Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dick Morris on Obama's future

Dick Morris, Bill Clinton's Karl Rove, is no friend of most Democrats these days. Here's his interesting take on Obama's future. According to Morris, while people like the President personally, polls show they are opposed to most of his agenda.

"So if voters differ so fundamentally with the president on the very essence of his program, why do they accord him high ratings? They are like the recently married bride who took her vows 100 days ago. It would be a disaster for her life if she decides that she really doesn’t like her husband. But she keeps noticing things about him that she can’t stand. It will be a while before she walks out the door or even comes to terms with her own doubts, but it is probably inevitable that she will."

The article has some interesting poll numbers, as well as analysis. It's worth reading, especially if you want a glimmer of hope.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Spector and the fillibuster proof Senate majority

Arlen Spector has finally revealed his true colors, not that it's any surprise. As it seems almost certain that Al Franken will be successful in stealing Norm Coleman's Senate seat, the Democrats will no longer have any obstacle to ramming through their left wing agenda. America faces dark years ahead, not only until a future election changes the electoral balance, but for generations to come.

Government run health care is now a certainty. We'll be able to enjoy the same deterioration of the quality and quantity of care that other national health care systems display. Medical progress will slow dramatically, as the US loses its leadership role in medical innovation. We'll start to see the same articles about shortages, incompetence, and appalling lapses of care that are regular features of the British and Canadian press.

Huge tax increases will also be on the agenda. We can kiss goodbye the possibility of future economic growth of the kind we've had for the past 30 years, and look forward to the European model of high unemployment, ever expanding bureaucracy, and a perpetually struggling economy.

Crushing new environmental laws will drastically raise the cost of energy, forcing industry out of the country, and intrude into many aspects of our lives as the EPA micromanages every activity that has any effect on energy use. Obama has already ruled out future use of America's largest energy resource, coal. Domestic energy production will decline and dependence on people like Hugo Chavez for energy imports will rise.

A foreign policy of weakness and appeasement, and the already rapid decline of our intelligence capability, will embolden our enemies, who know they will never have a better time to move against our interests.

Border enforcement will weaken dramatically, and legalization for the tens of millions of aliens either now in the country or waiting for their chance is on the way, as Democrats see illegal aliens as the basis of their future electoral power. The same endemic corruption and poverty that afflict Latin America will migrate to America.

Meanwhile, most people are snoozing, blissfully unaware that they are on a modern Titanic. The iceberg is slicing along the hull of the ship of state while the captain maintains all engines ahead, full left rudder. Everyone is toasting the captain's charisma and audacity, while the gurgling noises are starting and the long slide into the deep begins.

Examples of Obama's tax increases on small business

Like a stopped clock that tells the correct time twice a day, the Washington Post has run an article that inadvertently sheds light on the effect of Obama's tax agenda. A couple of their reporters have woken up to the fact that his tax increases will fall on many small businesses, since they have to report their company profit as personal income to avoid double taxation.

As anyone who has run a small business knows, the more profits are taxed, the less a company can grow, the more risky the business is, and the fewer employees who can be hired. Higher taxes can cause growing businesses to decline, more companies to fail, and employees to be laid off. So Obama will be crushing the private economy while he boosts the government sector. The bright side is that those ex-employees will see their tax bills drop under Obama as they go on welfare.

No surprise there, except that you can read about it in the Washington Post.

Monday, April 27, 2009

If you think capitalism has problems, check the situation in Russia

As savvy readers know, the problems with western economies began with government interference in the mortgage and energy markets, so regulation, not capitalism, caused the current downturn.

If anyone believes that a stronger dose of government is what's needed now, check this article summarizing the situation in Russia, where Putin pulled back capitalist reforms since his rise to power. Perhaps you'd rather have their 10% drop in GDP last quarter. Their official unemployment rate is only 8.5%, but that's of the 53% who are defined as "economically active", so less than 50% of the population is actually working, and of course, many of those working for the government aren't really producing anything of value. This is all in the context of double digit inflation, which is also getting worse.

