ODS? Or Something Closer To The Truth?

First, the question arises whether President Barack Obama is a narcissist. Frankly, just about every politician has some narcissism. It comes with being a politician. But there are some that look upon Obama as the epitome of narcissism, and they're probably right. I mentioned that in my Sunday post and linked to a rather extensive examination of Obama as narcissist, called Understanding Obama: The Making of a [Fuhrer].

It's a frightening look at a side of President Obama few are willing to look at, particularly those that have come to see him as some kind of messiah. After all, they can't have a Dear Leader who is as human and as fallible as the rest of us, if not more so. But Obama displays all the classic signs of a major league narcissist, to whit:

He can create a cult of Personality by associating himself with the idea of change. He convinces everyone that things are terrible and a drastic change is needed. He then casts himself as the only person who can deliver this revolutionary transformation that everyone is waiting for. He portrays himself as a benevolent guide; the only one who cares about people and their needs and can pull them out of their alleged misery. In reality, they have no clue about how to address the problem - have no experience, no track record. But they are convincing because they are self assured.

Sound familiar? Obama made broad, sweeping promises during his campaign that he would fix the problems, but never went into any kind of detail about exactly how he would 'fix' them. Now that he's in office, his cure for what he claims ails is far worse than the ailment, doing exactly the same things he claimed his predecessor, his foe, has done, but doing them on a much grander scale, but with little oversight from the Fourth Estate. He calls it progress to a new future. But all many of us see is a dark future of massive debt that can never be paid off, economic malaise, confiscatory taxes at all levels, a cult of personality that will surround him not unlike that of other narcissists in history, and an outcome not unlike that as foretold by Ayn Rand.

What has Obama ever accomplished that would lead people to believe he's capable of running a country? As far as I can recall all he's managed to do is bury portions of his past, campaign, raise money, and get elected. He's very good at getting elected. But beyond that he has little talent in actually getting things done.

Over at Maggie's Farm there's a similar thread dealing with narcissism. In the comments I linked to the same article as above, and another commenter posted a link to an article on Front Page magazine about Obama Derangement Syndrome, as if the past eight years of BDS can compare to a single article about our present President's narcissism and his need to destroy those daring to contradict him or speak out against him.

BDS was a raw, emotional phenomenon that attributed every little event or occurrence that did not fit the Progressive point of view to some dark conspiracy by George W. Bush and his cronies. It was pathological, hysterical, and permeated the belief system of far too many of the leftists/socialists in the Democratic Party. It was an illness that still exists, particularly within Washington.

ODS is the merely in the minds of those same leftists who use it as an excuse to ignore the questions brought up by conservatives and moderates about their leader. Even legitimate questions that bear answering. Or perhaps ODS should be defined this way: The irrational belief that Barack Obama can do no wrong, that he is the Anointed One, and anyone questioning his competence, his motives, or even his choice in attire must be ignored, marginalized, or silenced.

That seems like a more rational definition of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

They Should Understand The Law Before Enforcing It

Glenn Beck brought up an interesting point when he was grilling Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal about his actions, investigating the AIG bonuses and those receiving them.

Blumenthal claimed the AIG executives were "undeserving" of the bonuses. Blumenthal also pointed out the bonuses paid out were to increase next year. However, Beck pressed Blumenthal on the legality of that and Blumenthal came up blank in this exchange:

BECK: Is that against the law?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, it is against public policy. And it is unsanctioned by law.

BECK: Is that against the law?

BLUMENTHAL: It should be against the law.

BECK: Is it against the law?

BLUMENTHAL: It's against the public policy and against the taxpayer...In my view it is unrequired by law.

BECK: It is a yes or no question. Counselor, it is a yes or no question. Is it against the law?

BLUMENTHAL: It is not against the law and I have never said that it is against the law, and I have never said that we would bring an action.

BECK: Then you know what you should do? You should enforce the law. You shouldn't use your bully pulpit to gain popularity.

And that's the crux of the matter. What AIG did was not against the law. Therefore, there is nothing for Blumenthal or fellow Attorney General Anthony Cuomo of New York to investigate. It's all political posturing for their own gain. Neither can cite any law AIG has broken in regards to the bonuses paid out, bonuses they were obligated to pay out under contracts they had with those receiving them. AIG followed the law, paying out those bonuses, bonuses OK'd by Secretary of the Treasury Geithner (before he became the head of the Treasury).

Apparently these gentlemen have a difficult time understanding what is the law from what they'd like the law to be. Perhaps they need to go back to law school to refresh their memories before they waste any more of the taxpayer's money “investigating” actions that have broken no laws.


Hating What's Right

Though this appeared on Ace of Spades a couple of weeks ago, I felt it's still fresh and something conservatives and moderates should watch. If nothing else it delineates why the liberal/leftists Democrats see nothing good about America and do everything they can to tear it down.

Evan Sayet breaks it down to concepts even liberals can understand.

One point Evan brings up is the one sub-group each in the world of celebrities and academia that aren't automatically liberal Democrats, but Republicans: professional athletes and those in the hard sciences, respectively. His explanation: they both deal with objective truth, something that can't be explained away or excused via ideology or rhetoric. Professional athletes can't explain their performance (or lack of it) as a matter of politics or some kind of subjective BS, nor can someone like a physicist attribute the success or failure of an experiment to prejudice or affirmative action.

Thoughts On A Sunday

There was a gathering of the WP clan at The Manse last evening. It was for the purpose of celebrating my oldest sister's upcoming birthday (she being born on April 1st). The younger WP Sis couldn't make it up, but the rest of us were here.

It couldn't have been a better day for the gathering, with sunny and warm weather.


The bob houses are all gone from the big lake and the ice is starting to look soft. In my trip along the southern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee yesterday afternoon I got the chance to see a broad expanse of the lake. While there didn't appear to be any ice breaking up yet, open water has been appearing along the shoreline. Alton Bay showed a lot of open water around the M/S Mount Washington dock and where the river empties into the bay.

My original prediction of Ice Out – when the M/S Mount Washington can make all five of its ports of call around Lake Winnipesaukee – may have been too pessimistic. I was thinking ice Out would be declared on April 21st, but now I'm thinking maybe April 15th. The snows have been melting away so quickly that I have no doubt the lake ice will follow the same pattern.

Only time will tell.


It was 50 years ago today that Laconia, NH switched over from the old manual telephone switchboards to dial phones. On that day the phrase “Number, please?” disappeared from people's lives here in this part of the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.


My favorite political cartoonists, Cox & Forkum, have a new (and rare) cartoon post, along with links to commentary about the disaster-in-making that is Barack Obama's stimulus and budget plans.


It looks like Obama will use ACORN to form his brigades of Obama Jugend. I figure it's just a matter of time before ACORN becomes an official branch of the Executive Branch of the US government. Maybe a new version of the Sturm Abteilung or worse, the Geheim Staats Polizei?

If this doesn't scare the hell out of you, then you have no idea what's going on and/or have forgotten your history. Obama's presidency is quickly expanding the cult of personality that is Obama, and is starting to resemble a similar cult of personality in a certain country in Europe during the mid to late 1930's.


Mark Steyn has the right of it.

As President Reagan said, we are a nation that has a government, not the other way round. The nation pays for the government, not the other way round. I pay for Congressman Frank and Senator Dodd, not the other way round. I would appreciate it if they'd take up a less destructive pastime, perhaps joining Senator Kerry in windsurfing off the Irish coast in buttock-hugging yellow Lycra. If you have even a modest asset — a small house, a sluggish savings account, or pension provision — these people are making you poorer. Good luck digging yourself out from under.

It's obvious that Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama are working hard to make us all wards of the state. After all, they believe they know better than we do what we need...even though they don't.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


George Will believes the stimulus bill is unconstitutional. It cedes legislative authority to members of the Executive Branch of the government, violating the separation of powers as defined in the US Constitution.

I agree. Here's why:

The Supreme Court has said: "That Congress cannot delegate legislative power to the president is a principle universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the Constitution." And the court has said that properly delegated discretion must come with "an intelligible principle" and must "clearly delineate" a policy that limits the discretion. [The stimulus bill] flunks that test.

To paraphrase an old saying, “Legislate in haste, repent at leisure.”


As I mentioned above, Obama has created a cult of personality, not unlike Hugo Chavez and Adolph Hitler before him. Do you think I'm exaggerating? Then take a look at Ali Sina's Understanding Obama: The Making Of A [Führer].

