Search This Blog

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Lynching by Another Name

What would happen if a crowd descended on a police station in the Southern USA demanding action again a black man suspected of a crime against a white person? We all know the answer: there would be non-stop coverage about white racism, claims that lynching was returning to the South, and a general uproar in the national media. We might even see Al Sharpton leading marches demanding justice for the intended target of the "lynch mob". So why is it allright for the reverse to happen in the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman? I just watched Piers Morgan's interview of somebody named Toure who apparently appears on MSNBC. Toure, the "journalist" made clear that Zimmerman murdered Martin, even though Toure admitted that he did not have the full facts. I also read about Sharpton's call for escalating violence in Florida until action is taken against Zimmerman. No one familiar with Sharpton's past would expect him to know or care about the actual facts, but where are the leaders telling him to pipe down?

The truth is that the facts are still known only by a few folks investigating the shooting. We all need to remember the rape charges against the Duke lacrosse team members that ruined the lives of three college students only to turn out to be totally phony. We have a justice system. We ought to let it work.

I repeat what I have said before: I do not know if Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter or not; I do not have the facts to make that determination. I do know, however, that Zimmerman deserves fair treatment and, if charged, a fair trial. The crazy race baiters have taken things to the point where that fair trial may not be possible.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Money Talks

According to the Washington Times, the Obama re-election campaign has raised substantially less than George W. Bush had raised at this point in the campaign eight years ago. The numbers are $157 million raised by Bush and $119 million raised by Obama. Since we have all heard how Team Obama was going to raise $1 billion for the re-election effort, the question has to be asked: How can this be? What explains Obama's paltry fundraising results.

First, you can be sure that the Obama results do not come from a lack of effort. In the last year, Obama has held more than twice the number of fund raisers that Bush held in the comparable period. Also, the rest of the effort is in full swing. I have gone to the Obama web site to look at it and, even though I gave no information when I got there, I have been receiving a stream of fund raising emails ever since. My wife, who is a strong Democrat, has been getting about three to four fund raising appeals in the mail each week from the Obama team. They are trying extremely hard to raise the cash.

Second, there are some big fund raising constituencies that have soured on Obama. One would be the Wall Street crowd. In 2008, Wall Streeters provided more cash to Obama than any other group. In return, Obama has villified them and attacked them, even as he has helped most of them by protecting the big banks with Dodd Frank. Obama, however, has also kept the economy from growing as fast as it should be with his isguided policies, and the folks on Wall Street understand that. A second group that seems to be leaving the Obama fund raising effort is Jewish voters and other friends of Israel. Despite Obama's protestation that he "has Israel's back", these voters have seen Obama take action after action that imperils the security of Israel. Words are not enough for these folks, particularly since they know that after the next election, a second-term version of Obama would not be hindered by having to face the electorate again. Another group that has left the Obama camp is the energy industry. figures show that contributions from folks with ties to the energy industry (non-green) have fallen substantially since 2008. The reality of Obama has been nothing like the promise of Obama. Even Hollywood has reduced its support. Many of the far lefties out there have been disappointed that Obama has not been radical enough.

Third, the number of small contributions has been way down from 2008. Part of that is the poor economy. Part of that is Obama's job performance, or should I say lack of performance. Things have gotten so tight in this area that Obama is now raffling off dinner at the White House for a $3 contribution. He is, in effect, selling lottery tickets without the half billion dollar prize that Mega Millions has this week. The broad base of Obama support is not so broad based anymore.

All of this bodes ill for Obama in the fall. Money is not the same as votes, but it sure is a good indicator of enthusiasm. We have heard for months in the media how Republicans do not really like Romney. He seems to have no trouble raising big money. Who knows? Maybe the main stream media will actually start reporting on how Democrats do not really like Obama. Or, they can just let the money talk.

Obama and the Subsidies to Big Oil

President Obama was at it again today. Obama was out in the rose garden at the White House telling the folks that we need to do away with the special subsidies to the five biggest oil companies because they make enough already. This is his answer to high gasoline prices -- raising taxes on big oil companies. Everyone with even half a brain understands that raising taxes on oil companies will not make those companies produce more oil in order to bring prices down. Instead, the companies are more likely to raise prices in order to make up for the cost of the new taxes. Obama, however, says that this is a matter of fairness. In other words, even though his plan results in higher rather than lower prices, it is the fair way to proceed, or so he says.

The problem with Obama's constant call to raise taxes on big oil is that no one ever looks at just what he is proposing. So let's break the mold and do just that. There are three main tax provisions that Obama concentrates on.

The first tax provision that Obama wants to eliminate is a tax credt passed in 2005 for all manufacturers operating in the USA. That's right, every mine, every auto manufacturer, every company building refrigerators, all the airline manufacturers, indeed all manufacturers get this tax credit. The idea of the credit was to make it more profitable to do manufacturing and to create jobs in the USA. Obama now wants to treat oil companies differently from all other American industry. Oil is not getting a special subsidy; oil is just getting the same treatment as all other industries.

The second tax provision that Obama wants to erase are the accelerated depreciation of drilling costs. The accelerated depreciation is actually less than most other manufacturing companies get -- those other companies get to expense capital expenditures on plant and equipment this year. And Obama is just plain wrong when he talks about big oil getting this break. The Alternative Minimum Tax for vertically integrated oil companies prevents them from taking this accelerated depreciation. That benefit only goes to the small and medium size independent oil exploration companies; not a penny goes to big oil. But why should that bother Obama. He is never concerned about the truth.

The third tax provision being attacked by Obama is the oil depletion allowance. Here too, Obama is just plain wrong. Big oil does not get the oil depletion allowance. It only goes to small independents, the companies for whom the tax difference actually results in additional drilling and production.

So Obama is after three tax provisions which he says let big oil make obscene profits. Two of the three, however, do not affect big oil. None of the three give oil companies a break that other industries do not also receive. So Obama is just lying on all fronts.

This ought to be enough to show that Obama's plan to tax big oil will not accomplish anything like what he claims. But one final item needs to be noted. The oil industry is one of the largest holdings of pension, IRA and other retirement assets in the country. Tens of millions of Americans have their retirement assets invested in these oil companies. By attacking "big oil", Obama is actually attacking the pension assets held by most people. Maybe it is time for Obama to give it a rest.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More "Help" for Israel from Obama

ABC News is reporting that the Obama administration has leaked word to the press that Israel has obtained permission from Azerbaijan to use bases in that country to launch a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. For those of you who are not familiar with Azerbaijan, it is a small country which is on the northern border of Iran. Were Israel to actually launch a strike against Iran from Azerbaijan, all of the difficulties due to the distance between Israel and Iran would be overcome at once. Also, were the Israeli planes to come into Iran from the north, it would have taken the Iranians by surprise. In short, using bases in Azerbaijan would have given the Israelis much better chances for success against the Iranian nuclear facilities and greatly reduced the casualties suffered by Israel in the attack.

So why would president Obama and his people leak the news of the Azerbaijan bases? Most people believe that it was done to head off the Israeli attack by exposing the plan ahead of time. Obama, who claims the he will "always have Israel's back" has just stuck a knife in that back. Obama is desperate to prevent Israel from attacking Iran until after the US elections, so he is prepared to sacrifice Israel for electoral success.

Enough Cheerleading Already

For most of the last eight weeks, each Thursday morning brings a report of "the lowest number of new unemployment claims since 2008". Today is no exception, the claims number is 359,000. The amazing thing, however, is that last weeks number was 348,000 but today's number is reported as lower. During the last eight weeks, at least two weeks were reported as 351,000 but today's number is reported in the media as being lower. How can this be?

The answer is simple. Each of the new "lowest" weeks have had their figures revised upwards during the next report. The 348,000 of last week was changed to 364,000 today. So week after week the media trumpets the new "lowest" figure only to see it melt away. But we never see articles about how the lowest figure is no longer the lowest. Instead we just see the new "low" trumpeted as a success story.

The Cheerleading should really stop.

