Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Regardless of outcome, Elena Kagan not likely to change balance of Supreme Court.

Despite serious misgivings about the possibility of judicial activism on the part of Elena Kagan should she be confirmed to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, it is likely that the outcome of future Supreme Court cases would not be much affected.

It is not surprising that President Obama would elect someone with a liberal activist mentality to the Supreme Court.  Obama and his Democrat congress are perhaps the most activist legislative body since Lyndon Johnson's Presidency in the late 1960's, and look to surpass Johnson's legacy if Obama's agenda continues to roll through the legislature regardless of public sentiment, which has been against Obama for quite a while.

Justice Stevens has become increasingly liberal over the years.  As a dubious choice by then President Gerald Ford in 1975, Stevens has often been on the wrong side of Constitutional issues, up to and including one of the last acts of the current court.  Justice Stevens wrote the lengthy and seriously flawed dissent to the recent Supreme Court decision that 2nd Amendment Constitutional rights are for everyone in the nation, and cannot be restricted by regional governments.  Stevens insists that such rights are to be held collectively, and are not for the individual, as other Constitutional rights are commonly interpreted.

Elena Kagan, based upon her history of siding with liberal causes, up to an including ignoring established Federal law, would likely have agreed with Stevens.  Thus, as a replacement for Stevens, her opinion would have still been in the minority, and the 5-4 outcome would not have changed.

When Elena Kagan was the Dean of Harvard Law School, she deliberately ignored the Solomon Amendment, which made it illegal to keep military recruiters off of college campuses.  Her personal stance against President Bill Clinton's "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy concerning gays in the military, even though she worked for the Clinton White House when the policy was enacted, came before her adherence to the law.  She supported a challenge to the Solomon Amendment, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against her opinion. It took the threat of the withholding of Federal funding to Harvard Law School to force Kagan into compliance.

At the same time, there is some question as to what involvement Elena Kagan, as Dean of Harvard Law, has had in the withholding of Barack Obama's Harvard Law transcripts.  For some reason, Obama has continued to keep the world in the dark concerning his real achievements at Harvard Law. (His achievements at Columbia are a mystery as well, as his transcripts from that university are also sealed.)  Her rise to prominence within the Obama Administration, culminating with her nomination to the Supreme Court, has been the subject of much conversation.

Kagan has also argued before the Supreme Court that the distribution of political pamphlets should be regulated by the Government.  Her opinion would guarantee that government would have a hand in maintaining it's own authority, as any dissent could be quashed by government itself.  Such an opinion is a serious violation of the First Amendment Constitutional right of free speech.

Just as when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated her blind allegiance to the Obama agenda, when on the eve of the passage of ObamaCare, she stated "you must pass the bill to see what is in it", Kagan's confirmation is likely a forgone conclusion.  Considering the current political climate in Washington D.C., with the Democrat majority probably voting "en masse" for the President's pick despite her questionable legal judgment, the confirmation hearings currently going on are likely to amount to much political grandstanding, with no real effect on the actual decision making process.  

Monday, June 28, 2010

Supreme Court upholds the U.S. Constitution: The right to keep and bear arms is for every citizen.

The United States Supreme Court has once again had to tackle and affirm a Constitutional right that has existed for 219 years:   A ruling affirming the individual right to keep and bear firearms has just been handed down by the highest court of the land.

Why the Supreme Court has to constantly reconsider what has been common law in the United States for hundreds of years is beyond the understanding of a simple fellow like me.

There can be no plainer words than "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."  The Second Amendment is written in plain English, doesn't use any "5 Dollar Words", and is easy to read and understand.

U.S. citizens are guaranteed the right to own guns, and use them when legally justified.  Period.  End of story.

The real question is why cities like Chicago, Illinois, and ironically, Washington, D.C. have been allowed to violate the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens for, in some cases, decades.  Chicago's gun ban has been in effect since 1982.  The people of one of the worlds largest cities, right here in the United States, have had their rights violated by their own local government for over a quarter century!  Today's ruling effectively strikes down the Chicago gun ban, and thwarts any effort by state and local governments to enact similar restrictive and un-American legislation.

It is heartening to see the U.S. Supreme Court continue to set precedent by upholding the United States Constitution, and I applaud their decision.  Now, if we can only get them to overturn governmental power grabs like arbitrary zoning laws, government bailouts and takeovers, ObamaCare, and other equally unconstitutional government encroachments upon private life, we can get back on the path to the freedom and prosperity our founders intended.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

After the "primary bounce", TEA Party Candidate Sharron Angle still leads Reid.

While a lot of people wished to "spin" the fact that Sharron Angle opened the general election season well ahead of Senate Majority leader Harry Reid as a post-primary "bounce", in reality, it appears her lead is quite firm.  The most recent Rasmussen poll gives her a 7 point lead over the longtime Nevada politician.

