Monday, May 31, 2010

Bones: Obama's nightmare

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Feds next target: News media?

Been wondering which American industry is next to be consumed by our ravenous federal government? You may find the answer in a report released this month suggesting that the news media can only survive if it is a public media.

This suggestion is contained in a paper titled “New Public Media: A Plan for Action,” in which the authors say: “Take a close look at the American journalism landscape in 2010, and the scene is grim. Ad revenue is down; job cuts are up; and new business models have yet to prove sustainable. In recent decades, media consolidation, poor business decisions and the drive for ever higher profit margins have pushed many traditional news outlets to the brink — even before the recession and the collapse of traditional advertising. Today, we have a news industry in steep decline, with no sign of a long-term recovery.”

The authors don’t want the federal government to own the media, but they want substantial involvement by the feds, which ultimately means a high degree of control. “The idea of combining media, public policy and local entrepreneurship to support a robust marketplace” isn’t a new one, they tell us. “Since the nation’s founding, government policy has played a central role in protecting free speech and ensuring a robust and free press. In the 18th and 19th centuries, postal subsidies dramatically reduced the cost of sending newspapers and were essential to the effective dissemination of news and information. ‘Common carrier’ rules dating back close to a century helped to build a robust and universal communications infrastructure. In 1967, the Public Broadcasting Act led to the founding of NPR, PBS and other alternatives to commercial media fare. Each policy change was the result of advances in technology and the need to protect the public interest.”

See how it works? First, the government took certain steps that helped newspapers and later helped broadcasting. But then it formed public broadcasting networks, and now there’s the suggestion it take control of the news media by making it a public entity. As with health care, ultimately the government seeks total control. The same sort of incremental encroachment has substantially taken control of the nation’s public schools.

The authors are correct that journalism is experiencing change, but change does not translate to collapse. This is not journalism’s first such crisis; it is the third one since the printing press shoved the town crier into the unemployment line. In the 1930s newspapers were challenged by the advent of network radio news. And in the 50s both newspapers and radio were challenged by network television news, and that change is still evolving. What journalism also faces today is yet another new element, the Internet. Technology has again produced change; but change is nothing new for the news media, and it isn’t fatal, so we don’t need the government to rush in to save the day.

The authors’ concept fits comfortably into the philosophy espoused by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” And if there isn’t a convenient crisis afoot, make one up. Hence the title of the report’s opening section: “Crisis and Opportunity.”

This paper was produced by Free Press, a left-wing organization reportedly close to the Obama administration describing itself as “a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media.” Free Press is listed first among coalition partners of, a major initiative of which is Net Neutrality, a movement to impose a Fairness Doctrine (read “government control”) on the Internet. Other left-wing partners include: Service Employees International Union (SEIU); AFL-CIO, Department for Professional Employees; Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; National Organization for Women; Feminist Majority; Common Cause; Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting; ACLU of Iowa; Coalition Against Hate Media; and Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda.

Free Press wants to create the idea that private media has failed, and use it as an excuse for the government to “save” yet another industry for the good of all mankind. However, lower revenues and job cuts are normal business problems, sometimes as a result of bad business decisions, sometimes as a result of economic recession. If we can keep the predatory, gluttonous feds at bay long enough, private sector media will adapt to changing circumstances, as it has done throughout history, and strong companies will emerge, survive and thrive.

One wonders if liberals believe there is any element of our lives that would not be better under government control. But imagine what a nightmare it will be if things devolve to the point where government chooses who can report news in a newspaper, or on radio, television, or the Internet.

Defeating this power grab depends upon the free flow of reliable information, which is a significant challenge, given the degree to which the mainstream media has abandoned its duty to produce balanced and accurate reporting to keep the citizenry well informed.

Barack Obama believes there is too much information available to people and that they can’t tell the good from the bad. That’s insulting. The answer is more information, not less, and less information is what we’ll have with government management of the news.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Gulf accident doesn’t justify
reducing domestic oil production

Last month’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion sent oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, creating a crisis for coastal states and Mexico. In its aftermath there is a lot of finger-pointing and blame-fixing, but exactly what happened and who bears responsibility has yet to be precisely determined.

