Free Markets, Free People

spin


What do you do when your government flat out lies to you?

It’s a rhetorical question for the most part, since it seems to be a daily occurrence anymore.  Obviously it is hard to trust any government that does that on a regular basis and with a straight face.  But that’s what we’re faced with.  The latest example comes from Ken Salazar, head of the Department of the Interior, and as usual, he’s dissembling about oil production.

Kyle Isakower at API’s “Energy Tomorrow” blog, brings us up to date on some of Salazar’s numbers:

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told Congress that oil production in the Gulf of Mexico "remained at an all-time high, and we expect that it will continue as we bring new production online."  He claimed: "In 2009 there were 116 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, in 2010 in February, 120, in February 2011, 126."

Key points: production “remained at an all-time high” last year.  And that such a state would continue to exist as “we” bring new production online.  Additionally, Salazar claims an increase of 10 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico from 2009 to last month.

Not true says Isakower citing Baker Hughes:

  • Four days before the Deepwater Horizon accident there were 55 rotary rigs actually drilling offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • On May 28, 2010, when the administration announced the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, there were 46 rotary rigs operating in the Gulf. 
  • Last week, 25 rotary rigs were operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

The point of course is oil production comes from working rigs.  While there may be more rigs (by 10) in the Gulf, there are less working rigs (by 30) than in 2009.

As Isakower quips:

Claiming an increase in idle rigs in the Gulf as a success story is like claiming the job market is great because a lot of people are unemployed and available to work.

As for the production figures and the claim by Salazar that production remained at “an all time high” is technically true, the next part of his claim is demonstrably false.  Isakower explains:

The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration reports that production in the Gulf of Mexico is in decline, forecasting a decline of 250,000 barrels a day from Gulf production, due partly to the moratorium and restricted permitting.  While the annual production figure for 2010 was greater than 2009, EIA’s month-by-month production figures show a peak in May of 2010, and a relatively steady decline since. And EIA Petroleum Engineer Gary Long told trade publication E&E News that the rig count in the Gulf was cut in half after the Deepwater Horizon accident and that it wouldn’t rebound to previous levels until the end of 2011 under the assumption that the permitting process is restored to historical rates. Further, since there is a lag time from the time an exploration permit is approved to the time of actual production, and since no only a handful of permits for new wells have been granted since April of 2010, it is likely that Gulf of Mexico production will continue to be hit hard in 2012 and beyond.

If anyone is monitoring the permitting process as it stands today, they know that the assumption about the process that Long uses isn’t valid (1 permit granted this year that I know of and that just before the hearings at which Salazar spoke).  What that then means, as Isakower notes, is production in the Gulf will remain “hard hit” and lower than 2009 until well beyond 2012.

So, here we have a critical need (the production of more oil) that could produce thousands of good paying jobs, would boost a regional economy not to mention provide money for the federal treasury (taxes and royalties) and we have a government official claiming we’re at record levels and will remain there and beyond because “we” have more rigs in the Gulf now than we did 2 years ago.

API is relatively gentle about it saying, [w]e appreciate that when it comes to selling the administration’s energy policy, Secretary Salazar is in a tough position”.

I don’t have to be that diplomatic.  Salazar isn’t “selling” anything, he’s spinning nonsense to Congress.  There is no cogent or responsible energy policy evident from this administration.  Instead, it has declared war on a vital industry that is absolutely critical to our nation’s economy and, using the Deepwater Horizon disaster as an excuse, placed barrier after barrier in front of the industry for almost a year to discourage new drilling operations.

Unfortunately the war has been successful.  Drilling rigs have all but abandoned the Gulf to be deployed elsewhere around the world.  That is a travesty and an inexcusable outcome of a thoughtless policy pressed for political reasons.  Again, the administration spins nonsense to make it sound like they are on board with more oil production while doing everything in their power to block it.

The sad truth is the results of that “policy” will eventually be paid by you, at the pump, as gas prices continue to rise.

Remember that in 2012.  It is another part of the record of the Obama administration.  And in 2012, Obama has to do something he’s never done before in his political life – actually run on his record. 

~McQ


Pelosi’s propaganda piece

If you’ve ever wondered what pure “spin” looks like, you have as your most current example an article under Nancy Pelosi’s name in USA Today.  It is a marvel of context free and, frankly, fact free verbiage designed to do nothing more than paint an alternate picture of reality.  It is an attempt to effect how history will be written.  And it is laughable on its face.

Essentially what Pelosi does is provide a list of discredited Democrat talking points in essay form, never once acknowledging that most if not all have been debunked, shown to be untrue or simply a figment of very fertile imaginations.

My favorite part is where the soon to be minority leader, if that, finally lays out the welcome mat for Republicans – after 6 years of all but shutting them out of the Congressional process.

