Friday, March 30, 2012

Unless You've Been Living Under A Rock Lately... probably know that tonight's drawing for the Mega Millions lottery is the largest in the history of America.  All told, it is estimated that the final prize will be north of $600 million, with a lump sum take-home of somewhere around $400-450 million.  For an interesting discussion on how to calculate your odds of winning, check out this Forbes article.  To save you some time, I think the two most important details are that your odds of winning are about 176,000,000:1, and this: do you improve your expected payoff in Mega Millions? Pick numbers between 32 and 56. They are no more likely to be picked than smaller numbers, but they are less likely to be shared. That's because a lot of buyers play hunches that involve birthdays.

Gizmodo offers some additional perspective on the odds of other things happening to you:

New York Mets Win the World Series 100-to-1

Chainsaw Injury: 4,464-to-1

Fireworks Injury: 19,556-to-1

Date a Supermodel: 88,000-to-1

Struck by Lightning 576,000-to-1

Suffocate in Bed 2,000,000-to-1

Killed by Lightning 2,320,000-to-1

Killed Using a Right-Handed Product (If You're Left-Handed) 7,000,000-to-1

Killed by the Escape of Radiation From a Nearby Nuclear Power Station 10,000,000-to-1

Dying in a Plane Crash 11,000,000-to-1

The good news is that I saw one analysis earlier in the week that if you buy 25 tickets you improve your odds of winning to about 7,000,000:1.  I'm pretty sure they made up that right-handed/left-handed thing, but in any case that's much better than dying in a plane crash and dying of radiation from a nearby nuke plant.  Sweet!  Time to get some tickets...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obamacare And The Supreme Court

In case you missed it, Obamacare has reached the Supreme Court.  In the most historic hearing since the Brown v. Board of Education case, all nine Justices heard a couple hours of testimony on three consecutive days this week.  At stake is nothing less than the direction and core nature of America as we move forward.

First, a couple side notes.  Over half (26) of the states have sued the federal government over the constitutionality of Obamacare.  One of the Justices, Elena Kagan, actually helped create the law, so according to the entire history of the American legal system and every reasonable measure of legal ethics and precedent, Kagan should have recused herself from this case.  She didn't, revealing that the liberal members of the Court have absolutely no interest in upholding the Constitution but rather in simply pushing forward a liberal agenda.  Also, now that pieces of the law have been implemented, and as we're drawing closer to the whole enchilada going into effect, the cost estimates of what this 'free' health care is going to cost American taxpayers has doubled - $1.76 trillion over 10 years.  It also contains 17 new taxes and will be enforced by thousands of new IRS agents.  And lots of other failed policies, too.  Oh yeah, and in the two years since Obamacare was passed into law forced down America's throat against its will, support for repeal dropped below 50% only once, and has generally remained in the mid- to upper-50s.  America didn't want this two years ago, and America still doesn't want it now.

That sets the stage - now let's look at the actual current events.  There are a zillion links and articles out there about these three days of hearings, but I'll try to just hit the high points.  The first day was over something that most normal people aren't going to care about, but it was some legal wrangling that could have stopped the whole thing from proceeding.  It didn't, so let's move on to Day 2.  Boiling it down, there are two key questions that the Supreme Court has to decide:

1. Is the individual mandate -- the legal requirement for everyone to purchase health insurance or face fines and jail time -- constitutional?
2. If the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, will the rest of the law be struck down or remain standing?

The Obama administration's argument is that the government can force every American to purchase a product (i.e. health insurance) because of the Commerce Clause, which states that the government is legally allowed to regulate commerce.  The opposition states that this is an overreach of government authority, and that the Constitution does not, in fact, authorize the government to require citizens purchase a product if they choose not to.  The government's argument was torn apart by the bench.  Justices fired questions as the administration's lawyers, asking whether the government can legally force Americans to purchase broccoli, or cell phones using the same legal reasoning as the administration's case.

It went badly for the Obama administration, prompting an increasing number of knowledgeable observers to think it's going down.  So badly, in fact, that the primary lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Virrilli, Jr., has been soundly lambasted for botching the government's case.  Of course, given that he had no great case to start with, that's hardly a surprise, but he's still going to take the lion's share of the blame if the law does go down.

The liberal Justices did their best to defend the government's case, but the conservative Justices carried the day.  Even the 'swing vote', Justice Kennedy, seemed skeptical of it, saying:
But the reason, the reason this is concerning, is because it requires the individual to do an affirmative act. In the law of torts our tradition, our law, has been that you don't have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger. The blind man is walking in front of a car and you do not have a duty to stop him absent some relation between you. And there is some severe moral criticisms of that rule, but that's generally the rule.

