Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ebenezer Obama Praises Himself

Recently President Obama has been declaring himself to be a fiscal conservative. Responding to Republican nominee-presumptive Mitt Romney calling administration economics “a prairie fire of debt,” John Maynard Obama responded with “He left out some facts—what my opponent didn’t tell you was that federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest rate of any president in almost sixty years.”

In your guts, you know he’s nuts. That’s an obvious lie, and it is accompanied by some very high-level chutzpah. Seeking to divert your lying eyes from the obvious, Obama mouthpiece Jay Carney expanded on the theme: “To make the point, as an editor might say, reporters should not buy into the b.s. that you hear about spending and fiscal constraint with regard to this administration. I think it’s a sign of sloth and laziness.” That’s the administration’s way of saying that what is obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature isn’t true.

Obama has gathered together his team of economics “experts” to perform one of the biggest con jobs in history. You’ve undoubtedly heard Obama and his minions talking about how responsible his spending has been in comparison with previous presidents. And though you’ve likely simply ignored the enormous foolishness of it all, you’ve probably wondered where he comes up with such blatant distortion of facts. Well, let me give you a hint. Ever heard “figures don’t lie, but liars can figure?”

Step one: Blame all of your first year spending on George W. Bush, reserving only a piddling $140 billion as your own. Easily enough done, if you have no conscience. The fiscal year of Obama’s first year in office ended on October 1, 2009. So Obama’s experts claim that he had no control over spending before that date. Now you also have to ignore the $800 billion stimulus that Obama and the Democrats passed in February of that year because it didn’t actually kick in fully until after the end of the fiscal year. So the calculation Obama includes in his current lie about fiscal restraint uses a baseline figure for 2009 which is almost entirely attributable to him but which he blames on his predecessor.

Step Two: Use dollars spent by the federal government without any reference to the national economy, while still blaming Bush indirectly for most of the spending since 2009, . That way you can claim a “rate” of spending that is “fake but accurate.” If you ignore the gross domestic product, population increases, more people on the public dole and wildly divergent views of inflation, it’s possible to spend trillions of extra dollars while claiming the rate of increase over three and a half years is low. In 1983, the highest previous spending year, the US was spending 23.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for all federal programs, including revitalization of America’s degraded military capabilities. How does that stack up with Obama’s federal chunk of the GDP? 2009: 25.2%; 2010: 24.1%; 2011: 24.1% and for 2012, an estimated 24.3%.

Those differences may not seem like much until you take into account the other facts. Removing 1983, rates have ranged from 18% to 21% between 1984 and 2008. And the 500 pound gorilla in the room is the GDP itself. First, much of the decrease in spending in 2012 will be attributed to cuts to the military which are the opposite of what happened in 1983. And more importantly, the GDP itself has been hugely reduced by the recession which seems interminable under Obama. Simply put, 24.1% federal spending against a sick GDP is one helluva lot more than 23.5% of a GDP that had taken off for the stratosphere.

Democrats pay the latter fact quick lip service, hoping you won’t see that it is a major factor in determining spending as a relative component of the overall economy. Their argument is that the economy stinks, so federal spending looks larger as a percentage of GDP. No, it is a larger percentage. And that bumps up against Obama’s argument that his fiscal policies ended the recession back in mid-2009. If the current economy stinks, then who care whether it’s technically a recession or not? And what about this simple figure: at the end of 2008 public debt stood at 40.5% of the economy (still too high) but now stands at 74.2% and getting worse?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how liars figure. If simple, honest accounting doesn’t work for you, come up with some devious creative accounting to make your profligacy look like fiscal restraint. The next time your innate good sense says that Obama is outright lying about curbing federal spending, go with your instincts. They’re correct.

[+]

Democratic Wedge Issues

I said a long time ago that the Democratic Party really isn’t a political party anymore. It’s become a collection of tribes held together by some common interests. The thing is, their common interests are really quite narrow and they glossed over significant disagreements in forming the coalition. Recent events, such as Obama’s embrace of gay marriage against the wishes of blacks and Romney’s discussion of education with Hispanics highlight this more than ever. It’s time for conservatives to start driving wedges into this coalition.

Conservatives need to spot the disagreements that were glossed over and start pointing those out relentlessly. The idea would be to cause enough friction within the Democratic alliance that the party ruptures into ineffective smaller groups. Here are some thoughts on where those disagreements might be and how to attack them.

1. Gays v. Feminists: At one point, gays should have been natural allies of conservatives. Conservatives believe in less government and individual rights, and the problems gays faced until the mid-1980s were sodomy laws, which made gay relationships criminal. But now that those laws have been struck down, the gay agenda has switched to forcing others to accept their lifestyles. That puts gays at odds with conservatism. Feminists similarly are at odds with conservatives because they too favor big government schemes to reshape society. So neither groups is likely winnable for conservatives. But that doesn’t mean we can’t drive a wedge between them.

The big issue for feminists is abortion. And as I mentioned the other day when discussing sex selection (something Planned Parenthood just got caught promoting), abortion means the end of homosexuality once genetics locates the “gay gene.” It would behoove conservatives to keep pushing this idea to the gay community that abortion = gay-genocide, and suggesting they seek to limit abortion.

2. Blacks v. Feminists: Blacks have very much tied themselves to the Democrats by making themselves wards of the state. Through either direct money transfers to poor blacks or race-based preferences in loans, housing, schools and jobs for middle and upper-class blacks, blacks as a group have come to rely on the government. So they are unreachable as a group. But as I pointed out the other day, abortion is killing blacks in massive numbers compared to all other races. Conservatives need to beat this drum that abortion = black-genocide to separate them from feminists. It would also be smart of conservatives to start pointing out that affirmative action has by far benefited upper-to-middle class white women more than it has blacks. This has the potential to set up a bloody fight between feminists and blacks over how to divide the spoils of affirmative action.

3. Blacks v. Gays: Blacks as a group are socially conservative when it comes to gays. Conservatives should push the message to blacks that the Democratic Party, which is dominated by the gay lobby, is looking to force the gay agenda on them and their churches.

4. Hispanics v. Everyone: Hispanics are an odd group to be jammed into the Democratic coalition. They are socially conservative and largely Catholic, yet the Democratic Party hates religion (atheists) and is dominated by the gay lobby (gay marriage) and feminists (contraception). Moreover, they are the second biggest victims of abortion, so they should be uneasy with that too (feminists). Unions have worked hard to keep them out of the country, to keep them from getting jobs, and have kept them out of the well-paying union jobs. Further, as Romney noted, the teachers unions are hurting their kids. They run a large number of small businesses, who find themselves attacked by unions, who are unable to obtain financing from the Democrats’ Wall Street friends, and who are crushed by environmental and labor regulations. Each of these issues should be made clear to them.

5. Bankers v. Socialists: By and large, the Democratic rank and file hate business, hate capitalism, and HATE banks. They despise Wall Street. Yet, most of the money the Democrats get comes from that very same Wall Street. And right now, Wall Street is upset at being vilified by the Democrats. Conservatives should keep pushing the Democrats on this point. They should force elected Democrats to make a choice, support Wall Street or do the bidding of the rank and file, by bringing up legislation which splits this coalition, such as elimination of banking fees. The more the Democrats are made to dance, the greater the chance they will lose one group or the other.

6. Environmentalists v. Farmers/Miners/Workers: Since the days of FDR, the Democrats have done their best to buy farmers, coal miners, and skilled-labor workers with government handouts. But in the past thirty years, as ivory tower intellectuals and white-collar professionals have come to dominate the Democratic Party, they’ve adopted environmentalism as a religion, and with it they’ve put in place insane rules which cripple farmers, miners and workers. It’s time for Republicans to push this issue hard. They need to point out to auto-workers in Detroit and coal miners in West Virginia how much regulation the Democrats have imposed on their fields and what the cost is and why this lets China steal their jobs. Also point out how Democratic friends like GE are shipping their jobs overseas. Similarly, Republicans need to become fluent in the regulatory burden imposed on farmers and they need to go farm by farm explaining to these people how the Democratic agenda is crushing them.

