Government Policies Have Consequences

Yesterday the Washington Post posted an opinion piece by Randy Stilley, president and chief executive of Seahawk Drilling, which owned and operated 20 jackup rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.  Last month Seahawk Drilling declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  Seahawk will sell its assets to shallow-water driller Hercules Offshore.

Mr. Stilley reports:

“This devastating decision was the culmination of a long period in which we found our customers unable to secure permits for work in the Gulf of Mexico despite the fact that both our industry and our company have excellent safety records. In the 11 months after the Deepwater Horizon accident, it became clear that Seahawk’s greatest rival was no longer our industry competitors but the U.S. government.”

Mr. Stilley further comments:

“Our government cannot claim in good conscience to hold up shallow-water permits out of an abundance of caution. The shallow-water industry relies on proven and straightforward methods honed over decades of use. Our record speaks for itself: In the past 15 years, 11,070 shallow-water wells have been drilled in the Gulf of Mexico, with a grand total of 15 barrels of oil spilled as a result of well-control incidents.”

The Obama Administration is driving the American oil industry out of the Gulf of Mexico while President Obama is supporting offshore drilling in Brazil.  Reuters reported Saturday:

“The United States seeks to be “a strategic energy partner” to Brazil, which recently discovered major new offshore oil reserves. Obama said the United States wants to be one of Brazil’s “best customers” when the oil starts flowing.

“Both nations also will increase cooperation on producing biofuels with a specific separate agreement to team up on developing biofuels for aviation.”

My prayer is that the Republicans run a good candidate in 2012 and we can undo some of the damage President Obama is doing to American businesses and the American economy,

A Fast Track For Obamacare Through The Appeals Courts

CNS News reported today:

“Last Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a motion by The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) to fast-track an appeal of a decision by a federal district court in February that dismissed its lawsuit against Obamacare.”

The ACLJ argued that Congress does not have the Constitutional power to require Americans to buy health insurance. 

The article reported:

“In an interview with, ACLJ Senior Counsel Ed White explained that Thursday’s ruling allowing for an expedited appeal of Kessler’s ruling will ensure that the Supreme Court will hear the case before Obamacare is completely implemented.”

The ACLJ is also opposing Obamacare because they claim it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.  The article points out:

“White also pointed out that even if the Supreme Court finds Obamacare to be unconstitutional, people of certain faiths would still have a separate lawsuit on religious grounds against the law.

“”For example with our clients who are faith healers, they don’t believe that they need to go to a doctor,” said White. “They don’t believe they need health insurance because whatever happens to them, they rely on God. One of the clients, even if he has a heart attack, his wife is under instructions not to call 911 but to pray. If God wants him to survive that heart attack that’s the way it’s going to be.

“”For someone like him, he’s going to have to spend hundreds of dollars — if not thousands –every year for the rest of his life to buy health insurance which he doesn’t need. He now is being penalized by the government hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars by the government simply because he is exercising his religious faith.””

The thing to keep in mind about Obamacare is that it starts collecting money now, but does not seriously get into providing benefits and controlling healthcare services until after the 2012 elections (we all know that fact is an incredible coincidence!).  It needs to be stopped as quickly as possible before it can become entrenched into American healthcare.  Obamacare will impact the number of new hospitals and new doctors in a negative way.  That is one of many reasons why it needs to be stopped quickly.

Priorities In Newport, California

On Tuesday, the Daily Pilot reported that the Newport Beach city council has passed a resolution to ban leaf blowers.  The council voted 4 to 3 to force groundskeepers to use quieter methods of collecting leaves and debris.

If Newport Beach wants to ban leaf blowers, that is their privilege, but haven’t they got better things to do?  California is in serious economic difficulty and these people are worrying about leaf blowers.  The law does give homeowners associations the ability to opt out of the ban.  Wow.

Good grief.

Combating Voter Fraud

An organization called True the Vote investigated voter fraud in Houston, Texas, last year and came up with some unsettling conclusions.

According to in September 2010:

“Vacant lots had several voters registered on them. An eight-bed halfway house had more than 40 voters registered at its address,” Engelbrecht said. “We then decided to look at who was registering the voters.”

“Their work paid off. Two weeks ago the Harris County voter registrar took their work and the findings of his own investigation and handed them over to both the Texas secretary of state’s office and the Harris County district attorney.

“Most of the findings focused on a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Sean Caddle, who formerly worked for the Service Employees International Union. Among the findings were that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. The other registrations included one of a woman who registered six times in the same day; registrations of non-citizens; so many applications from one Houston Voters collector in one day that it was deemed to be beyond human capability; and 1,597 registrations that named the same person multiple times, often with different signatures.”

