Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thursday's Post

Listening to John McCain’s recent pronouncements makes one wonder what he’s campaigning for….Motley Fool? Does he even understand the nature of his opposition?
Does he want to win? How did he even get to be the Republican candidate? (I know….open primaries. The Democrats selected him for the Republicans)

Is John McCain Stupid?

July 31, 2008; Page A13

Is John McCain losing it?
On Sunday, he said on national television that to solve Social Security "everything's on the table," which of course means raising payroll taxes. On July 7 in Denver he said: "Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won't." This isn't a flip-flop. It's a sex-change operation........

Words have meaning, said Sen. Obama, and I believe him. That being said, you might want to hide your wallet, because then he said……”"I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged,……I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds."

Check, Please
By JAMES TARANTOJuly 30, 2008

Lanny Davis, the peripatetic Hillary acolyte, continues to suggest that she would be the best choice as Obama’s Vice-President….yeah, only if he eyes in the back of his head…..

Why Obama Should Pick Hillary
By LANNY J. DAVISJuly 31, 2008; Page A15

You can't say our school systems havn't done a great job of instilling self-esteem in our pupils…….

What Did Obama Tell House Democrats About His Symbolism?
July 30, 2008 9:08 AM

The Washington Post has an interesting quote this morning from the meeting Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, held with House Democrats yesterday afternoon.
"I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," Obama said, a witness told the Post.
Republicans and others are jumping on the quote as evidence of Obama's more egoistic impulses, but other Democrats in the room today suggest that the quote is out of context and twists Obama's meaning to mean the complete opposite of what he was saying.
"His entire point of that riff was that the campaign is NOT about him," says a House Democratic staffer. The Post "left out the important first half of the sentence which was something along the lines of 'it has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. Its about America. I have just become a symbol.'"

Obama's Global Tax

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: A plan by Barack Obama to redistribute American wealth on a global level is moving forward in the Senate. It follows Marxist theology — from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
We are citizens of the world, Sen. Obama told thousands of nonvoting Germans during his recent tour of the Middle East and Europe. And if the Global Poverty Act (S. 2433) he has sponsored becomes law, which is almost certain if he wins in November, we're also going to be taxpayers of the world.......

it gets even better.....

These are worthy goals, but note there's no mention of spreading democracy, expanding free trade, promoting entrepreneurial capitalism or ridding the world of despots who rule and ravage countries such as Zimbabwe and Sudan. ......Obama would give them all a fish without teaching them how to fish. Pledging to cut global poverty in half on the backs of U.S. taxpayers is a ridiculous and impossible goal.

His legislation refers to the "millennium development goal," a phrase from a declaration adopted by the United Nations Millennium Assembly in 2000 and supported by President Clinton.It calls for the "eradication of poverty" in part through the "redistribution (of) wealth of land" and "a fair distribution of the earth's resources." In other words: American resources........

Obama's bill would force U.S. taxpayers to fork over 0.7% of our gross domestic product every year to fund a global war on poverty, spending well above the $16.3 billion in global poverty aid the U.S. already spends.
Over a 13-year period, from 2002, when the U.N.'s Financing for Development Conference was held, to the target year of 2015, when the U.S is expected to meet its part of the U.N. Millennium goals, we would be spending an additional $65 billion annually for a total of $845 billion.

During a time of economic uncertainty, the plan would cost every American taxpayer around $2,500.If you're worried abut gasoline and heating oil prices now, think what they'll be like when the U.S. is subjected in an Obama administration to global energy consumption and production taxes.

Obama has already said.....
"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama has said. "That's not leadership. That's not going to happen."

Oh, really? Who's to say we can't load up our SUV and head out in search of bacon double cheeseburgers at the mall? China? India? Bangladesh? The U.N.? In an Obama White House, American sovereignty will become an endangered species. The Global Poverty Act is the first toe in the water of global socialism.

Queen Pelosi says....."Let them eat Cake"

The Reality Revolt
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Congress: Quite a few Democrats are rebelling against their leadership and joining with Republicans to push for more domestic oil drilling. They've gotten an earful from voters who demand real solutions. When the Energy Department on Wednesday reported an unexpected drop in gasoline inventories of more than 3.5 million barrels, the first decline in five weeks, the global price of crude oil proceeded to shoot up more than $4 a barrel, the biggest increase since July 10.

That illustrates what the issue of high gas prices is all about — not fat-cat oil execs gouging at the pump (a smear that has been repeatedly disproved), and not the purported need for uncompetitive substitutes like ethanol that cause global food prices to skyrocket, but rather the simple fact of supply and demand.