The incident has been a boon for opponents of fossil fuels in general, and of oil in particular. One enemy of domestic oil is Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who used the opportunity to call for a total ban on offshore drilling. Appearing on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC she said, "We see now just how dangerous this can be in the Gulf of Mexico and how important it is to protect the pristine shorelines of Washington, California and Oregon. These are vital economies and we don't need to keep drilling for oil."

Protecting the nation’s pristine beaches and vital economies is certainly important, but Ms. Cantwell is perhaps too eager to stop offshore drilling. This is the first bad oil accident in 30 years, a result of the industry developing generally safe and reliable equipment and techniques. Furthermore, we don’t yet know the extent of the damage, or just how seriously the oil will affect wildlife and shorelines.

Casting some needed light on the nature of oil spills, Merv Fingas, of McGill University and Environment Canada, wrote a piece published on the Minerals Management Service Web site, explaining that a lot of the spilled oil isn’t going to be a problem. “Evaporation is the most important change that most oil spills undergo. In a few days, light crudes can evaporate as much as 75 percent of the starting oil mass and medium crudes up to 40 percent.”Some of the rest of the oil is absorbed by seabed sediment and never reaches the surface or shorelines.

Sen. Cantwell said that “the United States has only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, and so the notion that we are going to affect gasoline prices, or [become] a world oil supplier; we are not,” and so “it’s time to start migrating off of oil and on to other sources of energy,” she said.

However, two percent of the world supply is a good bit of oil, approximately 21 billion barrels. The American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Energy Tomorrow blog says, “The government estimates our federal lands hold enough oil to power more than 65 million cars for the next six decades,” and went on to say that today's technologies can locate previously unknown deposits of oil. For example, the Gulf of Mexico initially was believed to contain 9 billion barrels of oil, but new estimates predict 45 billion barrels, an increase of 500 percent. There’s more U.S. oil around than she thinks.

This crisis has provided the enemies of oil the opportunity to throw gasoline on the fire to try to shut down domestic oil production. But now is not the time to abandon domestic oil or cease increasing the production of domestic oil to reduce our dependency on foreign suppliers. As appealing as the idea of renewable energy replacing fossil fuels may be to some, the fact is that solar and wind, so-called “green” technologies, are incapable of filling the gap because they are insufficiently developed; and, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Even if these technologies were able to pick up the slack left by stopping the use of fossil fuels, electricity from these technologies is far more expensive than electricity from coal, oil and natural gas.

In the wake of the Gulf catastrophe, a congressional proposal would raise the liability limit on producers from $75 million to $10 billion, and Energy Tomorrow says that "could threaten the viability of deepwater operations, significantly reduce U. S. domestic oil production, and harm U.S. energy security." API believes a $10 billion-per-well insurance policy would drive small and mid-size offshore operators out of the market, and even if such humongous policies were available, their cost could potentially increase oil production costs by 25 percent.

This is just what the enemies of domestic oil production want, of course. If we can't drill for oil because of a slight chance of disasters like Deepwater Horizon, and if regulations produce high production costs that drive small producers out of business and raise the cost of electricity, gasoline and heating oil, then the only alternative will be new green energy technologies, which will have to be shoved down our throats like health care reform was.

"Now we have a very visual, damaging situation and we now know that the risk is far greater than anybody ever realized,” Sen. Cantwell proclaimed. “But I know that this [crisis] is going to be something that is going to be helpful to my colleagues ..."

Critics of oil just have to face the fact that is isn’t possible to abandon fossil fuels anytime soon, or even make a significant reduction in their use, so we had best move to develop our own resources and wean ourselves off foreign oil, and at the same time work to make oil drilling safer without imposing crippling, cost-raising regulations.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

America has become “the land of the freaks
and the home of the braindead”

Stupid is as stupid does, an old saying goes, and evidence is rampant these days that America is getting “progressively” dumber by the day.

