Monday, June 30, 2008

"General" Stupidity!

On yesterday's "Face the Nation", retired General and adviser to Barack Obama, Wesley Clark, decided to attack John McCain on his military experience (See Full Story). I guess Mr. Clark thinks John McCain couldn't be Commander-In-Chief because he didn't have "executive (military)" experience. When Bob Schieffer (the host of "Face the Nation") challenged Clark about Obama's lack of skills, Clark said he had the strength of conviction to oppose the War in Iraq and good communication skills.

Wow! The strength of conviction to oppose the War in Iraq! I guess Cindy Sheehan should be President. And, let's not forget that Hitler and Mao had great communication skills!

The stupidity of Wesley Clark's critique is not to lessen John McCain's military experience but, rather, to emphasize how "militarily weak" Barack Obama is at a time when this country may need it's military more than ever. Barack has "no" (and, may I repeat "no") military experience. I doubt that he could barely tell the difference between an Marine and a soldier in our United States Army. In fact, he might not even know the difference between a Canadian soldier and our military personnel!

John McCain is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. As a graduate of one of our 3 major military academies, he certainly had training in command and control and historical and the then-current wartime strategic and operational philosophies. We know that he had pilot training. And, while Wesley Clark can claim that McCain command responsibility over a wartime squadron, he did have "command" experience and I think being captured in a bombing run over North Vietnam qualifies McCain a having "wartime" experience. Lastly, McCain spent much of his "post" prisoner of war activities being involved with the military. He was the Navy's liaison to the United States Senate from 1977 until 1981; the year he retired. As a United States Senator, he continued his involvement with our military by serving as a member on the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee.

Clark's moronic assertion is like comparing a kid who's flown a balsa-wood glider (Barack Obama) with a "real" academy-trained fighter pilot (John McCain). Who would you prefer be in charge of our military? And, if it weren't for extremely partisan politicking, you know that Wesley Clark would have "never" made such idiotic comments and, then, defended them with even more idiotic rebuttals. But, as usual with politics, intelligence and logic both seem to be scarce commodities.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What's In a Name?

I thought it was "cute" that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had their "bury the hatchet" moment in a town named "Unity" in New Hampshire (See Full Story). It just shows how totally "orchestrated" everything has become in politics; especially in the Obama campaign. From the day Barack Obama announced his candidacy in Springfield at the very place that Abraham Lincoln gave his "House Divided" speech and where launched his first run for office, everything is about the "show". It is almost an "Obama" trademark. (Too bad there's nothing behind it!)

After hearing of the Unity, New Hampshire location, I thought to myself: What other places could they have picked?

Personally, my choice would have been in the town of "Deep Gap" in Tennessee; that's because I really don't think this "Unity" thing is that believable. Maybe, they should have picked the city of "Double Trouble" in New Jersey. That would have been expecially appropriate if Hillary is taken as his V.P. pick. Another choice might have been Blue Ball, Pennsylvania. I think Hillary would have picked this as her choice because she totally trounced Obama in the Primary there. If you look at the way Obama won over Hillary then, maybe, "Shafter" in California would have been a good choice. Of course, if everything is "really OK" between these two former rivals, then the choice might have been Nirvana, Michigan. Finally, I think, given the body blows and head shots that were thrown between these two during the primaries/caucuses, it would have been perfect to end everything at "Bloody Basin," Arizona.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Our Hard Working Elected Officials

First, they trucked in a basket full of oil executives into Congress so they could rake them over the coals for high oil prices. Then, they switched tactics and got in front of the microphones and tried to push the fact that the oil companies have 68 million acres of Federal land under lease that they are drilling on. When that didn't seem to fly, they went on to have hearings about speculators and then they found out that some of those speculators were actually funds run by city governments and college and universities.

Oh, well. Now our Congress is tired and they are off to their 4th of July recess. (I used to have recess, too, when I was in elementary school. But, when I became a "big kid" in high school and college, we worked without a recess! That was especially true when I had some important school work to do like; prep for an exam. Of course, economy killing oil prices isn't important enough to warrant skipping a recess. Now, does it?)

After all our Congresses work do we "now" have any hopes of lower oil and gas prices? Not a chance! In fact oil jumped from about $134 a barrel to a record near $142 this week. Thank you. Congress! I know we can always count on "you" to solve the big problems that face our country. And, I realize that sometimes "baseball steroids" are more important than new sources of energy in this country. Also, having a hearing over Scott McClellan's tell-all book is very important, too. But, that's alright. We'll get "by" with gasoline prices over $4 a gallon while you conduct one the numerous hearings to try and hang George Bush and his administration with some feeble impeachment offense. It doesn't matter that in election 2006 you Democrats promised energy independence and lower gas prices in your little "Maoist" pamphlet entitled: "An New Direction for America" (See the full text as a .pdf file) (Of course, oil prices have doubled since then and since then and since you go control of Congress!)

No, none of that stuff really matters. So, kick back and relax on your recess. I plan to have some corn on the cob this weekend while I can still afford it. Thanks to Congress's ethanol/biofuel increases in last year's energy bill, that, too, seems to be out of financial reach for most Americans. But, those big corporate farmers should be happy. Thanks to their doubling in corn prices, they can cover the cost of the high oil prices that most American's can't. Thank you, Nancy Pelosi!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Unions are Very, Very Good to Me

Barack Obama spends a lot of time talking about lobbyists. He likes to point to John McCain who has had a couple former lobbyist (really former government employees) working on his campaign. Barack Obama wants the voters to know that politicians who work with, spending time with, or, go on junkets with lobbyists are in the "bag" for the industries that those lobbyists represent. He and other Democrats call them the "special interests" and they love to point to big oil and big drug companies as the worst of the worst.

But, Barack Obama has no problems with his own "special interest" groups. One such group is the AFL-CIO who just endorsed Barack Obama (See Full Story). The best a politician can expect from a lobbyist is a lunch or dinner or, maybe, a golf trip to the Barbados or something. But, when a group like a labor union back you, you can expect multi-millions being spent by that group in getting you elected. You can expect millions of union workers who will vote for you and volunteer their time to get the vote out in you behalf.

In turn, you can expect that Barack Obama will be exceeding beneficial to the labor union. He might create well paid "green collar" jobs that will primarily benefit the unions and may do absolutely nothing for our energy situation. He might push higher and higher minimum wage legislation. This would make the unions happy because many have contracts that trigger an automatic "parity" pay raise if the minimum wage is upped. He might block free trade agreements so that union jobs are not lost to lower paying (and more competitive) laborers in other countries. He might push to eliminate the "secret ballot" for unionizing companies and, instead, back the "check card" system that gives intimidating power to the union bosses. Or, he might back the elimination of programs like "No Child Left Behind" because the testing aspects might jeopardize union teacher jobs.

Yeah, lobbyists are bad but, union endorsements are a lot more powerful and a lot more dangerous to the health of our country. Think about that when the former world's biggest auto company, General Motors, falls into second place. think about that as our failing schools in this country fall into more disarray as some future President works his magic to get union teachers a pay raise without a commensurate increases in performance or performance measurements.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Outlier...Liar...Pants on Fire!

When a number in statistics is so far off base from other sets of numbers, it is called an outlier. When it comes to the results of the "LA Times/Bloomberg" and the "Newsweek" presidential polling, the term outlier certainly applies.

For last three weeks, most of the polls have had Barack Obama with a 2 to 7 point lead over John McCain since Barack "clinched" the nomination over Hillary Clinton. Then, out of the blue, comes a "Newsweek" poll with Obama leading by 15 points; and, just as amazing, the LA Times/Bloomberg poll comes out with Obama at 12 points over McCain. Both of these entries are shown in the graphic above which is a screen-shot of the latest Real Clear Politics tracking of the most recent 6 national polls.

Probably, without too much argument, both of these news organizations are some of the most liberal (left-leaning) media groups in the United States. So, without any embarrassment, it is no wonder that they feel comfortable showing the Democrat, Obama, with such a vast lead over the Republican, John McCain. (After all, both Newsweek and the L.A. Times are part of the vast left-wing conspiracy in this country.) It appears from the internal statistics of both of these polls that they polled a higher than normal amount of Democrats. Duh! And, that alone has resulted in the more than doubling of the final differential between Obama and McCain.

For example, the La Times/Bloomberg polled 17 percent more Democrats than Republicans. Based on "overall" party registrations throughout our country, the Democrats have about 8 percent more registered voters than the Republicans. So, the La Times/Bloomberg poll double that differential; and, as a result, doubled the lead for Obama.

