Wednesday, December 31, 2008

April Fool

I know it’s January 1st, not April 1st, but there has been so much nonsense in the news over the last couple of days that it’s hard to image that we’re not all victims of some huge national prank.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned the Democracts not to spend too much on their “economic stimulus” package. Where was Mitch’s concern about over spending while George Bush and the Republican Congress more than doubled the national debt with their prescription drug program for the greedy geezer lobby, no-win war with Iraq, and pork barrel infrastructure spending that gave new meaning to the phrase “waste, fraud and abuse”???

Republican National Committee Vice Chairman James Bopp Jr. submitted a resolution on Tuesday warning that Bush has moved the country towards “socialism”. Well, no kidding. He’s about six years too late in recognizing this.

Finally, some no-nothing Democratic legislator from Connecticut (Frank Nicastro) is urging the government to “save’ the newspaper business. Here’s the inside scoop – the newspaper business can’t be saved any more than could the buggy whip business 100 years ago because the technology for delivering information has changed. The established interests failed to recognize and adapt to the new ways of doing things and as a result they are rightfully being put out of business. Any effort by the government to protect those established interests will fail and make us all worse off.

We can only hope that this kind of nonsense will not continue, so that we can have a happy new year instead of 365 April Fools days next year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Car 2.0

The recent turmoil among the Detroit auto manufactures has finally surfaced into a “national crises” with the CEOs of GM, Ford, and Chrysler begging for taxpayer dollars so they won’t have to make tough decisions about the companies they run. I’ve blogged here before about the decades long incompetence of the U.S. automobile leadership. There is a lot of history among the U.S. auto executives with regards to not understanding their markets, ignoring quality, producing poor designs, and many other issues. The so-called "leadership" of the UAW is equally culpable for Detroit’s decline for hiding their heads in the sand for three decades while foreign competition decimated their market share and jobs.

Over the last 30 years, the challenge to Detroit from Japanese, Korean and German manufactures has been about incremental improvement within the realm of how the basic automobile business model works – you build cars people want to buy and your dealer network sells them.

Over the same 30 years, the computer industry has faced a lot more disruption than the auto industry. Many of the companies that helped define various stages of the industry are no longer with us. Think about Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) whose CEO couldn’t figure out why anyone would want a computer in their home!

What would happen if Detroit faced the kind of innovation and disruption the computer industry has endured? They may be about ready to find out.

Shai Agassi was a software entrepreneur. One of his companies was acquired by German software giant SAP. He soon became an SAP wunderkind, and was poised to take over as CEO of SAP. The incumbent CEO decided to stay in place, so Shai left the company.

Shai applied his computer industry background to the auto industry and came up with a plan to radically change the auto market. His new company -- Better Place – aims to build a standards-based electrical vehicle network comprised of charging stations and automated battery swapping stations where you work, eat, and shop. If you want to have lunch, charge the battery. If you’re in a hurry, swap it. Of course you can charge the battery at your house overnight.

The business model for a Better Place works a lot like the mobile phone industry. The electrical vehicle network provider will subsidize the cost of your car and you’ll pay for what you use, but instead of paying for minutes, you’ll pay for miles. Forget about the traditional auto industry and think about AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Basically, it’s Car 2.0 -- a proven business model applied to a different industry.

Do you think that Detroit could have thought of this with their inbred, hidebound leadership? No way. In fact, GM snubbed Agassi while Nissan and Renault partnered with him.

25 years ago, IBM was run by a lifer – John Akers -- who ran the company into the ground. Lou Gerstner was brought in from outside the computer industry to save IBM. Perhaps, it’s time for someone from outside of the auto industry to come in and help save it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

George Bush held a meeting of the G20 over the weekend to talk about the plight of the global economy. The G20 is comprised of approximately the largest 20 economies in the world.

I believe that there is almost always an old adage that is relevant and instructive to any given circumstance. In this case the old adage that comes to mind is: “Lead by example”.

Given the dire global economic circumstances, one would think that this group would lead by setting an example of thrift and frugality. Instead, they outdid themselves with an appalling display of supercilious indifference to the plight of their citizens. Their menu included "Fruitwood-smoked Quail," "Thyme-roasted Rack of Lamb," and "Tomato, Fennel and Eggplant Fondue Chanterelle Jus." To wash it down, they indulged in a $500 a bottle wine. $500 a bottle!!! Of course, this was all paid for by you the lowly taxpayers.

If the G20 elitists really wanted to lead and still have a great international dinner, they could have gotten some Chinese and Indian takeout, along with a $10 bottle of California wine from Trader Joes.

The “Fennel and Eggplant Fondue Chanterelle Jus” and $500 a bottle wine once again demonstrates that our so-called “leadership” is completely out of touch with reality.

What a surprise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Auto Industry Bailout: JUST SAY NO

Barack Obama is pushing for a $50 billion bailout for the U.S. auto industry. We are essentially being told that without this bailout the world will come to an end because the U.S. auto industry is just “too big to fail”.

Here is the essential question: Why is the U.S. auto industry in such terrible shape and in need of a bailout? High gas prices? Unfair competition? Bad luck? Nope. They are on the verge of collapse because collectively they have suffered from four decades of the most brain dead management on the planet.

The U.S. auto companies took too long to figure out that producing quality cars actually costs less, not more, and results in higher customer satisfaction and stronger brand loyalty. As a result of not understanding this, they lost their mindshare and market share in the U.S. a long, long time ago. The big thing that has propped these companies up for the last two decades were cheap fleet sales that were subsidized by their financing ventures. For example, a couple of years ago, the most profitable division of GM was GMAC, which was even in the mortgage business.

They were also completely clueless on how to compete in international markets. For example, they used to constantly whine about how Japan was unfairly closed to them. When I went to Japan for the first time in 1998, I noticed three things: A.) The Japanese drive on the left side of the road, like the British, B.) there were a lot of German cars on the road, and C.) there were very few American cars. The problem was that the U.S. auto companies took forever to sell cars that were suitable for the Japanese market (i.e., with the steering wheel on the right side). The complete misunderstanding of the market, along with their chronic quality problems doomed GM, Ford, and Chrysler in Japan.

The UAW “leadership” is equally culpable for the industry's long decline for refusing to enable necessary operational changes. For example, guess who has the most advanced and efficient auto manufacturing facility in the world? Ford. It’s in Brazil. The UAW would never allow a plant with that level of flexibility and supplier integration to operate in the U.S., which is a huge part of the problem.

My view is that there is no reason whatsoever why the taxpayers should be stuck subsidizing decades of gross mismanagement. GM, Ford and Chrysler are NOT "too big to fail". Even if they do fail, companies with smarter leadership will put their resources to better use. We'll all be better off.

So, it's time to “JUST SAY NO” to the auto industry bailout.

Bail THIS Out

The comedy show in the District of Columbia gets funnier every day. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Paulson announced that he won’t use the $700 BILLION dollars to buy troubled assets after all. Instead, he will use all of the money to "invest" in companies. Paulson admitted that he knew that buying troubled assets wasn’t the right solution to the problem while the bill was being debated in Congress.