Obamacare and the Commerce Clause -2

One week ago, I wrote a post about the constitutionality of Obamacare after Linda Greenhouse, who for years reported on legal matters for the New York Times, announced her view that the arguments against Obamacare were so without merit that they would just melt away. I said then that Greenhouse did not know what she was talking about; the contitutional objection to Obamacare is serious and likely to succeed. Since then, we have seen three days of argument in the Supreme Court on the subject. We do not know yet what the Court will decide. One thing is certain, however: Linda was wrong. The arguments of the law's opponents did not melt away. Indeed, the consensus view is that the Court is likely to overturn Obamacare. I guess that Greenhouse will have to learn some time that reporting is supposed to be more than wishful thinking.

What's Up with the Polls

This being an election year, it seems that not a day goes by without a few polls being reported by the media. But what do these polls mean? Do they really tell us what the public is thinking? Clearly, the answer is no. Poll after poll gets released and often, the results vary so much from one to the next that there has to be a problem. Here is an example: in Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown, the Democrat, is running for re-election against State Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican. Two recent polls have been released. One by Quinnipiac was taken up to and including March 26, and it found Brown with a ten point lead (46-36). A second poll by Rasmussen was taken up to an including March 25 (the same date) and it found the racea tie (43-43). The difference is so large that it is outside the margin of error announced for these two polls.

In the presidential contest, similar anomalies are appearing. The last three head to head polls in a Romney-Obama race show Obama up by 1% (Rasmussen), 2% (McClatchy/Marist) and 11% (CNN). All were taken within the last week. One or two is clearly wrong.

The question, of course, arises as to whether or not polling organizations push their results towards their desired outcomes or if all the polling is accurate. Clearly, as the calendar gets close to election day, the polling organizations have to try to be as accurate as possible; actual results that are far off from the polling data from a firm can be the death knell for that firm. But, six months before the elections get held, the pressure to be correct is just not there, and the temptation to push the narrative may be proving overwhelming.

The message from all this is a simple one: don't believe everything you see in a poll.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Obama and his Promises -- or should we say Lies

In 2008, then candidate Obama gave a speech at the AIPAC convention in Washington DC. Here is a direct quote from Obama's speech to the lobbying group:

"Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

Want to hear what the Obama State Department said today? Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel. Instead, the status of Jerusalem must be decided in final negotiations (whatever they are). If you doubt this, click on the title to this post to read an article with the full text of what the State Department said.

It is nothing unusual to find Obama lying on the campaign trail in order to win votes. It is nothing unusual to find Obama lying to congress or to the American people after getting into office. Let's all remember what a liar this man is when we vote in November.

Obamacare and Severability

This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments on what remedy to provide if the court were to hold the individual mandate unconstitutional. Many of those in the media who have written about the argument do not have the slightest idea what they are talking about. Nothing said this morning indicates that the individual mandate will be declared unconstitutional. That was yesterday's argument. Today, the court started from the premise that the mandate has been declared unconstitutional and it now must decide whether to strike down the entirety of Obamacare or just some portion of it.

That being said, the argument this morning was extremely arcane. It did seem that at least four of the justices were leaning towards striking down the entire statute if the mandate is unconstitutional, but that was far from clear for all four. If one adds Justice Thomas to that group, there would be a majority of 5 that would support striking down all of Obamacare.

Even the government admitted that were the mandate to be struck down there were other provisions that would have to fall as well. The government, however, could not offer any clear dividing line as to which provisions had to go and which could still stand. This lack of clarity was a weakness in the government position which may well come back to haunt the Obama administration if the mandate falls.

Merchants of Hate

One of the saddest parts of contemporary American society is a group that can only be called merchants of hate. I speak of the professional race-baiters and their fellow travelers in the media and politics. A black teen is shot in Florida by a Hispanic male and the spigot of hate is opened. The story becomes white hatred of blacks, no matter what the truth may be. The teen is killed and no one knows what happened, but MSNBC and CNN manage to find people to blame Republican candidates for the event. Democrats in Congress try to use the episode to raise money and to foist blame on the GOP even though the shooter was a Democrat. Why be bothered by the facts? The New Black Panther party announces a bounty for the death of the shooter and none of these pols or the crazies in the media even bother to speak out against it. Irresponsible media folks publish an address for the shooter which is wrong and which places the homeowner there in danger, but no one speaks out against this. Louis Farrakhan calls for retribution, but again, no one speaks out against him. Even president Obama gets into the act. Obama is the head of the government that is actively investigating the shooting, a possible criminal act. Rather than keeping quiet until the investigation is completed so as to protect the rights of all involved, Obama is out there chatting it up. By doing so, he adds to the hysteria.

I cannot say what happened that night in Florida. None of the folks who are busy calling for this result or that know what happened either. Instead, they are too busy stirring up hatred to actually allow the investigation to be completed. They all need to shut up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Obamacare Arguments at the Supreme Court

I just had the chance to read the transcript of today's arguments in the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the Obamacare statute. I have been watching legal arguments and reading transcripts of them for the last 40 years; this one was facinating. First of all, I have to congratulate the attorney for the 26 states opposing Obamacare, Paul Clement, for a masterful performance. It is not often that one sees an attorney deal effectively with every one of the questions from the bench; Clement faced 9 Justices of the Supreme Court perfectly. Kudos to Mr. Clement.

Second, it was also clear that there was marked hostility towards the government's position from a majority of the justices. While one cannot tell for certain how a judge will rule based upon the questions asked at argument, one can still get a pretty good sense of where they are likely to end up. Considering today's questions from the Court, the odds seem to be that Obamacare will be held unconstitutional.

So What Would Change After the Election?

By now, most folks have heard president Obama telling the Russian president that "after [Obama's] re-election, [Obama] would have more flexibility." In other words, once the inconvenience of the election is out of the way and Obama no longer has to get the votes of Americans, he will be able to do what he really wants to do.

For those who have paid close attention to Obama for the last four years, these remarks are not surprising in the least. We have seen Obama say one thing for political consumption and then do another many, many times. My favorite is Obama's current claim to have transformed into a pro-drilling president after having spent all of his term fighting against drilling. The question is whether or not Obama's remarks (which were not meant to be heard by the public) will be a wake up call for those who have not yet realized just how dishonest Obama is in his campaign statements.

Here is the best way to think about Obama's statement: take a moment to consider which promise or position by Obama is the one most important to you and then consider whether or not Obama is likely to change in that view after the election. Is Obama's current position one that flies in the face of left wing orthodoxy? If so, it is unlikely to last after the election. Is Obama's current position on in which the USA takes a strong stand regarding national security? If so, that too may disappear.

The real truth is that Obama has probably just undermined $100 billion worth of campaign ads. If Obama cannot be trusted in his promises, why bother to listen to them.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Changing the Tax Code

Since we are in the midst of an election year, numerous proposals for changing the tax code are circulating. These proposals include items like a) president Obama's so-called Buffett Rule to raise taxes on the super rich to a minimum of 30%, b)reducing taxes on manufacturing to zero (Santorum's plan), or c)cutting all taxes across the board by 20% (Romney) with many others as well. Often lost in these discussions, however, are the goals that need to be achieved in any modification of the tax code. Before we can decide on what changes need to be made, we ought first decide what it is we are trying to accomplish. Here are some of the goals that should be included:

1) Let's make it harder for people to evade paying their taxes. The underground economy in America last year is estimated to have been well in excess of a trillion dollars. Some of this income is the result of illegal activities like selling drugs. Far more of it comes from people who work "off the books" or using phony social security numbers and the like. Many illegal immigrants have to work this way since they do not have legal status. Many other people simply decide not to declare all of their income. If the system is to function fairly, the people who have this hidden income need to be subject to taxation just the same way that everyone else is.

2) Let's have a tax code that makes America more competitive in world markets rather than less. High tax rates on products made in America mean higher costs for those products. In the global economy, American taxes must be structured so that we do not hinder sale of our own products with the result that we lose jobs overseas.

3) Let's have a tax code that is simple. Note that I did not say a code that is simpler than now. Right now, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year by companies and individuals just trying to comply with the rules and requirements set by the government. Imagine how much of an economic boost would be given to the economy if those funds were released to be used for productive purposes rather than tax code compliance. It would not be good news for H&R Block or tax accountants, and many attorneys would see their business fall, but for the country as a whole, it would be quite a boon.

