Friday, June 27, 2008
Everything Feels Wrong
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Unfortunately, the Republicans and their nominee have not pushed hard enough on this. The case can still be made but I'm not sure McCain will. Obama's seems fine with high gas prices. This has hurt him among the small circle of acquaintances of mine who think highly of him but I'm not sure what the rest of the country thinks on that.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Answers for Mr. Hanson
"I don't quite understand why one party or the other doesn't campaign on delivering more energy to the American people to lower costs, keep the world price down, and money out of the hands of terrorists, and to address U.S. debt and the falling dollar."
"And why are Republicans, who voted in overwhelming numbers for off-shore drilling, ANWR, nuclear, shale, tar sands, liquid coal, etc. — and were opposed by Democrats on grounds of wanting to enrich energy companies — not appealing to the country....?"
Because Republicans did not nominate a Republican and because they are afraid of the MSM.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Wrigley Field is a Dump!
"What's wrong with saying I don't like this ballpark?" Guillen said. "You ask any player which one they like less and they might throw in some names. Ask me about it, and this is the one I pick.
"It's a museum. They like to come to Wrigley Field. I don't say people don't like to come here. I say Ozzie don't like to come here.
"But hey, you have to do what you have to do," Guillen added. "Wake up in the morning and go to Wrigley Field is not a good thing. But it's fun to play against them."
The Primitives - CRASH
I thought this was appropriate for the stock markets this week.
It's No Fun...
Thursday, June 19, 2008
RBS issues global stock and credit crash alert
The Royal Bank of Scotland has advised clients to brace for a full-fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months as inflation paralyses the major central banks.
"A very nasty period is soon to be upon us - be prepared," said Bob Janjuah, the bank's credit strategist.
A report by the bank's research team warns that the S&P 500 index of Wall Street equities is likely to fall by more than 300 points to around 1050 by September as "all the chickens come home to roost" from the excesses of the global boom, with contagion spreading across Europe and emerging markets.
Such a slide on world bourses would amount to one of the worst bear markets over the last century. [Emphasis added.]
Well, you can't say that you haven't been warned. I do not like it when the crash train gets to crowded. Otoh, these guys are pros who look at the fundamental condition of the world economy, as opposed to technical analysis which is my forte. If they are seeing the same thing then it just bolsters my thesis.
Update: The Fed and the ECB clash over interest rate policy, just like in 1987.
Labels: crash alert
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Firefox 3 is available for download
And remember if you don't use Firefox that could be a sign that you are stupid.
McCain Seeks to End Offshore Drilling Ban
You have to wonder how out of touch our politicians are that they don't realize how much high gas prices are squeezing Americans in the face of a housing bust and a recession. On that score John McCain has to be the worst, at least up until today. Nice to know he is not so politically brain dead that he would continue to oppose drilling off the coasts.
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama joined the criticism, calling the idea of lifting the ban the wrong answer to out-of-control energy prices. "John McCain's plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies," Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said.
The same approach? Have we been drilling in ANWR and off the coasts before and i missed it? I seem to remember the Democrats opposing drilling and now we are enjoying the fruits of their obstinacy. No this would be a new approach. Please God, let Obama keep mimicking the environmentalist talking points. At least he isn't going to the right of McCain on this issue which would probably end McCain's chance of winning. This is more proof that Hillary was right about Obama, he is too far left to be elected. He should know to move to the center. At the least Obama should be saying that he would consider more drilling. Someone is looking out for John McCain and the Republican party.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Could it get any worse?
I want to paint a picture for you so that you understand why I am so worried right now. The chart to the left is the Ten year U.S. treasuries which you can see is falling (yields rising) right now. What I don't have pictured is the Two year which is falling even faster. All of the squawking you have heard lately from the Fed about getting tough on inflation and raising rates. Well the market is doing it for them. In fact, the market almost always leads the Fed around rather than the common perception. If short term rates go up much more the Fed might be forced to act. More on that later.
It's later. This is the chart of the Euro and to my trained eye I can tell you that it looks like a market that is biding its time before it heads higher. This is the Fed's rock to the stock market hard place. The Fed fails to raise the Fed funds rate as the U.S. treasuries are rising and they risk the dollar going into free fall.
The stock market has been dropping quickly since the May 16th high which after a long volatile upwards correction is the perfect set up for a bearish trade. Of course any move above 12,500 will have us Bears scrambling to cover. This is the perfect set up for a crash but we have to keep going down quickly in order to make it work. So actually, this is the perfect set up for more volatility because the one scenario that is hard for me to imagine is stocks sitting here. So expect a lot of big moves, just that down looks better right now.
One more thing. The Chinese Shanghai index is down nearly 50% from its peak in January. I think it is safe to say that their bubble is over. It remains to be seen what that means for us. They do own a lot of our treasuries but I don't see them dumping them because of this.
