Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The Tax Foundation tries to correct internet rumors that misrepresent Obama's tax policies. It does not like his tax policies, but I think they try to evaluate it fairly.


Good discussion of article I read in Forbes. The best solution is to plant trees! Europe is building coal-fired power plants while Washington dithers and the left can't seem to find an energy source they really want. To me hundreds of wind towers are aesthetically far worse than one coal-fired power plant (with appropriate scrubbers). Unless there is a change in Washington we may be headed for increased energy scarcity and high prices.

A number of influential people in Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam say the planet is now entering a 30-year cooling period, the second half of a normal cycle driven by cyclical changes in the sun's output and currents in the Pacific Ocean. Their theory leaves true believers in carbon catastrophe livid.

To judge by actions, not words, the carbon-warming view hasn't come close to persuading a political majority even in nations considered far more environmentally enlightened than China and India. Europe's coal consumption is rising, not falling, and the Continent won't come close to meeting the Kyoto targets for carbon reduction. Australia is selling coal to all comers.


Unless there is a revolution in Iran, America , the UN, and Europe will have some kind of confrontation with Iran. Both Obama and McCain need to be prepared for this.

Iran's president on Tuesday blamed the U.S. and other "big powers" for nuclear proliferation, AIDS and other global ills, and accused them of exploiting the U.N. and other organizations for their own gain and the developing world's loss.

But, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, time was on the poor countries' side.

"The big powers are going down," Ahmadinejad told foreign ministers of the Nonaligned Movement meeting in Tehran. "They have come to the end of their power, and the world is on the verge of entering a new, promising era."

Monday, July 28, 2008


I just read in the August 11, 2008 in Forbes (p. 90) that last year it cost $2 a barrel for the Saudis to produce oil. With oil hovering around $130 a barrel today just think of the profits the Saudis are making. Also how long can US, European, or Japanese wealth leave their countries at this rate?


Powerline has an interesting comment on Obama's visit to Berlin and his reference to the 1948 Berlin Airlift. He didn't mention President Truman. Also the question is whether he would have supported the airlift given his non-confrontational policies today. His positions are more reminiscent of President Truman's liberal challenger, Henry Wallace.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I mentioned in an earlier post reading an article in the Dallas Morning News "Energy Bill Subbed." For some reason it was not put online for me to post a url. I emailed the reporter and got a copy of the article.

What annoyed me is the partisan politics the Democrats were practicing on the energy issue. Now, I am a realist and realize that this goes on all the time and both parties are at fault, but I think voters have to begin holding politicians more accountable on these issues.

I accept the fact that Democrats hated Congressman DeLay (R, TX) and now that a Democrat holds his seat they find it important to pass drilling legislation that will help the district and keep him in office. But what about the consumer? And how often is this still happening under the Pelosi and Reid leadership?

Here is a copy of the July 24th article from the Dallas Morning News business section:

Democratic lawmakers backed off a plan Wednesday to direct more research money to renewable energy sources by selling oil from the country's emergency stockpile.

The bill also would have sent $50 million to a program popular with Texas lawmakers because it provides millions of dollars to state universities pursuing research on natural gas and oil companies looking for deepwater deposits. The Bush administration has tried to eliminate the program because it says oil and gas producers are making enough money to fund their own research.

Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, and Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., introduced a new bill Wednesday that House lawmakers are likely to approve today. It calls for selling about 70 million barrels of oil from the stockpile, but keeps the revenue to buy more oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the future. Democrats say releasing 70 million barrels will lower gasoline prices.

Mr. Markey's support for the oil and gas program was an about-face for the chairman of the House Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Mr. Markey once called the program "morally and politically wrong" and a sop for Big Oil.

That was three years ago, when Democrats considered the program a big earmark for former Rep. Tom DeLay's district, where the program is based. Now the program's biggest supporter is Mr. DeLay's Democratic successor, Mr. Lampson of suburban Houston, whose November race is considered one of the country's toughest re-election contests.

Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for Mr. Markey, said the chairman "has had reservations about the deepwater drilling program in the past" but sponsored Mr. Lampson's bill because it also provided more than $145 million for renewable energy research.

Trevor Kincaid, a spokesman for Mr. Lampson, said there was "some pushback" from other lawmakers to selling oil from the stockpile to fund oil and gas research. The U.S. Department of Energy has opposed the proposal, saying it would take oil from the country's protection against oil supply shocks.

