Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ryan Shoots, He Scores!!!

Congressman Paul Ryan (R) WI is becoming a star. If you watch any of the so-called Health Care Summit the President convened last this week watch this clip of Congressman Ryan as he dresses down the President's own numbers on how the Democrat's plan will destroy the federal budgets for the foreseeable future. It's going to be hard to argue that Ryan is wrong since he is using the words, yes, the very words of the President's own chief actuary. Please watch...

Ryan is so well spoken and has a Kennedyesque stature in the way he carries himself. I do believe he has the goods and I think the Republican Party should give this guy a serious look for bigger things.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Heaven On Ice

"Heaven On Ice"

18 x 24 (acrylic)

by Craig Willms

Here is perhaps the strangest painting I've ever done. Heaven On Ice will resonate with those of you who cherish a sunny winter's day by dropping a line in a hole in the ice and then taking a pull from a flask filled with peppermint schnapps. This was commissioned by my brother Ken who is just such a person. The photo was taken by S. Rasmussen.

This is the newest entry in my Vacation Photo Project. CLICK HERE to see the paintings I've already presented.

Be sure to check out the rest of my online art gallery Static Art Online.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Change I Can Believe In

There is a congressman from Wisconsin I have been following for a while now. I have always thought that he had a great future ahead of him. He is finally starting to make waves in Washington and I really like what I am seeing. Paul Ryan (R) WI is an ideas guy. He completely belies the liberal/Democrat talking point that the Republicans are bereft of ideas, that they are simply the Party of No.

After years of studying the major issues of our time on a broad macro level I've come to the conclusion (its pretty obvious to all who've removed the blinders) that the current course toward socialism and a nanny state government is folly, its unsustainable. Even though current generations of Canadians and Europeans seem to love their nanny states they have no care whatsoever for future generations. Americans do care about the future for their children - we know they can't be children forever and adults do not need nannies. What the Obama/Pelosi/Reids of this world believe in is European social democracy, a culture, a system that has no future. Paul Ryan sees a grand future for America.

If you care to know what I believe in check out this web site - it's pretty close to what I think will work for America.

The fact that Paul Krugman of the New York Times has come out against Paul Ryan's Road Map for America ramps up my enthusiasim even more. Krugman has proven his foolishness and hypocrisy time and time again. Today he claims Washington's deficit situation is nothing to be worried about - that even more government debt is needed to pull us out of recession. That wasn't the case when George W. Bush proposed tax cuts to pull us out of the 2000-2001 recession. The deficits caused by tax cuts would destroy the economy he said. Of course we had 6 years of excellent growth and shrinking deficits until the housing bubble popped (which, to be sure, had nothing to do with tax cuts). Krugman was wrong then - as he usually is - and I predict he is wrong about Paul Ryan's well thought out precriptions for America's economic woes.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Lying To You: They Can't Help Themselves

Exposed Lies Propagated by Government, Industry and the Media

Maybe we deserve it, maybe we don't, but it is without a doubt a reality - we are constantly lied to. We are duped by the government, the media, industry, our political candidates, our teachers, our bosses, our parents - frankly we are lied to by everyone.

Little white lies and the lies parents use to protect young children are and should be exempt from outrage. Lies told (or truths omitted) for security reasons is another subset of lying we need to accept to a certain extent. Others are neither black nor white, always right or always wrong. Life is one big gray area, but the lies told to take advantage of us, to assist one group in cheating another, to profit at the expense of others, or to excuse one group from normal and obvious consequences are completely destructive to the truth. When it comes right down to it these lies are as destructive to the perpetrators they are to the aggrieved.

Here is a list of despicable lies right off the top of my head:

1. Crime rates are driven by poverty - there is no actual data to support this. This lie is used to justify all manner of wealth re-distribution. The Great Depression saw poverty we modern Americans couldn't imagine, yet actual crime rates were low. Today's "Great Recession" comes to us with the lowest crimes rates since the 1960's. It's lax law enforcement and "easy" judges that send the wrong message to would be criminals - among other factors - just not poverty per se.

2. Heterosexual AIDS - The evidence is clear that male gay sex is the surest way to contract AIDS. Other than blood transfusions it is difficult for monogamous heterosexuals to contract AIDS. The reason for the great lie is to try to convince us that there is nothing wrong with promiscuous homosexual behavior - AIDS can happen to anybody. No it can't.

3. Global Warming/Climate Change - Where to begin with this whopper? This had/has the potential to be the biggest fraud perpetrated in human history, and for what? In the end I believe it was concocted to knock the United States out as the dominant power in the world by pulling the energy rug out from under our feet. Without inexpensive, plentiful energy no country can be powerful. It was also designed to be a wealth re-distribution scheme. We can only hope that this lie is now exposed for what it really is.

