Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Simple Argument for Gay Unions

Whether by customary or written law, almost every human culture has rules regarding marriage between heterosexual couples. Mankind has long understood the importance of monogamy and the protection of the children from that relationship. You can go to the darkest depths of the Amazon and you will find "customary" rules being enforced. Partly, these "rules" are "understood" to keep order in the community by stifling fights over spouses. But, more than anything, these rules are in effect to protect the children.

In our modern culture, the laws regarding marriage are generally designed to protect the woman with children from desertion by the husband. The assumption has always been the the burden of taking care of any offspring makes it prohibitive for a mother with children to work outside of the home. In fact, a married woman working outside of the home environment is a modern occurrence; and, many of the marriage laws existed long before this advent.

When we, as a modern society, decided to allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, we, by default, called into effect the laws involving marriage; whether we like it or not. It has nothing to do with religion. As I said before, the unwritten laws of marriage existed long before any formal and broad-based religions ever came to be.

It is all about the children and the potential of having children in any kind relationship; whether homosexual or heterosexual. It isn't about furthering the acceptance of gays in our society. We've gone well beyond that. Now its down to protecting a relationship so that the weaker of that relationship, the children, that are generally protected under our laws. While this is abhorrent to my personal and religious beliefs and to the many religions in the world, logic overrides that disdain. If organized religions want to protect the "word" marriage, that's fine. All marriages, heterosexual or gay, can be certified as "unions" under the law and "marriage" under religion. After all, "marriage" in religious terms is a morally binding "state" that is a relationship between a man and a woman; before God. It is only the "state" that certifies marriage by issuing a legally binding license.

All the efforts to block gay unions is simply avoiding the inevitable. It is a futile effort and we should all get over it. While the whole "gay thing" is still an emotional issue with me and most heterosexual people, I think I am finally OK, on a logical basis, with the concept of gay marriage or gay unions.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"Desperately" Seeking Susan

In a recent interview, Susan Sarandon said that if John McCain were elected, she would pack up and go to either ITALY or Canada. (See Full Story).

If there is any single reason for John McCain to win, this is it. Hopefully, she'll take her husband, Tim Robbins, with her. But, in Hollywood, who knows?

If I could suggest a place to go, I would say that she would "fit" right into Naples, Italy. That's where the "trash" is piling up all over the city (See Full Story). Anyway, it would give her a firsthand "exposure" as to how well democracy works in other parts of the world; seeing that she thinks things are "always" so bad in this country.

It always amazes me how so many liberals don't believe in the concept of "Democracy" for America. Life in this country is only acceptable "to them" if they are in "complete" control. If not, they are quick to "threaten" to pickup all their marbles and leave the game (but they never do). How adult of them! The concept of a popularly-elected government, with offsetting balances of power within that government, means nothing to them. There are times when the Democrats will be in control and, when the Republicans have the reins. Usually, we have a mix of Democrats and Republicans because a complete shift to one political party, or the other, is a disaster.

If Susan Sarandon only wanted to live in this country when a Democrat was the President, she would have only lived here for a total of 12 years out of the last 40. Those would have been the years during the Carter and Clinton Administrations. She would have had to bide here time in Italy or Canada through the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush (Sr.) and the last 8 years of George W. Bush. During the same 40 years, the Democrats have had a majority in Congress for 32 of those years; including the last 2 years since 2006.

Unlike Susan Sarandon, the American people wisely know that to give complete power to one political party is a mistake. That's why, I think, that the American people will probably elect John McCain to balance off what looks to be a Congress that is even more dominated by Democrats than it is today.

So, Susan! Hasta la vista, baby!

Hollywood's "Homey" Movies

We've all been there. Some friend of yours or a family member decides to drag out their old home movie collection. If those movies are reminiscent of "your" own particular past, they can be interesting. However, beyond that, most people find them to be fairly boring to watch.

In many ways, Hollywood is like that with their politically-oriented and politically left-wing "homey" movies. They are are a lot like the showing of someone else's old home movies. Maybe they play well to the like-minded "progressives" of Hollywood and to their far-left counterparts who live on the two "coasts" of this country, but they hardly mean anything to most Americans.

There has been a series of "flops" that appear to be movies that Hollywood seems to have made specifically for themselves. Sort of like their own home movies. The best known of this in the last year is the left-wing "Lions for Lambs" from the king of left-wing, Robert Redford. Others include "Sicko" (from another king of left-wing, Michael Moore) and "In the Valley of Elah" which stared Tommy Lee Jones: Al Gore's friend and college buddy. A couple more notables are "Rendition" and the "Good Shepard."

All of them are alike in that they all failed at the box office. They were all flops. But, Hollywood is like a person with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and they just can't help themselves. No matter how much money they lose, they just "can't" believe that the general public isn't interested in their left-wing stuff. They are totally unable to get that "Daily KOS and mentality" out of their heads. So, it is no wonder that they managed another failure. This time it was with the movie "Recount" that was made by HBO.

"Recount" was an small-screen attempt by this left-wing broadcast home of Bill Maher (HBO and Time Warner) to gives some "political" reality (Right!) to Al Gore's failed attempt to cherry-pick a win through a "recount" in a small left-leaning part of Florida. It chronicles Gore's thwarted effort to override the "electoral" vote count by using some kind of "mental powers" to determine voter intent and to "lawyer" his way into the White House. And, the mere thought of Al Gore losing to George W. Bush in this un-Democratic and manipulative process causes every left-winger's blood to boil. It stars a former political operative of the Democratic party, now actor: Kevin Spacey. So, from the very start, you can get a "flavor" of the political "slant" that has to be built into this movie.

Like the rest of Hollywood's "homey-home" movies, this one didn't fare so well either with only one million viewers (See Full Story). As a comparison, the "Sopranos" used to get as many as 11 million watchers for a premier of a new episode.

It is no coincidence that "Recount" was produced and released this year as opposed to next year or, for that matter, even two years ago. With a new four-year election for the Presidency in the wings, this thing was surely intended to stir up old feelings and energize the Democratic base for this Fall's vote; and, you can expect HBO to rerun this thing as often as possible from now until the day the votes are cast in November. Others are being hurriedly produced for a 2008 release and in time to influence the elections. Most notably is Oliver Stone's "W" which is left-wing biography about our current President. It should fit very nicely into the developing mantra of the Obama Campaign that John McCain will be like having four more years of George Bush as President.

With all the get-the-Democrats-elected activity by the left-wing entertainment and news media, labor unions, George Soros funded operations, and the educators in this country, it is really hard to believe that, some how, there is this "vast right-wing" conspiracy out there. Apparently, there is a conspiracy out there. But, it ain't on the Right. Right? Hollywood's "homey" movies is just proof of that!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Still Growing

For those who would try to "foster" the "belief" (without any substantiated facts) that we are in a recession and for those who would do something like that for their own political gains, I have a surprise for them: The economy actually "grew again" in the last quarter! The preliminary Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculation (just released this morning) shows that our economy grew at just under one percent for the first quarter of this year. This was much better than the expected growth of only 6/10's of one percent (See Full Story).

Please remember that a recession is occurs when the economy "recedes" in 2 consecutive quarters. Despite the Obama's and Schumer's and Pelosi's of the world, we have "not yet" had a single quarter where the economy has had receded or had negative growth. It is quite possible that the actions taken by the Federal Reserve Bank and the Bush Administration and the effects of stimulus checks will dodge the bullet of recession.

