Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Foreign Policy, History, Iran, National Security | Tags: Embarrassing!, Obama's Iran Deal, The Saban Forum at Brookings
President Obama appeared at the Brooking’s Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington D.C. He responded to questions put to him by Haim Saban, the forum chairman. The discussion focused on the “interim deal” with Iran, although it covered the Israel-AP peace talks and the agreement with Syria to destroy its chemical weapons as well.
The Washington Times covered Obama’s appearance here, and Politico here, if watching the video is beyond your tolerance level. If Mr. Obama believes that he is actually getting anything in exchange for the relaxation of sanctions, he is far more ill-informed about foreign policy than I thought.
In spite of our current economic problems, the United States has the power to impose crippling sanctions on Iran and to enforce them. Iranian chants of “Death to America” are not children’s playground taunts. We were told, before Geneva, that Iran was just a month from a bomb. Iran is well supplied with oil and gas, and does not need nuclear power to keep the lights on. Their sole interest is nuclear weapons and the ability to strike Israel and America at will. They have in mind the return of the Mahdi and the reestablishment of the Caliphate. When they keep telling us so, sooner or later, we possibly should start believing that they mean it.
We don’t require Iran’s agreement to accept crippling economic sanctions. We just impose them.
Iran, Obama said, will always retain some nuclear enrichment capability simply because it is no longer a terribly difficult process.
“Theoretically, they will always have some capability because technology here is available to any good physics student at pretty much any university around the world,” he said. “And they have already gone through the cycle to the point where the knowledge we are not going to be able to eliminate. But what we can do is eliminate the incentive for them to want to do this.”
As he has before, Obama defended the six-month deal to relax some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for some weapons inspections as not ideal, but better than the alternative of doing nothing.
When I hear people criticize the Geneva deal say it’s got to be all or nothing, I would just remind them that if it’s nothing, if we did not even try for this next six months to do this, all the breakout capacity we are concerned about would accelerate in the next six months,” Obama said. “They’d be that much closer to breakout capacity six months from now. And that’s why I think it’s important for us to test this proposition.”
“Not ideal but better than doing nothing?” “You see we can’t expect Iran to relinquish its nuclear program because it won’t!”
If one thought that preventing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons was the object of the exercise, then the Geneva deal is incomprehensible. The only real explanation of the deal is that we seek to protect Iran’s nuclear program and accept their development of nuclear weapons.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Foreign Policy, History, Military, National Security, The United States | Tags: Pearl Harbor 1941, Remembrance and Preparedness, The Battleship Arizona
(Republished from Last year)
Every year on December 7, we say “Remember Pearl Harbor” but fail to point out why we should be remembering. John Steele Gordon in his essential history An Empire of Wealth: the Epic History of American Economic Power, outlines the state of the world:
In a fireside chat on December 29, 1940, Franklin Roosevelt first used a phrase that would prove enduring when he called upon the United States to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”
…..War had broken out in Europe on September 1, 1939, after German troops invaded Poland, and France and Great Britain stood by their pledges to come to Poland’s aid. Few Americans thought the Nazis anything but despicable, but public opinion in the United States was overwhelmingly to stay out of the conflict. Many newspapers…were strongly isolationist. In 1934 Senator Hiram Johnson of California had pushed through a bill forbidding the Treasury to make loans to any country that had failed to pay back earlier loans. That, of course included Britain and France. On November 4, 1939, Congress had passed the Neutrality Act, which allowed purchases of war materiel only on a “cash and carry” basis.
…..Seven months later France fell to the Nazi onslaught, and Britain stood alone. In the summer of 1940 Germany proved unable to defeat the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain and thus gain the air superiority necessary to mount an invasion across the English Channel. It tried instead to bludgeon Britain into submission with the blitz and to force Britain into submission by cutting off its trade lifelines across the Atlantic. It nearly worked. …
…..At the time American military forces were puny. The army had about three hundred thousand soldiers—fewer than Yugoslavia—and was so short of weapons that new recruits often had to drill with broomsticks instead of rifles. The equipment it did have was often so antiquated that the chief of staff, General George C. Marshall, thought the army no better than “that of a third-rate power.” The navy, while equal to Britain’s in size, lacked ammunition to sustain action, and much of its equipment was old or unreliable.
Roosevelt realized what was at stake in terms of America’s own security, but he felt that Britain must survive long enough to hold the Nazis at bay while the U.S. rearmed and he was able to bring the American people around to see where their own true interests lay. This was easier said than done.
On September 16, 1940 Congress approved the first peacetime draft in American history and 16.4 million men between the ages of 20 and 35 registered. But it specified that none was to serve outside the Western Hemisphere and that their terms of service were not to exceed twelve months. In 1941 Roosevelt was able to get Lend Lease through Congress, and after Pearl Harbor, isolationism vanished from the American political landscape.