So what is to be made of all this? That's right, it is 1987 all over again. I will leave you with some quotes from one of the few big name economists outside of Wall Street who has gotten this right, Robert Shiller.
There’s another, more urgent reason to focus on the idea of social contagion today. Like booms, many busts are magnified by group thinking. And once busts become severe enough, they prompt changes in the national mood that ramify well beyond economic affairs. Benjamin M. Friedman, in his 2005 book, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, cites abundant historical evidence that when economic prospects look bleak—especially for long periods of time—intolerance, racism, and other reactionary impulses flourish. As more people experience hardship, trust between them tends to diminish, and the social fabric itself seems to fray.
If home prices keep dropping, more bailouts of banks and broker-dealers likely will be necessary to prevent the paralysis of the financial system and a severe loss of confidence in our economy and economic institutions. And if we aim to stop foreclosures, with all their ugly consequences, from spreading further, many, many homeowners are going to need loan refinancing—which will need to be provided or backed by the government. Bailouts of investors and prospective bailouts of unwise or unlucky home buyers have stirred a lot of controversy, and indeed, financial bailouts are, for many reasons, unsavory. But given the severity of the current financial seize-up, they are needed—not to prop up Wall Street profits or housing prices, but to prevent a fundamental loss of economic confidence and to maintain a sense of social justice for those of modest means. Losses of confidence and trust can mount with surprising speed, and beyond a certain point they become very difficult to recover from.
We recently lived through two epidemics of excessive financial optimism. I believe that we are close to a third epidemic, only this one would spread irrational pessimism and mistrust—not exuberance. If that happens, our economic problems will become much worse than they need to be, and our social problems will multiply. Only if we heed the lessons of the boom can we keep the bust from causing lasting damage. [Emphasis added.]
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
The Maricopa County Sheriff is aggressively arresting illegal aliens, much to the consternation of activists like Immigrants Without Borders head Elias Bermudez, quoted below:
"He has abused his authority and his elected position to create havoc and a feeling of terror in our community," Bermudez said.What on earth is he talking about?
"He has capitalized on the fear and vulnerability of people who came into this country without documents, not in defiance of the laws of the United States, but because this country does not have a legal mechanism to seek work with documents.
"This is a problem of developed nations against undeveloped nations, and it is a problem that needs solving."
Friday, June 13, 2008
Global Warming Scam
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Happy Friday the thirteenth
Actually I did not find this music to be that scary.
Much better. It is interesting the way the human mind responds to certain notes or sequences of notes. We become more anxious or calm depending on what we hear. You have to love the way music is used in movies to produce an emotional response. For me the worst, or best, is Tubular Bells.
Can you name the movie?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The Price Of Corn
Weather concerns drove futures prices higher today at the CBOT:
Corn prices on the Chicago Board of Trade have surged 80 percent over the past year, with nearly 17 percent of that tacked on just this month.More rain is forecast.
Soybeans surged 3 percent and wheat leaped nearly 5 percent as those markets followed corn, but the historic rainfall and flooding in the United States also were beginning to hurt soy and wheat crop prospects.
"There is definitely concern. There is way too much water and, even if it is drier next week, it won't matter now. It's too late to plant corn and even bean yields are being affected," Vic Lespinasse, an analyst for GrainAnalyst.com, said.
Weather isn't the only culprit. Our political class is to very much to blame as well.
John McCain opposes subsidies of any kind. I hope he makes an issue out of the rising cost of food this fall.
Governor Rod Blagojevich
From the Sun-Times:
House Speaker Michael Madigan has sent a 14-page memo to Democratic legislative candidates that outlines "talking points" in favor of launching "impeachment proceedings" against Gov. Blagojevich.Yes, it is.
The memo, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, refers to corruption under Blagojevich as a "tumor" and notes that "criminal activity in the Blagojevich administration is no longer theoretical -- it is proven."
Madigan's daughter Lisa is Illinois' Attorney General, and she has gubernatorial aspirations.
The memo is here. Its best sentence:
Legislators have a responsibility to do what is in the best interests of the state and not depend on the federal government to save us.
The Practical Effect Of Democratic Policies
Via Powerline's John Hinderaker, a chart put together by GOP Rep Roy Blunt:
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The Ideology of Environmentalism
Jonah Goldberg recently took a look at Environmentalism as religion:
Environmentalists are keen to insist that their movement is a secular one. But using the word "secular" no more makes you secular than using the word "Christian" automatically means you behave like a Christian. Pioneering green lawyer Joseph Sax, for example, describes environmentalists as "secular prophets, preaching a message of secular salvation." Gore too has often been dubbed a "prophet." It's no surprise that a green-themed California hotel provides Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" right next to the Bible and a Buddhist tome.Goldberg notes that Al Gore's rhetoric is little different from that of Joseph Hagee and that Gore has been called a 'Prophet' by many. Gore sure seems like an evangelical Environmentalist to me.