The group will be holding a summit on line tomorrow.  Please follow the link to True the vote for more information.  Our democracy depends on the integrity of the voting process.

I Guess We Are Not All On The Same Side

I consider myself an average American.  I am a middle class person who has been through the basic ups and downs that all of us go through in a lifetime.  I remember 30-cents-a-gallon gasoline and gas lines during the 1970’s.  I remember price and wage controls and WIN (whip inflation now) and I remember wondering how many people the money taken out of my or my husband’s paycheck was supporting, since I never got to spend it.  I have noticed that there seem to be some people in this country that are very rich, but my experience when I have met some of these people was that they were very well educated or very hard working and most had made serious personal sacrifices to obtain their wealth.  I suppose that is a very naive view, but I really think most rich people who have honestly earned their money have worked very hard for it.  I see no reason to hold their success against them or to penalize them in some way by higher taxes or trying to limit the amount of money they can make. 

With the above philosophy in mind, I am very troubled by a tape of a speech by former SEIU executive Stephen Lerner from last weekend.  On Tuesday, the Business Insider posted an aritlce about Mr. Lerner’s plan to “destabilize” the country.   Speaking at a closed forum at Pace University in New York last weekend, Mr. Lerner outlined a plan to destroy JP Morgan, nuke the stock market and weaken Wall Street’s grip on power, thus creating the conditions necessary for a redistribution of wealth and a change in government.

I have a better idea–why not go out and earn your own money instead of trying to take away other people’s?  The link above has posted the whole transcript of Mr. Lerner’s speech.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air also posted an article on Tuesday about Mr. Lerner’s remarks.  Mr. Morrissey concludes:

“I don’t think that anyone doubts that labor in this country has become poisonously hostile to private enterprise, thanks in large part to its inability to organize workers outside of the public sector.  Its leaders surely share Lerner’s hostility to so-called “fat-cat bankers”, Wall Street executives, and anyone in general that makes a profit off of their hard work, ingenuity, and investment.  But the final questioner in the longer video inadvertently makes the case that unions have just as much invested in the current system as everyone else, thanks to their pension fund investments, and stand to lose just as much if not more than most if the system collapses, whether organically or from a “poor people’s movement” attack.  That’s why Lerner doesn’t have access to those big bucks any longer, and why Labor Nihilist Club is going to fall short of its Fight Club fantasies.”

Have we reached the point in America where we don’t know how to play nicely together?

The Death Of Glamor

Elizabeth Taylor died today at the age of 79.  She was part of a Hollywood era that engaged in scandalous behavior but somehow managed to appear glamorous rather than trashy.  Even as she aged, the pictures of her showed her with her hair combed, her make-up skillfully applied and still carrying herself with the glamour that she was known for. 

A fairly complete article about her career can be found in today’s U K Mail Online.  An article about her in today’s Washington Examiner states:

“In death, she is being heralded for her great beauty, iconic and legandary persona, tireless humanitarian work, and the compassion and optimism she exuded despite decades of physical ailments.”

Elizabeth Taylor personified the glamour and success of the movie industry at its most successful.  She began as a child star and somehow transitioned to adult roles without an awkward period.  She is a lady who will be sorely missed.



An Amazing Editorial In The Arab News

There is an amazing editorial posted at today.  I strongly suggest you follow the link and read the entire article, but I will attempt to summarize it.

The writer is ABDULATEEF AL-MULHIM.  He asks the question:

“I have seen and read about the lives of the Palestinians in the US and other places. They are very successful in every field. And at the same time I saw the Arab countries at the bottom of the list in education and development. And I always ask the question: What if the Palestinians and the Arabs accepted the presence of Israel on May 14, 1948 and recognized its right to exist? Would the Arab world have been more stable, more democratic and more advanced?”

He rightfully points out that many of the Arab leaders used the Palestinians for their own purposes with no regard for the Palestinians themselves.  He points out that Arab leaders have historically used the cry to drive Israel into the sea to unite their people and consolidate their own power.  This prevented them from having to focus on solving any internal problems they might have had within their own countries.

The article points out:

“If Israel was recognized in 1948, then there would have been no need for a coup in Egypt against King Farouq in 1952 and there would have been no attack on Egypt in 1956 by The UK, France and Israel. Also there will be no war in June 1967 and the size of Israel will not be increased and we, the Arabs would not have the need for a UN resolution to beg Israel to go back to the pre-1967 borders. And no war of attrition between Egypt and Israel that caused more casualties on the Egyptian side than the Israeli side.”

The article cites further examples:

“Even a non-Arab country (Iran) used Palestine to divert the minds of their people from internal unrest. I remember Ayatollah Khomeini declaring that he would liberate Jerusalem via Baghdad and President Ahmadinejad making bellicose statements about Israel, though not even a single fire cracker was fired from Iran toward Israel.”