Herewith a partial list of idiocy on parade:

U.S. Army Major Dr. Nidal Hassan, after showing signs of radical Islamism that the
Army ignored, walked into a building occupied by a large number of his fellow soldiers, shouted Allahu Akbar (God is great), and proceeded to shoot 12 people dead. Why was this scum in the Army to begin with? Stupid.

The panty bomber tried and failed to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day, and was promptly given approximately the same treatment as a shoplifter. The seven-page indictment detailing charges against him contained no specific mention of terrorism in it. Stupid.

The jackass who left an SUV with explosives inside it in Times Square in New York City is a naturalized U.S. citizen who recently spent five months in Pakistan, and somehow managed to hop a plane for Dubai following his inept bombing attempt, despite being on the federal "no-fly" list. Stupid.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg immediately commented that the Times Square terrorist attempt was likely “homegrown” and then speculated it could have been perpetrated by “somebody with a political agenda who doesn't like the health care bill or something.” Someone tries to blow up Times Square, and the mayor of New York wants to blame it on an American citizen upset over the health care bill. Stooooopid.

Attorney General Eric Holder refused to acknowledge that radical Islam is responsible for the latest spate of terrorist attacks in testimony before Congress. “I don’t want to say anything negative about a religion …,” said Mr. Holder, and then did the mambo, the cha-cha, and the waltz to avoid using the term “radical Islam” in connection with terrorist activities of radical Islamists. Stupid.

The left, including most of the major media, demean the normal Americans who have been driven by the actions of their arrogant and elitist leaders to public protests in tea party gatherings across the nation. Stupid.

The United States government refuses to secure its borders, exposing its citizens to
illegal aliens some of whom live off taxpayers, others of whom wreak havoc and violence on citizens. Stupid.

The administration of Live Oak High School in California allowed Hispanic students to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican observance, but sent five students home whose clothing displayed the American flag. Stupid.

People from south of the border come to America – and many of them sneak in – because they think our country is better than theirs, then publicly demonstrate that they value the country they left more than they value America. Stooooopid. Message to immigrants: This is America. You came here of your own accord. No one forced you to come. If you don’t like the way things are done here, go back where you came from.

Almost before the door closed behind him after being sworn in as president, Barack Obama ordered the closing of the Guantanamo prison within a year. Stupid.

Against the wishes and the better judgment of a decided majority of Americans, President Obama and Congressional Democrats jammed through a controversial and catastrophically flawed health care reform bill that will raise costs and taxes on virtually every American. Stupid.

Mr. Obama decides to quit calling terrorism what it is and instead substitutes dopey euphemisms, such as renaming the war on terrorism “overseas contingency operations,” and calling terrorist attacks “man-caused disasters.” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano commented that “we want to move away from the politics of fear (read ‘reality’).” Really stupid.

Instead of continuing to fight terrorism and its supporters head on, Mr. Obama prefers to play kissy-face with Islamist lunatics who cloak their lunacy in a perverted religion. Stupid.

The nation entered the most severe economic crisis in nearly 100 years in 2008, and the current administration and Congress continue to spend money we don’t have and fail to enact policies that will hasten a recovery. Stupid.

There you have it, a brief list of some really stupid behavior that America is now awash in.

The Supreme Court has issued binding edicts in 5-4 votes that Americans would never approve at the ballot box in a million years.

"As Americans and as a nation, we will not be terrorized. We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated," President Obama said. Really? Well if so, Mr. President, you had better wise up and act like terrorism is real and undo this goofy policies you have put in place that fosters terrorist activities.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Liberal politics putting nation at risk of depression

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Friday that nonfarm payroll employment rose by 290,000 in April, a piece of good news on the job front. Gains occurred in manufacturing, professional and business services, health care, and leisure and hospitality, as did federal government employment, reflecting the hiring of temporary workers for Census 2010.

The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say, is far less rosy, as the unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent, where it had been for the first 3 months of this year, to 9.9 percent.