So their Dear Leader Putin is now personally setting interest rates in Russia, as his amply demonstrated economic expertise is superior to that of the professionals who run the Central Bank.

The Russian example tells us what's in store for America as our own Dear Leader applies his vast store of economic knowledge to the American economy. He's already pushed gigantic spending programs, tremendous inflation of the money supply, and a takeover of the banking system, so our economy should come to resemble Russia's within a few years. And as we can see from their example, government intervention is just what we need to justify more government intervention as our economies head south.

Obama's first 100 days

Obama's already done so much damage to America in 100 days, from devastating our ability to gather intelligence (see below) to an unprecedented increase in spending and deficits as far as the eye can see, that it's easy to forget the many other acts and omissions that have characterized this 100 days of the leftmost American president in history.

Here's a useful summary for the future record.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Obama flip-flop on prosecuting Bush officials for enhanced interrogation techniques

Lost in the media hype about the release of Bush administration memos regarding harsh interrogation methods is the certainty that these methods can not now be used by the CIA under Obama no matter how much danger we face in a future crisis. The Obama team has made such an issue of this that it would be virtually impossible for them to backpedal later.

This means that when the next major terrorist attack occurs, or is imminent, America will be depending on the good wishes of the terror leaders as to whether to release critical information in time to stop them. In other words, we will be totally vulnerable.

This is unilateral disarmament of the worst kind. It's not a question of if, but only when, Americans, perhaps in the thousands, will die as a result of Obama's naivete and political grandstanding.

Obama is talking about giving up nuclear weapons. He's already given up an almost equally important weapon in America's arsenal.

Complete nationalization of banks on the way?

According to this column by Dick Morris, the Obama administration is considering converting the Treasury's current bank holdings into common stock. If true, this would amount to bank nationalization since the government would have voting control.

While this may or may not be too radical even for Obama, his Treasury secretary has now publicly stated that he won't allow banks to repay their TARP loans until he thinks it's in the "national interest," even though many of them want to repay right now to get out from under government control. This bodes ill for the private banking system. Now that the administration has its hooks into the banks, it may want to make the one sided embrace tighter and tighter.

Government control of bank lending would be a big step to the control of borrowers, which is to say control of the private economy.

The "soft totalitarianism" of Britain

"BRITAIN appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely."

Thus begins this arti
cle in the newspaper, The Australian, which points out how people, even children, are being arrested for uttering politically incorrect comments in Britain. I've blogged on this subject before, but there seems to be an unending stream of these examples. For all practical purposes, freedom of speech has been lost in Britain, which is the same thing as thought control.

Freedom is taking a pounding around the western world. The clear trend is the conversion of democracies to bureaucratic dictatorships. Among the pretexts are the concept of "hate speech", which is speech politically powerful groups don't like, and "saving the environment", which is a rationale for government control of all human activity.

What's especially sad is that most people are snoozing while one of the most precious gifts we have, bought at the cost of countless lives, is being taken away without a fight. It will be far more difficult to recover our freedom than it is to lose it.

Young people today face a far different future than those in my baby boom generation. The freedoms we have taken for granted will be distant memories by the time today's 20 somethings reach our age. Unless there is a radical awakening, which seems unlikely given that current trends are in the opposite direction, "soft totalitarianism" will probably be only the first step to the harder kind, and humanity will eventually have to purchase its freedom again at enormous cost in blood.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Possible inside story on the ship captain rescue

From Blond Sagacity blog comes an email from a source close to the Navy Seals who took out the pirate kidnappers. If true, it's what you would expect of Obama, and makes clear what we can look forward to during the next pirate adventure.

Real Pirates

Congressional pirates have stolen thousands of times as much from Americans as the Somali variety.

Now fat people cause global warming

Just when you think that global warmers can't get any more ridiculous in their claims about human responsibility for planetary warming, they do. Now GW "scientists" are blaming overweight people for emitting too much CO2.

