Friday, March 25, 2011

Controlling the internet

By Bob Confer

The nuclear crisis in Japan has stoked fears about the energy source throughout the world. Worries persist about deadly fallout brought on by disasters of the natural and manmade sort. When it comes to the latter, many government officials and their propagandists in mainstream media claim that our power plants are ripe for the picking by hackers and cyber-based terrorists who will tap into their networks and either shut them down or set them on the path to destruction. Such fear mongering came to the fore again last week when Fox News – always one to aid Homeland Security and find ratings in fear – interviewed a technology expert who reiterated that belief.

Before you go on thinking that the internet will be the death of us, just think of how stupid they think we are. The powers-that-be expect us to believe that our reactors are all tied into the internet and any brainy kid with a computer can do as he sees fit, like a real-life “War Games”, just without the happy Hollywood ending. Sure, some parts of their systems may be connected to the internet, mainly status monitors allowing managers to keep tabs while off-site, but the main dials are offline, maintained in the complexes’ own internal networks. Only a fool would connect a nuclear reactor’s controls to the world wide web. Only a fool would believe they actually do that.

The political class has tried their best, with some success, to fool the masses about this issue. Japan’s radiation fears certainly have and will help advance their efforts. But, where are their efforts grounded? Are they really as interested in cybersecurity as they say? It’s doubtful. It comes down to a matter of control. If the government can have direct control over the internet they can assume the same over the people.

That may seem like a far-fetched conspiracy, but look at how easily Egypt upended the net during the January uprisings. Fearing for its safety – the safety of the government, not the people – Egypt cut off 90% of the traffic into and out of the country. That’s not unprecedented in practice. A few years back Myanmar and Nepal shut off internet access entirely. Then there’s China, who takes censorship to great heights, allowing its 1.3 billion citizens to access only select content that conforms to the government’s belief system. Hundreds of thousands of websites in the Western World are kept inaccessible and the sites of domestic dissenters are immediately shutdown.

If a country of China’s size -- they have more internet users than America has citizens -- can do it, so can the US. And, that’s what they want. Last year Senator Joe Lieberman introduced the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act that would institute the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC), a new federal bureaucracy that would monitor and regulate the security status of all private websites and internet service providers. Any company connected to the United States’ information infrastructure (internet and/or phone), which basically means all businesses, would be subject to command by the NCCC. Any website or network perceived to be a threat could be shut down without warning. It’s unknown exactly who and what comprises a threat. It may be a malicious virus, but then again it may be the website of those labeled as subversives.

The bill got little support in 2010 so Lieberman came back with nearly the same thing this year, just with a kinder and gentler name, the Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act. He’s taking a marketing approach with this endeavor, because who wouldn’t want internet freedom (though you’d be hard pressed to find any freedom within the bill)? This time around he may get some support. Not only are there the reenergized nuclear fears, but there’s the issue of WikiLeaks, too. The National Security Agency (NSA), among others, have openly labeled that site and others like it as threats, threats that should be taken down for the sake of national security.

It’s bound to happen, not only with WikiLeaks, but with any website, as harmless as it may be. For its relatively short life the internet has remained virtually unregulated and self-policed, but now that it’s mainstream it can be threatening to the balance of power in a given nation. Thus, as with all technologies (threatening or otherwise), it will someday face all-intrusive nanny state supervision.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at

This column originally ran in the 28 March 2011 Greater Niagara Newspapers

Obama and Nobel Prize remorse

By Bob Confer

When someone is sold a bad bill of goods he may suffer from “buyer’s remorse,” a feeling of regret maybe even disgust — accompanied by a healthy dose of second-guessing of the buyer’s own intelligence — over the purchase. That feeling can be applied to all aspects of life. For instance, there is no doubt that the five-person committee behind the Nobel Peace Prize has been experiencing “voter’s remorse” for their selection of Barack Obama as the 2009 recipient of the award.

Alfred Nobel’s will said that the Peace Prize should be awarded to the individual who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Despite the clearly defined criteria focusing on the past tense, the committee oddly saw it fit to anticipate what Obama might do to advance peace while in office. In its press release upon conferring the prize, the committee noted that Obama had, “created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.”