Regardless, this is going to cost us a lot more than $700 billion. According to, the U.S. government has already incurred a whopping $5 TRILLION of obligations in the various schemes by the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to shore up the financial system.

The list of companies standing in line to get a taxpayer “investment” is getting longer every day. AIG and GE Capital are going after their second round of hand outs. American Express and the grossly mismanaged U.S. Auto Industry are next.

Guess what is going to happen to the corporate executives who got us into the mess? Bloomberg reports that they are going to get big, fat Christmas bonuses. For example, Goldman Sachs has set aside $6.8 billion for bonuses while Morgan Stanley has allocated $6.4 billion.

To top it off, the Democrats are planning some nice surprises for us next year. Congress is holding hearings on confiscating our 401Ks and turning them over to the Social Security Administration. Of course, many of us are going to get stuck with a big, fat tax increase as well.

It just gets better all of the time…

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our New Nuclear Future?

Barack Obama’s victory will certainly result in the government putting more emphasis on alternative energy. Unfortunately, my guess is that this will only result in more subsidies going to special interests to fund unworkable solutions, like ethanol, rather than in making real progress towards solving our challenges with imported oil.

I’ve written here before about the tremendous amount of venture capital that is being poured into Silicon Valley solar energy startups. I’ve also written about the Picken’s Plan to build a corridor of wind turbines in the Great Plains. Ditto with plug-in electric cars, like the Tesla Roadster, and fuel cells. Another part of the solution may be lightweight nuclear power stations.

A company in New Mexico – Hyperion Power Generation – has licensed some technology from Los Alamos National Laboratory to produce small, compact nuclear energy modules that can be transported to locations wherever electricity is needed.

Each energy module is about the size of a hot tub and can supply the electricity needs of 20,000 homes for 7 to 10 years, at a cost of about $150 per home per year.

The modules don't contain any moving parts. The modules produce energy via a safe, natural heat-producing process that occurs with the oscillation of hydrogen in uranium hydride. The modules cannot go “supercritical,” melt down, or get too hot. They maintain a safe operating temperature without the use of cooling rods. Think of them as kind of a big battery.

The modules are sealed in concrete and would be buried underground. Each module would be removed and refueled at original factory every 5 years.

The modules don’t emit any greenhouse gases. The fuel used in the modules cannot be turned into weapons grade material. The amount of waste after 5 years of operation is about the size of a softball.

The modules can be built in a tiny fraction of the time it takes to build a large nuclear plant. The company already has orders and they expect to ship their first product in 2013.

Plug-in electric cars and creation of hydrogen for fuel cells will require the generation of a lot more electricity than we generate today. Solar and wind are important part of the mix, but they can’t fulfill all of our growing needs. Nuclear needs to be part of the solution and this is a game changing technology to provide it.

Let’s hope that Obama’s proposed increase in the capital gains tax won’t dry up investments for this and other innovative solutions to our most pressing problems.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama and the End of Two Eras

The election of Barack Obama, as President of the United States, signals the end of two long running eras.

First, his election concludes the post-civil rights era, in which race baiting politicians corrupted Martin Luther King’s message to obtain power and status for themselves. Think of Al Sharpton with his Tawana Brawley rape scam, Louis Farrakhan’s various vulgar tirades, and ex-Detroit Mayor Colman Young, who managed to stay in office for 18 years by doing nothing more than sticking his finger in whitey’s eye, in spite of the vast corruption in his administration and the tragic decline of Detroit under his watch. It is simply not credible any longer to decry the U.S. as a “racist” country now that we’ve elected an African-American to the Presidency. Those days are finally over.

Second, it buries the post-WWII conservative era. The modern conservative movement was comprised of a loose collection of economic libertarians, religious fundamentalists, big business interests, and socially conservative blue collar workers, who had greatly differing views on many key issues. They came together as a coalition under the banner of fighting communism. After the Cold War ended, some parts of this coalition started questioning the need to maintain America’s Cold War foreign policy. This potential crack in the coalition alarmed the GOP leadership, so they went looking for a new villain. During the 1990s, many on the right desperately tried to vilify “Red” China, which in many ways is more capitalistic than the U.S. 9/11 finally handed the GOP a new focus of evil in the world and for a few years it worked to keep their coalition intact. Unfortunately for them, George Bush overreached by invading Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. The GOP lost control of the Congress and now the Presidency. 20 years after the Cold War ended, the GOP’s anti-communist coalition is finally dead. It is not very likely that the GOP can revive it. Those days are also gone.

With the passing of these two eras, the election of Barack Obama positions the country to make the most radical departure with recent history we’ve seen since the Roosevelt era.

The big question is: what Obama will do with the opportunity? Will he overreach to placate the far-left’s crackpot “economic justice” agenda? Will he try to emulate the pro-business and fiscally responsible Clinton Administration? Will he parrot the crusading neo-conservatives, only this time with a focus on "democratizing" Africa, rather than the Middle East?

The other key question is what will the GOP do now? Will they return to their flaccid pre-Reagan “me too” liberalism? Will they repudiate their power hungry, big government ways of the last 8 years? Will they boot the neo-conservatives and return to their pre-WWII, non-interventionist past? Will they just drift along in chaos not knowing what to do, leaving the Democrats to control the national conversation and agenda?

In don’t think any of us know the answers to either of these questions. So, the next two years are going to be very interesting indeed.

Friday, October 31, 2008

An Obama win next Tuesday, but how big?

Here are my predictions of what will happen next Tuesday:

Obama will win pretty easily. Early returns in Virginia will inform us how the night will go for McCain – a close loss or blow out. Right now, somewhere between 270 and 340 electoral votes seems likely.

The Democrats will pick up 25 or more seats in the House, but probably not more than 30.

The Democrats will not reach a 60 seat, filibuster proof Senate. However, it won’t matter because the GOP “leadership” in the Senate will pretty much cave in and go along with whatever Obama wants out of fear.

The Democrats will completely rule the roost for the next two years. My guess is that the GOP will remain in the wilderness even longer because there isn’t any Newt Gingrich on the horizon who can lead a GOP revival in 2010, no matter how crazy the Democrats get.

The GOP has screwed up big time over the last 8 years by losing site of what they allegedly stood for. They have been completely corrupted by power and have become worse than the Democrats on almost every single measure. Thanks to Bush, the GOP has now reverted to their pre-Reagan status as an irrelevant minority party parroting their pitiful “me too” liberalism.

The GOP deserves what is coming to them. Unfortunately, many of us don't deserve what we will get as a result.


So, who is going to worry about putting gas in her car and paying her mortgage??? You and I -- the lowly hard working tax payers.