Harry Reid has been troubled politically ever since his bitter and divisive comments concerning then President George W. Bush, calling him a "liar" among other things.  He compounded his troubles when he stated that the Iraq war "is lost", and that Barack Obama was well suited to run for President because he was a "light skinned" and had no "negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Reid long ago became enamored with the aura of Washington, D.C. politics and has lost touch with the citizens of Nevada.  As someone who actually voted for Reid when I lived in Nevada 20 years ago, I've seen his image go from one of sensible conservative values, to one of hard-line leftist rancor.

While Reid has moved left, his constituency has remained firmly planted in the middle.  Nevada, once a hard line conservative/libertarian state full of miners, ranchers, and the free-wheeling gambling industry, has become saturated with displaced Californians fleeing high real estate prices, exploding crime rates, and government over-regulation.

With Nevada's unemployment rate currently the highest in the nation at 14%, and Reid's only answer to the situation appearing to be his full support for Obama's economic policies, which have done absolutely nothing to shore up skyrocketing joblessness, it would appear that Reid is destined to join his fellow unemployed come November, albeit with a much better severance package.  President Obama's repeated use of derogatory comments to describe Las Vegas, and Reid's lackluster response, haven't helped Reid's image back home either.

A recent CBS news article has Reid's favorable rating at a dismal 8%, which is lower than that of Nancy Pelosi, and his unfavorable rating at 23%.

On the other hand, Sharron Angle, as the TEA Party's candidate, was once considered to be the weakest candidate to face Reid.  However, her strength as a candidate has surprised many.  Despite attempts to paint Angle as an extremist, she's been able to portray herself as someone with common-sense limited government ideals that play well with rural Nevadans, and her pro-business stance encourages Las Vegans who want to work, but cannot find jobs in today's stifling climate of job-killing government regulation.

Harry Reid has come to represent the big government status-quo in Washington, and the failed policies of the past, and Sharron Angle represents a positive future with people who increasingly see the growth of government power as the one threat most responsible for killing the "American Dream".

As a side note, Rory Reid, who is running for Nevada Governor, and happens to be Harry Reid's son, has dropped the use of his last name from his official campaign website.  This hasn't seemed to shore up his campaign much, as the most recent Rasmussen poll has Brian Sandoval ahead of Rory Reid by 22 points in the Nevada Governor's race.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Did General McChrystal figuratively "fall on a grenade" in order to save the men and women under his command?

Today, while driving back from Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was listening to Jim Villanucci on the radio. Villanucci is a popular radio talk show host.  In listening, I was presented with an interesting scenario concerning this weeks events surrounding General Stanley McChrystal and the Rolling Stone article that cost McChrystal his military leadership job in Afghanistan.

What if General McChrystal had run into a "brick wall" with the Obama Administration?  Unable to change Obama's mind on the course of the war, which hasn't been going well, what if McChrystal purposely put forth the article, knowing that he would be fired, and that General Petraeus would be put in charge?  Obama would be then forced to follow Petraeus' advice, lest Obama look like he is interfering too much in military activity.  It is being reported that one of General Petraeus' first acts as commander in Afghanistan is going to be the rescinding of the Obama administration's very restrictive "rules of engagement", which currently have our fighting men and women walking on eggshells, unable to fight back if fired upon unless expressly ordered to. Many are reporting that those current rules have led to the deaths of many American soldiers in Afghanistan.

All indications are that General McChrystal is nobody's fool.  He's a smart, efficient, badass soldier who knows exactly what he is doing.  He got the position in Afghanistan for a reason, and that reason is that he was best qualified for the job.

However, in describing his meetings with President Barack Obama, in which he described the President as "uncomfortable and intimidated" by top military leaders, it would appear that General McChrystal was not impressed by Obama.  There were many other sources of friction between McChrystal and top Obama Administration officials, particularly Vice-President Joe Biden, who had his own plan for the Afghan war, one which did not garner General McChrystal's good will.

It is my belief that war should be left to the military.  President Obama and Vice-President Biden are particularly inexperienced in the handling of the military situation in Afghanistan.  The Obama Administration, thinking they know best, did not give General McChrystal neither the manpower, nor the battle plans, requested by the General.

Perhaps McChrystal, rather than allowing more soldiers to die under Obama's rules of engagement that McChrystal himself could not change, felt it would be best to "fall on his sword" in order to create a situation where another General could take charge under his own terms, which would be better for the fighting men and women on the ground.

Just a crazy thought.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blast from the past: The Carter "Malaise Speech".

I don't remember seeing this speech on television on July 15th 1979.  I was just two months into my 15th year when then President Jimmy Carter went before the American public nearly 31 years ago.  Being 15, I was likely too busy with the important matters of being 15 to pay much attention to what Carter had to say that particular night.

I do, however, vividly remember the feeling of July 15th, 1979.  In my house there had likely been a split vote in 1976, as my parents had somewhat differing political views.  By the middle of 1979, however, there was definitely a concerted feeling in our household that the nation was simply on the wrong track, and that our country was lacking the kind of leadership we desperately needed at the time.  We were still about 4 months away from the Iran Hostage Crisis, in which 52 U.S. Embassy staff in Tehran would be held hostage by Islamic militants for 444 days, but Iran was already a looming crisis in the news almost daily, as a once pro-U.S. government had already been toppled by Muslim extremists in January of 1979, after President Carter had refused to support the pro-U.S. Shah of Iran through the turmoil of the time.  Unemployment in the U.S. was inching upward of 7%, but the fiscal crisis' of the day were inflation, which stood at a whopping 11.3%, and interest rates, which hovered around 20%. The overall economic situation resulted in unprecedented "stagflation", a term coined by economists which described the combination of climbing prices and stagnant economic growth.

Probably the most visible sign that "all was not well" in the United States, were the skyrocketing gasoline prices and long gas lines caused by supposed "shortages" that were more the cause of distribution problems than any real oil shortage.  In the United States, we were already importing a good percentage of our petroleum from overseas sources, and in an effort to hold the U.S. hostage financially, the OPEC nations decided to "flex their muscle" in an attempt to boost oil prices, thus increasing their profits.

While many of the negative forces that shaped the Carter Presidency were out of his control, as the economic groundwork had been laid by previous congressional meddling in the free-market system, the response to those forces could be laid directly at his feet.  Carter's weak and waffling foreign policy, which was all his, allowed nations, which if not friends of the U.S., were at least respectful of U.S. power, to feel the urge to confront America in a variety of ways, both directly and economically.  Carter's attempt at "detente" with the Soviet Union, which showed hard-line leaders in Moscow that the U.S. was weakening it's firm stance against Communism, led to the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet forces in 1979.

Carter also often governed against the will of the people. Moves such as the Panama Canal giveaway, proposed fuel rationing, increased taxes, and his previously mentioned refusal to support the Shah of Iran, were unpopular with the American citizenry.  Overall, Carter's domestic and foreign policy blunders led to an impression among U.S. citizens, and the world, that America was a nation in decline.

Carter created both the Department of Energy, and the Department of Education, which were seen by many as great expansions of Federal power over areas where the Feds had no business.  What's more, he did it during a time when the nation's economy was floundering, and the public saw expansion of government, and increased government spending, as contrary to prudent fiscal policy.

All of this led to a dismally low 28% approval rating for President Carter one month before he made what he called the "Crisis of Confidence" speech, but which came to be known as the "Carter Malaise Speech".  Let's head back to July, 1979:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Oil Spill Address: Barack Obama again runs for.....President.

If the American People wanted answers.  They didn't get any.  If the American People expected solutions.  Sorry, no such luck.  If the American People hoped to hear how the Obama Administration, in partnership with British Petroleum, was going to solve the oil spill crisis in the gulf, and clean up the mess.  Nothing doing.

What the American People got was another campaign speech.

President Obama gave an 18 minute address to the nation last night, and it was merely a re-iteration of some of the the same rhetoric that we heard from candidate Obama when he was running for the office of leader of the free world.  The only difference was that back then, it was fresh and new.  Last night, it sounded old and re-hashed.

What we did learn is that the arrogance and thuggery that is becoming synonymous with this administration was fully present, in that President Obama declared that he was going to "make" BP put money into a slush fund administered by a third party, money which is to be used to clean up the oil and compensate those who are losing their livelihoods due to the spill.  Sounds like tough talk from a man who is working hard in the interest of the people of the gulf region.  The only problem is:  President Obama simply doesn't have the power, under the Constitution, to do it.

The reality is, BP is legally bound to pay only the amount of damages up to the cap set by the U.S. Congress, which is currently $75 million. This does not mean that BP won't pay more, as anyone affected by the spill, including an entire state, can file a civil lawsuit which can be legally decided outside the scope of the Federal legal liability cap set by congress.  And BP itself has stated that they intend to do as much as possible to clean up the mess they've created, which includes spending well more than the $75 million cap.

We also learned, in President Obama's address, that he intends to use the oil spill situation as a campaign issue to press for all sorts of new regulation, new and increased taxes upon the American people, and subsidy for ethereal alternative forms of energy, none of which is a solution for the problem at hand. In other words, President Obama's insatiable drive to grow government is wholly intact.  And we leaned, through the absence of specifics, that the spill in the gulf is currently unstoppable, and it appears it will remain so for the foreseeable future.  Apparently the best we can hope for is for a better "mop up" effort in an attempt to soak up the continuous spillage of oil which is currently taking place.  But no details were forthcoming about how either BP, or the Federal Government, intended to improve what has been universally declared a dismal clean-up effort.

