Salary envy

I attended a family gathering not long ago, liberally populated with Liberal in-laws,  in which the mood was decidedly sour. Discussions revolved around the poor job market, employment uncertainty and health insurance.

In conversations, a lot of resentment was directed at corporations, CEOs and their “disgusting and greedy” profits, salaries, benefits and bonuses. I understand (but don’t excuse) much of this as pure envy, a failing that I see expressed far more in Liberal/Left circles than conservative circles. I should also point out that some of this is the bitterness expressed by people that were pretty casual about their own work ethics and careers and now, in middle age, confront an uncertain future, not to mention retirement prospects. We all make critical decisions at key junctures in life with which we have to live.

I have also known and worked with enough CEOs and senior execs with large corporations to know that they work under highly stressful conditions and in between short, sleepless nights. The ones that I have known were extremely hard workers 24/7 and I, personally, value my quality of life far too much to envy them their salaries and perks (we don’t need to explore how seriously pathetic many of their personal and family lives are). Anyway, I consider envy a particularly ugly member of the deadly sins.

One irony is that my Liberal/Left relatives (some of whom purport to be very well educated) apparently cannot draw the connection between corporate profitability, personal incentives and a healthy jobs market. I can understand this to be the case with college students (sophomoric minds full of mush), but working adults have no excuse.

However, what floors me, is that these same Liberal/Lefty in-laws seem to have no trouble accepting the extraordinary high incomes of a) sports figures and b) entertainment figures (newscasters, movie actors, television personalities, etc.).

Sports figures that play games to entertain, singers that…sing songs…, actresses that pretend to be people they aren’t (when they do work) and newscasters that read copy from teleprompters are idolized.

Corporate executives that manufacture services and products that improve our lives (drugs, fuel, cars, food, shelter, insurance, bank loans, etc.) are vilified.

Why is this the case? Any ideas? Please help to understand.

Strong Children

I was at my church this past weekend and was struck by the large number of college-graduate children that are now back living at home with their parents, out of work. The impression I have is that many of these kids still have no idea what they want to do with their lives. I get the sense that most pursued college degrees in either the soft social sciences (sociology, psychology, political science, environmental science), liberal arts (English, history) or hobby-arts (music, physical training), without any idea of what they planned to do with those degrees.

I largely blame their parents for this.

Meanwhile, I was at a professional meeting last week (I work in a technology-intensive industry) and heard over and over again, “we just can’t find any qualified new hires”). There are companies all over my industry looking to hire young talent. I had an executive with a large French company recently lament to me that he couldn’t find qualified American scientists, they were all from “China or India”.

I also watched a young adult professional give a PowerPoint presentation replete with misspellings and disconnected thoughts.
Where have we gone wrong in parenting and education in our society?

What do we need to do to build strong individuals and productive citizens?

Democrat, Corruptocrat!

Democrats are the friends of big business, Conservatives are the friends of small business. Democrat government inevitably ratchets its way to corruptocracy.

If you don’t agree with this, can we at least agree that Democrats favor highly regulated economies and societies and conservatives don’t?

Let me explain with two examples.

1) The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about how the EPA has decided that milk, because it contains 4% butterfat, should be regulated under the same environmental control standards as petroleum. Consequently, dairy farmers will have to file Federally approve emergency plans on how to deal with “oil spills” and such. Large dairies (some dairies in California milk 10,000 or more cows at a time) will probably be able to comply. Small dairies (goat and sheep milk farms, Vermont dairy producers etc. ) are just out of luck. I happen to know something about the dairy industry – it’s a highly politicized, highly subsidized industry that operates on very thin margins. I’m sure that they will come to an accommodation with the EPA and Federal Government…at a very steep price, politically and $-wise!

2) As it becomes increasingly clear the degree to which Obama Care really is a pig-in-a-poke, there is frantic activity to opt out of it. The numbers of entities that have received waivers from ObamaCare (other than Congress) magically rose from about 200 to 700+ immediately after the SOTU speech. Those entities are large companies and unions on the inside track. The way you get a waiver is to have a lobbyist obtain it on your behalf. Money exchanges hands. Large companies can afford this, small companies…out of luck! If ObamaCare is so great, why the rush by Congress, favored businesses and union to obtain waivers?

Increased regulation is inversely proportional to lobbying activity. The less regulation there is, the less the need to influence government. The more regulation, the more the need to petition the royal aristocracy at a heavy price. The need to petition our government for redress under regulations fostered by our government is a corrupting influence. If you lack influence and can’t make payment, you are out of the equation. Here in Chicagoland, we know all about this. Here is what happens:

Society sediments into three classes: a) an aristocratic Democrat nomenklatura that controls the regulatory and judiciary structures of society; b) a wealthy, economic class that can afford to exchange favors for regulatory exemptions and waivers…at a price; c) a lumpen proletariat, outside of the power structures, imprisoned into forced into regulatory straight-jackets (taxable prey…if you will) that they will never be able to escape unless willing to surrender at the price of their souls. It is this last class that pays the bills for the others. This isn’t new…despite its “progressive” tag, it’s a regression to 19th Century economic “shakedown” realities.

My entire career, I have been a champion of entrepreneurs and small companies. They are vital to our society and economy, as innovators, risk-takers and employers. I would hate to see this glorious period end as we slouch toward third-world corruptocracy.

I know that Democrats mouth have historically mouthed platitudes about looking after the “little guy”. I would like to think that only the truly moronic and armchair philosophers walled into their temples of abstract theory can fail to see how Orwellian and corrupting these platitudes are.

Have we as a nation arrived at a point where we can stop this from happening or is it inevitable? A Jewish relative once remarked that no Jew sleeps without two shoes under his bed stuffed with a roll of cash, in case of a quick getaway. I am starting to understand his point.

Youth unemployment – where does it lead?

As we settle into the Obama Depression era, one thing that I and others have noticed is that many of the very youth that voted enthusiastically for Obama are the ones already feeling the consequence of his policies: they are unemployed. As one of my college-age kids put it, “our generation is so over Obama, today!”.

High youth unemployment is an inevitable consequence of socialism. In modern Europe, it has always been high. Here is an example of its pervasiveness in the U.K., for example:

http://anglo-americandebate.blogspot.com/2011/01/left-wing-policies-have-destroyed.html

In Europe, the problem has been exacerbated by extensive “social safety nets” that guarantee a pretty good lifestyle for the unemployed. Why work, when you can live comfortably on public assistance combined with the black market economy (dealing drugs, for example)? There are large swaths of the European population that, like people in our inner city projects, have no idea how to work. A young man in France with a finance degree recently reported to me that he was “happily unemployed”. Thanks to his government, he leads a comfortable existence. However, that, too, shall come to an end, for Europe faces the same economic collapse as the U.S.

