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Monthly Archives: June 2008

The Second Amendment Means Exactly What it Says

Thus says the Supreme Court. Of course, logical people knew that all along. You can read the opinion and commentary at scotusblog if you’re interested. We’ll definitely be reading the entire ruling to get all the subtleties (it takes time to analyze 157 pages of legal mumbo-jumbo with all the case citations). But get a flavor of the ruling from page 1 (of the 157 page ruling):

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

Logical people knew when part of the Bill of Rights reads “the people”, it meant the people. To argue otherwise, was, well, absurd. And it’s time SCOTUS cleared up that misunderstanding. This is a major blow to those desiring to claim the Constitution is a “living document” to be plied and molded to whatever view you want (we’ve talked about the dangers of the living document theory before, so won’t rehash the entire discussion here).

To argue “the right of the people” means a collective right in one amendment, and “the right of the people” means the people elsewhere is bizarre. But if the Constitution is a “living document” you can torture the text to confess to anything.

But the interesting part is waiting for another flip-flop from Obama on this one:

Barack Obama has been spinning like a top, and watching his positions on, well, just about everything is like watching table-tennis matches on TiVo triple fast forward. FISA, public financing, and NAFTA have all been reversed in the last couple of weeks, and Obama’s not through yet. With the Heller decision on deck at the Supreme Court, his earlier comments on gun control have gone under the bus, too:

With the Supreme Court poised to rule on Washington, D.C.’s, gun ban, the Obama campaign is disavowing what it calls an “inartful” statement to the Chicago Tribune last year in which an unnamed aide characterized Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as believing that the DC ban was constitutional.

“That statement was obviously an inartful attempt to explain the Senator’s consistent position,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC News.

The statement which Burton describes as an inaccurate representation of the senator’s views was made to the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 20, 2007.

In a story entitled, “Court to Hear Gun Case,” the Chicago Tribune’s James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins wrote “… the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.”

Yeah, and his statements on NAFTA were “overheated” in typical politician fashion, according to Obama himself eight days ago. Now he wants to cast his campaign’s position statement as “inartful” and not accurate — more than seven months after making the statement. Team Obama declared the DC gun ban as “constitutional” on November 20, 2007, during a period of time when he was busy sucking up to the hard Left and their confiscatory inclinations on the Second Amendment.

Suddenly, with the general election looming, Obama discovers that his campaign’s statement was inartful. This seems rather puzzling, because before he ran for public office, Barack Obama was supposed to be a Constitutional law expert. One might expect the “inartful” excuse on wetlands reclamation or some other esoteric matter of public policy, but the Constitution is what he supposedly studied at Columbia and Harvard. One has to wonder whether Obama has any competence even in his own chosen field to have seven months go by before realizing that he got the Constitutional question wrong.

Obama makes John Kerry look the the rock of Gibraltar. He was for public financing before he was against it (“that’s not the public financing system I knew”), disavowing friends, FISA flips, NAFTA flops — he flip-flops on anything and everything. But that’s change (he’s going to need a bigger bus).

The wheels on the bus go round and round….

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Suicide Silliness in Oregon

This just in from the twilight zone:

EUGENE, Ore. — After weeks of bad news, things turned Barbara Wagner’s way this week.

Last month her lung cancer, in remission for about two years, was back. After her oncologist prescribed a cancer drug that could slow the cancer growth and extend her life, Wagner was notified that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn’t cover it.

It would cover comfort and care, including, if she chose, doctor-assisted suicide.

Treatment of advanced cancer meant to prolong life, or change the course of this disease, is not covered by the Oregon Health Plan, said the unsigned letter Wagner received from LIPA, the Eugene company that administers the plan in Lane County.

So the Oregon Health plan won’t cover … health, but if you want to kill yourself to reduce the state’s costs, THAT they’ll cover.

Bizarre. As someone else pointed out:

Oregon’s state-run health care plan won’t cover a new drug that could extend her life — which is, after all, the entire point of health insurance and health care — but will gladly pay the bill if she decides to stop costing the state more money. What’s next — a Logan’s Run option for “renewal” at 30?

Assisted suicide stupidly meets stupidly run government healthcare. Is it any wonder the system is a mess?

Solving the Gas Crisis

Obama and McCain have weighed in on spiraling gas prices. But is either proposal workable? If not, what can we do? Is the situation hopeless, or is a real solution possible? Let’s examine Obama’s and McCain’s proposals, see where they’re right, and where they’re wrong. Finally, we’ll consider a bipartisan solution everyone can get behind.

