Tuesday, August 31, 2010

48% Say Obama’s Views Are Extreme; 51% Say Hillary Is Mainstream

48% Say Obama’s Views Are Extreme; 51% Say Hillary Is Mainstream

Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters now regard President Obama’s political views as extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) place his views in the mainstream, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

By comparison, 51% see the views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as mainstream. Thirty-five percent (35%) think Clinton’s views are extreme. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

Among five top contenders for the White House in 2012, only former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is viewed as more extreme than the president. Just 38% say Palin’s views are mainstream, while 55% regard them as extreme.

Mitt Romney, the ex-Massachusetts governor who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, is considered mainstream by 45% and extreme by 33%. Twenty-two percent (22%), however, are not sure about his views.

Forty-four percent (44%) say the views of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, another unsuccessful 2008 GOP hopeful, are in the mainstream. Thirty-eight percent (38%) think Huckabee is extreme, and another 18% are not sure.

It’s important to note that the questions did not define “mainstream” or “extreme.”

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters U.S. Voters was conducted on August 21-22, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters now believe the Democratic congressional agenda is extreme. A plurality (45%) view the GOP agenda as mainstream.

Voters have consistently expressed unhappiness over a number of the president’s initiatives including the national health care bill and the bailouts of the auto and financial industries. The economy continues to remain sluggish despite a number of spending measures including last year’s $787-billion economic stimulus plan, and voters now blame Obama’s policies as much as those of President George W. Bush for the bad economy.

Predictably, most Republicans view Obama’s views as extreme, while a sizable majority of Democrats say they are mainstream. But most voters not affiliated with either party also describe the president’s views as extreme by a 54% to 30% margin.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of liberals say Obama’s in the mainstream. Seventy-five percent (75%) of conservatives regard him as extreme.

But then most voters in the country now believe the president and the average Democrat in Congress are more liberal, politically speaking, than they are.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of Democrats think Clinton’s views are mainstream, while 54% of GOP voters say they are extreme. Unaffiliateds are evenly divided on the question.

But a majority (58%) of unaffiliated voters think Palin’s views are extreme, an opinion shared by most Democrats. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Republicans say the ex-governor’s views are mainstream.

Last November, 59% of Republican voters said Palin shares the values of most GOP voters throughout the nation.

In June, voters said Clinton is more qualified to be president than Obama, but most believe that both Democrats are more fit for the White House than three top Republicans interested in the job, Palin, Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

With midterm elections less than three months away, nearly two-out-of-three voters (65%) remain at least somewhat angry at the current policies of the federal government, including 40% who are Very Angry.

(For all links): http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/august_2010/48_say_obama_s_views_are_extreme_51_say_hillary_is_mainstream

Lack of regulation? Hardly--regulation cause crash

The regulatory origins of the flash crash Larry Ribstein

On May 6, 2010, the market suddenly swung a thousand points. Nobody really knows why.

But Dennis Berman, in the WSJ, has a clue – maybe the regulators did it. He notes that today’s market results from 1975 market reforms aimed at eliminating market makers who were increasing trading costs by increasing spreads:

[B]y the time the last big market reforms were issued in 2005, the intent was to “give investors, particularly retail investors, greater confidence that they will be treated fairly,” the SEC said at the time.

But now those greedy market makers have been replaced by machines, high-frequency trading and fragmented markets, leaving nobody with “the responsibility . . . to step in at a time of distress like the flash crash.” So

we have traded cheaper up-front costs for unknown back-end ones. That is exactly what is spooking the same investors the SEC vowed to protect in 2005.

Congress is now thinking of fixing this system, apparently suggesting that maybe investors are not, in the words of Delaware’s Senator Kaufman, “best served by narrow spreads.”

And we’ll undoubtedly get a regulatory fix. But Berman quotes Vanderbilt’s William Christie: “It’s kind of like a balloon—you squish one side and it pops out the other.”

Here’s some more thoughts:

•Maybe the government shouldn’t mess with markets unless it really understands how they function and the costs of regulation. Which it usually doesn’t.

•Often one regulation leads to another regulation that fixes the first one, and then to another one that fixes the second one, and so on.

•Insiders have a function – there’s usually a reason why markets are willing to tolerate their existence and profits.

•“Fairness” is often inconsistent with efficiency.

•E.g., insider trading?


Monday, August 30, 2010

Fannie and Freddie and housing meltdown

OBAMA’S Fannie and Freddie Amnesia. Yeah, you’d never know that government-controlled entities that provided lots of cushy jobs for ex-politicos played a crucial role in the mortgage meltdown . . . .

Plus this: “Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Wallison points out that in 2005 then-Senator Obama joined with his Democratic colleagues in stopping legislation that would have helped rein in the government-sponsored housing duo’s risky behavior.”

Posted at 2:53 pm by Glenn Reynolds http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/98034/

Postwar British Socialism and the Fabian Society

Postwar British Socialism and the Fabian Society Mercatus

After Labour‘s landslide victory in the 1945 election, in Castle‘s words, "What we set out to do was to ensure that this system of fair shares and the planning and controls continued after the war, and when we won, that‘s what we did." She was right about the "fair shares" (government rationing) and controls. Prices controls and rationing of consumer goods continued for years after the war. Labour‘s postwar program of nationalization was the fruit of many decades of intellectual activism by the Fabian Society, a democratic socialist movement long led by Sidney Webb, Beatrice Webb, and George Bernard Shaw. In Labour‘s 1945 election victory, over 200 members of the Fabian Society were elected to Parliament. The shift from the doctrine of free markets and free trade to the doctrine of extensive government control was partly caused by the influences of the Fabian Society in Great Britain.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A year after claiming the economy as his own, Obama points finger at predecessor

A year after claiming the economy as his own, Obama points finger at predecessor - TheHill.com
By Bob Cusack

President Obama this summer has repeatedly blamed George W. Bush for the nation’s economic woes, a year after he took ownership of the economy and criticized those who “carp and gripe.”

The White House’s effort to tie congressional Republicans to Obama’s predecessor comes less than three months before the midterm elections. But the president’s campaign speeches this summer are in contrast to a speech he delivered in Michigan last year when his approval ratings were 17 points higher.

During a July 14, 2009, address in Warren, Mich., Obama said, “Now, my administration has a job to do, as well, and that job is to get this economy back on its feet. That's my job. And it’s a job I gladly accept. I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, ‘Well, this is Obama’s economy.’ That’s fine. Give it to me. My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and carp and gripe.”

At the time, the AP wrote, “With four simple words — ‘Give it to me’ — President Barack Obama took possession of the economy.”

Throughout this year, Obama has blamed Bush, and the criticism has intensified this month.

On Aug. 9 in Bush’s home state of Texas, Obama said the former president’s “disastrous” policies had damaged the economy, noting Bush inherited budget surpluses and ended his time in the White House with a budget deficit.

During a fundraiser with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in Seattle this week, Obama said, “Eighteen months ago, I took office after nearly a decade of economic policies that had given us sluggish growth, sluggish job growth, falling incomes, falling wages and a record deficit.”

Obama has explained that the reason he is highlighting the record of the previous administration is because the GOP is offering “retreads” of Bush’s policies.

Congressional Republicans have not spent much time talking about how they would govern differently than Bush did, though some conservatives have faulted the 43rd president for his record on government spending.

In a recent interview with The Hill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not directly answer a question on differences with Bush.

“The voters are interested in what’s happened in the last year and a half,” McConnell said. “They know who’s in charge… It is naïve of our friends on the other side to assume they can run again the ’06 and ’08 elections. This is going to be about the present, not the past.”

As Obama’s approval ratings have fallen though the year, more voters blame him for the state of the economy. A Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters found 48 percent blame Obama for the nation’s economic problems, while 47 percent fault Bush.

Almost six months ago, a similar Gallup poll reported that 42 percent of voters blamed Bush a “great deal” while only 26 percent said Obama deserved a great deal of blame.

Eugene Milhizer, the president and dean of Ava Maria School of Law, said, “I think Obama has got ownership of the economy, whether he wants it or not.”

Milhizer said it’s not unusual for a new president to inherit a struggling economy.

For months, Obama has said Republicans drove the economy into a ditch.

He recently said, “We’re slipping and sliding and sweating, and the other side, the Republicans, they’re standing with their Slurpees watching us.”

