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"My Break with the Extreme Right," generating lots of controversy
By Michael Fumento
My Salon.com article "My Break with the Extreme Right" is creating quite the furor.
"Breaking With Movement Conservatism Over Its Ugliness," The Atlantic, By Conor Friedersdorf, May 25
"Bartlett, Sullivan, Frum ... And Fumento," Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast, May 25
"Another One Leaves the Movement," David Frum, The Daily Beast, May 24
"Apostate Conservatives Washington Monthly blog, May 25
"The Right Wing Tilt Toward Mass Hysteria," Huffington Post blog, by Zaki Hasan, May 29
"Another Prominent Conservative Takes On The New Right," Doug Mataconis, Outside the Beltway Blog, May 24
"Fumento on 'Today's Right-Wing Darlings'" Jonathan Adler, Volokh Conspiracy (Major Right-wing Blog), May 25
"Former National Review Writer Renounces the Right: "The New Hysterical Right Cares Nothing for Truth or Dignity," by Charles Johnson (Highly Influential Former Right-Wing Blog)
"Moderate Republicans Eaten by the Far Right - Or rather, looking in the mirror?" by Siguhu, The Daily Kos (Extreme-Left Blog), May 24
"Writer Michael Fumento Quits Conservative Movement, Calls It 'Hate, Anger And Fear Machine'"" by Dan Avery, QUEERTY (Gay Web site), May 25
"Conservative Quits Right, Cites Allen West 'Extremism,' Malkin 'Hate,'" The New Civil Rights Movement Web site, by David Badash on May 25
"Writer Michael Fumento Quits Conservative Movement, Calls It "Hate, Anger And...", Agency of Books to Worldwide, May 26
On the other hand, a former editor of mine at the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto, dismissed a highly-researched piece of 2,700 words with a solid argument and tons of links with a single tweet: "In what alternative universe is Michael Fumento a 'prominent conservative'?"
That's it; everything I wrote in Salon.com devastated in 144 characters or less. In Taranto's mind, anyway.
My credentials are clearly stated in the piece, and include about a score of articles for newspaper for which Taranto works including the original expose of Erin Brockovich and a piece that denied a newspaper a shot at the Pulitzer Prize for alarmist reporting that heretofore had everybody convinced. Oh, and my classic piece that snuffed out the alleged black church burning epidemic of 1996. Yeah, Wall Street Journal. Now try VERY HARD to recall one piece that Taranto has ever written that's had any impact on any issue in the U.S?
That said, it's true I haven't appeared in those vaunted pages in seven years. That's when the rabid right took over. If you couldn't work in some nasty gratuitous attack on the left, they didn't want you.
A Good Friday to Remember -- The rather dramatic story of my near-fatal car crash off a cliff
By Michael Fumento
Good Friday, April 17, 1992: I'd just started a great job at Investor's Business Daily in Los Angeles, and two weeks earlier I'd purchased the car of my dreams, a beautiful, blue Toyota MR2 Turbo. To me, at least, it looked like a small Ferrari. It was fast and sleek. I was taking my girlfriend, Mary, who had just recently followed me out from Denver, where we'd met, to see a city she'd always dreamed of visiting: San Francisco.
Those articles would be about us.
My essay "A Good Friday to Remember," first appeared on Good Friday two years ago and prompted more fan email than any other piece I've written. If you end up crying, that seems about typical.
No moon base by 2020 made simple
By Michael Fumento
Reaction to Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's proposal that, "By the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the Moon [with] commercial near-Earth activities that include science, tourism, and manufacturing," has tended either to be whether it's a good idea or whether it's feasible. It's not feasible; it's impossible. But even those saying that tend to make the issue more complex than it is. Here's a simple explanation to focuses on merely one aspect: Transportation.
Since the Space Shuttle program ended, the U.S. has had no capacity even to send people into space. Yet even the Shuttle could only carry a crew of seven and only into orbit. (In this context, it's important to note that Gingrich mentioned putting 13,000 people on the moon.)
That's a far cry from going to the moon, landing on the moon, taking off from the moon, and returning to earth. Safely. The Shuttle was extremely dangerous. Essentially every aspect of a moon transportation vehicle would have to be new. Could such a vehicle be deployed in eight years?
