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The Environmental Spectator

Frying Birds in Midair

By 8.25.14

At the most modern solar power plant in the world, researchers are now saying the magnified sun rays are setting birds on fire in midair — by the thousands. They call them “streamers,” because of the smoke plume that is quite visible as they ignite and plummet to earth. Stories of the scorched birds were so widespread that alert investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to visit the plant — built by BrightSource Energy near the California/Nevada border. The Feds watched in horror as they saw an average of one “streamer” every two minutes.

Coincidentally, the company is asking California regulators to approve an even larger version of the solar plant, and the Feds are — predictably — urging the state to halt the application until more Feds can conduct more studies.

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The Nation's Pulse

Jeff Buckley: The Eternal Life of Grace

By 8.25.14

On August 23, 1994, Columbia Records would release Gracethe debut album of Jeff Buckley.

It would prove to be his only fully completed album.

On May 29, 1997, while in the midst of recording his follow up album in Memphis, Buckley disappeared after taking a spontaneous swim fully clothed in the Wolf River. His body was found nearly a week later. An autopsy revealed no drugs and only a nominal amount of alcohol in his system. Buckley was 30 years old.

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Loose Canons

Louvain, ISIS, and Evil

By 8.25.14

The videotaped beheading of photojournalist James Foley shocked us, but it should not have. The Islamic fascisti such as ISIS have always preyed on the innocent and defenseless. Twelve years ago, a like group of barbarians kidnapped and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. They did the same to him as ISIS did to Foley: an innocent American reporter was kidnapped, held incommunicado, and then beheaded on videotape for the propaganda and shock value.

History abounds with such events, barbaric murders on scales both large and small. A particularly notable one began one hundred years ago tonight.

In its murderous rampage through Belgium at the outset of World War One, the German army commonly committed mass murders of civilians. As historian John Keegan recounts, 211 were murdered in the town of Andenne, 384 in Tamines, and 612 in Dinant. And then, on the night of August 25, the Germans began the burning of Louvain.

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The Obama Watch

HELP WANTED at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

By 8.25.14

Suddenly, America is sick and tired of Barack Obama. He has become an embarrassment and, worse than that, a threat to the personal security and peace of mind of American citizenry as a whole. It is all too obvious that he is not up to the task of being captain of the ship of state at a time of increasing peril.

So what to do about it?

Should he be impeached? If so, for what crime?

You can’t impeach him for the “crime” of frivolity — or the “crime” of excessive partying at fund-raising junkets with his Hollywood pals during national emergencies.

You can’t impeach him for the “crime” of poor judgment — thinking back to the decision he made in June to release five Taliban commanders in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an alleged deserter. He celebrated that “victory” by bringing Bergdahl’s parents to the White House and acting as though their son were a hero.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Decline and Fall of Obama’s America

By 8.23.14

One of the great privileges that any literate man or woman or transgender can have is to read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I had that privilege — at least to read it in an abridged form — about thirty-five years ago when I was confined to bed in Aspen, Colorado. The book, as witty and sarcastic as it is learned, makes the point — among many others — that Rome was doomed when its Emperors became steadily more stupid, cowardly, self-obsessed, short sighted, lazy, and grandiose.

Starting roughly 150 years A.D., the emperors were so bad that when each emperor died — often by murder — the citizens would rejoice. They thought that the old emperor was so bad that the new one would have to be better. Within a few months, they would be longing to have the old emperor back.

This is exactly what we are now seeing in Barack Obama’s America. We are seeing a President so bad that he makes even the worst prior ones look good (except for Jimmy Carter, who is beyond redemption). I would like to humbly offer a few examples.

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A Further Perspective

Racism Forever

By 8.22.14

It’s been a busy couple of days for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

On Wednesday, the nation’s top law enforcement officer — who doubles as the leading impediment to law enforcement, whenever he sees a law he doesn’t like — flew to St. Louis for another exercise in the selective dispensation of justice.

