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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The New Name for Chuck Hagel

After today's senate confirmation hearings for president Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, many prominent Obama supporters may want to change his name to Upchuck Hagel.  In an amazingly incompetent performance, Hagel did the following:

1)  Hagel would not say whether or not the surge in Iraq was a success in response to repeated questions on the topic from Senator McCain.  Prior to the surge, and long after it had worked to bring the fighting in Iraq to an end, Hagel continued to call it a total failure; hence McCain's question.

2)  Hagel mischaracterized the contents of a report he co-authored for a think tank called Global Zero.  In the report, Hagel advocates for unilateral nuclear disarmament by the USA.  Hagel denied this in response to questions by Senator Sessions.  Even when Sessions read the text of the report to Hagel, he tried to explain it away.

3)  Hagel repeatedly stated that he supports Israel and wants to stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.  He is unable to explain why he was one of only two senators who voted against sanctions on Iran for continuing that weapons program.  He is also calls the mullahs in Teheran the "legitimate" government of Iran.  After lunch (and no doubt after a frenzied call from the White House), Hagel changes the word from "legitimate" to "recognized".

4)  Hagel was unable to explain why he was one of only twelve senators who refused to sign a letter designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.  Hagel also cannot state why he refused to condemn the terror campaign against Israel called the "intifada".

5)  In response to questions from Senator Cruz of Texas, Hagel could not explain why he accused Israel of engaging in the "sickening slaughter" of Hezbollah.  (To be clear, Hagel was talking about Israeli counterattacks on Hezbollah missile sites used to launch missiles on the Israeli civilian population.)  Hagel also could not explain why he called the USA the "world's bully" in 2009.

There's more, but this is just a sample.  Without a doubt, Hagel is a dope.  Clearly, he should have realized that all these questions would be asked of him.  How can he show up without answers?

Let's be clear.  It is bad enough that Hagel is pro-Iranian, anti-Israeli and even anti-American.  There already are folks like that in the Obama Administration.  It is, however, much worse that we will soon have a Secretary of Defense who is not even bright enough to foresee the obvious questions asked of him at the hearing.  How will the new Secretary be able to predict future threats to the USA or even to react to danger once it appears.  The man is an idiot.  We are all in trouble.



It's Getting Worse by the Hour for Menendez

As the afternoon has gone by, the evidence being offered against alleged misconduct by New Jersey Democrat senator Bob Menendez continues to pile up.  Various websites have published what they claim are emails from prostitutes confirming that they had had sex with Menendez.  One recalls three such sessions, including the last one on her 17th birthday (which would make her 16 at the time of the first two sessions.)  Another lists four women who purportedly were paid for sex with Menendez.  One of the four would have been underage at the time.

Menendez is still denying the allegations, but he has been forced to announce that he failed for two and a half years to report some of the trips to the Dominican Republic as required by law.  Supposedly, it is just an oversight.

If the trend continues, my bet is that Menendez will soon be making a deal under which he resigns his seat in exchange for immunity or something like that.  We will soon see.




What Was Included in the Expenses, Senator?

There is more today about the scandal regarding senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his allegedly having sex with underage prostitutes on multiple occasions in the Dominican Republic.  Today, Menedez' office announced that he had reimbursed one of his prominent donors for the expenses of two trips taken in 2010 to the Dominican Republic.  These are two of the trips where Menendez allegedly consorted with the underage girls.  Even though the costs for the trips totalled about $58,000 according to Menedez' office, the senator did not "remember" to reimburse his donor for the expenses of these trip for more than two years.  Indeed, the reimbursement was only made on January 4, 2013, once the subject of the trips was being discussed in the media.  Menendez also "forgot" to report the trips on his ethics forms required by the rules of the senate.  After all, a senator is not entitled to take gifts without public disclosure of them.  While it is not hard to understand why Menendez would not want to disclose a free trip to visit prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, as alleged, it is difficult to understand why the donor would not seek repayment of the $58,000 for so long if it was understood all along that Menendez would repay the costs of the trip. 

I have to say that I have been wondering what was included in the expenses for which Menedez finally sent reimbursement after two and a half years.  I would love to know if there is a line item for "prostitutes" or, perhaps, the more innocuous sounding "entertainment."

Menendez today has also issued a statement denying that he had sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.  It would have been a nice touch if he had worded the statement like this:  "I did not have sex with those women, the prostitutes."  It would just be so Clintonian.



