Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The border with Mexico is poorly guarded and allows anybody to come into the United States unimpeded, which causes states along the border to waste millions of dollars dealing with illegal aliens, and puts American citizens at risk of physical violence and even death. The criminal element has turned Phoenix, Arizona into the city with the second most kidnappings in the entire world.
Obviously, a competent government would not allow this situation to have arisen, let alone to continue. But our government has done nothing to return security to the taxpaying citizens of Arizona who expect and deserve much better.
Faced with federal negligence on the border the state of Arizona passed a less strict version of the federal law that addresses illegal aliens in an effort to protect its citizens. And how did the federal government respond to that? It bad-mouthed the people of Arizona and threatened to sue the state.
In addition to government dysfunction, some of our citizens are badly confused on this issue, as well, and advocate boycotting Arizona businesses and call Arizonans “racists” for wanting to protect themselves from criminals. But what’s worse, there is evidence that the federal government may be participating in boycotting Arizona.
Arizona Democrat Representative Gabrielle Giffords issued a statement saying, “It is very troubling when the federal government becomes involved in a boycott against our state.” … “Although I personally disagree with the immigration law, it came about because of growing frustration over the federal government’s unwillingness to secure the border. The federal government’s participation in this boycott only adds to that frustration.”…
The government, predictably, has denied Congresswoman Giffords’ charge, however it cannot deny that the Department of Education moved its North American Mobility program convention scheduled for October in Tucson to Minnesota.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently met with President Barack Obama about the ridiculous border situation, and she said he told her the administration would provide some help soon. And sure enough, the president kept his word, having the feds post signs warning Arizonans to stay out of some areas of their own state because it is not safe to go there. No doubt Gov. Brewer feels much better now. These signs are 80 miles from the Mexican border, and 30 miles from the state capitol.
A monumental ecological disaster unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico when an oil rig explodes, killing 11 workers and unleashing a flow of oil into the waters of the Gulf, putting at risk wild life in the water and marshes, the jobs of thousands of Americans, and the beaches of the Gulf Coast. How does the federal government respond to this tragedy?
The government can’t fix the oil leak, of course, but when the president finally did something, he chose to threaten legal action against the company operating the oil rig instead of acting to help contain the oil. He then banned all drilling in the Gulf, putting thousands more jobs at risk.
Fortunately, a federal judge properly recognized that the ban was unwarranted and illegal and overturned the moratorium. And how did the administration react to the ruling? It threatened to issue another drilling moratorium.
When the federal government ignored offers of assistance at home and from abroad, and ignored desperate requests for help from states threatened by the oil flow, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal took matters into his own hands and began constructing sand bars to block the oil approaching his shores. And the US Coast Guard responded by shutting down the barges constructing the sand bars because it was unable to ascertain that the barges had the required fire extinguishers and life preservers on board.
These are the most recent examples of government ineptitude, but it goes back decades.
The current financial crisis is a nightmare scenario of government bungling that began in 1977 with the reckless Community Reinvestment Act to help people who couldn’t afford one to buy a home. Congressional meddling made that worse along the way, and then Congress changed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 to allow commercial banks to merge with investment banks. Capping off this litany of ineptness is the behavior of House Ways and Means Chairman Barney Frank, who in 2002 and 2003 fought off efforts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which collapsed not long thereafter.
After creating the environment that allowed financial institutions to run wild and bring on the financial crisis, Congress now thinks it needs to fix things with a financial reform bill. But the bill ignores two of the most needed reforms: fixing “too big to fail,” and once again separating banking functions from investment functions.
Despite these magnificent failures in housing, banking, border security and oil clean-up activities, Congress and the administration go merrily along inserting government where it doesn’t belong and cannot function without creating chaos.
As President Ronald Reagan famously said, government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Those concerned about water quality might think it is good that the government is looking out for the quality of streams affected by coal mining. However, for the EPA to protect streams from contamination it must compare the level of contaminants against realistic thresholds. That is not what the EPA does.
