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Archive for January, 2012
January 31st, 2012 at 5:12 pm
Head of U.S. Intelligence: Iran’s Appetite for Terror Strikes in the U.S. Growing
Posted by Troy Senik Print

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, was on Capitol Hill earlier today to brief lawmakers on the biggest national security threats facing the nation in the year ahead. While there was some good news (Al Qaeda, for instance, has been substantially weakened by the death of Osama bin Laden and many of its other senior leaders), Clapper’s warnings about Iran were ominous. As the Washington Post reports it:

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Iran is prepared to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States in response to perceived threats from America and its allies, the U.S. spy chief said Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said in prepared testimony that an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington that was uncovered last year reflects an aggressive new willingness within the upper ranks of the Islamist republic to authorize attacks against the United States.

That plot “shows that some Iranian officials — probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime,” Clapper said in the testimony, which was submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee in advance of a threat assessment hearing Tuesday. “We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against U.S. or allied interests overseas.”

Bracing stuff. It should now be clear that Iran poses a greater immediate national security threat to the U.S. than any other nation on earth. And our response — to the extent that we’ve had one — has been woefully inadequate.

One of the great ignominies of President Obama’s tenure in office was his decision not to side with the Iranian dissidents who rose up against the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, missing an opportunity not only to advance our strategic interests in the region but also to put our moral capital on the line for a people yearning to throw off the hand of oppression. At the time, the president was more concerned with preserving his diplomatic options with the mullahs’ regime, even though their actions proved exactly why such overtures would be fruitless.

Though the White House now seems to have a slightly more acute sense of the dangers posed by Iran, the upshot has not been a more effective foreign policy. The current response of choice is to step up economic pressure through the widespread use of economic sanctions by the U.S. and our allies. This will fail to stem the tide of Iranian radicalism. Sanctions and their corresponding decline in economic growth only serve to make life less bearable for workaday citizens. That may make the regime less popular, but in an undemocratic system that’s a development that comes with little cash value.

Khamenei and his ilk are true believers, convinced that history is winding inevitably towards an outcome ordained for them by God. There’s not an instrument of policy sufficient to change that orientation — other than regime change.

January 31st, 2012 at 5:09 pm
What’s Wrong with California in Two Sentences

In a letter (pdf) to California legislators, State Controller John Chiang summarizes the Golden State’s fiscal problems with deft understatement:

As of December 31, 2011, total receipts are coming in $2.6 billion less than forecasted, and expenditures are $2.6 billion more than assumed.  Together, both of these components translate into a $5.2 billion reduction in cash resources.

At least someone in California can still do math.  Will it matter?

January 31st, 2012 at 3:15 pm
Protecting Taxpayers from Public Broadband Boondoggles
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In today’s world of crushing deficits and bureaucratic overreach, government has no business venturing into the world of operating communications networks.  That sort of adventurism merely competes with private investment dollars and creates even more debt for which struggling taxpayers are ultimately liable.

Broadband expansion itself is obviously a good thing, but the history of public broadband is simply one of failure.  The city of Marietta, Georgia provides just another example.

In 1996, Marietta entered the marketplace as an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Predictably, the city struggled to keep pace with rapidly-changing technology and developments in the broadband arena. Eight years later, the city realized the effort was lost, so it sold its broadband network, FiberNet, for $11.2 million.  Unfortunately, that boondoggle meant a huge loss for Marietta taxpayers: the city had sunk $35 million into FiberNet before unloading it.

Marietta’s experience is far from isolated.  As I pointed out in testimony last year to the North Carolina legislature, from Taiwan to Sydney and Houston, Texas to Burlington, Vermont, recent history is rife with public broadband network failures.  North Carolina lawmakers wisely approved legislation placing additional requirements on cities and municipalities entering the broadband market.  Elsewhere, however, government-owned networks (GONs) continue to place taxpayers at great risk, stifling private sector investment and job creation and paradoxically causing fewer Americans to have access to broadband.

Because they are at such risk of failure, GONs also receive tax and regulatory advantages by the governments that ultimately build and operate them.  That is not only unfair, it’s highly destructive.  It discourages private owners from expanding their networks and bringing jobs to an area.  Furthermore, GONs have a particularly damaging effect on rural broadband access.  After all, private investors are less likely to risk precious capital in areas where they will have to compete directly with the government, not to mention compete on a tilted playing field.  That leaves consumers with fewer choices – the public network – for broadband.  And when the public network fails like the one in Marietta did – and like most do – these consumers are left with a big bill and diminished broadband.

