Doug Archives

Ten Questions for Senators

That is, the ones who are grilling oil executives.  Bruce McQuain at QandO notes questions suggested by the Institute for Energy Research.  The first 3:

1. Do you understand the fundamental economic principal of supply and demand for commodities pricing in the oil market?

2. Oil is a global commodity, bought and sold on the world market. Given that the nine largest private oil companies hold less than 5% of the entire world’s proven oil reserves, isn’t it more likely that the law of supply and demand is “manipulating” current prices than the five corporations represented at your witness table?

3. As a U.S. Senator, you have control over oil production on U.S. federal government lands. Taxpayers own these lands and the energy that lies beneath them, but 97% of the federal OCS and 94% of onshore government lands are not being used. Are you willing to help increase the world’s supply of oil – and thus reduce the price of oil and gasoline – by allowing more U.S. energy to be produced from these lands?

Read the whole thing.


Unintended, But Not Unforeseen, Consequences

Erik Erickson, a contributor to, also has a personal blog in which he talks about local politics (he lives in Macon, GA). Yesterday, he talked about a good local government program the finds summer jobs for high school students. It does its job well, he says, but it’s having a new problem.

Erik is on the Macon City Council’s Community Resources and Development Committee, and the lady who represents the program briefed the committee on it.

During the course of the lady’s presentation she lamented the increase in the minimum wage — this from a government bureaucrat who’d already blamed Bush for cutting other social program funding.

Because of the minimum wage increase, it is now more expensive to employ each student. Because it is more expensive per student, less students can be employed. The less students that can be employed through the program, the more students there will be on the street during the summer without jobs.

And that could very probably increase the rates of petty crime during the summer.

Way to go Democrats!

He titles the post “The minimum wage and unintended consequences“, but those consequences are certainly not unforeseen, as any honest economist would have to admit to it. Democrats, when arguing for an increase, however, never seem to mention that a minimum wage increase does not, cannot, happen in a vacuum. There are consequences to tampering with the free market, but the loss of jobs is minimized or ignored by a party that claims common cause with the poor.

[tags]minimum wage,free market,Democrats,living wage,unintended consequences[/tags]

How Representative of the Palestinians is Hamas?

The diplomatic line typically goes, “Our argument is not with the people of [insert country here], but with their government.” In most cases, this is a true statement. However, a recent poll shows that in the Palestinian Territories, it may not apply.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – The majority of people in the Palestinian Territories are against the militant group Hamas recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as a state, according to a poll by Arab World for Research & Development. 63 per cent of respondents living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip share this opinion.

In explaining the results of the January, 2006 elections that put Hamas on top in the Palestinian Legislative Council, TV pundits I watched explained this as more of a rejection by the Palestinian people of Fatah’s corruption than of their having made common cause with Hamas’ agenda.

Yeah, well, maybe not.

(Hat tip: Meryl Yourish.)

[tags]Israel,Middle East,Fatah,Hamas[/tags]

They Get It

A group of evangelical Christians is trying to get the point across that the science isn’t settled on global warming, and indeed that the “cure” may be worse than the disease.

While it may seem like everyone believes in global warming and the impending catastrophe it will bring, a group of conservative Christians countered that message Thursday by launching a national campaign to gather one million signatures for a statement that says Christians must not believe in all the hype about global warming.

The “We Get It!” declaration, which currently has nearly 100 signers, is backed by prominent Christians including Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, award-winning radio host Janet Parshall, and U.S. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.

What supporters of the statement seek is to inform Christians about the biblical perspective on the environment and the poor, and to encourage them to look at the hard evidence, which they say does not support the devastating degree of climate change claimed by mainstream society.

The point is that there’s more to global warming than carbon offsets and fluorescent light bulbs. There are people to be considered.

Read the rest of this entry

Same-Sex Marriage Legalized in California

The California State Supreme Court decided yesterday that the millennia-old understanding of what marriage is, isn’t.

