Have you heard the news? The U.S. unemployment rate increased 0.5% between April and May 2008, going from 5.0% to 5.5%. The immediate result of this report is a flurry of news stories bemoaning unemployment and reaching for their thesauruses to come up with good scare words: jumped, soared, leaps. Here’s a snippet of an MSNBC story:

The nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May — the biggest monthly rise since 1986 — as nervous employers cut 49,000 jobs.

The latest snapshot of business conditions showed a deeply troubled economy, with dwindling job opportunities in a time of continuing hardship in the housing, credit and financial sectors.

“Jumped” appeared in the title and first paragraph. “Soared” appears in the fourth paragraph, and “leaps” appears in the RSS feed title for this story. All of this reminds me of something Red Planet Cartoons published in April:

It's a matter of perspective

Stocks have taken a dive because of this hand-wringing report, but what does this news story identify as the cause of the “continuing hardship”? “Housing, credit, and financial troubles” all turn out to be the same thing.

Earlier in the decade, the government essentially forced lending companies to offer loans to people who were poor credit risks, or they’d be branded and punished as horrible racists and discriminating goons. Now — surprise, surprise — a number of people who were poor credit risks due to their unstable financial behavior are defaulting on these risky loans. Government stuck its foot in front of the housing, credit, and financial sector, and now government is reporting that this sector has taken a tumble. Well, duh! What do ya expect?

Certain politicians are always talking about government as though it could singlehandedly fix the economy. In truth, there are a few ways our government could have an immediate effect on our economy: namely, if it released the restrictions on ANWR oil drilling, oil refinery building, off-shore oil drilling, and nuclear power plant construction. Those four endeavors would open up thousands of jobs in construction and maintenance alone, not to mention the number of jobs created to support them. As an added bonus, we would be increasing our domestic energy supply at a time when there is an ever-increasing demand. Increasing the supply would mean a decrease in the cost of energy, and that would benefit our economy, and the world’s economy as well. And the increase in supply would most likely lead to decreased prices at the gas pump.

Or you could try electing liberals to government whose only promise is for “change” — what kind, exactly? — and whose actions show they prefer to restrict our energy supply so you have to pay more at the pump. So how, exactly, are liberals for the little guy?

UPDATE (6/9/2008 10:25:27 PM): Jerry Bowyer at TownHall.com posted a reason for the spike in unemployment in May — the minimum wage increase Congress passed last year:

Congress is to blame. Last year Congressional Democrats (along with some Stockholm-Syndromed Republicans) passed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which started a phased hike of the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. Free market economists warned them that this would increase unemployment – that rapid increases in unemployment compensation hit teens and minorities the hardest. But the class-warriors are running the people’s house now, and they would hear none of that, so they took to the floor, let loose the dogs of demagoguery, and saddled America’s pizza parlors, municipal swimming pools, house painting businesses and lawn mowing services with a huge cost increase.

Now, we see the perfectly logical outcome of wage controls – rising unemployment among the most economically vulnerable. The chart above tells the story: Friday’s unemployment spike occurred overwhelmingly among teenagers, and secondarily among African Americans. Just like we said it would. A kid who is at entry level of job skills may be a good deal at 5 bucks an hour, but not at 7. Our anointed leaders gets to glory in their generosity (with other people’s money) and just so long as very few people in the media know that a demand curve slopes downward (a good bet, there), no one calls them on it.

Which makes yet another way the government has caused this problem.

Iran has been working on nuclear power for years now, but they tell us it is just for peaceful purposes like generating power. Never mind that they are sitting on a lake of oil. And never mind that Iran has lied and admitted to their lies about their nuclear plans before.

But this news article will really make people sit up and notice. Oh, but who am I trying to kid? This will slip past unnoticed by most people.

Iran has met a key demand of the U.N. nuclear agency by delivering blueprints that show how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads, diplomats said Tuesday, in an apparent concession meant to stave off the threat of new U.N. sanctions.

But the diplomats said Tehran has failed to meet other requests made by the International Atomic Energy Agency in its attempts to end nearly two decades of nuclear secrecy on the part of the Islamic Republic. [emphasis mine - CM]

Did you catch that? Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program included blueprints for making nuclear warheads. Who wants to bet that those blueprints were Iran’s only copies of the plans? *cricket chirp* Yeah, I didn’t think I’d get any takers on that.

Thanks to Little Green Footballs for pointing out this story. I’m sure you won’t hear about it on the nightly news programs.

There is an old joke that has been told about many different people. It basically goes: “How can you tell if [person] is lying? His lips are moving.” Earlier this year Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told us that Iran was pursuing nuclear technology for purely peaceful reasons. Notice Ahmadinejad’s lips moving? Yep. Lies. And here is the proof from the “see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil, have no clue” IAEA organization.