"Drawing down any amount of oil to manipulate market prices is in direct opposition to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's intended purpose and would have serious negative impacts on our national security and American consumers," said Angela Hill, an Energy Department spokeswoman.

Many Republicans say that selling oil from the reserve won't bring down gasoline prices. A previous decision to stop buying oil to fill the reserve didn't have any impact on prices.

"It's nothing more than political cover for the House Democratic leadership, who are intent on pretending they are in favor of increased energy production when they are not," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.
Mr. Lampson may still seek more funding for the oil and gas program in the future, according to his spokesman.

"We are hoping that once we take this first step that we'll be able to either reinstate it or come up with new programs we can use that money to fund," Mr. Kincaid said.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I have been thinking about Bush using a Truman tactic for some time--now I see others are thinking the same way. Bush needs to call Congress back into session and have the Democrat leadership deal with the energy issue.

Bush could then deliver a message where he asks Congress to do their jobs - legislate (!!), for example:
(1) address the energy/gas crisis (i.e, offshore drilling and/or nuclear); and/or
(2) pass a budget — they have yet to pass one appropriations bill this year
because as Pelosi and Reid admitted — they are waiting for Obama to
become president to do a budget, which btw — is simply irresponsible and wrong.
I believe that the Democrats would whine and not pass a thing. Then Bush and McCain could hammer them for being a "do-nothing Congress."


The Democrats are playing serious politics with the oil issue which is understandable given the pressures within the party.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other liberal leaders on Capitol Hill are gripped by cold-sweat terror. If they permit a vote on offshore drilling, they know they will lose when Blue Dogs and oil-patch Democrats defect to the GOP position of increasing domestic energy production. So the last failsafe is to shut down Congress.

Majority Leader Reid has decided that deliberation is too taxing for "the world's greatest deliberative body." This week he cut off serious energy amendments to his antispeculation bill. Then Senate Appropriations baron Robert Byrd abruptly canceled a bill markup planned for today where Republicans intended to press the issue. Mr. Byrd's counterpart in the House, David Obey, is enforcing a similar lockdown. Speaker Pelosi says she won't allow even a debate before Congress's August recess begins in eight days.

In today's Dallas Morning News Dave Michaels had an article "Energy Bill Subbed." It deals with profits made from selling off some of the strategic oil reserve. It gets complicated, but the bottom line is that Democrats reversed policy in the past few months. Since the bill could have help ex-Congressman DeLay's Texas district, Democrats originally opposed the bill--now that a Democrat holds DeLay's old congressional seat Democrats are for the bill.


Southwest Airlines just posted over a $300 million profit while most other airlines are going into the tank. What did Southwest do? It had a management that took advantage of fuel hedging. Where was the managment of other airlines?--weren't they fuel hedging????

Monday, July 21, 2008


Michael Burleigh's Sacred Causes. The Clash of Religion and Politics, From the Great War to the War on Terror is a superb read. He deals with a subject overlooked by most historians.

Totalitarian Political Religions
51) Communist birth dedication liturgy: “We cover thee not with a cross, not with water and prayer—the inheritance of slavery and darkness—but with our Red banner of struggle and labour, pierced by bullets and torn by bayonets . . .We bid the parents of the newborn child: bring up they child to be a devoted fighter for the liberation of the toilers of the entire world, an advocate of science and labor, an enemy of darkness and ignorance.”
57) Mussolini: “Fascism is not only a party, it is a regime, it is not only a regime, but a faith, it is not only a faith, but a religion that is conquering the labouring masses of the Italian people.”
75) Stalin-era poem:
    And so—everywhere. In the workshops, in the mines
    In the Red Army, the kindergarten
    He is watching. . .
    You look at his portrait and it’s as if he knows
    Your work—and weights it
    You’ve worked badly—his brows lower
    But when you’ve worked well, he smiles in his moustache.

95) Goebbels in “quasi-autobiographical novel Michael”: “It is almost immaterial what we believe in, so long as we believe in something.” (similar to Madame de Stael)
116) “The Nazis intended to strip Christmas of its Christian associations, turning it into a general celebration of goodwill and advent of the New Year, a goal pursued nowadays in Britain mainly by local government.”