Obama and the left

The main proposal coming from the left is “windfall profits” taxes on the oil companies. How will this have any impact on prices? Do they not know price = cost + profit? If you increase costs (by taxes), you increase prices. How will raising taxes lower prices? Nobody asks, as Obama’s disciples blindly follow their messiah into the twilight zone (or for you Buzz Lightyear fans “to infinity and beyond”).

For example (we don’t have an exact number, so if you do, leave a comment), if the oil companies make about $.10/gallon (we’ve heard numbers in the range of 6-8 cents), if you eliminate profit (not just “windfall” profit), you’ve only impacted prices by about a dime. Whoope. The reality would be quite different as companies consider taxes additional cost — and who pays for rising costs?

In contrast (and a proposal Obama belittled as a cheap political stunt), how much in tax per gallon do you pay? How much of a reduction if taxes were suspended? That would be a real reduction, as taxes are just artificial additions; Federal tax alone is 50% higher than oil company profit:

Fuel taxes in the United States vary by state. For the first quarter of 2008, the average state gasoline tax is 28.6 cents per gallon, plus 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax making the total 47 cents per gallon (12.4 cents/L). For diesel, the average state tax is 29.2 cents per gallon plus an additional 24.4 cents per gallon federal tax making the total 53.6 cents per gallon (14.2 cents/L).

So the average tax is about five times the oil company profit, yet the left displays righteous indignation over the dime, and blissfully ignore the $.47/gallon in taxes. Of course (as Obama recently hinted), many on the left actually want higher gas prices, so the fact their proposals do nothing should not be surprising — they don’t have citizen’s best interests at heart. But they’re stuck in a tough situation, they want higher gas prices, but can’t come out and directly say it or citizens won’t vote for them.

Hmmm. Let’s see, a $.10 reduction is real progress, and $.47 reduction is a cheap political stunt. Yes sir, we need change. With great ideas (and logic) like this, how could anyone not be behind such vision? It’s change!

The other proposal floating around the left is nationalizing the oil industry. Absurd on its face, and of course does nothing to either increase supply or decrease demand. Completely useless. But it does serve the left’s socialist interests (and maybe that’s the point).

The basic economic laws are supply and demand. If demand is up and supply is down, prices go up. Conversely, if demand is down, and supply is up, prices go down. If you want to impact prices, you affect either supply or demand (or costs, like being more efficient, reducing taxes and red tape, etc). Cost + Profit = Price.

But if you propose to increase costs, while refusing to increase supply, you’ve got the perfect storm for spiraling prices. Nobody is that crazy to believe you can increase costs, decrease supply and actually have the result of lower prices. Nobody. The only conclusion we can draw is those that propose such laughable solutions are trying to pull a fast one on citizens. Cynical? Perhaps. But the alternative is to believe these people have an IQ in single digits and shouldn’t be driving a car, much less running the country.

But Obama’s big strength is the ability to influence his followers. If he actually abandons his laughable ideas, and works with real ideas to bring down prices (by decreasing costs and demand and increasing supply), his influence could be huge, and could be a key factor to implement real solutions. But first, he’s got to jettison the far-left group-think (next idea, wage and price controls, and wearing sweaters!), and fundamentally change his idea that he likes higher gas prices (as his current ideas neither increase supply, or decrease demand — at best, the far-left ideas do nothing, and at worst make the problem worse).

Obama and the far-left are simply clueless — increasing costs (via taxes or otherwise) doesn’t reduce prices (a problem compounded when you additionally refuse to increase supply). Nationalizing the oil industry won’t affect supply and demand either. Both ideas simply pander to the far-left who actually want higher gas prices, and socialized anything. But they’re beyond worthless to help the little guy on main street.

As usual, the little guy gets gored (pun intended).

McCain

McCain is better on the increase supply side (calling for more drilling), but still won’t call for an all-out, environmentally reasonable increase in drilling. He’s still wrong.

And he’s wrong on failing to call for a massive shift to alternative energy. Oil won’t last forever, and moving off to alternative energy should be a priority. Why isn’t it?

McCain’s ideas would be a short-term reduction in prices, but a long-term loser in overall strategy. It’s time to find, develop and implement other energy. Even Larry the Cable Guy knows — git ‘er done.

In the end (as usual), the little guy gets hosed (another pun intended) under McCain’s plan as well, it just takes a little longer than Obama’s non-plan.