He added, “Finally, we get this car to level ground … and what happens? [Republicans] want the keys back. Well, you can’t have the keys back … You got us in the ditch.”

With the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.5 percent and jobless claims at their highest level in nine months, Milhizer said, “Many people would say we’re in the ditch now.”

Republicans have repeatedly noted that the White House predicted the stimulus package would keep unemployment at 8 percent.

Congressional Democrats, including Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and Barney Frank (Mass.), have publicly criticized the administration for making those predictions.

And while Obama and other Democrats claim the stimulus saved the country from another depression, Frank has said that in politics, “you don’t get credit for a crisis averted.”

While there is much unease about the direction of the country, Obama is optimistic that the U.S. will rebound.

During his speech in Seattle, Obama said, “The truth is it’s going to take a few years to fully dig ourselves out of this recession. It’s going to take time to bring back 8 million jobs. Anybody who tells you otherwise is just looking for your vote. But here’s what I can tell you: After 18 months, I have never been more confident that our nation is headed in the right direction.”

The White House did not comment for this article.



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Photo: literally hundreds of thousands--compare media estimates

Dana Loesch: Sarah Palin and the rise of the Feminist Right | Washington Examiner

Dana Loesch: Sarah Palin and the rise of the Feminist Right Washington Examiner

Liberal women have their panties in a bunch over the media's recent characterization of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a "feminist."

You see, that job is patented by liberal feminists who, for the past 30 or so years, have turned the term for "belief and advocacy in and for equality between the sexes" into a vote-manipulating, moneymaking shtick of an oxymoron. They get upset whenever anyone attempts to co-opt the unofficial trademark of the female left and dilute their commodity.

Popularly defined feminism is no longer about liberating women from the patriarchy but about beholding them to a political party whose policies clearly affect women negatively.

This past month, liberal feminists made more hay made over Palin's "mama grizzlies" talk than the matter of the Food and Drug Administration jerking Avastin off the market. Avastin is a drug used to treat late-stage breast cancer and has been shown to extend the life of some breast cancer patients by five months, but was deemed "cost-prohibitive" by the government.

Emily's List cared enough about women to make a video criticizing Palin, but apparently not enough about breast cancer patients to make a video criticizing the FDA's move.

Liberal feminists made more hay about Palin's chest than I saw them make over the nine women who were recently stoned to death in the Middle East. Those same liberal feminists were also silent when Alle Bautsch was beaten in the street for being a conservative woman.

Liberal feminists talk of choice, but refuse to take the liberated, independent responsibility for their choices and instead press Uncle Sam to subsidize their abortions and birth control.

Liberal women complain about unemployment, yet promote policies which stifle the free market, suppress economic growth and shrink their wallets.

Liberal women rage about education, but help put a man in the White House who worked to kill educational equality by destroying the school vouchers program.

Liberal advocacy for equality between the sexes is a myth; through second- and third-wave feminism, equality became about lowering the bar and demanding that everyone sink to meet the expectations. Case in point: Title IX, wherein boys' welfare and achievement was suppressed so that girls could catch and match them.

Equality is not met by comparing oppression or mediocrity, but by comparing potential and excellence; nor is it met by tearing down the opposition or suppressing ability. Liberal women are quick to ignore their strengths and unique qualities and measure their success by masculine standards in the workplace, in sports or in the home.

It should surprise no one that many conservative women are bucking the notion that liberalism owns the patent on "feminism" and controls whether a woman can or cannot call herself a feminist.

These past two years we've seen the rebirth of feminism: "The face of the tea party is female," said a March 2010 Quinnipiac poll, which detailed who's driving the grass-roots movement.

The year 1992 was billed as the "Year of the Woman," with 222 women on the ballot for congressional seats; this year Rutgers University counted 239 women on the ballot heading to the 2010 midterms.

Conservative women are active because the liberal idea of feminism has failed. An entire generation of berated men have been hog-tied by the chick card, and conservative women are tired of the liberal stereotype that they're all simpletons who only raise their voices to sing in church.

Conservative women are rebelling against this false advocacy used as a political ploy to tether women to The Man.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Sarah-Palin-and-the-rise-of-the-Feminist-Right-534655-101265274.html#ixzz0xUwuGE9w


Friday, August 27, 2010

About the "war caused the deficits" fake narrative

CHART OF THE DAY: Deficits, With And Without The Iraq War. “Do you see alarming deficits or trends from 2003 through 2007 in the above chart? No. In fact, the trend through 2007 is shrinking deficits. What you see is a significant upward tick in 2008, and then an explosion in 2009. Now, what might have happened between 2007 and 2008, and then 2009? Democrats taking over both houses of Congress, and then the presidency, was what happened. Republicans wrote the budgets for the fiscal years through 2007. Congressional Democrats wrote the budgets for FY 2008 and on.”

UPDATE: The Anchoress emails: “That deficit graph is going to go viral. This piece in the NY Times from 2006 reinforces it.”

Yeah, note this excerpt:

An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane relief.

Well, that was back when the Bush tax cuts were kicking in. Now, in the Age Of Obama, the “unexpectedly” language is in regard to very different kinds of developments . . .

Posted by Glenn Reynolds

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"I fought for you" video is a must watch

I can't embed this youtube, so just click on it, let it buffer and watch it--be prepared to choke up a little:


'We're not the other guys' isn't good enough, GOP

'We're not the other guys' isn't good enough, GOP Washington Examiner

Republicans enjoy a 50 percent to 43 percent advantage over Democrats among registered voters, the highest yet in Gallup's weekly tracking of the 2010 midterm elections. But a Republican victory in November will mean nothing if it means more GOP business as usual. That is why it is critically important for congressional Republicans to put forward a concrete agenda before the election as an alternative to that of big-spending congressional Democrats. Instead, Republicans appear satisfied to fall back on a one-plank platform: "We're not the Democrats." That won't cut it because, as pollster Scott Rasmussen recently told the Wall Street Journal, the GOP will benefit from voters' desire to oust the party in power, but "75 percent of Republicans say their representatives in Congress are out of touch with the party base. Should they win big this November, they will have to move quickly to prove they've learned lessons from the Bush years."

Those Bush years too often displayed little difference between Republicans and Democrats in Washington. Much of the vast expansion of the federal government by Democrats was previewed by the Bush-led Republicans. Obamacare's overreach? Don't forget the Republicans' entitlement-expanding and budget-busting Medicare Part D. In fact, Republicans were off the reservation long before Bush ever entered office. The 1994 Republican revolution marked the first time in more than 40 years that Republicans held a congressional majority. They won while pledging specific policy goals in their Contract with America, including term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and welfare reform. Some significant progress was made but in a few years the revolution was all but abandoned. The Cato Institute's Ed Crane recently noted that the "combined budgets of the 95 major programs that the Contract with America promised to eliminate ... increased by 13 percent."

Today, most Americans are ready as never before to shrink government and stop the spending madness. This presents the GOP with an opportunity it didn't have in 1994: an electorate exhausted by Washington politicians and their doubletalk. But the GOP so far seems unwilling to lay out specifics about how it plans to respond to what Americans are saying if they restore the party to majority status in the House and perhaps the Senate. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., boasts of the Republican "YouCut" Web site that solicits ideas from voters, but that effort barely rises above window dressing. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has proposed a "Roadmap to Economic Recovery" as a serious program for entitlement reform, yet the party leadership has not embraced it. Similarly, the Heritage Foundation has compiled 128 policy recommendations across 23 major policy areas for shrinking government and making it work better. The Examiner will be offering a number of ideas on this page in coming days as well. Republican leaders risk squandering a historic opportunity by ignoring such recommendations. The voters are waiting.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Economic doldrums leave Americans in no mood for Obama’s liberal agenda

Economic doldrums leave Americans in no mood for Obama’s liberal agenda Washington Examiner

By: Michael Barone

Like many Democrats over the past 40 years, Barack Obama has hoped that his association with unpopular liberal positions on cultural issues would be outweighed by pushing economic policies intended to benefit the ordinary person.

In his campaign in 2008 and as president in 2009 and 2010, he has hoped that those he characterized to a rich San Francisco Bay area audience as bitterly clinging to guns and God would be won over by programs to stimulate the economy and provide guaranteed health insurance.

