Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Law, Media Bias, Politics, Regulation | Tags: Hubris and Incompetence, It was of course Bush's fault, Ozymandius
From the archives, September 28, 2010:
President Barack Obama was interviewed by Rolling Stone, and is typically modest about his accomplishments. He tells the Democrats to “wake up” and gaze upon his works:
When I talk to Democrats around the country, I tell them, “Guys, wake up here. We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable.” I came in and had to prevent a Great Depression, restore the financial system so that it functions, and manage two wars. In the midst of all that, I ended one of those wars, at least in terms of combat operations. We passed historic health care legislation, historic financial regulatory reform and a huge number of legislative victories that people don’t even notice. We wrestled away billions of dollars of profit that were going to the banks and middlemen through the student-loan program, and now we have tens of billions of dollars that are going directly to students to help them pay for college. We expanded national service more than we ever have before.
The Recovery Act alone represented the largest investment in research and development in our history, the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower, the largest investment in education — and that was combined, by the way, with the kind of education reform that we hadn’t seen in this country in 30 years — and the largest investment in clean energy in our history.
You look at all this, and you say, “Folks, that’s what you elected me to do.” I keep in my pocket a checklist of the promises I made during the campaign, and here I am, halfway through my first term, and we’ve probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do — and by the way, I’ve got two years left to finish the rest of the list, at minimum. So I think that it is very important for Democrats to take pride in what we’ve accomplished.
We hear from international statistics on education that our kids are deficient in math, science, reading and just about everything except that they excel in self-esteem, where they are right off the charts. Brings a bit of verse to mind, from Shelley:
I MET a traveller from an antique land
Who said: —Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
What made me think of this were the 2013 Twitchy Awards for this year’s top 5 most malignantly narcissistic Obama moments: (which made me laugh), and it seemed appropriate to add this Photoshop, but I don’t know who created it.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, Iran, National Security, Progressivism, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Abject Failure, Fallible Assumptions, Victory — Not Conflict Resolution
Deals between democracies and dictators seldom turn out well. Democracies assume that dictators seek peace, and are as concerned for the well-being of their people as democracies, which is seldom the case. We assume they want compromise, which they don’t. Years of talks intended to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons resulted in abject failure. The big “reset” with Russia, with Hillary’s mistranslated symbolic red button, led to American concessions on such important issues as missile defense, and Russia has given …? We assume that, like us, the bad guys are seeking common ground and are open to compromise. The bad guys’ goal is victory — not conflict-resolution.
According to Clifford May, head of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, they estimate that over the next six months, Iran will receive $20 billion or more in sanctions relief both directly from the Geneva agreement and through positive changes in Iranian economic activity. Last Friday a State Department spokesman finally answered a query about what concessions Iran has given in return. On the Iranian side, the agreement “has yet to be implemented.”
In the meantime, Iran’s centrifuges continue to spin, turning out 20 percent enriched uranium. Construction is ongoing at the Arak heavy-water reactor, a facility that will be able to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Weaponization and ballistic-missile development have not been halted — such activities are not even included in the Joint Plan of Action despite the fact that a 2012 U.N. Security Council resolution obligates Iran to “not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” All these issues are to be addressed in a new round of negotiations expected to begin in January — though no date certain is yet on the calendar.
Not only are we assuming that our goals are similar, we are assuming that both sides agree on what the language of the agreement actually says. That is not the case. “The government of new president Hassan Rouhani says the deal recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium.” The mullahs know how to play hardball, and they are so doing.
Scott Johnson at Powerline says:
[T]he Iranians have Obama’s number and they mean to advertise it. They are sending a message. They see him as a pathetic weakling whom they can push around without consequence. Obama and Kerry are smart enough to know they are being humiliated, but they don’t care. They are more than willing to endure humiliation in the service of what they deem to be a higher cause.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Law, Politics, Regulation | Tags: Federalism: States Rights, Free Markets / Free People, Local Control
It is easier to change regulations imposed by a community, a county, or a state than it is to deal with the federal leviathan. Not that it always works, but it is easier to see the results of regulations locally. And if the imposition of regulation is too dire, you can pick up and move to another state where the market and the people are more free.