Personally, I would be ashamed to put out a poll that was so skewed to "their guy". However, there is "no shame" in the Democratic party and their party affiliates like the "LA Times" and "Newsweek". It is consistent with everything that is known about the news media in this country: they try to "make" the news rather than report the news. They eagerly want the voting public to believe that Barack Obama is accepted by "more" people in this country than he really is. My guess is that they must have generously "sprinkled" their real "call lists" for this polling data with some of (a lot of) the phone numbers from Democratic Party donor list. Of course, that is only cynical speculation on my biased part and I am sure they only "accidentally" called more Democrats.

The reality of most of the polling data is that Barack Obama has about a 3 to 4 percent lead which, in most cases, is within the margin of error. That puts this election in the too close to call category. You should also remember that Obama polled consistently higher than the actual voting proved out during the primaries. For all we know the race may be dead even or, possibly, with John McCain leading. We just don't know. And, it should be pointed out that at his exact point in 2004, John Kerry had a 7 percent lead over George W. Bush. One thing is for sure, all these numbers only emphasizes how important the non-partisan, independent and swing voters will be in the final count. And, I don't think Obama should be high-five-ing anybody at this point.

Note: You can get an enlarged view of the Graphics (above) by clicking on it.

Update: Yesterday's Gallup Daily Tracking poll has McCain and Obama at 45% each (tied).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Pot Calling the Kettle (Charlie) Black

In an interview, a top adviser to John McCain, Charlie Black, made the comment that another terror attack would benefit John McCain in the election. The Obama team hit the roof. The cried foul because it plays into the politics of fear.

Well, I'm sorry. Even though McCain and Charlie have apologized (See Full Story), I think Charlie is right. Obama is not the pillar of terrorist safety for our country. His praise of the Supreme Court decision about Guantanamo Bay and his stance on eavesdropping just proves that. He like the rest of the Democrats seemed to have forgotten "911" and think the George W. Bush is more dangerous than Al Qaeda, Hamas, or even the Taliban.

Charlie spoke the truth. He knows that a shock of another terrorist attack will cause the electorate to seek the safety of a leader who is strong on terrorism. This is unlike the Democrats who cheer lead for our enemies to win. That is all we've gotten from them for the last 4 years when the subject of Iraq is discussed. I don't think I need to repeat how many times the Democrats, in mass, have repeated the lie that the war in Iraq is a quagmire; or, that it is lost; or, how the surge isn't working.

What's worse? A Charlie Black who tells the truth. Or, a bunch of Democrats, especially Barack Obama, that won't be truthful about the conditions in Iraq?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Move On, MoveOn (.org)

One thing about, they are consistent. It is as if a bunch of pre-teen/teen boys are running the show over there. You remember the school-yard rhyming ad in the New York Times: "Patreaus - Betray Us." That's one you could easily skip rope to in the school yard. Now, their latest "childish" demonstration is a video commercial about "Saving Alex" (See the YouTube Video).

First, little Alex should thank God every day for the fact that his obvious;y Democratic mother didn't "abort" his little ass to start out with. Second, even if John McCain does serve two terms, little Alex will be barely 9 years old when McCain leaves office. Even with parental permission (Right!), I really think, at age 9, little Alex might have difficulty getting into our military. Of course, there is that possibility that the "warmongering" John McCain will lower the age of enlistment and re-instate the draft so Alex will have to serve and so we can attack every other country on the planet. Third, Alex's mom should worry more that little Alex won't even graduate from high school. In this country, thanks to our splendid union-controlled schools, little Alex has about a 50 percent chance of graduation. And, fourth, if Alex doesn't graduate, mom doesn't have anything to worry about because little Alex couldn't get into the military without a high school diploma; good reading skills; and, fair math skills. Fifth, would someone please tell Alex's mom that the military in the United States is an "all volunteer" force. Finally, if we don't win in Iraq, there may be a resurgence of Al Qaeda and little Alex's chances of dying from terrorism would probably be a lot higher than him joining the military and going on to Iraq in 20 years from now. is, well, so "old" At a time when even the Democrats have "moved on" past the war and are now focused on oil prices, the housing crisis, and the economy, is still in a "quagmire" over Iraq. (Note: The Democrats recently approved the latest Iraq war funding bill without even a single debate and without their typical inclusion of a date-certain for withdrawal.) Even the national news media has forgotten the war. Isn't it time, MoveOn (.org), that you, too, move on!

One last point. Little Alex's mom should worry more about the push to convert food stocks to ethanol and other biofuels in order to fight pseudo-war on Global Warming. To ignore increased oil production and to put all our hope into renewable energies may just create a worldwide famine and a worldwide economic depression. If so, many people, including little Alex, could "lose" their lives in the fight against Climate Change. In which case, the loss of 4000+ military lives and the billions of dollars spent in Iraq will be insignificant!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A $27.95 Congressional Investigation

After the dust had settled, it was determined by the Government Accounting Office that $2.8 million was spent by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the investigation of the so-called Valeria Plame Affair. Besides the costs, the investigation effectively took hundreds of FBI and Judicial man hours and spanned 37 months. The end result was the conviction of Scooter Libby for a "lying to the FBI" charge. The Special Prosecutor, Fitzgerald, was unable to establish any guilt by the Bush Administration that was related to the primary case of outing Valerie Plame. The "outer" was actually a Democratic friend in Richard Armitage. So, no charges were ever brought against him. (Politics!)

Now, suddenly, the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have decided to throw all that time, money, and, especially, the "findings" out the window. Instead, they want to impeach Bush or Chaney or both and indict Karl Rove based $27.95 book by former Press Secretary, Scott McClellan (See Full Story).

Obviously, we don't need to ever appoint another Special Counsel to investigate anyone or anything and waste millions of dollars. Instead, Congress should just act on every book that hits the Amazon or New York Times best seller list.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Life Under Very Liberal Democratic Rule

I think the Republicans should resolve themselves to big losses in the Fall. They will probably lose at least 20 seats in the House of Representative and 5 or more seats in the Senate. In addition, it is quite possible that Barack Obama will defeat John McCain; barring any more revelations about Obama (like Reverend Wright) that could "tank" his ability to win.

If Mr. Obama does become President and both Houses of Congress are so strongly dominated by the Democrats, it is possible that the United States will be controlled by the most liberal government in our history. So, what will be the result of a near veto-proof and left-wing government?

