September 28, 2008
If only it could really happen to him!
A lesson to protect our own energy security...
Democrats Still Aren't Serious About Drilling
By: JOHN SHADEGG
SEPTEMBER 17, 2008
After a five-week paid vacation, Democrats are back in Washington and claiming that they want to do something about oil prices.
But the problem is that their plan, which passed the House yesterday and will likely come up for a vote in the Senate later this week, will not produce a single drop of oil.
Why? Because it does nothing about environmental groups that are suing to stop drilling.
The Democratic proposal is not a death-bed conversion, it's designed to solve their political problem. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her members in August that they can say they are in favor of drilling, but that she wouldn't allow a vote on a drilling bill. Now that she has been forced to, she knows her environmental allies will block new drilling from going forward.
The Sierra Club has told its members that it is "working to ensure that the final bill's focus is on real clean energy solutions rather than expanded offshore drilling." Democratic Rep. John Murtha, a Pelosi confidante, went further last week in noting that his party's not above cynical politics: "This is a political month. There's all kinds of things we try to do that will just go away after we leave." And Legislative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council Karen Wayland has said "This is about politics, not necessarily about policy."
The green lobby, however, is not going away. EarthJustice, which employs over 150 people, has filed hundreds of lawsuits. On its Web site, it says "Because lawsuits can be so effective, we have a team of policy experts in Washington, D.C. that work hand-in-hand with our attorneys to stop legislative backlash..."
Indeed, incessant legal and administrative challenges make true the Democrat claim that oil from newly opened areas will not reach the market for years. These groups make use of a wide range of laws and regulations to challenge development. And they will make sure that the Democrats' proposal is meaningless.
In February 2008, the administration issued 487 leases in Alaska's Chukchi Sea, which holds an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and other groups used the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act to challenge and delay progress on all 487 leases. In a separate lawsuit, they challenged the entire national outer continental shelf (OCS) leasing program, seeking to block all future leases.
Even if a lease makes it through these challenges, it isn't clear sailing. Right now, there are 748 leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Exploration activities in every single one were challenged in May of this year by EarthJustice in conjunction with others.
The Alaskan OCS contains 26 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Not one offshore lease has escaped litigation.
And it's not just Alaska. Wild Earth Guardians and others recently filed suit to block energy exploration on all leases in recent sales in Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Last year, almost 50% of gas leases in the Rocky Mountain states were protested in court.
Environmental protections are necessary. But, there must be reasonable limits on litigation.
During the oil embargo in 1973, Congress waived environmental laws for the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. That waiver, Democratic Sen. John Tunney of California said at the time, "in no way dilutes or diminishes the applicability of NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act]." Rather, he said, it "brings into balance grave concerns of national security" with our nation's environmental safeguards. In 1996 and again in 2006, environmental laws were waived for the construction of fences along the southern border of the United States.
Absent provisions to stop abusive litigation, the bills Democrats support will not lead to oil production. Any serious energy plan would encourage the development of alternative and renewable fuels, and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the OCS and the Western U.S. to drilling. It also would put a stop to never-ending litigation. But that's not what Democratic leaders are offering.
We're told that the Democrats now favor drilling. That they have seen the light after feeling the heat all summer. What's really happening is we're mid-way through a political hoax.
Some 70% of Americans favor increased domestic drilling. Unfortunately, if Mrs. Pelosi and her party's leaders continue to play politics, we can be sure Americans won't get the energy they want.
Mr. Shadegg, a Republican, is a U.S. congressman from Arizona.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
A point to remember during these times of uncertainty...
New Evidence on Taxes and Income
By: ARTHUR B. LAFFER and STEPHEN MOORE
SEPTEMBER 15, 2008
The new Census Bureau data on income and poverty reveal that many of the economic trends in this country are a lot more favorable than America's detractors seems to think. In 2007, overall real median family income increased to $50,233, up $600 from 2006. The real median income for intact families - mother and father in the home - rose to $78,000, an all-time high.
Although incomes fell sharply in the U.S. after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 (and still haven't fully recovered), these latest statistics reflect a 25-year trend of upward economic mobility. More important, Barack Obama is wrong when he states on his campaign Web site that the economic policies started by Ronald Reagan have rewarded "wealth not work." Based on this false claim - that the rich have benefited by economic growth while others have not - he intends to raise tax rates on high-income individuals.
To be sure, there has been a massive amount of wealth created in America over the last 25 years. But tax rates were cut dramatically across the income spectrum, for rich and poor alike. The results?