The agency’s recent guidance on water quality requirements relies completely on measuring conductivity – which is the ability of water to carry an electric current – to determine whether water is contaminated.
Stream biologist Ben Faulkner explains in a video produced by FACES of Coal that pure water does not conduct electricity; conductance requires solid material dissolved in water to do that. He also said that low conductivity is not a guarantee that water is safe.
The EPA has set 300 – 500 microSiemens per centimeter as the threshold for water purity; water with greater than 500 is contaminated, according to the EPA. But Mr. Faulkner notes that Evian bottled water has 558 microSiemens, Perrier has 712, apple juice has 1,919, and Gatorade has 2,580. By EPA standards, all of these products are harmful.
Iron, zinc, selenium and copper are common components in streams affected by mining, Mr. Faulkner said, and in combination over 500 microSiemens render a stream contaminated under the EPA standard. But he points out that these substances are vitamins, not toxic chemicals. Their presence in water is not automatically a problem. It’s the concentration of substances that is important, and when these metals or other contaminants are present in streams at elevated levels, mining processes are modified to control them. Even so, critics say the EPA threshold is too low; FACES of coal asserts that it is not achievable; and Mr. Faulkner says that conductivity is “a poor way to evaluate whether the stream is healthy or not.”
Yet conductivity at that level is how the EPA determines stream contamination. Is water quality the objective of the EPA, or is this a way to accomplish a political goal of the Obama administration?
The minority staff of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee issued a report last month that answers that question: “Our investigation found that the Obama Administration is using the Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting process to dismantle the coal industry in the Appalachian region.”
The EPA also has the power – and according to the US Supreme Court, the duty – to regulate “greenhouse gases” under the Clean Air Act, and its December endangerment finding formalized its conclusion that these gases threaten the environment.
This finding sets the stage for the agency to act to reduce the emission of the six gases that are allegedly responsible for global warming /climate change, “allegedly” because manipulation of scientific data and outright fraud in the climate science arena have destroyed the credibility of evidence of manmade global warming/climate change. Furthermore, a sizeable body of climate scientists argues that human activities do not cause changes to Earth’s climate.
Despite this raging controversy over an unproved and vigorously debated theory, the EPA stampedes merrily ahead to restrict greenhouse gas emissions, with particular emphasis on carbon dioxide.
But industry sources say the Clean Air Act was designed to regulate localized air pollution, and is a clumsy tool for broader application. The US Chamber of Commerce, among others, thinks the endangerment declaration could lead to litigation that will harm the economy.
Carbon dioxide, like the vitamins dissolved in streams, is vital to the ecosphere; CO2 exhaled by humans and other animals is essential for plant life; the oxygen plants emit is essential for animal life, and a significant faction of scientists believe more CO2 is good, not bad.
The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change says on its Web site, CO2 Science, “Clearly, the panic-evoking extinction-predicting paradigms of the past are rapidly giving way to the realization they bear little resemblance to reality. Earth's plant and animal species are not slip-sliding away” to extinction. And the Center’s Dr. Craig Idso concludes that "Clearly, there is no way that these real-world observations can be construed to even hint at the possibility that a significant increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide will necessarily lead to any global warming."
A resolution in the US Senate to stop unelected government officials at the EPA from micromanaging the economy was defeated 53-47 last week with just six Democrats joining Republicans in trying to protect us from runaway bureaucratic malfeasance, precisely what this column warned of in December in the first “Going rogue.”
The EPA has become nothing more than a political tool of leftist ideology that is taking aim at American industries, and may well be a key element in unraveling the US economy.
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Technorati Tags: Environment, Politics, Government, Leftists
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
On the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 44 percent approved, while 49 percent disapproved.
On the economy, 50 percent approved while 49 percent disapproved.
On the federal budget deficit a mere 39 percent approved and 56 percent disapproved.