And here the government is saying that the Federal Government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases and that changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in the very fundamental way.


This is the crux of the matter on the mandate.

The problem here is that if the mandate is struck down, no one (not even the Obama administration) can make the numbers work out to make this program even appear to be plausibly affordable.  Even the slanted projections (which have been ripped to shreds by reality, as I mentioned above) that the Obama administration and other supporters use completely fall apart if 100% of American taxpayers aren't forced to pay into the system.  If insurance companies are required to provide coverage, but there isn't enough money to adequately fund the program, then those insurance companies will inevitably go out of business, leaving a vacuum that can only be filled by...da da dum...!  The government.

Thus, some people think the terribly performances before the Supreme Court are actually part of the scheme:
[if] the mandate goes away but the rest of the law remains in force...that makes private health insurance economically unviable, and the insurance companies will all exit the business or they will go out of business. At which point the Democrats will try to implement “single payer”, a total nationalization of the entire health care industry, financed by a huge rise in taxes.

Single Payer is what they always wanted. The bill wasn’t originally written that way, though, because they knew that even with twin Democratic majorities, there was no chance of passing it. So they included the mandate instead.
If the mandate is struck down, then Congress will have to act. There won’t be any way to repeal the rest of the law because Obama will veto, and the Senate will sustain the veto. The only thing he will agree to is implementation of single payer.
That’s why the arguments yesterday and today were feeble: Obama wants to lose
Now we come to Day 3, and the issue of severability.  The nutshell here is that if the mandate is struck down, would that cause the collapse of the whole rest of the bill, or not?  Again, things went badly:
The more liberal justices were clearly hostile to the arguments being made by Paul Clement on behalf of the challengers that the entire statute must be struck down. However, other justices, including Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy, were obviously concerned that the complex scheme designed by Congress will not work as intended by Congress without the individual mandate – which is the “heart” of the law as Justice Scalia and others later referred to it – and thus they may need to strike down the entire law if the mandate is unconstitutional.

Justice Scalia turned the tables on Deputy Solicitor General Kneedler’s argument that Congress could simply fix any gaps in the law if the Court left the rest in place.  Justice Scalia explained that legislative inertia would prevent a bare majority from repealing the law or changing it with the mandate gone, even if that is what a majority wanted with the mandate gone.   Thus, the Court would put its thumb on the scale one way or the other, and it simply had to decide what the Congress that enacted ObamaCare would have wanted, not the next Congress.

Justice Kennedy several times expressed concerns for the risks the insurance industry would suffer if the Court did not strike down more of the law, asking if anyone could guarantee the insurance industry would not suffer great losses.  Justice Alito chimed in that there would be $350 billion losses without the mandate, and asked whether Congress wouldn’t want the entire law struck down.


Several justices also expressed concern that striking down just the individual mandate would cause enormous economic costs that could damage the insurance market since the mandate is tied to a variety of other reforms, including the guaranteed issue and community ratings policies forced on health insurance companies.

In fact, Justice Scalia said that those provisions were in the law “in anticipation” of the mandate and that it would “bankrupt the insurance companies, if not the States, unless this minimum coverage provision comes into effect.”

Even Justice Sotomayor pointed out that “the congressional findings and all of the evidence Congress had before it that community ratings and guaranteed issuance would be a death spiral…without minimum coverage.”
Bottom line analysis:
There is no doubt that what has shocked supporters of ObamaCare over the past three days has been the skepticism that the justices have expressed over the constitutionality of ObamaCare.  Liberals are simply astonished at the idea that anyone would take the Constitution and the enumerated powers doctrine seriously.  But the best evidence in the courtroom over the last three days is that the justices will uphold the Constitution by striking down a clearly unconstitutional law.
Always one to look at the bigger picture, Rush Limbaugh offers this very poignant commentary:
Now, folks, the Wall Street Journal today called yesterday "a constitutional awakening."  And at first glance you might say, "Yeah, yeah. Okay." Because what happened yesterday?  What happened yesterday was a bunch of people thought that this was a slam-dunk that it would be declared constitutional, including the mandate. And the court went the way it did during oral arguments and all of the "learned" people were shocked and stunned and couldn't believe it and sunk into immediate depression. The Wall Street Journal says: Well, we had a "constitutional awakening."  I would beg to differ.  The "constitutional awakening" is the Tea Party.  The Tea Party was the "constitutional awakening" in 2009 and 2010.