The Solution

Politicians look out for themselves instead of citizens (shock! horror!) — all they’re concerned about is elections, not citizens. The far-left use increasing prices to move toward socialism and increase government power, and the far-right seek to grab all the money they can while plundering citizens. Neither looks out for the little guy on main street.

Both are wrong, and both lead to the little guy paying the bill for entirely avoidable mistakes, while self-serving politicians cater to their own needs by throwing the common citizen off the cliff — while having the chutzpah to ask for campaign contributions before they hit the rocky shore below.

Supply and demand — you need to work on both. In the short term, you can’t fix demand quickly as increasing MPG on cars and such takes a looooong time. So in the short term (1-5 years), increasing production is the best way to go. But long term, oil well eventually run out (when, of course, is quite debatable and irrelevant to the point anyway), so working to reduce long-term demand by developing other resources is mandatory. And the final wildcard is costs — increasing efficiency, reducing red tape and taxes can also affect real change (oops, used the magic word, that makes everything better! It’s chicken soup for politics … oh nevermind).

Supply, demand, costs. Come on, guys, it’s not rocket science (more on that later).

So what to do? Here’s a four-point plan (many ideas which come from somewhere else) to actually do something to solve the situation. It’s a bipartisan solution everyone should agree on — nobody gets everything they want, but the situation won’t improve by inaction either.

  1. Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less. We can do it safely, so the time is now to start developing what resources we have. Objections over hurting the environment are absurd — even Hurricane Katrina didn’t cause an ecological disaster to the Gulf oil platforms.

    Yes we can! … increase production, while protecting the environment.

  2. Formulate a real energy policy (no rhetoric allowed) — including biofuel, nuclear, coal, hydrogen, wind, and solar — all are on the table and workable in at least some situations. We must shift to non-gasoline powered cars, for example the Chevy Volt (due in 2010). Oil won’t last forever, stop acting like it will — the time to move is now, will inaction improve the situation in five years?

    Yes we can! … develop alternative energy.

  3. A Kennedy-esqe commitment to getting the job done. No excuses. Young people under 30 don’t remember that kind of national commitment, but if you recall Kennedy’s speech calling for a moon landing before 1970 you know how it rallied the cause, and produced results beyond what we thought technologically capable (in 1962 our space program was, well, nonexistent).

    We have the technology, what holds us back is red tape, and frankly, a lack of real desire to solve the situation for citizens (as groups exploit the crisis for their own end political goals, ignoring the plight of hard-working citizens). The President should (must) demand an end to bizarre regulations holding back both expanding exploration and new alternative technology, and do it now.

    Yes we can! … get the job done (after all economics isn’t rocket science).

  4. Accept no excuses — demand action.
    • When Obama says drilling won’t help, immediately ask follow-up questions — what will supply be like if we don’t act now to increase production? Do you think doing nothing will increase supply? And how will keeping supply low lower prices? Does economic theory no longer hold?
    • Ask McCain why he’s not calling for the government to lead in alternative energy usage and move away from oil. Even if what government develops has no commercial use at all, just getting the government off oil will increase supply and help lower prices and lengthen time we can use reserves. The Federal Government should immediately launch a Kennedy-esqe commitment to wean government off oil within 10 years.
    • Ask Obama how increasing costs (new taxes) can lower prices. Ask him to cite cases where increased costs and taxes have lowered prices. Don’t fall for empty rhetoric or fancy slogans, demand real answers.
    • This is a non-partisan issue. The left gets what they want (alternative energy, higher MPG standards, biofuel, etc), while the right gets increased drilling and production. Neither partisan side “wins” — the citizen does. Isn’t that what government is for?

It’s time to get it done. If you remember Kennedy and the state of our space program at the time he said it, you’re reminded what a dedicated group of people working toward a common goal can achieve — it can be done (we succeeded in rocket science, surely economics isn’t beyond grasp). But it takes more than empty partisian rhetoric and selfish self-serving politicians with catchy slogans saying one thing, but secretly working towards other goals.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward — and so will space.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win … [John F. Kennedy, 1962]

Yes we can.

Continue with Part IIMoving to the world that works.

Hillary Really Won!

No, we’re not talking about the popular vote or electoral votes, but the Clinton spirit lives on in the Democratic party; as the problems for Obama mount regarding his old-school choices in his VP selection committee, ABC news asked him about his choices. Here’s his response:

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller today asked Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, how he could “rail against Countrywide Financial Corp as an example of insiders and today’s economy while your VP search is headed by someone who got questionable loans from Countrywide?” … “And in addition,” Miller continued, “another person on that same VP search team – Eric Holder — has also been involved in the Marc Rich scandal.”