None of these numbers ought to surprise anyone; the Obama administration has been toothless in making appreciable differences in any of these serious issues. In fact, in every case its policies have made things worse without even a hint that there are plans that will turn things around.
The most serious poll result, however, came in response to the statement, “He understands the problems of people like you."
While 51 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative, Mr. Obama’s rating on this question has been in free fall since April of last year, when 73 percent of respondents answered affirmatively. By July his rating had dropped 10 points, and by January of this year, his rating was down to 57 percent. Disapproval ratings have risen roughly opposite the sinking approval numbers.
Congress fares no better.
Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll on June 8 and 9 revealed that only 22 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, while 69 percent disapprove, a negative margin of 47 points.
A week earlier, an ABC/Washington Post poll’s numbers were only slightly better, 26 favorable against 71 percent unfavorable, a 45-point deficit.
Back in May Democrats in Congress managed to please only 37 percent of the participants, against 61 percent who disapproved in an AP/Roper survey, while Republicans did as well on the approval side, but fared worse on the disapproval side, with 65 percent.
And, by a virtual two-to-one margin, a Gallup poll in the last week of May shows incumbents are in deep trouble. Asked whether they would rather vote for a candidate for Congress that has been in Congress or one that hasn’t, 60 percent said a candidate who has never been in Congress, while only 32 percent said they’d vote for someone with Congressional experience.
Republicans and Independents were clearly anti-incumbent (71-22 and 69-25, respectively), while Democrats were more evenly divided at 45-41 in favor of incumbents.
The Rasmussen Reports weekly Generic Congressional Ballot shows that since April 4 when the Democrats attracted 38 percent of the vote, the number is down to 36 percent on June 13, while Republicans garnered 47 percent on April 4 and 46 percent on June 13. Republicans are favored on the Generic Ballot over Democrats by a 10-point margin.
In what may be the most telling number, this month's Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll found that Mr. Obama’s approval rating of 51 percent, down from 77 percent at his inauguration, is significantly below Hillary Clinton’s rating , which has been in the 60s since she became Secretary of State.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Making decisions when you are angry usually produces bad decisions, and this situation proves the rule. Many questions are only partially answered and some not answered at all, and there’s no reason to have rushed to judgment. What we should have done is rush to the assistance of the people of Gulf Coast states. But instead, Washington sat on its hands, telling us “we were there from day one.”
The Dutch government offered its help and was rejected, and a number of creative ways of extracting the oil in the water have been suggested, but they have been ignored, lost in the bureaucracy, or couldn’t break through the blame-focused attitude of the Obama administration. The president should take a deep breath and change his focus from blaming and butt-kicking to actually doing something to help the people of Gulf Coast states. In other words, stop talking and do something!
Banning off shore drilling and boycotting BP are two popular actions favored by a large number of Americans. Such ideas appeal to the opportunist, or to people overcome with emotion who want to shoot first and ask questions later. Boycotts are sometimes effective tools to make a point. Often, however, they are ill-advised and, frankly, dumb. Boycotting BP stations falls squarely into the latter category. It’s like kicking the dog when your kid wrecked the car. Our friends, neighbors and acquaintances that own and work in these businesses are not to blame for the problems in the Gulf, so don’t punish them. And driving the company out of business would be counter-productive.
President Barack Obama’s rash decision to stop all drilling in the Gulf and other off shore locations presents more serious problems. The president wants to insure there isn’t another accident like this, but he should know that as bad as this one is, it’s the first significant deep water accident in 40 years. He over-reacted.
Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute (API) told Congress that raising the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund cap from $75 million to $10 billion, as proposed by US Senate legislation, would jeopardize about 145,000 jobs. Further, Mr. Gerard said that raising the cap could raise costs for offshore operations. "The impacts would be devastating ... just a 10 percent increase in development costs could … [result in] reducing production, jobs, and put $7.6 billion in future government revenue at risk," he said.