The Tea Party voting in the midterms in 2010, that's the "constitutional awakening."  The election was a "constitutional awakening."  The fact that we hang by a thread here in the Supreme Court is not a "constitutional awakening."  What this is... And this is my point of the whole show so far. This oral argument -- these hearings, whatever you want to call 'em -- is evidence of the deterioration of the rule of law in this country.  We are hanging by a thread! More than likely we're hanging by the vote of one man, one Supreme Court justice. I don't care if it's Kennedy or whoever. Just the fact that one person out of 311 million decides this? That's not a "constitutional awakening."  This is evidence of how far we have sunk if you ask me.  No, I'm still glad it happened. Don't misunderstand.  I'm just still in a state of shock that we have gotten here.  I'm still in a state of utter disbelief that we have arrived at this point. 
But we have, and we are here.

All in all, it looks pretty grim for supporters of Obamacare.  One never knows, of course, what the Supreme Court will ultimately decide.  And, honestly, no matter what direction they go, there will be more legal wrangling in the months and years to come.

The point, I think is that this will be one of the most historic legal decisions in decades, if not longer.  It will fundamentally shape how the government interacts with the individual American citizen.  If the government can legally require every American citizen to purchase a certain product, then the government can legally require every American citizen to purchase any product it chooses.  Plus, everything can be related in some way to a person's health, so by controlling the health care products and services that people are allowed to get, the government controls essentially everything about that person's life.

Welcome to the Obama era, a liberal utopia of government control.

Unless the Supreme Court has something else to say on the matter, that is.  Let's hope and pray for that outcome, and the restoration of the United States as a free and prosperous nation of individual liberty.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More (Silence) From The Great Uniter

Remember how Barack Obama was supposed to unite the country and heal all racial divides?  Well, as you saw in the last post, he has completely failed to even make a statement (much less DO anything of substance) when the Black Panthers openly called for the kidnapping and illegal retribution against a white man for allegedly killing a young black man.  But now it's gotten even worse:

A school-cafeteria lunch lady and her husband have received hate mail, unwanted visits from reporters and fearful inquiries from neighbors — all because their Sanford-area address is being disseminated on Twitter as belonging to Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman, her son said late Tuesday.

The woman, 70, who has a heart condition, and her husband, 72, have temporarily moved to a hotel to avoid the spotlight and possible danger, said son Chip Humble of Longwood.

The woman has another son named William George Zimmerman who lived with her in 1995 and still lives in Central Florida. He is no relation to George Zimmerman, 28, who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Feb. 26, sparking national outrage and international interest.

William Zimmerman isn't sure how his mother and stepfather's address became public. He said he used it to register a car, get a drivers license and vote when he lived there briefly after college.

"This is really scary, and I'm concerned for my family," Zimmerman told the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday night. "It's scary because there are people who aren't mentally right and will take this information and run with it."

Zimmerman traced the tweets — which he said have been retweeted by actor-director Spike Lee — to a man in California. Zimmerman has implored the man to stop and said he received this response, "Black power all day. No justice, no peace" and an obscenity.

Lee's tweet has been removed, but it continues to be retweeted.

Again: where is the Great Uniter?

What happens if this poor lunch lady has a heart attack and dies?  Will a wrongful death lawsuit be launched at Spike Lee?  Even if things quiet down now that this address is known to be someone else's, some measure of emotional and financial damage has already been done to these completely innocent people.  Why is this obvious injustice being completely ignored by the White House and the Department of Justice?  Why is the race-driven terrorization by the Black Panthers being allowed to proceed unchecked by law enforcement?

Even a lame and empty generic statement condemning racial violence and intimidation by anyone would make a statement of plausible deniability, so the only possible conclusion is that they agree with it and approve of it.

PS - yes, I know...I've been extremely remiss in not blogging about the Obamacare madness in the Supreme's coming, I promise...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Orwell Lives!

If you haven't read 1984 by George Orwell, you really should.  Sadly, the following isn't fiction but real life:

The leader of the New Black Panther Party called for a $10,000 bounty for the man who shot and killed black Florida teen Trayvon Martin, a case that continues spark explosive emotions and strain the country's racial tensions.

"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," New Black Panther leader Mikhail Muhammad said Saturday when he announced the reward at a protest in Sanford, the Orlando suburb where the killing took place.

Members of the New Black Panther party called for the mobilization of 10,000 black men to capture George Zimmerman, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Zimmerman has gone into hiding due to death threats and the offer of the $10,000 reward, his legal advisor Craig Sonner said, according to Reuters.

"He should be fearful for his life," Muhammad said. "You can't keep killing black children."

Um...okay.  A few thoughts.