7. The Elderly v. the Poor: The elderly are abandoning the Democrats already, and Republicans need to help push that along. Republicans specifically need to talk about Medicare. Fewer and fewer doctors are willing to take Medicare because it doesn’t pay enough. Despite this, Obama plans to steal another $500 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare and its subsidies to the poor. Republicans need to make this clear that the Democrats are stealing from the elderly to hand out the money to other groups.

8. Jews: The Republicans have had little success winning over Jews. There are two reasons for this. First, many Jews are simply scared of the Religious Right starting a second inquisition. I know that specific outreach has begun on this issue and that needs to continue. More importantly, as I mentioned with Hispanics the other day, Republicans have wrongly been treating Jews as a single-issue people, with that issue being Israel. But Israel clearly isn’t that strong of a pull. A better approach would be to talk to them about issues like Medicare (which resonates in Florida), the attacks on Wall Street (which resonate in New York), and this: the Republicans need to establish a counterpart to the Anti-Defamation League to focus exclusively on all the anti-Semitism coming from the left these days. We’ve seen this at Media Matters, at OWS and just generally from the left.

If Republicans do these things right, they can create tremendous friction within the Democratic alliance, perhaps even enough to shatter the party. The way to do this is to relentlessly point out the issues above. Do that through targeted advertisements, in speeches, on webpages/blogs and through media stunts by having our talking heads demand explanations from the Democrats on these wedge issues. Further, the Republicans should start crafting legislative proposals which put the groups above on opposing sides and forces the Democrats to pick sides.

At the same time, as I said the other day, Republicans needs to start reaching out to each of these groups on the issues that we have in common. Even taking away 5% of Democrats would guarantee a permanent Republican super-majority.


[+]

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Scott's Links May 2012

Scott roams the internet far and wide to ply his trade as a link dealer. Fortunately, Scott provides links free to us. Check these out. . . share your thoughts! And away we go. . .

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Americans Are Conservative

Every year, Gallup asks Americans to identify their ideology. And every year the answer is roughly the same. This year, as usual, conservatives outnumber liberals by about 2-1. Let’s discuss.

Here are the headline numbers as to how people identify themselves:

● Overall: 41% conservative v. 23% liberal
● On economics: 46% conservative v. 20% liberal
● On social issues: 38% conservative v. 28% liberal
Hmm. So what does this tell us? Well, for one thing it tells us that Americans still can’t stand being labeled as liberals, as only 2 in 10 embrace that label. As an aside, the number of people calling themselves economic liberals has been falling steadily since 2001, when it peaked at 38%. That suggests the Bush/Obama years have discredited liberal economics for a large chunk of Americans.

These numbers also tell us that Americans are much more conservative than you would think. What do I mean? I mean this: because of the herd instinct, which is alive and well within human beings -- with peer pressure advertisements being the most glaring bit of proof -- humans tend toward the center. Our culture actually reinforces this. Indeed, we teach people “moderation in all things” and “extremism” is considered a bad word in almost any endeavor. We tell people to worry about what society thinks, to try to fit in, and to follow the well-chartered path. This is so ingrained that both rich and poor people will identify themselves as “middle class” because they just don’t want to stand too far apart from the crowd. Moreover, on any measurable issue, trait or test, humans form a bell curve in which about 60% fall tightly into the middle with another 20% less tightly in the middle, and the remaining 20% outside on either end. That is the story of humanity.

And that means that if America were “a fair coin” (i.e. randomly distributed) then you would have 60% calling themselves “moderates”, 10% calling themselves “moderate-conservatives” and another 10% calling themselves “moderate liberals”, and 10% calling themselves “conservative” with another 10% calling themselves “liberal.”

But that’s not what we have. Instead, we have 40% calling themselves “conservative.” That means that in America, conservatives are 400% over-represented from what they should be here. Now, it's possible that Americans just drop the “moderate” portion of the “moderate conservative” and “moderate liberal” label, but even if we factor that in, then liberals are exactly what nature predicts -- 20%. But conservatives are still 200% overrepresented. And those extra conservatives have come from the ranks of moderates.

Here are my thoughts on this:

1. This means that conservatism is strongly attractive to Americans because it has yanked away 20% of the public from intense herd-instinct pressure and gotten them to abandon the “moderate” herd. Liberalism, on the other hand, has zero pull.

More than anything, this tells me that conservatives MUST return to selling conservatism to the public and must abandon being just anti-liberals. This is because liberalism is at its core-level of support and cannot be eroded further. Thus, tearing liberalism apart gets us nothing. Instead, we must convince moderates that they are really conservatives. And doing that requires selling our ideas to them so that they join the 20%+ of moderates who have already swung to the conservative camp.

2. We are very close to shifting the heard instinct. When enough people believe something, the herd follows. If conservatives can get above 50%, the rest of the moderates will follow because they are classic herd-followers.

3. This poll also tells us why conservatives need to keep making economic issues front and center. All conservatives need to win over the moderates to their cause on economic issues is about 1 in 4 moderates, whereas we would need to win 1 in 3 moderates on social issues and we face stronger opposition. Conservatives need not fear social issues, but economic issues are where their strength lies and that should always be the lead issues.

4. Conservatives have not yet done a good enough job winning over the public on social issues. I would suggest finding a new strategy to try to convince people that social conservatism works -- I’ll save that for another post.

Finally, I want to point out something said by Joe Scarborough. I don’t like Scarborough because he’s weak-minded and weak-kneed. He is the kind of Republican who is more comfortable as a Democratic-pet than putting in place his own ideas (assuming he has them). He thinks these numbers are generally overblown and he makes the point that even though the public is more conservative than liberal, he thinks conservatives don’t really mean it about being conservative:
“The obvious irony is that while Americans like to think of themselves as rugged individualists who are perfectly capable of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, these same cowboys would tar and feather any leader who tried to curb spending on Medicare, Social Security, farm subsidies, defense contracts, student loans or any other part of America's $4 trillion budget.”
This has become a standard liberal/RINO talking point about conservatives and it really highlights the problem with RINOs. The conservatives I know, and their Tea Party allies, are actively trying to shrink all of these things. They’ve vote for politicians promise to cut these things. They even tried to stop the budget because it funded them. They don’t find any cows sacred. Only the RINOs and their big business friends are fighting to the death to defend these things. And liberals use this as cover to keep spending on their friends. This is where things need to change. Conservatives need to get behind proposals to slash all these areas and take away this bit of false cover. And they need to call out the RINOs who make this claim.

[+]

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You Tell The Candidate

Mitt Romney will shortly attain the magic number of delegates to secure the Republican nomination for President of the United States. The campaign has already begun without waiting. Romney is talking about his plans for the US, and Obama is attacking him as a heartless capitalist. Two things will play a major part in determining the ultimate result in November. The Republican candidate must present a clear and compelling reason to choose him, and he must choose a vice presidential candidate to help the ticket.

I will be away for a medical procedure that takes me to Bakersfield today and into the hospital at the ungodly hour of 5 AM Wednesday morning. All things considered, I should be home by Wednesday evening. So while I’m away, I would very much like to get the opinion of our Commentarama readers.

First, what should Mitt Romney say and do to prove to the American people that he should replace the most disastrous president in modern memory?

Second, who would you most like to see as his running-mate? Feel free to choose among dark horses, reluctant debutantes, past candidates for the top spot, and even those who have said they won’t accept the nomination under any circumstances. Remember, the trick is to choose a candidate who will help the ticket rather than one we might like a lot but who would have a dampening effect on the ticket. Think of someone who would improve the ticket but not end up at odds with the presidential candidate.

For what it’s worth, my opinion on question 1 is “Present a clear and coherent economic recovery plan that emphasizes private enterprise, tax cuts and spending cuts. Don’t get bogged down in defending Bain and some lost jobs when you’ve created far more jobs in the private sector than Obama ever dreamed of. Don’t spend a lot of time on social conservative issues—that’s what SuperPacs are for. They can target certain local and regional issues while Romney must concentrate on the one unifying national issue—our failing economy. Be prepared to answer foreign policy questions with a firm stance on American exceptionalism and the need for American resolve to stand up to terrorism and Islamic tyranny.” My answer to question 2 is “Marco Rubio.” My first choice would have been Bobby Jindal, but I think his determination not to run is unshakable. Either would make mincemeat of Gaffelicious Joe Biden.