Don't We Deserve a Leader?

Yesterday we learned that the economy shrank during the last quarter of 2012; according to the latest figures from the federal government, the GDP declined at a rate of 0.1% during that quarter.  In a struggle that would be humorous if the subject were less important, the White House, the Democrats and the media have been struggling to "explain" why the GDP report was actually good news.  We are being told about changes in consumer spending, inventory and defense spending.  We are being told about future projections and the like.  What we are not being told, however, is how anyone can actually celebrate a shrinking economy as an achievement.  Indeed, when one recalls that during the third quarter the economy grew at a rate of 3.1%, the shift to a decline is made even worse.  There was a dramatic slowdown, and no amount of spin from Obama or the media can change that reality.

On top of last quarter's decline, we now must face the demons of the current quarter.  The vast majority of working folks across America got hit with higher payroll taxes beginning January 1st, as the temporary reduction in social security taxes expired.  Higher taxes on a great  many folks also kicked in with the effective date for many Obamacare tax increases.  Then you also have the tax increases passed by Congress at the insistence of Obama in order to stave off the fiscal cliff.  None of these measures will help grow the economy; just the reverse is true.  Each one will reduce the prospects for growth.  Indeed, if we have one more quarter of decline, we will officially be in the dreaded double dip recession.

The problem right now though is something else.  Americans deserve to have a leader who tries to fix our economic problems, but we do not have one.  Just today, president Obama let his Jobs Council disband.  Apparently, he does not care enough about creating jobs to have these folks stick around to give him advice.  Obama has also failed even to send his budget proposal to Congress as required by law.  I guess he is just too busy campaigning for gun control to consider the economy.  There is no proposed economic plan from Obama.  No one knows what course Obama thinks the country ought to follow to get the economy back on track.  Now let me be clear:  I am not talking about the need for more political talking points from Obama or his administration.  Those things are never in short supply; Obama is always ready to blame someone else for every problem.  Instead, I am talking about the need for a plan of action for the country.  It seems widely accepted that some sort of tax reform for business taxes needs to be undertaken.  Obama, however, never deals with this issue, and he certainly never puts forth a proposal as to what changes he would like.  Similarly, Obama never tells us just how he would like to promote job growth.  Early in the first term, we heard that green energy jobs were going to be the job engines of the future, but after scandals like Solyndra where hundreds of millions of billions were shoveled to Obama's cronies only to see the companies go under once federal support was removed, Obama has basically stopped talking about this industry. 

I realize that economics is not the president's strong suit.  Okay, he is not an economist.  But he still is president.  He needs to pay attention to the economy.  It is not fair to the American people for the economy to be left to drift for four years without anyone attempting to steer it towards growth.

I guess that the best I can say about all this is just that Obama's term is 0.8% over.  Just 99.2% left to go.  Hopefully, the economy will survive.


So, Who Really is to Blame for Gun Violence?

There were hearings yesterday on Capitol Hill regarding the proposed new gun control laws.  If you watched the coverage in the media, most likely all you saw was a snipped of the testimony from former congresswoman Giffords.  She has recovered from being shot in the head, but her speech is halting to say the least.  Indeed, it is impossible to know just how much of her comprehension has returned.  She is perhaps the most emotional possible witness at a congressional gun control hearing.  If you are really interested in the subject, you may also have seen a bit of the appearance by Wayne LaPierre of the NRA or testimony by one of the parents from Newtown.  In short, what you saw was testimony about whether or not there ought to be a new law banning so called assault weapons.

The problem with the coverage of the hearings is that it left out what was the most startling and, I believe, the most important bit of information that came out yesterday.  Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is a former federal prosecutor who understands the various federal gun laws clearly.  Sessions announced that government statistics show that in the last four years, federal prosecutions for violations of the federal gun laws have fallen by just under 50% from the level during the Bush Administration.  That statistic need to be understood.  During each year of president Obama's time in office, the number of people prosecuted for violating federal criminal laws pertaining to guns has fallen to about half of the rate during the Bush years.  In other words, we have federal gun laws already, but the Justice Department is not bothering to enforce them.

The key point about the Newtown massacre and the other mass killings is that we need a response that will work, not one that looks good politically.  The goal should be to prevent another disaster and not to win votes at the next election.  The problem, however, is that the focus in the media and by the president clearly is on the politics rather than the problem.  What would the point of passing a new law be if Obama will not enforce it? 



