Thursday, March 31, 2011

US: Most energy resources in the world and most incoherent energy policy

US: Most energy resources in the world and most incoherent energy policy

As Peter Glover says, writing in the Energy Tribune, this ought to be the lead story in every American paper and on every American news show. But it’s overshadowed by Japan, Libya and other developments in the world.

America’s combined energy resources are, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CSR), the largest on earth. They eclipse Saudi Arabia (3rd), China (4th) and Canada (6th) combined – and that’s without including America’s shale oil deposits and, in the future, the potentially astronomic impact of methane hydrates.

The US and Russia are the two most resource rich countries in the world. Here’s the chart that shows how huge our advantage is:

Note it says “Oil Equivalent” on the left side. That’s because it includes coal. Yeah, that icky, nasty stuff that we’re trying to ban or make it supremely expensive to use.

The CRS estimates US recoverable coal reserves at around 262 billion tons (not including further massive, difficult to access, Alaskan reserves). Given the US consumes around 1.2 billion tons a year, that’s a couple of centuries of coal use, at least.

In fact, the US has 28% of the world’s coal.

Natural gas?

In 2009 the CRS upped its 2006 estimate of America’s enormous natural gas deposits by 25 percent to around 2,047 trillion cubic feet, a conservative figure given the expanding shale gas revolution. At current rates of use that’s enough for around 100 years. Then there is still the, as yet largely publicly untold, story of methane hydrates to consider, a resource which the CRS reports alludes to as “immense…possibly exceeding the combined energy content of all other known fossil fuels.” According to the Inhofe’s EPW, “For perspective, if just 3 percent of this resource can be commercialized … at current rates of consumption, that level of supply would be enough to provide America’s natural gas for more than 400 years.”

So, the possibility of 400 years worth of NG, a couple hundred years worth of coal – but what about oil?

Well shucks, seems we have the potential to be quite free of foreign oil, doesn’t it?

While the US is often depicted as having only a tiny minority of the world’s oil reserves at around 28 billion barrels (based on the somewhat misleading figure of ‘proven reserves’) according to the CRS in reality it has around 163 billion barrels. As Inhofe’s EPW press release comments, “That’s enough oil to maintain America’s current rates of production and replace imports from the Persian Gulf for more than 50 years”

Of course that all assumes we do something about taking advantage of the resources we have and actually putting ourselves in a position where we’re not at the mercy of foreign sources of the same sorts of products.

Obviously and hopefully, we’ll come up with affordable and available renewable energy products while we’re doing that.

However, we have no coherent energy plan from this administration. Instead it seems to have gone to war with the oil industry and is doing everything it can to slow its ability to find and exploit these resources. 19,000 jobs and 1.1 billion in earnings have been lost since the imposition of the administration’s moratorium. Both former Presidents Bush and Clinton have spoken out against the delays. And the administration remains in contempt of a court order which ordered them to speed up the permitting process. As a result the EIA has estimated a loss of 74,000 barrels a day of production due to the moratorium this year.

Meanwhile our President touts foreign oil, our investment in it and claims we’ll be its “best customer”.

As Glover says:

Meanwhile US energy policy persists in pursuing the myth that renewables are the economically viable future, with fossil fuels already, as the president said in January, “yesterday’s energy”. With 85 percent of global energy set to come from fossil fuels till at least 2035 no matter what wishful thinkers may prefer, current US energy policy – much like European – is pure political pantomime.

Couldn’t agree more. We sit on a veritable treasure trove of natural resources which could actually make us energy independent and we have an administration which is doing everything in its power to not just keep us dependent on foreign oil, but to increase our dependence.

Bruce McQuain blogs at Questions and Observations (QandO), Blackfive, the Washington Examiner and the Green Room. Follow him on Twitter: @McQandO

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics; The left’s obsession with the Koch brothers

The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics; The left’s obsession with the Koch brothers

Matthew Continetti

April 4, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 28


David Koch’s secretary told him the news. This was in February, during the rowdy standoff between Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and demonstrators backing 14 Democratic legislators who’d fled to Illinois rather than vote on a bill weakening public employee unions. Koch’s secretary said that an editor for a left-wing website, the Buffalo Beast, had telephoned the governor posing as David Koch and recorded the conversation. And Walker had fallen for it! He’d had a 20-minute conversation with this bozo, not once questioning the caller’s identity. But then how could Walker have known? Sure, David Koch was a billionaire whose company had donated to his campaign. But Koch (pronounced “Coke”) had never talked to Walker in his life.

Yet here were the media reporting that he and his brother Charles were behind Walker’s push against public employees. Anger washed over David like a red tide. He’d been victimized by some punk with a political agenda. “It’s really identity theft,” he told me a month later, during an interview at Koch Industries’ headquarters. “And I think it’s extremely dishonest to misrepresent yourself. I think there’s a question of integrity. And the person who would do that has got to be an incredibly dishonest person.” Up until Walker’s showdown with the Democratic state senators, Koch had never seen a photograph of the governor. He didn’t know him at all. But now the protesters occupying the Wisconsin state capitol were calling Walker a “Koch Whore.”

Why? Because the Koch Industries PAC had given $43,000 to Walker’s campaign. That was less than one half of one percent of Walker’s total haul—but still enough for the left to tie Koch Industries to the battle royal in Wisconsin. David found the whole affair disturbing. “One additional thing that really bothered me,” he said, “was that the press attacked me rather than the guy who impersonated me! And I was criticized as someone who’s got a death grip on the governor and his policies. And that I control him—I mean, that’s insane!”

Ah, but such is life when you and your brother are suddenly two of the most demonized men in American politics. For decades David and Charles have run Koch Industries, an energy and manufacturing conglomerate that employs around 50,000 people in the United States and another 20,000 in 59 other countries. Depending on the year, Koch Industries is either the first- or second-largest privately held company in America—it alternates in the top spot with Cargill, the agricultural giant—with about $100 billion in revenues. David and Charles are worth around $22 billion each. Combine their wealth and you have the third-largest fortune in America after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Like most billionaires, the brothers spend a lot of time giving their money away: to medical and scientific research, to educational programs, to cultural institutions, and to public policy research and activism.

That last part has caught the attention of the left’s scouring eye. For unlike many billionaires, the Koch brothers espouse classical liberal economics: They advocate lower taxes, less government spending, fewer regulations, and limited government. “Society as a whole benefits from greater economic freedom,” Charles wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. Judging by the results of the 2010 elections, there are millions of Americans who agree with him.

Over the years the Kochs have flown beneath the radar, not seeking publicity and receiving little. But then the crash of 2008 arrived, and the bailouts, and the election of Barack Obama, and pretty soon the whole country was engaged in one loud, colossal, rollicking, emotional argument over the size, scope, and solvency of the federal government. Without warning, folks were springing up, dressing in colonial garb, talking about the Constitution, calling for a Tea Party. Some of them even joined a group called Americans for Prosperity—which the Kochs helped found and partly fund.

For progressives confused at the heated opposition to their do-gooder agenda, the Kochs became convenient scapegoats. Invoking their name was a way to write off opposition to Obama as the false consciousness of racist rubes stoked by greedy businessmen. In the liberal imagination the Kochs ascended from obscurity to infamy in record time. Starting in the spring of 2009, whenever you turned on MSNBC or clicked on the Huffington Post you’d see the Kochs described in terms more applicable to Lex Luthor and General Zod.

As last year’s midterm elections approached, the White House singled out the Kochs for attack. President Obama relied on innuendo: “They don’t have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are,” he said in August. “You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. You don’t know if it’s a big oil company, or a big bank.” Obama’s lieutenants were more direct. Also in August, an administration official, later identified as the economist Austan Goolsbee, delivered a background briefing to reporters in which he falsely alleged that Koch Industries paid no corporate income tax. (An inspector general is now investigating whether anyone in the Obama administration accessed confidential tax information prior to the attack.) The Kochs, former White House adviser David Axelrod wrote last September, are “billionaire oilmen secretly underwriting what the public has been told is a grass-roots movement for change in Washington.”