API’s chief economist Dr. John Felmy predicts that the short-term implications of a drilling moratorium will easily affect thousands of jobs in the Gulf region. Each drilling platform has 100 to 200 people on it, he said, and there are up to 30 platforms in the Gulf. That means as many as 6,000 direct jobs will be lost, and Dr. Felmy says two to three times that many support jobs are also at risk.
If the Obama administration wanted a strategy to virtually destroy the economy of Gulf Coast states, it would be hard pressed to find one more effective than banning oil and natural gas drilling there.
And according to Dr. Felmy, longer term bans on drilling will have a substantial impact on domestic oil production, and that translates to higher prices and perhaps shortages of gasoline and other fuels.
API explains that about 30 percent of the nation’s total domestic oil production and 13 percent of domestic natural gas production comes from the Gulf of Mexico and that deepwater development produces approximately 80 percent of the oil and 45 percent of the natural gas in the Gulf.
The extremists among the drilling-ban crowd would be happy to see fossil fuel use end abruptly, but have given no thought to how we would deal with the chaos that would ensue. These ideologues couldn’t care less how many families are ruined by such actions.
However, the reality of the energy situation is that oil and natural gas are going to be essential to the US energy picture for decades to come because alternative energy sources are insufficiently developed to take up the slack.
But aside from energy, let’s not forget that petroleum is the basis of a vast array of products besides fuels and lubricants. Ranken Energy Corporation explains that one 42-gallon barrel of oil creates 19.4 gallons of gasoline, but more than half of it is used to make things like plastics, asphalt, waxes, golf balls, toothpaste, panty hose, contact lenses, lipstick, nail polish, insect repellant, hand lotion, antifreeze, heart valves, parachutes … approximately 6,000 individual products.
So put the ideology on hold, accept the fact that we need oil and we need more domestic oil, and let’s focus on fixing the problems this tragic explosion has caused, finding wrong-doing and compensating those who deserve compensation. But let’s pass on the opportunity to use this crisis to advance political and ideological goals.
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Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Prior to the release of the May job numbers, economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected an increase of 540,000 nonfarm jobs, but when the jobs report came out, it showed only 431,000 jobs had been created.
Even so, Mr. Obama told us that the May job report is evidence that the U.S. economy is "getting stronger by the day," and then admitted that 411,000 of those were temporary government Census workers, which means, of course, that only 20,000 real jobs were created.
But even the new Census hiring is suspect. A number of Census workers have come forward saying that they were hired, trained, worked a day or two, were laid off, then rehired for a repeat of the cycle as many as three times. Each re-hire was counted as a new job, raising the new jobs total. But that doesn’t sound very much like a real job, does it? Not even a real “temporary” job.
This disappointing private payroll number was a much weaker result than many economists had expected, and that sentiment was shared by investors, who drove the Dow Industrials to a 323-point slide on Friday, the second time in two weeks the DJIA has closed below 10,000.
The small jobs increase was accompanied by a decrease in unemployment, which fell further than economists expected, dropping to 9.7 percent in May from 9.9 percent in April. But even that news has an asterisk beside it, since much of the decline came from 322,000 unemployed people who dropped out of the labor force and are no longer counted among the unemployed.
Looking deeper into the unemployment data, many analysts regard the number that includes discouraged workers – like those 322,000 who dropped out of the workforce, and those forced to work part-time because of the weak economy –as a more relevant measure of unemployment. That number is 16.6 percent.
Thirty months into the recession, unemployment continues at high levels. The low point in October of 2006, when the rate was 4.4 percent (five percent is considered full employment), is a distant memory, and the rate hovered just above that level until May of 2007, at which point it started to creep up, hitting 7.4 percent in December of 2008. Since then, there has been no good news on employment, and some economists predict the rate will bump up against 10 percent through the summer.
Employment is a lagging indicator of economic recovery, meaning that the economy will show improvement long before unemployment falls to acceptable levels. But the recovery is not gaining strength, either.