Syria Tries for Lemonade

The old saying tells one that when life gives you lemons, you are supposed to "make lemonade".  Well, that is exactly what the regime of Bashir al Assad in Syria is attempting to do with the help of its main ally Iran.  Yesterday, the Israeli air force destroyed a convoy of trucks carrying weapons to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.  According to informed sources, the weapons involved included advanced Russian made anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles and a small number of aging SCUD missiles.  There is speculation but no confirmation that chemical weapons may have also been included.  The destruction of the convoy is a major embarrassment for the Assad regime.  First of all, the Israelis clearly knew all about what was happening, so the Assad regime proved unable to keep a secret.  Second, the Syrian air force which has been very active attacking rebels who have no real ability to shoot down jets, did not even try to stop the Israeli jets which operated in Syrian airspace for about four hours.  Assad's air force was shown to be toothless, to put it mildly.  Perhaps Assad remembers the time a few years back when the Syrians tried to stop the Israeli fighter jets and had 68 of their planes shot down to a loss of none by the Israelis.  Third, moving these weapons to Hezbollah is an admission that things are going quite poorly for Assad.  The weapons were given to Assad by Iran.  Clearly, the Iranians were trying to salvage control of them by its proxy Hezbollah before they were lost to the rebels.  If Iran is in the process of a cut and run policy in Syria, the fall of Assad cannot be too long in the future.

In the face of this major loss by Assad, the regime has just chosen to lie.  Assad's press announced that the attack was not on a convoy, but rather on a weapons research facility.  In actual fact, the rebels made clear that it was they who had attacked the facility, and there was no air component in that attack.  Assad and Iran have now threatened severe retailiation against Israel for its purported attack on the weapons research center.  While it is doubtful that Assad will do anything (he is too busy fighting for his life --- literally), the hope in Damascus is that Assad can pick up some support around the country for "standing up" to Israel.

The real worry here, however, is not what Assad says.  No one could believe that in any event.  The question is whether or not more convoys will follow the first, or will the Israeli action dissuade Assad from trying again.  My prediction is that Assad is unwilling to try again, but that relentless pressure from Iran to do so will lead to futher attempts in the near future.



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Today's Most Important News

The most important news story of the day has nothing to do with immigration, gun control or global warming.  It is not the identity of the senator to be appointed in Massachusetts.  Without a doubt, the most important story is the Israeli air attack on a military convoy at the border between Lebanon and Syria.  Here is the way that YNET begins its coverage of the news:

"Israeli forces have attacked a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight," foreign and Arab media sources alleged Wednesday, saying that 12 IAF jets breached Lebanon's airspace on Tuesday.
The US-based Al-Monitor website quoted Lebanese sources as saying the target was a weapons convoy traveling near Syria’s border with Lebanon. The report has not been corroborated by any Israeli source and the IDF refused to comment on the matter.

So we have an uncorroborated story of an Israeli air attack on a convoy.  Let's clarify what that means.  Simply put, it means that the Syrians are transferring some sort of weapons systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Were these chemical weapons?  Were they heavy weapons like artillery or tanks?  Were they weapons that were being shipped through Syria by the Iranians?  We do not know.  What we do know is that whatever the weapons were, there were of sufficient importance that the Israelis were prepared to launch an attack to destroy them before they could reach Hezbollah.

Let's be clear in the true meaning of this story.  It is yet another indictment of the American policy of ignoring Syria and the fighting there for more than a year and a half.  Obama and the State Department have opted to stick their heads in the sand (or somewhere else best left unsaid) rather than formulate a policy designed to get rid of Assad while keeping the jihadists out of Syria.  Ridding Syria of Assad would have destroyed the alliance between Syria and Iran.  It also would have cut off Hezbollah from its Iranian sponsor.  In short, it would have been a major tactical and strategic victory for the USA in the area.  By not acting, Obama and the Obamacrats have let things get to the point where once Assad falls, he will be replaced by a new regime that will be controlled by an affiliate of al Qaeda.  In short, it is a total disaster.

