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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Speed of Light

This week the world famous CERN labs in Switzerland reported on a meticulously conducted experiment on the Neutrino, a sub-atomic particle. The experiment seems to indicate that it may be possible to exceed the speed of light! For well over half a century, science has stated that the speed of light, c, is a constant (186,000 miles per second) and that it is physically impossible to move any faster. Yet, the CERN experiment indicates that c may not be a constant and speeds faster than c may, in fact, be possible.

Many physicists are skeptical about the result and the experiment will be repeated again and again. Theoretical investigation will ensue and a healthy debate will be on-going. Science encourages skepticism, but is open to new, even radical, ideas if they can be proven.

The interesting thing is that no one is calling those physicists who are questioning the value of c—“speed of light deniers.” Even though there has been consensus that c = 186,000 mps for decades, not a single scientist has suggested that the value of c is “incontrovertible” or that the science on the matter is “settled.” Not one. And that’s as it should be.

And yet, climate alarmists suggest that evidence of a significant anthropogenic impact on climate is “incontrovertible” and that the science on the matter is “settled.” If you don’t believe me ask Al Gore, or more recently, Barack Obama or Bill Clinton—eminent scientists all.

Jeff Jacoby discusses this when he writes:
You don’t have to look far to see that impeccable scientific standards can go hand-in-hand with skepticism about global warming. Ivar Giaever, a 1973 Nobel laureate in physics, resigned this month as a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) to protest the organization’s official position that evidence of manmade climate change is “incontrovertible’’ and cause for alarm. In an e-mail explaining his resignation , Giaever challenged the view that any scientific assertion is so sacred that it cannot be contested.

“In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves,’’ Giaever wrote, incredulous, “but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?’’

And yet, climate alarmists treat a weak and largely unsubstantiated theory that man-made CO2 is a dominant driver of climate change as the gospel. In fact, “gospel” is an appropriate simile because climate change true believers treat all of this like a religion. If you question their largely unsubstantiated positions, you’re a denier, a heretic, and worse, you’re a really bad person. No matter that there are compelling reasons to be skeptical; no matter that the models they’ve created are cannot reproduce past history, no matter that the data that has been used to support anthropogenic climate change is highly questionable—skepticism is not allowed—ever.

Gosh, you’d think that those of us who are skeptical about anthropogenic climate change were, well, questioning the speed of light.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I have been and continue to be a strong proponent of alternative energy. Solar, wind, tidal, thermal, and nuclear all have significant potential and all should be used in conjunction with domestic carbon-based energy sources to gain full energy independence for the United States. Energy independence is the first step in establishing a new and better foreign policv stance for the USA. It is a national security issue that has the added benefit of being green.

Recent efforts by those on the Right to demonize or belittle alternative energy is short-sighted and ideological. It smacks of the same delusional thinking that is often evidenced on the other side of the political spectrum.

Ironically, the Obama administration—a strong supporter of alternative energy—has done more to hurt the prospects for alternative energy than the any other administration in history. Its ham-handed and potentially illegal treatment of Solyndra has given the right-wing its cause célèbre. By needlessly rewarding political donors who invested in the company, by rushing a half-a-billion dollar loan to a company that was in trouble, by circumventing the prescribed vetting process, and by subordinating the taxpayers' loan to politically-connected fat-cats, the Obama administration has damaged government-loans for legitimate alternative energy companies in an irreparable fashion. And now, Solyndra executives—the same guys who glad-handed with the President on his special visit (photo-op) at the company a year ago—plead the fifth in front of congress! What a mess.

We need alternative energy development badly. Small, targeted loans to well-vetted entrepreneurial companies are not a bad thing. But now, alternative energy funding is in serious trouble.

The amateurs at the White House strike again.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Social Contract

Over the past few weeks, President Obama has demanded that “millionaires and billionaires” (defined as anyone making more than $250,000 per year ) “pay their fair share.” No matter that those making over $250,000 per year pay approximately 45% of all taxes collected and those in the top 10 percent of all income earners pay almost 70 percent.

Many of us in the Center and almost everyone on the Right views the President’s demands as blatant class warfare and a cynical political ploy to rally his base on the Left. In fact, the current rallying cry of the President's supporters is to dismiss any suggestion that class warfare is in play. Instead, people like Elizabeth Warren and an increasingly unhinged Paul Krugman have begun talking about a “social contract.”

Those who use the phrase “social contract” suggest that the government provides the infrastructure (e.g., roads, fire, police, the courts) that enables, say, a “rich industrialist” to succeed, and that in return, he or she should pay his or her “fair share.” They never mention that small business owners—not rich industrialists— will pay the preponderance of the President's proposed taxes and it’s those small business owners who create jobs. They also never quantify what the "fair share" is. Apparently, 70 percent is insufficient.

But never mind—in the Alice and Wonderland world of the Left, it’s “fairness” that matters, even if fairness harms the economy, and as a consequence, the government programs that the President’s supporters purport to love so much.

People like Warren conveniently forget to mention that "rich industrialists" and small business owners work 18 hours a day to bring their ideas to market; that they put their own money at risk; that they create jobs—lots of jobs. That all they ask is for the government not to bury them in regulations, red tape, and onerous legislation—to get out of their way.

Well, not all. In the President’s economy there are politically connected entrepreneurs and politically-correct businesses like, oh, Solyndra. The administration forced a hesitant Department of Energy to provide Solyndra with a half a billion dollars in loan guarantees. Solyndra went bankrupt and the taxpayer's money is lost.

But that’s a mere speed bump on the road to the Left’s utopian world in which the “rich” meet their "social contract."

I’ve been thinking about this, and I have a suggestion. Since the “rich” currently pay 70 percent of all income taxes collected, why don’t we have them pay 100 percent! Ninety percent of taxpayers will then pay absolutely no income taxes—none. Even Barack Obama will be hard pressed to argue that isn’t fair—although he might.

All we’ll need to do is reduce the size of government across the board—federal departments, programs, entitlements, the whole shebang. With less money required to run the government, the “rich” could pay for the whole thing. That is, the tax dollars now collected (their existing 70 percent) would cover the entire cost of the government that is funded by income taxes. No new taxes for anyone, and for 90 percent of existing taxpayers, no income taxes at all.

That seems like a reasonable "social contract" to me. Right?

It's certainly no less irrational than the suggestion that a small group of people who pay for 70 percent of something that benefits a very large group of people are somehow not paying their fair share.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's Math

It’s looks as if President Obama and his political advisors are in full campaign mode 15 months before the presidential elections. That, in itself, is unprecedented and unsettling. With our country in severe economic trouble, you’d think the President would spend 100 percent of his time trying to develop effective mechanisms to deal with our problems, rather than campaigning in “battleground states” or attending fund-raisers and the like. How naïve of me!

But in truth, that’s not the core problem. Because he has already begun his campaign, it’s necessary for the President to shift the focus away from a deficit that he has increased by almost 25 percent, away from the economy that has seen 9 percent unemployment for almost two years, and onto something that might galvanize the millions of unemployed and the tens of millions of people who pay no income taxes whatsoever and are reliable Democratic voters.

So in a cynical political ploy, the President has returned to the hard-Left go-to strategy—class warfare. For the past few months, Barack Obama has suggested the “millionaires and billionaires” don’t pay their “fair share.” In fact, against copious evidence to the contrary, he suggests that most folks who earn over $1 million a year pay taxes at a rate that is less than office workers. He uses billionaire Warren Buffet, a man who earns tens of million of dollars from investments, as the poster child for his claim—but how many Warren Buffets are out there? Answer: very, very few.

When accused of class warfare, President Obama bristles and tells us that “It’s not class warfare, it math.”

Being a math person, I liked that, so I checked the math. According to IRS data, the top 1 percent of all taxpayers pay 38 percent of all income taxes. The top 5 percent, pay 58 percent of all income taxes. The top ten percent pay 70 percent of all income taxes. And the bottom 50 percent? They pay about 2.7 percent of all income taxes collected.

Hmmm. Is that balanced? Not a single reporter has asked the President. For the “millionaires and billionaires” in the top 1 percent, is paying almost 40 percent of all income taxes collected somehow not paying your fair share? Is there any “balance” whatsoever in having close to 50 percent of all wage earners pay no income taxes at all?

But it gets worse.

Even if his class warfare arguments were passed by the Congress (there is no chance of this happening), it would do little to reduce the deficit.

But the President tells us it’s math. I guess at Harvard Law School, math is different, because a simple examination of the numbers indicates that the problem is spending, and the President’s proposal does nothing—absolutely nothing—to reduce on-going continuing spending in the short term. Like all politicians he pushes his new taxes and “cuts” out into the future, long after the election.

If Barack Obama persists in this approach (and every indication is that he will), he’ll fall victim to another kind of “math.” That math is the kind that counts votes in November of 2012.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Train Wreck

As we watch the slow motion train wreck that is the upcoming vote for Palestinian “statehood” at the UN, all you can really do is shake your head.

The majority of UN nations favor the move, even though Palestinian leadership seems incapable of governing in a manner the elevates its own people. It prefers to collect international welfare payments rather than building a viable economy, and refuses to move away from the hyper-violence the guides its interaction with Israel. Palestinian leadership is unwilling to accept Israel as a legitimate nation. They honor murderers and murder their own people when they make overtures toward peaceful co-existence with Israel. They institutionalize corruption, eschew the rule of law, and use victimization as an excuse for their own internal failings. And yet, a vast majority of UN member nations think them worthy of their own state with borders carved out of a sovereign nation defined unilaterally (by the Palestinians).

But that’s no surprise. The majority of UN member nations can relate to the Palestinians because the majority see elements of themselves in the Palestinians. Human rights abuses abound, violence is a way of life, corruption is endemic, and a hatred of Israel is common.

And what of the European and Western nations who have supported the Palestinian move? In virtually every case, their support for Palestinian statehood is being driven by the international Left. In what can only be viewed as irrational thinking, the Left demonizes Israel—the only nation in the Middle East that is a liberal democracy with operating courts, full rights for women, a gay population that doesn’t have to hide, a booming economy, and a vibrant cultural scene. Ya think maybe the Left has another agenda?

