Wednesday, March 17, 2010
You can find me at http://www.mydailyroast.com
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Being a political junkie gets tiring. Therefore, in order to clear my mind and forget the cares of the world, I attempt to catch fish in sub-zero temperatures.
Ice Fishing is fun.
Friday, January 22, 2010
1. Unsurprisingly, much of the President's speech consists of reminding the audience of the horrors of the past decade and focuses on the failures of the past administration. While the President is smart to divert the attention of the American people to a universal scapegoat like President Bush, it's irresponsible. The policies which have most enraged voters have been policies similar to those enacted by the previous administration, namely sweeping economic policies and a continuation of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
2. The President's solution to our economic woes is obviously an increase in government control over the economy. Obama's speech ranges from government interference with the most basic business practices to grand overhauls of entire sectors of the American economy. It seems that the answer to everything these days is more government control. I am amazed to see that the belief in free markets has become a very rare thing today, and instead, an overwhelming number of intellectuals and politicians support an unprecedented level of centralized planning.
3. The questions are pretty "soft," so far, and it makes me wonder if anyone in this audience is genuine. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these "questions" were fabricated beforehand.
4. READ THE KID'S POEM, BARRY!
5. Interestingly enough, the industries that the President proposes more government control are industries which are already, heavily regulated (healthcare, banking, education). If medicare and medicaid are so unacceptable (according to the President's own admission), why is he so confident that he can successfully overhaul the entire US healthcare industry?
This particular story may start to convince some of the true believers in the "Hopenchange" crowd that President Obama and campaign-trail Obama are two different individuals.
From WaPo: "Justice Task Force Recommends About 50 Detainees Be Held Indefinitely"
A Justice Department-led task force has concluded that nearly 50 of the 196 detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be held indefinitely without trial under the laws of war, according to Obama administration officials.
The task force's findings represent the first time that the administration has clarified how many detainees it considers too dangerous to release but unprosecutable because officials fear trials could compromise intelligence-gathering and because detainees could challenge evidence obtained through coercion.
Administration officials argue that detaining terrorism suspects under Congress's authorization of the use of force against al-Qaeda and the Taliban is legal and that each detainee has the right to challenge his incarceration in habeas corpus proceedings in federal court.
In a May speech, Obama said detention policies "cannot be unbounded" and promised to reshape standards. "We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified," he said.
The group of at least 110 detainees cleared for release includes two categories. The task force deemed approximately 80 detainees, including about 30 Yemenis, eligible for immediate repatriation or resettlement in a third country. About 30 other Yemenis were placed in a category of their own, with their release contingent upon dramatically stabilized conditions in their home country, where the government has been battling a branch of al-Qaeda and fighting a civil war.
Obama suspended the transfer of any Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen in the wake of an attempted Christmas Day airliner attack, a plot that officials said originated in Yemen. Effectively, all Yemenis now held at Guantanamo have little prospect of being released anytime soon.
It seems that despite all the anti-Bush rhetoric still coming from the White House, the President continues to honor Bush's legacy by advancing some of Bush's more controversial policies. It is also ironic that these particular Gitmo detainees are recommended to remain indefinitely detained without trial because of the danger they pose, but KSM, the master-mind of 9/11, is given access to US courts (is he not dangerous as well?) Anyone else see a double-standard here?
President Obama insists on taking an impossible position on just about everything, alienating his constituents on both sides of the political spectrum. As much as some would like to stubbornly refuse to see the political repercussions of such policies, for those of us who remain entrenched in reason, Obama may risk losing his reelection come 2012.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I was excited to hear that FTP would be discussing Obama's decision to approve a troop increase to Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency happens to be my area of study, and this pivotal moment greatly interested me. Therefore, I'd like to share a few thoughts and hear some feedback.
First, I think we should recognize a few realities. This decision had to be a very difficult one for the President to make, and will most certainly define his presidency. Committing troops to Afghanistan symbolizes a presidential sanction of our efforts in that region. And as much as I hate agreeing with Michael Moore, sending more troops will make Obama the "new war president," meaning, he will own this war. Honestly, I believe that the President painted himself into a corner. On the campaign trail, Obama made sure to draw a moral distinction between the invasion of Iraq and the invasion of Afghanistan. President Obama joined many by declaring Afghanistan to be the "good war," opposed to the country's misguided efforts in Iraq.
