Why do they hate the the working class? The war on cheap groceries.

April 30, 2011

Retail giant Walmart has in recent years moved into the grocery business, bringing its famous pricing power to fruits, vegetables and meats. Good for the consumer, right? You betcha, but some people aren’t happy. Smaller grocery retailers are upset, because they feel they can’t compete. Unions are mad because Walmart isn’t unionized. And Democratic politicians are angry because… well, because their union backers told them to.

Reason.tv takes a dispassionate look at the politics and economics surrounding Walmart’s controversial entry into the New York City and Washington, D.C., areas and asks “Why do they hate cheap groceries?”

Walmart’s no angel(1), but, in hard economic times, you’d think politicians and labor leaders would be interested in anything that lowers food prices and creates jobs.

That is, if they truly cared about the average person.

NOTES:

(1) They’ve been caught benefiting from illegal alien labor and supported ObamaCare because they knew they could handle the added expense better than their competition. In other words, they wanted to game the system to rig the free market.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Krauthammer on Obama and “leading from behind”

April 29, 2011

I wrote about this amazing statement of an Obama Doctrine a few days ago. Well, it’s more accurate to say I sputtered in disbelief at it. In today’s Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer actually analyzes it in a penetrating article I could emulate only in my dreams. The whole piece is a must-read, but here is his discussion of the administration’s perceived need to lead from behind because the world hates us:

It is the fate of any assertive superpower to be envied, denounced and blamed for everything under the sun. Nothing has changed. Moreover, for a country so deeply reviled, why during the massive unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan and Syria have anti-American demonstrations been such a rarity?

Who truly reviles America the hegemon? The world that Obama lived in and shaped him intellectually: the elite universities; his Hyde Park milieu (including his not-to-be-mentioned friends, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn); the church he attended for two decades, ringing with sermons more virulently anti-American than anything heard in today’s full-throated uprising of the Arab Street.

It is the liberal elites who revile the American colossus and devoutly wish to see it cut down to size. Leading from behind — diminishing America’s global standing and assertiveness — is a reaction to their view of America, not the world’s.

Other presidents have taken anti-Americanism as a given, rather than evidence of American malignancy, believing — as do most Americans — in the rightness of our cause and the nobility of our intentions. Obama thinks anti-Americanism is a verdict on America’s fitness for leadership. I would suggest that “leading from behind” is a verdict on Obama’s fitness for leadership.

Leading from behind is not leading. It is abdicating. It is also an oxymoron. Yet a sympathetic journalist, channeling an Obama adviser, elevates it to a doctrine. The president is no doubt flattered. The rest of us are merely stunned.

Three points, nothing but net.

RELATED: More Krauthammer — “Decline is a choice.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Creative smuggling: We build a fence, they fly over it

April 29, 2011

Cartel smugglers may be walking pustules who profit by selling poison and wreak havoc on their own nation(1), but give hem credit for adaptability: Border-control advocates have been screaming for years about building a fence along the Mexican border? Fine The drug-smugglers will just find another way across — or over:

The visiting British pilots were training near a naval air station one night this month when their helicopter came within about 150 feet of an ultralight plane flying without lights. The ultralight darted away toward Mexico without a trace.

The near-disaster over the Southern California desert was an example of drug smugglers using low-flying aircraft that look like motorized hang gliders to circumvent new fences along the U.S. border with Mexico. The planes, which began appearing in Arizona three years ago, are now turning up in remote parts of California and New Mexico.

And in a new twist, the planes rarely touch the ground. Pilots simply pull levers that drop aluminum bins filled with about 200 pounds of marijuana for drivers who are waiting on the ground with blinking lights or glow-sticks. Within a few minutes, the pilots are back in Mexico.

“It’s like dropping a bomb from an aircraft,” said Jeffrey Calhoon, chief of the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector, which stretches through alfalfa farms, desert scrub and sand dunes in southeast California.

The Border Patrol has erected hundreds of miles of fences and vehicle barriers along the border and added thousands of new agents, so drug smugglers are going over, under and around.

I particularly like the “bombing run” aspect.

While the use of ultra-lights is perhaps the most unusual development in the chess match along the border, it’s not the only one: cartel smugglers also use tunnels under the border and boats on the Pacific coast to go around it.

In one sense, it’s an illustration of markets in action: with demand so high in the US, the cartels are going to do their darnedest to make sure they get their goods to the buyers.