Who Said Democrats Won't Cut Costs

The questions about New Jersey Democrat senator Menendez keep growing.  Yesterday, the FBi raided the Florida office of one of his big financial supporters.  Allegedly, this Florida doctor was the one who flew Menedez to the Dominican Republic on his private jet and then arranged for Menedez to have "sex parties" with various prostitutes, including some who were underage.  The good doctor allegedly is also the subject of  a multimillion dollar federal tax lien as a result of failing to pay all his taxes a few years back.  There is speculation in certain media that the trips to the Dominican Republic were in exchange for Menendez helping the doctor with his tax problems, although there does not appear to me to be any substantial proof that this claim is true.  In any event, it does seem that senator Menedez could charitably be described as scum.  The funniest part of the scandal, however, is how it came to light.  Menedez is alleged to have promised the young prostitutes $500 each to sleep with him.  Afterwards, he allegedly only paid them $100.  Their complaints are what brought the entire matter to light.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rampant Silliness

The big media story today is about the debate whether or not president Obama lied when he said that he goes skeet shooting all the time up at Camp David.  On one side there are those who think Obama lied.  A good example here is Erin Burnett at CNN.  Apparently one of the three people watching her heard her question Obama's veracity with regard to this claim.  On the other side are the hard left, Obama loving press hacks who cannot stand the thought that anyone would say on any network other than Fox news that Obama lied.

This is a good example of what is wrong with the American media.  No one ought to be surprised that Obama lied about skeet shooting.  He has lied about everything else, why should skeet shooting be any different.  The sad thing, however, is that the media is now focused on the skeet shooting story.  When Obama lied about Obamacare, where was the media?  When he lied about the economy, the stimulus, the budget deficit and taxes, where was the media?  On those topics, none of the main stream media would even question Obama's veracity even though he was unquestionably lying.  Even on a story like Benghazi where Americans died at the hands of terrorists only to have lies fly out of the White House as to what happened, the media did a coverup.  Should we all just say, "What difference does it make?"

The media is a joke.



Going to Sleep

During the Clinton years, the American government looked at the world as a safe place.  The cold war was over before Clinton took office.  The Soviet Union was gone.  The Chinese were acting more like business partners than adversaries.  All the old threats were gone.  As a result, Clinton and his administration decided to treat the world as a much safer place.  The military budget was slashed.  Indeed, one of the major reasons for the surplus achieved once the Republicans took control of Congress was the ongoing reduction in military spending sought by the White House coupled with slowing the growth of domestic spending in the Congress.  This mindset that we were living in an era of peace was responsible to a great extent for the 9-11 attacks.  American intelligence was cut back.  The activities of the Islamist jihad, particularly al Qaeda, were ignored.  Even when al Qaeda bombed embassies in Africa and attacked a navy destroyer with great loss of life, the USA did nothing meaningful in response.  Oh, Clinton used cruise missiles to attack a pharmaceutical factory in Africa that was claimed to be a jihadist base, but that was more for show than any other purpose.  When the Saudis had bin Laden in their control and offered to turn him over to the USA, Clinton demurred.  He saw no reason to wake up our foreign policy to this threat.  Instead, it took 3000 dead Americans for the country to get the message that the jihadists were real and a major threat to boot.

At least in the 1990s, it was understandable how the country and the president could ignore the jihadist threat.  The big enemy, the USSR, was gone.  We were entitled to a breather and a victory lap.  But today, we have a government that is taking us back to the 1990s style foreign and military policy.  Terrorists have changed from our "enemy" back to "criminals" who are to be dealt with in the criminal justice system.  After the attack in Benghazi in which our ambassador and three others were killed, the American response has been to seek permission from Libya authorities to have the FBI interview witnesses and attempt to arrest the terrorists.  Think about that.  Imagine that in October of 2001, president Bush sent the FBI to Afghanistan to interview al Qaeda terrorists in their training camps in order to try to arrest those responsible for the 9-11 attacks.  In Syria, we are watching a civil war between the Iranian-backed monster Assad and Sunni rebels who are increasingly coming under the sway of Islamist terror groups.  A year and a half ago, when the uprising began, there were no Islamists involved; it was just a protest movement against a harsh dictator who used sniper attacks to disperse the protesters.  Our government decided to forego even an attempt to "lead from behind" as had been done in Libya.  Instead, Obama chose just to ignore the entire uprising.  At a point where a well placed push from the USA could have ousted Assad and led to a Syrian government unlikely to have Islamist ties, Obama chose to just sit back and watch the killing continue.  Since then there have been close to 70,000 people killed in Syria and about 1.5 million turned to refugees.  But hey, Obama wants to believe that the world is a peaceful place with little danger for the USA.

Going to sleep in the 1990s was a major mistake by the American government.  Going back to sleep in the current time is totally delusional.  We have a president who believes in the ideology of the peace movements of the past.  We all just need to talk it out, or so they think.  Well, it just ain't so. 



Monday, January 28, 2013

Hard to Imagine

As Americans ponder the world, it is sometime hard to imagine just how weird things can be elsewhere.  I was just reminded of that when I watched a report about the liberation of Gao, a city in Mali.  The city had been ruled for the last nine months by jihadists who had imposed strict Islamic rule under their interpretation of Islam.  They were expelled from the city over the weekend by Mali forces with substantial help from the French.  In any event, according to the report, during the jihadi control of Gao, women were forbidden to wear glasses.  Now I know that the Islamists are against educating women, but now we find that they also do not want women to be able to see properly.  It is just unbelievable.  The truth is that the Islamists are no better than a plague upon those whom they rule.



He Takes His Promotion Too Seriously

With the confirmation of John Kerry as Secretary of State, the new Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be New Jersey senator Menedez.  Menedez, of course, is currently under investigation by the FBI for allegedly frequenting underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.  Maybe Menedez was just trying to learn more about foreign relations.



Is This Real -- 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the reports of a massive explosion at Iran's Fordow nuclear enrichment facility.  Since then, there have been three additions of note to the story, each of which seem to me to increase the likelihood that the story is true.

First, Iran has issued a vehement denial that there has been any explosion at its facility.  It called the reports "Western propaganda".  The important thing to note about this denial, is that Teheran normally does not issue such announcements.  The story had appeared only on some of the more fringe websites as of the time of the Iranian denial; there would be no reason for the mullahs to deny the story.  Of course, there was no reason to deny the story, unless it was true.

Second, the Sunday Times became the first large news organization to give credance to the report of the explosion.  It quoted unnamed Israeli intelligence sources who confirmed the truth of the story.  London's most respected newspaper does not normally publish highly speculative stories, so there probably was some confirmation that the reporters received.  While this does not conclusively prove that the explosion was real, it does move a long way in that direction.

Third comes the most ominous of the indicators.  The Iranian expatriate, Reza Kahlili,  who first broke the story at WND reported yesterday that the Iranian government believes that the explosion was the work of Israeli operatives even though the event took place the day before the Israeli elections.  As a result, the mullahs have decided to retaliate against Israel.  The Jerusalem Post quotes Kahlili as saying, "A decision was made to act in Lebanon. A request was made to [Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah to vacate southern Lebanese villages. Islamic Republic Guards are on their way there. A decision has been made to prepare for missile launch from a certain area in Lebanon against Israel." 

Normally, this kind of statement could be just some more misinformation that frequently gets printed in the middle eastern media.  The problem here is that there is another report which tends to confirm the accuracy of what Kahlili is saying.  Yesterday, Israeli media reported that the army had moved an Iron Dome battery to the Haifa area.  Iron Dome is the Israeli anti-missile system which proved itself quite effective in the recent fighting near the Gaza Strip.  The media reports speculated that the reason for the move was the possibility of missile attacks from Syria.  Syria is in the midst of an unyielding civil war; there is little reason for Assad to launch missiles at the Israelis whose inevitable response would tilt the balance in that war towards the rebels.  Assad would and has aimed such missiles at the rebels, not at Israel.  On the other hand, if there is any truth to the report that Iran plans to launch missiles from Lebanon at Israel, then the biggest and most exposed target would be the city of Haifa, the place to which the additional Iron Dome battery was moved.

If Fordow was destroyed, it is a great victory for the forces of good in the world.  On the other hand, if Iran launches a war from Lebanon against the Israelis, we may be entering very dangerous times, even by middle eastern standards.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

Unintentionally Funny

President Obama is blaming Republicans for the failure of his upcoming attempt to pass new gun control legislation.  I doubt he means the attack to be funny, but it is so silly that I had to laugh.  First of all, one would think that Obama might wait for the gun control legislation to fail before he started blaming folks for its demise.  But that's not Obama whose recent motto seems to be "All Blame All the Time."  Second, the truth is that the gun control legislation like senator Feinstein's new assault weapons ban cannot pass in the Democrat controlled senate.  About twenty percent of the Democrats will not support it; indeed, there is even a rumor that Harry Reid, the senate majority leader, will vote against it.  Third, you really need to hear how Obama stated his condemnation of the House GOP.  Here is the key section:

The Republicans in the House do not "feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they're really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies."
That's right.  Obama is now castigating members of the House for listening to the desires of their own constituents rather than those of others around the nation.  The representatives who went to Congress to represent a particular district are not supposed to listen to what that district wants -- or so says the great Obama.  Really?  Isn't that how a representative democracy is supposed to work?  Maybe Obama never got the memo.