Regardless of how you feel about this article, I think the point can be made that solving the problems in your own country is better than scapegoating another country to unite your people.  Peaceful countries have a better chance for stability, prosperity, and better standards of living for their people.  The irony of the situation in the Middle East is that Israel is the country in which Arabs generally have the best living conditions in the Middle East.

Arming For What ?

Israel has never been a threat to her neighbors.  She has responded to attacks and planned attacks, but she has made it clear that her goal is to live at peace with her neighbors.  It has been said, “If the Arabs put down their weapons, there would be peace in the Middle East.  If Israel put down their weapons, there would be no Israel.”  I believe that is true.

Today, YNet News reported that Turkey forced an Iranian cargo plane to land in Turkey and discovered several crates of weapons and ammunition headed for Syria. 

The article reports:

“Turkish media reported that the plane was forced to land in a military airfield at the United Nations’ request following information indicating it was carrying nuclear materials. It was further reported that rocket launchers, mortars, rifles and explosive materials were found in one of the main cabinets on the plane.”

On March 15th as reported at Power Line, the Israelis intercepted a shipload of weapons manufactured in Iran, shipped through Syria and bound for Gaza.  It seems as if the enemies of Israel are arming.  This is not a good thing for peace in the Middle East.

The Insanity In America’s Current Enegy Policy posted an article yesterday entitled, “Drill, Brazil, Drill!”  The opening sentence:

“While leaving U.S. oil and jobs in the ground, our itinerant president tells a South American neighbor that we’ll help it develop its offshore resources so we can one day import its oil. WHAT?!?”

What you just read is true.  President Obama does not want to alienate the environmental extremists in this country who oppose the development of our own energy resources, but American environmentalists have no problem with Americans paying $10 a gallon for gasoline imported from Brazil.  At this point I would like to make clear that I do not oppose environmentalism–I just believe it has to be balanced with practicality. 

The article reports:

“We have noted this double standard before, particularly when — at a time when the president was railing against tax incentives for U.S. oil companies — we supported the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s plan to lend $2 billion to Brazil’s state-run Petrobras with the promise of more to follow.

“Now, with a seven-year offshore drilling ban in effect off of both coasts, on Alaska’s continental shelf and in much of the Gulf of Mexico — and a de facto moratorium covering the rest — Obama tells the Brazilians:

“”We want to help you with the technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely. And when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.””

The article details some of President Obama’s efforts at blocking America’s access to energy:

“Yet in his alleged quest for “secure-energy supplies,” he refuses to develop oil and natural gas resources in U.S. waters. His administration has locked up areas in the West where oil shale reserves are estimated to be triple Saudi Arabia’s reserves of crude. His administration is even stalling on plans to build a pipeline to deliver oil from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S. market.

“That project would build a 1,661-mile pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to U.S. refineries near Houston. It would create 13,000 “shovel-ready” jobs and provide 500,000 more barrels of oil per day from an ally.”

America has the resources to end its recession.  What we need is an administration in Washington that will let us use those resources.

The Keystone Kops In Libya

I should probably apologize to the Keystone Kops for that headline (but I won’t)!  The UK Daily Mail posted an article today about the squabbling that is going on in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) regarding the military operation in Libya. 

The article reports:

“President Barack Obama, seeking to avoid getting bogged down in a war in another Muslim country, said on Monday Washington would cede control of operations against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces within days and NATO would have a coordinating role.”

America has maintained a leadership role in the world since World War II.  It is a shame that the Obama Administration is choosing to give up that role.  There is no other democracy currently in a position to assume the responsibility that we are giving up.

One of the problems with having NATO take over the operations in Libya is that the unrest in Libya is not an obvious threat to Europe, which NATO was formed to protect.  There is also the issue of whether or not it is legal for NATO to authorize an air strike to kill Gaddafi.

The article further reports the comments of a NATO diplomat:

“‘Yesterday’s meeting became a little bit emotional,’ the envoy said, adding that France had argued that the coalition led by France, Britain and the United States should retain political control of the mission, with NATO providing operational support, including command-and-control capabilities.

“‘Others are saying NATO should have command or no role at all and that it doesn’t make sense for NATO to play a subsidiary role,’ the diplomat said.

“Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested that air strikes launched after a meeting in Paris hosted by France on Saturday had gone beyond what had been sanctioned by a U.N. Security Council resolution.

“‘There are U.N. decisions and these decisions clearly have a defined framework. A NATO operation which goes outside this framework cannot be legitimised,’ he told news channel CNN Turk.”