When asked last week why she would not allow a House vote on drilling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi answered: "What the president would like to do is to have validation for his failed policy."

But it's not "what the president would like to do" that's becoming a big problem for Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders. It's what the American people are increasingly demanding be done. And rank-and-file Democratic senators and congressmen are beginning to feel the heat.......

With Congress' Democratic leadership politically paralyzed, the people are having to look elsewhere for energy solutions. Pelosi and Reid should take note: This bipartisan coalition is gathering steam from all those boiling-over frustrations, and they reportedly want legislative action before the August recess.

Maybe it's time to drag out the guillotines.......

On the other hand, let's hope that McCain can get everybody singing this tune......

McCain Rows The Boat Offshore, Hallelujah!

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Energy: John McCain visits California to make the case for offshore drilling. The oil spill off Santa Barbara was 40 years ago. It's time to stop crying over spilled oil......

Critics of offshore drilling, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, use the spill of 80,000 barrels of crude some six miles off Santa Barbara nearly four decades ago to block efforts to recover the 1.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil off the California coast. Schwarzenegger has suggested he wouldn't mind being "energy czar" in an Obama administration. Obama opposes offshore drilling.... But that spill occurred when our TVs still used vacuum tubes, laptops and iPods didn't exist and you couldn't ask your car for directions. Drilling technology has advanced to the point where offshore rigs can take the full force of Category 5 hurricanes and spill nary a drop of crude.

"We all know that comprehensive solution is wind, tide, solar, all the other things all of us believe in," McCain told reporters after touring San Joaquin Facilities Management in Bakersfield, an oil firm in the California desert that yields 1,100 barrels a day.
"In the meantime, as we develop all of these alternate sources of energy, it will be vital that we continue oil production at a high level, including offshore drilling."

Some 168 platforms and 55 rigs were destroyed or damaged by Katrina and Rita. According to the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS), "due to the prompt evacuation and shut-in preparations made by operating and service personnel, there was no loss of life and no major spills attributed to either storm."
What about accidental spills? According to MMS figures, since 1980, 101,997 barrels spilled during offshore oil drilling operations that extracted 11,855,000 barrels of oil. That's a rate of 0.001%. Mother Nature oozes 620,500 barrels of oil naturally from the seabed every year, and there are suggestions that drilling would relieve the pressure that forces these natural leaks.

Offshore drilling is something a President Obama and energy czar Schwarzenegger won't do. The choice for voters driving to the polls this November is clear.

Interestingly, as soon as the debate on drilling starts to heat up here in the US, OPEC starts singing a different tune. Like Odysseus, we may have to lash ourselves to the mast and stuff our ears, to resist this siren's song, and stay the course...

Oil price 'abnormal' but $US78 achievable
Article from: /,27753,24098778-462,00.html
July 30, 2008 12:01am
CRUDE oil prices above $US120 a barrel are "abnormal" and could fall to about $US78 under the right circumstances, OPEC president Chakib Khelil said in Jakarta yesterday.
"If the dollar continues to strengthen and the political situation (regarding Iran) improves, then the long-term prices will be about $US78," Mr Khelil said, adding the market was well supplied with oil.
Crude prices have doubled over the past two years but have fallen from record highs of $US147 a barrel earlier this month.
They were trading at around $US125 yesterday.
"There's a balance in the market," Mr Khelil said. "I would say stocks are at a good level and there hasn't been any disruption in demand."
Asked whether any members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries should cut production if oil prices continued to fall, he said: "No, I don't think so. Why should they cut production?
"They always want to make sure there's good supply and demand and to satisfy the demand."
OPEC will meet in Vienna on September 9 to review output after maintaining levels at its past three meetings in December, February and March.

Just like in the Odyssey.....there were two's the other one.....

Lehman: Oil Back to $90 In Six Months
Corey Lorinsky Jul 30, 08 6:55 AM

While Lehman Brothers (LEH) itself is still a punching bag, their oil analysts never followed Goldman's Arjun Murti with $150 oil predictions like the rest of Wall Street. Instead, they've expressed shock at the extent of the price spike and stuck with their prediction that prices would soon recede.
Now, with oil almost 20% off its recent record-highs, Lehman Brothers chief energy economist, Edward Morse, reiterates his bear case. He sees oil going to $90 by early 2009:
The market’s expectations have changed very rapidly and unexpectedly...The market went out of control on the upside. But market participants realized there was much more demand destruction than had been thought even a month ago, that inventories are building up quickly, and that, in fact, more supplies are coming onto the market...The deteriorating demand picture reinforces our belief that oil prices are approaching a tipping point.
The current dip seems to have emboldened bears. Chakib Khelil, President of OPEC, claimed oil would be as low as $70/barrel if not for for the weak dollar and Iran's threats and posturing.