At least so far, it hasn’t worked, as witnessed by recent statements by some of the Democrats’ smartest thinkers.

The 2009 stimulus package is so unpopular that Democrats have banned the word from their campaign vocabulary. “I’m not supposed to call it stimulus,” Rep. Barney Frank told the “Daily Show”’s Jon Stewart. “The message experts in Washington have told us that we’re supposed to call it the recovery plan.

“I’m puzzled by that,” Frank went on. “Most people would rather be stimulated than recover.” The problem is, the economy has neither been stimulated nor has it recovered.

As for the health care bill, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, who has been pondering Democrats’ standing with working class voters since his perceptive 1980s studies of Reagan Democrats in Macomb County, Mich., has pretty much thrown in the towel.

In a leaked report for Democratic insiders Greenberg and fellow pollster Celinda Lake concede that “straightforward ‘policy’ defenses fail to be moving voters’ opinions about the law” and “many don’t believe health reform will help the economy.”

“Women in particular,” they add, “are concerned that [the] health law will mean less provider availability — scarcity an issue.” In other words, people have figured out that government rationing may mean less supply for a product for which there is great demand.

Greenberg and Lake recommend using personal stories to highlight the law’s benefits. But “don’t overpromise or ‘spin’ what the law delivers” and don’t “say the law will reduce costs and deficit.”

Do say, “The law is not perfect, but it does good things and helps many people. Now we’ll work to improve it.” [emphasis theirs]

This amounts to an abandonment of the claims that the Obama Democrats have been making about the health care bill they jammed through five months ago. It’s an admission that they messed up when they had supermajorities and will do better when they have fewer votes. It’s a retreat from framing the issue as support versus oppose to revise versus repeal.

So much for the economic issues that were going to provide the underpinnings of what Greenberg’s associate James Carville predicted would be 40 years of Democratic party dominance.

As for cultural clashes, Democrats can claim to have quieted down debates over abortion and other issues that, as Obama said in his 2004 convention speech, unduly divided Blue America and Red America. But others have taken their place, to the Democrats’ discomfort this legislative season. The Obama Justice Department stepped in and got an injunction against Arizona’s law authorizing law enforcement to ask people stopped for other reasons about their immigration status.

Never mind that other states do this routinely without getting sued. The real problem is that about two-thirds of Americans support the Arizona law. Why couldn’t the administration let it go into effect and see if it assisted the efforts they assure us they are making on border and employer enforcement?

Then there was Obama’s iftar celebration comments on the mosque proposed for a site two blocks from the World Trade Center ruins, comments that were taken as an endorsement — until the president proclaimed himself a day later as agnostic on whether it should be built there.

A large majority of Americans, according to a Fox News poll, believe the advocates have a right to place a mosque there, but even more believe they should not do so. Now we have been watching as Democrats from Harry Reid and Howard Dean on down scamper to say they agree with both these views, while Obama endorses only the first.

The Arizona law and the ground zero mosque issues are not likely to be dispositive issues in most congressional races this year. But they are additional baggage for the Obama Democrats who find themselves, as the economy languishes, on the defensive on the issues they thought would win over the bitter clingers.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Name says it all: "Bankrupting America"

Hugh Hewitt: All GOP has to promise is change

Hugh Hewitt: All GOP has to promise is change -- from Obama Washington Examiner

RealClearPolitics.com provides a daily update of polls from across the country. While there are a handful of bright spots for Democrats among the numbers, almost everywhere the candidates with a (D) behind their names turn, they find news that is going from bad to worse.

For example, Republican Dino Rossi leads three-term U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., by 7 points in a Survey USA sampling.

The same outfit has Carly Fiorina outpacing "Please don't call me ma'am" Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., by 5 points.

Rasmussen has conservative Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey ahead of hard-left Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak by 8 points in the race to succeed Sen. Arlen Specter.

Also in the Keystone State, Republican Tom Corbett outpaces Democratic nominee Dan Onorato by double digits in the governor's race.

In the Ohio governor's race, John Kasich has a similar commanding lead over incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland.

All of these results are from blue states -- states which went, often by lopsided margins, for President Obama in 2008.

And none of these polls was taken before the mosque controversy took off with an assist from Obama.

None of them depends at all on misidentification of the president as a Muslim.

Some of the GOP gains no doubt do reflect dismay at the president's decision to sue Arizona over that state's attempt to buttress his administration's failing efforts to secure the border.

But far and away what drives all of these numbers and many, many more is the deep-seated conviction that the president's economic policies have failed, and not only failed, but exacerbated the downturn.

The president and his team promised a ceiling to unemployment of 8 percent, and of course it is 9.5 percent and the Congressional Budget Office has already concluded that it won't drop below 9.3 percent by year's end -- a forecast that arrived before last week's surprising jump in new claims for jobless benefits to 500,000, the highest rate since November. Consumer confidence must be ebbing, and employers, who are already skittish about the approach of Obamacare's massive mandates, now worry about everything from double-dips to deflation.

Confidence in the president's economic programs, his economic advisers, and his economic "theories," such as they are, have cratered. The noise about the belief among a small minority that he is a Muslim had almost to be a relief to a White House that could at last push back strongly against a story with effective outrage.

But the president's party cannot push back against the economic facts of life in America. Obama got everything he wanted in the stimulus, the seizure of GM, and Obamacare. He got the massive spending, the soaring deficit, the skyrocketing debt.

Obama baked this economic cake, and as he enjoys his third vacation in as many weeks, the public has decided from East to West Coast, and from deep blue to dark red, that a wholesale change -- real change -- is needed.

Nothing can change the fundamentals between now and November except a crisis abroad. And any crisis is likely to underscore, not alleviate, the fear that the president is an appeaser at heart, and no friend of Israel.

The only thing the Republicans must do is preach again and again that it doesn't have to be this way. The economy can turn around. Employers can be assured. Productive businesses can be grown and the government cut.

Again and again, the GOP needs to say that 2010 is the time for the real change that the country needs.

If every Republican candidate in every race from top to bottom talks about the pressing need for change from bottom to near the top, the recovery can resume late in the fourth quarter.

Republican leads can actually grow, and the size of the wave can increase. The pollsters have never seen anything like this year. It is possible that they haven't even begun to glimpse what is under way across the land.

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 HughHewitt.com.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Obama knew Gulf drilling ban would cost at least 23,000 jobs

Obama knew Gulf drilling ban would cost at least 23,000 jobs Washington Examiner

By: Mark Tapscott

Interior Department officials knew beforehand that President Obama's six-month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico would cost more than 23,000 jobs and inflict devastating economic damage throughout the region.

Even so, the administration was not deferred from defying a federal judge and doing it anyway.

Federal court documents examined by The Wall Street Journal reveal a July 10 memo to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from Michael Bromwich in which he estimated that "a six-month deepwater-drilling halt would result in 'lost direct employment' affecting approximately 9,450 workers and 'lost jobs from indirect and induced effects' affecting about 13,797 more.'"

The Journal also reports that Bromwich said it would be better to implement a revised regulatory process, but concluded, "I guess the moratoria approach is necessary because the MMS cannot be trusted to regulate." That's the Interior agency formerly known as the Minerals and Mining Service, which oversaw federal regulation of drilling rigs in the Gulf.

The first Obama drilling ban was thrown out by U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman, who said the measure was being imposed "arbitrarily" and without regard for the "irreparable harm to businesses" it would cause. The administration changed some wording here and there and went ahead with the six-month ban.

Although it was supposedly intended only to temporarily suspend deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf, critics say it has also forced a slowdown or halt of drilling operations in shallow water and onland in some Western states.

The American Energy Alliance, an industry supported research and advocacy group, cites a study by two Lousiana State University professors who estimate nationwide economic losses from the ban at $2.7 billion.

Go here for the full story from the Journal.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Obama-knew-Gulf-drilling-ban-would-cost-23000-jobs-101220729.html#ixzz0xMxrdDLB


Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Point of No Return--Wisdom of Franklin, Lincoln

The Point of No Return - Article - National Review Online

The warnings of Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln have never been more relevant.

How did we get to the point where many people feel that the America they have known is being replaced by a very different kind of country, with not only different kinds of policies but also very different values and ways of governing?