I also caution Romney not to try to be simon-pure about Barack Obama’s lifelong connections to communists, homosexual activists, Islamists, leftist professors, black liberation theology religious mentors, and domestic terrorists. John McCain’s “high road” led to defeat, and left the American people largely uninformed about Obama’s un-American connections. This should not be part of his platform, nor should he go into attack mode. But he needs to be prepared for Obama’s claque to paint Obama as a “peoples’ saint.” The Democrats are going to conduct a very dirty campaign, and it’s no time for a Republican to come off as weak or unwilling to join the fray.

I’ll try to check in from time to time, but I’ll be at the mercy of other people’s internet access, so I’m counting on you to make it interesting and educational. Considering the three years of great comments we’ve had from all of you, that shouldn’t be a problem.

[+]

Hispanic Outreach Done Right

Romney is really impressing me. Last week, he gave a speech to The Latino Coalition at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. In this speech, Romney showed that he understands two vital points for the future of conservatism in America: Hispanic outreach and education.

Before I get into what Romney did, let me remind you of a post I did in 2009 (LINK) in which I criticized the Republican Party for its pathetic Hispanic outreach efforts. I pointed out that the problem with the way Republicans do outreach is that they buy into liberal group-identity theory. Republicans think of Hispanics as a monolithic, single-interest bloc, and they go about trying to woo them in the same ways the Democrats do. Specifically, they try to pass the occasional bill aimed at issues the Democrats claim Hispanics care about and then they try to be seen around election time at the occasional political rally with some well-known Hispanic person. This is pathetic.

By buying into the liberal view of Hispanics as a bloc, Republicans end up reinforcing the idea to Hispanics that they are a bloc and should not try to think independently outside their group. This all but guarantees that they will see themselves as inherently liberal. Moreover, being seen once every couple years with a famous Hispanic only reinforces the idea that Republicans see Hispanics as “other people” who must be approached now and then, but who clearly are not welcome otherwise.

A real Hispanic outreach program would treat Hispanics like any other voters. Republicans wouldn’t try to appeal to them on “Hispanic issues” but would instead try to appeal to Hispanics who happened to find particular issues of interest. For example, Republicans would try to attract Hispanic parents by improving the schools their children attend. Or they would try to attract Hispanic businessmen by making conditions better for small businessmen. Etc. The idea is to appeal to different groups of Hispanics on the issues that matter to them as individuals rather than trying to appeal to “Hispanics” as a group.

In light of that, what Romney did last week was very encouraging. Rather than going to the Latino Coalition and talking about immigration, affirmative action, tuition for illegals, or trade with South America, Romney spoke about education reform. Indeed, he never once brought up immigration. Instead, he said this:
“Here we are in the most prosperous nation, but millions of children are getting a Third World education. And America’s minority children suffer the most. This is the civil rights issue of our era. And it’s the great challenge of our time.”
Then he outlined his proposals, which mimic the things done by Republicans governors who have done strong work in reforming schools, such as increasing the availability of charter schools and tying federal funding to students “so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school of their choice.” He also included private schools, though this had to be clarified later.

He also noted that he supports the No Child Left Behind Act, but wants its accountability rules replaced by state rules -- very 10th Amendmenty. About this, he said:
“Parents shouldn’t have to navigate a complicated and cryptic evaluation system to figure out how their kids’ schools are performing. States are going to have to provide a simple-to-read and widely available public report card that evaluates each and every school. These report cards will provide accurate, easy-to-understand information about student and school performance. States will continue to design their own standards and tests, but the report cards will provide information that parents can use to make informed choices.”
Then he blasted teacher’s unions for blocking school reforms, calling them “the clearest example of a group that has lost its way” and he linked them to the Democratic Party:
“The teachers unions are one of the Democrats’ biggest donors — and one of the President’s biggest campaign supporters. So, President Obama has been unable to stand up to union bosses — and unwilling to stand up for kids.”
Finally, he pointed out that these same unions have stood in the way of vouchers, which have proven successful, because “success anywhere in our public schools is a rebuke to failure everywhere else. That’s why the unions oppose even the most common-sense improvements.”

So let’s break this down. First, Romney rejected the liberal idea that Hispanics are a bloc and he instead appealed directly to Hispanic parents on an issue that is dear to them. In fact, Hispanic voters regularly place education among their top issues, even higher than immigration, and they generally support vouchers and stricter school standards. Even Raul Gonzalez of race-hate group National Council of La Raza, said Hispanics consider education a civil rights issue and Romney’s push for vouchers “likely will play well.” This means, Romney stands to peel away Hispanic parents from the Democratic Party, and he is doing it without pandering, i.e. by treating them as Americans rather than Hispanics.

Secondly, notice how he drives a wedge between Hispanics and unions by pointing out that the unions are standing in the way of Hispanic children getting quality education. Given all the fights unions have undertake to keep Hispanics out, this pokes right at a source of antagonism within the Democratic coalition which makes Hispanics ripe to be pulled away. Finally, note that he then tells Hispanic parents that the Democrats and the teachers unions are the same thing, i.e. they won’t help you.

What Romney has done here is brilliant. He has finally started genuine outreach by finding issues which actually matter to a large group of Hispanics and he has addressed those without reinforcing the liberal propaganda that they are a voting bloc. Moreover, he’s told them point blank that if they wish what is best for their children, then voting for the Democrats is a horrible idea. This is how it needs to be done, not showing up at parades and promising to make immigration kindler or gentler. Start winning these people over on issues after issue and by treating them as Americans.

It should also be noted that this is an interesting position politically for several reasons. First, it suggests that Romney is not moving left for the general election as conservatives feared. Attacking teacher’s unions and advocating a national voucher scheme is deeply conservative. Secondly, this tells us that Romney really has a broad reform plan for all of government, not just for budget matters. Indeed, he could have easily ignored education and just stuck with economic matters. The fact he didn’t and is pushing this issue is a great sign. And the fact his plans mimic those of reforming Republican governors is an even better sign.

All of this continues to raise my hopes that Romney may prove to be a special president and that he may leave the country in a much better shape than it’s been in a long, long time.

[+]

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Folks, we're taking the weekend off for Memorial Day, and we'll be back Tuesday. In the meantime, leave some thoughts here on news you saw, recent films you've seen, about your favorite war films for Memorial Day, or just your thoughts about Memorial Day!

"Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway."

-- John Wayne

Click Here To Comment [+]

Nothing To See Here. Move On.

We have a long weekend coming up, so I’ll keep this mercifully short. Which is pretty much what the mainstream media, led by the New York Times, did last weekend when reporting on the anti-NATO demonstrations in Chicago. The city didn’t burn to the ground (Mrs. O’Leary’s cow likes NATO). So the boys and girls at the “newspaper of record” called it an uneventful weekend.

Now, I have to admit that compared to some of the Occupy nonsense in other cities recently, the Times had a point when it said: “On the final day of the NATO summit meeting here, Chicago was oddly quiet.” I’m sure they meant “disappointingly quiet,” but that’s just one man’s opinion. The obligatory comparison to the 1968 Democratic Convention riots wasn’t missed. “By Monday evening, after a few police/demonstrator clashes, some said they believed that the ugly scuffles would not overshadow what had amounted largely to an uneventful weekend.” Can’t argue with that.

There might also be something to be said for preparation and the successful tactic of “wall-to-wall” cops. The mayor, a big fan of leftist demonstrations, didn’t want major disruptions to upset his visiting buddy, Barack Obama, so he ordered all hands on deck. There were a few breakaway marches that did some destruction, but Oakland would consider that a mere trifle compared to their recent experiences. And there were the menacing marchers wearing anarchist masks. In many states, wearing a mask solely to hide one’s identity is illegal, but either Illinois doesn’t have such a law, or the police simply didn’t think it was worth enforcing.

In fact, the demonstrations were so lethargic that the Times felt it safe to report the fact that the usual suspects from the Occupy movement had shown up to demonstrate their solidarity with the other bums and creeps. Still, the streets were pretty full, and those few who actually had a thoughtful disagreement with NATO policy could scarcely get a placard or banner in edgewise.