Buit's a solution ....

Obama’s Answer to Drilling Debate: Inflate Your Tires
"We could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups. You could save just as much."

Now for some lighter fare......(comm'on ......if I want healthy food, am I going to Dunkin' Donuts?)

Dunkin' Donuts to offer healthier menu items
By LAUREN SHEPHERD – 19 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — Looking to entice those hungry for a healthier option, Dunkin' Donuts will begin offering a new slate of better-for-you offerings in August.
The menu, which will debut in stores Aug. 6, will feature two new flatbread sandwiches made with egg whites. Customers will be able to choose either a turkey sausage egg-white sandwich or a vegetable one. Both will be under 300 calories with 9 grams of fat or less, the company said.
"We just felt it was important to provide some choice in our menu," said Will Kussell, president and chief brand officer.

Whoa!....compliments from the UK already? That was quick. Obama wasn't even there two days....

The Brits defending America
Justin Webb
29 Jul 08, 09:46 PM GMT

To TimothyR444 and others who are touchy about commentary on America's rough edges I say suck it up dude! (Only kidding... )
The real point as noticed here by one of America's most prominent one-man bloggers, is that the Brits are actually leading the way in pointing out to the world that American faults are generally over-reported and American strengths under-reported.
We are not "pro-American" in the sense of being cheerleaders for a nation and its people (at least Matt Frei and I are not) but nor are we blind to the simple incontrovertible fact that America is a stunningly successful place whose ability to prosper in almost every year since its inception must surely have some link to the energy and vitality of the people who come here and make it work and the system (brutal sometimes) that allows them to achieve their potential.
I agree fully with those who have written to point out that America is complex. But if you are not careful you can end up throwing up your hands (as a British academic once did) and saying everything anyone says about America is true! This won't do.

Now here's another Brit here in the US......Com' on everybody....suck it up! We're doing fine, and we don't need the idiots in Washington to solve our problems - they an't do it anyway. We just need them to get out of the way, and let the market work.......

Monday, 28 July 2008
The end of pessimism

Is everyone ready to cheer up now?

Obama is going to be the next President, we are a couple of years away from mass produced electric cars, the economy will rebound, the war in Iraq and against terrorism is being won (see Edward Luttwark's provocative piece in Prospect on this) and, as Frank Rich so brilliantly argued yesterday, Bush-Cheney have become history before they are history. The news is pretty good. It's time to start smiling again.
So enough already with all the bad news about America. I came to this country in 1983 from dark, dismal England to be cheered up. I don't want to read kvetchers like Chalmers Johnson, Naomi Wolf or Morris Berman comparing America with Nazi Germany and Ancient Rome. I don't want to hear about imperial decline or the End of America. Its boring. And fundamentally wrong.

It's curious that the most obstinate defenders of America are English. Three of the most positive books about America that will published this year -- Matt Frei's Only In America, Bronwen Maddox's In Defence of America and Justin Webb's Have a Nice Day... Behind the Cliches: Giving America Another Chance -- are all by English journalists living in America. Perhaps it's because, having had the misfortune of growing up in dark, dismal England, we can fully appreciate the remarkable optimism and vitality of the United States.

Back in 1983, when I arrived as a graduate student in America, there was a similar pessimism about the country. America, the kvetchers predicted, was about to be eclipsed by Japan, the economy no longer was innovative, the Post Watergate political system didn't work, blah blah blah. The end-of-America pessimists were wrong then and they are wrong now. Today, the smart money is going into American business, American real-estate and the American dollar. Now is the time to invest in America. By next year, everyone will be doing it.

John McCain's Health Reform plan presents an interesting approach and I'm looking forward to more discussion on it. John C.Goodman's column in the Wall Street Journal provides a clear overview and a comparison with Sen. Obama's plan, but leaves open questions as to what will happen to people who don't purchase insurance, and then present themselves at the hospital emergency room. Mr. Goodman does not address the total cost projections for either plan...more unanswered questions to probe the candidates for......

