Friday, November 28, 2008
I have to say that the folks over at Reason.TV pretty much demonstrate how much of a joke that it has become with the constant cavalcade of CEO going to D.C. to beg for a bailout and the politicians that continue to support such behavior. I can only imagine the tax bill we'll get stuck with once these politicians finish doling out more and more of the taxpayers money. Here's a look:
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The above quote is from the movie Miller's Crossing in which a gangster muscles out another gangster and discovers that once he's on top things aren't that easy. Well the same can apply to the incoming Democratic majority in Congress. Now while it's too early to truly see the Dems true intentions until Obama is sworn in, this piece over at Politico by Martin Kady II reveals that there is more than likely going to be some infighting in the House and the Senate amongst the various factions of the Democratic party. Hopefully this will dampen the liberal agenda. So with fingers crossed, I await the future and hope for grid-lock.
I know that we've just ended a two year Presidential election and folks are tired about politics, but it's never too early to set our sites on some future candidates. One individual who seems to have rode out the Republican massacre and won by double digits in an Obama state this past November is Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Unlike the many Republicans that lost this year, Governor Daniels was able to survive(even in a state that Obama carried) because he stuck to his conservative principles by pushing forward free market solutions to the problems before his state, initiating sound budgets, thus demonstrating that debate between small government and big government solutions are long from being over(Note to Obama). For most voters, Governor Daniels is not a household name, but he has a good record on fiscal thrift and smaller government and is talking the right talk about how these nutty "bailouts" are playing havoc on our financial system and robbing the taxpayer's of the hard earned money during these slow times. I don't know everything about Governor Daniels and his stances, but he is right on the money with regards to economics. Expect a brighter political future for Gov. Daniels. Until then, I'll direct you to this excellent piece on this conservative star over at Forbes.com by Reihan Salam.
*There's a good stable of conservative governors for 2012 which includes: Daniels, Jindal, Stanford, Pawlenty, Romney.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I believe that Robert Stacy McCain(no relation to the Senator) hits it out of the park in his most recent piece in the American Spectator in which he noted that even though a Republican might have lost the 2008 election, the conservative movement is far from being washed. Here's a sample of McCain's argument on why the Republican party lost and not the conservative movement:
Perhaps the most important statistic for conservatives to keep in mind today -- as pundits pore over and pour out exit-poll data to tell us What It Means -- is this: 53 percent of Republican primary voters did not vote for John McCain.
While the Democratic struggle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton captured all the headlines during the primary season, few pundits noticed the massive Republican resistance to McCain's nomination.
For example, on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, McCain got 33 percent of the primary vote in Missouri, 32 percent in Tennessee and Georgia; in caucuses that day, he got 22 percent in the Minnesota and 19 percent in Colorado. McCain's share of the total Republican primary vote through Super Tuesday was only 39 percent.
Nor did the resistance end after McCain's most formidable rival, Mitt Romney, called it quits Feb. 7. As late as May 20 -- by which time McCain had been the de facto nominee for more than two months -- 28 percent of voters in the Kentucky GOP primary cast their ballots for other candidates or voted "uncommitted."
Conservatives who sought to prevent McCain's nomination cannot be blamed for his defeat. And it is his defeat, not yours.
Ideologues tend to see election results in ideological terms. Right now, "progressives" are congratulating themselves on the triumph of progressivism. But Obama will be the next president because millions of non-ideological "swing" voters -- those I call the Ordinary Americans -- saw him as the superior candidate. A vote for him was not, in the eyes of those key voters, an endorsement of any ideology.
Yes, "Bush fatigue" was part of what happened Tuesday. Yes, Republican "brand damage" is a real phenomenon. But if you've ever talked to a true independent voter, you know their mantra: "I don't vote for the party. I vote for the man."
Good candidates win elections, and bad candidates lose. John McCain was a bad candidate and he lost. Those who try to put an ideological spin on this election will miss that basic point.
The whole point is that the party's standard bearer strayed too far from the conservative movement with his forays into campaign finance reform, comprehensive immigration reform, his populist denunciations of "greed". Even more, the shear ineptitude of the campaign to articulate a pro growth, free market program that actually offered the voters a choice. You can have all the policy papers and web pages listing you economic policies that you want, but if you don't create and articulate a narrative about what your policies are then you fall prey to your opponent and allow him room to paint you and your policies the way they want to. So conservatives don't let your heart be troubled and remember that whenever Republicans drift away from their conservative moorings(At least since the founding of the modern conservative movement in 1955) and float into the squishy shoals of the moderate Eisenhower/Rockefeller/Ford wing of the party they are destined to lose to a Democrat who clefts to the center and has a clear message. Let this be a lesson for Republicans and their selection of candidates in 2010 and 2012.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Cheer up conservatives, we need to get our bearings and plot a new course. We should pick up some works by William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, Russell Kirk, Milton Friedman, and some Calvin Coolidge) other luminaries and trudge forward. Someone who achieved success in hewing to conservative principles and expressing his ideology on point and from the heart was Ronald Reagan. Now while their is only one Reagan and the conditions require a little re-jigging on certain issues to the 21st century, we can still achieve victories with a true conservative candidate. Thankfully, Jeffrey Lord has written a wonderful piece over at The American Spectator which points out how Reagan trudged through "the wilderness" with his ideas and philosophy in tact and how conservatives in the United States can retake the mantle. I can bet that some politicians will be heading to the great conservative/libertarian think tanks/organizations like Heritage, AEI, Manhattan Institute, Cato, Claremont, Americans for Tax Reform, The Federalist Society and others to regain their bearings and be ready for 2010 and 2012.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
While the Obama campaign might have a problem about getting their facts straight with regards to his economic policies, there's a lot of folks who know what awaits if he's elected. One individual who has looked beyond the flowery rhetoric about Obama's tax plans is Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Now while I could write all day about the bill of goods that Obama is hawking with his "tax cuts" for 95% of the American tax payers(Even when 40% or some 30 million people aren't currently free of a tax burden due to President Bush's tax cut in 03), I figured you'd prefer Grover's ideas. Here's a look:
The critique of the second half of the plan is that Obama’s tax increases will negatively affect a lot more than the top 2 percent of income earners. For starters, they will take a big bite out of America’s household retirement savings.Thank G-d we have folks like Grover Norquist looking out for us. Let's hope the American voter have read Grover's piece or similar pieces on Obama's true tax policies.
When Reagan was elected president in 1980 only 20 percent of adults owned stock directly. Today more than 50 percent of households own stock through their 401(k)s, mutual funds, and IRAs. The tax implications of this demographic shift are significant. In 2003, the capital-gains tax rate was reduced from 20 percent to 15 percent and the tax rate on dividends was lowered from 35 percent to 15 percent. In the two years that followed, the Dow Jones rose from 8,000 to 10,400, directly increasing the value of all those 401(k)s. But Obama, along with the Democratic Congress, is poised to allow the 2003 tax cuts on dividends and capital gains to expire, thus risking a reduction in the value of all those 401(k)s. (The recent stock market collapse has Americans all that more focused on the size of their retirement accounts.)
Meanwhile, Joe the Plumber has focused attention on Obama’s plans to raise taxes on individuals earning more than $250,000 a year. This is no mere tax on the rich since many small businesses pay taxes at the individual rate. Obama’s camp says they will target only 2 percent of small businesses in a given year. Economists point out, however, that of the $700 billion in small-business earnings this year, $420 billion — or 60 percent — was generated by businesses earning more than $250,000. That’s a whole lot more than 2 percent.
Obama’s taxes also have a way of adding up. He has called for raising the top marginal tax rate on individuals and small businesses from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. Added to that will be a tax of 12.4 percent on Social Security, which is now capped at $102,000. This will create a top tax rate of 54.9 percent. (Self-employment profits also will face a 2.9 percent Medicare tax.) Adding in the average state income-tax rate, Obama’s top tax rate on small businesses and individuals climbs to about 60 percent. Compare that with Russia’s top tax rate of 13 percent, Hong Kong’s of 15 percent, France’s of 49.8 percent, and Sweden’s of 56.5 percent.
*Also, check out Grover's wonderful book Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives
Monday, November 03, 2008
Is it me or is Senator Obama always letting his mask down(ala Shelby Steele) too much with the San Francisco crowd. Whether it's with the media or some private fund-raiser, Sen. Obama tends to find ways to piss off the voters of he needs to vote for him. Aside from his comments about folks in rural Pennsylvania clinging to their G-d and guns because they're "bitter", he's now going after their livelihood by talking about killing coal-fired power plants due to his excessive cap & trade policy he would implement. One can imagine him upping up the new source review standards. I believe he could lose a lot of votes and some must have states with statements like these :
I guess if he can't lead us down the Road to Serfdom via his massive tax increases and spending programs, he'll just go after an industry that keeps our lights burning 24/7 and fires other industries that keep America number 1 economically. I'm not ready for an European style welfare state and I suspect the folks of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and elsewhere will come to the same conclusion. Here's hoping I'm right. The One might get ill, but then again I'm not worried about being kicked off his plane.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
As the son and nephew of Vietnam War Veterans, I have a special place in my heart for the men who fought and the brave souls who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the jungles of Vietnam. Well today marks the passing of Marine Col. John Ripley(Noted as being retired but always a "Devil Dog") at the age of 69. Now while all veterans deserve our highest respect, I recommend a double salute to Col Ridley for his clear devotion to country in which he and 600 of his fellow ARVN soldiers were commanded to hold off some 20,000 NVA soldiers and their contingent of 200 tanks on the Easter of 1972. Even with such odds, Col. Ripley, was able to destroy a bridge between these forces and his small forces by destroying a small bridge separating the forces. I know he wouldn't tell you out of shear modesty, but this devotion to his men, allies, and country earned him the much esteemed Navy Cross and Silver Star. So thank you Col. Ripley for you service.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Now while I'm pretty critical of using government subsidized food-stuffs like corn to produce ethanol as an alternative to petroleum because it pushes food prices up and is less efficient, I'm somewhat intrigued by a new process in which a mixture of water and sugar is converted to fuel by running it through particles of platinum and rhenium. I don't know about the cost of these metals, the availability of the sugar(we could run into similar problems as we have with corn, especially since Americans consume lots of sugar) as well as the applicability to an outside the lab production. I for one have to give a hand to enterprising scientists or inventors who come up with such alternative fuels. I just hope these individuals will have the ability to live or die by the free market rather than the federal government picking winners and losers. Unfortunately, after reading this it looks like Congress is indeed picking the winners and losers with pending legislation on offshore drilling(the Dems are holding a vote but restricting the drilling to 50 or more miles and loading it down with green friendly tax breaks and subsidies that won't expand our supply of oil/gas or lower fuel prices.) Let's hope this act of political pageantry will fall on its face and Congress will bring forward a bill that will bring forth greater supply of oil/gas and create an environment that allows enterprising scientists and inventors to create viable free market solutions.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Throughout the election one doesn't have to wait too long before they hear the media laud the "independent" or "centrist" voters being the prize of both parties in winning the 2008 Presidential election, I for one believe that it will be played out in the Appalachia regions of Northern Georgia, the Carolina's, Virginia, West Virgina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. As someone who comes from proud Scotch-Irish stock(Much like these voters), I for one can attest that when it comes to elections we prefer candidate that walk the walk and talk the talk like "the folks" rather than some poll generated, egg-head from academia. As an observer of this election season, I believe Senator McCain has truly tapped into this community by selecting Governor Palin as his pick for his Vice-Presidential running-mate. Whether it's Senator McCain's extensive family tree of military service dating back to the Revolutionary War, or Governor Palin's devotion to family, working with her hands in the family fishing business, her support of the Second Amendment after a life time experience of hunting and defending oneself in the wilds(Not the Grizzly Adams type but something similar to that of Appalachia)of Alaska, all in all this comes off as a truly authentic who is "one of us" rather the faux act that we see when Senator Obama, formerly of Occidental College, Columbia University, Harvard Law, the University of Chicago, and ventures out of his comfy confines of the posh Hyde Park region of Chicago in an effort to be one of "the folks".(One only has to look at the states and regions where Obama lost to Hillary to understand why McCain has a chance of winning the votes.) I believe that Michael Knox Beran summed up the problem that confronts the Obama campaign in his most recent piece over at National Review Online. Here's a sample of Beran's wonderful piece:
Instead, conscious that no blue-state Democrat has won the White House since JFK nearly half a century ago, he’s signaling to swing voters in purple-land that he’s a less stereotypically bluish pol than Michael Dukakis or John Kerry, the last two blue men atop the Democratic ticket.I know a lot of things could happen between now and then, but from from my vantage point, I believe Senator McCain is making great inroads with "Jacksonian" America with his recent selection of Gov. Palin, his military service, his constant fighting of the entrenched politicians in Washington, and his straight talk, while Senator Obama is pulling his hair out to find a way to appeal to the voters in Appalachia while retaining his liberal base.
Obama, in this reading, is not a post-partisan idealist but a brilliantly partisan realist. He knows full well the depth of the divide between blue states (molded, David Hackett Fischer demonstrated in his classic history of American folkways, Albion’s Seed, by the cerebral culture of New England) and red states (shaped by a Backcountry fightin’ faith of guns ’n grits ’n God). That ditch couldn’t be bridged by the high communitarian oratory of Pericles himself.
Is Obama right, then, to bet that his post-partisan communal-values rhetoric, however meaningless it is as a governing philosophy, will convince purple people that he’s different from the repudiated blue-state partisans of the past?
Or, conversely, has McCain been the shrewder tactician in dusting off his red-state credentials and telling blue-blooded America to take its hoity-toity hauteur and shove it? In emphasizing his red-state warrior heritage and choosing, as his running mate, a backcountry girl, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain is betting heavily on enthusiastic reddish constituencies in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and southern Ohio showing up at the polls and making the difference in a close election.
Critics of the strategy contend that whatever gains McCain makes among energized reddish voters will be offset by losses among independents turned off by red meat.
If McCain’s strategy works, it will be in part because Obama’s efforts to cast himself as a new kind of blue-state pol aren’t working. Obama has so far been unable to close the electoral sale because, though he comes from the midwest, he hasn’t broken with a bluish style of leadership that drives much of the rest of the country crazy.
According to Professor Fischer, the New England civilization that molded the culture of the blue states valued learning, piety, and high moral seriousness. The Massachusetts Bay Colony man didn’t “kill” time, he “improved” it. He didn’t crack jokes, he reflected on “how displeasing it must be to God . . . to play the fool.” The New England virtues, though in many ways admirable, tend to degenerate into the self-righteous preachiness that gave the Puritans a bad name.
Sen. Obama, with his books, his learning, and his eloquence, seemed at first to resurrect all the promise of the New England tradition. Here was a Harvard man who recalled the best traditions of the university, not the holier-than-thou arrogance of the political-correctness seminary that fired Larry Summers for failing to tow the line.