It should be pointed out that the rapidly rising price of oil is an extremely troublesome issue. This issue, alone (more than the issue of foreclosures as touted by the Democrats), could be the single most contributing factor in a future recession; and, not just in the United States but for the world. The shortage of supply with increased demand is not going to be overridden by any "green" technologies or "green collar" jobs. That is just foolishness!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Real Story of Big Oil Profits

Last week, our major American oil company executives were, once again, marched before the Congressional "verbal firing squad" in hearings that those political morons seem to think will lower oil prices.

Unless someone can prove otherwise, there has never been a Senate or House hearing that has produced lower oil prices in the history of this country. It is all political theater for politicians who need to cover their big asses. It was political show during the Carter administration when the lines of automobiles, waiting to get gasoline, were wrapped around our city blocks. It was political show at the end of the Clinton Administration when, like today, oil prices were rising precipitously. And, it has a been similar, fruitless political carnival over the last 3 years when, in hearing after hearing, the same questions and the same "nothingless" results have taken place.

Sure, the oil company profits are high; but, relative to gross sales, the profits are in line with most other business. The fact is that most of these oil companies had little or no profits following the OPEC embargo during the Carter Administration; and, only in the last few years have they returned to a "good" profit margins. I can't remember a single Congressional hearing that was ever held to find out why our oil companies were making money. Can you?

The liberal Senators and Representatives of this country seem to think it is socially unfair that the oil compani4es should profit from high oil prices while we all suffer at the pump. Maxine Waters, a democrat from Caliifornia, actually hinted that the oil companies should be "nationalized" to keep prices low. How "maxist" is that! Does she really think that adding the inefficiency and wasteful spending of our Federal government will actually lower prices?

It appears that our lawmakers just don't understand the oil business. Just because the oil companies are making billions of dollars in profit, it doesn't mean that they are frivolously tossing dollars out the windows and raising every exec's pay. A single oil rig out in the Gulf of Mexico will cost between one-half and three-quarters of "billion" dollars to put into place. It will cost millions of dollars to operate that "rig" over its life. Often, exploratory drilling is a "bust" and millions of dollars are completely lost in this high-risk activity. As these companies drill deeper to find the harder-to-find-oil, the costs go up. It is estimated that the new "rigs" will exceed a billion dollars for any of the deeper drilling activities. Further, most people don't realize that existing oil wells and oil rigs aren't just "forever" money-making machines. Daily, many existing oil rigs and oil wells completely run dray and will no longer produce any oil or profits.

It is true that the oil companies pay their stock holders a dividend. Exxon-Mobil gives a "whopping" 1.8 percent in dividends to its shareholders. By comparison, a bank will give you closer to 3 percent on a high-yield CD (Certificate of Deposit). Most investors in oil companies aren't looking for the return they receive on their dividends. Instead, they are looking for increased business activity which will cause the stock price to go up. Like any other corporation in this country, it all comes down to stock price appreciation. Let's not forget, if a stock price is not maintained or falls significantly, a company can be "taken over" or bought out by another more profitable corporation or investment group. So, stock price appreciation is a required form of self-preservation in the world of corporate business.

The profits that these oil companies take in will ultimately find their way to new oil and gas reserves and other new forms of "marketable" energy. They need to find new oil/gas and alternative energy sources in order to survive and grow as corporations. They are very efficient at what the do so that they maximize their profits. Most of the price of oil is due to factors that even they can't control. They are just as subject to the control of oil prices by the world markets and by OPEC as we are. For example, Exxon-Mobil, while being the largest oil company in the world, only controls less than five percent of the world's oil supply. That hardly puts them in a position to control oil pricing. If they could, they would actually want lower gasoline prices at the pump so that they could "steal business away" from their foreign and domestic competitors like Shell and British Petroleum and Chevron. But, they can't. That's why the concept of "price fixing" is just so absurd.

Oil and gasoline prices are destined to continue to go up as the world demand for this increasingly scarce commodities continues to grow. And, as sure as their is a sunrise, I would expect that Congress will continue to have their useless "get togethers" with the oil execs. There will be no changes and oil prices will continue to go up. That's my prediction.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Our Military in Obama's Barber Chair

If gangs were increasing throughout the United States, would you, in response, REDUCE the capabilities of our police in order to combat them? Would take the weapons away from our policeman at a time that they were most needed? Would have them become less protected by removing their bullet-proof vests? Would you stop any development of new technologies that would help find and defend against gang activities and their movements?

I think the only logical answer to the above would be a resounding NO! Only a fool and the fool hearty would ever say "yes" to such ideas. Obviously, those actions would be "to" turn over our streets and neighborhoods to the gangs; not to defend ourselves against them.

So, why then, would Barack Obama promise to effectively disarm our military at a time when the world is getting even more dangerous? (Click to see a video of Barack Obama's plans for our military) Why would he stop research into a defensive weapon system like the anti-missile shield that could "protect" both us and our allies against rouge nuclear attacks from nations like North Korea or Iran? Why would he slow or even stop research into new weapons systems at a time when China is building a massive military complex; and, at a time when Russia seems to be moving into the realm of trying to regain prominence as a Super Power? Does he think that the world-wide threat of nuclear armament will go away if we weaken ourselves through disarmament? Does he naively think that Russia is the only valid ICBM (Intercontinental Ballastic Missile) and nuclear delivery threat in the world? Isn't he aware of the nuclear development in North Korea and Iran with a parallel development of ICBM missile systems that could, ultimately, reach our own shores? Is he completely unaware of the ramping up of weapons in Venezuela that could threaten Colombia and the rest of the Americas?

If anyone knows the story of Samson and Delilah, they would know that Samson lost all his power through a simple "haircut" from his love: Delilah. As a result, Samson was betrayed by her to the Philistines. The word Delilah, in Hebrew, means to weaken or unprotect and is a synonym for betrayal. It appears that if Obama is elected, much of the power of our military will be in the hands of this new "Delilah." We will be weakened and unprotected and we will be just as betrayed by him as Samson was by Delilah.

With Obama's plan for our military, we won't need just a national health care program. We'll need a national burial expense program, too!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Day To Remember

As a country, we have set aside one day a year in the memory of our fallen troops. That day is today...Memorial Day. While it has become a day of family barbeque's and other outdoor events, we must never forget that our ability to celebrate anything is due to the ultimate sacrifices of our military. Our fallen heroes began to accumulate at the birth of this nation in our Revolutionary War that began in 1775. They continue to fall, to this day, in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Hopefully, their efforts to make us all safe, including those throughout the world who are less able to protect and defend themselves, will never go without our deepest thanks and the appreciation of all those beyond our shores who they have defended and protected and died for.

May God and our country always protect and save our troops.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A 2008 Space Odyssey

As if we didn't have enough to worry about, it now appears that Jupiter is in the midst of Global Warming (See Full Story). I'm not sure if it's because of gasoline powered cars or because of cow flatulence or both, but this distant neighbor in our solar system appears to be getting hotter. This comes on the heels of a report, just last year, that Mars was undergoing a similar warming (See Full Story).

I am sure we are all waiting to hear "what" the guru of Global Warming, Al Gore, has to say about this. Maybe the earth should establish a system of carbon credits for our solar system. Maybe a tree planting system? You could reduce your solar-system carbon footprint by planting a few trees on either Mars or Jupiter. (I really think that trees along the canals on Mars would be a nice touch!)

Do you think the hurricanes on Mars and Jupiter are increasing in their frequency and intensity due to their Global Warming? I'm sure Al knows!

Just maybe Jupiter and Mars are two excellent examples of what a lot of scientists are saying: That our global warming is a result of increased solar activity. Of course, Al Gore would say this is nonsense science. Instead, he would stand by his claim that those scientists who don't recognized that global warming is a result of human activity are in the "bag" for the big oil companies and other big corporations! Maybe he's right. Why should we listen to a bunch of scientists with Ph.D's in things like climatology and geophysics and astrophysics when we could listen to Al Gore with his Bachelor of Arts and his major in Government? That has always made sense to me!?!? How about you?