So, it was indeed a relatively quiet weekend. That is, if you don’t count the ninety arrests and hundreds of detentions for everything from disturbing the peace, destruction of property, unlawful assembly (the breakaway groups), and lewd and lascivious public conduct. Mayor Rahm (“Rahmbo”) Emanuel praised the admirable restraint shown by the Chicago police. That might be simply because the police and federal authorities foiled a terrorist plot and seized incendiary devices (Molotov cocktails) which ostensibly were to be used on the mayor or Obama, or both. I suppose the difference between police restraint and police brutality depends on whose ox is about to be set on fire.

[+]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Question: American Greatness, What Gives?

Forget the news. With Memorial Day upon us this weekend and us planning a nice vacation, tell us what America means to you? What makes America great in your humble opinion? Why is America worth fighting for? [+] Read More...

Where’s Howard Beale When We Need Him?

ABC, CBS, and NBC all recently had breathless stories about Mitt Romney performing an unwanted haircut on a boy forty-seven years ago. There were “news” stories galore on the nets and their affiliates, and a few editorial comments besides. But when forty-three Catholic dioceses filed lawsuits against Obamacare on May 21, the silence was deafening.

After months of pleas, negotiations, meetings and conferences, the Catholic Church got absolutely no cooperation from the Obama administration on religious exemptions from Obamacare for religious institutions which oppose abortion and birth control. Unless an Obamacrat is passing out condoms during mass or performing an abortion on the altar, the administration’s position is that the government’s activity cannot be thwarted by the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom.

Religious hospitals, church-sponsored insurance companies (there are more than you might think), homeless and women’s shelters (even on church grounds) and church schools are not religious activities which should be allowed exemptions from the Obamacare mandates, according to the administration. The official position of the Catholic Church is, and has long been, that artificial birth control violates church doctrine. Along with that, traditional Catholics and a great many Protestants oppose abortion in any form, including abortifacients.

Nevertheless, the administration says that only sermons and activities within the church worship facilities are proper subjects for exemption. No matter how intimately the church-sponsored activity is tied to its religious base, if it takes place outside the sanctuary, it is not a religious activity. This leaves the church hospital, for instance with two options—either cure all disease through Vatican-sanctioned exorcism, or participate in the government’s insurance program. The third option is to seek redress in court, which is the actual subject of this article.

Regardless of which side a news reporter might come down on, it is still extremely big news when forty-three Catholic dioceses file suit in federal courts on the same day. But when big news conflicts with the networks’ officially unofficial love affair with Barack Obama, out come the blinders. On the night that the lawsuits were filed, ABC and NBC made zero comment about them during their national news segments. CBS gave the subject nineteen seconds. And in that brief nineteen seconds, CBS framed the issue as a “contraception lawsuit” with no mention of either religious conscience objections or the First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion.

It should also be noted that leading clerics in the Catholic Church, along with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and some evangelical leaders have declared that they will go to jail rather than comply with the birth control/abortifacient mandates of Obamacare. These lawsuits reflect a much deeper commitment to religious belief than the birth-control and abortion zealots in the Obama administration were expecting. These are not nuisance suits that can be dealt with by a quick payoff or a federal jobs program. The nets would like to report that they are nuisance suits, but then they would be required to discuss the actual issue, which might get their viewers thinking. Better to ignore it.

So what was more interesting than the church lawsuits that would require spiking the religious news in favor of something “more important?” ABC gave three and a half minutes to the sentencing of the Rutgers student who posted photos of his unsuspecting roommate having gay sex, which resulted in a suicide. CBS and NBC both ran lengthy stories about prostate cancer screening, including the reasons why Medicare shouldn’t routinely cover the screening. NBC did a big feature piece on the “ring of fire” solar eclipse.

Fortunately, the big three networks are fading as fast as their counterparts in the print media. Dan Rather’s “fake but true” story about George W. Bush was probably the swan song for network news anchors. People who were once considered nearly sacrosanct are now regularly taken with a grain of salt by a doubting public that has access to cable news and the internet. People watching the national network portion of the news are outnumbered by those who wait for the late affiliate news to see what’s going on locally.

I wish the Catholic Church every success in court, and I pray for a really hot place in hell for the Obama News Corps (that’s pronounced “core” even though network news is pretty close to being a corpse).

[+]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is Superman Going Gay?

According to the publishers of DC Comics, they are about to reveal that one of their “most recognizable” and “iconic” superheroes is gay, and will be coming out of the closet in June. Everyone seems pretty sure it will be Superman, which makes sense. DC claims they are doing this because their views have evolved like Barack Obama’s (I guess Biden gets around), but this reeks of desperation to me.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Martin Case? What Martin Case?

The Trayvon Martin case really exposed the liberal media as race-hate hustlers. Not to mention it showed their bias. But now that the facts of the case are going against their desires, they are all but ignoring it. Fortunately, it looks like the public has ignored the MSM all along.

Right out of the gates, the media tried to turn this into a racial controversy. First, we had the NBC producer who maliciously edited the 911 call to make it sound like Zimmerman shot Martin because he was black, when the call actually proved that Zimmerman didn’t raise the issue of race and wasn’t even sure Martin was black. The MSM also tried to turn Zimmerman into a white guy so he would fit the racist narrative by calling him “white Hispanic” when his real ancestry apparently makes him “black Hispanic.” They also ignored all the charity work he did for a local black church. And to show that the only reason they covered this issue was race, consider what Alfonzo Rachel pointed out (about 1:05), that the media has ignored a succession of other Trayvons who were gunned down because they were all killed by blacks.

Once they had their narrative, the MSM set about trying to spin everything to fit that. For example, they ran with biased photos, using an old mugshot of Zimmerman to make him look like a thug while using a childhood photo of Martin to make him look like an innocent child. They kept using these photos even weeks after being criticized for the practice and long after more reputable places like conservative blogs were using better alternatives. They even shamelessly attacked the Daily Caller for “bias” for printing the nasty things Martin said on his Twitter account.

The reporting was skewed too. For example, they reported at face value that Martin had Skittles in one hand and a phone in the other, even though there is no witness who ever said that -- his girlfriend said that to the cops, but she wasn’t there to know.

After that, they kept trying to shoot down Zimmerman’s claims, like his claim that he had been attacked and injured. At first, the MSM just said they saw no evidence of injury. But how could they. . . they hadn’t looked? Then ABC released a grainy video and the media jumped on that as proof: “we don’t see any injuries!” Soon they were pronouncing him guilty because clearly he had lied about being attacked, right? Well, no. A week later, ABC enhanced the video. Now it showed significant injuries and the media actually attacked the practice of enhancing videos. Nobody bothered to read the witnesses statements or check Zimmerman’s medical records. Interestingly, Zimmerman’s lawyer has released his medical records, which show significant injuries, but the media didn’t repudiate their prior attacks. To the contrary, they all but ignored the records. An honest media wouldn’t have done any of this.

Now the blood tests have come back on Martin, and as expected, he had marijuana in his system. Yet, almost no one in the MSM reported this. Why? Because it doesn’t fit their narrative. Also, not one single reporter has pointed out that this fits with Zimmerman’s claim that Martin appeared stoned and was walking around aimlessly.

Now the case is pretty much being ignored since it hasn’t turned out like the MSM hoped. Although, some reporters are still trying. This weekend, for example, ABC attempted to deflect the public’s attention from the marijuana evidence. In this article, ABC ostensibly went through the witness statements. Only, they weren’t quite fair in how they did it. For example, the first couple pages of the article were “witnesses” saying things like “I do honestly feel that he intended for this kid to die,” and “I think the kid was running for help.” These would be damning statements if the person actually witnessed anything, but she hadn’t. These comments came from a woman who first saw Zimmerman after he had killed Martin and was standing over the body. So why repeat this speculation or describe her as a witness? This woman also said that Zimmerman told her to “call the police.” And to make sure the narrative continues, the reporter editorializes and describes this request as “curt,” as if that somehow proves something.

Another witness discussed in the article approached Zimmerman after the cops showed up and was asked by Zimmerman to call Zimmerman’s wife and let her know he was being taken into custody. According to the man, Zimmerman made this request “like it was nothing.” In other words, this “witness” was offended that Zimmerman didn’t act upset enough for his taste. In fact, he notes that Zimmerman didn’t act like: “I can’t believe I just shot someone.” So what? Again, this man witnessed nothing and his speculation that Zimmerman wasn’t shocked enough is utter horsesh*t and shouldn’t have been reported. Yet, the reporter leads off the article with this.