That climate he created was the calm before the storm. At the time, Obama was less than a year removed from being elected to the Presidency of the United States and was still just getting his feet wet in global relations. His bright, peaceful outlook was in stark contrast to that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, a man who pulled our nation into conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and was as reviled abroad as he was at home. Through its thinly veiled message the Nobel Prize committee said as much.

But, as time went on, Obama slowly but surely transformed into the hated Bush, overcome with the very warmongering that he was supposed to be the antidote to. This was made perfectly clear yet again late last week when Obama blatantly defied Alfred Nobel’s message when he threatened military action against Libyan forces and within 24 hours of the proclamation was ordering the bombing of Libya’s air defenses. The American-led bombardments of Tripoli and Misrata continue to this day under the guise of a broader international coalition, definitely not the international fraternity Nobel was looking for. Obama has put countless innocent Libyan civilians in harm’s way and this will only serve to further sully the opinion of America — maybe even the whole Western World — amongst the Arab peoples. It’s a war that Obama has said is necessary to put an end to Col. Gadaffi’s oppression of his people. As peace-promoting as that may seem, those who can look through such propaganda know that it has nothing to do with that and everything to do with behind-the-scenes machinations of the globalists and an immoral breed of capitalists who prize Libya only for its strategic and economic importance.

This is nothing new to Obama. Take Iraq for an example. In his August 31 Oval Office address he said, “I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.” Despite such comments, the Commander-in-Chief has ensured that the United States maintain a presence of 50,000 troops in Iraq to offer so-called “support” for the seeds we’ve planted. Alas, a military presence is still a military presence and a war by any other name is still a war. We represent a threat to some of the people of Iraq who in turn represent a threat to some of our soldiers. Both sides still routinely engage one another in gunfire — and Americans are still exposed to improvised explosives, to this day. Peace between the two nations — and within Iraq — has not been created. The ongoing occupation has, instead, spawned animosity and death.

Then there is the matter of Afghanistan. In 2009 the Obama Administration, while touting decreased manning of Iraq efforts, increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 36,000 to 60,000. Deployment grew at staggering rate once more in 2010, reaching its current level of 97,000 personnel. Under Obama’s watch, 499 Americans died in that country last year, joined by more than 2,400 Afghan civilians. This death and destruction was supposedly brought about for the sake of finding a dangerous sect of terrorists (who number only in the hundreds) and to help make prosperous and free the Afghanis (only 32 percent of whom, by the way, view the U.S. presence as a good thing). All of those numbers and the incalculable and unfathomable human misery don’t befit a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

From Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya and who knows what troubled nation next, Obama certainly hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the Nobel selection committee. More importantly, he hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the American people. They, too, gambled on the relatively unknown man. They, too, are suffering from their own brand of “voter’s remorse.” They had hoped for the anti-Bush but they got more of the same. We now find ourselves led not by a statesman who believes in peace and a constitutional approach to the justification and continuation of war. Rather, we are saddled with a snake oil salesman who, like his predecessor, cares not for the Constitution and peace in general and chooses to follow lock step with the plans of the military-industrial complex that has long eroded our nation and those with which we wrongly choose to interfere.

Bob Confer is a regular contributor to The New American. He also writes a weekly column for the Greater Niagara Newspapers and is the vice-president of Confer Plastics, Inc.

This column originally appeared in the 22 March 2011 The New American at:

Friday, March 18, 2011

The importance of the Japanese economy

By Bob Confer

Japan is not an island – or collection of islands – unto itself. As small as that archipelago may be, it’s undeniably powerful, one of the most important participants of the global markets. In 2010 its 42-year reign as the world’s second largest economy came to end, giving way to China and its explosive growth in export-based manufacturing and domestic consumerism. Regardless, its gross domestic product in 2010 was estimated to be $4.34 trillion dollars. That’s a far cry from our economic output of $14.72 trillion but it far rivals that of other nations that are assumed to be economic powerhouses like Germany, England, and Russia, all of which linger in the 2 to 3 trillion dollar range. It’s an impressive feat to nearly double the likes of those super powers.