Whether it's adopted the trappings of religion or not, my biggest beef with environmentalism is how comfortably irrational it is. It touts ritual over reality, symbolism over substance, while claiming to be so much more rational and scientific than those silly sky-God worshipers and deranged oil addicts.
The ideology of Environmentalism is totalitarian in nature. Czech President Vaclav Klaus sure sees it this way. He has written a book entitled "Blue Planet in Green Shackles" in which he warns that our freedom and prosperity are at risk from "climate alarmism." He compared the environmental movement to the communist one:
"Like their (communist) predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality," he said.He believes the market should be allowed to function but worries "that we are now at a stage where mere facts, reason and truths are powerless in the face of the global warming propaganda." Propaganda, he points out, produced and disseminated by those in a position to personally benefit from the policies they advocate:
"In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat - this time, in the name of the planet," he added.
My deep frustration has been exponentially growing in recent years by witnessing the fact that almost everything has already been said, that all rational arguments have been used and that global warming alarmism is still marching on. It could be even true that "We are now at the stage where mere facts, reason, and truth are powerless in the face of the global warming propaganda" (R. McKittrick, private correspondence).Wretchard makes a comparison which explains why, as Klaus correctly observes, we are very far behind:
We are regretfully behind it. The whole process is already in the hands of those who are not interested in rational ideas and arguments. It is in the hands of climatologists and other related scientists who are highly motivated to look in one direction only because a large number of academic careers has evolved around the idea of man-made global warming. It is, further, in the hands of politicians who maximize the number of votes they seek to get from the electorate. It is also - as a consequence of political decisions - in the hands of bureaucrats of national and more often of international institutions who try to maximize their budgets and years of careers as well regardless the costs, truth and rationality. It is in the hands of rent-seeking businesspeople who are - given the existing policies - interested in the amount of subsidies they are receiving and look for all possible ways to escape the for them often merciless, but for the rest of us very positive, general welfare enhancing functioning of free markets. An entire industry has developed around the funds the firms are getting from the government.
The Islamic missionary effort is like the Left in that it is in a state of perpetual militancy. Over long years they develop a very efficient system of mutual support and alliances which very often can overmatch any ad-hoc or spontaneous opposition to their agendas. Even when momentarily checked, they simply lie low and wait for the next opportunity.I'm afraid he's right.
This is perfectly legitimate behavior in a democratic society. But over time any idea which expresses itself in perpetual organization will gradually gain ground. That's just the way it is.
Enviromentalists Target Energy Industry
Just as Hugh Hewitt predicted after the Bush administration listed the polar bear as a threatened species, environmental groups are threatening lawsuits to stop offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic.
The groups are specifically challenging the Interior Department’s decision to allow development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. They want the department to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on whether the lease sales will have any impact on the region’s polar bears as required by the Endangered Species Act, Cummings said.Michelle Malkin also saw this coming, and the polar bear litigation isn't the only litigation the environmentalists are initiating:
The law requires federal agencies to ensure that any action they carry out does not “jeopardize” a listed species, including re-examining federally authorized offshore oil industry actions affecting polar bears, Cummings said.
“The act of getting oil itself is fairly greenhouse-gas intensive,” he said. “But we believe that the law requires analysis of the indirect impacts of extracting oil and gas as well.”
The floodgates of enviro-litigation are wide open. Blame the Bush administration for capitulating to global warming alarmists. After successfully mau-mauing the government into listing the polar bear as threatened based on dubious data, green lawyers are now filing suit to get the Pacific walrus listed as threatened, too.Via Tigerhawk, who comments on the polar bear listing:
And it won’t be the last.
The Center for Biological Diversity gave notice this week that it will sue to force federal action on its petition to list the walrus as threatened because of “threats from global warming and offshore petroleum development.”
While the regulation specifically barred Endangered Species Act lawsuits against greenhouse gas emitters (on the theory that they were threatening the bear), it has created a new barrier to oil and gas development in the far north. Now, in addition to all the other delays caused for all the other reasons, oil and gas producers must inflate their cost of capital by deferring returns for the time it takes to win a litigation against environmental groups that bear no such costs.Tigerhawk hopes the media find out where Obama stands on these lawsuits. We need to hear from John McCain, too. Both also should answer whether or not they think these groups should have to compensate the targets of their lawsuits for the resulting costs.
Never mind that there has been a five-fold increase in the polar bear population since 1960, a period of massive oil and gas development in the American and Canadian arctic. The plaintiffs in this case are not actually concerned that new oil wells will hurt polar bears. Their purpose is to raise the cost of oil by frustrating its discovery and production.
