Monday, June 6, 2011

Just in case you forgot...

The following are 20 ways that the U.S. economy has gotten even worse since Barack Obama became president....
#1 In January 2009, the official U.S. unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.  Today it is 9.1 percent.
#2 When Barack Obama took office, the number of "long-term unemployed" in the United States was approximately 2.6 million.  Today, that number is up to 6.2 million.
#3 When Barack Obama first became president, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States was $1.83.  Today it is $3.79.  This also affects the price of almost everything else that we buy.
#4 In April 2009, the average U.S. household spent approximately $201 on gasoline.  In April 2011, the average U.S. household spent approximately $369 on gasoline.
#5 According to an article in the Daily Mail, the cost of a Memorial Day cookout was 29 percent higher this year than it was last year.
#6 When Barack Obama was sworn in, there were nearly 32 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 44 million on food stamps.
#7 According to the U.S. Census, the number of children living in poverty has gone up by about 2 million in just the past 2 years.
#8 When Barack Obama took office, the U.S. national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.  Today it is 14.3 trillion dollars.
#9 The federal government has borrowed 29,660 more dollars per household since Barack Obama signed the economic stimulus law two years ago.
#10 During Barack Obama's first two years in office, the U.S. government added more to the U.S. national debt than the first 100 U.S. Congresses combined.
#11 The combined debt of the major GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae) has increased from 3.2 trillion in 2008 to 6.4 trillion in 2011.  Thanks to George W. Bush, Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress, U.S. taxpayers are standing behind that debt.
#12 Under Obama, the U.S. trade deficit continues to grow.  The trade deficit was about 33 percent larger in 2010 than it was in 2009, and the 2011 trade deficit is expected to be even bigger.
#13 Only 66.8% of American men had a job last year.  That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in all of U.S. history.
#14 Just since August, 2 million more Americans have left the labor force.
#15 In 2010, more than a million U.S. families lost their homes to foreclosure for the first time ever, and that number is expected to go even higher in 2011.
#16 The U.S. real estate crisis just continues to get worse.  During the first three months of this year, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.
#17 The U.S. dollar has fallen by 17 percent compared to other major national currencies since 2009.
#18 Faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries is rapidly declining.  The mainstream news is not reporting on it much, but right now the Chinese are rapidly dumping U.S. government debt.  That is not a good sign.
#19 When Barack Obama first took office, an ounce of gold was going for about $850.  Today an ounce of gold costs about $1500.
#20 Americans seem to be more pessimistic about the economy than ever.  According to a brand new poll, 61 percent of Americans believe that they will not return to their "pre-recession" lifestyles until at least 2014.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

EPA catagorizes a new hazzard to the environment: MILK!!!!

I am not making this up…

The Manderins in Washington have truly lost their minds and have once again demonstrated that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing and a little bit of power is a catastrophe in the making…

The EPA has gone from defender of the environment and guardian against industrial pollution to a repository of inane and banal individuals with far too much power and too much  time on their hands to abuse that power.

Not content to rail against BP and oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico, they have a new target to focus on: Bossy the cow…..

In a regulatory move reminiscent of the prohibition on sales of peanuts in Lee County, Alabama, (after sundown on Wednesday’s), our federal government has now come up with laws on spilled milk.  EPA has decided that since milk contains a low density "oil" in the form of lipids (fats), it has the authority to force farmers and the dairy industry as a whole,  to comply with a host of new regulations: to file "emergency management" plans to show how they will cope with spilled milk, and how farmers will train "first responders" and build "containment facilities" if there is a flood of spilled milk.  The question is now, what is the “threshold” of where one must comply with these new regulations?

At the moment, it seems to be concentrated on industrial sized operations but as we all know, there is always "mission creep" when government agencies are involved and people are looking to justify their exorbitant paychecks.   The mind boggles at the possibilities…..

I can see the newspapers now……

“EPA sent enforcement teams to the Parker Elementary School in response to reports of spilled milk in the lunch room.  Students were evacuated by EMS personnel and HAZMAT teams summoned to contain and clean up the spill.  School district officials were cited for child endangerment and violation of federal law as it relates to control of potentially hazardous materials.”

“Joe Snerdly, local dairy farmer, was fined for tripping over and spilling a bucket of milk and not reporting it to federal officials and for not having an “action plan” in place to contain the spill.  Local authorities were summoned (at great expense…) to survey the environmental impact of the spilling of less than 1 liter of this toxic substance.  Officials were unavailable for comment pending a revised Environmental Impact Study.”