The world would look like an entirely different place without Japan. We’re going to experience exactly that for the short-term. Think of how our nation recessed economically following the September 11 attacks. We retreated into a shell; we were unable to travel or do business as we did in the days prior and we were quite unwilling to as well, our pride replaced with hesitancy, if not fear. As horrible as the events of that day were, they pale in comparison to what has happened – and will happen - to Japan. Not only is the death toll higher, but the damage is almost incalculable. Whole cities have been forever wiped out. Infrastructure was torn asunder. The electrical grid lost a huge chunk of its capacity. The nuclear crisis will serve to dampen future development.

With every movement of the Earth, every larger-than-normal wave, the Japanese people will worry about their lives and those of their loved ones. They are a stoic, well-prepared people, but they’re human, too. Fear can be the strongest – and most-stifling - of emotions and no amount of preparedness can ready you for Mother Nature’s full fury. Not only do they have to rebuild vast swaths of their nation, they have to rebuild their confidence, too. In both cases, it’s going to take some time and a serious investment of blood, sweat and tears. The process will take years. The re-invention of Japan could take decades.

This isn’t just Japan’s economic crisis. It’s all of ours. The world has been teetering on the edge of a double-dip global recession for some time due to a wide variety of factors which include financial that caused the Great Recession and remains unaddressed since, unrelenting unemployment, nearly-contagious national debt, skyrocketing food and oil prices, and sociopolitical unrest throughout North Africa and the Middle East with a sampling of the same in Europe. With all of that already in play, Japan’s imminent collapse will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Such is to be expected when one considers that Japan is the both the fifth largest exporter and fifth largest importer. It puts $765 billion into the global economy, while bringing in $637 billion. It’s a net-exporter, something Americans now aspire to be.

Speaking of America, we import 16% of Japan’s total international output while accounting for 11% of their imports. Given they have the capital, we might see an upswing in exports to Japan as they’ll have an insatiable appetite for resources, building supplies and heavy equipment as they rebuild. But, that will mask the most alarming aspect of Japan’s demise which is the shot in the arm it gives China. Lacking the infrastructure and investment power needed for salvaging the factories and generators that were lost, Japan’s manufacturing exports will be replaced by Chinese output. We certainly don’t have the ability – or drive - to mass produce electronics and luxury items as the Japanese do. China does. This will only accelerate their ascent to the Number One spot in the world. Prior to the quake, China was destined to assume that role in 2030. What are we looking at now, the end of this decade?

It’s a mess. You certainly can’t place a cost on human suffering, but you can make an educated guess about what that misery might do to the marketplace. Because of its value to its trade partners, Japan’s earthquake-related disaster will send aftershocks well beyond its borders. The global economy will see its own version of a tsunami, a flood of economic malaise that will tear apart its very foundation. A global recession was almost certain before the earthquake. Now it’s guaranteed.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at

This column originally ran in the 21 March 2011 Greater Niagara Newspapers

Here comes the recession

By Bob Confer

I pride myself on my understanding of the economy. It’s based upon an objectivist approach, one facilitated by my being in the trenches as a manufacturer, grinding it out day to day in the private sector and observing the nuances which affect our customers in their efforts to sell industrial or consumer products.

That approach is in stark contrast to the science of economics — one, like all sciences, based on theory done in a vacuum with a truly limited number of circumstances being analyzed at any given time. It’s those same limitations that left economists in academia and government reeling when the Great Recession hit critical mass in the closing weeks of August of 2008. It caught them off guard, when in reality the recession had actually begun in December of 2007. I knew it at the time and by the end of January of 2008, despite nearly universal economic commentary that everything was great, was convinced that we’d all have to make some tough decisions and sacrifices in the second half of 2008. We did, and the rest is history.

So far 2011 is feeling like 2008 all over again. Economists everywhere are touting ongoing, albeit limited, growth in the U.S. economy since June of 2009 as proof that the worst is behind us and we’re recovering nicely. To cement their claims, they throw around statistics showing increases in consumer confidence and manufacturing along with decreases in unemployment. On the other hand, I am reading entirely different tea leaves, which lead me to believe another painful recession is in the works (the fabled “double dip”), starting as soon as May.

