Obama administration

The missing anti-“kinetic military action” movement

As has been noted a few times in the last week since we began bombing Libya, launching another war “kinetic military action” without the approval of Congress, the anti-war movement that was so vocal during the run up to and during the Iraq War has been largely silent while the Obama Administration has taken on essentially the same foreign policy as his predecessor (oh, and Syria may be next).

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, recently visited with Judge Andrew Napolitano on Freedom Watch to discuss the absence of the anti-war movement and why they are largely sitting this president out:

And so another war begins…

A day after France began sorties, the United States - authorized by Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Barack Obama - has launched 112 Tomahawk Cruise missiles at Libya to enforce a United Nations sanctioned “no-fly zone”:

More than 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles struck over 20 targets inside Libya today in the opening phase of an international military operation the Pentagon said was aimed at stopping attacks led by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and enforcing a U.N.-backed no-fly zone.

President Obama, speaking from Brazil shortly after he authorized the missile attacks, said they were part of a “limited military action” to protect the Libyan people.

“I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice I make lightly,” Obama said. “But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.”

The first air strikes, in what is being called “Operation Odyssey Dawn,” were launched from a mix of U.S. surface ships and one British submarine in the Mediterranean Sea at 2 pm ET, Vice Adm. William E. Gortney told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.

They targeted Libyan air defense missile sites, early warning radar and key communications facilities around Tripoli, Misratah, and Surt, but no areas east of that or near Benghazi. Because of darkness over Libya, Gortney said it was too early to determine the strikes’ effectiveness.

Government’s Revolting Attempt at the Free Market

Few things in life confound me more than the propensity of the political left to put unbridled faith in the government’s ability to make wise decisions for us all, while simultaneously treating purveyors of goods and services on the free market as if they were shady characters lurking in some beer bottle strewn, garbage littered back alley, just waiting to take advantage of the unsuspecting traveler lost and wandering into the wrong side of town.

In the free market, those who provide goods and services must do so (theoretically, at least…pretending big business and big government don’t collude to rig the market to the advantage of those willing to pay) by providing those goods or services with a level of quality superior to those of their competitors at a given price point. And because businesses are subject to the profit motive, they must constantly work to become more efficient and innovative than their competitors. If they fail to do so, they lose market share, which means they lose money, which means they go out of business. Many companies that were once king of the hill have fallen by the wayside, victims to more innovative upstarts. Remember Eastern Airlines, Atari video games, American Motor Company, Rich’s, Datsun, Woolworth’s, KB Toys and Enron? All were once major players in their markets, and all are now nowhere to be found.

The process of “creative destruction”, by which the existing economic order is constantly churned by the very nature of free market dynamics, is what drives the rapid advances in technology and efficiency. Oddly enough, the concept of creative destruction finds its roots in Marxist economic theory, tracing back to Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto and later Das Kapital. Of course, Marx saw the concept as negative, preferring the economy to be managed by a powerful central government directing the lives of its citizens by force.

Senators talk tough on spending

While the House passed a three week Continuing Resolution on Tuesday - you can see the roll call vote here - to keep the government running and avoid a shut down, there are more signs that Senate Republicans are going to force the Obama Administration to deal with stronger cuts; including entitlements:

Twenty-two Republicans senators are threatening to vote against raising the debt ceiling later this year unless the president concedes to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the current budget negotiations.

“Strong leadership is needed now to advance possible solutions to ensure that our entitlement programs can serve both current and future generations. Without action to begin addressing the deficit, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for us to support a further increase in the debt ceiling,” wrote Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) in the letter, obtained by POLITICO.
But the group of almost two dozen GOP senators are withholding their vote to raise the debt ceiling until, as Coats writes, President Barack Obama exhibits the same leadership that former President Ronald Reagan and then House Speaker Tip O’Neill in 1983 when they tackled Social Security reform.

“A similar show of leadership from you and from congressional leaders of both parties is necessary to address the long-term challenges facing our country,” wrote the GOP senators.

Obama on vacation

Some on the right are writhing in agony at the thought of President Obama taking another golf vacation.  They feel with the economy still in shambles, unemployment still somewhere just on the other side of the stratosphere, and a host of other problems facing the nation, the President has better things to be focusing on.  Personally, I’m totally cool with his trip.  In fact, I want him to spend as much time as possible playing golf.  The more time he spends golfing, the less time he’s spending taking this country down the path to despotism.

Yeah, one can say that he’s taking us on no such journey, and I don’t think he’s doing it intentionally.  It doesn’t really matter if he means to do it.  However, I still maintain that’s the path we’re on and I damn sure don’t like it.

However, the Right’s preoccupation with Obama’s activities fails to miss a key point: They say they want him working on these problems, while saying he can’t fix the problems.  Seriously, make up your mind.  Obama playing golf and shaking hands is actually the one thing I feel comfortable with him doing.  OK, so I’m not crazy about taxpayer dollars paying for it, but if it keeps him busy, I can live with it.

When he gets back, he’ll probably try to do all kinds of socialistic things, but not now.  For the moment, he’s off on another adventure that doesn’t involve politics.  Let’s hope he stays there for a while.