Churches in an Age of Dictators
127) Miguel Primo de Rivera, ruler in Spain 1923-1930: “Had I known in my youth that I would one day have to govern this country, I would have spent more time studying, and less fornicating.”
165) “Fascist enthusiasm for the ancient Roman Empire grated with a Church that liked to stamp such sites of pagan barbarism as the Colosseum with proclamations of its gospel of universal love.”
Catechism of fascist youth movement parody of Christian liturgy: “I believe in Rome the Eternal. . .”
180) “Protestantism was generally more prone to worrying about seeming out of step with scientising modernism—and other secular trends—than a Catholicism steeped in Natural Law doctrines, and in which the autonomy and integrity of the family was so central.” (discussion on Nazi sterilization policy)

Apocalypse 1939-1945
226) “When in March 1940 Müller informed his Vatican contacts of the date of the May offensive in the West. Pius immediately passed that informed in encrypted form to the nuncios in Brussels and the Hague who relayed it to London and Paris as well as to the governments directly threatened.”
229) “A decade earlier, the papacy had condemned eugenic sterilization with the US—rather than Germany—in mind.”
244) Leon Berard, Vichy ambassador to the Vatican, September 2, 1941 report: “There is a fundamental antithesis between Church doctrines and ‘racist’ theories . . . Every human being has an immortal soul which is upheld by the same grace and is summoned to the same salvation as all other souls . . .”
275) Turkish government offered to ship Jews to Haifa in 1943

The Imposition of Communism after 1945
341) Czeslaw Milosz: “Churches were the only places that could not be penetrated by official lies. . .”

Time of the Toy Trumpets (1960s)
345) 1955-59 highest church membership in Europe
354) “. . .religious parents only have a fifty-fifty chance of replicating their beliefs among their children, . . .”
355) “The Churches and the more semi-detached tribe of theologians often responded to rapid changes in the wider world by trying to assimilate secular cultural and social enthusiasms.”
“Centuries-old liturgies were abandoned in favour of ‘happy clappy’ church services, . . .”
Northern Ireland 1968-2005
380) “The fact that both antagonistic communities in Northern Ireland have a very developed sense of their own victimhood partly explains why they have such difficulty in understanding the victim status claimed by their opponents, a pathology that bedevils the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Churches and the Collapse of European Marxist Leninism 1970-1990
418) “It has become fashionable to deprecate the role of ethics, religion and people power in tha anti-Communist European revolutions.”
422) Commenting on Reagan and Thatcher: “Bother leaders were highly informed about eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, relying on the knowledge of Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes, rather than the dazzling political insights of Noam Chomsky, Eric Hobsbawm, Harold Pinter and the entire field of academic international relations.”
423) Commenting on Leszek Kolakowski in Currents of Marxism: “Why, he asked, bother with a substitute religion when Christianity provided a real one?”
430) “We want God, we want God, we want God in the family circle, we want God in books, in schools, we want God in government orders, we want God, we want God.” Crowd responding to Pope John Paul’s mass in Warsaw, 1979.
436) Bishop Otto Spulbeck of Meissen (1956): “We live in a house, whose structure we have not built, who basic foundations we even consider false. We gladly contribute, living worthy and Christian lives. But we cannot build a new storey on this house, since we consider its foundations false. We thus live in a diaspora not only in terms of our Church, but also in terms of our state.”
438) “The chief effect of attempts to ‘build socialism’ in the GDR was that people upped and left.”
442) October 1958 Karl Barth “wrote an extraordinary letter to Protestant pastors in the GDR, claiming that since West Germany was in the grip of former Nazis and NATO warmongers, they should have no hesitation in giving their loyalty to the East German Communist regime.”