Here's my take:
  • The War in Iraq. We "will" leave Iraq almost immediately. Even if Mr. Obama wants to more rationally "slow" his withdrawal from Iraq by not complying with his "immediate" campaign commitment and drag it out over 16 months, that just won't happen. It won't happen because the extreme liberals in the House (those controlled by Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha) and in the Senate (those controlled and led by Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy) won't let it happen. That's because the war funding will be cutoff at its knees; and, rather than offend the liberal base and the financing stream from groups like Code Pink and,, Mr. Obama wouldn't dare to veto it. I (and many others) believe that a vacuum will be created by us leaving. It will result in severe genocidal bloodshed for the Sunnis (being punished for once being in power under Saddam) and Iran taking (at the very least) an arms-length control of Iraq by virtue of the dominant Shia population. It will be a lot like the Syria/Lebanon connection and it will seriously tip the balance of power in the region and could influence and threaten other states in the area such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and even Egypt; and, not to mention Israel. Once done, it probably couldn't be undone by reinserting our military.
  • National Health Care Insurance. Expect the creation of the largest and most expensive government controlled program that this country has seen since Medicare. It will be expensive from the beginning and underestimated; and, like all government managed social programs, it will be seen as "out of control" in just a few years. It will require constant tax increases in the future to cover it's expense. Don't even expect health care cost increases to slow or go down. That's because the health care system will figure out how to "inflate" it's charges to that system in the same fashion that it has been able to get "fat" off of Medicare. Health care costs won't go down under such a system. They will just continue to skyrocket. The crux of the problem, lawsuits, won't even be addressed because of the cozy relationship between the trial attorneys and the Democrats in control of our government.
  • Taxes. Expect the tax burden on middle class wage earners to go up. At issue will be who is "rich" in the world according to the very liberal Democrats and Barack Obama. To Barack Obama, the rich are those making $250,000 a year. However, to some other Democrats, as low a $60,000 is rich by their definition. My guess is that taxes will be raised on single wage earners making $100,000 or more. For a UAW worker in Detroit making $60/hour, that means higher taxes on his salary. Obama also wants to raise the capital gains tax from 20% to 28%. Unfortunately, there are more than 100 million people in this country who derive income from capital sources and would be subject to this tax. Sadly, many are retirees who receive income from their hard earned money being invested in mutual funds and bonds. They will be hurt with higher taxes in an already inflationary economy and it won't matter that they are below $250,000 in income. Expect the taxes increases and steeper-yet energy prices to cause runaway inflation. The poorest and the fixed income retirees will get hurt the worst.
  • Organized Labor. The "secret balloting" system of voting as to whether or not to "go union" to be legislated out of existence by this "in debt to the labor unions" Congress and President. In its place, this liberal government will legislate (mandate) into being the "card check" system. Under the "card check" system, union bosses will be able to pass out cards to prospective union members and have them simply "check off" a "no" or "yes" vote as to their preference to organize under a union. If they vote against the union, that preference will be clearly known to the union and its bosses. Talk about intimidation and the most "anti-democratic" measure ever passed by a democracy! But, this is designed to "muscle" the unions into our economy. Initially, it might create higher wages as the unions gain control and force higher wages and more benefits. However, multi-national companies will be forced to move off shore at even a more rapid rate than they have in the past in order to stay competitive against foreign manufacturers. For companies that can't move off shore, the consumer will be hit with massive price increases to compensate for all the higher wages. Expect companies to be "forced" to apply more and more productivity (job eliminating) techniques that will eventually increase unemployment. This is the unintended consequence of removing the "free market" for jobs from our economy. If you don't think it will happen, just look at the automobile industry and the impact on a State like Michigan and the textile industry whose products are almost exclusively produced overseas.
  • Conservative Talk Radio. The "left" pretty much has control of the national media in this country. They also have control of National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS television. Further, they have managed to control the "political thought" in our education systems through their support-of and the control-by of the teacher's unions. The only counter-balance to all this and a constant thorn in the sides of the liberals have been conservative talk radio with the likes of Rush Limbaugh. Expect the Democratic Congress and by signature of the President to revive the "Fairness Doctrine." Under that legislation, a radio or television station could lose it's Federal License if it failed to provide equal time for conservative and liberal radio programming. Therefore, the unpopular liberal talk shows would be forced on to the airways. Actually, expect the Conservative talk radio to disappear because there hasn't been and won't be enough audiences to support liberal talk radio. Think of this law like taking a station that currently has a Country Theme and telling them that they will have to provide equal time for rap or hip hop or hard rock. This law could somewhat backfire because it would force PBS and NPR to provide conservative programming; something that hasn't existed for years.
  • Energy Policies. Expect a few billion dollars to be doled out to create so-called green collar jobs. Like every other government program, you can expect this to one to be ripe for fraud and political pork barreling. Because it will supply funds under a Federal program, any company taking those funds will then be subject to paying the Federal minimum wage. Expect the administrative costs to be in the billions. My guess is that we "won't" see two things: (1) Any significant job growth and (2) any reduction in our dependence on oil. Expect energy prices to continue to go higher and higher. Instead of allowing the free market system to work to solve our energy problems, this government program will be a disaster and we can expect the past "$10,000 toilet seat" problems to thrive in spades.
  • Federal Appointments. There are hundreds of Federal judgeships that have remained open and stuck in the Democratic controlled committees. The Federal Election Committee has 4 positions stuck in the Senate committee for approval. The 2 remaining seats are overdue in their own retirements. Expect the floodgates of liberal, activist judges to open up with the Congress/Presidency controlled by the Democrats. These are lifetime positions and the "progressive" slant on our court system will last for years. As many as 3 Supreme Court judges could retire during an Obama Administration and Democratic Control of Congress. Expect the "Court" to be tilted sharply to the left; a condition that will last for decades.
  • College Tuition. As have said before in this blog, college tuition is rising at a rate that is twice that of inflation because the number of colleges and universities is limited while the demand is high. Making college "more affordable" by providing additional government funding is just feeding the "demand" side of the college tuition problem. To stop the runaway increases in tuition, you need to increase the "supply" of colleges and universities in this country. Unless our schools of higher education have empty seats and have to compete for students, tuition rates will just keep on rising. My guess is that any of the Obama/Democrats plans will do just that.
  • Education. Expect school and teacher accountability to go out the window because "No Child Left Behind" and its testing requirements will be blasted off the map. This will be payback to the loyal-to-the-Democrats teacher's union. For the first time in history, the Federal government will start funding local education in this country. Moves to add more teachers (for the unions and not the kids) will be pushed. I think a city, like Chicago, will revert back to its 48% graduation rate after having improved to 52%. Education, thanks to pandering to the unions, will continue to slide downwards in this country.
  • Deficit Spending. Currently, Mr. Obama has proposed spending levels that will out pace his tax increases by a ration of 3 to 1. Unlike the Clinton years which benefited from a burgeoning computer-based economy and massive productivity gains (and profits) in business, expect the deficit to increase as a result of (1) reduced tax revenues as a result of higher taxes on businesses and the rich and (2) excessive spending for all those campaign-promised spending programs. With liberal/progressive Democrats in control of the Presidency and Congress, spending will be unstoppable!
I believe that we might see one of the worst governments in the history of this country; or, at the very least, the worst since Jimmy Carter. At a time when a strong foreign policy stance is needed, it won't be there. It will be a return to the days of the "Tax and Spend" Democrats. This time, however, there won't be a Republican in the Presidency to act as a counter balance. I may be completely wrong. But, if I am right, the damage to this country could last for decades. We just might start thinking that G.W. Bush wasn't so bad after all.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

68 Million "Acre" Lie

The Democrats have "new" defense against drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) and off the coasts of Florida and California. They are now trying to say that the "oil companies" have purchased 68 million acres of oil leases and aren't even drilling on those lands before they want more access to other sites like off-shore and ANWR. Politically, this is designed to deflect the blame for high oil prices and the lack of domestic oil production by trying to "point" to the oil companies. But, this is a red-herring and they know it.

First and foremost, Federal lands in this country are made up of the National park system, national forests and wetlands, wildlife refuges, military reservations and installations, Federal penitentiary lands, and those designated as public-domain lands. Land that is not usable for these purposes can be put up for lease for mining and oil exploration. These unwanted pieces of land are leased in parcels from 1,000 to 3,000 acres in size and are scattered throughout the United States and its territories.

The process of leasing these "parcels" is like a grab bag. The land is leased out on sight-unseen basis without any advanced exploratory methods being used to determine if any oil is even available. The leases are usually for five years. If production doesn't begin within the period of that lease, the land reverts back to the Federal Government for re-auctioning. So, it behooves the "lessee" to move quickly to take advantage of that land or they may lose it to another competitor when the land is auctioned off again. Typically, the lessee (the oil company or wildcatter) will have to do the following "before" it can actually begin production:

  1. They begin the process of exploring using a variety of geological "sounding" techniques to try and determine if any "pockets" of oil (or natural) might exist on that land. Think of this process as being similar to using a metal detector. If you get a hit, you know somethings down there but you don't know if it s a an worthless old nail or a valuable gold coin.
  2. If they think there might be available oil, the lessee must then complete a number of environmental impact studies in compliance with Federal Law before any drilling can begin.
  3. After determining the possibility of an oil field and its possible size, a number of "costs" are calculated to determine if it economically feasible to drill. The costs include the cost of complying with environmental laws; the cost of access to the site (additional leases and easements for road building and delivery pipelines, etc); and the cost of drilling (based on soil conditions and depth). This is compared to the current and projected price of oil to determine if any profit can be made.
  4. If it is economically feasible to drill and profitable and the Federal Government has given an "environmental" green light, the company will begin to drill. Keep in mind that, even after all this, there is still only a 10 percent success rate in actually bringing oil to market.
What the Democrats won't tell you is that step 4 is often blocked from ever happening because of people like those in the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. More often than not, these groups will seek a court injunction in order to bar drilling whenever and wherever they can. They will use all kinds of noise, pollution, and wildlife concerns to thwart drilling anywhere in this country. And, the liberal courts tend to oblige their requests. This fact, alone, causes many potentially valuable oil fields from ever being drilled on in America.

If you listen to the Democrats, it should be a fact that you give an oil company a lease; they drill; and, they find oil. These simple minded people act as if oil is everywhere. However, if that were true, anyone with a any land could drill a well and start making money, literally, out of their own back yards. But, it isn't. The "economic" land-based oil concentrations in this country are generally in the areas in and around Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alaska, and California. There oil shale concentrations in Colorado and in North Dakota/Montana but these require very high tech and costly extraction techniques.