Do What I Say. Not What I Do!

There is a acronym called NIMBY. It stands for "Not In My BackYard". It is the code by which most environmentalists live by in this country. When we need consumable items to expand our lifestyle or survive as a society, it is the concept of NIMBY that generally overrides our needs. For example, when we need lumber, it is NIMBY and all the negatives associated with logging that environmentalists use to block logging operations in any of our "own" forests. We don't mind destroying the rest of the worlds forests as long as our forests remain intact and pristine. As a result, we wind up buying more expensive lumber from other countries like Canada. Then, those same liberals who block the logging in the first place will complain that we are losing good paying jobs, like loggers, to foreign countries. At the same time, they will have a hissy-fit over the fact that our balance of payments (our imports versus our exports) is out of control because we are importing too many goods from other countries.

NIMBY is one of the reasons that we haven't built another Nuclear Power plant in this country since the disaster of Three Mile Island. Nobody wants one of those "dangerous" power plants in "their" back yard. But, we always expect to have cheap and plentiful power for our lifestyles that doesn't pollute our (and only our) environment. For years, the environmentalists have used our court system to tie up the licensing approval for any new nuclear plants. Often, communities, themselves, will block any new licenses by establishing unreasonable and uneconomical zoning requirements for any new nuke plant, oil refineries, etc.

It is also the reason why we have shut down nearly 150 oil refineries since 1980 for environmental concerns. At the same time, we haven't built a single replacement refinery because of environmental lawsuits and zoning restrictions; even though a new plant would be substantially cleaner than any of the 180 that are now operating. Consequently, the refineries that remain in operation are close to full capacity; despite "our" growing need for gasoline and other petroleum products such as plastic, chemicals, and paints. At some point, there won't be enough refining capacity in our country to supply the petroleum products we need. When that time comes, expect those 1970-like "lines" at our gasoline stations as gasoline becomes an "unnecessarily" scarce commodity.

One of the best examples of NIMBY was when the Kennedy's, Teddy and RFK,Jr., made every attempt to block a wind energy farm in the waters off of their famous Hyannis Port family compound in Massachusetts. So much for two environmentally friendly liberals who are always pushing zero-carbon, clean, and renewable energy from a wind farm! (See Full Story). Of course, they, like many liberals, want us to "Do What They Say" and not "What They Do!"

Now, to the purpose of this blog entry...

This week the House of Representatives passed a bill that would punish the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for "not" increasing production of oil and consequently allowing the price of oil and gasoline in "America" to rise exponentially over the last six years. (See Full Story) Talk about the epitome of NIMBY! The House of Representatives believes "we" should "sue" OPEC for not increasing production when we, our own Congress, won't do the same. These are the same people that complain that we are too dependent on foreign oil. Isn't this a little like pot calling the kettle black?

Apparently, it is OK for the "rest" of the World to pollute their environments so that "WE" have cheap and plentiful fuel. We can't drill for oil in our own backyards like ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) or off the coasts of Florida and California. But, it's OK for Venezuela and the rest of South America to take the risks and drill off their coasts so "our" prices are low. This is one of the reasons that Americans are disliked by some others in the rest of the world. This is why the United States is always being accused of hegemony. We act like we are the most important peoples of the world and that the rest of the world should be indentured to our needs. We have 5 percent of the world's population but suck up 25%of all the oil in the world and aren't willing to lift a single finger to expand the world's available energy. Aren't we special!

Finally, at the same time that we give the go-ahead for producing more oil, we should begin a national initiative to move to renewable resources like hydrogen. I guarantee that the day we announce we are authorizing drilling in ANWR and the Florida and California coasts, the price of oil will start to fall.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Billion For Your Thoughts

Recently, billionaire Warren Buffett said he would prefer a Democrat as President (See Full Story). Of course, this is not new for Buffett, he has basically endorsed every Democrat from Bill Clinton to Al Gore to John Kerry. It is no wonder that a guy like Warren Buffet would vote for a Democrat because he is a Social Liberal. This is evidenced by his comment about our system of taxes in the United States at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton (last year): "If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” (See Full Story).

Yesterday, Carl Icahn, another billionaire, told Bloomberg News that Barack Obama would make a terrible President. He blasted Barack Obama on his campaigning to raising taxes in a weak economic environment. At the same time, he was concerned that Obama's new spending programs would further erode the confidence in the U.S. dollar and would result in higher interest rates and inflation (See Full Story).

So, which billionaire is right?

One, Warren Buffett, is speaking more from his heart than from his head. The other, Carl Icahn, is clearly thinking logically about the effect of taxes and spending on the overall health of this country.

Warren Buffet, who is worth more than 52 billion dollars, isn't speaking logically. He gained his wealth because of a system of government that affords everyone the potential of being a billionaire. Unless Mr. Buffett is keeping his "billions" under his mattress, his untaxed monies and their investment in American businesses are being used in some fashion to build other businesses and jobs in this country. Much of the taxes that he and we are paying are going towards high government waste. In most cases, 50 cents on every dollar that we send to Washington is eaten up in the expense to deliver its services. Mr. Buffett made his billions by investing in the best of American companies. If our government was a company, there is no way that Mr. Buffett would invests in such a wasteful operation. Yet, he would condone more waste through even bigger government programs by putting another "tax and spend" Democrat into the Presidency. If Mr. Buffett is concerned about his wealth and not paying enough taxes, his outlet is to give his wealth away to the poor in the form of charitable giving. He could set up endowments and tuition assistance for the less fortunate of this country. And, he could do it with substantially more efficiency than if our government tried to do the same thing. But, like the typical liberal that he is, he would prefer that our tax system, alone, take care of the less fortunate in America and in the world.

Carl Icahn is right. Taxes are killing businesses in this country. They are driving jobs off shore. The faith in the U.S. dollar is at an all time low. It is at a low because we are not the economic powerhouse that we once were. International investors are dumping U.S. dollars for other currencies because of our bloated government. A government of waste and increasing national debt. Over the last 8 year's of the Bush Administration, our situation has gotten worse because, although we reduced taxes, we "did not" reduce spending and, as a result, we allowed our Federal deficit to grow. That is why a "big government spending" candidate like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would be all wrong. Icahn knows that and he speaks the truth.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Let's "H-Bomb" OPEC

If you listen to the Presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and, even, John McCain, you will hear a lot about "green" jobs. In that vein, they are always mentioning wind and solar power as the savior of the planet from global warming and the "new" direction we should be moving into to divorce ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil. But, are wind and solar the real answer to our future fuel problems? I don't think so. While they are technologies that are somewhat available today, I don't quite see a Boeing 747 flying around the world or even your family car powering you to the grocery store thanks to wind power or solar cells. Both those technologies are involved with "electricity" production and their primary effect on our society would be to replace the current energy producing fuels such as natural gas and coal. Neither would actually make a dent in the replacement of petroleum-based fuels. Besides being expensive, wind and solar require massive expanses of space to produce electricity. There is no way that even a two story apartment building, through using solar cells, could replace its complete energy needs.

The future in energy for this country and the world, just as it was in the past with petroleum, coal, and natural gas, lies in the availability of "a" combustible and portable type of fuel. Something you can really use to fly that 747 around the world. Also, one that doesn't pollute so that Al Gore and all his buddies can sleep at night.

