Thursday, January 21, 2010

• Policy Development By Panic

American taxpayers should not read anything into today’s stock market supposed reactions to the President's verbal and policy attacks on banks. Markets have little to do with realities of the broader world and its economics. The Presidential attacks, however, should be very troubling to taxpayers for more profound reasons.

Obama is vociferously attacking “risk taking,” that very human characteristic at the heart of America’s success. Observing his address, it is evidently something he doesn’t have a good grasp of. It is also very, very obvious that the President does not understand business, or economics, even at their simplest denominations. The economy and its future progress is very dependent on risk taking.

This post has written repeatedly against the abuse by Wall Street, and has called for the re-instatement of “the Glass-Steagall Act (except as it pertains to the Fed) that was for the most part repealed in 1999 eliminating the restrictions of affiliations between banks and “investment banks,” … and don’t listen to any bankers who tell you different with stories about diversification reducing risk, or banks being completely capable of regulating themselves.” There is no need for knight-on-horse-saving-the-day-grandstanding. Congress should restore the act, but in the meantime, we can sit back and enjoy the theatre as the President shows us how to distinguish market making from proprietary trading within the banks.

Obama’s rhetoric of new populist policies against banks, comes across as a simplistic attempt to flirt with what he thinks is Main Street’s perception of banks. This also smells of the disingenuous, given this Administration’s early actions during the “bailout” debacle, that gave so much credence, and amperage, to the too-big-to-fail idiocy. It obstinately, and uncomprehendingly, provided hundreds of billions for the creation of financial behemoths. No preconditions were established, nor were any strings attached to the money. Wall Street played with this Administration, as it did with the Bush Administration, and helped itself to taxpayer-borrowed cash. This President should be taught that failure, big or small, is part of the long road to both personal and business success.

Contrary to Obama’s claims, the financial meltdown was NOT caused by the reckless abandon of speculative bankers mired in greed. It was the direct result of cheap money from The Fed, being pushed onto consumers with little, or no credit, by a Congress, which believed in the mantra, “everyone should own a home.” If anything, we would like to hear about some reigning in of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, . . . just for starters. The greed which drove the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and City Bank beyond the fringes of ethical boundaries was not the root cause of the disaster the world is now burdened with.

Obama’s attack on banks is a knee-jerk reaction in response to the devastating Democrat loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat this week. This breathes the fragrance of panic. The President evidently has no idea how to approach the most important concern on the minds of his constituents – stimulating the creation of jobs. He should stay away from teleprompters for a few weeks, and educate himself on the workings of businesses, and the economy. Then he should surround himself with advisors who have actually managed a wide variety of successful enterprises. The result should then be a speech, without teleprompter, impassionedly promoting American business and ingenuity to the national and international community.

What America will definitely not need is a lecture on what its core values should be.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

• Nantucket’s Cape Wind Whips Up Hypocrisy

The Nantucket Massachusetts Cape Wind plans to built the first U.S. offshore wind park are blowing some toxic waste to the surface of the broad zeal to create “green” industries. These toxins are not of the materially harmful kind, but consist of all the pretentions at the core of too much human self-indulgence floating around the quagmire of the green energy movement.

The planned 130 wind turbine forest covering 24 sq. miles, which is intended to become a symbol of alternative energy on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, could also become an enormous subsidy magnet, sucking $731 million from taxpayers, before any long term costs are estimated. The “money” in such projects is in “building” these blights on the landscape, and then heading out of town because they have historically never proven to either work or be comparatively efficient when measured against other energy sources. Nevertheless, the irony of the Cape Wind debate rests in the reaction it has received from the wealthier Massachusetts residents, lead by the Kennedy family.

