most of humanity.

There is a grim reality for many of these bureaucrats.  The inconvenient truth is that more and more people, especially here in America, refuse to drink the Al Gore Kool-Aid.  We celebrated when Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Yet anyone who questions the climate dogma is ridiculed.  We are told that the science is settled and that all real scientists agree with the global warming position, the illusory 97% consensus.  If you question the rubric, you are a simpleton, a denier, a flat-Earther, a climate change skeptic, and ignorant of real science. 

We are often asked if we believe in global warming.  But belief is the realm of religion.  Global warming is the religion of the atheistic green left, described beautifully by the late Michael Crichton.  The Earth was once an unspoiled Garden of Eden, and man came along and took a bite out of the fossil fuel apple.  We have spoiled the Garden and must be punished.  Redemption requires being denied the apple and buying some carbon offset indulgences.  Those who are not saved must die.

I will not be praying to that god.

The attitude of the true scientist is skepticism.  Science is never, ever settled.  Every notion, hypothesis, theory, and law is subject to review.  We have seen too many cases in history where the consensus was wrong.  In the face of new evidence, a real open-minded scientist goes back to the drawing board.  Or as the Duc de La Rochefouocauld said in the 17 century, “There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts.”  In religion, you are not allowed to question the dogma.

First, let’s clear the air.  Everyone knows that the climate changes.  There is general agreement that the Earth has warmed since the Little Ice Age.  Temperature proxies may be hard to defend for portraying past temperatures, but there is secondary evidence.  The Medieval Warm Period, 1,000 years ago, was probably warmer than now, contrary to Michael Mann and his Hockey Stick graph.  They were growing non-hybridized wine grapes in northern England at that time.  And the Vikings had three thriving settlements on the southwest coast of Greenland with perhaps three thousand inhabitants as detailed in Icelandic history.  They had grazing animals and grew cool-weather crops.  That is not possible today.  The last Vikings were gone from Greenland by about 1300 A.D. because of the sudden onset of the Little Ice Age.  There are clearly natural climate changes that still have not been fully elucidated.  The science is not settled.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but the Earth is not a perfect greenhouse.  There is no glass ceiling to trap all of the heat.  Most infrared heat escapes into space, but a small amount is captured by the gas, and some temperature rise is expected with higher concentrations.  Most of the Earth’s warming occurs within the first 100 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.  The warming curve is asymptotic so that it now requires a doubling of CO2 to raise the temperature 1 degree Centigrade.  That means we would have to go from our current 400 ppm to 800 ppm of CO2 to get this small amount of increase in temperature.  (Most of us would not notice the difference.  We also would not feel any effects from this higher level of CO2.  It is common for interior spaces to be above 1,000 ppm carbon dioxide.)

The IPCC claims that the warming would be much more because of positive feedback warming from water vapor.  But the climate is not cooperating.  No such feedback has been found.  Almost every climate computer model has been wrong over the last twenty years at predicting the change in our temperature.  Except for the El Niño years, the climate has been remarkably static for two decades.  The great American physicist, Richard P. Feynman, said, “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are.  If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”  The science is not settled.

And then there are all of the hysterical claims about climate change.  We are led to believe that extra CO2 causes warming and cooling and heavy rains and drought.  The list of claims reads like a comedy monologue.  So no matter what happens with the weather, the hysterical crowd is never wrong.  Any wonder why the American thinking public is skeptical?

Let’s look at some popular memes.  It is said that if it gets a little warmer, the poles will melt, and the ocean will rise twenty feet, engulfing our coasts and most small islands.  But if the North Pole melts completely and so does the sea ice around Antarctica,  the ocean level will scarcely change.  Al Gore should be instructed in basic grade school science and look up Archimedes.  The melted Arctic will not raise the ocean any more than your glass of iced tea will overflow when the ice melts.  But what if the ice pack melts on Greenland and Antarctica?  The ice pack of central Greenland is increasing, as is Antarctica.  Antarctica has 90% of the world’s ice, and on a hot summer day, the temperature is still 30 degrees below zero.  That disaster is not going to happen.