My family has been in oil since the early 20th century when my grandfather bought oil rights and wildcatted wells in Texas and Oklahoma. It took a lot of "busts" to find one good oil well in order to make any money and recover his losses on other failed wells. Most all those wells that my grandfather found are now dry. I still get a couple of hundred dollars a month from a handful of wells my Grandfather drilled and that are still operating. Some are producing oil and gas. I actually get some revenue from a dead well that is now producing iodine. I know the business and the business in this country is mostly a dying one. A single drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexican will cost between $500 million and $1 billion. So, for Exxon-Mobil to make 30 billion in profits only equates to a few dozen new oil platforms or 3 or 4 new refineries. Further, Exxon-Mobil only controls about 5 percent of the world's oil. It buys most of the oil that it refines and markets from state-run oil fields in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Much of the new oil in this country is found by small independents; of which there hundreds with names like Diamond, Northern, and Pyramid, etc. These are not the big oil companies that the Democrats keep demonizing.

The oil business is a tough business. It is not the simple one that the Democrats make it out to be. Of course, the real truth is that the Democrats are beholding the "special interests" of the environmental groups that give them so much money and get them so many votes. And, it is this the special interest of the environmentalist that trump any the of lobbying and cash donations that the Republican might get from the "big" oil companies. The fact is, the oil companies have the same "political contribution limit" of $2500 that any single voter has in this country. And, there is no "voting block" called the oil companies. But, there sure as hell is one called the "environmentalists" and they always vote for Democrats.

Update: I believe this later blog entry does a better job of explaining why oil companies would, if they could, drill on those 68 million acres of Federal land (See Full Story).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama's NAFTA Canard

It's all about getting votes. Buying them and lying for them. That's old time politics at its best. And, it appears that Barack Obama is more the old-time lying "politicioner" than his promise of "change" would have you believe.

When running to win the Michigan primary, this proponent of change, Mr. Obama, said he would change NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) or abandon it because it has cost jobs in America. However, his economic adviser, Austan Goolsbe, had a meeting on the "QT" with Canadian officials to say that the abandonment of NAFTA was just campaign rhetoric and don't worry; we won't change a thing. Now, it appears that the master of "change", Mr. Obama, has decided that NAFTA shouldn't be scrapped as he had previously stated (See Full Story). that we are past Michigan and trying to garner the votes from the center.

You've got to wonder, how much "change" is ahead of us from what he has said in the past!

No Debate On Iraq

I guess you could say the war in Iraq is going well when the most liberal body of our government, the United States House of Representatives, was willing to pass a new war funding bill without an ounce of debate (See Full Story).

The reality is that to debate the war would be to expose the marked improvements in the stability in Iraq from just a year ago. To debate the war would be to say that Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid's declaration of just a year ago that the Iraq War was lost and mired in a civil conflict was all wrong (See Pelosi/Reid Story and Reid Comments of April 2007). To debate the war would be to say the surge "is" working. To debate the war is to say that presidential candidate, John McCain, was right. And, to debate the war was to say that Barack Obama's cut-and-run comments of a year ago would have been the wrong tactic from a man who would be our Commander-In-Chief (See Video).

The lack of debate says it all. I guess "no debate" is the closest you'll ever get as an apology for being so wrong!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Couple of John/s

Sometimes I wonder how someone who served in the military can be so hateful toward our troops. I see this in John Kerry (a Senator from Massachusetts) and, for sure, I see it in John Murtha (a House Rep from Pennsylvania).

Both these Democrats are hoisted up by their anti-war and anti-military left-wing politicians as a some way of saying that "we have our military veterans" too; and, they hate war. Both are decorated "heroes" (Kerry?) from the Vietnam war. But, unlike their counterparts on the right, it is as if they aren't proud to have served. Both Kerry and Murtha have taken steps to discredit our military personnel by claiming that kill and rape; almost like it was "fun" on their part. Mr. Kerry did so before Congress and, John Murtha recently publicly convicted seven soldiers, before any trial, as killers in this statement:
"It's much worse than reported in Time magazine. There was no fire fight. There was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that's what the report is going to tell. Now, you can imagine the impact this is going to have on those troops for the rest of their lives and for the United States in our war and our effort in trying to win the hearts and mind"
As a veteran who volunteered in 1968 and received an honorable discharged in 1974, I don't understand these people. Most of the people I served with were good people who were proud of their country. Most just wanted to survive. They didn't get up every morning thinking about raping and killing women and children (contrary to the beliefs of the two Johnny's). Most were compassionate people who cared-about and cared-for the women and children they came in contact with. For me, personally, my military experience taught me perseverance and discipline that I found invaluable to my life later on; especially in business. More importantly, I respected the people I served with. Sure, there were some "goof offs" (as in the case of all walks of life) but the majority wear very good people. Not the people that John Kerry and John Murtha would have you believe.

Yesterday, another soldier was exonerated of all charges in association with the so-called "murders" of Iraqi civilians at Haditha, Iraq. This exonerates the sixth of eight Marines that were charged and, then, convicted in public by the so-called veteran and friend of the military, Mr. John Murtha. My guess is that at least one of the two remaining Marines will also be cleared of all charges. But, do you think John Murtha would apologize for his "broad-brush" statements that shamed all of our military? Not hardly! It doesn't fit his and the Democrats ideological agenda that all Americans are bad; expecially those in uniform.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Unintended Consequences of the Guantanamo Decision

There is a law in physics that says that every action has a opposite and equal reaction. This is also true in politics. And, the apparently political Supreme Court's decision about the Guantanamo Bay detainees will have it's equal reaction; mostly negative.

My guess is the the battle field capture of opposing forces by our own military will cease rather than play games with some Federal judge to obtain approval for detainment. The enemy will either be shot dead without any risky attempt to capture them alive or, if they do surrender, they will be immediately handed over to interrogators of some other country. In either case, the comfy quarters and the rules of interrogation by United States forces will be forfeited. There will be no 3-square meals, prayer time, clean cells, exercise periods, and fresh clothing; as was the case in Guantanamo Bay.

This is what those dancing-in-the-streets liberals have doomed all enemy combatants to as a result of this extremely "bad" Supreme Court decision; a decision based more on hating Bush than good law. The consequences of that decision are both far reaching and, as is the case with almost all Supreme Court decision, irreversible. Mark my words!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tax Cuts Work

If you listen to some politicians, tax cuts do nothing for our economy and only contribute to the widening deficit. However, for those believers in that bunk, I only have to point to the island of Puerto Rico to prove them wrong.

Puerto Rico, like many island economies, was "once" an economy that was totally dependant on tourism and some agricultural based industries. In the late 1940's, the United States government gave the island a "duty-free" status on exports to the mainlain and eliminated all the taxes burdens (in the first 7 years) on any companies that set up manufacturing facilities. This simple act caused dozens upon dozens of companies to move their manufacturing to Puerto Rico and turn what had been typical underemployed Caribbeans islands into the most power island economies in the world (See Full Story).

I traveled many times to Puerto Rico as part of my job with one of those Fortune 500 manufacturers who set up shop on the Island. And, I was always amazed how many companies were doing business there. Logic says that this just shouldn't be. The island has only limited resources other than cheap labor. For a manufacturer, it cost a ton of money to move raw materials from stateside to the island for the manufacturing process. Then, when the goods are finished, it costs another ton to move them back to the mainland for distribution and sales in the United States and elsewhere through the world. But, this "powerhouse" of the Caribbean is a living example that tax breaks truly work. And, conversely, it is only logical proof that taxes can hurt businesses.

Years ago, a presidential candidate for the Republican Party, Jack Kemp, ran on the concept of setting up "Enterprise Zones" as a means to kick-start depressed segments of our economies like inner city locations that had had no business activity for years. Tax breaks would be given to encourage the same growth in business activity that we see on the island of Puerto Rico. I think it would have worked based on my own experiences in Puerto Rico. But, the tears of Democratically controlled Congresses prevented it from happening. That's because, to do so, would be to admit that, conversely, raising taxes could hurt business. One more thing. When jobs are created, the requirement for government spending on the jobless benefits are minimized. A person who has a good jobs doesn't need the taxpayers to ante-up for food stamps, welfare, and a variety of other government social programs. Further, the demand on scarce charitable funding is freed up for others who are less able to work.

My purpose of this bog entry is to remind my readers that increasing taxes is detriment to our economy. Please remember this when you hear that certain political candidates and existing Congress persons talk about raising taxes or eliminating taxes breaks.