I realize that Obama's statement was actually made by him; there was no teleprompter from which Obama just read the words that others wrote for him.  Even so, Obama's comments are remarkably stupid for a man whose press says that he is always the smartest on in the room.




Is This Real?

According to an article at WND, there was an enormous explosion in the Iranian nuclear facility at Fordow that destroyed most of the underground facility and trapped at least 240 personnel deep underground.  The article was written by Reza Kahlili who claims to have been a CIA spy in Iran as well as a counterterroism expert.  Fordow is the home to about a quarter or the uranium enrichment centrifuges in operation by Iran.  The facility is built far enough underground that it is safe from attack by normal bombs and could only possibly be destroyed by so called bunker buster bombs.  According to the article, the blast was the result of sabotage and it was enormous, supposedly felt as far as three miles away.  Again, according to the article, the reaction in Iran was also huge.  The government shut down all traffic within fifteen miles of the site, began efforts to reach those trapped underground, and convened an emergency meeting of government security officials.

I keep saying "according to the article", because I still cannot confirm if this story is true or even partly accurate.  Not a single major news organization has picked up the story.  It has been repeated at various websites, but, if the story is true, it should have been picked up by now by all sorts of media around the world.  After all, if this story is accurate, it is enormously important news.  Just imagine that the most secure Iranian nuclear facility which houses a big chunk of Iran's enriched uranium has been destroyed, trained personnel have been lost, the enriched uranium has been scattered or at least burried under thousands of tons of rubble.  And all this happened at the site which Iran guards with more assets than just about any other. 

So did this really happen?  I hope so.  It would be wonderful to think that the Israelis or the United States was able to damage the Iranian nuclear program to this extent.  For those of you who are horrified at the possibility that the USA would attack an Iranian facility like this, I remind you that nearly a third of all American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan came as a result of IEDs built by Iran and secretly smuggled to enemy forces in those countries.  Indeed, in both places "volunteers" from Iran played an important role in strengthening enemy forces.  In other words, we already are involved in a secret war with Iran.  It would be good for us to strike back after all the years of unanswered Iranian attacks.



A Gasfrac Update

I have often written about GasFrac Energy Services, Inc. (GFS in Canada and GSFVF on the Pink Sheets).  Lately, I have received many requests for my opinion as to what is going on with that company.  The reason for the requests is clear:  since the start of 2013, GasFrac stock is up 52%, a stellar performance.  That performance is even more extraordinary when one includes the fact that on Friday, the stock fell by just under 10% and it is still up 52% for the year to date.

While the stock has been soaring, however, nothing much has changed regarding the basic facts about the company.  In truth, the rising stock price is probably due to a combination of four factors:

1)  At the end of last year, the stock price was beaten down by shareholders who were selling to take advantage of their large losses for tax purposes.  That downward pressure ended with December 31st.

2)  In early January, Ecorp announced that it had completed a well using a fracking fluid of only liquid propane with no proppant or chemicals added.  While there is no official confirmation, it seems that the completion with this new method was performed by GasFrac.  Such a completion method avoids all of the current environmental issues concerning the injection of chemicals into the shale strata and the potential, however slight, of groundwater contamination.

3)  In the last few weeks, a series of insider purchases at GasFrac has been revealed.  The purchases are by quite a few of the officers, although none of them are very large in size.

4)  Fund managers who are fans of GasFrac may have been engaged in window dressing at the end of the year.  They sold their holdings in December so that the stock and its sorry record would not appear on their list of year end holdings.  Once the new year began, these funds were free to buy back into the stock since the holding will not need to be reported for many months.