California’s Supreme Court quashed a ban on gay marriage in a historic ruling here Thursday, effectively leaving same-sex couples in America’s most populous state free to tie the knot.

In an opinion that analysts say could have nationwide implications for the issue, the seven-member panel voted 4-3 in favor of plaintiffs who argued that restricting marriage to men and women was discriminatory.

“Limiting the designation of marriage to a union ‘between a man and a woman’ is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute,” California Chief Justice Ron George said in the written opinion.

When the debate on a state constitutional amendment defining marriage was in full swing here in Georgia, those against the measure argued that we already had a law in Georgia making same-sex marriage illegal. They said that, therefore, we didn’t need to change the constitution. But the Left in this country has decided to use the judiciary to do an end-run around when they generally can’t get past the people or their representatives, and then they complain when they’re met on that battlefield.

The California situation is a bit more convoluted. The article gives us that history.

Thursday’s ruling came after a long-running legal battle that erupted in 2000 when California voters approved a law declaring that only marriages between men and women could be legally recognized.

In February 2004, the city of San Francisco defied state law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing that existing laws were illegal because they violated equal rights legislation.

A court later halted the issuance of licenses and declared that same-sex marriages that took place during this period were void.

However, San Francisco and civil rights activists waged a legal case arguing that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples was unconstitutional and that the law should be struck down.

In 2005 the San Francisco Superior Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that there was no justification for refusing to allow marriages.

But the decision was overturned in 2006 by the California Court of Appeal, which ruled in a 2-1 decision that the state’s desire to “carry out the expressed wishes of a majority” was sufficient to preserve the existing law.

California lawmakers have also voted in favor of gay marriage but the bill was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said that the matter is for the state’s court system to decide on.

So in summary; the people said they didn’t want same-sex marriage, their alleged “representatives” decided they did want it, the governor stopped it, tossed it to the judiciary, and the judiciary ruled successively for it, against it, and now for it again.

And they’re calling this potentially historic.

Legal analysts say Thursday’s court ruling could have wide-ranging implications for other US states, noting the California Supreme Court’s history of landmark rulings.

Sorry, but this highly politicized process doesn’t sound like any sort of resounding history.  Leon Wolf at Redstate picked out the money quote from the decision, and finds that the court didn’t really rule on constitutional grounds at all!

And, in fact, it ain’t over yet. Over a million signatures have already been collected to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November. If this gets on the ballot, given the voting history, it’s sure to pass. Expect histrionics from opponents.

And remember what this issue did in 2004 for George W. Bush. It brought voters out in droves to vote on this issue, and while there were in the booth, most pulled the lever for Bush. Could this put California in play for McCain?

[tags]California,homosexuality,same-sex marriage,California State Supreme Court,Arnold Schwarzenegger,Georgia,constitutional amendment,George W. Bush,John McCain[/tags]

The Not-So-Post-American World puts out, among many other things, a one-minute daily commentary by one of its contributors. This past Monday’s one was done by Michael Medved discussed the rising tide in the world as expressed by more pro-American leaders in countries such as Germany, England, Canada, Italy, Ukraine, France and others. (Sorry, no transcript, but it’s only 60 seconds to listen to.)

This seems to turn on its head the idea that our standing in the world, because of George W. Bush, is in decline. Indeed at this moment in time it appears to be on the rise. While those folks can’t vote in our elections, it will take away one of the Democrats’ talking points.

[tags],Michael Medved,post-American,George W. Bush[/tags]

Relief for China and Myanmar

I heard Hugh Hewitt talk about the organization "Caring for China" which is helping in the relief effort following the massive earthquake there.  They are currently taking donations.

In the meantime, while the government of Myanmar is blocking or hampering aid efforts, the folks from The Salvation Army are providing meals from their own cupboards to the needy there.  If you’d like to donate to them, click here.