Friday, June 13, 2008

10 Simple Questions for Barack Obama

  1. Since your projected new spending programs exceed any projected tax cuts by a ratio of 3 to 1, where is all this extra revenue coming from to pay for your programs?
  2. What would you do if, while pulling out of Iraq, civil war erupts, thousands of Iraqis are slaughtered, and Iran tries to fill the vacuum by moving into Iraq?
  3. If we national health care, this will place a higher demand and, subsequently, higher prices. How do you plan to control prices?
  4. The so-called Bush Tax cuts have resulted in record tax receipts; although spending was also at record levels. Please explain how eliminating tax cuts will avoid reversing this influx of tax receipts?
  5. Some believe that the exponentially increasing college tuition rates is a result of a high demand for college and too few colleges. How would increasing demand through increased tuition assistance stem the out-of-control costs for higher education.
  6. If your "green collar" jobs program is designed to implement wind and solar technologies, how would these technologies, which are primarily used to replace national gas and coal electricity production, solve our high gasoline prices?
  7. Again, on green collar jobs, how would you control the environmentalists who have consistently blocked wind farms and massive solar collectors?
  8. How would controlling CEO pay create lower level jobs and raise those salaries?
  9. At one time you were for merit pay for teachers based on performance. If you eliminate "No Child Behind" how would you measure performance and why, now, have you abandoned merit pay for across the board salary increases?
  10. You told AIPAC that you would enhance and share missile defense systems. Yet, a year ago, you said you would abandon such systems. Which is correct?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brazil's "Dirty" Little Energy Secret

I know you've probably heard it: "If Brazil can do it, why can't we?"

That kind of comment is about the fact that Brazil has "grown" itself out of its requirement of any foreign oil. It has done this by switching to ethanol that is derived from their own, home-grown sugar cane crops. But is it true? If you listen to those anti-oil partisans in this country, you would think Brazil has "no more need" for oil in their country. If true, would someone explain to me why their partly state run oil company just let $4.1 billion contract to build 3 offshore oil platforms to get more "oil" for their economy (See Full Story).

The fact is that Brazil compliments its own oil production with ethanol. Their cars run on E85. E85 doesn't mean that all their cars are running completely off of ethanol; only 85 percent of the the fuel is and "can be" ethanol. The remainder is oil. So, they still need to drill. That's the "dirty" little secret on Brazilian energy that nobody in this country wants to admit.

In this country, even if we completely converted all of own corn crops to ethanol production, we would only replace about 15 percent of the gasoline we use today. Additionally, We would be maxed-out on ethanol from corn; even though our fuel requirements would continue to grow as our population grew. Of course, that would leave us (and much of the world) "without" any corn as human and animal feed and bi-products such as corn oil and starch for cooking and some environmentally attractive plastic products.

The United States is not Brazil and, for those people like Bill O'Reilly (on Fox Cable Ness) and several politicians, we cannot grow ourselves out of oil. To understand this, you must understand that Brazil is uniquely suited as a major agricultural country in this hemisphere. First, Brazil is nearly as large as the contiguous 48 states of the United States. It has half the population of the United States and 5 times the available agricultural land than the United States. Except for the semiarid regions in the north, they have 10 times the amount of water resources than we do in the support of their agriculture. Because of temperate winters in their farming areas, they have a longer and warmer growing season. But, most importantly, they have the near tropical conditions that allow them to grow sugar cane which is more easily (more cheaply) and more effectively converted to ethanol.

Our push for ethanol has just resulted in record high corn prices in this country. Brazil has excess ethanol production and would gladly export it to the United States but our Congress, in an effort to protect higher-and-higher corn prices for our domestic farmers, has seen fit to impose tariffs on any imported ethanol. This is literally killing the poor by creating high food prices and higher energy prices. (I guess the farmer's votes for the Democrats are more important than food and fuel for our citizens!)

Whether we like it or not, we need to develop parallel energy paths to rid ourselves of our energy problem. We need to explore and develop new oil for the 145 million cars we have on our roads today that are designed to run on gasoline and which will be on the road for, at least, an average of 9 years. At the same time, we can develop new technologies that will get us away from oil. Further, we should begin importing ethanol from Brazil so that our food prices in this country don't continue to get out of the reach of the poor.

On Domcestic Oil: The Games Democrats Play

Yesterday, people like Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats used the argument against drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Reserve) and off the coasts of Florida and California by saying that the oil companies have federal leases on 68 million acres of land that they aren't using. Yes, they have the leases for exploratory drilling. However, the little secret that Pelosi and the rest of Democrats won't tell you is that the environmentalists, once again, have stopped any drilling on these Federal lands in order to save this insect; that bat; or this endangered bird or plant; and, so on. (Click to see a typical example)

It appears getting the lease is the simple part. Trying to get through the liberal courts and against the wishes of groups like the Sierra Club is another thing. Billions of barrels of oil are effectively being blocked by environmentalists and the friends they find in our Federal Courts. That's the game!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"What is important..."

The latest distortion of facts against John McCain by Barack Obama, the Obama campaign and the king of flip-flops, John Kerry (who "flopped" last election)is, once again, how long we will be in Iraq. This morning on the Today Show, John McCain was asked about the reduced casualty rates and does that, now, give him some idea when we could begin to remove troops from Iraq. McCain responded by saying "That's not important!" So, immediately, the "snippet" team at camp Obama clipped that comment out of full context and began saying McCain was insensitive to our military deaths in Iraq by saying that he was "confused and heartless." The medal-tossing and believer that all American troops are killers of woman and children and rapists, John Kerry, had to chime in even further (See Full Story)

The boldfaced lie in this is that McCain when on to say "What is important is the casualties in Iraq..." He then talked about being in a variety of countries for years; ie. South Korea, Japan, Germany, etc. He went on to talk about the importance low casualties and the importance of winning (See A full YOUTUBE video of McCain's Comments).

The Barack Obama and the Obama team are real good at distorting facts by taking things out of context. Then, when things aren't taken out of context, like those anti-American comments by Jeremiah Wright, he and his team claims that those are "out of context" and just "snippets" of a whole speech and a lifetime of speeches. Obama is good at deflecting the truth about himself and dishonestly magnifying a lie about his competitor. He did that over and over with Hillary Clinton during the lead-up to his win. He's an old fashioned machine-type politician with all the old tricks in the his playbook. Unfortunately, the people that are so much in "love" with this "concept" of this guy that they just can't see it. Most of those fools couldn't tell you his position on anything other than getting out of Iraq. They, also, have no idea of anything (which is nothing) that he has truly accomplished. If he's elected, it won't take long for them to really find out about Barack Obama. And, they might not like what they see!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


At every chance, Barack Obama makes sure that he tells his loyal crowds the story that John McCain said "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should..." Of course, the partisan crowds go crazy on this rhetoric.

But, this is just a diversion. It is a diversion because you have to really question Mr. Obama's own credentials on economics. Did he somehow study economics at Harvard Law School? Was economics a part of the curriculum on "constitutional law"? Before Harvard, was "economics" part of the "political science" studies he took at Columbia University? I doubt it!

The reality is that Barack Obama is as naive as anyone when it comes to economics. At least John McCain admits it. McCain has one leg up in that he had some exposure to economic issues with his years of membership in the Senate Commerce Committee. It should be pointed out that most "truthful" economists would tell you that economics is an evolving science. Often, more art than science.

Both these candidates never built a business on their own and neither really understand all of the complexities that are involved in operating a business. Generally speaking, their "economic" positions are based on the "economists" that they have on their campaign staffs. And, sadly, economists (generally) never created a business on their or never even created a single job in their whole lives. They are usually top-down, theorists who, at the very best, try to formulate an opinion about a rather complex business society in this country or in the world.

McCain's position is simply a repeat of the tax levels we see today and a repeat of the Bush position on taxes. There is a difference, however, in that McCain would force more discipline into the spending side of government. He is avid spending cutter who detests political earmarks.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, is a typical tax and spend guy. Many bloggers and media writers have labeled his economic policies as "Obama-Nomics". And, by no means, is this an endearing term. Generally, Obama-Nomics is the belief in social economics. In other words, pour money into "big" government social programs and the economy will prosper. While it is true that good education policies "can be" a building block to a good economy, it is not sure that funding "special interest" programs through increased government spending and taxation will benefit anything. For example, Europe, the former king of social programs, social economics, and high taxation has decided to reverse its positions on taxes and some programs. That's because their tax "base" was leaving. Both companies and wealthy individuals were exiting the tax burdens by going elsewhere. Obama-Nomics could create a similar situation in this country. Windfall taxes on the the oil companies might just force them to leave this country to some less tax burdened locations like the Bahamas. What then? Mr. Obama! Then we could be real socialists and seize all the remaining oil company assets in this country? How about nationalizing all the oil? Then, we could add all the "efficiencies" of the federal government to the oil industry!