Something of this magnitude does not happen all at once or in just one administration in Washington. What we are seeing is the culmination of many trends in many aspects of American life that go back for years.

Neither the Constitution of the United States nor the institutions set up by the Constitution are enough to ensure the continuance of a free, self-governing nation. When Benjamin Franklin was asked what members of the Constitutional Convention were creating, he replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

In other words, a constitutional government does not depend on the Constitution but on us. To the extent that we allow clever people to circumvent the Constitution while dazzling us with rhetoric, the Constitution becomes just a meaningless piece of paper as our freedoms are stolen from us, much as a pick-pocket might steal our wallet while we were distracted by other things.

It is not just evil people who would dismantle America. Many people who have no desire to destroy our freedoms simply have agendas of their own that are singly or collectively incompatible with the survival of freedom.

Someone once said that a democratic society cannot survive for long after 51 percent of the people decide that they want to live off the other 49 percent. Yet that is the direction in which we are being pushed by those who are promoting envy under its more high-toned alias, “social justice.”

Those who construct moral melodramas — starring themselves on the side of the angels against the forces of evil — are ready to disregard the constitutional rights of those they demonize, and to overstep the limits that the Constitution puts on the powers of the federal government.

The outcries of protest in the media, in academia, and in politics when the Supreme Court ruled this year that people in corporations have the same free-speech rights as other Americans were a painful reminder of how vulnerable even the most basic rights are to the attacks of ideological zealots. Pres. Barack Obama said that the Court’s decision would “open the floodgates for special interests” — as if all you have to do to take away people’s free-speech rights is call them special interests.

It is not just particular segments of the population that are under attack. More fundamentally under attack are the very principles and values of American society as a whole. The history of this country is taught in many schools and colleges as the history of grievances and victimhood, often with the mantra of “race, class, and gender.” Television and the movies often do the same.

When there are not enough current grievances for them, they mine the past for grievances and call it history. Sins and shortcomings common to the human race around the world are spoken of as failures of “our society.” But American achievements get far less attention — and sometimes none at all.

Our “educators,” who cannot educate our children to the level of math or science achieved in most other comparable countries, have time to poison their minds against America.

Why? Partly, if not mostly, it is because that is the vogue. It shows you are “with it” when you reject your own country and exalt other countries.

Abraham Lincoln warned of people whose ambitions can only be fulfilled by dismantling the institutions of this country because no comparable renown is available to them by supporting those institutions. He said this 25 years before the Gettysburg Address, and he was speaking of political leaders with hubris, whom he regarded as a greater danger than enemy nations. But such hubris is far more widespread today than just among political leaders.

Those with such hubris — in the media and in education, as well as in politics — have for years eroded both respect for the country and the social cohesion of its people. This erosion is what has set the stage for today’s dismantling of America, which is now approaching the point of no return.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

If O never lets the guns get to you, he won't have to grab them, will he?

Obama bans over 100,000 rifles byDavid Kopel/Volokh

According to The Korea Times, the Obama administration has blocked efforts by the South Korean government to sell over a hundred thousand surplus M1 Garand and Carbine rifles into the United States market. These self-loading were rifles introduced in 1926 and 1941. As rifles, they are especially well-suited to community defense in an emergency, as in the cases of community defense following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Along with AR-15 type rifles, the M1 rifles are the quintessential firearms of responsible citizenship, precisely the type of firearms which civic responsibility organizations such as the Appleseed Project teach people how to use.

According to a South Korean official, “The U.S. insisted that imports of the aging rifles could cause problems such as firearm accidents. It was also worried the weapons could be smuggled to terrorists, gangs or other people with bad intentions.”

Regarding the second objection, any firearm lawfully imported into the United States would eventually be sold by a Federal Firearm Licensee who, pursuant to the background check system imposed by Congress (and endorsed by the NRA) would have to contact federal or state law enforcement to verify that the gun buyer is not prohibited from possessing firearms. Accordingly, the risk that the South Korean surplus guns might fall into the hands of gangsters or other bad people is exactly the same as with the sale of any other retail firearm in the United States. Notably, neither the M1 Garand nor the M1 carbine are concealable, and the M1 Garand is long, heavy, and bulky. Accordingly, the criminal utility of such guns is relatively low.

The second Obama administration objection is accidents. But in fact, increasing gun density in the United States has been associated with steeply declining rates of gun accidents. In 1948 there were .36 guns per person. (That is, about one gun for every three Americans.) By 2004, there was nearly one gun for every American. In 1948, there were 1.6 fatal gun accidents per 100,000 persons. By 2004, the rate had fallen by 86%, so that there were .22 fatal accidents per 100,000 persons. (For underlying data, see Appendix B of my amicus brief in Heller.)

Legally, it is indisputable that the guns are importable. Being over 50 years old, the rifles are automatically “Curios and Relics” according to federal law. 27 CFR section 478.11. Accordingly, they are by statutory definition importable. 18 USC section 925 (e)(1). Notwithstanding the law, the Obama administration has the ability to pressure the South Korean government to block the sale of the guns.

President Obama was elected on the promise that he supported individual Second Amendment rights. His administration’s thwarting of the import of these American-made rifles is not consistent with that promise.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Ramirez nails the "keys to the car" irony

Drunk Driving by John Hinderacker/Powerlineat 9:28 PM

P. J. O'Rourke said that giving tax money to Congress is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenager. That hasn't deterred President Obama from automobile analogies, as he is currently going around the country warning voters not to give the keys to the car back to Republicans because they're the ones who drove us into the ditch. That is debatable, of course, and I suspect that many wonder, if where we were up through 2006 was the ditch, where have the Democrats taken us since then? Michael Ramirez offers his own automobile image, which is reminiscent of O'Rourke's adage:

M. Zuhdi Jasser on the Mosque & Religious Freedom

M. Zuhdi Jasser on the Mosque & Religious Freedom - The Corner - National Review Online By Kathryn Jean Lopez

The former U.S. Navy officer, medical doctor, and Muslim responds to President Obama:

Mr. President this is not about religious freedom. It is about the importance of the World Trade Center site to the psyche of the American People. It is about a blatant attack on our sovereignty by people whose ideology ultimately demands the elimination of our way of life. While Imam Faisal Rauf may not share their violent tendencies he does seem to share a belief that Islamic structures are a political statement and even Ground Zero should be looked upon through the lens of political Islam and not a solely American one.

As a Muslim desperate to reform his faith, your remarks take us backwards from the day that my faith will come into modernity. I do not stand to eliminate Imam Rauf’s religious freedom; I stand to make sure that my children’s religious freedom will be determined by the liberty guaranteed in the American Constitution and not by clerics or leaders who are apologists for shar’iah law and will tell me what religious freedom is.

‘Park 51′, ‘The Cordoba House’ or whatever they are calling it today should not be built, not because it is not their right to do it – but because it is not right to do it.” Mr. President, your involvement in this issue is divisive not uniting. Your follow-up stating that ‘you will not speak to the wisdom of the construction of that mosque and center’ indicates a passive-aggressive meddling on your part that only marginalizes those Muslim and non-Muslim voices against it while pretending to understand both sides of the debate.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Extreme? We got your extreme right here on 11/2

Panel drops life extending drug=death panel, period!

US breast cancer drug decision 'marks start of death panels'

America's health watchdog is considering revoking its approval of the drug Avastin for use on women with advanced breast cancer, leading to accusations that it will mark the start of 'death panel' drug rationing.
By Nick Allen, in Los Angeles and Andrew Hough

US regulators will delay consideration of the colon-cancer drug Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer Photo: BLOOMBERG A decision to rescind endorsement of the drug would reignite the highly charged debate over US health care reform and how much the state should spend on new and expensive treatments.

Avastin, the world’s best selling cancer drug, is primarily used to treat colon cancer and was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2008 for use on women with breast cancer that has spread.

Roche criticises NICE decision on kidney cancer drugsIt costs $8,000 (£5,000) a month and is given to about 17,500 women in the US a year. The drug was initially approved after a study found that, by preventing blood flow to tumours, it extended the amount of time until the disease worsened by more than five months. However, two new studies have shown that the drug may not even extend life by an extra month.