The Windfall Profits Tax On Oil Companies
I'm having trouble believing it, but I actually agree with something Dick Durbin said:
Senators were to vote Tuesday on whether to consider a windfall profits tax against the five largest U.S. oil companies and rescind $17 billion in tax breaks the companies expect to enjoy over the next decade.But I don't agree with Durbin that the government should determine what constitutes "reasonable" profits. That's for the market alone to decide.
"The oil companies need to know that there is a limit on how much profit they can take in this economy," said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, warning that if energy prices are not reined in "we're going to find ourselves in a deep recession."
UPDATE (Bump and link fix)
Senator Christopher Dodd agrees with Durbin:
Co-host Joe Kernan called the Connecticut senator on the idea, asking if he was going to apply the same strategy to other types of businesses. “Are you going to go across industries across the board and decide what Congress thinks is a fair amount of profit and drawing a lines on what’s fair and what’s not for corporations?” Kernan then emphasized the point. “That’s not the way it’s done in this country, senator. It could never be done that way, could it?”Dodd supports the idea many Democrats have been pushing that a windfall profits tax be used to develop alternatives or rebated to consumers. What entitles them to do this?
“Yes, it could be,” Dodd said.“In fact it’s been done that way in the past and particularly when you’re trying to get some relief for people out here when the economy is in a tailspin. We’re about to go into a recession here. This is really causing a tremendous dislocation, not only here, but around the world.”
Dodd, like all Democrats, betrays a spectacular ignorance of business. By answering Kernan's question affirmatively, he is implicitly saying that all of society's resources are ultimately under government control. That is socialism defined and I wish the interviewers had pressed him on it. (Maybe they did?)
Dodd is also openly contemptuous of investors, who according to Dodd should take into consideration congressional schemes to confiscate their profits when making investments decisions. Unbelievable.
(Via The Corner.)
More: Powerline's John Hinderaker proposes a windfall profits tax on authors.
I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more attention from our local media. Wisconsin Dells is a popular vacation area for Chicagoans. From Wikipedia:
The lake waters overflowed County Highway A about a quarter mile from the dam, and most of the lake emptied in two hours. The water began overflowing at approximately 10 a.m.. All of the water in the lake tumbled 400-foot (120 m) channel through the wet sandy soil, and creating a path 40 feet (12 m) down into the Wisconsin River. Three homes washed away, and another two were destroyed when their foundations were undermined by the new outflow. The sediments at the bottom of the lake were visible. "We have nothing but mud in front of us now," said Tom Diehl, operator of the Tommy Bartlett Show. "No water. Just mud."The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a photo gallery here.
The Dell Creek Dam at Lake Delton did not fail, but the heavy rains produced enough water force to wash out a section of County Highway A. Dell Creek is still flowing down to the Wisconsin River, and the lake would be refilled from the creek, once the breach in the highway and collaterally damaged areas are repaired.
UPDATE: The Journal Sentinel has pictures of the site of Tommy Bartlet's show very early in the the photo gallery slide show. Link has been fixed.
The Pelosi Premium
Investors Business Daily notes the increase in gasoline price since Democrats took control of Congress:
That represents a more than 75% increase in the retail price of a gallon of gasoline on Pelosi's watch. Call it the "Pelosi premium" we're all now paying.It would be a winning issue, but I wonder if McCain will use it.
It's a problem driven by domestic supply restrictions imposed by the Democratic Congress in the face of growing worldwide demand. The Democrats preach energy independence while they do everything in their power to prevent it. If the American people truly want change, this would be it.
A Gallup poll released in May showed that 57% of the American people wanted the U.S. to drill in coastal and wilderness areas. The percentage of Americans who bought Pelosi's line about price gouging fell from 34% in May 2007 to 20% in May 2008. It could be a winning issue for the Republicans and John McCain.
(My emphasis. Via William Katz.)
I do like the phrase 'Pelosi Premium.' Perhaps I'll start using it every time I hear anyone, particularly people I know who recently voted Democratic, complaining about the price of gasoline.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Biofuel Industry Troubles
Weakening demand, caused in part by higher prices, are causing problems for the biofuel industry:
Federal and state biofuel mandates could help shore up demand for biodiesel makers — if they're not repealed. The most recent federal renewable-fuels mandate calls for the U.S. to consume 600 million gallons of diesel from renewable sources in 2009, more than twice the amount used nationally in 2006. That quantity is scheduled to grow year by year, as the Environmental Protection Agency begins requiring fuel refiners and importers to blend more biodiesel into their petroleum diesel stocks.Via Open Blog.
But it's still just a drop in the bucket. In Washington state alone, more than 1 billion gallons of regular diesel were used last year.
Washington requires that at least 2 percent of diesel sales in the state be biodiesel starting in December.