Now, I maybe completely wrong but my guess is that if Obama gets to be the Prez and we have a Congress that is completely controlled by a very left-leaning bunch of Democrats, we could be in serious trouble. High taxation at a time of a weak economy is just the opposite of what should be done but expect the Democrats to press forward. Big social programs like nationalized health care will be a "shock" to the economy and without tort reform will only feed the demand side of health care problem and cause rates to rise at even a faster rate than they have done in the past. Carbon taxes to save the planet from global warming will just cause higher and higher energy prices. The so-called monies that to be spent for "green collar" jobs will result in less jobs than expected; typical government overspending and lack of control; boondoggling and corruption; and won't do a damn thing to solve the world-wide energy crises. Tax incentives (and "not" taxation or political patronage and "not" special interest payback to the labor unions) should be used to solve this problem.

My prediction is that the poor are going to suffer immensely in the world according to Obama. They always do in "misplaced" socialist societies and in a world that is driven by Obama-Nomics.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Real Effect of Raising BusinessTaxes

Simplistically, most people think that raising taxes on businesses or corporations is a lot like themselves paying higher rate of taxes. They think that a business or a corporation simply gets hit with a "single" higher rate and that's it. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

When our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. raise taxes on corporations and on small and private businesses, a whole series of tax increases take affect; and, all those compounded taxes increase greatly influence the price of the final product. Take, for example, a hamburger being sold by Wendy's or McDonald's or whoever. When taxes are raised, the franchise owner of each Wendy's or McDonald's is taxed at a higher rate. The franchisee, the main corporate name-holder like McDonald's, is also taxed at a higher rate for all the food and supplies that it provides to each of its franchise owners; like the 16 oz. cups with the Wendy's trademark name on it or those unique square meat patties. Before those products ever reach McDonald's or Wendy's for their distribution to the franchise owners, the supplier of those products and each of their suppliers will also be hit for higher taxes. In the case of the meat that is used in a hamburger, the rancher will pay higher taxes and will have to have to charge more for his beef or go under. The supplier of the feed that rancher uses for his cattle will pay higher taxes and he will have to raise his prices. The slaughter facility will pay higher taxes and that will force his prices higher. The truck that delivers the meat from the slaughterhouse to a meat processor will pay higher taxes and will have to raise prices. That meat processor will pay higher taxes and raise prices; and, so on; and, so on, and, so on.

Whenever taxes are raised, the effect on prices is compounded as a raw material makes its way through the system and value is added -- from vendor to vendor -- on its long trip to become a final and finished product. Even, a simple one percent increase in business and corporate taxes can influence the final price by as much a 5 or 10 percent; based on how many steps (taxable suppliers) there are in getting the finished product to market. That's why corporate taxes are forcing manufacturing to go off-shore. In order to be competitive with foreign companies and their products, our American companies have no other choice but to have the products made cheaply in places like China, India, Mexico, or Indonesia.

Taxes are inflationary. They are the primary reason that jobs are moving overseas. Our products can't compete in a world economy if the price of those products keeps forcing people to buy from other countries. At a time when inflation from high oil prices is already affecting fuel costs, plastics, paints, fertilizers and, especially, food, do we really want to raise the tax rates on small and large business so that the prices for American-made goods are even less competitive? Would someone explain that to Barack Obama and the rest of the Democrats!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Looking for Lower Prices in All the Wrong Places

As sure as the sun rises and sets each day, there will be a Democrat who will blame the high prices of gasoline on price gouging. The latest incarnation of the it's-not-our-fault and it-must-be-the-oil-companies-fault Democrat is Representative John Hall of the 19th District in New York (See Full Story). (That's him -- pictured -- with his little charts and graphs in his feeble attempt to make his case) His typically short-term view is that the price of gasoline rises much faster than the price of oil; a claim that has been repeated, almost semi-annually for years, by many a Democrat; whenever the price of gasoline goes higher.

Now, I don't know what charts or what data Mr. Hall is using but, here's the real story:
Gasoline prices have not risen as fast as oil prices in this country and the world. As the numerous and time-wasting Congressional hearings have "always" proven, price gouging is not widespread in this country.

At the end of May 2006 (at the beginning of the peak driving season), gasoline prices were at approximately $3.00 a gallon (See a 17-year gasoline price chart). At the same time, oil prices were at about $70 a barrel on the New York trading exchange (the NYMEX) (See May 2006 to May 2008 NYMEX Crude OIL Price Chart). Since then, the price of gasoline has gone up to about $3.90 at the end of May 2008; a price rise in 2 years of about 30%. During the same period, oil has risen 190% from $70 a barrel at the end of May of 2006 to last week's $135. If gasoline was truly following the price of oil (or exceeding it because of gouging), then gasoline prices should be up at least 1.9 times (or 190 percent) higher since May of 2006. So, in theory, gasoline prices, if they followed oil, should be about $5.70; instead of the $3.90 that we saw at the end of May.

While it may not seem like it, gasoline is a bargain based on the current price of oil. And, as you can see, gasoline has "not" risen as fast as the price of oil. The reasons for this are complex and cannot be simply derived from short-term charts or data (that's why I used a two-year span of time). For one thing, the current price of oil, the one that everyone hears in the news, is for any new, out-of-the-ground contracts that are written as of today. It will take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to actually deliver any gasoline from those new oil contracts. So, in effect, the gasoline that you are buying today was derived from oil that was purchased at a much lower price than today's quote for oil. Further, the "big" oil companies have storage capabilities which allow them to buy oil at low prices, when necessary, and store it for later processing. This saves you and I money over the long run. Additionally, refined gasoline is also stored. The refineries do this because the same refinery has to produce different grades and different formulations of fuel to meet our nation's multiple requirements. There isn't enough refinery capacity in this country so that we could have the luxury of parallel production of jet fuels, home heating oil, diesel, and the various grades of gasoline. Often, the same refinery will be "retrofitted" to produce a run of diesel fuel. Then, that same refinery will shut down and retrofitted to produce a run of 85 octane gasoline; and, so on. During these times, various types of previously produce fuels are stored to maintain an uninterrupted supply. All those stored forms of fuels were produced from oil that was bought at a variety of prices. Lastly, not all oil is equal in quality. There are different type of crude (heavy crude, light sweet, etc.) with different levels of contaminants like sulfur that be refined differently. This also forces the storage of fuels as each refinery adjusts to longer or shorter refining times in compensation for the type of oil that they are refining.

Lastly, unlike government, businesses compete for our business. Oil companies work efficiently to keep prices low. Whether its Exxon-Mobil, Shell Oil, or Citigo, they all want our business and it is not their intent to raise prices through gouging to maintain the status quo. There are just too many small and independent companies like Sinclair that will undercut the big guys to gain more customers. Apparently, the Congressman from New York hasn't ever seen or heard of "price wars" between gasoline stations and the fact that, often, one or more gasoline stations can go out of business when such wars are waged.

With oil at prices over $125 a barrel, a gasoline price of near $6/gallon is inevitable when the current stored oil and gasoline supplies are all used up. Like clock work, as the price of gasoline goes up, you can expect some future Democrat to reopen the issue of price gouging in the future. It's their only way of pass the blame to the oil companies for "their" consistent blocking of any new oil supplies in this country.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

College is a "Birthright"?

In the "declaration" that he is the Democrat's nominee for President (See Full Text and Video of his Speech), Barack Obama made this comment within the context of his speech: " this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the few, but a birthright of every American."

A birthright? Talk about a totally misplaced comment and a false sense of the education problems in this country!

If you listen to Barack Obama, the only thing he thinks that stands between a student's ability to graduate from college is the lack of any college tuition assistance. Like every Democrat, Mr. Obama seems to think that its always all about money. However, somebody should tell Mr. Obama that the problem lies in the "crap" (and getting crappier) pre-college educational system in this country. In Detroit, only 26% of the high school students actually graduate. In Obama's hometown of Chicago, the school system is only able to produce a 52% graduation rate. When students do go on to college from these and other "city" school systems, the failure rate, in the first two years of college, is extremely high. That's because those who graduate from those school systems don't have the skills needed to survive in a college environment. They haven't got the reading skills; the research and study skills; and, they don't have the discipline to meet the demands of a college curriculum. What's worse, if they are receiving some kind of tuition assistance, it is being wasted. Further, the college "slot" that they are taking is being wasted and being taken away from some student who might have better skills.

The focus for education in this country is to take a seriously hard look at our city schools systems. I guarantee you that even if you doubled the pay for every teacher in America, you would get the same graduation rates that we have today. It isn't all pay. Just paying a poor performing teacher or teachers isn't going to solve the problem. We need a system of measuring a teacher's performance and paying them accordingly. Those who are poor performing, should be eliminated. Students will need math and science skills to compete in a global economy. In order to attract educators who are versed in those disciplines, we need give them higher pay scales than the average "Bachelor of Arts" school teacher. But, all this goes against the grain of a unionized system of education in this country.

To the teacher's union, no one teacher is better or more important than another. Everyone is equal. The pay for one should be the same as the pay for another. The quality of teaching is of no concern. There are no better or worse teachers among the group. It also doesn't matter if one teacher has a Bachelor of Arts in "literature" (like so many) and another has a Bachelor of Science degree (which is sorely needed). And, try to "fire" any poor performing teacher!

Beyond the education system and our teacher's, there are serious and deep social issues. Year's ago, our society wouldn't accept a 90% graduation rate. The parents would be in an uproar. Today, we accept 1/2 or less of the class being graduated. This malaise is systemic to our entire society. We have become lazy. We, too often, are spoiled into believing that hard work is for the fools. We aren't hungry. But, the rest of the world is just the opposite. Like in sports....when an athlete has the "hunger", he or she will generally win.

Friday, June 6, 2008

What's In "A" Number?

This morning's employment report left a lot of people scratching their heads. The percentage of those who are without jobs jumped 1/2 percentage point from 5.0 percent, in April, to 5.5 percent, for last month. This jump was the greatest such jump in 33 years. Unemployment is now at a four-year high (See Full Story).

The perplexing fact is that new building (for construction jobs), retail sales, domestic output and other economic statistics were on a slight rise and gave no indication of such a jump in unemployment. Even the weekly jobless claim numbers were steady and well under 400,000 for those claiming initial (new) jobless benefits; which is contrary to this sudden jump of 861,000 freshly unemployed workers in this morning's report. It is as if 861,000 newly unemployed people suddenly appeared, without filing unemployment claims, and went directly to looking for jobs in the month of May!

I personally think this number is a single month's aberration. Either that or the Labor Department has been asleep at the wheel over the last 3 month's with unemployment moving from 5.1 percent in February to 5.0 percent and, then, this sudden jump to 5.5 percent in May. There is just too much data that, when put all together, paints an entirely different picture about the economy. In fact, the picture we have gotten, up until now, is one of a slowed economy that was somewhat rebounding and with no dip into recession territory. If this morning number isn't somehow a skewed number, then it is giving us the look and the feel of something different; a true recession.

Certainly, one should never base an opinion on one single fact. Probably, a linear regressed number of this rise in unemployment (over the last 6 months) would give us an unemployment percentage of about 5.1 to 5.2 percent and not the 5.5 percent (as a raw number). However, this number can't be ignored. One can only wait until next month to see if there is any real "truth" in what it is saying. It wouldn't be the first time, though, that a Federal agency got it all wrong. Now, would it?

Graphic by Cranky George

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Double Talk

One thing about Barack Obama is that he says what "has to" to get elected. This is just old style politics with a national media who refuses to call him on it.

On a number of occasions, he has backtracked or flipped on issues. His claim that he wouldn't disown or disavow Reverend Wright anymore than he would have disowned his own grandmother was his most noteworthy flip. In another flip and within one day's span, he claimed he wasn't in the Church when radical statements were made and, then, announced that he was. One of his surrogates told the Canadians not to worry about NAFTA while he, Obama, was campaigning in Michigan and saying that he would either strongly renegotiate it or abandon it. He is on record as saying he would yank troops out of Iraq within 90 days. Yet, Samantha Power (Obama's former foreign policy adviser) told a foriegn press that he (Obama) plans to pull troops over a period of 16 months. He also backtracked on his claim of preconditions on talking to leaders like Ahmadinejad in Iran. On the domestic issue of teacher's pay, he "had" been saying he was for "merit pay" for well performing teachers. Now, he has abandoned that idea and is back to the traditional "Democratic" concept of raising pay across the board for teachers.

I could go on all day long with his either complete flip-flops or his not-so-subtle changes on issues. And they just don't stop. Yesterday was another example.

On 5/27 in this blog (See blog entry), I wrote an entry that provided a video where Obama, himself, laid out his plans to drastically "cut" our military spending. As part of that video, you can clearly hear him say "I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems". Yet, when he met with AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee), yesterday (See Text of Full Speech), he said the following:

"Our alliance is based on shared interests and shared values. Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security.

That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage. I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat - from Gaza to Tehran. Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success, and must be deepened. As President, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade - investments to Israel's security that will not be tied to any other nation. First, we must approve the foreign aid request for 2009. Going forward, we can enhance our cooperation on missile defense. We should export military equipment to our ally Israel under the same guidelines as NATO. And I will always stand up for Israel's right to defend itself in the United Nations and around the world."

So, this begs the question: How can Obama "enhance" a missile defense system that he claims is "unproven" and which he plans to seriously eliminate or minimize funding for? This kind of thing reminds me of the comments he has made about talking to Iran. On one hand, he say he will "tough talk" Iran about their supplying of weapons and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) that are being used to kill our soldiers in Iraq. On the other hand, he plans to high-tail-it out of Iraq. Isn't talking to Iran about Iraq and the killing of our soldiers a mute point if we aren't going to be there?

One thing "I know" is that "I don't know" where Barack Obama stands on anything. I can't believe this guy because I think he is "only" saying what each particular audience is expecting to hear. He says one thing while his team has a completely different concept of what will actually happen. That was true with his "econ" person, Austan Goolsbee, on NAFTA and with Samantha Power on his plans to pull out of Iraq. And, what he says on day cam be in direct contradiction to what he has said in the past; all depending on the audience, du jour, or how much heat he has gotten on some past statements. What's worse, .the national press is so "in love" with Obama and wants him to win, that they are have decided to "give him a pass" on all these flip-flops and rejiggering of his positions.

When it comes to policy, Obama's motto of "Change" is an absolute truth!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Four More Years of Bush?

It appears that the Obama Campaign is trying to convince the voters that John McCain, if elected, would be four more years of the Bush policies. If you listen to Obama, closely, he really only applies that "label" when he talks about Iraq and tax cuts. That's because, on the rest of the issues, McCain is, and always has been, his own man; often, to the frustration of many Republicans.

In many ways, the current "surge" in Iraq isn't a Bush policy, it is actually a McCain policy that Bush and Rumsfeld ignored for the first four years of the war. Since the very start of the war, McCain has been a critic of the Bush Administration. He always felt that the "highly mobile" and small-sized combat force that went into Iraq was too small to be effective. While Rumsfeld proved that this strategy worked well in initially defeating Saddam's forces (as it did in Afghanistan), the long-term, post-war peace needed many more forces to effectuate the stability in the country. McCain was right and the current four-year lows in both military and civilian deaths in Iraq have proved this.

In terms of tax cuts, Barack Obama wants to have it -- not just two ways--- but three ways. On one hand, he has used McCain''s initial vote against the Bush Tax cuts as a rational that tax cuts should not have been done. On the other hand, he calls McCain's commitment to stay-the-course on tax cuts a flip-flop of his original position. Now, he wants to believe that in keeping the tax cuts in effect is 4 more years of the "failed" Bush policies. The fact is that McCain did "not" vote for the Bush tax cuts. He did so because those cuts did not have any offsetting spending reductions. This contrary position was correct and the fact that the Republican-lead Congress spent too much money while simply cutting taxes is probably the reason the the Republicans lost both Houses of Congress in 2006. McCain, unlike Bush, is fiscal disciplinarian!

Most assuredly, McCain isn't working from the Bush play book with his support of the Warner-Lieberman global warming bill that is currently in the Senate. Bush has already stated that he will veto it. McCain also got thumbs down from Bush when he tried to pass the original McCain-Lieberman Bill on Global Warming in 2004. McCain wasn't in lock-step with Bush on campaign finance reform (the McCain-Feingold Bill). While that bill was done before Bush got into office, Bush, like most Republicans, has spoken out against it. Nor was McCain looked on favorably by Bush over the McCain-Kennedy Bill on immigration. McCain and Bush are at odds over interrogation techniques with McCain completely against things like "water boarding". And, the list goes on.