The FDA advisory panel has now voted 12-1 to drop the endorsement for breast cancer treatment. The panel unusually cited "effectiveness" grounds for the decision. But it has been claimed that "cost effectiveness" was the real reason ahead of reforms in which the government will extend health insurance to the poorest.

If the approval of the drug is revoked then US insurers would be likely to stop paying for Avastin.

The Avastin recommendation led to revived allegations that President Barack Obama’s overhaul of the US health care system would mean many would be denied treatments currently available.

During the debate, those opposed to the reforms cited Britain’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which decides whether new treatments should be made available on the NHS on the basis of cost effectiveness, as an example of the sort of drug rationing that amounted to a "death panel".

David Vitter, the Republican Senator for Louisiana, said the FDA decision amounted to rationing health care.

"I shudder at the thought of a government panel assigning a value to a day of a person’s life," he said. "It is sickening to think that care would be withheld from a patient simply because their life is not deemed valuable enough.

"I fear this is the beginning of a slippery slope leading to more and more rationing under the government takeover of health care that is being forced on the American people."

Avastin has been described as "the poster child for expensive anti-cancer drugs".

When reviewing drugs for approval the FDA is only charged with looking at their health risks and benefits, not cost effectiveness. It usually follows advisory panel recommendations. A final decision will be announced on Sept 17.

Avastin made $5.9 billion (£3.8 billion) in sales last year and is made by Genentech, a San Francisco-based unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche.

It is also approved for colon, lung, kidney and brain cancer, however, the FDA review and recommendation applies only to breast cancer.

An FDA spokeswoman said: "Avastin should be an option for patients with this incurable disease."

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among US women, with 40,000 last year.

In the UK the National Institute for Clinical Excellence is reviewing whether Avastin should be available on the NHS for woman with breast cancer that has spread.

A spokeswoman said: "We will continue to investigate the treatment regardless of the FDA decision."


Obama vs. America

Obama vs. America - The Corner - National Review Online By Peter Kirsanow

Posted on August 16, 2010 12:21 PM President Obama’s statements regarding the proposed Ground Zero mosque are the latest in a series of indicators that we are at a very peculiar pass: We have a president who doesn’t get America. For the first time in history we have a president whose default setting is in opposition to the general sensibilities of the American people. His behavior too frequently suggests that he’s playing a cosmic joke on Americans’ essential decency, considered patriotism, and belief in American exceptionalism.

You don’t need to have been a lecturer in constitutional law like Obama to know that the mosque’s backers have a right to build at Ground Zero. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly acknowledge that right. But unlike the president, when his fellow Americans think of the construction of a mosque on Ground Zero, their view doesn’t begin and end with the First Amendment and local zoning ordinances. Rather, their view is of images that the mainstream media has done their best to airbrush out of our collective consciousness: Americans leaping out of windows and plunging — seemingly interminably — to their deaths to avoid incineration; first responders pulling charred remains from the smoking rubble of the collapsed towers; New Yorkers searching frantically for evidence that loved ones escaped the horror. That Obama, as the leader of the nation, fails to recognize that the situation calls for more than a sophomoric analysis that could be rendered by any first-year law student is disquieting.

As Dorothy Rabinowitz has noted, Obama’s alienation from the citizenry is just beginning to be more broadly revealed, but has been on display since the 2008 campaign.The media either failed to report it or chastised anyone who dared notice. When some remarked about Obama’s refusal to do something as simple as wear a flag lapel pin, they were pronounced unsophisticated and jingoistic. Obama’s casual stance during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” was declared a triviality. When Reverend Wright was caught shouting ” G–damn America!” those who wondered whether Obama’s 20 years in Wright’s pews might suggest ideological concurrence were dismissed as alarmist. When some expressed concern that Obama might agree with his wife that America is a “downright mean country” and that perhaps he, too, for the first time in his adult life, was proud of his country, they were told to grow up.

Then Obama’s association with Bill Ayers emerged and the mainstream media closed ranks and refused, as long as they could, to even report it. And when Obama expressed unalloyed contempt for Midwesterners who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment,” a phalanx formed to assure the public of his pure intentions.

There were other instances throughout the campaign and first months in office suggesting that for Obama, multiculturalism trumps national unity and moral relativism supersedes cultural confidence. His serial apologies for America, embrace of America-hating Hugo Chávez, and supplication to foreign thugs are consistent with a “blame America first” mentality that may be unremarkable for a political science professor but is toxic for the leader of the greatest nation in history.

But perhaps most emblematic of Obama’s self-identification was his proud declaration, before a vast crowd in Berlin, that he is a “citizen of the world.” Most Americans believe that that world would be a much darker place without the United States of America. And they would be pleased if their president could express that belief without being patronizing, self-referential, or defensive.

But to do so, it’s helpful to get America and Americans.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Obama's Clintonian speech pulls rug from under mosque supporters

Obama's Clintonian speech pulls rug from under mosque supporters Washington Examiner

By: Byron York

When President Obama used the occasion of the White House Ramadan iftar dinner to announce his support for the Ground Zero mosque, some of his partisans rushed to praise what they viewed as a ringing endorsement of the controversial project.

"Obama's forceful speech yesterday expressing strong support for Cordoba House…will go down as one of the finest moments of his presidency," wrote Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent. Obama, Sargent said, "isn't hedging a bit: He's saying that opposing the group's right to build the Islamic center is, in essence, un-American."

"CAP Supports Building of Mosque Near Ground Zero," was the headline of a press release from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. "President Obama is upholding the best traditions of our Constitution in supporting the right of Muslim Americans to build a mosque and community center on private property near Ground Zero."

"I applaud President Obama's clarion defense of the freedom of religion," said New York mayor and mosque supporter Michael Bloomberg. "As I said last week, this proposed mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan is as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime."

The problem was, just hours after the speech, Obama began to back away from his clarion call. I wasn't defending the mosque project, he explained. I was just defending the right of Muslims to build "a place of worship and a community center" on private property in Lower Manhattan. "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there," Obama told reporters in Florida. "I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding."

But most mosque opponents concede the Muslim group's legal right to place the mosque in the planned site. They just argue that it's a terrible idea and have appealed to the organizers to cancel the project. At the iftar dinner, Obama cast his vote with the mosque builders. And then he pulled back.

And then he had his spokesman pull back the pullback. "Just to be clear, the president is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night," the White House's Bill Burton said Saturday. "It is not his role as president to pass judgment on every local project. But it is his responsibility to stand up for the Constitutional principle of religious freedom and equal treatment for all Americans. What he said last night, and reaffirmed today, is that if a church, a synagogue or a Hindu temple can be built on a site, you simply cannot deny that right to those who want to build a mosque."

Now, there is simply no doubt that Obama's Friday evening speech, in the context in which it was delivered, was an endorsement of the Ground Zero project. It was certainly widely understood as such. The headlines of the three New York papers reporting the speech were: "Obama Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site" (New York Times); "Allah Right By Me" (New York Post); and "Prez: Build the Mosque" (New York Daily News). The lead of an Associated Press report on the speech was: "President Barack Obama on Friday forcefully endorsed building a mosque near ground zero, saying the country's founding principles demanded no less." But on Saturday, Obama said all those listeners were wrong, that they misunderstood him.

Several years ago, there was a word for Obama's rhetorical technique: Clintonian. Like the former president, Obama spoke words he knew would be understood as having a particular meaning in a particular context. He also knew that those same words, when examined closely outside that context, might also be interpreted as having a different meaning. In that sense, the mosque affair is a good lesson for both supporters and opponents of the president. From now on, with Obama, as it was with Clinton, the rule is: Don't listen to the speech. Read the words very carefully.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Obamas-Clintonian-speech-pulls-rug-from-under-mosque-supporters-100716539.html#ixzz0wiCnvHyc


Sacrilege at Ground Zero

Sacrilege at Ground Zero - Article - National Review Online

Even Mayor Bloomberg acknowledges that the rules are different when it comes to sacred places.

A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).

When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there — and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized, or misappropriated.
That’s why Disney’s early ’90s proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition fearing vulgarization of the Civil War (and wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It’s why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It’s why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.

And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place, it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.