On a similar note, it is said there is an acceleration of the rise of the ocean at this time.  The ocean has risen about 400 feet since the end of the last Ice Age 8,000 years ago, and the continued rise is thought to be from slow thermal expansion.  Depending on what you read, this rise is about 1-7 mm/year.  If you measure the area around Scandinavia, you might conclude that the ocean is receding.  Apparently, the Earth’s crust is rebounding from the weight of ice from that last Ice Age.  Nonetheless, I am pretty sure we can jump out of the way of the microscopic tidal waves to come on the coasts.

But what about ocean acidification?  Let’s get this straight: the ocean is not acidic and probably cannot get that way.  Acid versus alkaline is measured by pH, a logarithmic scale of hydrogen ion concentration.  A pH of 7 is neutral, and a pH of 8 has roughly ten times less hydrogen ion (acid).  Anything above 7 is alkaline and below 7 is acid.  The oceans are a pH of around 8 or more.  They are alkaline.  The oceans also contain about 36,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide, 90% of which is in the form of bicarbonate.  The atmosphere contains about 3,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide gas, less than one tenth the ocean’s.  If you dissolved 10 micromoles CO2  in pure water at pH 7, the resulting carbonic acid would change the pH to almost 6.  If you use sea water, the pH would be about 6.99.  This is because seawater has bicarbonate in a concentration of about 2.3 millimoles per liter.  This ocean water is a buffered solution and resists pH change.  But remember that the ocean is alkaline already and not neutral.  There may not be enough fossil fuels you could burn to turn the ocean acid.

There are other inconvenient truths.  Since the satellite era, it is now shown that the Earth is greening under the influence of increased CO2.  Carbon dioxide is plant fertilizer, and this is great news for a hungry world.  The deserts of the world are receding under the influence of the rising CO2.  Plants are able to conserve more water with more CO2.  (If I liked bumper stickers, I would have one that says: “For a green world, burn fossil fuels.”)  Also, tropical storms are not increasing in frequency and severity, no matter what the global warming alarmists and the MSM say.

So what are all of these climate conferences accomplishing?  I can see nothing decent happening that will truly help our fellow humans lead a healthy, happy, and prosperous life.

The policies of the IPCC will lead us to a new Dark Age.  Wind and solar are highly unreliable sources of energy because they are useful only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.  Of course, they will have to continue getting exemptions for killings millions of endangered bats and birds.  There are no highly efficient ways of storing excess energy for later use.  Countries that have rushed headlong into these so-called renewables are suffering brown- and blackouts and high energy costs.  Many of their citizens have to choose between food and electricity.

The radical left seems happy to shutter industry and create one big miserable planet.  You will even find it hard to escape to a more prosperous region if you have to drive one of the overrated, overvalued, over-subsidized, and modified electric golf carts that take you 100 miles before you have to tediously charge them again.

That is what is in store for the formerly happy and healthy and wealthy West.

What about Africa?  Africa has been a special project for this last century of the misinformed and arrogant West.  Especially in equatorial Africa, the people have been deprived of the privilege of joining the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.  They have been deprived the use of their own fossil fuels for inexpensive electricity.  Without cheap energy, there is subsistence living.  People have to destroy the forest for wood and kill the animals to survive.  They have no money for their own industry, no energy for lighting, cooking, hospitals, roads, food preservation, clean water, and prevention of terrible diseases.  They also need the judicious use of DDT to control malaria.  Nothing else works better.  And that is what eradicated that scourge from most of the rest of the world. 

The United States of America is a bright hope for the world if it takes heed.  We hope to maintain our lead in affordable energy.  This does not mean we should stop looking for other reliable and inexpensive energy.  There is some hope for small and efficient liquid salt nuclear reactors; time will tell.

But the IPCC and its bureaucratic minions seem bent on making the world miserable with their policies, while making lots of money and privilege for themselves.  I guess they attest to the wisdom of that great American philosopher, Groucho Marx: “happy does not make money.”

This week, a horde of junketeers is amassing in Europe for yet another conference: COP 23 IN Bonn, Germany.  The token host is the president of Fiji.  This one event will consume more fossil fuels than some small nations use in one year.