But that was just for starters. Liberals in the media turned into Koch addicts. They ascribed every bad thing under the sun to the brothers and their checkbooks. Pollution, the Tea Party, global warming denial—the Kochs were responsible. The liberals kneaded the facts like clay until the Kochs resembled a Lovecraftian monster: the Kochtopus! Its tentacles stretched everywhere. “Their private agenda is really the eradication of the federal government in almost all of its forms, other than the parts of it that protect personal rights,” New Yorker writer Jane Mayer told NPR’s Terry Gross. Anonymous, the hackers’ collective, accused the Kochs of attempting to “usurp American Democracy.” The Koch brothers manipulated the Tea Partiers, according to Keith Olbermann, by “telling them what to say and which causes to take on and also giving them lots of money to do it with.”

“They have an interest that is hard core ideological, hard core conservative. And dad’s money to pursue that agenda, it turns out, goes a long, long way,” said Rachel Maddow. Another left-wing radio host, Mike Papantonio, called them “inheritance babies who don’t want to pay taxes.” “The billionaire Koch brothers spent millions to have a seat at the Republican table in Washington,” said Ed Shultz, also of MSNBC, “and let’s be upfront about this now, folks. Now, they are the table.” For Paul Krugman, “What the Koch brothers have bought with their huge political outlays is, above all, freedom to pollute.” Frank Rich called them “fat cats.” Howard Dean was blunt: “We don’t want the right wing buying elections.” The Kochs, wrote a group of liberal bloggers, are “the billionaires behind the hate.”

By the time the rhetoric trickled down from the president of the United States to MSNBC talking heads to anonymous email writers, any pretense to civility or actual fact had vanished. The emails that showed up in Melissa Cohlmia’s inbox each morning were unhinged. Cohlmia is director of corporate communication for Koch Industries. Every day when she arrived at work, the first things she’d read were emails with subject lines like “This is the result of the hate you’ve been spewing,” “Corrupt Polluting Scum,” “I am boycotting Koch Industries,” “Treason,” and “Eat s—t you jerks.”

Koch Industries has a target on its gargantuan back. The brothers are the latest victims of the left’s lean, mean cyber-vilification machine. Cohlmia spends her time trying to debunk the falsehoods being spread about her bosses and her company. It may be a losing battle. There’s just too much junk. And every so often Cohlmia has to stop and wonder: How on earth did it come to this?

(Read more);

No Country Leans on Upper-Income Households as Much as U.S.

No Country Leans on Upper-Income Households as Much as U.S. by Scott A. Hodge

During my recent testimony before the Senate Budget Committee (found here), I cited an OECD statistic that the U.S. has the most progressive income tax system among industrialized nations.[1] This prompted one Senator to point out that if the richest 10% of taxpayers earn the most of any OECD country, shouldn't it make sense that they bear the largest tax burden of any country?

The answer can be found in the OECD table below. This table shows the share of taxes paid by the richest 10 percent of households, the share of all market income earned by that group, and the ratio of what that 10 percent of households pays in taxes versus what they earn as a share of the nation's income.

The first column shows that the top 10 percent of households in the U.S. pays 45.1 percent of all income taxes (both personal income and payroll taxes combined) in the country. Italy is the only other country in which the top 10 percent of households pays more than 40 percent of the income tax burden (42.2%). Meanwhile, the average tax burden for the top decile of households in OECD countries is 31.6 percent.

By contrast, column #2 shows that the richest decile in America earned 33.5 percent of the market income in the country in 2005 - the year in which this snapshot was taken, but little has changed since then. But, a few other countries do have a greater or similar concentration of income as does the U.S. For example, the OECD table shows that the wealthiest decile of households in Italy and Poland earn a greater share of their country's market income than do our "rich" - 35.8 percent and 33.9 percent respectively - while the share of income earned by the top decile of households in the U.K. is about on par with those in the U.S. at 32.3 percent.

The table then adjusts for the underlying allocation of income by showing the ratio of income taxes paid to the share of income earned by the top decile in each country. The ratio for U.S. households is 1.35, far greater than the ratio of taxes to income in any other country. Even in the three countries with a comparable distribution of income, the ratio of taxes to income was less, 1.18 in Italy, 0.84 in Poland, and 1.20 in the U.K.

Interestingly, countries with top personal income tax rates that are higher than in the U.S., such as Germany, France, or Sweden, have ratios that are closer to 1 to 1. Meaning, the share of the tax burden paid by the richest decile in those countries is roughly equal to their share of the nation's income. By contrast, we prefer to have the wealthiest households in this country pay a share of the tax burden that is one-third greater than their share of the nation's income.

(Go to link for chart):

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Word Around the Net: A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

Word Around the Net: A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

Watching the Libyan conflict unfold is a study in contrasts. Consider the differences between the invasion of Iraq under President Bush and the attack on Libya under President Obama. The differences between the two presidents and the response to their actions has been rather stark.

Months before the actual invasion of Iraq began, President Bush brought his argument to the American people, using speeches, interviews, and his administration writing editorials for various news sources. President Bush tried to convince the American people of the necessity of his plan and why.

By contrast, President Obama went to the UN and started taking action. He did not seek to convince anyone in the public of what he was doing, nor gain public support.

President Bush sought congressional approval for his military efforts, while President Obama did not even seem to consider it. In fact, he recently released a statement declaring such approval was unnecessary.

President Bush led the way, going to the UN to build a coalition of dozens of nations from nearly every continent on earth. President Obama went to the UN in response to bold leadership by the United Kingdom and France, waiting until someone else took the initiative.

Protesters began large, repeated, and loud protests against President Bush long before any actual military action took place. By contrast, protesters only started to complain about President Obama after the attacks had started, and they are not only few in number but scattered. International A.N.S.W.E.R. has not staged huge rent-a-mob protests in any country.

When this conflict began, there were 100 protesters out front of the White House... holding a rally over the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Meanwhile, President Bush was called a cowboy, a rash, warmongering extremist leading the nation into a Vietnam-like quagmire, while President Obama is being praised for his diplomatic skills in getting so swift an agreement to US action.

The media is supportive and protective of President Obama's actions, with the New York Times running editorial after article about the need to stop Qadaffi and even remove him from power. Now that the military action has started, the pattern continues. NBC's Andrea Mitchell gushed about how wonderful President Obama's handling of the Libyan situation has been.

Then there's the contrast of opinions before this event and after it. Vice President Joe Biden said about President Bush and Iraq:

The Constitution is clear: except in response to an attack or the imminent threat of attack, only Congress may authorize war and the use of force.

Actually the Constitution says nothing of the sort, but that's Joe Biden for you. Hillary Clinton, Obama's Secretary of State said:

If the country is under truly imminent threat of attack, of course the President must take appropriate action to defend us. At the same time, the Constitution requires Congress to authorize war. I do not believe that the President can take military action – including any kind of strategic bombing – ...without congressional authorization.

Now? Well Hillary Clinton pushed for this military action and Biden stands by his president. Charles Rangel has again pushed for the draft.

And perhaps the greatest contrast between President Obama and President Bush is that while the Bush team had a clearly laid out and prepared plan of action, what followed, and what would mean an end to US efforts, the Obama team seems to have nothing of the sort.

One cannot help wondering why it is that helping the people of Libya free themselves from a brutal dictator is so right that we must take military action, while freeing the people of Iraq from an even more brutal dictator who was supporting, training, and harboring terrorists was such a moral atrocity, according to President Obama.

The contrasts here are quite significant and unavoidable, but few in the press seem to want to even consider them.

**UPDATE: From Gateway Pundit we get this contrast, President Obama vs President Obama. In 2009, he said:

The message I hope to deliver is that democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion — those are not simply principles of the west to be hoisted on these countries. But, rather what I believe to be universal principles that they can embrace and affirm as part of their national identity, the danger, I think, is when the United States, or any country, thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture.

