Obtuse Observer

October 4, 2012

The Party of Tolerance?

Filed under: 2012 Budget,Liberal Intolerance — Obtuse Observer @ 2:41 pm

Can we finally dispense with the absurdity that the Democrats are the party of tolerance and inclusion?  The most common, ugly and public displays of intolerance have been coming from the left.  Here’s yet another example.

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A Pennsylvania teacher kicked a student out of class for wearing a Romney t-shirt saying that the Republicans are like the KKK.  She later apologized and claimed it was a joke. 

From the article

Samantha Pawlucy, a 16-year-old sophomore at Charles Carroll High School in the Port Richmond section of the city, says she wore a pink Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan T-shirt last Friday during the school’s dress-down day.

No one made an issue of Samantha’s political T-shirt until she got to geometry class.

“The teacher told me to get out of the classroom, I said no,” Samantha said.

“She told me to take off my shirt and said that she has another one if I need one. And then the teacher asked me… ‘Are your parents Republican?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ She said that’s like her wearing a KKK shirt.”

Obama Lost

Filed under: Barak Obama,Mitt Romney — Obtuse Observer @ 7:40 am

Jim Geraghty of National Review provided a long list of comments from Obama fans reacting to the debate last night.

For me one stuck out:

Larry Sabato: “Probably Romney’s best debate ever. Maybe Obama’s worst. I lost count of # of opportunities Obama missed… This debate may build audience for other 3. Voters will want to see if Obama can stage comeback…. Mr. President, cancel all your golf games. You did miserably tonight.”

Obama did poorly last night.  He can recover.  However he got pushed off balance and now has to fight uphill.  Further, the debate where he had the greatest opportunity to rally his supporters was on domestic policy and that was the best format for him to score points – that’s  now lost.

For Romney supporters the debate provided reason to be hopeful and for Obama supporters perhaps a wake up call.

October 3, 2012

Secretary Sebelius not Breaking the Law (this time).

Cabinet positions are inherently political but one likes to think those holding them regard it as their duty to best serve the people of the United States rather than their boss.  Certainly that view can overlap and become indistinguishable in implementing and enforcing policy (and reasonable minds may disagree on how that is best done). 

However, campaigning for one’s boss is specifically political. Sec. Sebelius has already broken the law to stump for her boss.  Now she will continue stumping while appearing in her “personal capacity” only.  It is saddening to see this disregard of duty to the office in exchange for the one holding it. 

At least it is naked partisanship on full display available for us to criticize.  This is not appropriate for a cabinet member.

September 18, 2012

Why (Knowing) History Matters… updated

Filed under: China,Debt — Obtuse Observer @ 6:41 pm

From a recent Telegraph article:

A senior advisor to the Chinese government has called for an attack on the Japanese bond market to precipitate a funding crisis and bring the country to its knees, unless Tokyo reverses its decision to nationalise the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.

This is exactly what President Eisenhower did to the Brits when they seized the Suez Canal in 1956.  (see earlier blog Why (knowing) History Matters) He threatened to sell all American holdings of UK bonds which would collapse the Pound Sterling and destroy the ability of the UK to borrow.  Those who own our debt own a veto.  China holds over $1.1T of our debt.  Not a good thing.

August 8, 2012

Spending We Could Do Without

Solyndra gets a $528,000,000 loans and defaults.  The fiasco is now subject to an FBI investigation.  

From recent article on the investigation:

Senior Obama Administration officials decided to restructure the government’s half-billion-dollar loan to the California solar energy firm Solyndra even after government analysts had concluded it would cost taxpayers far less to allow the company to fail, according to a newly released report on the investigation into the Solyndra matter by House Republicans.

“DOE is likely to be very sensitive about optics if it should default,” one analyst wrote in an email.

“A meltdown that would likely be very embarrassing for DOE and the Administration,” wrote another.

The cost to the administration’s reputation was more important than the cost to the tax payer.

 

The previous experience providing no education; SolarReserve gets a government guaranteed $737,000,000 loan. 

From an editorial article on the loan: 

Coincidentally, the project which is risking $737 million to power 43K homes, is located in the Majority Leader’s home state of Nevada.  It turns out that none other than Nancy Pelosi’s Brother-in-Law, Ronald Pelosi was the number two man at an energy fund PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC which has invested $100 million in SolarReserve based in Santa Monica, California.