Nevertheless, while public opinion is entitled to shift without any real accountability demanded, politicians are held to their words. Obama approved of the war in Afghanistan on the campaign trail, and naturally, as the President of the United States of America, Obama was compelled to reaffirm that approval despite the rapid deterioration of support from his most ardent constituents.
With this in mind, we should ask ourselves if the President's commitment to the war in Afghanistan is truly sincere. And with no disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief, I am forced to determine that the answer is 'no.' Along with the 30,000 troop increase comes a measure to begin scaling back our forces after 18 months. To anyone with a shred of understanding, such a timetable seems incredibly narrow, especially when considering the objectives which we are attempting to accomplish there.
And that leads me to acknowledge some grim realities about our involvement in Afghanistan. What exactly do we hope to achieve? We are trying to prove the exception to a long tradition of failures. It is also important to remember that we are finding ourselves more isolated in Afghanistan, as support from our NATO allies is at an all-time low. Despite the previous president's past condemnation of nation-building, nation-building is exactly what we have chained ourselves to in Afghanistan. By attempting to instill the rule-of-law to a traditionally lawless country, by promoting democratic values and establishing liberal institutions, and through our unyielding support of a centralized government, we are in fact nation-building. And while the President claims to have only one objective in Afghanistan: disrupting and dismantling Al Qaeda, nation-building is going to continue, regardless. As much as we would like to see ourselves respecting the local culture and ethnic identities of Afghans, we are deliberately seeking to inject a new culture into Afghanistan, and construct a new narrative for Afghans to refer to, one in which the United States is central.
As Stephen Tanner points out in his fabulous military history of Afghanistan (Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War Against the Taliban):
We need to determine what our priorities in the region are, and furthermore, decide to either commit to or refrain from an active counterinsurgency effort. Sure enough, we have a reason to be in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda still has a presence in the AfPak region, and continues to operate through insurgent groups such as the Taliban. Not to mention, the idea of a neighboring failed state (Pakistan) with caches of nuclear weapons should remain a serious concern for the United States as well as the rest of the free world. Nevertheless, we need to either decisively secure the countryside gradually through engagement of local mullahs and tribal leaders, conduct special operations against terrorist threats, and mount a well-organized counterinsurgency effort to fend off the Taliban- a decision which will most certainly keep us in the region for decades to come- or we should more or less, abandon Afghanistan and rely upon our counter-terrorist capabilities to check Al Qaeda the best we can. From my vantage point, there really isn't much of an "in-between.""In the end, battles for Afghanistan are not about politics or economics, but about culture."
President Obama's meager commitment of 30,000 troops with an 18 month timetable doesn't mean much without a clearly defined plan of action and a reassessment of our objectives. After all, Obama has revealed that most of the 30,000 troops will secure "key population centers," which really doesn't make much sense at all. More than twenty years ago, the Soviets felt that they had succeeded in Afghanistan by controlling larger cities and roads. Yet much to their chagrin, the real threat came not from the cities (which have always been easily conquered), but from the volatile countryside, where currently, the Taliban has great influence. While I have faith that the President and his generals can achieve success in the region, I have my doubts that the current initiative will yield the kind of results we are all hoping for. From a counterinsurgency perspective, a troop increase doesn't necessarily lead to overall success. A truly successful effort will require a lot of time, plenty of local engagement, and "soft-power" strength.
Bottom-line: We need to either decide to stay and mount a substantive counterinsurgency effort, replete with more troops, government reforms, and lots of "soft-power," or we need to simply abandon the region entirely and resort to counter-terrorism efforts. Either way, I have a feeling that President Obama has a tiger by the tail, and unless he can truly commit himself to a distinct direction in Afghanistan, he will suffer greatly because of it.
- Marc Neilsen
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I have taken a long hiatus from blogging for a number of reasons. Some employment opportunities have limited the content of my posts (for this same reason, I reluctantly quit my co-host position at KVNU), not to mention, I am close to graduating from Utah State University, and my workload has become nearly unbearable.
Nevertheless, now that finals week is almost over, I will have a little more time to write. Also, I am proud to announce that my brother, Stephen, and I are currently working on another blog which will eventually replace the Federal Farmer. I am really excited to unveil the new site, as it will include a number of new features, including videos, podcasts, advertising, and some merchandise.