Spread the wealth... and broaden the misery…

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bush Police State Update

I’ve written quite extensively about Bush’s reckless spending, ill-premised war, and growing police state apparatus. Now, we have the Army Times reporting that for the first time an active duty Army unit has been deployed to a dedicated assignment on American soil -- "to help with civil unrest and crowd control." Of course, this has been against the law since the Posse Comitatus Act was enacted in 1878. The act prohibits the military, including the National Guard when they are under federal control, from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States.

Here’s a warning to all of you so-called "conservatives" who cheered every time Bush corrupted our civil liberties in the name of fighting “terrorism”: Bush’s Police State apparatus will still be in effect when Obama takes office in January. One can only image what he might do with it to control those who don’t want their “wealth spread” among Obama’s special interests.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bush: Union of Socialist States of America

It was bad enough when Bush announced that the government would “invest” in banks. Now, they’ve outdone themselves by “considering” so-called “investments” in insurance companies.

In the land of the free and home of the brave, the government is nationalizing industries faster than Vladimir Ilich Lenin ever thought was possible.

The government is haphazardly destroying our way of life and we sit here and do nothing.

Remember what Ben Franklin said: “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither."

We deserve exactly what we'll get.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

George Bush: Socialist Nincompoop

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I watched in horror as George Bush explained how the government “investing” in banks is somehow not socialism.

There are three important points to make here:

First Bush claimed that this was only temporary and that at some point the future, government would sell their “investments” and all would be back to normal . Sorry Georgie but to paraphrase Ronald Reagan: the closest thing we’ll ever see to eternal life on earth is a government program. These “investments” will only grow in time to the point where the government will eventually have nationalized the entire financial system.

Second, Bush claimed that these “investments” are part of a well thought out plan. What a joke. A few weeks ago, the Bush administration was arguing against a similar British plan. Here’s the problem: the stock market had its worst week ever after Bush signed the $700 billion bailout bill that the administration claimed would calm people’s fears. Now they are just twisting in the wind. There isn't any plan. They are making things up as they go along, and spending your money in the process.

Third, by definition government ownership is socialism.

I’ll say it again, the Bush family has ruined the Republican Party that Reagan built. Now they are ruining the country. Enough is enough. I’m not the only one who understands this. Christopher Buckley, who is the son of the late William F. Buckley, the founder of the modern conservative movement, has now also abandoned the GOP, resigned from the magazine his father founded, and endorsed Obama. This is what he said:

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wall Street Bailout: Welfare for the Wealthy

Sorry that I’ve been away for a while. I’ve had my own challenges at work which have occupied most of my time recently.

I felt that I needed to take some time today to comment on the Wall Street Bailout bill. My view is that the bailout will only make things worse. Quite frankly, it could be a potential disaster that could push us into another depression.

The main thing to remember is that the government created the mess that we’re in today. Here's how they did it:

First, the government passed legislation to pressure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide home loans to people who couldn’t afford them. Remember, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are quasi public companies that were created by the government. Most of the debt problems in housing market can be traced to government interference in the mortgage market.

Second, the government has greatly inflated the money supply over the past decade to artificially lower interest rates. The artificially low interest rates have caused an unprecedented amount of reckless borrowing and spending.

Third, the government itself has gone on a drunken orgy of spending over the last 8 years. In the process, they've turned a $155 billion annual surplus into a $500 billion annual debt. The national debt has doubled over the last 8 years to a whopping $10 trillion. That $10 trillion does not include the unfunded liabilities in the Social Security and Medicare systems that are ready to hit us in a big way as the baby boomers start to retire.

So, the financial crisis is all about bad debt caused by the government promoting excessive borrowing. The $700 billion bailout will only make matters worse because the government doesn’t have $700 billion to spend. The government is already running a $500 billion a year deficit. The government will have to borrow more money and incur more debt to fund this program. This time, the Chinese and Japanese aren’t going to fund the borrowing by buying T-bills. The money is going to come right from the Federal Reserve further inflating the money supply, which will very likely lead to Jimmy Carter style inflation and interest rates. The wholesale price index has already increased by over 9% in the last year, which is the worse inflation in 27 years. It's only going to get worse.

The end result could be another Great Depression along with hyperinflation. Remember, that’s precisely the scenario that led to Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. In my view, the government has already put many of the mechanisms in place to support a dictatorship in the name of fighting terrorism.

So, what should the government really do??? Here is my four point plan for getting us out of this mess:

First, immediately cut government spending and balance the budget. If the government gets out of the credit markets there will be plenty of credit left for the private sector. Remember, we had a balanced budget in 2000. It’s not that hard to get there again. It only takes some political will to do so.

Second, reign in the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve helped cause the Great Depression. They’re doing it again. There are a lot of approaches that can be taken to do this. Regardless of which approach is taken, one thing is certain -- we can no longer allow faceless, unelected bureaucrats to have absolute and largely secretive decision making power over our money supply.

Third, we have to make America the best place to invest and innovate once again. The first thing that we need to do is streamline our Byzantine tax and regulatory systems. A much harder task is fixing our abysmal government monopoly school system, which is protected by cowardly politicians who’d rather destroy our kid’s future than stand up to the teachers’ unions.

Fourth, don't try to block the recession. What is a recession? It’s a corrective period where bad investments and debt are discounted or liquidated. Doing this frees up resources for other, more productive economic activities. Attempts by the government to prolong the inevitable will only make things worse. Much worse. So let it happen. It will be quick. Let’s come out of it with a more rational fiscal and monetary environment to get the country back on track.

Anyway, politicians of both parties have created this mess. Anyone who thinks that these same people will fix it is not living in the real world.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bush's TSA Police State

It’s not enough that 1 million people have wound up on Bush’s terrorist watch list, including 7 year old John Anderson of Minneapolis. Now, the media is finally picking up on the abuses of Americans by power drunk TSA agents.

Watch the video on how a man with a prosthetic leg was abused at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, being forced to take his pants down in public. When he asked to see a supervisor, one TSA agent starting yelling: “I have power, I have power, I power”. Yes indeed, she does have power and that’s the problem.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

George Bush’s Homeland Security Incompetence

Are there really 1 million terrorists poised to attack America if the Department of Homeland Security lets down its guard? That’s the implication, given that 1 million people have now wound up on the government’s terrorist watch list.

The list contains some truly frightening characters. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

John Anderson of Minneapolis, who turned 7 on July 4, is among them. He wound up on the terrorist watch list last year. Repeated appeals by his mother to have him removed have fallen on deaf ears in Washington. Watch out for that box cutter under his blanky.

11 term Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta was put on the terrorist watch list 5 years ago. He is still subjected to repeated airport searches and required to present multiple forms of identification when he tries to travel.

Assistant US Attorney General Jim Robinson, who holds a government security clearance, is also on the list. Every time he tries to fly, he is harassed by TSA employees who are seemingly incapable of distinguishing between a high-ranking government official and a Muslim terrorist.

Drew Griffin, who is a CNN reporter, "coincidentally" found himself being addded to the terrorist watch list last May after he began a series of investigative reports that were critical of the TSA.