New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium — potential material for atomic warheads — have been found in a nuclear waste facility in Iran, a revelation that came Tuesday as the Iranian president boasted his country’s nuclear fuel program will soon be completed.

If the IAEA can find plutonium in Iran, and they can’t find their own butts using both hands, a map, and three Sherpas, then what does this tell us about Iran’s intentions? This discovery is interesting since the only peaceful uses for plutonium are in outmoded pacemakers or in deep space probes like Cassini and Galileo. And we all know that Iran leads the world in the manufacture of old pacemakers and probes for outer space.

So if Iran isn’t using plutonium for those two peaceful uses, then what is the only use left? Weapons of mass destruction. The discovery of plutonium in Iran gives me a nice warm fuzzy. He tells us he wants peace. He tells us that the Iranian nuclear program is only for peace. And he tells us that he has no territorial claims to make in Europe. Wait. That last one was a statement by Adolph Hitler in the run-up to World War II. But there’s no similarity between Hitler and Ahmadinejad. None whatsoever. Well, other than their desire to rule the world and kill Jews, but those are just coincidences. Really. Ahmadinejad is a man of peace, and he would never lead a rally chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”

And if we believe Ahmadinejad is telling us the truth, then the joke is on us.

OK, time for a little humor at Iran’s expense. Iranian President Ahmadinejad says that their quest for nuclear power is completely peaceful (yeah, right), so I love this fake news story by Scrappleface:

(2006-08-26) — Just hours after Iran opened a new plant capable of making plutonium “for peaceful purposes”, U.S. President George Bush assured his Iranian counterpart that any B-2 bombers that appear over Tehran in the near future would also serve peaceful purposes.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut the ribbon on the new heavy-water nuclear plant Saturday as part of a month-long Iranian tribute to the effectiveness of the United Nations.

Mr. Bush hailed Iran’s “transparent diplomacy” and said, “I called President Ahmadinejad today to congratulate him, and I told him that if he happens to notice one of them Stealth bombers going over his town at about 600 miles per hour, he can be assured that the pilot has only the best intentions in his heart for world peace.”

“There’s nothing like the B-2 when it comes to giving peace a chance,” Mr. Bush added.

Now compare that fictitious hard-line stance by President Bush with the fictitious response by a President Kerry as envisioned by Chris Muir of the “Day by Day” comic. (Internet protocol says I can’t just post Muir’s comic here unless I get permission, hence the link.)

“Day by Day” comic of August 27th, 2006

UPDATE (8/28/2006 11:20:52 AM): Chris Muir granted me permission to post his “Day by Day” comics here, so here is the Sunday comic in question. And spend some time reading the rest of “Day by Day”.

Day by Day

Since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pressing full steam ahead to get his *cough* peaceful *cough* nuclear power, and he has stated that Israel “is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm,” I have a question for Palestinians living around Israel and working to “remove the Jewish presence in Palestine”:

Once Iran nukes Israel off the map, and assuming you are not dead from being too close to the initial blasts, just how soon will you head into the radioactive wasteland to reclaim “Palestine?”

If I were a Palestinian, I’d be rather cheesed if Iran were posed to blow my contested homeland to bits. I’d even have a few choice words to say about it. So why the silence from Hamastan?

Mark Steyn of the Sun Times has written a great article. (hat tip – Little Green Footballs) He suggests a wonderful thing to try the next time you are flying in the States — impersonate Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

You know what’s great fun to do if you’re on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you’re getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, “I’ve got a bomb!” Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, “It’s OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn’t got a bomb.” And then the second marshal would say, “And even if he did have a bomb it’s highly unlikely he’d ever use it.” And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, “Relax, everyone. That’s just a harmless rhetorical flourish.” And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, “Yes, but it’s entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew.”

That’s how it goes with the Iranians. The more they claim they’ve gone nuclear, the more U.S. intelligence experts — oops, where are my quote marks? — the more U.S. intelligence “experts” insist no, no, it won’t be for another 10 years yet. The more they conclusively demonstrate their non-compliance with the IAEA, the more the international community warns sternly that, if it were proved that Iran were in non-compliance, that could have very grave consequences. But, fortunately, no matter how thoroughly the Iranians non-comply it’s never quite non-compliant enough to rise to the level of grave consequences. You can’t blame Ahmadinejad for thinking “our enemies cannot do a damned thing.”