David Harsanyi summarizes the upcoming UN debacle nicely when he writes:
Sure, the United Nations has historically vacillated between deep irrelevance and monumental ineffectiveness. But with all its prevaricating and impotence on genuine threats to human rights across the world, next week it will be actively precipitating violence and endorsing ethnic cleansing.

It is understood that one of the preconditions for the existence of a Palestinian state is the judenrein West Bank. It will be purified of Jews, regardless of their political inclinations, Zionist or not, because effectively speaking no Jew will be able to live in the West Bank or East Jerusalem safely. Palestine Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the United States, Maen Rashid Areikat, has admitted as much.

The Palestinians strategy is relatively transparent— embarrass Barack Obama by forcing a veto in the security council, and as a consequence, generate a “seething anger” in the “Arab street” that will provide cover for violent “protests” that are nothing more than Intifada III.

The Palestinians have decided to play hardball despite the efforts by the Obama administration. It’s time for the United States to do the same. If the Palestinians proceed with their move (it's possible that they'll still be derailed or postponed), all U.S. aid for the Palestinians should cease. More importantly, a resumption of aid and support for any further “negotiations” must be tied to true concessions, not on the part of Israel, but by the Palestinians.

Further, it’s time for the U.S. to re-examine its disproportionate financial support for the U.N. (currently, 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget and more than 27 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget). Say, to the average of the top 10 dues-paying countries—not one dime more.

With this travesty rushing at us this week, it’s time to play hardball with both the Palestinians and the demonstrably corrupt, biased, and ineffective organization that unconditionally supports them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Let me begin by saying that I’m a firm proponent of energy independence and back a strategy that develops both domestic fossil fuels and alternative energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, nuclear, tidal) to help us get there before the year 2020. I’m even in favor of government support for fledgling alternative energy companies with a really good idea and a solid business plan. But that support has to be based on solid due diligence and should never be driven by political considerations that trump solid business thinking.

But then there’s Solyndra—a California-based solar energy company that went bankrupt last month, putting over 1,000 employees on the street and frittering away a half-billion dollars in stimulus money.

The story of Solyndra appears to be an epic tale of government (in this case, the Obama administration) making very bad decisions that wasted vast sums of taxpayer money for purely political reasons.

In a nutshell, Solyndra made solar cells, but its pricing structure was uncompetitive and had been for a few years. A major private investor in the company, billionaire George Kaiser, was a major contributor to the Obama campaign in 2008. The company applied for government loan guarantees during the Bush administration, but no action was taken on their request. Once President Obama was in office, that changed. Leaked emails seem to indicate that the administration desperately needed a “green,” shovel-ready project after the $835-billion stimulus was passed. The administration decided to fast-track the Solyndra loan application so that they could use the company as a poster-child for the effectiveness of the stimulus. Barack Obama himself visited the company to tout them as a green jobs creator.

No one yet knows whether the fast track was also a case of crony capitalism or why in the final loan agreement, the government subordinated its $500+ million to George Kaiser’s private investment of $75 million. Or why the loan was allowed to be used to build new buildings when thousands of California industrial properties lay vacant. Or why George Kaiser made 16 visits to the White House in the year before the loan guarantee was granted. Or why the Obama administration didn’t listen to warnings by its internal watchdogs and outside accounting firms.

The OMB and Price Waterhouse raised flags about the company before the loan guarantee was granted. PW stated that the company “has suffered recurring losses from operations, negative cash flows since inception and has a net stockholders’ deficit that . . . raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” Even members of the Obama's own administration warned, “This deal is NOT ready for prime time.”

But now the company is gone, and the taxpayer’s money is too. Half a billion dollars. Gone. For what?

The Obama Administration sacrificed due diligence and common sense to make a few political points. They’re certainly not the first administration to do that, but what they now have are the makings of a full-blow scandal.

Update (9/17/11):

As additional internal government emails are released, we learn more about this brewing scandal. The New York Post reports on an internal email from an OMB staffer:
“If Solyndra defaults down the road,” read one e-mail, “the optics will arguably be worse than they would be today,” because “additional funds [will] have been put at risk, recovery may be lower and questions will be asked as to why the administration made a bad investment, not just once ... but twice.”

The staffer, whose name was redacted from the published e-mail, tried to derail the extra Solyndra cash by making a political argument, suggesting that allowing Solyndra to shut its doors last January would let the White House “get some credit for fiscal discipline.”

But that suggestion was ignored -- little surprise, given how the Solyndra deal, now threatening to become Obama’s Enron, was steeped in politics from the start.

