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By: sebastianjer , 13:26 GMT je la 16an de marto 2012



On March 13 the Obama campaign released one of the more interesting fundraising appeals in recent memory. “If the general election were held today,” wrote campaign manager Jim Messina, “President Obama would lose to Mitt Romney—according to the latest poll from Washington Post-ABC News.” More troubling to Messina: “The other side has groups ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to tear down President Obama.” The Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, “will spend and say anything to win.” The letter concluded, “If the idea of a President Romney scares you, it’s time to own a piece of this campaign” by donatingto Obama’s “two-term fund.”

Leave aside the fact that “scary” is not a word one would normally associate with Mitt Romney (“boring,” maybe, but not “scary”). What made Messina’s letter so revealing was his total omission of the incumbent’s record and of any positive rationale for his election to a second term. The policies of this president—the stimulus, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation bill, the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq—were totally ignored for what should be obvious reasons: Those accomplishments are unpopular or slow-motion disasters in the making or, in several cases, both. Messina is left with the Goosebumps defense: Donate to the Obama campaign or else nasty Mitt Romney and his friends the Koch brothers and Karl Rove will come and … well, do something bad to you.

Barack Obama is now the candidate of fear. The press is so occupied by the Republican horserace that it has missed one of the biggest stories of the age: the Obama team’s adoption of tactics that the president would have ruled out as “politics as usual” only four years ago. The shift is born of necessity. Despite holding fundraisers at twice the rate of his predecessor, the Obama campaign’s high burn rate has left the president with less cash on hand than Bush had at this point in the 2004 cycle. These money troubles spurred the president’s hypocritical decision last month to support outright the Priorities USA super PAC. But even Obama’s endorsement has not been enough to energize Democratic donors. Priorities USA raised only $2 million in the month of February, half of which came from self-described “comedian” Bill Maher.

Obama’s tepid fundraising reveals a Democratic donor base torn between disillusionment and apathy. Some wealthy liberals, living contentedly in la-la land, are holding back money because they believe Obama has not been left-wing enough, especially on the issue of climate change. (An extremely witty Huffington Post video illustrates the liberal disaffection well.) Others have seen the mainstream media coverage of the Republican primary and concluded, not entirely without reason, that the GOP is no threat at all. Why write a check, then, when the president is a lock?

But the president is not a lock—and he knows it. The Washington Post poll that Messina mentioned in his letter was soon seconded by a New York Times survey that had Obama’s approval rating plunging 9 points in one month to 41 percent. His approval and disapproval numbers are about even in the RCP average, thanks only to a few recent polls of all adults with large samples of Democrats.

Yet “all adults” are not necessarily registered or likely voters in elections. The more closely a polling sample reflects the likely electorate this November, the worse Obama fares.

That is why he and his advisers have reverted to classic machine politics in an attempt to excite their donor base. Tactics include offering patronage positions to well-heeled supporters, rewarding at least 47 bundlers with an invitation to a state dinner, and of course the oldest trick in the book: attempting to scare the bejeezus out of people. Hope and change? Try fear and loathing.

Thus America has had to endure a month of lunatic debate over whether there is a Republican “war on women.” The Democrats have devoted Olympian energy to a massive distortion of history, attempting to turn an argument over government infringement of conscience protections into an argument over just how closely conservatives resemble Piltdown man. The media helpfully have parroted the DNC line.

No Republican has proposed to ban contraception. The only clock the GOP (and a majority of the country) wants to roll back is the one ticking down the seconds until the final implementation of Obamacare.

But that has not stopped the Democrats, from friendly media to the president himself, from suggesting that only one political party is concerned with the fortunes of XX chromosomes. The latest transparently desperate move is Sen. Chuck Schumer’s push for a vote on a version of the Violence Against Women Act that is designed to fail. Such cheap political stunts are meant neither to make law nor to pursue the public interest. Their purpose is to increase the political fortunes of the Democratic Party by firing up the activists who form its core. The “war on women” sloganeering is intended to animate the feminists without whose votes Obama surely will lose.

Obama’s fear tactics are not limited to domestic issues. The president has repeatedly evoked the danger that might ensue if a Republican president actually were to take an aggressive approach to curtailing the Iranian nuclear program. “If some of these folks think that it’s time to launch a war, they should say so,” he said at his press conference last week, decrying “some of these folks [who] have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk.” Meanwhile, the administration has engaged in leaks and in press spin devoted to the notion that an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be not only futile but also disastrous for American national security.

Yet it is not only the Republican candidates but also the American people who are engaging in “loose talk of war.” Polling may show that the U.S. public is open to and indeed outright supportive of military action to destroy the facilities, damage and delay the program, and disrupt the Iranian regime. But, to hear the president tell it, the greatest threat is not Iran but Republican swagger and the possibility of outright conflict. The message to the antiwar activists who bankroll Democratic groups and campaigns: Get off the sidelines or our worst fear, a war with Iran, may come true.