Even New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who denounced opponents of the proposed 15-story mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero as tramplers on religious freedom, asked the mosque organizers “to show some special sensitivity to the situation.” Yet, as Rich Lowry pointedly noted, the government has no business telling churches how to conduct their business, shape their message, or show “special sensitivity” to anyone about anything. Bloomberg was thereby inadvertently conceding the claim of those he excoriates for opposing the mosque, namely, that Ground Zero is indeed unlike any other place and, therefore, unique criteria govern what can be done there.

Bloomberg’s implication is clear: If the proposed mosque were controlled by “insensitive” Islamist radicals either excusing or celebrating 9/11, he would not support its construction.

But then, why not? By the mayor’s own expansive view of religious freedom, by what right do we dictate the message of any mosque? Moreover, as a practical matter, there’s no guarantee this couldn’t happen in the future. Religious institutions in this country are autonomous. Who is to say that the mosque won’t one day hire an Anwar al-Awlaki — spiritual mentor to the Fort Hood shooter and the Christmas Day bomber, and one-time imam at the Virginia mosque attended by two of the 9/11 terrorists?

An Awlaki preaching in Virginia is a security problem. An Awlaki preaching at Ground Zero is a sacrilege.

Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history — perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed.

Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi — yet despite contemporary Germany’s innocence, no German of good will would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka.

Which makes you wonder about the good will behind Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s proposal. This is a man who has called U.S. policy “an accessory to the crime” of 9/11 and, when recently asked whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, replied, “I’m not a politician. . . . The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.”

America is a free country where you can build whatever you want — but not anywhere. That’s why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn’t meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.

These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz — and no mosque at Ground Zero.

Build it anywhere but there.

The governor of New York offered to help find land to build the mosque elsewhere. A mosque really seeking to build bridges, Rauf’s ostensible hope for the structure, would accept the offer.

— Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2010 the Washington Post Writers Group.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yeah, this would explain lack of job creation

Greedy Capitalist Refuses to Create Jobs

As the lazy, hazy Summer of Recovery melts into a sere and yellow Fall of Employment, you may be wondering: How is it that one of the costliest economic interventions in history failed to make any serious dent in unemployment?

While the dynamics of federal stimulus spending in job non-creation have been widely examined, some are still puzzled by the "failure" of the private sector to create jobs. Free marketers like to point to the punishing restrictions on hiring private employers face and to the uncertainty of businesses that are holding off expansions because they're worried about changes in government policy. I suspect the second claim is interesting but slightly inflated -- the signals you respond to in business tend to be more immediate than speculative. But for a powerful demonstration of the first claim, check out the hiring woes of plutocrat Michael P. Fleischer, heartless controller of the means of production at Ramsey, N.J.'s Bogen Communications Inc.

Fleischer gives the case of the median-pay employee at his company. She makes $59,000 a year:

Before that money hits her bank, it is reduced by the $2,376 she pays as her share of the medical and dental insurance that my company provides. And then the government takes its due. She pays $126 for state unemployment insurance, $149 for disability insurance and $856 for Medicare. That's the small stuff. New Jersey takes $1,893 in income taxes. The federal government gets $3,661 for Social Security and another $6,250 for income tax withholding. The roughly $13,000 taken from her by various government entities means that some 22% of her gross pay goes to Washington or Trenton. She's lucky she doesn't live in New York City, where the toll would be even higher.

Employing Sally costs plenty too. My company has to write checks for $74,000 so Sally can receive her nominal $59,000 in base pay. Health insurance is a big, added cost: While Sally pays nearly $2,400 for coverage, my company pays the rest—$9,561 for employee/spouse medical and dental. We also provide company-paid life and other insurance premiums amounting to $153. Altogether, company-paid benefits add $9,714 to the cost of employing Sally.

Then the federal and state governments want a little something extra. They take $56 for federal unemployment coverage, $149 for disability insurance, $300 for workers' comp and $505 for state unemployment insurance. Finally, the feds make me pay $856 for Sally's Medicare and $3,661 for her Social Security.

When you add it all up, it costs $74,000 to put $44,000 in Sally's pocket and to give her $12,000 in benefits. Bottom line: Governments impose a 33% surtax on Sally's job each year.

Much more from Mr. Selfish Warbucks here

(See for all links): http://reason.com/blog/2010/08/12/greedy-capitalist-refuses-to-c

"These voices don't speak for the rest of us"

The Republican Study Committee made this video, contrasting clips by Ronald Reagan with today's leaders of the Democratic Party. Suffice it to say that Reagan never sounded so timely. It's striking, too, how child-like the Democrats seem compared to him. They're pitiful, but what it really pathetic is that they are in power. As an email correspondent says, it's November or never.


Monday, August 16, 2010

A day at Gulf but no time for oil workers

Morning Bell: The Gulf Recovery Obama Does Not Want to See

Next week, for the fifth time since July, the first family will board Air Force One for yet another luxury vacation, this time to an exclusive Martha’s Vineyard estate that rents for up to $50,000 a week. But before they head north, the Obamas will first grace Panama City, Fla., with their presence this weekend for what is being billed as a “solidarity vacation to the Gulf Coast.” While in Florida, the President is expected to meet with local business leaders to discuss the effects of the spill before departing on a cross-country trip around the United States including stops in Los Angeles and Seattle to raise cash for Democrats and a stop in Wisconsin at a renewable energy factory. Not on the agenda? Any meetings with oil workers in other Gulf states who are now unemployed thanks to President Obama’s Gulf oil drilling ban.

If the President really wanted to see the economic damage his policies are causing in the Gulf, he could first stop in Pascagoula, Miss., where idle oil rigs in the Signal International shipyard have formed an eerie floating ghost city that locals have dubbed “Rig Row.” Instead of being deployed at sea where they could be creating wealth for this country and jobs for Gulf residents, these rigs are wasting away idly in port as a direct result of President Obama’s oil drilling moratorium – a moratorium that when first issued on just deep sea rigs, a federal judge ruled was “arbitrary and capricious.” Undaunted, the Obama administration doubled down, issuing a broader oil drilling injunction that is killing even more jobs than the first ban.

Gulf residents are extremely unhappy with these policies. An ABC News poll found that Gulf Coast residents disapproved of President Obama’s oil drilling moratorium by a 60-38 point margin. The issue has also dominated the hearings of President Obama’s own oil spill commission who, when they first convened, said they would spend no time investigating the rationale, effectiveness or impact of the oil ban. But faced with passionate opposition at hearings in New Orleans, former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham (D) and former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly (R), have done a 180-degree reversal. Last week the commission sent a letter to the Obama administration demanding a detailed justification for the ban by August 23. The commission shouldn’t hold their breath: the President is on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard until August 29.

Why is President Obama so eager to see Florida recover but doesn’t have the time of day for the other Gulf states? Eric Smith, a professor at the Tulane University business school, told FOX News: “The administration is in thrall to the environmental community, unfortunately, and as a result, they’re playing that card, and I think to try and slow up, or increase the cost of, hydrocarbons. I don’t blame them for doing that; I just think that’s the reality….After the [1989] Exxon Valdez accident, after the [1969] Santa Barbara accident, we certainly did study the accidents to figure out what went wrong and then take some corrective action. But we didn’t shut down the industry in the meantime.” The Obama oil ban isn’t about safety, it is about permanently shrinking our domestic oil production capacity as quickly as possible.


The Obvious Message of Jerry Brown's Pension

The Obvious Message of Jerry Brown’s Pension By Roger L Simon

A kerfuffle surrounding a clandestine Jerry Brown pension is generating a lot of Drudge action on this lazy August Friday. Servers at the Watchdog blog [1] of the Orange Country Register that broke the story are bogging down. Keep clicking on it. The report is amusing. In fact, it’s a bit more than that….

It seems California’s one-time and now aspiring governor Jerry Brown has been drawing down a healthy pension from the state — perhaps double-dipping — causing a mild embarrassment to Jerry that could grow into something more than mild. At the moment he is locked in a tight race with Meg Whitman.

What’s troubling in all this is not that Brown makes a good pension — or even than there may be some discrepancy about how much he makes versus how much he deserves. It is that the whole thing is SECRET! (rare use of caps and exclam very deliberate).

