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I’d take Tea Party-types more seriously … August 31, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Obama, Politics.
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… if they every once in a while stopped their yammering about everything they don’t like in the world, everything they think is wrong with everybody but themselves and what all the government is doing that is communist and said — hey, this is a good thing and hey Mr. President, thanks for getting this done.

I’m talking about this:  Something that cuts through the accumulated sediment of decades of rules layered one on top of another in the interest of national security, many of which maybe made sense once but no longer do. The net effect will spark exports, reduce the trade deficit and — gasp — maybe allow some industries to expand output, requiring — double gasp — more workers.

Best said maybe by James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that advocates free enterprise and limited government.

“It really is a twofer,” Carafano said “It does stimulate exports and it does have security benefits.”

But it doesn’t stimulate random anger, doesn’t fit the “Obama-As-Socialist” narrative, so I’m not holding my breath waiting for Rush or Rupert Murdoch or even CNN to tell anyone about it.

And that is what’s  really wrong with the current political climate — it’s “all” or “nothing,” and that’s just propaganda that’ll get us nowhere no matter who is in charge.

Just what we need more of in D.C. … August 28, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Politics.
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… is this this kind of classy approach to winning over the hearts and minds of Americans.

We need men and women of character to tackle some huge problems — none of which lend themselves to solution by any one mind, any one philosophy or any one snap of the fingers.

Anyone approaching the task with the kind of mindset reflected in Mr. Miller’s Tweet, no matter who he directed it toward, should be sent back to his Mama for some remedial work.

Alaska has a lot more to offer and should expect a lot more from those who seek the privilege of representing its good people in our Congress.

But I’m not gonna put the pink slip on it August 28, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Justice, Musings, Politics.
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I guess I must take a look today at what all goes on with this, even though I have a very long list of things I’d rather do on a wonderful day, all blue sky beautious as it is and all. Almost a sin to peek, but even today’s wonderful highway won’t be enough to keep me from wondering on this cloddish collision.

I’m just going to pray that the sight of Abe staring down with his sad solemn eyes, the awesome white obelisk and the floaty, grainy image of Martin will lead Mr. Beck to a place he says he seeks today, a place of honor, a place of justice, a place of hope and building and great possibilities.

But more than any of all that, a place of basic faith — in us, our vision and the things that we will be if only we believe hard enough in us. A place where more than anything, our greatest enemy is a simple discouraging word uttered in anger sure to lead us first astray and then headlong into the shadows.

Perhaps Mr. Beck will be true to the words in the stone behind Mr. Lincoln, true to the character of the man who stood in that place so many years ago and matched a dream against all the bitter words, the burning hatreds and basest fears and willed us all to a better place, a still imperfect place a league nearer to the City on a Hill we stepped ashore to realize.

Perhaps he will be overcome as he glimpses this place and embraces the honor he speaks of seeking today.

Perhaps he will then turn to the microphone and speak with honor — and truth and dispense with the rancor, the anger, the accelerants spewed to titillate, incite and summon forces Abe and Martin and so many knew — but showed us how to resist with a much stronger calling.

Perhaps.

Sounds like Nixon’s plan in ’68 August 9, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Musings, Politics.
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I’d bounce you to this news story, but it’s easier to paste the whole maddening thing right here — and I despise the New York Post. Here it is:

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader John Boehner yesterday said Americans need to have an “adult conversation” about fixing Social Security and Medicare so the country doesn’t go broke — including possibly raising the retirement age to 70.
Boehner (R-Ohio) didn’t get too close to the so-called third rail of American politics — old-age benefits — but he wouldn’t rule out raising the retirement age somewhere down the road.
“There are a lot of options on how you solve these [problems], but I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He said everybody “knows these programs are unsustainable in their current form.”
A federal report last week predicted Medicare will start running out of money in 2029 and Social Security will go broke in 2037.

Now, the problem is real. There are many potential fixes to it. I, for one, would hope that the House Minority Leader would have some. I suspect he does, in addition to the notion he made a glancing pass at — push the retirement age to 70.

He and his Redlegs are pushing real hard to take over the Congress and vote in all kinds of “options” for these two matters and countless others, to hear them talk. Things like a healthcare bill they didn’t like, stricter laws regulating all the abusive behavior that ruined financial markets two years ago and triggered the housing crash and the biggest recession since 1929.  And who knows what else.

I say that because I hear nothing from Mr. Boehner and the other “leadership” in waiting. They don’t want to tell us what they would do. We’re all mad at the current manager for leaving the closer in too long, so let’s just leave it at that, they figure.