Keep in touch. I will continue to write here from time to time until the new site is fully launched...
Friday, October 16, 2009
Apparently the sender was under the impression that my views on capitalism would be swayed by Einstein's unapologetic argument for centralized planning. After all, Albert Einstein was one of the most brilliant physicists the world has ever known, surely such scientific brilliance translates over to the realm of politics... right?
Does Einstein make a strong case for socialism? I'll let you decided for yourselves. As for me, I tend to think that Einstein's brilliance was mostly confined to physics and not political science or economics. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Einstein's feelings about capitalism and socialism are appropriate for his time period. Einstein, like so many of his peers after World War II, believed the turmoils of the past to be the product of failed-capitalism. In order to protect the world from another terrible world conflict, wouldn't a large and powerful government with sweeping control over economic and social issues be the best protector?
Again, I strongly disagree with Albert Einstein here. What are your feelings?
READ THE ARTICLE HERE.
From the Daily Telegraph:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state's governor, has supported controversial proposals by the California's energy commission to impose strict energy consumption limits on TVs with screens that are more than 40 inches wide.
The commission claims that California's estimated 35 million televisions and related gadgets account for about 10 per cent of household energy consumption in the state.
Experts say that the large LCD or plasma screen sets can use three times as much power as traditional models.
Some TV manufacturers are fighting the plan but have reportedly said little to sway the commission, which could vote on it within weeks.
The new law, the first of its kind in America, would set maximum energy consumption standards for TVs that would be implemented over two years from January 2011.
Similar energy requirements have applied for decades to electrical appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners.
Well, good luck to you governor. As you attempt to save some money cutting energy costs, you continue to undermine the state's economy.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
From the Herald Journal:
Utah State University plans to offer a new minor in Climate Change and Energy to help students “become familiar with the science and objective knowledge underlying these issues.”
USU’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the program on Friday; it will go before the state’s Board of Regents in a future meeting. USU hopes to have the minor in place for spring semester.
If it is approved, the minor will be unique in Utah. Requiring a total of 15 credit hours, it will seek to integrate scientific and socioeconomic issues through courses like Energy in the 21st Century, Sustainable Development and Challenges in Climate and Energy.
The minor will appeal to Aggies who hope to work with “green” industries or in government agencies that work with energy issues, the proposal says.
“Student interest already exists, but should increase as climate issues become more visible,” the proposal states. “Climate change is projected to have profound effects on ecosystems and human activities including socioeconomic problems.”
Another motivation for offering the minor is adherence to a “Climate Commitment” signed by a number of university presidents in 2007. USU President Stan Albrecht was the first in Utah to participate. The document states that participating schools will try to eliminate its carbon dioxide output in order to reduce global warming.
The commitment also requires each school to “make climate neutrality and sustainabilty a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students.”
Objective knowledge? For some reason, I have a hard time trusting those words when in the context of Climate Change.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
When it comes to foreign policy, the blogosphere seems to desperately cling to the words of other bloggers, instead of experts in the field.
I know Larry Boothe from my time at Utah State University, and when it comes to Afghanistan, I consider him to be an "expert." According to Boothe, pulling out of Afghanistan would be a major mistake.
Retired CIA Senior Officer Larry Boothe was the Executive Officer in Afghanistan during the war with Russia and he has real concern about what is happening in that country right now.
Boothe says if President Barack Obama decides to pull out of Afghanistan it will damage his relationships with many foreign governments. Boothe says if he were president, he would send more troops in and clean up the mess which he says would take three to five years.
Boothe says it would be bloody but it's the way to do the job the right way. He says we should not expect to see a Democratic or Republican government in Afghanistan but the tribes need to be restored.
Monday, September 21, 2009
While I do believe all human beings should act responsibly when it comes to the environment, I have a hard time taking the current climate change paranoia seriously. Secondly, aside from my general skepticism of the "science" itself, I have deeper concerns with the political implications of the climate change movement.