When cheering for someone turns into adulation, something is wrong. Excessive adulation is indicative of a personality cult. The cult of personality is often created when the general population is discontent. A charismatic leader can seize the opportunity and project himself as an agent of change and a revolutionary leader. Often, people, tired of the status quo, do not have the patience to examine the nature of the proposed change.

He can create a cult of Personality by associating himself with the idea of change. He convinces everyone that things are terrible and a drastic change is needed. He then casts himself as the only person who can deliver this revolutionary transformation that everyone is waiting for. He portrays himself as a benevolent guide; the only one who cares about people and their needs and can pull them out of their alleged misery. In reality, they have no clue about how to address the problem - have no experience, no track record. But they are convincing because they are self assured.

These revolutionary leaders need foes. They exaggerate the problems. They make everything look gloomy. They lie, cheat and slander their opponents while casting themselves as the saviors of the nation. Hitler chose the Jews to blame for everything that was wrong in Germany. Khomeini made the Shah and his westernization plans his scapegoats. Obama has chosen President George W. Bush to smear.

A cult of personality is excessive adulation, admiration and exaltation of a charismatic leader, often with unproven merits or achievements. It is similar to hero worship except that it is created specifically for political leaders.

It certainly sounds exactly like what is happening and what Obama is promoting. He'll need that cult to keep him in office after he fails to keep his promises and strips the US economy of its energy and wealth. (All we need to do is look to Venezuela to see where our economy is headed should Obama succeed.)

(H/T Townhall.com)


One thing hampering the recovery is the mixed messages banks are receiving from regulators, “prodding them to lend more to get the economy pumping while examiners order unwarranted clampdowns on loans.”

Yet another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.


Bill Whittle comments on AIG, bonuses, and the faux outrage being expressed by Congress about the whole thing.

Make note that Bill Whittle has moved his blog over to Pajamasmedia!


It turns out that the five questioners publicly identified at Obama's online Town Hall meeting Q&A session weren't just ordinary members of the public chosen at randomk, but supporters that helped him during his election campaign.

They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.

That doesn't sound so random to me.


Has the nuclear power renaissance finally arrived in the US, or will the leftist envirowackos yet again kill off another form of power generation that might actually provide power to the people?

It seems that no matter what kind of power technology is developed, they find something to dislike about it and work hard to prevent its general deployment, be it nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, tidal, or any other kind of technology.

Of course once the lights go out they'll be the first to make sure they get power while the rest of us go back to living in the 18th Century, or if they had their way, in caves. After all, they'll need power to keep an eye on the rest of us to make sure we don't try to use any “forbidden” technology.

Of course they're real wish is to see the human race wiped off the face of the Earth in order to “protect” it.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the ice is rapidly melting, open water is appearing, and maple sugaring is still going strong.


Obama's "Smart Diplomacy" Isn't All That Smart

It appears President Obama's efforts at foreign relations through “smart” diplomacy isn't so smart after all.

America's enemies smell blood and it's type "O."

All new administrations stumble a bit as they seek their footing. But President Obama's foreign-policy botches have set new records for instant incompetence.

Contrary to left-wing myths, I wasn't a fan of the Bush administration. But fair's fair. Despite his many faults, Bush sought to do good. Obama just wants to look good.

Vice President Dick Cheney was arrogant. Vice President Joe Biden is arrogant and stupid.

Don't worry about the new administration's ideology. Worry about its terrifying naivete.

This isn't giving me the warm and fuzzies by any means.

They truly believe that if we can just talk to our enemies that we can convince them to change. But if history is any judge the only way to change them is to defeat them, not negotiate how they're going to kill us. The one big weakness the Obama Administration has in regards to foreign policy is their unwillingness (or incapability) to believe there are indeed evil effin' people out there that do nothing but plot how to kill as many Americans as they can, to turn America into just another Third World Caliphate, or if they can't do that, to turn America into a lifeless wasteland.

It doesn't help that Obama's so-called Smart Diplomacy efforts have also insulted our friends and allies, like the UK and France. That's not smart by any definition.

This is just one more example of the Obama Administration's incompetence.

While some have said “Hey, they've only been in office two months so give 'em a chance!”, I have the belief that incompetence is not something that takes a long time to show, particularly when it's gross incompetence. And that's what this is.

Smarter Than Congress

You know things are bad when my 14-year old son understands the how the economy works better than the cretins in Congress and the White House. Maybe it's because even at 14 he's already worked, earning his own money and coming to understand how much a dollar is really worth. He has no illusions, doesn't like the idea of buy now and pay later, and really hates seeing all those taxes taken out of the pay he's earned. (Yes, I know he'll get all his income taxes back, but he's still paying FICA and Medicare taxes. It's the principle of the thing.)

One question he asked me is one everyone should be asking:

“How the heck is the government going to pay for all that spending? Where's the money going to come from?”

Not even Obama can answer that question. The Chinese have already told the President they won't be lending us any more money. Neither will the Saudis. If they get all that money from the taxpayers, the taxpayers won't have any money left to spend on anything but the necessities, which won't help spur the economy to recovery. Neither will placing a heavy tax burden on businesses, which Congress appears to be ready to do.

Congress seems more than willing to do what they can to punish businesses these days merely because they exist and, horror upon horrors, feel threatened if they have the gall to make a profit. After all, aren't businesses the root of all our problems? The Democrats in Congress certainly seem to think so.

There has always been tension between the Democratic Party and the private sector. That tension is over. With its vote in the House of Representatives to punish corporate bonus payments, the national Democratic Party has disconnected itself entirely from the private sector.

The public bear-baiting of AIG's Ed Liddy, and then passage of the bonus bill, gave the nation a good look at the modern Democratic Party freed of constraints.

The current version of the party has largely broken free of any understanding whatsoever of the private sector -- how it works or what it needs to function.

The biggest problem I see with the Dems in Congress is that very few of them have ever had to worry about making a payroll, paying their suppliers, planning for expansion, convincing a bank to make a loan, or trying to figure out how the latest regulations and laws handed down from on high are going to impact their livelihood. They give little thought about the actual effect the bills they pass will have on businesses large and small. That's because they really don't care. Businesses are seen as nothing but a source of revenue, despite protestations to the contrary. The people that own them are seen as greedy capitalists stealing the bread from the mouths of starving children. The people working for them are seen as victims incapable of making their own way and needing the guiding hand of the benevolent dictatorship that is the government. And anyone saying different is seen as an enemy of the (socialist) state under the sway of the the greedy capitalists.

Another problem with the Democrats controlling Congress is they believe that wealth is a zero sum game, and if one person got rich it's because they made someone else poor. (In the case of Congress it's likely true. After all, how many representatives in Congress end up becoming wealthy while impoverishing hard working business owners by burying them under increasingly burdensome regulations and hiking their taxes, putting an even bigger strain on them? Far too many.)

But a lot of it can be broken down to this:


Try One More Decimal Place To The Left

To quote a less well known line from the movie Real Genius, “I think we used too much!”

Anyone that watches Mythbusters on Discovery Channel knows that Adam and Jamie like to blow stuff up. It's a given that every so often they will come up with an excuse to use an explosion to test one myth or another. This time was no different, but it appears they miscalculated the amount of explosives they'd need for this particular episode. And by miscalculate, I'm talking about by a whole bunch.


Obama Spending Plan A Disaster In The Making

After a rather vigorous discussion with a co-worker about the upcoming budget, I asked the one question I thought might settle the question about the outrageous deficit Obama's proposed budget would incur: “How can the President possibly justify such a large deficit when just about everyone that understands economics knows there's no way we'll ever be able to pay off the debt?”

My co-worker's response was disheartening, proving to me they had absolutely no understanding of how the economy actually works.

“It won't be a problem. There will be plenty of money to pay the debt. It won't be like the Bush years, with the huge deficits he ran because of the war in Iraq.”

That's when I realized that, like Obama and far too many members of his administration, as well as Congress, believe that money will appear like magic. They don't understand that money has to be made, to be earned. Just turning on the printing presses doesn't fix the problem. Clinging to Bush Derangement Syndrome is not a solution.

Of course my co-worker was dead wrong. As I informed them, the budget deficit for Obama;s budget for the upcoming fiscal year will be as big as the deficits of George Bush's budgets combined.

