Some Good News For Commuters

USA Today posted an article yesterday about gasoline prices. I just got back from California where the price of a gallon of gas was about $4. It’s really good to be back in North Carolina!

The article reports:

Gas prices are expected to plunge sharply in the final days leading up to the midterm elections, potentially nearing $2 a gallon at some stations in low-tax states.

The sudden respite at the pump comes from sharply lower oil prices and declining wholesale gasoline prices.

Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza said it could amount to a “colossal collapse” in prices for consumers: from a $2.78 national average on Friday to as low as $2.50 by Tuesday.

“There’s the possibility you could see some prices flirt with $2 a gallon in the next 10 days or so in some of the low-tax areas,” Kloza said. “For now it’s going to be a great break.”

The break comes after gas approached four-year highs in October, topping a national average of $2.90 a gallon at one point.

Prices have already fallen by 6 cents per gallon over the last week, according to AAA. But they remain 27 cents higher than a year ago.

The increase in gasoline prices was one of the factors in the housing bubble collapse in 2008. In four years, the price of a gallon of gasoline had gone from an average of $1.85 a gallon to an average of $3.25 a gallon. If you commute thirty miles to work, that could mean as much as $3.00 a day added to the cost of your commute plus the cost of any recreational driving. To some people working with a tight budget, the increase was the difference between being able to pay the mortgage and not being able to pay the mortgage.

The article continues:

U.S. oil prices have fallen about $13 per barrel from their October high, trading at around $63 on Friday morning.

One key reason: Rising oil production throughout the world is causing stockpiles to build up.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ output has reached a two-year high, with leading OPEC member Saudi Arabia’s output “near its all-time high,” Jefferies analyst Jason Gammel said in a research note. American oil output has also spiked.

“This surge has driven the market into oversupply,” pushing prices lower, Gammel said.

A decrease in gasoline prices is good news for all consumers.

One Standard For Me, Another Standard For Thee

During the hearings for Justice Kavanaugh, there were charges that he was too political or too biased in one direction. The implication was that Supreme Court Judges should not be political. That is a reasonable standard, but is it applied evenly?

On Thursday, Newsbusters posted an article that included the following:

Despite acknowledging that she should not do so, on her current book tour United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor nevertheless waded into politicking, bashing both the Federal Government’s response to Hurricane María in Puerto Rico and exhorting Latino voters to go to the polls “to change this life for us Latinos.”

In separate interviews with Telemundo and Univision, Sotomayor’s partisan edge was evident. On its October 16 national evening newscast, Telemundo featured Sotomayor’s message as part of that network’s Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) campaign, currently being deployed in partnership with an array of politically liberal-aligned voter mobilization organizations (including Voto Latino, UnidosUS, Hispanic Federation and Mi Familia Vota).

…That same evening on Univision’s national evening newscast, Sotomayor was featured bashing the Federal Government’s massive response to Hurricane María in Puerto Rico. She even prefaced her criticism that “help…is not being received” by acknowledging she was wading into political matters.

…Evidently for Sotomayor, the fact that following Hurricane María Puerto Rico was the object of the largest disaster commodity federal response and the largest generator installation mission in U.S. history was not enough, nor was the fact that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development alone has allocated to Puerto Rico $20 billion in Community Development Block Grants, a figure more than twice the size of the U.S. Caribbean territory’s annual budget for its entire government.

At least Sotomayor was wise enough, during her interview with Univision, to remain diplomatic about fellow Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s recent arrival to the Court, saying that “Among colleagues there is always a welcome. He is a new member of our Court. We have to work with him and now we are beginning our new family. We work together, so let’s let this time pass.”

The problem in Puerto Rico was not the amount of aid–it was the corruption involved in distributing the aid.

On October 17th, USA Today reported:

FBI agents raided municipal offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, seizing documents and digital records as part of an investigation into fraud allegations related to the city government. 

Special agent in charge Douglas Leff said federal investigators are also looking into potential obstruction of the investigation. According to Leff, agents believe documents tied to the reported irregularities in the city’s purchasing procedures might have been taken from the building or falsified.

If Justice Sotomayor is going to get involved in politics, she should at least do us the courtesy of getting her facts right. The problem is not the Trump administration–it is the corruption in Puerto Rico.