Basically, what we were offered last night was nothing more than a commonly vague political speech which gave us no real details or solutions for the problem today, and no real solutions or details for solving anything tomorrow.  It was a speech reminiscent of empty campaign promises, and as such, was utterly forgettable.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Muslim extremists hang 7 year old boy for spying. Anyone still think they are "just like us"?

Taliban militants have executed a 7 year old boy in the the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan, after accusing the boy of spying for the Afghan government.

After all of the documented atrocities committed by Muslim extremists over the decades, how anyone could still believe these barbarians are simply "patriots" or "freedom fighters", who are merely reacting to so-called "U.S. Imperialism", is beyond me.  As if the killing of thousands of innocent people around the world wasn't enough, many in the United States still ignore the simple fact that Muslim extremism is a true "culture of death", which threatens the very survival of the free world.  In short, these people want to either convert you to Islam, or kill you.  And they will not allow anyone to get in their way, and that includes their own children.

From terrorist acts against innocents, to the flogging and honor killings of women and girls who do not submit to Islam's Sharia law, to the stringing up of old people and kids, radical Islam has a message for us:  Submit or die.

Taliban executes 7 year old for "spying".

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Democrats, be careful what you wish for: Angle opens general campaign with 11 point lead over Reid

Less than a month ago, if appeared to most Democrat pundits that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's political survival depended upon if TEA Party candidate Sharron Angle won the Republican nomination.  And the mainstream media pushed the idea that an Angle win would likely mean a Reid win in November.

Today, it would appear that both Democrats and the media have underestimated the power of the TEA Party movement.  I have long contended the TEA Party movement is actually larger than it appears, due to a concerted media effort to under-report TEA party activism.

Rasmussen polling data from June 9 shows Sharron Angle with an 11 point lead over Harry Reid, just one day after Angle handily won the Nevada Republican primary.

Angle had been considered by the Reid campaign to be the weakest candidate to oppose him in November's election, and sources quietly hoped for an Angle win to bolster long-term politician Reid's chances of keeping his Senate seat.

It would appear that the Reid campaign has sorely underestimated the recent increase in public disdain for the Nevada politician, who has been involved in Nevada politics since being elected Nevada's Lieutenant Governor in 1970.

Sharron Angle opens with 11 point lead over Harry Reid.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Whitman, Fiorina, Angle and Martinez: The rise of conservative women

As if to say "We REALLY want Hope and Change this time!" voters have launched the candidacies of an amazing group of conservative women over the last couple of months.  All across the nation, historic battles are shaping up, which promise to make for quite an interesting November, politically speaking.

In New Mexico, Republican Susana Martinez has become the first Hispanic woman to be nominated by a major political party to run for the governorship of any state.  If that weren't enough, New Mexican Diane Denish ran unopposed on the Democrat ticket, guaranteeing that New Mexico will elect their first female governor this year.

In California, Republican Meg Whitman handily won the nomination of her party to run for Governor of California, and will run against, of all people, Democrat Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown, a longtime politician who has held many offices in California, including being Governor himself from 1975 to 1983.  Carly Fiorina beat all challengers by a mile to win the nomination of the Republican party to run for Senator against long time Democrat politician Barbera Boxer, who likely will face the first tough challenge of her political career.

And in somewhat of a surprise, TEA Party candidate Sharron Angle has become the conservative choice to fight Harry Reid's uphill battle to retain his Senate seat in Nevada, a state that has been severely damaged by the economic meltdown, and is seeing little, if any, relief from the failed policies of Democrats in Washington, D.C.  In fact, it was probably failed economic policies, more than anything, that drove Angle to victory.

It is also interesting to note that both Martinez and Fiorina were endorsed by former Alaska Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.  It would appear that despite mainstream media bias, and the left's general derogatory attitude towards Palin, her appeal to actual American voters remains undiminished.

It's been a while since states like California, Nevada, and New Mexico, not to mention states all across American, have had such a clear single issue driving their politics:  Jobs.

At this moment in history, there is no greater indication of the failed policies of  the past than the current high unemployment rate.  Decades of fiscal mismanagement, confiscatory taxation, over-regulation, and an an attitude of political entitlement have led to our current crisis, and it's a crisis that just doesn't seem to be going away, as long as unemployment remains at today's high levels.

The people of the United States are ready for a massive shift in political ideology, and apparently for a massive shift away from the "old boy network" which has run policy for as long as anyone can remember.  If modern politics matters, and some would debate that issue, then there are no more clearer choices than what are being presented in California, Nevada, and New Mexico today.

California was once the "land of opportunity" for millions who traveled there during the dust bowl era.  It seemed at one time the state had limitless potential.  Agriculture, mining, petroleum, technology, and to lesser extents timber and manufacturing, all seemed to hold the promise of economic bounty for generations to come.  California's politicians, however, seemed to have other ideas, and they have turned a once thriving state into a mass of job killing regulations and incentive killing social programs that fundamentally transformed the state form one of the richest in the nation, to one that is the most threatened by massive debt.  Perhaps the people of California have finally figured out that driving jobs away, putting more people on welfare, and taxing the hell out of those left who still have a little money, is not the way to greatness.  Meg Whitman, as former CEO of Ebay, and Carly Fiorina, who once ran Hewlett-Packard, are both real-wold job creators, exactly the opposite of their opponents, who have made their living as politicians for as far back as almost anyone can remember.  There can be no clearer choice between real "new thinking", and the failed policies of the past.

Nevada, which for much of the 1980's and 1990's supported massive growth, with cities such as Las Vegas and Henderson sporting the distinction of being the fastest growing in the nation, has utterly collapsed.  It would seem Nevada is a victim of it's own success, as droves of Californians fleeing increased taxation, joblessness, and inflated property values, moved to Nevada, and then brought their ideologies with them.  Is it any wonder, then, that after a couple of decades of transplanted California voters instilling California's failing policies onto once libertarian Nevada, that Nevada would then suffer similar economic issues?  With unemployment higher than the national average, a state government that has grown entirely out of proportion to the mostly rural state (there are almost three times as many people in the Las Vegas Metro area than in the entire rest of the state, combined) and an inflated housing market that more and more mimicked California's as more Californians moved in, Nevada has some big problems.  Couple that with an industry, gambling, that relies almost entirely upon discretionary income, which has been in short supply lately, and Nevada has problems.  There is nothing like financial crisis to bring people home again..and it would seem with Sharron Angle being chosen to potentially upset long time politico Harry Reid's apple cart, there could actually be "change" in the desert wind.

New Mexico, with it's joblessness and nearly billion-dollar state budget shortfall, is still not in nearly the same dire straits as either Nevada or California, however, there is obvious signals that the state could be teetering on the brink if the direction of state is not changed towards a more fiscally balanced program.  Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat who is "term limited out" and cannot run again, is hoping to hand the reins of state to Diane Denish, who has been Richardson's lieutenant governor for nearly 8 years, has a tough legacy to live down.  Richardson, after all, inherited a state budget surplus, and promptly went to work figuring out how to spend it.  Along came projects like a state-funded train that only travels between Santa Fe (the seat of New Mexico government, imagine that!) and Albuquerque, the largest city in the state, which set the state back a cool billion dollars (and at last report was losing an additional $16,000 a day), and a "SpacePort" that "promised" to launch New Mexico into the forefront of high tech space travel, but which in reality is mostly known for being at the end of a dirt road, and for launching the ashes of Star Trek's "Scotty", James Doohan, towards space, only to have them crash back to earth, where they were lost for some time in the New Mexico desert.  Add to that Bill Richardson's at least 40 percent growth in state government, his support of the Hollywood movie industry with taxpayer dollars, and his "Pit Rule", an unnecessarily strict, not to mention expensive, environmental restriction and fee program which succeeded in driving away the one industry that most benefited New Mexico's economy, natural gas, at the very same time the economy worldwide was imploding.  So much so, that New Mexico was the only natural gas producing state in the nation that did not see an increase in production in 2009..

It's no wonder Bill Richardson is spending so much time out of state, on "business travel".  He's trying to stay out of Diane Denish's way so she can attempt to distance herself from Richardson's irresponsible and failed policies, trying to pretend she was nowhere in sight when Richardson was squandering the state's money for the last eight years, but that somehow, all of a sudden, she's the political "outsider" who can step in and fix Richardson's bungling of his responsibility.  Sure she is.

Susana Martinez, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the stage of state politics, and appears to have the conservative ideas that can change New Mexico's direction for the better, if she is able to follow through on them, by reducing job-killers like over-regulation and high taxation on industry, and at the same time halt the wild spending spree instigated by Bill Richardson and his willing cohorts in the New Mexico legislature.

Perhaps not only are the people of the United States tired of politics as usual, perhaps they are getting tired of the same old MEN politicians.  I for one am "all for" allowing the other gender a chance to make the changes that this nation needs to make.  Perhaps women, for a change, will not be swayed by the culture of government, which seems lately to turn a lot of men into self-serving shadows of the creatures who we saw during their campaigns, and whom seem to leave their promises in the dust when they hit their respective state capitals, or the city limits of Washington, D.C.

Monday, June 7, 2010

We need action, not excuses, in the Gulf of Mexico

I've walked the beaches of Grand Isle, Louisiana.  I've swam with dolphins there.  I've walked the beaches of Mississippi, and nearly stepped on a stingray there.  It floated up out of the sand and glided off from where I was about to place my foot.  I've also swam in the waters off of Pensacola Beach, and have never seen clearer water or whiter sand, though I've been told there is such a thing somewhere.

Now the gulf oil spill threatens all of that.  It threatens the fisheries, the beaches, the tourism industry.  Just a few years after Hurricane Katrina did billions in damage from the coast inland, the oil spill is threatening to do billions more in damage along the coast and off the shores of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.  Some say the oil could drift around Florida itself and start heading up the Eastern Seaboard.

There is no doubt that British Petroleum and it's contractors who were involved the errors which caused the Deep Water Horizon disaster should take responsibility for the situation.  If they do not, then they should be forced to take responsibility...to a point.  Here's where I will come into direct conflict with the rabid band of finger-pointers who wish to effectively burn BP at the stake:

BP, and it's contractors, can only take responsibility for the situation as long as they remain financially capable of doing so.  I listened to a press conference this morning with Admiral Thad Allen and Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and a question was posed to them as the whether BP should forfeit the oil from the relief will being drilled as a method of stemming the flow of oil into the gulf.  As if the oil should be taken away from BP in some form of punitive punishment for causing the spill in the first place.  Well, the fact is, and Robert Gibbs correctly pointed out, that the costs to BP for the remediation of the gulf oil spill are going to be far greater than the profits from the sale of any oil collected during the remediation process.  As long as that well keeps gushing oil into the gulf, the "meter is running", and costs are going to continue to skyrocket.  BP is going to NEED that oil to help pay for their share of the cleanup.  It will do absolutely no good if BP, or it's contractors, are forced into bankruptcy.  Unlike the U.S. Government, BP cannot print it's own money.  It cannot sell bonds to China.  It cannot simply tax it customers for any budget shortfall it incurs due to this disaster.  If they run out of money, the game is over for them.  Who is left holding the bag then?

Which brings us around the Federal Government's responsibility for this mess.  For all of BP's direct fault for the oil spill that continues in the gulf to this day, the U.S. Government DID sell the leases involved.  The U.S. government DID approve the drilling.  And the U.S. Government DOES get a good portion of the proceeds through such oil production in the form of taxes and fees on that oil at every level of production, from the exploration, to the extraction, to the refining, and to the final sale of the finished product.  Uncle Sam has his hand in the till all along the way, and grabs cash to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars per year from the oil biz.

Thus, to what extent is the United States government culpable in this?  It pretty convenient for politicians to start pointing their fingers at everyone but themselves when disaster hits, after those same politicians have been lining up with their hands out to oil companies for decades, demanding a portion of the proceeds.

Given that such a large amount of money is involved in the production of oil in the United States, and given that the United States government receives such a huge portion of that money, why is it unrealistic to think that the U.S. government should appropriately share in the burden of clean up when something goes wrong?

Rather than pointing fingers at British Petroleum and it's contractors for the gulf oil spill mess, the Federal government should be placing every resource into position to assist in the cleanup efforts.  The U.S. Military should be on hand for logistics, equipment, and manpower, as they have the expertise in that area.  The U.S. government should be getting itself out of the way of the states in order for the National Guard to be called in, as they have the expertise in logistics and have needed manpower and equipment as well.  After all, this oil spill IS a national security issue, to the extent that the damage caused has the potential to harm and already weak economy, and will certainly harm the economies of several important states.  It also has the potential to alter domestic energy policy in a way that will further increase or dependence upon foreign oil.  At the same time, the people of the effected areas want to be involved as well.  It's their beach.  It's their economy that will suffer.  Government should be helping, not hindering, the volunteer effort that is "champing at the bit" to help.

President Barack Obama, rather than looking to place blame, would do well to merely take responsibility for the situation, and offer the full co-operation and assistance of the U.S. Government in this matter, as a partner, and a leader, rather than as a standoffish politician looking to score points .  We should not be seeing scattered work crews wandering around here and there on gulf coast beaches, with no central co-ordination, spending more time under the shelter of portable cabanas than out sifting the sand.  If for safety reasons, only 20 minutes of each hour can be spent doing actual cleanup, then there should be three times as many workers on that beach, so there are people involved in cleanup every minute of every daylight hour.  Simple things like that will go a long way towards actual, physical cleanup, which is likely to go on for month, if not years, and simple things like that will go a long way towards increasing public faith in both the Federal government, and BP, in their efforts to save the gulf coast from further harm.

Rather than attempting to vilify and demonize BP in feeble attempts to make government look good by comparison, there should be an all out effort on government's part to step up the responsibilities government takes on when they allow oil exploration and production to proceed, and get paid handsomely to do so.

Rather than continuous defensive press conferences, the people of the United States need to see, above all, action.  Where one level of the clean up effort is lacking, another should step up and help where needed.  And President Obama should be there through it all, giving direction through his top leadership people.  Rather than Interior Secretary Salazar announcing that he will keep the his "boot" on BP's neck, he should be announcing that our government will offer every assistance in this remediation and clean up effort.

The gulf oil spill is a disaster that should transcend politics.  It should not be treated as mere political theater.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Perhaps Rush and Elton share the same taste in neckties?




Sputter...cough...gasp...now I have to clean up the coffee I just sprayed all over the laptop....after reading that Elton John performed at Rush Limbaugh's wedding ceremony on Saturday, June 5th.

 Elton John Performs for Rush Limbaugh Wedding | Snark Food

Ohhhhhhhh my!!!!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hope, Change & Sleaze

I'm certainly not the only one critical of the Obama Administration's lack of adherence to their stated campaign principles of "Hope & Change".

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, cuts through the mainstream media haze surrounding the Obama Administration's "Chicago Style" jobs-for-political-favors scandal, and brings a "transparency" to the story not available from the Obama White House itself:

Hope, Change & Sleaze

Friday, June 4, 2010

Government by Crisis: Using the BP oil spill as a political tool

President Obama's campaign pledge to not raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $250,000 per year seems like a long distant memory.  One of his first acts as President was signing a tax increase on tobacco that isn't in the least bit dependent upon anyone's income, and which affects lower income Americans for more than those with higher disposable income.

When challenged on the issue, President Obama's response had more to do with run-of-the-mill political word games, than it did with "Change".

Then along came health care "reform", which by necessity has the hidden consequences of higher costs for a vast majority of Americans, including those making far less than $250,000.  Obama and his political apologists simply explained this away by calling increased taxation something other than a "tax", and then ignoring further criticism until the mainstream media lost interest and turned their attention elsewhere.

Now Obama and his cohorts in Washington, rather than focusing upon the actual disaster of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, are using the issue as a tool in which to campaign for higher energy taxes, which will necessarily increase taxes on everyone who uses energy, regardless of income level.

When the nation needs a leader, right now, today, to head the government's effort to help with what may eventually become the worst oil spill in world history, predictably, President Obama goes into campaign mode to rally support for future economic "Change". Can someone please tell Barack Obama that he won the Presidency, and now it's time for the partisan political "stump speeches" to end?

If calling for tax increases is at the very core of President Obama's long term plan, fine, we can debate that issue later, when the dire situation in the gulf is under control.  Right now, politicizing a worldwide catastrophe is simply not good for the nation.

We desperately need to see Presidential leadership on the issue. Rather than name-calling, finger-pointing, and the shifting of blame to everyone from contractors, to past Presidents, to Republicans in general. We need swift action, and a President who at least appears to care about the issue at hand.  We need Obama to stand up and be Presidential, and that means calling the nation together, and inviting both sides of the aisle to work together to solve the current problem, not merely lay out his plan, and then invite the "other side of the aisle" to either love it or leave it.

What we are currently getting from President Obama is the usual political opportunism, and Obama's penchant for using the day's events to descend into the usual partisan bickering, which is the furthest thing from Obama's promise of "Hope and Change".  What does he "Hope" to accomplish by bashing Republicans over an issue that neither party could foresee, other than to promote the very gridlock he promised to end during his campaign?  It would almost seen that Obama's goal is to continue the very "politics as usual" he rallied against in order to garner votes during the campaign.

Sounds pretty shallow to me.  I suppose that's to be expected from a President who was elected on the basis of prepared speeches he read off of teleprompters, rather than on the basis of any widely known core beliefs.

Obama's prepared Pittsburgh speech:





Excerpt:  Obama strikes hyper-partisan tone:


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Breaking: At least 40 flotilla "peace activists" were Al Qaeda

It is being reported that Israel has now confirmed links between Al Qaeda and the "peace activists" on the Gaza bound "humanitarian" flotilla boarded by the Israeli military on May 31st.

It would appear that while world leaders continue to condemn Israel's actions in defending itself from terrorism, the Obama Administration continues to dither in it's support of one of our strongest allies in the middle east.

The United States, having experienced terrorism first hand, should stand in support of any nation which takes action against the worldwide spread of terrorist elements.  The "humanitarian organizations", which were likely fully aware they placed civilian activists in harm's way by allowing Al Qaeda elements on board their ships, should be the one's being condemned.

Whether Israel could have handled the situation better is not the question.  What's done is done.  The question is, does Israel deserve the harsh criticism being leveled against them, for likely acting in the name of their own security, while giving the flotilla every opportunity to turn back, or be peacefully boarded and searched?

Israel confims link to Al Qaeda

 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Former Clinton Secretary of State and Obama advisor Robert Reich calls for government takeover of British Petroleum

As if the U.S. Government isn't running enough businesses, from banks, financial service companies, insurance companies, car companies, and other assorted and sundry formerly private sector businesses, now influential Democrat operative Robert Reich is calling for President Obama to simply takeover British Petroleum.

Never mind the fact that BP is a publicly owned multi-national corporation, which has stockholders spread all over the globe. Never mind that BP already has the manpower, knowledge, and equipment to best handle the situation in the gulf. Never mind that BP has EVERY incentive to solve the crisis as soon as possible, since the longer the oil gushes into the gulf, the larger BP's cleanup expenses will become, and the bigger and more numerous the payouts to affected gulf coast industries and citizens will be, not to mention the black mark upon BP's record that is likely to last for years, if not decades.

The nationalization of private industry is the kind of thinking going on in the modern Democrat/liberal/progressive mindset: If private business doesn't do what government wants, when government wants, then government should simply take over that business and run it themselves.

Reich is calling for the takeover of BP based on the precedents set by President Obama since his ascent to office. Says Reich:

"If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and the auto giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them financially solvent, it should be able to put BP’s north American operations into temporary receivership in order to stop one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history."

The Obama administration has created a Federal monster, in that once government usurps the rights of private business and it's owners, whether it be individual, partnership, or a corporation with stockholders, government then wants to use their new found power with greater frequency (Bureaucrats, after all, by their very nature want to manage something). First, it was mismanaged and financially destitute business' that were deemed "too big to fail". The government takeover of banking and auto companies allowed the administration to effect political payoffs by transferring ownership to big time financial contributors and supportive labor unions. Now it's an oil company that isn't working fast enough for certain members of the U.S. government, and which is becoming a political liability to the Obama administration.

It wasn't very long ago, politically speaking, that it would have been unthinkable for the U.S. Government to simply take over massive sectors of private enterprise. I seriously doubt that if Robert Reich, as a Cabinet member, had suggested to then President Bill Clinton that the U.S. Government should nationalize an oil company, that he'd even be taken seriously. The public outcry if such a statement were made public "way back then" would have been enormous.

Yet here we are, in 2010, only two administrations later, and government takeovers are "old hat". So much so, that it hardly makes news when Obama advisor Robert Reich floats a "trial balloon" about further government takeovers, such as he did on June 1st.

The U.S. Constitution clearly defines the role of Federal government. Nowhere does that document allow the kind of abuse of power we've come to expect from Washington, D.C.

When does government begin to honor the Constitution, and put a check on it's own power? Fact is, at this point, with the Obama White House flush with victory on several controversial fronts, primarily through political manuevering, and despite the opposition of the majority of the American people on several major issues, including bailouts, takeovers, and socialized health care, there is no reason to believe that this administration will suddenly decide that "enough is enough".

The Israeli/"Peace Activist" flotilla incident: Is the mainstream media being fair?

On Monday, May 31st, the Israeli Navy encountered and boarded a group of ships headed for Gaza.  The ships were purported to be simply carrying "humanitarian aid". The resulting battle with "peace activists" on the Gaza bound flotilla resulted in injury to seven Israeli soldiers, with numerous injuries and nine dead among the flotilla's occupants.

Anti-Israeli media reports are once again making their way around the globe, blaming Israel for "unprovoked aggression". The U.N., predictably, is condemning Israel's actions, and is calling for an "investigation". World leaders are again quick to comment on the situation, which they know about primarily through media reports which may not be entirely accurate in the first place.

There is evidence to suggest that Israel had reason to doubt the flotilla's purported "humanitarian aid" mission, and that the real mission of the flotilla was political: To spread anti-Israeli propaganda, place violent anti-Israeli activists in key places throughout Gaza, and foment violence against Israel's citizens. Indeed, Israel knew weeks ago that these ships were coming, and that there might be an "incident" created in order to foment anti Jewish sentiment worldwide.

At least two of the organizations involved in the flotilla, the Turkish "IHH", and the "International Solidarity Movement", have questionable histories when it comes to supporting terrorism against Israel. Do an internet search on either group, and you will find articles going back years which raise doubt as the entirely peaceful nature of their activities.

The organizers of the flotilla also had plenty of warning from Israel that they were going to be boarded, prior to the ships ever heading for Gaza.  Reports also indicate that the Israeli Navy initially used restraint upon boarding the ships, keeping their deadly weapons holstered, and firing only what has been described as non-lethal "paintball guns" as a method of crowd control.  Only after the situation was deemed completely out of hand, and several members of the Israeli Defense Force had been seriously wounded, including taking hits from pistol fire, did Israeli forces begin to use deadly force.

There are videotaped eyewitness reports which dispute the mainstream media's reporting on the issue.  One shows "peace activists" swarming the decks, attacking Israeli Defense Force personnel with various weapons:



The "peace activists" even appeared to be preparing for a fight prior to the ships ever leaving port:




There are at least two sides to every story. If you already doubt the mainstream media balance on issues that matter to you, don't immediately assume that the media is being fair in their reporting of this story. Investigate all sources, and make your own decision.

For more perspective on the situation:

Report on Israeli flotilla battle.