Gross Domestic Product was revised downward to 3.0 percent in the first quarter of 2010 from 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, supporting the idea that unemployment will continue at high levels for a long time. The lower GDP shows “that the recovery in the biggest economy in the world may not be as strong as many have expected,” according to analyst Anna Fedec. The downward revision in GDP “came from consumer consumption and business spending which are required components for growth to be called sustainable,” she said. “In fact, consumer spending, which is vital in elevating production levels, is weak, mostly due to [the] high unemployment rate.”
Unemployment is the most important thing on the minds of most Americans, and it also plays a role in stifling the recovery. People without jobs spend a lot less than people with jobs, and with demand for products and services reduced by high unemployment, new job creation also will languish.
Add to that scenario the fact that the Obama administration’s policies discourage job creation by keeping businesses wondering what tax, expense or government edict is going to be imposed on them next. This uncertainty breeds caution, and caution and uncertainty do not produce jobs.
A look at business cycle history shows that if left alone economic downturns self-correct rather quickly, and that includes every downturn up to 1930, at which point federal government bureaucrats and elected officials decided they knew more about business than business people. That was the blunder that created the Great Depression, and it is the blunder in this recession. Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek called such bureaucratic arrogance the “fatal conceit.”
Following Jimmy Carter’s disastrous economic policies in the late 70s, Ronald Reagan turned things around by cutting taxes. Economist Arthur Laffer points out that the. Reagan tax cuts – which were the engine of the 1983 expansion and unleashed the longest peacetime expansion the U.S. economy has ever experienced – are the mirror image of the Obama tax increases. And he said “the prospect of rising prices, higher interest rates and more regulations next year will further entice demand and supply to be shifted from 2011 into 2010.” Mr. Laffer predicts that economic activity shifted to 2010 helps this year, but will produce an economic collapse next year. “If you thought deficits and unemployment have been bad lately, you ain't seen nothing yet,” he said.
The Obama administration has failed to learn the lessons of 1930 and 1983, to our great detriment.
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Technorati Tags: Economy, Government, Liberalism, Democrats
Thursday, June 03, 2010
In four major areas – health care, illegal immigration, the Gulf oil spill, and the direction of the country – the American people do not support Barack Obama and his policies, as reflected in recent opinion polls.
From May 21 to 23, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation asked whether participants think the changes the Democrat’s law will make to the country's health care system will be generally good for the country or generally bad for the country. More than half the participants said “bad,” while 46 percent said “good.” A more direct question followed: “Do you approve or disapprove of the passage of the health care bill which became law in April?” The margin was 13 points; 56 percent disapprove, 43 percent approve.
Another hot topic is illegal immigration and the illegal alien problem in Arizona, and on this one the president and his administration are once again taking a hit. Fifty-nine percent responding in the Quinnipiac University Poll from May 19-24 believe that illegal immigration is a very serious problem, while only 10 percent think it is not very serious. Another 26 percent believe illegal immigration is somewhat serious, and just four percent think it is not a problem at all. All told, 85 percent think this problem is serious.
Not surprisingly, 66 percent also think immigration reform should primarily move in the in the direction of stricter enforcement of laws against illegal immigration rather than in the direction of integrating illegal immigrants into American society, and respondents approve of the Arizona law by a 51 to 31 margin.
On the oil spill in the Gulf, the division is less severe, but only 39 percent of participants approve of the way President Obama is handling the crisis, while 42 percent disapprove, in the Quinnipiac University Poll, May 19-24. Perhaps more pertinent, to the question, "To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose drilling for new oil supplies in currently protected areas off shore?" 53 support new drilling, against 40 percent who oppose it.
And in a Research 2000 poll conducted for the Daily Kos May 24 through 27 asking about the direction the country is heading, 56 percent said the wrong direction, while 40 percent said the right direction.
Barack Obama and his administration are clearly on the wrong side of the majority of Americans on three important issues and the direction he and the Democrat-controlled Congress are taking the country.