Move and counter, thrust and parry.

AFTERTHOUGHT: If drugs are being passed over the border via ultralight, what —or who— else is making it across?

TANGENT:

(1) In fact, that’s just what they are.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Dear Mr. President: Don’t mess with Nikki Haley

April 29, 2011

Because you don’t stand a chance.


Lara Logan: “They raped me with their hands.”

April 29, 2011

CBS reporter Lara Logan was gang-raped by hundreds of Muslim men while covering the mass demonstrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square last February. Today she recounted her experience in an article in the New York Times:

“There was a moment that everything went wrong,” she recalled.

As the cameraman, Richard Butler, was swapping out a battery, Egyptian colleagues who were accompanying the camera crew heard men nearby talking about wanting to take Ms. Logan’s pants off. She said: “Our local people with us said, ‘We’ve gotta get out of here.’ That was literally the moment the mob set on me.”

Mr. Butler, Ms. Logan’s producer, Max McClellan, and two locally hired drivers were “helpless,” Mr. Fager said, “because the mob was just so powerful.” A bodyguard who had been hired to accompany the team was able to stay with Ms. Logan for a brief period of time. “For Max to see the bodyguard come out of the pile without her, that was one of the worst parts,” Mr. Fager said. He said Ms. Logan “described how her hand was sore for days after — and the she realized it was from holding on so tight” to the bodyguard’s hand.

They estimated that they were separated from her for about 25 minutes.

“My clothes were torn to pieces,” Ms. Logan said.

She declined to go into more detail about the assault but said: “What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.”

A weakness of the article is its failure to address the role of Islam and Islamic law(1) in fostering attitudes and beliefs that reduce women to the status of chattels under the control of men, subject to punishment –including sexual assault– for acting in an un-Islamic manner. And, based on the example of Muhammad, who, we are told in the Qur’an, gives us a “beautiful pattern of conduct” for all time, women taken prisoner may be enjoyed and used as one would one’s property. The interview dances around the topic, hinting at it by mentioning countries and regions, but never gets to the heart of the problem. For example:

While Ms. Logan, CBS’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, said she would definitely return to Afghanistan and other conflict zones, she said she had decided — for the moment — not to report from the Middle Eastern countries where protests were widespread.

And yet Afghanistan is Islamic and a place where women are treated brutally. To say one would return to Afghanistan, but not “the Middle East” is to draw a distinction without a difference; it ignores the common thread, Islam, and its codification and sacralization of millennia-old tribal attitudes toward women.

When Logan says this shows “the oppressive role of men” in the society, she’s right, but leaving it at that is to turn a blind eye to the elephant in the room.

Another part of the article bears mentioning:

Before the assault, Ms. Logan said, she did not know about the levels of harassment and abuse that women in Egypt and other countries regularly experienced. “I would have paid more attention to it if I had had any sense of it,” she said.

Before we go any further, understand this is not a criticism of Lara Logan, but an observation regarding the parochial naiveté of the journalistic profession overall, which seems to think it can parachute into any troubled part of the world and play the role of “untouchable outside observer.” Not only do these MSM reporters seem to have only the most superficial understanding of the areas they cover, but it’s as if they think the fact that they’re journalists gives them some sort of protection against the anti-American (anti-Western, anti-Jewish, anti-women, &c., &c.) prejudices and rages rife there. While Logan’s example is by far the most horrific, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was also attacked in Tahrir Square, and the NYT’s own Lynsey Addario was sexually assaulted while covering the rebellion in Libya.

There are no “safe passes,” and women especially need to understand the situation they are walking into.

Meanwhile, it’s good to see that Logan is recovering.

LINKS: Earlier posts about Lara Logan. My blog-buddy Sister Toldjah posted about this.

TANGENT:

(1) And before someone says “religion had nothing to do with this” or “Islam respects women,” you’re wrong.


50 good reasons to forget about the danged birth certificate

April 28, 2011

Following up on yesterday’s post, here are the first ten:

  1. Obamacare
  2. Drill Here Drill Now
  3. High Taxes
  4. High Deficit
  5. Gun Control
  6. Unemployment
  7. China (owns) our arses
  8. Oil Prices are too high
  9. Lousy Relationship With Europe
  10. Appeasing Terrorists
  11. Protecting the Borders

Okay, that’s 11. So sue me. Be sure to read Jeff’s post for the rest.