But now, the story is changing:

The White House is shifting toward the more aggressive goal in Libya of ousting President Muammar Gadhafi and “installing a democratic system,” actions that fall outside the United Nations Security Council resolution under which an international coalition is now acting, according to a conversation between President Obama and Turkey’s prime minister.

The contrasts keep coming.

Obama fails to grasp the gravity of going to war

Obama fails to grasp the gravity of going to war Byron York Politics Washington Examiner

Obama fails to grasp the gravity of going to war

I see Obama's visiting the United States," said Rush Limbaugh on Thursday, the president's first full day back in Washington after a spring break diplomatic tour of Latin America. For the White House, it was a touch of well-deserved sarcasm; Obama's absence at the start of the Libyan hostilities, along with his haphazard conversations with members of Congress and his nonexistent effort to prepare the American public for war, left more than a few Washington insiders shaking their heads over how the president could have mishandled things so badly.

Say what you will about the Bush White House. It knew something about preparing Congress and the public for war, having done so before invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. A president needs to lay the foundation for military action by holding extensive briefings for Congress and also by explaining to the American people why action is needed and what it will involve.

That's why veterans of the Bush White House can't quite believe what they are seeing from the supposedly communications-savvy Obama administration.

"I am completely mystified," says former top Bush aide Karl Rove, who supports the Libya intervention, "that this administration, of all administrations, makes a decision on a Tuesday night and does not bother to call anybody in Congress until Friday morning, 90 minutes before the policy is going to be executed, to tell them what is going to happen. Can you imagine what would have happened if we had tried to do that? We'd have been barbecued!"

There's also the question of why Obama did not explain his decision to the public in a forum that conveyed the gravity of the situation. After ordering troops into action, the president headed off to South America with his wife, daughters, mother-in-law, and mother-in-law's friend in tow. There was no solemn, reasoned speech to explain why the U.S. was going to war.

"We would have marked that in a very significant way," says Dan Bartlett, the former White House communications director. "We would have built a whole, for want of a better word, campaign to articulate what was happening." The president would have given a speech, probably from the White House, and in following days would likely have visited a military base from which some of the forces were deployed. Other high-ranking administration officials would have been dispatched to defend the effort.

Bartlett, who also supports U.S. involvement, believes the laid-back White House handling of the war might be an intentional strategy to downplay the U.S. role -- "Maybe they're thinking that if we had the president out there in a big way, it's going to be viewed as an American effort." But the fact is, going to war is a very big deal to the American public, and Obama simply didn't treat it as such.

The consequence is that both Republicans and Democrats are lobbing complaints at the White House. House Speaker John Boehner sent Obama a letter Wednesday with several pointed questions that might not have been necessary had there had been more consultations with Congress. On the Democratic side, Rep. George Miller, a longtime ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said flatly, "I don't think there's a lot of evidence that they sufficiently consulted the Congress."

And the public? A Gallup Poll taken during the first days of fighting found that just 47 percent of those polled approve of U.S. involvement in the Libyan fighting, while 37 percent disapprove. That is lower than support at similar stages of military action in Iraq in 2003, Afghanistan in 2001, the Balkans in 1999, Haiti in 1994, and Somalia in 1993. That's what happens when you don't prepare the public for what you're going to do.

Meanwhile, the White House is at times having difficulty simply making sense. The president talked about an "exit strategy" in which American forces would not exit at all. And administration officials are going out of their way to deny that the Libyan fighting, which involves a significant fleet of U.S. warships and U.S. warplanes, is a "war." Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Wednesday that Libya wasn't a war, describing it instead as a "kinetic military action."

"The president has gotten us involved in a war, but they won't call it a war," says Peter Wehner, another Bush White House veteran. "Muddled thinking creates muddled language, and we're getting a lot of muddled language." There's no sign that will change anytime soon.

Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent, can be contacted at

Nicholas Kristof (as well as most libs) is brain dead

The PJ Tatler » Nicholas Kristof is brain dead

Nicholas Kristof is brain dead

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is amazed, and agog at the reaction to allied help for the Libyan rebels among the populace. In a column titled “Hugs from Libya,” Kristof writes:

This may be a first for the Arab world: An American airman who bailed out over Libya was rescued from his hiding place in a sheep pen by villagers who hugged him, served him juice and thanked him effusively for bombing their country.

Even though some villagers were hit by American shrapnel, one gamely told an Associated Press reporter that he bore no grudges.

So I guess that makes all those Iraqis who hugged American soldiers when we first arrived Berbers, or something right? Couldn’t be Arabs. A prominent New York Times columnist says that an Arab hugging an American soldier in Libya “may be a first.”

Is this true? Well, not unless you believe the Pentagon staged this:

Nicholas Kristof is brain dead.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nine Out of Ten Isn't Bad--voters give thumbs-up to Repubs

Nine Out of Ten Isn't Bad by John Hinderaker/Powerline

Yesterday, Scott Rasmussen released one of his periodic surveys on which party voters trust more on the issues. It is a 1,000 likely voter survey, and therefore deserves to be taken pretty seriously. Currently, voters trust Republicans over Democrats on nine of the ten most significant issues. The only exception is Social Security, which is a tie:

At the moment, the GOP's key advantages are the economy (47-39), taxes (48-37) and national security (53-34). My sense is that the voters are mostly ahead of Congressional Republicans these days. Republicans should take heart from surveys of this sort. The voters elected them last November, knowing what the Republicans' platform was. Voters prefer Republican approaches because they want the federal government cut down to size, they want the hemorrhaging of debt to stop, or at least slow down, and they want priority given to America's security, not to pleasing others who probably don't have our interests at heart anyway. How tough is that to figure out? Republicans in Washington need to roll up their sleeves and do everything they can to push the agenda they ran on in November.

No Libya Poll Bump? Blame Boehner!

No Libya Poll Bump? Blame Boehner! The Daily Caller - Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment

It’s Boehner’s Fault: New Republic explains why Obama didn’t get a Libya Bounce in the polls: It seems political scientists have determined that a “key variable” when a President takes military action is ” the reaction of politicians and leaders in the party out of power.” When opponents don’t criticize, the President’s numbers rise. When they criticize, they don’t. In this case, Republicans, including Boehner and Gingrich, criticized. Hence, no “poll bump.” Blame an ”increasingly hyper-partisan politics” and “the extreme, anti-all-things-Obama sentiment that’s taken hold of the GOP”! … Obvious elephant-like problem with this convenient theory: Maybe the reaction of opponents to any given military action is a dependent variable. The independent variable would be, you know, the smartness/stupidity of the action itself. If it seems reasonable and necessary, the political opponents keep quiet. If it seems ill-advised, confused and clumsily handled, they criticize. Hey, it’s a theory! I don’t see how TNR’s fancy political science correlation tells us to blame Boehner but not Obama. [Maybe TNR was just trying to "put sophisticated ideas into the news cycle" like Matt Yglesias--ed Sort of like fabric softener? This one came out in the rinse!]

Read more:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Obama is awesome--mindless liberal war hypocrisy illustrated.

What Ever Happened to the Antiwar Movement?

What Ever Happened to the Antiwar Movement?  David Boaz -

About 100 antiwar protesters, including Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, were arrested Saturday outside the White House in demonstrations marking the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. It’s a far cry from the Bush years, when hundreds of thousands or millions marched against the war, and the New York Times declared “world public opinion” against the war a second superpower. Will President Obama‘s military incursion in a third Muslim country revive the antiwar movement?

On a street corner in Washington, D.C., outside the Cato Institute, there’s a metal box that controls traffic signals. During the Bush years there was hardly a day that it didn’t sport a poster advertising an antiwar march or simply denouncing President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. But the marches and the posters seemed to stop on election day 2008.

Maybe antiwar organizers assumed that they had elected the man who would stop the war. After all, Barack Obama rose to power on the basis of his early opposition to the Iraq war and his promise to end it. But after two years in the White House he has made both of George Bush’s wars his wars.