As I predicted in my previous post about "total regulation", global warming will be used as a pretext for controlling every aspect of human activity. While this latest "study" isn't yet linked to a "solution", it's not unlikely that the number of calories in restaurant meals will eventually be regulated "to help in the fight against global warming." Watch out, McDonalds. Perhaps further down the road, even in home food consumption may somehow be controlled through rationing.

"Global warming" isn't about the environment, it's about a rationale for imposing a bureaucratic dictatorship on the formerly free countries of the west.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Total regulation

"The Environmental Protection Agency concluded Friday that greenhouse gases linked to climate change 'endanger public health and welfare,' setting the stage for regulating them under federal clean air laws."

In 2007 the Supreme Court issued one of the worst decisions in its history, ranking right up there with the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857, which decided that blacks in America effectively had no right to freedom and could be bought and sold like a commodity. The recent decision by the EPA, based on the Supreme Court case, has the potential to eliminate much of everyone's freedom.

In the 2007 decision, the octogenarian scientific illiterates of the Supreme Court decided that CO2 is a pollutant, and thus subject to regulation by the EPA. Calling CO2 a pollutant is like calling water or oxygen a pollutant. In fact, CO2 is an absolutely essential gas. All of the carbon in our carbon based life on earth comes from CO2.

Nor is there any real evidence that increasing CO2 is harmful. Currently CO2 levels are only 1/3 of the average of the last half billion years, and plants are happier at higher CO2 levels. By the way, humans emit a tiny fraction of total CO2 emissions by nature.

The Bush administration wisely elected not to pursue CO2 regulation, but it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Obama administration has reversed that decision. The fact is, EPA regulation of CO2 emissions means the power to regulate literally every aspect of human activity, for civilization is based on burning fuels which emit CO2. There is simply no practical substitute, in spite of pie in the sky environmental propaganda.

So the power of the EPA to regulate Americans is about to become virtually infinite, limited only by the imagination of environmental extremists and fear of political consequences. No doubt, the regulatory train will start slowly and gather momentum so people can become accustomed to more and more intrusive regulation.

Virtually no aspect of life will be safe from the power of the EPA. After all, we exhale CO2. Population control, anyone? They could argue that keeping people on life support increases the level of CO2. Abortion clearly reduces CO2 emissions.

Want to have to get an EPA permit to go to the store? You'll be generating CO2, after all. The EPA will be able to decide what you set your thermostat to in the winter, and whether you'll be allowed to have air conditioning in the summer. No doubt your next car, if you can get one, will be smaller and thus more dangerous. But hey, auto deaths have their bright side - no more exhaling CO2.

If you think these projections are outlandish, remember the history of the Endangered Species Act, which was originally sold to keep national icons like the bald eagle from becoming extinct, but has evolved to throw thousands of people out of work because they might disturb a small genetic variation in a minnow.

Extremists in the environmental movement have said that humans are pollutants. Perhaps they'll be able to get the Supremes to agree to that as well - it makes just as much sense.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Young British woman has all her teeth extracted because she couldn't find a dentist

This is the type of story you see frequently in the British press, as well as in other countries with Obama style national health care. A 21 year old woman had such a bad case of untreated gum disease due to lack of access to a national health care dentist, that all of her teeth had to be removed.

And this is only one of many examples,

"More shocking still was the story of local resident Valerie Holsworth. Her inability to access NHS dental care since the year 2000 had forced her to resort to excruciatingly painful DIY dentistry.

Valerie described how, using a pair of her husband's pliers, she wrenched out seven teeth.

'I have a gum disease for which I take painkillers,' says the 68-year-old great-grandmother. But when the tooth becomes agonising I have to take it out myself. I take a good mouthful of whisky before I get started to keep it sterilised.

'Then it is just a matter of tugging and wiggling until the root comes loose. I then just throw the tooth in the bin.' "

And we're heading toward this sort of dark ages level of medical care. "Change we can believe in!"

"Green jobs" actually cost jobs

According to this economic study of so called "green jobs" in Spain, which is at the forefront of efforts to convert to wind power in Europe, each "green job" comes at the expense of 2.2 real jobs. And only 1 out of 10 of these pseudo jobs is permanent.