Comments from Florida U.S. Representative Cliff Stearns (R):

“The administration’s flagship project Solyndra is bankrupt and being investigated by the FBI, the promised jobs never materialized, and now the Department of Energy is preparing to rush out nearly $5 billion in loans in the final 48 hours before stimulus funds expire — that’s nearly $105 million every hour that must be finalized until the deadline.”

 

A123 is getting $450,000,000.   (Forbe’s article on A123.)   They make “green tech” batteries.  China’s automaker Wangxiang will be aquiring an 80% stake in the cash hemorhaging company, “A123 lost nearly $83 million in the second quarter of 2012, on top of a whopping $125 million loss in the first quarter. Losses in 2011 approached $258 million, with cumulative losses since 2007 totaling more than $815 million.”

Apparently some of A123′s losses have resulted from recalls of their batteries to companies like Fisker Automotive.  A123 is a share holder in Fisker Automotive, a California electric car maker that received $529,000,000 to build cars… in Finland

 

 

President Obama defended these “investments” in green energy based on the investment China is making in the industry – do recall that US taxpayers are subsiding that Chinese investment to the tune of 80% of $450 million in the case of A123.  The President just might ought to look at the horrors investing in green tech has visited on the Spanish economy.  The President may want to look at the fact that these investments resulted in failures even with government subsidies propping them up.  It isn’t just that the spending is “too damn high” but that its “too damn stupid.”

 

 

July 15, 2012

Citizen’s United and The Obama Effect

Everyone remembers Hillary: The Movie right?  And the ruling in Citizen’s United v Federal Election Commission too, right?  No?  Hillary was a movie about Hillary Clinton that the Federal Election Commission prevented from being aired because of the timing with regard to the January 2008 Democrat Party primaries.

Citizen’s United sued to have the film released.  They were not successful in getting Hillary: The Movie released but they did get another portion of the disastrous Let’s Ban Political Speech Bill otherwise known as McCain-Feingold tossed into the ash heap of wrongheaded legislation.

The court held that businesses and unions could spend money to support political candidates.  Liberals and some libertarians (oddly) were up in arms that the court would actually allow unions (a group usually omitted in condemnations of the ruling – see image ) and businesses could spend money to endorse a candidate.  

Comes now, The Obama Effect, released by… a business.  Where are those who gnashed their teeth and beat their breasts at the Citizen’s United ruling?  Where are the condemnations of this blatant abuse of the first amendment by greedy corporations? 

It would appear from their deafening silence that their opposition to political speech from business is content specific rather than content neutral.  The court, imo, issued the correct ruling.  We do not silence speech we disapprove of nor speakers we disapprove of.  We meet speech with which we disagree with speech and battle it out in the market place of ideas.  More power to those who used their resources to create this movie to support a candidate they wish to see reelected.  I hope they fail, but this is America where we do not silence speech.

The Obama Effect Official Trailer

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Citizens United homepage:  link here

Internet Movie Database The Obama Effect entry:  link here

Wiki article on Hillary the Movie:  link here

IMDb Hillary: The Movie entry:  link here

Opinion article on the movie from Glenn Beck’s The Blaze site:   link here

 

Articles condemning the Citizens United Ruling

From The Moderate Voice (chuckle):  The Insidiousness Of Citizens United & The Vampire Elite: Report From 20 Paws Ranch ”In one fell swoop, the court’s conservative activists put a stake through the heart of our most cherished civil right — freedom of speech — in a ruling that conflated spending with speech and was easily the most twisted in 150 years. In doing so these justices tacitly acknowledged what I and other clear-eyed observers of of our society have come to understand: America is now ruled by a corporatocracy that in some respects is even more powerful than the federal government, and at its head is a vampire elite represented by Mitt Romneys who thanks to Citizens United can use corporations and so-called Super PACs to buy elections.”  

From the NYT: Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit   Notice the headline omits any reference to unions.  

From the NYT op/ed page: When Other Voices Are Drowned Out

The articles note their fear that corporate money will be used to support candidates who will buy elections.  Oddly, that fear seems to only apply to GOP candidates.  Do recall that Obama affirmed he would accept federal campaign funding… until he didn’t.  Keep in mind Obama raised more money than any candidate in history.  Keep in mind that Obama has attended more fund raising events than the previous two two-term Presidents combined etc etc.  Where is the outrage at his use of PACs, record breaking fund raising pace etc?  The author’s fear would seem to follow the general theme, Republicans must be silenced or they’ll raise too much money and beat Obama.  That Obama has been the world heavy weight campaign fund raiser is perfectly fine, and so is the corporate release of this pro-Obama movie.  So much for principles huh?