Bogeymen lurk in every corner of the president’s rhetoric. If he’s speaking to a labor group, he raises the specter of what Republicans would do to their benefits and wages and jobs. If he’s speaking to Latinos, he suggests that the GOP is preparing to round them up illegally and engage in mass deportations. Not a speech goes by without a mention of the bad old days of George W. Bush. It is only a matter of time until the president and his surrogates tell African Americans that a Republican victory would mean a return to Jim Crow.

Oh wait, that’s already happened.

Obama soon will discover, however, that the politics of fear only take one so far. Animosity is a powerful inducement to political activity, but it cannot win over a majority of the country. The more Obama gins up his base, the more he alienates the independents and white voters who could be his undoing. It also helps when the fear in question has something to do with reality. George W. Bush warned against the dangers of Osama bin Laden and an axis of evil between rogue states and global terrorist groups. Barack Obama is warning against the purported danger of your uncle who watches Fox News Channel, criticizes Nancy Pelosi at Thanksgiving dinner, and doesn’t find 8.3 percent unemployment terribly impressive.

Obama is trapped. He is a victim of his own failures as president and his decision to abandon the ground of American unity that was always the key to his appeal. Voters are more likely to support a candidate who offers positive change. They want to grasp a shred of hope. It was Obama who offered that in 2008. It will be a Republican who does it in 2012.

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“Hopefully, more and more people will begin to feel their story is somehow part of this larger story of how we’re going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous,”

Barack Obama (1990)
Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.

- James Madison

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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4. latitude25
17:57 GMT je la 16an de marto 2012
Watching Obama at work, it’s hard to really know what it is he thinks he’s doing. By actively helping to destabilize Egypt and Libya, and now Syria, ....and the entire middle east...
Making our access to oil even shaker....driving prices up
Not issuing permits to drill here for oil...

Barack Obama: "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." (January 2008)
Member Since: 31-a de decembro Posts: Comments:
3. SPLbeater
16:43 GMT je la 16an de marto 2012
lol the first sentence and the title are the best part of the blog xD

glad to see someone getting the true message across of how LAME barak ocrapa is!
Member Since: 31-a de decembro Posts: Comments:
2. sebastianjer
16:22 GMT je la 16an de marto 2012

Texas vs. California

By Chuck DeVore

One in five Americans calls California or Texas home. The two most populous states have a lot in common: a long coast, a sunny climate, a diverse population, plenty of oil in the ground, and Mexico to the south. Where they diverge is in their governance.

For six years ending in 2010, I represented almost 500,000 people in California’s legislature. I was vice chairman of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation and served on the Budget Committee. I was even a lieutenant colonel in the state’s National Guard. Before serving in Sacramento, I worked as an executive in California’s aerospace industry.

I moved to Texas late last year, joining the 2 million Californians who have packed up for greener pastures in the past ten years, with Texas the most common destination.

In his State-of-the-State address this January, California governor Jerry Brown said, “Contrary to those declinists who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes, California is still the land of dreams. . . . It’s the place where Apple . . . and countless other creative companies all began.”

Fast forward to March: Apple announced it was building a $304 million campus in Austin with plans to hire 3,600 people to staff it, more than doubling its Texas workforce.

California may be dreaming, but Texas is working.

California’s elected officials are particularly adept at dreaming up ways to spend other people’s money. While the state struggles with interminable deficits caused by years of reckless spending, the argument in Sacramento isn’t over how to reduce government; rather, it’s over how much to raise taxes and on whom. Governor Brown is pushing for a tax increase of $6.9 billion per year, to appear on this November’s ballot. California’s powerful government-employee unions and Molly Munger, a wealthy civil-rights attorney (wealthy by dint of being the daughter of Warren Buffett’s business partner) are offering two competing tax-hike plans. The silver lining may be that having three tax hikes on the ballot will turn voters off all of them.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Texas are grappling with a fiscal question of an entirely different sort: whether or not to spend some of the $6 billion set aside in the state’s rainy-day fund.

California’s government-employee unions routinely spend tens of millions of dollars at election time to maintain their hold on power. In Texas, the government unions are weak and don’t have collective bargaining, leaving trial attorneys as the main source of funding for Lone Star Democrats.

California’s habit of raising taxes to fund a burgeoning regulatory state isn’t without impact on its economy. Californians fork over about 10.6 percent of their income to state and local governments, above the U.S. average of 9.8 percent. Texans pay 7.9 percent. This affects the bottom line of both consumers and businesses.