Put all these four factors together and what do you have?  The end of tax selling and the window dressing by fund managers just mean that the year end price was a bit too low.  The effect since then was just to rise to equilibrium.  The new completion process announced by Ecorp may some day turn out to be important, but it is unlikely.  The real question is whether or not fracking with only liquid propane will satisfy the environmental lobby.  I think that we all know the answer to that question.  Nothing that results in the production of fossil fuels will satisfy the environmental lobby.  There will always be another and another reason for objection.  Remember, EPA itself has already cleared fracking of responsibility for ground water contamination but the argument about it still rages.  Even without the facts on their side, the environmentalists will continue the fight.  So, excitement about the promise of the news from Ecorp is premature at best.  Finally, we have the insider purchases.  They look to me like a coordinated effort by management to show support for the company in its time of need.  That is not an action to be ignored.  The old management at GasFrac is unlikely to have even thought about such an effort, so kudos go to the new management for this undertaking.  Nevertheless, it does not change the basic situation of the company.

For GasFrac, the basic issue remains what it has been for the last year, namely, can it achieve the necessary revenues to earn a profit?  After that, the issue is how quickly management can grow the revenues so that all of the company's equipment can be put to work.  Remember, if GasFrac can get to the point where all of its equipment sets are being used profitably, it can easily earn more than $1.00 per share, not a bad number for a company that began the year selling at $1.52 per share.  The answers to these questions will only start to come once we see the earnings report for the last and teh current quarter.  There should be no weather related issues to affect these results.  Put another way, there will be no weather excuses for management if the revenues continue to sag.  Those are the results that will tell us if the recent run up in the stock price will continue.

For the time being, I continue to rate GasFrac a hold.  Its technology does provide clear advantatges over the normal hydrofracking.  A new management deserves the chance to achieve success. 

DISCLOSURE:  I remain long GasFrac stock.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Where Did This Come From?

I could not resist a discussion of the New York Times editorial regarding the court decision that struck down as unconstitutional president Obama's use of recess appointments when the senate was still in session.  The headline is "A Court Upholds Republican Chicanery".  Here is the key section of the editorial:

Astonishingly, a federal appeals court upheld [the Republicans'] strategy on Friday. Mr. Obama had declared that Congress was not really open for business during its one-minute, lights-on-lights-off sessions intended only to thwart him, and he made recess appointments. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said his N.L.R.B. appointments were unconstitutional, buying the argument of Republicans that the Senate was really in session.

 The humor here is unmistakeable.  The Times seems to forget two things:  first, the strategy of keeping the senate in session with these "one-minute, lights-on-lights-off" sessions was developed by the senate Democrats when they took control of the senate in the 2006 elections.  They used it for two years to prevent president Bush from making any recess appointments.  Somehow, the Times did not seem to mind the strategy at that point.  Second, the senate has been controlled by the Democrats during the entire time that Obama has been president.  It is one thing to blame the Republicans for senate practices when they are in the majority and quite another to blame the GOP when the Democrats are in control.  But then again, it is the New York Times editorial page.  Perhaps they should just stop printing editorials and run a full page statement each day that says "Obama is always right no matter what the facts are."



Not So Hot

Have you ever heard of The Research Council of Norway?  Unless you are someone who reads the literature of the global warming crowd, the answer is likely no.  The Research Council of Norway or RCN is one of those groups that has done climate studies that showed rapid warming of the Earth.  Indeed, ten years ago, RCN reviewed the data and predicted that global warming would result in an increase in average temperature of the Earth of 3.7 degrees Celsius by the time a new equilibrium was reached; this was higher than the 3 degree figure that was said to be the most likely by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  All those international conferences had as their goal finding a way to keep the increase in the average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.

Well the RCN has issued a new report after updating its research to include data from the period beginning after the year 2000.  The report can be summed up in one word:  nevermind.  That's right, the new conclusion of a charter member of the global warming hysteria club is that absent any changes from the current rate of increase in CO2 emissions, the increase in average temperature will top out at 1.9 degrees Celsius, or slightly under the target desired by the global warming crowd themselves.  According to the RCN, the earlier estimates were thrown off by the fact that the 1990s was a period of periodic climate warming that had nothing to do with greenhouse gases, so that the models of ten years ago extrapolated much more warming from carbon emissions than was proper.

While it is unlikely that you will see any media coverage of this story, it is actually of earthshaking importance.  What it means is that the entire global warming problem of which we have heard so much is actually no big deal.  Many folks already knew that, but the adherents of the global warming religion (which is what it is) clung to their predictions of the end of the world in an ungodly sauna.  For the RCN to admit reality is a major step towards the frauds of the world like Al Gore being forced to shut up.



