Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: March 2012

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Krugman: Half-truths and logical fallacies litter his denouncement of drilling for oil

But that shouldn’t come as a particular surprise for anyone who has watched this economist turn into a political hack over the years.

He starts with this:

To be a modern Republican in good standing, you have to believe — or pretend to believe — in two miracle cures for whatever ails the economy: more tax cuts for the rich and more drilling for oil. And with prices at the pump on the rise, so is the chant of “Drill, baby, drill.” More and more, Republicans are telling us that gasoline would be cheap and jobs plentiful if only we would stop protecting the environment and let energy companies do whatever they want.

You’ll not see such a broad field of strawmen erected in such a short paragraph for quite some time.

Anyone know any Republicans who are calling for “more tax cuts for the rich” (as I recall, Republicans are saying no tax increases for anyone)?  That’s the first strawman.

Second? Not a single “Republican” I know is claiming that we should “stop protecting the environment” and “let energy companies do whatever they want”.  I defy Krugman to produce them.  Instead what I see are those that want more drilling point out that the technology exists to do it safely and in an environmentally friendly way and thus there’s no real reason to stop it other than ideology.  Nor do I know of any who oppose the pursuit of alternative fuels.  They just are realistic about the fact that none of those being pursued are anywhere yet ready for prime time, unlike our President.  So they naturally look to what we have as the main staple of our economy’s energy demand now and in the near future. 

It’s called “common sense” for the Krugman’s of the world who seem to have not been blessed with much of it.

As for jobs and cheaper gas, you should be able to ask an economist if increased supply of a commodity would have the effect of downward pressure on cost and expect to get an honest answer – unless it’s this guy.

Oh, and you’d also expect an economist to understand that if you expand production of any such commodity which is labor intensive, you’re going to create a lot of jobs.  You may expect that, but you too can read this so-called economist’s words.  When the choice is between political hackery and economic integrity, guess which he chooses?

Charles Krauthammer lays out a little ground truth about why “drill, baby, drill” hasn’t been able to have the effect it might have had if allowed.  Yes, “allowed”:

President Obama incessantly claims energy open-mindedness, insisting that his policy is “all of the above.” Except, of course, for drilling:

●off the Mid-Atlantic coast (as Virginia, for example, wants);

●off the Florida Gulf Coast (instead, the Castro brothers will drill near there);

●in the broader Gulf of Mexico (where drilling in 2012 is expected to drop 30 percent below pre-moratorium forecasts);

●in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (more than half the size of England, the drilling footprint being the size of Dulles International Airport);

●on federal lands in the Rockies (where leases are down 70 percent since Obama took office).

But the event that drove home the extent of Obama’s antipathy to nearby, abundant, available oil was his veto of the Keystone pipeline, after the most extensive environmental vetting of any pipeline in U.S. history. It gave the game away because the case for Keystone is so obvious and overwhelming. Vetoing it gratuitously prolongs our dependence on outside powers, kills thousands of shovel-ready jobs, forfeits a major strategic resource to China, damages relations with our closest ally, and sends billions of oil dollars to Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and already obscenely wealthy sheiks.

The opportunity to see gas at a lower price, plentiful jobs created and supply increased have been squandered by this administration and Krugman, as if channeling our President, is trying to pass this failure off on the GOP. He’s essentially trying too claim the laws of supply and demand have been suspended.

The irony here is that these claims come just as events are confirming what everyone who did the math already knew, namely, that U.S. energy policy has very little effect either on oil prices or on overall U.S. employment. For the truth is that we’re already having a hydrocarbon boom, with U.S. oil and gas production rising and U.S. fuel imports dropping. If there were any truth to drill-here-drill-now, this boom should have yielded substantially lower gasoline prices and lots of new jobs. Predictably, however, it has done neither.

Again, a half-truth.  The boom is a boomlet compared to what it might have been had Obama and his merry permit slow-walkers gotten out of the way.  The only thing that has saved Obama is the boom on state and private land.  What Krugman won’t say is it is most likely true that had that boom not materialized on non-Federal land, gas prices would be even higher.  And so would unemployment.  Don’t forget the tens of thousands of jobs lost due to the Obama administration’s Gulf “permatorium”.