To many scientists as well as auto and energy experts around the world, the future is in hydrogen gas and liquid. Hydrogen is the "most prevalent" element on this earth (Number 1 on the Periodic Table). Fossil fuels get their wallop from hydrogen. That's why they are generally known as "hydro-carbons." But, it is the carbon part of those fuels that is the downside when talking about the "greenhouse" effect and global warming. When hydrogen is used for energy (either by burning, for explosive combustion, or when consumed by a fuel cell for electricity), the resulting "exhaust" is simply water. In comparison to gasoline's power rating of 87 octane, Hydrogen has an equivalent octane rating of 130; nearly twice as powerful.

Today, most hydrogen is produced by extracting it from natural gas (by steam reforming). This is the most economical method available. The downside of that process is the release of CO2 (its major byproduct) into the atmosphere. As a result, the benefit of hydrogen over gasoline becomes nil as far as Al Gore is concerned. Also, this method is also quite expensive as compared to gasoline. There are promising techniques for the production of hydrogen from plain water. One is a gallium-aluminum process that was discovered (quite by accident) at Purdue University. At $3 a gallon for gasoline, this process becomes rather competitive (See Full Story). Other techniques (still quite expensive) might include the electrolysis of hydrogen and oxygen from water using the electricity that is developed for solar cells in our deserts or from nuclear power.

During World War II, this country focused its scientific and financial resources to develop an atomic bomb and bring an end to that dreaded war. In the 1960's and 1970's, we created NASA and went on to send men to the moon. Again, that fact was due to the great scientific and financial depth that exists in the bountiful country we live in. But, in both cases, we did those things because our government (and our President) mandated the end results. I think it is time, again, that this country mobilize itself to defeat our dependence on oil and defeat the control that OPEC has over our society. All indications are that hydrogen is the way of the future. For that reason, we should figuratively "H-Bomb" OPEC and get off foreign oil and begin to fuel our cars and planes with hydrogen. It will take a strong President and a truly focused Congress to mandate a program that is equal to our past successes of developing the atomic bomb and sending men to the moon.

All we need is the commitment!

Image by Cranky George

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Something Isn't Right

It is late in the nomination process for the Democrats. Clearly, even the Martians know that Barack Obama has won this. Yet, Kentuckians came out in "droves" to trounce the guy with a 65% to 30% drubbing; giving Hillary Clinton a massive win. This comes on the heals of another near wipeout for Mr. Obama in West Virginia. This is not normal.

There is a message here. But, the Democrats and the national media seem to be playing it down. The primary voters in West Virginia and Kentucky are "clearly" giving Barack Obama a vote of "no confidence".

A lot has been made of the high turnout at the Democratic primaries and caucuses. If you listen to the press and the Obama campaign spinners, it is because Barack has the ability to attract new voters to the Democratic Party. If that was really true, how come there are record numbers of voters coming out against Barack Obama in States like Kentucky and West Virginia? In those States, he is getting lambasted by 2-1/2 to 1 margins.

While the public face for the Obama campaign is "all smiles" about his lead in delegates, I am sure that the campaign's private face is somewhat different. I can't believe they can be happy about what West Virginia and Kentucky are saying about Barack Obama.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Now "Quiet" War

If you watch the headlines like I do, you would know that something is missing; and, it has been missing for nearly a year. That "something" is the constant drumbeat of headlines about the death and failed operations in Iraq. Ever since the "Surge" began, things have quieted down in Iraq. So far this month, 14 U.S. soldiers have been killed in twenty-one days. That's down from the pre-Surge days when any given month saw between 80 and 120 deaths per month or more.

One of the reasons that the U.S. deaths are down is because the Iraqi Army is finally able to step up to the plate and take over operations from the American military. A perfect example of this was this morning's story about the Iraqi Army moving into Sadr City (on their own) to secure and insure a cease fire/truce in that area. They were able to move in, unabated, against the Mahdi Militia who had threatened the area since April (See Full Story).

Another reason for the "quietness" of the War in Iraq is the fact that the people of Iraq are fed up. They are fed up with killing of their own by foreign entities like Al Qaeda and the Iranians. As a result, they are working with the Iraqi forces and the United States military to "turn in" weapons caches and foreign fighters.

Because Iraq has been moved off the front pages and off the headlines of the national news, Americans have now focused on other issues in this election cycle. In poll after poll, the importance of the once-first-place Iraq War has been moved to at least second place behind the economy. This just shows the power of the news media to formulate the thinking of Americans. Of course, rarely are there any "headlines" by the left-leaning media that would indicate how "improved" things are getting in Iraq. That's because the media is still in the mode of showing the "worst" in Iraq as a means of getting a Democrat elected as President. And, because it appears the "worst" is over, the Iraq War has now become the "Quiet" war. At least from the headline standpoint.

Note: The above graphic comes from which provides an accurate daily tracking on the death toll and casualties in Iraq.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Way Out of the Political Wilderness?

There is doubt that the Republican Party is a tarnished mess. It is obvious from the approval ratings of George W. Bush. The people of America gave them a lashing when they took away their control of both Houses of Congress in 2006 . Because of Tom DeLay and other scandals, they have been branded as corrupt. In terms of conservative (smaller) government, they lost their way by advocating massive spending programs and earmarks that easily exceeded the hopes and aspirations of your average "tax and spend" Democrat.

The Republican Party is quickly moving itself into a political wilderness. They have absolutely lost their way. The current estimates are that the Republicans could lose between 25 and 30 additional House of Representative seats in the Fall. In the Senate, they could lose another 5 to 8 seats. With numbers like that, it would only take a handful of cross-over votes from any sympathetic or liberal Republicans for the Democrats to override any vetoes. The Democrats could even block any attempted filibusters in the Senate. Except for foreign policy, it really wouldn't matter to the Democrats if John McCain got control of the White House. And, with a Democratic President in the White House like Barack Obama, there would be no stopping any liberal or progressive agenda coming out of Congress or the Executive Branch.

My guess is that it is too late for the Republicans to stop the bleeding in the Fall. It is quite possible that they won't even maintain the White House this time around. So, in order to regroup, they are going to have to re-establish, in the minds of Americans, what they are for and what they will actually do if they were "ever" given control again. To this, they might very well look at John McCain as the means to their renewed beginning. The polls are "screaming" that this is the kind of Republican that Americans want. They want someone who is tough on the security of our country. The what someone who will control spending. They want the Congress and the White House to work together for the benefit of all American; and, John McCain, a maverick when it comes to cooperation between parties, fits that bill. Most importantly, they want straight talk from the people they put in office; not the typical political pablum that our politicians have been feeding this country for years. In order stop their trek into the political wilderness, they need to develop and commit to a new "Contract with America" that Newt Gingrich so aptly crafted to win the Republicans the control of Congress in 1996.

My guess is that Republicans will have an opportunity to retake control once the Democrats fall out of favor with the American people. Given the fact that the far-left factions of the Democratic Party are well in charge that opportunity could come fairly soon; and, only if the Republicans are really seen as an alternative. I suggest they get to work now by firmly getting to work with John McCain. He is their Moses!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Interesting Statistics

The United States has about 5 percent of the world's population. There are approximately 1,143,000 practicing attorneys in the U.S. (See the statistics) That's more than 45% of all the lawyers in the world. As a country, America has a little less than 900,000 doctors. The United States isn't even in the top 20 of countries in terms of the number of doctors per capita (See those statistics).

It makes you think now...doesn't it?

With those facts in mind, you might find this related story on tort reform and doctors moving to Texas to be quite interesting (See Full Story).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Penny Wise and Oil Foolish

WOW! The Democrats must have finally taken a course in Economics 101. There, they must have "learned" all about the Law of Supply and Demand. Otherwise, they wouldn't be trying to increase the supply of oil in this country by suspending additions to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Nancy Pelosi says that a savings of 5 cents or more per gallon of gasoline could be achieved by suspending those additions; a total of 70,000 barrels a day (See Full Story).