When all sources of income are included - wages, salaries, realized capital gains, dividends, business income and government benefits - and taxes paid are deducted, households in the lowest income quintile saw a roughly 25% increase in their living standards from 1983 to 2005. This fact alone refutes the notion that the poor are getting poorer. They are not.
Looking at the last two business cycles (first year of recovery to first year of recovery), this low-income group experienced a 10% rise in their inflation-adjusted after-tax incomes from 1983 to 1992 and then another 11% rise from 1992 to 2002). Roughly speaking, the Reagan and Clinton presidencies were equally good for them. Income gains over the last 30 years have been systematically understated due to several factors. These include:
Fall in people per household: The gains in household income undercount the actual gains per person, because the average number of people living in low-income households has been shrinking. On a per capita basis, the real income gain for low-income households was 44% from 1983 to 2005, about 22% from 1983 to 1992 and about 18% from 1992 to 2002. These are excellent numbers by any measure.
Earned income tax credit effect: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a government payment to low income people who work. It was instituted on a small scale in 1975. In 1986, 1990, 1993 and 2001, Congress expanded the program.
Over time the EITC has multiplied the number of poor households that fill out tax forms each year and are thus counted in government income statistics. That's because to be eligible to receive the refundable EITC, a tax return must be filed.
Official tax return data show that in 1983, 19% of returns had zero tax liability; that percentage has climbed steadily, reaching 33% in 2005. (The Tax Policy Center estimates that in 2008 nearly 40% of filers will have no income tax liability.) Thus, we are now statistically counting more poorer families today than we used to. This is a major reason that median and poor household income gains appear to be a lot smaller than they have been in reality.
Income mobility: In the U.S., people who had low incomes in 1983 didn't necessarily have incomes as low a decade later. People in this country have long moved up over time, and this income mobility continues to be true. While some people do remain in the lowest income group, they are the exception.
One way to quantify income mobility is to examine how many people remain in the same tax bracket over time. We compared the returns of tax filers in the lowest tax rate bracket (zero) in 1987 with their returns in 1996. Only one third of the tax filers were still in the zero tax bracket, but 25% were now in the 10% bracket, 32% had moved up to the 15% bracket and 9% were in the 25%, 28%, 33% or 35% brackets. And that was following them for a decade, not a generation.
From 1996 to 2005, we have the income mobility data for income quintiles. Of those filers who were in the lowest 20% in 1996 and who also filed in 2005, 42.4% remained in the bottom 20%, 28.6% were in the next highest quintile, 13.9% were in the middle quintile, 9.9% were in the second highest quintile, and 5.3% were in the highest quintile.
What is also striking about the data is that the poor today are, in general, not the same people who were poor even a few years ago. For example, the new Census data find that only 3% of Americans are "chronically" poor, which the Census Bureau defines as being in poverty for three years or more. Many of the people in the bottom quintile of income earners in any one year are new entrants to the labor force or those who are leaving the labor force. Obviously, there is also a significant core of truly poor people in this group, but that core is drastically less than 100%.
The data also show downward mobility among the highest income earners. The top 1% in 1996 saw an average decline in their real, after-tax incomes by 52% in the next 10 years.
America is still an opportunity society where talent and hard work can (almost always) overcome one's position at birth or at any point in time. Perhaps the best piece of news in this regard is the reduction in gaps between earnings of men and women, and between blacks and whites over the last 25 years.
Census Bureau data of real income gains from 1980 to 2005 show the rise in incomes based on gender and race. White males have had the smallest gains in income (up 9%), while black females have had by far the largest increase in income (up 79%). White females were up 74% and black males were up 34%. Income gaps within groups are rising, but the gaps among groups are declining. People are being rewarded in today's economy based on what they know and what they can do, not on the basis of who their parents are or the color of their skin.
There are of course Americans who live in poverty, as there are very affluent Americans with $25 million yachts and $10 million homes who hold ostentatious $200,000 birthday parties. But the evidence is plain that all groups across the income distribution have made solid gains during the last generation.
Taking from the rich through much higher tax rates in order to help the poor and middle class makes no sense intellectually and has seldom worked in practice. Reducing rates, on the other hand, does increase the share of taxes paid by the highest income-earning group. For example, in 1981, when the highest tax rate on the rich was 70% and the top capital gains tax rate was close to 45%, the richest 1% of Americans paid 17% of total income taxes. In 2005, with a top income tax rate of 35% and capital gains at 15%, the richest 1% of Americans paid 39%.
We suspect that Mr. Obama will discover that when you put "tax fairness" ahead of economic progress, you produce neither.
Mr. Laffer is president of Laffer Associates. Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial board.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
A point to remember on an important anniversary...
By: Graham Sproule
“We had patience in our fighting with the Soviet Union with simple weapons for 10 years. We exhausted their economy, so they disappeared. We will not abandon our fight until the weapons run out.” - Osama bin Laden
It is difficult to believe that seven years ago to this day we almost all remember where we were when we heard the news that the twin towers were struck. Difficult to believe not only because of how clear the moment stands out in our minds, but in that even with that moment being so vivid in our minds, our vulnerability to Islamic terrorism has nonetheless seems to have receded far back into our collective memory.
If this were not true, I sincerely doubt that it would have been reported by news outlets today that Prime Minister Harper has unequivocally pledged to end Canada’s war efforts in 2011. Irrespective of whether or not Canada’s military officers believe a timeline helps or hinders the military mission, certainly the Prime Minister believes announcing our withdrawal date boosts his electoral fortunes. Otherwise, he would not have made such a prominent announcement during an election campaign. And now it comes to pass that after ten years of fighting this threat in Afghanistan that Canadians will too disappear from that country.
Shortly after 9/11, NATO invoked its mutual defense clause where all members are pledged to militarily support a member country that has been attacked. Consequently, a mission into Afghanistan was launched to root out the Al-Qaeda terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks and their Taliban hosts. Although NATO forces have killed many Al-Qaeda and Taliban combatants, they remain a persistant threat. Therefore, one must pose the question, do Canadians believe this threat is no longer a grave one or do they believe withdrawing from the Afghan theatre will lessen this threat?
The answer is probably that many Canadians believe both that the threat is no long as grave as it was seven years ago and that leaving Afghanistan will make us safer. There are likely two main reasons for this. One reason being quite natural and the other is perverted. The natural reason is that, along with the United States, we have become a victim of our own success. By aggressively engaging the enemy on their home turf, we have averted any major terrorist strikes on North American soil since 9/11. It is mere human nature to become complacent in the absence of any immediate dangers to our comfortable lives.
The perverted reason is based on a grossly distorted version of the historical facts a la Michael Moore. It is believed that there was no real threat of Islamic terrorism until the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq inflamed the Islamic world with anger. It is no coincidence that proponents of this thinking inevitably rely on conspiracy theories usually involving the Jews, CIA, and Dick Cheney to make this claim. After all, if there was no hatred of America and the West in the Muslim world until these two invasions, how does one explain the terrorist attacks prior to the invasion of Afghanistan? Not only 9/11, but the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa, the U.S.S Cole and so forth?
Now people who fit into that second category are quite beyond hope short of having some sort of exorcism performed on them. But those Canadians who naturally forget that there are fanatics determined to kill us should remember that these people were never really prompted by anything other than opportunity. In other words, had these Islamic terrorists the capability, they would have committed a terrorist act on the scale of 9/11 years or even decades sooner. Consider as to why these attacks occurred a mere two days after the Lion of Panjshir, Ahmad Shad Massoud, was assassinated in his base in Northern Afghanistan.
A lesson we should have learned by now is that no amount of security measures will stop a determined suicide-bomber. You have to hunt him down and kill him before he kills you. Although, the U.S. and Canada are in between two large oceans, these no longer offer us any protection in this age of globalization. It is probable that most Canadians cannot fathom a determined enemy whose hatred expends energy on trying to commit terrorist acts against us for decades to come. After all, at some point do these Islamic terrorists not want to build a better society for themselves and their families? Recent history in Afghanistan shows that they do not.
Prime Minister Harper much realize that the Americans are planning a surge in Afghanistan that will more than numerically replenish our 2011 departure from the NATO mission. However, Canadians would do well to remind their government that for every terrorist we kill over there excludes the possibility that he can attack our country at some future date. If Iraq has taught us anything, it’s that we need more well-trained soldiers on the ground to fight this kind of enemy and not less. Like their forefathers in both World Wars and Korea, Canadian soldiers have taken a lead role in the world safer by fighting tyrants and thugs. This is the lesson of 9/11 we need to remember, and one that Canadians cannot afford to forget.
Copyright 2008 - Graham Sproule
Let the bashing begin...