And, in the running for the most appalling lie among many is this line included after Pelosi lists the “accomplishments” of the 111th Congress:

And we did all of this while restoring fiscal discipline to the Congress by making the pay-as-you-go rules the law of the land.

Good lord.  An estimated 6 trillion in further debt heaped upon the country during her watch and she has the audacity to play the PAYGO card?  This and the previous Congress under Democratic rule have been the most profligate in our history.  And Ms. Pelosi attempts to say everything has been paid for?  

Democrats – if you keep this person in your leadership after her 4 years as the Speaker what little is left of your tattered credibility is as good as gone.  She is divisive, extreme, partisan to a fault and the perfect leader to ensure you don’t see a majority in the House again for a decade or so.  She is the gift that keeps on giving for the GOP.

~McQ


Obama’s Freudian slip

Last week on Univision while during an interview aimed at Hispanics, President Obama referred to Republicans as “enemies”.  As you might imagine, that raised a bit of a stir on the right side of things. 

Said Obama:

‘We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us’ — if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election — then I think it’s going to be harder. And that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2nd."

Knowing he was going to take heat over the word used and before House minority leader John Boehner could deliver a well deserved scolding, Obama attempted to defuse the situation.

“Now the Republicans are saying that I’m calling them enemies,” Obama said during a get-out-the-vote to The Michael Baisden Show. “What I’m saying is you’re an opponent of this particular provision, comprehensive immigration reform, which is something very different.”

Well actually, no, it’s not.  It is certainly a rather poor attempt at damage control, but it is clear in a interview in which Obama was attempting to rally that particular base constituency during an election season that the object of the “enemies” remark was the GOP.    And, the use of the word “enemies” was purposeful and calculated.  It was meant to convey a message that the opposing party was an "enemy" of that which Hispanics wanted and it was important that they understand that message and act on in Nov. 2nd.

This wasn’t some unscripted slip of the tongue or poorly phrased appeal as he’s trying to spin it now. It was exactly how the post-partisan president views the political landscape and the other party.

Now the "smartest man in the room" is attempting this transparent and rather weak counter to his "enemies" remark.

I on the other hand have no problem attaching the word “enemy” to those on the left who would take my liberty and trash my rights.  Same for those on the right with the same inclinations. 

The fact that Obama used the word, however, is telling.  It is another indicator to me that he has no intention of doing what Bill Clinton did when he and the Democrats lost the House in 1994.  Obama is an inflexible ideologue who will go down with his leaky ship rather than do what is necessary to work across the isle.  The “enemies” remark does more than any other to finally pop the “post-partisan” bubble of nonsense he spun on the campaign trail.  And while I’m sure he’ll attempt to pin the failure of bi-partisanship on the right, it is clear, at least to me after watching the last 2 years, that there never was any serious desire or attempt on the part of the administration to make bi-partisanship work.

As it turns out – that’s fine with me.  But let’s put the claim that it is something desired by this president and administration to rest once and for all.

~McQ


Prepare for the new ObamaCare messaging

Ben Smith at POLITICO reports that Democrats are switching their messaging strategy when it comes to the ObamaCare legislation (and I’d guess one of the strategies is not to call it “ObamaCare”).  Seems they’ve conceded the argument that it will lower the deficit and cost less.  Facts are stubborn things and few have bought into the claims given the justification for them given by Democratic leaders.

So now they’ll go more nebulous instead.  Call it the medical care “hope and change” approach.  Now instead of lower deficits and less cost, they’re going to tout the law as a way to “improve” health care.

As one slide in the presentation – available here – says, “Many don’t believe health care reform will help the economy.”  That’s absolutely correct.  And, unlike Washington DC, most in flyover country passed their "Common Sense 101” course years ago while holding a job or running a business, raising a family and managing a household.  Most of them can spot a scam fairly easily and this was always in that category given the machinations necessary to make it “bend the cost curve down”.  Immediate taxes and delayed benefits were the first sign some game was afoot.  “Doc fixes” and half a trillion Medicare cuts that would never happen plus some double counting used to claim deficit reduction were the second.  And a new and extensive bureaucracy promised health care would be much more complicated and expensive.  Of course everyone loved the new individual mandate as well, not to mention the billions of dollars in mandates shifted to the states.

So this is the pig they’re trying to sell as “improved” as in “this law improves health care”.

How?

One slide says, “Tap into individual responsibility to blunt opposition to the mandate to have individual insurance.”  It then says, “Those who choose not to have insurance and use the emergency room for routine care are increasing the cost for the rest of us who have insurance.”

Interesting slide for the group most singularly responsible for attempting to make more and more people dependent on government throughout it’s history.  Suddenly it’s about “individual responsibility” while defending one of the biggest government takeovers of an industry in our history.