Mr. Boehner has all these options in his head, you see, but he doesn’t “want to put the cart before the horse.” 

You know — like tell voters what his plans are before he’s sitting high and mighty up on the Speaker of the House horse. Then he’ll feel real comfortable telling us what he and his buds are going to do.

There’s a lot to be fixed yet, and the Blues ain’t nothing to write home to Mama about lately.

But being one of the stupid still-angry chumps in the “cart,” I’d like to know exactly where the hell you plan to point that horse, Mr. Speaker.

Take the oil/coal barons off welfare first August 7, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Energy, Environment, Politics.
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Another myth that the deceivers continue to spout targets government subsidies or tax preferences enacted in recent years to boost investment in, and adoption of, renewable and “clean” energy such as solar, wind, wave or hamster power.

The critics say alternative energy should be required to “stand on its own” and compete with fossil fuels without “taxpayer” props. But this critique is built upon a fallacy — the assumption that fossil fuels “compete” in a pure, “free” market unaided by governments. Not true. Those fuel sources long have benefitted from massive subsidies, as Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports here, based on figures compiled from 2008 global expenditures by  the International Energy Agency. I wouldn’t qualify either source as communist. Here’s the nut:

Global subsidies for fossil fuels dwarf support given to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power and biofuels, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Governments last year gave $43 billion to $46 billion of support to renewable energy through tax credits, guaranteed electricity prices known as feed-in tariffs and alternative energy credits, the London-based research group said today in a statement. That compares with the $557 billion that the International Energy Agency last month said was spent to subsidize fossil fuels in 2008.

“One of the reasons the clean energy sector is starved of funding is because mainstream investors worry that renewable energy only works with direct government support,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance. “This analysis shows that the global direct subsidy for fossil fuels is around ten times the subsidy for renewables.”

There are scores of such subsidies layered into the U.S. tax code providing aid and succor to those who draw oil from underground reservoirs, transport it from one place to another, refine it and then either sell it or burn it to generate electricity.

Even more indirect “subsidy” is provided to this industry by extremely lax enforcement of clean air, clean water and safe workplace laws — measures that allow refineries to consistently exceed rules allegedly governing emissions of proven poisons into the air, suffering only hand-slap fines instead of requirements to invest in aged equipment to comply with LAWS;  measures requiring similar investment in underground coal mines to make them safe; or measures requiring remediation investment for mountaintop coal mining that fouls rivers and forests.

And that does not begin to tally the hidden subsidies within eminent domain powers granted to pipeline operators. 

I pass no judgment here on whether these privileges granted by government — hence by us — were sound policy or remain sound policy. They all do act to artificially reduce the cost of fossil fuels in the global economy, which may very well keep some fringe industry competitive, help shaky families afford winter heating, or keep some people on some payrolls.

I would weigh in with a judgment that aiding the fossil fuel producers with lax enforcement of long-existing clean air/water and workplace safety laws is wrong.

But my point is that current measly subsidies to aid alternative energy production are not tipping a previously even “playing field” in their direction. They are un-tipping in a very mild manner a playing field already heavily pitched by government subsidies in the favor of fossil fuels.

Part of the reason for doing that is to motivate investment in production of fuels and electricity from sources that will be around for as long as the Earth is around, unlike fossil fuels that are finite and will be increasingly costly as they become progressively more difficult to extract.

Part of the motivation also is to do that NOW, at a point in time when the numbers don’t add up in a way that naturally moves money toward this. The idea is to jump-start an industry that will be essential in 10-15-20 years, just as countless nations are doing in the hopes of one day being the leader in producing the science, the equipment and the juice.

We can do nothing as a nation in this regard and wake up in 10 years and find that China, or Germany, or Spain is the global leader in this realm — the Saudi Arabia of solar, wind and wave energy production.  Just as we allowed our electric battery science and production to leak to China, Korea and Japan  in the last decade because the margins were too small.

Does that seem wise? I think not.

So much of the opposition to alternative energy seems to me to stem from a knee-jerk, emotional, Red-Blue blindness rooted in whether people “believe” in global warming or not, or value environmental issues at all. Hard-core rejecters of warming trend science see anything to do with wind, sun, wave or geothermal as simply “lefty” politics based in a myth that will sap the economy, kill jobs and wimp everything up. Moonbat stuff.

And some of the fringe ideas go there — or come from there.

But if you are going to require “alternative energy” to stand solely on its own legs, you’d better apply the same reasoning to fossil fuels — zero out the subsidies, as disruptive as that would be.

At least argue against alternative subdsdies without the myth.