Democrats Embody Hypocrisy
By: David Limbaugh
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Liberals are outraged at the supposed hypocrisy of Sarah Palin (and conservatives) for supporting abstinence-only education and family values generally in light of revelations concerning the pregnancy of her teenage daughter. It's only fair, then, that they should be called upon to explain their own hypocrisy in the compassion, privacy, gender, and race departments.
Liberals are sick and tired of conservatives lecturing them about family values. Yet it is liberals who do most of the moralizing and sermonizing, seeming to derive their entire sense of superior self-worth in favorably comparing themselves with heartless, bigoted conservatives.
Liberals claim a monopoly on compassion for the poor, minorities, women, and homosexuals. Yet when they get the chance to score political points, they abandon their allegiance to these groups as quickly as Barack Obama threw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright under the bus. Just ask Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, or Michael Steele.
Liberals are fed up with conservatives for trying to regulate their "private" behavior. Yet it is they who want to regulate every minute aspect of our lives, from smoking to eating to weapons to energy consumption to confiscatory taxation to healthcare to retirement security.
Liberals insist that what a public official does in his private life is irrelevant to his public fitness or conduct. Yet they're now telling us that the private conduct even of a relative of a conservative candidate is fair game.
While misidentifying and condemning continued conservative support for Sarah Palin as hypocrisy, they're putting on a disgraceful clinic in what real hypocrisy looks like. They're showing us firsthand how they treat women who refuse to toe the liberal line, just as they've shown us how they treat African-Americans who dare stray from their liberally assigned ideology. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, demonstrating his liberal erudition and enlightenment, described McCain's selection of Palin as "a sitcom of a vice presidential choice and a disaster movie if she moves up to the presidency." In mocking Newt Gingrich for defending Palin, Cohen displayed his respect for the fairer sex by comparing her to a horse. "It's a pity Gingrich was not around when the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known by his nickname Caligula, reputedly named Incitatus as a consul and a priest. Incitatus was his horse."
Regaling in smug self-satisfaction for putting it to an impressive, self-made, no-nonsense, but alas conservative woman, Cohen went on to attack GOP spokesmen for defending Palin, which he says betrays "a feeling of consummate contempt for the intelligence of the American people - a contempt that will be justified should Palin be the factor that makes McCain a winner in November."
Cohen is not the only celebrated media liberal who believes that only idiots could support Palin. NBC's Andrea Mitchell suggested that only uneducated Hillary Clinton voters, "not college-educated ones," could possibly support Palin.
In their world of twisted logic and values, liberals believe they've come upon the smoking gun with the Palin pregnancy. They are wholly oblivious to the endearing aspects of this story, from Sarah and Todd Palin's unqualified love and support for their daughter to Bristol Palin's decision to marry the baby's father and give birth to this child.
They see in this pregnancy slam-dunk proof of Sarah Palin's hypocrisy because she supports abstinence-only education - as if she claims abstinence-only is foolproof and as if her opposition to government-supported condom distribution caused this pregnancy. But why should that surprise us when leftists blamed Hurricane Gustav on Palin's insufficient deference to the liberals' man-made global warming narrative?
Many liberals can't fathom why this pregnancy isn't damaging Palin's and McCain's credibility as social conservatives. They can't comprehend how anyone could continue to trumpet moral values once he or someone close to him has committed a sin, as if moral perfection is a precondition to upholding moral standards.
The liberal position is morally bankrupt and suicidal to civilization. It is anathema to the Judeo-Christian worldview.
If one were disqualified from advocating moral standards because of his own sinful nature, we could have no moral standards because none of us approaches moral perfection. Thus, the logical consequence of the liberals' attempted intimidation of any sinner (and her mother) for promoting moral standards is the wholesale eradication of those standards.
By taking this absurd position, the liberal exposes his own practical opposition to moral standards and the utter cynicism in his claim to represent values voters.
What is truly bothering liberals is that conservative Sarah Palin is living out her compassion, her values, her love of family and her strong womanhood rather than just mouthing empty, self-serving bromides.
If you want a real lesson in liberal compassion, gender-neutrality and rank hypocrisy, stay tuned because they're just getting warmed up.
But so is Sarah.
David Limbaugh is a writer, author, and attorney. His book "Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party" was released recently in paperback. To find out more about David Limbaugh, please visit his Web site at www.davidlimbaugh.com.
© 2008 Creator's Syndicate Inc.