Fortunately, some leaders recognize the problem and take action.  Georgia State Senator Chip Rogers  recently introduced legislation (SB 313) that would make Georgia cities and politicians answer the tough questions before betting millions of taxpayer dollars on costly broadband networks.  The legislation would require cities and municipalities to hold hearings on proposed GONs, and then put their plans to an actual vote.  Those requirements seem more than fair considering that public broadband networks have failed virtually everywhere they’ve been attempted.  Indeed, taxpayers and consumers would be best served if cities and municipalities stayed out of the broadband market altogether.  Nonetheless, we applaud Sen. Rogers and call on his colleagues to swiftly pass the legislation he has introduced.

January 31st, 2012 at 10:37 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Obama Defense Policy
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

January 30th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Newest Tactic of Radical Environmentalists: Purging TV Weathermen
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Unbelievable. From the Daily Caller:

Concerned that too many “deniers” are in the meteorology business, global warming activists this month launched a campaign to recruit local weathermen to hop aboard the alarmism bandwagon and expose those who are not fully convinced that the world is facing man-made doom.

The Forecast the Facts campaign — led by 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters and the Citizen Engagement Lab — is pushing for more of a focus on global warming in weather forecasts, and is highlighting the many meteorologists who do not share their beliefs.

“Our goal is nothing short of changing how the entire profession of meteorology tackles the issue of climate change,” the group explains on their website. “We’ll empower everyday people to make sure meteorologists understand that their viewers are counting on them to get this story right, and that those who continue to shirk their professional responsibility will be held accountable.”

Remember that these are the self-styled defenders of objective science and sweet reason — and they’re promoting nothing short of an ideological purge. God save us from our betters.
January 30th, 2012 at 1:16 pm
New Docs Show Holder Knew of F&F Connection to Agent’s Death

Another weekend, another document dump from Eric Holder regarding Fast and Furious.  Last Friday Holder’s Justice Department released information about 500 emails that show Holder knew about Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder on the day Terry died.  Other emails indicate Holder was aware of the botched gun-tracking program’s connection to Terry’s death.  Per Michael Walsh at the New York Post:

That information came in a series of e-mails in which the former US attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke, discussed the F&F’s first fatality, agent Brian Terry, with a Holder deputy. The e-mails were sent in the early hours of Dec. 15, 2010, the day Terry died of wounds received the day before in a shootout 18 miles inside the US border, near Nogales.

The deputy, Monty Wilkinson, responded: “Tragic. I’ve alerted the AG.”

Burke, an anti-gun fanatic whose appointment as US attorney in 2009 roughly coincided with the start of F&F, goes on to tell Wilkinson later that day: “The guns found in the desert near the murder of the BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about — they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store.”

That’s right. The government’s top law-enforcement officer has been turning a blind eye to a cancer in his department for more than a year.

January 27th, 2012 at 3:25 pm
Now Biden’s Solyndra Goes Belly Up

During a visit to Solyndra’s Fremont, CA, headquarters President Barack Obama infamously proclaimed “we can see the positive impacts [of Recovery Act stimulus money] right here at Solyndra.”  A year later, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy.  Less noticed was Vice President Joe Biden’s equally presumptuous statement last year that Indiana-based EnerDel – a maker of government subsidized batteries for electric cars – was the “start” to reorienting “the way Americans power their lives.”   As of yesterday, exactly one year after Biden uttered those words, the latest green energy fiasco declared bankruptcy.

For those keeping score, that’s Solyndra costing $535 million, EnerDel $118 million, with more failures to follow.  Had enough, America?

January 27th, 2012 at 2:35 pm
New Fed Food Regs Leave Schools with $1.7 Billion in Unfunded Mandates

My apologies for gorging on the disastrous impact of meddlesome food czars, but the news is even worse than kids throwing away uneaten salads and smuggling in junk food to curb their hunger pangs.  According to the Federal Register, the Agricultural Department’s new calorie caps on federally subsidized breakfasts and lunches will hit local school districts with an additional $1.7 billion in mandated, uncompensated spending over the next five years.

The reason is twofold.  First, the new regulations require schools to spend money on higher priced foods like whole grains and fresh produce to stay below the calorie cap.  Second, the feds are only contributing an average funding increase of 6 cents per meal – an amount that falls far short of the estimated 10 cents increase for each lunch and 27 cents increase for each breakfast that will result from the new rules.  Thus, a $1.7 billion deficit gets passed onto cash-strapped school districts.

Whatever one thinks about the propriety of trying to force kids to eat healthier foods at school – and there are compelling reasons to consider some of the proposals – no can argue that yet another underfunded mandate is a serious long-term solution to this problem.