 

 

What is your plan for the future? August 7, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Politics.
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There are quite a few signs out there suggesting that all the noise that is drawing the microphones and the cameras is not necessarily carrying the day when people march into the voting booth and pull the curtain. The most recent evidence is this result in the GOP Tennessee governor’s primary.

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam took nearly half the vote in defeating U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp — he of the secessionist drift — and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, he of the belief that Islam is not a religion, rather a cult.

The same sort of non-radical result surfaced in the Kansas Senate shape-up and in the gubernatorial primaries in Oklahoma.

I think this is a good thing: What is loud may not be what is liked.

Those who offer us anger, contempt for others, and only slogans can draw a crowd to an auditorium, but will fail to win our trust as they seek to lead us.

The next step will be to demand a consistent reply on every single issue raised from now to November: What will you do?

Trickle Down isn’t working, sport August 3, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Greed, Politics.
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I’ve often found myself liking Newt Gingrich — when he’s out there just talking, pushing to press his point of view on how to go about solving a problem. His energy and refusal to fall back on the easy-out can be quite captivating, even though I often disagree with his landing zone.

But that all happens when the man isn’t wearing his six-shooters, when he’s not out there banging the drum for the GOP and all Red in the face — like in this little ditty with ABC News. I don’t like the Pit Bull Gingrich, though as a political observer I know there are few more dangerous.

When the man talks of Democrats as “job killers,” the option of raising marginal tax rates on the “job-creators” as “crazy” he is both effective — and a traitor to his own heart.

He — probably more than any figure within the Big Red Tent — has the tools, the energy and the True Believer credentials to lead. To forge an agenda, amass a cadre that could take the debate away from the slime pit to a place that might arrive at Tough Love steps we need to move forward.

Some of those things would whittle down a troubling deficit. Some of them would attempt to remove the monopoly barriers to free enterprise and competitive vitality that grow more dangerous here each day. Some of them would simply point a finger at all those “job creators” and ask why they sit on mounds of corporate cash reserves, why they squeeze and intimidate a workforce that pulled their ventures through the recession rather than add back just a handful of the ghosts, why they continue to seek every opportunity to take, when they owe?

We are so much better than this. So are you Mr. Speaker.

Let them eat (less) cake August 2, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Greed, Politics.
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We all should brace for a bigtime spittle eruption from the folks down in D.C. who view their job as an elected official as little more than to pose as a guardian of privilege. On deck is a fight over whether to extend a whole bunch of tax cuts enacted back in the good old days circa 2001 and 2003.

The Privilege Party will go to bat against the President’s plan to retain most of the reductions, but allow rate cuts to expire for people with incomes in excess of $200,000 or families making more than $250,000 a year. I found this Washington Post primer to be quite helpful, particularly as it addresses some of the myths the Privilege Party will soon begin to trot out. And the PP includes folks Red and Blue. Here’s the nut of what Obama and others of both stripes are targeting as a middle road:

The cuts lowered tax rates across the board on income, dividends and capital gains; eventually eliminated the estate tax; further lowered burdens on married couples, parents and the working poor; and increased tax credits for education and retirement savings. Obama’s proposal would extend most of these reductions, allowing only those for individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000 to expire.

I urge you to read through the whole thing and then wander around and try to vet any factual statements you wonder about and then tune in to some of the discussions going on out there on this question.

Because this is the first big choice on the table if you really want to start to whittle down that federal budget deficit. There is spending to trim, of course, much of it wheedled into the tax code and other repositories to subsidize folks like the oil industry by keeping the real costs of fossil fuels artificially low.

A thought I hope you keep in mind: These lower tax rates for capital gains, massive estates and the top 2 percent of wage earners have done nothing in the last 18 months to trigger lending to small business by the banks we bailed out, motivate investment, hiring or innovation by corporations now back in business with 20%-25% margins built on huge productivity gains squeezed out of a fearful labor force, or any type of  economy-building activity that I can see.

Perhaps a higher tax bill for the occupants of the Gravy Train right now would provide for our esteemed “private-sector leadership” what appears to be a very much needed kick in the ass.

Phyllis Diller with gams August 2, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings, Politics.
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There’s only so much you can say about this woman, who becomes every day more of a sad figure as she flits about the political landscape, adding a zinger line here, accepting a party favor there, and generally adding to the evidence that there is nothing she would not do for money — or applause.

She wouldn’t last a half-hour in most of the playgrounds we all frequented and her taunts and asides into the spitoon just all play to the basest in even the fringe. At least Pat Buchanan made you stop and think every once in a while.

This act just makes you wince and wish she wasn’t so photogenic so the cable guys would just lay off and let her go home and clean the fish.