From the Dept. of Lost Causes:

(And I’m not sure whether it should be routed through the Self-Delusion Agency or Committee on Unwarranted Optimism…)

Bob Barr has just announced his candidacy for President on the LIbertarian ticket.

“My name is Bob Barr and I’m a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America,” he told a small room of reporters, pre-empting them by raising the obvious question himself: “You might say Bob Barr, why are you running for president?”


“Look, I’m in it to win it,” said Barr. “I’m not getting in this race to make a point. … I’m not getting into this race to be a spoiler — I’ve got better things to do.”

Well, apparently not.

This is the counterbalance to Ralph Nader that, I’m sure, Democrats have been waiting for.  But Barr, while he has name recognition going for him, is dropping another name that may make some folks wary of voting for him.

remains a candidate for president even though Sen. John McCain has surpassed the minimum number of delegates to win the nomination.

"Ron Paul tapped into a great deal of that dissatisfaction and that awareness," Barr said on the website. "Unfortunately, working through the Republican party structure, it became impossible for him to really move forward with his movement. But we have to have … a rallying point out there to harness that energy, that freedom, in this election cycle."

Of course, that name could also tap into a constituency that has been trying to "revolt" against the presumptive nominee, to little or no avail.  My hunch (and that’s all it is) is that Barr could indeed become a real spoiler for McCain if he can successfully get the Paul supporters on his side.  For now, they’re rather busy, so the extent of this support will probably only be known after the Republican convention. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article notes that the Libertarian candidate in 2004 got a little over 3% of the vote with no name recognition.  (Anyone know who Michael Badnarik is?)  Barr could easily do better.

Jimmy Carter Could Not Be Reached For Comment

A woman in southern Israel was killed by a Qassam rocket today.

A 70-year-old Israeli woman was killed early Monday evening from a Palestinian Qassam rocket which crashed into the backyard of a residential home in Yesha – a small community belonging to the Eshkol Regional Council.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.  Someone ring up Jimmy Carter and see if we can’t get him to stay a while in Yesha in the interest of the promotion of peace.  Worked in Sderot (for as long as he was there). 

Hat tip and other events of the day in Israel from Meryl Yourish.

UPDATE: Another post on by Soccerdad, notes that Carter was reached for comment.  Unfortunately, it was "content free".

[tags]Middle East,Israel,Islamic Jihad,Jimmy Carter[/tags]

When Is a Boy Not a Boy?

When he simply doesn’t want to be.  Dealing with people who have it in their heads that they really should’ve been the other gender is becoming less shocking in our culture these days.  The next step, however, is being taken in Philadelphia.

For school officials in Haverford Township, the challenge was daunting: What do you do when a 9-year-old student, with the full support of his parents, decides that he is no longer a boy and instead is a girl?

I’m wondering how many other life-altering decisions these parents have allowed this third-grader to make.

The government schools are more than willing to be codependent in this matter.

Parents of a third-grade student at Chatham Park Elementary School approached the administration on April 16 to ask for help in making a "social transition" for their child.

The Haverford School District consulted experts on transgender children, then sent letters to parents advising them that the guidance counselor would meet with the school’s 100 third-grade students to explain why their classmate would now wear girls’ clothes and be called by a girl’s name.

Some parents are, as one might expect, upset that the school is requiring that everybody else’s third graders now will receive this specific kind of sexuality training at this young age.  And they sprung this information on the parents at the very last minute.

"Why is the school introducing this subject to 8- and 9-year-olds?" wrote the parent who started the blog thread, which had been viewed more than 3,000 times as of yesterday. "Why were we not notified sooner. We received the letter today, the discussion at school is tomorrow."

This is not going to be very politically correct of me, but the group most in need of counseling at this point is the boy and his parents, not the rest of the 3rd grade.  This is not like complaining that you think your hair’s too curly or your nose is crooked.  This is indeed life altering, and allowing a 9-year-old to make this change seems like a huge mistake.  Fortunately, surgery is not involved, but changing fundamental identities at this point does not sound wise.