More For Me But Less For Thee

Yesterday Fox News reported that President Obama has requested an increase in the appropriations for expenditures of former presidents, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service published Wednesday. In other words, he wants an increase in the amount of money allotted to him to pay for his retirement.

Meanwhile, in October of last year, The Washington Post reported:

Tens of millions of seniors will see no annual cost-of-living adjustment in their Social Security checks in 2016, the government said Thursday, unwelcome news that also will flatten benefit payments for retired federal workers and service members.

It is only the third time in 40 years — all of them during the Obama administration — that the Social Security Administration has not increased its payments. The raises are tied to the consumer price index (CPI).

Lower gasoline prices have kept the CPI low. At the same time, medical costs for senior citizens are going up, but for some reason, the increase in Medicare expenses for seniors did not get factored into the equation.

Also, USA Today reported in January of last year:

The plan calls for Congress to create a hybrid system that includes a smaller defined-benefit pension along with more cash-based benefits and lump-sum payments. A significant portion of troops’ retirement benefits would come in the form of government contributions to 401(k)-style investment accounts, those familiar with the report told Military Times.

Specifically, the proposal calls for automatically enrolling each service member in the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP, an investment account that accrues savings. Individual troops will be responsible for managing their accounts, and the money is typically not available for withdrawal without penalty until age 59.5.

The proposed change to military retirement makes my blood boil. Our military relocates their families approximately every three years, puts their lives in jeopardy, and makes unbelievable sacrifices, and the government wants to change the rules of the contract they signed up under. Military benefits for retirees and their families have already been cut in terms of their healthcare. Changes have also been made to the commissary system that have made it less economical for our military to shop there. Budget cuts have already been made at the expense of our military.  Any further changes should not apply to those currently serving.

At any rate, before we raise the retirement benefits of our Presidents, we need to consider our military and our senior citizens. Our past Presidents seem to do very well with speaking fees, and I am sure they will find a way to make ends meet. For further information, check the net wealth of the Clintons before and since they occupied the White House.

Recess Appointments Can Only Be Made When Congress Is Actually In Recess

USA Today is reporting today that the Supreme Court has ruled that several recess appointments made by President Obama in 2012 were invalid. The ruling against President Obama’s recess appointments was unanimous; however, four of the justices wanted to restrict the President’s power to make recess appointments.

The article reports:

The high court’s ruling means that hundreds of decisions made by the labor board while dominated by Obama’s recess appointees in 2012 and half of 2013 will be called into question. The new five-member board, including four members since approved by the Senate, will have to revisit those cases. Consumer protection chief Richard Cordray has since been confirmed by the Senate, so he can reaffirm his prior actions.

This is the second unanimous Supreme Court decision in two days–yesterday the Court ruled that police required a search warrant to search the information on a suspect’s cell phone.

Rearranging The Deck Chairs On The Titanic

USA Today is reporting today that President Obama has accepted the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Fox News is reporting today that the President has also accepted the resignation of Jay Carney as White House press secretary.

USA Today reports:

Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson will take temporary charge of the department, Obama said, adding that he will nominate a new permanent secretary soon.

Obama began what he called a “serious conversation” with Shinseki Friday just hours after the VA secretary apologized to all veterans and the nation for scandal involving the systemic delay of health care to veterans.

While accepting Shinseki’s resignation, Obama went out of his way to praise the retired four-star general.

“He is a very good man,” Obama said. “He’s been an outstanding soldier. He’s a good person who’s done exemplary work.”

Secretary Shinseki is an outstanding soldier, but he obviously did not have the management skills to solve the problem at the VA. It is questionable if any person alive has those management skills. I suspect Mitt Romney does, but obviously, his talents will not be tapped.

Fox News reports:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is stepping down, ending a lengthy term in what is considered one of Washington’s toughest jobs. 

Carney has served as President Obama’s lead spokesman since 2011. The president interrupted Carney’s daily press briefing to announce his departure, calling him one of his “closest friends” and a trusted adviser. 

Noting Carney’s background as a reporter, Obama said: “I actually think he will miss hanging out with all of you.”

