Friday, June 20, 2008

The 2008 version of Jimmy Carter

Fire of Liberty

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:

A True Energy Independence Policy

Fire of Liberty

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:

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.

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.

That Golden Corn

Fire of Liberty
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:

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.

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.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Deadly Relations

Fire of Liberty

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

Sergeant 1st Class Paul Ray Smith - An Unknown Hero

Fire of Liberty


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.

Mugabe's Deadly Actions

Fire of Liberty

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

Ye Ole British Attitude

Fire of Liberty

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

Senatorial Hot Air

Fire of Liberty

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.