Numerous factors have led me to that conclusion, but for the sake of brevity, here are the top three:

Rising prices: Even without the Wall Street collapse, 2008 would have been saddled with a recession because of out of control prices for oil (hence gasoline) and food, an outcome of both increased global demand and the Federal Reserve’s nonchalant approach to printing fiat money. That’s the main reason why I saw the 2008 recession developing when it did and why I foresee a 2011 repeat. It’s not rocket science: As people spend lots more at the gas pumps and grocery stores for the necessities of life, they have much less to spend on discretionary items and durable goods.

When an economy is 70 percent consumer spending, any decrease in the ability of its participants to consume will send out shockwaves. Right now, the sky is the limit for gasoline ($4.00 by summer?), food (the USDA says we’re looking at 4 percent price inflation this year, compared to 0.8 percent in 2010), and even clothing (the Strategic Resource Group is predicting a 10 percent rise in prices due to higher cotton and labor costs). Where will we find money to spend on toys, vacations, appliances, and cars? As consumption drops, so does resource acquisition, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and selling. The devaluation of the dollar creates a devastating domino effect.

Global unrest: Related to the above, oil prices were rising before the sociopolitical chaos in North Africa and the Middle East. Now, with those factors in play, it’s a crap shoot. But beyond that, you don’t (re)build a nation in one day. Egypt, Libya, or any other country in a state of flux will have to redevelop its economy along with its structure of government, altering global trade. With so much uncertainty in the world, the global markets are walking on eggshells. So are world leaders (including our own), who daily ponder intervening in the affairs of those nations, through unjust (at least in America) development and funding of the military-industrial complex and the act of nation-building — which rob the wealth of more productive (and legal) sectors of the economy.

On top of all that, there’s the Japan disaster to contend with. The archipelago was, until late last year when it was overtaken by China, the number two economy in the world. A force that powerful can ill afford to have its infrastructure and utilities torn apart by one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded, and the subsequent tsunami. They must now focus on repairing the damage instead of advancing their economy. The free markets will miss their hearty presence as they struggle to rise from ruin. Japan's disaster will unfortunately give even more power to China — strengthening its iron-fisted oppression of its people — as well as other countries, robbing America and other more just countries of economic opportunity.

Relentless unemployment: Government economists, and the news outlets that regurgitate their tripe, would have us believe that all is well in the economy because unemployment is dropping on a monthly basis. By government standards, it’s at 8.9 percent. That’s still incredibly high. Even then, it’s grossly underreported. Over the years, state-sponsored economists have changed the way they tabulate unemployment, ignoring among other factors the discouraged workers who have completely dropped out of the workforce due to the lack of prospects. Over the past three years millions of such potential workers have fallen into that category. All of them could still stand to have the jobs and income they desire. If you added them back into the calculations, as should be done, the unemployment rate would be 22.1 percent. With so many families now having lower incomes (because one of the two wage-earners lost a job, or because there are fewer jobs to choose from), they feel it — we all feel it — when prices rise. These people lack either the money or the will to buy, a circumstance of fear over more job losses. And it’s that rightful uncertainty which begets double-dip recessions.

There are numerous others factors that lead one to believe that a recession is well on its way, ranging from almost-bankrupt states to unconscionable federal deficits to out-of-control entitlement programs. But, all of these are only the symptoms; they are not the cause. An unconstitutional federal government is the reason. Our markets are much less free than they once were — the invisible hand of government disabling our purchasing power, transferring our wealth, stunting our growth, and building nations that aren't our own, all for the sake of control and the quashing of true liberty.

If only the economists who — willingly or unknowingly – support ongoing government abuses of our economy knew what we who work in the economy know, our nation would be a great deal better off. We’d all be able to ascertain what is actually happening in the economy and what can be done to right the ship.