I really do feel sorry for university students graduating today: for many, if not most, their degrees will be obsolete by the time the economy recovers (which could be a very long time). What employer would hire a student with, say, a business, philosophy, English, or whatever degree that has lain fallow for two, four or more years when they can hire a freshly minted graduate instead? These students’ parents, meanwhile, will often have drained hundreds of thousands of dollars from their retirement funds to fund such now worthless educations. I know of parents that have destroyed their retirement options in order to put their kids through university.

So, what happens when you have armies of unemployed young people with obsolete skills? I know that this has happened before, such as in the Great Depression. However, when economic recovery did come in the mid-to-late ’40s, workers with no education and technical skills could still find plenty of hands-on work opportunities. I don’t know that this holds true anymore in a modern economy. There’s only so many openings for baristas.
Any ideas?

Democrat success stories

Incredibly, from the U.K.’s left-wing Guardian, comes a photo essay of what happens when Democrats are given the opportunity to put their economic and political theories to work: welcome to the future….

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2011/jan/02/photography-detroit?/%3Fpicture=370173060&index=15#/?picture=370173054&index=0

h/t smalldeadanimals.com

How do we get out of this?

If the U.S. and our government were a business, we would already have been declared insolvent. Here’s why:

On our 2009 P/L (profit & loss) statement, our annual Federal expenditures amounted to about $3.5 trillion, against revenues (tax receipts) of $2.1 trillion. If history is guide, the $1.4 trillion gap between revenues and outlays will increase rather than decrease in subsequent years. Mind you, this is only at the Federal level…we haven’t included state and municipal financials, which add more black crepe to an already dismal picture.

How much could government revenues be expected to increase in order to plug this gap? The traditional conservative approach has been to grow the economy, using incentives: more growth = more profits = more tax revenues. The traditional Liberal/Left approach has been to increase taxes: more taxes = more government spending = more economic growth (!?).

In my view, we have traveled to a point far, far beyond these arguments: neither approach suffices.

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or “gross sales revenues”, is approximately $15 trillion.
If the U.S. operated as a business, national disposable income (meaning, after-tax income, or “net income” on the P/L statement) approximates $10 trillion, according to Euromonitor.com [http://www.euromonitor.com/factfile.aspx?country=US].
This is the total money available to be recycled back into the economy by the private sector, either through direct purchases (income-stimulating reinvestments) or capital formation (savings and investments).
Now, to close the Federal revenue gap would in the most basic of terms require taking an additional $1.4 trillion (14%) -PLUS out of our national disposable income in the form of taxes. Why “plus”?
Because government isn’t efficient: any monies taken in by the Federal government are inevitably depleted as they cycle through various government agencies before they can reach their target.  Unlike electronic transfers between bank accounts, only a small fraction of tax receipts go to their intended target. The rest is lost through government overhead and waste (I repeat myself).Thus, it will take considerably more than $1.4 trillion in tax revenues to close a $1.4 trillion budget gap.
In response to the obvious question this raises: yes, we could borrow this, but all borrowing does is defer payment of this sum at a stiff price (i.e., interest).
Eventually, payments must come from disposable income.
Let’s consider the national balance sheet:

A first-rate article by Kevin Williamson in the National Review (June 21, 2010) catalogued our country’s debt obligations as follows:

1) National Debt – $14 trillion (Williamson argues that this is vastly understated due to “funny money” accounting by the government)

2) State and Local Debt – $2.5 trillion (which the Feds will ultimately absorb). According to some, we already face massive impending municipal bond failures.

3) Unfunded government worker pension funds (federal, state and local) – $3.0 trillion. In large part, these are “unfunded” because governments expropriated their assets by borrowed against them, my corrupted state of Illinois being a prime culprit. Directly or indirectly, this cost will eventually be absorbed by all taxpayers.

4) Unfunded liabilities for all of our nation’s “we care about you but want someone else to pay for it” programs  (i.e., Medi/Obamacare, “Pharmacare”, Medicaid and Social Security) – $106 trillion (using Present Value). According to Williamson, this is more-than twice the total private net worth of the U.S. Even if we all individually sold-off all of our belongings (assets), we still couldn’t cover these obligations.

So, in sum, we have a “business” (USA Inc.) with negative-$1.4 trillion in net revenues and a balance sheet debt of $125.5 trillion. Williamson adds in a few more odds and ends to round-up the value to $130 trillion. And we haven’t even touched corporate and consumer debt.
Hmmm…how about some perspective?
According to a McKinsey & Co. report, world financial assets in 2008 (prior to two subsequent years of asset deflation) totalled $178 trillion. http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/gcm_sixth_annual_report/executive_summary.asp

I’ve looked long and hard for this number because it is admittedly “fuzzy math”, but the best estimate that I could come up for the total estimated tangible asset (book) value of the United States economy is $188 trillion. These are, for the most part, non-liquid assets…they cannot be simply sold off for cash-in-hand.

Source: http://rutledgecapital.com/2009/05/24/total-assets-of-the-us-economy-188-trillion-134xgdp/

In sum, USA, Inc. long ago exceeded its debt capacity.

As a bond holder of USA, Inc., would your next step be to:

a) invest in USA, Inc.

b) ask for a bankruptcy court to reorganize the corporation and restructure its debt obligations

c) liquidate and auction off its assets to cover its debt obligations to bond holders?

Ergo my conclusion: we are insolvent! There is no way that we will ever find the money to pay off these obligations. It just doesn’t exist, not within the U.S and not in the world economy. I anticipate option (b) — reorganization of debt. Of course, in this scenario, the shareholders (citizens, taxpayers) get left with crumbs (or “haircuts”, in financial parlance).

According to Democrat thinking processes, we should raise taxes. However, even doubling our total Federal, state and local tax receipts wouldn’t cover our income shortfall and debt service obligations, especially in the face of rising interest rates. Moreover, this  would crush the economy, ergo our ability to generate future tax revenues. It would kill the golden goose. In the meantime, the solution appears to be…print huge sums of money and get us into even more debt.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTUY16CkS-k

Looking at the Republican approach, growing the economy by lowering tax rates buys time, but I don’t see how we could possibly grow the economy enough to dig us out of this hole…or is my imagination too limited? Brazil’s economy grew about 10% last year, but then their starting base was much lower. Maybe Rep. Paul Ryan sees it differently.