I will disagree with him, however, that Obama’s education should be dropped. Not that I doubt the president’s education and want proof he really graduated, but I think it’s important to understanding him that we know what he studied and under whom. Who influenced him during his formative college years? Even though he now (for once in his life) has a public track record, a clearer understanding of his college days would prove useful.


When famous dead economists rap, round two

April 28, 2011

Keynes and Hayek are back, this time rappin’ before a congressional committee about top-down vs. free-market economics. As you might expect, it becomes a knockdown, drag-out brawl.

And yeah, the fight was rigged:

I want a rematch!

LINKS: Here’s part one.

via Dan Mitchell

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama: “Drill there, drill now!”

April 27, 2011

This continuing self-inflicted wound on the American economy via the administration’s refusal to tap our own resources has to be deliberate, a matter of ideological choice. How else does one explain Obama’s demand that others pump more oil, but not us?

Amid a surge in the cost of gasoline, President Barack Obama said Tuesday he is calling on major oil producers such as Saudi Arabia to increase their oil supplies and lower prices, warning starkly that lack of relief would harm the global economy.

“We are in a lot of conversations with the major oil producers like Saudi Arabia to let them know that it’s not going to be good for them if our economy is hobbled because of high oil prices,” Obama said in an interview with a Detroit television station.

His remarks signaled a broad new appeal in the face of skyrocketing gasoline prices in the United States and they came on the same day that he reiterated a call for Congress to repeal oil industry tax breaks.

This comes on the heels of Shell’s decision to abandon drilling in Alaska because of the EPA’s refusal to grant needed permits:

Shell Oil Company has announced it must scrap efforts to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The decision comes following a ruling by the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to withhold critical air permits. The move has angered some in Congress and triggered a flurry of legislation aimed at stripping the EPA of its oil drilling oversight.

Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says obtaining similar air permits for a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico would take about 45 days. He’s especially frustrated over the appeal board’s suggestion that the Arctic drill would somehow be hazardous for the people who live in the area. “We think the issues were really not major,” Slaiby said, “and clearly not impactful for the communities we work in.”

If the EPA and the Obama administration are so concerned about polluting our own shores, what kind of rank hypocrisy is it to demand more oil from places where environmental standards are far lower? And how mean a con to pull on the American people, to say with one breath that we have to do something about higher gasoline prices out of one side of the mouth and then block any attempts to develop America’s own resources?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a president or administration more hostile toward its own nation’s interests, nor more sanctimonious in the surety of its own superior wisdom.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Final proof at last: Obama *is* Carter II

April 27, 2011

Leading from behind??”

The reliably liberal New Yorker magazine isn’t usually in the habit of presenting gifts to the Republican Party, but it has just published three little words that may prove central to the GOP effort to defeat President Obama next year. Those words are “leading from behind,” and they appear at the end of a Ryan Lizza article on Obama’s foreign policy.

Lizza didn’t coin the phrase. “Leading from behind” is a direct quote from of “one of [Obama’s] advisers,” who is describing his boss’ policy on Libya. That same adviser goes on to say that the effort to lead from behind is “so at odds with the John Wayne expectation for what America is in the world. But it’s necessary for shepherding us through this phase.”

And there you have it: the 2012 campaign against Obama’s foreign policy in a nutshell. By the time Election Day rolls around, if the GOP knows what’s good for it, the phrase “leading from behind” will be the “yes, we can” of 2012.

The reason the phrase is so devastating is that “leading from behind” wasn’t intended as criticism but rather as a sympathetic, even proud, defense of the administration’s approach and goals.

Lizza describes it thus: “It’s a different definition of leadership than America is known for, and it comes from two unspoken beliefs: that the relative power of the US is declining, as rivals like China rise, and that the US is reviled in many parts of the world.

Wow. EU-style “soft power” in all its spineless glory. It’s the perfect implementation of a worldview that sees American power as the problem and seeks its deliberate weakening. Only you don’t let on that that’s your plan; rather, you couch it in terms of “inevitable decline” versus the latest threat(1) and the need to make ourselves more liked in the international community (all bow).

Oh, heck, This isn’t just Carter. It’s Carter’s “malaise” speech wrapped up in Dukakis’s tank ride with a bow made from Kerry’s “global test.”