Some of the fully indoctrinated attendees will be full of trepidation that the climate sky is truly falling and that we are on the edge of yet another dire tipping point.  The ruling elites from the E.U. will be hoping to strengthen their grip on international energy and thus accomplish their globalization dreams.  Christiana Figueres, an outspoken and extreme anti-fossil fuel proponent, will hope to be one more step closer to putting the final nail in the coffin of capitalism, to fulfill her fantasy of a perfect world order under socialism.  And the predatory green industrialists will be salivating over the scraps of meat thrown their way at this Bacchanalian feast.

The purported common enemy is carbon dioxide, the colorless and odorless gas that is vital to all of life.  We are asked to believe that this harmless gas is the sole driver of climate change.  The real enemy is anyone who does not agree, which includes most of humanity.

There is a grim reality for many of these bureaucrats.  The inconvenient truth is that more and more people, especially here in America, refuse to drink the Al Gore Kool-Aid.  We celebrated when Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Yet anyone who questions the climate dogma is ridiculed.  We are told that the science is settled and that all real scientists agree with the global warming position, the illusory 97% consensus.  If you question the rubric, you are a simpleton, a denier, a flat-Earther, a climate change skeptic, and ignorant of real science. 

We are often asked if we believe in global warming.  But belief is the realm of religion.  Global warming is the religion of the atheistic green left, described beautifully by the late Michael Crichton.  The Earth was once an unspoiled Garden of Eden, and man came along and took a bite out of the fossil fuel apple.  We have spoiled the Garden and must be punished.  Redemption requires being denied the apple and buying some carbon offset indulgences.  Those who are not saved must die.

I will not be praying to that god.

The attitude of the true scientist is skepticism.  Science is never, ever settled.  Every notion, hypothesis, theory, and law is subject to review.  We have seen too many cases in history where the consensus was wrong.  In the face of new evidence, a real open-minded scientist goes back to the drawing board.  Or as the Duc de La Rochefouocauld said in the 17 century, “There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts.”  In religion, you are not allowed to question the dogma.

First, let’s clear the air.  Everyone knows that the climate changes.  There is general agreement that the Earth has warmed since the Little Ice Age.  Temperature proxies may be hard to defend for portraying past temperatures, but there is secondary evidence.  The Medieval Warm Period, 1,000 years ago, was probably warmer than now, contrary to Michael Mann and his Hockey Stick graph.  They were growing non-hybridized wine grapes in northern England at that time.  And the Vikings had three thriving settlements on the southwest coast of Greenland with perhaps three thousand inhabitants as detailed in Icelandic history.  They had grazing animals and grew cool-weather crops.  That is not possible today.  The last Vikings were gone from Greenland by about 1300 A.D. because of the sudden onset of the Little Ice Age.  There are clearly natural climate changes that still have not been fully elucidated.  The science is not settled.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but the Earth is not a perfect greenhouse.  There is no glass ceiling to trap all of the heat.  Most infrared heat escapes into space, but a small amount is captured by the gas, and some temperature rise is expected with higher concentrations.  Most of the Earth’s warming occurs within the first 100 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.  The warming curve is asymptotic so that it now requires a doubling of CO2 to raise the temperature 1 degree Centigrade.  That means we would have to go from our current 400 ppm to 800 ppm of CO2 to get this small amount of increase in temperature.  (Most of us would not notice the difference.  We also would not feel any effects from this higher level of CO2.  It is common for interior spaces to be above 1,000 ppm carbon dioxide.)

The IPCC claims that the warming would be much more because of positive feedback warming from water vapor.  But the climate is not cooperating.  No such feedback has been found.  Almost every climate computer model has been wrong over the last twenty years at predicting the change in our temperature.  Except for the El Niño years, the climate has been remarkably static for two decades.  The great American physicist, Richard P. Feynman, said, “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are.  If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”  The science is not settled.

And then there are all of the hysterical claims about climate change.  We are led to believe that extra CO2 causes warming and cooling and heavy rains and drought.  The list of claims reads like a comedy monologue.  So no matter what happens with the weather, the hysterical crowd is never wrong.  Any wonder why the American thinking public is skeptical?