But when, in San Francisco, Obama mocked backcountry folk who cling to guns, religion, and racial revulsion, he revealed the flip side of the New England ethos, its conviction of its own superiority.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
It's football season again and the Dawgs at UGA hit the ground running with their 45-21 victory over the Eagles of GA Southern. Aside from the great win, UGA also unveiled its new mascot UGA VII and donned him with the red collar that his late father UGA VI held close to nine years. I just hope he lives as long if not longer than his dad and has more wins and possibly a national championship to boot before he's done. Here's a good video from the Athens Banner-Herald of today's "changing of the collar" ceremony:
Friday, August 29, 2008
I've been a little iffy about the McCain campaign when the rumors about the "Maverick" mulling over Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge for his VP, but I have to say that he hit a home run with conservatives(especially with me) by picking Gov. Sarah Palin. I like her biography, stances on weeding out corruption, excessive spending, guns, pro-life, free-market economics, national defense, and on energy. Now while the political mandarins and the Beltway press might scoff that the Governor is a light-weight who will be chewed up on the campaign trail and mopped up by Joe Biden in the debates, but after seeing this clip from a recent interview(recorded before her selection as McCain's VP) of the Governor on CNBC's Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo I believe "Fightin"Joe Biden will have some competition.
Monday, August 11, 2008
After looking through the various news reports from around the world, I have to say that the Russians are playing a good PR game of placing the blame of their massive land and sea onslaught on republic of Georgia(Russia been at this a long time whether issuing Russian passports to South Ossetia (part of Georgia), aggressive talk, as well as a slowly but surely testing the Georgian military to seek out its areas of weakness) as the fault of the aggression of the military and leadership of the tiny state. To me, this is much like the Nazis invading France during WWII and then blaming the French for provoking Hitler's powerful troops to invade in the first place. In fact, the Russians are going through with this invasion because they-much like Nazi Germany-are a military juggernaut looking to exert their dominance and know that the West is pretty shy on challenging the economic, political and military wrath of the nuclear armed Russian bear. While I'll try to write an argument on the reasoning behind this well planned and timed military action(Russia been at this a long time and slowly but surely tested the Georgian military to seek out its areas of weakness) on Georgia by the Russians, I figured I'd refer to the experts. Thankfully, the always perceptive Robert Kagan, author and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has come to the rescue in his most recent commentary in today's Washington Post. Though I recommend you read the whole piece by Kagan, I believe he hits the nail on the head when he noted the following at the end of the piece:
But the reality is that on most of these issues it is Russia, not the West or little Georgia, that is doing the pushing. It was Russia that raised a challenge in Kosovo, a place where Moscow had no discernible interests beyond the expressed pan-Slavic solidarity. It was Russia that decided to turn a minor deployment of a few defensive interceptors in Poland, which could not possibly be used against Russia's vast missile arsenal, into a major geopolitical confrontation. And it is Russia that has precipitated a war against Georgia by encouraging South Ossetian rebels to raise the pressure on Tbilisi and make demands that no Georgian leader could accept. If Saakashvili had not fallen into Putin's trap this time, something else would have eventually sparked the conflict.
Diplomats in Europe and Washington believe Saakashvili made a mistake by sending troops to South Ossetia last week. Perhaps. But his truly monumental mistake was to be president of a small, mostly democratic and adamantly pro-Western nation on the border of Putin's Russia.
Historians will come to view Aug. 8, 2008, as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Russia's attack on sovereign Georgian territory marked the official return of history, indeed to an almost 19th-century style of great-power competition, complete with virulent nationalisms, battles for resources, struggles over spheres of influence and territory, and even -- though it shocks our 21st-century sensibilities -- the use of military power to obtain geopolitical objectives. Yes, we will continue to have globalization, economic interdependence, the European Union and other efforts to build a more perfect international order. But these will compete with and at times be overwhelmed by the harsh realities of international life that have endured since time immemorial. The next president had better be ready.
If for one hope that the White House will get out of its Olympic euphoria and take a more forceful stand in defending the rights and sovereignty of a fledgling democratic nation against the thuggish and barbarous nature of Putin's Russia. If the freest nation of the world fails to stand behind the small democracies of the world one can only think what greater threats start thinking or doing.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Now while I'm not ecstatic about McCain's stance on Global Warming, I've got to say that "the Maverick" is firing on all cylinders on his energy policy when he notes that the nation has got to start drilling for more oil, building greater nuclear power plants while also advocating free-market approaches to alternative fuels, hybrids, as well as his $300 million prize to anyone who can develop a battery that can power a car some 100 miles or further. Anything beats the top down government knows best energy policies being proposed by the junior Senator of Illinois. I believe that the WSJ sums up the lofty yet unattainable(At least in his ten year window) rhetoric on energy in its August 6, 2008 editorial "The Green Hornet." Here's a look:
Mr. Obama also says he wants to mandate that all new cars and trucks are "flexible fuel" vehicles, meaning that they can run on higher concentrations of corn ethanol mixed with gasoline, or second-generation biofuels if those ever come onto the market. Like wind and solar, this would present major land use problems: According to credible estimates, land areas larger than the size of Texas would need to be planted with fuel feedstocks to displace just half the oil America imports every day. Meanwhile, the economic distortions caused by corn ethanol -- such as higher food prices -- have been bad enough.I for one hope that Senator McCain continues to promote his pro growth and greater domestic energy production ideas during this period of $4 gas.
And yet there's more miracle work to do. Mr. Obama promises to put at least one million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by 2015. That's fine if consumers want to buy them. But even if technical battery problems are overcome, this would only lead to "fuel switching" -- if cars don't use gasoline, the energy still has to come from somewhere. And the cap-and-trade program also favored by Mr. Obama would effectively bar new coal plants, while new nuclear plants are only now being planned after a 30-year hiatus thanks to punishing regulations and lawsuits.
Problems like these are the reality of "alternative" energy, and they explain why every "energy independence" plan has faltered since the 1970s. But just because Mr. Obama's plan is wildly unrealistic doesn't mean that a program of vast new taxes, subsidies and mandates wouldn't be destructive. The U.S. has a great deal invested in fossil fuels not because of a political conspiracy or because anyone worships carbon but because other sources of energy are, right now, inferior.
Consumption isn't rising because of wastefulness. The U.S. produces more than twice as much GDP today per unit of energy as it did in the 1950s, yet energy use has risen threefold. That's because energy use is tethered to growth, and the economy continues to innovate and expand. Mr. Obama seems to have other ideas.
It's really funny when you look over the various reports in the MSM on the trial and subsequent conviction of Salim Hamdan, personal driver of Osama bin Laden, and discover that these reporters are presenting this dangerous man as a loosely connected, simple minded, family guy who was "in the wrong place at the wrong time". Now while this presentation is something one should expect from a media who is centered on being sensational as well as a cheerleader for the critics of the administration's effort to exert justice to these deadly individuals captured on the battlefield, it's always refreshing to find members of the media who take a sober look at the proceedings at Gitmo and realize the seriousness of the events. One media outlet that has taken this sober approach on the Hamdan trial and presents the recent events as a lesson is the editorial board of the NY Sun which presented such ideas in today's paper. I think they put it best when they noted the following:
I just hope that this nation continues to stick to these military commissions and shy away from allowing these individuals to enter our domestic court system. Only time will tell.
The fact that providing minor assistance to our enemies does not excuse the crime was underscored the first time the Supreme Court actually sustained a conviction of treason, we are reminded by the exegesis in the Corwin edition of the Constitution. The case involved a German immigrant named Hans Haupt, who was brought up on a charge of treason for giving shelter and lending a car to his son Herbert, a German spy. Though Haupt's was a minor part, the court, in an opinion by Justice Jackson, gave him no quarter. It may be that Hamdan came to realize the ghastly implications of his minor deeds; it was reported that as the verdict was brought in, he wept.
Our own eyes are dry. What happens now to Hamdan — where and in what prison he is held — will be of little importance. What is important is where our leadership stands. Senators McCain and Obama are already reported to be differing in their reactions, with the Republican backing up our military in its handling of Hamdan and the Democrat praising the members of the military commission while carping about how the fact that the Hamdan trial "took several years of legal challenges ... underscores the dangerous flaws in the Administration's legal framework."