More than 2,000 Americans file to get their names removed from the list each month. Few, if any have succeeded. We all know that once government puts somethings in place, it’s almost impossible to change. So, these unfortunate people are likely doomed to spend the rest of their lives being harassed by government morons every time they try to board an airplane.

This should cause the most ardent Bush / McCain supporter to pause and reflect on whether or not this level of incompetence is making us more or less secure. Unfortunately, government incompetence has proven to be the rule, not the exception. So, regardless of who is elected in January, the situation is not likely to get better unless the government turns the business of protecting the airlines over to the airlines.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Electric Car to the Rescue?

Tesla Motors has begun production of a 100% plug-in electric car. The Tesla Roadster is not what most people think of when they hear the term “electric car”. The Roadster goes from 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds. Its peak torque begins at 0 rpm and stays strong at 13,000 rpm, which is very different from gasoline engines that have little torque at a low rpm. It has a top speed of 125 mph. It can travel about 220 miles per battery charge. Charging the battery takes about 3.5 hours. Useful battery life is estimated to be about 100,000 miles.

The Tesla Roadster costs about $100,000, which puts it out of reach for all but a select few. However, the company is expected to introduce a 4 door, 5 passenger sports sedan in 2010 with a price tag around $60,000, making it competitive with high-end Mercedes and BMWs. Tesla believes that over time the technology will improve to the point where a car like the sedan could be sold for as little as $30,000.

Tesla Motors isn’t the only company introducing plug-in electric cars. Mitsubishi said that is will launch its MiEV plug-in electric in Japan next year. The compact car has a top speed of about 80 mph and can travel about 100 miles on a single charge. The price is expected to be about $30,000.

General Motors is gearing up to introduce a plug-in hybrid – the Chevy Volt, which can travel up to 40 miles on a single charge. The Volt will also come with a small gasoline engine that engages to charge the battery when it runs down. Since 80% percent of American commuters drive less than 40 miles each day, a Volt driver might need only to fill up his tank with gasoline a few times a year.

Plug-in electrics might be one of the long-term solutions to our transportation needs, or they might just be a transitory technology on the road to fuel-cell electrics, which are powered by hydrogen and can be refueled like gasoline cars to support traveling long distances. Regardless, it’s great to see the market responding so vigorously to the problems we are facing with rising oil prices.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Al Gore’s Numbers on Alternative Energy Don't Add Up

Yesterday, Al Gore challenged Obama and McCain to sign onto a program to produce all of America’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within 10 years. Gore estimates that it will cost between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion dollars to do so.

It’s clear to me that we need to move aggressively in this direction. World demand for oil is only going to grow stronger as 2.5 billion people in China, India, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe continue to join the global economy. That means higher prices. Also, our enormous dependence on foreign oil puts our country at risk, especially given the rather unpleasant characters that control most of the world’s oil.

However, Al Gore’s numbers on what it will cost to make the shift just don’t add up.

T. Boone Pickens recently announced an initiative to generate 20% of electricity in the U.S. using wind turbines. Pickens estimates that it would cost more than $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years to do this. Even if his plan succeeds, we’d still be generating over half of our electricity from fossil fuels in the form of coal and natural gas in addition to continuing to get over 20% of our electricity from nuclear power. Moving to plug-in electric or hydrogen-electric cars would require the production of a lot more electricity than we produce today.

I’m encouraged that T. Boone Pickens is investing his own money to build the largest wind farm in the U.S. I’m optimistic that the hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital being poured into Silicon Valley solar energy startups will pay huge dividends. Honda’s limited release of a hydrogen fuel cell car is also very exciting.

However, we need to be realistic on the timetable and costs for moving the country to a new energy environment. Gore's numbers won't get us there.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bush Inflation: So where is your 9% raise???

The Labor Department reported that wholesale prices rose 9.2% in the last 12 months – the worst inflation in 27 years. Did you get a 9% raise this year to keep pace?

Meanwhile, U.S. banking regulators seized mortgage lender IndyMac on Friday and closed the doors after withdrawals by panicked depositors led to the third-largest banking failure in U.S. history. This is the fifth bank that’s failed this year. There are at least 150 additional banks that are at risk of failing.

The Federal Reserve also announced steps to create more inflation to shore up failing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose shares have plunged as their losses threatened their financial survival. Freddie Mac owed $5.2 billion more than its assets were worth, making it insolvent under fair value accounting rules. One estimate shows that bailing them out will cost each of us $16,000. Of course, the government won’t directly charge you for this. They’ll indirectly charge you by further inflating the money supply. If you think 9% inflation is bad, just wait until this happens.

The dollar fell to a record low against the Euro.

The Bank failures and inflation are the result of the same failed policies of the Federal Reserve System. Over the last couple decades, the Federal Reserve board kept interest rates artificially low. This lead to irresponsible behavior on the part of lenders and borrowers alike. Now the bill is coming due. We are going to pay for it, one way or another.

So, what’s the answer?

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae need to be allowed to fail and the market needs to deal with the correction. Both companies were created by the government. Fannie Mae was created by Franklin Roosevelt in 1938. It was privatized in 1968. The government created Freddie Mac at the same time to provide some competition to Fannie Mae. U.S. taxpayers shouldn't be punished to bailout these government created companies.

The Federal Reserve System also needs to be replaced. How do we replace it? The late Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman advocated replacing the Fed with a computer that would be increase the money supply by 4% a year. Ron Paul advocates replacing the Fed with a gold standard, which is constitutionally mandated. Both of these approaches would work a lot better than the arbitrary system we have now.

However, long-term the right answer is to get the government completely out of the money business altogether by moving to a system of competing currencies, which was advocated by another great Nobel Laureate – Friedrich Hayek.

Regardless of where we go from here, it should be clear to everyone that the Federal Reserve System has been a miserable failure and needs to be changed. Don’t hold your breath.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barack Obama : The Good, Bad and Ugly

I like Barack Obama. I really do. I honestly believe that he is sincere in his desire to create a new politics that makes a sharp break with the past. However, events this week demonstrate that while he is making progress in some areas, he is still a captive of both the stale ideas of the past and the power hungry Washington establishment. Three actions demonstrate this:

The Good

This week, Jesse Jackson said that he wanted to cut off Obama’s cajones for “talking down to black people”. I suspect that the Reverend Jackson was actually angry because he is finally coming to the realization that his own time has and come and gone. Barack Obama has indeed made a sharp break with the leadership of Jackson / Sharpton era. Obama is more inclusive and pragmatic than those who profited politically and economically from dividing the country. This is a good thing for our future.

The Bad

Barack Obama also dredged up the tired old idea of creating a national service program. Americans are already the most generous people on earth. We donate a lot of our free time to volunteer in our schools, churches and charitable organizations. In addition, many school boards have already mandated that students perform volunteer work as a requirement for graduation. So, why in God’s name do we need a federal program? When is this kind of nonsense ever going to end???

