April 11, 2011

Barack the Born-Again Deficit-Cutter Gets Predictable AP Kid-Glove Treatment

I sure hope that the Associated Press’s Jim Kuhnhenn has been working out, especially in his upper body. The volume of water he’s having to carry for the Obama administration as a dutiful member of the state-compliant establishment press has to be getting very heavy.

This evening, Kuhnhenn and his wire service are expecting the AP’s readers — and ultimately its subscribing media outlets’ readers, listeners, and viewers — to believe that President Obama, who, with plenty of help from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, will have run up over $4 trillion of steadily rising federal government deficits by the time we get to September 30, the end of the current fiscal year (after making appropriate adjustments to reverse obfuscatory accounting entries designed to mask the truth), has now seen the light, and is on board with the idea of serious long-term deficit reduction (certain bias words bolded by me; numbered tags are mine):

Obama’s debt cutting plan: Everything on the tablePresident Barack Obama, plunging into the rancorous struggle over America’s mountainous debt, will draw sharp differences with Republicans Wednesday over how to conquer trillions of dollars in spending [1] while somehow working out a compromise to raise some taxes and trim a cherished program like Medicare.

Obama’s speech will set a new long-term deficit-reduction goal and establish a dramatically different vision from a major Republican proposal that aims to cut more than $5 trillion over the next decade, officials said Monday.

Details of Obama’s plan are being closely held so far, but the deficit-cutting target probably will fall between the $1.1 trillion he proposed in his 2012 budget proposal and the $4 trillion that a fiscal commission he appointed recommended in December.

The speech is intended as a declaration of Obama’s commitment to seriously tame the deficit [2] while outlining his long-term budget principles – key components of his campaign for re-election in 2012. After gingerly avoiding any discussion until now of cuts in the government’s massive benefit programs for the elderly and poor, Obama will acknowledge a need to reduce spending on Medicare and Medicaid while at the same time tackling defense spending and calling for increased taxes on the wealthy [3], White House officials said.

If that sounds like a reprise of last week’s budget fight that barely avoided a government shutdown, it isn’t. The stakes are far higher, the political risks greater and the goals more ambitious. At issue are long-term budget deficits and a $14.3 trillion national debt that many say could threaten the nation’s economy.

The mind reels at the audacity. I could have tagged 10 items in just these few paragraphs. I’ll stop at three:

  • [1] — Obama created most of the trillions of dollars of spending that have led to the recent years’ trillions of dollars in deficits. Additionally, he has created the pervasive, administration-induced business uncertainty which has, among many other things, caused the economy to add 508,000 jobs at temporary help services in the seven quarters since the recession ended — while losing (yes, losing) 263,000 non-temp jobs.
  • [2] — Obama and the White House had their chance to demonstrate a “commitment to seriously tame the deficit” two months ago. It was known as the President’s budget. It was almost universally derided by conservatives and liberals as an unsustainable, gutless exercise. The idea that he deserves a complete do-over is hard to accept. The idea that his attempt at a do-over is sincere is even harder to handle.
  • [3] — Ah yes, the predictable bromides. Cut defense spending even while creating a third war zone, and hike taxes on the “wealthy,” which in reality (Kuhnhenn please note) means increasing taxes on those with high incomes, who may or may not be particularly wealthy.

This kind of image shift worked in the mid-1990s with Bill Clinton. But after getting burned in his attempt at statist health care, Clinton became more interested in staying in office than in accomplishing anything serious, and liberals were reluctantly okay with that, given that the economy was in fairly good shape and that the agenda of supposed devil incarnate Newt Gingrich was the alternative. Clinton was also lucky that deficit-cutters like current Ohio Governor John Kasich and the welfare-reforming Republican Congress ended up (with media assistance of course) making him look good.

Whether Barack Obama can set aside the hard-core ideology for longer than five minutes is an open question, but even if he can, the landscape is different. The economy is not in good shape now, and could get worse if gas really does get to $5 a gallon by Memorial Day as predicted. Also, as much as Democrats and the press may try to paint John Boehner as the next source of all that is evil, thus far the Speaker has avoided making it about him (Gingrich’s biggest shortcoming), and has stuck to the agenda of making it about what the American people who gave his party the House majority want. The Speaker also has the advantage of having a credible agenda in the form of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s long-term proposals. Finally, there is a clear understanding not present during the mid-1990s that the status quo is not acceptable. Even USA Today’s editorial board acknowledges that hard reality.

Media apparatchiks like Jim Kuhnhenn seem to believe that their instant makeover effort will pan out as it did with Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Whether it can or will remains to be seen. The AP vet’s first attempt is so embarrassing that I expect many subscribing outlets laugh it into the trash can, be it the metallic ones at their desk or the ones on their computer desktops.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lucid Links (041111, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:22 am

In a Wall Street Journal editorial

The Tea Party’s First Victory
Obama opposes spending cuts right up to the time he calls them historic.

This is getting to be a habit. President Obama ferociously resists tax cuts, trade agreements and spending cuts—right up to the moment he strikes a deal with Republicans and hails the tax cuts, trade agreements and spending cuts as his idea. What a difference an election makes.

This is the larger political meaning of Friday’s last minute budget deal for fiscal 2011 that averted a government shutdown. Mr. Obama has now agreed to a pair of tax cut and spending deals that repudiate his core economic philosophy and his agenda of the last two years—and has then hailed both as great achievements. Republicans in Washington have reversed the nation’s fiscal debate and are slowly repairing the harm done since the Nancy Pelosi Congress began to set the direction of government in 2007.

This is nice, but “slowly” isn’t good enough, as readers will see here and elsewhere this week.

______________________________________________

An indication that the Journal’s take in the previous item is correct:

White House: Obama to lay out spending plan

A top White House political and economic adviser says President Obama will lay out new plans this week to reduce the federal deficit.

Obama adviser David Plouffe, speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” says Obama plans to offer ideas for what Plouffe calls “long-term deficit reduction” as Congress begins to debate raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

Plouffe is giving few specifics on what Obama will announce, but he says that the president believes taxes should go up on higher-income Americans.

What a joke.

They’ve had two chances to deal with this already: the Deficit Commission Obama pointedly ignored, and the delusional, unsustainable, gutless piece of garbage he put out in mid-February.

My words aren’t too harsh. By coming out with another plan now, Obama and the White House are admitting that the mid-February piece of garbage was indeed a piece of garbage. On top of that, just four months after giving in on letting the current tax system continue because the economy would tank if taxes were hiked, AND throwing in a 2% Social Security tax CUT, Plouffe is out there trying to cool down the President’s Kos-kook base by talking up tax increases.

These guys are flailing. The tide may indeed be turning.

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Further evidence supporting the first two items — After watching others at the wire service go through post-shutdown prevention weekend first trying to portray Obama as the facilitating hero (gimme a break), then calling it a draw, Charles Babington at the Associated Press now says that:

Republican conservatives were the chief winners in the budget deal that forced Democrats to accept historic spending cuts they strongly opposed.

Imagine that.

What this represents is a typical AP propaganda operation: Get the lefty spin out to the relatively disengaged in the immediate aftermath, and then correct yourself for the historical record so you can say you really got it right.

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Johann Hari: We’re not being told the truth on Libya.

It’s more like we’re not being told anything about Libya, which General Barry McCaffrey has called “a Bizarro World military operation.”

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Savor the pictorial headline at Ann Althouse’s place: “Kloppy beats Prosser.” Not.

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Note to Ohio lefty bloggers: Make space in your calendar for this week’s White Privilege Conference in Minneapolis. After all, “white privilege” is the reason, seemingly transcending all other considerations, why Barack Obama got your guilt-ridden vote in 2008, and the only conceivable reason, accordingly to the egregiously misnamed Tim Wise, why the presidential election in 2008 was even close. “White privilege” rendered any and all arguments about Obama’s inexperience, his racist and radical ties, his socialist views, his unacceptably aggressive anti-life positions, his anti-Second Amendment history, and his personality traits (punk arrogance, hypersensitivity) irrelevant.

I’ll help you guys and gals with your prep. Here are “46 types of circumstances in which white skin is an unearned advantage,” along with a free bonus: “8 areas in which being heterosexual is an (unearned) social asset.” Zheesh.

Positivity: Catholics cannot vote for pro-abortion candidates, states archbishop

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Lima, Peru:

Apr 8, 2011 / 06:08 pm

Archbishop Javier del Rio of Arequipa, Peru recently stated that Catholics cannot vote for presidential candidates who support abortion.

“In no way can one vote for a candidate who has explicitly stated his or her intention to go against marriage, human life and the family,” the archbishop told CNA in an April 7 interview.

The country’s presidential elections will take place Sunday, April 10.

“An informed Catholic can never vote for a candidate who supports these kinds of policies, because that is expressly stated in the compendium of Social Teachings of the Church,” he explained.

Catholics have a duty to participate in the political life of their country and to inform themselves about the positions of those running for office, he continued. “We must not be influenced by whether we like or don’t like a candidate, but rather we must conscientiously study their plans for governing,” the archbishop said.

The backgrounds of the candidates must also be evaluated, he added, including their “credibility, their dedication to work, their seriousness and their honesty.”

“This, together with the Social Teachings of the Church, should form the basis for our vote,” he explained.

Bishop Miguel Irizar of Callao, Peru told CNA that voters must pray for discernment in choosing the best candidates.

Go here for the rest of the story.

More Pa. Town Hall Obamabsurdity: Three Media-Ignored Misleads on Oil Reserves and Production

drill-stickerReasonably astute readers will catch the falsehoods and fallacies inherent in the following statement made by President Obama last Wednesday at the town hall meeting held in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania:

But here’s the thing about oil. We have about 2, maybe 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves; [1] we use 25 percent of the world’s oil. [2] So think about it. Even if we doubled the amount of oil that we produce, we’d still be short by a factor of five. [3]

The average Associated Press or other establishment media apparatchik following Obama around as he embarks on his 19-month reelection campaign has apparently given these statements little if any thought, simply assuming that they’re “obviosuly” true. Each of the President’s three key number-tagged assertions is either demonstrably false or seriously misleading. Each is badly in need of a specific refutation.

[1] — “We have about 2, maybe 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.”

The President is wrong on this one, but in a direction that would appear to reinforce his ultimate point. The 2010 CIA Factbook, which is based on data as of the end of 2009, says that proven reserves in the U.S. amount to 19.12 billion barrels. Wikipedia’s related link calculates the percentage of worldwide proven reserves correctly at 1.37%, which places the U.S. fourteenth in the world. The proven reserves figure is lower than the 22.3 billion barrels published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in November 2010. The higher figure only changes the worldwide share to about 1.6%.

But Jeff Dunetz at BigGovernment.com (and many others, I’m sure) points out that proven reserves is not the correct frame of reference in measuring truly available resources:

The number is America’s proven reserves where we are already drilling. It does not include the 10 billion barrels available in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It does not include most of the 86 billion barrels available offshore in the Outer Continental Shelf, most of which President Obama has placed under an executive drilling ban. And it does not include the 800 billion barrels of oil we have locked in shale in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. Those shale resources alone are actually three times larger than the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia, so the claim that the U.S. only has 2% of the world’s oil is clearly false.

In the sense that Obama defenders can say “Well, he was talking about proven reserves,” Obama is technically correct. But in context, Obama is trying to convince Americans that the rest of the world has 30-50 times more oil than we do and that we therefore can’t possibly produce our way out of our current situation. That just isn’t so, especially when one realizes that the correct figure for shale oil alone may be more like 2.5 trillion barrels instead of Dunetz’s 800 billion barrels (though I’m not clear on its degree of recoverability).

[2] — “We use 25 percent of the world’s oil.”

That was the big campaign theme in 2008, wasn’t it? We have only 5% of the population greedily burning through 25% of the world’s oil. It’s just so unfair.

Well, the percentage has gone down:

  • An article at Ritholtz.com berates the U.S. for consuming 25% of the world’s oil production. But the actual numbers on the map shows the U.S. consuming 18.686 million barrels a day, with the world consuming 84.077 million. Uh, that’s actually 22.2%. These numbers agree to those found in a spreadsheet I found at BP’s web site here.
  • 2010 U.S. consumption averaged about 19.145 million barrels today, per Table 4A at the EIA’s March 2011 Short-Term Energy Outlook (large PDF). Table 3A at the same link shows worldwide consumption as average of 87.18 million barrels during 2010. U.S. consumption was 21.96% of worldwide consumption.
  • From the same report as in the previous bullet, project 2011 U.S. daily consumption is 19.28 million barrels. Worldwide, it’s 88.2 million. That works out to 21.86%.

All three percentages are closer to 20% than 25%, eliminating any potential “well, we were just rounding up” excuse. The President, who is supposed to be up on these things, doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt on this one. He’s relying on old data, and should stop using the 25% canard; the press should stop assuming the canard is true.

[3] — “Even if we doubled the amount of oil that we produce, we’d still be short by a factor of five.”

This is by far the biggest howler of the bunch, and is easily disproven.

Obama’s math-challenged calculation simply multiplies the proven reserves number of “2%-3%” by two to arrive at roughly 5%, and then claims that this result is only one-fifth of our 25% share of world consumption. Thus, we’re supposedly “short by a factor of five.”

Lord have mercy. Let’s look at some real numbers:

  • As seen above, our 2009 daily consumption was 18.686 million barrels. A preliminary EIA document for that year which likely changed very little indicates that our daily production was 5.31 million barrels. Double that to 10.62 million a day, and we’re short by a factor of 1.76 (18.686 divided by 10.62). That’s nowhere near in the neighborhood of five.
  • The EIA report previously cited says that our 2010 daily consumption was the 19.145 million barrels a day seen above, and that our daily production per Table 1 was 5.51 million daily barrels. Double that to 11.02 million a day, and we’re short by a factor of 1.74 (19.145 divided by 11.02). That’s also nowhere near five.
  • The EIA report also estimates that our 2011 daily consumption will be the 19.28 million barrels seen above, and that our daily production will come in at 5.40 million daily barrels. Double that to 10.80 million a day, and we’re short by a factor of 1.79 (19.28 divided by 10.80). Again, that’s nowhere near five, but the administration is slowly but surely working on getting it there. 2012 production is predicted to drop another 2% or so to 5.27 million barrels a day.

Bottom line: Obama is wrong, by a factor of almost three (2009 – 2.84; 2010 – 2.87; 2011 – 2.79).

Frankly, the problem isn’t that we’re consuming more than our “fair share” of the world’s energy. It’s that we’re not producing energy at an easily achievable level, making this country perhaps the only civilization ever on planet earth to proactively choose not to exploit the God-given resources provided to sustain and grow its economy. We are paying dearly for taking this course.

Barack Obama and his administration want Americans to think we can’t produce the fossil fuel we need, that we can’t afford to keep importing it, and that we must therefore bet the farm on unproven (and in certain cases, disproven) renewables to have any chance at all of avoiding an energy resource calamity. This is irresponsible, clearly media-assisted horse manure.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.