“It becomes sort of a, um, I mean, this is a game that can be played – everybody, you know, who is tangentially related to our campaign, I think, is going to have a whole host of relationships — I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters. I mean, at some point, you know, we just asked people to do their assignments.

“tangentially related”? These aren’t minor players — they’re advising Obama on who the second in command should be. If he has this much of a cavalier attitude on the VP selection, how is he going to handle anything else?

So Obama does his typical “ignore this lapse in judgment” and just asks people to move on. But in a campaign where he said he would change and clean up Washington, isn’t this fair game? After all, Obama made it an issue.

But the real funny part is what he said next, claiming his selection committee is really working for someone else.

“So this — you know, these aren’t folks who are working for me,”

A perfectly Clintonian answer — it looks like Hillary really did win, at least in spirit as the double-talk coming out of Obama grows each day.

Obama Adds Washington Insiders to Staff – Change is Gone

What a difference a few days makes. Obama preached “change” (and people swooned) during the primary, and then does a flip-flop after securing the nomination and gets old Washington insiders to add to his staff. It’s just standard peer group shift.

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama named a three-person team including Caroline Kennedy to lead his search for a running mate Wednesday while expressing confidence that the Democratic Party would soon unify after a bruising battle for the presidential nomination.

Campaign officials said Kennedy, who is the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, as well as former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and longtime Washington insider Jim Johnson have already begun compiling information on potential running mates. They disclosed no names.

Holder is a former federal prosecutor and District of Columbia Superior Court judge who held the No. 2 job at the Justice Department under President Clinton.

Johnson is widely known among Democrats for having helped previous candidates, including John Kerry four years ago, sift through vice presidential possibilities. He is a former chief executive officer for the mortgage lender Fannie Mae.

A Kennedy, Clinton staffer, and John Kerry member. Some change — Obama is just more of the same old uber-left politics, wrapped in “change” rhetoric (and no experience).

Of course, you should remember Mr. Holder from the Clinton Administration:

On his first day as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama has made his first clear, serious mistake: He named Eric Holder as one of three people charged with vice-presidential vetting.

As deputy attorney general, Holder was the key person who made the pardon of Marc Rich possible in the final hours of the Clinton presidency …

The primary is over, so here comes the peer-group shift and flip-flops. Be prepared. He’s already flipped on Iran — when he needed to appeal to the far-left, he had quite a different tone than today.

FLIP (far-left strategy for the primary):

During a debate last summer, he said he would be willing to meet with Iranian leaders and other American adversaries “without preconditions” during the first year of his presidency.

FLOP (general election strategy completely opposite from the primary strategy):

[A]s president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing if and only if it can advance the interest of the United States. That is my position. I want to be absolutely clear.”

We’re absolutely clear — it’s quite different than what he said earlier as the flip-flops begin for political expediency.

In other news, Obama was selected, not elected. For all the complaining the far-left did about Bush-Gore and the popular vote, Obama didn’t get a majority of the vote, and (depending on how you count MI/FL) didn’t even win the popular vote. But now that their guy won, the far-left isn’t saying a peep about the popular vote (which Hillary won).

For her part, at least Hillary is consistent with the position Democrats laid out in Bush/Gore claiming the popular vote is what matters (see the HBO movie “Recount” for the far-left perspective), and elections should be decided on that (she’s wrong now, just as the far-left was in Bush/Gore when they used the argument, but give her credit for being consistent, something her pals on the far-left aren’t as they seek to change the rules to suit their desired outcome).

Another uber-left flip-flop — we guess that’s the change they’re referring to — the popular vote was critical in Bush/Gore, but irrelevant to Obama/Hillary. Sigh. All this shifting ideas makes our head hurt — whatever happened to following the rules? Oh yeah … CHANGE.

Obama’s “change” was nothing but political maneuvering to garner votes (and cover a lack of experience) — and it worked as the change theme was a major issue in the campaign (but then, we’re still waiting for what change means, but as long as people swoon, why bother with details?); people swooning over change is as bad as giving your computer password for a piece of chocolate.

If you believe Obama is “change”, we’ve got a bridge for sale; he’s the same old recycled uber-left candidate with the same old far-left views. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Nothing to see here, move along.