Saturday, April 29, 2006

Buying Votes

From Assymetrical Information:

Someone in the Senate wants to give every American a $100 rebate to offset the pain of high oil prices. As the inimitable Professor Bainbridge asks, why not just call it The Official Republican Vote-Buying Act of 2006 and be done with it?

Every politician wants to be seen as doing something about high gas prices. Doing something is not the same as doing something constructive. It is not constructive to use tax revenues to buy votes.

Friday, April 28, 2006

National Anthem in Spanish

A British record producer has put out a Spanish version of the "Star Spangled Banner". The Spanish version changes some of the words, I suppose to make it flow better in Spanish. I have heard the Spanish version on the radio. Some of it sounds good to me, but hearing the national anthem of our English speaking nation being sung in Spanish is jarring. Still, I have heard worse versions of the national anthem sung in English at sporting events.

The official version is in English because the U.S. is and has always been an English speaking country. Good taste at official functions should continue to require the singing of the English version.

Immigrants, both legal an illegal, who want to be accepted in the U.S. are well advised to sing the official English version of the national anthem. Singing the Spanish version of the national anthem will set Hispanics apart and will mark them as people who do not want to assimilate into America.

This is a free country. People can sing what they want any way they want. We have many far more important matters with which to concern ourselves.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

U.N. Honors Spokesperson for Iranian Hostage Takers

The United Nations sinks to a new low. From Little Green Footballs:

The United Nations Environment Programme gave out its 2006 “Champion of the Earth” awards on April 21. The awards are intended to honor individuals or groups “for their creativity, vision and leadership, and the potential of their work and ideas for replication across the globe.” One of those justified in receiving this award — in the U.N.’s estimation — was Iranian Massoumeh Ebtekar. She was vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and head of the department of environment there from 1997-2005. But Ebtekar has another name — “Screaming Mary.” It was given to her by the American press during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Mary was her nom de guerre and Ebtekar was the hostage-takers’ spokesperson.

A December 2004 article in The Atlantic Monthly provides more details about the U.N.’s latest “Champion”:

she was especially disliked by many of the hostages ... in part because of her endless propagandizing. She would saunter through the captured embassy with a camera crew in tow, urging the hostages to describe their ordeal in upbeat terms. “You have been treated well, haven’t you?” was her constant refrain. During one such filming session, in the final days of captivity, Army Sergeant Regis Regan got so fed up with Ebtekar that he let loose with a stream of invective and was dragged into a hallway for a beating.

Read it all at Little Green Footballs.

U.N. Honors Spokesperson for Iranian Hostage Takers

The United Nations sinks to a new low. From Little Green Footballs:

The United Nations Environment Programme gave out its 2006 “Champion of the Earth” awards on April 21. The awards are intended to honor individuals or groups “for their creativity, vision and leadership, and the potential of their work and ideas for replication across the globe.” One of those justified in receiving this award — in the U.N.’s estimation — was Iranian Massoumeh Ebtekar. She was vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and head of the department of environment there from 1997-2005. But Ebtekar has another name — “Screaming Mary.” It was given to her by the American press during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Mary was her nom de guerre and Ebtekar was the hostage-takers’ spokesperson.

A December 2004 article in The Atlantic Monthly provides more details about the U.N.’s latest “Champion”:

she was especially disliked by many of the hostages ... in part because of her endless propagandizing. She would saunter through the captured embassy with a camera crew in tow, urging the hostages to describe their ordeal in upbeat terms. “You have been treated well, haven’t you?” was her constant refrain. During one such filming session, in the final days of captivity, Army Sergeant Regis Regan got so fed up with Ebtekar that he let loose with a stream of invective and was dragged into a hallway for a beating.

Read it all at Little Green Footaballs.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Schumer Shows Ignorance

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) showed his ignorance of the oil industry today. He called for the breakup of the big oil companies.

The largest oil company, ExxonMobil, controls less than 2% of the world oil market. At that level of market penetration, ExxonMobil can not have any effect on oil prices.

OPEC has far greater influence on the price of oil. Iran and Venezuela, with large oil reserves and political leaders who make unsettling statements, also put more upward pressure on oil prices than ExxonMobil.

Schumer's go-for-the-throat politics and his willful ignorance of economics and commerce damages the political atmosphere in America. A little knowledge and reason would be helpful in the debate.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How to Lower Gas Prices

Gas prices are high, and many Americans want the government to do something about it. Democrats, of course, are pandering to this generally uninformed group.