Which leads me to the inescapable conclusion: the large majority of us will end up absorbing significant haircuts to our asset holdings as part of our inevitable national  and economic debt restructuring. My vote for the most likely targets of restructuring are: a) public employee pension funds; b) social security and Obamacare benefits; c) bond holders, via a national default a-la-Argentina…all inclusive. Bernanke’s QE2 movement  signals that massive inflation is already in the works.

Each of these steps spells disaster. In my view, it’s not a question of “if” but “when”.

So, as we begin this New Year, what are your ideas as to how we can climb out of this hole?

Do we invest Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) with dictatorial powers in order to implement his road map? Is that enough? (note: this is tongue-in-cheek, for those of you that don’t know me).

What do you think will happen if public employee pension fund obligations are shaved to 25% or less of current obligations? Do we become another UK, France or Greece and descend into anarchy? How do we prevent this from happening?

Many of us Bookworm Room aficionados, from comments gathered over the years, are either in retirement or seriously planning retirement….how will we / should we and others of our generation react to massive cuts in Social Security and ObamaCare? I note that some 25-30% of adults approaching retirement age have supposedly accrued virtually no retirement savings and individual net worth is likely to continue to decline in tandem with housing values. Plus, leading members of the Democrat regime have already made it known that it would like to strip me and thee of any anticipated inheritance incomes. What is to happen to them (us)?

What happens if the U.S. defaults on its bond obligations?

Or, am I all wet in my analysis? Although I do boast a corporate-finance-related degree, I do not pretend to be anything other than a hobby economist. Please, oh please, convince me that I am totally wrong in my analysis.

For balance, I do not think the prognosis is all doom and gloom, although I believe that we are in for a very rough ride. Our country faced similar difficulties early in our history and we got through them. I think the party is over, but I also think we have the wherewithal to climb out of the mess all of us have created, even if we cannot yet discern the way out. I am trying to understand how best to weather the storm.

Either way, please share your thoughts.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Can Europe Save Itself? What I Saw in Paris

Bookworm recently asked, “is Europe trying to save itself?” To that question, I can only offer anecdotal evidence from family and business visits made to France and Belgium this summer, shortly after the Greece-precipitated financial crisis.

Europe (witness the EU) is an uber-bureacracy. For centuries, Europe’s forms of governance have devolved into top-down, centralized governments that control virtually every aspect of individual life while disenfranchising the connections between citizenry and the ruling classes.  These trends metastasized under the EU and, following adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon in May, a treaty that cemented the supra-national power of the unelected EU authority. “Europe” effectively ceased being democratic. In tandem with this trend, European citizens have been conditioned to think less as “citizens” and more as “subjects” of their governments. Today, the only real power of dissent left to them has been to riot destructively in the streets or to paralyze their countries in strikes (France maintains a separate police force 100% dedicated to dealing with social disturbances). Setting parked cars on fire (car-b-cues) is a charming French tradition of civic protest that is now spreading to other European countries.

In this Bismarkian state model, the trade-off for political disenfranchisement has been a guarantee that the social welfare state would take care of all its citizens’ needs: retirement pensions, joblessness benefits at a high fraction of one’s previous salary, “free” education, public safety and health care. In France, this compact is proudly referred to in Orwellian terminology as “Solidarity”.  The EU compact also offered an end to Europe’s perpetual war and tribalism. As one of my elderly relatives put it to me, “my grandparents lived through three wars, my parents live through two and I lived through one. With the EU, I could hope that my children would never know war”. It’s an appealing vision.

Thus, for the greater perceived good, the vaste majority of citizens in France and other EU countries passively accepted what was handed to them, be it political correctness, Islamic migration, or economic and tax policy: why waste time worrying about what one cannot change? Such issues were best left for the ruling elites to address. Unfortunately, such also generated a toxic blend of cynicism, pacifism and lassitude laced with a nihilistic hedonism. Europeans stopped caring, partied on and stopped having babies. When government strips life of meaning, what’s the point of meaningful living, right? The Euros lost pride in self and pride in their own nations and cultures. They also lost their sense of civic responsibility. Whenever disaster struck in Europe (floods, heat waves, violence), I could not help but notice how passively Europeans deferred to authorities for help, rather than helping themselves. Rampant theft and vandalism is accepted as part of normal life: car windows are routinely smashed. In the nicest neighborhoods of Paris, the bottom floor windows of homes are paned in bullet-proof glass to discourage home invasions, which are accepted as quite normal occurrences…even in daytime. The cops seldom respond. In Europe, the victim is often treated as the perp while the criminal is perceived as the victim. One seldom if ever sees ordinary citizens sandbagging during floods the way we do in the U.S., for example – everyone looks out for themselves and leaves the heavy lifting to the “authorities”. Pacifism and passivity go hand-in-hand.

When visiting my relatives in France in the past, I could be assured that most (not all) had only vague ideas about what was happening in their country, their economy and the world. Most accepted the dispositions of the (mostly government controlled) media at face value. Moreover, why worry about the present and future (e.g., why save for retirement) when the government’s “Solidarity” will take care of it for you? And, while my focus in this discourse is on France, be assured that these observations apply also to Europe in toto.

All this has changed.

The Greek crisis, which closely followed the international banking crisis, caused a severe crisis of confidence and with it, an awakening. As a Dutch business associate remarked to me, “how can it be that we must work hard to pay taxes in the North until the age of 68 so that people in Greece can work hardly at all, pay no taxes and retire at the age of 60?”. Europe, like the U.S., is broken and broke.

The Greek crisis forced average Europeans to realize that the entire economic and political structures upon which their “solidarity” depended was about to collapse as the economic and political contradictions of the EU socialist state came to a head. An elderly gentleman I know – a world renown attorney, a member of the French Resistance, a former advisor to French prime ministers as well as to a U.S. president and an ardent supporter of the EU – looked at me and said, “it’s all finished, now”. I asked him “what”, exactly, was finished. He replied, “The EU, our peace and our prosperity”. The people, for the first time, were realizing that there was no money to pay for it all. For the first time ever, I saw fear and doubt in my relatives’ eyes. For the first time, I saw graffiti (most European towns are plastered with graffiti) and posted flyers denouncing the EU along with EU policies toward immigration. For the first time, I saw a steely flintiness in peoples’ eyes (not just in France) when the subject of Islamic immigration into Europe was raised. I saw also a new appreciation by Europeans of their heritage and values. Nationalism is on the rise. I saw more pride in France and its history, especially among the young. My daughter, who had been studying in France on an exchange program, remarked that many of the college students with whom she studied were returning to the Church and expressed a new-found resolve and pride in their country and heritage.

