Obama's cabinet so far

If you're interested in some brief thoughts on Obama's cabinet picks so far, you can read my article at Human Events: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=29774

CommentVisions: Energy and the Environment

For my second contribution to the new European opinion web site, CommentVisions.com, I was asked to answer this question: "Energy and environment: what more can we do to meet the challenges of the future?" Here is my response: Despite the cries of the environmental left, the history of the last 50 years in the Western hemisphere is generally one of cleaner air, cleaner water, and a better overall environment, and not simply because of government regulation. As Stephen Moore and the late Julian Simon wrote earlier this decade, “it’s getting better all the time” and, even if cult leader Algore and friends want us to believe otherwise, that statement remains true. There are two main factors in this remarkable and steady improvement: The creation of wealth and the creation of new technology which that wealth allows, especially technology related to energy. In the short term, i.e. the next ten to twenty years, “renewable” non-nuclear energy will not be an important replacement for fossil fuels. Both oil and coal will remain responsible for the majority of the western world’s power generation. But that is nothing to fear, even for those who claim a primary concern for the environment. (I say “claim” because I am extremely skeptical about such people. I believe many of them simply sow fear as a fund-raising tool and that many others use the environment as a hammer with which to smash economic liberty. As George Will so aptly put it, “today’s ‘green left’ is the old ‘red left’ revised.”) What we can do to meet the challenges of the future at the intersection of the environment and energy needs is to let the free market work. We don’t need government subsidies, choosing winners and losers among their favored industries (more likely their biggest donors). The western world and increasingly other parts of the world are reaching levels of affluence where paying for a cleaner environment is no longer an unaffordable luxury. There is more than enough money to be made by developing efficient and clean energy that it can and will be done quickly and well if the government just gets out the way. (And if there isn’t a lot of money to be made by developing new energy sources, that would mean that oil and coal have become remarkably, wonderfully, inexpensive.) Specifically on the environmental front, the solution is to respect and enforce property rights, including rights “of the commons”. There is measurable damage to someone who renders a river unsuitable for drinking. On the other hand, we must not let the environmental left cause any use of one’s private property that annoys a mouse or a fish to be considered environmental damage. And, more than anything, we must fund and encourage scientists and organizations who are willing and able to challenge the hoax of man-made “global warming”, whose proponents have now switched to calling “climate change” since the planet has been cooling for the better part of a decade. There is no greater risk to national economies and the overall world economy than governments caving in to pressure from radical environmentalist groups who use junk science and the fear it creates in a scientifically ignorant public to enact laws specifically intended to make energy unaffordable. When people argue that a particular American administration has failed in its energy policy, my retort is that the real problem is government having an energy policy. It leaves those who are or would be in the energy business always wondering how the rules of the game will next be changed, and whether they’re spending enough money on lobbyists to ensure that they’re not the next ones left without a seat in a game of political musical chairs. Deep government involvement in energy policy must mean the death of creative development of new, clean, efficient energy sources in just the same way that government management of education leads to ignorant teenagers and government management of health care leads to rationing, long waits, and death. In short, what we can do to meet the challenges of the future is to let the free market work, let entrepreneurs succeed and fail based on their ability not simply to solve challenges but to figure out which ones are real and which ones are the pet projects of people who use such issues either to attack capitalism or to feather their own nests.

Obama's energy plans equal economic suicide

Here's a great article by Christopher Booker in which he explains how Barack Obama's acceptance of "climate change" mythology may lead to economic devastation for the US. see "President-elect Barack Obama proposes economic suicide for US", Christopher Booker, 11/29/08 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/11/30/do3010.xml

The amusing frustration of "progressives"

It's almost funny to hear or read the far left wing of the Democratic Party frustrated at the first few days of Barack Obama as President-Elect. His foreign policy team, particularly the retention of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, are far from the passive doves they wanted. For his economic team, Obama picked a group of consummate Washington insiders who are more practical than ideological, though they are, to be sure, liberals. Obama surrogates such as Bill Daley are strongly hinting that Obama may just let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010 rather than move earlier to raise taxes on "the wealthy." Incoming national security advisor, General James Jones, is being pilloried by left-wing environmentalists for his involvement with Chevron and the US Chamber of Commerce, even though those roles have nothing to do with his new job. The wacky left is even angry with the Democratic leadership in Congress for not severely punishing Joe Lieberman. As I was digging around on the web for some thoughts for this note, I found an excellent article from the NY Daily News entitled "Barack Obama doesn't fear the enraged, impotent Netroots." What I particularly liked about it was that the author mentioned my Gang of Four political opposition, David Sirota, by name before giving these words of wisdom regarding why Obama and friends are not doing the bidding of Sirota and the far-left of the Democratic Party: "Allow me to provide an answer. You don't matter." He's exactly right. Bloggers of all stripes, but particularly on the left, live in an echo chamber in which their belief in both the popularity of their leftist ideas and their own importance is magnified beyond reality. They write books which argue that the socialist revolution is about to happen in America even though it's obviously not true; they just wish it were so. (That said, I do admit that the election of Barack Obama is as close to a socialist revolution in this country as I'd ever like to see.) Sirota and friends believe that they were a major factor in the Democrats' electoral victories. But this race was never about the far left or the far right. It was about the middle. And the middle is no more interested in reliving the proven failure of "progressivism" (also known as socialism) than they are in living under a government dominated by crazy right-wingers like Alan Keyes. Sirota talks about "organizing" in case Obama doesn't behave the way he wishes. I can just hear Barack Obama and the entire Democratic leadership quaking in their boots. Or not.