This also says something about our culture, that younger and younger children are, somehow, coming up with this idea and getting their parents to go along with it, whether those parents come along easily or kicking and screaming.  Something tells me that the Dr. Spock generation is less likely to put up a fight.

[tags]transgender,Philadelphia,Haverford School District,sexuality[/tags]

Global Warming Update

"Global Sea Ice at ‘Unprecedented’ Levels"

Don’t expect to hear this reported on the your evening newscast, but according to new data, sea ice levels in the Southern Hemisphere are at 25-year highs.

“On a global basis, world sea ice in April 2008 reached levels that were ‘unprecedented’ for the month of April in over 25 years,” Steve McIntyre wrote on on May 4. “Levels are the third highest (for April) since the commencement of records in 1979, exceeded only by levels in 1979 and 1982.”

Indeed, I think it’s a safe prediction that the 6:00 news will not cover this particular statistic, as they’ve invested to much into the "polar bears on shrinking ice floes" imagery to give any sort of mea culpa.  Indeed, 2007 saw record low levels of sea ice, which of course was covered extensively.  But this amazing rebound, in one year, should also be big news.

The main reason is that the increase is most likely natural and thus this would undercut the idea that the Earth is simply in the grip of mankind and cannot recover itself.  Or perhaps that no recovery is actually needed, since the warming trend could well be mostly from the sun itself.  Too many questions to ask, to many inconvenient answers, so this will get swept under the rug.

[tags]global warming,climate change,environment,sea ice,Steve McIntyre,media bias[/tags]

Free Market Update

It still works.

News flash: Skyrocketing gas prices are driving historic shifts in the habits of car buyers, pushing them away from thirsty pickups and full-size SUVs and into four-cylinder compacts.

What a surprise.

Might all the smart people behind tougher federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules be watching? If they are, do they understand what we are witnessing? Namely, this: It’s not arbitrary mileage goals, mostly unhinged from engineering reality and focused on a handful of companies, that are dramatically changing the behavior of the driving public. It’s the price of fuel, stupid.

Cars outsold trucks in April for the first time in a generation, according to industry figures compiled by Autodata Corp., and four-cylinder powered cars outsold those with six cylinders under the hood. The shift, clearly a blow to truck-dependent Detroit automakers scrambling to dig out of their deep hole, is confirmation that market forces are a swifter disciplinarian than the collective wisdom of Congress, career bureaucrats and the environmental lobby.

Daniel Howes continues to discuss how the market, better than any government program, quick fix or temper tantrum, has made fuel economy a big issue with consumers. 

[tags]Daniel Howes,free market,CAFE standard,economics[/tags]

"Serious" Journalism

Would a documentary about Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, or Area 51 ever, ever get time on ABC’s Nightline?  You wouldn’t think so.  And yet, Bruce Burgess, who’s done all three, got his own segment on the nighttime news show.

Inconceivable?  Well, when you find out the topic of his most recent movie, it all makes sense.

Over a three day stretch, ABC devoted almost 15 minutes of air-time to a documentary filmmaker who asserts in his movie "Bloodline" that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a massive hoax perpetrated on humanity. Additionally, on Friday’s "Nightline," reporter Elizabeth Vargas left out any mention of the bizarre interests of the film’s director, Bruce Burgess. He’s directed and written documentaries on Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51 and a secretive look at a U.S. government’s supposed cover-up of the alien landings at Roswell.

Are you a conspiracy theorist concerned citizen looking for some face time on the mainstream media?  You, too, can grab the coattails of major news organization and soak in some of their reputation for yourself.  Simple; just trash Christianity.  Trashing Islam may get you killed, but trashing Christianity will get you an audience.

Those coattails are looking pretty tattered.