And the Ugly

Sadly, Barack Obama also demonstrated conclusively this week that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between him and Bush / McCain when it comes to civil liberties. He showed this by voting for the horrifying Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the administration to spy on Americans’ electronic communications without cause and judicial oversight.

My guess is that Obama will lose a bunch of support to Bob Barr and Ralph Nader over the FISA vote alone, as well as he should.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

T. Boone Pickens: An Oilman turns to the Wind

Oil magnate T. Boone Pickens has announced a rather intriguing plan for reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil by nearly 40% within 10 years.

Many people don’t realize that America’s oil imports increased from 24% of our needs in 1970 to over 70% of our needs today. We send more than $700 billion a year overseas to some rather unsavory characters to support our oil appetite. What’s really scary is that world oil production peaked in 2005 and has fallen over the last three years. Unfortunately, demand for oil is rapidly escalating because the world is adding 2.5 billion people in India, China, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia to the global economy. So, demand for oil is only going to get stronger.

Right now, 22% of America’s electricity needs are generated using natural gas. However, natural gas makes for a better transportation fuel than oil, because it pollutes less, (30% less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline), costs less, and we have more of it at home. There are already 7 million natural gas vehicles in the world and no technological breakthroughs are required to make this a viable option. If we could divert the natural gas being used to generate electricity to fueling our cars, we could reduce consumption of foreign oil by 38%, and keep $250 billion a year at home to support our own economy.

How do we do this? Pickens’ answer is to replace natural gas with wind power.

Studies have shown that the Great Plains states are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world. Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20% of the electricity for the United States, allowing the natural gas that is currently used for electricity to be diverted to transportation. We’re already generating about 1% of our electricity using wind and more capacity is coming on-line. Pickens’ himself is building a 4,000 megawatt wind farm in Texas, which is the equivalent of four large coal plants, but without the pollution.

Wind power can also help revitalize rural America, as has already happened in Sweetwater, Texas after a large wind farm was built outside of town.

So, what’s the problem? Yep, you guessed it -- special interests. In this case, coal companies who are working with state legislatures in places like Kansas to muddy the waters. There is also huge potential to generate electricity from wind power off of our Atlanta Coast. Unfortunately, wealthy Americans who fear their views of the sea will be spoiled have colluded with the coal companies to stall many of these efforts.

Although it’s not part of Pickens’ plan, the southwestern part of the U.S. has huge potential for generating power using the sun. Venture capital firms are investing huge sums of money in solar energy technologies. As a result, factories are being built in Silicon Valley for the first time in decades and utilities are building large solar farms in places like California, Arizona, and Nevada.

What’s missing is real political leadership. It’s time to get rid of the politicians who are more interested in protecting the special interests rather than doing what’s right for the future of the country. Otherwise, our future may be one of looking back and reminiscing about “the good old days" when gas was only $4 a gallon.

George Bush and his Big Spending Republicans

I’m frequently asked if I worry that voting for Bob Barr will put Barack Obama in the White House. It’s a reasonable question. The answer is no. Here's why: I’m an old adage kind of guy. Regardless of the situation, I believe that there is probably an old adage that is relevant and instructive. One of my favorites is: “Actions speak louder than words”. In spite of their blather about being for limited government, George Bush and his Republican Congress have been far bigger spenders than Barack Obama could ever hope to be.

According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, federal spending has increased 60% under Bush, after adjusting for inflation. That’s twice the rate of growth under Bill Clinton. The majority of spending increases were not for national security or domestic law enforcement.

Discretionary spending rose a whopping 75% under Bush. Discretionary spending fell throughout the Clinton years. George Bush doubled farm subsidies. He dramatically increased education spending, with failed programs like No Child Left Behind. He passed the most expensive pork-barrel highway bill in history. Welfare programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps grew 56% under Bush.

Entitlement spending has also ballooned under Bush, in part because of Bush’s new Medicare drug entitlement, which will cost $783 billion over the next decade and trillions in the following decades.

Waste, fraud and abuse are now at record levels. Bush has presided over the largest increase in pork barrel earmarks in history. Bush spends $60 billion a year on corporate welfare. Half of all farm subsidies go to wealthy corporations who don’t need it. Medicare fraud is estimated to cost upwards of $25 billion annually. The government’s own auditors believe that programs totaling $123 billion in annual spending fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve.

There’s more: $55 billion in federal overpayments; 1,200 "lost" computers in the Commerce Department; Home Land Security employees buying plasma televisions and iPods; the Defense Department wasting $100 million on airline tickets that were never used; Air Force personnel spending your tax dollars on gambling, cruises, and strip clubs...

Even the debit cards given to Hurricane Katrina victims were used to pay for things like Caribbean vacations, NFL tickets, Dom Perignon champagne, “Girls Gone Wild” videos, and at least one sex change operation!

The result? George Bush and his Republican Congress added trillions to the national debt by turning Clinton’s last annual $155 billion surplus into the current annual $500 billion deficit.

So, back to the question: Am I worried that voting for Bob Barr will put Obama in the White House? Nope. George Bush and his GOP Congress have proven to be worse than their Democratic predecessors, so what else could I possibly be worried about???

Monday, July 7, 2008

General Motors: Farwell and Adieu?

The news that General Motors stock hit a 54 year low last week shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to anyone who has been following the company for a while. GM is hemorrhaging money so fast that it will need to raise $15 billion to cover their operating expenses over the next two years. They are now facing the very real possibility of bankruptcy. As a result, GM is now considering laying off thousands of white collar workers and selling off some of their brands.

GM’s problems aren’t new and are only partially related to the current high price of gasoline. Their problems go back several decades, when they started to let their dominance of the U.S. auto market slip away to the Japanese and then the Koreans. GM has lost over half of its market share over the last four decades. It’s now at 20%.

General Motors has had some of the most brain-dead management in the industry, starting with Roger Smith who fostered the worst labor relationships in Detroit. At one point their relationship with labor was so bad that GM's UAW leadership were indistinguishable from suicide terrorists, determined to punish the company even if it meant killing themselves in the process.

GM also suffered from three decades of poor, uninspiring design, where for a while most of their cars pretty much looked like a wedge of cheese.

Like all U.S. auto companies, it took GM too long to figure out that producing qualitiy cars actually cost less, not more, and results in higher customer satisfaction and stronger brand loyalty.

They were also completely clueless on how to compete in international markets. For example, they used to constantly whine about how Japan was unfairly closed to them. When I went to Japan for the first time in 1998, I noticed three things: A.) The Japanese drive on the left side of the road, like the British, B.) there were a lot of German cars on the road, and C.) there were very few American cars. The problem was that the U.S. auto companies took forever to sell cars that were suitable for the Japanese market (i.e., with the steering wheel on the right side). The complete misunderstanding of the market, along with their chronic quality problems doomed GM, Ford, and Chrysler in Japan.

They also have a maddening plethora of largely indistinguishable brands including Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, Saturn, Cadillac, and Buick. Let’s not forget about Oldsmobile, which GM shut down a few years ago. Yes, they also have Saab and Hummer, but these are niche brands which are also not doing well.