Before one can solve a problem, one must first recognize and define the problem. Europeans are still far from ready to take charge of their destiny. I just don’t know if average EU citizens have the wherewithal to resist and upend the uber-State and its entrenched ruling classes. A Tea Party movement would be inconceivable to Europeans, for example.  However, I do believe that average Europeans are waking up to the crisis and beginning to define the problems…all problems, including the one of Islamicization. This trend will continue, especially as new economic and political crises inevitably appear. In Europe, as in the U.S., the entire “solidarity” compact between State and Subject is about to go humpty-dumpty as reality sunders its foundations.  I suspect that the consequences will be very, very ugly. I saw evidence of this on my visit to Flanders, but that will have to await another post.

I do know that what eventually happens in Europe will have profound consequences for our country as well. This is not a crisis of European civilization but of Western civilization. We all face the same abyss.

All About Money

One of the things that I try to understand is the Great Divide between today’s Liberals and conservatives that has left us talking past one another on policy issues. Frankly, I have concluded that discussion with Liberals is often futile because we attribute different meanings to words and concepts.

One of those concepts, I suspect, has to do with “money”.  Let me throw the following proposition on the table for discussion:

Liberal /Lefties view “money” as a fixed, tangible quantity with intrinsic value, like gold coins, for example. Thus, the value of money is intrinsic to the lucre itself, be it coins or dollar notes. Conservatives, on the other hand, see “money” more abstractly as representing “created value”…as scrip or IOU on value created or received. As economists put it, money is a “medium of exchange” for value. So, for liberals, “money” is something tangible to that must be amassed by taking from someone else’s stash. For conservatives, “money” is something more abstract that must to be created (i.e. goods or services) directly (e.g., wages) or indirectly (e.g., inheritance) through the creation of “value”.

How might this color our perceptions of one another?

1) When people like Bill Gates amass a large quantity of money by creating products that many people wish to purchase, conservatives view Gates’ money as a reflection of the value that he created and contributed others. No hard feelings there – it’s a fair exchange. A Liberal/Lefty, however, sees only Gate’s amassed pot of lucre that appears disproportionately high compared to the lucre stored in other peoples’ pots. They see this imbalance as patently unfair, especially since this lucre was transferred from other peoples’ modest stashes into Bill Gates’ already whopping big stash: Bill has more, all of his customers have less.

2) When money is needed to achieve a desirable social or governmental goal, a conservative recognizes that such money needs to be generated somewhere to pay for this goal. This can only be done by either drawing down existing value (confiscating peoples’ lucre) or by creating new  ‘value” that can be taxed (i.e., growing the economy). A Liberal/Lefty doesn’t make this connection – they see the process simply as one of either redistributing the existing lucre from other peoples’ pots or creating new lucre by printing more money. The problem of printing new lucre, of course, is that it is still underwritten by a fixed quantity of value – expanding money supply representing a fixed value means that each dollar is worth less. We call that inflation.

I can’t tell you how many times Liberals have looked at me with puzzlement when I have asked where they expect to get the money for their favored social programs.

3) De-linking “money” from the process of wealth creation makes it easy for Liberal/Lefties to confuse using tax money to pay for unemployment checks, dance troupes or road repair as “economic stimulus”. You are, after all, taking lucre sitting idle in some peoples’ pots and putting that lucre into other peoples’ pockets to spend on purchases. Unfortunately, the fact is that such activities do not in themselves create new value. This cannot therefore “grow” the economy.

What do you think? Am I onto something? And, if so, what other aspects of the Great Divide does this help to explain? Does this help or hinder us in discussing our differences with the Liberal /Left?

Where does your representative rank?

In a time of economic uncertainty, which is not helped by runaway government spending, you might be surprised (happily or otherwise) to learn where your Senator or House member stands when it comes to pro-growth policies.  I was not at all surprised to learn that my representatives — Woolsey, Boxer and Feinstein — are busy spending us into bankruptcy, with rankings of 0%, 3% and 3%, respectively.

The important takeaway is that the campaign speeches at home don’t often match the votes in Congress.  For example, Renee Elmers, who is running for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional district, points out that her opponent, who talks the talk at home, walks the fiscally irresponsible walk once he’s in D.C. (coming in at 6%, behind Pelosi, who is a 7%).

Spengler (David Goldman) gets to the core problems with Obama’s economic analyses

There were so many things wrong with Obama’s speech last night, whether because of dumb ideas, lies, vicious attacks against Constitutional guardians, etc., that criticism actually becomes difficult.  It’s kind of like punching Jello, because you just get sucked in.  Nevertheless, it is important to criticize, not just Obama’s untruths, but the fundamental flaws in his reasoning.  David Goldman (aka Spengler) does precisely that when he goes after Obama’s facile prescription for America’s economic malaise.  Aside from learning more about Obama’s profound wrongness when it comes to economics, you’ll get to read this gem of a paragraph:

In his attempt to emulate Clinton’s success, President Obama resembles nothing so much a the New Guinea aboriginals who built model airfields complete with straw control towers and airplanes after the Second World War and the departure of the American army. The Americans had summoned cargo from the sky through such magical devices, so thought the aboriginals, and by building what looked like airfields, so might they. But Obama can no more conjure up an economic recovery by doing things that look like what Clinton did, than the natives of New Guinea could draw cargo from the sky with straw totems. Marx’s crack about history repeating itself—the first time as tragedy and the second as farce—comes to mind.

Incidentally, Obama is the lightening rod for this critique, because he is the President who uttered the words showing his profound inability to understand economic forces. Democrats, however, are supporters and enablers, so please don’t give any Dems in Congress a pass on this. Statistics show that America’s Congressional Democrats are as loony-toons liberal as they come. Even the Blue Dogs are simply “blue,” without any mitigating “dog” attached.

Obligatory post about POTUS’ SOTU speech *UPDATED*

Preparing and eating dinner took precedence of the President’s first State of the Union speech, so I didn’t watch it in real time.  Indeed, because I find Obama’s presentation dull (he has the cadences of a slightly defective metronome), I haven’t listened to it at all, but I have read it.  I therefore felt that, as an obsessive blogger, it behooved me to make a few comments.