What's ahead

This is a chart showing federal deficits. Pass this around to your liberal friends.

Another pirate attack thwarted, but we didn't go after the pirate ship?

If this report is accurate, another American ship was fired on and damaged by pirates, and in this case, an American destroyer arrived at the scene before the pirates were able to board.

However, there is no mention of an attack by the destroyer against the pirate ship. Does this mean that US policy is to not go after pirate ships, even after they open fire on commercial vessels?

While this would be consistent with Obama's Carteresque political orientation, it spells very bad news for the anti-piracy effort. Pirate ships should be destroyed wherever they are found, whether they have attacked yet or not. To leave them alone after they've attacked another vessel is to tell them the piracy game is still very much in their favor.

Let's hope that there is some reasonable explanation for this lapse, but it doesn't seem likely. During the successful rescue of the American ship captain, it was reported that there were 2 requests made to use force against the pirates, and that Obama only approved the second request "if the captain's life was in imminent danger".

If both of these stories are true, it would appear that extremely restrictive rules of engagement will apply. This means there will be virtually no chance of success against the pirates.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama's concern for poor children

Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan has decided not to admit any new students to the D.C. voucher program, which allows low-income children to attend private schools, including the school to which he's sending his own children.

For those who still had any doubt that Obama is completely under the thumb of Democratic party special interests, this should put the matter to rest. There is no clearer evidence of the phoniness of Democratic "concern for the poor" than this heartless sacrifice of children.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Another article on the loss of free speech in the west

Among the most disturbing trends in the western world is the muzzling of free speech by calling it "hate speech" or by outlawing the "offending" of protected views or institutions. This article documents a number of instances of the suppression of speech in what we used to call the "free world". It's not free any more when unpopular speech can be outlawed.

Now that the Somali hijacking is over

The killing of the Somali pirates and rescue of the American captain is hardly the end of the pirate story. Before the short lived euphoria in the west is over, the pirate gangs will almost certainly resort to killing western hostages in retaliation.

Make no mistake, this is a small war, and these people aren't going to give in without a fight. It was relatively easy this time, but soon westerners are probably going to die.

We'd better have a strategy to defeat these people (for 2 workable strategies, see this post) and the will to accept casualties, neither of which seems likely in this administration. More likely is a period of handwringing and indecision when the inevitable counter-blow comes. No doubt the usual defeatist idiots will say we brought it on ourselves. The clock is ticking - we'll see what happens.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Steyn on the pirates

As any long term readers know, Mark Steyn is one of my favorite political writers. His average columns are very good - his good columns are out of the ball park. This one on the implications of piracy is toward the good end of his range.

For example,

"the Royal Navy, which over the centuries did more than anyone to rid the civilized world of the menace of piracy, now declines even to risk capturing their Somali successors, having been advised by Her Majesty's Government that, under the European Human Rights Act, any pirate taken into custody would be entitled to claim refugee status in the United Kingdom and live on welfare for the rest of his life.

I doubt "Pirates of the Caribbean" would have cleaned up at the box office if the big finale had shown Geoffrey Rush and his crew of scurvy sea dogs settling down in council flats in Manchester and going down to the pub for a couple of jiggers of rum washed down to cries of "Aaaaargh, shiver me benefits check, lad." From "Avast, me hearties!" to a vast welfare scam is not progress...

When all the world's a "distraction," maybe you're not the main event after all. Most wealthy nations lack the means to defend themselves. Those few that do, lack the will. Meanwhile, basket-case jurisdictions send out ever bolder freelance marauders to prey on the civilized world with impunity.

Don't be surprised if "the civilized world" shrivels and retreats in the face of state-of-the-art reprimitivization. From piracy to nukes to the limp response of the hyperpower, this is not a "distraction" but a portent of the future."

Read it all.

Be glad you don't live in New York

You have to wonder why anyone who doesn't have to would live in New York City. Sure, it's a unique city with 24 hour action, if that's what you want, but it's also the tax hell of the world. Yet many of the people who live there vote for the party that sticks it to them 24 hours a day.