Sadly, an average gallon of gasoline went up by more than 8 cents in just the last week. So, Pelosi's idea of saving 5 cents a gallon might buy us about 3 or 4 days worth of actual savings this summer; assuming that gasoline is rising at a rate of nearly a penny a day. At the same time, we won't be adding to the SPR. This could make us vulnerable in the case of any future disaster that would disrupt energy supplies to the United States. Of course, who's to say that OPEC (the Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries) just won't cut their production output by 76,000 barrels a day. Then, there would be no savings to Americans at the pump.

As I had mentioned before, I think the most "amazing" thing out of this story is that there has been a quiet admission by Democrats (like Pelosi) that supply will lower prices. Certainly, their conservation and "green" energy bill of 2007 did nothing to do that. Since passing that bill, oil has risen from $87 a barrel to today's $127 a barrel; a 45+ percent increase in less than 6 months. The sextupling of ethanol in that energy bill has "just" caused food shortages and food prices to skyrocket while prices of the pump have risen; unabated.

If only they would take that "supply" realization to heart and begin exploring/drilling off the coasts of Florida and California and begin drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There is an estimated 60+ years of "domestic" oil supplies sitting in those "protected" areas of this country. Unfortunately, even if they did give the drilling-go-ahead as of today, it would take another 5 to 7 years of exploration, drilling, and production deliveries before oil prices "could" be affected. In the meantime, gasoline prices will probably double or triple from todays prices.

Since 2002, oil prices have risen from $20 a barrel to today's $127; a six and a half fold increase. Exploration has been blocked and no new technologies have been developed to offset the rising demand for energy in this country and in the world. It isn't the oil companies who are at fault. It is our own Congress who is beholding to all those special interest groups like Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club.

Conservation and new technologies like solar, wind, and hydrogen will have to be developed in a "parallel path" with increase and new supplies of oil; otherwise millions will suffer. We have 243 million vehicles on the road, along with thousands of airplanes that won't ever benefit from wind, solar, or hydrogen. At the most, those gasoline-designed cars will only burn a maximum of 15 percent ethanol without suffering from the corrosive effects of that fuel. E85 automobiles (ones that burn more than 15 percent ethanol) are specially designed.

Our own energy needs will grow by 45 percent by the year 2030. At the same time, our old and exhausted oil wells are drying up at a rate of more than 2 percent a year. We barely have enough refinery capacity in this country to handle the current demand for gasoline, jet fuels, diesel oil, plastics, fertilizers, etc.; let alone any future demands. We currently only have 132 refineries in America that are capable of producing 16.8 million gallons of gasoline per day, and they are at 99 percent capacity. Since 1981, we as a country have shutdown nearly 200 refineries due to environmental issues. No new refineries have been built thanks to legal maneuvering by environmental groups. India and China are growing and demanding increases in oil at a phenomenal rate. By 2030, it is estimated that those two countries along with the United States will use 1/2 of all the oil production in the world. The Middle East is constantly teetering on widespread war and oil disruption. Nigerian rebels are attacking the oil fields and oil production facilities in that, the 10th largest oil producing country in the world.

If all these factors aren't a formula for a U.S. and worldwide disaster, then, nothing is. Certainly, a measure to save 5 cents on a gallon of gasoline could be easily considered penny wise but, overall, oil foolish.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Where... oh, the recession?

It's another bad day for those lying politicians of one political party that would have you believe that we are in a recession. Worse yet, it's a really bad day for the extremists who would have you believe that we are past recession and actually in some kind of great depression.

Today, the construction of new homes came in at a whopping 8.2% increase for the month (See Full Story).. Does anyone think that the home builders of this country would pour tons of money into building new homes if they thought they couldn't sell them? I don't think so. The fact is that the lowering of interest rates over the last few months has put new home buying back on the map.

Don't expect existing home sales to perk up soon. The value of homes has fallen anywhere from 10% to 30% across the country and homeowners are not going to be so inclined to sell the homes that they own until the value of those homes starts going back up.

As I have said many times in this blog, there may never be a recession; just a slow down in the economy. Something that the economists not-so-technically call a "dip". Certainly, there are no classic signs of one. The politicians would have you believe otherwise so that they can sell their line of B.S. that they, and only they, can save this economy from any further and, potentially, complete disaster.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Your Guilt is Showing, Obama!

Today, President Bush gave a speech before the Israeli Knesset. In that speech he condemned "those" who would talk directly to the enemies of Israel. He likened it to the appeasement of Nazi Germany before World War II (See Full Story).

Immediately, the Obama campaign reacted as if they were attacked "directly" by George Bush. This is despite the fact that Obama wasn't even mentioned in that speech. Maybe this "recoil" by Barack's campaign is out of guilt. However, Mr. Obama and his team seem to have ignored the fact that Mr. Bush has said, ever since 9/11, that he will never negotiate with terrorist and terrorist countries. This was long before Mr. Obama arrived on the national political scene.

Certainly, there are a number of people in this country and in the world that seem to think it would be appropriate to negotiate with the enemies of Israel. Many of them are known "not" to be friends of Israel. Mr. Obama doesn't have exclusivity on talking about dealing with terrorist and terrorist countries like Iran. In fact, the name of Jimmy Carter sticks out "more" in my mind than Barack Obama. After all, Carter just got back from a charming get-together with an arch-enemy of Israel: Hamas.

Mr. Obama's problem is that he spent so much time with such anti-Israel types such as Louis Farrakhan and Reverend Wright. Further, he pledged that he wpuld unconditionally meet with the President of Iran, an avowed destroyer of Israel. Now, he seems be defensive and, somehow, sensitive to Bush's speech. Hey, he made that bed for himself. It's his to lay in and not to lie about!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

No Resolve and A Sore Loser.

By all rights, the Democratic race for the presidential nomination should be over. Barack Obama has this nomination in the bag. There is no way that Hillary Clinton can mathematically (or even mystically) win the nomination. But, don't tell that to West Virginia. Last night, they gave Hillary Clinton a win by a ratio of "over" 2-1/2 to one with Barack Obama only getting 26% to Hillary's 67%. A massive blowout!

This win was telling. The wider than expect margin for Hillary Clinton says that Democrats, at least in West Virginia, haven't resolved themselves to Barack Obama being their Democratic candidate for President. In fact, it is a slap in the face to Barack Obama. By now, the Democrats should have been closing ranks behind their presumed winner and the margins should be shrinking. But, they didn't.

A lot of the press categorized the West Virginians as less educated, predominately poor, white, and blue collar (the Lil' Abner scenario). They, in the defense of Barack Obama's loss, said that West Virginia appeals more to Hillary Clinton's supporters. Further, they said that Barack's 'states' represent the more educated, and have a higher percentage of blacks. Well, I'm sorry. Isn't the Democratic base and the appeal of the Democratic message (like Obama's) more fitting to a West Virginia model? You would think that Barack's 'promises' of everything to everybody would draw those people into the mania that surrounds him. But, it doesn't because they don't seem to believe him. Elections are all about perceptions and trust, and West Virginia told Barack Obama that they don't believe him and they don't trust him. Further, I think West Virginia exposes the depth to which Barack Obama's elitist comments on "clinging to guns and religion" may have hurt him.