Krauthammer points out what should have been obvious to an economist but are inconvenient truths to a political hack:

“The American people aren’t stupid,” Obama said (Feb. 23), mocking “Drill, baby, drill.” The “only solution,” he averred in yet another major energy speech last week, is that “we start using less — that lowers the demand, prices come down.” Yet five paragraphs later he claimed that regardless of “how much oil we produce at home . . .that’s not going to set the price of gas worldwide.”

So: Decreasing U.S. demand will lower oil prices, but increasing U.S. supply will not? This is ridiculous. Either both do or neither does. Does Obama read his own speeches?

Obama says of drilling: “That’s not a plan.” Of course it’s a plan. We import nearly half of our oil, thereby exporting enormous amounts of U.S. wealth. Almost 60 percent of our trade deficit — $332 billion out of $560 billion — is shipped overseas to buy crude.

Drill here and you stanch the hemorrhage. You keep those dollars within the U.S. economy, repatriating not just wealth but jobs and denying them to foreign unfriendlies. Drilling is the single most important thing we can do to spur growth at home while strengthening our hand abroad.

It is truly wondrous to me how poorly Krugman comes off in these sorts of debates.  He concludes his hack job with:

And intellectual bankruptcy, I’m sorry to say, is a problem that no amount of drilling and fracking can solve.

The irony is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 16 Mar 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Overall consumer prices rose sharply last month, with the CPI up 0.4%. The "core" rate, ex-food and  -energy, was up 0.1%. Energy prices jumped by 3.2% in the month.

Due to weakness in mining and utilities, Industrial production is unchanged from last month. Capacity utilization rose 0.2% to 78.7%. Despite the disapointing production figure, manufacturing rose 0.3% for the month.

The Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell 1 point to 74.3, as consumers responded to rising energy prices.

~
Dale Franks
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5th Circuit rules guns aren’t “property-like”

The war against private property proceeds apace with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals deciding that while you have a right to keep and bear arms, that right doesn’t extent to you keeping or bearing a particular arm.  Check out how the AP professionally and reports this in an unbiased manner:

A federal judge correctly dismissed a lawsuit against the city of New Orleans by a man who claimed that local law-enforcement authorities violated his constitutional right to bear arms, a divided panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. With the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Errol Houston Jr. sued after the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office refused to return a registered gun that police seized when he was arrested in 2008 on drug and firearms charges that were later dropped.

Emphasis mine.  “Correctly”?  No opinion injected there, huh?

At least one judge didn’t share that opinion on the panel.  But back to the majority point:

U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey dismissed the claims in December 2010, saying Houston failed to allege sufficient facts to show how authorities violated his right to bear arms by retaining his pistol.

In its majority opinion, a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit said some regulation of firearms falls outside the reach of the Second Amendment, just as obscenity and defamation aren’t protected as free speech by the First Amendment.

"The right protected by the Second Amendment is not a property-like right to a specific firearm, but rather a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense," Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale wrote.

Emphasis mine. Well how the hell do you do that if you don’t enjoy a right to property, i.e. the right to the freakin’ gun necessary to exercise the right?

Imagine the police setting up a roadblock and confiscating all weapons while telling you that you’re still entitled to your 2nd amendment rights, just not the right to this particular gun for whatever reason they choose to invoke?

Seems to me the 5th Circuit would endorse that.

The dissenting judge wrote:

In her dissenting opinion, however, Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod said she disagrees with the majority’s conclusion that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual’s right to a specific firearm unless the government has prevented that person from acquiring others.

Elrod argued the majority impermissibly treated the Second Amendment as a "second-class right" by carving out an exception.

"It is particularly unfortunate for our circuit to endorse the atextual, ahistorical rule that the Second Amendment does not protect particular firearms," she wrote.

More importantly, this is government deciding it can violate the property rights of a gun owner whenever it wishes too with no penalty for doing so. This isn’t a 2nd amendment case.  It’s a property rights case.

Remember my “hypothetical” about the traffic stop above.  It’s not too far off the mark:

Houston sued the city, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and former Police Superintendent Warren Riley in July 2009, nearly a year after Cannizzaro’s predecessor dropped the charges against him stemming from a traffic stop.