In October 2007, Obama proclaimed, “I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.” Speaking of Iraq in February 2008, candidate Barack Obama said, “I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009. It is time to bring our troops home.” The following month, under fire from Hillary Clinton, he reiterated, “I was opposed to this war in 2002….I have been against it in 2002, 2003, 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8 and I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don’t be confused.”

Indeed, in his famous “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow” speech on the night he clinched the Democratic nomination, he also proclaimed, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that . . . this was the moment when we ended a war.”

Today, however, he has tripled President Bush’s troop levels in Afghanistan, and we have been fighting there for more than nine years. The Pentagon has declared “the official end to Operation Iraqi Freedom and combat operations by United States forces in Iraq,” but we still have 50,000 troops there, hardly what Senator Obama promised.

And now Libya. In various recent polls more than two-thirds of Americans have opposed military intervention in Libya. No doubt many of them voted for President Obama.

There’s another issue with the Libyan intervention: the president’s authority to take the country to war without congressional authorization. As many bloggers noted over the weekend, in 2007 Barack Obama told Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe,

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

Candidate Hillary Clinton spoke similarly:

If the country is under truly imminent threat of attack, of course the President must take appropriate action to defend us. At the same time, the Constitution requires Congress to authorize war. I do not believe that the President can take military action – including any kind of strategic bombing – against Iran without congressional authorization.

And candidate Joe Biden:

The Constitution is clear: except in response to an attack or the imminent threat of attack, only Congress may authorize war and the use of force.

Fine words indeed. Will their supporters call them on their apparent reversal?

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that antiwar activity in the United States and around the world was driven as much by antipathy to George W. Bush as by actual opposition to war and intervention. Indeed, a University of Michigan study of antiwar protesters found that Democrats tended to withdraw from antiwar activity as Obama found increasing political success and then took office. Independents and members of third parties came to make up a larger share of a smaller movement. looked at the dwindling antiwar movement two months ago.

With his launch of a third military action, President Obama seems to have forgotten a point made by Temple University professor Jan C. Ting: “Wars are easy to begin, but hard to end.” Americans haven’t forgotten, though.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say that the war in Afghanistan hasn’t been worth fighting, a number that has soared since early 2010. Where are their leaders? Where are the senators pushing for withdrawal? Where are the organizations? Could a new, non-Democratic antiwar movement do to Obama what the mid-2000s movement did to Bush? And the $64,000 question — though these days it would have to be at least a $64 billion question — could a new antiwar movement hook up with the Tea Party movement in a Stop the War, Stop the Spending revolt?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Palin proven insightful, precient in several areas

Palin Doctrine Emerges as Arab League Echoes Her Demarche on Libya By BENYAMIN KORN, Special to the Sun

The call by the Arab League for Western military intervention in an Arab state — in this case asking that a UN “no-fly zone” be imposed over Libya – is not only without precedent but it puts in formal terms what Governor Palin stated three weeks ago should have been America’s response to the political and humanitarian crisis now unfolding there.

The former GOP vice presidential candidate was being interviewed on February 23rd on national television by Sean Hannity on a range of issues. On the Libya crisis, she proposed a no-fly-zone to protect the armed and un-armed opposition to the Qaddafi regime. Mrs. Palin’s formulation had been blogged about for nearly a week when it was echoed by the man who, before the Iraq war, had led the Iraq democratic movement in exile, Ahmed Chalabi.

A long-time foe of Saddam Hussein who has emerged as a leading figure in Iraq’s democratically elected legislature. Mr Chalabi recounted in the Wall Street Journal how President George H. W. Bush’s 1991 call for a popular uprising against Saddam had been heeded by the Iraqi people, only to have Saddam then murder some 30,000 of them from helicopter gunships while the Western world stood by.

Not again, Mr. Chalabi pleaded in his essay, and explicitly demanded a Libyan no-fly-zone. But it now it seems Qaddafi will be allowed to repeat a Saddam-style repression, even as President Obama, and the rest of what he likes to call the international community, is “watching carefully.”

Mrs. Palin also continues to link America’s energy policy — a realm in which she has experience — and U.S. foreign and anti-terrorism policies. She recognizes that the ongoing transfer of billions of U.S. petro-dollars to unstable or even hostile Mideast regimes has, since the formation in 1973 of the Organization of Petoleum Exporting Countries, been an drain on U.S. financial resources.

In a critique of Mr. Obama’s energy policies published yesterday at about the same time the Arab League was adopting her prescription for a Libya no-fly-zone, Mrs. Palin laid out how the president’s “war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump, endangered our already sluggish economic recovery, and threatened our national security.” Nor is Gov. Palin’s insight into complex international issues limited to areas of her immediate expertise.

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin — certainly no knee-jerk advocate for Sarah Palin — wrote just a few weeks ago that Palin turns out to have been correct in the prediction she made to Barbara Walters, in a much-noted November 2009 interview. Palin stated she was opposed to Obama’s opposition to Israel’s settlement policies because “[m]ore and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.” Now, as Rubin noted, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics confirms that the pace of immigration to Israel rose 14% to 16,633 from the level in 2009, most coming from Russia or America.

Mrs. Palin will be in New Delhi later this week delivering the keynote address to the annual India Today Conclave. She has been asked to speak on “What America Means to Me.” She will speak as a crisis is simmering between America and Pakistan, India’s nuclear-armed neighbor to the northwest and will be the first high profile trip by a potential Republican contender to South Asia.

More broadly, Mrs. Palin’s address in India will be another step in the growing outline of what might be called The Palin Doctrine. It contrasts sharply with the foreign policy being conducted, if that is the word, by President Obama, who is perplexing not only the Arab world, to which he reached out in his Cairo speech at the start of his presidency, but even his own supporters in the liberal camp, and many in between, who are upset by what might be called his propensity for inaction. It’s an inaction that suggests the Arab League won’t be the only institution that might find itself surprised by the logic of the alert Alaskan.

Mr. Korn, director of Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin, holds a degree in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Government-Union Reform Spreads Beyond Wisconsin

Government-Union Reform Spreads Beyond Wisconsin - By James Sherk - The Corner - National Review Online By James Sherk

The fight in Wisconsin is about who controls government: the voters, through their elected representatives, or government unions? Collective bargaining means the government cannot employ workers except on terms the union accepts. Government unions also politicize the civil service — the money they collect through the state payroll system makes them major political players. Unsurprisingly, unions want government to serve their interests instead of the public’s.

Fortunately, other states are following Governor Walker’s lead. Many states across the country have passed or are moving to pass legislation restoring voter control over their government:

Alabama: Alabama recently passed legislation prohibiting the use of the state payroll system to transfer money to political organizations — including government unions. The Alabama Education Association contends this will cost them millions in lost dues and is challenging the law in court. Since the Supreme Court already upheld a similar law in Idaho, they will probably fail.

Idaho: The state legislature passed a bill limiting school-district collective bargaining to just salary and wages. The legislation eliminates tenure and seniority-based layoffs. Elected school districts will now have the power to reward good teachers and remove bad ones.

Florida: Committees in both the state house and the state senate have taken important steps toward restoring a nonpartisan civil service. They have passed legislation prohibiting the state and local governments from collecting union dues through their payroll systems. If passed by the full legislature this would end a major taxpayer subsidy for union political fundraising.

Kansas: The Kansas House of Representatives passed a paycheck protection bill. The legislation prohibits government unions from collecting money used for political purposes through the state payroll system. Instead, the union would have to persuade workers to write a separate check to cover political expenses. Unions are predictably apoplectic, but the legislation recently passed a state senate committee.

Oklahoma: A state house committee passed a bill allowing large cities to choose whether or not to give unions a monopoly over municipal work forces. The Oklahoma senate also passed a bill reforming binding arbitration. Like many other states, Oklahoma prohibits government employees from striking against the public. Instead binding arbitration resolves contract disputes. With arbitration, an outside official listens to both sides and hands down a binding contract, taking spending decisions out of the hands of elected officials. The reforms change the standards arbitrators use to make them fairer to taxpayers.