To top everything off, Barack figuratively gave the West Virginians the middle 'finger' last night. He left the State early to campaign elsewhere and he didn't even give a concession speech. He made no effort to politically smooth over his loss by talking to the West Virginians vis a vis a healing concession that would appeal to them in the upcoming general election. He acted like a sore loser. It merely furthered the "elitist" label that he picked up in his "clinging to guns and religion" San Francisco speech. His actions (or lack of actions) of last night may have hurt him more than can be actually calculated. He may have 'furthered' the divide between Democrats that seems to exist between his backers and the Clinton backers. A divide that may ultimately seal a loss of the Presidency in the fall.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

McCain's Biggest Campaign Problem

Republicans don't realize it but, John McCain is probably their best chance for a win against Barack Obama. The fact that he isn't a staunch conservative is to his advantage in this particular (and most peculiar) election cycle. It means that McCain might appeal to the voters on the moderate left who aren't that comfortable with Barack Obama's questionable character, his very liberal voting positions, and his lack of experience. It means that McCain has appeal to Independent voters who might "not" be for the immediate bolting out of Iraq, taking weak positions against extremist countries like Iran, raising taxes on individuals and businesses that could hurt economic growth, appointing more socially tinkering Federal judges and Supreme Court justices, and creating another massive government program for health care that will probably create a future Social Security-like bailout for this country.

Let's face it. The Republicans, thanks to themselves and George W. Bush, are heading into the wind in this election cycle. They have lost control of both Houses of Congress and given the War in Iraq and the perception about the economy, there is really no way that a Republican should be given another shot at the Presidency. But, McCain's maverick "bio" may just buck that presumed outcome for the Fall.

Where John McCain appears to have his biggest problem is with his own Republican party. To the many far-righters, John McCain looks more like a donkey with an elephant's trunk and ears. To them, they can only see a "Judas" who walks with Teddy Kennedy on immigration and cavorts with Russ Feingold over campaign finance reform. Conservatives also point to his stand against the Bush tax cuts (although it was tax cuts "without" spending cuts that he was objecting to) as another problem with McCain.

To overcome this, McCain is spending a lot of time talking about all the conservative issues that he believes in. He is talking about appointing constructionist and not activist judges. He reaffirmed (over and over) that he will maintain the Bush tax cuts. He reinforces his belief in reduced spending. And, without question, he will stay in Iraq until the job is done. But, all this still might not help convince Republicans that John is truly a conservative Republican.

The question then becomes, will the far-righters vote for McCain? Sure they will. There is no way that they will vote for the very liberal Barack Obama, though some may not vote at all if it looks like Mr. Obama is a sure winner. But, if they go to the polls, they will vote Republican. So, what will be the problem if the far-righters aren't enthusiastic about John McCain? The problem will be the most important thing in an election against the very popular Obama: that is money, money, and more money! Typically, you can't expect people on the left to contribute to a Republican's campaign. It just isn't done; even if they do plan to vote for him. Real moderates and independents contribute very little to campaigns because they tend to remain undecided until just before the election. However, the real campaign money comes from the Republican base. Those far-righters. For McCain, though, this is a problem. He is almost the antithesis of excitement in his base when compared to Barack Obama. McCain's base sees him falling short of the true red, white, and not-so-blue American that the far-right Republicans expect out of their candidates. His base isn't really excited about him and their lack of enthusiasm has shown up in McCain's meager war chest. If McCain does lose, it will be because he didn't have enough money to win. His message won't get out to all those voters who can make the difference on election day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Obama's Inexperience and Weakness

In a recent blog entry, I wrote about my concern that we could repeat history with the election of Barack Obama as our next President. My concern was that we would be repeating the weakness and inexperience of JFK which, I believe, got us into the mess with the Cuban Missile Crises and which put us squarely on the precipice of nuclear annihilation (See blog entry of April 16).

I think my concern is well founded. Unlike the 1950's and 1960's when we were living with a U.S.S.R. who was as equally afraid of being wiped out by nuclear war as we were, we are now in a struggle with extremists that believe that dying is a religious honor; a badge of great courage in the eyes of their God. These people have no fear of their own deaths if they are able to take us with them at the same time. Their goal is to have a completely Muslim world; one that is extremely founded. Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and the rest of the non-Muslim religions are incompatible with the world that they envision.

Barack Obama will be seen as weak by them because it is already apparent that he doesn't understand their threat. In his speech of last Tuesday night, he mentioned three Presidents in our history: Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and John F. Kennedy. His purpose of mentioning them was to reinforce his belief that we should negotiate and talk with our enemies. But the stupidity of mentioning those three Presidents -- all of which were Democrats --- is that each one of them lead us into very costly wars: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

A writer for Real Clear Politics, Jack Kelly, made note of this and wrote an excellent piece about it (See Full Story). To me, for Mr. Obama to make those references to FDR, Truman and JFK -- in that way -- just shows that he is seriously inept when it comes to foreign affairs. He is just another dangerous idealist; and, not the realist that we need. It also shows the sorry state of our news media. They are so in love with Barack Obama that they are willing to ignore the apparent falsities in the facts he presents. Finally, it also shows how educationally weak we are in this country. That weakness is evident because this candidate for President can get away with, without question, such hollow and erroneous statements. Apparently, we, as a country, are only concerned with the appearance and eloquence of presentation and not the importance of facts being presented. We have truly become the "Hollywood" society. A society of fantastic story lines, props, makeup, and special effects. But, real life is not just a storyline where the bad guys aways lose before they do their evil deeds. In real life people die and stay dead and don't get back up after the movie is over.

Barack Obama's inexperience and weakness is truly a danger in a very dangerous world. Health care, taxes, green jobs, and the rest of his domestic policies won't really matter if we are more seriously attacked than we were on 9/11. For my peace of mind, Hillary Clinton and John McCain are the better choices to keep us safe.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Party's Over

It is obvious from the primary results in both Indiana and North Carolina that the Democrats have basically decided on Barack Obama as their nominee for President.

While Hillary won Indiana, she did so by less than 2% of the popular vote. Her performance was substantially worse than even the latest polling had suggested. This says volumes about the Reverend Wright issue with Barack Obama. It basically shows that Democrats could care less about it. Barack is their man despite some question about his 20-year relationship with that person.

At the same time, Barack won by double digits in North Carolina. Again, there is absolutely no evidence that the Reverend Wright situation has changed any minds. Hillary lost by the same factor that most of the polls were saying she would over the last few weeks.

I would not be surprised if Hillary does call it quits by the end of the week because she isn't going to get any boost in fund raising from the results of last night. I really don't think she has the money to continue. This party is over!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Not Your Father's OPEC

For years, OPEC (The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) was a cartel that was a lot more like a bunch of wild horses than a unified and cohesive force to control oil pricing in the world. In the past, the OPEC cartel would agree among themselves to restrict oil production in their respective countries and, as a result of being a collective force, then could drive prices up. But, also in the past, "greed" would take over and an individual country or countries within OPEC would begin to "cheat" on their agreed upon quotas. In doing so, those cheaters would take advantage of the artificially high oil prices to get more revenues in their own coffers than they would have if they had stuck to their individual quota. When a country or countries started to cheat, the price of oil would start to fall; and, then, they would "all" begin to cheat. The high price of oil would then collapse. Because of constant cheating, OPEC just couldn't keep oil prices consistently high. That was your father's OPEC.

In the last three to four years, OPEC has changed. They have stopped cheating. As a result, they have been able to drive oil prices higher and higher. They have done this by carefully controlling the supply of oil in order to maintain a level that is approximately 1% to 2% above the level of worldwide demand. This, then, creates a constraint on the world's oil supply that is constantly teetering on the edge of a worldwide shortage. In turn, oil traders are compelled to buy oil futures based on limited supply and rising prices; and, in the artificial belief that there might a major supply disruption that will cause a massive spike in oil prices that would make them all very rich.

