Saturday, June 25, 2011

Slight of Hand: Energy Style

The President announced that he'll release 30 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve.

Why?  If you ask the administration, then it's in response to the "crisis" in Libya (have you started to get the feeling that we are the ones causing the crisis?) and reductions in production worldwide.

Hmmm..30 million barrels. Sounds like a lot, but let's add a little perspective.  We use 20 million barrels of oil a day for our gasoline production.  Wow, a day and a half worth of oil!  Awesome!  Not really.

So how big of an effect will this "release" cause?  Not much.  What would be more beneficial is if we lifted regulations on the oil industry for exploration and issue new permits.  Politically, though, that will not happen in this administration.  Even though those who protest new exploration of oil drive to their protests in oil consuming vehicles, warm their house with oil consuming machines, and turn on lights with electricity produced by oil/coal consuming power plants, we just can't look for more oil.  For the children, you know.

So, what's the real reason?  Poll numbers.  The President's poll numbers are sliding, and the "image" of the release of our strategic reserve is somehow supposed to help his numbers on this issue.  Of course, only help with those people who think that a 30 million barrel release would actually do anything for gasoline prices.

With politics, it's all about image.  Too bad, because the government could help with supply issues by easing regulations.  Oil prices are a simple supply and demand issue.  Demand goes high, supply adjusts...and so does the price.  Increase the supply, and the price will fall.  This release of oil is a slight of hand--it does nothing for long-term oil production for the world market. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Best Job in the World

Happy Father's Day!  Grilling hot dogs, swimming, and bedtime stories to my daughter...hope your day was as perfect as mine!

"What a father says to his children is not heard by the world, but it will be heard for posterity." -Richter

"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation, has a fifty percent chance of being right." -Bill Cosby

"Never raise your hand to your kids.  It leaves your groin unprotected." -Red Buttons

Friday, June 17, 2011

Um, I'll Pass On That, Thank You

I think I'll take the protein shake instead.

There are some truly strange people in the world.  This is their idea to solving a food shortage?

Disturbing.  But, a little funny, too.  Enjoy!  Pass the ketchup.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Easy Target

Since January 17th, 1961, the "military industrial complex" has been the favorite punching bag of anyone who wishes to rant against an entity that can not retort.

President Eisenhower (one of my favorite figures in American history), gave his farewell address and warned "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.  We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

Bravo.  I agree in total.  Any process which endangers our liberties and democratic processes must be confronted at every chance.

Yet, often when people invoke the "military industrial complex", they are not referring to undemocratic processes.  They are often referring to outcomes of democratic processes that they don't agree with.

And what is the "military industrial complex"?  Good question.  It's undefinable.  This is the weakness of President Eisenhower's wording.  Any rational person understands his..."point".  But what his "point" lacks is a definable clarity.  Who is the industrial complex?  Who is the CEO?  Who are the shareholders?  Who are the representatives?  Who are the lien holders?  Who is the the Ombudsman?  

The answer--unless you more clearly define "military industrial complex"-- is there are no answers to the above questions.

So, for those who loosely use the term "military industrial complex" to argue against whatever point they are trying to make, here's a recommendation: quit using a term that is easy to use because there is no entity who can defend themselves against your argument.  The term is so general that it applies to no one.  If you wish to argue your point with the intention of not giving the other side a chance to defend themselves and tell you why they think you are wrong...then that makes you an intellectual coward.

In short, no real point to this post, other than I wish people would make their arguments more concise, and allow those who work hard for their country and the freedom that you enjoy, an opportunity to defend their actions, decisions, and well, purchases.  While you may use the term "military industrial complex" as a punch line, there are also things you owe your freedom to because of that term.  Second recommendation:  think about what it would mean to remove the US military industrial complex.  Do you honestly believe you and your loved ones would be better off for it?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Justice Prevails

Boy, that's a headline worth noting these days.  Over at Neptunus Lex, Lex provides some great commentary on the Wisconsin supreme court's decision in regards to collective bargaining legislation.

Quote: "Irrespective on where you come down on the issue of public sector unions and collective bargaining...this is a welcome return to the notion of constitutionalism.  It's the role of legislatures to represent the will of the people, and the role of the people  to hold their legislatures accountable for their actions...Judges serve to interpret the constitutionality of legislation, not substitute their personal preferences for the peoples' expressed will."

BRAVO!!  As always, Lex says it well.  Read it all when you get a chance.

The system of government we live under works because we give certain powers to some and not to others.  When a branch of government usurps power, of which is not given by the people, it becomes harder and harder to take that power away...if not confronted.  The judicial branch is an odd one, indeed.  It is hard to confront that branch when they usurp power.  We the People have a very hard time making our voices heard in that arena, and I find that unsettling.  Some may say that politics should not enter the judicial arena through the election process.  But what happens when the judges bring in politics themselves?  What say do we have then?

I do not pretend to have the answer, but I do pose this question:  "If the judicial branch can void the will of the People, and if the judicial branch is not answerable to the People, who then holds the judicial branch accountable?"

There are very simple retorts to this question.  Those are not the ones you should think hard about. 

Find 25 Minutes...

...and watch this video.

I wish my commencement speech had been as memorable.  Mine was given by Vice President Gore, and I don't remember a thing from it.  Other than when it was over, it was good.

Some quotes of note:
"There are few things more liberating, in your life, as having your worst fear realized."

"It is our failure, to become our perceived ideal, that ultimately defines us, and makes us unique."

"Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen."

All from a comedian.  Spend 25 minutes laughing, thinking, and being better off for it.

I am.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fun With Video

I saw this video a while back, but have recently had a chance to see it again.  It's a classic.  Summation: Congressman Johnson believes that any extra US military personnel will tip over the island of Guam.  You heard me right...tip over the island.  Speaking is Commander, US Pacific Command, Admiral Willard.  How he kept a straight face eludes me.  Enjoy.

Second up, Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  Regular readers of this blog may think I'm too hard on Congress for enacting socialist legislation.  Well, there is a reason, you know.

Finally, what's the "functional" equivalent of not passing a budget?  Bombing civilians, of course.

Ah, YouTube.  Gotta love it.  Or, if you're a politician, you probably hate it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

She's No Economist

Or, she's a shameless politician.  Or both!

The new DNC Chair"person", believes the economy has "turned around"...specifically, the President has "turned the economy around."

Below video is scary.  I'm not sure whether she actually believes herself, or whether she believes the American people believe her.  Either way, she's so far out in left field, it's truly amazing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Time Has Come

This past week, the market, in my opinion, is finally starting to face reality.

In the last week, the DOW has fallen about 500 points, approximately 4%.  That's a pretty decent shift in a week's time, especially since it has been consistently negative.

Well, remember way back when I mentioned that the Fed will stop buying US bonds?  Some may remember that as "Quantitative Easing 2".  In layman's terms, it's called the second bailout of the US economy.

Fellow party animals, the hangover is about to occur.  The Fed has announced the final bond purchases today.  The first round of bond purchases by the Fed was about $300 billion.  The second round $600 billion.  Lord Keynes would approve.  QE2 will be in the rear view mirror.

Well, time to see how the medicine worked.  My opinion?  The medicine was snake oil.  We're getting ready to see the big adjustment...the reality...very soon.  It will be interesting to see how low the market goes.  

And how expensive life is going to get.

Part of me says, about time.  Time to face reality and let Professor Hayek improve the economy.

But, it's going to be a bumpy road.  Hope the economy has good shocks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And One More Thing...

I thought this was too good to just paste in an update.  See below or follow this link to my original post.

Here's the mission statement of the Dept. of Education's Office of Inspector General:
"To promote the efficiency, effectiveness, and integrity of the Dept.'s programs and operations, we conduct independent and objective audits, investigations, inspections, and other activities."

Other activities indeed.  Looking at the "Statutory Law Enforcement Authority" document, I guess here's how the OIG "promotes efficiency."
  • Electronic Surveillance
  • Undercover Investigative Operations
  • Operations on "Especially Sensitive Targets"
  • Consensual Monitoring
I'm not making this stuff up.  Here's the link to their webpage and here's the link to the "authority" document.

Add to that, apparently, breaking down doors to protect us all from those people committing student loan fraud.  Scary people, they are.

I think it's safe to say this organization has some explaining to do.  Congress?  Are you interested?  The whole, check and balance thing?

The Iron Boot of the Department of Education...What?

Until this morning, I had no idea the Department of Education had policing rights.  And furthermore, had the right to conduct S.W.A.T raids on people's houses!

Amazing...and scary.  When I first read this story, I thought it was from another country.  Summation:  Woman doesn't pay her student loans (or student aid fraud, depending on the news story).  Department of Education's "Inspector General's" SWAT team busts down a man's door at 6am (children in the house).  Police assault man (knee in the back while holding him down), cuff the man, and execute a search warrant....issued by Department of Education.  Woman is no longer living in this house.  Police leave.  Man left with broken door, violated rights, and children scared out of their mind (the children, ages 3, 7, and 11, were also detained in a police car).

Now, you might be saying, "I'm sure this is an isolated incident."  Well, according to their own spokesperson, they serve 30-35 of these warrants every year.

Local police were asked by these federal agents to provide one officer and one patrol car for a "police presence" when carrying out the warrant.

The local mayor and police chief said they had nothing to do with this.

Wow.  I guess there are two morals to the story.  First, pay your student loans and don't make anyone mad at the Department of Education.  Second, am I the only one who feels a little more uncomfortable about our government?  Is this what our Founding Fathers envisioned?  Does this sound like it's in the spirit of the Constitution?

I may be wrong.  But what's scary is I may be right.

Update:  Great article on Reason.  Well worth the read.

"...not local SWAT served the search warrant...OIG is a semi-independent branch of the US Department of Education that executes warrants for criminal offenses such as student aid fraud and embezzlement of federal aid..."

Well, thank goodness we're kicking down doors for this!!  You know, with all the violent and imminent threat embezzlers of student loans pose!  Good grief.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

365 Days...

...and a lot can change!  Another ring on the age tree.  Getting older doesn't make me happy or sad...just reflective.  I'm always amazed at what can happen withing the span of one year.  Sometimes you think time is just flying by...until you take an account of all that has happened.  The days are long and the weeks are short.

While I'm enjoying my velvet cake, take a quick account of your year.  What were you doing this time last year? Are you smarter?  Happier?  More experienced?  More grateful?

Time is precious.  Don't forget that it's not about going from Point A to Point B.  It's all that stuff in between that makes you laugh, cry, and stare up at the stars on a clear night and think...

"Life is amazing."

If you are wondering what it's all about, all I can say is "stop wondering and live."  There's a road to be traveled, there's a bottle of wine to be drunk, there's a mountain to climb, there's a sunrise to see, there's a laugh that makes your stomach hurt, there's a child's question that makes you smile, there's a touch that makes you get goosebumps, there's a scary movie to see, there's a tear of joy to shed.

And more.

If things have gotten in the way, just well is the greatest revenge.

365 days...before and after....











Well, time goes on.  Cheers!!

We're Running Out of Fossil Fuels.... about a million years.

What if everything you've been told so far about non-renewable energy sources was wrong?

What if, instead of being at the end of the fossil fuel days, we are only at the beginning?

What if "peak oil" will go down as one of the most inaccurate concepts of the 20th century?

What if fossil fuels actually reduce our reliance on foreign energy, give us an almost endless supply of energy, and reduce CO2 emissions?  Well, here you go.  Read this article.  Paradigm shift, indeed.

Unless, of course, you've invested in hundreds of windmills.  What a waste, Mr. Quixote.

Though they do look so lovely to the landscape....and to the wallets of people who sell snake oil.

"Picking Winners and Losers"

You see, economics is only part of the equation.  It seems those who propose Keynesian economics these days do so more with an non-economic agenda in mind.  John Keynes argued that actions by the government, specifically spending by the government, can stabilize "inefficient" private sector actions which destabilize the macro-economy.

I would attempt to describe more, but most normal people would (a) fall asleep, (b) get bored and move to another website, or (c) laugh hysterically at my true ignorance of economics even with months of formal economic training.

So, let's just skip that.  If you need an entertaining version, please click here.   

Yet, I'm beginning to realize that economics means less to more and more proponents of the theory.  I'm beginning to realize that this argued theory of economics is just a ruse for those who believe in government control over your life.

I'm currently living in California.  For such a "liberal" state, I'm aghast at the amount of people who want control over your life.  You see, it's not about "protection" it's about "control".  I used to think liberalism had to do with living more free from government intrusion.  That's not the case.  You see, current liberalism is defined as government intrusion to conform your actions.  If you would like to argue that conservatism is just the same, I would agree in part.  But from what I've seen, conservatism has less of this intrusion, so when having to decide, I go with less.  Libertarianism is looking good...but it's a new subject for me, so I'll defer my opinion on that one.  

So, where am I going?  As stated, Keynesian folks would like the government to dole out cash to various "unable too big politically detrimental to fail" industries/businesses.  But, I think there are far more people who would like to dole out a lot more money for social agendas and hide behind an economic theory rather than describe it what it is--socialism.  There's another group of folks who hide behind Lord Keynes, also.  There are people who aim for a more level class system, structured on more common ownership and production.  Those people who would like the government to dole out money so that later, the government can dictate the terms of production hide behind an economic theory rather than tell you who they really are--communists.  

Now, I don't use the term communist lightly.  I understand the implications. "Communism is a sociopolitical movement that aims for a classless and stateless society structured upon common ownership of the means of production, free access to articles of consumption, and the end of wage labor and private property in the means of production and real estate."  In other words, the government picks the winners and the government picks the losers.  All in your best interest, of course.  What's your best interest?  The government will decide that, too.

And it's just not economics were speaking of here.  It's the control of information by the government.  Recently, the Federal Communications Commission has been working with a "left-wing" group to control information flow over the internet.  You see, you are just a silly reader of internet stories.  You don't have the capability to decide what you should and should not read.  You may be influenced by information that doesn't fit with the government's desire for your "education".  Scary, huh?  Well, sadly, it's not just a story.  Whether it's internet control or economic control, you must be aware of the forces at work.

Because they are working hard to get control.