Holder came to express sympathy with the protesters chanting “no justice, no peace” in Ferguson, one of the city’s close-in suburbs, where an 18-year-old black youth, described by friends and family as a “gentle giant,” on his way to visit his grandmother, had been shot and killed by a white police officer — touching off almost two weeks of nightly riots and looting in the town of about 20,000 people. At a community meeting Holder told residents:

I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a black man. I can remember being stopped on the New Jersey turnpike… and accused of speeding. Pulled over… “Let me search your car”… Go through the trunk of my car, look under the seats and all this kind of stuff. I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.

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Enemy of the Week

Life in the 21st Century

By 8.22.14

The great Tiger Woods has announced that, owing to his latest back injury, he’s going to have to take a month or two off from golf play. But never fear, Barack is here, ready to fill the vacuum as most famous golfer in the world. It is, we might say, so 21st century of him. Even his prompt return Wednesday to the one thing he cares about after denouncing ISIS in a public service announcement hasn’t hurt his ranking. Indeed, bad boy behavior can only enhance his game and smile. Take a look at Rory McIlroy, who went on to win three straight tournaments, including two majors, right after throwing his fiancée under a bus and canceling their wedding plans. Twenty-first century types are everywhere.

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Another Perspective

In Praise of Limousine Liberals

By 8.22.14

The phase “limousine liberal” was ironically coined by a Democrat, New York City mayoral hopeful Mario Procaccino, during his 1969 campaign to unseat Republican John Lindsay.  Procaccino was attacking Lindsay’s generous and well-healed backers who, as he put it, “live on Fifth Avenue and maintain some choice mansions outside the city [but] have no feeling for the small middle class shopkeeper, home owner, etc.”

In the forty-five years since, the expression has been taken up by conservatives as convenient shorthand for Wall Street Democrats and Left-leaning heirs of great wealth, connoting as it does a mixture of hypocrisy, insularity, and wishful thinking.  But while it is only human nature for the Right to enjoy ridiculing rich Democrats whose policies so blatantly contradict their lifestyles, conservatives should never fail to appreciate the many hidden ways that limousine liberals actually undermine the Left’s own agenda.

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Political Hay

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mitt Romney?

By 8.22.14

He wuz robbed. Admit it, you neo-cons, paleo-cons, compassionates, country clubbers and decline-to-states: right now, in a just, moral, ordered universe, Mitt Romney should be President.

He was right on Iraq and Benghazi, right on healthcare, immigration, and Russia. But he was so mendaciously smeared that voters possessed the ludicrous mindset that Mitt didn’t “care about someone like me.” Feckless Republican operatives allowed data-mining splashed with voter fraud to seal the defeat.

Twenty months later, numerous polls indicate significant voter remorse. This genuine sentiment has naturally provoked calls of “Run, Mitt, Run!” But, to other Republicans still traumatized by a loss that didn’t have to happen, the grace and decency of the man are his ultimate disqualifiers for a coming 2016 cage match.

The positive argument for another run is, like the man, straightforward:

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At Large

All For Want of a Good Five-Cent Cigar

By 8.22.14

Michael Brown lost his life after pursuing his unrestrained, but not unrequited, love for Swisher Sweets, which he heisted from a Ferguson, Missouri, shopkeeper without even the pretense of subterfuge. I despise his by-any-means-necessary passion for smoking Swishers. But who can gainsay the tobacco martyr’s tastes? Like Ulysses S. Grant, he died for the love of cigars.

Often stale, always sweet, Swishers smoke as the Cadillac of cheap cigars. Before such tobacco promotions became outlawed, I eagerly exchanged multiple proofs of purchase seals for a black T-shirt—worn proudly—with a red Swisher insignia and an uplifting message conveyed in smoky lettering: “Roll out the sweet times.” Say what you will of the decedent’s ethics. Michael Brown knew stogies. He could have stolen Dutch Masters or Phillies. He swiped Swishers. He chose right after choosing wrong.

As far as thieves go, Brown occupies the next-to-lowest rung on the ladder of larceny, right above the cowardly-in-the-crowd looters inspired by him. There is something basely admirable about the safe cracker, the swindler, and the museum burglar. They work hard for your money.

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