Mr. Obama, a constitutional scholar, was among the 35 Democrats who voted against the Military Commissions Act that set up the framework that the Supreme Court had asked the Congress to set up to try the detainees in the current conflict. And the Supreme Court did turn around declare the Congress's first effort unsatisfactory. But we, for one, find it odd that Mr. Obama chides the current administration for having failed to apprehend Mr. bin Laden, while siding against it in its claim to authority in meting out justice to those we are currently holding. This is going to put him in a pickle if he manages to become president himself.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
If you're a long reader of this blog then you know that I've been saying that if the Republicans in Congress are serious about ending the bleeding at the polls and holding onto their current seats in effort to regain the majority in the future, then they've got to get serious about issues that concern the American people, most importantly holding down excessive(silly in some instances) spending. One shining gem who seems to be living up to his word and reputation as a budget hawk, who is concerned about the financial burdens being placed on future generations of Americans, is Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Now while the media will surely paint Senator Coburn as an obstructionist and most assuredly the Democrats are salivating about drawing up commercials using the Senate failing to enact cloture on Senator Reid's "Tomnibus" bill (Which combined some 50 plus bills together without going through their proper committees) to hurt the Republicans this fall, I believe that Senator Coburn has a lot of Americans cheering for this principled Oklahoman sticking to guns and keeping the Republicans together in defending the pocketbooks of their fellow Americans. I have to say that Jacob Sullum, syndicated columnist and senior editor at Reason, seems to sum up Senator Coburn current efforts to hold down such excessive spending in his most recent column when he noted the following:
Now while folks might not be tuned into C-SPAN 2 as much as political junkies do, one hopes their paper carries Sullum's column. Even without Sullum's piece, I believe the Americans would be thankful of Senator Coburn and his fellow Republicans in the Senate to continue to stick to their guns and the rules of the Senate and allow this body of 100 to properly debate these bills and add amendments. It's time these Senators get back to principled politicians like the Founders, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and various others who were looking out for the American people's purse strings. So carry on Senator Coburn, the folks in heartland are cheering for your success.
It's not hard to see why Reid wants to avoid that. Although he dubbed his spending package the Advancing America's Priorities Act, the one thing it emphatically does not do is set priorities.
Is postpartum depression a bad thing? Sure it is. Then let's pass a law that "aims to eradicate the devastating effects of postpartum depression on American families." And let's call it the MOTHERS Act, even though MOTHERS is not, strictly speaking, the correct acronym for Mom's Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression.
Are flowers nice? Of course they are. So let's pay for a new greenhouse at the Smithsonian to house its orchid collection.
Are museums edifying? You bet. So let's sponsor a traveling exhibit commemorating the War of 1812 and "The Star Spangled Banner." While we're at it, let's make a donation to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Speaking of edification and other countries, why not create a foundation to encourage study abroad?
According to the Congressional Budget Office, Reid's wish list will cost about $10 billion over five years, at a time when the federal budget deficit has ballooned to a record $490 billion. Yet Reid marvels that "the rogue far right...has perfected the art of stopping good bills that help good people." Good bills that help good people: Could there possibly be a better governing philosophy?
I myself am partial to the notion, promoted by such rogue right-wingers as James Madison, that the federal government may exercise only those powers explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, which do not include subsidizing medical research, museums, or foreign travel for college students. As Madison pointed out, if Article I's General Welfare Clause is interpreted as blanket permission to spend money on good things, much of the rest of the Constitution is superfluous.
Coburn, known as the Dr. No of the Senate, does not go that far. Unlike Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the Dr. No of the House, Coburn generally does not oppose spending on constitutional grounds. But he does ask his colleagues to pay for new programs by cutting old ones instead of spending money they do not have. In a letter to Reid, he identified $45 billion in cuts that could be used to offset the cost of Advancing America's Priorities.
*Here's a good piece by David Keane, chairman of the American Conservative Union, in the Hill on Senator Coburn and his principled stands.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Well it looks like President Bush is on the right track with regards to high oil prices by removing an executive order on offshore drilling and has put the ball in Congress's court. Now while members of Congress will continue to hem and haw about how "we can't drill our way out of this" or "it'll take ten years to get a barrel of oil out of the ground," the Democratic controlled Congress(and a handful of Republicans) will only make themselves the villain and the main roadblock to greater domestic and more secure sources of energy. As I noted in a previous post, it's time for both sides to bend in each others way and open up the gates to all forms of energy exploration whether its petroleum based or alternative based energy. I for one think they should create a policy which is an amalgam of Boone Pickens plan, Newt Gingrich's Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less policy, McCain's Lexington Project(Which amongst many things includes a $300 million prize for an inventor who creates an affordable/efficient battery that surpasses the current plug-in hybrids, the building of more nuclear power plants.), tax breaks for alternatives, and swapping oil barren federal leases for lands that have oil/oil shale. No matter what, the American people are looking at Congress head-on and waiting for Congress to move. I'd suggest that playing keep-away until November might not be the best thing politically. The nation is too important for Congress to twiddle their thumbs and do nothing.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
With oil hovering around the $145 mark and the reaction that members of Congress received this 4th of July weekend from their constituents on $4 plus a gallon of gas, you'd think that they'd get the idea that the American people want more energy. Now being that an alternative fuel source which is as efficient and available to petroleum based fuels is many years away members of Congress should be more willing to open the door up to all forms of petroleum exploration in the continental shelf and the interior US. One place that should be prime pickings during such times of high energy prices is the near 2 trillion barrels of oil that could be obtained from the vast veins of Rocky Mountain shale that are found in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. I know that the Green lobby will have a cow with such proposals, but I can imagine that some kind of compromise could be hammered out in which more funds and tax deductions could be devoted to more green alternatives in return for the oil companies to trade in their government leases(on land that was discovered to have no oil) for the right to mine the oil shale. Though one cannot see this happening in this election cycle, especially with Congress laying blame on higher prices on various entities, I can't fathom the prices going to high until Congress opens up the energy floodgates. The jury is out on Congress as they remain "stuck-on-stupid" with regards to domestic oil drilling/exploration, but they should keep in mind that the prices are rising, they're poll ratings are in singe digits and November is around the corner. If I was in Congress, I'd think about pushing some legislation on greater exploration real soon.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Now the Obama (and his fellow Democrats) campaign might think that they have the election in the bag and feel free to let the candidate to let his guard down and say what he wants as he coasts to 1600 Pennsylvania, but after hearing his most recent comments about how he can't fathom the notion of Americans calling for an English only policy(or make immigrants learn such), that American parents should teach their kids Spanish as well as noting that his embarrassment to see Americans go off into the world and fail to speak other languages properly, he might need to think again. Here's the video:
I guess the staff is not aware of the ire that exist in this nation over the issue of illegal immigrants and the failure of the nation to properly assimilate individuals who enter this nation(legally). This going off the script and delivering such condescending nonsense to folks in Georgia(And the rest of the heartland) just removes the mask and reveals the real Obama. So keep it up Senator Obama.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
In my June 12, 2008 post Mugabe's Deadly Actions, I noted that the regime in Zimbabwe had pulled out all stops and was using every bit of their power(absent the military) to intimidate the opposition(MDC) and its supporters to stay home come election day. Even though I expressed some optimism that the people of Zimbabwe would rise up and put an end to these horrific activities, I have to say I'm somewhat sympathetic with Morgan Tsvangirai, who was more concerned about the lives of his supporters and the voters of his country that he withdrew from the ballot prior to last weekend's runoff election. Now while the opposition will live to see another day and most likely will outlive Mugabe(Even though most dictators in modern times seem to live ripe old ages and die in extravagant luxury) it's a sad day for the the people of Zimbabwe, who will face years and years of political violence, ever increasing unemployment, stratospheric inflation, ever increasing hunger, and G-d knows whatever else comes down the pike as the ship of state under the helm of Robert Mugabe drifts into an iceberg field ocean. Such a further descent into one of Dante's four circles of Hell is already under way with two recent pieces here and here in London's The Daily Telegraph. The first points out how inflation is so high that the people have to spending some $50 billion Zimbabwe dollars for a can of baked beans and a whopping $409 billion for a kilogram of sausage. Even worse, the nation is heading for a large iceberg because the German company that supplies the paper for the currency has ceased all future orders. All in all, with such high inflation, no paper to print more money, unemployment rates hovering around 70 to 80% (if not worse) and the limited availability of food one can only wonder how long it will take before the country starts to look like Ethiopia, Sudan, or Somalia. In the second piece, Louis Weston writes that Mugabe's supporters are still roaming the countryside and pushing supporters of the MDC out of their homes and off their farms after Mugabe and his thugs in Zanu-PF took the election this past weekend. It's a crying shame that Mugabe and his clan can continue to do such horrors to their own people and the neighboring countries and the UN can only hand out heavy worded declarations, but then again such is the nature of such communities. Anyway, here's hoping that fortune shines on the people of Zimbabwe and deliver them from such evil.