The Post characterizes information released to date as "the tip of the iceberg." It looks like this President and his administration exhibited remarkably bad judgment that was driven by political rather than business criteria. That's really not surprising given that few if any of Barack Obama's senior advisors have any private sector business experience whatsoever.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dark Clouds

Egypt is devolving into anarchy with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military fighting to see who can be more anti-American and anti-Israel (so much for the vaunted “Arab-spring”). Libya stumbles forward as “freedom fighters” with al Quaida connections pilfer surface-to-air rockets and biological weapons from Qaddafi’s stash to be sold to international terrorist groups. The Palestinians go to a corrupt and clearly anti-Western UN asking that it unilaterally grant them a state, even though they cannot govern their own territory without massive international welfare.

In all three cases, the actions of the Obama administration have clearly exacerbated an already bad situation and made it significantly worse.

When President Obama came into office, he was ignorant of realities in the Middle East or simply chose not to care. His 2009 mea culpa speech to the Arab world in Cairo was intended to better relations with Islam, but instead, his words then and his subsequent actions projected weakness and indecision. Although the MSM is loath to tell you, President Obama’s current polling in the Middle East is 10 percentage points lower than President Bush’s poll numbers at the end of his term (when Obama’s supporters kept telling us that the world hates us because of Bush).

The President’s reaction to Egyptian and Libyan unrest is a clear indicator of the vacuity of his foreign policy in that region. Richard Fernandez addresses this when he writes:
Washington’s function has changed from that of a damper to that of an accelerant without even the virtue of knowing in which direction it is accelerating. It is for change, whatever it may be, because it sounds nice; because the administration cannot be seen to as behindhand even when it is.

Hope and change. That’s the problem. The Obama administration hoped that by suggesting that dictatorial Middle Eastern leaders be changed, a time of liberal ideals and attitudes would follow. In the Middle East, that’s a naïve and dangerous hope—one that is disconnected from reality. Worse, by repeatedly criticizing Israel, the President has given the Arab world a sense that it can overreach, that the U.S. will not stand by it’s long time allies.

Dark clouds are gathering in the Middle East. They are in no small measure the result of catastrophic mismanagement of our foreign policy in that region over the past three years.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Krugman's Shame

Paul Krugman, the hard-Left columnist who writes regularly for The New York Times writes the following screed on this 10th anniversary of 9-11:
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te [sic] atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

In Krugman’s fevered imagination, the true heros of this event “raced to cash in on the horror.” Rudy Guiliani showed more leadership in one day than our current national leadership have exhibited in the past few years. But no matter—to Krugman, the Mayor of New York “cashed in” on the horror.

In Krugman’s warped view of reality, we should recognize that the aftermath of this event was “deeply shameful” for all of us. You’ll note that in his fantasy world, Krugman never even names the perpetrators of 9-11, because in his world they are but bit-players to a greater drama—the sins of the United States and why we drove these Islamist fanatics to attack us.

Krugman exemplifies a very troubling characteristic of those on the hard-Left—an extreme distaste for his own country.

At the end of his screed, Krugman writes: “I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.” The obvious reason is that at some core level he knows he’s wrong and is unwilling to hear others state why. That makes him a coward.

Krugman’s mind so distorted with a warped ideology that he borders on a form of dementia.” He's a pathetic ideologue who, unfortunately, has been given a platform by The New York Times. His analysis is illogical, his world view is irrational, and his ideas, if they were ever implemented, would do far more damage to our country than anything “Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush” ever did. Paul Krugman is a fool.

Update (9-12-11):

Not surprisingly, Krugman’s op-ed has generated a lot of blowback, none better stated that this by Pejman Yousefzadeh:
As Sa’adi noted, that collective sadness [sbout 9-11], this ability to feel the sadness of others, and to give expression to our sympathy, our empathy, and our grief makes us humans. And Paul Krugman’s inability to perceive it, his willingness–either due to moral myopia, or to an eager desire to give himself to the cause of repulsive propagandizing–to characterize our “subdued” state to the supposed “shame” that the country allegedly feels for not thinking exactly as Paul Krugman has thought for the past ten years makes him the archetypal brute. Allegedly, “in its heart, the nation knows” that Paul Krugman is super-correct about everything, and for the sin of not having listened, the nation is ashamed. And if you don’t believe in that theory, just ask Paul Krugman; he’ll be the first to tell you that you should buy into it with all of the dark thoughts you can muster.

This is a family blog, and so, I make sure not to cuss a blue streak when writing here. As a consequence, it will be impossible for me to use the only words in the English language that have so much as a candle’s chance in a cyclone of expressing the disgust, revulsion, and outrage that any decent individual ought to feel when reading Krugman’s words. How very ironic that the pundit who decries the lack of unity in the post-9/11 world should contribute so mightily to the sense of division that we are experiencing with his divisive and revolting thought that today should primarily be a day dedicated to attacking Paul Krugman’s enemies. How very egocentric of him to try to turn September 11th into “Why Paul Krugman Was Right” Day, with no cogent argument anywhere within fifty miles of his post for why the day should be re-branded as Krugman wishes it to be. “Brute”? The word will have to do to describe what Krugman is, though there certainly are other words I can think of to describe him.

Read the whole essay and watch the accompanying Youtube videos.