How anyone can think spending, borrowing, and taxing to the level that will be required to pay for all the spending and borrowing will in any way benefit any of us is beyond me. Frankly, we will have little to show for all that spending except massive debt, an even larger, more bloated government incapable of doing anything for anyone, a seriously crippled economy, and a decline in our standard of living to that of sometime around 1900. What's worse is that none of it is necessary. The kind of intervention Obama insists we need is just so much neo-marxist BS. But with the Marxist-In-Chief (barely) running the show, the chances of us not taking a major hit to our wallets over the next four years are two – slim and none.

(H/T Instapundit)


Cold Fusion Proven

First Pons and Fleischmann announce cold fusion back in 1989, but no one can recreate their results.

Now in 2009 U.S. Navy researchers say Pons and Fleischmann were right. The problem, according to those Navy researchers, was that no one had the right instrumentation to accurately measure neutrons released by the cold fusion reaction.

U.S. Navy researchers claimed to have experimentally confirmed cold fusion in a presentation at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting.

"We have compelling evidence that fusion reactions are occurring" at room temperature, said Pamela Mosier-Boss, a scientist with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (San Diego). The results are "the first scientific report of highly energetic neutrons from low-energy nuclear reactions," she added.

...the Naval researchers claim that the problem was instrumentation, which was not up to the task of detecting such small numbers of neutrons. To sense such small quantities, Mosier-Boss used a special plastic detector called CR-39. Using co-deposition with nickel and gold wire electrodes, which were inserted into a mixture of palladium chloride and deuterium, the detector was able to capture and track the high-energy neutrons.

In case you're wondering what CR-39 is, it's no special super-secret formulation. It's quite common. In fact, if you wear glasses made with plastic lenses, those lenses are likely made from CR-39.

Who knew your eyeglasses would make such great neutron detectors?

If this breakthrough proves true, and so far a number of other groups have provided evidence of cold fusion, yet another path to cheap and plentiful power could be just around the corner.

One of the other fusion projects showing great promise is polywell fusion, a project started by the late Robert Bussard. Bussard's program has continued past his death, with some researchers from Los Alamos taking a leave of absence to continue Bussard's work at Emc2 Fusion Development Corporation.

Not Watching

No, I haven't been watching the President's “press” conference. I figure I can read the carefully packaged and pre-edited transcript after the fact. It will take me less time and I can watch Reaper on the DVR.

Frankly, I'll get more from the latter rather than the former.


Some More Words Of Wisdom From Rand

For those of you who have never had the opportunity or haven't made the time to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, it is a perfect descriptor of why socialism is a dismal failure, as history has shown us time and time again. It gets to the root of why socialism is such a bad economic model, particularly when it comes to the denigration of those in society actually producing the wealth (it's not just the rich, but anyone that works creating things everyone needs and uses). The government then confiscates that wealth “for the good of society”. The government, at the urging of the non-producers, also punishes those creating the wealth, calling them greedy, evil, and selfish. In other words, in a socialist society success is punished and sloth is rewarded. This is why socialism always fails.

Why bring this up now? In light of the AIG bonus flap (one of Congress' making), it seemed that some words of caution be used to explain why Congress has got it all wrong. Though bonuses paid out by AIG may not have been the smartest or most ethical thing they could have done, it was legal and justifiable. But that's beside the point.

What it comes down to is you don't punish the innocent along with the guilty. Not that it seems to matter to Congress, the MSM, and the aggrieved taxpayers. All they talk about is how corporate greed by AIG caused this problem.

They are totally wrong.

For one thing, the employment contracts required that bonuses be paid. No one, not even Congress, can get away with breaking a legally binding contract without consequence. AIG, and perhaps Congress, would have been dragged into court for breach of contract by those employees that had nothing to do with the failure of AIG's division handling the default credit swaps that put them $120 billion in the hole. AIG's other divisions are still bringing in billions, performing well despite the meltdown in the housing market and the resulting mortgage defaults, but executives in those divisions are being targeted as well.

The purpose of this tax is a work around to the contracts that were legally binding and also approved by Congress and the President. However, it targets a extremely small, politically despised, group of people and takes away their money that they were legally entitled to. Is this not the same as Congress finding them guilty without the benefit of a jury trial and simply instituting a fine on their earnings, albeit called a “tax”. A rose by any other name and all of that…

This sound eerily familiar, doesn't it? Oh, wait! Of course! It comes back to Atlas Shrugged...again.

Some quotes from Atlas Shrugged illustrates just how wrong Congress, the MSM, and many of the less understanding or less informed taxpayers are when it comes to pay, bonuses, and compensation for one's hard work. The excerpts below are from Francisco D'Anconia's speech about money and its worth.

"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions--and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.”

"But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made--before it can be looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.”

"But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality--the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.”

"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.”

"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another--their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.”

“Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed.”

Are we to that point yet? No, but we're close to reaching it. If we let Congress and President Obama carry through with their plans for the economy, including tightly regulating the creation and legal transfers of wealth for goods and services, then we as a nation are doomed to servitude and privation.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Spring-like weather has been the rule over the past week, doing a serious job melting the snow cover around the lake. The snowmobile trails are showing a lot of bare ground, so that particular sport has ended in this part of New Hampshire.

With the warm weather a lot of the ice fishermen have moved their bob houses off the ice in anticipation of the ice melting and breaking up. All bob houses must be off the ice by April 1st. There are more than a few procrastinators that like to wait until the last minute to pull theirs off the ice. The problem is that sometimes they can't reach them due to open water between them and their bob houses or they can't drive their vehicles out on the ice to tow them off because the ice is too thin.

It's been warm enough to eschew firing up the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove over the past few days, though we'll need to fire it up later today as colder weather moves in this afternoon.

Last winter we used almost 7 cords of wood to heat The Manse. This winter we'll use just under 4 cords. I don't know if it was because we sealed up the house in a smarter fashion (we sealed the sliders and only a couple of the windows as compared to sealing all the windows last winter) or whether it was not as cold as last winter. Maybe it was a combination of both. We did use more propane this winter, but not a whole lot more. (It helped that propane was a lot cheaper this winter as compared to last year.)

Knowing Mother Nature can be fickle, I am under no illusion that she won't throw another snowstorm or two our way before spring establishes itself in earnest. But for now we'll enjoy the weather we have.


“Tea Party” protests are becoming more numerous and attracting larger crowds. The question is whether Congress and the President are paying attention. Of the former, I'd say more are taking notice. Of the latter, I doubt it's even on his radar.

When Tea Party protests are drawing far more participants than anti-business (AIG) protests, you know the public is getting fed up with the spend, spend, spend and tax, tax, tax plans of Congress and the President. What is really illuminating is the protesters comprise people from across the age spectrum and includes not just conservatives, but a growing number of moderates. Another sign: polls show Republicans have pulled even with Democrats , with the economy and Congress' mishandling of the situation being one of the main factors in this swing. As more taxpayers show their displeasure with the Democrat controlled Congress at the Tea Party protests, I have no doubt that even more will swing towards the GOP. This spells trouble for the Democrats.


There's more fallout to be expected from Congress's drive to punish bonus recipients at AIG, including foreign banks looking to poach workers from AIG and other American financial institutions.

Congress's plan to use taxes as punishment is also hypocritical, particularly in light of Charles Rangel (D-NY) saying one thing yet doing just the opposite. (Is that really a surprise?)


Another problem with the punitive tax on bonuses is how it will fall under sway of the Law of Unintended Consequences, particularly as it will apply to the rest of us. Never mind that it is clearly unconstitutional. That's never stopped Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid before.


How embarrassing!

Researchers trying to prove Arctic ice is melting away and will soon disappear found themselves being frozen out by well below normal temperatures and rapidly thickening ice.

Ironically, US Army buoys monitoring ice flows and thickness in the Arctic have shown that average ice thickness has grown by half a meter since last March.


This is just plain stupid.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Now Obama seems to think the Constitution allows him to regulate the pay of executives of financial institutions. How long before he tries to extend that regulation throughout the entire economy, for businesses large and small?

I give it six months.


This is outright scary.

My answer to these Obama Jugend will be in two parts:

First, I will say I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I will not swear an oath of loyalty to become a member of the cult of personality that is President Obama.

Second, I will tell them to get the hell off my property and not return. While saying this I will let them see the firearm hanging at my side in its holster.

That's all the answer they will get from me.


GraniteGrok reminds us of Obama's campaign and inaugural promises and how we've learned those promises come with an expiration date.