What this reporter has done is a despicable attempt to lynch Zimmerman by presenting as fact the speculation of people who saw nothing. This is deceitful advocacy. And so you know, none of the statements above will be admissible at court because witnesses can only speak to facts they witnessed, not opinions they formed.

So what really happened? Well, way near the bottom of the article, long after most people will have stopped reading, the reporter finally comes to the only person to actually witness something. This man said that he heard a commotion coming from the walk behind his residence. He looked out and witnessed a black male wearing a dark-colored hoodie on top of a white or Hispanic male who was yelling for help. He further stated that the black male was mounted on Zimmerman and “throwing punches MMA style” as the man on the ground yelled out for help.

Case closed. Self-defense.

On the positive side, the public seems to get it, even if the media doesn’t. Rasmussen asked people what they thought of the case. 40% thought Zimmerman acted in self-defense (up from 15%). 24% thought it was murder (down from 33%). These are good numbers. This means that only two in ten are going against the evidence of the case and buying into the media spin. Double that number have seen through the media spin. It also means that 34% of the public has kept enough of an open mind to change their opinions in light of new evidence and another four in ten have yet to form an opinion -- the way it should be.

So while the MSM is in the tank and is trying desperately to spin this case into a race war, the public clearly ain’t buying it.

[+]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

With Friends Like These. . .

Sometimes, your friends do more harm to you than your enemies. That’s been the case for Obama lately, and I’m not just talking about Biden shoving Obama into the gay marriage debacle. The truth is that Obama’s friends are causing him all kinds of problems.

Obama Hates the Middle Class: Last week, the Republicans introduced Obama’s budget in the Senate. It lost without a single vote (0-99). More interestingly, it got blasted by the United Auto Workers as an “attack on the middle class and our most vulnerable citizens.” That makes this a double embarrassment for Obama. It also drives a stake through Obama’s middle class champion act.

Obama Hates Capitalism: Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a prominent Democrat and Obama supporter, blasted Obama’s main attack on Romney this weekend when he went on Meet the Press. Obama is hoping that people will hate Romney because he founded Bain Capital. To do that, he’s been demonizing Bain. In fact, he just released a new ad doing exactly that. Said Booker:
“If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this, to me, I'm very uncomfortable with. This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop, because what it does is it undermines, to me, what this country should be focused on.”
Booker has since walked these comments back, but the damage was done and it presented Obama with another headache and another distraction. Indeed, he’s spent the week attacking Booker and trying to explain why his anti-Bain attacks are justified.

Not As Brave As Jimmy Carter: For weeks, Obama has been pushing the idea that he’s some tough guy hero, unlike Mitt Romney, because he ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden. Romney rightly blasted Obama for politicizing military action in an effort to make himself look good. Well, The Economist decided to come to Obama’s defense because they now say there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a President trying to impress us with their military achievement (they said the opposite when Bush was President). Clearly Americans disagree as recent polls show upwards of 65% of people thinking that Obama was wrongly trying to politicize this military action.

In any event, here’s the great part. In defending Obama, they were particularly upset that Romney compared Obama to Carter when he said, “even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.” They are upset because they view this as unfair, because while the raid Carter authorized was a failure, it was not cowardly. In fact, they note it took more courage for Carter to order that raid than it took for Obama to order the killing of Osama bin Laden. Yep, they said that. To defend Obama, they took his sole positive achievement in office and told us it was less brave than what Jimmy Carter did. That is truly sad.

Stop Condescending, Mr. Obama: We’ve discussed the supposed war on women extensively. And just when you think it’s finally dead and buried, along comes MSM personality Campbell Brown to lecture Obama about his behavior. Indeed, she just wrote an editorial in the New York Times in which she took Obama to task for his efforts to “relate to women” by saying that his campaign has been “maddeningly off point.” She says he has “failed to connect with tens of millions of Americans, many of them women, who feel economic opportunity is gone and are losing hope.” Then she says,
“In an effort to win them back, Mr. Obama is trying too hard. He’s employing a tone that can come across as grating and even condescending. . . Most women don’t want to be patted on the head or treated as wards of the state. They simply want to be given a chance to succeed based on their talent and skills.”
Julia anyone? So much for pushing the war on women.

Give An Inch: When Obama decided to endorse (and not do anything about) gay marriage, he assumed this would shore up his gay supporters. Actually, it just increased their list of demands. Gay groups are now running around demanding that Obama come through on other promises. Indeed, they’ve got a list of 52 demands, including repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, extending Social Security benefits to gay partners, changing immigration rules to prevent the deportation of same-sex partners, adding gays to the Violence Against Women Act, preventing workplace discrimination, etc. Rather than making them happy, he has just stirred the nest.

Show Me The Money: Romney’s super PAC not only blew Obama away in terms of raising cash in April, but they had a lot more cash on hand to begin with, even despite having to fight a long and nasty primary. The MSM once claimed Obama would get a billion dollars and now they are fretting that he can’t even keep up with Mitt Romney. Moreover, Tea Party groups have many-times more money on hand than both. So much for all of Obama’s rich friends.

All in all, Obama’s bad year continues. His campaign can’t get traction and he’s found no way to attack Romney. The things he’s tried, like the war on women and the attacks on Bain Capital, have all blown up on him and now even his allies are criticizing him. His donors aren’t giving him any money, his supporters are getting pushy, and even his defenders can’t defend him without making him look like a fool. Ha ha.

Don't forget, it's Star Trek Tuesday at the film site!
[+]

It Takes A Village Idiot

Barack Obama has once again spoken about the wisdom of his family in ultra-modern, high-tech, super-productive Kenya. The Kenyan Obamas told him that “economic growth can’t just be for the lucky few,” and he repeated that complicated and prescient economic theory last weekend at the G-8 Global Agriculture and Food Security symposium

Individual thinking and theorizing is a great thing, but when you put the entire Obama family together, the thinking becomes sharper and the collective IQ rises almost to room temperature. Said Obama: “Most of the world’s unused arable land is in Africa. Fifty years ago, Africa was an exporter of food. There is no reason why Africa should not be feeding itself and exporting food again. There is no reason for that.” He concludes that the successful non-African nations are “lucky,” but it seems to me his own statement says there’s something more than bad luck involved in Africa’s poverty.

Did the land become less fertile over the past fifty years, thereby requiring that the lucky folks share their bounty with Africa? Or are other factors at work? Say, incessant civil and tribal warfare that takes the young men who could be working the fields off the farms and onto the battlefields? Or how about Muslim warfare on infidels, which includes mass murder of Christians and Animists and the destruction of their fields and industries? How about inattention to all the modern agricultural techniques available to everyone and ongoing adherence to proto-communist tribal ownership of land and the means of production?

Obama sends out the clarion call and a plan for African victory over poverty: “So even as the world responds with food aid in a crisis—as we’ve done in the Horn of Africa—communities can’t go back just to the way things were, vulnerable as before, waiting for the next crisis to happen. Development has to be sustainable, and as an international community, we have to do better.” Shouldn’t the Africans do better as well?

Couldn’t they go back to the way things were fifty years ago? Back to the time that Africa was an exporter of food by Obama’s own admission? Or have they done so much damage to their own infrastructure that only the lavish gifts of the “lucky” can put them back on track? They used to blame it on colonialism, but that magic fifty years has passed, and most Africans have never seen a European colonial government. Obama added that "growth shouldn't be reserved for those who already have enough." And who, Mr. President, gets to determine what is "enough?"

Naturally, we all know what this is leading to. Confiscating other people’s money and bounty to help people who have largely brought their misfortune on themselves. To be "fair," the Africans should eat the lucky rich (figuratively, I think) And let’s not forget the damage caused by drought and global warming. He has a remedy for that. More money. I hope his plan for Africa is better than his plan for California. Obama troops at the EPA and other regulatory agencies have turned America’s food basket in California’s San Joaquin Valley back into the desert it was over 100 years ago.

