Monday, May 19, 2008

Banging my head on the wall isn't helping as much as I'd hoped...

[By Mr.Hengist]

It's been a disappointing POTUS campaign on all fronts, and an excruciatingly long one at that. This dull, throbbing headache-of-an-endless-campaign provides for an occasional break from the monotony with a burst of sharp, stabbing pains which linger long past the original offense. This past Saturday we were provided with, not one, but two such insults.

Let's begin with Barack Obama (and please forgive the ellipses, as this is an AFP quote and the transcript of this event in Roseburg, Oregon, on Saturday May 17, 2008, is not available on the remarkably unhelpful official Barack Obama 2008 website.):

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK."

Well. Yikes. I suppose it goes without saying that I don't expect foreigners to give me the OK on any of these things. In point of fact, the thought had never occurred to me that their opinions on these matters should be of any concern to me. Probably the Europeans think my car is too big, but I think their clown cars are absurdly small; they literally make me laugh, but I wouldn't presume to tell them to stop embarrassing themselves and get a normal American-sized car. They can bicycle to work like the Chinese for all I care, but that's my point - I just don't care what they drive, but apparently what they think about my car matters a great deal to Obama. Since most people in the world can't afford a car their opinions of my car are almost certainly irrelevant, because when economies develop and people get their hands on disposable income, they invariably buy - cars, and big ones if they can afford them. My home is kept at a comfortable temperature? Most of the rest of the world can't afford indoor climate control, their stoic disapproval of my comfort notwithstanding, and the same rule that applies to cars also applies to indoor climate control. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping of his examples is that the rest of the world disapproves of how much we eat. Obama would, therefore, as POTUS...

... what? Where was he going with this? What are we to take away from this, in terms of what policies he would try to implement as POTUS? This kind of stream-of-consciousness blathering tells us more about Obama's general worldview than it does about his actual intentions made manifest. We could play games and try to imagine what laws he would try to get enacted (Food Police! see how easy and stupid it is?) or what policies he would implement such that America would finally get the pats-on-the-back for which he seems to yearn. I lose patience with that quickly; I try not to play "fill-in-the-blanks" when it comes to an opponent's arguments, and I discourage it in others. This lack of specificity is a liability to which Obama and his supporters should be made to own-up, but instead Obama vaguely hums a tune and his supporters sing along.

Obama's gripes are sufficiently vague that his adoring fans can project on him their own dreams, and that seems to be the point. His followers get the message in the form of a kabuki semaphore: I am a transnational progressive citizen of the world. This may qualify him as First Citizen of the World, but it disqualifies him as POTUS.

Next up, we have also-ran Boo Hoo Hillary, speaking to Kentuckians on the same day:

"I'm proposing new legislation that would create a Strategic Energy Fund that will invest in developing and deploying clean and alternative energy -- homegrown energy. We can create this fund without new taxes on the hardworking Americans who are paying more at the pump, but from the windfall profits of the oil companies that just announced the largest earnings of any companies in the history of the planet. We'll tell them to play or pay -- to invest in alternative energy themselves, or to pay a portion of their excess profits from the spike in oil prices into the Strategic Energy Fund."

It's hard to know what to make of this since investments by American petroleum companies in alternative energy are already being made (by way of examples, Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, etc.). Although having one Democrat candidate make actual proposals is a welcome contrast to the fuzzy feelgoods of Obama, the problem here is that the actual proposal actually reeks. American petrochemical companies are already "playing" and the SEF would mandate how much they'll have to invest in their own programs or have the difference confiscated by the Congress. For two years only, she promises, a "fee" (which most assuredly is NOT a TAX, youbetcha!) will skim "excess profits" without any new taxes on American taxpayers, if you can believe that - and apparently some people do.

All of this is predicated on those "excess profits" which so offend Liberals, Socialists, Communists, and a variety of assorted fans of a command-economy, so let's ignore the fact that someone who had a serious shot at being the POTUS actually used the anti-capitalist term "excess profits" and give the proposals two seconds of thought.

(tick-tock) There - done: What would happen if these companies were to rebalance their balance sheets so that profits return to Hillary's y.2000-2004 target levels and they do it by simply increasing their reinvestments in petroleum energy? As an unfunded program, SEF would be DOA, that's what. Unless, of course, Hillary was lying, and she'd make up for the shortfall with a "fee" on taxpayers. Ah, well, it's all moot - Hillary crossed the Rubicon, burned the bridges behind her, and will apparently go down with the ship, but I'm hoping that doesn't happen before there's a vicious floor-fight at the convention in Denver.

You'd think I'd be grateful that McCain throws the term "market-based" into his Climate Policy, but it just reminds me that he actually has a "Climate Policy" which includes Cap and Trade to combat Climate Change, and my headache just gets that much bigger.

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