The article is right: if Republicans don’t use this like a club to whack Obama at every opportunity in the coming campaign, they don’t deserve to win.

LINKS: A British view — Obama looks “weak and confused.”

TANGENTS:

(1)Now it’s China. Remember the 1980s when Japan was going to eat our lunch?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama releases birth certificate: now can we get down to serious business?

April 27, 2011

The big news this morning is that President Obama has released his long-form Hawaiian birth certificate, perhaps (we hope) finally settling the (ridiculous) question of whether he was really born in the US and is thus a “natural born citizen,” qualified to be president. From CNN:

President Obama released his original birth certificate Wednesday, saying the controversy surrounding the issue had become a “sideshow.”

(…)

“We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do,” said Obama.

The surprise release follows recent and sustained remarks by businessman Donald Trump, among others, that raised doubts as to whether the president was born in the United States.

“Over the last two and half years, I have watched with amusement. I have been puzzled with the degree with which this thing just kept going,” Obama told reporters Wednesday.

I’m not sure which is more cynical or self-serving: that last statement of Obama’s or Donald Trump’s crow of victory and vindication:

Donald Trump, who helped drive questions over President Obama’s birth certificate, said the release Wednesday was a victory for him because he made the president act.

“I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue,” he said, though he said more investigation has to be done. “Now we have to look at it, see is it real, is it proper.”

Oh, please. Let’s get one thing straight: the only reason Obama finally released the birth certificate was that Trump was gaining traction with his grandstanding charges and private investigators, and so withholding it no longer served Obama’s purpose.

Yes, you read that right. When a desperate Hillary Clinton campaign first made the allegations of foreign birth during the Democratic primaries, the Obama campaign realized they had a gold mine on their hands. By refusing to release it, they knew it was like waving a red flag in front of conspiracy-theorist bulls — they wouldn’t be able to resist.  Obama, Axelrod, Emanuel, Plouffe, and the rest knew they could use the Right-wing equivalent of 9/11 Truthers to tar legitimate opponents with the brush of lunacy, and they did just that. As William Jacobson wrote back in 2009:

Who are the primary beneficiaries of the conspiracy theory? Not the people pushing it; they remain on the fringe. Not the Republican party.

No, the primary beneficiary of the Obama birth certificate conspiracy theory is Obama. He is running the country into the ground at break-neck speed, but the conspiracy theory has handed Democratic operatives like Media Matters, Think Progress, and all the left-wing blogs which jump when the whistle blows, a great way of distracting the public from the damage being done.

(…)

So stop looking for the birth certificate, and start reading the health-care-reduction bill, the cap-and-tax fiasco bill, the unemployment numbers, the national debt and deficit analyses, and the latest Obama speech apologizing for who we are. And contact your Congressman and Senator and demand they read legislation, and give the public opportunity for comment, before they vote on it.

Well, two years later we now have the long-form certificate. Happy? Can we now get back to the serious matters of policy Professor Jacobson listed? Can we deal with real analysis of what shaped Obama’s character and political beliefs? Can we deal with the issues facing the nation with the seriousness they deserve(1)?

Barack Obama is on a fast-track to going down as one of the worst presidents of the last hundred years, and maybe even since the immortal trio of Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan. The birth-certificate controversy has been a sucker’s trap for the Right and the gift that keeps on giving for Obama. Now that he’s released the certificate, can we let it go and concentrate on the real work of getting rid of the man who wants to fundamentally transform America… into Greece?

Let’s hope so.

LINKS: My blog-buddy ST beat me to the punch. Curse that Eastern Time Zone!   Ed Morrissey goes off on The Donald. If we’re lucky, Trump’s candidacy will now fade. Memeorandum has tons of links.

TANGENTS:

(1) Some will never give up, sure that the released long form is a fake — a fake I say!! After all…


United Nations hits new low, keeps digging

April 26, 2011

If anything shows what a farce and travesty the UN has become, it’s Syria’s forthcoming membership on the UN Human Rights Council:

The brutal crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad may finally be getting the attention of world leaders — but apparently not enough to stop Syria from becoming the newest member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

And despite calling for an independent investigation into the crackdown, which has left hundreds dead, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apparently won’t do much about blocking Syria’s path to the human rights group.

Nah, Ban’s too busy with the important stuff: attending meaningless conferences, issuing vapid statements, and generally trying desperately to pretend he’s anything other than the UN’s head waiter. I wonder how much Assad tipped him for the seat at the UNHRC table, no questions asked?