4. Safe and effective pharmaceuticals - Just how many drugs that were called safe and effective that the drug companies knew were actually dangerous have been taken off the market - and at what cost in suffering and in human lives? There is only one reason for these lies. Greed.

5. Rich people not paying their fair share - when nearly 50% of all Americans pay zero taxes and the top 5% of income earners pay a hugely disproportionate share of all Federal taxes this lie just doesn't hold water. The statistics are clear on this. This lie is again a way to justify wealth re-distribution from those who produce to those who don't.

6. Conceal and carry laws lead to wild west mayhem - This has played out in the state that I live in and the carnage that was predicted has petered out without a whisper. It just hasn't happened. .. 99% of permit holders are law abiding citizens. They were before conceal and carry and they are after conceal and carry. Enough said.

7. Girls are shortchanged in education - Girls comprise the majority of all college students in this country. The graduation rates for girls in pre and post secondary school is far higher than that of male children. Christine Hoff Summers has produced the definitive work on the myth that boys are favored over girls in our modern educational systems. At one time this lie may have actually been true, but to keep hanging on to this notion is a lie today.

8. The Great Society - Every aspect of this cruel and destructive scheme has been chronicled by now. It was a suite of national policies based on lies. Once again the ultimate goal was the massive re-distribution of wealth. It has only enriched a sprawling bureaucracy while condemning generations of Americans to poverty.

9. The unemployment rate - Whatever the government tells you double it.

10. Reasons for going to war - Respective to Iraq (and to Afghanistan for that matter), the lie was not weapons of mass destruction or even to root out al Qaeda terrorists. It was a geopolitical game of chess to hem in Iran and Pakistan which is at the epicenter of radical Islam-ism. It's really hard to know what would have happened if the Bush Administration had come clean and told the truth. Would Americans and the world have supported him? Probably not. Did it have to be done? Probably.

11. Nutrition information - When the food industry gets to write the official government guidelines for nutrition we can be assured that nutrition is way down the list of reasons the Food Pyramid looks the way it does. Money, Money, Money - need I saw more?

This little list just scratches the surface. The lies we are told make it hard to trust anyone in positions of authority. Does it surprise you that we seek escape in mindless television watching, drinking and carrying on? Probably not.


Monday, February 08, 2010

The Moab Trip

A New Painting

"The Moab Trip"

18x24 (acrylic)

by Craig Willms

This is a vacation photo supplied by my good friend Lorenzo. That's his Jeep. This was one of among many awesome photos from his Moab, Utah trip. I choose this one because it epitomizes the key element of the trip - off roading with his Jeep. I hope you enjoy!

Please check out the rest of the paintings from my Vacation Photo Project HERE. You can see many more of my paintings at Static Art Online.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

What A Gas!

Here We Go Again

It was an incident at Three Mile Island that relegated the nuclear power industry to an also ran energy solution for this country. Not one person died as a result of TMI, in fact I don't think anyone was actually even hurt except the industry itself. TMI was no Chernobyl. The safety record of the nuclear power industry worldwide (Russia not withstanding) is exemplary. Nonetheless the environmentalists, for whom the word compromise does not exist successfully doomed the whole domestic industry to the point of causing Obama Administration officials incapable of even uttering the words nuclear power.

Next stop: Natural Gas
How many times have we heard the hue and cry "we must end our dependence on foreign oil" or "energy independence". To the environmentalists these phrases mean windmills and solar panels (except when they are proposed for their neighborhoods). They know as well as you and I that these poor excuses will never provide the energy a country like United States needs to maintain an economy and a standard of living we have come to expect. Every one of these so called alternative energy solutions, including ethanol require massive grants, subsidies, and tax breaks from state and federal government agencies. Enter natural gas, a clean burning, domestically abundant energy source that already employs a mature infrastructure from sea to shining sea - and - requires no government handouts. So what's not to like?

There's a relatively new technique that uses horizontal drilling with a process called hydraulic fracking that has the potential to transform America into the first natural gas society. The problem is that it requires massive amounts of water. Environmentalists and public health officials believe it should be regulated because of concerns that water supplies could be threatened by the chemicals left underground or in the open pits. Yes, regulation is one thing - not to say it isn't already being regulated today - but environmentalists and their Democrat pals intend to squash it altogether.

One can only surmise their actual motives. Protecting ground water is a worthy cause, but saving "green energy industries" is a major driver, make no mistake about it. Despite the abundance and cleanliness of natural gas it doesn't fit the narrative the Greens and the ultra-liberals desire. An energy independent America threatens them on so many levels... Altruistic high-minded environmental protection motives always seem to come back to one thing - money.

