It’s Wednesday, March 21st, 2012….but before we begin, to borrow a phrase from the great Thomas Sowell, we’ve several thoughts on the passing scene.

First, consider the stark difference in the treatment afforded by the government and MSM in the cases of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of killing the Afghan civilians, and Major Nidal Hassan, caught in the act of murdering 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounding 29 others?

Think about it: Bales, a twice-wounded combat veteran on his 4th tour overseas cracks up, and everyone is screaming, quite literally, for his head.  Hassan, who quite literally screamed “Allahu akbar!” repeatedly while slaughtering his fellow soldiers, came about as close to combat as Bill Clinton; yet 2-1/2 years after the fact, and despite irrefutable evidence as to his motive and guilt, he’s yet to stand trial.

No hypocrisy or double-standard here.

Next, why aren’t The Big Three treated with the same disdain Team Tick-Tock and the MSM accord Big Oil, Big Banks or any other large corporations comprising Big Business?  Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact GM, Chrysler and Ford are all union shops….while the others are not. 

Lastly, yet another illustration of why it’s useless to introduce truth into discussions with a Liberal.  We had dinner Saturday evening in Virginia with several couples from our old neighborhood, one of whom is patently Progressive.  As the wife in particular takes personal offense at having her feelings challenged with facts, we generally avoid the subject of politics.  But this evening, the issue of gay marriage came up as regards the petition drive to overturn the statute recently passed in Maryland.

The husband, a very well-educated (multiple advanced degrees) but otherwise useless aficionado of the Arts, refused to believe the power of judges was in any way limited by the Constitution.  Hence, in his view, neither state nor federal jurists were beholden to the Law of the Land, possessing instead unlimited power to impose their opinions on the nation.

If this supposed sophisticate’s grasp of one of the most important underpinnings of our freedom is so limited, should it come as a surprise the “unwashed masses” would willingly forfeit their liberty and birthright for what amounts to mere pottage? 

As TLJ would say….

….whatEVER!  Now, here’s The Gouge!

We kick off the mid-week edition with another inconvenient truth from Rob Bluey writing in The Foundry, courtesy of Conn Carroll and the Morning Examiner:

Production of Oil, Gas and Coal on Federal Lands Sinks to Nine-Year Low

 

Last fall the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration reported a 40 percent decline in oil and natural gas production on federal lands compared to 10 years ago. The White House and a prominent liberal in Congress protested. They said EIA, a trusted source for reliable energy information, was wrong. They complained that EIA hadn’t accounted for all data from the Department of Interior.

EIA released an updated analysis last week. And while the number isn’t as drastic as originally reported, EIA confirmed the Obama administration is overseeing a sharp decline in fossil fuel production (coal, oil, and natural gas) on federal lands, which recently hit its lowest point in nine years.

The updated EIA report revealed a 12 percent decline in production for coal, oil, and natural gas on federal and Indian lands from fiscal 2003 through fiscal 2011.

During this same period, production on state and private lands has increased, boosting overall production numbers for the United States. That’s a point even President Obama will acknowledge: “Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up,” he said upon announcing his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Obama is correct. He just can’t rightfully claim the credit, since the vast majority of America’s new oil and gas production is happening on private lands in states like North Dakota, Alaska and Texas.

The administration, meanwhile, has also taken several steps to limit production. Heritage’s Nick Loris noted these four steps taken by the Obama administration:

  • Withdrew areas offered for 77 oil and gas leases in Utah that could cost American taxpayers millions in lost lease bids, production royalties, new jobs and the energy needed to offset rising imports of oil and natural gas.
  • Cancelled lease sales in the Western Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast and delayed exploration off the coast of Alaska and kept other resource-rich areas off-limits.
  • Finalized rules, first announced by Secretary Salazar on January 6, 2010, to establish more government hurdles to onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands.
  • Withdrew 61 oil and natural gas leases in Montana as part of a lawsuit settlement over climate change.

“The big picture is clear that government policies undertaken by the Obama administration have produced a significant decline in offshore oil production on federal lands in fiscal year 2011,” the Institute for Energy Research said in response to last week’s updated EIA analysis. “That is certainly not a way to increase domestic production of oil and keep oil and thus gasoline prices in check.”