Houston claimed Cannizzaro’s office had a policy of retaining firearms following arrests regardless of whether charges are filed. During an interview in 2009, Cannizzaro said his office decides on a "case by case basis" whether to return confiscated guns.

"There is no policy that we will not return weapons," he said.

Screw your policy or lack there of.  The point is, Mr, Cannizzaro, you have no right to keep it.  Keeping it is theft and a violation of the owner’s property rights, plain and simple.

For once, I’m with the ACLU  … appeal this.  This is a gross miscarriage of justice.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


OMG! Rutherford B. Hayes, call your PR agent

Some seriously screwed up history today from the One.  President Obama was pitching hard, trying to again cast Republicans as backward looking types who were a problem for the county because they wanted to exploit fossil fuel (read the whole speech for that context).  He decided to use the way-back machine and take us back to the 19th President of the US who was, surprise, a Republican.

Said Obama:

“One of my predecessors, President Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone: ‘It’s a great invention but who would ever want to use one?’" Obama said. "That’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore."

"He’s looking backwards, he’s not looking forward. He’s explaining why we can’t do something instead of why we can do something," Obama said.

Uh, “that’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore?”

My goodness.  Actually in that short statement, Mr. Obama got everything wrong.

Point 1 – Hayes never said that:

So we called up the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio, where Nan Card, the curator of manuscripts, was plenty willing to correct Obama’s ignorance of White House history. Just as soon as she finished chuckling.

"I’ve heard that before, and no one ever knows where it came from," Card said of Hayes’s alleged phone remark, "but people just keep repeating it and repeating it, so it’s out there."

Wait, so Hayes didn’t even say the quote that Obama is mocking him for? "No, no," Card confirmed.

Point 2 – Hayes was a fan of the telephone:

She then read aloud a newspaper article from June 29, 1877, which describes Hayes’s delight upon first experiencing the magic of the telephone. TheProvidence Journal story reported that as Hayes listened on the phone, "a gradually increasing smile wreathe[d] his lips and wonder shone in his eyes more and more.” Hayes took the phone from his ear, "looked at it a moment in surprise and remarked, ‘That is wonderful.’"

Point 3 – Hayes was a forward thinking President who had quite a few firsts to include the first President with … wait for it … a telephone:

In fact, Card noted, Hayes was not only the first president to have a telephone in the White House, but he was also the first to use the typewriter, and he had Thomas Edison come to the White House to demonstrate the phonograph. "So I think he was pretty much cutting edge," Card insisted, "maybe just the opposite of what President Obama had to say there."

But hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of a boffo rhetorical point.

0 for 3. By the way, Mr. Obama – this is one reason why you’ll never be on Mt. Rushmore either.  And I assume your speech writer or researcher or both, are presently seeking new employment?

Accountability?  This administration?  Is Eric Holder still AG?

What am I thinking?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Who is “we” Mr. President?

Today, in his usual fashion, President Obama tried to pretend  he was doing something he’s not:

"So do not tell me that we’re not drilling. We’re drilling all over this country. There are a few spots we’re not drilling. We’re not drilling in the national mall. We’re not drilling at your house. "

We’re not drilling on most federal land either, whether onshore or offshore.  And where we are, production is down significantly.

And that’s just a fact, Jack.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 15 Mar 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Initial jobless claims continued their decline in the latest week, down 14,000 to 351,000. The four-week moving average is steady at 355,750 which is the recovery low.

The overall Producer Price Index rose 0.4% last month. The core rate, ex-food and –energy, rose 0.2%.

While the components of the Empire State Mfg Survey are mixed, the overall index rose 20.21 this month, from 19.53 last month.

The Philadeplphia Fed survey mirrors the same mixed indicators as the NY survey, with noticeable weakness in key components, but an overall rise in the headline index to 12.5. Both surveys are showing weakness in new orders.

The Treasury International Capital report indicates strong foreign buying of US securities, leading to a net long-term flow of $101.0 billion in January.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed another three points, to -33.7 in the March 11 week.

~
Dale Franks
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NAACP brings the UN Human Rights Council in to investigate US voter ID laws

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I’m sure by now you have heard about Eric Holder’s DoJ striking down the Texas voter ID law.  His reasoning?  The usual.  While it isn’t too much of a burden to have to show an ID to buy liquor, cash a check, rent a hotel room, rent a car, rent an apartment, buy a house, board a plane, buy cigarettes or any of a myriad of other daily requirements, it is apparently too much of a burden when it comes to voting.