But all this begs the question…   Will this law be limited to a particular species ??  What happens if other species can be covered by this law other than just bovines?

I can see the news reports now…..

“Mildred Smith, 20, of Kalamazoo, was arrested today for creating a hazardous work environment when she inadvertently discharged breast milk at her place of work today….     Ms. Smith, the mother of a 2 month old girl, allowed a small amount of fluid to discharge from her person forcing an immediate evacuation of the building and response by EMS and HAZMAT teams.  The quantity of discharge was reported minimal, but given the discharge contained lipids that are a naturally occurring oils, the response was deemed necessary by EPA officials”

“The US Navy, in response to EPA regulations governing toxic discharges from ships at sea in and about  the coastal waters of the United States, has forbidden sailors to “relive themselves in a sexual manner” due to the danger to the ecosystem and to the ship’s environment.  This addition to naval regulations was instituted when EPA ruled that since male semen contains a substance known as Prostaglandin, a fatty acid substance which makes up a major portion of male seminal fluid, officers and men deployed either ashore or afloat are hereby  instructed not to discharge seminal fluids into the shipboard environment or to allow untreated discharges into the open sea.  Violations of this regulation are punishable under the UCMJ and under federal environmental regulations….”

“Los Angeles County officials have raided several San Fernando Valley locations known to be production sites of adult entertainment in an effort to curb the unchecked and unregulated discharges of toxic substances like male semen and female lactations.  Concerns by EPA officials have nothing to do with the potential biotoxin levels but center on concerns that such discharges in vast quantities as are commonly generated in the multi-billion dollar porn industry, might create the potential for Exxon Valdez sized “ slicks”  should these discharges reach the open ocean….”

The absurdity of Washington knows no bounds…….

Gov. Mike Huckabee and "Standing by" Mubarak.... Is this the smart play???

I like Mike Huckabee.

I think of all the potential 2012 Republican challengers for the office of President, I like this former Governor of Arkansas the most.

He seems a kind, thoughtful, and ethical man.  He has the folksy charm typical of most southern politicians.   The down-home congeniality and the seeming complete lack of guile engender a certain sense of well-being reminiscent of the feeling one gets from an indulgent uncle or even father figure.

But there lies the rub……

If Gov. Huckabee runs for President, he will face many complex challenges.  The  stagnate world economy, the burgeoning federal budget deficit,  Islamofascism and terrorism, not to mention the rise of multi-national threats from places like Russia , North Korea, the emerging leftist powers in Central and South America, and the growing angst over the debt, jobs and the economy here in America.  These and the multitude of other issues old and new will task any President as no previous President has ever been tasked before.  He will have to show clarity of purpose, strength of character and a near maniacal attention to the details as none of his predecessors have ever had to demonstrate.  As unfair as it seems, he will have to be all things to all people.  All this begs the question: Does he have the gravitas for the job?

This week we have seen our most important ally in North Africa, Egypt, come apart at the seams.  The regime of President Hosni Mubarak seems to be coming to an ignominious and violent end just as the regime of Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s did two weeks ago in the wake of riots over food prices and availability, and lack of economic opportunity.

President Mubarak was successor to Anwar Sadat, whose exit from power thirty years ago was precipitated by his own military who gunned him down during a military parade. Since the assassination of Sadat, peace has reigned between Israel, Egypt and the Kingdom of Jordan.  Mubarak has honored the Camp David Treaty and has been helpful in other areas of Mideast security and cooperation.  As consequence Egypt receives massive quantities of American foreign aid as a premium.  That aid, in the form of out-rights cash grants and loan guarantees, has amounted to tens of billions of taxpayer dollars over the last three decades.

Foreign policy isn’t without its challenges and like family; we have very little choice as to who we can entreat.  Many of the players are not the most savory of characters, but we must deal with them none the less, like them or not.  Occasionally, we get lucky and have a meeting of the minds (and souls) like the relationship between Britain and America and pairings like Churchill and Roosevelt or Thatcher and Reagan.  Other times, it’s much the opposite.  Countries like North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran present great challenges and their leadership offers little in the way of cooperation or dialog.  Then there are those who may be somewhat cooperative and capable of working in common cause, but their internal politics are diametrically different from our own.  This is the dynamic we find in most of the world and in particular, what we find in the Islamic world.  Most nations there are, to be blunt, dictatorships that may don the fa├žade of “democracy” but fail to practice its precepts to any great degree.  Some are hereditary monarchies who treat their countries as a “family business” and their people as vassals or if they are lucky, as dependents with little or no say in the affairs of state.