Too often the public has a difficult time discerning hype from fact thanks to the incompetence of politicians, pundits, and the media in general. Many people, on both sides of the issue, are incredibly polarized and seem to zealously hold onto their opinion over climate change, as if it were a dogma instead of a scientific concept. And isn't it telling that something as broad and potentially complicated as "climate change," has quickly become a single issue, limited to either the "yes" or "no" crowd. My father was a chemist, and from my perspective, science is one of those fields where skepticism and critical thinking is continually encouraged, not rejected in favor of some hard-line ideology. Yet today, this is where we find ourselves when it comes to the climate change debate.
Therefore, as I don't consider myself to be one of the "true believers," I can't help but roll my eyes when I see politicians and bureaucrats attempt to implement an already misguided environmental agenda. And as it usually turns out, most of these attempts are nothing more than publicity stunts which end up costing tax-payers billions of dollars.
Like many other projects designated by the President's stimulus bill, many of his green energy initiatives are guilty of waste and mismanagement.
The four drafty buildings had been fixtures of the Energy Department complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for more than half a century. They burned energy like 1950s sedans.
The buildings seemed like perfect candidates for a federal conservation retrofit program that relies on private contractors that receive a percentage of the money they save. A deal was struck in 2001. The contractors reworked lighting and heating systems, among other things, and began collecting payments.
The project was counted among the department's "green" successes -- until auditors discovered that the buildings had been torn down several years ago, and the government had paid $850,000 for energy savings at facilities that no longer existed.
The audit findings show the potential for waste and abuse at a time when the department is poised to launch billions of dollars more in stimulus spending on an unprecedented welter of green projects across the country.
The initiatives are hallmarks of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress in February. The stimulus law directed almost $17 billion to the department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, including $3.2 billion for energy-efficiency and conservation block grants and $3.1 billion for state energy programs.
The outsourcing arrangements such as those at Oak Ridge, known as "energy savings performance contracts," or ESPCs, will probably be an integral part of those efforts, according to government and industry officials.
In December, the department issued 16 deals called Super ESPCs that may be worth as much as $80 billion over the next quarter-century.
The explosion in green spending is occurring despite well-documented weaknesses at the core of the strategy: A chronic lack of government officials assigned and properly trained to oversee the financially and technically complex projects.
The problems are not exclusive to Oak Ridge. The auditors, from the department's inspector general's office, also determined that $565,000 had been paid over six years under the same arrangement to a contractor in Texas for a high-efficiency laundry that was no longer in use. The department also paid out $3.4 million on another project without checking whether the conservation measures worked -- and $160,000 for measurements that were never taken.
At the same time, the auditors found, some contractors appeared to use inflated energy cost estimates in their savings calculations, increasing their fees.
I'll tell you what this shows me. This President and his administration should NOT be driving billions of dollars towards programs such as these, which obviously lack proper oversight. Billions of dollars are being recklessly spent and in many cases, such funds are being lost on account of dishonest companies and the irresponsibility of bureaucrats. How is this mess supposed to "stimulate" our economy? And furthermore, how will wasted billions save our planet?
Indeed, the climate change agenda seems more like a religion than a legitimate movement. If the agenda had any substance at one time, it has been compromised by our ridiculous politicians and bureaucrats, who would rather appear to be saving the planet, opposed to actually accomplishing anything. Much like a "pure religion" which has been corrupted by evil men and institutions, this environmental phenomenon is losing credibility as the public sees what it has become under the management of incompetent elected officials.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Did you know that stimulus funds are being used to erect signs all over the United States, praising the work of lawmakers in passing the stimulus package? Well, thanks to a 52-45 vote this week, federal funds will be directed towards a public-display of political congratulations. The price tag? Oh, just tens of millions of dollars.
After all, shouldn't our hardworking policymakers get some recognition for exploding our national debt and creating millions of jobs across the country?
Or perhaps, should we all be looking at the ethical side of the issue. This highly partisan issue has clear divides along party lines. By touting the stimulus through these signs, Democrats are essentially using stimulus money to "stimulate" their re-election campaigns. Think about it, you are driving down the road and see a sign that hails the stimulus as a major success because it funded construction on the very road on which you are driving. Reading in-between-the-lines, you are reading a sign which states: REMEMBER TO VOTE FOR YOUR DUTIFUL DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE NEXT ELECTION. It's really quite obvious, and I think aside from being a total waste of money, this poses an important ethical question.