Oil prices have risen rapidly recently because of the fear of disruption in international supplies (think Iran), the seasonal changeover to producing gasoline, and the switch to ethanol in gasoline. Long-term factors include the industrialization and increasing wealth of China, India, and other developing countries.

In the short run, the government can do little to influence the price of gas, except to introduce price controls, which cause more economic damage, or to cut the gas tax, which is politically difficult. Consumers in the aggregate have more control over gas prices in the short run by reducing consumption of energy, but much demand for energy can not be discontinued immediately.

In the long run, high prices encourage oil companies to find more oil and to produce more from known deposits and encourage consumers to conserve. Recall what happened when oil prices tripled in the late 1970s. Oil companies produced more oil, and energy consumers made buildings more energy efficient, bought smaller cars, and arranged their lives in numerous ways to reduce energy consumption (for example, moving closer to work). After a few years, the increased production and decreased consumption caused oil prices to plummet. The oil industry went into a depression that lasted nearly a decade.

Government has taken some actions that decrease the supply of oil and increase its price. Several states (for example, California and Florida) do not allow offshore drilling. Pres. Clinton restricted drilling on federal lands and vetoed a bill to drill in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). If you support these measures, you have no right to complain when the measures decrease the supply and contribute to higher gas prices.

Democrats still strongly oppose drilling in ANWR. In fact, Senate Democrats in December filibustered a bill that would have allowed drilling in ANWR. Drilling in ANWR would probably produce more oil in a few years than any other single action.

Environmentalists and ordinary Americans oppose building facilities to generate energy or to make energy products such as gasoline or fuel oil. No one has built an oil refinery in the U.S. since the late 1970s or early 1980s. One business group has been trying without success for 10 years to get a permit to build a refinery in Yuma, Arizona. No one has started building a nuclear power plant in the U.S. since the 1970s. Sen. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and other environmentalists opposed the building of wind turbines offshore near his place on Nantucket Island.

Several politicians are suggesting a tax on oil companies' excess profits. If such a tax is passed, the perverse result will be higher gas prices. The tax will increase the cost of gasoline, which will reduce the supply, which will increase the price. This is basic economics, but politicians are not known for their economic knowledge and wisdom.

To achieve lower gas prices over time, allow drilling in ANWR. This will be a political struggle in Congress, but no other measure will impact the supply and price of gas as much. Streamline the permitting process for nuclear and other power generating plants and for oil refineries. The environmental hurdles in particular need to be more reasonable.

Also reduce the number of gasoline blends that must be produced across the U.S. The regional environmental goals can still be met.

Eliminate the requirement to use ethanol. Since the requirement was put in place, the price of ethanol has risen significantly. The former requirement to use MTBE turned out to be unwise because of health concerns; the current requirement to use ethanol appears unwise on price concerns. Set the output maximums for gasoline exhaust, and let the oil companies determine how to meet the standard.

Open federal lands, except for the really precious national park locations, to drilling.

Allow offshore drilling in every state. If a state refuses, withhold federal funds for highways in the state, or increase the federal gas tax in the state.

These proposals will increase the supply of oil and will therefore reduce the price of gas. Measures to penalize the oil companies will only decrease the supply of oil and cause the gas price to go up.

Monday, April 24, 2006

CIA Leaker Is a Democrat

When I first heard that the CIA fired the leaker of the secret prisons story, I strongly suspected the leaker would turn out to be a Democrat supporter. I was right. The leaker, Mary McCarthy, contributed the maximum $2,000 to the Kerry campaign in 2004 and gave $5,000 to the Ohio Democratics.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Far Left Journalist Defends Leak of Classified Information

On this morning's broadcast of Fox News Sunday, the panel of journalists discussed the firing of CIA employee Mary McCarthy for leaking classified information. One of the journalists was Juan Cole of National Public Radio. Cole, a member of the Fringe Left, made the remarkable and indefensible statement that it was OK for McCarthy to leak classified information to the media.

Never mind that the disclosure of classified information is a crime. Never mind that McCarthy had signed an agreement not to disclose the information she learned in her job. All that mattered to Cole was what McCarthy's own conscience said to do.

McCarthy herself knew that leaking classified information was wrong. She leaked the classified information surreptitiously, not openly. She tried to avoid detection.

MCarthy was not a whistleblower. If she thought the policy was wrong, she could have made her argument inside the CIA and the administration. If she thought the U.S. was acting unlawfully or wrongly, she could have complained in accordance with the federal Whistleblower Act. Instead, she leaked the classified information to a reporter.