Ohio: By a one-vote margin, the Ohio senate passed a bill preventing government employees from striking against the public, requiring government employees to pay more of the cost of their benefits, and taking the “binding” out of binding arbitration. Contract disputes would go to arbitrators, but local elected officials would have the final say on whether or not to accept the proposed contract. The state house is currently conducting hearings on the bill.

Nebraska: Nebraska governor Dave Heineman and many prominent legislators are pushing for a complete overhaul of government unions. One proposal would make arbitrators’ decisions purely advisory. Another ends binding arbitration altogether. Either proposal would return control over government to the voters and their elected representatives.

Tennessee: A state senate committee passed a bill restoring voter control over education policy. The legislation prohibits school districts from giving education unions a monopoly over their teaching workforces. A state house committee just passed a weaker version of the bill that gives school districts control over merit pay and firing decisions, but retains union influence over the wages and benefits taxpayers pay. A companion bill would stop subsidizing union fundraising with payroll deductions of dues.

Government unions drive up costs for taxpayers and prevent elected officials from implementing needed reforms. They are the reason the government does not fire failing teachers or abusive social workers. Now is the time to restore a nonpartisan civil service and voter control over their government.

— James Sherk is senior policy analyst in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Picking Up Where ’96 Welfare Reform Left Off

Picking Up Where ’96 Welfare Reform Left Off - By Katherine Bradley - The Corner - National Review Online

Picking Up Where ’96 Welfare Reform Left Off By Katherine Bradley

Today, Reps. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), Tim Scott (R., S.C.), and Scott Garrett (R., N.J.) will introduce the Welfare Reform Act of 2011, a bill that would do much more than rein in exploding federal welfare spending. It also seeks to free millions of families, currently trapped in the welfare system, from a debilitating dependence on government.

The Jordan-Scott-Garrett legislation is a bold step forward. Adopting several major proposals by my Heritage Foundation colleague, Robert Rector, the bill would apply fiscal discipline to dozens of means-tested welfare programs where spending has skyrocketed since President Obama took office.

The legislation also would ease able-bodied recipients of government assistance off the welfare rolls and into jobs — the signature accomplishment of the limited 1996 reforms. The fastest way out of poverty, as the saying goes, is a job.

Or as the Republican Study Committee, of which Jordan is chairman, puts it in a summary of his bill: “Conservatives believe that the answer to poverty is work, higher earnings and marriage.”

The welfare-reform bill aims to encourage personal responsibility while reversing the 40 percent jump in spending among the 70-plus federal welfare programs during the first two years of the Obama administration, primarily by:

● Requiring the president’s annual budget to detail total current and future welfare spending, as well as estimate state contributions to federal programs.

● Capping total welfare spending at 2007 levels plus inflation once the recession ends.

● Adding work requirements to the food-stamps program, so that the able-bodied must seek employment and job training if they are to continue receiving the assistance.

Spending on the food-stamps program alone has more than doubled since 2008. Under Obama’s 2012 budget proposal, it would reach $80 billion and 40 million recipients — with more growth to come.

If Congress doesn’t slow this runaway train, federal and state welfare spending will total $10.3 trillion over the next decade. Our government is broke and heavily in debt. We can’t afford the accelerated growth in the welfare state that Obama has set in motion, especially considering these programs aren’t an efficient, lasting way to lift individuals out of poverty.

The welfare reform bill would cap overall — or aggregate — welfare spending at the rate of inflation once the recession subsides (defined as an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent or less). Savings are estimated to exceed $1.4 trillion over ten years.

But although saving taxpayers’ money is critical, even more important are the lives of the Americans who receive these benefits. Most have spent years on welfare with little chance of leaving. The average stay on food stamps is eight years, according to one report. And despite the fact that welfare costs are 13 times higher than in the 1960s, when the War on Poverty began, the poverty rate remains virtually unchanged.

The goal should be to move welfare recipients out of poverty and dependence, and into jobs and independence. The Jordan-Scott-Garrett bill would do this by adding the same kind of work requirements that in 1996 transformed the government’s largest cash-assistance program.

Welfare rolls shrunk by 60 percent as a result of reforms to one major program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, in policy changes first proposed to President Clinton and Congress by Rector and Heritage.

We could achieve similar success in the years ahead by implementing work requirements not only for food stamps but for public housing assistance, another of the larger welfare programs.

The Welfare Reform Act of 2011 would revive the vision of the 1996 reform initiative, picking up where it left off. For the first time in 15 years, lawmakers have a real opportunity to lessen dependence on government and improve the lives of millions of Americans.

— Katherine Bradley is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society and oversaw the nation’s largest cash-assistance program during the George W. Bush administration. She is co-author, with Robert Rector, of the 2010 research paper “Confronting the Unsustainable Growth of Welfare Entitlements.”

The Obama-Kucinich Doctrine--no hint of embarrassment yet

The Obama-Kucinich Doctrine by John Hinderaker/Powerline

This has been bouncing around over the weekend, but somehow I missed it until now. Presidential candidate Barack Obama, December 2007:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

So Obama agrees with Dennis Kucinich that his authorization of military action against Libya was unconstitutional. Presumably he disagrees with Kucinich's suggestion that he should therefore be impeached.

Still, as we have noted a couple of times, it is very odd that Obama did not seek Congressional approval of the Libya mission. He certainly could have gotten it. And Obama's statement that "military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch" is one with which most people--George W. Bush, for example--would agree. So why did Obama launch a military action under circumstances that he himself describes as unconstitutional and unwise?

Maybe he just couldn't be bothered. One gets the feeling that Obama doesn't want to invest any more time or energy than necessary in his presidential duties (as opposed to his presidential perks). Otherwise, I'm stumped.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The car from Atlas Shrugged motors--crony corp. lunacy

The car from Atlas Shrugged motors

Patrick Michaels is a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and the editor of the forthcoming Climate Coup: Global Warming's Invasion of our Government and our Lives, as well as the author of several other books on the global warming scare. His Forbes column on the Chevy Volt is a case study in the nexus between big government corruption and big business rent-seeking.

Michaels briefly recaps the well-known consumer fraud in which GM has touted the Volt as an all-electric mass production vehicle on the supposed basis of which its sales receive a $7,500 taxpayer subsidy, which still renders it overpriced and unmarketable. Michaels notest that "sales are anemic: 326 in December, 321 in January, and 281 in February." There seems to be a trend here.

Michaels adds that GM has announced a production run of 100,000 in the first two years and asks what appears to be a rhetorical question: "Who is going to buy all these cars?"

But wait! Keep hope alive! There is a positive answer to the question. Jeffrey Immelt's GE will buy a boatload of those uneconomic GM cars. Here the case study opens onto the inevitable politcal angle:

Recently, President Obama selected General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair his Economic Advisory Board. GE is awash in windmills waiting to be subsidized so they can provide unreliable, expensive power.

Consequently, and soon after his appointment, Immelt announced that GE will buy 50,000 Volts in the next two years, or half the total produced. Assuming the corporation qualifies for the same tax credit, we (you and me) just shelled out $375,000,000 to a company to buy cars that no one else wants so that GM will not tank and produce even more cars that no one wants. And this guy is the chair of Obama's Economic Advisory Board?

But of course.

Michaels includes this hilarious detail in his case study:

In a telling attempt to preserve battery power, the heater is exceedingly weak. Consumer Reports averaged a paltry 25 miles of electric-only running, in part because it was testing in cold Connecticut. (My [GM] engineer at the Auto Show said cold weather would have little effect.)

It will be interesting to see what the range is on a hot, traffic-jammed summer day, when the air conditioner will really tax the batteries. When the gas engine came on, Consumer Reports got about 30 miles to the gallon of premium fuel; which, in terms of additional cost of high-test gas, drives the effective mileage closer to 27 mpg. A conventional Honda Accord, which seats 5 (instead of the Volt's 4), gets 34 mpg on the highway, and costs less than half of what CR paid, even with the tax break.

The story of the GM Volt deserves a place in the Harvard Business School curriculum. it is a classic tale of the Age of Obama.