Meanwhile, yesterday the Washington Examiner reported on the rules of war being placed on Americans involved in the military action in Libya.  These are some of the comments of General Carter Ham, the man who is in command of the United States attacks on Libya:

Ham was asked what U.S. forces are instructed to do when they encounter pro-Gadhafi military units that are heavily armed but aren’t actually attacking civilians. “What we look for is, to the degree that we can, to discern intent,” Ham explained. He described a hypothetical situation in which an American pilot spotted a Libyan unit south of Benghazi. If the pilot determined the unit was moving toward the city, he could attack. If he determined the unit was setting up some sort of position, he could also attack. But if he determined the unit was moving away, then he couldn’t attack. “There’s no simple answer,” Ham said. “Sometimes these are situations that brief much better at headquarters than they do in the cockpit of an aircraft.””

This is just stupid.  Are we there to fight or just to be shot at?  If you want a humanitarian mission, send the United Nations!  If we are going to put men in harm’s way, we need to allow them to fight.  What we are seeing in Libya is an example of what happens when a Commander-in-Chief has no military experience, no practical business experience and no administrative experience.

Pushback Against The SEIU (Service Employees International Union)

On Thursday, posted an article stating:

“Sodexo USA today filed a civil lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other defendants under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, to stop the illegal campaign of extortion that the SEIU has been waging in the U.S. for over a year.” 

The lawsuit alleges that the SEIU has engaged in blackmail, vandalism, trespass, harassment, and lobbying law violations designed to steer business away from Sodexo USA and harm the company.

The article reports:

“Sodexo USA recognizes the value of union activity and has built positive relationships with more than 30 different unions.  Over 15 percent of Sodexo USA’s workforce is unionized, which is more than twice the national average for the private sector, and the Company has more than 300 collective bargaining agreements.  Despite this positive record, the SEIU has engaged in a vicious campaign to force the Company into broadly recognizing the SEIU to the exclusion of other unions without allowing its employees in the U.S. to exercise their right to vote for or against the SEIU in a federally supervised secret ballot election.”

I have said before that I believe the union leaders of today are the robber barons of yesterday.  It is no coincidence that the most frequent visitor to the White House during President Obama’s first year was Andy Stern, then President of the SEIU.

Please follow the link to the article to read about the activities of the SEIU that have resulted in this lawsuit.  I don’t know if the SEIU is typical of today’s unions, but there have been some serious questions in recent elections as to whether or not this particular union has been involved in voter fraud. 

Domestic Terror

Last December an article at Politico reported:

“Attorney General Eric Holder says that the growing number of American citizens joining terrorist groups including Al Qaeda is “one of the things that keeps me up at night.””

Recently Representative Peter King held hearings to look into the radicalization of American Muslims.  Is this valid, or are we being paranoid?  As the saying goes, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”–Joseph Heller. 

Yesterday CBN News posted a story about the The Muslim Students Association (MSA), one of the largest Muslim organizations in America, with chapters on hundreds of college campuses.  The article includes a video report showing some of the alumni of the group and some of their activities.  One of the more disturbing items on the video is an excerpt from a question and answer session at the University of California-Davis with David Horowitz of Front Page Magazine where he asks a student member of the MSA, “I’m a Jew.  The head of Hezbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally. For or against it?”  “For it,” the MSA member answered firmly.

Please read the article at CBN News for the list of the MSA alumni.  The article also reports:

“(Former FBI Special Agent John) Guandolo worked on several major terrorism cases for the FBI. He calls the MSA the “focal point” for the Muslim Brotherhood in America.

“”Their goal, both from their senior leaders, presidents of MSA’s around the country, national leadership, is to implement Islamic government here in the United States,” he explained. “And they say that.”

“Founded in 1963 at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the MSA quickly spread to other campuses in the Midwest.

“”There were really three leaders, three Iraqi guys: Jamal Barzinji, Ahmed Totonji, and Hisam Altalib, who really set it up, who are known, identified Muslim Brotherhood leaders,” said Poole. “And from there, MSA became the mother ship of all the Muslim Brotherhood front groups.””

Anyone want to make a small wager on whether or not the MSA collects ‘student fee’ money from the colleges where they are located?  I suspect we are funding our own undoing.

Stratfor Global Intelligence On The Libyan Opposition Leadership

Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting, Inc.) posted an updated analysis on the Libyan opposition leadership yesterday. 

Some of the things the article reports:

“The structure through which the Libyan opposition is represented is the National Transitional Council. The first man to announce its creation was former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who defected from the government Feb. 21 and declared the establishment of a “transitional government” Feb. 26. At the time, Abdel-Jalil claimed that it would give way to national elections within three months, though this was clearly never a realistic goal.”