Finally, years of overly generous pension arrangements have spun GM’s costs out of control. The cost of supporting GM retirees is more than $1,600 per car.

Shutting down a brand is a costly proposition, in part due to state franchise laws. In 2001, GM spent $1 billion to buy out Olds dealers and close some plants. Litigation with dealers dragged on for years and the final cost of shutting downs Olds is estimated to be $2 billion.

Throttling back on production isn’t an easy answer either, given GM’s union agreements which stipulate that they can’t close a plant or lay off workers without stiff penalties no matter how bad the losses become. Plants must run at 80% capacity or more whether they make money or not. Even if it stops its assembly lines, GM must still pay laid-off workers and also foot their extraordinarily generous health-care and pension costs.

So, what’s the answer? I for one can’t think of any reason why General Motors as a single entity makes sense any longer, because they just don't seem to be able to get out from under their own history. They have proven to be too big, old, and stodgy to undertake any serious reform. The only real answer may be to break the company up and let the market reallocate the resources to more productive uses.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

McCain’s Military Service not a qualification for the Presidency

On Sunday, retired General Wesley Clark said that: “I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.” He’s exactly right. In fact, McCain’s 54 years of government “service” make him very unqualified to be President.

McCain grew up in a military family. His father and Grandfather were both career military officers. McCain started working for the government in 1954 when he entered the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated in 1958 and then went to flight school in Pensacola, Florida and become a Naval aviator in 1960. He received a combat assignment in 1966, where he participated in a bombing campaign of Vietnam. In 1967, while on his 23rd bombing mission, he was shot down over Hanoi. He was imprisoned for 5 ½ years, suffering lengthy solitary confinement and torture.

McCain left the Navy in 1981. He briefly worked for his father-in-law’s beer distributorship, as VP of Public Relations, while he was running for Congress. In 1982 he was elected to the House. In 1986, he won a seat in the Senate, where he has remained for 20 years.

McCain has virtually no experience in the private sector. He’s never led an organization, built a business, met a payroll, balanced a budget, or had to serve customers in a competitive market to survive. He admits that the economy is not his strong suit because from the time he grew up as a military brat until today, he’s lived in a world of edicts and mandates rather than one of competition. Accordingly, he has demonstrated a propensity for supporting unworkable government solutions, for example with his advocacy for the Eurocrat cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.

With $4 a gallon gas, the worst housing market in 70 years, a collapsed dollar, and rising unemployment, private sector experience is an essential qualification for the next President. McCain's private sector experience is virtually non-existent.

I have nothing but respect for people who volunteer to serve in the U.S. military. I am a 4 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. However, Wesley Clark is right -- military service alone doesn’t qualify one to be President of the United States.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The End of Oil Tyranny

Honda’s first commercial fuel cell powered cars rolled off the production line in Japan yesterday. The Honda FCX Clarity goes from 0 to 60 in about 9 seconds. The car can travel up to 280 miles per “fill up”. It can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour. It’s a good looking car and an engineering marvel.

Fuel cells generate power by producing an electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to convert chemical energy into electrical energy that powers the car. Fuel cells don’t pollute. The only thing that comes out of the tailpipe is water.

Honda has sold the first few hydrogen cars to some Hollywood celebrities, including Jamie Lee Curtis.

General Motors has also been testing fuel cell versions of the Chevy Equinox for a couple of months.

Unfortunately, the cars are only available in limited markets – the Honda in the Los Angeles area and the GM in New York City and Los Angeles. One reason is that there aren’t many hydrogen refueling stations.

Honda and GM are ready to launch home hydrogen refueling stations to help bootstrap the market. Honda’s home refueling station will operate on natural gas, while GM’s will work off of electricity and solar power.

BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and most of the other major car companies have fuel cell vehicles under development. Honda and GM are out in front of the market.

We are witnessing the end of the energy control that the Arab Sheiks, Latin Dictators, and Russian Mafia have over the world.

It will take time, but how cool is that?

Monday, June 16, 2008

John McCain and the American Gulag

Last week the United States Supreme Court upheld the writ of Habeas Corpus. John McCain responded by saying that: the Supreme Court decision protecting habeas corpus "is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country."


What is the writ of habeas corpus anyway? Basically, it's the right not to be arbitrarily incarcerated by the government without being charged with a crime by a lawful authority. Article One of the United States Constitution explicitly upholds this right.

The writ of habeas corpus is even much older than the Constitution. It was first codified into law in England by the Maga Carta in 1215.

In old Soviet Union, and many other countries in the world, the government could imprison you, and hold you indefinitely without charge for as long as they wanted. John McCain apparently thinks that jailing you without cause is a wonderful idea. Now he is angry that the Supreme Court won't throw away over 200 years of American law and almost 800 years of Western Civilization.

Just what country do you think you are living in Mr. McCain?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

John McCain: Space Cadet

This week brought us an incredible amount of bad news that bodes ill for our future, as well as John McCain’s bid for the White House.

Oil prices made their largest single day increase ever on Friday, surging nearly $11 a barrel to $139. This was after an increase of $5.50 the day before. The unemployment rate rose to 5.5 percent in May from 5 percent -- the largest monthly increase in 22 years. The Dow Jones industrials declined nearly 400 points, the biggest drop in more than 15 months. The already weak dollar plunged against the Euro and gold prices registered their largest increase in six months. Russian President Dimitry Medvedev warned that the world may be headed for the worst economic decline since the Great Depression.

If this wasn't bad enough, an Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said that his country will attack Iran if it doesn't abandon its nuclear program. In addition, Israeli paper Ha'aretz reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in Washington trying to convince Bush to set aside our own intelligence estimate that Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003. Instead, he wants Bush to use the data presented by Israel, which says that Iran is still actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability. Daniel Pipes, who is a neo-con political commentator, told the National Review that if Obama is elected, George Bush will attack Iran in the remaining weeks of his presidency.

What was John McCain’s response to all of this great news? Well, he wrapped up the week by telling a town hall meeting in Florida that he wants to send a man to Mars to "inspire" the American public, as they were inspired when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969.

I’m sorry Mr. McCain, but dredging up a stale idea from the 1960s in a sad attempt to pretend that you have some vision is not going to fill our gas tanks, prevent Americans from dying in yet another senseless war, or put you in the White House.

Friday, June 6, 2008

McCain and Obama: Environmental Twins

John McCain’s endorsement of the Eurocrat “cap and trade” system for limiting carbon emissions demonstrates once again that the GOP has virtually become the Democratic Party. Of course, this isn’t the first time McCain has promoted this idea. In 2003, McCain and his good buddy Joe Lieberman introduced a “cap and trade” bill in Congress.

Europe’s experience with “cap and trade” demonstrates that it doesn’t work. Electricity costs have skyrocketed. Due to the lobbying of politically connected companies, most European countries participating in the program have higher carbon emissions today than they did when the treaty was enacted in 1997.