Consider, design concept to development times of:
What Scrooge's 3 ghosts can teach about US Economy
By Michael Fumento
This holiday season, the American public and economy could benefit from being visited by three ghosts - or at least one politician willing to assume their role as blunt bearers of bad news as well as hope for a brighter future.
When Ebenezer Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Present how sick Tiny Tim is, he gets not the answer he wants to hear, but the one he needs to hear: "If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die."
Contrast that with what Americans are routinely told about the economy: that all apparently bad news has a sterling silver lining; that laws of economics somehow don't apply to the United States; and that there's plenty of time to deal with these problems later. As I write in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "All of this is as dangerously false as it is soothing."
Fact is, use of terms like "soft patch" are utterly bogus. The economy has been in a downward spiral for three decades, masked only by ever-increasing borrowing. REAL unemployment hasn't gone down a bit in the last year and in fact has steadily increased over the past decade. Household income for the vast majority of Americans has been dropping for over a decade.
Excuses for why the economy is ailing are utterly ludicrous. The natural disasters in Japan? Really? Third-quarter US GDP growth was a mere 1.8%, in JAPAN it was 5.6%!
By now it should be obvious things won't just "get better." Things will just worse, UNLESS like Dickens' ghosts our political leaders start telling the public not what it WANTS to hear, but what like Scrooge, it NEEDS to hear. What it needs to hear is that "If these shadows remain unaltered by the future" the American economy MUST inevitably plunge into an economic depression, whence it will (eventually) emerge as a mere vestige of its former self.
A Few Numbers Portending the End of the American Dream
By Michael Fumento
Yes, we basically paid a month's interest.
We are a spendaholic people who feel entitled; which is why fully half of the budget goes to entitlements. We will not pay for that which we buy, and are greatly offended at the suggestion that we should. We will not change.
Nero fiddled. We play Angry Birds, collect from Facebook "friends" we never heard of, and tweet about our latest bowel movements. Pathological narcissism has become the norm, and we have become a nation of electronic addicts like something out of Brave New World.
Says one of the few who really gets it, Cong. Michael Grimm Michael Grimm (R.-NY), "We're in a financial crisis. If we don't have massive cuts, we will lose the American dream for future generations."
It's lost already. Time to reread The Grapes of Wrath on your ebook, Apple, or Droid - or read it for the first time. It's going to be hell.
CONSTIPATED COLOMBIA PACT AND THE MISSING MASSACRE
By Michael Fumento
Pres. Obama has made expanding U.S. exports a centerpiece of his economic plan. In his January State of the Union Address, he noted that "95% of the world's customers and fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders" and that export-related jobs "pay 15% more than average." At a time when jobs are in short supply, he later said, "building exports is an imperative."
So naturally, he's done everything possible to ease passage of the Colombia Free Trade Pact, which the Bush Administration negotiated and the then-Democrat controlled Congress battled up. Right? Wrong.
As I write-in Investor's Business Daily, the pact is lopsided towards the U.S. in that Colombia's exports to us are already tariff-free, while our products sent there carry duties of up to 25% - an estimated $3.2 billion total since the agreement was reached.
Those tariffs would disappear and, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, expand opportunities for a broad array of U.S. sectors, increase our gross domestic product by about $2.5 billion, lower our massive trade deficit and create J-O-B-S.
That's also where export markets are opening up. Economic performance confidence levels are higher in Latin America than in any other part of the world. That's why other nations are busily entering trade agreements with Colombia, including the entire European Union.
Yet in December Obama refused to even send the Pact to Congress. I absolutely will not speculate as to why.
Not at all.
Not a hint.
Well, except that Big Labor doesn't like the Pact because it means competition for them. And Big Labor donates Big Money to political campaigns, with 90% going to the Dems.
But, of course, the Dems can't say that. So they say they're worried about protecting the rights - indeed the lives - of Colombian labor union members. Except that the percentage of such members reported killed last year was vastly below Colombia's overall homicide rate - not to mention a fraction of that of New Orleans.
But, under tremendous GOP pressure, it looks like Obama is finally sending the Pact to Congress - who, we should hope, has the wisdom to force the President to accept his own rhetoric.
Rationality and the Taping of Moving Boxes
By Michael Fumento
I have long been fascinated by both aberrational and irrational human behavior, at least since I documented a mass outbreak of hysteria regarding the so-called "heterosexual AIDS explosion" that wasn't GOING to take place but allegedly already had.