What's worse is that Obama isn't even sorry he's going back on his promises, particularly the ones dealing with bipartisanship, lobbyists, and open and transparent government.


Like a number of other Republican governors, Governor Sarah Palin isn't drinking the stimulus kool aid.

She is accepting only those funds that are temporary and come with no federal strings.

"We will request federal stimulus funds for capital projects that will create new jobs and expand the economy. We won’t be bound by federal strings in exchange for dollars, nor will we dig ourselves a deeper hole in two years when these federal funds are gone. For instance, in order to accept what look like attractive energy funds, our local communities would be required to adopt uniform building codes. Government would then be required to police those codes. These types of funds are not sensible for Alaska.”

Frankly she sounds more sensible than the present occupant of the White House.

(H/T Granite Slate)


The annual Ice Out guessing game has started again here at Lake Winnipesaukee.

Ice Out is defined as the date when the cruise ship M/S Mount Washington can make all five ports of call on Lake Winnipesaukee.

I'm shooting for April 21st.


A question relevant to Obama's push for socialized medicine in the US: Did Canada's universal health care system kill Natasha Richardson?

According to Montreal's head trauma physician, the answer is most likely yes.

Do we really want to emulate the Canadian health care system? Not if this is an example of the quality of health care we can expect.

(H/T Bob Parks)


Finally, ACORN is in the sights of a Congressional probe, looking at ACORN's illegal activities, from voter fraud and running a mob-style 'protection' racket. Ironically, the Congressman calling for the probe is Michigan Democrat John Conyers, Jr., Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Does this mean they may have to give back the $2 billion their mentor got for them through the stimulus bill?


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the ice is melting, the mud is forming, and summer can't get here soon enough.


Do We Really Want Government To Run Health Care?

Eric The Viking gives us a preview of what we'll be in for once the US Government takes over health care: bankruptcy.

It seems that the mandatory health insurance requirements in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is bankrupting the state, with higher than projected costs sucking tax dollars down the proverbial black hole. Despite claims to the contrary by the state government, costs are expected to continue their well above inflation rise. And if history is any guide, the quality and quantity of care will decline.

Other states have suffered the same fate. Just ask someone in Tennessee about Tenncare. Costs went up, the number of health care providers in the system went down, and fewer services were provided as the state tried to shed itself of the increasing costs. In the end Tenncare became nothing more than a shadow of what it was intended to be.

If you want a national viewpoint, just take a look at the National Health Service in the UK or health care in Canada. They've gone down the same road. Do we really want to do something like that here in the US?

As one of my co-workers stated (he being of a left-of-center viewpoint), “We have to do something about this mess!” I agreed, but disagreed that we need some kind of national health insurance. I asked him, “Why would we want to replace a system that is disjointed, expensive, but that works after a fashion with something we know doesn't work at all, will cost billions more than now, and will provide nothing more than access to a waiting list?”

He had no answer.

Neither does Congress or President Obama.


Over All Too Soon

A short post tonight for a good reason:

The final episode of Battlestar Galactica aired tonight.

I am depressed. No more Adama. No more Number Six.



AIG - Congress And Ex Post Facto Law

I couldn't have said it better.

From MarketWatch:

"Responding to the anger about bonuses paid to AIG traders, the House approved a bill Thursday that would impose a punitive 90% tax on bonuses paid by American International Group Inc and other financial companies that receive federal help. The vote was 328-93. The bill would apply to bonuses of people making more than $250,000 a year, and would apply only to payments from companies getting more than $5 billion from the federal government."

From James Madison:

"Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. ... The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community."

Ol' James Madison had the right of it. The Congress is acting in violation of the US Constitution, pass an ex post facto law punishing those being paid bonuses as per their contracts. I may not like the fact that some working for AIG are getting bonuses they may not deserve, but others working for other divisions within AIG, divisions still making money and not part of the default credit swap debacle, are being penalized by a capricious, emotional, and ignorant Congress. The contracts they have with AIG require payment of those bonuses, unless Congress feels they have the power to break those contracts. But if someone within AIG takes the government to court, Congress may find it is not the ultimate power.

Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution states, “No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” But that's exactly what this punitive tax on those bonuses happens to be.

Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution states, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States. But this law is aimed at one small group of people for the purposes of punishing them, even those innocent of even perceived wrongdoing. It's more of a “we'll show you, you greedy bastards!” move. It sets a bad precedent, because if they get away with it this time, they'll do it again to another group they don't like. The looting will have begun.

Of course to those in Congress and the White House, the Constitution is a “living document”, meaning they can ignore the parts they don't like.

(Stolen shamelessly from Maggie's Farm.)


You Can't Get This At WalMart...Yet

You know just about every teenage boy and geek worthy of the name is going to want one of these.


Obama, Rand, And Incompetence

As time goes on, more people are starting to see their initial impression of Barack Obama was correct: He doesn't have the experience needed to sit in the Oval Office. Or as some have put it, he and his team are incompetent.

Goodness knows Obama is having a difficult time filling the open slots on his cabinet. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) took a closer look at what the President wanted in a Commerce Secretary and decided to tell him “Thanks, but no thanks.” He didn't want to be nothing but a mouthpiece for the administration, in charge of a major government department that was going to get more and more of it's functions subsumed by the White House.

Gregg is merely one of many that have said “no thanks”, or were disqualified due to legal problems, or decided they wanted nothing to do with an administration that appeared to be doing its darnedest to destroy the US economy and replace it with a system everyone knows doesn't work.

It's like a nightmare right out of Atlas Shrugged, as Obama and the other members of the triumvirate, Pelosi and Reid, are working very hard to use the present economic “crisis” to redistribute wealth they haven't earned and give it to those too lazy, incompetent, stupid, or too envious to make their own wealth.

Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

As much as Obama keeps laying the blame for the present economy squarely on the shoulders of his predecessor, he's got to point the finger at Pelosi and Reid and their fellow Democrats in Congress as well as they helped engineer the very economic crisis we're now facing.

It makes one wonder about Obama's competence when he'll create a greater deficit in one year than George W. Bush did in eight years in office, explaining it away as needed spending to help the economy recover. But all it really is is theft on a scale so huge that it boggles the mind, taking money from those actually making it and then pissing it away on things this country really doesn't need or want. We already know he's pretty good at spending other people's money, in this case the Annenberg Foundation's money, and having nothing to show for it. Will it be any different with over $3.5 trillion of taxpayer money? I doubt it.

Goodness knows he's made known his dislike of the wealthy, he being a good little socialist, but he also shows his ignorance of who it is that creates all the jobs in this country. (Hint: it ain't the government.) He also chooses to ignore that most of the wealthy got that way by working hard, taking chances, and doing their jobs better than their competitors. That lack of understanding is a danger signal to the rest of us that he's only getting started at dismantling an economic system that is, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, the worst economic system in existence, except for all the others.

Imagine his surprise when he finds that more Americans are waking up to the fact that he plans to greatly reduce their standards of living “for their own good” and are letting know their displeasure.

The world seems to be emerging from a moral and intellectual coma, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently. It is discovering that other ideas have other consequences, as well, ideas that promote life, promote prosperity, promote ambition and personal success, and that they are possible only in political freedom, and that this freedom has been violated, abridged, and nullified by the first set of ideas. True, politics is the last thing to be affected by a philosophical revolution. But one cannot help but be pleased with how startled the collectivists and altruists are now by the knowledge that they have not successfully pulled a fast one on Americans. These Americans have come knocking on the doors of elitists or leaning over the café railings or invading their legislated smoke-free bars and restaurants to ask: What in hell do you think you are doing?

The Americans who recently protested the spendthrift policies of the Obama administration and Congress with “tea parties,” and who plan to protest them on an even larger scale in the near future, one can wager are not regular readers of The New York Times. They cannot have much in common with its columnists and editors, nor with the news media.

So the collectivist and altruist elite become very touchy when the people for whom they are “doing good” for their own sake, even to the point of enacting coercive and felonious legislation, exhibit signs of intelligence, resistance and anger. How dare these yokels!

And nothing raises their hackles higher than any mention of Ayn Rand.

Could it be because Rand rightfully labeled these parasites for what they are? Looters.