Pioneers and visionary statesmen saw the potential in the fertile valley, so they found ways to get water to the area, and the desert bloomed. Water is still abundant, but it can no longer reach the Valley because of EPA and state restrictions on the flow of water to protect a useless fish species. And if the Africans don't want to learn from earlier Californians, maybe they and their Arab neighbors could learn from Israel. Oh, scratch that. They're Jews.

Obama threw in pretty much everything except the kitchen sink. “We see an Africa that still faces huge hurdles, stark inequalities, most Africans still living on less than $2.00 a day; climate change that increases the risk of drought and famine (at least there is natural), all of which perpetuates stubborn barriers in agriculture, in the agricultural sector—from bottlenecks in infrastructure that prevent food from getting to market, to the lack of credit, especially for farmers, most of whom are women.” I doubt that his solution will be to impose a minimum wage, carbon offsets, work requirements, and income equality for women. That only works in successful economies that need to be brought down to third-world levels.

But he does allude to his one [temporary] success. “When there is good nutrition, especially in those thousand days during pregnancy up to the child’s second birthday, it means healthier lives for that child and that mother—and it’s the smart thing to do because better nutrition means lower health care costs and it means less need for assistance later on. Aha! More arugula. He will impose Obamacare on people who can’t fight back, then send Michelle to teach them what to eat and how much. Then, when the birth rate goes up and infant mortality goes down, we can introduce them to assembly-line abortion.

That means that only one “fix” remains. Billions of American tax dollars to feed Africans the right diet. The food and the money will come from the “lucky”nations, which largely means the United States. In other words, give them a fish, but don’t teach them how to fish. And make sure it’s not an endangered species, it is mercury-free, government-certified and politically-correct. No California Delta smelt for the Africans.

[+]

Monday, May 21, 2012

Eagles Commit Suicide, Screaming “Obama”

We all want to protect the majestic symbol of America, the bald eagle. The current administration says the same thing. However, when it comes to protecting a magnificent endangered species versus promoting pie-in-the-sky green energy scams, the bird is going to lose every time. Crony capitalism is more important than a flying predator.

The problem is those wonderful wind turbines, which for the eagles are high-speed ginsu knives. Bald eagles are being sliced and diced to death at an astounding rate. It’s currently unclear how many of those bald eagles are actually golden eagles (the other national symbol) which have been scalped by the ecowindmills. It’s the new Obama National Theater production of Bye Bye Birdie.

The eagles join other raptors such as falcons, condors, and red-tailed hawks (the latter are not yet endangered) in suicidal plunges toward earth to snatch up their prey. Unfortunately, between the birds and their prey there are ever-increasing numbers of gigantic whirling filet machines designed to wean us off carbon products by the year 2030 (or the year 3000, depending on whose figures you believe). Marines facing potential death during a charge yelled “Geronimo” (before it became a politically-incorrect racial hate speech). Reports are that the eagles are screaming “Obama.”

Currently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that about 440,000 birds are killed each year by wind turbines. By the target year of 2030, there will be approximately 100,000 of those giant Cuisinarts killing nearly a million birds per year. Well, that’s life, says the administration. In order to kill off the demon petroleum enemy, we have to kill off a few avian civilians in the process. Acceptable losses. Collateral damage. Which would you rather have—a global warming Armageddon or a few dead birds?

Now you could help speed the process along by simply shooting a bald eagle whenever you get a chance. That is you could if you don’t mind incurring a $5,000 first offense fine and/or a year in jail. When you bag your second eagle, the fine doubles and if charged as a felony, you can get five years in prison or a $250,000 fine, or both. But if your ecoweenie windmills kill off sixty-seven eagles per year (the current annual count for the wind farms located in the Livermore California Altamont Pass alone), well them’s the breaks. The gummint calls the raptor losses “lethal take.” Lethal take = acceptable losses = collateral damage. It’s the ecoweenies’ version of “oops.”

Last year, the Obama administration sent out federal recon troops to ferret out bird-killers. They caught more miscreants than a good SEAL team. In North Dakota alone, specially-appointed US Attorney Timothy Purdon prosecuted seven oil producers for killing off twenty-eight birds that aren’t even on the endangered species list. The birds included mallard ducks, gadwall ducks, and one lone sandpiper. All of the birds had mistaken an open waste pit for a pond. All are covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty, so Mr. Purdon sought six months in jail plus $15,000 per bird for the accidental loss. A judge who hadn’t been drinking heavily that day ultimately dismissed the cases as overcharging and overzealousness on the part of the government.

Not so fortunate was Pacific Corporation in Wyoming, which paid $10.5 million in fines for the death of 232 golden eagles over a five-year period when the eagles perched on the company’s power lines and got fried. The Altamont wind farms can kill that many in under four years, but since wind turbines will save us from global warming, there will be no repercussions.

This is just one more example of how true believers belong in mental institutions and not in government. The paranoia of choosing between inefficient windmills and living beings is enough to drive any normal person nuts. But bureaucrats are bureaucrats (as we have discussed multiple times on this site), so they will do what they’re told to do. If those who tell them are econuts and Obama cronies, no matter. Anything that will save us from drowning in oil, choking to death from gasoline fumes, or sinking under the waters caused by melting polar caps is worth the sacrifice. After all, they’re only birds.

[+]

My Big Fat Greek Meltdown

By: T-Rav

While we’ve been distracted this past week by claims of Cherokee ancestry and Obama’s new status as “the first gay president,” the status quo in Europe has finally reached the end of the road. The only question now is whether the leaders over there realize this and are prepared to take the necessary steps to save their countries—and the signs aren’t promising.

By “status quo,” of course, I mean the overarching, overbearing welfare state apparatus found nearly everywhere on the continent, and also the cessation of much national authority to the technocratic EU government in Brussels. It’s a grand dream, really—the idea that a “United States of Europe” could be created, based on social democracy, multiculturalism, and other cherished principles of the Left. But when they tried to implement this dream through their transnational government and a common currency, the euro, Europe’s leaders, like all utopians, forgot the realities on the ground.

Take Greece. Greece is traditionally one of the smaller, poorer economies in Europe, but in recent years it has benefited from membership in the EU and the use of the euro. Wealthier nations, such as the UK, France, and Germany are able to invest in it, which helps it pay for public projects and thus maintain a much higher standard of living than it normally would. Simply put, Greece for the past decade or two has been a welfare state in every sense of the word. And it was a fun little deal while times were good. The global economic slump of the past few years, though, has caused the government’s high debt and precarious finances to catch up with it. To prevent a total national collapse (which would also hit the aforementioned investors hard), EU leaders cut a deal with the Greek government earlier this year, in which it got a bailout package of 130 billion euros from Brussels (in addition to other, previous aid packages); in return, Athens was required to go full austerity, drastically cutting expenditures and raising revenues (i.e. taxes) across the board, in order to repay this loan in a timely manner. In other words, a country which for the past generation has enjoyed relative prosperity by kicking its expenses down the road was now required to pay for everything itself. Right now. What could go wrong?

Plenty, of course. Between then and now, but especially over the past few weeks, Greece threw a very violent fit. In between periodic riots, national elections were held on May 6, and the two coalition parties, the Conservatives and the Social Democrats (and that right there should tell you all you need to know about European-style conservatism), who had signed off on the deal, took a shellacking, totaling less than a third of the vote. A much larger share went to fringe parties on the left and the right—including the Greek Communists and something called “Golden Dawn,” a neo-Nazi extremist group which has as its logo a modified version of the swastika and which advocates putting immigrants in work camps and turning the Turkish border into a minefield. As if that wasn’t bad enough, talks for forming a new government with either side of the spectrum have collapsed—proving how much they have in common, both the far left and the far right are adamant that the bailout deal with the EU be scrapped because it’s too detrimental to the Greek people. So now there will be a new round of elections next month, in which “Golden Dawn,” the Communists, and others are widely predicted to get an even larger share of the vote. So it might not be long before we see a black-shirted torchlight parade through downtown Athens. Either that, or civil war. It’s kind of 50/50 at this point.

Regardless of what happens, though, Greece’s exit from the euro is only a matter of time, and probably not much time at that. All of these bailouts have been bankrolled, more or less, by Germany, which is currently just about the only state in Europe with a decent economy. In fact, it’s practically the only thing holding the Eurozone together at all. But Deutschland’s pockets aren’t infinite, especially not now, and it wants a return on its investment, demanding that the Greeks either undergo a thorough restructuring of the economy, including a continuation of austerity, or drop the euro as its currency. Given that the Parthenon pols have basically responded by calling the Germans latter-day Nazis and such, it’s not hard to see which way the wind is blowing. A month ago, you couldn’t find anyone among the elites who would admit that any Eurozone country could depart from it; now, it’s being openly discussed.

So why is this such a big deal? Well, that’s the tricky thing—after reading numerous articles on the subject, I have concluded that no one really knows what would come next. It will probably cause short-term havoc. Over the past week, a major bank run to the tune of over a billion euros has taken place in Greece, as citizens anticipating a change in currencies have been withdrawing their money. This is not something you ever want to see, for obvious reasons. It’s also not too hard to imagine that European unity will be severely fractured by this process, especially since Greece is hardly the only nation in such deep trouble. Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain are all in similarly dire financial straits, and are likely to demand bailouts themselves in the near future. Indeed, Italy just had over two dozen of its banks’ credit ratings downgraded, and Spain is now seeing the first signs of a Greece-style bank run. Their economies are also much larger than Greece’s, though, and the other EU nations combined don’t have the resources to bail out even one of them, let alone all.

This isn’t the real problem, though. The real problem is that their populations show no more interest in facing the reality of austerity than the Greeks do. This is true on both sides of the money transfer, and if you want proof of that, just look at France, which had its own round of elections the same day as Greece. The new Socialist president, Francois Hollande, has proposed a domestic policy that includes a 75% income tax on the rich and a reduction in the retirement age, among other things. The point isn’t that these suggestions are idiotic, it’s that a plurality of Frenchmen would rather embrace them than face up to the reality that the welfare state is officially unsustainable. And as long as that mindset persists, we will not see any progress made in Europeans’ efforts to combat this international crisis.

More likely is a slow disintegration of the euro, as country after country is forced to stop using it; at which point they’ll all return to their individual currencies and the EU is left with considerably less leverage over any of them. What we’re really seeing here, then, is the return of the sovereign nation-state, for better or worse—possibly much worse, depending on how unstable the situation continues to be. As the Chinese curse goes, “May you live in interesting times.”

[+]

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We Don’t Get It?

Democrats are fond of saying that Republicans and conservatives “don’t get it.” That usually comes after they’ve come up with another one of their hare-brained schemes to destroy the economy or launch some new class warfare. The latest chapter in Democratic nonsense comes from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) who wants to punish a super-entrepeneur for abandoning the highest business taxes in the developed world.

So what has Chuckie’s panties in a bunch? Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his American citizenship and headed for a more tax-friendly environment just before Facebook’s public offering. I personally don’t much care for that myself. He came to America from Brazil looking for an education and opportunity, and got both in spades. But Schumer and fellow Democrat Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) show that they don’t understand cause and effect or even the doctrine of unintended consequences.

The gold dust twins Schumer and Casey got into high dudgeon over Saverin’s move, and decided he must be punished. They even had their P.R. team go into high gear to come up with a name for the hysterical legislation they’ve proposed. It’s the Ex-PATRIOT Act (Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy). Aw, gimme a break.

The Democrats have done a great job of driving business out of the country with destructive tax policies and regulation. President Barack Hussein Obama has punctuated the belief that America is just another choice among many nations by saying that American exceptionalism is jingoistic. After all, Brits and Greeks think their countries are exceptional too, says The One. So they have to explain to me why someone who doesn’t even claim native birth as part of his citizenship shouldn’t take the money and run. Saverin found a new country that was exceptional--in its ability to let him keep most of his own money.

The Act would directly punish Saverin and anyone like him with an expansion of a tax-penalty already contained in the thousands of pages of IRS rules and regulations. It comes close to a combination of ex post facto law and a bill of attainder, both of which are forbidden by the Constitution. Essentially, if the IRS (or Chuck Schumer) determines that someone has renounced his citizenship to avoid taxes, a stiff penalty would be imposed on the taxes already owed. No penalty of course, if the reason was a conversion to Islam or a newfound love for communist rule.

Schumer is miffed because Saverin would avoid paying the feds an initial sum of approximately $67 million in taxes. Even though Facebook was not the sensational IPO originally expected, it was still one of the biggest of all time, so I suspect Schumer may even be underestimating the tax. So here’s the real penalty Schumer wants to impose: A 30 percent additional capital gains tax on all future earnings made in the United States on all expatriates with either a net worth of more than $2 million or who have a tax liability of $148,000 over the previous five years. Note that this would be chump change for Saverin, so Schumer is proving he’s an equal opportunity socialist. The only thing more evil than the rich are the expatriate rich.

Schumer himself isn’t exactly poverty-stricken, but he isn’t even playing in the same ballpark as a Saverin. On the other hand, Schumer didn’t get what money he has by coming up with an innovative idea which ended up worth billions. Mostly, he just lives off the public trough.

And just in case Saverin or someone else who made the same decision had a change of heart, Schumer is planning to take care of that too. The bill provides that an expatriate who renounced his citizenship for tax purposes within the prior ten years would be barred from ever entering the United States again, even as a tourist tossing money around and stimulating local economies. Mr. Saverin, in the unlikely event you should have another brilliant money-machine idea like Facebook, don’t come back here flaunting your money. Build that wealth somewhere else. You’ve wounded our feelings, and we don’t want you back.

What a great man. Says Schumer: “We simply cannot allow the ultra-wealthy to write their own rules.” I guess that is Congress’s sole prerogative. He then inexplicably says that Saverin leaves the US taxpayers with the bill. What bill? Even after heading for more fertile pastures, Saverin and his corporation will still pay PLENTY of taxes. And then there’s the final Democratic mantra: “Renouncing citizenship to simply avoid paying your fair share is an insult to middle class Americans and we will not accept it.

Maybe if Schumer and the Democrats understood the results of their own business-crippling tax policies and learned what “fair” really means, people like Saverin wouldn’t be renouncing their citizenship in the first place. In the words of the 60s rock group Ten Years After “tax the rich, feed the poor, till there are no rich no more.” I’ll forgive the grammar because unlike Schumer, they understood that eating the rich will give you a case of permanent indigestion.

[+]

The Great (film) Debates vol. 39

Natural abhors a vacuum, but it's pretty cool otherwise. And there are some great places caught on film.

What film has your favorite natural scenery?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Saturday, May 19, 2012

New York State of Mind and the First Twitter President

It has been a very long time since I have updated you on the happenings in New York. It's not that nothing has been happening. It's just that so much is going on, it's hard to know where to start! So let's start at...

Sports: Okay, the New York Rangers are battling the New Jersey Devils for something or another in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That's hockey for you non-sports enthusiasts.

In other sports new so far - the Yankees suck; the Mets don't suck so much and in basketball news, Brooklyn is getting its first professional sports team since the Dodgers moved to L.A. in the '50's! The New Jersey Nets will shortly be the Brooklyn Nets.

Local: Two issues have been making the headlines in the past few months involving our long-standing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. First, the AP reported a few months ago that our very competent Joint Terrorism Task Force headed by Commish Kelly may have been fighting terrorism for real by violating the rights of terrorists by monitoring and thwarting the plans of terrorists to plan and execute acts of terrorism in NYC. Imagine that! The task force is accused of monitoring activities in mosques and Islamic-related organizations, websites, followers and neighborhoods with dense Muslim populations in the tri-state area. So far they have thwarted several potential terrorist attacks on bridges, subways, and trains on our fair city. All done legally within the confines of all local, state and federal civil rights laws. But since it targets a single group, then that is bad according to the ACLU and Muslims in the city. Incidentally, the AP won their Pulitzer this year because of their reporting on this issue.