While it was waiting for EIA to update its numbers, the Institute for Energy Research conducted its own analysis of Department of Interior data in February. It came to the same conclusion: “Production on federal lands is down, while production on state and private lands is up.”

But other than that, everything The Obamao said about domestic oil production is true….and how’d you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?!?

In a related item….as in DIRECTLY related:

Highest Gas Price Ever Recorded For March  

 

And how are the newshounds in America’s Fourth Estate handling the story?  As this forward from The Weekly Standard, courtesy of Bill Meisen, demonstrates, as if the highest gasoline prices in history mean nothing to America:

Reporter Asks President Whether Dog Favors Releasing Petroleum Reserves

 

The Washington Post’s David Nakamura, today’s White House pool reporter, had these odd lines in his last dispatch, just as the president was returning from a speech in Maryland:

POTUS arrived back at WH at 12:45 pm after uneventful ride. POTUS was greeted in Rose Garden by Bo. POTUS didn’t reply when another pooler asked: “Does Bo think you should release the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?”

So a gallon of regular is today costing Americans $3.82. And the question the press has for the president of the United States is whether his dog, Bo, thinks oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should be released

….In follow-up emails, Nakamura  said he didn’t know  which member of the pool asked Obama the silly question, but he did say, “it appeared [O]bama just smiled –as he was in process of petting Bo on the steps going into [W]est [W]ing from [R]ose [G]arden. [A]nd then he continued inside. [H]e did not say anything.”

Then again, at least Bo knows more than Biden!

Turning now from one disaster to another, the AEI‘s James Pethokoukis presents….

Here, in one graphic, is what’s wrong with American healthcare

 

Talk about a vicious cycle. The above chart (from must-read healthcare blogger Avik Roy) comes as close as anything I’ve seen to explaining in a picture what is wrong with the American healthcare system. It shows how government policy creates a dysfunctional healthcare market by insulating consumers from the true cost of their healthcare decisions, raising demand/overconsumption of high-end services/costs, prompting more government intervention (like Obamacare) … and more insulation. Rinse and repeat. Here is Arnold Kling on “insulation”:

The health coverage most Americans have is what I call “insulation,” not insurance. Rather than insuring them against risk, most families’ health plans insulate them from paying for most health care bills, large and small. Real insurance, such as fire insurance, provides protection against rare, severe risk. Real insurance is characterized by:

low premiums

infrequent claims

large claims

American health insurance—including employer-provided insurance and Medicare—is the opposite. Families typically are paid claims several times per year, often for small amounts. Premiums are high—the cost of providing insulation often exceeds $10,000 per year per family. However, most families pay these premiums only indirectly, through taxes and reduced take-home pay from employers.

For health care providers, insulation is a bonanza. Because consumers are not spending their own money, they accept doctors’ recommendations for services without questioning them and without concern for cost. Faced with an insured patient, a health care provider is like a restaurant catering to convention-goers with unlimited expense accounts. The customer will gladly take the most high-end recommendation and not worry about the price.

Consumers are happy as well. Insulation relieves the patient of the stress of making decisions about treatment. The patient also does not have to worry about shopping around for the best price.

The problem with insulation is that it is not a sustainable form of health care finance. Individuals, employers, and government are all under stress. Families that are in the individual insurance market face sticker shock when they confront health insurance premiums. Many choose to remain uninsured. Employers are finding health care expenses an increasing burden. A noticeable gap has arisen in the past twenty years between the growth of total employee compensation and the growth of wages. Take-home pay is stagnant or shrinking, as much of the growth in compensation is diverted to health care.

Insulation leads people to over-consume health care services. Americans make extravagant use of services that have high costs and low benefits. Many studies that compare groups with similar conditions show that those with the largest levels of health care spending fare no better in terms of outcomes than those that spend less.

Not to mention ambulance chasing attorneys, ignorant juries and activist judges who materially adversely impact the rates of malpractice insurance, which in turn again dramatically drives up the cost of healthcare.

Most importantly, nothing in Obamascare, NOT ONE SENTENCE in over 2,000 pages, does anything to address these issues.

Next up, courtesy of Carl Polizzi, The Blaze asks what inquiring minds want to know:

Why Is the Story About Malia Obama Vacationing in Mexico Disappearing from the Web?