Let’s look at some popular memes.  It is said that if it gets a little warmer, the poles will melt, and the ocean will rise twenty feet, engulfing our coasts and most small islands.  But if the North Pole melts completely and so does the sea ice around Antarctica,  the ocean level will scarcely change.  Al Gore should be instructed in basic grade school science and look up Archimedes.  The melted Arctic will not raise the ocean any more than your glass of iced tea will overflow when the ice melts.  But what if the ice pack melts on Greenland and Antarctica?  The ice pack of central Greenland is increasing, as is Antarctica.  Antarctica has 90% of the world’s ice, and on a hot summer day, the temperature is still 30 degrees below zero.  That disaster is not going to happen.

On a similar note, it is said there is an acceleration of the rise of the ocean at this time.  The ocean has risen about 400 feet since the end of the last Ice Age 8,000 years ago, and the continued rise is thought to be from slow thermal expansion.  Depending on what you read, this rise is about 1-7 mm/year.  If you measure the area around Scandinavia, you might conclude that the ocean is receding.  Apparently, the Earth’s crust is rebounding from the weight of ice from that last Ice Age.  Nonetheless, I am pretty sure we can jump out of the way of the microscopic tidal waves to come on the coasts.

But what about ocean acidification?  Let’s get this straight: the ocean is not acidic and probably cannot get that way.  Acid versus alkaline is measured by pH, a logarithmic scale of hydrogen ion concentration.  A pH of 7 is neutral, and a pH of 8 has roughly ten times less hydrogen ion (acid).  Anything above 7 is alkaline and below 7 is acid.  The oceans are a pH of around 8 or more.  They are alkaline.  The oceans also contain about 36,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide, 90% of which is in the form of bicarbonate.  The atmosphere contains about 3,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide gas, less than one tenth the ocean’s.  If you dissolved 10 micromoles CO2  in pure water at pH 7, the resulting carbonic acid would change the pH to almost 6.  If you use sea water, the pH would be about 6.99.  This is because seawater has bicarbonate in a concentration of about 2.3 millimoles per liter.  This ocean water is a buffered solution and resists pH change.  But remember that the ocean is alkaline already and not neutral.  There may not be enough fossil fuels you could burn to turn the ocean acid.

There are other inconvenient truths.  Since the satellite era, it is now shown that the Earth is greening under the influence of increased CO2.  Carbon dioxide is plant fertilizer, and this is great news for a hungry world.  The deserts of the world are receding under the influence of the rising CO2.  Plants are able to conserve more water with more CO2.  (If I liked bumper stickers, I would have one that says: “For a green world, burn fossil fuels.”)  Also, tropical storms are not increasing in frequency and severity, no matter what the global warming alarmists and the MSM say.

So what are all of these climate conferences accomplishing?  I can see nothing decent happening that will truly help our fellow humans lead a healthy, happy, and prosperous life.

The policies of the IPCC will lead us to a new Dark Age.  Wind and solar are highly unreliable sources of energy because they are useful only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.  Of course, they will have to continue getting exemptions for killings millions of endangered bats and birds.  There are no highly efficient ways of storing excess energy for later use.  Countries that have rushed headlong into these so-called renewables are suffering brown- and blackouts and high energy costs.  Many of their citizens have to choose between food and electricity.

The radical left seems happy to shutter industry and create one big miserable planet.  You will even find it hard to escape to a more prosperous region if you have to drive one of the overrated, overvalued, over-subsidized, and modified electric golf carts that take you 100 miles before you have to tediously charge them again.

That is what is in store for the formerly happy and healthy and wealthy West.

What about Africa?  Africa has been a special project for this last century of the misinformed and arrogant West.  Especially in equatorial Africa, the people have been deprived of the privilege of joining the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.  They have been deprived the use of their own fossil fuels for inexpensive electricity.  Without cheap energy, there is subsistence living.  People have to destroy the forest for wood and kill the animals to survive.  They have no money for their own industry, no energy for lighting, cooking, hospitals, roads, food preservation, clean water, and prevention of terrible diseases.  They also need the judicious use of DDT to control malaria.  Nothing else works better.  And that is what eradicated that scourge from most of the rest of the world. 

The United States of America is a bright hope for the world if it takes heed.  We hope to maintain our lead in affordable energy.  This does not mean we should stop looking for other reliable and inexpensive energy.  There is some hope for small and efficient liquid salt nuclear reactors; time will tell.

But the IPCC and its bureaucratic minions seem bent on making the world miserable with their policies, while making lots of money and privilege for themselves.  I guess they attest to the wisdom of that great American philosopher, Groucho Marx: “happy does not make money.”