The most obvious comment to make is that the speech was sooooo loooong, clocking in at over an hour.  This might have been okay, but for the second most obvious comment I’m about to make, which is that it was dull.  It suffered from exactly the same defect as Obama’s inauguration speech:  there was no underlying theme tying it together.  It was, instead, a slightly tempered laundry list of Leftist dreams, wrapped up with a wooden peroration about America’s wonderfulness.  In other words, leaden, not stirring — an expected sin from most presidents, but an unforgivable sin in a president elected primarily based upon the expectation that he would be the greatest orator since Cicero.

By my rough count, there are 37 “I’s” in the speech.  By contrast, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural speech had one “I” in it.  Because we live in a more confessional age than in times past, a review of SOTU speeches from the last 40 years probably have their fair numbers of “I’s” in them, but they tend to leap out in an Obama speech, since they are both overused and emblematic of the man himself.

Speaking of the man himself, I’m patting myself on the back, in a slightly depressed way, because the speech was exactly what one could have predicted after reading my attack on Obama’s narcissism.  It was dishonest, defensive and, significantly, showed an inability to be flexible in the face of a rebuff from the voters.  Where both Reagan and Clinton, when rebuffed, tacked to the middle, Obama continues to push an agenda that is more statist than the American people want.

I have no desire to get bogged down in the endless minutiae of Obama’s speech.  It reminds me of the briefs written by a lawyer against whom I had the misfortune to litigate almost 20 years ago.  To the uninitiated, his briefs, aside from the grammatical errors, looked like ordinary documents, with facts, laws and arguments.  Only to the educated eye was it clear that each sentence contained at least one factual or legal falsehood or twisted argument.  Unfortunately, it might take a paragraph or a page to assemble the facts, law and argument necessary to expose even a single misstatement.  This meant that his briefs were smooth and seamless, although entirely false, whereas my opposing briefs, in their effort to educate the court, were long and complicated.  Smart judges ruled in my favor; dumb judges (and, boy, are there a lot of those in San Francisco Superior Court), took the easy way out, only to be reversed, every time, at the appellate level.  Because this is a blog, not a legal brief, I’m not going to occupy myself with trying to right every factual wrong in Obama’s speech.  But there are a few points I want to make.

Obama starts the speech by complaining that things were rotten when he arrived in town, by saying that he did everything possible to make it better, and then by expressing surprise that, one year later, things are worse.  Hmmm.  Could it be . . . and I’m just suggesting here . . . but could it be that the “everything” Obama did is what made things worse?  Obama doesn’t seem to recognize that the efforts he put in place, which involved burdening our country with decades worth of crippling debt, much of which went to political pandering, might be a cause-and-effect situation:

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted — immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains. One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who’d already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

Laughably, after stating the above about the massive unemployment, Obama makes his risible statement that, in the face of these rising unemployment numbers, his wonderful policies mean that “there are about 2 million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.”  People like me, those who believe in the marketplace, and believe that government is slow and, because of its concentration of powers, inclined to corruption, think that, had the money been disseminated to businesses and individuals in the form of tax breaks and refunds, there would have been a whole lot more employed and a whole lot less unemployed walking around.

Did you barf, as I did, when Obama said “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change”?  I think ordinary Americans are figuring out that the “overwhelming scientific evidence” is a cesspool of ambition, distraction, uglification and derision, with some actual facts thrown in for leavening.  I’ll concede that the climate is changing, because it has done so for 3 billion or so years.  I’ll concede, wholeheartedly, that we are the earth’s stewards, and that it behooves us to treat it with respect, for our own benefit and that of our children.  But I will not allow myself to be bullied into stupid economic decisions, all in the name of false, agenda-driven “science.”

Throughout the speech, to cover up for the government’s culpability in worsening the recession by taking money away from the people and packing it into the government, Obama engages in populist attacks against the marketplace.  There are little throwaway lines (“bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn’t”) that culminate in Obama’s unconscionable attack on the United States Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court justices, Sotomayor included, responded by sitting there absolutely frozen in shock, surrounded by a sea of applauding Democrats:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

I don’t believe that a President has ever used a SOTU as a vehicle to attack the Supreme Court — and nodding to the “separation of powers” doesn’t make it any better. The statement is especially foul considering that the Supreme Court decision goes to the heart of America’s uniqueness, it’s difference from all other countries, and that is its veneration for freedom of speech, especially in the political marketplace. I think that even ordinary Americans, unversed in the Constitutional law that was allegedly Obama’s academic specialty, have figured this one out.  [UPDATE:  Not only was Obama's attack on the Supreme Court unprecedented it was just plain wrong, explaining Alito's shocked "not true" response.]

The level of self-delusion in the speech is staggering.  A few paragraphs after his extraordinary attack on the Supremes, Obama, self-deprecatingly, assures everyone that he never thought he was the Messiah:

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don’t also reform how we work with one another. Now, I’m not naive. I never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony — and some post-partisan era. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they’ve been taking place for over 200 years. They’re the very essence of our democracy.

This is, to say the least, a peculiar statement from a man whose sole platform, in the absence of any experience or accomplishments, was that his wonderful temperament would usher in a new era of government, free from partisan fighting at home, creating peace and harmony abroad, and then, just for an encore, he would heal the planet and lower the seas.  His whole shtick, one that vanished the moment he announced in a meeting that he won, and his opponents lost, was that he would transcend all serious fighting and petty bickering on the earth, an act that had his followers likening him to a sort of God.

And that’s really all I want to say now.  Yes, there is more and more to attack, whether on speech, jobs, ugly populism, national security, etc., but I grow weary just thinking of that task.  Bottom line:  despite the rebuff in Massachusetts (and New Jersey and Virginia), Obama chooses to believe that nothing has really changed.  Americans, he thinks, want big government.  Indeed, he could have “X’d” out the entire speech and simply said this:

Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Better living through Big Government

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

And as for that last line, which I copied directly out of his actual speech, I find it funny coming out of the mouth of a man who can’t seem to find a church in Washington, D.C. — even though I know the City boasts a few churches — and who has not attended any serious religious occasions since arriving in D.C.  Just a reminder, as if you needed one, that his real God is government.

If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can watch the speech here.  At around 46:30, you can see Obama’s attack on the Supreme’s, followed by their shocked reaction.

UPDATEMark Steyn says clearly what I, in a muddled way, tried to say about the vision-free, laundry-list quality of Obama’s speech:

It sounds like an all-purpose speech for President Anyone: We’ve met here in good times and bad, war and peace, prosperity and depression, Shrove Tuesday and Super Bowl Sunday, riding high in April, shot down in May. We’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing. Each time we find ourselves flat on our face, we pick ourselves up and get back in the race. That’s life, pause for applause . . .