The whole article is a treat to read. And it points out the problems we have in dealing with Iran that I recently wrote about. Steyn continues with a section that outlines Iran’s push for nuclear power, regardless of what people do:

It’s not the world’s job to prove that the Iranians are bluffing. The braggadocio itself is reason enough to act, and prolonged negotiations with a regime that openly admits it’s negotiating just for the laughs only damages us further. The perfect summation of the Iranian approach to negotiations came in this gem of a sentence from the New York Times on July 13 last year:

“Iran will resume uranium enrichment if the European Union does not recognize its right to do so, two Iranian nuclear negotiators said in an interview published Thursday.”

Got that? If we don’t let Iran go nuclear, they’ll go nuclear. That position might tax even the nuanced detecting skills of John Kerry.

So what do we do? We still have three basic options with Iran, but Steyn gives a good explanation at the end of his piece about the problem with going through the United Nations to get anything done:

All the doom-mongers want to know why we went into Iraq “without a plan.” Well, one reason is surely that, for a year before the invasion, the energy of the U.S. government was primarily devoted to the pointless tap-dance through the United Nations, culminating in the absurd situation of Western foreign ministers chasing each other through Africa to bend the ear of the president of Guinea, who happened to be on the Security Council that week but whose witch doctor had advised against supporting Washington. Allowing the Guinean tail to wag the French rectum of the British hindquarters of the American dog was a huge waste of resources. To go through it all again in order to prevent whichever global colossus chances to be on the Security Council this time (Haiti? The South Sandwich Islands?) from siding with the Russo-Chinese obstructionists would show that the United States had learned nothing.

Bill Clinton, the Sultan of Swing, gave an interesting speech last week, apropos foreign policy: “Anytime somebody said in my presidency, ‘If you don’t do this, people will think you’re weak,’ I always asked the same question for eight years: ‘Can we kill ‘em tomorrow?’ If we can kill ‘em tomorrow, then we’re not weak, and we might be wise enough to try to find an alternative way.”

The trouble was tomorrow never came — from the first World Trade Center attack to Khobar Towers to the African Embassy bombings to the USS Cole. Mañana is not a policy. The Iranians are merely the latest to understand that.

Leftists jump up and down screaming about missing WMDs, but when the evidence of their existence appears, the Left covers its collective ears and sings, “La la la, I’m not listening!” There are those who claim President Bush was lying, but that’s only true if you change the definition of “lie.”

But there are lies involved, and The Telegraph of England has written about them. It’s just not the U.S. that’s been lying. It’s Iran. This is evidenced in a confession by Hassan Rowhani, the man who led talks with Britain, France and Germany about Iran’s atomic program.

He boasted that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake – a key stage in the nuclear fuel process – at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot.

“From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, ‘The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.’ The Europeans used to respond, ‘We trust them’,” he said.

Did you catch that? Iran was lying about what it was doing, the U.S. recognized the lies, and the Europeans ignored the warning from the U.S., choosing to trust the liars. How can you trust a nation that believes in kitman to hide the truth and taqiyya to lie outright? While Europe went on with meetings and diplomatic dicussions, Iran was busy doing its own work:

He told his audience: “When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Teheran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site. There was plenty of work to be done to complete the site and finish the work there. In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan.”

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Why is Iran doing this? “America and its European allies believe that Iran is clandestinely developing an atomic bomb but Teheran insists it is merely seeking nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” Yeah, peaceful purposes like power generation. I would believe that if Iran weren’t sitting atop a lake of oil. So should we believe Iran when it says it wants peaceful nuclear power?

Before you answer that, remember: they just admitted that they lied to us.

Happy Kyoto Treaty Day! Actually, the Kyoto treaty came into effect for its signatory nations on February 16th, 2005. Did you notice, fellow Americans? Well, if you didn’t, there’s a reason. The United States is not taking part in the Kyoto treaty. In fact, on July 25, 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 against signing the treaty if President Clinton ever presented it to them.

Of the 141 nations who have signed on to the treaty, only 34 nations will actually be limited by it: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are all signatories of the treaty and are listed as industrial nations who need to limit their evil, polluting ways. Some news articles list 35 nations bound by this treaty, but the 35th is listed as the “European Community,” which is neither the European Union nor a sovereign nation. Since most of the listed nations are already part of Europe, I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to sneak “European Community” onto the list. Four nations who are on the list have not yet jumped on the Kyoto bandwagon: Australia, Croatia, Monaco, and the United States of America.

The rest of the world’s nations–the ones not listed–are not limited at all; essentially, they get a free pass to pollute to their hearts’ desire. As I see it, this treaty has very little to do with ecology and much to do with punishing industrialized nations, because they are the ones required to drop their production of greenhouse gases–either by cutting back on productivity or spending gobs of cash to clean up what is left of their industrial emissions.