First, is anyone else noticing the mind-boggling irony that we have a bunch of black people boldly calling for the capture and unlawful punishment of a white guy for acting in self-defense?  Does anyone have any question of whether or not Martin Luther King, Jr. would be on board with this bunch?  What about this isn't a racial hate crime waiting to happen?

That brings us to the equally mind-boggling fact of the deafening silence from the White House and the Department of Justice.  No, seriously.  Where are the official statements from these formal law enforcement entities?  Obama and DOJ Secretary Eric Holder were sure all over the incident when a white cop got into an altercation with a black professor (never mind that the cop was legally in the right and the black professor was getting unnecessarily roudy).  So where are they now, when black people are openly calling for extra-legal 'justice' to be done upon a white guy?

Isn't it about to time acknowledge that for this administration race is nothing but a tool for bludgeoning their opponents into submission?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Tech

Well, we're back from our all-too-brief visit to Chicago, and we had lots of fun.  No major snafus in terms of directions or anything like that, and the kiddos seemed to have a good time, so I'd call this one a successful vacation.  :)

Right before we left, I was able to snag an upgrade to my phone, and I chose the Razr Maxx.  I was considering the Maxx and the Nexus for this upgrade.  I liked how the Nexus line is Google's flagship product and is the first to receive updates (like the upcoming and much-anticipated Ice Cream Sandwich), but I've never been a big fan of the design of the phone itself.  On the other hand, I love the Razr's styling and design, and I had one of the old clamshell Razr phones back in the day.  My initial hesitation on the new Razr was, of course, the hideous battery life and the fact that the battery is built in and thus not removable, so the introduction of the Maxx (the same Razr phone, but with a double-sized battery) pretty much sealed the deal for me.

And let me tell you, the battery on the Razr Maxx is everything it's cracked up to be.  On the first day I had it, I put it through the following:
- used a live wallpaper all day
- installed and setup 125+ apps
- 3 hours of streaming radio
- significant poking around to tweak options and customize the interface
- normal load of phone calls, text messages, browsing sessions, checking the weather, etc.

Overall, I'd say it was about 12 hours of heavy usage, and I still had 30%+ battery left over!  Incredible!  Another example would be the drive back from Chicago.  Through typical levels of usage (browsing, email, etc.) across the 8+ hours we were on the road -- which included a number of stretches where there is no cell coverage and thus constant tower-searching -- I was only down to about 80% by the time we rolled into Liberty.

So, if you're wondering if the much-hyped battery is the real deal...yes, yes it is.

On top of that, the performance is incredible.  The phone is responsive and fast, and I have yet to experience a lock-up or freeze of any kind.  The Kevlar back provides great strength, and the phone itself is thinner than my Droid X, even with the monster battery.

On the network side, I have to say that the 4G speeds are a bit disappointing.  It seems there are typically two speed plateaus, one with about 4-5Mbps download and 2Mbps upload, and another at about 10Mbps down and 10Mbps up.  My previous 3G speeds were roughly 3Mbps/1Mbps, so the lower plateau really isn't much at all to brag about, and the upper plateau (while a major and welcome improvement) is still pretty far off from the promised peak of 50Mbps.  Ah, well, I'm sure the 4G network will come around more as time goes on.  I'm sure some of it has to do with walls, weather, etc., so I'm going to keep on testing.

The only other negative I can offer (and it's a half-hearted one at most) is the screen.  The colors aren't as vivid or bright compared to my Droid X, and the coloration seems to be tinted a bit darker in general.  But, given that I tend to use my phone as a tool more than an entertainment device, this is a 'negative' that I can easily live with, and one that is really pretty minimal.

The most pleasant surprise to me is the touch screen.  It's Gorilla Glass, so I expected it to be very strong and scratch resistant; what I didn't expect was how it is so naturally smudge-resistant.  It barely registers any residue after a lengthy session of use, and what little is there easily wipes off.  I don't think I'm going to bother with a screen protector.

All in all, this is a great phone, and I'm very pleased with the purchase.  It'll stink to have to wait on Motorola to roll out the ICS update, but I'm certain it'll be worth the wait.  In the meantime, I'll be here enjoying my Razr Maxx.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What Could Be Better Than A Movie Camera Mounted On A Hovercopter?

Why, ninjas, of course!

This little video was done by a German film company as an experiment with copter-mounted cameras.  I completely agree with Gizmodo that, given the unique views and extended shots that are possible with using this technology, I expect this will be picked up by a mainstream studio for use in a big-time film before long.  Until then, we just get to enjoy little pieces of eye candy like this:

OMCOPTER - Ninja shoot with Epic from omstudios on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Just Tested The iPad 3 New iPad Whatever It's Called

I won't go into the details of exactly how because I wouldn't want to get anyone in trouble...but I just had my hands on the latest iPad!  That's right, the hyper-anticipated much-ballyhooed release of Apple's latest tablet -- that isn't officially released until tomorrow -- was in my hands less than 60 minutes ago!