But such mandates have come under fire in recent months. In April, Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked the EPA to waive half of the ethanol requirements, in order to protect the state's cattle ranchers from soaring feed prices.
Some U.S. lawmakers have also called for a change to the rules. But federal Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said recently that existing biofuel policy had no major impact on food prices.
Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer admits that biofuel mandates have made food more expensive, as do other biofeul supporters. He just doesn't see the impact as 'major.' (Who the hell is he to judge?) As I've said before, perhaps someone should ask them why they think higher food prices are a good thing.
The Wall Street Journal takes a look at recent UN actions:
The General Assembly of the United Nations voted this week to elect Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann as its new president. Readers with a long memory will recall Father D'Escoto (he's a Catholic priest) as Nicaragua's foreign minister during the Sandinista regime of the 1980s. He's also the winner of the 1985 Lenin Prize. Only at the U.N. does that count as a recommendation.Why on earth do we continue as a member of this organization and give it more than $1,000,000,000 every year?
The U.N. also voted to name the government of Burma – which otherwise has been busy preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching hundreds of thousands of its own needy victims of last month's devastating cyclone – as one of the Assembly's vice presidents. Only at the U.N. is this not considered an embarrassment.
College Football Fight Songs
As an avid college football fan, I listened to the songs first without watching the video, curious if I could correctly associate each song with a university. I was disappointed that I only got 7 out of 10, missing Texas, Florida State and Tennessee.
I've always liked the fight songs of Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Michigan best. If I had to vote, it would probably be for Notre Dame's, though I do like Michigan's. It clearly irritates alumni of other Big Ten schools and its the only one I can recall hearing people complain about, something which happens surprisingly often when I'm discussing football with strangers in local/regional bars.
Energy Policy & The GOP
Victor Davis Hanson asks a good question:
And why are Republicans, who voted in overwhelming numbers for off-shore drilling, ANWR, nuclear, shale, tar sands, liquid coal, etc—and were opposed by Democrats on grounds of wanting to enrich energy companies—not appealing to the country to develop domestic supplies on the basis of fairness (the poor have the least access to energy efficient homes and hybrid, fuel efficient new cars), the environment (the US can extract oil, in a fungible market, far more cleanly than Russia or the Middle East), and national security (most of OPEC, Russia, Venezuela are belligerents and becoming more dangerous the more trillions of dollars the West, China, and Japan transfer to them in their hard-won national wealth)?He concludes:
But given the current conservative ineptness, $5 a gallon gas will be blamed on the war, or lack of federal subsidies to solar, or the oil companies, and not the elite agenda of utopians who were not willing to do what was necessary for the collective good to help us transition through to new fuels.
MORE: John Hinderaker highlights a depressing exchange from today's Fox News Sunday:
Chris Wallace asked Pawlenty whether McCain isn't in sync with the Democrats on energy. Pawlenty is an able spokesman, but you can see how feeble his response--dictated by McCain's global warming blunder--is:I'm afraid he's right.WALLACE: Governor Pawlenty, McCain is almost as liberal on a lot of these energy issues as Obama. He opposes drilling in Alaska. He would leave it up to individual states as to whether to allow offshore drilling, which in most cases means that they wouldn't do it. He wants a 60 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. He talks about a national campaign for energy independence, but he's even less specific than Obama is.The best Pawlenty could do was change the subject. It's a sad harbinger of what is to come in the fall, I'm afraid.
PAWLENTY: Well, Chris, he's been very specific on a number of things, and I would also say this is another example of separating the rhetoric from the reality.
Senator McCain has led on this issue, much to the chagrin of some parts of the Republican Party. Senator Obama continues just to toe the line robotically with the Democratic caucus in Congress.
He votes 95 or so percent every year. What change has he really led? What big thing has he crossed over and said, "I'll work with the Republicans on?" The answer is nothing. Here you have Senator...
The Motivation Behind Democratic Policies
John Hinderaker, noting that Democrats have blocked consideration of the free trade agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, had this observation:
With the Democrats' policies on taxes, trade and energy, it is not easy to see how they could damage our economy more if that were their purpose.It is their purpose. Since President Clinton, against fierce Democratic opposition, pushed NAFTA through Congress, I can't think of a single Democratic initiative on taxes, energy or trade which would have been beneficial for our country. Quite the contraty. Powerline's Paul Mirengoff observes:
The truth is that most major Republican ideas weren't tried because the Democrats blocked them.Democrats frequently refer to themselves as "progressives" when in reality they are "obstructers" of progress.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Eagle Drags Goat Off Cliff
The Political Price Of High Gas Prices
I hope this changes someday. Via Powerline, Congressman Roy Blunt has put together these data on the differences between Republicans and Democrats regarding energy policy:
ANWR Exploration House Republicans: 91% Supported House Democrats: 86% OpposedI wonder if people even make the connection between Democrats and high gasoline prices. I've heard many people in public complaining about the high cost of gasoline of late. Every time I've thought about reminding the complainer(s) that Democratic policies are largely to blame, something I do whenever my liberal friends complain. I wonder how I'd be received.