The free enterprise system is the on-ramp to economic progress and rising incomes. A Heritage Foundation study on economic progress around the globe finds clear and compelling evidence that the poor are always and everywhere better off in those countries that are economically free countries than in nations that are not free. If we judge society by how well it serves the poor, then free enterprise is far and away the greatest anti-poverty program known to man. (Stephen Moore: Who’s The Fairest of Them All )
Filed under: Environment, Freedom, Global Warming, History, Junk Science, Politics, Regulation, Science/Technology, The United States | Tags: Badly Applied Law, Not All Extinct Species Are Extinct, The Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act became law on December 28, 1973, forty years ago. A law intended to conserve species and habitat has meant recovery for less than 2% of the approximately 2,100 species listed as endangered or threatened, but as an industry for enriching lawyers and environmental activist groups it has been remarkably successful. Benefiting the environment? Not so much.
The law was well intentioned, but was meant to depend on science and data. The bureaucrats in charge have administer the law poorly and ignored provisions designed to promote good science and good sense. In the late 1970s, officials erased the distinction between different levels of endangered species listings. Originally it was only when an animal or plant was labeled “endangered” — on the verge of disappearing — that landowners were hit with heavy regulations, including prohibitions on activities that could “harm” or ‘harass” the species. The Carter administration extended these restrictions to species that are “threatened” — in trouble but not facing extinction.
It is not easy to tell when a species is “endangered.” Wild animals prefer to avoid humans, which makes it hard to count them. And if there is only a small population here, is there another on the other side of the mountain? Animals move in response to food. Animals have predators. It is very, very complicated.
Polar bears were supposed to be “endangered” but they found enough to call them “threatened,” but those designations were based on flawed predictions of melting Arctic Sea ice. The globe warms and cools in natural cycles and the bears have done fine through both cycles. Emperor penguins were supposed to be heading toward extinction in the Antarctic — again based on predictions of vanishing ice. The predictions have been wrong, the globe has not warmed for over 17 years. In 2009, the Beverly herd of Caribou which numbered over 200,000 a decade previously could not be found. But a more diligent search turned them up right where the aboriginal elders said they would be.
If there is a project that environmental activists don’t like, they will fan out over the land involved, searching for a species that might be useful to delay or halt the project.
In Cedar City, in southwest Utah, Endangered Species Act regulations have given the Utah prairie dog the run of the town since it was listed in 1973. The rabbit-size rodent is now listed as “threatened” even though there now seem to be around 40,000 in the area. Residents cannot take measures to control the population nor even try to relocate the animals to federal property. Federal regulation is not amenable to common sense. Homeowners’ yards are pockmarked, mounds and tunnels on airport property create real hazards on runways and taxiways. At one airport hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to prevent prairie dog infestation.
Small business owner Bruce Hughes bought a 3.4 acre parcel to develop. “Then the prairie dogs moved in,” making it impossible to use the property productively.”If I killed even one, it would be a $10,000 fine and five years in federal prison. I could rob a convenience store and get off easier.” A lesson in small government where legislation should be made as close to the people concerned as possible.
Many of the most damaging Endangered Species regulations come from federal “biological opinions” issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife or NOAA staff. Man-made drought in the San Joaquin Valley came from a “biop” that claimed that irrigation harmed a tiny fish, the delta smelt. To protect the smelt, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered severe restrictions on water deliveries by government water projects. At the height of the man-made drought, hundreds of thousands of acres went fallow, and unemployment in some communities reached 40%. And with so many acres lying fallow in the great Central Valley breadbasket, the cost of your groceries went up.
If the law is to be retained, its execution needs drastic reform, reliance on poorly informed science needs to stop, and some consideration needs to be paid to the jobs and communities involved. If you are interested, enter “Not Extinct” in the search bar over Bob Hope’s head. Seems that nearly a third of supposedly extinct species aren’t, which is good news indeed.
Filed under: Entertainment, Freedom, Fun n Games, Humor, Pop Culture | Tags: An Amtrack Gift, Chicago's Union station, The Magical Piano
Amtrack and Rob Bliss Creative teamed up to bring a little holiday cheer to Chicago’s Union Station using a “magical” piano. The piano reacts to the environment and people around it. It performs impromptu duets with strangers and even adds special music themes for certain situations.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Pop Culture | Tags: Pizza Box Design, Small Inventions, Sometimes Big Rewards
When you use the term “invention,” what comes immediately to mind? I suspect that most of us think of something big and widely celebrated, and ignore the little ‘build a better mousetrap’ kind of plebeian invention that has brought a good business and success. I don’t know just when collapsing a pop can in your fist quit being a feat of strength and aluminum cans became so light that anybody could do it. Or the stackable can that fits neatly on top of another — I wish that one were more prevalent. There is always something new popping up at the grocery store that seems useful and fresh, but doesn’t get any major notice. This article from Slate is excerpted from a book about pizza box design, beginning with “the Package Saver,” that little white plastic tripod that was patented by first-time inventor and Long Island resident Carmela Vitale in 1985. From patent 4,498,586:
A temperature-resistant molded plastic device is described for use in boxes or packages such as pizza boxes where there is a tendency of large cover portions to sag downwardly to damage the soft pizza or other packaged products.