As Michael Totten writes:

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m pretty sure the absurdness of this situation is self-evident and that no comment is necessary.

It speaks for itself.

RELATED: Human rights, a la Assad. This is the man Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called “a reformer,” thus removing all doubt about her qualifications to be president.


Venezuela: the fruits of Obama’s energy policy

April 26, 2011

Thanks to the Obama administration’s refusal to explore and develop the vast oil resources we have in the United States, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez will likely wind up with an extra $11 billion slush fund heading into his next presidential campaign.

Hey, if you can’t help your friends…

Obama with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez


Sarah Palin: We deserve an explanation about Libya

April 26, 2011

I’m having cognitive dissonance here. On  the one hand, I’m assured by the Left and the major media (but I repeat myself), and by many on the Establishment Right, that Sarah Palin is a chillbilly airhead who has no idea what she is talking about and would be a disaster as president.

But then, after expressing puzzlement over the administration’s conflicting reasons for going to war (kinda-sorta) in Libya,  she goes and writes something like this:

At this point, to avoid further mission creep and involvement in a third war – one we certainly can’t afford – you need to step up and justify our Libyan involvement, or Americans are going to demand you pull out. Simply put, what are we doing there? You’ve put us in a strategic no man’s land. If Gaddafi’s got to go, then tell NATO our continued participation hinges on this: We strike hard and Gaddafi will be gone. If, as you and your spokesmen suggest, we’re not to tell Libya what to do when it comes to that country’s leadership, and if you can’t explain to Americans why we’re willing to protect Libyan resources and civilians but not Syria’s, Yemen’s, Bahrain’s, Egypt’s, Israel’s, etc., then there is no justification for U.S. human and fiscal resources to be spent.

I would also ask you to better explain your thinking on Libya. We can’t afford any actions that don’t take care of crucial U.S. needs and meet our own interests at this point. You are the Commander in Chief, so please explain what you believe is our “interest” there and not elsewhere.

Mr. President, your hesitation and vacillation in the Middle East breed uncertainty. It’s symptomatic of the puzzling way you govern. See, uncertainty is one of the factors over which you have control, and I would think you’d want to eliminate that additional element that helps breed problems like higher oil prices. Higher oil means exorbitant gas prices weighing down our economy.  Consistency and strength – and greater domestic energy production – will help fix higher gas prices and help heal the economy. But only with leadership. These sorts of problems don’t fix themselves.

Uncertainty breeds higher prices because those who thought themselves our allies suddenly find that may not be true(1), they may not be as secure as they thought and their oil supplies may not be as safe, all of which leads more risk being associated with Mideast oil, and contributes to higher costs passed on to us at the pump. Basic economics and common sense, both of which are alien to our president.

It seems to me the woman dismissed as a “Caribou Barbie” and a quitter(2) has a better grip on our national interests than the Smartest President in History ever will.

Darn her for confusing me by being right when our Cultural Elites (all bow) insist she’s wrong.

Go, ‘Cuda!

TANGENTS:

(1) Hey, if we unceremoniously dumped Mubarak, who, while a bloated dictator, at least often served our interests and wasn’t as bad as a lot of them, then who’s next? You can bet a lot are worried.

(2) An argument I no longer treat as serious, unless it can be made in the context of the Alaskan ethics law as it existed at the time of her resignation.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Justice delayed is justice denied, but not for murder victims, it seems

April 26, 2011

I made my feelings about convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal clear a couple of weeks ago. Thus, I’m sure you’ll share the joy I feel knowing the man who shot a cop in the back and then finished him off with a bullet to the brain has been granted a new sentencing hearing because, 30 years later, an appeals court found the trial court’s sentencing instructions were vague:

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered a new sentencing hearing for convicted police killer and death-row activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, finding for a second time that the death-penalty instructions given to the jury at his 1982 trial were potentially misleading.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered prosecutors to conduct the new sentencing hearing within six months or agree to a life sentence. Abu-Jamal’s first-degree murder conviction nonetheless stands in the fatal shooting of Officer Daniel Faulkner.

And while this “death-row activist” cheats Death again, the family of Daniel Faulkner still waits for justice.

LINKS: More from Michelle Malkin

via PJM

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The enigma of Barack Obama: how family shapes character

April 25, 2011

One of the great frustrations of the 2008 presidential campaign was the total failure of the establishment media to do anything resembling real journalism regarding the background and history of Barack Obama, the man who would become the Democratic nominee and eventually President. His college records were sealed, his activities while a student in New York and in Chicago as a community organizer were only glanced at, and the people he closely associated with there –Socialist academics, organizers, and former communist terrorists– were dismissed as “people he just knew, nothing special.”

And as for his family background? Well, that became wrapped up and almost impossible to look at dispassionately because of the Birther nonsense that the Obama campaign brilliantly exploited to silence legitimate critics. Whether afraid of being labeled a crank or fearful of having the race card played against them, most critics then and now stay away from looking into those personal, formative experiences that would shape the character and beliefs of a president, preferring to attack him only on policy.

Yet, how can one effectively criticize policy without knowing the man’s character and beliefs, which would tell us not only what he wants to accomplish now, but in the future? To do so is to pick at details while refusing see the grand context that gives them shape and direction.

So, since the major media won’t investigate the President’s background, the fearless Bill Whittle will. This video is part one of a multi-part series looking into the influences on the character and beliefs of President Barack Obama, starting with his parents and grandparents:

And that’s how investigative reporting should be done, neither avoiding sensitive topics nor wallowing in crank conspiracy theories.

I’m looking forward to part two.

RELATED: Some journalists did do extensive work on Obama’s history. Before the election David Freddoso wrote “The Case Against Barack Obama,” which analyzed his rise through the political machines of Cook County, Chicago, and Springfield, seemingly untouched by the mud of Illinois politics. Unfortunately, it came out too late to influence the election. Just last year, journalist Stanley Kurtz published “Radical in Chief,” which is both a political biography of Obama and a history of American Socialism since the 1970s. I reviewed the book a while back and I think it’s crucial to understanding Barack Obama as we go into another election campaign. (And, fair disclosure, I do get a few pennies when the book links are clicked.)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


What also costs you at the pump

April 24, 2011

In the last post, I explained how basic economics and Democratic policies are what’s behind the sharp rise of gasoline prices. But there’s another factor to consider, one that acts as a buffer to keep your fuel bill high: taxes. The combination of federal, state, and local taxes adds up to a considerable portion of the price you pay.

Here’s a map from the American Petroleum Institute that shows the average tax burden in each state; the national average is 48.1 cents per gallon:

Click the map for the full-sized PDF

So keep this in mind, the next time your eyes bug out at the price on the pump: a huge portion of the money you’re shelling out is due to government actions that distort supply-and-demand — and the punitive levels of taxation in many states*.

*Once again, California is a leader. D’oh! 


Gas prices: Democrats think we’re idiots

April 24, 2011

You may have noticed that gas prices have gone in recent months — 30 cents per gallon on average in the last month alone. Since rising gas prices tend to hurt the party in power, the Democrats have decided the answer is not to do what it takes to bring prices down, but launch a witch hunt. Connecticut’s Senator Richard Blumenthal (D)(1) has gone so far as to suggest a grand jury:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Sunday called for an aggressive federal probe – including a possible grand jury – into whether rising gasoline prices stem from illegal manipulation of energy markets.

President Obama and the Justice Department last week announced a multi-agency task force to explore whether there is price manipulation or fraud afoot, and the role of speculative trading in energy futures.

Blumenthal, Connecticut’s former attorney general, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that federal officials need to play hardball.

“I commend and applaud the president for focusing on this issue but I think there really needs to be an investigation involving, for example, subpoenas and compulsory process which I used as attorney general in similar investigations. There needs to be very possibly a grand jury to uncover the potential wrongdoing,” said Blumenthal, who was elected to the Senate last year.

“The Justice Department should take the lead, seize this moment and send a message, a very strong deterrent message that this country will not tolerate the kind of illegal speculation and trading and hedge fund activity that may be driving prices up,” he added.

I’ve often said that to be a liberal Democrat or progressive requires one to surrender any knowledge of basic economics and embrace ignorance, but I don’t think Blumenthal is ignorant, here. Rather, as gas prices approach $5 per gallon in some parts of the country, Democrats, and Blumenthal is just the latest example of Democratic demagoguery on this, have resorted to blaming witchcraft greedy oil companies and wealthy people(2), because they dare not admit as we head into election season that, in accordance with immutable economic laws(3), their own policies have largely contributed to the rise, thus making the voting public miserable and likely to take it out on Democrats.

Let’s review:

First, several of the major world suppliers of oil (aka The Middle East and North Africa) are undergoing a period of turmoil and revolt that makes oil supplies uncertain. This potential for disrupted supply means that buyers (us included) have to pay more to compete for oil from other areas, because of the greater demand.

On top of that, thanks to the Luddites of the environmental movement, the United States has failed to extract enough of its own oil and refine its own gas to keep up with its needs, thus meaning we need to buy more on the open market, further driving up prices.

This is something called “supply and demand,” a law the Democrats just hate, because it makes them face the consequences of their actions, such as:

  • A deliberate policy of seeking gas prices that match the obscene amounts charged in Europe.
  • A “permitorium” meant to block almost any new exploration and drilling off our coasts or on land, even in defiance of a federal judge’s order, while at the same time driving up the cost of doing what business is allowed — or even when doing nothing.

These and other administration actions —deliberate choices done in full knowledge of what will happen– drive up the price of fuel for all of us. The Democrats know this and they know the public will get angry and thus hammer them on Election Day because of it.

Hence the appearance of tools and flunkies like Blumenthal on the talk-show circuit, trying to distract us by blaming corporations, “speculators,” and price gougers for a problem they themselves set in motion. They’ve taken their lead from Obama and, dagnabbit, they’re going to follow it right off that electoral cliff.

Go ahead, guys, treat us as if we’re ignorant rubes, and then the adults can clean up your mess when they take charge in 2013.

TANGENTS:

(1) As if we’re supposed to trust a guy who lied about his service in Vietnam.

(2)I wonder if this includes the wealthy who paid $38,000 per seat at Obama’s recent fundraiser?

(3)Liberals and other Leftists just hate these things, because they’re mean and make them face reality.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Restraining Leviathan III: when the IRS goes wild

April 24, 2011

Here’s a question, the answer to which may just be a hearty “WTF?” Why does the IRS want to turn US banks into deputy tax collectors for foreign governments?

Under a proposed regulation, the Internal Revenue Service would order banks to report interest on deposits from foreign investors, not to the US government, but to the home government of the depositor.

What’s the problem, you ask? There are five, but I’ll list two here:

  1. Foreign depositors have put trillions of dollars in US banks because of the very fact that we don’t report interest payments to their governments. Yes, it’s tax avoidance on their part, but the moneys deposited here help grow our economy through loans and investment capital. If this regulation is enacted, foreign depositors will have every reason to move their fortunes elsewhere, to places like Hong Kong or the Caymans, which don’t threaten to rat them out to their governments. That loss would be a tremendous blow to our already ailing economy and banking sector.
  2. Even worse, this regulation overturns established US law. Congress mandated this safe-harbor for foreign deposits 90 years ago in recognition of the benefits an inflow of capital would bring, and that law has been reaffirmed by our democratically elected legislators at least twice since then. Yet now a bureaucratic agency want to undue laws enacted by the legislature through simple fiat.

WTF, indeed.

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has produced a video that goes into these and three other reasons why this regulation shows the IRS is Stuck On Stupid:

This proposed regulation and the harm it will do have attracted the attention of Congress, who’ve reacted in bipartisan opposition to this dumb idea. For example, Senator Rubio said in a letter to President Obama:

At a time when unemployment remains high and economic growth is lagging, forcing banks to report interest paid to nonresident aliens would encourage the flight of capital overseas to jurisdictions without onerous reporting requirements, place unnecessary burdens on the American economy, put our financial system at a fundamental competitive disadvantage, and would restrict access to capital when our economy can least afford it. …I respectfully ask that Regulation 146097-09 be permanently withdrawn from consideration. This regulation would have a highly detrimental effect on our economy at a time when pro-growth measures are sorely needed.

You can read more reactions to this bureaucratic usurpation at Mitchell’s International Liberty, though I have no doubt the statists in the Congressional Progressive Caucus think it’s just peachy.

LINKS: Other posts on Leviathan government.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The adult in the Senate

April 23, 2011

In the debate over whether we should raise America’s debt limit (aka “Can I please borrow more because I’m sure the dice will turn hot, soon,” also known as the Obama Budget), we’ve heard predictions of disaster from those who say it must be raised (or a global financial apocalypse will ensue) and shrieking demands from those who say it would be an ultimate betrayal of the Republic if the ceiling were raised one penny.

Okay, I’m engaging in a little hyperbole here, I admit. There are reasonable people making arguments on both sides: that raising the debt limit is needful because even the chance of an American default would introduce dangerous uncertainty into the markets; and that refusing to raise it is necessary to make America go “cold turkey” on its addiction to debt financing, just like cutting up an individual borrower’s credit cards. But there’s also no doubt that there are hard core partisan ideologues on both sides fanning the flames of intransigence for political gain, abetted by a media that thrives on drama and the latest crisis.

However, there are a few adults in the room — or, in the case, the United States Senate. Among them is Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), who penned an article about the debt ceiling that rips the irresponsible behavior of the Obama administration, particularly Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and asks conservatives to take a deep breath and realize there are reasons to raise the limit one last time. First, regarding Geithner and his intellectual dishonesty:

On last Sunday morning’s talk shows, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner once again implied that, if the debt limit is not promptly raised, the United States will default on its debt and the resulting catastrophe will be the fault of congressional Republicans.

But Secretary Geithner knows that congressional delay in raising the debt limit will in no way cause a default on our national debt. If Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government will still have more than enough money to fully service our debt. Next year, about 7 percent of all projected federal government expenditures will go to interest on our debt. Tax revenue is projected to cover at least 70 percent of all government expenditures. So, under any circumstances, there will be plenty of money to pay our creditors.

Moreover, as the Congressional Research Service has noted, the Treasury secretary himself has the discretion to decide which bills to pay first in the event that a cash flow shortage occurs. Thus, it is he who would have to consciously, and needlessly, choose to default on our debt if the debt ceiling is not promptly raised upon reaching it. It takes a lot of chutzpah to preemptively blame congressional Republicans for a default only he could cause.

Thus we have it from a rock-ribbed fiscal conservative that refusing to raise the debt ceiling would not be the end of civilization as we know it. Shock and surprise, President Obama and his tax-cheat Treasury chief are trying to scare us with another ginned-up crisis to force the action they want. I think we saw this show before, when it was called “Porkulus.”

On the other hand, Senator Toomey has words of caution for debt-purists who reject any raising of the debt ceiling as an abomination:

To be sure, absent an increase in the debt limit, the resulting sudden, drastic spending cuts would be very disruptive and undesirable. That is why I have always argued that we should raise the debt limit once we have adopted the needed spending cuts and budgeting reforms. But disruptive and undesirable spending cuts are not the same thing as a catastrophic default on our debt.

In other words, yes, there would be unavoidable and painful cuts if the ceiling were not raised. However, while they would not constitute a economic Ragnarok, it would be better to avoid them by raising the limit one last time — assuming serious spending and budget reforms were part of the deal.

This, folks, is good politics, the art of getting what you want by taking less than 100% now, knowing you’re likely to get the rest, later, because momentum is on your side. The public wants federal spending and the debt reined in, even if it hasn’t worked through all the implications, yet. But they also want Congress to get along and do the country’s business: battles over lines of ideological purity lead the vast middle of the nation to call a pox on both parties’ houses. Thus Toomey’s approach, holding out for major reforms but avoiding even any hint of a default, is a good position: it positions the Republicans as firm but reasonable, and forces Team The One to be the spoilers. Assuming all the major players on our side carry this message to the public, we have a strong hand to play in the upcoming screaming argument debate.

And this leads back to my comment about “adults in the room.” I’ve been impressed with the freshman class the Republicans sent to both the House and the Senate: Allen West, Renee Elmers, Christie Noem, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey, among others: we’ve sent some good ones to office. While the debate and the process won’t be easy, Toomey’s article (read the whole thing) is an example of a new congressional class that has the maturity to put country ahead of party and wisdom ahead of intransigence, and is willing to chastise their own leadership when needed.

Now we just need the kiddies to listen to them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Don’t tell Sheryl Crow

April 23, 2011

Perfect for the person who has way too much money and really should just give it to me, instead, Watt’s Up With That brings us the new, cool commode:

It has an iPod dock, speakers, a light, motion sensor activation, motorized access, and a touch screen remote. It only costs $6400.

You can tell she's impressed.

And what a view the combined water closet/living room has, eh?

Oh, and about that Sheryl Crow reference… .