Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Next US Supreme Court Justice

It appears that the U.S. Supreme Court will add in a new face some time this year. David Souter, George H. Bush appointee, has decided to retire at the end of the current court term.[1] Although appointed by Bush Sr., Souter often sided with the liberal side of the court so the balance of the court will not change (though Obama's appointee will mostly likely lean the liberal side more often than Souter). Now the search is on for someone to replace him.

So who will Obama pick? Some people have been mentioned but let's review what Obama has said concerning the criteria that he'll use when deciding who he'll nominate.

While on the campaign trail, President Obama said the following concerning his potential nominee:

2008 in Ohio:

"I want people on the bench who have enough empathy, enough feeling, for what ordinary people are going through,"[2].

2008 in New York (debate):

"I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through,"


"And then there's another vision of the court that says that the courts are the refuge of the powerless," he said. "Because oftentimes they can lose in the democratic back and forth. They may be locked out and prevented from fully participating in the democratic process.... And we need somebody who's got the heart -- the empathy -- to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old -- and that's the criteria by which I'll be selecting my judges."

A judge that's empathetic and understands what it's like to be poor or black or gay or old?? I think Che Guevara would have been an excellent pick for the President. Wait, actually no he wouldn't have. Che wasn't fond of homosexuals.[3]

I wonder if President Obama wants his nominee to be empathetic toward the unborn child. Perhaps when he said "have a sense of what real-world folks are going through" that he meant gun owners. What about small business owners? Wealthy people? I mean, they are in the minority, especially these days. Or Is empathy only reserved for minorities, like myself but excluding rich folks, who are "oppressed" by the majority? Yes, that must be it then.

Arlen Specter, fresh off his recent converstion over to the Democratic Party, put in his valuable 2 cents by stating that he wanted Obama to look beyond judicial credentials and pick a statesman or stateswoman[4]. How on earth did Specter get elected so many times? Pennsylvanians are suspect, at best, when it comes to their politics (Rick Santorum and John Murtha to boot).

Anyway, here are some real people that Obama might pick (rumored):

Sonia Sotomayor

Elena Kagan

Diane Wood

I sense a theme here. I'm sure I will be wonderfully disappointed with his selection.

White House Bonehead of the Week...

Let’s face it, any blunders committed by the current Obama Administration necessitates a scapegoat. After all, why should the Commander in Chief have to take the fall for what happens under his watch? Not that this is, or will be, the last Presidential Administration to make use of the time honored tradition of the “White House Scapegoat.” In fact, plenty of Administrations before this one ( both Republican and Democrat a like), have saved face at one time or another by pinning a bonehead move on a low level peon. That said, this week’s “White House Bonehead of the Week Award” goes to no other than Louis Caldera.

Caldera, the Director of the White House Military Office, was the brilliant mind beyond the infamous Air Force One buzzing of lower Manhattan last Monday. The stunt, a photo opportunity gone horribly wrong, sent thousands of New Yorker into a terror-filled panic. As the plane, with its F-16 escort, flew at low altitude around ground zero, New Yorkers streamed out of buildings thinking they were about to witness another 9/11 attack on the city.

As for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he was never told what the White House was up to, leaving him to angrily call the stunt "ill-conceived" and a "waste of taxpayers' money."

Naturally, this type of grade-A stupidity had to be pin on somebody. That somebody was not to be White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who did his best to dodge all questions about the incident. Gibbs went as far as saying that he had no other information about the flyover than what was already in the news, adding the hilarious line, "You might be surprised to know I don't know every movement of Air Force One or what happens to it."

Though a close runner up for Bonehead of the Week, Gibbs managed to dodge the issue long enough for Caldera to step up and issue the following statement:

"Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that
decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."

What’s that? No, not quite Obama issuing an apology for “American arrogance” world wide, is it? Heck, it’s not even an acknowledgement of stupidity. In the end, it’s merely a low level “I am sorry for the confusion” statement.

I am guessing there was no way to pin this one on the Bush Administration? Still it would have been refreshing to have had an Administration take real responsibility for a blunder, but that would be “hoping” for some real “change.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rejoice! Arlen Specter leaves the GOP.

Arlen Specter, beloved GOP senator from Pennsylvania, announced today that he be leaving the Republican Party and join the Democratic Party. I must say that it's about time.

Mr. Specter said in a statement that he released today that:

"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right," Specter said in a statement released this morning. "Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."[1]

The GOP has moved far to the right?

Let's pretend for a moment that Mr. Specter's real reason for moving to the Democratic side is due to the GOP moving to the right since the Reagan Era. Which issues, that he disagrees with, could have possible moved to the right since that time.