A Second Update (9-12-11):

Richard Fernandez talks about another kind of “shame” that a fool like Krugman is simply incapable of understanding. He also talks about forgiveness.
The story of September 11 must for all time become the story of how a certain date became unspeakable to al-Qaeda and its followers; a tale of how this day of all others, became the blackest day in the history of Islam. It should forever be a date that can never be mentioned without arousing a deep sense of shame throughout the Middle East so that in generations hence, people should still come up to strangers unbidden and say, “I’m sorry for September 11.“ Until then it is unfinished business.

We have no right to forgive. We have no right to forget. We have no right to move on until this final condition is met. That in the holy of holies of our civilization’s enemies, in the innermost recesses of their sanctum sanctorum they should say with heartfelt ardor: never again. Never again. Never, ever again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


One decade.

There will be millions of words written about the 10-year anniversary of 9-11. As the writers should, they’ll praise the heroism of the FDNY, the NYPD, the passengers on Flight 93, and the thousands of others who stepped-up when it was needed.

They’ll recount the tragic events of that day and only peripherally discuss why so many Americans suffered the tragedy. They’ll tiptoe around the cause of the tragic events—a cowardly act of war against an office building complex filled with civilians, perpetrated by Islamic extremists who by their own admission, celebrate death as much as we celebrate life.

They’ll worry about why it happened, and some, at least, will place the blame on us. Instead, they might ask why over the past decade the worldwide Islamic community has done relatively little to condemn the fanatics who committed this act of war and virtually nothing to rid their religion of those who support the Islamists.

The MSM will be full of live broadcasts of memorial events in NYC and at other sites. But only a few will wonder why political correctness, hyper-sensitivity, and bureaucratic inertia has caused some of these memorial sites to remain incomplete 10 years after the event.

The media will recount the very personal and moving stories of the heroes and the families who lost loved ones. But few will ask why the anger we felt as a nation has dissipated into an amorphous feeling of ennui.

Immediately after 9-11, those on the Left who would normally decry any attempt at retribution, remained silent, shocked by the enormity of this heinous attack. That changed, and today, it’s not at all hard to find some in the media, the arts, and the body-politic who suggest that 9-11 was somehow our fault—that our hegemony, capitalism, and greed drove the Islamists to do what they did.

In our schools 9-11 will be discussed gently, with an emphasis on diversity, cultural acceptance, and understanding. That’s as it should be. But it would be okay for children too young to remember to be reminded that the world is full of many things—some good, and some evil. And no matter how much we’d like it to be so, the evil will not be eradicated by a better understanding of others or their culture.

But in this post modern world, evil is such a subjective concept, isn’t it? Then again, if 9-11 wasn't evil, if watching innocents leap to their death from 100 stories in the air wasn’t the result of evil, if flying airliners into tall buildings with hundreds on board—men,women, and children—wasn’t evil, please tell me what is.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Right Now

After 960 days in office, President Obama pressed Congress to pass his jobs plan “right now.” The urgency that the President projected seemed rather odd, given that the new jobs plan is almost an exact duplicate of his ill-fated $800 billion stimulus package—a plan that resulted in unemployment hovering above the 9 percent mark for the past 15 months.

To be fair, there are aspects of the President’s new (old?) job plan that make sense. Improving infrastructure is a good idea, but it’s hard to understand how reductions in the payroll tax or extensions to unemployment comp duration will create jobs. These may be reasonable ideas, but they should not be part of a “jobs plan.”

Although the President’s words seem reasonable (if a bit tired) the actions of his administration tell a different story.

A few months ago, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), headed by hand-picked Obama appointees, attempted to block new work at a Boeing factory in South Carolina. Although the NLRB claims their action was procedural, it appears that the fact that Boeing moved some of its work on the new 787 aircraft to a right to work (non-Union) state had a lot more to do with it. If the administration succeeds (the case is in the courts), 1,000 jobs will be lost in South Carolina.

Last month, the Obama Justice Department raided Gibson Guitars and confiscated rosewood from India because it wasn’t finished by Indian workers in Indian. It’s worth noting that over the past year, Gibson has created 500 new jobs in both Memphis and Nashville and that some of those jobs undoubted were connected to the finishing of the rosewood. It’s also worth noting that Gibson’s CEO is a Republican fund-raiser and that Gibson is a non-union shop.

But those are side issues that provide some insight into the administration’s true positions, but don’t solve the problem of establishing an environment in which jobs will be created. The problem can be addressed by reducing onerous regulations, restructuring the tax code to make it more balanced and more inclusive (almost half of our citizens pay no income tax at all and loopholes allow some major corporations to do the same), and reducing the uncertainty associated with an administration that regularly attacks “big corporations” and the “rich.”

For a post-modern President, it’s truly remarkable how 20th century most of Barack Obama’s ideas are. For example, the President plays to his base by demanding that major corporations move manufacturing back to our shores and that the workers who do the manufacturing be union members. Is he honestly unaware that we now live in a global economy where widgets are manufactured where labor costs are lowest? Does he honestly believe that union shops make a manufacturer more competitive?