Jay Carney used to be a reporter. I wish him well in future endeavors, but I have to admit that I will never again believe anything he reports.

Enhanced by Zemanta

All Cultures Are Not The Same

USA Today posted a story today about the young girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. Boko Haram is translated as “western education is a sin.” The group is a militant Islamic group that operates in Nigeria.

The article reports:

In the video, Shekau described the girls as slaves and said, “By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace.”

Unconfirmed reports last week said the girls were being sold as brides for $12 each.

The goal of Boko Haram is to”destroy the secular Nigerian state” and replace it with an Islamic state, said John Campbell, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.

The mass abduction isn’t the first time Boko Haram has targeted students. In February, the group shot or burned to death nearly 60 boys in northeast Nigeria.

There is no prohibition of slavery in Islam. The girls were taken by men posing as Nigerian military who said they wanted to take the girls to safety.

Yesterday ABC News reported:

The students were studying for final exams at their local school when the abduction happened. One girl told the New Yorker that militants dressed in Nigerian military uniforms came into their dorms and told the girls they were being taken to a safe space. They were placed in trucks and on motorcycles and driven away as the militants shouted “Allahu akbar,” which means God is great. Some managed to escape by jumping off the caravans and running away.

…The Northern States Christian and Elders Forum, a group of elders in the state where the girls were taken, released a list of 180 names that were confirmed to be among the missing and said that a majority of them are Christian.

Under Sharia Law, girls are not supposed to be educated, and Christians can be sold as slaves. The concept of equal rights for women is not part of Islamic law.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Another Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy theories about the Obama Administration are getting to be old hat. I suspect some of them have a basis in truth, but I also suspect the majority of them don’t. Generally conspiracy theories arise because there is a vacuum of information that people tend to want to fill. Because the details about President Obama’s life–school records, childhood education, etc.–are so sketchy, conspiracy theories have arisen.

My latest contribution to the conspiracy theory pile is the reason for the resignation of General David Petraeus.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line is one of the sources for my latest conspiracy theory.

In an article posted yesterday, Mr. Mirengoff states:

…If so, then it seems that the affair started before Petraeus became the director of the CIA. The background check on Petraeus when he was being considered for the CIA job must have been incredibly thorough. And, since an affair with an embedded reporter would probably have been difficult to keep fully secret, even an ordinary investigation might well have uncovered word of it.

Thus, it may be that the White House knew of the General’s affair before he became the DCIA.

USA Today reported early this morning:

A federal law enforcement official said the relationship was discovered by the FBI during the course of an unrelated security investigation. Subsequently, a number of e-mails concerning the relationship were discovered, said the official who is not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.

Now, my questions. Did the White House know of the affair when General Petraeus was chosen to head the CIA? Did General Petraeus know that they knew? Does that explain the fact that he towed the Democrat party line in his last appearance before Congress? Did he resign and make the matter public to avoid having to tow the Democrat party line again in his appearance before Congress next week? Who authorized the FBI investigation and who were they investigating?  I don’t want to see the reputation of a good man ruined by one serious mistake, but I think that there is a whole lot more to the story than we currently know.

Enhanced by Zemanta

About That Successful Bailout Of General Motors

President Barack Obama, with Assembly Manager ...

President Barack Obama, with Assembly Manager Teri Quigley, drives a new Chevy Volt, during his tour of the General Motors Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Mich., July 30, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the accomplishments that President Obama is citing on his ‘stump speech’ is his bailout of General Motors. So far the taxpayer has lost about $25 billion on the bailout. I have posted a number of articles about the lack of sales of the Chevy Volt during the past year (you can use the search engine at the top of this site if you want to read them). The bottom line is that even with the government paying customers to buy the car, the car is not selling. There have also been a number of fires in the Chevy Volt after minor accidents.

Yesterday USA Today reported that General Motors is shutting down its Chevy Volt assembly line for a month and retooling it to produce Chevy Impalas.

The article reports:

“We are not idling the plant due to poor Volt sales. We’re gearing up for production of the new Impala,” Chevy spokesman David Darovitz said in an email.

Maybe I just don’t understand business, but it seems to me that if a car is selling well, you don’t suspend production of that car for a month.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta