Thursday, April 26, 2012

Obama, This Is a Tractor

In 1953, when I was 14, I worked on a farm in Newville, PA for a full summer.  I fed and milked cows; drove tractors and plowed fields (see: In Newville, PA); picked cherries and peaches; cleaned stables and chicken coops; stacked hay bales; killed chickens; scythed roadsides; helped build a silo; etc.  I worked ten hours a day, six days a week ... and two hours on Sunday ... for ten weeks ... all for $100 in compensation.  I think this works out to about 16 cents an hour ... yet it was one of my life's most meaningful and defining experiences.

Now our Federal government, in its nanny-state wisdom, is planning to stop farm children under the age of 18 from doing many agricultural chores (see: New Labor Dept. Proposals).  We all know that our government has done a lot of stupid things, but this takes the ten-tiered wedding cake.  Now a Washington bureaucrat, who probably can't tell a heifer from a Hubbard squash, wants to tell farmers how to run their businesses and their families.  This smacks of how well a senior lecturer in law from Chicago has been able to manage a nearly $15 trillion economy.

Balderdash!!  Please kind readers do your part this Fall to help repopulate our government with grown-ups.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Measure of the Man

With Romney's primary sweep yesterday and his optimistic and inspirational acceptance speech last night, it seems clear to this non-pundit that Romney will not only win in November, but that he will prevail in a mind-boggling landslide ... and, in the process, sweep away many Democrat incumbents in Congress and in other state elections.  I think that this conclusion should also be ... or will shortly become obvious to Obama and most of the lickspittles surrounding him. Therefore, we now will see the true measure of our hope-and-change President.

Will he, with grace and patriotism, accept this imprimatur?  Or will he, in a snit, do everything he can in his last months in office to destroy his opposition and possibly his country in the process?  Will he go on a spending spree to reward his cronies to keep them solvent long enough to recapture future political purchase?  Will he try to pass legislative booby traps that will keep the new Congress tied up in knots for years to come?  Will he try to pack our government agencies and courts with loyal operatives who will work to frustrate the people's initiatives?  Will he and his family enjoy a series of over-the-top vacations and lavish White-House fetes at taxpayer expense?  Will he continue, with even greater fervor, to divide this country along gender, racial, ethnic, economic, and age-ist lines?  Will he try to finish the job of destroying many of our time-honored international alliances?  Will he even inspire the Occupiers to attempt insurrections?

Need I go on?  Unfortunately, I think we know the answers to these and many other equally-disturbing questions.  And, therefore, Obama's metric is unfortunately de minimis.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Think Big

In the late 1960's, Norman Cousins, then Editor of The Saturday Review and later the World magazine, was on the Board of Directors of a company I had started, Meta-Language Products, Inc.  He was, needless to say an uber-Liberal, but held a view that was strangely orthogonal to this orthodoxy ... he was for the private ownership of space exploration.  I then thought that this idea was a little loony, given the enormous expense that was associated with such a venture -- launch pads, communications networks, recovery armadas, control rooms, R and D expenses, hoards of technicians, etc.  But, nevertheless, he raised a significant amount of money to push forward this chimera ... all to no avail.

Now, over forty years later, this same dream is being resurrected.  James Cameron, director of Avatar and the Titanic films, and two Google poobahs are launching a company to explore and exploit opportunities in space ... see Wall Street Journal Article.  This company, Planetary Resources, Inc. is not lacking in big thinking.  It wants to send missions to asteroids and mine their resources ... with the intent to "overlay two critical sectors — space exploration and natural resources — to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP [and] help ensure humanity's prosperity."  I have written in the past about the private sector's ambitions in space .  see: Beam Me Up Scotty.  Although I admire visionaries who dream and think big (perhaps because I have been accused of being one), I do believe that realism must prevail ... particularly when there are monetary amounts of these magnitudes involved.

I will make a tongue-in-cheek prediction ... Secretary of Energy Chu, before he leaves office (hopefully next January) will write a very large check to these Planetary Resources brainaics.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wagging the Dog

(From a wag on local talk radio yesterday.)  "Mitt Romney put his dog on the roof of his car ... Barack Obama put his dog on the roof of his mouth."
"With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy)."   quoted from Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oil of Oy Vey

Gasoline prices are high today and may keep escalating over the summer driving season.  This cannot be good for The Barry's reelection chances.  So, he has tried to deflect this political negative by blaming speculators and greedy oil companies.  These rationales may be partially true, but, I believe, the real reasons for high oil and gasoline prices are due to a much greater multiplicity of forces:

- Barack Obama  has indicated recently that he wants to eliminate "tax subsidies" for oil companies (see: Business Week Article).  These subsidies are nothing more than the equivalent of depreciation ... a time honored accounting practice on which I have commented before on this blog (see: Oily Proposal).  All hell would break loose if Obama were to suggest the elimination of depreciation expenses for any other U.S. industry.  This threat surely may cause oil companies to anticipate lower margins and may have them beginning to take counter measures.

- The Federal Reserve Bank has been maintaining a weak dollar policy to the point were it costs about $1.30 to buy a Euro when this exchange rate should be closer to parity.  Since oil around the world is traded in dollars, this, by itself, has caused oil prices to be inflated by as much as 30%.

- Clearly all the unrest in the Mideast has caused a risk premium to be added to the price of oil.  Two major producers, Libya and Iran, in particular, are in the limelight.  Libya is in political chaos after its successful revolution and Iran lives under the daily threat of an Israel attack to stop its development of atomic weapons. Thus, most countries are balancing these threats with the hoarding of oil.  So, even though there is a glut of oil worldwide, prices will still likely stay high.

- Obama's energy policy is blatantly anti-U.S.  He has essentially stopped offshore oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere off the U.S. coast, put the kibosh of the the Keystone pipeline, and is actively trying to kill the U.S. coal industry (see: Our Once King Coal).

- Investor speculation on higher oil prices is made a lot easier by extremely low interest rates.  The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates for banks at below 1% for over three years and has continually indicated that they would stay low into the foreseeable future.  Thus the carrying-cost penalty for speculation is quite low and will likely stay low.  I'm sure that the Fed could squeeze much of the speculation on higher prices out of the oil futures market by letting interest rates rise to their natural level ... rather than Obama's today-proposed punitive measures (see: Voice of America).

Thus, the next time you spend your retirement funds to fill up your gas tank, blame the real culprits, world Islamic extremist unrest, the Obama administration, and the Federal Reserve Bank ... not greedy capitalism and out-of-control speculation.  Most of these things could be corrected overnight ... and may well be, sometime right before November's elections.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Juxtaposition XXXII

Michelle Obama

Jackie Kennedy

The times, they are a changing ... ...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Liberal Morphing

When did feeding hungry children morph into providing bail money for a convicted drug dealer?  The answer is ... when liberals are given their leash ... as they have continue to enjoy in our current bleeding-heart society.  Recently in Massachusetts, a drug dealer was re-arrested and made bail by having a compatriot use his food-stamps allocation to bail him out of prison ... see Boston Herald Story. OK, it wasn't actually food stamps, it was the modern-day equivalent ... his EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card. The EBT card came about because the old food-stamp program was deemed to humiliate those people who paid for their groceries with food stamps.  Soooo ... now indigent people have been given a debit-card like appliance that allows them to swipe it, without embarrassment,  like other shoppers would do with their bank or credit cards.

There, like with most good intentions, is where things have gone awry ... because the administration of this program is lax to say the most ... and the road to hell is now paved with EBT cards.  Since recipients complained that it was sometimes more convenient to pay in cash, EBT recipients (at least in Massachusetts) were allowed to swipe their cards almost anywhere as though they were real debit cards ... such at automatic teller machines (ATMs), gas pumps, liquor stores, casinos, nail salons, tattoo parlors, strip clubs, etc. ... even on luxury sea cruises.  And, in supermarkets, EBT holders are quite often also allowed to buy cigarettes, lottery tickets, and many other non-food items.

The list of abuses goes on and on ... see More Abuse Examples.  Around the country EBT holders have gotten quite clever in converting what is meant for children's hunger relief into hard cash.  At the start of each month, newly-credit-filled EBT cards are often sold to other shoppers at substantial discounts outside of grocery stores.  One enterprising woman even bought cases and cases of soda with her card and then ran the (full) cans through the deposit-return machines just to get the cash.  (It broke the machine.)  Yesterday while listening to Massachusetts state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton) on local talk radio I heard some even more disturbing facts about how poorly this program is administered in this true-blue state:

- People, here, who have "lost" their EBT cards, can have them replaced with no consequences.  As a result, there are 20,000 EBT cards that are "lost" in Massachusetts each month.
- Here, 85% of all EBT card use is to retrieve cash directly and not to purchase food.  And even most of the use to purchase food involves substantial cash-back requests (eg., buying a pack of gum with an EBT card and getting $49 back in change.)
- There is no restriction in Massachusetts on the use of EBT cards outside of this state ... say in Las Vegas.

In fiscal 2011 the United States spent $75 billion on "food stamps," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's more than double ... up from $34.6 billion in 2008 (see: CNN Report), George W. Bush's last year in office.  Newt Gingrich has called Obama the "food-stamp President."  Perhaps he better should have called him the EBT-card President.


Monday, April 09, 2012

The Smiling Cobra

Once Jim Aubrey, who then ran CBS, was known as the "smiling cobra" for his ruthless interpersonal tactics ... while he also maintained an ebullient visage (see: Wikipedia Entry).  I once heard an apocryphal story (of unknown veracity) on how he disposed of worn-out girlfriends.  He would invite them to join him on a cross-country Pullman-car trip.  When he didn't appear in their private compartment for the "all aboard," he would have delivered money, flowers, jewelry, fruit, candy, and ... a "Dear Jane" letter to his perplexed concubine ... shades of Mad Men!