The day after the announcement by Abdel-Jalil, Benghazi-based lawyer named Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga held a news conference where he claimed to be the spokesman for the new council. The article at Stratfor explains how this problem was solved:

“The National Transitional Council officially came into being March 6, and — for the moment, at least — has settled the personal and regional rivalry between Abdel-Jalil and Ghoga, with the former named the council’s head and the latter its spokesman. Despite the drama that preceded the formal establishment of the council, all members of the opposition have always been unified on a series of goals: They want to mount an armed offensive against the government-controlled areas in the west; they want to overthrow Gadhafi; they seek to unify the country with Tripoli as its capital; and they do not want foreign boots on Libyan soil. The unity of the rebels, in short, is based upon a common desire to oust the longtime Libyan leader.”

That is the current state of affairs.  The article points out that the opposition forces have not become a meaningful military force.  The air strikes by the nations that are aiding the rebellion have temporarily changed to balance of power to the rebels favor, but there seems to be a lack of basic military cohesion among the rebels.  This is a tribal society, and America has recently experienced some serious difficulties in trying to help tribal societies find unity and democracy. The thing to keep in mind here is that a new government may not be any friendlier to western civilization that the old government was.  The danger here is that we may be facilitating the establishment of a new Islamic state where Sharia Law is the basis of the judicial system.

Various Opinions On Libya

At the Heritage Foundation‘s “Morning Bell”:

“But the fact that these operations could be successfully undertaken by coalition forces was never in doubt. The problem is that these operations by themselves will not be decisive in either eliminating the regime or fully protecting civilians. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that the U.S. expects to turn control of the Libya military mission over to a coalition (headed by the French? the British? or by NATO?) “in a matter of days.” What happens if Qadhafi is still in power by that time? The United Nations mandate authorizing these strikes is extremely broad, permitting anything but “occupying” Libya. The coalition has yet to state specific goals for the operation. What does protecting civilians mean.”

Yesterday’s New York Sun pointed out the similarities between what President Obama is doing and what Sarah Palin suggested three weeks ago.  The Sun points out:

“The former GOP vice presidential candidate was being interviewed on February 23rd on national television by Sean Hannity on a range of issues. On the Libya crisis, she proposed a no-fly zone to protect the armed and un-armed opposition to the Qaddafi regime. Mrs. Palin’s formulation had been blogged about for nearly a week when it was echoed by the man who, before the Iraq war, had led the Iraq democratic movement in exile, Ahmed Chalabi.”

On Saturday at National Review Online, Andrew McCarthy stated:

“On Thursday evening, the U.N. Security Council voted 10-0 (with five abstentions, including China, Russia, and Germany) to authorize the use of military force (i.e., “all necessary measures”) against Libya. Ostensibly, the resolution is designed to protect the Libyan people. But not to mince words, it is a license for war against the regime of Moammar Qaddafi. It would kick hostilities off with a no-fly zone over Libya. As a practical matter, American armed forces must do the heavy lifting if the strategy is to have a prayer, and indications are that President Obama intends to oblige.

“There is a catch: The Security Council is powerless to “authorize” the U.S. military to do a damned thing. The validity of American combat operations is a matter of American law, and that means Congress must authorize them.”

Mr. McCarthy does not necessarily argue against the war–he argues that a UN Resolution is no substitute for Congressional authorization.  America has a Constitution.  I know that Congress has sometimes been bypassed when a President decides to go to war, but this is not a good idea.  America really does need to go back to her Constitutional roots.

Giving The United Nations A Chance To Do The Right Thing

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I don’t support the United Nations.  I believe it has become a club of tyrants do not stand for freedom or prosperity for anyone but themselves.  How they react to the following complaint will either confirm or ruin my theory.

Haaretz reported yesterday that Israel will lodge a formal complaint with the United Nations after more than 50 mortars were fired into Israel from Gaza on Saturday morning.  Hamas has claimed responsibility for 10 of the mortars. 

According to the article:  Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

“(Foreign Minister Avigdor) Lieberman, in a message to the UN, warned that a future Palestinian state would be a “terrorist state who’s first and foremost goal is the destruction of Israel.”

“The offensive from Gaza took place while “Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were talking about reunification,” Lieberman’s message said.”

I don’t know if there has ever been a ‘requirement or test’ to become a state, but if there were, the actions of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) should disqualify them.  Hamas and the PA have stated that they would like to become a state.  They have also stated that they would like to drive Israel into the sea.  Wouldn’t making them a state give them permission to do that?  Does the world really need another terrorist state?  As I have said before, “Change the culture–then create the state.”  Until hatred is not taught in the schools in Gaza and until the idea of living in peace is taught, Palestine should not be a state.  The violence isn’t about being a state (the violence was there before the idea of statehood was introduced, see Walid Shoebat‘s website–the idea of a Palestinian state was introduced in 1967–until then Jordan was considered to be the Palestinian state)–this is simply a violent culture that has aimed its anger at Israel.  Let’s not make them legitimate.