Clinton criticizes delay in issuing drilling permits

As gas prices continue to climb due to unrest in the Middle East, even Bill Clinton is wondering why it is taking so long to approve permits for oil drilling, especially as the economy sputters along:

Former President Bill Clinton said Friday that delays in offshore oil and gas drilling permits are “ridiculous” at a time when the economy is still rebuilding, according to attendees at the IHS CERAWeek conference.

Clinton spoke on a panel with former President George W. Bush that was closed to the media. Video of their moderated talk with IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin was also prohibited.

But according to multiple people in the room, Clinton, surprisingly, agreed with Bush on many oil and gas issues, including criticism of delays in permitting offshore since last year’s Gulf of Mexico spill.
Clinton said there are “ridiculous delays in permitting when our economy doesn’t need it,” according to Noe and others.

“That was the most surprising thing they said,” Noe said.

The two former presidents both generally agreed on the need to get offshore drilling workers back on the job.

Clinton and Bush also agreed on the need for more domestic shale gas production, with Clinton noting that it has been done safely for years in his home state of Arkansas.

Obama Administration’s driving off domestic oil exploration

Despite tensions in the Middle East, the Obama Administration’s policy to domestic oil exploration continues to drive off or stall drilling inside and around the United States:

Shell Oil has canceled its plans to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska in 2011, but will now set its sights on the summer of 2012. The company has run into repeated regulatory hurdles in its attempts to explore for oil in America’s slice of the Arctic Ocean. Most recently, in late December 2010, the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) sent air quality permits granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back to regulators for revision. Pete Slaiby, the VP of Shell Alaska, cited “tremendous uncertainty”—and frustration—during a press conference in Anchorage to announce the decision. The company has been seeking the required permits for the past five years.

Shell had been prepared to drill in 2010 in multiple sites off the northern coast of Alaska, but those projects were put on hold following the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The company’s plans for 2011 called for a small armada of support vessels to accompany the Noble Discoverer drillship to the Beaufort Sea’s Camden Bay, where it would drill in shallow water. No energy company is currently exploring for oil and gas offshore in the region, though exploration is going forward in waters controlled by other arctic nations.

The administration was also recently found in contempt over the off-shore drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico due to actions taken after a decision last summer striking down the ban:

Climate czar to leave Obama Administration

Carol Browner, who has served President Barack Obama’s climate change czar and previously as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in under Bill Clinton, will be leaving the administration:

Senior administration officials confirm reports that Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change, is departing the White House in the next few weeks.

A White House official says Browner will stay on as long as necessary to ensure an orderly transition.

“Carol is confident that the mission of her office will remain critical to the president and she is pleased with what will be in the State of the Union address tomorrow and in the budget on clean energy,” the official says. “She is proud of the administration’s accomplishments – from the historic investments in clean energy included in the Recovery Act to the national policy on vehicle efficiency that will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and lower consumers’ prices at the pump.”

That said, it’s unclear that Browner will be replaced. When Democrats controlled the House and Senate, they were unable to pass major energy legislation addressing climate change, and now that Republicans control the House and Senate, Democrats have an even narrower margin.

“On the question of what will happen to the position, the president’s commitment to these issues will, of course, continue but any transition of the office will be announced soon,” the official says.

House conservatives propose $2.5 trillion in spending cuts

Yesterday, the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative Republicans, fired the first shots in the budget battle with the Obama Administration by proposing $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years (you can view the release below, or here):

A group of conservative House Republicans laid out a plan to drastically cut federal spending over the next ten years, targeting everything from Amtrak to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to subsidies for mohair producers.

All told, it adds up to $2.5 trillion in cuts, whacking 55 different agencies and programs, including public housing, benefits for federal employees, funding for the arts and humanities and international aid.

Many of the proposed cuts represent longtime conservative targets, like the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They also would gut a wide range of energy and environmental programs — like weatherization and beach erosion funds — and have proposed clamping down on federal employee unions.

But the long list of spending cuts is notably silent on the two biggest federal budget drivers — entitlements and defense spending.

The proposed cuts were laid out Thursday by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of House conservatives, and while it has not won the endorsement of GOP leaders, this package represents the most specific list of cuts so far from the new Republican majority.

The heart of the measure is a substitution of fiscal 2008 spending levels for nonsecurity and nonveterans programs when the current continuing resolution expires on March 4, followed by a subsequent reduction of domestic spending to 2006 levels.

Vote to repeal ObamaCare expected today

With the vote to repeal ObamaCare supposed to take place today in the House, the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats are playing it down:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the Republican effort to repeal the healthcare reform law is not serious and has no chance of passing.

House Republicans are expected to vote on a bill that would undo the law Wednesday, but Gibbs said that even they know that the legislation is not a winning bet.

“I would share the belief of many, including, I think, enunciated by those who are going to vote for repeal tomorrow, that this isn’t a serious legislative effort,” he said at his daily press briefing. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”

Democrats have sought to downplay the importance of the vote as merely a symbolic effort by the GOP to appeal to their base.

I know that not many want to hear this, but it’s true that this is largely symbolic. As has been noted here several times, Republicans simply don’t have the numbers in the Senate since Democrats hold the majority and aren’t even going to bring repeal of ObamaCare to the floor; dares from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) not withstanding. Nevertheless, the administration is telling Republicans that they are open to changes to the law. Of course, they’ve said that before.

With the likelihood that repeal will won’t pass, Republicans are - as a I wrote on Monday - looking at other avenues to get rid of ObamaCare:

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