Making things worse, oil is a non-perishable commodity. It can be stored for years and then sold at even higher prices in the future. Because oil prices are rising so rapidly and so consistently, it has been financially advantageous to store oil and keep it off the market because the cost to store it is so small in comparison to the potential for future profits. This is a form of hoarding and it, too, has contributed to artificial levels of demand for oil in the world. As anyone knows who has taken economics, high demand and limited supply are two conditions in the "Law of Supply and Demand" that contribute to high prices. With oil, we have both.

Over the weekend, the rebels in Nigeria attacked and disrupted a major oil pipeline in that country. (Note: Nigeria is the fourth largest supplier of oil to this country) Prior to this, oil prices had been falling from a previous high near $120 a barrel. But, this act alone drove prices back to new highs because oil traders saw this as another event that could cause a massive shortage in the worldwide availability of oil; driving prices through the roof. But, this event, like some many others the past, won't actually create a worldwide supply shortage because OPEC has its hands on the spigot. It will easily adjust the "supply" to maintain that artificial 1-2 percent supply level above demand. You know this is true because not once in the last four years has there ever been a lack of oil in the world due to a major supply disruption. There have never been long lines at the gas station. It didn't happen when hundreds of oil platforms were shut down in the Gulf of Mexico during the Katrina and Rita hurricanes. It didn't happen when Iraq's oil was almost completely taken off line due to Al Qaeda attacks.

OPEC doesn't want an "abrupt" worldwide supply shortage because they don't want to be seen as the true bad guys that they really are. Instead, they are quite happy with the ever increasing price for oil. This allows the world to somewhat adjust to higher prices without creating a situation where OPEC countries could actually wind up being a target of the world's anger and could actually be the target of an attack; like in a war. Also, an abrupt shortage could force countries like the United States to take immediate and drastic actions that could result in alternatives to OPEC oil; whether it be increased internal production or the implementation of oil alternatives.

OPEC has finally gotten itself together as a true cartel. They are in the catbird seat and they know it. They have us by the throats because they control most of the world's oil. Sadly, there is nothing we can do about it unless we increase our own production. We aren't going to conserve ourselves out of this problem because OPEC will just adjust the flow of oil downwards to compensate; keeping prices high. This is not the OPEC we have dealt with in the past. It's not your father's OPEC!

Monday, May 5, 2008

To Prius or Not to Prius? That is the Question!

I was listening to a panel discussion on a cable business show this week and, in attendance, they had a "democratic strategist." The discussion was focused on high oil prices. The democratic strategist blamed the oil companies for our high gasoline prices; making sure to point out the "obscene" profits being made by these "pirates" of corporate America. Of course, he seems to forget that gasoline prices are high all over the world. In Europe, they are paying the U.S. equivalent of over $8.00 per gallon for gasoline while our (selfish) average price is only about $3.60.

His solution? He believes that we can just "conserve" our way out of high prices. He pointed to "hybrid" vehicles as the solution.

So, on hybrids as our savior, here's the fallacy in that belief. First, there are about 180 million cars on the road in America, today, with an average age of 9 years. Even if every car produced, as of today, was a 40+ mile-per-gallon Prius-like hybrid, it would take more than 18 years to get every one of those 180 million cars off the road due to normal attrition. But, the problem with hybrids is that they will probably be "junked" before they even make it to 9 years of age; let alone 18 years of age. This is because of their expensive battery and electronic systems. At some point, those components that make a hybrid a hybrid will have to be replaced and their replacement cost is estimated to be between $3500 and $7000. Typically, depending on the types of driving, miles being driven per year, and the manufactured quality of the battery in the first place, every hybrid will require that its battery and all or some of its electronics be replaced between 5 to 9 years of use. At some point, it will become economically prohibitive to replace the batteries and/or electronics versus just "junking" the car. Think about it. What if you had a ten-year-old car with a value of $3000 and you were faced with a repair bill of $7,000. What would you do?

Right now, hybrids only make up about 2% of the our new car market. That's because they cost between $5000 and $7000 more to buy than a new all-gasoline equivalent automobile. In many ways, this makes them a "luxury" car and puts them out of the spending reach for most all middle and lower class Americans. As I have written before, being "green" is a rich man's sport. Statistically, if only 2% of the cars being sold today are hybrids, you can assume, at best case, only 2% of the cars, 18 years from now, will be hybrids too. Of course this assumes that, contrary to my above paragraph, all those hybrids are even capable of lasting that long; which they probably aren't.

Fuel efficiency, biofuels, and hybrids are not going to get us out of the bag that we are in right now. We should have allowed new drilling in places like ANWR (Alaskan Natural Wildlife Refuge) when it was proposed over twelve years ago. But, we didn't! So, every year that we block new drilling for oil, we become more and more dependent on foreign oil. Every year that we avoid new oil resources just pushes us out 10 years or more from having any new influx of oil products. Every year, our demand for oil energy goes up by 2+ percent; compounded. At the same time, our "old" oil fields are being exhausted at a rate of 2 percent or more per year. We have 243 million vehicles in America that aren't going to go away for a least 18 years. Most every one of them needs gasoline. They won't run on wind, or solar, or more than 15% ethanol without modification.

We can't avoid high oil prices if our demand keeps going up while our own supply keeps goes down. If you don't believe that, then I'd say that you still believe in the Tooth Fairy and in Santa Clause; or, that you are some kind of "rock-headed" environmentalist.

My guess is that 10 years from now I will be able to repeat this blog entry. The only difference from today is that we will be paying between $10 and $15 per gallon; rather than today's $3.60 gallon. The politicians will still be promising that they will lower gasoline costs. And, I bet that 95% of the cars on the road will still be gasoline powered. Mark my words!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Over Medicating

How long would you keep you doctor if he or she diagnosed you with high cholesterol and prescribed an expensive drug to lower it. Then, before even taking the first pill and seeing if the drug will work, the doctor immediately takes another blood test. From that test the doctor decides that your cholesterol is still too high and prescribes twice as much of that same cholesterol lowering drug. As a result of too much medication, your liver fails. Wouldn't you think the doctor was totally whacked? I suspect you'd be seeing that doctor in court. That is, if you survived!

Well, in a way, the Democrats are a lot like that Doctor. Before the stimulus checks are even being put to work in the economy and before the effects of all those credit and housing bailout plans take any effect, the Democrats, in their weekly radio address, are calling for a second stimulus package (See Full Story).

I know it's an election year but we can't go crazy. You can't, in order to buy votes, just tell Americans to open their mouths and we'll just keep pouring money down their throats. The logic that more is better isn't reasonable; especially in light of the fact that the economy may or may not actually be in a recession (See My Posting of Yesterday). Any more stimulus to the economy may actually cause an adverse effect. Sort of like losing your liver because the Doctor (in the example above) over medicated you for your high cholesterol problem. Similarly, we could cause rampant inflation if we add too much stimulus to an economy that is already experiencing inflation. Then, we'll have a new problem that will cause America and Americans to suffer even more. Believe me, a recession is ten times easier to fix than run-away inflation. Just as lowering cholesterol is ten times easier to fix than liver disease.

Why don't we just wait to see what the results are in the next economic report (the Gross Domestic Product Report) in July and, then again, October before we do anything else.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Europe and Japan's Leg-Up on Gasoline Consumption

While, in this country, we constantly flap our jaws about being "green" and talk about renewable energy resources and the conservation of gasoline, Europe and Japan have, for years, been involved with "mass transit" systems that are more environmentally responsible.

We are truly "pigs" when it comes to ground travel and air travel. We are a country of one-person-per-car and we prefer cars over public transportation. What's worse, our preferred means of regional transportation (movement between major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco or Detroit and Chicago) is usually by automobile and by gas-guzzling short-range jets and not by train. Further, we move most of our freight by truck when short-haul freight trains would be more efficient.

When we hear our politicians talking about saving the planet or reducing our dependence on foreign oil, no one talks about mass transportation as a means, available right now, of reducing emissions and oil/gasoline consumption. They would prefer to talk about "pie-in-the-sky" things like hydrogen fuel cells that may be a two decades or more away from full implementation.

The trick to getting America off its love of the automobile is to make public transportation extremely affordable and more convenient. First, we need to subsidize mass transit so its cost is attractive. Second, we need to be smart about where we apply mass transit. There are natural "high volume" routes that could easily get cars off the road. (I live in Las Vegas and there are thousands of cars that almost commute daily/weekly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas; and vice versa) Third, it should be fast; certainly faster than by car or airplane. This means the application of high-speed "bullet-type trains" and the use of limited-stop express trains that ride separate spurs. Fourth, there needs to be convenient end-point modes of "fan-out" transportation such as compact rental cars, buses, and short-haul commuter trains.

The Federal government needs to take the lead. The reason we have so little regional transportation in this country is because too many government agencies are involved. In order to make something happen, local and state authorities have to work with other local and state authorities; and, mass transportation isn't their priority. But, as a nation, it should be!

Image by AndreasNygaard on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Barack to Wright: You Sank My Battleship

There's a "buy gold" television commercial that says: "Sometimes you have only moments to react before a disaster." Well, in the case of Barack Obama, his moment came and went a long time ago. He "clung" on to Reverend Wright too long and Jeremiah Wright finally "Sank his Battleship" in a series of speeches over the last weekend. Now we can see the damage. In the above chart from the Gallup polling organization, the daily tracking poll shows, for the very first time, that John McCain has opened up a full 6 point lead over Barack Obama. That is well beyond any margin of error. Being fair, though, Wright isn't alone in Obama's woes. Obama did some of that on his own with his "clinging to guns and God message" at that far left fund raiser in San Francisco.

Now, I know what your thinking. You probably are saying "big deal...a single poll doesn't show a trend." Well, sorry, the Rasmussen daily tracking poll confirms this damage by Wright and the "clinging comment" with an identical 6 point lead; McCain over Obama (See Full Story).

So, now the Democrats have an apparent problem: A nominee who might not be able to win in November! The question will be if the Obama Campaign can overcome this damage. Another question will be if there is one or more "shoes" that are still left to be dropped. If so, you can expect Obama's "battleship" to stay in "Davy Jones' Locker!"

Just Sniffles. Still No Fullblown Recession

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the GDP report that was released on Tuesday and about the fact that it still showed an economy that was expanding; not in recession (See My Blog Entry). Of more importance, this report was in direct contradiction to what some of our politicians would have you believe. That GDP report actually contained data that "looked backward" at the first quarter of the year (January through March).

This morning, we got a "more current" snapshot of what's happening in our economy with the Unemployment Report for the month of April (See Full Story). Like the GDP report, this report, too, was better than expected. If we were truly in some kind of disastrous recession, we should have seen some hefty job losses for April; probably, 100,000 or more jobs. Unfortunately for those politicians who continually want bad news, we only lost a meager 20,000 jobs in the month. In an economy a large as ours, that is an insignificant number. In fact, it was so statistically insignificant that the unemployment rate actually improved from 5.1 percent in March to the better rate of 5 percent in April.

This morning's numbers indicate an economy that is making some adjustments resulting from the credit/housing crisis by reflecting some small losses of jobs. However, it is possible that we might actually see another positive quarter when the next GDP report is released in July. I say this because those stimulus checks are just now starting to get into the hands of the American consumer (and, probably into the hands of some illegal aliens with false Social Security Numbers, too). This means that consumer spending should get a boost from this point forward as Americans start putting those checks to work. That spending, alone, should forestall any widespread job losses in this current quarter; and, just maybe, in the next quarter. At the same time, there has been a significant drop in interest rates and lending rates by the Federal Reserve over the last few months. This should start having an effect on business expansion and on available consumer credit for things like cars, major purchases (like appliances), credit cards, and, even, housing.

It is highly possible that this country won't ever see the "gloom and doom" that many Democrats seem to think we are in the midst of, right now (See this video from "Fox News Sunday" that was recorded in March with comments by Democrats Dodd and Schumer). That R-word (recession) may just have been averted by quick action that was taken by the Bush Administration and by our Federal Reserve. Certainly, our stock market thinks so. Thinking that the worst is over, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has moved from about 11,800 in March to 13,100 (today). That is a move of 1300 points in a month and a half. Not bad! It reflects an investment community that seems to sense an economy that is on the way up; not in the depths of recession. I'll say it again. ...Sorry, Democrats. No Recession, yet!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Lemmings

More often than not, Democrats are a lot like lemmings; those furry little creatures that will pick their leader; follow him off a cliff; and, then, die drowning in the waters below. Silly isn't it?

Usually, this happens when the Democrats get all balled up in a "concept" and totally ignore any real "substance." A glimmer of this was shown in the last Presidential election when they started "lemming-ing" behind Howard Dean, the "anti-war" candidate. Dean was seen, early on, as the presumptive winner until he completely lost his wheels in that "Yawheeee!" (Dean Scream) moment; just before the Iowa Caucuses. All indications were, prior to that mental derailment, that Howard was going to be their man. It was all "anti-war" and no substance. The money had been pouring in from the Internet to fund his campaign. He was bringing plenty of "new" and "young" people into the Democratic nomination process. There was total enthusiasm. (Money? Youth? Enthusiasm? Sound familiar?) Luckily, for the Democrats, Howard's melt down came long before any formal nomination.

Another lemming-moment was when the Democrats got behind George McGovern. Again, the concept was "anti-war". This time they gave him the nomination and suffered a "landslide" defeat against Richard Nixon; another man that should never have been President. But, the outcome of that election wasn't so much that Nixon won; instead, it was that George McGovern lost it. He lost it because he lacked "substance". The majority of the electorate, at that time, was less interested in "anti-war" than in "winning" with some dignity. They also wanted a President who was "more" reasonable and less "liberal" on domestic and international issues.

So, here we go again. It's 2008 and the Democrats appear to have themselves another "anti-war" candidate in Barack Obama. Like before, it appears that "concept" is taking precedence over "substance". This time the "concept" is that Obama would be, primarily, the first Black President. Second to that, they are buying into the "concept" (really just a slogan) of "change". Substance? Who needs its! Here is a candidate who hasn't "even" finished his Freshman year in Washington. A little over two years ago he was still trying to locate the bathrooms in the Senate Office building. He talks of being a "uniter" but has never demonstrated that fact. All of his voting patterns have followed the far left. Some of the people that he has as his advisers are a "little" out there. As far as character is concerned, the Wright, Ayers, and Rezko connections give some insight into that. Finally, most of his supporters in Congress, like Ted Kennedy and Patrick Leahy, are the "most liberal" within the Democratic Party; further showing that he is out of step with the general populous of this country.

It appears that no amount of bad news that comes out about this guy is going to stop the Democrats from "lining up" behind him. He truly seems to gain strength in the polls with every misstep. Everyday, despite all the questionable character issues, like his long-time association with people like Reverend Wright, he gains more and more Super Delegates; those "senior" people within the Democratic Party. By all indications, he "will" get the Democratic nomination. This is truly lemming-like behavior. There is no logic in this, at all! But, who ever said lemmings were logical?

Image by Cranky George