4) Let's try to treat everyone the same. We have a code now that has all sorts of special goodies in it for the favored few. There are rules that apply only to companies incorporated on a particular day in a particular year; in other words, there are special provisions in the code that only apply to a particular company which had a great lobbyist. Every company should be treated like every other company. Every individual should be treated like every other individual. Having connections should not mean paying lower taxes.

5) Let's try to avoid using the tax code to try to modify behavior. Should folks who rehabilitate historic buildings get special tax breaks? Should folks who build housing for the elderly get special tax breaks? Should people who buy electric cars get special tax breaks? The answer to all these questions should be NO! If congress wants to help sales of electric cars, it can do so without using the tax code. All of these special tax expenditures make the code more and more complicated with the result that more and more is wasted in trying to comply with the provisions of the code. This issue, however, does not just deal with special provisions. For example, the deduction for charitable contributions is designed to increase such contributions. Let's do away with it. Folks who want to give to charity should do so without considering taxation. Indeed, many folks who set up charitable foundations do so to get the tax benefits while keeping control of the funds. There is also no reason why state taxes should be deductible. Those who live in high tax states should not be subsidized by those in low tax states.

6) Let's make the tax code pro-growth. This may seem to contradict some of the previous goals; is it using the code to modify behavior? The simple answer is no; there are many places where setting up new rules could have a pro-growth bias without complicating the code or using it to make tax expenditures. For example, there will always be a question how to handle capital investments by businesses; are these to be expensed or depreciated over time. Investments with a short life span (like seven years or less) could be expensed while those with a longer life could be depreciated. This would promote investment and economic growth.

7) Let's expand the base of the tax code. It is not good for folks to pay no taxes at all. Everyone needs to care about the level of taxation and whether or not that level is sustainable. I am not calling for the very poor to pay taxes; it would serve no point. The folks who are in the middle, however, should all pay something, even if it is a small amount.

8) Let's keep the tax rates progressive. Even if the base gets expanded with more of the middle income folks paying taxes, the wealthy should still pay substantially more than others. It is only fair that those who can afford the taxes actually pay them. Indeed, if all of the taxpayers are treated the same, many of the wealthy will actually be able to pay less while those who have avoided all taxes previously will make up the difference.

9) Let's keep the estate tax but only to prevent great concentrations of wealth. The estate tax has never raised much in the way of revenue; for decades it has operated more as a social policy than a tax measure. Because the tax was not kept current with economic conditions, however, it became too intrusive and a move arose to do away with the "death tax". The reality is that for most folks, there is not need to tax inheritances. Someone with a family farm or small business should not have to sell that farm or business in order to pay the inheritance taxes. On the other hand, those with great fortunes should not be able to pass the entire amount on to their heirs. That practice would only promote the creation of great hereditary fortunes that could dominate our country. Bill Gates may have made $50 billion dollars, but do we want his heirs for the next two centuries to have all the wealth and the power that comes with it? I think not. Anyone who has an extate of more than ten million dollars should have to pay tax on the excess.

There are other goals that apply as well, but these are the most important ones in my opinion. If we could first agree on these goals, it would be much easier to come to agreement on how to change the code.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Yet Another Obama Weekly Address -- Coming Directly from Fantasyland

As he does every Saturday, president Obama released his weekly radio address this morning. Today's subject was energy prices and transportation. As I read it, I felt the need to look around for Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto since I certainly was in Fantasyland.

Here is how Obama began: Hello. This week, I traveled across the country to talk about my all-of-the-above energy strategy for America – a strategy where we produce more oil and gas here at home, but also more biofuels and fuel-efficient cars; more solar power and wind power and other sources of clean, renewable energy.

"All-of-the-above", that is how Obama describes his energy strategy. Can you believe it? ALL-OF-THE-ABOVE!!!!! That is like describing a dentist's office as a comprehensive medical care facility. It is like calling a hot dog stand a purveyor of worldwide cuisine. It is like describing one shot fired by a sniper as a broad based attack on a city. In other words, it is a ridiculous statement.

Someone needs to remind Obama what the word "ALL" means. It means each and every one. In the context of energy it means promoting production of every kind of energy and also acting to reduce the demand for energy as well. About half of all electricity in America is produced using coal as the fuel. What has Obama done to promote coal production? NOTHING!!! In fact, Obama has actively worked to reduce the use of coal which America happens to have in abundance. Obama has actively worked to reduce the use of coal with the result that employment in the coal mines in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other states has fallen during his presidency.

Well what about oil? Obama tells us we are producing more now than when he took office. But there is a disconnect here. Obama did all he could to reduce oil production and he was successful cutting production on federal lands and other areas where the federal government has control of the process (like off shore lands). Production is down 11% in those areas that Obama can control. Production is up in dramatic fashion from the areas where the federal government has no say in the process. Private and state controlled lands actually raised production enough to offset the cuts that Obama forced through. For Obama to now take credit for a production increase is crazy.

And what about hydroelectric energy? It should be increasing since it is renewable and totally clean. But Obama and the Obamacrats are behind the demolition of a number of dams around the country, demolition which has reduced the amount of hydroelectric power available in America.

You get the picture. Obama's all-of-the above approach is actually better described as "some-of-the-above". Indeed, Obama's big energy moves have been limited to giving his cronies and fund raisers gobs of taxpayer money to subsidize "green energy" companies that fail the instant the federal funds stop. Of course, while the money keeps flowing the cronies and fund raisers all make fortunes.

Is Romney a Weak Candidate?

If you follow politics in the main stream press, you have probably seen a myriad of articles about how dissatisfied Republican primary voters are with Mitt Romney as a candidate. First there were all the articles about how voters wanted someone other than the candidates who were running. Next came articles about how the base of the GOP was unexcited about Romney and was rejecting him. Now, the latest stream of articles is about how Romney is unable to put away his opposition and secure the nomination. Romney is not Ronald Reagan, and he is not even John McCain who had wrapped up the nomination by this time four years ago.

There is a problem with this whole narrative, however: it is just plain wrong. In a little noticed article on Real Clear Politics, the support for Romney thus far in the primary season was compared to the votes for McCain of four years ago. The results are astonishing for anyone who gets the news from the main stream media. Romney's share of the primary vote is 6% more than McCain's share was four years ago. That's right, Romney is doing very substantially better than McCain did four years ago. The reason why McCain had won by this time in 2008 was that the states were winner take all rather than proportional in awarding delegates as they now are. Also, many states moved their primaries back until later in the season in 2012, so many fewer delegates have been awarded at this point in the process this year.

What does this all mean? First, the stories about how the GOP base has rejected Romney are wrong, not even close -- just wrong. Second, because of the proportional award of delegates, the candidates who have been losing (like Gingrich and Paul) have been able to keep going much longer than would have been the case if they had been shut out in getting delegates in states other than the two which Gingrich won. In 2008, candidates dropped out when they consistently came in second. Third, Romney has not been able to wrap up the nomination yet since no candidate could have done so. Not enough delegates have yet been awarded. Indeed, Romney still may not win the nomination, although the odds of that have gotten very long. Finally, if anything, Romney's chances for full support from GOP leaning voters seems much greater than it was for McCain in 2008.

Put all this together and the truth is that Mitt Romney will make a reasonably strong GOP nominee if he gets the chance. The stories from the main stream media are just wrong.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Unending Failure

I write a great deal (probably too much) about the Obama "green energy" agenda and how it has failed, so I decided just this morning to hold off on any further posts on the subject for a while. Then, of course, news comes along that forces me to change my mind. The Wall Street Journal reported just today that the Department of Energy has fully one-third of all of the "green energy" loans it has made on an internal watch list for violations of loan agreements. Let me put that in context: a bank which had one-third of its loan portfolio non-performing would likely be shut down by the banking regulators as insolvent. In fact, a bank with 5% of its loans in that category would probably fail. Obama's energy gurus have 10 out of 32 loans for electric vehicles or renewable energy currently suspected of non-compliance. It is like the Hall of Fame of Failure.

Some day, the government will realize that it cannot create successful companies where there is no underlying demand. Expensive energy and poor performance and expensive vehicles have no market. Giving government funds to such entities is guaranteed to fail.