Japan ran loose over the Pacific for the next six months, taking Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, the Dutch East Indies, and Burma while threatening Australia and India.
The rearming of America was one of the most astonishing feats in all economic history. In the first six months of 1942, the government gave out 100 billion in military contracts— more than the entire GDP of 1940. In the war years, American industry turned out 6.500 naval vessels; 296,400 airplanes; 86,330 tanks; 64,546 landing craft; 3.5 million jeeps, trucks, and personnel carriers; 53 million deadweight tons of cargo vessels; 12 million rifles,carbines, and machine guns; and 47 million tons of artillery shells, together with millions of tons of uniforms, boots, medical supplies, tents and a thousand other items needed to fight a modern war.
We weren’t ready for Pearl Harbor, nor for Africa, nor the European front. We disarmed after World War II and we were once again not ready when North Korea invaded the South. We weren’t ready when Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait and we weren’t ready for 9/11. America’s national character is perhaps always ready to assume that the war just finished was the last — ever.
Does anyone assume that now, we would have six months to a year to begin to produce the necessary equipment and round up and train the necessary troops? I seem to remember Donald Rumsfeld saying, to vast scorn from the American media—”you go to war with the army you have.”
It’s quite true, and the threats don’t always come from the direction you expected. When America is perceived as weak — as we are today, and indecisive — we are in greater danger. The “Arab Spring” has “unexpectedly” not turned out to be a people seeking for freedom and democracy. Instead the goal appears to be Sharia and dictatorship. Al Qaeda is again on the rise, and we seem to be rearming them. Syria’s Assad evidently is preparing to gas his own people. And we are cancelling missile protection for Eastern Europe because Obama wants a reset button with Russia, and now has more “flexibility.”
We must remember Pearl Harbor as a warning from the past. The troubled world keeps sending us reminders, and we fail to pay attention.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Kills Innovation, Kills Jobs, Regulators' Hubris
Somewhere along the way, Congress got lazy and decided it would be better if they palmed off the annoying business of writing laws and regulations on the myriad federal agencies, and then they wouldn’t get so much disagreement from ordinary citizens, and they could do more important things like make speeches and fund raise.
Delegating such tasks to unelected bureaucrats has meant not only the vast expansion of am alphabet soup of agencies, but laws that sound as if they are written by faceless, unelected bureaucrats. Nobody understands the laws, every t may be crossed and i dotted, and every possible dereliction from the law may have its penalty and every regulation may attempt to control ever more of the actions of the public., but it’s not working and it should be stopped.
Agencies are working at cross purposes, regulations are based on inadequate understanding of economics, and caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, businesses close or decline to open, jobs are lost or are never created but the regulatory machine churns on unabated. The regulators remain completely unconcerned about their vast hubris, for they are convinced that they know better than the rest of us what is good for us.
Consider the 20,000 pages of the ObamaCare act which has not managed to be intelligible to anyone after 3½ years. Contrast that with the clean simple law of the Homestead Act of 1862: simple, clear language, 21,296 words that transformed the United States and populated the country. We could do with a lot more clear language and a lot less regulation.
A small company called 23andMe offers a genetic-testing kit. It consists of a tube into which the customer spits and returns to the company. The actual test is conducted at a lab that is regulated by another agency. The FDA has chosen to go after 23andMe aggressively for marketing a “medical device” even though the only “device” is a plastic tube, and the client cannot cannot undertake further action on the test result without consulting a health care provider. This kind of device is part of the new economy, favoring the free flow of information. It is completely at odds with the old paternalistic model, in which regulators and the medical establishment control what patients may learn. Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute said there are sound legal reasons for the FDA to have refrained from acting in this case. But you can’t fight city hall, or a federal regulator. They will perhaps move offshore, jobs will not be created, and regulatory excess trumps citizen health.
The EPA decided that the Renewable Fuel Standards, which would require the use of 35 million gallons of alternative fuels by 2017, would promote clean energy. Unfortunately the technology for producing some kinds of biofuel did not exist. The goals failed to take into account the difficulty of turning that much corn into fuel, scientific studies demonstrated that engines in older care would be damaged by the new fuels. And government agencies and the military are required to buy significant amounts of a fuel that does not exist.
Hubris reigns, common sense evaporates, and citizen’s respect for government goes a glimmering. They brought it upon themselves. As somebody remarked the other day, when the government refuses to obey the laws, rewrites them to suit themselves, and imposes silly regulations that destroy businesses and lives, pretty soon the people will act on the example, and decide that they don’t need to follow the regulations or the laws, and then where are we? Innovation goes where it is appreciated. Job growth will go where it is wanted.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: $5000 More Next Year, The Health Insurance Tax (HIT), United States Health Risks?