Friday, January 25, 2013

State Terrorism

For many years now, the USA has had a list of what it calls "state sponsors of terrorism", those countries that support the use of terrorism as a political tactic.  The countries on the list include Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.  So what is it that these nations do?  They support those who would destroy lives and property in order to gain a political triumph.

It may be time to add the city of Chicago to the list.  That city has not yet endorsed murder as a political tool, but it certainly has moved forward to support the destruction of property.  Just today, mayor Emmanuel called for large banks to stop doing business with companies that manufacture firearms.  He made clear that absent such cooperation from the banks, there would be dire consequences inflicted upon them by the city.

If Chicago's government wants to weigh in on the gun debate, that is fine.  If Chicago wants to boycott gun manufacturers and have its police use water pistols instead, that too is fine.  What is not fine, however, is for the city to threaten to damage banks unless they join in the fight on the side the city wants.  We all know that the government cannot act to penalize a company or an individual for its political positions.  That is the substance of the First Amendment to the Constitution.  It is called freedom of speech.  It is reprehensible (and unconstitutional to boot) for the government to force banks to penalize those same companies and individuals so as to do indirectly what it cannot do directly.

The next time someone tells you that "it's a free country", remember Chicago.  Hopefully, we will not get to the point where the appropriate response is "it used to be."



The End of The Recess Appointment -- Mostly

In a decision that has major constitutional implications, the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled this morning that the recess apointments made by president Obama to the National Labor Relations Board were improper and unauthorized.  As a result, all of the actions of the NLRB for the last year have been invalidated.  Further, the director of the federal consumer protection agency has also had his appointment invalidated.  The issue decided by the court was a simple one:  what is the meaning of the clause in the Constitution that allows the president to make appointments without the need for Senate confirmation during times when the Senate is in recess?  Today's ruling finds that such appointments can only be made after the Senate has adjourned sine die at the end of its term.  For many decades, presidents have use recess appointments during times when the Senate had recessed for lengthy periods such as a 1 months summer recess or a two week recess for Thanksgiving.  In the case of the NLRB appointments, however, Obama overreached his power by arguing that even though the Senate had not technically adjourned, it was not really undertaking its work so it was in a state equivalent to a recess.  The court held that the meaning of the recess clause was made clear by the way that it was interpreted by president and congresses in the first sixty years after the adoption of the Constitution.  During that time, recess appointments were limited to just the period after the end of term recess by the Senate.  The court ruled that only at such times would recess appointments be valid.  In other words, because Obama decided to make a power grab, he ended up with less power than he had before he tried the maneuver.

There was no question that the NLRB appointments were going to be invalidated.  The only question was when that would happen.  Once again, rather than trying to work with the Congress, Obama decided to just act on his own.  As a result, the entire work of the NLRB for the last year has now been invalidated.  So too, the actions of the consumer agency are now called into question. 

I have not heard any reaction to the ruling yet from the White House.  I can only imagine that Obama will attack the court.  Indeed, probably in the next few days, we will hear on MSNBC that the ruling is racist.



Just Another Day in the "Garden" State

The news today is that the FBI is investigating New Jersey Democrat senator Robert Menendez for allegedly frequenting child prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.  Here is the link to the article in the Daily Caller that has all the details.  So far, the only defense being offered is that what Menendez is alleged to have done is legal in the Dominican Republic.  This makes the second time in just a few months that revelations about Menedez have appeared in the press.  First, it was disclosed that Menedez had illegal aliens working in his senate office.  Now this mess with the prostitutes surfaces.  Not surprisingly, the investigations were all kept under wraps while Menedez ran his campaign for re-election last fall. 

What is it with the Democrats in New Jersey?  First we had senator Toricelli who had to resign from the ticket due to "problems" related to ethics.  Then we had Governor McGreevy who used to go to rest stop bathrooms on the Jersey Turnpike for anonymous sex with men he met there.  Then there was governor Corzine whose company just happened to lose around a billion dollars in client funds while he was CEO.  Now we have the marvelous Mr. Menedez and these investigations.

If there is any truth to the allegations, Menedez ought to resign.  Hopefully governor Christie can find someone who is not ethically challenged as a replacement.  Then again, it is New Jersey, so who knows?