It will be interesting to see what the United Nations does with the complaint.

Reading Between The Lines On TARP

On March 17th the Wall Street Journal reported that banks have repaid 99 per cent of the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) money.  That is true, but somewhat misleading if you are trying to evaluate the success or failure of TARP.

The American Spectator reported some additional numbers.  The article points out that the banks have paid back 99 per cent of the money that the banks were given ($244 billion of the $245 billion including some profits that the Treasury Department gained). 

However, this is not the entire picture.  The article at the American Spectator points out:

“…This claim, while accurate, is still not helpful in assessing TARP’s effectiveness because, as former Congressional Oversight Panel members Pau Atkins, Mark McWatters, and Kenneth Troske argue in the Journal, “TARP was never where the real action was happening. In fact, other Fed and FDIC programs added another $2 trillion of taxpayer money at risk to the 19 stress-tested banks alone, on top of the $1.1 trillion of MBS purchased by the Fed. TARP is but one-eighth of that total.” Those numbers do not even include the Fed’s near-zero interest rate policy, which has allowed big banks to earn risk-free profits.”

Neil Barofsky, who is the outgoing Special Inspector General for TARP, explained that creating a safety net for large banks made it possible for those banks to take greater risks. 

Mr. Barofsky explained:

“Credit-rating firms are to giving these “too big to fail” institutions higher ratings based on the government’s implied guarantee, Mr. Barofsky said. As a result, he said, lenders “give those institutions access to debt at a price that does not fully account for the risks created by their behavior.”

“That effective government subsidy, he said, enables big profits and “allows the largest institutions to become even larger relative to the economy while materially disadvantaging smaller banks.” [Emphasis added.]”

It is nice that the banks who took TARP money have repaid most of it.  However, the damage done to the free market is going to take a long time to repair.

Remembering The Forest While Looking At The Trees

This is an article about Libya.  There are no links to the situation in Libya because you can google Libya and get lots of stories you can read.  There will be other links to make various points.

I have hesitated to write about Libya because the situation there is changing rapidly and I also don’t have a lot of trust in the news reports coming out of there.  You may remember that in April of 2003 Eason Jordan posted an op-ed piece in the New York Times explaining that his reporting on Iraq before the US invasion of that country was not complete.  Mr. Jordan was concerned for his safety and the safety of his sources and kept that in mind in his reporting.  Whether or not you agree with that, it is a fact of life.

The forest I refer to in the headline of this article is the uprisings that have taken place in the Middle East in the past few months–beginning with Egypt.  The common element in these uprisings is the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been banned in both Egypt and Libya.  The dictators in Egypt and Libya, Mubarak and Gaddafi, are (and were) dictators.  They should never have received any sort of support from America (Gaddafi didn’t receive support, but we often turned a blind eye to his activities).  However, there are not a lot of Jeffersonian Democrats in the Middle East.  We need to keep that in mind.  Islam and democracy do not seem to co-exist well for extended periods of time–watch what is happening in Turkey (History News Network from George Mason University).

One thing to remember here is the role of Iran in the Middle East.  When the Iranian revolution occurred in 1979, a constitution was put in place that calls for the establishment of a world-wide caliphate (Islamic State under Sharia Law).  Please remember this as you look at events in the Middle East.  It it interesting that the current unrest in the Middle East is in countries that are not currently strong supporters of Sharia Law.  I have an uncomfortable feeling that after the smoke clears, many of these formerly secular countries will not longer be secular.

Perspective On The Budget Debate

Sometimes the most basic examples are the best.  This is one of them.  John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line yesterday that puts the budget debate in terms that I can understand.

In the interest of science (of course), John went to McDonald’s and ordered a Big Mac Extra Value Meal.  He based his research on a Cato Institute report that commented on the ‘budget slashing’ Continuing Resolution recently passed:

“Federal spending has soared by more than $2,000,000,000,000 during the Bush-Obama years, pushing the burden of government up to $3,800,000,000,000, yet the reporters who put together this story said that an agreement to trim a trivially tiny slice of 2011 spending would “slash the budget.”

“As Charlie Brown would say, good grief. This is the budgetary equivalent of going on a diet by leaving a couple of french fries in the bottom of the bag after bingeing on three Big Mac meals at McDonald’s.”

John decided to follow up on this concept.  John Hinderaker concluded:

“,,,If there are 570 calories in a large order of fries, and 87 fries per order, each french fry, on the average, contains 6.5 calories. One 633rd of the total calorie content of a Big Mac Extra Value Meal is 1,320/633, or 2.1 calories. That equals almost exactly one-third of an average sized french fry.