They produce nothing tangible yet feel they are entitled to take money you, me, and every other American has earned because they know how to spend it far more wisely than we do. Again, it's “for our own good.” They loot the treasury and expect us to fill it up again so they can steal even more. And in the process they propose laws and regulations making it even more difficult for us to create own wealth, and once created, to keep it. They'll justify it by trying the tell us the wealthy got that way by stealing money from the poor. (Why steal it from the poor? They haven't got any money to steal. See how this line of reasoning falls apart once simple logic is applied?) They treat wealth as a zero sum game: someone got rich because they made someone else poor. But it hasn't worked that way for centuries.

Maybe someone should send the Incompetent-In-Chief a memo about that.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Warm weather has returned for a second weekend in a row. We certainly aren't complaining.

There's still plenty of snow cover, meaning there's little we can do in way of yard work. Even if the snow was gone the ground would be soggy, again preventing any kind of yard work. That's fine with me!

It looks like the winter weather is finally fading away, though I have no doubt we'll see at least one or two more snowstorms before we really get into spring weather.

Thoughts of work on the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout, aka The Boat, have been making their appearance. BeezleBub and I have been talking about the work we'll need to do starting next month to get The Boat ready to go back in to the water some time in May. That's the true sign that we've had enough of winter.


Yaron Brook asks “Is [Ayn]Rand Relevant?”

Like Brook, I have to say 'yes'. Reading her Atlas Shrugged gives one the feeling of déja vu. Comparing what Obama and Congress are doing today with the events in Atlas Shrugged, you realize the parallels are damn scary. It's as if they're using the novel as a blueprint for destruction of the US economy.

Rand also noted that only an ethic of rational selfishness can justify the pursuit of profit that is the basis of capitalism -- and that so long as self-interest is tainted by moral suspicion, the profit motive will continue to take the rap for every imaginable (or imagined) social ill and economic disaster. Just look how our present crisis has been attributed to the free market instead of government intervention -- and how proposed solutions inevitably involve yet more government intervention to rein in the pursuit of self-interest.

Rand offered us a way out -- to fight for a morality of rational self-interest, and for capitalism, the system which is its expression. And that is the source of her relevance today.


(H/T Instapundit)


American Thinker deconstructs the Myth of Relativism and the Cult of Tolerance.

The one thing I've found about those espousing tolerance is that far too often they aren't.


It appears President Obama will be foregoing yet another presidential tradition, the annual Gridiron Dinner.

Could it be because there won't be any teleprompters available?


Bruce tells us of an underreported shortage of lead, brass, and copper.


If you're like me, the thought of continuing your education, formally or informally, has great appeal. But sometimes lack of funds or time prevents you from making the trip to the local institute of higher learning. But fret not, for there are ways to increase your knowledge without the need to twist your schedule around nor take a second or third job to pay for it.

Simply go here to peruse the online courses (all free) from places like MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, Yale, Tufts, UC Berkeley, Notre Dame, and a host of other colleges and universities. There are also a host of other online resources available, too.

While studying using these resources won't gain you a degree, it will expand your knowledge and abilities, something that is always worthwhile.

MIT's courses have been available online for some time, and I've availed myself of them more than once. It was definitely worth the time.


H.R. 1388, the so-called GIVE Act makes volunteerism mandatory. If it's mandatory then it isn't volunteering, is it? Instead it is involuntary servitude. Much of the bill that I've read sounds more like it's creating something analogous to the Hitler Jugend.

I wonder how long before there will be a push for members of this organization to inform on their friends, neighbors, and family members?

For those of you in New Hampshire, one of the co-sponsors of this legislation is Democrat Carol Shea-Porter (1-NH). She's made no bones about getting government more involved in everyone's lives, even when it comes to what they'll do in their own homes. This merely proves she is the socialist she's always claimed she wasn't.

One of the other co-sponsors is Charles Rangel of New York, the same Democrat that tried to bring back the draft because he thought far too many minorities were bearing the burden of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. (He was wrong.)


Instapundit has quite a bit of coverage of the “handful” of Tea Party protests taking place around the country. At last count that handful of protests amounts to at least 35. I wouldn't say 35 is a “handful”.

Glenn also has pictures and comments from the Cincinnati Tea Party. As one commenter wrote, “Great crowd. This is only getting started…. The square was packed - a larger crowd than what Oktoberfest usually draws, even without the promise of cold beer.”


Rick Moran asks “Is the stimulus bill unconstitutional?”

The fact that it tries to rewrite some state constitutions, allowing state legislators to override a state's governor to accept stimulus funds a governor may have refused because there were too many federal strings attached, may be just what we need to kill it off.


Who are you going believe when it comes to the failure and misery of socialism, someone who had the misfortune to live under it and survived, or the know-nothing Democrats in Congress and the White House trying to bring that kind of hell to the US?

Considering history has shown socialism is a dismal failure that impoverished and in the end, killed millions directly or through neglect, I'd go with the former rather than the latter.


Hollywood liberal-turned-conservative Ron Silver has died of cancer. He was 62.

(H/T Ace of Spades)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the snow and ice is melting, town meetings have taken place, and where the wood piles are getting pretty small.


Shouldn't The Government Abide By The Constitution?

Why is it government, federal and state, figure they aren't required to abide by either the US or state constitutions? President Obama figures the US Constitution is more of a guideline rather than the law. Governors and/or legislators figure their state constitutions don't apply to them, particularly when it comes to taxes, spending, and restrictions on freedoms.

In my home state of New Hampshire, both the Legislature and the Governor decided some time ago they could ignore constitutionally mandated funding and raid the state highway fund and use the money for purposes other than those required. Though the present governor made mention in the past that the highway find isn't an ATM to be used by the legislature, he's done nothing to stop them from doing just that.

As the New Hampshire state constitution says in Part II:

[Art.] 6-a. [Use of Certain Revenues Restricted to Highways.] All revenue in excess of the necessary cost of collection and administration accruing to the state from registration fees, operators’ licenses, gasoline road tolls or any other special charges or taxes with respect to the operation of motor vehicles or the sale or consumption of motor vehicle fuels shall be appropriated and used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of public highways within this state, including the supervision of traffic thereon and payment of the interest and principal of obligations incurred for said purposes; and no part of such revenues shall, by transfer of funds or otherwise, be diverted to any other purpose whatsoever. (emphasis added)

That seems pretty straightforward to me. There's little, if any, wiggle room. The taxes and fees collected as described in the article must be spent as the article states. I don't see any exceptions, nor any ambiguities that would allow the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars out of the highway fund to a general revenue fund to be used for purposes that have nothing to do with our highways.

This theft, for that's what it is, has left the highway fund short well over $100 million and that deficit is growing. The answer from the state legislature to fill this hole?

Raise the gas taxes by 15¢.

Yeah, as if the Legislature won't steal that money, too. They've already talked about using the extra revenue to fund and subsidize a commuter rail line between New Hampshire's biggest city, Manchester, and Lowell, Massachusetts. Never mind that to do so would be unconstitutional as a rail line can in no way be considered a highway.

Of course all they would really need to do is return the money they've 'appropriated' from the highway fund and the 'need' for the gas tax hike would disappear. But that would also mean they wouldn't be able to fund a host of other pet projects and unneeded social programs.

It's time for the New Hampshire state legislature to start following the law. It's also time for President Obama to reread the US Constitution and discover that none of his beliefs about the necessity to 'redistribute the wealth' is written anywhere in that document. (But then we must remember that like most leftists, he believes the Constitution is a 'living' document that can be ignored when it's inconvenient for them to follow it.)


The One's Numbers Start To Slide

Like any President, Obama's popularity numbers have started to fall as he exits the so-called “honeymoon” period, the first couple of months after entering office.

Surprising to some (but not me), Obama's numbers are lower than some would expect.

Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.

Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative.

That's not surprising, particularly with his true self now showing – the inexperienced Chicago pol with a socialist chip on his shoulder, someone incapable of being able to speak coherently in front of the public without his trusty teleprompter. He's managed to piss away any political capital by shutting out the conservatives within Congress, despite his claims of being able to foster bipartisanship. (As I'm going to repeat again, he defines bipartisanship as “Shut up and do what I tell you to do!”) He's done quite a bit of damage to his credibility with quite a few moderates as well.

As he piles on one spendthrift 'plan' after another, I expect his numbers will decline even faster. That downward trend will accelerate once the taxpayers get the bill for all of his new spending.


The Obama Facade Is Starting To Crack

Perusing one of the blogs I consider one of my regulars, I came across this gem from the DC Examiner about how the ground is shifting beneath Obama's feet.

His plans appear to have pulled out of the socialist handbook, spending money the country doesn't have to fund programs the country doesn't want or need, all the while ignoring what really needs to be done (or in some cases, not done).