Friday, June 20, 2008
After hearing and seeing the most recent Obama campaign commercial, I was reminded of the days of the 1976 campaign in which the unknown Jimmy Carter came out of nowhere and we know what a disaster that was. Here's a look:
I have to say that Jonah Goldberg pretty much dissolves the whole "we can't drill our way out of this" and "energy independence" talking points coming from the Democratic party and their standard bearer Barack Obama in his most recent column when he noted the following:
The sooner these politicians stop talking and call for the opening up the nation to a real national energy independence program by opening the door to all sources of energy from up our oil shale lands, ANWR, coastal drilling, coal to gas, clean coal, hydroelectric, geothermal, non food-stuffs/non-subsidized alternative fuels, wind, solar, nuclear, and a heck of all things that the bright minds of the American people can come up with. Enough with the talk, lets get started. No more of this silly jaw-jawing.
If energy independence were their real goal, not only would oil, coal and nuclear be on the table, but you'd hear more lamentations about our "addiction" to Canadian oil -- a bigger source than Saudi Arabia.
Instead we are treated to an endless stream of intellectual jibber-jabber and nonsensical argy-bargy. We need to be energy independent, but we can't use the energy sources we have. We need to switch to ethanol fast, but we can't import cheaper ethanol from Brazil. We must increase gas taxes to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, but when gas prices go up for any other reason, it's a crisis, even a crime. We're told we'll get nowhere drilling our way to independence or lower prices, as if windmills will do the job (stop laughing).
We shouldn't fight "wars for oil," but the self-imposed embargo on our own oil makes us even more dependent on the foreign oil we're allegedly going to war over. And, of course: We're told to reject the failed policies of the past, when the policies that have failed are the real old ones merely being sold as new.
Now while various news reports on the most recent floods in Iowa which note the lose of 1.19 million corn acres(About 202 million bushels) due to the rising waters, but few ever noted that such a heavy loss could have been mitigated if the federal government wasn't subsidizing the use of corn for ethanol. Though such a quest for a "miracle" alternative fuel is a noble effort to move us away from our dependency of imported oil , I'm angered(and lots of other Americans) that we keep on paying farmers to divert precious food stuffs into fuels. I believe that a lot of American taxpayers will be pushed into the anger column if they take a gander at this most recent op/ed in the NY Sun by Patrick McIlheran, columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and discover how much money we're dropping down the money hole. Here's a look:
My biggest beef with such subsidies is that the American taxpayer gets hit by a double whammy in the pocketbook via the federal tax to pay for the subsidies and the increase in prices of consumer products that are made out of corn. So when you sit down this 4th of July and there's no corn to grill or eat because it's too expensive, just thank most of the spend-thrift politicians in D.C.
Suppose, though, that ethanol is harmless to Third World food supply: It still costs us plenty. The federal government has mandated that we use 9 billion gallons of it this year and 15 billion gallons by 2022. This forces people to use an inferior fuel, one costlier to make, to ship, to run a car a mile on.
Besides the up-ratcheting mandate, taxpayers must fund several tax credits, the big one being about 51 cents a gallon to companies that mix the stuff into gasoline. This cost about $2.5 billion in 2006.
Ethanol's defenders point out that the federal government offsets this blender's credit by reducing crop price supports, but this raises the bigger question: Why are we paying those to begin with?
The ethanol subsidies are political kin to all the subsidies, tariffs, and market fiddling that make up the government's decades-old money pipeline to farmers. This was spigoted off briefly in a Gingrich-era burst of fiscal sense and has been reopened by degrees since.
The result is the $289 billion farm bill that President Bush vetoed for the second time on Wednesday. Congress overrode the veto within hours, and so you'll pay at least $5 billion a year in automatic payments to farmers growing staples such as wheat, cotton, corn, and soybeans, even if prices stay at record levels. You'll pay an extra $410 million to dairy farmers, who have been enjoying record prices. You'll pay new subsidies to vegetable growers, horse breeders, and salmon farmers. But for a bipartisan minority of budget hawks, Congress resoundingly endorsed this.
Why? To go on insulating the agricultural sector from economic reason, as the federal government has done since the Depression — to act as a fiscal levee that lets farmers flourish on the floodplain, economically speaking.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Here's an interesting editorial in the New York Sun which points out a report from the US Treasury Department which points out an ever increasing interaction between individuals in Venezuela and the terrorists group Hezbollah. I guess this isn't the kind of talking that Sen. Obama and his foreign policy team have been yakking about all of these weeks.
*Here's a more detailed article over at The Long War Journal on this emerging relationship.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Robert D. Kaplan has a good piece over at the Atlantic magazine web-site that points the heroic acts of Army Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith (Army - 3rd Infantry Division) in Iraq and the bureaucratic fight that Colonel Thomas P. Smith of the 3rd Infantry Division took in an effort to award Sergeant Smith the prestigious Medal of Honor. It's great that we have such a great writer/journalist like Kaplan who avoids glitzy headline grabbing stories to provide a great piece on this small grouping of America's unsung heroes. One would hope that someone in the TV media would find time out of their tabloid frenzy world and produce a one-hour or two-hour special on our beloved heroes. Until then, we'll have to rely on Robert D. Kaplan's excellent pieces in the Atlantic and his wonderful books for such info.
