I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Tale Of A Schizophrenic Court

The Supreme Court of the United States has developed a bit of an identity crisis of late. As a judicial body, they can’t seem to decide if they are part of the legislative branch of government or part of the judicial branch. On the legislative side, they have handed down decisions that have done nothing less than to create new laws, citing foreign laws or public consensus as the justification for their decision. On the judicial side, they adhere to the original interpretation of the Constitution and decide cases based solely on the constitutionality of a law or case. To be fair, it is actually only one Justice that is struggling to find his judicial philosophy. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy has been the swing vote on the controversial decisions of this current session.

One of the decisions that have been handed down that has ripped the Constitution to shreds include deeming the death penalty too harsh a punishment for a man convicted of brutally raping his 8 year old step daughter. Associate Justice Kennedy wrote in his support for the decision that there is not a strong nationwide consensus for the death penalty in child rape cases. He also alluded to our country maturing past the point of using the death penalty in such cases. Associate Justice Alito pointed out in the dissent that the ruling would not take into account how many times the victim was raped, how many victims there were, the age of the child, or how sadistic the rape was. Senator John McCain issued a statement strongly denouncing the ruling, saying that there is no greater responsibility as a parent than to protect the innocence of a child. Senator Barack Obama chose to be ambiguous with his response. He stated that he opposed the ruling but went on to clarify his position of opposition.

Another ruling that caused uproar of cheering from the left was the Guantanamo detainees decision. The conflicted court ruled that the enemy combatants that are being held at Guantanamo Bay, have the same Constitutional rights as a U.S. citizen. They have the right to attorneys and to have their cases heard before a civilian court. The problem with this decision is that at no time in our two hundred and thirty-two year history have our enemies that were captured on the battlefield been granted our Constitutional rights. We have applied the Geneva Convention to prisoners of war, but never brought them into our courts. In World War II we captured several German spies on our soil. The Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered that they be brought before a military tribunal and subsequently shot. These detainees do not fight under a recognized national flag. They do not wear a uniform of any organized country’s military. With that in mind, these enemy combatants do not fall under the auspices of the Geneva Convention, but yet our heartless military and government have granted them the protection of the Geneva Convention. The Supreme Court just awarded more rights to our enemies than members of our U.S. military enjoy. Senator Obama applauded the ruling, citing that he has long called for the prisoners to be brought into our courts. Senator McCain was outraged by the decision, stating that he wants to close Guantanamo but does not want them brought into our court system.

The Supreme Court did make a ruling this week that was worthy of praise. They decided that the Washington D.C. handgun ban is unconstitutional. This was the first decision on gun ownership in 70 years and as Antonin Scalia wrote in his support of the decision, there is no doubt about the right to keep and bear arms. The reasoning behind the ban makes for great headlines, but shows very little in results. Once again, the well-meaning politicians asked to be judged on their intentions not their results. Washington D.C. is near the top of the list as one of the most violent cities in the U.S. In 2005, D.C. had statistically over 35 murders per 100,000 people, but yet the law-abiding population was unarmed. Isn’t it funny how the criminals never seem to abide by the law banning handguns? Both Senator Obama and Senator McCain agreed with the decision, but McCain pointed out that Obama has long been opposed to gun rights. Only recently has he come out in support of gun ownership.

The recent decisions from the Supreme Court highlight the importance of this year’s presidential election.Senator Obama has coined the word “change” as his campaign theme, but I must point out that change just for the sake of change is potentially disastrous. Obama has said that he supports justices like Ginsberg and Souter. If he is elected, the change he will bring is one that will see our Constitution rewritten at the whim of the Supreme Court.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Democrats Stick Their Heads In The Sand On Energy

In the run up to the 2006 mid term elections, the Democratic leadership announced that they had sweeping plans that would ease the burden of high fuel costs. The average price of a gallon of gas at the time was more than a dollar less than what it is now. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her leadership in the House have yet to introduce one piece of legislation to help bring the price at the pump down to a less painful level. They have done a lot of posturing in front of the cameras as they hold hearings with oil company executives. They have accused the CEOs of Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Valero, BPAmerica, and others of purposely manipulating the price of gas to reap the huge profits that they have made over the past few years. Lost in all the pontificating from Congress is the fact that although these companies are huge in the Unites States, the massive nationalized companies of the rest of the world dwarf them.