I'm not accusing Barack Obama of similar dalliances, but I do believe he has a parallel personality to Jim Aubrey in that he is ruthless in slaking his vengeance.  In fact I am often perplexed and even a mite fearful to see The Barry's eyes as burning hot coals of anger while he, at the same time, is showing from ear to ear, a mouth full of pearly-whites.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The New Math

President Obama claimed yesterday that his administration has created over 4 million private-sector jobs over the last two years and 600,000 in the last three months ... see: Detroit News Article.  I realize that it is not playing fair to actually check on The Barry, but I have a compulsion for facts.  So once again I visited my favorite site for employment statistics: (the A-1 series at .  And what do I find?  A little over two years ago, in January of 2010, there were 139.064 million Americans employed ... and, as of the most recent report, there were 142.034 million Americans employed.  This is an increase of 2.97 million ... not "over 4 million."  as claimed.  In the last three months the increase has been 1.24 million ... much better than Obama is claiming ... strange! Three things might explain these differences: 1) Obama is using non-seasonally-adjusted data, 2) there have been dramatic swings in government employment levels, or 3) he is, once again, prevaricating.

Nevertheless,  the United States employment in January of 2010 as a percent of the noninstitutional population was 58.5%  And at the end of March, 2012 it was exactly the same, 58.5%, so our President's job creation performance can be best described as treading water. We are spending billions, no trillions of dollars to create jobs in order for the anointed one to keep his crown ... all for naught.

I may be old fashioned but I think we ought not have naught to show for all this profligate spending.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Our Once King Coal

According to authorities, the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal resources.  Over one half of all U.S. electricity is produced by coal-fired power plants.  Yet, President Obama has been diligently working to keep his campaign promise to kill the coal industry (see: Washington Times Article) just as he is apparently trying to kill oil production on government-owned lands and off shore (and stop cheap oil from reaching our refineries via the Keystone pipeline.)  So there is at least one campaign promise that our imperial President is keeping.  He says that he is working overtime to create jobs yet is pulling out all stops to kill them. 

Surely all those green-energy companies that The Barry has so richly subsidized (and have gone belly-up) are not going to supply the jobs that his Pollyanna-ish Energy Department has claimed.  Nor are they going to fill the electricity gap that the closing of existing coal-powered plants and the moratorium on building new ones would produce.  The Chinese are building one (dirty) new coal-powered plant a week and, as a result have become by far the largest producer of CO2 emissions in the world (not that there is anything wrong with that.)  See the below 2009 chart to understand the dramatic dynamics of world CO2 production (click on the chart to make it bigger):

Our President is perfectly happy with our exporting coal to China (see: AP Story) so that they can produce more electricity and loaning money to Brazil so that they can off-shore drill for more oil, yet not allow his own country to do the same.  He can cripple us with a debt burden that even our great-grandchildren will be paying back.  He can try to nationalize 1/6 of our economy.  He can take over the student loan industry and more than half our car industry.  He can sub-rosa try to kill our missile-defense system.  He can cozy up to the Islamic radicals of the world (when he isn't killing them) while abandoning our allies (such as Israel).  And he can attack the Supreme Court with bombastic rhetoric.  Is Obama really so anti-us that he would purposely make such bone-headed moves?  The sad conclusion is unfortunately, yes, and four more years of his smiling chicanery will certainly leave us in a hole from which we likely cannot extract ourselves.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Is Nothing Sacred?

President Obama let loose with both barrels today in his public and iconoclastic warning to the Supreme Court that overturning his health-care law would be "unprecedented" (see: The Reuters Story)  ... which of course it wouldn't be ... such unconstitutional rulings are the reason d'etre for our highest court.  You would think that Obama who once "taught" the Constitution in college would be aware of this tidbit ... and thus, would not engage in such demagogic bombast.  The Drudge Report has even suggested that this attack on the Court might be because someone had leaked the results of last Friday's secret Supreme Court voting to the White House.  Now this truly would be unprecedented and a travesty of unimagined proportion.

But he wasn't finished ... Obama also said that such an action would be "judicial activism," exactly what Republicans have railed against.  Wrong again Mr. President!  Judicial activism is when courts create law out of whole cloth ... not when they overturn laws passed by Congress.  Negating bad law happens all the time ... just as our founders intended.  I suppose that The Barry can get away with such drivel when he has a dumbed-down electorate and a media that worships at the crease in his pants.  But such illogical flight-of-fancy is way below what our President should be uttering.  Moreover, he also once again demeaned the Supreme Court by snidely saying that they were unelected.  Does this include the two sycophantic Justices that you appointed too Mr. President?  Or are they somehow special?

And lastly, he elevated this Obamacare law by claiming it was passed democratically by a bipartisan "strong majority" in Congress.  Wrong again, Mr. Cool!  This law only made it through our legislature by the unsavory violation of its own rules, without a single Republican vote, and with numerous pork-laden bribes and unkept promises.  I am shocked that a bolt of lightening didn't at least strike near the President after he, so coolly, uttered such profane pap.  And yet life rolls on in our fair country as though nothing monumental has occurred.  Oh, but it has kind readers!  It has!  We have taken one more gigantic step toward Banana-Republicanism.