More recently, I documented that the whole Toyota flap was mass sociogenic hysteria in the same category of the missing children and Satanic abuse in the day care centers hysteria. This notwithstanding that I've been unable to find a single publication willing to print what I show is clearly obvious. Editors don't think anybody is interested that this is America's greatest mass hysteria in many years, and that such mass hysterias usually cause tremendous and lasting damage. And maybe they're right.
Mind, "irrational" and "aberrational" are by no means synonymous. Often enough, irrationality rules the day and it's rationality that is aberrational.
The irrationality that interests me the most is my own. That's allowed because relative to other Americans, I don't have a very large ego. I readily admit when I do dumb things and I ponder why. Such is the case as I've been packing boxes for my forthcoming move to South America.
I found that with flattened boxes I was consistently flipping them so that I first taped the bottoms, filled the boxes, and then taped the tops. But what's a "bottom" and "top?" Silly! It's determined by the writing on the boxes! But who cares what the writing says? Top and bottom are whatever you make of them. So I was being irrational and wasting a bit of time in making sure the lettering was upright.
Or was I?
Fact is, while I SHOULD be packing as if the box is going to be tossed and tossed and tossed, probably part of my brain is assuming this box will be kept upright. Certainly when it's in my possession it will be. That's an important part of the time. And my guess is that while many movers will simply toss boxes about (more roughly, of course, if they're marked "fragile"), that a certain percentage will also be affected by the lettering on the side. Even if that percentage is quite small, spread across a large number of boxes (Too large, "Groan!") it could result in reduced breakage.
So the "irrational" turns out to be not so irrational after all!
Now, with a rub of my lucky rabbit's foot and a four-leaf clover in my pocket, I'm back to packing.
The Subsidy of America is Coming to an End
By Michael Fumento
Two items on the front page of yesterday's Washington Post: "Record U.S. Deficit Projected this Year" and "Two lawmakers from Michigan propose billions in incentives for buyers of electric cars." What's wrong with this picture? That's the problem. We don't see anything wrong with this picture. We want it all. But we can't have it all.
Some people think electric cars are nice, because the pollution they generate is off-site. But as Charles Lane, a liberal, writes: "If the cars were cheaper than gas-power cars of equal performance," that would be one thing. "But electrics are substantially more expensive than cars of greater quality." So we have to heavily subsidize them to get them out the door.
On the other hand, gasoline-powered car owners are forced to use ethanol. That's a subsidy to the everyone involved in the ethanol industry, and again it has to be subsidized because it's inferior to gasoline. It cuts your mileage and does essentially nothing to reduce pollution. You just can't go around subsidizing everything.
True enough, the main problem is entitlements. Which, not incidentally, are subsidies. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid already absorb 40% of the budget and grow inexorably without anybody casting a single vote to increase them. Left untouched, they will destroy the country. But earmarks are readily controllable and yet still uncontrolled.
Our nation has a spending addiction. And our politicians don't have the guts to tell the public that no, we can't have it all. And so we will continue to borrow and the Fed will continue to print money. In other words, subsidize the government so it can subsidize special interests.
But as Peter Orzag, Obama's former budget director, writes in the Financial Times, "International investors would be wise to pay close attention to fiscal trends within the U.S." Don't worry, they already are. And at some point, although it will be very costly to them, they will get nervous enough to stop subsiding our subsiding.
Orzag adds, "I hope it does not ultimately require a crisis to restore fiscal sustainability at the federal level, but I fear it will." Indeed, it will. At some point, some point soon, it will all come crashing down.
Civility Project Shuts Down for Lack of Interest
By Michael Fumento
"The worst e-mails I received about the civility project were from conservatives with just unbelievable language about communists, and some words I wouldn't use in this phone call," Civility Project head Mark Demoss said.
"This political divide has become so sharp that everything is black and white, and too many conservatives can see no redeeming value in any liberal or Democrat. That would probably be true about some liberals going the other direction, but I didn't hear from them."
Mr. DeMoss said he was not convinced that there is a link between vicious political attacks and violent acts, but he added, "Whether or not there's violence, whether or not incivility today is worse than it's been in history, it's all immaterial. It's worse than it ought to be."