This week, President Bush called on Congress to open up 2000 acres in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, better known as ANWR, the outer continental shelf, and allow the exploration and retrieval of oil shale. The estimates of oil reserves in ANWR and the outer continental shelf are about 28 billion barrels of oil. That is more than double the current 21 billion barrels that we have currently. Oil shale is a type of sedimentary rock that through refining processes can produce oil. There are over 800 billion barrels of oil shale in the United States. By comparison, that is more than 4 times all of the oil in Saudi Arabia. The process of extracting the oil from the oil shale is expensive and until the price of oil rose above roughly $80 a barrel it was not economically feasible for the oil companies to go after it. Now is the time for that oil to be retrieved. If the Democrats on Capitol Hill truly are concerned about the high cost of a gallon of gas, they will seriously consider taking action on the President’s proposals. Sadly, the Democratic Party, the “party of change”, are stuck living with a 1970’s mindset on energy.

The Democrats response was the same response that we have heard for the past several years. “It will take 10 years for us to see any oil from ANWR or the outer continental shelf.” That response is pure political posturing, especially when you realize that 13 years ago President Clinton vetoed legislation that would have allowed drilling in ANWR. It has been a few years since I sat in any type of Math class, but I do believe 13 years is more than 10 years. Besides, aren’t the same people making the argument that we need to do something now on “global warming”? Shouldn’t we then do something now for our future energy needs? They also claim that the “small” amounts of oil that drilling in ANWR and off the coast would produce would have little effect on the price of oil. I find it amazing that these same politicians were calling on the President to convince Saudi Arabia to produce more oil. They then cheered when the Saudis announced to produce 500,000 more barrels a day, when just the first 2 proposals would produce around 1 million barrels a day.

I must admit that the Democrats have proposed a few plans on energy that I believe would have the effect of raising the price of oil instead of lowering it. They have proposed a “Windfall Profits Tax” on the oil companies as a way to punish them for making a profit. The end result would be to raise the price at the pump. The oil companies are in business to make a profit. They will either pass the cost of the tax on to the consumers or move more of their business overseas to escape the tax. Either way, we pay more. They have also suggested that the government take over control of the oil companies. Representative Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat, called for the government to take over the oil refineries on Wednesday. California’s Maxine Waters admitted that she would like to see the government take over the oil industry to better regulate the price of gas. The Democrats are in good company. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and virtually every other Middle Eastern country have a government controlled oil industry. If government control is the answer to every problem in our lives than why do we have a social security mess? How well did the Katrina aftermath go with a government run agency? How many government programs are actually run efficiently? Why should we expect the government to be able to run an industry that they know absolutely nothing about? This is just one more piece of evidence of where the Democratic leadership wants to take our country. To Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama socialism is the goal and capitalism and the free market is the enemy.

A few years back, former Vice President Al Gore admitted to wishing for $5 a gallon gas to cause all of us to drive less. This is not surprising from Gore who has been on his crusade against “global warming” and our economy for many years. The presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, recently said that $4 a gallon gas is not an issue. It is just that the price has risen so rapidly that has caused Americans to grumble. Could it be that Obama and Gore are just out of touch with reality? They don’t mind high gas prices and actually welcome them, just not the quick jump in prices. Of course when you are a millionaire it does not really affect you the same as those of us in the lower or middle class. Obama is proposing more than $1 trillion in new spending if he is elected, and promises no new exploration or drilling for oil. His campaign is one based on “hope and change”. The only hope we have is that he is not elected to bring about the change back to the days of malaise from the late 1970’s.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fight The Smears, But Whose?

Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has decided to try a new tack in dispelling rumors and lies during the presidential campaign season. His campaign has produced a web page to tackle what he believes to be lies and rumors spread via email and blogs. One of the more recent stories was one in which reported that Michelle Obama had used the racial epithet “whitey” in a speech in 2004.

Obama’s campaign claims that conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh perpetuated the rumor. They claim that Rush stated on his radio program that a tape existed of the alleged slur. The dilemma that Obama now finds himself in is a particular tricky one. His website that his campaign developed to shed the light of truth on the lies and rumors is spreading lies and rumors themselves. The transcripts of Rush’s radio program show that he mentioned the rumor as just that, but weeks after the mainstream media had been speculating on the existence of a tape. The reasoning behind tying the rumor solely to Rush is clear. The left and especially their base have a deep-seated hatred for Limbaugh. The Obama campaign knows that the majority of their supporters will blindly accept anything they say that Limbaugh has done. In another time, before the Internet, a campaign could expect to get away with such distortions, but with pod casting and complete transcripts of virtually everything available online, the truth is only a few clicks away.

Many of the other rumors listed on his Fight The Smears website are old rumors that have been dispelled many times over. The rumors that he is a Muslim have been around for at least a year. I know this may be shocking to many of friends on the left, but I have responded to the email forwards from friends with the truth of Obama’s religion. Another obvious rumor is the one that he was sworn into the U.S. Senate with his hand on the Koran. This is another easy one to dispel. A cursory Internet search will show that Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota was actually the first Muslim to be elected to the Congress. These lies and rumors are easily disproved, but it does make me pause to wonder if the website is a precautionary tactic for other things yet to come forth.

Senator Obama has many other areas on which the opposition could attack. His political career is one that has been marked by mediocrity. He has really done very little while in the Senate. He was elected in 2004 to the U.S Senate and began to align himself for a run for the presidency. He has sponsored a few pieces of legislation but hardly anything on which to build a political legacy. He has had relationships with several questionable characters. From Reverend Wright, Father Phleager, Tony Rezko, and admitted terrorist Bill Ayers. All of these men, Obama has since distanced himself from them when it became politically expedient for him to do so. I know that none of these men are running for President, but doesn’t it say something about his judgment? He has said that these men that are not the same men he knew for the past 20 years, but wouldn’t you expect him to be a better judge of character? Especially if he is the messianic candidate that his handlers have built him up to be.

Senator Obama has generated excitement and interest in the political process that has not been seen in years. His speeches have been called inspiring. Women have lost consciousness in his presence at the mere sound of his voice. Many of his supporters when pressed for why they are supporting him, tout that he is for hope and change. Unfortunately they are unable to detail what his change will bring or what they are hoping for. Obama is a very charismatic speaker, but his flowery rhetoric cannot hide his ultra liberal voting record, his expensive, read tax increases, plans for his administration, or his associates continuing to embarrass him.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Warner-Lieberman Plan To Destroy Our Economy

This week the U.S. Senate began debating America’s Climate Security Act of 2007, sponsored Senators John Warner of Virginia and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. The bill is seen as having the best chance of becoming law of all the Global Warming bills up for votes this year. Many liberal groups are lauding the measure, but are urging people to push their senators to strengthen the bill with tighter controls of carbon emissions. The Union Of Concerned Scientists is calling for an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. The current bill calls for a mere 70% reduction.

Several groups have studied the impact of Warner-Lieberman should it be passed in it’s current form and have concluded it will be disastrous for the U.S. economy. MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Warming predicts that the bill will increase gas prices by nearly 30%, electricity costs will rise by more than 50%, and natural gas will cost 15% more all in less than 10 years. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University sees a $245 billion loss to the Gross Domestic Product in 2030 due to the restrictions placed on private industry by this bill.

The Warner Lieberman bill calls for a Domestic Offset Program for companies to buy carbon credits on the international emissions trading market to offset their carbon emissions above the legal limit. Carbon credits are a scam created by global warming alarmists to cash in on the hysteria they have created under the premise that mankind, specifically the United States, is causing the climate to drastically warm. It is amazing that we are supposed to believe that if we reduce our carbon emissions that it will have some magical effect on the climate. The theory completely discounts that China, whose carbon emissions far surpass ours, is not subject to any form of global warming policy to reduce their carbon emissions. It also forgets that India, whose rate of carbon emission exceeds ours, is also not part of any plan to reduce carbon emissions. The result of this bill and many others more stringent than this one will be to cripple our economy and have zero effect on the global climate. The battle cry in 10 years will be that the climate is changing, by getting colder, and we need to act now to stop it. They will enact even more asinine policies that will cost us more at the gas pump, in our electric bills, and even at the grocery or department stores.

Those who are pushing this agenda have managed to vilify any who do not believe as they do. Scientists have lost funding and been equated with Holocaust deniers. More than 31,000 scientists and climatologists recently signed a petition questioning whether human activity had any effect on the changes in climate. The debate has been declared over before the debate was ever allowed to take place. I believe we should take care of our environment, but that does not mean we should blindly jump off of this cliff of restrictions and regulations without fully understanding the truth behind any type of climate change.