Is Eric Holder Unfit to be Attorney General?

Thanks very much to Indiana Congressman Dan Burton for spending time with me on the phone, from his home, the day before Thanksgiving. He was an invaluable addition to my article about the very serious questions regarding Eric Holder, Barack Obama's likely nominee to be the next Attorney General of the United States. See my article at the Human Events web site: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=29721

Michael Lewis: The End of Wall Street's Boom

Hello all, I've had a very busy few days and am taking a day off from deep thoughts, so for today's reading may I suggest this fantastic (but rather long) article by Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker. see "The End", by Michael Lewis, Portfolio.com http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/11/The-End-of-Wall-Streets-Boom/

The Indian Student in History Class

Thanks to Rusty for sending me this gem... It was the first day of a school in USA and a new Indian student named Chandrasekhar Subramanian entered the fourth grade. The teacher said, "Let's begin by reviewing some American History. Who said 'Give me Liberty , or give me Death'?" She saw a sea of blank faces, except for Chandrasekhar, who had his hand up: 'Patrick Henry, 1775' he said. 'Very good!' Who said 'Government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the Earth?' Again, no response except from Chandrasekhar. 'Abraham Lincoln, 1863' said Chandrasekhar. The teacher snapped at the class, 'Class, you should be ashamed. Chandrasekhar, who is new to our country, knows more about its history than you do.' She heard a loud whisper: 'Screw the Indians,' 'Who said that?' she demanded. Chandrasekhar put his hand up. 'General Custer, 1862.' At that point, a student in the back said, 'I'm gonna puke.' The teacher glares around and asks 'All right! Now, who said that?' Again, Chandrasekhar says, 'George Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991.' Now furious, another student yells, 'Oh yeah? Suck this!' Chandrasekhar jumps out of his chair waving his hand and shouts to the teacher, 'Bill Clinton, to Monica Lewinsky, 1997!' Now with almost mob hysteria someone said 'You little creep. If you say anything else, I'll kill you.' Chandrasekhar frantically yells at the top of his voice, 'Michael Jackson to the child witnesses testifying against him- 2004.' The teacher fainted. And as the class gathered around the teacher on the floor, someone said, 'Oh crap, we're screwed!' And Chandrasekhar said quietly, 'I think it was the American people, November 4th, 2008.'

What will Black Friday bring?

Although I never go shopping on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and therefore am probably not a great indicator, I find it hard to imagine that the day will be anything other than black, indeed, from the point of view of retailers. My expectation is that shoppers will be buying less expensive things than usual and fewer of them, with many only interested in what they consider to be true bargains. With unemployment up and stocks down (even if off their lows), with consumer and investor confidence alike near all-time lows, I don't see how the news coming from today will be anything but dismal. At least the media has somewhat stopped their pre-election drumbeat of over-emphasizing negative economic news...a drumbeat which was part of their symphony of support for Democrats. I can imagine the stock market over-reacting to the news, whatever it ends up being, of Friday's retail sales. With the market having rallied about 15% from the lows in just a few days, I would expect profit-taking to be more likely than a continued rally, but I'm not betting on it either way. I'd be interested to know from my readers whether you plan to spend more, the same, or less this year on Hanukkah and Christmas presents compared to last year.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope everyone has something to be thankful for during these somewhat difficult times. Here's what I'm most thankful for:

Ross on the radio today

For those of you who are interested and have the time, please tune in your radio or your web browser to listen as I guest host the Amy Oliver Show on Newstalk 1310 KFKA in Greeley, Colorado Wednesday morning (November 26) from 9 AM to 11 AM Mountain Time (11 AM - 1 PM Eastern Time) I'll discuss the economy, the Obama Victory Plate, racism in America, and various other issues of the day... Feel free to call in...(877) 353-1310