We are experiencing a mass hysteria of political hatred and anger. Both are common to mass hysterias in that they stimulate the lower brain. Ultimately, you no longer see humans as humans.
Thus you can slaughter whole groups of people, even fact to face, just because they are DIFFERENT. Different nationality, different religion, different ethnic background, different wealth status. It doesn't really matter. You find something YOU believe is different enough to dehumanize them.
And there are always the rabble rousers. You know their names. I used to be friends with some of them. Whether they actually believe the awful things they say is irrelevant. It's good for their egos and pocketbooks and the damage is the same.
Slaughter is the worst, but there are lesser grades of harm that usually come first. And, in this case, hopefully not at all. But this isn't just a short-lived fad anymore than is the hatred and fear of intellectuals and the triumph of mediocrity.
It's yet another sign of a once-great nation in decline. The America we grew up in is no more. If it still looks like it is, you're prey to wishful thinking.
Autism Doctor a Fraud, But Hardly Alone
By Michael Fumento
"A deliberate fraud." That's what the British Medical Journal, one of the world's most prestigious periodicals, has written of the study that kicked off the current anti-vaccine movement. It's "clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare," it said in a heavily documented editorial.
Many people, including me, have spent years puncturing his claims and those of his acolytes in the anti-vaccine movement. But a media that thrives on sensationalism instead played up the phony link.
Yet while this "deliberate fraud" has been exposed, others continue to go unchallenged, or worse, get trumpeted by reporters who should know better.
Why! That's even more than I got for writing that article for AOL News!
It's World AIDS Day; Have We Truly Forgotten the Victims?
By Michael Fumento
World AIDS Day has rolled around again, amid charges by C. Everett Koop that "HIV is no longer on the public's radar screen, and the result is deadly serious." So the 94-year-old former Surgeon General told the 2010 National Summit on HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care in late November. The disease is becoming "the forgotten epidemic," he claimed, causing a dangerous "growing sense of complacency."
AIDS forgotten? Sure, like Sarah Palin is forgotten.
As I observe in my Forbes.com piece today, "On World AIDS Day, Let's Remember the True Forgotten Victims," The term "HIV" brings up over 100 million Google hits in just the past year. Nor is it even an epidemic. U.S. AIDS cases peaked 17 years ago, then plummeted to a steady "endemic" level within three years. Worldwide, a UNAIDS report released last week states the epidemic peaked 11 years ago in terms of cases, with infections peaking much earlier.
Yet HIV/AIDS will receive over $3 billion in the 2011 federal research budget. That doesn't include an entirely separately-funded "infectious disease" category. Granted, it's shy of the 100 billion gagillion that Dr. Evil wanted in order to ransom the earth, but:
Further, the vast majority of federal AIDS spending can't possibly lead to a cure or vaccine or prevent a single new case. Of the approximately $26 billion budgeted this year for HIV/AIDS, only 11 percent will go for research and 3 percent for prevention. The rest is care, cash, and housing assistance.
Federal non-research AIDS spending far exceeds the combined research grant budget for all diseases combined - including AIDS! This even as NIH has to turn away over three-fourth of grant applicants.
It's Koop who's worried about being forgotten. So let's indulge him. Let's recall that he was among the worst perpetrators of AIDS mass hysteria, which I first debunked in a 1987 article and then my 1990 book The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS, including popularizing the term "heterosexual AIDS explosion." The lesson here, Koop said in his talk with no hint of irony, is "If you tell people the truth, in a very factual way, they will act."
No, the lesson is you can indeed fool most of the people most of the time. And then become a hero for it - even as the entire nation pays a horrible price for it for perhaps generations to come.
In Black and White, Toyota Hysteria Exemplified (Forbes.com)
By Michael Fumento
It's not "live!" It's not even "In color!" And there's no sound. But it's quite stunning.
A surveillance video posted by Fox Chicago News Online shows a 2006 Toyota Corolla backing out of a parking space and striking a car. The Corolla then shoots forward and slams into another vehicle, knocking it aside. Next the car swerves, presumably in an effort to avoid a strip mall, and crashes into a brick wall. The driver, Leon Przybylowski, died of his injuries later that day.