 

Have you heard that Malia Obama, the president’s daughter, is reportedly spending her spring break in Oaxaca, Mexico? Allegedly, she’s jetting off with some of her classmates and 25 Secret Service agents to a country that the State Department has said all Americans should avoid. But something is different about the latest “Obama vacation controversy:” references to it are disappearing from the Internet — and fast.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/why-is-the-story-about-malia-obama-vacationing-in-mexico-disappearing-from-the-web/

As shown below links in London’s Telegraph, Huffington Post, Yahoo News, the Australian and Free Republic have all been pulled:

Although Buzzfeed suggested it is a “long tradition” not to report on presidential kids’ vacation plans, citing this as the possible reason for the many unexplained retractions, the….

White House Admits to Asking News Agencies to Pull Malia Obama Vacation Story

 

Under different circumstances, we might agree the vacation plans of the President’s children might not constitute news.  But in the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression….and a First Family who’s taken more vacations in three years than the average American sees in a lifetime, we find it not only newsworthy but terribly disturbing that The Obamaos continue to travel to lavish resort destinations, all at great expense to the American taxpayer, while seemingly oblivious to the circumstances of the average citizen.

Any question were this Jenna Bush rather than Malia Ann Obama, the story would have been newsworthy?!?

And since we’re on the subject of  The Obamao’s, as Katie Pavlich reports in Townhall.com, the First Marxette earns the William Jefferson Clinton award for chutzpah:

Michelle Obama: Hey Troops, How About Campaigning for My Husband?

 

First she tried to tell them what to eat and now, she is encouraging our troops to campaign for her husband’s relection campaign.

First lady Michelle Obama, whose advocacy for veterans and their families has defined her tenure in the White House, is now appealing to the constituency for political support for a second Obama term.

The first lady says President Obama has done “everything we can” to support veterans as they transition to civilian life, including boosting the Veterans Affairs budget, increasing access to health care, expanding job training programs and enacting new tax credits for businesses that hire wounded service members.

“I hope you’ll join me in standing up for all those who have served. Visit BarackObama.com/Veterans to get involved and to learn about all the ways your president is working to support veterans and military families,” she says.

Increased access to healthcare? Really? Funny she didn’t mention President Obama’s cuts to Tri-Care benefits, which will increase healthcare costs on military families by as much as 400 percent while unionized defense workers remain untouched. Not to mention her husband’s gutting of the Army.

The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.

The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.

The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.

Now the U.S. Military knows how Israel feels.

Meanwhile, despite the increasingly critical impasses with Iran, Russian, the ChiComs and NoKos, the fools in Foggy Bottom still have time on their hands:

State Department to announce new search for Amelia Earhart’s plane in Pacific

 

On the Lighter Side….

“Their”, not “they’re”; another stellar product of America’s public education establishment.

Finally, we wrap things up with the Wide, Wild World of Sports, where we learn….

USM disciplines 5 in band for chants

 

The University of Southern Mississippi has revoked the scholarships of five members of its pep band who took part in the heckling of a Kansas State basketball player at last Thursday’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament game. The school announced Tuesday that the five students also were removed from the band and will be required to complete a two-hour cultural sensitivity training course this week.

USM issued an apology last week to Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez after he was the target of chants of ”Where’s your green card?” during the Wildcats’ 70-64 second-round victory in the NCAA tournament. Rodriguez had 13 points and four assists in the game. (Wow!  Heckling like that would sure put US off our game!)

Rodriguez said he heard the chants and USM’s athletic director and personnel from the school came to the team hotel to apologize. ”The students have been forthcoming, cooperative, contrite and sincerely remorseful. They acted rashly and inappropriately, and now see the gravity of their words and actions,” (Yeah….as if!) Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Joe Paul said in a statement. ”This is a teachable moment, not only for these students but for our entire student body and those who work with them.”

….Rodriguez said last week that he accepted the apology because ”there’s ignorant people and I know that’s not how they want to represent their university.” Rodriguez said he doesn’t pay attention to that ”nonsense, especially because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, so we don’t need no type of papers.

Rumors Rodriguez went on to add….

….”We don’ need no stinkin’ badges, neither!” remain unconfirmed.

Magoo