Bottom line: we cannot compete with China or South Korea or Vietnam in the manufacture of widgets, but we can compete when we derive “manufacturing jobs” in industries that cannot be exported or easily reproduced overseas.

One example of many is energy. How many jobs would be created if we tapped the 2000 acres of land on the north slope of Alaska and unleashed that state’s massive oil reserves? How many jobs would be created if the president declared an energy emergency and reduced the amount of regulation required to build nuclear power plants by 90 percent? How many jobs would be created if we reduced EPA restraints and allowed the production of oil sands and natural gas along with the resulting infrastructure to move those energy sources? And how much better off would our nation be, both domestically and internationally, if we became energy independent as a consequence?

These are not hard things to do, but they are ideologically difficult for Barack Obama. So they remain undone and the employment rate hovers around 9 percent.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

True Believers

Today’s New York Times makes still another tedious plea for humans to save the planet. Taking a de rigor swipe at the GOP presidential contenders, the editors write:
The Republican presidential contenders regard global warming as a hoax or, at best, underplay its importance. The most vocal denier is Rick Perry, the Texas governor and longtime friend of the oil industry, who insists that climate change is an unproven theory created by “a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”

Never mind that nearly all the world’s scientists regard global warming as a serious threat to the planet, with human activities like the burning of fossil fuels a major cause. Never mind that multiple investigations have found no evidence of scientific manipulation. Never mind that America needs a national policy. Mr. Perry has a big soapbox, and what he says, however fallacious, reaches a bigger audience than any scientist can command.

Either the editors of the Times are woefully ignorant of: (1) the many scientific studies that bring current climate models into question; (2) the competing and equally compelling theories that question whether CO2 is a driving factor for warming; (3) the irrefutable fact that warming has slowed to negligible amounts over the past 20 years, and (4) the major scientific scandal that brings much of the true believers “scientific” data into question, or they are themselves true believers who will not question the catechism of the climate change religion.

There’s very little question that the latter explanation better explains their hysterical claims and ad hominem accusations of denial.

Walter Russell Mead presents a reasoned counterpoint:
While there are plenty of individual greens who are cautious in their policy advice and responsible in their use of evidence, the movement as a whole is driven by emotion. Most greens are not Vulcans, dispassionately calculating the best course of action by the dictates of reason. They are angry, frightened, committed true believers on a mission from Gaia, and many have a deep view that capitalism itself is a kind of cancer — uncontrolled growth that will sooner or later kill us all. (Sherri Tepper’s science fiction in which life-affirming, grounded, caring ecologically minded people frequently of the female persuasion overcome various male/science/capitalist/cancerous growth affirming death cults on planets around the galaxy portrays this core mindset pretty well.)

This is religion, not science, romanticism not reason. Add to that significant economic interests in subsidized industries (alternative power generation, ethanol, firms hoping to benefit from carbon trading) and one sees that the green movement as a whole is driven by anything but disinterested regard for the fruit of scientific research.

The simple fact is that despite the anger of Al Gore or the politically motivated rantings of the Times editorial board, the science is far, far from settled. It would be irresponsible to establish major public policy decisions when we have only hypotheses, not irrefutable scientific fact. Even the President, who is a true believer, rejected the latest EPA climate change mandates as job killers. He did this because of politics, but at the end of the day, he did the right thing for the wrong reason.

The Left, despite its moral preening, has no monopoly on its desire for a clean and safe environment. The difference is that green true believers are perfectly willing to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Doing the wrong thing won’t solve the problem, and worse, it will create unintended side affects that may very well hurt us all.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


On the eve of President Obama’s “jobs speech”, Republicans in Congress and virtually all of the GOP presidential contenders argue that in order to create jobs in meaningful numbers, the federal government should get out the way of the private sector. This can be accomplished by reducing onerous regulations, restructuring the tax code to make it more balanced and more inclusive (almost half of our citizens pay no income tax at all and loopholes allow some major corporations to do the same), and reducing the uncertainty associated with an administration that regularly attacks “big corporations” and the “rich.”

Tomorrow, I suspect that the President will imply that he’s in favor of some of those things, but his administration's recent actions belie any such implication.

A few months ago, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), headed by hand-picked Obama appointees, attempted to block new work at a Boeing factory in South Carolina. Although the NLRB claims their action was procedural, it appears that the fact that Boeing moved some of its work on the new 787 aircraft to a right-to-work (non-Union) state had a lot more to do with it. If the administration succeeds (the case is in the courts), 1,000 jobs will be lost in South Carolina.

Last month, the Obama Justice Department raided Gibson Guitars and confiscated rosewood from India because it wasn’t finished by Indian workers in India. It’s worth noting that over the past year, Gibson has created 500 new jobs in both Memphis and Nashville and that some of those jobs undoubted were connected to the finishing of the rosewood. It’s also worth noting that Gibson’s CEO is a Republican fund-raiser and that Gibson is a non-union shop. It’s also worth mentioning that many other guitar companies use similar wood, but they have not been raided—their CEOs are Democrats and they are union shops.