January 27th, 2012 at 2:10 pm
Union Membership Falls to New Low, NLRB to Compel Employees’ Private Phone Numbers and Email Addresses
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Today, the Department of Labor announced that the 2011 union membership rate fell to a new record low of 11.8%.   Disturbingly, the rate among public-sector workers now stands at 37%, whereas the membership rate for private-sector employees stands at a historic low of just 6.9%.

Now, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) chairman Mark Pearce has announced that Obama’s NLRB will push for new rules forcing employers to turn over lists of employees’ private phone numbers and email addresses in a shameless attempt to assist Big Labor in its desperate organizing activities.  After all, unless labor leaders can wrench more dollars from employees’ paychecks, they won’t have as much to spend on Obama’s reelection campaign.  Meanwhile, the government also announced today that the U.S. economy only grew a lackluster 2.8% in the fourth quarter of 2011.  That illustrates once again that Obama’s policies aren’t helping the economy, they’re subduing what should by now be a much sharper recovery.

As we have observed, if the Obama Administration behaves this thuggishly during an election year, just imagine how heedlessly it would behave during a second term when it needn’t worry about reelection.

January 27th, 2012 at 12:29 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  Five Laughable Moments from the State of the Union
Hillyer:  Puff! The Tragic Dragonless Leadership
Lee:  Obama’s IRS Return Shows His Tax Hypocrisy, Current Debate Shows Urgent Need for Corporate Tax Reform
Ellis:  L.A. Unified’s School Lunch Crusade Leaves Bad Taste for Kids, Taxpayers

Video:  The Pipeline to Nowhere
Podcast:  Fox News Contributor Margaret Hoover Talks Politics
Jester’s Courtroom:  Lawsuit Overdose

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

January 27th, 2012 at 10:32 am
Podcast: Fox News Contributor Margaret Hoover Talks Politics
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, political commentator and author Margaret Hoover discusses her book, American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party, and how the GOP can win back the millennials.

Listen to the interview here.

January 27th, 2012 at 9:22 am
Video: The Pipeline to Nowhere
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

From the recent decision to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to Solyndra-like “green energy” initiatives, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the Obama Administration’s failed energy policies in the week’s Freedom Minute.

January 26th, 2012 at 8:02 pm
More Pie-in-the-Sky Thinking From School Lunch Czars

The drive to force schoolchildren to eat healthier meals continues unabated, despite overwhelming evidence that serving adult-oriented meals increases kids’ use of junk food.  In today’s San Francisco Chronicle one local school district food advocate (yes, they exist) thinks that new federal rules mandating increased use of red, yellow and green vegetables and protein-rich legumes will result in a generation of kids yearning for spinach.

“Parents can now imagine their children coming home from school with a newfound love for spinach, sweet potatoes and whole-wheat spaghetti,” said Dawn Undurraga, staff nutritionist with Environmental Working Group, which works on public health issues, in a statement. “That’s a positive development that will have a lasting impact as they grow into strong, fit young adults.”

Would that it were so.  As a parent myself, I can vouch for the flights of fancy we sometimes entertain when junior’s decision-making process does not mirror our own.  On occasion I’ve tried to convince myself that maybe if I just eliminate sugar from my son’s diet he won’t want it anymore.  Of course, his taste buds and Grandma intercede and the game is up.  He knows that there’s a much better tasting alternative to the wheat-filled slag Dad is serving.  It is one thing for a parent to be paternalistic, but it’s quite another when public sector food bureaucrats (or “activists”) think they can socially engineer a kid to crave certain food.

Unfortunately for the Berkeley-based Ms. Undurraga, my column on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s failed food experiment points in the opposite direction.  According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times students confronted with mass produced health food are reacting in a way all too familiar:

For many students, L.A. Unified’s trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.

There’s just one problem: Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they’re suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving.  (Emphasis mine)

What?  A black market for comfort food seething right below the pad Thai noodles and quinoa salads?!  Obviously, the next step is to confiscate the hamburgers and punish those responsible.  Perhaps Michelle Obama could be called in to force-feed yummy bowls of spinach until the little ones develop that “newfound love” of greens everyone is so eager to foist upon them.

January 26th, 2012 at 6:31 pm
Time to Rein In FCC’s Regulatory Overreach

For the past three years, those of us who eat, sleep and breathe the principles of limited government and free enterprise have been banging our heads against the wall because of the devastating and rampant overreach of executive departments and agencies in the Obama Administration.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)… the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)… the Department of Justice (DOJ)… Enough said.