Here is a space-saving solution for cluttered pizza-eating situations that transforms into a serving stand to free up table space that would normally be eaten up by the box’s footprint. Perforated regions of the lid fold out to connect with tabs on the side and front flaps to lift the box base 6″ off the surface. Since the box is not losing heat by direct conduction, the pizza theoretically stays hotter longer than it would if sitting directly on a table.
Most inventions probably fall into the category of clever improvements rather than spectacular big new thing. Who would have thought that a simple pizza box could be re-invented in so many ways? The book is: Viva la Pizza!: The Art of the Pizza Box by Scott Wiener, now out from Melville House.
Here are the boxes that are the “rest of the story:” There’s The GreenBox, Hell’s Pizza Coffin Box, The VENTIT Box, and The Pizza Hut Hot Spot.
Filed under: Intelligence, Liberalism, National Security, News of the Weird, Terrorism | Tags: Carbon Tax, New York Times Columnist, Thomas Friedman
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times
(h/t: American Digest)
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Media Bias, Regulation, Statism | Tags: Everything Costs More, Excessive Regulation, Higher Electricity Costs
America is is the midst of an energy boom. Fracking technology has released abundant oil and gas stored in shale deposits. The amazing paradox of the domestic fossil-fuels boom has been overwhelming destructive federal government policy. The U.S.Oil boom driven by private investment and ingenuity has transformed North American oil markets. The International Energy Agency estimates that America will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producers by 2015.
Oddly, in the midst of an energy boom, U.S. electricity prices have skyrocketed to new highs. This paradox is not a result of the free market, but of runaway “green” regulation by the government. In November, the BLS Electricity Price Index hit 202.284, an all-time record high nearly 20% higher than just six years ago. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2008 the U.S. produced 2.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Today, it’s 12.3 billion cubic feet and growing fast. But as energy booms, electricity prices are going up as well.
What is at work here is the green movement’s moral beliefs about what kinds of energy are “good.” Wind and solar power, which are “morally pure” cannot exist without generous governmental (taxpayer) subsidy. Wind and sunshine are of course free, but as producers of electricity, very expensive. The wind is intermittent and must be backed up 24/7 by conventional power, and the wind may not blow for days at a time. The sun goes down at night, and only shines in the day when the clouds don’t cover it. Trust me, I live in the Seattle area. We call the occasional appearances of the sun “sun-breaks.”
Electricity is now one of the most regulated goods in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency has sweeping powers to regulate CO2 — a power not found anywhere in the Constitution, electricity has become even more expensive, and will get more so. The EPA’s new rules, put in place to pander to the environmental movement will remove 34,705 megawatts of coal-based energy capacity off the market. This will increase electricity prices and the cost of everything where electricity is used.
This is a de facto ban on all new coal-fired power plants in spite of the fact that coal produces a third of all electricity in the country due to its cheap coast and plentiful supply. Despite the fact that CO2 levels are falling in the U.S., not rising, and despite the fact that the earth is cooling, not warming, as it has been for the last 17 years.
The demonization of coal and other fossil fuels means that utilities must shut coal-fired plants, and replace them with more costly energy sources like wind and solar. This is an enormous hidden energy tax, levied on every individual and every business — killing jobs and adding to the unemployment rolls.
Chicago political rules mean you must reward your financial supporters. The environmental movement is flush with money, wind and solar are awash with crony capitalism, and besides, the cost of higher electric bills will be borne by taxpayers.
Of course higher electricity bills on top of higher grocery bills, higher cost health insurance and higher cost of medical care may seem unreasonable. When confronted with a problem, Democrats first reaction is to make a law, to regulate. But that’s where the whole problem came from in the first place — excessive regulation.
Ironically, the very success of economic and political freedom reduced its appeal to later thinkers. The narrowly limited government of the late nineteenth century possessed little concentrated power that endangered the ordinary man. The other side of the coin was that it possessed little power that would enable good people to do good. And in an imperfect world there were still many evils. Indeed, the very progress of society made the residual evils seem all the more objectionable. As always people took the favorable developments for granted. They forgot the danger to freedom from a strong government. Instead, they were attracted by the good that a stronger government could achieve — if only government power were in the “right” hands.
…………………Milton and Rose Friedman: Free to Choose