The President loves to use words in august settings, and his upcoming speech before a joint session of Congress projects the right atmospherics. But as he reads his teleprompter, remember that it's actions that matter. And if Boeing and Gibson are any indication, this administration’s actions relative to jobs are so incompetent, so partisan, and so misdirected that it will be hard to take the words seriously.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Almost everything has changed in our digital world. Email has replaced snail mail—digital information of all kinds can be delivered instantly. As a consequence, many new companies have grown from nothing to become multi-billion dollar concerns. And one public-private partnership is threatened with extinction.

As it does almost every year, the management of the USPS appeared before Congress today and lamented the sorry state of their “company.” The USPS, they claimed, would be unable to meet its $5.5 billion pension obligation later this year and could cease operations within the next year. What to do?

That seemingly complex question can be answered in a single word: Nothing. The Congress should offer the USPS no bailout. They should pass no legislation that leads to indirect funding of their pension or their operations. They should let market forces take their course.

It is incumbent upon USPS management and unions to craft a plan that will save their company. To begin, the exceedingly generous pensions that postal workers receive will have to be re-evaluated. Both management and postal union leaders promised far more to USPS workers and retirees than they could deliver. Of course, they did so with the knowledge that the feds would bail them out when push came to shove. Unfortunately, the profligate spending by those same feds have lead to a deficit so deep that a bailout should be out of the question.

Management caved to a no-layoff contract for postal workers. Unfortunately, labor accounts for 82 percent of USPS expenses—as opposed to about 50% of expenses for UPS and Fedex. If your expense column has an 82 percent item, that’s where cuts must be made. But management negotiated with union leaders and promised far more to USPS workers than was realistic, again, with the knowledge that the feds would bail them out when push came to shove. That won’t happen.

If management and labor can craft a plan that enables the post office to survive, that would be great. But if they can’t, then the taxpayers and the Congress should do nothing. The USPS will declare bankruptcy, but in its place, a set of private sector companies will step in to take over many of its services.

The word changes. And just because the USPS has been around for over 230 years, does not give it the right to ask the taxpayers to perpetuate a business model that is unsustainable and anachronistic.

Update (7 Sep 2011):

Megan Mcardle comments in The Atlantic:
Congress has given the Post Office two incompatible mandates. It is to make money like a business . . . but it is not to have any of the freedom that businesses have to, say, close branch offices, cut its delivery area, or change delivery schedules.

This is, to put it mildly, lunatic.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


September 20th is rapidly approaching. What’s happening on September 20th? The Palestinians will petition the United Nations for statehood and will undoubtedly get what they want but do not deserve. A group of emerging nations, most dictatorships or worse, will define a state carved out of lands that were won by Israel as a consequence of wars conducted against them by the Arab states (including the Palestinians). The ownership of those lands has been debated for 60 years and the Palestinians have had numerous chances to make peace with Israel. But no. Israel must disappear, say the Palestinians. They are supported by many on the Left and virtually every dictatorship on the planet.

It would be as if a group of Mexican people demanded the creation of a new nation, Neuvo Mexico, on the land that is now Texas. After all, the Mexicans used to live there (many still do, just as “Palestinians” live peacefully in Israel). But the United States occupied Neuvo Mexico, over 100 years ago, and now the Neuvo Mexicans want it back.

David Warren puts it nicely when he writes:
The Palestinians, so far as they are a people, have now a long history of being able to do things without consequences. (They are not ethnically distinct from neighbouring Arabs, but defined by family ties to a given location.) Under the direction of a succession of "reformed" or unreformed terrorist leaders, from the Mufti of Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat to Hamas, they have "evolved" a polity which may itself be defined as "the Anti-Israel."

Israel is consistently held to account, both internally and externally, as an old-fashioned, formal nation state. When the Israelis respond to rocket attacks from Gaza, they are compelled to justify their action. But the people who sent the rockets are not. And supposing them to have been launched "freelance" by independent terror cells, the authority which governs Gaza is not held gravely responsible for having failed to stop them.

Imagine what the consequences would be, if Israeli citizens, acting independently, began lobbing missiles into the Palestinian territories, gratuitously at targets both civilian and military - whatever happened to be in range. And then, the Israeli authorities made no gesture to stop them. The diplomats of the world would spit up their sherry. Our peace-loving politicians would go berserk.

Yet they have nothing to say after each of many thousand Qassams comes down within Israeli borders of the strictest 1947 definition.

Take this mental exercise one step farther. What if a party in the Israeli Knesset - a party in a position to sweep any free election - announced in its very constitution that Israel's borders extend from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean, and include all deep-historical areas of Jewish settlement, including the entire West Bank. That, moreover, while Jews and perhaps a few quiet Christians are allowed to stay, all Muslims must get out. On pain of death.

Yet the reverse of this is the "final position" of Palestinian statecraft.

Hamas declares it openly, and swept the only election in which it was allowed to freely run. The operatives of the PLO used to declare it, but made an ambiguous recognition of Israel's "right to exist" - tactically, in exchange for substantial territories, and Israeli complaisance in their own "right" to enter and govern them.