“Cap and trade” does little to help the environment and costs too much. Its only purpose is to further politicize the economy.

In the meantime, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are pouring money and resources into solar energy technologies. New companies are springing up. Established companies are retooling to provide solar cells in addition to microchips. For the first time in years, high tech factories are being built in Silicon Valley.

The price of solar electricity is still a bit high, but it’s becoming more competitive. Electricity prices in the U.S. range between 5 and 18 cents per kilowatt hour. Abengoa Solar is building a 280-megawatt solar plant in Arizona that will produce electricity at 15 cents per kilowatt hour. The hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in solar technologies in Silicon Valley will ensure progress towards making solar energy competitive to conventional sources of electricity.

Solar energy requires a lot of sun. Nevada is one of the sunniest states in the nation. It’s also the seventh largest state in the country, covering 110,567 square miles. The federal government owns 86% of it.

Here’s a modest proposal for Bob Barr to differentiate himself from his rivals – auction off a portion of federal land in Nevada to companies who will use it to build solar farms. Couple this with a tax holiday for companies that generate clean electricity. This will do a lot more to reduce carbon emissions than the bureaucratic schemes of the McCain-Obama twins.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bob Barr Democrats

It looks like Barack Obama has won the Democratic nomination. Congratulations to him. My guess is that he is going to be the next President. Not because he’s so great. Rather because George Bush has ruined the party that Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Dick Armey, and others tried to build.

Obama has a big challenge ahead, namely that white, blue collar voters in the industrial Midwest don’t seem to be inclined to vote for him. The big question for Bob Barr is how he turns these “Hillary Democrats” into Barr voters.

One thing that Barr should propose is to bring our troops home to save our manufacturing base. The U.S. spends countless billions of dollars every year stationing troops in Japan and South Korea. These countries respond by doing everything they can to put GM, Ford, and Chrysler out of business. They are able to compete effectively because their total tax burden is significantly smaller than ours, in part because we are subsidizing their military defense. We need to end the huge defense subsidy that American taxpayers are shelling out to over to 130 countries around the world and then use the savings to cut taxes to help make us more competitive.

We know why McCain won't propose this – he is admittedly clueless about the economy and he is too vested in his antiquated Cold War view of the world to make any real change. I do find it very odd that Obama won't talk about this either. Perhaps his elitist disposition makes him too tone deaf to the plight of blue collar Americans to care.

This gives Barr an opportunity to win over a lot of folks who voted for Hillary in the primary, while upholding our American libertarian values at the same time.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Huckabee and the final GOP repudiation of Reagan

Mike Huckabee’s comments this week stating that libertarianism is un-American signals the final Republican repudiation of Ronald Reagan, who said: “I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

Huckabee is right in stating that libertarianism is more of a threat to the GOP than liberalism, given that the GOP has become even more liberal in their use of government power to control our lives than the Democrats. Consider this: George Bush and his GOP Congress have presided over the fastest growth in federal spending since LBJ's Great Society. They created the largest federal intrusion into the classroom in history (No Child Left Behind), the most expensive public-works program ever (the 2005 highway bill), and the largest new entitlement program (the prescription-drug benefit) since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. They launched an alleged “war on terror” that spent upwards of $3 trillion, killed 4,000 Americans, and brought us $4 a gallon gasoline. They trampled on states’ rights over issues such as assisted suicide and medical marijuana. They expanded the government's power to spy on Americans.

Huckabee fits right in with this crowd. According to the Club for Growth, while he was governor of Arkansas, Huckabee increased state spending by 65%, increased the government workforce by 20%, raised taxes by 47%, and increased the state debt by $1 billion. He also had a strange penchant for releasing convicted murders and rapists from prison. During his tenure as governor, Huckabee issued more commutations and pardons than all of the six neighboring states combined. Those states include Texas, which has more than 8 times the population of Arkansas.

If this is what passes for "conservatism" today, please count me out.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Libertarian Party gets serious

I was briefly involved in the Libertarian Party 20 years ago when Ron Paul was their Presidential nominee. I left after the 1988 election because they seemed more interested in being a sanctuary for the faithful rather than an organization that was serious about actually winning elections and affecting change. I’m a results-oriented guy. I don’t have time to waste with people who aren’t serious about accomplishing their goals.

Their selection of Bob Barr for President and Wayne Allyn Root for Vice President this weekend indicates that the LP has changed in big, important ways.

Bob Barr was a four term Congressman from Georgia. During his stay, he was probably the second most “libertarian” Congressman next to Ron Paul. Yes, there were a few very public issues where he wasn’t libertarian at all. However, after leaving Congress in 2003 Barr has worked closely with organizations on the left (ACLU) and right (ACU) to oppose the authoritarian trends that haunt this country today.

Wayne Allyn Root is a businessman, Las Vegas television personality, author, and odds maker. He came from a blue collar background and became a self-made millionaire. Root has the energetic stage persona of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, coming across a bit like a guy you'd see on an infomercial at 3am.

Barr chose Russ Verney as his campaign manager. Russ was Ross Perot’s campaign manager. So, holy smokes, the Libertarian Party actually has a team that is serious about success and knows how to get things done. Given the mood of the voters this year, I suspected that the Libertarian Party will have its best showing ever.

It’s going to be a very interesting political year.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The return of Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson has returned to the public stage with a new blog and a wonderful article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled: “The Death of Conservatism is Greatly Exaggerated”. Here’s what he said:

Some conservatives try to avoid philosophical confrontation with liberals, often urging solutions that would expand the government while rationalizing that the expansion would be at a slightly slower rate. This strategy simply has not worked. Conservatives should stay true to their principles and remember:

- Congress cannot repeal the laws of economics. There are no short-term fixes without longer term consequences.

- In a free and dynamic country with social mobility, there will be great opportunity but also economic disparity, especially if the country has liberal immigration policies and a high divorce rate.

- An education system cannot overcome the breakdown of the family, and the social fabric that surrounds children daily.

- Free markets, not an expanding and more powerful government, are the solution to today's problems. Many of these problems, such as health-care costs, energy dependency and the subprime mortgage crisis, were caused in large part by government policies.

Sorry, but one has to wonder why he never got around to saying these things while he was actually running for President. However, he is right -- many “conservatives” (and most of the GOP) do indeed advocate so-called "solutions" that do nothing but expand the power of government. That’s precisely the problem and it has to stop.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gay Marriage: Conservatives are culpable too

The recent California Supreme Court ruling stating that marriage between gays is a constitutional right should be a big wake up call to conservatives. I for one don’t give a hoot what consenting adults do. If two people of the same sex want to have a contractual arrangement called "marriage", I don’t care. However, a lot of people do find the concept of gay marriage to be immoral. Now, they are going to be forced to recognize its legitimacy in their daily lives.

Here is the magic question that conservatives never ask: why does one need a government license to get married? Just try asking this question and you’ll find that most people will recoil on horror over the mere suggestion that government has no business being involved in marriage.