Oh, and, as pointed out with MassCare – ObamaCare’s little brother – the use of emergency room facilities went up with their mandated insurance law:

When the Bay State passed its health-reform law in 2006, 9 percent of non-elderly adults lacked insurance; that’s now down to 5 percent. The law didn’t reduce expensive emergency-room use as predicted. Instead, emergency-room visits have climbed by 9 percent, or about 3 million visits, from 2004 to 2008.

And, of course, so have costs with health care now consuming 35% of the state’s budget as compared to 22% before the law’s passage.  All predicted (back to Common Sense 101) and all coming true as expected.

Last, but certainly not least, Democrats will use a little class warfare to "please” voters, one assumes:

image

Obviously anyone with the cognitive ability to open a box of crayons knows that the rich can’t pay for all of this by any stretch.  Another in a long line of lies about “paying for” this monstrosity.  The second part of the slide is just a flat out lie.  Remember, ObamaCare is based on the primary care physician.  And that’s a medical care area that has a shortage now and that shortage is going to get worse:

The number of U.S. medical school students going into primary care has dropped 51.8% since 1997, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

That’s right, dropped 51.8% since 1997.  So tell me again about that “unprecedented number of new healthcare providers” being trained?  Because I don’t know who they are, but they aren’t the supposed foundational specialty on which ObamaCare is based according to the AAFP.

And those doctors who are in primary care are cutting their hours.  Why?

Payment issues may have played more of a role. The overall decrease in hours coincided with a 25% decline in pay for doctors’ services, adjusted for inflation. And when the researchers looked closely at U.S. cities with the lowest and highest doctor fees, they found doctors working shorter hours in the low-fee cities and longer hours in the high-fee cities.

Yup, no pending crisis at all – aided and abetted by a government that has decided it will “lower costs” even though it is no longer going to emphasize that point to the proles.

And what about nurses?

In the July/August 2009 Health Affairs, Dr. Peter Buerhaus and coauthors found that despite the current easing of the nursing shortage due to the recession, the U.S. nursing shortage is projected to grow to 260,000 registered nurses by 2025.  A shortage of this magnitude would be twice as large as any nursing shortage experienced in this country since the mid-1960s.

Amazing what they try to put past you, isn’t it?  Which brings us to the irony of the day:

image

Yup – keep those claims “small and credible” like the lies about more health care providers – and for heaven sake “don’t over promise or ‘spin’ what the law delivers’ – like lower cost, the ability to keep your plan and your doctor and, of course, control over your own health care.

Because we wouldn’t want to see this new and “improved” law repealed or neutered, would we?

~McQ

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Even Al Qaeda knows Obama’s star is falling

Interesting that after the news breaks than the withdrawal timeframe for Afghanistan is "firm", al Qaeda pokes its head out of the cave and pretends like it winning this 9 year confrontation by dictating terms of "peace".

Al Qaeda’s American-born spokesman has repeated the terror group’s conditions for peace with America in a video released Sunday.

Adam Gadahn called on President Barack Obama to withdraw his troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, end support for Israel, stop intervening in the affairs of Muslims, and free Muslim prisoners.

Many would argue the “conditions” Gadahn sets are, in fact, the Obama agenda. He’s just been unable to execute it to his or their satisfaction yet. The announcement of this past week about the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan being firm, however, certainly fits those parameters.

Another interesting point from Gadahn’s 24 minute video:

In white robes and turban, Gadahn told Mr. Obama: “You’re no longer the popular man you once were, a year ago or so.”

When al Qaeda is aware of that, perhaps the spinmeisters here ought to get a clue and quit spinning so hard. The cold wave of reality has indeed washed over their puny efforts to say it ain’t so.

~McQ


Spinning the unspinable – jobs report weak

President Obama is out telling workers at a trucking company in Hyattsville, Md that the new job numbers, 431,000 hired last month, shows the economy is “getting stronger by the day”.

Is it? It tells you something about credibility when you immediately question declarations like that, but that’s been the mantra for quite some time and it really hasn’t borne itself out as time progresses.

In this case 431,000 looks like a “good” number and seeing the unemployment rate drop from 9.9% to 9.7% would certainly seem to confirm that.

But the numbers really don’t support the spin. Of the 431,000 new jobs, 411,000 were temporary census jobs with the government that will go away at the end of the summer.

“The U.S. employment data was disappointing,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, in a statement. Mr. Chandler noted that private-sector job creation, a crucial measure, reached only 41,000, compared with expectations for 180,000 and a three-month moving average of 155,600.

It only had a net gain of 20,000 private sector jobs, far below the 100,000 or so jobs necessary just to maintain the employment status quo.

As for the unemployment rate:

“The fact that the unemployment rate ticked down is not really good news,” he added, “as the decline in unemployment was not a function of more jobs but a reflection of people leaving the work force.”