He doesn't appear to be able to provide the constant attention he needs to give to running the country. The presidency is not a 9 to 5 job, as much as he tries to treat it like it is.

His inability to face the economic crisis with anything but plans that, if implemented, will only make things worse and delay the recovery of the US economy by many months, and maybe a couple of years, will ensure he will be a one-term president.

But none of this is a surprise to me (or to a large number of those commenting on the DC Examiner piece.)

From my post back on October 10th, 2008:

He talks a good game but he rarely follows through. All of the community organizing he did amounted to nothing and accomplished the same, leaving little to show for his efforts...other than bolstering his rather thin resume. He managed to piss away over $100 million of Annenberg Foundation funds and has nothing to show for it. That's not bold leadership. That's incompetence, or worse, fraud.

Then there's this from October 16th:

"It's not that I want to punish your success," Obama replied. "I want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success, too."

"My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

It's one thing when it's done voluntarily, and an entirely different thing when you're given no choice. Obama wants to make sure you have no choice whatsoever. That's the "change" he wants to bring about.

The left is always trying to achieve equality of results, while everyone else is trying to make sure everyone has an equality of opportunity.

And then there's this gem from October 18th that paints Obama for the hypocrite he is:

Barack Obama points his finger at "greedy Wall Street" and the banks that have failed or are about to fail as the cause of the present financial meltdown. But as he points his finger, three others are pointing back at him. Many of those banks would never have gotten involved in risky mortgages if he and others hadn't sued many of those same banks for lending discrimination, so-called "redlining", and forcing them to lend to those incapable of paying back those loans.

So he blames the banks that were forced to lend money to those incapable of paying it back, and somehow they're the bad guys? Give me a break.

And there's this from the same post:

He is also very good at saying much, but meaning little, a way of being able to appear to promise something to the masses, yet never really coming out and saying exactly what. Such an ability does not fill me confidence.

From October 25th:

For an Ivy League educated man, Barack Obama shows in incredible lack of understanding of taxes and how they affect the economy. He has also shown he is no math wiz, making claims about providing 95% of “working families” a tax cut. There's only one problem: a large portion of those working families already pay no income taxes. So how will he cut their taxes? He hasn't really explained that as far as I can recall.

And from
October 27th:

Somehow he equates social justice with discredited theories of redistributing wealth, in other words, taking money from you to give to people he thinks deserve it more than you. Spoken like a true socialist.

He also tries to make the case that the government isn't prevented from doing what he thinks it must by the US Constitution, regardless that it might unconstitutionally violate a number of individual rights.

And there there's this from November 1st:

It's one thing for a candidate or his campaign organization to spin stories, it's another to decide which media organizations are worthy to cover every utterance of the great Democratic Savior and which are not.

Can we expect these same folks will react the same way when ordinary Americans start asking the same questions? Will Obama's elitist attitude finally become obvious to even his most ardent worshippers, showing their hero has all the same weaknesses as ordinary mortals? Or will they allow their devotion to blind them to the fascism of their Führer, excusing actions that would get anyone else skewered by the press or, even worse, the average American?

Obama has shown a propensity to damage or destroy those who would question his past or his motives. Even friends and political mentors are not immune, as some have found out the hard way.

It still goes on and, as we know, anyone questioning any of his programs or pronouncements are denounced as racists. (Notice how he and his supporters are the only ones playing the race card? That's been the case since last July. If you disagree with him it must be because he's black.)

I could go on and on like this, going back farther to show that Obama was showing his true stripes well before the election, yet his supporters chose to ignore what many conservatives saw as plain as day.

Many questions raised about The One months ago still haven't been answered, and those that have leave more people feeling uneasy about where he's taking the country. Even some of his supporters are starting to question his actions and his motives, and are wondering if they've made a mistake voting for someone with little actual experience at anything other than getting elected.


OPEC Price Woes

Isn't it interesting when an oil minister in the Middle East is complaining that crude oil prices are too low?

...members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are working to control prices to "inch them up."

OPEC plans to meet March 15 in Vienna, and some of its leaders have said a production cut is likely.

As one commenter to the story wrote:

When storage tanks at tank farms are full to the brim and supertankers sit at anchor with full holds and no place to offload, there's no way anyone will be able to dictate that crude prices should be higher. Oil isn't selling at ~$40 per barrel. It isn't going to sell at $50 either. Even when OPEC cut back production earlier this year the crude prices went down. (link added - ed)

Unless demand picks up, prices aren't going to go anywhere. If the worldwide recession gets worse, then the prices will likely fall, even with further production cuts.


Thoughts On A Sunday

The latest round of warm weather arrived this weekend, with temps in the upper 50's and a lot of sunshine. It's made for a lot of melting. The roof of The Manse is now bare after being covered in snow for the past few weeks.

The warmer temps have also allowed for us let the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove to take a break. If this winter follows the pattern of last winter (as it has so far), we'll only be needing the woodstove for another month. After that we might need it for the occasional cold evening.

Surprisingly, we haven't used nearly as much firewood this winter compared to last winter. We easily went through six and-a-half cords last year. This year we might use all of four. I'm not complaining by any means.


Is Obama channeling Richard Nixon? After reading about the Obama White House Enemies List, I'd have to say so.

I can't wait to share that honor with Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santelli, Jim Cramer, and David Brooks. If all it takes is to question Obama's policies, honesty, and/or competence, then I'm a shoo-in!


Eric the Viking links to a number of Obamanomics posts showing us he really has little understanding of how the US economy works.

Then again, few socialists have any understanding of economics. Certainly Hugo Chavez has proved that axiom.


There's so much crude oil out there that storage facilities are full and tankers are being used as floating storage tanks.

Says Insty: “I think this is good news.”

If this continues for any length of time expect crude prices to fall even further, production cutbacks by OPEC notwithstanding. The worldwide recession has poked a serious hole in oil consumption, dropping demand to levels not seen in decades.


As I wrote about yesterday, more people are planning to “go Galt”, cutting back on their production in order to make their income fall below the $250K trip point for paying higher taxes. A very good compilation of the going Galt phenomenon can be found at The Liberty Papers.

One of the better ideas found there came from QandO:

“I’d be more impressed if they fired a shot across the bow and coordinated a national day for cranking up their withholding allowances, just as high as they can. They’re planning their next party on Tax Day, right? One might think they’d be interested in ceasing to lend their earnings interest-free to the government. They might take some satisfaction in doing something that actually shows up on the government’s ledger.

Do you think the government would notice if hundreds of billions of dollars failed to flow into federal coffers? The government would lose the use of all of that money interest-free. That's one way of sending a message that can't be ignored.

Of course the government would induce Congress to change the tax laws or regulations making it a federal offense to claim more withholding allowances than they think you should.


There's no doubt in my mind: Obama is in over his head.

More than once this blogger has said Obama wasn't ready for the White House, having little to no experience dealing with executive decisions. He's very good at getting elected, but he's never really had to govern. His one stab at dealing with making executive decisions led to his wasting over $100 million of Annenberg Foundation funds with nothing to show for it.

This is going to be a long four years.


Apparently the state of Connecticut has decided to declare war on the Roman Catholic Church with a piece of legislation that can only be called 'evil'.

I would think the proposed legislation violates the First Amendment “as it is written, as opposed to the non-existent liberals’ First Amendment.”

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


If this young man is any indication, the future of the conservative movement is assured.

Young Jonathan is homeschooled, was a child actor, and is a published author. His book, Defining Conservativism, outlines it's core values.


I've seen this clock before, but it's still way cool!

(H/T BogieBlog)


Vermont Woodchuck at New England Republican tells us a precautionary tale about the history of gun control and its unintended consequences.

Certainly Australia's citizens are paying the price for their government's successful efforts to disarm them, with violent crimes on the rise (armed robberies are up 44 percent). So much for making the populace safer by taking away their guns.


Resistance to more federal government control is rising as states work to exercise their Ninth and Tenth Amendment rights. As it is the feds are walking on thin ice, trying to expand control over areas not defined in the US Constitution.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where town meetings and elections take place over the next few weeks, maple sugaring has started, and where town budgets are getting tight.


More Are 'Going Galt"

As the details of President Obama's plans come to light, is it any wonder that some people are “going Galt”?

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “going Galt” is a reference to the character John Galt in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Galt, refusing to be victimized by the 'looters' (those believing the fruits of your labors belong to them “for the good of society”), goes on strike, withdrawing his talent and knowhow from them and letting them try to survive without him.