The actual worry about ground water contamination may be overblown. Interestingly the EPA has in fact investigated this issue and was unable to find even one case where fracking fluid had actually contaminated a water supply. The Groundwater Protection Council found the same thing. And the Department of Energy did too. Protections should be investigated and regulations should exist, no one is arguing that. The oil and gas industry reminds us that hydraulic fracturing is performed tens of thousands of times each year, with an exemplary safety record, and there are no documented cases of contamination to drinking water.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, Range Resources Corp., one of the gas field's most active operators, pipes its wastewater into a central holding pond, then dilutes it with fresh water and reuses it. This practice saves about $200,000 per well, or about 5 percent, more importantly it keeps the wastewater from being processed in municipal treatment plants which typically returns it to rivers.

As well, a new $15 million treatment plant that distills frack water is opening in Fairmont, W.Va. The 200,000 gallons it can treat each day can then be trucked back for use at a new drilling site. These are examples of the industry developing ways to mitigate the impact facking will have on ground water. While it's true that water contamination has been documented near drilling sites, still a definitive link between drilling and contamination has never been made. Environmental Protection Agency officials investigated and ruled regulation was unnecessary.

All this will not enough for the Democrats and the environmentalists. Horror stories are already popping up in the "concerned" media. NPR and the New York Times have done their share of heartfelt anecdotal testimonials to be sure. These people need to be taken to task for scaremongering and the politicians who would shoot this gift horse in the head need to be run out of office.

Not to be left out the tort lawyers have already began setting up their web sites. Weitz and Luxenberg offer these words of comfort: If your community has been affected by well fracking, we may be able to help. Please complete the form below for a free legal review of your potential environmental lawsuit. A representative of our firm will be in touch shortly.

The real comfort is your warm home and falling prices on your gas bill every month. Or the comfort of knowing that if our own natural gas reserves are developed to the full potential America can stop spending so much blood and money protecting the global oil supply.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

TARP: Just The Tip of the Iceberg

One of the government agencies that rises above the politics of the day and produces sober and well researched reports is the Inspector General system. Tuesday the Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) released a quarterly report for our friends in Washington for final quarter of 2009. There is a term used in crisis and/or project management called lessons learned. It is an exercise intended to review things that didn't go exactly right, how they were resolved and how to avoid them in the future. Washington likes to hash and rehash lessons learned in mock trials called congressional hearings, but then never heeds the conclusions. Thus the mistakes are repeated again and again.

The seeds of our current economic disaster go back to the late 70's via Carter's CRA (Community Reinvestment Act), through 80's with the first of the "too big to fail" bailouts under Reagan, sliding through the 90's with Clinton's revamped CRA legislation of 1993 and financial system regulatory reform of 1999. Usher in Bush II who played lip service to a looming housing bubble crisis and not only failed to act but rather accelerated it with weak dollar policies coupled with and cheap money policies from the Federal Reserve. Yes Virginia - a perfect storm.

What was Obama to do with this mess? Smart money would not be on doubling down, but that's of course exactly what he did. Bottom line according to the Inspector General is that we are going to see a replay of the 2007-2009 recession or worse.

Here are the bullet points from the report:

* To the extent that huge, interconnected, “too big to fail” institutions contributed to the crisis, those institutions are now even larger, in part because of the substantial subsidies provided by TARP and other bailout programs.

* To the extent that institutions were previously incentivized to take reckless risks through a “heads, I win; tails, the Government will bail me out” mentality, the market is more convinced than ever that the Government will step in as necessary to save systemically significant institutions. This perception was reinforced when TARP was extended until October 3, 2010, thus permitting Treasury to maintain a war chest of potential rescue funding at the same time that banks that have shown questionable ability to return to profitability (and in some cases are posting multi-billion-dollar losses) are exiting TARP programs.

* To the extent that large institutions’ risky behavior resulted from the desire to justify ever-greater bonuses — and indeed, the race appears to be on for TARP recipients to exit the program in order to avoid its pay restrictions — the current bonus season demonstrates that although there have been some improvements in the form that bonus compensation takes for some executives, there has been little fundamental change in the excessive compensation culture on Wall Street.

* To the extent that the crisis was fueled by a “bubble” in the housing market, the Federal Government’s concerted efforts to support home prices — as discussed more fully in Section 3 of this report — risk re-inflating that bubble in light of the Government’s effective takeover of the housing market through purchases and guarantees, either direct or implicit, of nearly all of the residential mortgage market.

Stated another way, even if TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car.

When are we going to get responsible people in Washington who'll do the right things for the right reasons? This bull$hit has got to stop...