Looks Like another Obamacrat is going to jail

Remember Jon Corzine? He is the former Democrat senator from and governor of New Jersey. He is also the former CEO of MF Global, a commodities trading firm that went bankrupt last fall. After the bankruptcy, it was determined that nearly 2 billion dollars of customers' money was "missing". Corzine testified to Congress that he had no idea where the funds were. He also testified that he had never directed or approved anyone taking the customers' funds to cover MF Global's obligations.

Today it appears that Corzine lied to Congress. That would be perjury. It also appears that Corzine directed that the accounts of customers were to be looted to pay off the debts of MF Global. That too is a possible criminal act. Here is what Bloomberg is reporting:

Jon S. Corzine, MF Global Holding Ltd. (MFGLQ)’s chief executive officer, gave “direct instructions” to transfer $200 million from a customer fund account to meet an overdraft in one of the brokerage’s JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) accounts in London, according to an e-mail sent by a firm executive.

Edith O’Brien, a treasurer for the firm, said in an e-mail sent the afternoon of Oct. 28, three days before the company collapsed, that the transfer of the funds was “Per JC’s direct instructions,” according to a copy of a memo drafted by congressional investigators and obtained by Bloomberg News.

There may be an explanation for all this, but I cannot see what it is other than that Corzine lied under oath. If Corzine cannot explain his prior testimony away, he may soon join Rod Blagojevich in prison.

Enough! -- Stop the Rush to Judgment!

Here is the way Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson writes about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman:

For every black man in America, from the millionaire in the corner office to the mechanic in the local garage, the Trayvon Martin tragedy is personal. It could have been me or one of my sons. It could have been any of us.

How many George Zimmermans are out there cruising the streets? How many guys with chips on their shoulders and itchy fingers on the triggers of loaded handguns? How many self-imagined guardians of the peace who say the words "black male" with a sneer?

Robinson is an idiot; anyone who reads his columns or watches his "comments" on MSNBC knows that. But the Robinsons of the world are dangerous and enemies of free people. Here's the problem -- neither Robinson nor any of the other pundits discussing the Martin case know what actually happened in Florida that night. By calling Zimmerman a guy with a chip on his shoulder with itchy fingers on the trigger, Robinson makes Zimmerman into less than human. By stating that Zimmerman says "black male" with a sneer, Robinson says that Zimmerman is a racist and that Martin's death was a hate crime. But remember, Robinson has no idea of the actual facts; he is just part of the lynch mob gathering in the media and in Florida.

Look, I know that Martin was not carrying a gun. I also know that reports say that Zimmerman had blood on his face from being hit and grass stains on the back of his shirt which indicate he was knocked to the ground. Is it possible that Martin attacked Zimmerman because he realized that he was being followed and thought that Zimmerman was about to attack him? Is it possible that Martin would have said the words "hispanic male" with a sneer? (Zimmerman is Hispanic and has black family members.) Is it possible that when Zimmerman says he was acting in self defense he is telling the truth? Sure it is.

I do not know what happened in Florida that night. Right now, the FBI and the Florida state police are investigating. The local police already determined that Zimmerman should not be charged with a crime. Are we to assume that the local police force acted out of racial malice? Why? Where is the proof aside from people being unhappy that Martin is dead?

To make matters worse, the usual race-baiters like Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan are arriving on scene to make the most of the racial hatred that they can stir up. Folks like Gene Robinson only add to the fire with their irresponsible words. People need to be calm. People need to let the police and the FBI do their jobs. People need to assume some good faith from the authorities. We already have a victim here; we do not need more.

How Can This Be? FEDEX Cuts Back?

Anyone who listens to president Obama or the main stream media knows that we are in the midst of an economic recovery that is gaining strength. In fact, by the time we get to election day, the economy will be roaring forward. The rise in gasoline prices is just a momentary bother; since folks became used to gas prices this high in 2008, the current high price will not have much of an effect.

Of course, that is the talking point, but here is the reality. FEDEX yesterday announced that it was going to take some planes out of service and cut its workforce through attrition. Package deliveries through the FEDEX express service fell by 4% in the last quarter. FEDEX also cut its estimate for growth of the American economy to just 2.1% for all of 2012. You should note that FEDEX deliveries numbers are not "adjusted" for seasonal factors or otherwise massaged to show something other than actual facts. You should also note that package deliveries are a good indicator of sales in the economy and of consumer spending overall. A 4% drop is extremely large. In other words, despite the spin from Obama and the Obamacrats and the supportive reporting from the main stream media, we just got a pretty accurate economic indicator that is at least flashing yellow and maybe moving towards red.

So Krugman, Was It Just Incompetence?

I always enjoy reading Paul Krugman's columns in the New York Times because they provide a window into the thinking of the delusional left. Yesterday, however, Krugman outdid himself. His column is about how the GOP is crazy to believe that high gasoline prices are the result of intentional policies of president Obama and the Obamacrats. Indeed, Krugman is astonished that Mitt Romney would buy into such a crazy world view.

Krugman, of course, starts by telling us that the president doesn't control gasoline prices or even have much influence over those prices. This is the newly minted Obama excuse of "It wasn't me!" Obviously, Obama cannot blame Bush for the high prices (oil was $38 per barrel when Bush left and Obama took office versus the current price of way over $100 per barrel.) So now we hear the oil prices are set in the world market.

The truly funny thing is that Krugman is an economist by training. He knows that markets set prices based upon supply and demand together with perceptions of future supplies and future demand. To say that Obama does not control the price is correct, but to claim that Obama has no influence on these prices is an absurdity, one which Krugman well knows.

For years, Obama has been following policies that have driven the price of oil higher. Areas that George Bush had opened to drilling were closed by Obama. Areas in the Gulf of Mexico that were completely unrelated to the BP oil spill were closed to drilling. Driling permit approvals on federal land and offshore areas that used to take 6 days for approval now average close to 10 months under Obama. This change alone pushed out production of millions of barrels of oil for almost a year. The Keystone pipeline which would add about 1% additional supply to the world oil market was blocked by Obama. Hydraulic fracturing (the process which has opened up the production of shale oil and natural gas in the USA) has been repeatedly threatened by the feds with being shut down, and these threats have reduced investment in the area. Obama has managed to cut production of oil in the areas of the country where he has control (federal and offshore lands) by close to 11% while production in the rest of the country has risen in response to the higher prices. Indeed, but for Obama's actions, the world oil supply would right now be something like 2% higher. While 2% may not sound like much, in the oil market it is enough to drive prices down substantially.

Many folks believe that Obama's policies are intended to drive gasoline prices higher, but Krugman disputes this. He points to Obama's statement in 2008 that "under my [Obama's] plan, prices will necessarily skyrocket." Krugman properly points out that Obama was talking about electricity rates not gasoline when he said that. Of course, Krugman ignore Obama's statement in the same year that he had no objection to extremely high gasoline prices, his only worry was that they increase in price would be too rapid. That statement was about gasoline prices, not electricity, so Krugman just ignores it. Krugman also ignores the statement by Obama's Secretary of Energy that the USA should have gasoline prices like those in Europe ($8.50 per gallon).

It is pretty clear that Obama has intentionally followed policies that have had the effect of driving up gasoline prices. He cannot now claim to the contrary. But let's assume for the moment that Krugman is correct and Obama was not trying to drive up oil prices. That means that Obama did not realize that driving down the oil supply would raise prices. All the "experts" that Obama has assembled just somehow missed the fact that cutting millions or billions of barrels of production from the world supply would push prices higher. In other words, that would mean that Obama and his advisors are totally incompetent.

Either way, Obama has got to go!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Obama Admits He is Wrong Without Realizing It

For years we have heard from president Obama and the Obamacrats that opening up federal lands both on and offshore would not bring down the price of oil. After all, they tell us, it will take years until that oil begins to flow. THIS IS WRONG! THIS IS IDIOTIC! Oil prices depend as much on the expectations of future supplies and demand as they do on the present actual supply and demand. Were Obama to order the full opening of America's oil resources and to approve the Keystone Pipeline, the expectation of more than two million barrels of oil per day being produced two years from now would drive down current prices.

Well, today in his latest speech of Obama's Energy Excuse Tour, the great and powerful Ob admitted that he has been wrong. It is true that Obama did not use those words, but here is what he actually said: “The main reason gas prices are high right now is people are worried about what’s happening in Iran.”

Let's translate this Obamaspeak into English. Obama had admitted that even though tensions with Iran have not removed a single barrel of oil from the world supply, prices have soared due to fears of future supply disruptions. That's right, Obama has admitted that expectations as to future supply and demand are driving the world price of oil. Simply put, Obama can no longer tell us that a major drilling drive in the USA will have no effect on the price. Such a move to increase drilling will necessarily cause the price to fall.

Obamacare and the Commerce Clause

Linda Greenhouse writes on legal matters for the New York Times. Yesterday, she released a column in which she concluded that the constitutional arguments raised against the individual mandate in Obamacare had no merit. In Greenhouse's view, those who argue to the contrary are the equivalent of folks who believe in intelligent design or who argue against the validity of man-made global warming.

The truth, however, is something quite different from that presented by Greenhouse. Let me start by explaining that I am not analyzing this question from a political standpoint; rather, I will limit this review to just a legal question. Under normal constitutional analysis, is Obamacare's individual mandate constitutional?

Any review on this topic has to begin with the Constitution itself. Under Article I, Section 8, "Congress shall have the power ...To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes". The individual mandate in Obamacare falls in the second of those three areas, interstate commerce.

It is a basic tenet of American constitutional intrepretation that Congress does not have unlimited power to do as it pleases in all cases. Indeed, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." So, unless the federal government (Congress) is given a power by the constitution, that power remains either with the states or the people.

Under the individual mandate in Obamacare, congress has ordered each citizen to purchase health insurance. Failure to comply results in the imposition of a fine on the unisured citizen. This exercise of power is said by the Obama administration to be allowed by the commerce clause; it is purportedly regulation of commerce among the states. This sets up the basic dispute.

Opponents argue that congress is not regulating commerce with the mandate. After all, the people covered by the mandate are not participating in commerce; they have chose not to buy insurance. Obamacare is requiring these people to enter into commerce to buy insurance. The supporters of the law say that health care comprises about one-sixth of the national economy and that individuals -- whether or not insured -- will necessarily have to obtain health care at some point in their life. They argue that Congress is just regulating those who will inevitably be engaged in commerce and who, when considered as a group, have a substantial impact on the national economy.

In a simplistic view, then, the question to be determined is what constitutes commerce for the purpose of the constitution. If non-purchase of insurance is commerce, then Obamacare is constitutional. If non-purchase is not commerce, then Obamacare fails.

So how does the court decide this question? First, the Supreme Court will look to its past decisions on point. Here, there is little dispute that there are no decisions that are directly on point; this is a case without precedent. Indeed, in the brief filed with the Court by the opponents of the law, the fact that this situation is unprecedented is repeatedly pointed out. In her article, Linda Greenhouse feels compelled to point out that the law's unprecedented nature does not make it constitution or unconstitutional. Of course, Greenhouse misses the point. The unprecedented nature of Obamacare's mandate does not require, by itself, that the law be determined to be unconstitutional. It does tell the court two things however: 1)The court is going to have to look at this situation by reasoning it through rather than finding a prior decision which is on point. 2)Since Congress has gone through two and a quarter centuries without ever trying to establish something like the healthcare mandate, it is an indication that thousands of congressmen and senators did not think that the constitution gave them the power to do so.

So the court is going to have to review this statute looking at the impact of the law and seeing if it comports with the constitutional requirement of limits on government but with power to regulate commerce. Let's see how this plays out. The law's proponents say that two factors allow Congress to issue the mandate: the uninsured will have to participate in the healthcare field at some point in the future, and healthcare is a big part of the American economy. Under this test, however, many other possible laws would be constitutional.

Here is a good example of a law which would be constitutional under the theory of those supporting Obamacare: Congress passes a law that requires Americans to limit themselves to one child only (like the Chinese). Anyone who is parent to more than one living child is to be fined for violation of that law. This clearly meets the test of the law's proponents. All of the children born to Americans will inevitably participate in the healthcare field at some point. They are no different than the uninsured in that regard. And healthcare and education together make up an enormous chunk of America's economy.

So does anyone think that Congress was given the right to regulate the number of children each person is allowed under the interstate commerce clause? Other than harsh partisans, no one would come to that conclusion. But that is the necessary result of the argument put forward by the government in support of Obamacare.

On the whole, it is my opinion that Obamacare will fail and the mandate will be declared unconstitutional.

It is important to note that the government is also arguing that the mandate is actually a tax which can be passed under the government's taxing powers. This argument has been rejected repeatedly since the supporters of Obamacare argues over and over again that the mandate was not a tax back when passage was being debated. I doubt the Supreme Court will change this view.

The Keystone Pipeline is back

Growing up in Pennsylvaina (the "keystone State"), I learned that a keystone is the centermost stone in an arch. The weight of both sides of the arch press against the keystone and hold it in place. Absent a keystone, the arch could not stand.

Not many people build stone arches anymore, but keystones now come in other forms. Perhaps the most important recent keystone has been the Keystone Pipeline, a 1700 mile long pipeline to carry crude oil from Western Canada to refineries in Houston. The Keystone pipeline is intended to bring an additional 700,000 barrels of oil each day to these refineries. The oil is to come from the tar sands in Alberta. This source of oil is currently producing much less each day, so the pipeline will add over half a million barrels each day to the world supply of oil, an increase of over one-half of a percent in supply. such an increase in supply would put pressure on the world price sufficient to either bring it down or, at least, to stop its rise.

President Obama vetoed construction of the Keystone Pipeline, and last week he lobbied Congress successfully not to overturn that action by authorizing construction. So Obama has prevented this major increase in the world supply of oil, and more particularly a major increase in the American supply of oil. This has not played well at a time of dramatic increases in the prices of oil and gasoline.

In an effort to dull the pain he is suffering due to opposition to the Keystone Pipeline, Obama is today going to announce that he will not oppose construction of the southern quarter of the pipeline. Then, Obama is going to take credit for working to increase energy supplies. Of course, Obama's actions are ridiculous. One cannot get oil from Canada (where the oil is located) to Houston by building a quarter of the pipeline. It is like buying a car without wheels or a plane without wings. Obama is building and arch without a keystone. The whole thing will collapse.

That Obama hopes to convince American voters that he is doing something positive on the Keystone pipeline tells us all just how stupid Obama thinks the American public is. Let's not fall for this new and insulting gambit.

Obama has got to go!!!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Green Energy and How to Get It

Energy is the life blood of any modern economy. Remove energy and the American way of life would end. Raise the cost of energy substantially and the economy stutters and then stalls; recession is the next stop. None of this is rocket science. None of this is even debatable. It is all simply a fact of life.

The question, of course, is not whether or not America needs energy, but rather how is America to get the energy it needs. A hundred years ago, America was mainly powered by coal. As the years passed, hydroelectric power was added, followed by oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy. In the last decade, we have seen the start of solar and wind power as contributors to our national energy supply. Even so, America still gets about 50% of it electric power from that old standby, coal. Natural gas has been increasing its share of the power supply while oil usage has declined. Indeed, oil is now used almost exclusively for fuel for cars and trucks. Less than 1% of electric power now comes from oil.

Also in the last decade we have seen the rise of the Al Gore theology of global warming and the cult of "green" energy. Many in the environmental community are strongly against any action which increases supplies of fossil fuels. Many of these same folks push just as strongly for the adoption of wind, solar and other so-called renewable energy sources to power our country. The problem, of course, is that at the moment wind and solar power are much more costly and much less reliable than our current methods of power generation. Clearly, America cannot run on a power source that is only available on windy days. Nor can power supply stop at sundown. When one factors in the high cost of generating the green energy, there is no one who really wants to adopt it voluntarily. After all, no sane company or individual would pay much more for energy in order to get an unreliable supply.

This problem of high cost and unreliability for green energy has stopped any push to adopt such energy sources in the marketplace. And that stoppage has led to a further divide in the country as to what to do next. President Obama and the Obamacrats have taken the view that the federal government has to step in to promote the further use of wind and solar power. Obama has told us how the future economy will be based on these energy sources. Obama has funneled billions of dollars to his friends in the wind and solar energy fields. Remember Solyndra, the solar energy company that collapsed the week that the federal funds ran out? It is just one of the many failures of that sort. Even so, Obama has been funneling tens of billions on a continuing basis to wind and solar.

Just imagine what would happen to American industry were all electricy to be generated from wind and solar at a cost much higher than the current one. The answer is simple: American goods would be priced out of world markets; we would no longer be able to compete. Countless companies would be forced to close and millions and millions of jobs would be lost. This is actually Obama's goal, not the massive unemployment, but the use of wind and solar energy.

The truth is that for there to be green energy in the American economy, someone will need to find a way to generate power from the wind or sun that is LESS expensive than the power from natural gas or coal. We are nowhere near to finding that out, so any funds spent now on solar and wind energy is just wasted.

In a rational world, the president of the United States would let private industry build the power system and stay out of it. Indeed, if there were to be government involvement, it would be to help fund the research needed to find solar or wind energy technology that could compete on a price basis with oil, coal and natural gas. But, we do not live in a rational world. Obama's America is a place that is ruled by ideology, not reason. The Obamacrats argue that if the market cannot bring about wind and solar power, then the government must. But even the government has limited funds, so when these funds run out, the wind and solar ventures must fail.

The budget proposal from the House Budget committee cuts a big part of the subsidies Obama and the Obamacrats have been giving to uneconomical solar and wind facilities. The GOP is trying to have actual market forces determing the most efficient way to proceed. The response from Obama has been nothing less than hysteria. Here is what the White House spokesman said earlier today: Those who support such a budget are "aggressively and deliberately ignorant" about the need for green energy and other programs slated for cuts. "You have to be aggressively and deliberately ignorant of the world economy not to know and understand that clean energy technologies are going to play a huge role in the 21st century."

Translating this into English, Obama is actually saying that the government has to force people to use more expensive and less reliable energy sources no matter what the cost. Linking such coercion to success in the world economy, however, is delusional thinking by Obama and his minions. America has to stop wasting money on energy projects that do not work. Failure to do so will drive the economy over the cliff. Obama is exactly wrong!

The Illinois Primary

I got asked today by a friend who supports Romney why I had been silent about the GOP primary in Illinois. No, I am not sulking as he claimed. The truth is that last night I was at the graduation ceremony at the Connecticut State Police Academy and I did not get home to watch any of the results or the speeches by the candidates. Nevertheless, I do think that the results merit discussion.

It seems to me that the combination of Puerto Rico and Illinois makes it extremely hard to imagine someone other than Mitt Romney winning the nomination. The only other possibility is Rick Santorum, but he is really up against it at this point. Before discussing Santorum, let me also say that Gingrich and Paul are now clearly irrelevant. They may pick up a delegate or two here or there, but neither man has even the slightest chance of prevailing at the convention. They both have been rejected by the voters.

Santorum still could win if he pulls the rabbit out of the hat. The problem, however, is that we still have California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island down the road. These states have 364 delegates and Romney will likely win nearly all of them. The other states which remain include places that Santorum could win (like Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Nebraska and Indiana which have about 350 delegate). Most of the other states, however, are proportional rather than winner take all states. Romney will surely get a big chunk of delegates in these states as well. It should be enough to put Mitt over the top. On the other hand, were Santorum to start picking up steam again so that he made big inroads into Romney-friendly states, he would still have a chance, albeit slim.

One thing is certain. Although I prefer Santorum to Romney, that does not mean that Romney would be a bad president or presidential candidate. After all, either one would be much better than Obama.

Changing the Subject, Strawmen and other Obamacrat Tactics

If you think of a major national problem, you probably also can think of the latest "solution" to that problem offered by president Obama and the Obamacrats. Those "solutions" vary from kicking the can down the road (basically no solution) to making a phony change or two to changing the subject in order to ignore the real problem. Here are some examples:

Kicking the can down the road--One of the biggest long term problems facing the USA is the soaring and uncontrolled cost of entitlements. Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid each is rising quickly in total cost, and the revenues to pay for these programs have lagged far behind the soaring expenses. Each of the GOP presidential candidates has offered a plan as to how to deal with the problem. Depending on the candidate, these plans include measures such as fixing the amount paid out for Medicaid and then sending those funds to the states while giving the states the ability to set benefit levels without federal interference. Other GOP solutions include reducing the future Social Security benefits for the wealthy, changing the retirement age for future Medicare beneficiaries and the like. None of these proposals is a happy one. In each case, tough choices need to be made in order to save the future of these programs. The GOP candidates are making those choices.

So, what is Obama's plan for entitlements? The answer is simple: he has no plan. Indeed, everything Obama has done makes the entitlement problem worse. For Social Security, Obama has pushed through two years of a payroll tax holiday. This change cut the amount of money available for Social Security by a quarter of a trillion dollars in just two years. For Medicare, Obama has cut the available funds by half a trillion dollars and put those funds into Obamacare instead. The costs of Medicare were not cut, so the deficit in Medicare will just be larger faster. It will make the death of Medicare come much quicker. As for Medicaid, Obama included provisions in Obamacare that added millions more beneficiaries to the program. The cost for those additional millions of Medicaid recipients were not fully funded, however. As a result, the deficit in Medicaid funding has increased. So, in this critical area, Obama has done nothing but make things worse.

Phony Solutions--We all know that the federal government has huge debt problems. America's government spends nearly 60% more than it takes in. The GOP candidates have proposed spending cuts. They have proposed changes to the tax structure to increase growth. They have proposed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Yesterday, Republican congressman Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee proposed a budget that would cut $5.3 trillion in spending over ten years, revamp the tax structure and get entitlement spending under control. President Obama also proposed a budget this year which does none of these things. Instead, Obama keeps talking about raising the taxes on the wealthy. We have all heard it. Indeed, anyone who has paid even the slightest attention knows that Obama is pushing something he calls the "Buffett Rule". Under that rule, anyone earning over a million dollars per year would have to pay taxes at least at the rate of 30%. I have heard Obama deliver parts of at least seven speeches on this subject.

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis detailing how much the Buffett Rule could raise. Over the next decade, the Buffett Rule, if adopted, would add $31 billion to federal revenues. That is about $3.1 billion per year. The budget deficit is over $1 trillion per year. That means that the Buffett Rule would cover about one-third of one percent of the deficit at most.

The simple truth is that Obama has latched onto a phony solution to the deficit in order to avoid the real question: where can spending be cut. We cannot raise the tax rates high enough to cover the current level of spending without sending the country into a depression. Obama knows this, but the Obamacrats do not want to cut spending on anything. That is why they offer the phony solutions.

Changing the Subject--About a month ago, Obama released new regulations that required all employers to provide health insurance including full coverage without any co-pay or deductible for contraceptives and abortion (morning after) pills. Contraceptives and morning after pills are readily available to everyone across the country, but Obama wanted to make sure that no one would have to pay for these items. Of course, Obama knowingly issued the regulation which forced religious institutions that had moral objections to contraceptives or abortion to include these services in the health plans of their employees. The outrage was immediate. Catholic hospitals and universities were going to be forced to break the teachings of their faith by providing services to their employees that were repugnant to their beliefs. The hierachy of the Catholic Church began to object, and millions across the country added their voices to this attack on religious freedom. Obama and the Obamacrats dealth with the problem by changing the subject: Republicans were in a war against women; they wanted to prevent them from getting contraceptives. This was nonsense, of course, but it became the rallying cry of the Obamacrats nonetheless.

As part of the war on women meme, Democrats held a make-believe committee hearing in DC and called a Georgetown law student to testify how her health plan did not provide free contraceptives. She did not say that she had no access to contraceptives. Nor did she explain how she could afford to pay $200,000 for law school but could not afford a few hundred bucks during that time for birth control pills. Nevertheless, after her testimony Rush Limbaugh went after her on his radio show. He called her some unflattering names like slut and prostitute. This lit the fuse for a full explosion of the Obamacrat world. Here was proof that the GOP was in a war on women. Republicans hated women, the Obamacrats cried. Republicans want women back in the 16th century, the Obamacrats cried. Republicans were disrespectful to women, the Obamacrats cried. Obama himself called the law student and said he had to do so "for his daughters." Although Limbaugh does not speak for the GOP, the onslaught continued. As a result, Limbaugh quite properly apologized, but then something else happened: for really the first time in a long time the GOP fought back on one of these Obamacrat smears. Bill Maher, the HBO personality, made a high profile contribution to Obama of $1 million. Maher, of course, has called various conservative women names like bimbos, boobs, the "t" word, the "c" word, and worse. Republicans pointed out Maher's various attacks on these women as women and called on Obama to reject the Maher contribution. Obama and the Obamacrats were silent. I believe they were stunned to be on the receiving end of one of their own patented smear attacks. The questions kep being asked, but no answer was forthcoming. Then they tried saying that Maher was an entertainer on HBO while Limbaugh spoke for the GOP. That failed since it was patently untrue. Then they tried saying that Maher went too far in what he said without giving back the million bucks. It did not matter; the Obamacrats were caught in their own hypocrisy. They changed the subject and, for once, they got caught in their own backlash.

Well now they are trying again. On Monday, Bob Beckel was on the Hannity show. Beckel is someone who frequently spouts "facts" which turn out to be untrue. Hannity asked him if Obama should give back the Maher million and Beckel tried to use Obamacrat tactics by changing the subject. Beckel said that the GOP took money from the Koch brothers who "sold arms to Iran", something much worse than taking money from Maher. That was quite a change of subject. Of course, it was completely untrue. The Koch brothers are in the oil business. They are not arms dealers. They have never been arms dealers. Their companies do not deal with Iran. They are in full compliance with US law. Beckel's charge was just another lie. Once again, however, it did not go unanswered. Koch Industries issued a statement immediately setting the record straight.

We need a president who will face problems and actually deal with them. Dishonesty, deceptions and avoidance are not the qualities of a leader.

OBAMA HAS GOT TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What is it about Celebrities and Politics

Last night at an Obama fundraiser for show biz folks in New York, the host of the event Robert De Niro said this: "Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?" When someone in the crowd yelled "No", De Niro asked, "Too soon, right?"

This morning Newt Gingrich called De Niro's statement inexcusable and called on Obama to apologize for it.

A few hours later, the White House agreed and said, "We believe the joke was inappropriate."

Is it of critical importance that such things happen? No. Nevertheless, just imagine what would happen if the fund raiser was for a GOP candidate and some speaker said that it was too soon for America to have a black first lady for the next four years.

If the people in the entertainment industry want to make fools of themselves in films or on TV, that is their right. Nevertheless, when these self-important stars decide to get involved in politics, they owe it to the country and to the candidates they support to behave like responsible adults, no matter how hard that may be for them.

Obama's Responsibility for Higher Gasoline Prices

Two different articles/reports are out today discussing whether or not President Obama has any responsibility for the current high price of oil and gasoline. In Time magazine, Brian Walsh calls that claim a "big GOP lie". Walsh acknowledges that oil production on federal lands, the area that Obama can control, is down significantly since Obama took office, but Walsh then points to higher production on other American lands (outside of Obama's control) as something for which the president should nonetheless get credit. Obama, Walsh says, is now an "all of the above" proponent of higher oil production.

The American Petroleum Institute is also out with a report today on the same subject. Instead of the usual broad statements, the API report discusses specifics. Here is what it says:

An “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, including oil and natural gas, is essential to America’s economic and energy future. Administration projections show oil and gas will supply most of the nation’s energy for at least 25 years. While the administration claims to support an “all-of-the-above” strategy, it is, in fact, delaying or obstructing oil and gas development in the United States.

The administration says that U.S. oil and natural gas production is up, but most of the increase relates to leasing and permitting decisions made before it took office. Moreover, combined oil and gas production from all federal areas (land and water) – where the administration actually has control – was down in 2011 compared with 2009, according to Energy Information Administration data. Over this period, production in federal areas fell for both oil (7.9 percent) and for natural gas (6.8 percent).

U.S. oil and natural gas production increased in 2011 over 2009 only as a result of growing production on state and private lands – up almost 29 percent for oil and 22 percent for natural gas.

Leasing and permitting have continued to occur, although, comparing 2011 with 2009, at diminished rates. But a better barometer of the administration’s commitment to more U.S. oil and natural gas development – which could generate huge numbers of new jobs, increase revenue to the government, enhance our energy security, and increase supplies that could put downward pressure on prices – is administration policy decisions.

The picture here is mostly discouraging:

 Administration cancels leases on 77 parcels of land in Utah (February).
 Administration delays new offshore leasing plan by adding another half year to comment period (February).
 Administration proposes billions in new taxes on oil and gas industry in FY 2010 budget proposal (February).
 Following protests by environmentalists, BLM suspends sale of 31 drilling tracts in Utah that had already been purchased (June).
 Administration revisits Utah leases, continuing suspension or permanently withdrawing most (October).
 Administration announces new round of oil shale research and development leases in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah with significantly reduced lease acreage and unattainable lease terms (October).
 Administration shortens lease terms for upcoming Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale (November).
 Administration proposes additional regulatory hurdles for development on federal lands (January).
 Administration proposes billions in new taxes on oil and gas industry in FY 2011 budget proposal (February).
 Administration cancels the remaining Alaska lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas offshore and withdraws Bristol Bay from the program (March).
 Administration cancels the Virginia offshore lease sale, despite bipartisan support from Virginia’s governor and congressional delegation (May).
 Administration proposes billions in new taxes on oil and gas industry in FY 2012 budget proposal (February).
 Administration releases a draft forest management plan that proposes a ban on horizontal drilling in the George Washington National Forest (April).
 Administration issues an ANPR regarding new regulations for gas gathering lines that would substantially impact development of the Marcellus Shale (August).
 Administration proposes one-size-fits-all new source performance standards that, lacking a phase-in period to manufacture the control equipment, may significantly hamper oil and gas operations (August).
 Administration again proposes billions in new taxes on the oil and gas industry (September).
 Administration issues new 2012-2017 five-year plan that fails to open any new offshore areas to oil and gas development (November).
 Administration releases final study plan on potential impacts on groundwater from hydraulic fracturing that fails to address concerns regarding the transparency and scientific validity of the study approach (November).
 Administration raises the minimum bid amount for offshore lease blocks in water depths of 400 meters and greater from $37.50 per acre to $100 per acre (December).
 Administration produces a draft report outlining the findings of its groundwater investigation in Pavillion, Wyoming and receives extensive criticism for questionable scientific methodology (December).
 Administration cancels a planned auction of public lands in the Wayne National Forest to review scientific information regarding horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (December).
 Administration rejects permit for Keystone XL pipeline (January).
 Administration begins testing water wells in Dimock, Pennsylvania despite having no new information to justify reversing previous statements that laboratory data did not indicate that water quality presented an immediate health threat (February).
 Administration recommends removing from leasing availability over 1.8 million acres of oil shale and tar sands energy resources in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming (February).

It is amazing to me that in the face of these facts, someone like Time magazine could question whether Obama has responsibility for the current high oil prices. HE DOES!

Syria -- It is Actually Getting Worse

The intolerable attack by the Assad regime in Syria on its own people has killed something close to 10,000 already. Yesterday, however, events in Syria took a turn for the worse, something that is hard to believe. How could things get worse? The answer is that the Russians have now sent "anti-terror" troops to the country. And to be clear, these Russian troops are not there to stop the fighting. After all, Russia is the one major power who remains an ally of Assad. It seems that Vladimir Putin sees nothing wrong with killing civilians in order to stay in power.

In other news from Syria, video has emerged showing Assad forces throwing people off of rooftops. It is just another day and another way for Assad to terrorize his own people.

Here is the official White House reaction to the entry of the Russian troops into Syria in support of Assad: _______________________________. That's right, America is silent. It is inconceivable that Obama could stay silent in the face of Russian involvement in the Syrian slaughter, but that's what has happened. Who knows? Maybe the Russians offered him a big campaign contribution.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The GasFrac Conference call -- March 19, 2012

The conference call for GasFrac Energy Services (GFS in Canada and GSFVF on the pink sheets) just ended. It provided more story for those of you who like story stocks. On the other hand, if you were looking for more visibility on future earnings and revenues, you would have been disappointed. Indeed, reading between the lines, it seems to me that the numbers for the current quarter (first quarter of 2012) will not be that good, and it may be the second half of this year until things look up. Of course, since management refused to give out any details regarding the current quarter, that interpretation is open to question.

Here is the good stuff first:

1) The CEO gave a very detailed outline of where the company is going. the focus has been on gathering data which allow the company to show potential customers the different operating results obtained from wells fracked by GasFrac compared to those fracked with the standard hydrofracking methods. Zeke Zerengue said on the call that the GasFrac results are the first ones he has seen during his thirty plus year career in the industry that show such a marked advantage over rivals. According to the company, it now has all of the data that it needs to do this selling and it will be moving aggresively to market its services to more customers.

The CEO also gave an analysis that explained where the various sets of equipment would be located in the next months. It seemed that he gave locations for six sets even though the company has 8 sets, but the explanation was fuzzy enough that maybe all of the sets were included.

2) Management made clear that there is no plan for further capital expenditures above those already committed. They seem to be digesting waht they already have rather than biting off more.

On the down side:

1) Management confirmed that from December through February, there was a slowdown in bookings in the USA since the potential customers were mostly reviewing the results from the first wells fracked for them by GasFrac. These are "starting to pick up" according to the company.

2) In response to direct questions, management would not give any sort of indication about the prospects for the first quarter results even though that quarter is close to 90% completed. This is certainly not unheard of as many companies do not give such guidance. On the other hand, given where we are at the moment, some sort of indication could have been offered without putting out formal numbers.

3) There seems clearly to be a problem with the propane recovery unit. There was some fuzzy words offered that it may need to be redesigned.

Overall, one thing came through very clearly: the company now has a CEO with a gameplan for growth. That plan is detailed and seems reasonable. While the prospects for the next quarter or two are less rosy than I previously believed, the longer term prospects actually look brighter. We should see a number of additional long term contracts obtained by the company over the next few months.

DISCLOSURE: I remain long GasFrac stock

Obama's Money Woes

Remember the boast from the Obama campaign that it was going to raise $1 billion for the president's re-election campaign? Well, not anymore!

In a column last week, Karl Rove pointed out that Team Obama has been failing to hit its fundraising targets by a wide mark. Indeed, since the campaign is being staffed on the belief that there will be a billion bucks to spend, the fundraising shortfall is resulting in Obama spending more on his campaign than he is taking in. Imagine, all that spending and Obama has no primary opponent. By the time Obama gets to the general election, it now appears that Obama will not be able to bury his GOP opponent under an avalanche of cash. Unless things change...which they might.

After the Rove piece, numerous other reporters and columnists jumped on the story. Today, I saw one of the funniest of the genre ever, and it contained an explanation of the problem from the Obama folks that is hysterical. The basic news is that Obama has less than half as many large donors as he did at this point four years ago. (Large donors are those who give $2000 or more.) Both the Wall Street folks and the uber-lefties in Hollywood have fallen off in their support for Obama. So what is the explanation for this phenomenon from the campaign? It's simple, they say. No one is giving because the GOP candidates are too weak. That's right, the Wall Street folks (who always want to be with the winner) are not giving because they think Obama will win. The Liberal chorus in Hollywood is sitting on their checkbooks because they think Obama will win.

I often have wondered how dumb Obama and the Obamacrats think Americans are. This "explanation" really provides an unmistakeable answer. "Very dumb!"

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Here Come More Casualties

The latest from Syria tells us that the Saudis are now arming the rebels, Iraq is trying to stop Iran from sending arms to Syria through Iraqi airspace, and about 40 people were killed in Damascus when two bombs went off in the Syrian capital. then, of course, there is the usual death toll resulting from the brutal crackdown of the Assad regime and the huge numbers of refugees who have been force from their homes as well. All of this tells us clearly that things in Syria are getting worse, not better. Clearly, things are moving towards civil war with the government and its good ally Iran on one side and the bulk of the Syrian people and some Sunni Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia and Jordan on the other side. That should be good for tens of thousands more deaths and hundreds of thousands more refugees.

So what comment comes from Washington about all this? NOTHING! Oh sure, Obama sent Hillary to a meeting in North Africa two weeks ago to discuss the situation. I guess if she discusses the problem long enough, we will soon see more bodies piled up in the streets. Obama likes to lead from behind. This is just plain not leading at all. It truly sucks.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Obama's Weekly Radio Address on Energy -- A Pack of Lies

President Obama's weekly radio address was on the subject of high gasoline prices. This is not surprising since the extremely high price for gasoline has been pushing down Obama's approval numbers, and if these prices keep rising, they may push the economy back into a recession. What is surprising, however, is that Obama continues to spout lies about the problem and its solution. We are not talking about philosophical differences here; Obama is out and out lying to the American people to try to get off the hook for his failed record. Let me explain:

Obama starts out by telling us that he recognizes the pain that high gasoline prices cause for ordinary Americans; indeed, Obama says that it is what is most important to him at the moment. (I thought that was his re-election.) then he continues: "So I wanted to take a minute this weekend to explain what steps my Administration is taking when it comes to energy – most importantly, producing more of it while using less of it."

Most people would think at this point that Obama is about to list a variety of steps he is taking to reduce gasoline prices. That is wrong, however. The only action which Obama proposes or even mentions in the speech is a plan for Congress to end $4 billion in "subsidies" to oil companies through the tax code. This is nonsense, and Obama knows it. First of all, America uses over 5 billion barrels of oil each year. At the current price, this is about $550 billion worth of oil. The so-called subsidies are less than one percent of that amount. Even if removing them would lower gasoline prices (which they would not), the size of these payments is so miniscule as to have essentially no effect. Further, raising taxes on oil companies (which is what ending the so-called subsidies would do) will cause oil prices to go higher not lower. Ending the so called subsidies increases the cost of the oil companies. They will raise prices to make up those costs and the price at the pump will just rise further still. Obama knows this well. Even a lawyer like Obama understands supply and demand enough to realize that raising the cost to produce an item (like oil) will not lead to greater supply but to lesser supply. Obama is just busying himself with class warfare rhetoric rather than offering solutions.

Another big lie by Obama comes when he talks about what is causing higher prices. If you listen to his speech, you would think that the rise is just due to unrest in the Middle East (nothing new), more demand in China and India (nothing new) and "fraud and manipulation" in the oil markets. After all, why should Obama accept any responsibility when he can blame those evil bankers and oil traders who are fraudulently manipulating the market to drive up their own profits. This is not true, and Obama catches himself in his own lie. Right after blaming the evil bankers, Obama tells his audience that his administration has stopped this from happening. According to Obama: "When I took office, we did something about it."
How can the price rise be due to fraud and manipulation if Obama stopped this in 2009? Obama never tells us. To make matters worse, Obama is even lying about taking action regarding the oil markets. There are no changes in these markets that have been put in place by Obama; his claim is another lie. Indeed, Obama does not even try to identify any change made to the oil market; he cannot since they do not exist.

Next, Obama goes for the standard drilling lie. Oil production is up due to what he has done, or so says Obama. The truth, however, is that the rise is oil production is despite Obama not because of Obama. Banning drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts did not raise output. Banning drilling off Alaska did not raise output. Closing a big part of the Gulf of Mexico to drilling did not raise output. Slowing the approval of drilling permits in the few areas left in which to drill did not raise output. Closing big chunks of federal lands to drilling did not raise output. Vetoing the Keystone pipeline did not raise oil supplies. Yet, these are the main actions taken by Obama with regard to oil production. When you add in the threats from the administration to stop fracking to produce oil and gas from shale formations, and you find that Obama has actually been responsible for lowering American oil production by something like 10%.

Then Obama goes on to another old chestnut, his lie that the USA has only 2% of the world's oil reserves. I will not explain this one again. The truth is that the USA actually has about 175 times more oil than admitted by Obama. In other words, we have about three and a half times more discoverable oil in this country than all of the "reserves" in the world.

This should suffice to show the dishonest nature of the address. It is amazing to think that in a speech that took less than four minutes, Obama could cram in so many lies. America needs a president who will accept the consequences of his actions and then speak honestly to the people about what needs to be done. Instead we get a president who just blatantly lies about what has been happening. What will we get next week? Obama may tell us that his dog ate the American oil supply.