So, unless the government gets out of the way, we’re looking at a prolonged period of economic malaise. Recessions will be followed by recessions, or we may be overcome by the long-term stagnancy similar to that which befell Japan in the 1990s. The year 2011 is guaranteed to be rough, and the future is uncertain, even unsettling.

Bob Confer is a regular contributor to The New American. He also writes a weekly column for the Greater Niagara Newspapers and is the vice-president of Confer Plastics, Inc.

This column originally appeared in the 14 March 2011 The New American at:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Parties are meaningless

From the 14 March 2011 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

Obama can do no wrong. Just ask a Democrat. Chance are, millions of them from across the US sighed a collective “my hero” last week when it was announced that he was reversing his stance on Gitmo and going back to military tribunals for suspected terrorists. I’ll bet they also pumped their fists in triumph when he alluded to possible military intervention in Libya’s internal affairs.

Whoa, wait a minute! Aren’t these the same folks who railed against the Bush Administration for forever holding and abusing detainees while not offering them the decency of a fair trial? Yes, and they’re the same once dove-like individuals who harassed the Republicans for being hawkish about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…that same Afghan conflict they don’t mind sending our troops to now that their Chosen One is at the helm.

The hypocrisy of the Left is stunning. It ranks right up there with that of the GOP, the party that touts itself as having the best interests of small government in mind yet thinks nothing of doling out corporate welfare, taking away our freedoms with the USA PATRIOT Act, redefining the Founding Fathers’ version of national defense, subsidizing farms and oil companies, bailing out Wall Street, and developing Constitutional amendments to say who should or shouldn’t be married.

I can find dark humor in all of this, but when I look at the big picture of things there’s nothing even remotely funny about it. Americans are being played by their respective parties for the gain of those in power. Most people may think one way (or they think they think one way) about social, economic and legal issues but are more than happy to cast aside that belief system, as ingrained as it may be in their psyche, to support the actions of the respective party. Just a few months ago, who would have imagined Democrats being so quick to call for a no-fly zone in Libya or the newly-empowered Republicans being so unwilling to even mention entitlement reform as the federal budget is developed?

The two parties are closer than we think, closer than we’ll ever know. They are both for big government and, therefore, bad government. They just have their own versions of it. When you add up all their bright ideas and the programs and systems they develop to benefit their specific constituencies, you’ll find that both parties are equally responsible for the financial mess the country and the states face in the short-term (out of control deficits) and long-term (unfunded obligations to the tune of trillions). It’s not a Left versus Right issue. It’s a Right versus Wrong issue. They all behave in a disappointing and completely unconstitutional manner, one that has harmed our nation, past, present and future.

That’s why we need to get serious and abandon this concept of the two-party system. It’s getting really old. Stop supporting your party, both vocally and financially. Why would you want to throw your heart into something you don’t actually believe in? Why would you donate your hard-earned dollars to a political mob complicit in the theft of the same through taxation?

Most of us are free thinkers, we just happen to pigeon-hole ourselves into assumedly-rigid political systems because that’s the way it’s been done by our families, our peers, and ourselves from that very first day we registered to vote. Let’s abandon that and think freely and be freely without the restraints that society imposes upon us.

I’ll join you. Long-time readers know that I had registered Libertarian some years ago. I’ve grown to despise even that title because it assumes that I cannot think independently about government and the issues that affect me. It also opens the door to my fellow Americans to make assumptions about me, just like each of you do when someone announces they’re Republican or Democrat and you quickly - and subconsciously - paint them as friend or foe, intelligent or ignorant. I plan to drop the LP label because I’m my own special interest group, my own think tank, a free man -- just like you can be. My challenge to you is this: This spring, before the next election cycle comes around, contact the Board of Elections and identify yourself as an independent (just be careful not to fill out the Independence Party line). You probably are an independent philosophically, so let’s make it “legal”. Let’s make it a way of life.

The moral propaganda for US intervention in Libya

From the 07 March 2011 The New American at:

The moral propaganda for US intervention in Libya
By Bob Confer

With no immediate end in sight to the sociopolitical conflict in Libya, numerous higher-ups of the Obama administration have hinted that the United States may need to intervene, whether directly or under the umbrella of NATO or the United Nations.