But perhaps there has been no agency more guilty of abusing its power and imposing its regulatory overreach than the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  After all, it is the FCC that unilaterally – by a 3-2 party-line vote – imposed so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations against a bipartisan majority in Congress, a unanimous federal court of appeals and 2-1 public opinion.  It is the FCC that, despite acknowledging a national spectrum crisis as more and more consumers use smart phones and tablet computers, continually works to block any and all productive efforts to relieve said crisis.

So it was refreshing to read earlier today that AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson is calling out the FCC’s overreach, charging that the Commission is “intent on picking winners and losers rather than letting these markets work.” 

For too long the FCC has interfered with the free market, which has created an unlevel playing field that unfairly props up politically-favored companies less likely to invest their own capital in new job-creating and economy-enhancing infrastructure at the expense of others that will. 

And, that’s precisely why Congress must act, not only to refrain from granting the FCC’s request for additional flexibility on spectrum auction authority, but also to tighten the reins on the FCC in order to prevent it from further skewing the wireless market. 

Instead of permitting the FCC to, by definition, pick “winners and losers” in the wireless marketplace by unfairly limiting and excluding certain companies from participating in spectrum auctions, Congress must pass legislation that that will facilitate the proper and fair functioning of spectrum auctions that are open to all willing buyers. 

That the FCC thinks otherwise, coupled with its recent history of abusive regulatory overreach, should spark a long overdue and serious discussion about clearly defining its proper authority once and for all.

January 26th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
Nearly $133 Billion in Bailout Money Still Not Repaid
Posted by Troy Senik Print

As I note in my new weekly column, out today, President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night was littered with risible claims, not the least of which was his defense of the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the financial and auto industries at the height of the nation’s economic crisis (efforts, in fairness, that began with the Bush Administration). Contrary to the president’s rosy recitations, however, the bailouts were not an unimpeachable success. As the AP reports today:

A government watchdog says U.S. taxpayers are still owed $132.9 billion that companies haven’t repaid from the financial bailout, and some of that will never be recovered.

The bailout launched at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 will continue to exist for years, says a report issued Thursday by Christy Romero, the acting special inspector general for the $700 billion bailout. Some bailout programs, such as the effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by reducing mortgage payments, will last as late as 2017, costing the government an additional $51 billion or so.

This report won’t get much attention, simply because of the fact that a majority of the money has been paid back. That fact, however, reveals what may be the most damning legacy of the bailouts’ gonzo economics: the ability to think of a $133 billion shortfall as a rounding error.

January 25th, 2012 at 8:58 pm
Why Obama Can’t Run as Reagan Redux
Posted by Troy Senik Print

It’s not morning in America. And if the dawn does break on President Obama’s watch, the forecast is for heavy clouds. This graph from today’s Wall Street Journal, comparing economic growth during Reagan and Obama’s first terms, shows why:

ObamaReaganGrowth

January 25th, 2012 at 6:51 pm
What ABC Left on the Cutting Room Floor

Conservatives have been up in arms about ABC’s airing last week of the interview in which Marianne Gingrich said her ex-husband asked her for an open marriage. But their anger is misplaced. The problem wasn’t in airing the interview; the problem was in what ABC left out.

ABC filmed well over an hour of footage with Ms. Gingrich. They aired — what was it, maybe seven minutes of that footage?

The question is, what did the network leave out, and why?

Here’s what I’m told by people familiar with the interview: first, that in much of the rest of the interview she was complimentary towards her former husband, and second, that she was trying to give a full, contextual picture of his character — a context left on the cutting room floor when ABC concentrated only on the sex/adultery/betrayal angle. “They left out the essence of her,” said one of my sources. What they left out is that she, a dedicated conservative, is proud of what she and her husband accomplished together for causes such as balanced budgets and welfare reform.

By leaving out so much, ABC did Ms. Gingrich a disservice, because the “open marriage” segment, by general agreement, made her appear somewhat bitter — whereas, in fuller context, it would have made her look more baffled than bitter. Asked on camera if she resented Callista Gingrich being with Newt when he is rich and running large accounts at Tiffany’s while she, Marianne, endured the long, lean financial years and the vitriol from the Left during his Speakership, Marianne Gingrich reportedly smiled and said, “No, I think I had Newt’s best years.”

None of that came across. Ms. Gingrich deserved better.

Granted, any TV news magazine is going to run only part of its footage. But to take out all context is absurd. Oddly enough, taking out the context ended up helping Newt Gingrich. Because viewers couldn’t see Ms. Gingrich speaking thoughtfully and with decency toward her husband, they couldn’t see just how bad a betrayal it was for her husband to treat her so shabbily. Because they concentrated on the sex, they made the interview seem like it was prurient, and thus like an unseemly attack, rather than like a reasonable examination of Gingrich’s past. It thus engendered sympathy for him … and of course played into his hands by allowing him to attack the establishment media, which is always (and usually justifiably) red meat for conservatives.