In an article published in the Jerusalem Post on February 2. 2011,  Gov. Huckabee, when questioned on the events in Egypt and of the position President Mubarak found himself in,  said “…it is going to be incumbent upon the US to reassure its allies that there is not going to be a consistency of abandonment when it comes to difficulty and troubles that a nation might face.”  While a laudable position, one has to question its wisdom, or just how far the Governor would go in “reassuring"’ allies

The U.S. has relationships with many countries around the world and it would be safe to say, the internal politics and legal standards in most of them fall far short of what we in the U.S. would consider just or fair.  Many nations are ruled by juntas, cabals, Presidents-for-life, or single party dictatorships.   While we espouse freedom, democratic values, and the rule of law, we end up doing business with those who care little for such lofty principles.  Egypt is one such country. 
President Mubarak has not played by the rules.  He has violated the Egyptian Constitution and held office far longer than the law allows.  He has ruled by edict at times and has banned any opposition political parties within Egypt.  We in America do business with him because it serves our purposes to do so and peace is kept in a place where peace is scarce.  It allowed a valued ally, Israel, to live without fear of invasion from its southern flank for over 30 years.
Unfortunately, this situation has come at a significant cost.

America made the calculation that we had to support an autocrat in order to maintain the peace.

America can’t and should not make a practice of pledging to “stand by” such regimes if their internal politics are such that they create the seeds or their own destruction.  If we are to be true to ourselves and to the principles we so vociferously espouse to the world, we have to be more vocal and more insistent on certain standards of behavior from those we ally ourselves.  We have to be up front with the world and with the people of those nations we do business with.  We must tell them that while we may sympathize with their plight, we can’t and won’t interfere in the internal politics of any nation.     Far too often America has intervened and far too often we have been left in a worse position in the wake of that intervention.  Iran is one such country.   In the 1950’s America instigated a coup (Operation Ajax) against the lawfully elected government and backed the autocratic rule of Shah Reza Pahlavi for three decades that followed until he himself was deposed by an even more autocratic and decidedly unfriendly regime to American interests.  The people of Iran have long memories.  They will more likely than not eschew re-establishment of anything resembling normal diplomatic or commercial relations with us again, at least for the foreseeable future  This is one of many examples of just how badly this nation has calculated consequences for our actions.

Gov. Huckabee’s statement that we should stand by our allies is a laudable sentiment, but it should be tempered with a very strong,  public equivocation that while we will honor agreements made and stand by the concept of peace between nations and the precept of defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, no particular promise of fidelity or fraternity can or should be made to individual leaders or their governments, especially those who violate the very precepts freedom, liberty and self-determination that we in America hold dear.   We should not place the honor of our nation at risk by giving more than the most cursory amount of consideration necessary to do business with any country that abuses the rights of its people.  To do so marks us hypocrites.  It opens us up to internal and external ridicule over “human rights”.   It also creates situations like what we face with Iran who has now become a major military and foreign policy concern.

Gov. Huckabee needs to show less “Dutch uncle” and more adamance; a more pronounced line of reasoning in regard to relations with other counties.   He also needs to craft his statements to reflect that reasoning, especially when it concerns leaders and  governments whose practices and internal dynamics are so decidedly different from our own.  Egypt may be an ally as far as regional security is concerned, but America needs to take a more hands-off approach to the internal situation there.  We have to let the people of Egypt know that we in America will do nothing to stifle their desires to force reform within their country and that while we look on with concern at the violence and pray for the safety and well being of the people of Egypt, it is a situation that only they themselves can solve.  They must chart a path that is in their best interests  and that when they are ready and if they are willing, we here in America will honor the agreements we have made with their country and work with whatever government they choose.  We can’t afford more Iran’s……

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My two cents on the Florida Obamacare ruling

In the wake of the decision by Judge Rodger Vinson yesterday to strike down “Obamacare”, or if you prefer, “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, Public Law No. 111-148, I find myself wanting to join in and throw my two cents worth into the maelstrom of comment and thought on this huge yet very simple issue.

Simple in that it is not really about “Affordable Care” at all.  In spite of what the Mandarins in Washington say on the issue,  this law is really about the exercise of power; nothing more and certainly nothing less.


The nation was given a great gift by the Hon. Roger Vinson: A truly well thought out and sound legal decision based on rule of law and not on emotional tirades or  blatant liberal bleating from activists in the public or private sector.