Across the broad conservative movement, from members of Congress to activists to economists, Rand’s final, allegorical novel is being looked at with fresh eyes. According to the Atlas Society, a think tank that promotes and analyzes Rand’s work, sales of “Atlas Shrugged” have tripled since the presidential election. One congressman says that Rand wrote a “rulebook” that can guide conservatives through the age of Obama; another calls Obama’s policies something right out of the mind of Rand. One economist says that Rand’s fantasies have become reality. Smith is one of many activists citing Rand to explain their decisions to sell their stocks, or to explain why the president’s “demonization” of run-amok CEOs is aggravating the economic slowdown. The popular meme is giving critics of the president’s policies a way to explain why, they believe, it’s doomed to fail — because Rand predicted all of this…

Smith, who’s still mulling over ways that she can “go Galt,” sees a possibility for a moral stand. During the Iraq War, she read about a painter who’d painted less, reducing his income, in order to dodge taxes and thereby make sure he didn’t fund the war. “I’d go John Galt just to not pay for programs I don’t believe in,” said Smith. “If we’re opposed to socialistic concepts — if we know they don’t work — why should we pay to support them?”

Somehow Obama and his minions in Congress have come to believe that the money we earn doesn't really belong to us. Rather they believe it belongs to them to use as they see fit “for the good of society”. But society doesn't agree with him. Those that make the economy work have decided they aren't going to play by his rules and are taking their money and their talents and going on strike. One sure sign of this is the stock market, where Wall Street reacts every time the President lays out details of his plans by pulling money out of the market. They know if they leave it there he'll find some way of taking it away from them. It's no wonder the Dow dropped below 7,000 since he took office.

'Nuff said.


It's The End Of The World As We Know It

It's a disaster! It portends the end of the world as we know it! RUN AWAY!!!

What is it that means we might soon see our lives change for the worse? Is it Obama's plans to make us all totally dependent upon government for everything? Is it an asteroid that will hit the Earth and wipe out most life? Is it a plague? War? Global Warming??

No. It's far worse.

Fisher-Price is discontinuing the View Master!

We're all doomed! DOOMED, I SAY!!!

Amber LaPointe's introduction to one of the country's greatest tourist attractions came from small square pictures on a white wheel.

"It was like you could look into a world away," said the 28-year-old from Toledo, Ohio. "My only image of the Grand Canyon was from the View-Master."

The iconic reels of tourist attractions, often packaged with a clunky plastic viewer and first sold to promote 3-D photography, are ending their 70-year run after years of diminishing sales.

I remember using a View-Master as a kid, looking at scenes that stood out just like you were there. You could almost reach out and touch the subjects in those 3-D scenes.

I don't know how many disks I viewed. We had quite a few and traded with other kids in our neighborhood to see new things. That little plastic device and the round cardboard disks let me see things and go places I never thought I'd ever see in real life.

And now it's going away.


Wall Street Has No Confidence In Obamanomics, And Neither Do I

My son asked my why the stock market keeps tumbling, why it's below 7,000.

I could have filled his head with all kinds of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, explaining that stock markets can be volatile and the slightest event can trigger either a fall or a rise in stock prices. Instead, I told him what I believe to be the truth:

The investors have little or no confidence in President Obama's economic policies and they're getting out while they can with what cash they can before the Democrats can find yet another way to take it away from them.

I'm no economic genius. I've only taken Econ 101 in college. But I understand enough of it to know that what Obama has planned will do more harm than good to the economy.

With every new round of spending Obama proposes, the Dow Jones heads for the cellar. That should tell him and his advisors something: the people that understand our economy don't trust him because he doesn't know what he's doing. Or worse, he knows exactly what he's doing and doesn't care that he's singlehandedly tanking the economy.

...after five weeks in office, it's become clear that Mr. Obama's policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence -- and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth.

So what has happened in the last two months? The economy has received no great new outside shock. Exchange rates and other prices have been stable, and there are no security crises of note. The reality of a sharp recession has been known and built into stock prices since last year's fourth quarter.

What is new is the unveiling of Mr. Obama's agenda and his approach to governance. Every new President has a finite stock of capital -- financial and political -- to deploy, and amid recession Mr. Obama has more than most. But one negative revelation has been the way he has chosen to spend his scarce resources on income transfers rather than growth promotion. Most of his "stimulus" spending was devoted to social programs, rather than public works, and nearly all of the tax cuts were devoted to income maintenance rather than to improving incentives to work or invest.

A lot of people, particularly Democrat cheerleaders for Obama, are due for a rude awakening when the the effects of the stimulus bill, the proposed budget, and all of the proposed tax changes start to be felt. Any hope we had of a recovery sometime later this year will disappear, dragging this recession out for another year...or two.

So much for economic recovery.


Is It Any Surprise Small Businesses Don't Do Well In New Jersey?

I have to admit that when I saw the post by Tigerhawk about the Small Business Survival Index, I was not all that surprised at some of the results, though I was a little dismayed to see how my home state of New Hampshire fared.

To see that New Jersey was only one step from the bottom of the list wasn't surprising by any means, seeing how the state government went on a tax-and-spend spree. The fact that the only place worse than New Jersey is the District of Columbia should be obvious to those of us that understand the relationship between high taxes and low job/business growth.
The only jurisdiction that is worse than New Jersey for small business is the one that is controlled by the United States Congress directly. This is not surprising; the Garden State has raised taxes so much since 2001 that it has erased substantially more than half of the notorious "Bush tax cuts" for those of us who earn enough to hit the bogey.
New Jersey has had considerable job growth. Unfortunately most of it was in state government and not the private sector. What did they expect when they raised taxes and added a state income tax? Did they really think it would foster the growth of business is the state? Obviously they did.

I wish I could say that New Hampshire was high up on the list, but it wasn't. With the changes over the past 10 years or so within the state legislature and a Democrat in the corner office for 12 of the last 14 years, much of New Hampshire's business friendly climate has been replaced with one of avarice, with businesses being looked at as little more than sources of revenue for a rapidly growing budget and a spendthrift Democratic majority legislature.

The budget for the biennium that ends on July 1st had an increase of 17.5%. So much for New Hampshire frugality. What makes things worse the legislature vastly overestimated the revenues expected to fill the state coffers. That left the state with a deficit of ~$300 million. If the budget increase had been along the lines of the rate of inflation, then the state would have had a $175 million surplus.

To make up for the shortfalls, some taxes and a host of fees been increased, placing an even greater burden on the taxpayers, and particularly businesses in the state. So much for being a business friendly state. At least we're not as bad as the other five New England states, but that's not saying much.

Taking a look at the list presented in the post linked above, I find it interesting the states with better small business survival indexes tend to be so-called “red” states, while those with poorer indexes tend to be blue states. Now why would that be the case? Hmm. I wonder....


One Book Always Sells Better When The Leftists Take Over

Why does this not surprise me?

Viking Pundit informs us sales of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged always goes up whenever the forces of socialism try to torpedo capitalism.

It's easy to understand why if you've ever read the book. Those of us that have already read it buy it for friends in order to enlighten them about the evils of socialism, for actions excused as being “good for society.”

I don't know about you, but I have no desire to live in a society like that described by Ayn Rand. It's scary to even contemplate.

If you have not read Atlas Shrugged, I strongly suggest you go to your library and check it out, or order it from Amazon.


Thoughts On A Sunday - Special Edition

After some warmer weather that has allowed some of melting of previous snowfalls, we're in the path of yet another Nor'easter slated to arrive early Monday morning that will replace all the snow that's melted and then some.

We're expecting around 12 inches of snow here at The Manse by the time it all winds down Monday evening. I doubt BeezleBub will have school tomorrow, which means he'll get an additional day on his winter break. It also means he'll have time to use the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower to get everything cleaned up while I'm at work.


While I usually try to spread around the topics when I pen this weekend staple, I can't do that this time around. With the President's address to Congress, the so-called Stimulus Bill, and his proposed budget, I feel the need to comment and link to a number of posts and articles covering those three actions. Normally I wouldn't stick primarily to a single subject, but I've reached the point where I cannot think of anything else.