[tags]ABC News,Nightline,Elizabeth Vargas,Bruce Burgess,Bloodline,Christianity,religion,Bigfoot,Bermuda Triangle,Area 51,Islam,media[/tags]

Multiple Economic Personality Disorder

While I don’t like paying $50 to fill my gas tank, every time I do I remind myself that this surge in oil prices is helping along the search for an alternative energy source.  When oil prices are low, there is little incentive to do R&D, especially if the cost of the new source comes in much higher.  But as the price of oil climbs, the incentive to innovate becomes stronger, and leads us closer to a solution.

But there are some that, while they proclaim they want the latter, also complain about the former.  Unfortunately, all 3 of the major candidates for President are among that crowd.

This tiff over gas and oil taxes only highlights the intellectual policy confusion – or perhaps we should say cynicism – of our politicians. They want lower prices but don’t want more production to increase supply. They want oil "independence" but they’ve declared off limits most of the big sources of domestic oil that could replace foreign imports. They want Americans to use less oil to reduce greenhouse gases but they protest higher oil prices that reduce demand. They want more oil company investment but they want to confiscate the profits from that investment. And these folks want to be President?

Higher prices are doing what they’re supposed to do; encouraging conservation.  This is a good thing.  I know it’s hard to understand when you’re watching the numbers fly up on the pump, but in the bigger scheme of things, it can be an aid to discovering the next big, clean energy source.  I have in the past covered those who are antagonistic to clean, renewable energy (oh please, read those links; just dripping with irony), but these politicians — these allegedly smart people who supposedly see the big picture — should be the ones educating the public on this issue, not pandering and just rounding up the usual suspects.

Prices convey information.  They affect demand.  Artificially manipulating them doesn’t do any long-term good.

[tags]energy,oil,gas prices[/tags]

The Radical Wright

Obama could no sooner disown the Rev. Jeremiah Wright than he could disown the black community.  Well, at least up until the past few days.  He still hasn’t disowned him per se, but he certainly has tried to distance himself from his 20-year pastor.

But the discussion has been that what one heard from Wright’s pulpit was part and parcel of church in that selfsame black community.  But the LA Times has been asking black clergymen in LA and finds that, no, Wright’s rants aren’t necessarily mainstream.

In a series of nationally televised appearances over the last few days, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. has defended his controversial remarks as "prophetic theology," and said criticism of him amounted to an attack on the black church.
But most black church leaders and members reached Tuesday disagreed.

"This didn’t have anything to do with the black church — it was basically an attack on the individual message he proclaimed, which hurt some individuals," said the Rev. K.W. Tulloss of Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Boyle Heights. "My own members were offended by Rev. Wright’s words. His views have cast a wedge between people, and that’s the exact opposite of the unity Jesus represented."


Bishop John Bryant of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who has known Wright for 30 years, said he would have used less provocative language.

"How one speaks is as important as the right to do so," Bryant said. "If it is done in an inflammatory way, the substance of the message gets lost in the rhetorical style."

Kerman Maddox, a member of First AME church in Los Angeles, said that he had listened to hundreds of sermons in black churches nationwide as part of his political and community work, and that Wright’s messages did "not represent mainstream black thought on Sunday morning."

He said he had never heard pastors curse America or proclaim, as Wright had, that the U.S. government caused AIDS among blacks. He said the common pulpit themes had long been unity, personal responsibility, loving your neighbor and improving your neighborhoods.

But the biggest concern Tuesday among local black religious leaders — and across a wide swath of black Los Angeles — was not about Wright’s words per se but about their impact on Obama’s historic campaign.

It’s been a while since all this came out; why didn’t anyone in the media think to ask these questions earlier? 

But the main question to me is this; what does this say about Obama himself?  He’s not running on experience — he’ll lose to McCain if he is — so one of main things to consider is his judgement.  If he’s shocked to find out that his own pastor is so far out of the mainstream after spending 20 years with him, that does not reflect well on that judgement.

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