House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 78% Opposed
Oil Shale Exploration
House Republicans: 90% Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed
Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Exploration
House Republicans: 81% Supported
House Democrats: 83% Opposed
Refinery Increased Capacity
House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 96% Opposed
91% of House Republicans have historically voted to increase the production of American-made oil and gas.
86% of House Democrats have historically voted against increasing the production of American-made oil and gas.
As for gasoline taxes, only California, New York and Connecticut have higher gas taxes than Illinois. All four are heavily Democratic states.
Yesterday I purchased gasoline in Lake County for $4.079 per gallon, 81 cents of which was tax, meaning my 14.821 gallon purchase cost me $12 in taxes. When I paid $4.219 per gallon in Chicago last week, 93.5 cents of which was tax, meaning my $10 purchase (I never fill up in the city) cost me $2.22 in taxes.
I wonder why gas stations don't in some way communicate to customers what the government's tax take is, even if its just printing it on receipts. Is it possible that this is against the law? Are they afraid to anger Congress, many of whose members love bashing Big Oil? Also, it would be nice if gasoline stations advertised gas prices without including taxes, though I'm pretty sure this is against the law.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Rich Miller takes a look at what's next for Blagojevich. Lots of speculation regarding his impeachment, indictment and/or resignation. Thomas Rosser has this about the Governor's wife Patti:
On top of this the feds are investigating the fact that Patricia Blagojevich was a business partner of Rezko for at least a decade and in 2004 received over $38,000 in real estate commissions from him…that as a licensed real estate broker she received $113,700 in commissions from Anita and Amrish Mahajan. Anita Mahajan owns a urinalysis company that has been given a no-bid contract with the state Department of Children and Family Services and Amrishajan is president of a bank that has had two requests pending before state regulators to acquire two out-of-state banksRosser also informs us that Lt Governor Pat Quinn is not popular with Democratic party regulars.
Tribune Columnist John Kass has long written about how corrupt both major parties are here in Illinois:
In his columns Kass is a frequent critic of what he terms as the "combine" of Illinois politics, wherein powerful elements of the Illinois Republican and Democratic parties unite for the purposes of political corruption.From Kass' column today:
Though neither Kjellander nor Cellini was charged in this case, both have been implicated. Cellini was named "Co-schemer A" by prosecutors and called "The Pope" by insiders manipulating billions of dollars in state pension fund investments.
It's like a Bridge to Nowhere without the ironworkers.
The White House Rasputin, Karl "The Architect" Rove, also was mentioned in the trial, as was former House Speaker Dennis "Don't Ask Me About My Land Deal" Hastert, alleged to have been part of an effort by the bipartisan Illinois Combine to get rid of Fitzgerald. To demonstrate their kinship, Cellini and Rezko flew out to Washington on a play date and visited a White House reception with President Bush, where Kjellander joined them.
Later in the Rezko trial, two witnesses said that Rezko told them not to worry about the criminal investigation, because the Republicans—Rove and Kjellander—would get rid of Fitzgerald. Hastert would install a friendly federal puppy who wouldn't bother the Combine, according to the testimony. "The federal prosecutor will no longer be the same federal prosecutor," testified Elie Maloof, a Rezko associate who is now a cooperating witness.
And a state pension board lawyer who has already pleaded guilty told grand jurors that Cellini told him "Bob Kjellander's job is to take care of the U.S. attorney."
The Gas Prices We Deserve
One million barrels is what might today be flowing from ANWR if in 1995 President Bill Clinton had not vetoed legislation to permit drilling there. One million barrels produce 27 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel. Seventy-two of today's senators -- including Schumer, of course, and 38 other Democrats, including Barack Obama, and 33 Republicans, including John McCain -- have voted to keep ANWR's estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil off the market.If only Republican Senators had the guts to call him on this.
So Schumer, according to Schumer, is complicit in taking $10 away from every American who buys 20 gallons of gasoline
In September 2006, two U.S. companies announced that their Jack No. 2 well, in the Gulf 270 miles southwest of New Orleans, had tapped a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil, which would increase America's proven reserves by 50 percent. Just probing four miles below the Gulf's floor costs $100 million. Congress's response to such expenditures is to propose increasing the oil companies' tax burdens.And its an arrogant, hypocritical energy policy, thanks largely to the Democrats.
America says to foreign producers: We prefer not to pump our oil, so please pump more of yours, thereby lowering its value, for our benefit. Let it not be said that America has no energy policy.
Don't They Know It's June?!
