The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Although I differ with President Obama on many domestic and foreign policy matters, I do agree that the United States needs to eliminate it dependence of foreign sources of energy. I also agree that alternative energy sources—wind, solar, tidal, and others (specifically excluding ethanol which is a massive boondoggle that does little, if anything to help)—represent significant potential in the long term. They must be developed, and it’s not a bad idea to provide intelligent and targeted government subsidies for these new technologies.

But what about the short term? There is little debate (except among radical “greens”) that fossil fuel energy sources (i.e., oil, natural gas, shale, and coal) will remain important for the next two decades and possibly longer. A recent report indicates that the United States has the largest fossil fuel reserve in the world. But it seems the Obama administration is doing everything possible to retard development of that reserve. The consequence will soon be $5.00 per gallon gasoline, with its negative impact on the poor, the economy as a whole, and our national security.

Given the continuing stream of development restrictions that the White House has implemented, domestic oil production is down 13 percent from a year ago. That means we import 13 percent more oil from folks like Hugo Chavez and the Saudis. The Washington Examiner comments:
At today's prices, the Obama-induced loss of production represents $40 million per day in lost oil revenue. Spread over a full year, that comes to $14.6 billion that could be supporting thousands of sustainable, good-paying American jobs at no cost to the taxpayer. That is a much better deal than Obama's $800 billion stimulus package, which appears to have added far more to the national debt than it ever will to national employment. It seems clear that ideological and not economic considerations are at work in this administration's energy policy. The same politician who once said that energy prices would "necessarily skyrocket" under his plan seems less intent on job creation or energy security than he is on putting oil producers in a regulatory straitjacket and browbeating Americans into accepting the lower standard of living that inevitably results from energy scarcity.

The Obama adminstration seems to allow ideology, rather than good strategic judgment, to guide its decision making in a wide array of domestic and foreign policy matters. That’s not uncommon for any administration, but this administration’s ideology seems to be couched more in fantasy than reality.

We can all wish that solar and wind would eliminate the need for fossil fuels tomorrow, that "green jobs" will proliferate, and that clean energy with become dominant over the next few years. Sadly, it won’t happen, and soaring speeches or wishful thinking won't change that harsh reality. Now that nuclear power is dead (think: Japan) our only viable option in the short and mid-term is the domestic development of fossil fuel sources. There are literally hundreds (possibly thousands) of opportunities.

The White House should be working hard to facilitate the development of these domestic energy sources, rather than placing a wide array of regulatory roadblocks in their path.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Let me start by being perfectly clear—the “birther” issue is ridiculous. Barack Obama is President and arguments about his country of birth will not change that fact.

I do find it interesting, however, that the MSM seems to be doing everything it can to keep the topic alive. Commentators on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and the NYT can’t seem to stop commenting on the “racist, zenophobic” mentality of the “birthers.” They crow over polls showing that “birthers” are far more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. They repeatedly suggest that birthers are really “tea partiers” who are doing the country great harm.

Edward Tenner writes in The Atlantic:
The birthers' fixation on origins might be related to antipathy to immigrants and racial minorities. But it also reflects a xenophobia of cultural differences. This paragraph suggests that when Obama was at a formative age, Javanese customs helped shape his celebrated style. But those values regarding expression of emotion were and are the opposite of what prevails at American schools. Birtherism is like other urban legends. It expresses an anxiety -- not mainly, I think, about race, Islam, or even immigration, certainly no longer about leftism, but about his brand of coolness as a threatening alien value. It's part of Americans' ambiguity about self-control.

Tenner expresses surprise that of those polled “fully 20 percent of Americans accept the story [that Obama was born outside the USA] and almost a quarter are unsure, apparently taking it seriously.”

The unhingered behavior of birthers provides the media with an attractive target, and they simply won’t let go as the election year approaches. Rather than allowing the story to remain at the fringes, as they’ve done with the “truthers” on the Left who believe that the U.S. or Israel were complicit in planning and executing the 9/11 attacks, the media insists on keeping the birther story alive.

The real question, though, is why? Why the media obsession with the birther story?

As the presidential election year approaches, the MSM is closing ranks around their chosen candidate. The “birther” story, they believe, can be an effective bludgeon used to discredit anyone who disagrees with the policies of the President. No matter how tenuous the connection, just show some association of the President’s critics to the birther movement and their arguments can be dismissed out of hand.