Cole also equated McCarthy's leak with Pres. Bush's authorization to declassify and to release parts of the National Intelligence Estimate involving Iraq' pre-war efforts to obtain uranium. Cole confuses lawful and unlawful, elected officials and regular employees, official decisions and personal decisions, and legally authorized official acts and unlawful unauthorized private acts.

Cole's conclusion leads eventually to lawlessness and anarchy. The U.S. is supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men, but Cole believes that a person's conscience permits lawbreaking.

Cole's defense of McCarthy's illegal leaking of classified information shows the far Left's willingness to justify anything that they think harms the Bush administration.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Whose Culture of Corruption?

In this election year, the Democrats are trying to establish a campaign issue of a Republican culture of corruption. Unfortunately, Democrats seem equally corrupt. The latest example is Rep. Alan Mollohan(D-W. Va.), the top Democrat on the House ethics committee. You would think the Democrats on the ethics committee, of all places, would be above reproach. You would be wrong.

Rep. Mollohan directed millions in federal government spending to nonprofit groups in his district. The top people at many of the groups contributed to Mollohan's campaigns. Mollohan's net worth appears to have increased significantly during this period. As a result of the allegations of financial misconduct, Mollohan is stepping down temporarily from the House ethics panel.

Mollohan was the top ethics man for House Democrats. His financial misconduct will receive little or no attention in the mainstream media. Whenever the Democrats accuse the Republicans of a culture of corruption, remember the financial misconduct of Mollohan, the top Democrat on the House ethics committee.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Illegal Immigration - Second Priority

In a post yesterday, I pointed out that the first priority regarding illegal immigration is border security. If border security is effective, the flood of illegal immigrants will slow to a trickle. That leaves us with the problem of what to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants already here. Handling them becomes the second priority.

Betsy's Page points us to a great article by Robert Samuelson. Samuelson argues persuasively that assimilation is essential to resolve our current illegal immigration mess.

Increasing the penalties against illegal immigration will not cause the large number of illegal immigrants to return home. A guest worker program will not prevent the immigrants from staying beyond their permitted time. Thus, to resolve the problem of vast numbers of illegal immigrants, they must assimilate into our society as most past immigrants did. Assimilation will take time, but we have little choice. As Samuelson writes:

We are basically a decent, open and tolerant nation. Americans respect hard work and achievement. That's why assimilation has ultimately triumphed. But I am not a foolish optimist. Assimilation requires time and the right conditions. It cannot succeed if we constantly flood the country with new, poor immigrants or embark on a vendetta against those already here.

Border security will halt future illegal immigration, and assimilation will eventually take care of the illegal immigrants already here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Illegal Immigration - First Priority

Twenty years ago in 1986, the U.S. granted amnesty to illegal immigrants then in the country. Illegal immigrants in 1986 numbered an estimated 2.5 million. Today, the number of illegal immigrants is estimated at 11 million, with some observers putting the number as high as 16 million.

Granting amnesty in 1986 did not solve or ease the problem of illegal immigration. Instead, the amnesty encouraged more illegal immigration.

To make real progress, the first priority must be border security and enforcement. Without true border security, all attempts to legislate the problem away will fail.

Does Congress have the political will to take necessary measures to secure the border? It will mean appropriations to increase the number of border patrol officers and to build a fence along at least parts of the southern border. But that is what is required to stem the tide of illegal immigrants. Bills in Congress to have guest workers or to require more paper will not reduce the problem of illegal immigration. However, they may contribute to a solution if used in tandem with true border security and enforcement.

Recommendation of Conservative Book Leads to Charge of Sexual Harassment

A librarian at Ohio State University at Mansfield has been accused of sexual harassment for suggesting that conservative books be considered for freshman reading. He recommended the conservative books after seeing liberal authors being suggested by professors. The librarian's book suggestion at the heart of the controversy is The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom by David Kupelian. Two professors charged the librarian with harassment based on sexual orientation, claiming that gay professors felt unsafe because of the librarian’ssuggestingg the book for the freshman reading assignment.

The liberal professors at the Mansfield campus have shown, once again, how intolerant the Left has become. Universities no longer are forums for open inquiry into controversial topics but have become closed-minded institutions that demand intellectual conformity. I hope, without much basis, that liberal professors, who dominate the universities, will see this as a problem and will work to change it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I'm Back

I have been away to take care of family and business matters. i am back now and ready to resume posting.