 

**Thanks to Bob K for pointing out this movie to me!

July 13, 2012

Global Warming Zealots in the Press

Filed under: AGW,Anthropogenic Global Warming,Global Warming — Obtuse Observer @ 1:31 pm

A recent conference call with global warming scientists was reported in the press blaming the summer’s hot weather and fires on global warming.  Except that’s not what the scientists told the reporter.  When the press can be relied upon to lie to us about global warming  and when the scientists have been shown time and time again to have fudged data, mislead and lied it becomes reasonable to hold strong doubts as to their theories.

 

Heritage Blog piece in the issue

 

Scientists Blame Global Warming for Heat Wave, But Fail to Back It Up

Michael Sandoval

July 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm

 

Global-warming alarmists have reemerged with a vengeance following the recent heat wave featuring record temperatures across the nation and dozens of wildfires throughout the West. But how much has global warming contributed?

At least two climate change scientists refused to identify any possible threshold, with one declaring, “I honestly don’t think you can really put a number right on it.”

Climate Communication, a non-profit science outreach organization funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the ClimateWorks Foundation and dedicated to the study of “global environmental change,” hosted a conference call with reporters on June 28 to coincide with the release its newest publication, “Heat Waves and Climate Change.”

When pressed by Associated Press science reporter Seth Borenstein on the connection between global warming to recent events, Dr. Michael Oppenheimer and Dr. Steven Running, two of the panelists showcased by Climate Communication, rejected the line of questioning, refusing to offer any estimate.

“I won’t do it,” said Oppenheimer.

Running told Borenstein that to offer such an estimate is “probably really dangerous for us,” instead clarifying that more analysis and “statistical rigor” would need to be applied before the conclusions were sent out “into the public arena.”

Susan Hassol, the moderator for the call, appeared to chastise Borenstein when he pursued the line of questioning, offering to “make it easier” by saying whether or not global warming accounted for more or less than 50 percent to the current situation.

According to Hassol, the question from Borenstein was not “well-posed,” and stated that even the types of modeling necessary to determine attribution “are not very good” at providing that conclusion.

Borenstein bristled at Hassol’s comments.

“I understand, I’ve been covering this for 20 years, I understand. I don’t need a lecture, thank you very much,” responded Borenstein.

Borenstein’s most recent AP story was titled, “This US summer is ‘what global warming looks like,’” dated July 3, five days after the conference call.

In the story, Borenstein, by way of exposition, wrote:

If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.

Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.

These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.

Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn’t caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.

Borenstein also quoted Oppenheimer’s observations about the recent weather events.

“What we’re seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like. It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this kind of environmental disasters,” said Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer’s colleagues in story agreed.

“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level. The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about,” said one professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences.

Another simply declared that it’s “I told-you-so time.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) revealed the contents of the conference call during a speech on the Senate floor earlier today.

AP Reporter Seth Borenstein: Let me try and put you more on the spot, Mike and Steve: I know there’s no attribution – you haven’t done attribution studies, but if you ballparked it right now and had to put a percentage number on this, on the percentage that the heat wave, the percentage of blame you can put on anthropogenic climate change, on this current heat wave, and on the fires, what percentage would the two of you use?

Dr. Michael Oppenheimer: Come on, I’m not going to answer that. Yes I will answer it, and my answer is: I won’t do it. You know, we have to do these things carefully, because if you don’t, you’re going to end up with bogus information out there. People will start disbelieving because you’ll be more wrong, more often. This is not the kind of thing I want to do off the top of my head. Nor do I think it can be done, you know, convincingly, without really taking – doing careful analysis, so I’ll pass on this one and see if Steve has a different view.

Dr. Steven Running: Well, I already got way too hypothetical in my last answer. Yeah, it’s… it’s probably really dangerous for us to just lob out a number. I – We could certainly lob out some guess, but it wouldn’t be based on the kind of analysis and statistical rigor that we want to put out into the public arena.