McCain Is the Radical on Health Reform

July 30, 2008; Page A15 Wall Street Journal

If you listen only to presidential campaign rhetoric, you might conclude that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama proposed bold new changes for our health-care system, while John McCain is offering only small improvements. If so, you are in for a surprise. Most health-policy analysts believe that Mr. McCain is proposing the most fundamental health-care reform.

Right now the federal government encourages private health insurance primarily through the tax system -- handing out more than $200 billion in tax subsidies every year. Mr. Obama would leave this system largely intact. Mr. McCain would completely replace it with a fairer, more efficient system with a much better chance of insuring the uninsured and controlling health costs at the same time.

Under the current system, every dollar in health-insurance premiums paid by an employer is excluded from employee income and payroll taxes. Take an employee in the 25% income-tax bracket. Throw in state and local income taxes, add the 15.3% (FICA) payroll tax, and the tax exclusion for a middle-income family is worth almost 50 cents on the dollar. To make things a little better, employees can often pay their share of the premium with pretax dollars as well.

But this system is extremely arbitrary. There is virtually no tax relief for people who work for the 40% of employers who do not provide insurance, for part-time workers or people not in the labor market, or for anyone else who for any reason must buy his own insurance. The self-employed get a slightly better deal: They can deduct 100% of their premiums, but they get no relief from the payroll tax.

According to the Lewin Group, a private health-care consulting firm, families earning $100,000 a year get four times as much tax relief as families earning $25,000. In other words, the biggest subsidy goes to those who least need it, and who probably would have purchased insurance anyway.

The system is also wasteful. People can always lower their taxes by spending more on health insurance, and there is no limit to how bloated a health plan can be.

Under the McCain plan, no longer would employers be able to buy insurance with pretax dollars. These payments would be taxable to the employee, just like wages. However, every individual would get a $2,500 credit (and every family would get $5,000) to be applied dollar-for-dollar against taxes owed.

The McCain plan does not raise taxes, nor does it lower them. Instead, it takes the existing system of tax subsidies and treats everyone alike, regardless of income or job status. All health insurance would be sold on a level playing field under the tax law, regardless of how it is purchased.

The impact would be enormous. For the first time, low- and moderate-income families would get just as much tax relief as the very rich when they purchase health insurance. People who must purchase their own insurance would get just as much tax relief as those who obtain it through an employer. Whereas Mr. Obama would continue the current practice of giving the vast bulk of federal help to the rich (through tax subsidies) and the poor (through spending programs), the McCain tax credit would give the most new tax relief to the middle class.

The McCain plan would also encourage all Americans to control costs. The tax credit would subsidize the core insurance that everyone should have. It would not subsidize bells and whistles (marriage counseling, acupuncture, etc.) as the current system does. Since employees and their employers will be paying for additional coverage with aftertax dollars, everyone will have an incentive to compare the value of extra health benefits to the value of other things money can buy. When they eliminate health-care waste, they would get to keep every dollar they save.
The McCain tax credit would be refundable. People could apply $2,500 per person or $5,000 per family to the purchase of health insurance, even if they do not owe any income taxes. Families would not have to wait until April 15 the following year to get their credit. They could obtain the subsidy at the time the insurance is purchased.

The credit would also be transferable. Insurance companies and other intermediaries would be able to help families obtain their credit and apply it directly to health-insurance premiums.
The McCain health plan would allow people to buy insurance across state lines -- thus creating a competitive, national market for health insurance. It would provide additional federal money for people who have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, making it easier for people who have lost their insurance to obtain new coverage. It would also encourage Medicare to become a smarter, more efficient buyer of care.

The McCain plan will not solve all our health-care problems. But it has a far better chance of positively reforming the system than any other plan that has been proposed in this campaign season.

Mr. Goodman is president of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He is an unpaid adviser to the McCain campaign.

On the lighter side....

The Republican National Committee has launched a new web ad called “Obama TV Ad In Berlin."
The ad mocks Obama's appeal to Europeans, highlighting interviews with European Obama fans, including one man who sees parallels between the Democrat and Che Guevara. Watch the ad below:

Why I didn't enlist in the Navy......(I went Army)

Megatorpedo Sinks Destroyer in One Hit

View of a US Navy Spruance-class destroyer sinking in mere minutes after being hit by the latest version of a Mk 48: a heavyweight torpedo which, as you can see in this video, can wipe a whole ship out of the water in a single strike:

The Muppet Show Band takes on Rammstein, with Debbie Harry, James Coburn and Dizzy Gillespie coolness.

Video Of The Week

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