The lack of private sector job growth is being hidden by massive hiring by government for the census.

“These new data do not present a picture of a healthy private-sector growth, and nothing closely resembling the job growth needed to dig us out of our very deep hole,” Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement.

He’s right – do the math. 8 million people have lost their private sector jobs since the recession began. As Mishel points out, these numbers don’t at all indicate an economy that is “getting stronger by the day”.

“You would need to be producing 150,000 to 200,000 jobs a month to be making a dent in this,” said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist for Channel Capital Research.

When you begin seeing numbers like that – on a sustained basis – then you have some basis for saying the economy is “getting stronger by the day”.

Until then, it’s just so much spin.

~McQ


WaPo Tries To Spin Poll On Health Care

The Washington Post has a new poll out in which they declare that two of the most controversial aspects of the health care reform legislation working its way through Congress now enjoy majority approval. Those are the public option and the insurance mandate that requires everyone get insurance.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the support for the public option is based more on a fantasy than reality. I think that a majority, if there truly is one, have bought into the talking points of “choice and competition.” Neither will exist once the public option, as envisioned by Congress, is actually in place. What leads me to believe that’s the case is this sentence later in the WaPo story:

Independents and senior citizens, two groups crucial to the debate, have warmed to the idea of a public option, and are particularly supportive if it would be administered by the states and limited to those without access to affordable private coverage.

Essentially what that describes is Medicaid – not a public option. Medicaid is administered by the states. Of course removing restrictions which prohibit insurance companies from selling across state lines and removing state mandates which drive up the overall cost of a policy would most likely provide “affordable private coverage”. But as usual those provisions have been rejected by Democrats writing the legislation even though they’ve been brought up repeatedly by Republicans.

Now I don’t equate Medicaid with the “public option” that I’ve heard politicians talk about.

Interestingly, deeper in the story and after trumpeting a “majority” now backing the public option, the Post says:

Overall, 45 percent of Americans favor the broad outlines of the proposals now moving in Congress, while 48 percent are opposed, about the same division that existed in August, at the height of angry town hall meetings over health-care reform. Seven in 10 Democrats back the plan, while almost nine in 10 Republicans oppose it. Independents divide 52 percent against, 42 percent in favor of the legislation.

In other words, the headline could have just as easily been “Majority still opposes health care reform” and/or “Majority of Independents Not In Favor Of Health Care Legislation”.

Instead we get “Public Option Gains Support”. That’s really irrelevant if the total bill is seen as unacceptable not to mention the numbers of opposed vs. those in favor haven’t changed since August.

But then, it all depends on how you want to spin something, doesn’t it?

~McQ


Spinning A 1.4 Tillion Dollar Deficit

The Washington Post is just shameless. How else would you describe this:

The federal budget deficit soared to a record $1.4 trillion in the fiscal year that ended in September, a chasm of red ink unequaled in the postwar era that threatens to complicate the most ambitious goals of the Obama administration, including plans for fresh spending to create jobs and spur economic recovery.

Still, the figure represents a significant improvement over the darkest deficit projections, which had been as much as $400 billion higher earlier this year, when the economy was wallowing in recession.

Or said another way, 1.4 trillion in new debt isn’t so bad – some guy earlier this year thought it would be 1.8 trillion.

Here, let’s do the graphics and decide how much of a “significant improvement” this is:

budget deficit

A few paragraphs later after trying to sell everyone on how this chasm of difference has actually ended up being beneficial, the Post mentions:

At about 10 percent of the overall economy, the gap between federal spending and tax collections is the largest on record since the end of World War II, and bigger in nominal terms than the past four years of deficits combined. Next year is unlikely to be much better, budget analysts say. And Obama’s current policies would drive the budget gap into the trillion-dollar range for much of the next decade.

Geithner is mentioned saying that “deficits are too high” and Peter Orszag is quoted saying:

“The president recognizes that we need to put the nation back on a fiscally sustainable path.” As Obama draws up his second budget blueprint, due to be delivered to Congress in February, Orszag said, “we are considering proposals to put our country back on firm fiscal footing.”

Are “we”? Cap-and-trade. The take-over of the health care system. Government owned auto companies. Trillion dollar deficits for at least a decade. A doubled money supply and $533,000 jobs?

The Post manages to destroy all the happy talk, though, in what must have been an inadvertent fit of journalism contained in one sentence:

Orszag has already instructed federal agencies to identify spending cuts for next year’s budget, but the report comes as lawmakers contemplate proposals that would drive spending even higher.

And, of course, the guy right smack dab in the middle of encouraging all of that higher spending is the same guy Orszag is claiming wants to put the country back on “firm fiscal footing”.

If double-talk were money, this administration would be running a surplus. And the Washington Post isn’t so bad at it either.

~McQ

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