I just think that the "four more years of Bush" is designed to play well with Democrats but may fall well short with independents and moderates that know McCain's history of being the maverick; often, more independent than Republican. It is typical of the "truth stretching" that I have seen all along from Barack Obama. His claim that McCain is OK with waging war in 100 years in Iraq is a perfect example of the blatant truth stretching that Barack Obama, the slick orator but typical politician, has pulled against McCain and Hilary Clinton. If there is one truth, it is that Barack Obama will be a change. It will be a change to the old days of tax-and-spend, big-government that the Democrats originally lost Congress over. That's the "change" you can "really" believe in!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Economics at Work

While our lawmakers in Washington keep beating each other over their heads and, in reality, are doing nothing to solve the high price of oil, market dynamics and economics are starting to take care of the problem on its own. This morning, General Motors announced that it is stopping production on some trucks and SUVs (See Full Story). This is a direct result of the consumer moving "away" to high fuel mileage cars to combat gasoline prices. If you are old enough to remember, it was the OPEC oil embargo during the Carter Administration that opened the floodgates for fuel efficient Japanese cars; leaving American automakers in the dust. Ford and Chrysler have already announced similar intentions.

The high gasoline prices are forcing consumers in this country (and the world) to make decisions that will save them money at the gasoline pumps. They may car pool. The may cut back on less necessary trips. But, for sure, they will probably start buying and driving more fuel efficient cars. From a year ago, we are using 5.5% less gasoline than we did a year ago (See Full Story). Some companies are looking a 4-day workweeks for their employees to reduce gasoline consumption. Other are experimenting at telecommuting (employees working out of their homes) as means to fight the pump prices.

Sadly, conservation won't be enough. The problem is that consumption continues tor rise faster than either conservation or new supplies. The problem lies in China, India, and Indonesia. People in those formerly third-world countries are becoming more affluent. They are literally shedding their bicycles for automobiles. The economic boom in their countries means they now have a developing economy with factories and offices. People are driving to places of work as they move from their "home-based" craft and piecemeal economies to an economy that is based on manufacturing. It will take 20 people (at the least) in this country, each saving 5% in fuel usage, to offset one person in a third-world country who now owns a car and has joined the world in driving to work everyday. That's the reality we are dealing with.

Another reality: China, India, and Indonesia represent populations that a over 9 times greater than the population in this country. Based on pure numbers, we would have to be 9 times more efficient in "saving" fuel than those countries are in "using" fuel in order for us, alone, to maintain today's levels of world energy (oil) consumption. In other words, we would have to save 45% in our fuel consumption in order to "offset" a mere 5 percent growth in fuel usage in those three countries. By 2030, the world's demand for energy is projected to be 50 percent higher than it is now. If you do the math, it means we would have to be 450 percent more fuel efficient than we are now in order to offset the world oil usage that is expected by 2030. That means we would have to have "zero" oil usage by 2030. Do you really think that will happen.

As a country, we need two parallel programs. We new exploration by allowing drilling in those "off-limits" areas of our country. At same time, we need a "crash" program to develop alternative fuels that will get us off hydro-carbon fuels by 2030. With oil prices already higher and absolutely going higher, it a matter of economic survival. And, we don't need politics the get in the way of meeting that goal; otherwise, we could be world in serious hurt by 2030.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Birds of a Feather

OK, Obama quit his church after those "toxic" statements by Father Pfleger a week ago last Sunday. In doing so, he and his team tried to "minimize" his association with Pfleger. But, Pfleger, like Reverend Wright, is a 20 year relationship. Like Wright, Pfleger is an activist radical; expecially in terms of the Catholic Church. Chicago police have actually had to arrest him in the past for his activism.

Obama and his campaign handlers have downplayed "all" his radical associations as either casual or, somehow, being taken out of context. Most recently, he tried to marginalize his relationship with the Palestinian activist, Rashid Khalidi, who taught at the University of Chicago and whom Obama had many dinners and thought-provoking discussions with. In trying to protect the Jewish vote, Obama has seriously minimized his association with this guy by characterizing it as an "acquaintance" (See Full Story).

Obama's real problem lies in the fact that some people are "now" starting to see a pattern with this guy. His friends, if appropriately taken in total, paint a very questionable picture of him. A very radical pattern of association. There isn't just one "radical" in this guy's current relationships and his background, there are many. From Louis Farrakham, to Reverand Wright, to Tony Rezko, to Father Pfleger, to Rashid Khalidi, the radicals just keep piling up. You put that together with the fact that he is more inclined to "talk" to the Presidents of Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela rather than spend any time with the our allies like Pakistan or our military leaders, and, I believe, we may all have something to worry about.

My wife once said: "Wouldn't it be something if Obama was actually the ultimate terrorist act?" She was half-way kidding about that but, now, I don't know!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Where's All The Headlines?

The month of May saw the "lowest" military deaths in Iraq since the war began at only 19 total U.S. deaths (See chart: "Military Deaths By Year/Month"). So, where's the fanfare? Where's the AP headlines? Did anyone see the New York Times cover it on page one?

As far as the liberal media is concerned, it was a non-event. It is something that "they" would prefer that you didn't know. After all, they wouldn't want you to know of any marked improvements in Iraq. That would reflect unfavorably on the Democrats and who might not be able to gain complete control of our country in the next election. The news media is solidly in the tank behind Barack Obama, Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the rest of the "tail between their legs" Democrats who have been touting "the war is lost" for as long as I can remember. Saying the "Surge" worked in Iraq would be like supporting John McCain; and, as we all know, they (The New York Times (NYT), and et al.) wouldn't want to do that. After all, the "Times" motto of "All The News That is Fit To Print" actually means: When the "News" is a "Fit" with their political agenda it will be printed!

Note: Earlier this week, the media headlines and front page stories were filled will the "negative" story about the fact that military suicides are up.

Father Pfleger: A Symptom of the Fall of Catholicism

I am a Catholic. However, increasingly, the Catholic church has become the church of "do what I say" and NOT "what I do." I think this fact, alone, is the reason that the Church membership is in decline.

I have watched as selected Catholics, usually the wealthy and the politically connected, get their "blessing" from the "Church" for divorcing and remarrying when the average "Joe-Catholic" would get excommunicated for doing the same. I see Catholic politicians get a pass when they publicly vote for abortion laws that are in a direct contradiction with the precepts of the Catholic Church and the 10 Commandments. And, of course, there is the ever-haunting issue of priests and pedophilia and the efforts of the Church leadership in this country to cover it up and move priests around so that they can recommit the same crime, over-and-over, again.

This week "saw" another public display of the "not what I do" form of Catholicism. The display was from a Catholic activist priest in the City of Chicago by the name of Michael Pfleger. Speaking by invitation at Obama/Wright's "Church" (?) in Chicago, Pfleger proved, once again, that the Catholic Church lacks the moral compass that it expects you or I to follow. In a hate-filled and racist speech by this Priest, Hillary Clinton was excoriated and mocked by this so-called "shepherd" of the Catholic Church (See video clip). There was no religious teaching or redeeming "anything" in his "secularist" stand-up routine. Four days after the fact and "only after" the video was aired nationally, "Father" (?) Pfleger decided to apologize for his apparent non-spontaneous and absolutely "intentional" performance; a performance that was well received, applauded, and loudly cheered on by the membership of this "racist" church and the church of our wannabe President, Barack Obama. Then, to top it off, the timid leader of the Catholic Church in Chicago, Cardinal George, came out with another "toothless" statement about Pfleger's actions (See story). I say "toothless" because Pfleger has embarrassed the Catholic Church for years and Cardinal George (and his predecessor) have done nothing. It's typical.

All too often the Catholic Church places too much emphasis on "confession" and "absolution" as a means of getting forgiveness for "repeated" offenses. I think this I-am-sorry "belief system" was at the heart of the Priest/pedophilia scandal and the reason that these crimes against humanity were covered up and why the priests were moved around and hardly ever defrocked. It is a mindset that seems to ignore the "prime directive" of "trying" to be a good Christian at all times. I believe God understands that we will have "weak" moments and is willing to forgive. However, I don't think He is as forgiving to those that "hollowly" (not hallowed-ly) enter a Catholic Church, confess their same sins to a priest in a confessional, and quickly say a few prayers in repentance. But, that is what the world "sees" or "thinks" (or worse) when a figure so publicly, like Pfleger, is allowed to repeat his behavior without any formal consequence from the leadership of the Church.

Throughout Christ's life, he taught through "example" and by His convincing words. There was no formal place that He called a Church. He did not go door-to-door to "sell" his beliefs. The people "came" to Him because they saw the goodness in the "way" of His life and in His preachings of love for God and for all our fellow humans. In contrast, the Catholic Church is losing its followers. They are not coming to hear the message because the message has become "flawed." The Church's actions have flawed it. Maybe, the Catholic Church should get back to the "examples" of Christ as a "means" of stopping its apparent decline in this country and throughout the world.