Is it fairly clear out there that people really aren’t very enthusiastic about ObamaCare? So is it a popular idea to increase the damage the failed law is doing? One would think not. Silly me. Over the Thanksgiving weekend the administration finalized the ObamaCare Tax ( the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) Love the acronym). This is a provision in ObamaCare that will cost nearly $60 billion over the next five years and raise health care premiums by 3 percent.
The final rule, published on November 27, imposes a fee beginning in 2014 for health insurers with premium revenues over $25 million per year. Can’t have any of the dreaded insurance companies making too much money. The tax is levied for “United States health risks,” and is hidden from consumers since it is directly levied on health insurance companies.
But of course the insurance companies don’t pay the tax, you do. It will be added to the cost that you are already shocked by. It will disproportionately fall on small companies. The American Action Forum found that premiums for small businesses and household will increase as much as 3 percent over the next ten years or roughly $5,000 per family over the next decade. That’s all you need — another $5,000 added to your bill. The taxes don’t even go to fund new health care benefits, but goes right into the Treasury.
They can’t help themselves. More control, more regulations, more taxes and then they simply cannot understand why the unemployment rate stays so high. They are unable to grasp that there is a relationship between increased regulation and taxes and control and employers’ reluctance to hire. They are cheering the unemployment rate’s move from 7.3 % all the way down to 7 %. That it should be around 3 % by now never seems to occur to them.
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment, Freedom, Junk Science, Law, Regulation | Tags: Cancelling Inconvenient Laws, Climate Change Is Not the Threat, Does Duke Energy Get Off?
The Justice Department announced a couple of weeks ago that “a subsidiary of Duke Energy has agreed to pay $1 million for killing golden eagles and other federally protected birds at two of the company’s wind projects in Wyoming. The guilty plea was long overdue victory for the rule of law and a sign that green energy might be going out of vogue.”
“As Justice noted in its news release, this if the first time a case has been brought against a wind company for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The 1918 law makes it a federal crime to kill any bird of more than 1,000 different species. Over the past few decades, federal authorities have brought hundreds of cases against oil and gas companies for killing birds, while the wind industry has enjoyed a de facto exemption. By bringing criminal charges against Duke for killing 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds, Justice has ended the legal double standard on enforcement.”
Triumph of hope over Obama priorities. The Obama administration is about to approve a rule that will ensure the death of golden and bald eagles for the next 30 more years. Hundreds of thousands of birds die each year flying into the deadly turbine blades atop the towers of a wind farm. Many wind farms are built in mountain passes where wind is more likely, but that is the birds migrating course as well. The birds that are not chopped up by turbines are often fried by solar arrays.
It gets to be a real problem when you divide everything up into political interest groups, according to how much cash they donate. The Keystone XL Pipeline proved that Greens trump Unions. Unions trump Hispanics, and Hispanics trump Blacks. Where women fit into the priority line, I don’t know, or Gays. The good of the country, or the rule of law, are nowhere to be found. Politics trumps all.
The renewable energy business is also losing its lustre, as the public discovers how expensive “green jobs” are. In January Texas Comptroller Susan Combs reported that each wind related job in Texas, the top wind energy state in the union, cost taxpayers $1.75 million. People are also discovering that they don’t much like wind turbines that ruin scenic countryside, reduce property values and create excessive noise. Chris Clarke of KCET reported that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a new solar-thermal project in the Mojave Desert killed 52 birds just in October, killed by the intense heat generated by the project’s mirrors.
The President does not change his mind. If he believed that Infrastructure was the key to economic growth in 2008, he still believe that today. Unfortunately, the world is changing its mind. Global warming is no longer a threat, the climate has been cooling for 17 years, and “alternative energy” is way too expensive, and in light of our new wealth in oil and gas from fracking and shale-oil projects on course to make us the Saudi Arabia of the world, maybe it’s not worth it to kill all those birds so carelessly.
And the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is just an old law. The President can just wave his hand and say that it doesn’t apply to his administration because he likes wind and solar energy better.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: The Cost of Compliance, The Magic Economy, The Problem of Regulation
It must be pleasant to look out the windows at the Rose Garden and see the unicorns at play. As President Obama said in his weekly address, there are some silver linings to be found in the economy.
Actually he said “most of the headlines you’ve read have probably been about the government shutdown and the launch of the Affordable Care Act…but if you look beyond those headlines there are some good things happening in our economy. And that’s been my top priority since the day I walked into the Oval Office.” There he goes again.
Nobody believes anymore that improving the economy is Obama’s top priority. The brightest spot in the economy is the energy boom in America’s shale deposits, which is making America energy independent. This success has happened entirely in the private sector on private lands, much to Mr. Obama’s annoyance.
Oddly enough, a big chunk of the increases in hiring has been in compliance officers. The administration’s drive to regulate everything proceeds apace. But regulatory agencies don’t consider the impact they have on labor markets, even though they have been subject to requirements that they consider the effect of regulatory change on the economy.
In America, the administrative state traces its origins to the Progressive movement. Progressives believed that the triumph of the modern state marked an “end of History,” a point at which there is no longer any need for conflict over fundamental principles. Politics would give way to administration which would become the task of neutral and highly trained experts.
Regulation raises the cost of production, which leads to higher prices and reduced output. This causes job loss in the regulated industry. Job losses include lost wages, job search costs and retraining costs. Higher prices for regulated goods and services raise costs in other industries and lower the buying power of consumers. These too can impact jobs.
If you think in terms of ObamaCare, the idea is that neutral and highly trained expert bureaucrats will tell highly trained physicians how to care for patients, and highly trained bureaucrats will tell insurance company actuaries how much they should charge for insurance benefits. You see the problem.
Obama has repeatedly denied Republican assertions that over regulation is a problem, yet data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an 18 percent increase in the number of compliance officers in the U.S. between 2009 and 2012. At last count there were an estimated 227,500 compliance officers employed. Those numbers do not include professions like bank examiners, tax collectors or Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors who monitor companies for fraud and safety violations.
Reform advocates argue that the private sector was left without proper oversight for too long.
Um, Benghazi, Cash for Clunkers, the IRS, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, EPA overreach, falsifying job numbers, auto bailout, seizing AP phone records, EPA attack on coal companies, the Keystone XL Pipeline, firing Inspector Generals, and it’s the private sector that has been left without proper oversight?
The pages in the Code of Federal Regulations hit an all time high of 174,545 pages is 2012. In 2012, the cost of federal rules exceeded $1.8 trillion, and regulatory burdens cost each U.S. household $14,768.
Private business has been telling the administration for nearly five years that over-regulation is a problem, but the administration denies it. Progressives know better. So the result is that the President of the United States looks out the windows of the White House at the unicorns playing in the garden, and explains to the people in his weekly address that there are some silver linings to be found in the economy. We need only 8.0 million jobs to get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate, which will take around five years.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Election 2014, Health Care, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Notable Quotations, Robert Heinlein, The Nanny State
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, History, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: The Kennedy Assassination, The ObamaCare Debacle, The Republicans Fault?
ObamaCare’s failures can be partly blamed on the failure of Republicans to applaud it enthusiastically enough. The Washington Post writes:
President Obama on Tuesday sought to redirect some of the political blame for the botched rollout of the federal health insurance exchange to Republicans, characterizing GOP lawmakers as rooting for the law’s failure. …
Obama said that fixes to the HealthCare.gov Web portal are underway and that the exchange will function for a majority of people by the end of November. But the president said staunch opposition from congressional Republicans is inhibiting the law’s implementation.
How does that work? Republicans can do no more than speak out against the law and the fallout from its implementation. The problems are a direct result of the failed rollout, Obama’s continuing lies to the public, and public recognition that the law is for the most part disastrous for them. It really isn’t failing because the Republicans say it is junk insurance. It is junk insurance.
Well, yes. The Affordable Care Act passed with no input from Republicans and every Republican in the House and the Senate voted against it, because it is a fraudulent law and will do great damage to the country and the people. Management of the Act has been beyond incompetent. Millions of people have lost the insurance they preferred and are stuck with junk insurance with higher premiums and deductibles for coverage they did not choose. You expected a Republican cheering section for a bad law that you consistently lied about?
So naturally Obama is going to “pivot to the economy” again. Expect infrastructure talk. Unfortunately, the economy is not improving. Businesses are hiring for the wrong reasons. U.S. News notes:
Businesses have increased the hiring of compliance officers in recent years to help manage the growing number of complex federal rules and regulations. While increased hiring is generally welcome news in the current labor market, it’s important to realize that a regulatory system that prompts the private sector to bring on employees whose sole purpose is to evaluate conformity with laws and regulations reduces productivity, raises the cost of production and has a negative impact on the economy.
Unfortunately, proposed government regulations often ignore the economic cost of job loss in the regulated industry. For instance, if an agency adopts a regulation that increases the costs of energy production, energy companies have to either lower production, raise prices, hire fewer workers or consider some combination of the three.
With the 50 year retrospective of the Kennedy assassination this week, the New York Times and the Washington Post each published pieces by two different authors who attempt to implicitly blame “the right-wing extremist environment in Dallas in 1963 for the Kennedy assassination on that environment. The Washingtonian is more explicit, “The City of hate had, in fact, killed the President.” The Left has long refused to accept the idea that JFK was killed by a Communist, who was committed to the communist cause, who had defected to the Soviet Union, and would have gone to live in Cuba.
The blame game never ends. The ideology of the Left promises a glorious future. They cannot admit the failure of ideology, so they blame Republicans. Fifty years later and they still cannot admit that JFK was killed by a Communist.