Europe after 9/11
465) Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services had “fitful contacts” with al Qaeda
467) On Clinton administration response to terrorism: “Each possible response was also
‘lawyered to death’ by those anxious about collateral casualties.”
471) “Militant Islam shares something of the cultural pessimism of nineteenth-century Western critics of mass urban industrial society.
473) Religion “provides a warm hearth for people in a vast and highly mobile
society. . ..”
474) Regarding Rocco Buttiglione’s appointment as EU justice commissioner and the controversy surrounding “one European politician who did not dissemble his conservative religious convictions. . ..” He “was the subject of a gay cum secularist media witch-hunt which refused to acknowledge that . . . he would be as capable of separating his private beliefs from his official brief as he had been in every earlier appointment. That the political thugs and gangsters of the ETA, IRA-Sinn Fein and various neo-Fascists are represented in the European parliament is apparently deemed less shocking than the appointment of a single Catholic professor.”
475) Draft 2004 European Union Constitution: “This document grandly traced Europe’s ethos and telos from Thucydides to the Enlightenment. Vociferous objections from Italy, Poland, Span and pope John Paul II forced the drafters to concede the scantest reference to the continent’s fifteen centuries of Christianity.”
Aleksander Kwasniewski (atheist president of Poland): “There is no excuse for making references to ancient Greece and Rome, and to the Enlightenment, without making reference to the Christian values which are so important to the development of Europe.”
“Liberal and secular politicians, . . ., decided to omit a religion that made a major contribution to the dignity and sacred identity of autonomous individuals regardless of their ethnic origins, as the greatness of one God paradoxically lessened human dependence. Its transcendental focus has set bounds to what the powerful could not or, more importantly, should not do by providing moral exemplars of good kingship and evil tyranny.”
“As the British socialist politician Roy Hattersley, pointedly asked, when have committed rationalists ever operated soup-kitchens, hotlines for the suicidal or hostels for crack addicts?”
476) Dutch immigration authorities produced a video “to convey to immigrants the quintessence of ‘Dutchness’. This consists of snippets from the life of William of Orange, tulips and windmills, naked sunbathers and a gay wedding.”
477) “In other words, the call for sharia-conforming banks is part of a strategy for expanding Islam’s space within the host country in conscious rejection of any notion of accommodation.
478) British Muslims: “often unsympathetic to the victimhood of other victims.” (commenting on reactions to Holocaust Day in England)
479) Turkey: “. . .one of the few countries in modern Europe capable of fighting a war.”
480) “The voices of militant rationalism and scientistic stridency have become shriller, with Darwinism’s high prophet, the zoologist Richard Dawkins, behaving like the hotter sort of seventeenth-century English Protestant in his zeal to mock the faith of people who believe in miracles.”
482) The United States does a better job of assimilating immigrants when compared to Europe: “Does the absence of a welfare state diminish the opportunities for resentments about how the cake is shared out?
483) “No measures will appease Europe’s Islamist radicals. . .”

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Medienkritik analyzes Fouad Ajami's WSJ article on whether anti-Americanism will be there even if Obama is elected and particularly if he reintroduces trade protectionsim.


Juliet Lapidos discussed in Slate the issue of whether Muslims can hide their faith.

Yes, if you're a Shiite; maybe, if you're a Sunni. According to Chapter 16, Verse 106 of the Quran, "Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief—except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith—but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty." Shiites cite this verse to justify taqiyya, a religious dispensation by which persecuted Muslims may hide their beliefs. But Sunni scholars have a more equivocal take. Some reject taqiyya as unacceptable hypocrisy and evidence of cowardice: Muslims shouldn't fear other humans, only Allah. Others argue that concealment is warranted under life-threatening circumstances.

Raymond Ibrahaim of Jihad Watch argues that she does not use the main verse in the Koran and also ignores the hadith. Among his comments is the following:

As for Islam’s ulema, taqiyya in Islam quotes from a number of the most prominent, the vast majority of whom agree that taqiyya is not just limited to preserving one’s faith. Here, for instance, is the premiere exegete al-Tabari: “Allah Almighty has forbidden the believers from being friendly with infidels or from taking them as confidants in place of other believers — except when they are clearly outnumbered by the infidels, in which case let them display outward friendliness, while holding onto their faith” (p.22).


Victor Davis Hanson raises the issue of whether the Democrat leadership and liberals are practicing what they preach. For example, has Obama learned Spanish? Do spokesmen for environmental causes drive fuel-efficient cars and live in modestly sized houses? Do US overseas campuses in the Middle East require gender/oppression courses?

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Poor Sam Nunn -- here goes his Veep chances if he did ever have any. It seems like almost every politician makes these gaffes, but some receive more attention than others.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


It does not look good for Detroit auto makers.

Detroit is in the midst of a horror show. I call it Nightmare on Woodward Avenue (Detroit's old main street). Instead of the relentless Freddy Krueger, overseas competitors are murdering the U.S. industry.

Just as what happened in past fuel crises, today's high gasoline prices are likely to benefit many European and Asian companies. Wait, the nightmare gets worse: The domestics not only have the wrong vehicles in a changing market, and are running out of money, but they have nothing or next to nothing in the works. Meanwhile, the competition is ready with just what the customers want to buy.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I have just finished reading Just How Stupid Are We? by Rick Shenkman. He is a liberal academic who hates Bush(and the Iraq decision in particular) and is obviously upset at how American voters select such terrible Republican presidents. However, the book goes beyond partisan politics and examines American voting patterns. It is clear that the average American voter makes political judgments without a lot of knowledge. The author summarizes numerous studies that indicate the variety of factors that come into play. However, this is not just a recent phenomena. He focuses more on the period since polling and television were introduced and attacks "the Myth of the People."