There’s no sense that, even as platitudinous filler, it arises organically from who this man is. As mawkish and shameless as the Clinton SOTUs were, they nevertheless projected a kind of authenticity. With Obama, the big-picture uplift seems unmoored from any personal connection — and he’s not good enough to make it real. Same with all those municipal name-checks.

When he does say anything firm and declarative — the pro-business stuff at home, the pro-freedom stuff abroad — it’s entirely detached from any policy, any action, so it plays to the Bob Herbert trust issue. And, when he moves from the gaseous and general to the specific, he becomes petty and and thin-skinned and unpresidential. And, unlike the national security feints and 101 Historical Allusions For Public Speakers stuff, the petulance is all too obviously real.

Obami and Congressional Democrats no longer function rationally

There is something deeply, deeply wrong with the Obami and the Congressional Democrats.  Or maybe not.  Maybe they are just all too human and are living out that saying that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  In this case, the corruption isn’t necessarily monetary (although that’s there too).  Instead, it’s a rot of the soul; an inability to confront the reality of actual governance, and a desire, instead, to live in a fantasy world.

As I read the stories about Dems lately, I keep thinking of Nero.  When Nero first become Emperor in Rome (54 A.D.), he was a golden boy.  He was handsome and charming.  Initially, he decreased corruption and increased freedom in Rome.  Eventually, however, unfettered power led Nero to unfettered acts of insane cruelty and murder.  There was nothing to stop him, so he became unstoppable.  (Leaders ranging from Caligula, to Mao, to Mugabe, to Kim Jong-Il are also nices example of the dangers of having unlimited power vested in a single person/group.)

I see the same thing going on in Washington.  The Democrats control completely both the executive and legislative branches.  Procedurally, there is nothing to stop them.  What should be stopping them, of course, is harsh reality:  the unyielding laws of economics, the increased arrogance of our enemies, and the growing disaffection of the voters.  But the Democrats, drunk on unlimited power, cannot stop themselves.  Indeed, our arrogant president, despite having accomplished nothing but emboldening our enemies, cheerfully awarded himself a B+ in governance.  There’s delusion for you.

Despite the fact that the voters are turning against government health care in droves, the Democrats are bound and determined to pass it.  Despite the fact that more and more evidence is appearing to show that the climate change “science” is corrupt, politically-driven voodoo, the Democrats insist on destroying our economy to meet illusive and impossible climate goals.  And most recently, despite the fact that a respected bipartisan economic organization is stating that the debt path the Democrats are pursuing is unsustainable, the Democrats won’t be stopped there either:

After passing a $447 billion spending bill Sunday, Congress faces a Jan. 1 deadline to raise the ceiling on the national debt even as a bipartisan expert panel warned Monday that the United States faces a potential funding crisis.

The Peterson-Pew Commission, composed of former members of Congress and budget experts, warned that the federal budget has reached a danger zone much faster than anticipated even a year ago. Like a homeowner swimming in mortgage debt, the government’s bills are growing faster than its income, to the point where overseas investors holding U.S. debt could be spooked at any moment.

“The long-run future is upon us,” said former Clinton administration budget chief Alice Rivlin. Bush administration debt, rapidly escalating health care costs, a deep recession that has slashed tax revenue, and record government spending this year on a $787 billion stimulus and a $700 billion bank rescue have, she said, “raised the debt very, very rapidly, to nervous-making levels.”

Still, Democratic leaders in Congress and the Obama administration contend that joblessness is the more important problem now. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to pass a new jobs package this week as part of the $626 billion defense bill, including an extension of benefits for the unemployed and new infrastructure spending.

Obama economic adviser Christina Romer said it would be “suicidal” to cut spending with the unemployment rate above 10 percent. Economic growth is the best remedy to the deficit, they argue.

When it comes to the deficit, the closest analogy I can think of is a deranged physician who gives a person with a bad flu a toxic doses of chemotherapy on the principle that the chemotherapy will cure what ails him.   The best thing for the patient would be to fall ill rapidly, go to another doctor, and immediately have the medicine withdrawn.  The worst thing would be for the steady drip of the chemo to debilitate the patient so slowly that, by the time he realizes what’s wrong, it’s too late — he’s as good as dead.

The same holds true for us.  Because of the Democrats’ hubris, the American people are swiftly wising up to the appalling damage the Democrats are inflicting on our nation, both economically and in terms of national security.  That’s good because, in theory, that means we’re like the patient who got a second opinion quickly, rather than dying slowly.  However, the election process means that, even though we know we’re being grossly mistreated, we can’t do anything about it until November 2010.  This question, then, is whether we can survive that long without dying first.

Obama overlooks the obvious when it comes to job creation

The jobs summit is at an end and Obama has given lip service to the private sector.  He doesn’t really mean it, though.  How can he, when he makes statements such as this one:

Mr. Obama said he would entertain “every demonstrably good idea” for creating jobs, but he cautioned that “our resources are limited.”

That is hogwash.  Our resources are not limited.  We have over 300 million resources.  They’re called Americans.  The limited, stultified, bureaucratized, unimaginative, slow-moving government shouldn’t (and, as a practical matter, can’t) be creating jobs.  Instead, the American people should be doing that.

This means that the abs0lute best way to maximize economic resources is to give more money and control back to the greatest resource America has — her own citizens.

Use Thanksgiving week to let your Senators know what you think about health care

A message from William Kristol, one that I’ve already put into effect as to my own Senators (much good it will do, of course, as they’re Feinstein and Boxer):

I gather Rasmussen will report today that its latest survey shows support for the Congressional health reform legislation falling to a new low — 38 percent favor, 56 percent oppose. The lowest support level prior to now has been 41 percent.

The polling data will have an effect. But it needs to be supplemented by citizen activism. Senators are especially responsive to their constituents in their home states. Senators are home this week for Thanksgiving break. If you live in Nebraska, Louisiana, Arkansas, or Connecticut — but also Florida, Maine, Colorado, and elsewhere (quiet nervousness by Senators can have an effect along with public opposition) — or if you have friends, relatives, and colleagues in those states, you and they might want to weigh in on this tax-and-spend-and-Medicare-cutting monstrosity.

In my letter to my Senators, I focused on the fiscal issues, which I think are a more useful sales pitch for ultra liberal Senators than anything else. (And I’m not the only one thinking that; h/t Sweetness & Light.)  They don’t care about quality medical care, they don’t care about socialized medicine, they desperately want abortion to be fully paid for — but they do know that their party can be destroyed quickly if they destroy the American economy. And while they may not care about the American economy either, they care about the Democratic party’s long-term prospects.