However, for most of western history marriage was a private contract between two families.

Government marriage licenses didn't start becoming the norm in America until the Progressive Era. In the late 19th century, state governments started nullifying common law marriages. By the 1920s, 38 states required government licenses to legally recognize a marriage. These marriage licenses were originally created to prevent whites from marrying people of other races.

During the 1960s, government used their power over marriage to create "no fault divorce laws" that enabled the dissolution of a marriage without any proof of adultery, abandonment, felony or other legally culpable act. This greatly increased divorce and illegitimacy, swelled welfare rolls, and led to the general moral breakdown and chronic crime in our cities.

Now, courts in Massachusetts and California have issued mandates that will once again alter the fundamental concept of marriage.

Government control over marriage started as a way to prevent people from exercising their right to marry whomever they want. Now, government control is being used to force everyone to accept marriages that many find objectionable.

As is the case with everything government touches, their control over marriage has corrupted and destroyed it. Today, half of all people between 25 and 29 are not married. 40% of babies are born out of wedlock.

Unfortunately, most "conservatives" don't understand this. Many are just as eager as the left to use government power to force their mandates on society. That's exactly the problem.

Marriage should be a private affair between the people who want to marry, their families, and their church. The government should keep their sticky fingers out of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How much worse can Obama really be?

Newt Gingrich told The Washington Times yesterday that “Bob Barr will make it marginally easier for Barack Obama to become president. That outcome threatens every libertarian value Barr professes to champion”.

What has really threatened every libertarian value Barr professes is 8 years of George Bush and 6 years of his lackey GOP Congress who have rejected everything that Ronald Reagan stood for.

They put mechanisms in place like the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act that are destroying our civil liberties and will continue to do irreparable harm to Americans long after Bush is gone.

They did something that Ronald Reagan vowed America would never do -- start an aggressive war against a country that could not have possibly threatened us.

Their aggressive war brought us $4.00 a gallon gasoline.

They went on a drunken orgy of spending that doubled the national debt.

Their deficit spending and overly cheap credit have destroyed the dollar and the housing market.

It’s gotten to the point where many Republicans don’t even pretend to believe in limited government any longer. Now we hear about “big government conservatism”, “compassionate conservatism”, or “national greatness conservatism”. All of these labels are nothing more than euphemisms for “socialism”.

One thing has become very clear during the last 8 years -- Bush was worse than Bill Clinton on a lot of issues, especially those around fiscal responsibility. We don't need two Democratic parties. Yes Obama may be worse than both Bush and Clinton, but with the GOP back in opposition maybe they will learn how to oppose big government once again.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Enough Already!

Barack Obama won a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton in North Carolina, trouncing her by 14 points. She barely squeaked out a win in Indiana. Obama picked up four additional “super delegates” today. He’s about 170 delegates shy of the nomination. She is out of money and has had to loan her campaign $6.4 million in the last month.

The spirited contest has been great for the Democrat Party. At this point, it’s over. She should get out.

The big question that the Democrats need to ask themselves is which candidate will have the best opportunity to beat McCain. A lot of pundants have agonized over this. My view is that the answer is pretty simple.

The most important fact about the situation today isn’t who can attract the most “moderate” voters in the fall. Rather, it’s this: movement conservatives loath John McCain, but they have a visceral hatred of Hillary Clinton. If Clinton gets the nomination, they will hold their noses and line up behind McCain. If she doesn’t get the nomination, they might stay home on election day, or cast their vote elsewhere.

Where else could they go? Well, if Bob Barr can manage to get the Libertarian Party nomination a lot of folks could vote for him. Otherwise, a smaller number might opt for Chuck Baldwin who is the Constitution Party nominee.

Ron Paul demonstrated that a great many GOP-leaning voters are extraordinarily unhappy. The guy raised $34 million. He beat the presumptive nominee (Rudy Giuliani) in most of the caucuses. The latest news is that his new book is poised to top the New York Times best seller list. One of his most obscure issues – the problems created by the Federal Reserve – is starting to resonate with the American people, as evidenced by a new CNN/Opinion Research Poll.

Let’s not forget that 19% of Americans did vote for Ross Perot in 1992, even after we all knew he was nuts. So, it's not inconceivable that a 3rd party candidate like Bob Barr could make a big impact this year. A few points in a couple of key states and it's over for McCain.

A Hillary nomination will torpedo it all, because she is such a polarizing figure that people will line up behind McCain just to keep her out of office.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Faculty Lounge

I haven’t been one to pounce on the news that Barack Obama’s pastor is a bit of a racist. People are entitled to their own views, regardless of how vile those views are. Obama says that he found value in attending that church, with that pastor, in spite of that rhetoric. Who am I to question this? I do however wonder what Obama would say if Clinton had been attending a church with a white pastor, who used the same type of rhetoric about blacks.

Obama’s relationship will Bill Ayers is another matter entirely.

Who is Bill Ayers? He’s a terrorist, no different than Osama Bin Laden. He was a leader in the Weather Underground. They blew up 30 bombs, including at the New York City Police Headquarters, the Capitol building, and the Pentagon. One bomb killed three people. Then he disappeared for 10 years.

Ayer’s motto: “Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents". Not only has Ayers never apologized for his actions, he’s still proud of them. In 2001 he said: “I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough”.

“Prosecutorial misconduct” was the reason he’s not rotting in prison today.

So, what’s the connection between Ayers and Obama? Obama and Ayers live in the same neighborhood. Ok, so there’s not much to say about this. They also served on the board of the same foundation. Hey, we all have to work with people we don’t like, right? Yes, but Obama could have declined to serve on the board if Bill Ayers was on it. Now we find out that when Barack Obama first ran for the State Senate in 1995, his coming out party was held at the home of Bill Ayers. That’s where Alice Palmer, who was stepping down from her State Senate seat, announced that Obama was her chosen successor.

I voted for Obama in the Democratic caucus and I don't regret it at all because the Iraq war is the #1 issue for me. This is troubling nevertheless.

Oh by the way, while he was President Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of two Weatherman who were sent to prison.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bob Barr

I greeted the news that Bob Barr was forming a presidential exploratory committee with both a bit of glee and skepticism.

One the one hand, the corrupt two party system needs some shaking up. The GOP in particular needs to be rejected for violating virtually all of its alleged principles during the Bush administration.

On the other hand, the Libertarian Party has rarely demonstrated even the tiniest amount of common sense. Given that many on the right are really unhappy with McCain, Congressman Barr would almost certainly have the best showing of any LP presidential candidate in its history. In spite of this, my bet is that the LP will reject Barr and nominate one its long-time stalwarts, because Barr isn't a pure enough libertarian.

Barr has the potential to really shake things up and show the GOP that they can’t take advantage of their base any longer, but alas the LP party faithful probably aren't smart enough to let him do it.

I sure hope that I’m wrong. In the meantime, perhaps Barr should hedge his bets a bit and have a chat with Howard Phillips over at the Constitution Party.