Here's just one more example of what kind of monster is ruling Zimbabwe. It just goes to show you that the regime of Mugabe will do anything ranging from beatings, jail, and murder to ensure that they keep their lofty perches in a nation once known as "the breadbasket of Africa." Now while such tactics will be played out before and during the upcoming runoff election, I hope the people of Zimbabwe show that such tactics wont stop them and vote Mugabe and his fellow thugs out of office. It might be tough, but such is a must to keep the nation from sliding into another circle of Hell under Mugabe.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Here's a good piece in the Daily Mail by Sir. Max Hastings that points out how the "stiff-upper lip" attitude which was so endemic amongst the WWII and Pre-1968 generation of the UK leads to a more healthy life than the "feel-your-pain" gobble-gook that has become standard operating procedure in the Western world. I for one have always admired how the British(As well as such portrayals in the old black ad white movies) were always able to rise above the tide of life's rough dealt hand and deal with the horrors of WWI or the onslaught of Hitler's Luftwaffe and his continued volley V1 and V2 on the island nation. I believe that if a lot more of the people in this nation and the UK would return to such attitudes and move away from Dr. Phil and Xanax then we wouldn't be bogged down in the problems and complaints that we currently hear on the various news-channels and read in our newspapers. So here's toasting the "stiff-upper lip" generation of Britain and hoping such an attitude never dies.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The late Senator Pat Moynihan, who was known for his quick wit colorful commentary, coined the phrase "iatrogenic government" to describe what happens when the federal government and its tinkering politicians discover a "problem" in America and thus draws up some fantastic solution in the halls of Congress that ends causing more detrimental harm or creating newer problems than what originally existed problem. Well the beast of the "iatrogenic government" is raising its ugly head once again within the US Senate with the introduction of the Liberman-Warner climate bill, which attempts to slap a cap-and-trade regime on the emission outputs of our industries, autos, and energy sources in a effort to reduce global warming. Now while folks will hear tons of silly talk about how passing such a bill is "moral" or is for "the children", they fail to look at at the facts about how expensive such lofty goals will be. Thankfully, Robert Samuelson has a great piece out today which he honestly points out the facts about how the policies being advocated in the Liberman/Warner climate bill will bring about greater energy/supply problems in an effort to cut emissions that will at the most lower the temperature by a few degrees. I particularly liked the following:
In one bill, the 2030 cap on greenhouse gases would be 35 percent below the 2005 level and 44 percent below the level projected without any restrictions. By 2050, U.S. greenhouse gases would be rapidly vanishing. Even better, their disappearance would be allegedly painless. Reviewing five economic models, the Environmental Defense Fund asserts that the cuts can be achieved "without significant adverse consequences to the economy." Fuel prices would rise, but because people would use less energy, the impact on household budgets would be modest.
This is mostly make-believe. If we suppress emissions, we also suppress today's energy sources, and because the economy needs energy, we suppress the economy. The models magically assume smooth transitions. If coal is reduced, then conservation or non-fossil-fuel sources will take its place. But in the real world, if coal-fired power plants are canceled (as many were last year), wind or nuclear won't automatically substitute. If the supply of electricity doesn't keep pace with demand, brownouts or blackouts will result. The models don't predict real-world consequences. Of course, they didn't forecast $135-a-barrel oil.
As emission cuts deepened, the danger of disruptions would mount. Population increases alone raise energy demand. From 2006 to 2030, the U.S. population will grow by 22 percent (to 366 million) and the number of housing units by 25 percent (to 141 million), projects the Energy Information Administration. The idea that higher fuel prices will be offset mostly by lower consumption is, at best, optimistic. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a 15 percent cut of emissions would raise average household energy costs by almost $1,300.
That's how cap-and-trade would tax most Americans. As "allowances" became scarcer, their price would rise, and the extra cost would be passed along to customers. Meanwhile, government would expand enormously. It could sell the allowances and spend the proceeds; or it could give them away, providing a windfall to recipients. The Senate proposal does both to the tune of about $1 trillion from 2012 to 2018. Beneficiaries would include farmers, Indian tribes, new technology companies, utilities and states. Call this "environmental pork," and it would just be a start. The program's potential to confer subsidies and preferential treatment would stimulate a lobbying frenzy. Think today's farm programs -- and multiply by 10.
I just hope the opponents of the bill hit the proponents over the head with such facts and arguments.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Kevin Hassett has a good column over at Bloomberg.com which points out how the Department of Interior's most recent decision to place the polar bear on the endangered species list. Now while such a decision will be donned a noble gesture towards this great beast of the north(Even if the 25,000 bears live in the wilds of Canada) by the American public and the bureaucrats under the helm of Secretary Kempthorne, Hassett points out that such a move will only open the door to future lawsuits from the "green lobby" who will claim that the decline of the polar bear's environmental is caused by the output of massive quantities of CO2 from countless industries, activities, and autos by humans in this country. I have to say Hasset lays this argument out well when he noted the following:
Attorney and columnist Hugh Hewitt described what that new world will look like: ``Environmental activists will argue that all emissions of greenhouse gases that flow as a consequence of the grant of a federal permit of any sort are now subject to review under the ESA and, crucially, that those permits cannot be issued unless and until the United States Fish & Wildlife Service reviews and approves of the requested permit.''
The fact is, just about everything requires some kind of permit, so just about anything that emits greenhouse gases could be subject to a challenge. The process will rapidly spread the reach of this ruling throughout the energy industry and U.S. manufacturing.
An activist armed with a lawyer can now halt anything he wants. He might even be able to stop you from driving to work or taking a hot shower.
If you consider the chaos that is about to ensue, there really is only one logical solution. Congress needs to act immediately to adopt either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system that meaningfully addresses climate change. And while it does, it must revise the Endangered Species Act to acknowledge the fact that global warming is being addressed by this new policy.
It is only a matter of time until the legal chaos ignited by this ruling makes that truth clear to everyone.
This just goes to show you that when a cabinet level department of the executive branch issues out edicts and rules for the truest of intentions they open up a Pandora's box to the environmental zealots who play their games in the courts of the unelected few. No matter how you look at it, the safest bet for this nation is for folks to think before the push forward decisions that will have detrimental repercussions on us for decades to come.
I believe that this most recent editorial in the New York Sun pretty much knocks George Packer's predictions of conservatism's decline on its duff. If there is any problem amongst the base then it would be that Republicans aren't clefting enough to a conservative philosophy with regards to governing.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Philip Smucker has a good piece in the June 2008 issue of the Atlantic which points out how the building of major highways throughout Afghanistan can make a considerable difference in helping the US Army, Marines, NATO, Afghan Army/Police(As well as its government) forces turn the country from a war zone to a more pacified country. Not only will this massive capital expenditure improve our forces ability to transverse the country in a more timely and secure manner(Even though deadly terrorists lurk around various corners) thus showing out troops are out and about, but it will initiate an economic boom by connecting bigger commerce centers of Afghanistan to the smaller more remote villages and neighboring countries as well as opening these regions to various NGO's who are ready to provide food, medicine, technical expertise and whatever else is required to pull out of the horrors that they have endured under the Soviets and Taliban/Al Qaeda. As with all aspects of counterinsurgency fighting, our military and their allies will be called on 60% of the time to use deadly force, but the other 40% they can improve the peace and achieve a great bit of success by drilling wells, inoculating goats, building schools, set up sewer or trash pickup, or make it possible for a private corporation to build a major highway. So here's wishing the builders of this highway G-d's speed.
*For a more detailed look at this soft power side of counterinsurgency fighting, check out Robert D. Kaplan's wonderful book Imperial Grunts.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Though I have a good working knowledge in economics and tend to turn to this science to explain why ideas being pushed on the election stump or in the well of the Senate are bad for this country. One bit of nonsense that has been getting under my skin lately is Senator Clinton's continued insistence that the oil companies are making "too much money" and should be forced to fork over tons of money in the form of "windfall profits" taxes to the federal government because she says so. Though such populist rhetoric might sound pretty appealing to the general listener of the nightly news broadcast or listen to news snippets on the radio after buying a tank of gas, it doesn't seem to great when they realize such a tax will harm them in the near future. Not only will it such a tax be passed on to the consumer when the oil company tacks this onto the price of gas but it also will push the oil companies to think twice about pulling oil out of the ground or the amount they refine(Even though a new refinery hasn't been permitted to open for the last 30 years due to Clinton and company) for the fear of being taxed for being successful by producing a product that the American people need. The sad thing about this issue is that Senator Clinton and her economic team are a little lax on reading their economic history(And know the everyday voter doesn't have time to do the research) or they'd know that such a policy was launched by the Carter administration and ended up in the waste bin just like the former president was upended be the Reagan juggernaut in 1980. Someone who has read their history is Bloomberg columnist Amity Shlaes who pretty much demonstrates how such an idea of a "windfall profits" tax bad for the economy and will create higher prices to be passed on to the consumer in her May 2, 2008 column "Clinton Caught in Time Warp With Windfall Oil Tax," when she noted the following:
But in 1980 the economy's refusal to recover was baffling some economists. One of their conclusions, published in the New York Times, was that the windfall-profits tax was being passed along to consumers, reducing disposable income and so demand. In other words, it was doing the opposite of what the tax-rebate checks are supposed to be doing this month and next.