June 05, 2008
RUSH AT RED ROCKS IS POSTPONED DUE TO SEVERE WEATHER!!
A rescheduled date will be announced shortly. Fans should hold onto their tickets, which will be honored pending confirmation of the rescheduled date.
Tuesday Evening Rainbow
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
We don't exist for government; it exists for us. And yet we got people on our side, government is this great thing. The government's become the shining city on the hill. The government is not the country. It's the people who make the country work. There are things we can like about the government, things we don't like about it. It all depends on whether the government's authority actually exists or whether it has been exercised improperly. Not a word about the Constitution from any of these people that are writing these theories and philosophies on how to win, which reveals the heart of the problem. They've given up on the Constitution or they ignore it, as the left usually does. Or they invoke it when it serves some political end. But this is just semantic BS. It's like Mr. Castellanos is advocating conservatism but recommending we call it freedom and individual responsibility. Government, so we can fool the voters with a semantic ruse that we really favor government, too. He wants us, with this piece, to go out and tell liberals, "Hey no, no, no, we love government, too. We don't hate government like you think. We love government." So you have to accept their premise, yes, we love government, but we think the government ought to be bottom up. Why don't you just go out and say screw this brand search, let's just get back to conservatism. It will solve most of this.I vaguely remember a few years ago a proposal to require Congress to provide explicit Constitutional justification for all legislation it passes. I wonder whatever happened to it.
Tony Rezko Guilty On 16 Of 24 Counts
The Sun-Times reports:
The verdict, reached after deliberations that spanned 12 days, could give federal authorities new ammunition in their probe of the governor’s campaign and his administration. They already have subpoenaed Blagojevich’s campaign fund, scrutinized his donors, looked into his wife’s real estate dealings and questioned potential witnesses about whether they were promised anything in return for campaign contributions, sources told the Sun-Times.Curiously, Rezko chose to begin serving time immediately.
Now, facing the prospect of prison time in the corruption case, as well as two additional criminal trials on unrelated charges, Rezko is under pressure to cooperate with the continuing investigations.
All 6 counts on which Rezko was acquitted involved Public Official A, whom Judge Amy Saint Eve identified as Blagojevich. Nevertheless, former federal prosecutor Pat Collins comments:
The Justice Department’s prosecution of Antoin “Tony” Rezko was always about prelude, never about climax. The jury’s conviction of Rezko on Wednesday on 16 criminal counts is one more point on a long investigative arc—an arc now pointed straight at Gov. Rod Blagojevich and other of his associates.Can Governor Blagojevich survive? He is very unpopular in Springfield, particularly for using his power to call the state legislature into special session as a political weapon, a tactic which may backfire on him if he tries it this summer. Impeachment talk has already started. And, as I've posted before, Adlai Stevenson, whose term ended in 1953, was the last Democrat to be elected governor of this state who managed to stay out of federal prison.
That arc reaches beyond the horizon to points none of us can see. But prosecutor Christopher Niewoehner unequivocally—and forcefully—told the Rezko jurors during closing arguments where federal authorities now are concentrating: “This is a crime that involves the highest levels of power in Illinois.”
All of us have seen before how the office of U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald follows these investigative arcs in pursuit of official corruption (among others, see Ryan, George, and Sorich, Robert, both in extended engagements with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons). The feds now can exploit Rezko’s conviction to learn whatever he or other political players will divulge about the Illinois culture of political sleaze.
I wonder if legislative leaders might be amenable to cutting a deal with Lt. Governor Pat Quinn. I just saw Quinn's reaction to the verdict. He criticized Blagojevich for publicly championing Quinn's recall proposal while working behind the scenes to kill it. He described his relationship with the Governor as "non-existent." We all know he wants to be governor. Will he try publicly to force Blagojevich out?
Rich Miller, who blogs about Illinois politics here, has many good posts on the trial and its ramifications.
UPDATE: The last sentence was edited for clarity. Also, I wanted to take this opportunity to point out that nobody in Illinois under the age of 76 has ever voted for a Democratic governor of this state who managed to stay out of federal prison.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Cap & Trade
And its a contemptuous power grab at that. From a National Review editorial:
But there is a group of people conspiring to make energy more expensive for Americans. That group is the U.S. Senate, and this week it will debate a bill that would impose a cap-and-trade system on greenhouse-gas emissions. By rationing the use of fossil fuels, the bill would lead to higher coal, natural-gas, and petroleum prices, even though the prices of those commodities are already at historic highs. Everybody knows about oil prices; less well known is that the price of natural gas recently reached its highest point since Hurricane Katrina disrupted supplies in September of 2005. Coal prices have tripled in the past year due to global shortages.Senator James Inhofe calls for a full Senate debate on the bill, noting that it is the "largest expansion of the federal government since FDR's New Deal, complete with a brand new, unelected bureaucracy."