After all, birthers are “stupid, racist, zenophobes.” Anyone even remotely connected to them (e.g., birthers are predominantly Independents or Republicans, so those political affiliations are suspect) has racist and/or zenophobic tendencies.

In the end, if those of us who think that Barack Obama is making serious mistakes in both domestic and foreign policy can be connected to a group of fringe conspiracy theorists, then, even honest criticism is “extreme” and unjustified. After all, if we’re to believe the implied narrative, it’s just as “crazy” to have reservations about uncontrolled domestic spending and exploding deficits or the wars in Afghanistan and Libya. It’s just the same as claiming that the President wasn’t born in the USA. Isn’t it?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Those of us in the Center have worried that our federal deficit spending would ultimately lead to financial ruin and have argued that we need to reduce spending dramatically and work hard to bring down our debt. For those who think our concerns are unfounded, government debt has historically been between 2 and 5 percent of GDP. Today, it has risen to 11 percent of GDP—more than double the historic maximum.

Yesterday, for the first time in the history of our country, Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S Credit rating from “stable” to “negative.”

Is this the end of the world? No, it is not, but it is a frightening indicator of just how serious our situation is.

In order to change course, we desperately need leadership and political courage in Washington over the next two years.

In Europe, a region that seems to be a role model for many in this Administration, countries like the U.K., Spain, Greece, and Portugal have drastically cut government spending to avert a financial crisis. The cuts were politically unpopular, but they were made because they has to be made.

We need to do the same thing. But given the current state of affairs in the Congress and the administration, it’s doubtful that real solutions will be implements. The can we continue to be kicked down the road. Very, very disheartening.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Think back to your days at college or university. You studied hard and tried to get good grades. Why?

Well, probably because the grades you earned at university provided an indication of your ability to master a variety of topics that might be useful as you entered the real world. Your grades provided insight into your work ethic, and as a consequence, gave potential employers insight into your ability to do productive work for them. Although it’s not politically correct, in most cases grades correlate with intelligence, and intelligence correlates reasonably well with success in many employment spheres.

But that creates a problem. Since college (or high school) graduates with good grades have broader opportunities than graduates with poor grades, they also have an unfair advantage. After all, all other things being equal (even though they never are), most employers would opt for a person with a 3.8 GPA over a 1.7 GPA.

Here’s a thought experiment: In the interest of fairness, why not ask those who have 3.8 GPAs to share a percentage of their grade point with those students who have lower grade point averages. Redistribute the grade “wealth” as it were.

After all, does anyone really need a 3.8 GPA? Why not establish a “grade tax” administered by the university for the upper 10 percent of all students and ask them to share, say, 10% of GPA with those who are less fortunate. After all, those with 1.7 GPA would get the redistributed grade points, see their GPA rise above 2.0, and as a consequence have better opportunities going forward.

If you asked college students if the top 5 percent of wage earners should be taxed more heavily so that the less fortunate could benefit, I suspect that the vast majority would agree. But would those same college students agree to redistribute grade points?

Informal polling indicates that the vast majority would be against the idea, but many respondents argue that it’s not fair to compare earnings with grade points. They might say that putting in the hours required to achieve a high GPA is somehow different than putting in the hours required to earn a good income. But how is it different? And why is a special added tax on high earnings really any different than a special added “tax” on high GPA holders? After all, it’s all about fairness, isn’t it?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Third World

In the classic pattern of political demagogues, President Obama recently suggested that those of us who want to see substantial spending cuts across all federal programs and meaningful steps to reign in the enormous (and growing) federal deficit are defining a path that will lead the United States to “third world” status. Really?

Investor’s Business Daily recounts the current status of the economy and the President’s role in it:
  • Real earnings have fallen for five straight months, and are down 1% since the end of last year.

  • Consumer price inflation is growing at a 6.1% annual rate over the last three months, while producer prices are rising an even-faster 13%. According to John Williams of the Shadow Government Statistics website, if we measure consumer prices the way we did before 1992, inflation is now running at 10% a year.

  • The U.S. has added $6 trillion to its debt under Obama, a sure sign of being on the road to Third World status. Three years ago, the U.S. had $7.9 trillion in debt. Today, we have $14 trillion. Bankrupt, hyperinflated Zimbabwe couldn't do any better.