After the recent push from the White House and Congressional Democrats for Cap and Trade legislation, and for a Copenhagen Agreement, it is ironic that the Kennedy clan and its Massachusetts friends are campaigning against the Cape Wind project. It seems, quite justifiably, that the blue bloods don’t want any unsightly giant wind turbines disturbing their idyllic paradise, and would rather not have them distract from the expansive views visible from their oceanfront weekend mansions. The farm would be visible from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. They are using the obviously suspect rationalizations for their dissenting views, including the concern for wildlife, and the danger to air and sea navigation. They would evidently be much happier if the windmills disadvantaged some other corner of the population, even as they profess support for them generally.

The hypocrisy here is that they can’t bring themselves to speak against the sham that is the building of windmill farms. The moneyed Massachusetts residents who have controlled that State’s politics for two generations cannot bring themselves to admit that this windmill project would be unviable, producing electricity at approximately twice the current wholesale prices (Minerals Management Service (MMS) Draft Environmental Impact Statement), or that such windmill farms are notoriously inconsistent, unreliable, and expensive to maintain. Currently the money is in building the farms, and not in their successful energy contribution to the grid over the long term.

There is ample evidence that such systems create cash sinks that do not benefit any progress toward renewable energy sources, which is now forcing Europeans to scale back on their windmill investments. Massachusetts blue bloods will rest self-righteously in the comfortable feint that advocating windmills plays to the politically correct, politically lucrative, and presently financially rewarding clean-energy movement, but, “Hide these windmills somewhere far away, and not in my backyard.”

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

• America Waits For Leadership

How can history be an accurate record when the elusive present is being recorded as wild distortions of reality? The mainstream media’s (MSM) record of the White House, which it reflects onto the American perspective, as well as it’s flaccid ruminations on the Obama Administration, commemorate Napoleon’s, “history is the invention of historians.” Obama is failing in his duty to country, and the MSM refuses to acknowledge the evidence.

The word history comes to us from the Greek word historia, which means knowledge acquired by investigation. The White House press corps is the supreme example of the current Fourth Estate’s inability to analyze, question or investigate as it panders to a President who was given a mandate to affect change in Washington. History is being distorted as it is being written.

The expectations of the taxpayers have not materialized, and anticipations have given way to disappointments, yet the MSM cannot bring itself to raise any serious questions. It’s not as if opportunities to question don’t exist. Obama has given a speech each and every working day of every week of his administration. Research should prove that no President in history will have made as many speeches, yet the Nation is stuck in anticipation of substance.

The latest sampling of this President’s systemic tepid engagement in his job as America’s CEO, came in the form of an unenthusiastic tropical response to the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253. Evidently the managerial capacities required to direct an administration were not part of the Obama tool-set when he moved into the White House. The blight from the dearth of experience, and the entrenched ideology in his Cabinet and czar brigade, has been unveiling endless failings from the outset, and yet, Obama can’t dismiss the likes of incompetents such as Napolitano. Admitting a mistake of posting would be a sign of confidence, rather than one of insecurity.

Political debts of this Administration run deep. The billion dollars Obama raised to win the Presidency expect influence. He lost all objectivity and independence from such influence long before he moved into the White House. Unfortunately, such is the state of politics in Washington. With tingling in its legs, the MSM gives his failures a pass, and in doing so, it forsakes its responsibilities to American taxpayers. The media refuses to demand the most important and reasonable expectation of the population – it refuses to demand Leadership.

Obama has been hiding behind the teleprompter long enough, and should be confronted with the obvious, the first of which is his tiresome blaming of the Bush Administration to deflect all responsibility for the economic and security challenges of America.

Obama and the current Congress are responsible for the accelerated government growth and spending of the past year. They are intimately and directly responsible for disastrous and ill advised programs such as Cash for Clunkers, bailouts for the Too-Big-To-Fails, dishonest promotions of a two thousand page health care bill, inept indulgence of Wall Street, bold pandering to special interests, and the explosion of unemployment to over 17%.