Of course Gingrich knew how to take advantage of this. He just followed Bill Clinton’s playbook. Turn the issue away from substance; make the issue about the prurience of the questioner. Express indignation. Raise your voice with just the right amount of anger. Make yourself the victim rather than the perp. Clinton did it to Gingrich during the Lewinsky scandal. When Gingrich personally ordered several last-minute commercials in the 1998 campaign attacking Clinton about Lewinsky — at least one of which clearly aimed at Clinton’s morality rather than, or far more than, at his lying under oath (which at least somewhat puts the lie to Gingrich’s claim on Wednesday that he was only criticizing Clinton’s perjury, not his sexual behavior) — it backfired on Gingrich and Republicans, big-time. Gingrich learned his lesson: A sexual sinner can win politically by playing the victim.

Conservatives also have reason to wonder what else remains in ABC’s vault. ABC has shown that its editing is suspect. Imagine what could happen, though, if Gingrich wins the nomination. One can easily see ABC saying, “Hey, remember that interview with Marianne Gingrich? Well, there was more to it than that. Here’s something else she said!”

Then, again out of context, they find some other snippet from Ms. Gingrich, this time on the substance of her ex-husband’s leadership or his beliefs, and they air it in a way that could do the absolute most damage to him in the general election. One can easily imagine that if 95 percent of the rest of what Ms. Gingrich said was complimentary, an editor still could cull some random 5% and use it in a way the ex-Speaker can’t parry anywhere near so easily. It’s harder to make yourself look good when your leadership qualities or your principles are being directly challenged — especially because, unlike with private, marital conversations, any testimony from Ms. Gingrich about Newt Gingrich’s actions related to public policy can actually be checked out by, yes, what actually happened in the public realm. In other words, if it’s true, then it’s more easily verifiable.

Again, Marianne Gingrich — by all accounts I have ever heard, a very nice lady — deserved better from ABC. So did the voters of this country.

January 25th, 2012 at 12:36 pm
Mitch Daniels Gets It Right

Reading the text of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address gives us a bittersweet reminder of what might have been had he run for President this year.  Here are some phrases I hope the eventual nominee incorporates into his campaign – and governing – rhetoric:

“In three short years, an unprecedented explosion of spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffordable national debt. And yet, the President has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead. The federal government now spends one of every four dollars in the entire economy; it borrows one of every three dollars it spends. No nation, no entity, large or small, public or private, can thrive, or survive intact, with debts as huge as ours.

“The extremism that stifles the development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy. It must be replaced by a passionate pro-growth approach that breaks all ties and calls all close ones in favor of private sector jobs that restore opportunity for all and generate the public revenues to pay our bills.

“The mortal enemies of Social Security and Medicare are those who, in contempt of the plain arithmetic, continue to mislead Americans that we should change nothing. Listening to them much longer will mean that these proud programs implode, and take the American economy with them. It will mean that coming generations are denied the jobs they need in their youth and the protection they deserve in their later years.

“We will advance our positive suggestions with confidence, because we know that Americans are still a people born to liberty. There is nothing wrong with the state of our Union that the American people, addressed as free-born, mature citizens, cannot set right. Republicans in 2012 welcome all our countrymen to a program of renewal that rebuilds the dream for all, and makes our ‘city on a hill’ shine once again.”

If Republicans win the White House this year I hope there’s an important place in the Administration for Mitch Daniels.

January 25th, 2012 at 9:13 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The State of the Union
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

January 24th, 2012 at 3:50 pm
Oil Prices Up 161% Since Final Week of 2008
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

During tonight’s State of the Union speech, Barack Obama will trot out his usual energy platitudes, Solyndra now excepted.

Regardless of Obama’s rhetoric, however, the real-world facts speak perfectly clearly.  Since the final week of 2008, according to the Thomson Reuters Datastream, the price per barrel of crude oil has increased an astounding 161%.  That year, Obama famously suggested that his election would mark the date on which Earth began to heal, the seas stopped rising and magic unicorns began delivering free In ‘n’ Out burgers to those of us on the east coast.  Instead, we’ve seen deficits rising, unemployment rising and oil prices rising.  As they say in Latin, “res ipsa loquitur” – “the fact speaks for itself.”   Namely, that Obama’s grandiosity and his actual performance maintain an inverse relationship.