I only got to play with it for about 1 minute, but I have two immediate observations.

1. The screen is really, really good.  I brought up a clip of a movie that was loaded on it, and it was that same kind of crystal clarity that you see when watching a Blu-Ray movie on a high-definition TV.  It may not have been perfect, but to my eye it might as well have been.

2. The response was much snappier than the iPad 2.  I've read conflicting reports about the exact processor and amount of memory that's in this new version, but whatever it ended up being it is clearly a speed upgrade.  Not blinding speed, mind you, but a noticeable improvement.  Apps opened quickly, the screen-scrolling was very snappy, and it just felt more responsive somehow.

That's about as much as I had a chance to test out, though I will also say that the physical size and shape were essentially identical to the iPad 2, as well.  I would imagine most cases will probably fit both, but it's always best to be certain before you buy.

Bottom line: this seems like a really nice incremental product improvement.  Apple's massive lead in this particular product segment isn't likely to diminish because of the new version.

And that's coming from an admitted (not to mention proud) Android apologist.  ;)

Nevertheless, it's fun to get lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to play with the latest high-tech gizmos before they're publicly available.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Jobs Lost = Lower Unemployment

Curious as to how we can continue losing jobs while the unemployment rate simultaneously continues going down?  Here's how, with a heaping helping of media hackery and liberal lies revealed.

If you want just the central piece of it, here you go:

Stanley Greenberg, James Carville's partner, big-time Democrat pollster, last couple of weeks puts a pull out and says: Mr. President, don't go to town on this big story of a reviving, roaring-back economy because it isn't going to work. They're not feeling it. The reason a story based on a virtual economic recovery won't work is because people are living in the economy. 
And they don't have jobs, and the jobs they're getting are not career jobs. A lot of the jobs that were added in this report are people taking second jobs. Our old buddy, the old reliable James Pethokoukis, is occasionally published at Reuters (we'll forgive him for that) and is also a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He says if we're gonna compare, let's compare apples to apples. "If the size of the U.S. labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when Barack Obama took office ... the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.8%" not 8.3%. What does that mean? What is the labor force participation rate? 
Every time I try to explain this, I am met with people who tell me I'm wrong and don't know what I'm talking about and that it's irrelevant, but Mr. Pethokoukis continues to report it. The labor force participation rate is essentially the entire universe of jobs available in the country, and there are over two million less jobs, two million fewer jobs. They just don't exist anymore. Whereas there used to be an ABC Window Washer outfit, for example, when Obama was immaculated in 2009, the place has shut down. So the ABC Window Washer jobs are gone. That is why people talk about creating new jobs. If we need to create new jobs and we need new jobs, it means there are fewer jobs to fill. So if same time number of jobs existed... 
If all the ABC Window Washer outfits had been closed down, if they were still open, and those jobs were still available, based on current numbers the actual unemployment rate would be 10.8% not 8.3%. So the universe of available jobs matters. There is no way you can tell me that the American economy, with two million fewer jobs today than three years ago, is in any way upbeat. You've got the same number of people looking for fewer jobs. That's why the percentage changes. You have the same number of people looking for fewer jobs. It's like musical chairs: Every time the music stops, somebody's left out because there aren't enough chairs. It's the same principle here. So the 8.3% unemployment rate is meaningless. It's bogus because we're not comparing apples to apples. Part of the Obama economic record is that there are two million fewer ABC Window Washer jobs than there were when he was immaculated in 2009.

It's simple math cloaked in politics.  Here's part 1...

- let's say you have 300 people in a big room
- let's say you have 270 jobs
- the unemployment rate of people in the room is 10%

Now, here's part 2...

- let's say you still have 300 people in the big room, but only 270 of them are trying to get a job (the other 30 are taking an extended nap)
- the number of jobs in the room drops to 245
- the unemployment rate of people in the room decreases to 9%

How can this be?  How can you have 300 people in the room, lose 25 jobs (almost 10% of all jobs in the room), and still have a lower unemployment rate?  It's easy, when you can simply ignore the people who are still in the room but aren't trying to get a job.  The percentage appears to go down, but in reality there are fewer jobs to be had.

This is precisely how the current 'unemployment' rate has been going down for the past year without any meaningful new jobs being created.  This is the "U-3" unemployment number, and this is what's being reported as going down now.  If, however, you look at the "U-6" unemployment number (that includes those people who aren't even trying to get a job anymore), the real unemployment in this country is still hovering around 10%.