If an identifiable Jew from Israel wanders, unguarded, into any part of the Palestinian territories, he is a dead man. This is a fact of life, and everyone knows it. Leftist and Islamist rhetoric about Israeli "apartheid" masks a very big truth: that more than a million Muslim Arabs live, work, and move freely around Israel, with full citizenship and protection under Israel's laws (enforced by very liberal courts). Whereas, the number of Jews enjoying this status under the Palestinian Authority is zero.

But the UN, a corrupt and ineffective world body, becomes the arbiter of what is and isn’t a “state.” That’s the same UN that has allowed Hezballah to rearm in the north, even though UN troops and sanctions are in place to stop just that.

The Obama administration is scrambling to have the Palestinians postpone their request. If they’re lucky, they may succeed. But what if they don’t?

What our President should do is suggest in no uncertain terms that this time there will be consequences. But of course, President Obama is loath to do just that. If the domestic political consequences weren’t so dire (can’t lose the Jewish domestic vote and political donations, after all), I suspect he would likely not wield a veto in the security council and allow the UN to impose a Palestinian state on Israel.

No matter that the Palestinians have never negotiated in good faith, have never renounced their stated position that Israel has no right to exist, and have never—not once—given up anything tangible in the never-ending quest for peace. But our President, purposely ignorant of realities on the ground, will cluck his tongue and voice disapproval. Words are cheap. Actions matter. Too bad.

Update (5 September 11):

A front-page report from The New York Times this morning uses off-the-record comments of “senior administration officials” regarding last ditch attempts to dissuade the Palestinians from their UN maneuver: “President Obama would be put in the position of threatening to veto recognition of the aspirations of most Palestinians or risk alienating Israel and its political supporters in the United States.”

Hmmm. You’d think that vetoing an attempt by a group that regularly lobs rockets over an international border with the primary intent of killing civilians would be an easy decision—because it is the right decision. You’d think that vetoing a proposal by a group that refuses to accept its neighbor’s right to exist would be an easy decision—because it is the right decision. You’d think that vetoing a blatant ploy at legitimacy by a group that violently abuses dissenters among its own people, that cannot apply the rule of law among its own people, and that is corrupt and thuggish would be an easy decision—because it is the right decision.

Apparently, the Obama administration is applying its post-modern view of the world yet again. There is no right and wrong—only what is politically expedient.

Friday, September 02, 2011


Although the Presidential Election is still more than a year away, it appears that President Obama and the DNC have already decided to adopt an old axiom that is used by successful defense lawyers during a criminal trial: “When your guy is guilty, change the subject by trying to pin the crime on someone else.”

The President of the United States owns the economy. But this economy is so breathtakingly abysmal—zero job growth this month, 9.1 percent unemployment, an anemic GDP, African American unemployment of 16.7 percent, a housing market that is the worst in two generations—that no one wants to own it. So the President changes the subject by trying to pin the crime on someone else.

For the first two and a half years years of Obama’s presidency, it was George W. Bush. Now with his upcoming “Jobs Speech” to a joint session of Congress, it appears that he’ll try to blame the intransigent Congress itself—actually the GOP members of the Congress.

After all, Barack Obama can’t cite a record of accomplishment. The President’s $1 trillion dollar stimulus, now more than two years old, has done nothing to create jobs. His immediate and naïve reliance on “green jobs” (a noble idea that will take a generation to evolve) has been embarrassed by the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar company that the administration loaned more than a half-billion dollars (obviously, the taxpayers are stuck with the bill) without proper vetting (this would become a major scandal, but the MSM has, as yet, treated it as a non-story). His health care program has inadvertently frozen hiring due to uncertainties that most businesses are unwilling to accept, and his demonization of corporations and the rich (the entities that tend to create jobs) has done little to inspire confidence in that sector.

So Barack Obama and his supporters will change the subject. They’ll blame the tea party “extremists” who simply want to reduce the size of government and reduce a deficit that the President has increased by more than 25 percent in less than 3 years. The temerity of those “extremists” to suggest that a balanced budget is a good idea or that spending has to be reduced now! And the GOP politicians who support them? “Obstructionists.” After all, what could be worse than suggesting that entitlements will bankrupt our country and that our children will be left in the fiscal debris that result?

And the evil Paul Ryan, the only politician with the courage to propose a detailed budget to reduce the deficit? The DNC tells seniors that Ryan wants to dismantle their Medicare, even though there isn’t a single word in his budget that would affect anyone on Medicare or likely to get Medicare within the next 10 years. But what about President Obama’s budget plan or the Democrat’s budget? Oh wait, they haven’t proposed one—not a word on paper. Nevermind, Ryan is “un-American” and its his fault that the economy is zeroed out.

In any venue, whether it’s Kindergarten or the Whitehouse, finger-pointing is unattractive. It suggests that the person blaming others is unable to control his own fate, that he or she lacks the competence, the understanding, and the self-awareness to recognize that failure cannot and should not be blamed on others.

So the President and the DNC will point their fingers, and as they become more desperate over the coming months, their claims will become increasingly more hysterical. And what is now simply unattractive, will become increasingly ugly.