Confidence in the U.S. System of Government Drops to a 35-Year Low

Economy, Gas, Partisanship and War Gang Up on Confidence in Government
Confidence in the U.S. System of Government Drops to a 35-Year Low
Confidence in the U.S. system of government has dropped to a new low in more than 35 years, with public attitudes burdened by continued economic discontent, soaring gasoline prices, record opposition to the war in Afghanistan -- and a letdown in hopes for political progress after a bout of bipartisanship last fall.

The causes are many. Despite a significant advance, more than half still say the economy has not yet begun to recover. And there's trouble at the pump: Seventy-one percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, report financial hardship as a result of rising gas prices. Forty-four percent call it a "serious" hardship.

(the rest):

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Obama's illegal war--O not even asking Congressional OK

EDITORIAL: Obama's illegal war - Washington Times

Congress, not the U.N., should authorize force against Libya

With Thursday's passage of United Natons Security Council resolution 1973, the United States is set to go to war against Libya. Removing Moammar Gadhafi from power would probably advance the cause of freedom, but the United Nations has no legal authority to take a step of this magnitude. By bowing to the will of the U.N. Security Council, President Obama is diluting the sovereign power of the United States.

The U.N. resolution authorizes member states to take a number of military and nonmilitary actions to protect the people of Libya from Col. Gadhafi's government. Under its own rules, however, the United Nations cannot legally authorize military action to shape the internal affairs of member states. Article 2 section 7 of the U.N. charter states that, "Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter." Chapter VII of the charter, which enumerates U.N. intervention powers, applies only to international breaches of the peace. The December 1981 U.N. "Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States" reaffirmed this principle with its solemn declaration that, "No State or group of States has the right to intervene or interfere in any form or for any reason whatsoever in the internal and external affairs of other States."

Five Security Council member states sat out the vote, including permanent members Russia and China, in addition to Germany, India and Brazil. China in particular objected to any action that would compromise Libya's sovereignty, but did not veto the resolution. This may have been a political move, since the abstaining countries are now in a position to raise principled objections to whatever happens once force is utilized. To claim the United States forged an international consensus seems premature when Resolution 1973 did not have the support of countries representing 42 percent of the world's population.

True to its internationalist instincts, the Obama administration would never contemplate an action that lacked U.N. approval, yet United Nations permission alone is inadequate. Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican, believes that the Congress should debate a declaration of war over intervening in Libya. But the White House has not sought even the type of congressional authorization for the use of force that President George W. Bush did before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. It would be ironic to say the least if Mr. Obama waged war with less legal backing than his predecessor.

International military action in Libya, even coming this late in the game, will be decisive. Resolution 1973 authorizes "all necessary measures" to "protect civilians," short of deploying ground troops, which still leaves a variety of potent options for coalition commanders. The stated policy of the United States has been and should remain regime change, but the White House must seek some form of congressional approval before military action is taken against Libya. The president cannot be seen as a mere instrument of the United Nations, which would relegate the U.S. Constitution to second-class status behind the U.N. Charter. If U.S. troops are going to be put in harm's way, the authority must come from elected representatives in Washington, not from a bunch of international bureaucrats hanging out in Turtle Bay.

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC

The One Campaign Promise Obama Has Kept

The One Campaign Promise Obama Has Kept

That is, his promise to increase the price of gasoline. Sarah Palin explains:

Through a process of what candidate Obama once called "gradual adjustment," American consumers have seen prices at the pump rise 67 percent since he took office. Let's not forget that in September 2008, candidate Obama's Energy Secretary in-waiting said: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." That's one campaign promise they're working hard to fulfill! Last week, the British Telegraph reported that the price of petrol in the UK hit £6 a gallon - which comes to about $9.70. If you think $4 a gallon is bad now, just wait till the next crisis causes oil prices to "necessarily" skyrocket. Meanwhile, the vast undeveloped reserves that could help to keep prices at the pump affordable remain locked up because of President Obama's deliberate unwillingness to drill here and drill now.

Hitting the American people with higher gas prices like this is essentially a hidden tax and a transfer of wealth to foreign regimes who are providing us the energy we refuse to provide for ourselves. Like inflation, higher energy prices are a hidden tax on Americans who are struggling to make ends meet. And these high gas prices will be felt in the form of higher food prices due to higher transportation costs. Energy is connected to everything in our economy. Access to affordable and secure energy is key to economic growth, which in turn is key to job growth. Energy is the building block of our economy. The President is purposely weakening that building block and weakening our country.

2012 can't come soon enough.

Every word of that is true. This chart, from the Heritage Foundation link above, is also instructive:

Barack Obama took office as a naive leftist with essentially no knowledge of how our economy works or how wealth is created. He subscribed to the leftist view that America is too rich and too powerful. He therefore took office intending to make America poorer and weaker. The single easiest way to accomplish this goal is by making energy more expensive. Obama said that he would increase gasoline prices gradually and cause the cost of electricity to "skyrocket." I'm not sure he has fulfilled any other campaign promise, but he has certainly made good on that one. And every American is paying the price, every day. Just as Obama intended.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

2 ex-Dem leaders charged in fake tea party scheme--nice folks!

2 ex-Dem leaders charged in fake tea party scheme The Detroit News
Mike Martindale / The Detroit News

Pontiac— Two former high-ranking members of the Oakland County Democratic Party are facing various election corruption charges in a bogus tea party scheme, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper and County Sheriff Michael Bouchard announced Wednesday.

Former Democratic Party Chairman Michael McGuinness and ex-operations director Jason Bauer, both of Waterford Township, were arraigned Wednesday before Oakland Circuit Judge James Alexander.

They face charges related to Independent Tea Party filings, false affidavits and forged documents that occurred between July 23 and July 26 last year.

Both stood mute to the charges and were released on $25,000 personal bond each, pending an April 13 hearing before Alexander.

The charges include felonies that carry up to 14 years in prison. Neither could be reached for comment.

Cooper and Bouchard announced the charges during a joint press conference conducted to discuss the findings of a one-person grand jury seated by Oakland Circuit Judge Edward Sosnick.

"The election process is sacred … this is not a partisan statement," Cooper said, noting her Democratic affiliation and that of Bouchard, a Republican. Bouchard said 23 questionable election filings across Michigan — eight of them in Oakland County — involved an effort to create the illusion of an Independent Tea Party and its candidates on November's ballot.

The goal was to woo away voters in local elections who might otherwise vote for other candidates, presumably Republicans, authorities allege.

While creating such a party in itself is not illegal, Bouchard noted that the alleged forging of documents and putting people up for political office without their involvement — including at least one "candidate" who told investigators he had no knowledge that he was on the ballot until notified — is criminal.

The scheme included bogus candidates for two County Commission seats and a state Senate race, according to a copy of a grand jury warrant released Wednesday. None of the candidates won.

"The presumed intent was to get people drawn to tea party politics and siphon votes off (from other candidates)," Bouchard said.

Bouchard said the investigation of possible election corruption is continuing and included an unnamed "party leader in Lansing." The sheriff did not elaborate.

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson petitioned for a grand jury inquiry into possible election corruption in August following complaints received by then-County Clerk Ruth Johnson and an investigation initiated by Bouchard's office at the request of Cooper.

Both McGuinness and Bauer are charged with three counts of forged records, uttering and publishing, a 14-year felony; three counts of election law, false swearing, a felony punishable by five years in prison; and one count of election law, false swearing-perjury, also a five-year felony.

Bauer is also charged with three counts of notary public violation, a one-year misdemeanor.

Both resigned their party posts following allegations in August that suspicious filings were notarized by Bauer.

Several months ago, Bauer was suspended from the Oakland Democratic Party after it surfaced that he encouraged interns to write bogus "help me" letters from nonexistent residents in support of a medical program backed by a Democratic commissioner.

From The Detroit News:

Study: Energy Regulation Preventing Job Creation--not problem for Obama, just a feature to reduce us to beggars

Study: Energy Regulation Preventing Job Creation - By Katrina Trinko - The Corner - National Review Online By Katrina Trinko

As Robert Costa noted, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) is already talking about the impact the Japan earthquake had on the country’s nuclear plants and urging the U.S. to “put the brakes” on any new nuclear plants.