It's deception on the part of the White House, and deception on the part of the media to go along with the spin in their reporting.  Why?

Because no President in American history has been re-elected with an unemployment number higher than 8%.  Look for the numbers to continue being fudged until at least the next election.

Welcome to Hope-n-change!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Obama's Big Oil Lie

In case you missed it, gas has gone over $6 per gallon in the U.S. now.  Not everywhere, of course, but a vast array of predictions say it'll happen in a lot of places by the time summer ends.  It shouldn't be a surprise, really, given that every energy-related policy the Obama administration has enacted in the past three years has contributed to driving up prices.

Take, for example, the Keystone XL Pipeline, a proposed plan to pump oil from Canada to the US.  It's a project that would create tens of thousands of American jobs while helping to keep gas prices down, and it's coming from an ally rather than a hostile Middle Eastern nation.  Of course, none of that is persuasive to the Obama administration, which killed the project after soliciting help from Democrats in the Senate to override Republican votes in support of it.

That's just one example of many, of course, and it shouldn't be at all surprising.  You see, Obama and his people have made it plain that they want higher energy prices.  Obama's hand-picked energy chief, Stephen Chu, stated that their objective is not to bring down gas prices at all:
“No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu replied. “We think that if you consider all these energy policies, including energy efficiency, we think that we can go a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and [diversifying] our supply and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers.”
Given their actions on the Keystone XL Pipeline, it doesn't seem that he was being terribly honest about that whole decrease in dependency, either.  Recall, too, Chu's words from back in 2008:
“Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
And this isn't just a rogue administrator...Obama shares the same position.  Listen to his own words:

The latest excuse from the Obama administration is that they can't do much about it:
“We know there’s no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight.”
I guess he means besides harnessing the raw power of algae and proper inflation of your tires, because he seemed pretty hip on those ideas when he proposed them.  Of course, his claim of the lack of a silver bullet isn't exactly true, either:

Erasing uncertainty is the #1 thing you can do as a national leader if you truly desire to lower gasoline prices. Not only could it change the psychology of energy investing, there is still time for companies to change their 2012 investment plans.
Below the fold is my humble 10-point plan: Things President Obama could (but won’t) do to reduce domestic gasoline prices by November 2012.
1.  Commit to a strategic goal of North American energy security. That includes reasonable and responsible domestic drilling. That includes taking the lead on the Keystone XL Pipeline; we could find a way to make it happen while addressing the legitimate environmental concerns of Nebraskans. It includes a commitment to maintaining the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and opening ANWR.
2.  Ditch the anti-industry, anti-capitalist rhetoric. It is not the President’s or the government’s place to decide when an industry’s profitability is “high enough”. High oil company profits fund more drilling; more drilling means more future supply and lower prices. Besides, American oil companies are not owned by a cabal of wealthy executives, but by America’s pension funds, mutual funds and private investment accounts. “They” are “us”.
3.  Stop targeting the oil industry for punitive tax treatment. States such as Texas and Louisiana have production tax abatement programs that have successfully encouraged new drilling. If you don’t believe that the threat of increased taxes discourages drilling, just ask Governor Perry or Governor Jindal.
4.  Realize that Uncle Sam is in the energy business and is a partner in industry’s success. Oil and gas royalties are the federal government’s #2 source of revenue, after the income tax. Offshore slowdowns hurt not only industry and jobs, but government revenue.
5.  Recognize that industry does not need to be led by government; industry needs to be unleashed and encouraged to innovate. The resurgence of the domestic energy sector was rooted in the private sector, not matter how much President Obama and Dr. Chu would like to take credit for it. The growth in North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas happened in spite of the federal government, not because of it.
6.  Trust that no oil operator wants to be the “next BP”. The BP spill cost that company something on the order of $40 billion. Industry safety and environmental commitment is motivated more out of self-interest and less out of fear of the government. When it comes to federal regulation, the nation would be better served by Sheriff Taylor, not Barney Fife.
7.  Return offshore permitting to the pre-Macondo pace.  Your overreaction to the BP Spill has cost on the order of 500,000 barrels per day of domestic oil production from the Gulf of Mexico. The ridiculous “Worst Case Discharge” calculation as a routine part of offshore permitting is engineering malpractice, in my humble opinion. The professional staff of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is capable of reasoned regulation, but they currently operate in fear of their political masters.
8.  Declare hydraulic fracturing & well design to be the regulatory domain of the states, not the EPA. Geology and environment vary widely; Pennsylvania is not Louisiana is not North Dakota is not California. It is insanity to think that one broadly-applied set of rules can be applied to regulate industry without suffocating development.
9.  Rescind the recently-enacted royalty rate increase for new onshore Federal oil and gas leases. Secretary Salazar’s stated rationale for increasing the government’s take by a whopping 50% – from 12.5% to 18.75% of gross production – was to equate onshore royalties with the offshore royalty rate. That makes no sense. Higher royalties mean less drilling, poorer economics of production and premature abandonment of wells. Besides, anIHS-CERA Study recently showed that the federal government’s total take of offshore cash flows makes the Gulf of Mexico the second-most punitive fiscal regime in the world, after Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. [Update: In keeping with the First Rule of Holes, rolling back the royalty rate increase may be the first thing the government should do if it is serious about reducing energy prices. - Ed.]10. Encourage development of a nationwide distribution system of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Natural gas is clean, abundant and nearly 100% domestic. Its potential as a transportation fuel has scarcely been tapped.