Many of those I'll be linking to have discovered the same thing I have: Obama hasn't got a clue about how the economy works, nor does it appear that he cares. Neither do his advisors. It appears they're doing everything the can to handcuff just about every area of our economy all in the name of 'recovery'. They haven't learned that for every dollar taken out of the economy, that's one less dollar available to the taxpayers to invest, spend, or save, which is what really 'stimulates' the economy. If they take enough out of the economy it stagnates. By placing even higher burdens on businesses, large and small, there will be little incentive for any of them to expand, to hire new workers. Even if Obama manages to create more jobs, they'll likely be government jobs which, as we know, do nothing but suck up tax dollars, produce nothing, and add nothing to the economy. The same is true for the many 'regulations' Obama wants to put on entire sectors of the economy. All they will do is make it more difficult to do business with little to show for it except to illustrate how much power they have over the very economy they're trying to 'save'.


James Lewis of American Thinker tells us how at least one liberal is finally waking up to the fact that Obama is gambling, with the odds against him.
You and I know what an unbelievable series of high-risk gambles Obama is taking with the future of this country. None of the liberals I've talked to so far have the faintest inkling of a smidgen of a notion of even a tiny whiff of an idea. They are so deep in the Obama bag that their frilly knickers are almost covered.

But David Broder, the "Dean" of liberal pundits presiding at the Washington Post itself, has finally caught on. Mr. Broder has the shakes over Obama's O-dacity. Good news! Here's one liberal who is in touch with reality, and he's scared out of his wits.
If someone like David Broder is scared, then the rest of the liberals should be, too. But will they wake up before it's too late to stop this debacle in the making? If I had to guess, the answer is “no”.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Larry Kudlow certainly understands how Obama is dismantling our economy by declaring war on the very institutions that drive it - “investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds.”
Raising the marginal tax rate on successful earners, capital, dividends, and all the private funds is a function of Obama’s left-wing social vision, and a repudiation of his economic-recovery statements. Ditto for his sweeping government-planning-and-spending program, which will wind up raising federal outlays as a share of GDP to at least 30 percent, if not more, over the next 10 years.

Study after study over the past several decades has shown how countries that spend more produce less, while nations that tax less produce more. Obama is doing it wrong on both counts.
There are plenty examples, both present day and in history, that show how Obama's economic plan will do nothing but weaken the economy, stifle growth, while making the American economy even less competitive. All one needs to do is look at France to see how well their economy is doing, for that is where Obama is driving this nation. France has a chronically high unemployment rate (employers cannot easily lay of workers they no longer need, so they are reluctant to hire workers they may not be able to shed if the economy tanks), the unions have considerable control of the economy (we're always hearing about nationwide strikes by truckers, railroad workers, civil servants, and others), and their health care system is falling apart (it's not as bad as Canada's or the UK's, but it's getting there).

We really don't want to go there.


I get the impression that Obama is counting on the altruism of the American taxpayers to willingly give more to the government. Counting on it is a grave error. People are altruistic when they can afford to be, but it isn't something anyone should count on. Marxists always tried to foster altruism in order to support their ideology, but they failed miserably. That's one reason why the Soviet Union failed, because one thing the Marxists failed to understand about Marx was that he believed man would come to communism by evolution, not by revolution and coercion.

In this case Obama is trying hard to ignore the power of incentives. Positive incentives can produce more economic growth. Negative incentives can produce economic contraction.

One area where he's ignoring incentives: charitable donations.
Under the president's proposal, joint filers making more than $250,000 a year would only recoup 28% of the value of qualified deductions, rather than higher percentages laid out under current law.

That could mean a couple in the 35% tax bracket who once could have recouped $3,500 of a $10,000 donation to a charity would now recoup only $2,800.

The White House estimates the change would generate about $318 billion over 10 years.
But anyone with an understanding of incentives knows that this change in the tax code will have the effect of decreasing charitable donations, which in turn will decrease the revenues collected because that money will go someplace else that garners a better deduction. It's another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Speaking of unintended consequences, a perfect example of taxes having the opposite effect from the one intended is the so-called “luxury tax” placed on luxury cars, planes, and boats back in 1990. It was thought it would be a good way to tax the rich. But what happened is the market for those luxury goods dried up, causing a loss of jobs and very little in the way of tax revenue.

We'll be proving that one again, but on a broader front if Obama gets his way.

(H/T Betsy's Page)


An opinion piece in the WSJ Online Journal debunks the “2% Illusion”, where by increasing income taxes on the top 2% of income earners will somehow be able to pay for the trillions of dollars of Obama's stimulus package and proposed budget.

It won't.
President Obama has laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda since LBJ, and now all he has to do is figure out how to pay for it. On Tuesday, he left the impression that we need merely end "tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans," and he promised that households earning less than $250,000 won't see their taxes increased by "one single dime."

This is going to be some trick. Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can't possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama's new spending ambitions.

Consider the IRS data for 2006, the most recent year that such tax data are available and a good year for the economy and "the wealthiest 2%." Roughly 3.8 million filers had adjusted gross incomes above $200,000 in 2006. (That's about 7% of all returns; the data aren't broken down at the $250,000 point.) These people paid about $522 billion in income taxes, or roughly 62% of all federal individual income receipts. The richest 1% -- about 1.65 million filers making above $388,806 -- paid some $408 billion, or 39.9% of all income tax revenues, while earning about 22% of all reported U.S. Income.

Note that federal income taxes are already "progressive" with a 35% top marginal rate, and that Mr. Obama is (so far) proposing to raise it only to 39.6%, plus another two percentage points in hidden deduction phase-outs. He'd also raise capital gains and dividend rates, but those both yield far less revenue than the income tax. These combined increases won't come close to raising the hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue that Mr. Obama is going to need.
So where is he going to get the rest of the money he needs in order to spend our children's future? From the rest of us, of course. He won't be able to keep his promise to cut taxes to the middle class because he'll need the revenue. He'll also have to place an even heavier burden on businesses, particularly small businesses. How can any of this help the economy? It can't. It will merely cause a greater retrenchment in the economy because no one will be able to afford buying anything that would help grow the economy. Everyone will be on an austerity budget.

Is this merely the first step down a slippery slope that will lead us to the nightmare of Atlas Shrugged?

Unless the insanity is stopped now, bet on it.


One of the more interesting comments to the above post I found on the WSJ forum defined the problem Obama, the Dems, and many of the liberals appear to have in regards to the economy, and particularly money.
I guess the 52% of the people who voted for [Obama] have magical thinking, also. Who creates wealth? Why, it comes about by magic. Where will it come from if there's no incentive to create it if it's confiscated? Why, somehow somebody will be there creating it. Magical thinking rules the day over there in the Land of Washington.
That's right folks, money comes from magic!

Somehow this sounds more likely an explanation of how Obama and the Congressional Democrats plan to pay for all this spending.


One thing Obama and the Democrats won't be able to blame on former President George Bush: the deficit.

Says Bob Krumm:
Ordinarily, from January to September of a new President’s first year, the government lives under the budget of his predecessor. That isn’t the case this year. Last fall the Democratic-controlled Congress refused to act on President Bush’s 2009 budget proposal, gambling that by delaying ratification of the budget until the new year, they would also have the Presidency and could write the budget exactly the way they wanted: without any Republican interference.

It worked out for them like they planned. However, the 2009 budget may be a case of “be careful what you wish for.” Barack Obama and the Democrats now own the 2009 budget. Every bit of it. They also own all of the (almost certain to be an underestimated) $1.75 trillion budget deficit, an amount four times the largest deficit President Bush ever created.
And if the Congressional Republicans can distance themselves from this budget debacle, voting against it as a block in the House and the Senate, they'll have given themselves the mantle of being fiscally responsible, unlike their Democrat colleagues. This might be the best chance the GOP will have to regain seats in both chambers in the 2010 mid-term elections.


Obama has a propensity to use straw man arguments, particularly when it comes to Republicans.
President Barack Obama reveres Abraham Lincoln. But among the glaring differences between the two men is that Lincoln offered careful, rigorous, sustained arguments to advance his aims and, when disagreeing with political opponents, rarely relied on the lazy rhetorical device of "straw men." Mr. Obama, on the other hand, routinely ascribes to others views they don't espouse and says opposition to his policies is grounded in views no one really advocates.

[Last] Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, "I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." Who exactly has that view? Certainly not congressional Republicans, who believe that through reasonable tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and prudent monetary policies government contributes to prosperity.
And that's only the beginning.


And that's the news as seen from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we're still working, still holding on to as much of our money as we can, and where the Tea Party spirit is growing.