Of course most reasoning people understand that all of that is a load of nonsense.  Laws very similar to the Texas law are and have been operating in states like Georgia and Indiana with no problems noted.  And they’ve been upheld by the Supreme Court.

In fact a little history is in order.  First, how about liberal stalwart and self-described voting expert, former President Jimmy Carter?

Requiring an ID to vote was one of the proposals in 2005 of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by Jimmy Carter and James Baker, neither of whom had previously been noted for his hostility to minorities or the poor.

Indeed.  And the mentioned Supreme Court’s 6-3 OK of the Indiana voter ID law?

The liberal Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion. The Court held that “there is no question about the legitimacy or importance of the State’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters,” and “we cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters.” The decision cited the finding of a district judge that plaintiffs had “not introduced evidence of a single, individual Indiana resident who will be unable to vote as a result of the law.”

In essence the Texas law is no different than the Indiana law, but the chief law enforcement officer  of the United States has decided that he will force the state of Texas to go to court, meaning, of course, that the law won’t be in effect until after the 2012 election.  And it most likely will be settled in court in the state’s favor.

This is simply an administration pandering to a demographic that it wants on its side on election day, pure and simple.  Holder also struck down a similar South Carolina law.

The NAACP, on the other hand, is an organization struggling for relevancy.  It has decided this is the hill they want to die on. Somehow, as the NAACP and DoJ’s reasoning goes, “minorities” have more difficulty than others obtaining proper ID for voting (that has not proven to be true in GA where minority participation has been greater after the law’s passage than before).  The minorities apparently manage all the other chores that require they show proper identification but somehow can’t manage voting.  They can get to the voting booth, but apparently aren’t able to get to the office in Texas where the state will provide them an approved ID free.

If you’re having a hard time swallowing the “reasoning” don’t feel like the Lone Ranger.  Its nonsense on a stick.

That said, the NAACP thinks it has a winner here.  And to help in their struggle they’ve enlisted what body?

The UN Human Rights Council.  That makes three laughing stocks (DoJ, NAACP and UNHRC) working on this “problem”.

Why is the UNHCR a laughing stock?   Well take a look at this.  An example of the Council’s bona fides or lack there of, one only has to look at their latest action

A United Nations panel has adopted a report praising Qaddafi-era Libya for its human rights record, a year after the report was sidelined amid international objection.

The report initially came before the U.N. Human Rights Council in the middle of the uprising against the Muammar Qaddafi regime. At the time, the U.N. had just voted to suspend Libya from the rights council — under pressure to maintain a consistent message toward Libya, the council later postponed consideration of the report.

But the Human Rights Council on Wednesday returned to the document — and approved it.

That’s right – yesterday.  This is the organization that will be “investigating” what the NAACP likes to call “voter suppression”.  What other, more rational actors call ensuring the integrity of the voting system.

But the NAACP?  Listen to the “reasoning” for asking the UNHRC to “investigate”:

"This really is a tactic that undercuts the growth of your democracy," said Hillary Shelton, the NAACP’s senior vice president for advocacy, about voter photo ID requirements.

In a Fox News interview prior to his trip, Shelton said the message from the NAACP delegation to the Human Rights Council is that the photo ID law "undercuts the integrity of our government, if you allow it to happen. It’s trickery, it’s a sleight-of-hand. We’re seeing it happen here and we don’t want it to happen to you, and we are utilizing the U.N. as a tool to make sure that we are able to share that with those countries all over the world."

If you’ve ever wondered what word salad looks like, feast your eyes. 

Of course the UN has no jurisdiction here.  Instead its an opportunity for the UN, or as I like to call it, the “Third World Debating Club” to try to embarrass the US – something it loves to do.  And, of course, the NAACP will be its enabler.

Examples the NAACP plans to present to the UN to bolster its case?  Well first we go to the lifeboat:

The NAACP had scheduled two American citizens to present their claims at the U.N. panel who, the group says, worry they will be disenfranchised by the requirement to present a photo ID to vote. The civil rights group says one, Kemba Smith Pradia, was convicted of a drug-related offense and is concerned that if she moves back to Virginia from the Midwest, state law will block her voting because of her record, even though she was granted clemency by President Bill Clinton.

So we have a convicted drug offender who is “concerned” that if she moves she may have problems voting.  “Concerned”.  She’s not been denied, but she’s “concerned”.  That ought to wow them.

And number two?

A second American, Austin Alex, is a Texas Christian University student. The NAACP says he is worried that he will be barred from voting because he only holds an out-of-state driver’s license and a non-government student ID, not a Texas issued photo ID.

Of course Texas offers the ID necessary to vote for free.  You just have to get off your fat ass and go apply.  And again – he’s “worried”.  Not denied, just “worried” he may be denied.  That ought to impress ‘em in Cuba.

The NAACP plans on presenting this little dog and pony show to the UNHRC which is composed of countries very familiar with voting rights, most members having rock solid credentials in enabling free and open elections:

The U.N. Human Rights Council members include communist China and Cuba. In addition, several Arab nations are on the council that have only granted the right to vote to women in recent years, such as Kuwait in 2005 and Qatar in 2003. Women in the Republic of Moldova have had the right to vote for less than 20 years.

Council member Saudi Arabia announced six months ago that women will be granted the right to vote, but that change does not go into effect until 2015.

And, until recently, it also included Libya.

This would be a joke if it wasn’t so serious.  If you can’t be assured of the integrity of your voting system, then you’re likely not to hold its results in high regard and you may feel that those who are “elected” may not be legitimate.  The integrity of the system is both critical and in question. Common sense reforms are being obstructed by organizations which should be working for them.  Actions like those of the DoJ and NAACP work counter to ensuring the voting system’s integrity despite their tortured rhetoric to the contrary. 

The fact that DoJ, the NAACP and the UNHRC are involved in this farce should be all that’s necessary to determine this is all about politics and not at all concerned with the integrity of our voting system.  The Democrats need votes, and they really don’t care from whence they get them.  Graveyards or across the border, it’s all the same to them if the numbers come out to their advantage.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama is on the problem of high gas prices

Yes indeed, he’s focused like a laser beam. He has figured out how to proceed. You’ll be seeing relief soon. He’s … setting up a task force to look into speculation?!

Er, seems so.  Read this:

"I think the American people understand that we don’t have a silver bullet when it comes to gas prices. We’ve been talking about this for 30 years. The only way to stabilize gas prices is to reduce our dependency on fore oil and we just put out a report that over the last year or so, we’ve been able to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by a million barrels. That’s’ significant. In the meantime, cuz I know people are hurting right now and it feels like a tax out of their paychecks, what we’re doing is looking at every single area that can affect gas prices, from bottlenecks that are out there, we’ve set up a task force to look into speculation to make sure people are taking advantage of the situation on the global oil markets," President Obama told WKRC-TV.

Line by line:

I think the American people understand that we don’t have a silver bullet when it comes to gas prices. We’ve been talking about this for 30 years.

I think the American people understand something Barack Obama and the Democrats don’t understand – if we’d have been drilling everywhere for those 30 years instead of flapping our jaws about “silver bullets”, we’d be much better off today, in terms of oil supply and price, than we are now.

Oh, by the way, we’ve been talking about alternative energy for 30 years too and look where we are.

The only way to stabilize gas prices is to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and we just put out a report that over the last year or so, we’ve been able to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by a million barrels.

Well, two points.  One we’re in a deep recession, so oil consumption is down considerably because business and commerce are down significantly.  And two, another way to have an effect on oil prices is to what?  That’s right, increase supply.

That’s’ significant. In the meantime, cuz I know people are hurting right now and it feels like a tax out of their paychecks, what we’re doing is looking at every single area that can affect gas prices, from bottlenecks that are out there, we’ve set up a task force to look into speculation to make sure people are taking advantage of the situation on the global oil markets

Translation: I haven’t a clue so I’m setting up a task force which helps me kick the can down the road a bit.  And the task force will inevitably find that “speculators” are the problem (a hat tip to Nancy Pelosi for the idea), and I’ll be able to call for Congress to pass a law while I again try to pass the blame off to the 1%.

Now that’s leadership.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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