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Coming Soon: Incest, State-Sponsored and Court-Approved



Say what you will about Rick Santorum, but he's starting to look like a prophet.



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Wages Are Actually Growing Faster Than They Should!


I have an acquaintance who owns several franchises of a national fast food chain.  He refers to increasing wages for his workers as the 49-cent taco problem.  If he raises wages too much, his cashiers just can’t sell enough 49-cent tacos in an hour to make a profit.  He can raise wages only as fast as he can raise taco prices – and the market rate of inflation determines the latter.  Likewise, he can’t raise wages based on gains in productivity because cashiers already are selling the maximum number of tacos possible per hour. 

It’s actually a pretty simple principle to grasp that wages should be an amount reflective of the value the wage contributes, or produces.  That is to say, if an hour’s labor produces something that can be sold for $10, then the value of that labor should be $10 – after deducting any hard costs for raw materials, capital, etc.  As time goes on, the sale price of that good should increase due to inflation, and wages right along with it.

The headlines, television, newspapers, the internet – they are all on a wage crusade, claiming that real earnings haven’t grown at all.  Most state it as a fact, while many question why real wages haven’t grown, given that unemployment is so low and the job market so tight.

To be blunt – this is all wrong!  Real wages have grown – so much so, they’ve actually grown more than they should.

Income (wages) should grow over time at the rate of inflation plus the rate of productivity gains.  For example, if inflation is 2%, and a worker is 2% more productive, he deserves a 4% pay raise.  To pay him any less would be shortchanging him.  But to pay him any more would be to reward him for inflation that didn’t occur, or productivity he didn’t achieve.

So let’s look at the real numbers and see what’s actually been going on.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces a quarterly report on wages, benefits, inflation, and productivity.  Looking at its December 2013 report (the last one before Obamacare began and drastically changed employer benefit costs), we can compare the average hourly non-farm, non-government wage and benefit level to December 2016 – a tidy three-year period.  When we factor in the rate of inflation and productivity growth over the same period, it turns out that workers have made massive gains in real income.

Over just that 36-month period, wages grew 15% and benefits 24%, resulting in a total employer-paid compensation increase of 18%.  During that same time, inflation was only 4% and gains in productivity just 7%.  Essentially, workers received increases in wages and benefits that are far greater than just keeping up with inflation or becoming more productive.  Roughly, workers are being paid today about 7% more than should be expected.

So if wages are growing faster than both inflation and productivity together, what’s all the shouting about?  The answer is easy: class envy.  While this extraordinary growth in workers’ real income has been occurring – actually the fastest in 50 years – the top earners’ incomes have been growing, too, and at an even faster rate.  Rather than be thankful for the pay raises they have, workers are angry they didn’t get even more…like the rich people they see on TV.

It’s true.  The income gap between the lower and middle classes and the top bracket has widened – not by much, but it has increased a bit.  However, most of this widening is due to a statistical anomaly.  Let’s compare two hypothetical individuals, one making $20,000 per year and one making $200,000.  The income gap between them is $180,000.  Now, assume they both get 7% pay raises – the rate of inflation plus their productivity gains.  With their new incomes, $21,400 and $214,000 respectively, the gap is now $192,600.  Yes, it has widened in dollars, but not in real terms.  Both workers are equally earning the same inflation-adjusted income, and both are being rewarded for their exact productivity gains.

It’s no wonder workers want even more.  The media continually uses the dollar differences in income levels to demonstrate how “unfair” it is that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.  But it simply isn’t true.  In 2013, the lowest 20% of income-earners received 3.1 percent of all national income, and that percentage is the same today.   Yes, that’s a small piece of the pie, but to increase it beyond inflation and productivity gains just doesn’t make sense – particularly in the long term.

No, workers are getting more than their fair share of wage increases.  And the income gap, while marginally widening, is mostly a nonexistent statistical artifact.  What workers should be doing rather than complaining is bracing for the coming flattening of wage increases.  The current low unemployment rate will bump incomes a bit more, but then simple economics will ultimately flatten the rate of wage growth to align with inflation and productivity gains.

In the meantime, I’m going to have another 49-cent taco.

Kevin Cochrane teaches business and economics at Colorado Mesa University, and is also a permanent visiting professor of economics at the University of International Relations in Beijing.

I have an acquaintance who owns several franchises of a national fast food chain.  He refers to increasing wages for his workers as the 49-cent taco problem.  If he raises wages too much, his cashiers just can’t sell enough 49-cent tacos in an hour to make a profit.  He can raise wages only as fast as he can raise taco prices – and the market rate of inflation determines the latter.  Likewise, he can’t raise wages based on gains in productivity because cashiers already are selling the maximum number of tacos possible per hour. 

It’s actually a pretty simple principle to grasp that wages should be an amount reflective of the value the wage contributes, or produces.  That is to say, if an hour’s labor produces something that can be sold for $10, then the value of that labor should be $10 – after deducting any hard costs for raw materials, capital, etc.  As time goes on, the sale price of that good should increase due to inflation, and wages right along with it.

The headlines, television, newspapers, the internet – they are all on a wage crusade, claiming that real earnings haven’t grown at all.  Most state it as a fact, while many question why real wages haven’t grown, given that unemployment is so low and the job market so tight.

To be blunt – this is all wrong!  Real wages have grown – so much so, they’ve actually grown more than they should.

Income (wages) should grow over time at the rate of inflation plus the rate of productivity gains.  For example, if inflation is 2%, and a worker is 2% more productive, he deserves a 4% pay raise.  To pay him any less would be shortchanging him.  But to pay him any more would be to reward him for inflation that didn’t occur, or productivity he didn’t achieve.

So let’s look at the real numbers and see what’s actually been going on.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces a quarterly report on wages, benefits, inflation, and productivity.  Looking at its December 2013 report (the last one before Obamacare began and drastically changed employer benefit costs), we can compare the average hourly non-farm, non-government wage and benefit level to December 2016 – a tidy three-year period.  When we factor in the rate of inflation and productivity growth over the same period, it turns out that workers have made massive gains in real income.

Over just that 36-month period, wages grew 15% and benefits 24%, resulting in a total employer-paid compensation increase of 18%.  During that same time, inflation was only 4% and gains in productivity just 7%.  Essentially, workers received increases in wages and benefits that are far greater than just keeping up with inflation or becoming more productive.  Roughly, workers are being paid today about 7% more than should be expected.

So if wages are growing faster than both inflation and productivity together, what’s all the shouting about?  The answer is easy: class envy.  While this extraordinary growth in workers’ real income has been occurring – actually the fastest in 50 years – the top earners’ incomes have been growing, too, and at an even faster rate.  Rather than be thankful for the pay raises they have, workers are angry they didn’t get even more…like the rich people they see on TV.

It’s true.  The income gap between the lower and middle classes and the top bracket has widened – not by much, but it has increased a bit.  However, most of this widening is due to a statistical anomaly.  Let’s compare two hypothetical individuals, one making $20,000 per year and one making $200,000.  The income gap between them is $180,000.  Now, assume they both get 7% pay raises – the rate of inflation plus their productivity gains.  With their new incomes, $21,400 and $214,000 respectively, the gap is now $192,600.  Yes, it has widened in dollars, but not in real terms.  Both workers are equally earning the same inflation-adjusted income, and both are being rewarded for their exact productivity gains.

It’s no wonder workers want even more.  The media continually uses the dollar differences in income levels to demonstrate how “unfair” it is that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.  But it simply isn’t true.  In 2013, the lowest 20% of income-earners received 3.1 percent of all national income, and that percentage is the same today.   Yes, that’s a small piece of the pie, but to increase it beyond inflation and productivity gains just doesn’t make sense – particularly in the long term.

No, workers are getting more than their fair share of wage increases.  And the income gap, while marginally widening, is mostly a nonexistent statistical artifact.  What workers should be doing rather than complaining is bracing for the coming flattening of wage increases.  The current low unemployment rate will bump incomes a bit more, but then simple economics will ultimately flatten the rate of wage growth to align with inflation and productivity gains.

In the meantime, I’m going to have another 49-cent taco.

Kevin Cochrane teaches business and economics at Colorado Mesa University, and is also a permanent visiting professor of economics at the University of International Relations in Beijing.



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