More on Obama’s hostile relationship to the military

Jennifer Rubin has two posts this morning, both of which illustrate my point about the dangerous relationship between our CIC and the military he’s supposed to be leading.  In the first, she talks about the insane decision-making process in D.C., which seems to have little to do with either victory or troop safety:

The White House seminars on the Afghanistan war are continuing. The term papers assigned this quarter include a “province-by-province analysis of Afghanistan to determine which regions are being managed effectively by local leaders and which require international help, information that his advisers say will guide his decision on how many additional U.S. troops to send to the battle.” But there is a hint as to where this is headed. The military commanders are being phased out and the political appointees are taking charge:

The review group once included intelligence officials, generals and ambassadors, but it has recently narrowed to a far smaller number of senior civilian advisers, including Biden, Gates, Jones, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, among others.

But the game is obvious here. Extract information, second-guess the military, and lower the troop levels:

“There are a lot of questions about why McChrystal has identified the areas that he has identified as needing more forces,” said a senior military official familiar with the review, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations candidly. “Some see it as an attempt by the White House to do due diligence on the commander’s troop request. A less charitable view is that it is a 5,000-mile screwdriver tinkering from Washington.”

No wonder the process is taking so long. All this homework and micromanaging takes time. But in the end, will the American people believe that faux Gens. Biden and Emanuel were smarter than Gen. Stanley McChrystal? The voters in repeated polls have already said they trust the military commanders by a wide margin over the president to make the calls on Afghanistan. That isn’t how it should work in our system of civilian control. But the public has smelled a rat — and is right to conclude that the president and his team aren’t making decisions on the merits but rather are massaging the facts to get to a result they desire.

The seminar process has not inspired confidence. Moreover, the president’s failure to reiterate the importance of a successful outcome (he doesn’t like the word victory) has allowed public support for the war to erode further. It’s hard to see whether the president still believes in the effort, given that he’s decided that “the Taliban cannot be eliminated as a military and political force, regardless of how many more troops are deployed.” We are now in the business of half-measures and inconclusive outcomes.

As you can see, the president is involved in political calculations, with little concern for military outcomes.  The war he said was a necessity is now a problem, and Emanuel, Kerry and Biden are trying to turn it into Kerry’s famous “police action.”  This is how troops die — and, worse, die for nothing.

What’s even sadder is that, as Rubin also points out, the money that could have been used to win a war, save lies and create jobs has been piddled (if you count waterfalls of cash as piddling) away on pork:

This report tells us:

An early progress report on President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports.The government’s first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money. But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs, according to an Associated Press review of a sample of stimulus contracts.

Forget the error rate and the funny double-counting. If we created 25,000 jobs, we’re talking $31.48 million per job created. (That uses the conservative figure of $787B, which does not include interest.) This is how the taxpayers’ money is being spent. And the administration declares this a success, beyond its expectations. We’re heading for double-digit unemployment, but we’re told this was money well spent.

Meanwhile, the Obama team can’t find the money — or is it the will to ask for the money? – to give Gen. McChrystal all the funding for troops he needs. We don’t have enough to continue the F-22 — which would create directly or indirectly 95,000 high-paying jobs. We need to chisel a billion here and there on missile defense. After all, we need to watch how we spend the taxpayers’ money.

Just how bad is the economy?

Don Quixote forwarded me an email that perfectly explains just how bad the economy is:

Just how bad IS the economy?

The economy is so bad that I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

It’s so bad, I ordered a burger at McDonalds and the kid behind the counter asked, “Can you afford fries and a shake with that?”

The economy is so bad that CEOs are now playing miniature golf.

The economy is so bad if the bank returns your check marked “Insufficient Funds,” you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

The economy is so bad Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

The economy is so bad McDonalds is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

The economy is so bad parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children’s names.

The economy is so bad a truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.

The economy is so bad Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

The economy is so bad Motel Six won’t leave the light on anymore.

The economy is so bad the Mafia is laying off judges.

The economy is so bad Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.

And finally…

Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh Great!! The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear!

Fight organized crime: Re-elect no one!!!

The uneven economic recovery

There’s talk of the economy recovering, which is a good thing.  Yes, Obama will take credit for it, despite the fact that his massive spending bill has barely touched the economy, but that’s small potatoes.  What matters is that we’re not hovering anymore at the brink of economic collapse.

Still, I observed something interesting the other day.  This is an utterly casual observation.  It’s not based on any studies or even any deep understanding of economics.  It’s just that, when I check out NewsFifty, the site that allows you to click through headlines from all fifty states, I immediately see two trends:   First, the economic recovery is incredibly uneven, with some states rejiggering themselves and some still stagnant (and I leave you to figure out whether it’s the laissez faire or the government control states that are coming back faster).  Second, all states still report incredibly high unemployment.  So there is something of a recovery, but it’s not necessarily anything to boast about yet.

Also, Pierre LeGrand has some statistics that show just how uneven and, possibly meaningless, any “recovery” is right now.

The practical implications of Obama’s decision to pick a trade war with China

Obama’s foolish decision to pick a trade war with China has larger implications about his governing style, as Jennifer Rubin explains:

[D]omestic political considerations and the good opinion of his base are more important to Obama than just about any other concern. That seems to be the motivating factor in a lot of what he does. The international apology tour is catnip for his Left-leaning academic friends, who are delighted that we finally have a president who “understands” there isn’t anything special about America. He unleashes another investigation on CIA operatives, cheering the “get the Bushies” netroot crowd. He selects an entirely mediocre Supreme Court judge because the Hispanic vote could use a boost. And despite what must be the advice of free-traders within his administration, he has no qualms about risking economic retaliation from China to mollify his Big Labor patrons.

During the campaign, Obama’s supporters assured us that Obama was intensely “practical” and therefore would make fact-based decisions devoid of ideology. The reality is that he persistently tends to the whims and demands of his Left-leaning base (whose views he, in any case, sympathizes with), the result being a series of policy choices that send a thrill up the legs of union bosses and Harvard professors. If we trigger a trade war or throw the intelligence community into a tailspin, well, that’s a small price for keeping the base quiet.

To which I say, yup, you’re right.

Oh, about those jobs saved? It’s not true.

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” — Abraham Lincoln

Obama lies, and lies, and lies again. Sometimes he lies directly, and sometimes he lies by having his administration make a formal announcement. AJ Strata decimates the administration’s lie about “jobs saved or created.”