With that money, Californians pay for more government. The number of non-education bureaucrats in California is close to the national average, at 252 per 10,000 people. Texas gets by with a bureaucracy 22 percent smaller: 196 per 10,000.

Of course, having more government employees means making more government rules. According to a 2009 study commissioned by the California legislature, state regulations cost almost $500 billion per year, or five times the state’s general-fund budget. These regulations ding the average small business for some $134,122 a year in compliance and opportunity costs.

While California has more bureaucrats, Texas has 17 percent more teachers, with 295 education employees per 10,000 people, compared to California’s 252.

The two states’ educational outcomes reflect this disparity. If we compare national test scores in math, science, and reading for the fourth and eighth grades among four basic ethnic and racial categories — all students, whites, Hispanics, and African-Americans — Texas beats California in every category, and by a substantial margin. In fact, Texas schools perform consistently above the national average across categories of age, race, and subject matter, while California schools perform well below the national average.

Apologists for the Golden State frequently point to Texas’s flourishing oil and gas industry as the reason for its success. Texas does lead the nation in proven oil reserves, but California ranks third. The real difference isn’t in geology but in public policy: Californians have decided to make it difficult to extract the oil under their feet.

Further, contrary to popular opinion, California’s refineries routinely produce a greater value of product than do refineries in Texas, mainly because the special gasoline blends that California requires are more costly.

Another advantage that Texas enjoys over California is in its civil-justice system. In 2002, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked Texas’s legal system 46th in the nation, just behind California’s, which was 45th. Texas went to work improving its lawsuit environment, enacting major medical-malpractice reforms in 2003. Texas’s ranking consequently jumped ten places in eight years, while California’s dropped to 46th. In the last legislative session, Texas lawmakers passed a landmark loser-pays provision, which promises to further curtail frivolous lawsuits.

While California seeks more ways to tax success, it excels at subsidizing poverty. The percentage of households receiving public assistance in California was 3.7 percent in 2009, double Texas’s rate of 1.8 percent. Almost one-third of all Americans on welfare reside in California.

With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that only 18 percent of the Democrats who control both houses of California’s full-time legislature worked in business or medicine before being elected. The remainder drew paychecks from government, worked as community organizers, or were attorneys.

In Texas, with its part-time legislature, 75 percent of the Republicans who control both houses earn a living in business, farming, or medicine, with 19 percent being attorneys in private practice. Texas Democrats are more than twice as likely as their California counterparts to claim private-sector experience outside the field of law.

That Texas’s legislature is run by makers and California’s by takers is glaringly obvious from the two states’ respective balance sheets.

— Chuck DeVore served in the California State Assembly from 2004 to 2010 and was a Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 2010. He is currently a visiting senior fellow in fiscal policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
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1. sebastianjer
13:45 GMT je la 16an de marto 2012

Obama's Oily Desperation Redux

By Ross Kaminsky

A trial balloon that failed to rise above the president's rhetorical gutter.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that Britain and the U.S. have reached an agreement to release oil from the nations' oil reserves. The report states that the idea originated with the Obama administration and that "Britain would respond positively" to a formal request.

The report was immediately denied by a White House spokesman and questioned by some oil analysts.

Such a move would be a reprise of a similar failed effort less than a year ago. However, given pressure from Democrats and bad polling for President Obama on fuel prices, the initial report is easier to believe than the White House's denial. Indeed, the denial did not say that this was not a topic for discussion between Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, but simply that there was no actual agreement.

The burst of activity, including how quickly the administration had a response ready, had the distinct air of a "trial balloon," something that panicky administrations resort to when out of ideas.

In June 2011, President Obama, desperate to avoid the political ramifications of high oil and gasoline prices, announced a release of oil from America's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The release, justified on the basis of the temporary interruption of Libya's oil exports, was coordinated with two dozen other nations. The U.S. released 30 million barrels of oil from its stockpiles, with other nations matching that amount in the aggregate, for a total of 60 million barrels of oil put on to the world market.

For perspective, the world uses about 89 million barrels of oil per day. Of that amount, nearly 20 million barrels is used by the U.S., about 14 million by Europe, and about 10 million by China. So last year's release sated U.S. demand for 36 hours and world demand for half that time.

It was only the third time that the SPR had been tapped, with the first two being in 1991 during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and in 2005 just following Hurricane Katrina's damage to the Gulf's oil production and refining facilities. Obama now proposes the fourth, with no supply interruptions -- other than those his administration is causing by blocking pipelines and drilling -- to justify the request.

Following news of the June 2011 release, oil briefly fell about $3 per barrel to $91 in trading on the NYMEX. In ensuing days, oil prices recovered as the market realized that the SPR release was a drop in an oily ocean.