In short, now would be an exceptionally bad time for Congress to make energy more expensive. Yet that is precisely what the cap-and-trade bill sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman and John Warner would do. Under a cap-and-trade system, a company can only emit greenhouse gases up to a certain limit (the “cap”). If it exceeds that limit, it must purchase allowances, either from the government or from other companies that are under their limits (the “trade”).
Robert Samuelson comments:
The chief political virtue of cap-and-trade -- a complex scheme to reduce greenhouse gases -- is its complexity. This allows its environmental supporters to shape public perceptions in essentially deceptive ways. Cap-and-trade would act as a tax, but it's not described as a tax. It would regulate economic activity, but it's promoted as a "free market" mechanism. Finally, it would trigger a tidal wave of influence-peddling, as lobbyists scrambled to exploit the system for different industries and localities. This would undermine whatever the system's abstract advantages.As do almost the entire Democratic Party and a significant portion of the GOP. Sad but true.
The Senate is debating a cap-and-trade proposal, and although it's unlikely to pass, it will return because all the major presidential support the concept.
Radical environmentalists, through the media, have enormous influence in shaping public perception. Dr Sanity correctly observes that their agenda is to "discredit capitalism and to use global warming and other environmental concerns as a justification to impose their ideological and political agenda."
Peter Ferrara notes that changes resulting from a slight global temperature rise would actually be beneficial for humanity, something the alarmists never mention. He also sums up nicely what is really going on:
What this translates into is a dramatic assault on the standard of living in America, particularly for the middle class, working people, and the poor. Businesses would ultimately have to pay huge sums to get licenses to emit carbon while producing essential products and services for the American people.He's right.
This means, for example, that the price of gas is not going to come down. Rather, it will rise farther as a sharp new cost is added to the production of gasoline. Senators who vote for this bill are voting for still higher gas prices in the future.
Moreover, under the bill, consumers will see their utility bills soar. Utilities ultimately will have to pay huge new costs to produce electricity, which will be passed on to consumers.
The price of food will continue to increase as well, as farmers will have to pay higher costs for fertilizer, and for fuel for their tractors and trucks.
The bill will also effectively shut down heavy manufacturing in America. Manufacturing companies cannot compete while laboring under high energy costs. So good bye to all those well paying blue collar jobs, again slamming the middle class and working people.
This is the class struggle. The American standard of living will decline so that government power can prosper. The Senate cap-and-trade bill will raise government revenues by a trillion dollars over the next decade, supporting a massive increase in new spending.
Labels: crash alert
Chicago Makes The Cut
I've long considered Chicago to be a front runner to host the 2016 summer games. The IOC selection process has a reputation for corruption. And our local political/business class knows corruption.
Which is why I hope Chicago's bid fails. City taxpayers are currently on the hook for at least $500 million, state taxpayers another $150 million. Backers of Chicago's bid, including Mayor Daley and Governor Blagojevich, insist these funds won't be needed. Maybe I'm being too cynical, but I just don't believe them.
Consider the recent history of large local projects. The Dan Ryan rebuild was supposed to cost $500 million; it cost $1 billion. Millennium Park was supposed to cost $150; I lost count when the cost passed the $500 million mark.
From a Chicago politician's perspective, the entire purpose of the Olympic bid is to produce more jobs and contracts, the maximum possible. How can they leave $650 million worth of jobs and contracts on the table? They can't.
Which is too bad. I'm not a fan of the Olympics, but hosting them would otherwise be good for the city.
Fortunately, Chicago's bid may be imperiled by this problem:
Influential IOC officials accused the U.S. Olympic Committee on Tuesday of refusing to renegotiate its "immoral" share of global Olympic revenues, reopening a dispute that could harm Chicago's bid for the 2016 Games.
Under a long-standing deal with the International Olympic Committee, the USOC receives nearly 13 percent of U.S. TV rights fees and 20 percent of global marketing revenues -- totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Hate by Numbers
He also saved me the price of a ticket for Michael Myer's new movie The Love Guru. Seriously Mike, time to get some new bits.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Ethanol Mandates & The Price Of Food
Texas Governor Rick Perry has petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency for a one-year reprieve for his state from ethanol mandates:
A predictable backlash has set in against the Perry petition. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson have written the EPA to defend ethanol as representing a small fraction of the rise in food prices. In line behind them are the Texas Corn Producers Association and the Texas Grain Sorghum Association.Even supporters of ethanol acknowledge that the mandates have resulted in higher food prices. Perhaps someone should ask them why they think this is a good thing.
At the moment, candidate John McCain, who has been losing lobbyist advisers, could use some help shoring up his credentials as an opponent of special interests. It looks as if Governor Perry has teed up a good one in the ethanol mandate. He might want to let voters know that EPA has the power to call a timeout on biofuels.