The setting up of a “no-fly zone” over Libya has become the primary theme in these discussions. To many it may sound like a simple endeavor. It is anything but. It requires a detailed military operation — a war, if you will. If Libya refuses to comply with a no-fly mandate, U.S. forces would first need to take out Libya’s air defense network, which features a significant arsenal of surface-to-air missiles. After that, we would have to manage a fleet of fighter jets on a 24/7 basis to keep on the ground Libya’s 100-plus jets and countless helicopters (supposedly being used to gun down protestors), while keeping scores of international mercenaries from crossing the border via the skies.

To make these efforts palatable to the masses, the Obama administration has been touting a moral obligation that we have to save the Libyan people from continued oppression and death. They want us to believe that we can’t sit idly by and watch from afar as Muammar Qaddafi unleashes his forces and hired guns upon his people, murdering them in his attempt to prevent an overthrow of his rule.

The mass media have been more than happy to assist in this endeavor, promoting the propaganda ad nauseam. Coverage of the Libyan events has dominated newscasts, something unusual to America’s typically ethnocentric coverage. It has been questionable coverage, too, totally dictated by hearsay. With limited or no media access to Libya, news outlets have abandoned their standard operating procedures, highlighting unsubstantiated sources that say hundreds of Libyans have been cut down by their own armed forces. Such stories may be true. Then again, they may not. We just don’t know. We don’t posses the photos, film, or a significant number of witnesses necessary to verify such atrocities. Regardless, the media have played the tales for all they’re worth, spinning their own impressive yarns and commentary, all pulling at the heartstrings of the American people in hopes of getting us to buy in to military intervention.

The lack of credible sources works well for our government’s ultimate goal of involvement in foreign affairs. When we lack information, the government becomes the go-to destination for reporters and they — and therefore we — hear only what the government wants us to hear. The overall message becomes controlled by the military-industrial complex, a message that makes us believe that we must become involved in a battle of good versus evil and take the moral high ground, sacrificing our resources and our lives to set the balance of power in a foreign land.

This belies the true goals of our government, all of which have nothing to do with morality. Libya has strategic and economic importance to the Western world. Since World War II we have taken an inordinate interest in the affairs of the Middle East and North Africa, primarily because of the region’s vast oil reserves and key shipping routes. To maintain supply and price certainty in oil and its countless products, our nation has been more than willing to send thousands of our young men there to their deaths in armed combat. The seemingly endless military occupations and diplomatic errors have rightly created disdain for Americans and other Westerners amongst Middle Easterners. From this, jihadists have made us targets on our home soil and abroad.

If moral obligations were our reason for meddling in the lives of others, then why did we not do anything in Sudan? There, nearly a half million people were victims of genocide while another 2.7 million were displaced. The West sent only relief workers to aid the afflicted and no military might to quell massacres hundreds of times greater than those that may be occurring in Libya. There was no “morality” because Sudan and its people are insignificant to the West — that is, they have no economic importance to us.

The Sudanese example shows why the American people must look past the morality ruse put up by the Obama administration and demand that we not put our armed forces in harm’s way by meddling in political matters that are not ours. The Founding Fathers were adamant about noninterventionist policy. Our first President, the venerable George Washington, observed that our true national morality should be comprised of "American character wholly free of foreign attachments." Our third President and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, wisely said that we must have "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none." Jefferson would be saddened to see that modern America posses very little peace, fair commerce, and honesty because we’ve gone out of our way to become grossly entangled with many nations, some of them immensely corrupt.

When John Quincy Adams served as U.S. Secretary of State, he delivered a prudent and thoughtful speech to the U.S. House of Representatives on July 4, 1821, from which are these excerpts on U.S. foreign policy:

She [America] has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart.