This Administration appears to be ensconced in the belief that a broad and rapid expansion of government, and its insinuation into all walks of American life, is the answer to economic problems facing the Nation. To be allowed his ramp-up of government, Obama validated in Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and their Wall Street friends, a right to abuse taxpayers through a confoundingly complex cash grab, and a purchase of unknown toxic assets. The Administration further succumbed to special interests by obliterating any calls for the return of Glass-Steagall. This White House is completely void of any understanding of the key drivers of the American way of life - the small to mid-sized businesses. It is also flailingly uninterested in genuinely furthering its own education on the subject. It has become evident that this President has no interest in fostering the encouragement and stimulation of the entrepreneurial spirit in America.

Obama also seems confused on the international front, having administered one misstep after another with perpetual miscues in his actions, and in the perceptions he leaves in his wake. The vexing list is rather embarrassingly extensive, and it includes everything from Obama’s extravagant bowing to a dictator, then to his doubling over to a king. At the other end of the perplexing-Obama-acts record is the snubbing slight of the Prime Minister of America’s biggest trading partner, Canada’s Stephen Harper. Harper was shown to a back door of the White House, and was received by an administrative minion since Obama was too “busy.”

More substantively, Obama extracted nothing from Russia when he reversed the proposed installation of a European missile defense system. Now Iran runs amok, with ample time to hide its nuclear fuel and uranium enrichment facilities. Hard sanctions on Iran? That would be a “hard” decision, very much in opposition to the appeasement strategy employed to date. Have we so soon forgotten the Administration’s condemnation of the constitutional removal of Manuel Zelaya, the Honduran, America hating, Hugo-Chavez supported despot? Given the MSM’s refusal to confront this President, we have also no doubt forgotten Obama’s appeasement, and offers of some engaging “rapprochement,” to the murderous Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan and his homicidal regime.

There was broadly felt consternation with Obama’s response to the Fort Hood massacre, and dismay with the languid nature of his address to the cadets as he announced that he was sending 30,000 young men and women into Afghanistan. We have yet to hear a rationalization from the most powerful lawyer in America on the decision that may unravel his Presidency - enabling terrorist to Lawyer-Up. No matter how much earnestness the President now pretends to convey in his prepared addresses, he long ago lost any appearance of authenticity, and the authoritative was reduced to an eerily natural self-righteousness. The capping may have been the weak-minded, insecure and vain B+ self grading.

Some have accused Obama of dithering, particularly on concerns of international affairs and national security. “Dithering,” is a colorful term, but is inappropriate here. Obama is simply incapable and unqualified. He was given ample room to demonstrate the claims of his intelligence. Wasn’t he a professor with a law degree, after all? Didn’t he rouse audiences with a couple of lofty speeches that bordered on sermons during the campaign? Yes he did. And, . . . well, that’s it.

His detachment, and apparent lack of passion, was initially rationalized as “well, he’s listening and he’s thinking.” Now this insensibility surprises, even befuddles, a majority of the electorate that launched him into office. Whether or not he actually lacks passionate disposition toward his country is no longer relevant. Smart or not, is also irrelevant. He is not a leader, and that, he cannot, and will not change.

America still waits for promises of speeches, given during the most expensive Presidential campaign in history, to materialize into actions that will be positive for a Nation facing unprecedented debt, deficits and unemployment. Though it yearns for leadership, America now knows better than to anticipate it from this President, and knows that such misplaced hope is too disheartening.

While the MSM continues its fawning ways, America will look to the next Presidential election to find a strong and willful leader. America doesn’t want or expect to support all of its President’s policies, or decisions, or compromises, or appeasements, however, America wants to know it has a leader of integrity who is never in doubt, and who makes it proud. America wants a leader who takes decisive actions nationally and internationally. America wants, and deserves a leader who says, “I will not rest until, . . .” and then doesn’t jump onto Airforce One, heading off on another golfing trip, or other holiday, or other speech in another zip code.

One good piece of news: The vacuous promises of Hope and Change will be decidedly wiped from the lexicon of Presidential campaigns for at least one generation.

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