  • The U.S. dollar has fallen so much and foreign nations have so little confidence in our ability to run our fiscal affairs that the "BRIC" nations — the mostly fast-growing former Third World nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China — are talking about replacing the U.S. dollar in foreign trade with the Chinese yuan.

  • Just 45.4% of Americans had jobs last year, the lowest since 1983, according to census data crunched by USA Today. Among men, just 66.8% had work last year, the lowest ever.

  • Obama touts the "recovery" that supposedly began in June of 2009, but a look at the data show that last year's real private sector GDP was in fact still down 1.1% from its peak in 2007 — so all of the "expansion" has been in government, not the private sector.

  • While we're at it, under Obama, spending has risen farther and faster than under any president in history. At current rates, government at all levels will take up more than half of all economic activity by 2050.

Can't happen here, you say? In 1920, Argentina was one of the five richest countries on Earth. Then it followed policies similar to Obama's — kowtowing to unions, government control of industry, price controls. It crashed, burned and never really recovered.
We're headed down that road. Today, government spending is at a record 25% of GDP, while government regulation costs the U.S. economy $1.7 trillion a year.

Yeah, I know, the President’s supporters argue that he inherited this mess from the evil George Bush. They argue that nefarious banks and Wall Street types are to blame, and that Barack Obama is an innocent victim in it all. Sorry, although there is some truth to those statements, the President has adopted an economic view that is unhinged, and it’s beginning to hurt the country.

Barack Obama, not GWB, added $6 trillion to our debt and did this without any discernable improvement in jobs, government services, or the housing market. He, not GWB, paid little attention to his own debt reduction commission until forced to do so by a debt reduction plan proposed by Paul Ryan while at the same time trashing Ryan and his plan in a hyper-partisan manner that does not befit a President of the United States. He, not GWB, stayed on the sidelines while the 2010 majority Congress spent in excess.

And now he has the audacity the couch himself as a deficit hawk. Please.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

(un) Balanced

It was fascinating to listen to President Obama provide us with the latest iteration of his position on deficit reduction. A significant portion of his speech—a speech that sounded more like a campaign speech that a serious discussion of policy by the President of the U.S.—focused on class-warfare. Using his latest euphemism for taxing the rich, the President talked about “balance.” But it appears that when the President is forced to discuss reducing the size of government, he loses his balance.

To be charitable, the spending “reductions” he proposed were tenuous at best. They made assumptions that were absurd (that economic growth would average 5 percent over the next 12 years), claims that were dishonest (e.g., that Obamacare would reduce the cost of medicare), and arguments that were beneath the dignity of the office that he holds (e.g., that the “rich” somehow don’t contribute enough to this country). He attacked Paul Ryan (the first politician in a generation who had the courage to propose substantive deficit reduction measures), suggesting dishonestly, that Ryan’s proposals would starve little children and hurt grandma. Demagoguery of this type accomplishes nothing of value.

The Wall Street Journal (certainly no friend of the President’s) comments:
Did someone move the 2012 election to June 1? We ask because President Obama's extraordinary response to Paul Ryan's budget yesterday—with its blistering partisanship and multiple distortions—was the kind Presidents usually outsource to some junior lieutenant. Mr. Obama's fundamentally political document would have been unusual even for a Vice President in the fervor of a campaign.

The immediate political goal was to inoculate the White House from criticism that it is not serious about the fiscal crisis, after ignoring its own deficit commission last year and tossing off a $3.73 trillion budget in February that increased spending amid a record deficit of $1.65 trillion. Mr. Obama was chased to George Washington University yesterday because Mr. Ryan and the Republicans outflanked him on fiscal discipline and are now setting the national political agenda.

Mr. Obama did not deign to propose an alternative to rival Mr. Ryan's plan, even as he categorically rejected all its reform ideas, repeatedly vilifying them as essentially un-American. "Their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America," he said, supposedly pitting "children with autism or Down's syndrome" against "every millionaire and billionaire in our society." The President was not attempting to join the debate Mr. Ryan has started, but to close it off just as it begins and banish House GOP ideas to political Siberia.

Mr. Obama then packaged his poison in the rhetoric of bipartisanship—which "starts," he said, "by being honest about what's causing our deficit." The speech he chose to deliver was dishonest even by modern political standards.