Let’s think this through for half a second. At a time when pension funds are bankrupting or potentially bankrupting states all across the country, when aging populations are forcing the reconsideration of all sorts of social security programs on practically every country on Earth (countries that have them, anyway), and when the state of California — the sixth, or is it seventh, biggest economy in the world — is about to, once again, pay its employees with vouchers because it’s got zippity-do-dah in the bank, some officials of that state are receiving pensions whose size and identity we do not know and are not allowed to see.

Yes, there are secret state pensions in California. (Sounds like Novosibirsk, doesn’t it?) And we the citizens of that state are paying for them!

There is only word for this: criminal.

This mysterious fund whose beneficiaries you are not allowed to know about (even though you are paying for them) is called the Legislators’ Retirement System [2]. It was supposed to have been reformed, but evidently it wasn’t. Who’s responsible for that little oversight, I’d like to know.

If Jerry Brown were a public official worth re-electing, not only would he completely disclose everything about his pension at this point, he would also call for a new law that makes all — and I mean all — publicly-financed pensions totally transparent.

We’re paying for them. We have a right to know who is getting them and how much they are getting. It’s so laughably obvious, it’s astounding there isn’t such an ironclad law already.

It will be interesting to see if Jerry does this. Although a cool guy on the surface, with all the best Zen moves of an aging-Boomer, in the crunch he has almost always shown himself to be a coward and to behave and act in the tradition of the hack liberal pol, pandering to interest groups and preserving the status quo ante.

Only in this case the status quo ante is a disaster. I am reminded of the lyrics of Woody Guthrie’s classic “Do Re Mi”:

California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;

But believe it or not, you won’t find it so hot

If you ain’t got the do re mi.

Well, right now most of us don’t got the do re mi, not just those poor migrants Woody was writing about. The whole state is on the brink of collapse — from the redwood forests to the Whiskey a Go Go. Pension transparency is just the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be reformed. But pension transparency is a good place to start, because if we are to avoid permanent bankruptcy, a number of these pensions are going to have to be cut substantially. There’s no other way I can think of.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Economic pied piperism from Obama's people

JOHN MERLINE: Where Did All Those ‘Green Shoots’ Go? “Over the past year and a half, administration officials have issued one glowing statement after another about the economy, only to see reality turn out far worse. . . . There’s nothing wrong with a little cheerleading. But there’s a real danger with all this ‘turning the corner, things are getting better, recovery is on the way’ talk. If you don’t think so, just ask Herbert Hoover, who infamously claimed that ‘prosperity is just around the corner’ right before the worst of the Great Depression.”

Plus, “A Timeline of Pollyannaish Economic Prognostications.”

by Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit


Obama's GM rescue helped only his friends

Obama's GM rescue helped only his friends--Mark Modica - NYPOST.com

Model corruption


General Motors plans an initial public offering as soon as today -- a first step in the government's effort to sell its ownership stake to private investors. The IPO comes on the heels of a much publicized plant tour by President Obama, who'll certainly hail the stock sale as proof he made a smart decision by bailing out the automaker with billions of taxpayer dollars.

But, to us, the IPO will be proof of something else: a White House that purposefully trampled the legal rights of investors -- many of whom, like us, are small savers -- to benefit its political supporters. Rather than a model of success and foresight, the GM episode is a model of corruption and cronyism.

Let's review the sordid history. Last year, the federal government bought a majority stake in GM for about $50 billion -- a sum equal to GM's market capitalization in 2000, when it was making record profits.

It should hardly be a surprise that the new GM, with so much money to work with (plus a special $16 billion tax benefit) would start inching into the black again. After all, Ford, without government help, has posted after-tax earnings of about $4.7 billion for the first half of this year -- more than twice GM's, even with the $1.3 billion second-quarter profit that "Government Motors" announced yesterday.

The bailout's announced goals required a more limited intervention than what Washington concocted. For example, a deal could have been brokered with strategic investors, as in a normal distressed sale, with GM's assets -- including its valuable Cadillac and Chevrolet brands and an expanding foothold in China -- passing from weak hands to strong.

But the fact that the administration mainly solicited advice from bankruptcy experts, rather than those in industry, is evidence that alternative solutions weren't considered.

Instead, politicians ran the company their way -- raining taxpayer money on key electoral states like Michigan and rewarding their staunch financial backers in the United Auto Workers union.

The devil, in this case, was in the details of the bankruptcy plan that the government pushed through:

Bondholders -- investors ranging from large institutions to retirees just scraping by, who loaned GM a total of $27 billion -- received just 10 percent of the company. By contrast, the government's $50 billion gave it about 61 percent.

And the union -- in return for the $20 billion that GM owed its health trust -- got a remarkable 17.5 percent of the stock plus $2.5 billion in cash plus $6.5 billion in preferred stock carrying a dividend of about 9 percent.

In other words, the UAW got three to four times as much as the bondholders for a smaller claim on GM's assets. The union even boasted to its members in May 2009 that it had made no concessions on pay, health care or pensions in the restructuring.

In effect, the government divided up GM's creditors into favored and unfavored groups, then gave a fat stake in the reorganized business to the favored (a k a longtime Democratic Party donors). On top of that, Washington also ordered the shutdown of 1,650 GM dealers and another 1,000 Chrysler dealers as part of its takeover.

In last month's audit, TARP's inspector general criticized the Treasury Department for that very decision. Treasury didn't show why the cuts were "either necessary for the sake of the companies' economic survival or prudent for the sake of the nation's economic recovery." The move "substantially contributed to the accelerated shuttering of thousands of small businesses."

Remember this as the president brags about recent gains in auto-industry jobs: Even though some plants have added union jobs, many in the dealerships have been lost.

But our main concern is what happens going forward. A terrible precedent has been set.

Small bondholders are essential to funding US industry. How eager will they be to invest their savings after seeing how the administration misappropriated the federal government's vast power and ignored long-standing bankruptcy law to reward its supporters at the expense of the less powerful?

We're pleased that GM is making a profit and, with the IPO, taxpayers should get some of our money back. But the government takeover of GM absolutely should not be framed as a success or, worse, as a model for the future. It was political bullying at its worst -- an arbitrary action befitting a banana republic, and deeply unfair to small investors who expected their lawmakers to play by the rules.

Mark Modica was a business manager at a now-closed Saturn dealership in Chalfont, Pa.; Hal John is an executive-search consul tant in Chesterfield, Mo. Both were steering committee members of Main Street Bondholders, a coali tion of small GM investors.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

The arrogance, entitlement and narcissism of O

The Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime: extravagant and out of touch with the American people

by Nile Gardiner

Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR.

The last few weeks have been a nightmare for President Obama, in a summer of discontent in the United States which has deeply unsettled the ruling liberal elites, so much so that even the Left has begun to turn against the White House. While the anti-establishment Tea Party movement has gained significant ground and is now a rising and powerful political force to be reckoned with, many of the president’s own supporters as well as independents are rapidly losing faith in Barack Obama, with open warfare breaking out between the White House and the left-wing of the Democratic Party. While conservatism in America grows stronger by the day, the forces of liberalism are growing increasingly weaker and divided.

Against this backdrop, the president’s approval ratings have been sliding dramatically all summer, with the latest Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll of US voters dropping to minus 22 points, the lowest point so far for Barack Obama since taking office. While just 24 per cent of American voters strongly approve of the president’s job performance, almost twice that number, 46 per cent, strongly disapprove. According to Rasmussen, 65 per cent of voters believe the United States is going down the wrong track, including 70 per cent of independents.

The RealClearPolitics average of polls now has President Obama at over 50 per cent disapproval, a remarkably high figure for a president just 18 months into his first term. Strikingly, the latest USA Today/Gallup survey has the President on just 41 per cent approval, with 53 per cent disapproving.

Related link: The Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime

There are an array of reasons behind the stunning decline and political fall of President Obama, chief among them fears over the current state of the US economy, with widespread concern over high levels of unemployment, the unstable housing market, and above all the towering budget deficit. Americans are increasingly rejecting President Obama’s big government solutions to America’s economic woes, which many fear will lead to the United States sharing the same fate as Greece.

Growing disillusionment with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy as well as health care and immigration has gone hand in hand with mounting unhappiness with the President’s aloof and imperial style of leadership, and a growing perception that he is out of touch with ordinary Americans, especially at a time of significant economic pain. Barack Obama’s striking absence of natural leadership ability (and blatant lack of experience) has played a big part in undermining his credibility with the US public, with his lacklustre handling of the Gulf oil spill coming under particularly intense fire.