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

It was these Founding Fathers and their peers who gave to our nation a guide to its morality in the form of the Constitution. That document codified the proper behavior of our government and its people. It tells us — philosophically and legally — how to proceed with matters in Libya. If the people seriously think we have a moral obligation to intervene, far outstripping the parameters of national defense identified by the framers of the Constitution, then they must speak through the Congress and actually declare war before initiating even the most basic of military maneuvers. This is something our Congress hasn’t done since World War II, even though it is clearly mandated to. Since then, numerous illegal wars (the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, and Iraq conflicts, to name just a few) have accounted for the deaths of over 119,000 American soldiers and the physical and mental injury of hundreds of thousands more. The unjust wars and other occupations were also the motivating factor behind the 9/11 attacks that killed thousands of innocents and gave the government fodder to forever change the status of freedom in America.

If the American people are truly concerned about morality, our best option — our only option — is to stay out of Libya. If we don’t live up to the standards and laws set by our Founding Fathers, we will continue to erode the Constitution and its powerful guiding hand by sacrificing American blood not for the safety and freedom of our own people but rather for the greed and other secret justifications that the executive branch somehow sees appropriate in its ongoing illegal and immoral forays into foreign matters.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Eliminate fluoride from our water supply

By Bob Confer

Earlier this year the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they were working together to lower the amount of fluoride both suggested and allowed in drinking water.

It was their knee-jerk reaction to a rise in the occurrence of dental fluorosis, the discoloration or spotting of teeth that comes with excess fluoride. Citing the addition of fluoride to everything from toothpaste to health supplements, they finally admitted that we have too much of the substance in our diets. To overcome that, HHS suggests that the chemical be added to water at a rate of 0.7 milligrams per liter of water, which is the minimum of the currently accepted standard of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L.

It’s been a long time coming. But, it’s too bad that it took visual defects to twist the federal government’s arm into cutting fluoride levels. Their sudden change of mind ignores the ample evidence showing that most of the damage wreaked by the chemical isn’t of the dental nature, but is instead found deep within the body, in our bones and organs.

A 2001 study by Elise Basin, DDS, made the discovery that osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, was most prevalent in young boys who drank from the most fluoridated water supplies. Those boys were 5.5 times more likely to develop the deadly ailment than their counterparts who ingested lower amounts of fluoride.

This past December yet another study was released about the additive’s effect on intelligence. Dr. Paul Connett looked at Chinese populations newly exposed to fluoride and found that the mental retardation rate was only 6%. Conversely, in the high-fluoride communities, mental retardation grew to a staggering 15% while the number of children who fell into the bright or high intelligence categories dropped from 28% to 8% of the population.

Fluoride also has a known effect on the thyroid. A 2008 study by the National Research Council found that fluoride concentrates in that gland, creating numerous ailments which result from a compromised thyroid, such as fatigue, weight gain, labored thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, and depression.

These studies, and the hundreds more before them, should leave one concerned for our well-being. Every year, over 400 young Americans are stricken by the cancer mentioned in Basin’s thesis, which means that since the 1950s (when water supplies first became tainted) the chemical could be complicit in the deaths of nearly 25,000 children. Connett’s study could give a glimpse into the degradation of the American brain; one could readily assume that fluoride may be in part responsible for the increased rate of childhood brain damage (identified as autism). One could also surmise that fluoride accounts for most of the 59 million Americans (one-fifth of our population) who suffer from thyroid conditions. Most hypo- and hyperthyroidism diagnoses have — through the eyes of physicians who deny fluoride’s hazards — typically cited unknown triggers. The answer may be found right in their tap water.

The government’s desire to cut back on fluoride is good, but it’s not good enough. It should be eliminated entirely from our water supply. The risks — and outright dangers — are numerous, far outweighing the perceived benefit. We can naturally get fluoride from our diets (chicken and fish) and we are best left to pursue that option, just as nature intended.

That leads into the other reason for fluoride’s elimination: personal choice. Ever since the chemical’s use became widely accepted (if not forced) following questionable scientific studies in the 1940s, many people have rightly argued for fluoride’s elimination under the auspices of personal rights. Personal health and dietary intake should be at an individual’s discretion, not that of a governing body. We should not be forced to consume compounds or foodstuffs that we don’t want – or need - to. We best know our own bodies, and what we want them to be, and it’s our responsibility to manage our health, no one else’s.