Yes, I'm aware that the Obama administration claims that domestic oil production is higher than ever.  That's not exactly the truth.  In fact, there are many untruths around energy prices that you probably haven't heard in the propaganda arm of the Democratic party media.  For example, they're once again trotting out a decades-old lie:

Gas prices shot up 18 cents on average nationwide over the past two weeks, according to the latest Lundberg survey. 
That puts the average cost of regular gas at $3.69 a gallon. Of course, many of you around the country are already paying over $4. 
President Obama, members of his administration, Democrats in Congress, and his allies on the left all make the same case: we can't "drill our way" out of this problem. 
They say we use a quarter of the world's oil, but only have 2% of the world's oil reserves. So, do the math. They say it's impossible, but here's how he gets to that mythical 2%. 
For simplicity, we'll call it Obama's big oil lie because that's what it is. 
They're only counting proven oil reserves. 
The truth is that 2% oil reserves figure is whatever the government says it is. 
Here’s the official definition from the non-partisan Congressional Research service. 
Proven reserves are: "certainty to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions." 
The key word there is "existing" conditions. 
The U.S. has around 20 billion barrels in proven reserves, but the amount of undiscovered so called "technically recoverable" oil is over seven times that. 
Those are the government's own figures! 
And we can get that oil using today's technology. In fact, the U.S. has nearly 1.5 trillion barrels of oil. 
That's enough to fuel the present needs in the U.S. for around 250 years, according to the Institute for Energy Research. 
Former President of Shell Oil on FBN earlier today on how we could easily get back to producing 10 million barrels a day: 
"The best source for new oil is the world's largest consumer economy: this country. We could go back to 10 million barrels if we had the permitting that would enable it to happen. We have the oil. There is more oil in this country that we're not allowed to get at than oil we're allowed to get at.” 
But much of the oil is off limits thanks to the policies of this President:
-The outer Continental shelf.
-The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve in Anwar.
-And Shale Oil where the United States has the largest deposits in the world estimated by the government to be over 2 trillion barrels.
Even when the production is not in this country, the President will do anything he can to stop it, like blocking the Keystone pipeline. 
Also, what the President is refusing to acknowledge is the United States is in the middle of an oil boom thanks to new technology like deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. 
So the President needs to stop with the 2% lie. 
The solutions are right in front of us, but this administration flatly refuses to explore them.

Gas prices have doubled since Obama took office, and everything he does continues that trend.  Period.

This needs to be hammered, hammered, hammered by whoever the GOP nominee is.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Life has conspired against the voluminous blogs on Obamacare and the current economy that I have been trying to put together over the past few days, but I will hopefully get those done in the near future.  In the meantime, here are a few great political cartoons on current events for your enjoyment (I may recycle these in the future for the appropriate topical post...we'll see):

Monday, March 5, 2012

Eating Vs. Sex

A very, very wise man once pointed out this truism of political reality nowadays:

A liberal position will eventually find itself in conflict with another liberal position.

Here's yet another perfect example:

A particular moral idea governs left-wing views on social and health matters, and the left's purpose with political advocacy is to put the power of government behind that view.  By examining the left's very different policy approaches to eating and sex, we can discern the features of the morality at work.

The left's governmental approach to sex today involves, among other things, the following:

1.  Advertising it to children through the public schools and encouraging them to explore and participate in it.

2.  Basing policy on the assumption that no solution to any problem lies in individuals restraining or channeling their sexual urges, and therefore even the intractable facts of nature should not be left, with their powerful incentives, to encourage that posture.  It is important, instead, to create an environment conducive to sex unfettered by its natural consequences.