On the national security and foreign policy front, President Obama has not fared any better. His leadership on the war in Afghanistan has been confused and at times lacking in conviction, and seemingly dictated by domestic political priorities rather than military and strategic goals. His overall foreign policy has been an appalling mess, with his flawed strategy of engagement of hostile regimes spectacularly backfiring. And as for the War on Terror, his administration has not even acknowledged it is fighting one.

Can it get any worse for President Obama? Undoubtedly yes. Here are 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in serious trouble, and why its prospects are unlikely to improve between now and the November mid-terms.

1. The Obama presidency is out of touch with the American people...

Read the rest: (Use link) http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100050412/the-stunning-decline-of-barack-obama-10-key-reasons-why-the-obama-presidency-is-in-meltdown/

Everyone a Bigot?

Everyone a Bigot?

By Victor Davis Hanson

Anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-black -- it is hard to keep track of all the recent charges of alleged bigotry.

State representatives in Arizona overwhelmingly passed an immigration law to popular acclaim -- which the Obama administration for now has successfully blocked in federal court. Arizonans simply wanted the federal government to enforce its own laws. And yet they were quickly dubbed bigots and racists -- more worried about profiling Hispanics than curtailing illegal immigration.

In California, a federal judge has just overturned Proposition 8 ensuring traditional marriage. Voters in November 2008 had amended the California constitution to recognize marriage only between a man and woman, while allowing civil unions between partners of the same sex.

Californians took that step in response to the state Supreme Court's voiding of Proposition 22, a similar referendum on traditional marriage that California voters passed in 2000. Apparently, a stubborn majority of Californians still sees traditional marriage as it has been followed in some 2,500 years of Western custom and practice. In contrast, gay groups have framed the issue as one of civil rights, often charging prejudice on the part of their opponents.

Another controversy is brewing a mere 600 feet from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, site of the 9/11 attacks, where a Muslim group wishes to build a $100 million, 13-story mosque. Opponents feel this is hardly a way to build bridges across religious divides, but instead a provocative act that tarnishes the memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists.

New York state residents poll in opposition to the project. Their unease reflects legitimate questions over the nature of the foreign funding for the project, and the disturbing writings and statements of the chief proponent of the plan, Feisal Abdul Rauf. They also worry that radical Islamists will use the mosque's construction (it will probably rise before the World Trade Center complex is rebuilt) as a propaganda tool.

In response, once again the majority has been dubbed bigoted and prejudiced, this time against Muslims for asking for a more appropriate location, farther away from Ground Zero.

After lengthy investigation, Rep. Charles Rangel, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is facing charges of unethical conduct. In response, Rangel has scoffed that a plea bargain offer was nothing more than an "English, Anglo-Saxon procedure." The inference was that ongoing prejudice, not moral lapses, caused Rangel's problems.

Rangel's charges come at a time when Rep. Maxine Waters faces ethics questions for allegedly using her office to steer federal money to a bank that was associated with her husband. And since eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus have recently faced ethics inquiries, we are hearing that race, not unethical conduct, is the real reason for the investigations.

These diverse cases offer some lessons.

One, legitimate public concerns can be reduced to religious, ethnic or racial prejudice in hopes that the debate will hinge on supposedly bad motives rather than convincing arguments. Ad hominem attacks are always a sign of shaky logic.

Two, in most of these cases, the majority is opposed by a variety of activist groups, government officials and judges. The charge of bigotry is usually expressed in terms of a sophisticated liberal-thinking elite reining in the emotional and illogical unwashed masses. We saw proof of that with the release of confidential e-mails from the controversial "Journolist" group comprised largely of influential liberal journalists, some of whom openly advocated defaming their opponents by calling them racists.

Three, these cry-wolf tactics are now stale. A real danger is that when legitimate charges of prejudice are leveled in the future, most will shrug and ignore them.

We live in a complex, multiracial and religiously diverse society. A majority of black voters in California opposed gay marriage. Most Muslims probably concurred. Some 70 percent of Americans expressed support for the Arizona law, an overwhelming figure that would have to include some Asians, blacks and Hispanics. White and Hispanic congressional officials have faced ethics charges, often more serous than those leveled against Rangel and Waters.

In other words, there is no simple ideological, racial or religious divide between a monolithic "us" and "them." Instead, we have devolved to the point where promiscuously crying "Bigot!" and "Racist!" signals a failure to persuade 51 percent of the people of the merits of an argument.

It is too often that simple -- and that sad.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." You can reach him by e-mailing author@victorhanson.com.

Copyright 2010, Tribune Media Services Inc.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Obama's state capitalism: A failure of modesty

Obama's state capitalism: A failure of modesty Washington Examiner

By: Michael Barone

“The pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated.” Those were the carefully chosen words of the Federal Reserve Board after its meeting Tuesday. Translation into English: We wuz wrong.

So were a lot of people, including departing White House economic adviser Christina Romer, who wrote that the Obama Democrats’ February 2009 stimulus package would hold unemployment below 8 percent.

It wasn’t just administration spokesmen who expected a solid recovery. California economist Bill Watkins in newgeography.com recalls a conference last fall in which all the other economists presented rosy scenarios and only he forecast extended malaise. He was relieved that his colleagues didn’t pelt him with tomatoes.

It’s easy for Republicans to make partisan hay of all this. They can point out, as Bush administration economist Larry Lindsey does in the Weekly Standard, that the congressional Democrats’ stimulus package was not the timely, targeted and temporary measure recommended by national economic director Larry Summers.

They can add that the threat of pending regulations interpreting the health care and financial regulation bills and of pending tax increases as the Bush cuts expire have created a climate of uncertainty in which consumers don’t consume, banks don’t lend and businesses don’t create jobs.

All true. But in this summer of unrecovery it’s still important to understand how so many smart people got so much so wrong.

One answer comes from economist Arnold Kling writing in american.com. Kling argues that the collapse of the housing market and the financial crisis disrupted what had been “a sustainable patter of specialization of trade” and that we need to let the market economy develop a new one.

Instead, the policies of the Obama Democrats have been aimed at propping up the old order — holding up housing prices and the mortgage market, keeping the Detroit auto companies in place, maintaining the lush standard of living of public employee union members (the purpose of the $26 billion the House was summoned back to Washington to approve Tuesday).

Maintaining unsustainable patterns of production, Kling writes, prevents the trial-and-error process of private investment that creates new jobs and patterns of production that will be sustainable.

Across the Atlantic, Mark DeVos, director of the Itinera Institute, a Brussels think tank, advances similar arguments in his book “After the Meltdown.” The financial crisis, he argues, has brought a revival of “state capitalism,” in which governments “have an increased and distorting role in economics.”

“The state should be the partner of the market, not the owner or manipulator of the market,” he writes. “Governments should not pick economic winners and losers. The state may be back, but the politicians should be modest.”

Modesty, unfortunately, is not the dominant character trait of a president who predicted that his election would be seen as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

But facts are stubborn things. The fact that the private-sector economy has not responded as administration economists expected and confidently predicted should be a wake-up call.

It shows the limits of expert knowledge and of the ability of political actors to make optimal economic choices.

The intellectual firepower of this administration may be high. But so was the intellectual firepower of the postwar British Labour governments that nationalized steel and auto companies and the railroads.

That didn’t turn out so well, and for decades the British economy lagged behind those of America and its European neighbors. State capitalism has been tried before. It didn’t work.

Market capitalism works better because it doesn’t depend on one set of actors to make all the choices. Entrepreneurs with a vision for the future can take their chances, and most may fail. But some will turn out to be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, who changed our world in ways that 99 percent of economic experts were unable to predict.

In the meantime, American voters seem prepared to return a negative verdict on the Obama Democrats’ version of state capitalism. Bailout favoritism and crony capitalism, it turns out, are not vote-winners.

The open question is whether Republicans will present and advance public policies that leave the way open for market capitalism to find its way to a new, sustainable pattern of production, as it has done before. Let’s hope for that kind of change.

Michael Barone, The Examiner's senior political analyst, can be contacted at mbarone@washingtonexaminer.com. His columns appear Wednesday and Sunday, and his stories and blog posts appear on ExaminerPolitics.com.