“So, consider: if you were to go on what the Democrats consider a starvation diet, and “slash” your calorie intake to exactly the same degree that the Republicans’ $6 billion cut has “slashed” the federal budget, you would do the following. Go to McDonalds and order a Big Mac Extra Value meal. Eat the Big Mac. Drink the Coke. Eat 86 of the 87 french fries. Carefully take the last fry and bite off two-thirds of it. Put the remaining one-third of one fry back in the bag.

“If you seriously think that you have just “slashed” your diet, you are a Democrat. Most likely, an overweight Democrat.”

All this ruckus about budget cuts involves cuts that equal only one third of a french fry.  Good grief is right. 

Disturbing News From Florida

Fleming and Hayes reported yesterday on a ruling by 13th Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Nielson that a civil suit between the “Islamic Education Center of Tampa” and four of it`s trusties be settled, not in a court of law, but under “Ecclesiastical Islamic Law”.  Just for the record, Ecclesiastical Islamic Law is Sharia Law.

This is part of the ruling.  Follow the link to Fleming and Hayes to see the entire ruling.

Lest you think Sharia Law is ok, here are a few of its tenants (via an American Thinker article from August 2005).

Commands that drinkers and gamblers by whipped.

Allows wife beating, even for such things as ‘highhandedness.’

Allows for ‘an eye for an eye’ as legal revenge.

Requires hands of those who steal to be cut off.

Highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated.

Homosexuals should be executed.

Orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death.

Orders death for Muslims (and possible death for non-Muslims) who criticize Mohammad, the Quran, and Sharia.

Orders the killing of apostates.

Commands aggressive and offensive jihad.

It is obvious from reading the above (follow the link to the American Thinker to get details on each point) that Sharia Law is not compatible with American law.  To introduce Sharia Law (and set a precedent) is dangerous to the freedom of Americans.

Retiring With A Bang

When I retired from my regular job, I thought I went out with a bang–my boss threw a party for me at Dave & Busters.  It was just my speed.  Well, Wednesday’s Boston Herald showed me how the experts do it.

The Herald posted a story about the staff bonuses given out by the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation last year.  Representative William Delahunt, who retired in January, was extremely generous.

The article reports:

“Delahunt, who retired in January after 14 years on Capitol Hill, gave his staff an additional $117,000 in the fourth quarter of 2010, which represented a 38 percent hike in his quarterly payroll, despite a spokesman’s claim that his staff was sharply reduced.

“Delahunt spokesman Mark Forest said the congressman gave “performance-based” bonuses to staffers, whose workload increased once the Quincy Democrat announced his retirement.”

Wow.  The article further reports:

“The bonuses were revealed by congressional watchdog Legistorm, which found that 96 lame ducks handed out a total of $6.7 million in staff bonuses as they left office. House members are given office budgets of $1.4 million to $2 million, and many give bonuses at the end of each year rather than return unspent money.”

Well, at least I now have an idea of why the federal budget never goes down–“many give bonuses at the end of each year rather than return unspent money.”  That explains a lot.  Until we change the culture of spending in Washington, we will never have a fiscally responsible budget.

Voter Beware !

Admittedly, this is rather naive on my part, but when I vote, I assume that the names on the ballot are there because they want to be and stand for whatever they say they stand for.  Evidently that’s not always true.  It was not true in Michigan in 2010.

This article has three sources–Power Line yesterday, Hot Air yesterday, and Fox News in Detroit.  All three articles are reporting on an election plot by two former leaders of the Oakland County Democratic Party. 

Ed Morrissey reports at Hot Air:

“If you can’t beat ’em … fake ’em out? Two Democratic Party leaders in Michigan face nine felony counts after prosecutors allege that they forged documents to put fake Tea Party candidates on the ballot. Unlike other schemes where Democrats allegedly recruited candidates to run on ersatz Tea Party organization identities, these “candidates” had no idea they were on the ballot at all, some of them only discovering it after receiving delinquency notices on filings.”  

The Detroit News reports:

“It’s not illegal to be a non-serious candidate.  That’s not what’s being alleged here.  What is being alleged is that the people that were on the ballot were phony candidates and that they got there by fraudulent means.  That’s the crime.”

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said that 23 statewide races had questionable Tea Party candidates on the ballot and the investigation may go beyond Oakland County.

Wow.  When did Chicago move to Michigan?


One Reason (Of Many) To Develop Our Own Energy Sources

USA Today posted an article about the economic boom that is currently going on in North Dakota.  Yes, I did say North Dakota.  Fargo has grown rapidly, reaching a population of 105,549. 