We were also treated not only to great legal and political theater, but to great statesmanship from the bench as well.  It all began in the first few lines of the decision when Judge Vinson quoted James Madison in Federalist Papers, specifically Federalist 51, where he said:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself”.

And so began what was to become in essence and in fact, a civics primer.  One who’s material, substance, and spirit should have been familiar to the 111th Congress who passed this law in the first place as well as to the President who signed it into law, but was plainly found lacking in spite of the massive objections of most of the American people.

Not content with simply quoting one of the founding fathers of this nation, Judge Vincent then went into a tireless study of case law going back to Marbury v. Madison in 1803 to present day case law. 

The issues in contention were wide ranging.  They included but were not limited to the individual mandate,  Medicaid funding, the standing of plaintiffs, and to Severability.

The individual mandate has been by far, the single biggest issue due to the government's contention that it is  enforceable under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.  In his decision, Judge Vinson stated,

"Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States.

Until the “New Deal” was instituted in the 1930’s the Commerce Clause was understood to exist as a way to keep the several states from creating trade and commercial barriers between themselves.  This understanding was violated when the Roosevelt Administration coerced the Supreme Court to expand that interpretation during the initial days of the “New Deal”.  This was accomplished by threatening to “pack the court” with new, more sympathetic judges who would allow nearly everything the Executive Branch and the Democratic-controlled Congress  wanted.  The then chastised and weakened Supreme Court inflated the clause into a general license for anything a majority party happened to favor. 

Now we find ourselves with a law even more sweeping and more dangerous to the nation than the “New Deal” of the 1930’s.  Not only is it dangerous to individual freedom and the concept of Federalism, but to the very survival of limited government in this republic.  If this law were to stand, the precedent would be set and there would be literally no restraint on what the federal government could compel and command a citizen or private enterprise to do.  Simply put, the government could, by fiat, or by regulation, demand that a private person or enterprise enter into contracts or engage in commerce as it deemed necessary.  For example, should a majority of Congress and a President decide that electric vehicles are necessary to the preservation of a clean environment and demand that all automobile owners replace their internal combustion powered vehicles with electric vehicles as they are used in, and necessary to interstate commerce.   In another example, they could make it obligatory to sell housing, even at prices below cost, to the homeless by the simple expedient of declaring homelessness a detriment to interstate commerce.  The legal contortions are literally limitless and yet frighteningly real when one considers the thousands of laws that are passed in hundreds of jurisdictions nationwide.

Judge Vinson’s ruling brings all this and more into stark relief and hopefully, in the coming months and not years as some predict, this law will be permanently sent to the ash heap of history; a cautionary lesson in just how close we came to destroying our own nation and the freedoms we enjoy.

Gov. Brown of California fails to Govern... Uses Egypt riots to force fiscal policy

From the Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2011,

"Citing the pro-democracy unrest in Egypt and Tunisia, Gov. Jerry Brown called it “unconscionable” that GOP legislators are vowing to block his attempt to ask voters to extend tax hikes to balance the budget.  
“When democratic ideals and calls for the right to vote are stirring the imagination of young people in Egypt and Tunisia and other parts of the world, we in California can’t say now is the time to block a vote of the people,” Brown said in his first State of the State address in nearly 30 years".



Only a man known as "Gov. Moonbeam" could justify a tax hike from riots half a world away.... The ousting of a dictator in Egypt is hardly justification to confiscate more personal wealth.  The real justification for this action is that California's legislature lacks the discipline or the personal honor to do what is right and proper which is to cut taxes and cut expenses to help jump start their economy and to preserve the job base.

Here in Virginia, we bit the bullet and massively cut expenses and taxes. We audited departments of government in order to have an understanding where the money went and how it was spent.  As a result of this enlightened, conservative approach, hundreds of millions were found and people in charge were held accountable and we now have a budget surplus of several hundred million dollars to show for the effort.

As further consequence of this  proper fiscal attitude, Virginia also has the highest bond rating of any state in the nation, while California sits at the bottom, with only Illinois ranking lower.

Are we in Virginia better than those in California?  Are we some kind of superior species to those on the left coast?  It is hard not to  think so when we see the just how badly things are being done in the so-called "Golden State", and just how inane the political leadership is acting.

One thing more.....   No bailouts for California- EVER!!!  Your collective hubris got you there and your corrupt, "bought dog" leadership  is keeping you there and we in the rest of the country will not readily consent to pay for your irresponsibility.  Not now....  Not ever...  Sic Semper Tyranis!!