  • For a number of years after 9/11 voters continued to believe that Saddam had contact with al Qaeda in spite of evidence otherwise. FOX news viewers were more likely to hold this position than NPR viewers. (Bush & Cheney obviously used and reinforced this false assumption for their own purposes).
  • In 1978 only 30% of the American people knew that a Representative served a two-year term.
  • In 1991 only 25% of the American people knew a US Senator served a six-year term.
  • 70% believe in "crackpot" conspiracy theories with regard to the assassination of JFK (thanks to Oliver Stone's movie?).
  • People really don't know the differences between "liberal" and "conservative."
  • When one of his students was required to listen to NPR for an hour, he called it "torture."
  • Young people today know less than young people 40 years ago.
  • The average age of a CNN viewer is 60.
  • While voters do not follow the campaigns closely enough to be able to say where the candidates stand on a variety of issues, they often pay close attention to the one or two issues they really care about.
  • Voters tend to remember personal information about candidates rather than hard facts about issues.
  • The public's opinion about issues is usually muddled.
  • Polls are themselves a form of manipulation in the hands of strategists who know how to use them to frame issues in a way that meets with the public's approbation.
  • but it was actually the much-revered JFK who understood ahead of everybody else how to use TV to win over the voters.
  • TV was worse than manipulative. It was shallow.
  • Debates have become theater.
  • As for local TVn news--well,, if network news is puperficial, local TV news is all but brain-dead.
  • When most of our early presidents needed to make a major speech they sat down and wrote it. This is unimaginable nowadays.


After watching and reading the news in the last couple of days, I am beginning to think that the financial markets are betting on some kind of military action in the Middle East. The high price of oil is not just about concerns about shortages as energy consumption goes up in China and India, but it is a result of future expectations of shortages. Speculators are betting on something happening.

I have to admit that I am a bit influenced by Niall Ferguson's recent book (War of the World) on the era between 1900 and 1950 which involved two world wars. He did some pre-war market analysis with regard to what was happening with stocks and bonds. Investment markets aren't perfect, but I left thinking that the markets were more predictive than what politicians were saying or doing. I will be watching to see if this proves true in the next year or two.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I thought Rod Dreher had a very perceptive article in the Dallas Morning News describing how the Republican Party has really not done anything to maintain and gain support among working class Americans. He uses a book by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, rand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream, to support his case.

They show that the most reliable Republican voters are actually more socially conservative, suspicious of big business and favor a larger government role in helping families manage economic risk than the GOP's stale rhetoric would allow.

Mike Huckabee's surprising success in the GOP primaries, to say nothing of Barack Obama's skill in peeling away some conservatives by feinting rightward on culture and religion, suggests an emerging centrist constituency that's culturally conservative but economically liberal.

What does the Republican Party have to offer these voters? The tried-and-true tax-cut litany is as stale as anything Walter Mondale had to say in 1984. Free-market clichés may suit GOP money men and radio talkers, but they do not satisfy working-class voters for whom the changing economic order undermines family stability.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Evidently the German chancellor is not keen on having Obama give a campaign speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

“It is unusual to hold election rallies abroad. No German candidate for high office would even think of using the National Mall (in Washington) or Red Square in Moscow for a rally because it would not be seen as appropriate.”

Monday, July 07, 2008


According to the New York Times, there is chaos in the pre-planning. I kinda of think they will get things worked out. . .but I am not so sure the food issue will be resolved.

Andprovide food in "at least three of the following five colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple and white." Garnishes could not be counted toward the colors. No fried foods would be allowed. Organic and locally grown foods were mandated, and each plate had to be 50 percent fruits and vegetables. As a result, caterers are shying away. then there is the food: A 28-page contract requested by Denver organizers that caterers.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I have seen an increasing number of reports (both in US and foreign sources) about Israel preparing to attack Iran to stop its nuclear program. There have been reports of a "mysterious" explosion near an Iranian nuclear plant which some think was some kind of sabotage. Also the Israeli prime minister has taken time to visit the Israeli nuclear installation at Dimona--is a more than gentle hint to Iran of Israel’s determination to pre-empt a nuclear-armed Iran.(Debka File)