This article talks about the new, even higher taxes being planned for city and state residents. People are already voting with their feet - 1.97 million New Yorkers left the state in the last decade - no doubt many of them to income tax free Florida.

But even many of those will still vote Democratic. Apparently sanity, not to mention logical consistency, is in short supply.

As for the rest of us, NYC is a nice place to visit once in awhile, but move there? You might as well resurrect the pre-Civil War south since you'd be working as a tax-slave on the Democratic party plantation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Another good article on the economics of wind power

While in Ireland last week, I ran across an article in Britain's Sunday Times written by a Mr. Sam Laidlaw, who runs a wind power company in Britain, arguing for increased subsidies to be paid by conventional power plants to wind energy companies due to the high cost of wind turbines.

Mr. Laidlaw is all for increased subsidies, so he can't be accused of bias against the wind industry. Thus, his economic arguments are very interesting. According to him, offshore wind farms cost over 4 times as much per megawatt of capacity as gas fired plants, and more than nuclear plants.

However, wind farms, unlike conventional power sources, can't produce close to their rated capacity, on average, because of the variability of wind. In fact, on average they produce somewhere between 18% and 25% of rated capacity.

So based on Mr. Laidlaw's numbers, the capital cost per megawatt of effective capacity for wind power is somewhere between 16 and 20 times as much as gas fired plants, and upwards of 4 times that of nuclear plants.

And, of course, that's before you take into account that the conventional plants have to be built anyway, because they're needed for the 100% backup wind requires when it isn't blowing at all.

As the Obama program is to forbid the construction of low cost coal plants using our most abundant energy resource, and switching to wind and solar, which is even more expensive, we'll also be outsourcing more and more energy using industries to China, which is building hundreds of new, low cost coal fired plants.

Please say goodbye to the factory jobs which would have used that energy. Perhaps those ex-workers can all be re-trained to be environmental lawyers - the sort of productive "green" jobs Obama has in mind.

Another very good article on wind economics and environmental impact is here. It's required reading.

The two strategies which can stop the ship hijackings

Now that an American ship has been hijacked off the coast of Somalia and has gotten away, while its captain is still held hostage, it's useful to recap the two ways in which the US can put a stop to this ugly business.

It's obvious the current strategy, if one can call it that, isn't working, and the reason is obvious. Simply putting US and allied frigates off the coast can't work because the pirates can choose their targets and attack while out of range in the short time available between the beginning of the attack and the capture of the ship. Once they're aboard, it's too late to stop them without sacrificing the crew.

So the only methods which can work are these:

Station an aircraft carrier off the coast with air patrols over the area, and fighters on ready alert on deck. When a ship reports a pending attack, the fighters would be fast enough to reach the ship in time to destroy the pirate vessel before the ship can be boarded.

The second, and probably less expensive, method would be to run guarded convoys past the area on a daily basis. A single frigate would be enough protection against the poorly armed pirates. Convoys were how the allies defeated German U-boats in World Wars I and II. They would work again.

What's certain is that the present policy of randomly stationing naval vessels around the area isn't working, and really can't work. One wonders when administration decision makers will figure that out.

So much for spending scrutiny

Remember how Obama was going to scrutinize the budget line by line looking for wasteful spending, while making his administration the most open and transparent in history? Now it seems that Republicans in the Congress which authorized trillions of dollars in new spending can't even find out what the money is being used for.

So Republican congresspeople are reduced to doing Google searches looking for news accounts. These show that local communities are being showered with grants they didn't ask for and can't use. One such $1.5 billion gusher of cash is laughingly called the "Homeless Prevention Fund."

"Such searches led the Cantor-Thune group to the Binghamton, New York Press & News-Bulletin for a glimpse into how HUD is spending that $1.5 billion in the Homeless Prevention Fund. In early March, the paper reported that the small town of Union, New York would receive $578,661 from the Fund, even though 'Union did not request the money and does not currently have homeless programs in place in the town to administer such funds.'