Specifically, the Windfall Tax made investment and production at domestic oil companies more expensive. Mobil was right. You needed incentives to want to drill. That deterrent slowed the sort of research that might have made energy less expensive earlier.
A Congressional Research Service paper suggested that the 1980 law actually increased foreign imports relative to domestic production.
So where we are now is that Clinton and her colleagues are backing a move that would strengthen the position of Middle Eastern OPEC members and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
What's more troubling to more is the fact such profits are not deposited to a big Swiss bank account in the name of a select bit of CEOs like the junior senator from New York portends to her audience but is distributed to taxes(Already in the double digit billions), future exploration, dividend payments to shareholders and holders of mutual funds, as well as paying employees and other entities that they deal with as they pull up and refine this "Texas Tea," into gasoline. I for one would say that the Clinton team and others in the Senate should read more economics books before they promote such costly policies but then again you can't expect much but all talk but no thinking coming from the biggest hot-air balloon factory in the country. Thank G-d we have folks like Amity Shlaes and hear wealth of knowledge in economics to weed through such economic nonsense.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
As a follower of the military and fan of the inventive technology, vehicles, aircraft, and weapons that our armed forces develop or acquisition from the private sector to defend this nation, I have to say that I'm excited about this article in the Christian Science Monitor that points out the current quest of the Pentagon to acquire an a counterinsurgency centric replacement for our current fleet of Humvees. I've looked at the specs and mock-ups of the new vehicles which are known as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and have to say that the private sector is close to producing a vehicle that will indeed protect members of our armed forces but also remain highly maneuverable in dangerous terrain when the feathers hit the fan. I can imagine that the show Future Weapons will air an episode on the JLTV in the near future. Here's a look at my favorites:
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
While the MSM and big mouths in the halls of Congress keep on throwing out invectives about how we're in a "recession" even when the facts as well as the basic rules of economics clearly say we're not even at a point to declare such a verdict. Thankfully, the good folks of the New York Sun editorial board(As well as the WSJ editorial page) have taken a brave stand against such rhetoric and yelled stop with the publication of the most recent editorial "What Recession?". I for one have to say they slugged a stubborn mule square in the jaw when they made the following observation:
I just wish more people in America would just up a basic economic book and discover for themselves some basic facts about such a science rather than depending on politicians and the misinformed MSM for such info. One is always grateful for informative sources like the New York Sun for breaking through the fog of "recession" and bringing forward such facts.
We’d like to see stronger growth, like, say, in the third quarter of 2003, when the economy started to get the feel of the Bush tax cuts and grew at an astonishing seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 7.5%. Or the year that began in April of 1983 and ended in March of 1984, when President Reagan’s supply-side measures began to work their incentives and when the American economy grew consistently at a supercharged rate of more than 8%.
But two consecutive quarters of 0.6% growth is not bad, when measured against, say, the fourth quarter of 1990 and the first quarter of 1991, when real GDP shrank at an annualized rate of 3% and 2%. That was negative growth, not merely slow growth. Another genuinely bad patch was in spring and summer of 1980. In the second quarter of 1980, growth was negative 7.8%.
What we’re seeing now — a national unemployment rate of 5.1% in March, a stock market whose indexes are up nearly 5% for the month of April — does not a recession make. In the early 1980s, we saw double-digit unemployment rates. In the early 1990s, the unemployment rate reached 7.8%. A 5.1% national unemployment rate is not a recession. There may yet be a recession, but Mr. Krugman & Co. will have to wait a bit more.
This is not to minimize the pain or hardship felt by those who have been affected by the job losses on Wall Street, who face losing their homes in a foreclosure proceeding, or who have been affected by the flight of manufacturing jobs overseas. But the American economy and the capitalist system and open markets are remarkably robust.
Here's a good piece by David Ignatius in the Washington Post on how our soldiers are using every tool in their counterinsurgency toolbox to help secure the peace in Afghanistan. I for one have to say that it's good to see such informative details like this with regards to Afghanistan in the MSM.
I have to say that if folks want to free this country up from expensive energy prices and hostile dictators, then they should read Robert Samuelson's most recent column in the Washington Post in which he points out that the solution is greater domestic exploration and drilling. I believe that the observant Samuelson slugged the ball out of the park with regards to the price of oil(And the subsequent production of gasoline) when he wrote the following:
I wish that someone would hand the three candidates running for president an occasional newspaper and read some pieces by Samuelson, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and Amity Shlaes and others and they'd learn that by increasing the supply you have a great effect on the price of a particular commodity. Until someone emerges with a free market friendly energy policy that advocates greater domestic drilling, the constructing of more nuclear power-plants, as well as introducing non-subsidized/non-food stuffs alternative fuels, this nation will continue to see high prices and unforeseen problems down the road.
The best we can do is to try to influence the global balance of supply and demand. Increase our supply. Restrain our demand. With luck, this might widen the worldwide surplus of production capacity. Producers would have less power to exact ever-higher prices, because there would be more competition among them to sell. OPEC loses some leverage; its members cheat. Congress took a small step last year by increasing fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. (And yes, we need a gradually rising fuel tax to create a strong market for more-efficient vehicles.)
Increasing production also is important. Output from older fields, including Alaska's North Slope, is declining. Although production from restricted areas won't make the U.S. self-sufficient, it might stabilize output or even reduce imports. No one knows exactly what's in these areas, because the exploratory work is old. Estimates indicate that production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge might equal almost 5 percent of present U.S. oil use.
Members of Congress complain loudly about high oil profits ($40.6 billion for ExxonMobil last year) but frustrate those companies from using those profits to explore and produce in the United States. Getting access to oil elsewhere is increasingly difficult. Governments own three-quarters or more of proven reserves. Higher prices perversely discourage other countries from approving new projects. Flush with oil revenues, countries have less need to expand production. Undersupply and high prices then feed on each other.
But it's hard for the United States to complain that other countries limit access to their reserves when we're doing the same. If higher U.S. production reduced world prices, other countries might expand production. What they couldn't get from prices they'd try to get from greater sales.
*The one thing that all candidates or at least Senator McCain should do to tackle the rising cost of oil is to advocate a strong dollar and point out how the price of oil goes up the more the dollar falls.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I know that the MSM are drowning the airwaves and filling reams of newsprint with stories of a "disastrous" economy and how tons of folks are losing their job (I'll admit that a small subsection of the economy is having a problem.) or can't find a job to pay their bills, but I would suggest that these reporters should dig a little deeper in their reporting and they'd discover a different reality like Ron Scherer of the Christian Science Monitor did in his article "Amid layoff news, many companies are still hiring." As an optimist and someone who has a greater belief in the private sector and enterprising individuals going out there and creating new jobs out of a workforce from a downturn in another sector, it tells me economy is more resilient than the doomsayers in the news and on the campaign trail lead us to believe. Here's a look at some facts that more or less tend to pass through the MSM filter:
Aside from Neil Cavuto, Larry Kudlow, and the Wall Street Journal, it's always great to find certain rays of light in the storm-tossed economy we see on the front pages or on the TV screen. Just don't expect too many of these positive stories in the MSM prior to the 2008 general election.
"There are lots of places in the economy where the cylinders are still firing," says John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm in Chicago. "Not Wall Street, not housing, and not automotive, but there are many areas that are doing well, are recession-proof or safer havens in a storm for job security," says Mr. Challenger, an expert on employment.