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Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Memorial Day is a time when America acknowledges the service and sacrifices of the men and women of our armed forces. At Arlington National Cemetery an observance has taken place for 142 years, and the focus of the modern observance is the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns by the President of the United States, which presidents have taken part in since Lyndon Johnson first did in 1968.
From that time forward, with few exceptions, American presidents have paid tribute to the brave men and women who have served their country and the thousands who paid the ultimate price to guarantee us the freedoms won for us in the Revolutionary War.
This year, the Arlington ceremony has become the center of attention, and as this is written, President Barack Obama plans to pass on the Arlington ceremony, and take the family to Chicago for the weekend. Information on who did and didn’t participate in the Arlington ceremonies each year is difficult to find, but it is documented that in recent memory three presidents did not participate at Arlington at least once during their terms: George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Why did they pass up the opportunity and the duty to honor America’s fighting men and women at Arlington?
Ronald Reagan chaired a summit in 1983 in Williamsburg “to mobilise (sic) a common Western position in confronting the Soviet Union in the final stage of the Cold War,” according to Nicholas Bayne in the (begin ital) History of the G7 Summit: The Importance of American Leadership.(end ital) With Reagan as chairman, “the summits reached some pioneering political agreements, stimulated by the US,” and succeeded in having US Cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe to counter Soviet missiles placed nearby. The meeting was a serious and important event, and Mr. Reagan can be forgiven for asking someone to stand in for him at the Memorial Day ceremony while he tended to the nation’s business.
On Memorial Day, 2002, a day after attending the NATO summit in Rome, President George W. Bush, along with Secretary of State Colon Powell, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, members of the U.S. Congress, members of the U.S. Armed Services and American veterans celebrated Memorial Day at the Normandy American Cemetery, and Colleville-Sur-Mer, France. Mr. Bush was not at Arlington, but he did honor the thousands of Americans buried in France who helped liberate Europe during WWII.
Some people say that in 2007 Mr. Bush was at his ranch in Texas, and Vice President Dick Cheney placed the wreath, however, the Arlington Cemetery Website contains remarks by Mr. Bush dated Memorial Day 2007.
George H. W. Bush, however, is another matter. One account said that in his four years as president he did not attend the Arlington ceremony a single time. One year, he attended a Memorial Day ceremony in Rome, but he spent the others vacationing in Kennebunkport, Maine, and attending ceremonies there, while other officials attended the Arlington ceremonies. However, it is well known that the senior President Bush postponed going to college to serve in the military during WWII and became the youngest aviator in the US Navy at the age of 18. He flew 58 combat missions and was decorated three times, with the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation. His patriotism and commitment to the military are beyond question.
On Memorial Day 2009, a few months after being sworn in as President, Barack Obama attended the laying of the wreath at Arlington. The Associated Press reported that “Barack Obama marked his first Memorial Day as president on Monday, saluting the men and women of America's fighting forces, both living and dead, as ‘the best of America’” by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
This year, the news stories read somewhat differently. Under the headline, “President Obama, Vice President Biden to Participate in Memorial Day Ceremonies” was this report: “On Thursday, May 27, President Barack Obama and his family will travel to Chicago, where they will spend the weekend. On Monday, the President will participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois … [and] Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden … will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.”
Why did President Obama decline to honor America’s fighting men and women at Arlington this year, as most presidents do each year, and instead chose to take his family to Chicago? Well, depending upon which perspective you hold, he is either doing an honorable thing and keeping a campaign promise to visit his adopted home town and attending a ceremony there, or instead of doing his patriotic duty at Arlington he is taking the family on a vacation.
Do you believe Mr. Obama’s reasons for missing the Arlington ceremony are as good as Mr. Reagan’s or the younger Bush’s, or that he has earned a pass like Bush senior through his service? Or do you think that he is abandoning an American tradition and shirking his duty?
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Technorati Tags: Obama, Politics, Liberalism, Democrats