But as a study released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week shows, the nation’s current energy regulation is already impacting the economy. The study estimated that the 351 energy projects currently stalled or canceled because of regulatory barriers could have created 1.9 million jobs and added $1.1 trillion to the country’s GDP. (And even green energy projects are being impacted!)

“What is urgently needed now is a careful consideration of how all these permitting obstacles, uncertainties, and time delays can be addressed to speed up the processing, approval decisions, and development of many of the job-creating projects whose progress has so far been denied,” wrote Chamber president Thomas Donahue in a USA Today op-ed. “Private investors and developers are prepared to fund, build, and operate energy projects that could materially increase GDP and create many jobs — but only if policymakers remove obstacles.”

Wisconsin Catches Boycott Fever--intimidation is the default, the only persuasion for unions

Wisconsin Catches Boycott Fever By Christian Schneider

Still in shock that their protest tactics were unable to stop Scott Walker’s new public-sector collective-bargaining restrictions from becoming law, the Wisconsin Left now believes retroactive protesting will do the trick. They will likely find out that protesting a law after it is signed is about as effective as collecting NCAA bracket entry fees after the championship game has already been played.

In order to show their strength, or something, public-employee-union supporters have released an extensive “boycott list,” urging like-minded union sympathizers to cease doing business with Scott Walker contributors. The list is so extensive that merely walking out your front door could be seen as an assault on “Wisconsin’s middle class.”

Want to use a urinal at a building constructed by a member of the Wisconsin Builders’ Association? Some guy is likely to jump out of a stall and start yelling “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!” (Hopefully, this is the first time someone has yelled these words at you with your pants down.) Want to clear your driveway of snow with a Briggs and Stratton snowblower? You’re callously plowing over the rights of your union brothers and sisters. Perhaps most important to Wisconsin residents, eating a Johnsonville bratwurst is no longer simply an attack on your arteries — it is an assault on Wisconsin’s middle class. (And your pants.) The boycott list even extends to the members of the Wisconsin Dental Association. Go to any dentist in Wisconsin, and you’re delivering a root canal to the rights of working people everywhere.

What the boycotters don’t realize is that many of these businesses will actually gain business as a result of their Scott Walker contributions. One supermarket in suburban Milwaukee has indicated that their customers have shown overwhelming support for their political activities. (To show my solidarity with Scott Walker, I began supporting the MillerCoors company about two hours before writing this column. It has led to me tearfully e-mailing three ex-girlfriends in the last half hour.)
What’s dumbfounding is how liberals think their boycotts are going to make any difference. Many of the companies on the list do very little business with the public. Will it make a dent in the economy if your average Madison bohemian stops ordering concrete and pallets? Hard-core liberals are going to end their ongoing love affair with Walmart? They’re going to throw out their “I Heart the Koch Brothers” coffee mugs?

Perhaps most ironically, investments in many of these companies are held by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board — the very same retirement system upon which these government employees will draw their pensions. (For instance, the fund holds $7.2 million in stock of Miller Brewing.) Kill those companies, and you’re hurting your own investments — and eliminating a lot of family-supporting union jobs. Bring those capitalist pigs to their knees at your own risk.

— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment at 10.2% in Mid-March

Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment at 10.2% in Mid-March

(Use link to a short read with graphs showing how employment has not improved one iota in a year):

One-Third of a French Fry Short of a Big Mac Meal--miniscule cuts

One-Third of a French Fry Short of a Big Mac Meal  by John Hinderaker/Powerline

How can we put the current debate over the federal budget into a tangible perspective that anyone can understand? This morning I read a post by Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute in which he criticized the Washington Post's characterization of the $6 billion cut in the most recent continuing resolution as "slashing" the federal budget:

Federal spending has soared by more than $2,000,000,000,000 during the Bush-Obama years, pushing the burden of government up to $3,800,000,000,000, yet the reporters who put together this story said that an agreement to trim a trivially tiny slice of 2011 spending would "slash the budget."

As Charlie Brown would say, good grief. This is the budgetary equivalent of going on a diet by leaving a couple of french fries in the bottom of the bag after bingeing on three Big Mac meals at McDonald's.

That struck me as a pretty good analogy. I wondered: if you do the math, what part of a Big Mac Extra Value Meal would a $6 billion budget cut represent?

The arithmetic is pretty simple, due to the extensive nutrition information that McDonalds makes available online. A Big Mac Extra Value Meal has three components: a Big Mac, a large order of french fries, and a medium soda. The McDonalds site tells us that a Big Mac has 540 calories, a large fries has 570 and a medium Coke has 210, for a total of 1,320 calories.

Meanwhile, the federal budget is currently around $3.8 trillion, which means that a $6 billion cut represents one 633rd of the total. What would be an equivalent cut in a Big Mac Extra Value Meal?

One variable is not readily available online; that is, how many french fries are there in a large order? To answer that question, I went to a nearby McDonalds at lunch time, paid for a large order of fries, and counted them. There were 87. (I counted fries regardless of size, but did not count the hard bits in the bottom of the container.)

This allows us to complete the calculation. If there are 570 calories in a large order of fries, and 87 fries per order, each french fry, on the average, contains 6.5 calories. One 633rd of the total calorie content of a Big Mac Extra Value Meal is 1,320/633, or 2.1 calories. That equals almost exactly one-third of an average sized french fry.

So, consider: if you were to go on what the Democrats consider a starvation diet, and "slash" your calorie intake to exactly the same degree that the Republicans' $6 billion cut has "slashed" the federal budget, you would do the following. Go to McDonalds and order a Big Mac Extra Value meal. Eat the Big Mac. Drink the Coke. Eat 86 of the 87 french fries. Carefully take the last fry and bite off two-thirds of it. Put the remaining one-third of one fry back in the bag.

If you seriously think that you have just "slashed" your diet, you are a Democrat. Most likely, an overweight Democrat.

Berkeley physicist Richard Muller shredding the infamous climate "hockey stick"

(You can see the entire 52 minute lecture from which this excerpt is drawn here.)

Obama's oil production protest fails fact-checking test

Hugh Hewitt: Obama's oil production protest fails fact-checking test Hugh Hewitt Columnists Washington Examiner

By: Hugh Hewitt

"So any notion that my administration has shut down oil production might make for a good political sound bite, but it doesn't match up with reality." So declared President Obama Friday with the practiced firmness of voice and direct look into the teleprompter that signals to veterans of the Obama watch that the chief executive has strayed far from the truth.

In May of 2010, Obama's secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, issued a six-month moratorium order for drilling on the outer continental shelf. When the courts struck down that illegal order, Team Obama switched to a slow-roll strategy, demanding new permits for exploration, and accomplished the same thing as a moratorium.

Jonathan Tilove, the New Orleans' Times-Picayune's Washington correspondent, set a standard that few met national reporters met when he collected the statements of Louisiana legislators in response to the president's whopper:

"The gap continues to widen between what President Obama claims to be true about domestic energy production and what Louisianans know is true," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

"With prices at the pump climbing toward $4 per gallon, the president is asking us to believe that his administration supports expanded drilling off the Gulf Coast," Vitter continued. "I guess that's true only if you don't actually need a permit."

"Someone should tell the president that April Fool's Day is still weeks away," said Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., told Tilove. "Today's news conference is another example of the president misleading the American people regarding his energy policy.

Tilove got similar quotes from Louisiana Republican Reps. Charles Boustany (the "president's remarks ... are wholly untrue"), Rodney Alexander, Bill Cassidy and Steve Scalise. They all provide variations on the same theme: The president isn't telling the truth about oil production and his administration's war on new supplies.

Of course, we don't have new wells off East or West Coast, and, of course, the president hasn't done anything to expand production in Alaska either. It is absurd for the president to claim anything other than that for which he deserves complete credit: Bringing new exploration to a halt in a vain and destructive attempt to force America to stop consuming the oil that in his mind and the mind of his political allies is imperiling the planet.