The monthly numbers, which can be grim on a headline basis, don't always tell the full story. For example, last Friday, the Labor Department reported that in March the economy lost 80,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent. But those numbers mean that roughly some 2.1 million new jobs were created, even though 2.2 million jobs were lost.
"Suffice it to say there is a lot of churn in the labor market, and what we see in the net change is a tremendous understatement of what is going on below the surface," says Richard DeKaser, Washington-based chief economist at National City Corp.
Even in the last recession, in 2001, the economy lost roughly 26.1 million jobs but also added 23.2 million jobs, Mr. DeKaser notes.
Some of that churn – in the positive sense – can be seen at Mr. Winslow's software company, Epik One. "I was just watching CNN talk about the 80,000 jobs that were lost in the economy," says Winslow, whose company analyzes the effectiveness of advertising spending on the Internet. "We don't think cutting back is a good idea. We think this is a great time to hit the growth accelerator."
Friday, April 25, 2008
It amazing that some 193 years the French military has finally decided to study the reasons why the Emperor of France wasn't victorious on the fields of Waterloo. Well I guess after having their chestnuts pulled out of the fire in wars of the past and their constant reminders of the faults in others, the French have decided to look inward and ask themselves what they did wrong with regards to their countless military defeats and how they can ensure victory in future encounters. While Waterloo and other set battles on the plains of Europe are fine and dandy, I suggest they focus on the mistakes and and successes that they had in places Vietnam and the Battle of Algiers in an effort to improve their skills in fighting a more counterinsurgency centric warfare. Being a sporting American, I wish the French all the support.
*I suggest the French military pick up Andrew Robert's excellent book Napoleon and Wellington, for more insight on their defeat at Waterloo.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Well it looks like Brian Ross and his producers over at ABC News are playing with the truth with their most recent report in which he implicates this nation and our gun manufactures in making weapons that end up in the hands of the drug cartels in Mexico. Thankfully, Bob Owens over at Confederate Yankee is on the job and has set the story straight. One doubts that Ross or his fellow MSM elitist at ABC will bother to correct such a wrong. What has me scratching my head is that Ross is so quick to blame the US government, our laws, and the gun manufacturers for supplying such weapons when they could easily travel to Venezuela, China, Russia or any bazaar in Africa/Middle East and pick up massive quantities of the real thing dirt cheap rather than risk being caught in the US. After all, these are drug dealers who go to the far reaches of the earth to acquire their drugs and are well versed in transporting massive quantities of contraband.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
It looks like the Mugabe regime is making sure that it will win the runoff election(Which was rigged to happen being that the real results haven't been released some month after the election) by using the force of violence to ensure that supporters of MDC are run out of the country or permanently silenced in slums or the wilds of Zimbabwe.
*Even members of the clergy in Zimbabwe are calling on outside help to intervene and stop the violence being spread by the Mugabe regime.
For the past six weekends I've been tuning into HBO at 9:00 to watch the wonderful series John Adams. Throughout this wonderful film adaptation of David McCullough wonderful biography of our second president, one becomes immediately transported to colonial America in 1770 and begin a wonderful journey that follows a 34 year old lawyer/farmer of Braintree, MA from a case defending the British soldiers of the renowned "Boston Massacre," to the hallowed halls of the Continental Congress, to the diplomatic gamesmanship in France, Holland, and London, to the highest reaches of power in the office of Vice-President and President, to his subsequent retirement and death at 91 some fifty years since the the journey began in 1770. All in all, the production surpasses my earlier prediction in my February 27, 2008 post John Adams-HBO-March 16-April 20. I loved the series so much that I started reading David McCullough's book John Adams around the fifth episode. Now while the series has progressed quicker than my reading(I'm on chapter 5, page 287), I have to say that the series follows the book almost to the t( give or take some minute changes for dramatic effect). One thing I can say is that the series teamed with the book draws you in so much with the constant letters and interplay between Abigail and John so that I actually felt I knew this couple that I took it a little hard when President Adams lost his wife of 54 years of marriage. In fact I like the series so much that I'll be placing several orders of the series and urge others to do the same(or at least urge them to rent it or tune into HBO for several encores) for the mere entertainment and to learn a little history. I'd also suggest that you also pick up a copy of David McCullough's wonderful book John Adams if you're a reader.
*Based on early interviews with Mr. McCullough, it looks like HBO is working to bring his book 1776 to the TV screen in the future. I can assure this will be just as great as "John Adams."
Sunday, April 20, 2008
If you've been a reader of Fire of Liberty then you know that I'm a big supporter of Free Trade and have been calling for the approval of pending deals on Panama, South Korea and Colombia. In previous posts I've pointed out that such a deal would be good for the strategic and economic betterment of the people of Colombia against the military encroachments and revolutionary socialism of Hugo Chavez but I haven't pointed out the economic a job securing benefits of this nation approving the Colombia FTA. Even though free trade deals are generally dead from the start in the eyes of protectionist politicians and unions, I would suggest that the opponents take a second gander at the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and realize that this deal is more beneficial to this nation than the critics claim because it eliminates expensive tariffs that have been tacked on US goods going into Colombia who already ship 90% of there goods into this nation duty free(See here.) Now if these opponents to the Colombia FTA do get their way(Which looks like it's happening with Rep. Pelosi changing the 60 day rule.) in nixing this trade deal based on the argument that they're "keeping jobs in America" they will in fact be killing the said jobs that they are fighting to save. As long as these deals keep us at a big disadvantage against other nations that have drawn similar trade deals with Colombia we will find a lot of the big industrial equipment, machinery contracts, and other goods that are made here going to our competition in Asia, Europe, and Canada. I have to say the editorial board the Wall Street Journal put it best in describing the benefit of such a deal in an editorial titled "Colombia and Cat" when they pointed out the following:
I for one hope that such a deal will eventually be passed, but when you have such dogmatic opponents like Sens. Clinton, Obama, Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, AFL-CIO boss John Sweeney and Lou Dobbs banging the drum against such FTA's who will sacrifice the jobs of hard working Americans just make a point.
Exhibit A are 8,600 jobs at two Caterpillar Inc. factories in Illinois. Caterpillar exports more to Peru and Colombia than it does to Germany, Japan or the United Kingdom. So keeping and growing market share in both countries is important to union members in both plants. Not all are union jobs but both facilities are United Auto Worker shops.
Consider exports of the off-highway truck, made in Decatur. Customers in Colombia now pay a 15% tariff – equal to $200,000 – on the import of these vehicles. If the FTA goes through, that import tariff goes to zero immediately. Conversely, if the deal dies and Colombia, which is trying to expand its world trade, strikes an agreement with another country where similar vehicles are made, U.S. exports will immediately be at a 15% price disadvantage.
Colombia also has a large mining industry, and there are more Cat D-11 bulldozers in Colombian coal mines today than in any other country in the world. Those bulldozers are made in East Peoria. Colombian customers pay a 5% duty to import Cat bulldozers, which compete against Komatsu bulldozers made in Japan. Union members might ask Mr. Sweeney why he wants to spurn an offer that would give U.S. products a 5% price edge against Japanese competition.
Caterpillar – which has a total U.S. work force of 50,545 – faces an even more imminent threat in the case of its motor graders, a piece of heavy equipment used to level the playing field, literally. A company called Champion also makes motor graders in Canada, and Colombia is also negotiating an FTA with Canada. If Canada seals a deal with Colombia while the U.S. walks away from its Colombia pact, graders made in the U.S. will cost more than those made in Canada. Once again, Mr. Sweeney's agenda makes the U.S. work force less competitive.
*See here for more on the Colombia FTA.