In addition to that, Commish Kelly has come under fire for our long-standing "Stop and Frisk" policing too. This is where the police can stop, question, and frisk anyone that they suspect is up to no good. Since they instituted this policy in early 1990's under the Guiliani administration, murders have declined by about 75% - over 2000 murders at the peak in the '80's to 410 as of 2009. But here is the problem as the New York ACLU et al. see it - 54% of the people stopped are young and black, 34% were Hispanic, and 9% were white and almost all of the stops were in the very high crime/high minority areas of the city. It is no matter that 64% of the violent crimes committed in the city are by young, black men. That must just be a big coinci-dink. Fortunately, Commissioner Kelly and most of the grateful population are not buying any of the outrage. Kelly admits there are problems that can be addressed and updated, however he adamantly defends the policy as highly effective and successful. Interestingly, even the black community, with the exception of the usual race-baiters like Big Al Sharpton, are siding overwhelmingly with Commissioner Kelly.

Federal: Well, there must be a snowball having a high time in a very hot place these days! The Congressional Primary in New York is on June 26 and Charlie Rangel may finally be in big trouble. Since he was elected to the House in the '70's, Ol' Charlie has gone virtually unchallenged, but not anymore. Because New York lost two Congressional District in the last census, District 15 has been expanded to include a large swathe of Hispanic voters in the Bronx. So, now Rangel is now being challenged by the other major minority group in New York - the Hispanics - who are running their own very popular candidates. Respected candidates without the baggage of censure to weigh them down and, surprise, they are leading. It has not helped that Rangel has not been seen in D.C. since February due to a "back injury". He refuses to concede that he may be in trouble, but stated recently that he may consider dropping out if the Dems can find a viable candidate that could defeat him. Of course that came after Obama declined to endorse him and Bill Clinton publicly endorsed his former aide who is running against Rangel. This is definitely a district to watch.

Other Stuff: And finally. I have just joined the Twitter-verse and I just had to follow our Twit-In-Chief. I just couldn't help myself, but for the record, Twitter is a huge waste of time. Maybe it's my age, but seriously, it's stupid, but it's here and not going away. Well, not unless there is a massive solar flare that knocks out all electricity or a giant asteroid hit. But now that I'm here, look what's up...

If you thought that Hollywood was the only place that the entertainment elite meet to pay homage to their favorite Man of the People.

Yes, Sarah Jessica Parker waxed poetic:
"This November's election will determine whether we get to keep moving forward, or if we're forced to go back to policies that ask people like my middle-class family in Ohio to carry the burden -- while people like me, who don't need tax breaks, get extra help."

Of course, it is the same backward policies that allowed an actress with third-rate acting ability and an even worse singing voice to become a very successful superstar of stage, screen, and television with multiple multi-million dollar residences and women who she can pay handsomely to bear her children so she doesn't have to disfigure herself and who can ask 50 of her other wealthy friends to pony up $46K without batting a eye-lash. Think of what $2.3 million dollars could do for some local arts/music program or how that money could help some other middle class family in Ohio! But, hey, that's just me.

And not all of Obama's Twitter followers are supporters. I thought this was pretty clever...

Next time: The long, long list of elected officials who are currently on trial or have been convicted of graft, greed, and embezzlement of public funds this month...
[+]

Friday, May 18, 2012

Film Friday: The Thirteenth Floor (1999)

The Thirteenth Floor is a film I should like more than I do. It’s thoughtful and is premised on a truly inspired science fiction idea. And that should easily vault it above most of the garbage that is out there. But The Thirteenth Floor isn’t all that great, and while I recommend seeing it, my recommendation is lukewarm.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Rock Of Ages—Fuel My Car

And while you’re at it, warm my house in the winter and cool it in the summer, light up the darkness, run my microwave, power my computer, and generally provide my fuel needs for centuries to come. One semi-ugly rock could be the key to complete American energy independence. It’s called oil shale, and we’re up to our ears in it. Therefore, we will not exploit it.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published a report it had made to the Congressional panel on Science, Space and Technology. It was entitled “Unconventional Oil and Gas Production—Opportunities and Challenges in Shale Oil Development.” The Obama administration quickly buried the report, and not because it was lengthy, in-depth and highly technical. It was buried because it has scientific and geological proof that in just one small area of the United States, shale oil contains about three trillion (yes, trillion) barrels of oil.

The report concludes that approximately half of that oil could be extracted using “available technology and given current economic conditions.” To put this in perspective, and quoting the GAO report, “this is an amount equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.” Gestate on that for a minute. And while you’re doing that, you need to know that this is just the most recent oil shale find—we have plenty of others. The area in question is located where Utah, Colorado and Wyoming come together on the map. It’s called the Green River Formation.

Most Americans have been questioning why this nation has to depend on oil from Middle East and South American dictatorships and America-hating nations. Most haven’t considered how unnecessary it is to be importing oil even from friendly democracies, such as Canada. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has been a hot potato for the Obama administration on silly environmental grounds, but the oil itself comes from Canada, a modern industrialized nation unafraid to use unconventional means to release billions of barrels of oil. In their case, the oil isn’t conventionally-drilled, it comes from oil sands.

This revelation even beats the envirowackos’ opposition to traditional drilling in the minuscule Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Even more oil is available in the Green River Formation, and it’s already right here within the contiguous forty-eight states. The green weenies and their shock troops at the Environmental Protection Agency are already operating in high gear to stop shale oil production before it can even start. The previously unknown barefaced liar owl species and the Rocky Mountain maggot environment would be completely destroyed if shale oil production plans go forward.

One element of shale oil production is already under massive attack from the enviroweenies. A very similar process used to extract natural gas from unwilling grounds is used to extract the shale oil. It’s called “fracking,” a shortening of the term fracture mining. Mass hysteria over the possibility of negative effects on ground water has already prevented the gathering of huge reserves of natural gas. That process has gone on for decades, yet there are no examples of polluted ground water of any significance, and in those rare spots where some pollution has occurred it was easily cleared up using very traditional technology.

There’s also no denying that some pretty ugly production facilities will have to be constructed on-site. That will have a negative impact on the local vistas and hiking trails. Somehow, I think Colorado, Utah and Wyoming have a few other scenic spots which would be entirely unaffected by development in this one small portion of God’s green earth. Most of the visual damage would be temporary, and if the reserves ever become exhausted, there’s plenty of technology available to restore the spot to its original state. The enviroweenies know that the caribou won’t be negatively affected by the facilities as they claimed in Alaska, but I’m sure they can find some animal whose very existence depends on leaving the area completely undeveloped. Gray wolves or grizzly bears, maybe. Or jackrabbits.

But let’s face it. Whether the oil comes from traditional well-drilling, tar sand or oil shale, the Obama administration will oppose it because it’s, well, oil. Global warming Armageddon is only days away, and the chief culprit is carbon emissions from coal and oil use. Development of shale oil production would only bring us closer to the final days. Besides, the area could be used for solar panels and windmills, which we all know are highly-efficient, beautiful and have no effect on the environment. We do know that, don’t we?

Oh, and then there’s that dirty money thing. Solar panels and windmills are highly-subsidized by the federal government, so that’s good money, even if it produces massive bankruptcies and little power. Shale oil production would have to grow and survive on private investment, and we can’t have that. What good is the national government if it can’t throw taxpayer money into useless “green” projects? In fact, shale oil production would produce tax income for the government and relief for taxpayers. BIG income. How big? Let’s take a quick look.

Let’s posit that oil (wherever derived) is wholesaling out at about $100 per barrel. That would make the shale oil derived from all federally-owned land worth in the neighborhood of $60 trillion, using only today’s technology. That estimate is probably low because it uses only the potential profit from the Green River Formation alone as its base point. Now, let’s tax it all at 30% of gross sales. That would be about $18 trillion. Our current national debt is $15.6 trillion, which would leave about $2.4 trillion over for the Obamas’ next vacation.

The remaining $40 trillion would be left for the developers and their stockholders after they have paid out the costs of research, development, payroll and production. That’s just way too much money to be left in private hands and out of the government’s grasp. Besides, if we did choose to exploit shale oil, that profit would be a lot less, since the price per barrel of oil would drop precipitously once OPEC can no longer keep it artificially high. But at least our national need for fuel would be in the hands of dirty American capitalists and robber barons instead of foreign potentates. That’s worth something, isn’t it?

Note: If the terminology is a little confusing, think of it this way. Oil shale is the rock the elusive black gold is contained in. Shale oil is the product that comes out of that rock.

[+]