How can the nation increase jobs and increase unemployment at the same time, you ask? The number of people looking for a job increased, as new workers entered the job market, and 195,000 of those who had dropped out because they couldn’t find a job have begun looking for work again.

The unemployment rate is not the only negative news on the jobs front. The federal government, the largest employer in the United States, now employs more than 2,700,000, which is about 2.0 percent of the nation's work force and the federal workforce is expanding significantly under the Obama administration. Add state and local government workers into the mix, and approximately 17 percent of the 132,121,000 employed persons in the United States as of June 2009, or 22.6 million people, work for one level of government or another, according to the BLS.

Federal employees make an average annual salary exceeding $79,197 and the average total annual federal workers compensation in 2008, including pay plus benefits, was $119,982 compared to just $59,909 for the private sector, according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Continued high unemployment, the growth in public sector jobs, the high level of union membership among public sector workers, the dangerously high budget deficits and national debt are ominous signs for the United States.

The Beatles’ John Lennon, who was regarded as somewhat of a guru, said many years ago that “America is Rome,” meaning that the United States was following the same sort of self-destructive path as the Roman Empire had centuries before. He was wrong: America was not and is not Rome; America is Greece.

While the ancient Greeks made marvelous contributions to culture, literature, philosophy and science, and gave us democratic government, the modern Greeks provide an unsatisfactory economic model.

Greece has spent itself into a crisis of immense proportions, with some observers predicting a depression not unlike the Great Depression of the 30s. The Greek government has subsidized everything from health care to vacations to pensions, and has a public sector comprising 20 percent of all workers, the vast majority of whom hold constitutionally protected jobs from which they cannot be fired. Some workers can retire with pensions at 45 years of age. Furthermore, tax evasion is rampant, depriving the government of needed revenue.

The Greek economy is tanking, and some observers believe Greece’s collapse signals the end of European-style socialist economies in general, with Portugal and Spain following not far behind Greece.

Athens rang up an outrageous and unsustainable debt, and the bill has come due. The government can’t pay it, so it has adopted an austerity program that includes cuts in government spending, reductions in the size of the public sector, decreases in tax evasion, reforms to the health care and pension systems, and improvements in competitiveness through reforms to the labor and product markets.

None of this sits well with the citizenry. When you have come to depend on the government to support you, as the Greeks have, and then it no longer can, that creates a crisis and the Greek people are in revolt. Violence has broken out across the country, resulting in deaths and anarchy.

Some economic data for Greece (estimated figures):
• In 2009 Greece collected $108.7 billion, but spent $145.2 billion
• Its public debt was 113.4 percent of GDP, up from 97.4 percent of GDP in 2008
• It has an unemployment rate of 9.0 percent
• 20 percent of Greek workers are employed by government

We don’t want to become Greece, but we’re on the same path. Consider:
• Estimated receipts for fiscal year 2010 are $2.381 trillion, an estimated decrease of 11percent from 2009. The President's budget for 2010 totals $3.55 trillion.
• The U.S. public debt is 94.27 percent of GDP
• Unemployment rose in April to 9.9 percent
• 17 percent of American workers are employed by government

Our tax receipts are dropping, we have spent more than we have collected, we owe nearly as much as we produce in a year, one-in-ten of us is unemployed, and nearly one-in-five of us is paid by taxes collected from the other four.

We have not taken the right steps to speed the economic recovery, but have made the same mistakes that were made in the 1930s, when money circulated more slowly and banks lent only a little of the money available. Anti-business rhetoric and anti-business policies emanated from Washington, creating a lack of confidence.

Unless a good dose of common sense overcomes Washington, we are likely to replay the 1930s and follow Greece into a depression.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Arizona forced to act by the
federal government’s willful negligence

"Southern Arizona is a war zone controlled by outside criminal forces," said Patrick Bray of the Arizona Cattlemen's Association, and ranchers say the problem has been festering for years. They have been warning of the rising level of drug-cartel-related violence that has already claimed the lives of 10,000 people in Mexico since late 2006, and could further spill into the U.S. That assertion is supported by the murder of 58 year-old Robert Krentz on his Arizona ranch in March, and a deputy sheriff who was shot by a group of suspected illegal alien drug runners just recently.