What's most disturbing is that the President actually believes his own ideological delusions. If only the “rich” paid a more “balanced” share of taxes, we’d be fine.

The simple reality is that even if we confiscated the wealth of every millionaire, we would not solve our deficit problems—problems so severe that the country is headed for default in decades to come; problems so profound that the legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren is frightening, problems so all-encompassing that the most vulnerable in our society (a phrase much used by the President) will be the first to suffer when the real reckoning starts in about a decade.

But the President and his shrinking coterie of supporters don’t seem to care. Instead of proposing real solutions, they look for someone to blame. I wonder who our grandchildren will blame in the year 2040.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

3s and 2s

There’s an old saying the the business world that applies to executives in organizations large and small. “9s hire 10s, and 3s hire 2s.” The numbers of course, pertain to the executive’s relative ability, intelligence, and management skill. A 3 is a poor manager, but worse, a very poor decision maker. Feeling threatened by more skilled underlings, he tends to hire ideological clones—people just like himself—as poorly prepared to lead as himself.

Keeping this aphorism in mind, let’s talk for just a moment about Barack Obama and Samantha Power. Ms. Power, in case you’re unfamiliar with the name, is the President’s “Special Assistant and runs the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights as Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs on the Staff of the National Security Council.” (Wikipedia) Her primary focus is on foreign policy as it is applied to genocide, and it is obvious that her imprint is all over the President’s ill-conceived intervention in Libya. Forget U.S interests, forget asking who the “Libyan freedom fighters” really are. We needed to act because a “humanitarian crisis” was in the offing.

Ms. Power is a hardcore Leftist , who in past interviews has suggested that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. She is on record as stating that the United States should use military force to stop the Israeli’s from defending themselves (she makes no comment on Palestinian atrocities against Israelis).

Now, as if following her lead, the Arab league has suggested that the UN create a “no fly zone” over Gaza to stop Israel from responding to rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Of course, the only UN member that could implement a no fly zone would be the United States. One wonders what Barack Obama’s position on this might be and what counsel Samantha Power is giving him.

“Barry Meislen” correctly believes that Samantha Power would enthusiastically support the Arab league's “no fly zone.” In doing so, he suggests that her delusional world view will force her to ignore a few things:

  • It is in Israel’s interest for their to be an agreement, and to this end, Israel has made several offers, all of which have been rejected by the Arab leader of the time

  • Because it is in Israel’s for there to be an agreement, there will NOT be an agreement

  • The Palestinians have broken practically every major and minor agreement they’ve signed with Israel, whether it be not to engage in hostilities—”No more bloodshed” (while all the time preparing for the second intifada)—or not to sanction incitement against Israel in the media (while all the time showing maps of “Palestine” covering the entire region and referring to Haifa and Tel Aviv and Beersheva and Jerusalem (etc.) as “occupied cities”, etc.), etc…

  • The Palestinians continue to voice support for a Palestinians state “from the River to the Sea”

  • The Palestinians have thus far refused accepting a Palestinian state

  • The Palestinians do not want a state of it means having to accept living side by side with a Jewish state of Israel

  • The Palestinians will continue to refuse a state

  • The Palestinians have not given up their demand for the “right of return” of Palestinians to within pre-1967 Israel

  • The Palestinians have no intention of agreeing to UN Resolution 242

  • The Palestinians have no intention of demilitarizing any future Palestinians State (to which, as mentioned above, they do not want as long as Israel exists)

  • The Palestinians have been waging an ongoing war against Israel’s legitimacy, stooping at no effort, telling any possible untruth, to erode Israel’s position, diplomatically

  • The Palestinians are locked in a civil war with each other

  • One of the Palestinians groups, Hamas, is pledged to destroy Israel; while the other, the Palestinian Authority has no intention of coming to an agreement with Israel

  • That both the PA and Hamas are despotic groups that trample their people’s human rights and freedoms

  • That the entire strategy of both groups, together, is either to wear Israel down military and/or diplomatically and in terms of Israel’s morale.

But there’s a deeper issue at work here. “9s hire 10s, and 3s hire 2s.” In appointing Samantha Power, Barack Obama has hired someone who he’s comfortable with—an ideological clone. And if Power is a clone, it’s reasonable to worry that the President’s world view is as delusional as Samatha Power's. Not a comforting thought.