4.  Providing, at public expense, the means to support children who are born nevertheless.

The suite of policies advocated by the left is designed to encourage sex but limit procreation and STDs.  The social "good," therefore, is deemed to be unfettered sex, while the social "ills" are the birth of children and the suffering (and infectiousness) incident to STDs.

Let's compare this moral view and its program construct to the left's policy attitude toward eating.  In this latter realm, the social "ills" are thought to be obesity and the medical problems that come with it.  But what is the social "good"?  Is there one?  It's hard to say, because eating – which can be a most enjoyable activity, and far less avoidable than sex – is not, in the left's moral view, considered a "good" to be promoted on whatever terms the individual prefers.

The left's governmental treatment of eating is very different from its treatment of sex.  It runs on these lines:

1.  Advertising to children (as well as adults) the evils of certain kinds of food.

2.  Basing policy on the assumption that the people must be nudged or even coerced to eat according to whatever principle is suggested by the most recent studies.  It is important to create an environment in which eaters have to go well out of their way to avoid the choices made for them by government authorities.  The ideal, in fact, is an environment in which eaters can't avoid the dictates of the government.

3.  Ensuring that the expenses of obesity are, increasingly, born by the public, while fanning political resentment of those expenses, and of the condition of the obese.

4.  Proclaiming that the solution in every case is controlling what people eat, rather than providing for the obese the same publicly-funded relief offered to the sexually promiscuous.

It is hard to make the case that eating a lot is worse than having a lot of sex outside of commitment and marriage.  At the very most, the two practices are a moral wash, one no worse than the other.  Both involve doing discretionary things with one's body.  Both involve courting well-known consequences.  Both involve the strong potential for inconvenience to oneself and the larger community.  It is making an arbitrary moral judgment, to insist that what causes obesity should be dealt with through coercion and the limiting of options, while what causes unwanted pregnancies and STDs should be the object of solicitude, and public programs based not on denial but on mitigation.

We know that eating in moderation and limiting certain foods generally results in better health than eating, indiscriminately, lots and lots of things we enjoy for only a brief moment.

But we also know that not having sex prevents pregnancy and STDs with unparalleled effectiveness.  We know, moreover, that disciplining our sex drives, keeping sex within marriage, welcoming the children that come from it, and raising them with a father and mother are substantially more effective in preventing STDs, "unwanted" children, poverty, delinquency, addiction, and hopelessness than are government programs to distribute condoms and subsidize abortion providers.

If government treated obesity the way it treats sex, it would encourage schoolchildren to explore their enjoyment of Twinkies, Oreos, and moon pies; it would employ professionals to devise ways of suiting government policies to the principle that our bodies belong to us and we can put whatever we want in our stomachs; it would hold legislative hearings on the overriding importance of the freedom to eat what we want; it would resist the very idea of remedies that involve the individual eating less, or eating different things; it would pay for liposuction, cholesterol drugs, heart surgery, and diabetes-mitigation measures but not for programs of diet and exercise; it would encourage the development of drugs that could prevent fat formation regardless of what one eats; and it would make it a basic human right to be able to eat whatever one wants and have the consequences mitigated by the public.

There really is no case to be made that government should not do this.  If, that is, we accept that government's current approach to sex and its consequences is appropriate and warranted.

Ultimately, no discussion of these issues would be complete without the observation that if government – and the federal government in particular – wasn't involved in them in the first place, it wouldn't matter nearly as much when the people's opinions and our moral perspectives on them differed.

This seeming hypocrisy is simply the logical extension of two liberal positions -- the idea that freedom to eat what one chooses is bad, and the idea that freedom to have any kind of sex one chooses is good -- that have now collided.  While some people may be tempted to argue or debate about the particular merits of either argument, the real question that should be asked is: why is the government involved in either?

But back to the original truism, and the root of the issue - why does this sort of inconsistency happen with a regularity rivaling that of the sunrise?  It's not rocket science:

Liberal positions are usually developed completely apart from truth, logic, reason, science, or deductive thinking.  They are usually created by an emotional response or a desire to accommodate an agenda.  As a result, the thing in question is taken out of its hierarchical position and artificially placed above or below its rightful place.

Assume a value (like the imperative to support "green" initiatives) is elevated to an arbitrarily high level.  Now assume another value (save the eagles, save the whales, etc) is elevated to an arbitrarily high level, eventually there will develop a conflict as to which value has priority.  Since the God-established hierarchy of values was ignored, the only factor to determine which value wins out is the power or strength of its support (i.e. who is loudest or has the most money).

Yep, that about sums it up.