Arizona is a main corridor for human and drug smuggling, and Phoenix now ranks second in the world in kidnappings for ransom, reporting 366 abductions in 2008, mostly tied to Mexican human smugglers and narcotics gangs.

In case you didn’t grasp that, here it is again: Phoenix – an American city – ranked second in the world for kidnappings for ransom by Mexicans two years ago. Folks, that is plainly not acceptable.

Arizonans are rightly concerned for their own safety and that of their families, friends and neighbors. They are justified in being angry at the gross negligence of the federal government on the border issue, and are so desperate for a solution to this intolerable situation that they took matters into their own hands and passed a law that enables state, county and municipal law enforcement officers to do what the feds refuse to do: check the status of people who as a result of lawful contact may be suspected of being illegally in the U.S. (and Arizona).

This measure has the support of fully 70 percent of Arizonans, including 51 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 80 percent of Republicans.

Incredibly, this necessary action has prompted a variety of hysterical responses from enablers of illegal aliens. Take the Ms. Foundation for Women, for example. The subject line of an email message screeched, “Arizona Governor Signs Racist, Anti-Immigrant Legislation,” and then goes on to say, “Last Friday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the horrific anti-immigrant bill SB 1070 into law, explicitly condoning racial profiling and the criminalization of undocumented immigrants. We're appalled.” What is appalling, ladies, is your factual inaccuracies.

Granted, being murdered or kidnapped isn’t nearly as serious as the possibility someone may have to produce a Green Card or other proof they are here legally when being questioned by police about a crime, but it ought to rate some concern among fellow Americans.

But no: A ridiculously large number of people are more concerned about the possible inconvenience to Hispanic-looking people than they are about actual violence against the citizens of Arizona. There are an estimated 460,000 illegal aliens in Arizona – one of every 15 residents – and some of them are most likely guilty of more than just being an illegal alien, like kidnapping or murder or drug trafficking. The wild-eyed and inaccurate statement by the Ms. Foundation for Women and the misinformed and emotional reaction to the new law by others who prefer protecting illegal aliens to protecting fellow Americans do nothing to improve the situation for Arizona’s residents, and that should be the primary concern for every American.

Those who have the word “racism” on the tip of their tongue ready to spit it out at every opportunity charge the law is deficient in three areas:

• It is unfair to demand that aliens carry their documents with them
• "Reasonable suspicion” is a meaningless term that will permit police misconduct
• The law will allow police to engage in racial profiling

This view has broad support among the enablers of illegal aliens, however, the Center for Policy Analysis has compared the federal statute and the Arizona law and demonstrated that there is no material difference in the two, revealing those criticisms to be gross (and perhaps deliberate) distortions.

Some legal authorities say the law is unconstitutional because immigration, including illegal aliens, is a federal matter, and that means Arizona’s situation may prompt a federalism showdown. Karl Manheim of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles comments: “States have no power to pass immigration laws because it’s an attribute of foreign affairs. Just as states can’t have their own foreign policies or enter into treaties, they can’t have their own immigration laws either.”

However, if someone in Arizona is illegally in the United States he or she is de facto illegally in Arizona. Since the federal government is willfully negligent in securing the borders, it is sheer idiocy that a state could be prohibited from protecting its citizens from the criminal acts of illegal aliens, and particularly so if it deals with illegal aliens in the same manner as the federal government would were it doing its job. The Framers of our Constitution never intended that the states should be so restrained.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano argues that the borders are more secure now than ever. That’s irrelevant, Madam Secretary. They aren’t secure enough, and you are partly responsible for securing them.

Meanwhile, opponents of Arizona’s efforts to protect its citizens urge people to boycott the state. Let’s hope that only illegal aliens follow that request.

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