The article reports:

“North Dakota is one of the nation’s least diverse states. Hispanic, black and Asian residents each make up 2% or less of its population. American Indians are the largest minority group, equal to 5.4% of the population.

“The superstar of North Dakota is its economy. The state’s unemployment rate hasn’t touched 5% since 1987. The state’s per capita income rose over the decade from 38th in the nation to 17th, the biggest advance of any state.”

What is the secret of this prosperity?  The article explains:

“North Dakota is enjoying an oil boom in the western part of the state, drawing workers from across the country. Williston, in oil country, grew 17.6% to 14,716. The oil windfall has created a $1 billion state budget surplus.

“Agriculture — 90% of the state’s area is used for farms and ranches — is productive and profitable, making the state a top exporter of wheat and other crops. Federal agriculture subsidies add nearly $1 billion a year.

“North Dakota is one of the few states to add manufacturing jobs over the decade. Bobcat, maker of farm and construction equipment, is headquartered in the state.”

Developing America’s energy sources creates jobs, income and economic growth.  How can we get Washington to follow the example of North Dakota?

The Cost Of Having A Weak President

Yesterday’s Wshington Post posted an article about the release of Raymond A. Davis, a CIA contractor who has been in prison in Pakistan since January 27. 

The article reports:

“At the time of his arrest, Davis was serving as a security guard for a team of CIA operatives gathering intelligence on militant organizations in Lahore, including Lashkar-i-Taiba, a group that has carried out deadly attacks against India and has long been backed by the ISI.

“A former U.S. Special Operations soldier and employee of the private security firm known as Blackwater, Davis said he fired in self-defense after being approached by two armed men on a motorcycle in an apparent robbery attempt at a traffic signal.

“U.S. officials initially asserted that Davis was merely a State Department employee entitled to diplomatic immunity. President Obama called him “our diplomat” and argued that he should be released. But Pakistani officials disagreed.”

The article also reports:

“A broad agreement was reached last Friday to make blood money payments to the families, but officials said there were concerns that it might unravel as the families argued about the terms.

“Such payments are incorporated into Pakistan’s statutes under “compensation and forgiveness” provisions of sharia law.”

This is a glorified ransom payment–and even at that the release of Mr. Davis is not popular with many Pakistanis.

The U K Independent reported yesterday:

“The US had insisted that Davis had diplomatic immunity and demanded Pakistan free him immediately.

“Pakistani officials, faced with criticism by Islamist parties and members of the public, had refused to state clearly whether he had immunity.

Pakistani officials had suggested that the payment of “blood money” was the best solution and in recent days speculation mounted that such a deal was in the works.

“Mr Sanaullah said Davis was charged with murder before members of the dead mens’ families were taken into the court, where they signed papers formally forgiving him in exchange for £2.3 million dollars.

“Judges then acquitted him on all charges.”

There is one more small detail to this story as reported in the Washington Post:

“Negotiations to resolve the dispute began in earnest three weeks ago, when Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) made a surprise trip to Pakistan at the administration’s request to try to ease tensions.

“A broad agreement was reached last Friday to make blood money payments to the families, but officials said there were concerns that it might unravel as the families argued about the terms.”

There are no words…

I’m Very Skeptical, But I Will Wait And See

I was about to write a post about an article by Hugh Hewitt posted at when I came across another article at the Daily Caller which totally undid my thinking for the first post. 

Here is the story.  Mr. Hewitt posted an article entitled, “The McClellan Republicans.”  The article states:

“Speaker John Boehner, GOP Leader Eric Cantor and GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy have been in their saddles since November 2, and even though their formal power only arrived in January, they have had more than four months to prepare the debate over the CR, the debt ceiling and the FY 2012 budget.

“If they prepared at all they prepared poorly, concentrating on symbolic gestures and focusing on procedural niceties like “open rules” rather than closing with the Democrats and forcing the first of the many showdowns ahead on spending. The phony cuts assembled thus far -the GOP talking points say $8 billion has been sawed from the federal budget–have not resulted in a single lay-off or program closure. One could look for months and see no effect from these paper cuts.”

The article totally echoes my frustration with the Republican leadership.  Meanwhile, the Daily Caller is reporting:

“In wake of conservative James O’Keefe’s Project Verutas sting videos of National Public Radio (NPR) senior executives, House Republicans are set to vote Thursday to defund NPR completely.  They’re expected to pass a bill that would pull all taxpayer money out of NPR, including the money that’s funneled through the Corporationn for Public Broadcasting (CPB).”

If they pass it, can they make their case well enough to get it through the Senate and past the President?

America’s spending is out of control.  We can no longer afford NPR (and many other things).  If this Congress can’t figure that out, we will have to elect a new one in 2012!