Prior to the Reuters report on Thursday, crude oil had been trading just below $106 per barrel. The news knocked it down almost $2 in 5 minutes before recovering two thirds of that drop, trading back above $105 within 40 minutes of the initial news and the subsequent White House denial and ending the day down only a few cents from Wednesday's closing price.

During an oil price decline during the late summer of 2011 which accompanied a stock-market sell-off amid fears of slower global economic growth, the SPR did not replace the oil released in June. Thus, the government sold 30 million barrels of oil in the low $90s, which is now at least $12 higher, costing taxpayers over $350 million so far. At least it was a smaller loss than Solyndra.

If only President Obama were as good a commodity trader as Hillary Clinton.

SPEAKING OF SPECULATORS, Democrats often blame them for higher oil prices. To be sure, there is substantial speculator participation in oil markets. However, as usual for the political party that believes that people do not react to economic incentives, Democrats misunderstand capital markets. Speculators will not be deterred by any short-term policy, such as tapping the SPR, that does not change the fundamental long-term supply and demand calculus.

On Wednesday, the head of the International Energy Agency, Maria van der Hoeven, noted that the supply-demand balance currently favors higher prices -- thus minimizing any suggestion that speculators are the primary force in current prices -- but that the situation it is not dramatic enough to justify the move a desperate Obama administration may be calling for: "There is a tightening market, there is no doubt about that. At this moment there is no need to use [strategic oil reserves]."

President Obama's energy policy is schizophrenic at best. Obama himself, as well as Energy Secretary Steven "I don't own a car" Chu, are on record supporting high energy prices as part of their cultish devotion to "renewable," which is to say inefficient, energy sources. Chu offered a refreshing bit of truth when speaking before a congressional committee on February 28, saying that lowering fuel costs was not the Energy Department's goal. And Obama famously said that his cap-and-trade policy would cause electricity prices to "necessarily skyrocket" due to high taxes on coal.

They are birds of a (green) feather, flying into the political wind turbine of political reality as their daydreams of minimizing the amount of plant food, also known as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere strikes rational Americans -- who do drive their own cars -- as economic masochism.

According to energy author Robert Bryce, the amount of energy that would be delivered by the Keystone XL pipeline that Barack Obama just refused (for a second time) to approve would exceed the energy produced by every wind turbine and every solar panel in the U.S., combined.

The nation knows who these men really are and what they really believe, which is why President Obama's recent squirming on energy, now that high prices are harming him politically, is not working with the public. It is why Newt Gingrich, political viability aside, is making energy prices the centerpiece of his campaign.

Obama commented on oil prices on Thursday following the Reuters report, coming back to his usual refrain: "There is no such thing as quick fix when it comes to high gas prices. There is no silver bullet. Anybody who tells you otherwise isn't really looking for a solution. They're trying to ride the political wave of the moment."

The president's argument is a straw man. Nobody is saying there is a quick fix. Instead what supporters of increased exploration and drilling argue is that however long it will take, it is better to start sooner than later. Furthermore, few things would take the wind out of speculators' sails more effectively than a credible commitment to increasing domestic supplies. This, of course, is not forthcoming from a president who recently termed oil "the fuel of the past" and whose first big energy idea was to hire a "Green Jobs Czar" -- the avowed communist Van Jones.

Trying to ridicule those who call for expanded drilling, Obama's ugly, bullying cynicism was apparent on Thursday, as feeling like he's losing always brings out the worst in our thin-skinned president: "There are a few spots where we're not drilling. We're not drilling in the National Mall. We're not drilling at your house."

He added that in addition to drilling, we need to develop wind power, solar power, and biofuels, as well as make our buildings, homes, and cars and trucks more fuel efficient. Maybe he should trot out Steven Chu to suggest again that we all paint our roofs white.

IT IS A SIGN OF THE BUBBLE Obama lives in that he thinks such rhetoric will be effective with voters. Americans are now spending an average of $3.82 per gallon of gasoline across the nation, up 30 cents from a month ago, with much of the nation suffering through substantially higher increases. The politically critical states of Ohio and Michigan, for example, are seeing prices up 50 cents from a month ago.

An oil price increase not only raises the cost of filling your car, but also the prices of food, plastics, fertilizer, and anything else that takes energy to produce or transportation to deliver to market. It is a huge tax on the American economy, with one website calculating that "An increase of 10 cents per gallon translates into an additional burden of $14 billion per year for US households."

Reports of the Obama administration looking to reprise last year's expensive and ultimately ineffective tapping of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve show a continued desperation to make a pretense of caring about higher gas prices. But its record and rhetoric show a fundamental lack of both understanding and seriousness.

No action that this president will consider -- including tapping the SPR -- will help Obama with the issue of high energy prices. American voters understand the Obama team well enough to know that the only reason its members pretend to "feel your pain" is that they see their political futures going up in expensive gasoline-fueled flames.
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