Seth Borenstein: Okay let’s make it easier. 50% line…how about 50% line: Is it more than 50%, do you think, or less? Just, you know, on one end. More or less?

Susan Hassol, Moderator for the Climate Communication conference call: Seth, most of the scientists I talk to say it’s a contributing factor and that’s what we can say and that it’s really not even really a well-posed question, to ask for a percentage, because it just – what you’re asking really is for a model to determine the chances of this happening without climate change or with climate change and models are not very good at that.

Seth Borenstein: I understand, I’ve been covering this for 20 years, I understand. I don’t need a lecture, thank you very much. What I’m asking for is when the fingerprint – when the attribution studies are done, two or three years later, it’s already beyond people’s memory. I’m just looking for whether you could say this is – global warming was the biggest factor, more than 50 – most of the factor, you know, either more or less than 50%…

Dr. Michael Oppenheimer: I honestly don’t think you can really put a number right on it. What I honestly think is global warming has in general made this part – that part of the world – warmer and drier than it otherwise would be, and that makes it fertile ground for fire events like the one we’re seeing. So did global warming contribute? Yes. Can I really make any sort of estimate – numerical estimate- about how much? Not really sitting here on a telephone at my desk, and maybe not even if I had six months.

July 2, 2012

Chicago Gun Buy Back

Filed under: Chicago,Gun Control,NRA — Obtuse Observer @ 6:08 pm

As usually happens the gun buy back program got lots and lots of useless metal off the street.  The NRA found a way to expose the silliness of such failed programs and use it to promote gun safety by collecting piles of old guns (including BB guns) turning them in and using the $6240 to help fund an NRA shooting camp.

Article:

By Isolde Raftery, msnbc.com

Chicago’s firearm buyback program, titled “Don’t kill a dream, save a life,” aims to get dangerous weapons off the street. But a pro-gun rights group gleefully says it used the program to turn in “non-firing junk” to raise money for a National Rifle Association youth shooting camp.

Guns Save Life, based in Champaign, Ill., three hours south of Chicago, turned in dozens of guns and BB guns it had collected – “rusty scrap metal,” the group called the load – taking home $6,240.

Of the 5,500 guns turned in on June 23, 60 came from Guns Save Life.

The Chicago Police Department program pays $100 for every gun and $10 every BB gun, air gun or replica, no questions asked. The money is given in the form of a Visa debit card.

“We are redirecting funds from people who would work against the private ownership of firearms to help introduce the next generation to shooting safely and responsibly,” John Boch, head of Guns Save Life, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Boch said the money will go toward paying for ammunition for the youth camp.

Police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton was not amused, according to the Sun-Times.

“It’s unfortunate that this group is abusing a program intended to increase the safety of our communities,” Stratton said.

June 30, 2012

It’s Not a Tax….errmm

Filed under: Uncategorized — Obtuse Observer @ 1:34 pm

A collection of affirmations declaing ObamaCare is not a tax by administration officials.

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June 28, 2012

Obamacare Upheld

Filed under: Obamacare — Obtuse Observer @ 10:02 am

This is all preliminary and based on early reports.  However, as I understand it the individual mandate was upheld under the taxing authority of Congress but denied under the authority of the Interstate Commerce Clause.  Constitutionally I have no problem with the ruling, Congress can use its tax authority to accomplish this policy goal. 

However, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, President Obama etc etc etc argued that the mandate wasn’t a tax… until that was the only reed left to cling to.  I think the Court said that Congress and the President can lie (see video) through their teeth to the people as long as they tell the truth to the court (leaglly, I think they can… and did). 

This will be interesting to see how it plays out.  Will this help or hurt President Obama?  A very real potential problem in the category of unintended consequences may be that lots of people will actually lose their employer provided insurance when employers find it cheaper to pay the tax than pay the insurance premiums.  Do think most employers will do that?  No.  But a small percentage will result in a lot of people and their families without insurance.

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So, first, Obama’s car insurance analogy falls flat.  One can choose not to drive or own a car.  One cannot opt out of the mandate unless given a waiver by the President.  Secondly, apparently Obama meant to say that Stephanopolous was exactly right…  this is a tax.

 

Edit:  The ruling as intersting implications for federal power that I hadn’t really considered before.  The federal government can regulate behavior through the tax code.  As long as the regulated behavior meets the rational basis test for nearly everthing excepting fundamental rights (which would require strict scrutiny).

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