In a nutshell, the Kyoto treaty aims to roll back the amount of greenhouse gases produced by developed nations to an artificial 1990 limit. Since no civilization exists without producing greenhouse gases of one form or other, this is effectively saying that the developed nations must either push back their production levels to what they were in 1990 or spend huge sums of money to keep their emissions at 1990 levels. Since it is a basic trend for nations (and people) to produce more and different goods each decade, this is a bit like asking you to voluntarily roll back your wages to the level they were fifteen years ago. For most people, that would be a significant drop in earnings. This is just as true for nations.

Imagine all the things that have been invented and popularized since 1990. If you consider only the field of consumer electronics, you could probably name a score of items that were either rare or nonexistent at the start of the ’90s and that have since become wildly popular: cell phones, PDAs, notebook computers, next-generation video game systems, digital cameras, DVD players, iPods… the list could go on, but that ought to suffice. Now imagine that, because of the pollution that is a by-product of making them, the production of all these items must be pushed back to 1990 levels, or that products in other fields must be artificially pushed back to allow the production of new items. Imagine what that would do to supply and demand, what kind of artificial shortages (and attendant high prices) the situation would create. In such a depressed and deliberately-muzzled market, where electronics are costly and difficult to obtain, how many cool new gadgets are likely to be developed, produced and marketed? Well, the signatories on the Kyoto treaty are about to find out how well that works.

It is for this simple reason that I see the Kyoto treaty as an economic treaty, not a climate treaty. If the treaty actually dealt with scientific facts rather than economic suppositions, it would acknowledge that the primary source of global warming is the sun, and the sun is pretty active right now. Instead, the treaty focuses on six greenhouse gases, listed in Annex A: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). Of these six gases, CO2 is the one getting the most attention as it comprises more than half the volume of the greenhouse gases in question.

The sad thing is that the treaty completely ignores the most important and most abundant of all greenhouse gases: water vapor. To give you an idea of the difference between the amounts of water vapor and CO2 in the atmosphere, imagine piling 100 pennies on the table and then focusing all your attention on three pennies–because the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 3%. That is what the scientists behind the Kyoto agreement would like the world to do. But the Kyoto treaty isn’t alone in this blindness about the most plentiful greenhouse gas. Other sites also discuss greenhouse gases without any mention of water vapor. It’s like ignoring the dead elephant in the middle of the room. Why are these people concentrating on the less than 3% that CO2 contributes to the problem, while ignoring the 97% of water vapor? I believe people are so fixated on CO2 because it is man-made, and it can be used as a handy club to beat industrialized nations.

If the Kyoto treaty were really about fixing the environment and stopping global warming, then it would demand that rampant polluters such as India and China be added to the list of polluting nations. But these nations are overlooked in favor of pointing the finger of blame at the U.S. and other developed nations. This means that India and China, both of which are hungry for electric power and the comforts it brings, may continue to build polluting, coal-fired power plants without raising an eyebrow of the Kyoto backers. And India, China, and the U.S. are planning to build lots of new power plants. To quote Mark Clayton’s December 23, 2004 article in the Christian Science Monitor:

The official treaty to curb greenhouse-gas emissions hasn’t gone into effect yet and already three countries are planning to build nearly 850 new coal-fired plants, which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce.

The magnitude of that imbalance is staggering. Environmentalists have long called the treaty a symbolic rather than practical victory in the fight against global warming. But even many of them do not appear aware of the coming tidal wave of greenhouse-gas emissions by nations not under Kyoto restrictions.

Clayton continues to point out that the extra 2.7 billion tons of CO2 put out by new plants in India, China, and the U.S. will dwarf the 483 million tons projected to be cut by Kyoto-complying countries. But some of this extra CO2 can be avoided if we in the United States choose not to create some of the 800+ coal-fired power plants slated for construction around the world. Since no one other than a handful of Californian ecofreaks wants to live in rolling blackout conditions, we must increase the power available to us. So what can we turn to in order to produce the power we need, without creating the CO2 that makes U.N. busybodies foam at the mouth? There is one obvious answer: nuclear power plants.

Oh, the horror! Well, not really. While most people’s initial reaction to a nuclear power plant is to envision terrifying scenes from The China Syndrome, Three Mile Island, or Chernobyl, none of those horrors need happen thanks to the development of pebble-bed reactors. Unlike their unstable big brothers, these smaller reactors cannot cause a meltdown even if all the cooling helium is released from the plant. This means we have the capacity to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of these Chernobyl-free plants around the globe. They are safe, provide inexpensive power, and do not produce the CO2 that makes environmentalists see red.

But environmentalists will never accept nuclear power, even safe nuclear power, because it would encourage countries to become developed and industrialized nations. And they don’t want that. It would destroy their future vision of a clean, primitive, and people-free Earth. Well, free of people who are not the few and right-minded environmentalists, of course.