He voted for the bailouts[1], Bush's prescription drug bill[2], The Patriot Act[3], and Obama's Omnibus Bill[[4]. Perhaps the Republicans just aren't big enough spenders for Mr. Specter.

The real reason for his decision to leave the GOP has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with being re-elected. Yes, Arlen left because he fear being unemployed. Specter, in 2004, narrowly defeated Pat Toomey in the Republican primary. Specter was expected to lose to Toomey this time around. In fact, a recent poll showed that Toomey was up by double digits on Specter[5]. However, some experts believe that the switch to a new party will most likely guarantee Specter the election in 2010. Clay Richards, assistant director for the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said that he "just can't see anything but a landslide for Specter at this point". Michael Barone, co-author of the Almanac of American Politics, agrees,"I think [Specter's] prospects for reelection are very good,"[6] Oh yeah, Specter switched parties for ideological reasons.

This kind of switch, to extend one's employment, is one reason why I am in favor of term limits. Arlen has been in the senate long enough and I think it's time he does this country a favor and retire. I, for one, am glad that the Arlen Specter types are leaving the Republican Party. The less fiscally liberal types that are in the GOP the better, in my humble opinion.

Specter will most likely continue to blame the social "ultra conservative" or religious part of the party (because frankly he cannot possibly mean that he is a fiscal conservative) as the election grows closer. The President even said that he will raise money and campaign for the swine[7].

I think Specter might have found his soul mate; well only if it manages to get him elected.

Global Warming to blame for the Swine Flu?

Global Warming Climate Change is the new Al-Qaeda

If there is a terrorist attack somewhere in the world chances are that Al-Qaeda will get the initial blame, correctly or incorrectly. During the mid 70's Illich Ramriez Sanchez, otherwise known as 'Carlos the Jackal', was also blamed for nearly all attacks. Now we have a new villain to blame.

It was just a matter of time until someone, somewhere would try to link the swine flu to global warming climate change. Jean Williams, who writes for the Seattle examiner, opines in a article titled "Could deadly swine flu be caused by climate change or polluted water" whether climate change could possibly be the cause of this flu. Ms. Williams says that Steven Sanderson, head of the Wildlife Conservation Society, believes this to be true.
“..even minor (climate) disturbances can have far reaching consequences on diseases”. He added, “The term ‘climate change’ conjures images of melting ice caps and rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities and nations, but just as important is how increasing temperatures and fluctuating precipitation levels will change the distribution of dangerous pathogens”.

Sounds like Al-Qaeda to me.

In recent years climate change has been blamed (or people tried to link it to) , directly or indirectly, on the following things.

US Airways Flight 1574 (the one that crash landed in the Hudson).

“There is evidence both in North America and in Europe that birds are shifting their territories,” said Joel L. Cracraft, curator in charge of the department of ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History. “And that has been correlated with global warming.”[1]

• The Death of the Loch Ness Monster

“Despite having hundreds of sonar contacts over the years, the trail has since gone cold and Rines believes that Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming.”[2]

• The Rising Cost of Beer

“Jim Salinger, a climate scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said climate change likely will cause a decline in the production of malting barley in parts of New Zealand and Australia. Malting barley is a key ingredient of beer.

'It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up,' Salinger told the Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention.”[3]

Increase of Kidney Stone cases

Researchers at the University of Texas say global warming will trigger a dramatic rise in kidney stones in the United States.

According to their study, warming temperatures over the next 42 years will cause a 30-per-cent jump in cases of nephrolithiasis, or kidney stone disease, in some regions of the country.”[4]

Thin Whales

The team says its study offers the first evidence that global warming could be harming whales, because it restricts their food supplies. And they say the discovery could only have been made by killing the animals.”[5]

Increase in Shark Attacks

Another contributory factor to the location of shark attacks could be global warming and rising sea temperatures. 'You'll find that some species will begin to appear in places they didn't in the past with some regularity,' he said.”[6]

Black Hawk Down (yes, as in what happened in Somalia)

“In Somalia back in 1993, climate change, according to 11 three- and four-star generals, resulted in a drought which led to famine,” said Markey (D-Mass).

“That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send in forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to Black Hawk Down. There was this scene where we have all of our American troops under fire because they have been put into the middle of this terrible situation,” he added.[7]

The Death of Costa Rican Frogs

"It is believed climate change is raising temperatures allowing a skin fungus to enter the places where the amphibians resided," he [Alvaro Herrero, a biologist with Costa Rica's National Biodiversity Institute] said."[8]

There is much more, simply do a Google search on it.

This thing is starting to remind me of the South Park episode called Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow.

"We didn't listen!!!"

Swine Flu goes International...Can the US deal?

Having an engineering project to oversee in San Luis Potosi Mexico, I have a vested interest in the latest breakout of the Swine Flu. My problem is that San Luis or SLP for short, is in the middle of an outbreak of the killer bug, and the city has up their health warning to level 4, as the death total for the virus surpassed the 150 person mark. In conjunction, my company has suspended all travel to the country while the world gets a handle on the issue.

Yet, a much bigger problem looms in the horizon as the epidemic has now reached out past our southern border, and made its way onto the International scene. It is now reported that the resilient little bug has found its way into the United States, Canada, Britain the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions, sending the World Health Organization (WHO) scrambling for a containment and eradication plan.

A spokesman for WHO has confirmed that in the US, high school students returning from a spring break trip to Mexico have contracted and spread the virus. WHO also confirmed that an additional case of the flu has been reported in the US. With the latest reports showing an outbreak of the virus in at least six different countries, the World Health Organization decided to raise its alert level to Phase 4.

While deaths attributed to the flu are not new in this country, there is a major concern that humans may not have natural immunities to fight off this latest strain that is a combination of pig, bird and human viruses.

In a worse case scenario , the US government has estimate that a large scale pandemic would infect over 90 million Americans, with nearly 10 million requiring some form of hospitalization. Such an outbreak would cause a problem in hospitals around the country, some of which are not equipped to handle the expected influx of patients.

Extending outside the health care industries, the pandemic would cause the closing of schools to prevent the further spreading of the illness. The US Economy could also be affected, as business would have to deal with a temporary shortage of labor, as well as restrictions on travel and shipping. It has been estimated that a severe pandemic could shrink U.S. output by about 5.5 percent.

Scrambling to find answers, the Obama Administration, in a statement made by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, “the U.S. is preparing as if the swine flu outbreak were a full pandemic.”

Michael Leavitt, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has added, "We have a playbook that was developed and is being followed," though "It's a substantially better picture than what we faced three years ago." Leavitt is the man who oversaw pandemic planning for President George W. Bush during the Bird Flu crisis of 2005.

It remains to be seen how the current Administration is able respond and contained this latest International crisis now threatening the US.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hayek's Tool Bag of the Week: Al Gore

It is with great pleasure to announce that Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the United States, as the winner of my Tool Bag of the Week award.

Mr. Gore paid Washington and Congress a visit this week in order to testify before the House Energy and Commerce committee concerning the "Cap and Trade", also known as The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The former Vice President completely supports this bill and called it "one of the most important pieces of legislation ever introduced in the Congress...I believe this legislation has the moral significance equivalent to that of the civil rights legislation of the 1960's and the Marshall Plan of the late 1940's"[1]. Here are some other highlights from this testimony. Here's the transcript.

"We cannot afford to wait any longer for this transition. Each day that we continue with the status quo sees more of our fellow Americans struggling to provide for their families."

"Passage of this legislation will restore America's leadership of the world and begin, at long last, to solve the climate crisis. It is truly a moral imperative."

"The United States is the world's leader. We are the only nation in the world that can. Once we find the moral courage to take on this issue, the rest of the world will come along. Now is the time to act before the world gathers in Copenhagen this December to solve the crisis. Not next year, this year."

I must admit that I personally believe that Mr. Gore is one of the smartest people on this planet and I truly mean that. The man is making a wonderful living ringing the bell of alarm concerning "Climate Change". My problem with Al is that he's going about this situation in a classic Tool bag kind of way. Let me example further.

First, the man paints those that disagree with him as "deniers". Of course the word deniers conjures up thoughts about Holocaust deniers. He also managed to tie the Civil Rights Legislation with this bill. I wonder why. Mr. Gore says that there is no debate or discussion concerning the causes of "Climate Change" when he proclaimed that "the debate is over". It's a perfect storm really. If you are on the other side you are equal to an anti-semitic, racist, who believes that the earth is flat, and that you probably molest your children (Ok, that last part wasn't Al Gore but just another lover of the planet).

Second, Mr. Gore is constantly saying that oil companies are funding researchers, researchers that dare to question the other side in any form, in order to confuse the public about man induced climate change (or warming, or what it's called this week). However, "man is killing the planet" side of the argument are funded by environmental lobbyists or are representing Clean/Green energy companies that stand to make a pretty penny if legislation like this pass.

How is that different from the oil companies?

I'm sorry, I lost my head there for a second. Mr Gore and his environmental comrades are just heroic figures trying to save lives. They just happen to be making a lot of money in the process. Oil companies are raping the earth and should be shot.

I hear you, Big Al. I feel like I am having a Bill Murray moment right now.

Anyway, you're still a giant Tool Bag, Al; albeit a very wealthy one.

By the way, check out the exchange between Prince Al and congresswoman Blackburn (R) from Tennessee. Albert is in classic form, smug look and sighs included.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

5 things I hate about the Republican Party

My parents are Cuban and migrated to this country in the early 70's for political reasons. My father is a staunch anti-communist, and a die-hard member of the Republican. I have been a member of the Republican party since 1992 (I voted for Clinton that year), but I've been seriously contemplating leaving the party. The following 5 reasons are most to blame for my disgruntlement towards the GOP.

(The following list is in no particular order).

1. The George W. Bush Era:

The Republican Party has certainly changed since the Barry Goldwater/Reagan era, and President George Walker Bush will forever be the face of that change. His era of rule featured the following gems: TARP, Increased federal spending [1], Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme court, failure to privatize social security, and a host of other hits. And no, Iraq, Gitmo, and "torture" is not on my list. My disdain for the presidency of George W. Bush is mainly due to his utter contempt toward fiscal conservatism, and his adherence to collective policies toward the end of his administration .

2. Arlen Specter:

My contempt for the tool that is Arlen Specter could not possibly grow any bigger. The senator from Pennsylvania has a long history of upsetting conservatives within the GOP on such topics as: Abortion, The Clinton Impeachment, and some health care measures [2]. While I do disagree with his stance on abortion, my disdain for Mr. RINO himself are due to the following reasons:

His 46 % rating (lifetime) by the AFL-CIO. His rating was 64 % in 2008 [3]

Mr. Specter is a fan of bailouts. He voted 'Yes' on The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Obama's bailout), voted 'Yes' on The Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act of 2008, and voted 'Yes on The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Bush's bailout).

Need some the tax payers money? Specter is your guy, the louse.

3.Talk Radio Personalities:

Talk radio is a major influence within the conservative movement (shocking, I know). Although such "conservative" radio personalities as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Mark Levin are not directly affiliated with the GOP, they are as much a part of it as,, and Air America are apart of the Democratic Party. It's a new age in politics.

Yes, my political interests are within the same spectrum as the above mentioned personalities, however my anger with them comes from their lack of venom, and fury they show the GOP (although less with Beck than the others). They do criticize the GOP from time to time but it is tame compared to how they speak of the Democratic Party. These personalities should take note of how Michael Savage does things. Mr. Savage has called congressional Republicans "gangsters", and even called President Bush "a fiscal socialist".

I may disagree with some of Michael Savage's stance on certain issues, but no one can call him a shrill for the Republican Party. Can the same be said for Hannity or Limbaugh?

4. "Cronyism, Nepotism, Rascalism":

Homer Stokes, a reform candidate running from governor of Mississippi in the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou", had a popular phrase that he would use to describe Pappy O'Daniel, the incumbent: "Four more years of cronyism! Nepotism! Rascalism! Of service to the interests". Yes, it does sound like Washington, doesn't it? The Republicans had their own issues with rascalism. Here's yet another list.

Florida Congressman Mark Foley and his sexually explicit e-mails and instant messages with former pages[4].

Jack Abramoff's, a former Republican lobbyist, scandal in where he was found "guilty of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials.[5]

Randy "Duke" Cunningham, former congressman from California, plead guilty to bribery charges in 2005.[6]

And a host of others....

5. Embracing Keynesianism :

If there is anything that draws my ire these days it's the Keynesian school of economics. One of the tenets of Keynesianism is the state creates policies in order to stabilize a "bad business cycle"[7]. An obvious example of this was the wasting of over 700 billion by Bush with the first bailout.

Friedrich August von Hayek, Nobel Prize winner in economics in 1974 and a very influential figure in the Austrian School of economics was a great critic of Keynesianism. He stated that:

Keynesian policies to combat unemployment would inevitably cause inflation, and that to keep unemployment low, the central bank would have to increase the money supply faster and faster, causing inflation to get higher and higher. Hayek’s thought, which he expressed as early as 1958, is now accepted by mainstream economists[8]

Hayek also believed the Keynesian policies would lead leads to totalitarian abuses, due to the need for centralized planning. John Keynes, the creator of Keynesianism, surprisingly echoed that concern:

The theory of aggregated production, which is the point of ['The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money'], nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state [eines totalen Staates] than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire."[9]

The fact that Republicans, specifically President Bush and his administration, would embrace such failed fiscally policies is the biggest crime, in my eyes, that they have committed against all people who believe in liberty, limited government, ,and free markets.

I wonder what Barry Goldwater would think about the current state of the GOP if he were alive today. Actually, I think that would put him back into his grave.