Far more remarkable than the president's brazenness with the truth, which has become a routine feature of Obama's "preside-but-don't-lead" tenure in the Oval Office, is the liberal mainstream media's willingness to indulge it.

The president preaches fiscal restraint but advanced a reckless budget and refuses to suggest any entitlement reform. The MSM is silent.

The president imposed Obamacare on an unwilling country and then issues more than a thousand waivers to the friends of Obama and the politically connected. The MSM is silent.

And now with gas prices soaring and an angry population turning their political fury on the president, he runs from the responsibility which is surely his and claims childlike wonder at the idea that his no-growth/no-oil policies are to blame. And the MSM is silent.

A craven MSM continues to abet the president's enormous incompetence in all aspects of his job. The credibility gap that has grown and grown around the president since January 2009 has now reached the point where Obama no longer cares to pretend to the truth and the press no longer cares to report that fact.

The price at the pumps doesn't lie, however, and that is Obama's price, a price that flows from his policies, and which defines his politics. That price will also define his presidency from now until November 2012.

Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at

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Union mobocracy drowns out democracy in Wisconsin

Union mobocracy drowns out democracy in Wisconsin Examiner Editorial Editorials Washington Examiner

Democracy could be found in Wisconsin this past week, but not among the screaming protesters running wild throughout the Wisconsin capitol. While Wisconsin's elected representatives -- minus 14 Democratic state senators who fled the state -- were working hard on the job the people sent them to do, thousands of screaming protesters provided America with a preview of the union mobocracy coming soon to a legislature, city council or school board near you. State, county and city governments across the country might well find themselves facing the same confrontational tactics that caused havoc in Wisconsin. The reason is that public employee unions have used collective bargaining to extract generous salaries, pensions and other benefits from taxpayers who can no longer afford to pay for them. The unfunded liabilities for public employee pensions and health care benefits are estimated at $3 trillion, according to Orin S. Kramer, chairman of New Jersey's State Investment Council. Voters are rebelling against public employee union demands that these inordinately lavish benefits be preserved by raising taxes, again, on the productive people in the economy, most of whom have far less lucrative benefits, if any at all. In Wisconsin, the projected deficit was $3.6 billion just for the next two years. That's why last November voters there elected Gov. Scott Walker and new Republican majorities in the state legislature. When Walker unveiled his proposed budget cuts and reforms last month, the public employee unions initially demanded higher taxes on "the rich" instead.

When Walker refused to raise taxes, government labor leaders agreed to pay a little more toward their benefits, but they also shifted the debate to the governor's proposed reforms in the collective bargaining process that enabled the unions to expect overly generous benefits. Union leaders -- who receive an estimated $100 million annually in compulsory membership dues that are paid with tax dollars -- were especially aghast that Walker proposed making union membership and dues an elective rather than a required paycheck deduction. That's when the protests moved away from fervent political speech and toward the kinds of systematic confrontation and violence reminiscent of the Students for a Democratic Society-inspired campus demonstrations of the 1960s.

Things reached a fever pitch as the Wisconsin legislature approved Walker's collective bargaining reforms. Republican legislators were often surrounded and threatened by cursing demonstrators; protesters repeatedly disrupted the legislative process; and chanting, screaming, horn-blowing crowds took over the rotunda and other parts of the capitol. Outside agitators were shipped into the state by President Obama's Organizing for America, the SEIU and other national unions, and the organization formerly known as ACORN. As events reached a crescendo, demonstrators broke past security police, breaking windows and forcing doors open in mob actions clearly intended to bring Wisconsin government to a stop and to nullify the results of last November's elections. Worst of all, many credible death threats were received by Republican legislators and are now being investigated by Wisconsin law enforcement authorities. Union mobocracy is what we get with gangster government, whether it's practiced in Washington, D.C., a state capital, or the county where you live.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Report: Union heads make six figures

Report: Union heads make six figures By: Jennifer Epstein

As the standoff between unions and Wisconsin Republicans wages on, an analysis of the nation’s 10 largest labor unions shows some top leaders — who are being derided as “union bosses” — make six-figure salaries funded by members’ dues.

Leaders earned between $173,000 and $618,000 at major unions, the Center for Public Integrity found in examining 2009 tax records, with some groups paying dozens of employees in the six figures. At the three major unions , which together represent more than 5.6 million public workers, presidents’ salaries in 2009 ranged between $400,000 and $500,000.

Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was paid $479,328 in salary and benefits in 2009. He was one of 10 employees of the 1.5 million-member union who made more than $200,000 that year.

At the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, President Dennis Van Roekel made $397,721 in salary and benefits in 2009. Thirty other officers and employees of the nation’s largest teachers’ union made more than $200,000 that year. Public school teachers, by comparison, were paid a national average of $54,319 in 2009.

The American Federation of Teachers, a smaller teachers’ union, paid President Randi Weingarten $428,384 in salary and benefits. Eight others at the 887,000-member union, which also represents college faculty and school support staff, earned more than $200,000 in 2009.

Republicans have worked to separate union members from the leaders of their organizations, arguing that the “union bosses” who represent public workers aren’t looking after the best interests of their members. Salaries that are far larger for union leaders than for their members don’t convey the image that their leaders are on the side of workers, GOP lawmakers say.

“When they say it’s about worker rights, it’s really about big union bosses running their own political dynasties,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said last week. Union political action committees and employees spent $400 million in support of President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 and another $280 million supporting Democratic candidates in 2010.

Last month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that while his state’s unions “think I’m attacking them,” he’s not. “I’m attacking the leadership of the unions because they’re greedy; they’re selfish.”

The Republican National Committee began airing a TV advertisement in Wisconsin on Wednesday that blasts “Obama and the union bosses” for “standing in the way of economic reform.”
ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC and NPR Ignore Death Threats to Wisconsin Republicans
By Noel Sheppard

Numerous death threats were made against Wisconsin Republican lawmakers last week, but you wouldn't know about it if your only news sources were ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, and NPR.

Bucking the boycott was Fox News's Bill O'Reilly Friday (video follows with transcript and commentary):

BILL O'REILLY: But first, death threats in Wisconsin and that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points" memo. The attorney general's office in that state investigating a number of death threats against some Republicans who voted to diminish union power.

A radio station obtained this email, quote: "Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will be killed due to your actions I the last 8 weeks. Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell," unquote. Wisconsin authorities are taking this stuff seriously. They have a suspect, has not been charged as far as we know.

Not taking this seriously were ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, and NPR. LexisNexis and closed-caption dump searches of "Wisconsin and 'death threat'" produced zero results for these so-called news outlets throughout the month of March.


When you compare this to the hysterical coverage of last year's Tea Party rallies and town hall protests, where conservatives were regularly depicted as either hostile or fomenting violence, one has to wonder how actual death threats against sitting politicians would not be considered newsworthy.

This seems particularly curious after all the talk about hostile rhetoric immediately following the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in January.

Now, less than two months later, actual death threats against politicians are being investigated in Wisconsin, and five major news outlets are boycotting the story.

(Readers are advised that MSNBC only provides transcripts for its extended prime time programs making it possible the network did cover this story at some point.)

Would they have reported these threats if they were made against Democrats? Seems a metaphysical certitude, correct?

For the record, according to LexisNexis, leading the way on this coverage was Fox News which has done seven reports on this issue. CNN has done four.

As far as print is concerned, this matter hasn't received a lot of attention there either.

The New York Times has published one story this month referring to death threats in Wisconsin, but it was quite non-specific and didn't mention which Party received the threats:

A number of legislators told law enforcement authorities that they had received death threats, an Assembly spokesman said. And Democrats in the Assembly tried, briefly, to have Mr. Fitzgerald removed as speaker for what they said was his “incredibly impaired” judgment.

That's it. Nothing more about this from the Gray Lady.

But that's more than the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times who have all completely ignored this story.

In case you were wondering how serious these threats are, here's what Green Bay's Fox affiliate WLUK reported Friday: