Saturday, June 28, 2008

 

Open Thread

Given the big issue of the week, if you must shoot off your mouth, please keep your comments to a high caliber.

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Getting gas

I was recently asked what I would do to solve our gas price situation. My solution is to remove the government from the equation.

First, I would enact the
FairTax. Granted, this is a more all-encompassing solution to other problems in our over-taxed society, but it would have a marvelous impact on the oil industry. Without burdensome corporate taxes on oil manufacturing, the oil industry would have more funds for exploration, drilling, and refining. On a side note, it would also place the tax burden where the environmentalists claim to want it: on consumption, at the retail level.

Second, I would open ALL federal lands and coastal areas for drilling, with the only exception being historic landmarks and locations with buildings on them. Oil companies would bid on the exploration and drilling leases as they do now.

Third, I would end all federal subsidies for ethanol production. It is a waste of money and energy, that is only creating a food crisis. In addition, it would remove a big disincentive from the oil industry: One of their main excuses for not building more refineries has been the amount of money the government has poured into alternative energy.

Fourth, ease the environmental restrictions on construction of oil wells and refineries. Of course, the oil companies will still have to deal with localities where they build these structures, but at least the federal government will be less of a factor. Specifically, I would eliminate any federal restrictions based on threats to wildlife. Sorry polar bears, but my tank of gas is MORE important than your existance. If you can't survive an oil well being built, then you don't deserve to live.

Fifth, we need significantly more nuclear power plants in this country, therefore public utilities should enjoy the same benefits mentioned above as the oil industry. What does this have to do with oil? Simply put, most of the alternatives to oil will require large amounts of energy to implement, such as
hydrogen power. Even if we don't implement these alternatives in the area of transportation, we need more and cleaner power as our routine energy consumption increases.

With all these carrots, if the oil industry can't find a way to bring prices down, THEN government intervention would be necessary. However, I don't think it will come to that. Most of these proposals should lead to immediate relief at the pumps, with future prices dropping even further.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

 

Stickin' To Our Guns

Illness prevented me from weighing in on the big SCOTUS decision yesterday.

No surprise, I thought the Court got it right. What was most surprising -- for those who read into the tea leaves of innner-Court politics -- was that Antonin Scalia wrote the majority decision. Usually, in a case this big, the Chief Justice opts to write the decision. Given that Scalia is, arguably, the most conservatively doctrinaire justice, it suggests John Roberts was sending some sort of signal by letting Scalia carve out the fine lines of the Second Amendment.

Indeed, from a political standpoint, I would argue that ironically it gives liberals strong rhetorical language on which to craft gun regulations:
Despite the decision’s enormous symbolic significance, it was far from clear that it actually posed much of a threat to the most common gun regulations. Justice Scalia’s opinion applied explicitly just to “the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home,” and it had a number of significant qualifications.
“Nothing in our opinion,” he said, “should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
Indeed, Obama immediately jumped on this -- and who was saying it:
I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.
So, while this is definitely a win for the concept of the individual right to gun ownership, it's not quite the across-the-board "win" many conservatives might think it to be.

Of course, the state-to-state debate --
particularly in New York -- will provide much, ahem, ammo for lawyers and pundits for some time to come.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

 

Left-Wing Racism...

...thy name is Ralph Nader:
"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American," Nader said. "Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."

The Obama campaign had only a brief response, calling the remarks disappointing.

Asked to clarify whether he thought Obama does try to "talk white," Nader said: "Of course.

"I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law," Nader said. "Haven't heard a thing."
The real interesting thing about Obama running is that just by being himself, he has managed to draw out into the light the different strains of racism that has always implicitly hovered around the Democratic Party and the Left in general.

During the primary, Hillary and Bill Clinton demonstrated how, when backed into a corner, white Democrats will happily use racial symbols and rhetoric as wedges -- dividing one section of the party with another. Now, Nader demonstrates the underlying paternalistic racism that is part of the far-left world-view: "The
number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas..." (Emphasis added.)

Nader presumes to tell a black person what that black person is supposed to be talking about.

The "plight of the poor" MUST be addressed.

If such a candidate isn't doing that, he is "talking white."

Nader is, in so many words, saying that Obama "doesn't know his place" as a black candidate. Black candidates have certain issues that they must focus on before any others.

Absolutely breath-taking.

The Obama campaign is staying away from this. But, given how he last week took out a preemptive strike against Republicans -- suggesting criticism of his youth or inexperience was actually code for race -- let's hear him call out this repugnant left-wing racism.

It would also be interesting to hear from other Democrats about these comments. Or how about Michael Moore -- who voted for Nader in 2000, a decision he now says he regrets. It would be nice for those on the left to look in the mirror and confront their inner racist.

UPDATE: Al Sharpton writes Nader:
Dear Ralph:

As you know I've always respected your views. I hosted you at National Action Network's House of Justice in 2000, and as you recall I recently had you on my syndicated national radio show. However I find your reported comments on Senator Obama most troubling. We should not have a divisive political season when most Americans are trying to solve our racial divide, not reinforce them, we can't afford to play on old wounds for political gain. I don't know how one "talks black or white." There are clearly different styles and speech cadences in every community. Those of us that are black have always appreciated our diversity of gifts, talent, and style for your information. Likewise, as this campaign has unfolded Senator Obama has discussed the issues you have raised in a very detailed and extensive manner that many are convinced will help all Americans, including black Americans, which is why I have found most civil rights leaders black and white are supporting his campaign on the its merits. We are not uncritical and unthinking people that just go along without concern for the issues which we have given our lives. We also do not want to see the kind of rhetoric pollute the political discussion that will lead to a repeat of 2000 and return the country to the polarization and hot rhetoric of the past. Your comments are beneath the respect many have had for you and more importantly below the level of political discourse we need at this point in history. Those of us that deal with real people in real pain in the black community every day need real answers and real change and that is more important than the volume or style in which it is presented.


Yours in Progress,


Reverend Al Sharpton

President of National Action Network

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Monday, June 23, 2008

 

George Carlin, R.I.P.

Farewell to the original "class clown." Part of that great 1970s generation of comics, including Richard Pryor, that took what Lenny Bruce initiated and pushed it into the mainstream.

A true original.

Here's one version of
his most famous bit (WARNING: contains words not usually bandied around on this blog):

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Your United Nations In Action (Inaction)

So, following orchestrated intimidation and terror from the Robert Mugabe government, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday pulled out of this Friday's scheduled run-off. Not content with that, Mugabe's thugs raided the opposition party headquarters early this morning. Tsvangirai is now urging world observers to demand an official postponement of the election.

None of this is coming out of the blue. Ever since the first round of the election -- nearly three months ago! -- with all of the official bureaucratic powers under his belt, Mugabe wasn't able to win. Indeed, the "official" tally had him coming in "second" -- but close enough to "force" a run-off. And, thus, Mugabe has used the long time between the two rounds to ratchet up the violence, detained Tsvangirai multiple times and blocked foreign aid from reaching starving citizens.

All through this, the United Nations has responded by doing...basically nothing, except complain about what has been happening.

In fact, not even the detaining of US and UN diplomats exploring rural areas where Mugabe's forces have been inflicting their reign of terror was enough to get the UN to denounce what was happening in Zimbabwe. Instead, Russia and South Africa have been allowed to block any action.

In short, just as the UN has allowed the Darfur tragedy to proceed inexorably apace for years, the hopes of Zimbabweans for basic food staples, let alone democracy, have now been dashed by a thuggish dictator -- as the UN again twiddles its thumbs.

Sad.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

 

All the "Fit" that's news to print

My wife's old Grand Caravan developed an oil leak that was worth more than the vehicle itself to fix, so I broke down and bought her a new car: the Honda Fit (picture from Cardata.com):


Picture the above car in a dark purple (they called it "blackberry") and that is what my wife's car looks like.

I have to be honest: This is the most fun car I have ever driven. It has a peppy 4-cylinder engine, and turns on a dime (I drove my wife crazy making u-turns at high speeds). But it has one feature which I have never even heard of on a car, which surprises me that Honda does not advertise it more: It has an automatic transmission with an extra "gear" which allows you to upshift and downshift gears from buttons on your steering wheel. What a joy it is to be able to shift gears without having to time the pressing of the clutch!

Did I mention the Ipod auxiliary connection to the stereo?

But now to the practical side: Honda makes the safest and most reliable cars on the road, period. I can feel good about my family being in this car. Also, the gas mileage is SWEET: 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway (with up to 40 mpg highway possible). Not many cars can top that for the price: $18k, fully loaded.

I know I sound like an ad, but here is the downside: There is not much negotiating with a Honda dealer. Their reputation is TOO good. They know if you don't buy it, someone else will. The only haggling to be done is over the value of your trade-in.

The other downside: My wife won't let me drive it.

On the bright side, this was her first new car, so she was giddy as a schoolgirl. Anything that makes the wife that happy is a good thing.

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