All the problems with Democratic health care reform

In just three paragraphs, Charles Krauthammar explains all of the problems with the health care reform the President so desperately wants passed by August:

President Obama premised the need for reform on the claim that medical costs are destroying the economy. True. But now we learn — surprise! — that universal coverage increases costs. The congressional Democrats’ health-care plans, says the CBO, increase costs on the order of $1 trillion plus.

In response, the president retreated to a demand that any bill he sign be revenue-neutral. But that’s classic misdirection: If the fierce urgency of health-care reform is to radically reduce costs that are producing budget-destroying deficits, revenue neutrality (by definition) leaves us on precisely the same path to insolvency that Obama himself declares unsustainable.

The Democratic proposals are worse still. Because they do increase costs, revenue neutrality means countervailing tax increases. It’s not just that it is crazily anti-stimulatory to saddle a deeply depressed economy with an income tax surcharge that falls squarely on small business and the investor class. It’s that health-care reform ends up diverting for its own purposes a source of revenue that might otherwise be used to close the yawning structural budget deficit that is such a threat to the economy and to the dollar.

Speaking of Newspeak — how about Kerry and Boxer on energy?

Even working together, Babs Boxer and John Kerry are still unable to beat Palin’s clear message and, instead, come out with meaningless government speak.  I can’t resist a very light fisking of their opinion piece for the WaPo, which does precisely what my blog slogan says Democrats do:  they take conclusions and try to sell them as facts. I’ll be so light that I won’t dive into underlying facts. I’ll just expose the nonsense on the face of the document.  Also, out of deference for fair use principles, I’m not going to fisk the whole thing, just bits and pieces.  And with those caveats, here goes:

Palin argues that “the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!” The truth is, clean energy legislation doesn’t make energy scarcer or more expensive; it works to find alternative solutions to our costly dependence on foreign oil and provides powerful incentives to pursue cutting-edge clean energy technologies.  [Objection your honor:  non-responsive!  Have Babs and the French-looking guy said anything here that belies the claim that new energy will be scarcer and more expensive?  They've said they'd like to cut spending on foreign oil, but that has nothing to do with scarcity or cost.  They've also said the government will provide financial incentives for new energy, but that sounds costly -- and there's no guarantee that there is affordable and clean new energy to be had, at least in the short term.  In other words, they've said nothing at all that counters Palin's claim that new government clean energy proposals will make energy scarce and costly.]

Palin asserts that job losses are “certain.” Wrong. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and American Clean Energy and Security legislation will create significant employment opportunities across the country in a broad array of sectors linked to the clean energy economy. Studies at the federal level and by states have demonstrated clean energy job creation. A report by the Center for American Progress calculated that $150 billion in clean energy investments would create more than 1.7 million domestic and community-based jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.  [Again, Babs and Kerry take the known problems expensive energy creates (inflation, job loss, a slowing economy and, against those history-proven facts, make the groundless promise that they'll make some new jobs in a private sector devoted to trying to figure out ways to come up with a better solution than fossil fuel.  As to that dream, it would help if, at the very least, they'd work out how to make fossil fuel cleaner and more efficient.  But noooo.  This wagon is hooked to stars such as biofuels, which take food out of the mouths of poor people; electric cars, which use lots of fossil fuel to create the electricity and which work only in densely populated areas where people can tank up quickly; solar energy, which works only where the sun shines (tough luck for those in cold, foggy areas); wind energy, which has proven to be spectacularly unreliable, etc.  One day, alternative energies may be the answer, but to make traditional energy sources impossibly expensive, while sucking money out of the economy to fund pie-in-the-sky "alternatives" is certain to lose jobs.]

[snip]

Take the acid rain program established in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. The naysayers said it would cost consumers billions in higher electricity rates, but electricity rates declined an average of 19 percent from 1990 to 2006. Naysayers said the cost to business would be more than $50 billion a year, but health and other benefits outweighed the costs 40 to 1. Naysayers predicted it would cost the economy millions of jobs. In fact, the United States added 20 million jobs from 1993 to 2000, as the U.S. economy grew 64 percent.  [This may true.  However, since I don't trust the source, how am I do know that, but for the Clean Air Act Amendments, the economy wouldn't have grown by a vastly greater amount.  As it is, I happen to enjoy clean fresh air.  I'm interested in reasonable, market-driven responses to cleaner energy that doesn't fund terrorists.  That doesn't justify crap-and-tax, though, does it?]

The carefully crafted clean energy bill that we will present to the Senate [pardon me while I laugh hysterically as Babs uses the phrase "carefully crafted" to describe anything that's coming out of the House right now], building on the Waxman-Markey legislation passed by the House, will jump-start our economy, protect consumers, stop the ravages of unchecked global climate change and ensure that the United States — not China or India — will be the leading economic power in this century. [And this will work because we're sending to China and India, countries unconstrained by these bills, all the jobs that American employers can no longer afford to pay for?  Help me.  I'm confused.]

Anyway, you get the idea. Go to the WaPo, and read the article for yourself. See if you find it more convincing than I do.

GOP: Real solutions for a real recovery

Republicans are finally figuring out how to push back:

I like Ed Morrissey’s comment about the video:

Today, Barack Obama once again dishonestly claimed that Porkulus opponents wanted to “do nothing” in the face of the economic collapse, but that’s simply not true — which Obama might have learned had he leaned on Nancy Pelosi to include Republicans in the negotiations. Instead, she locked the doors, which resulted in zero GOP votes for Porkulus in the House, and only three in the Senate.

Joe Biden: the fool speaks the truth

In medieval times, the king’s fool was often the only one who could speak the truth, but that in the guise of a joke.  Joe Biden is a little bit different.  Obama didn’t mean him to be the truth-speaking fool but, apparently, the guy can’t help himself.  AJ Strata caught him on TV today admitting that the stimulus was a scam.  Check out AJ’s post for all the details.

Reality check

Jennifer Rubin pithily sums up the insanity of the government’s cheerful report on increasingly higher unemployment numbers:

So to be clear: we’re headed for double digit unemployment, the very thing the stimulus bill was supposed to stave off. We didn’t keep unemployment anywhere near 8% as the administration predicted — but we did rack up a whole lot of debt. The administration tells us this is all a ray of sunshine. And they said George Bush was cut off from reality.

I’m getting the sense that, with numbers like this, even the fiercest Obama partisans who resolutely cheer on the man and try to insulate him from criticism are getting the feeling that all is not right in Denmark.