An article in the Altoona Mirror reported that the small central Pennsylvania town was going to receive $819,000 from the Fund even though Altoona officials "may not have enough of a homelessness problem to use it." And a Google search turned up a report from WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania saying the city would receive $855,478 from the Fund, but does not know what to do with it."

These are presumably representative examples of the careful use of your taxpayer dollars to "stimulate" the economy. Hang on to your wallets - it's going to be a rough ride.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another day, another fine appointment by the Obama administration

This article, by the indefatigable Michelle Malkin, details some of the record of a local Washington state politician who Barack Obama is bringing to Washington, DC. Ron Sims is well known in the state as a dishonest political hack of the first order, so he would seem a perfect fit as the number 2 man at Obama's Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Is Obama refusing to accept repayment of TARP money in order to control banks?

This article in the Wall Street Journal alleges that the Obama administration is refusing to allow a large bank that was forced to accept TARP money to repay it so that the government can continue to control bank policies on executive pay, among other things.

If this is a true story, it should be on the front page of every major MSM news outlet - except, of course, they're all in the tank for Obama, so you may never hear anything about it unless you read the WSJ. The Obama administration seems to be seriously moving to control major American industries using the financial crisis as a justification for this huge expansion of power.

Now that former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has lost his reelection bid, charges dropped

Filing phony charges against Republican officeholders to force them out of office has become another standard practice of Democratic prosecutors. Even the Bush Justice Department was filled with Democratic affiliated lawyers helping their cause, and the hapless Roberto Gonzales was apparently powerless to stop their political shenanigans.

The latest example of this unfortunate trend is the dropping of charges against Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens after he had been safely removed from office while prosecutors were loudly alleging he had covered up illegal contributions.

Now it is the prosecutors themselves who are under investigation for egregious misconduct which the trial judge called the worst he'd seen in his 25 years on the bench. Of course, the possibility that any of them will face any real penalty is about as likely as snow in Texas in July. They've done the job they set out to do - cause Stevens to lose his re-election, so they are now free to advance the cause of justice on other fronts.

More economic devastation from the Endangered Species Act

At a time when the economy is in severe stress, what makes more sense than shutting down agriculture in areas of California by withholding irrigation water supplies that have sustained the farms for generations?

"The state has said it will deliver only 20 percent of the water typically allocated for cities and farms this year. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates a separate system to deliver water to farmers, has said it will not deliver any water this spring to farms south of the delta. Farmers north of the delta can expect to get just 5 percent of their contracted amount. "

Fortunately, throwing tens of thousands of farm workers out of work, shutting down thousands of farms, and zeroing out the economies of cities and towns dependent on surrouding farms has no immediate negative consequences for the jobs of the environmental attorneys responsible for these losses. After all, they don't live in the area, and the people affected are just the "little people", not the environmental elite.

Oh, and no doubt, the delta smelt, a small fish, will appreciate the fact that they are now more important than the people whose livelihoods are being destroyed. On second thought, they probably won't appreciate it.

If you bother to watch the MSM, have you seen stories on this? Of course not - after all, these are "flyover people". Their fate is not nearly as important as the latest doings of say, Britney Spears.

Back from a trip to Ireland

You've all been waiting with great anticipation to my return to these pages, so here's the next installment. I've just returned from a week in Ireland, based near Limerick, taking car day trips each day to a different area. I was last in Ireland 15 years ago, and it was really striking how much economic progress Ireland has made in that time.

On my first trip it seemed tired, worn, and old. This time there was evidence of tremendous improvement - many new homes, old ones spruced up, and much better roads. It was really a different country from the Ireland of the early '90's.

This shouldn't be surprising, since the country adopted some classic economic tax policies in the late '80's and early '90's, principally reducing the corporate income tax dramatically to one of the lowest rates in Europe.

High corporate income tax rates are the modern equivalent of the Smoot-Hawley tariff act - a really bad economic idea with really bad real world consequences. Of course, the US has the second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, and Obama has promised to push it higher.

Ireland has shown what can be done through REAL economic stimulation via lower tax rates, and there is extremely visible evidence of the results on the ground there.