As I write in my new Forbes.com piece, "In Black and White, the Toyota Hysteria Exemplified," the family is now suing Toyota. They insist the video supports their claim that Przybylowski, as the newscaster put it, was "yet another victim of sudden unintended acceleration." Their lawyer says it was another victim of "across the board" and "systematic failure" on the part of Toyota. Both, huh?
Actually, the incident is almost a perfect example of why Toyota SUA accidents really happen, comprising as it does:
Oh, and gremlins.
There’s no systematic failure with Toyotas. Prior to the hysteria outbreak, only three sudden acceleration complaints were filed with NHTSA regarding 380,000 Toyota Corollas model year 2006. Rather that failure has been that of the media in utterly failing to convey the importance of the above factors.
The Butcher's Bill for Texting while Driving
By Michael Fumento
In my LA Times piece "Texters, You'd Be Better off Driving Drunk," Oct. 3, I stated "There are no reliable studies regarding deaths associated with driving and texting." Well, there is now.
Texting behind the wheel accounted for 16,141 deaths between 2002 and 2007, according to Researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Ft. Worth. One way of putting that in context is that in the last 10 years NHTSA has attributed five (5) deaths to sudden unintended acceleration in Toyotas, four in one car. So where are all the newspaper articles and congressional hearings on text messaging?
To arrive at their number, Fernando A. Wilson and Jim P. Stimpson, writing in the Nov. issue of the American Journal of Public Health, analyzed nationwide data from the Fatality Accident Reporting System and texting records from the Federal Communications Commission and CTIA, a wireless telecom industry group.
They compared the number of deaths there have been versus those that would have occurred if there were no text messaging.
And it's only going to get worse. The average monthly number of text messages was 1 million in 2002, but by 2008 it was 110 million.
Panic over five deaths and complacency over 16,000? Not untypical. Since my first AIDS article in 1987 it's been a common theme of mine that the media, the government, and people in general aren't just irrational about reducing risks but actually tend to view them butt-backwards. The more rare something is, the more attention it gets along with more regulations. The more common something is, the more used to it we are and are willing to accept it.
Cassandra is not just the stuff of Greek legends.
Supreme Court Case May Wipe Out Vaccine Industry
By Michael Fumento
Back when Congress knew how to pass good legislation, in this case in the mid-1980s, it took most cases involving vaccine liability out of the normal court system and put them in a special vaccine court where science and medicine would rule instead of the whims of scientifically and medically ignorant juries.
That's because vaccine companies were going the way of the woolly mammoth, in part because it's just not a very profitable business and in great part because they were awash in over $3.5 billion of lawsuits claiming little more than the post hoc fallacy of "Before the person was vaccinated her or she was fine and since the vaccination he or she became sick." Seriously.
Even as it dramatically cut spurious claims, it helped persons who really had suffered from adverse reactions both by cutting litigation costs and by taking them outside of "roulette wheel" justice wherein a case might net a reward of millions while a virtually identical one would be rejected entirely.
But as I write at Forbes.com, this system itself is now endangered by a Supreme Court case in which the plaintiffs are claiming that having lost their case in Vaccine Court that rather than appeal within that system they should be able to try the case in state or federal court. And Congress did allow for some such exceptions.
But no, not this one. It's very clear from the history of what led up to the statute that Congress did not want cases such as these to bypass the system. Why? In part as one court found, it could to a great extent destroy that very system. I provide other arguments. If we lose this system many, many children will not get their vaccines until something else is instituted. And many will die.
October 27, 2010 10:53 AM · Permalink · Legal ~ Pharmaceuticals ~ Regulation ~ Trial Lawyers ~ Vaccines
Of mice and men and Christine O'Donnell
By Michael Fumento
A recent exchange between Christine O'Donnell and Bill O'Reilly, with a lack of scientific information on both sides.
O'REILLY: Everybody knows that scientists have enough knowledge to clone a human being if they wanted to.
Regarding O'Reilly, as per usual when you see the term "everyone knows" it's a hint of something untrue. It is possible that scientists now have the capability of cloning a human being.
But cloning mice proved fairly easy, sheep much harder, and monkeys much harder yet. Until somebody actually does clone a human being, we won't know whether scientists have enough knowledge. But of course at some point they will have the knowledge and the will clone humans. And it won't be the end of the world. We already have human clones. They're called identical twins.