New York Times Brushes Off Ethical Concerns

For those of you who missed it, The New York Times recently ran some controversial, front-page stories regarding the natural gas industry.  Specifically, some are questioning whether or not this was an agenda driven hit piece on the gas industry.

Ken Boehm, of the National Legal and Policy Center, has called for an investigation into the matter where he lays out what the issues are:

I write to request a formal inquiry by the Public Editor into a series of articles published last week in The New York Times about the natural gas industry and the investment banking world.  In the “Drilling Down” series, Ian Urbina alleges that there is a speculative bubble in the shale gas industry, “in much the same way that insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles.”  But at least two of the sources for his articles are not industry insiders at all.  Rather they appear to be two individuals whose agenda is to publicly disparage the shale gas industry’s image and outlook.

The accusation sounds soft at first, but harsh words followed:

I am concerned that the Times, in a serious breach of long-established journalist   standards, ignored, concealed, or was misled regarding the conflicts of some of its key sources.

Not using industry sources to support this series would be oversight enough, but Boehm had a specific person in mind.

In fact, however, the likely source of some of these emails is Arthur Berman of Labyrinth Consulting Services in Sugar Land, Texas, who does not work for the shale gas drilling industry.  As Mr. Urbina acknowledges at one point in the June 25 story, Arthur Berman is actually “one of the most vocal skeptics of shale gas economics.”  Yet the Urbina stories do not disclose that Mr. Berman is much more than that.  He is the creator and leading popularizer of the shale gas “bubble” critique embraced by Mr. Urbina, and seems to have been his main source.  Perhaps most egregiously, the Urbana stories also neglect to mention that Arthur Berman makes his living providing investment advice based upon his own position as a shale gas critic.[1]

Compelling to say the least.

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You Asked For It Democrats

As I noted last night, there is some serious concern amongst lefties that the Republicans are trying to steal the Wisconsin Democrat primary process during the current recalls taking place in response to Governor Walker’s budget.  They’re in full panic mode over at the house of Kos. (I’ll let you go look as opposed to sullying our site with a link to that dreck)

Suffice it to say, some are quite upset that an open primary means that anyone can vote if they so choose, regardless of party affiliation or ideology.  That’s why it’s called “open.”  But, in spite of this, Tom Tolan, a writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, has also taken to connecting a business called Patriot Advisors to the Republican party of Wisconsin.

First the denial from the GOP:

The state GOP has been saying it’s not doing anything to help any of their protest candidates in Tuesday’s elections, other than to help them collect signatures on their nomination papers.

Then the damning evidence!

Last week, calls were made to voters in Hopper’s district, and a flier was sent out, in support of John Buckstaff, the protest Democrat challenging King on Tuesday. The flier was identified with a little-known group called Patriot Advisors, which registered June 29 with the state Government Accountability Board to oppose King and support Buckstaff.

The same group also registered to oppose Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), who’s challenging Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse), and in favor of James Smith, the fake Democrat in that district. Calls in favor of Smith were reported in that district. A reporter left messages at a phone number listed on Patriot Advisors’ filing, but they were not returned.

One problem: I’ve spoken directly to sources close to the group, and they say that Patriot Advisors did respond to the reporter, but the reporter simply decided not to include their response in his story.

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Manufacturing Necessity

Last week, America had the joy of it’s first Twitter town hall.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of Twitter, and I even believe that doing some type of town hall variant via Twitter is a great thing.  However, regardless of the venue, President Obama is a master of making incoherent, false, and/or misleading statements in 16,000 characters or less, and last Wednesday was no exception. One of those answers was in response to this tweet:

Out of his three and a half minute response to this question, someone on youtube picked out this highlight:


For the video impaired, let me summarize: Our dependence on foreign oil will only be solved by jamming unwanted products down the throats of the American people, regardless of the impact on employment and industry. That’s right; it’s all about increased fuel efficiency standards. His response shows how little he actually knows about the auto industry, or worse, how much he intends on misleading the public. Continue reading

Operation: Chaos

One might recall a recent contentious special election which took place in NY-26 in which an otherwise favored to lose candidate Jack Davis, pretended to be a tea party candidate and disrupted the otherwise bellwether election.  In fact, the trickery in this election went so far as to create entire fake websites dedicated to spreading misinformation to the voters in the hopes of confusing them and getting them to vote the “right” way.

This is nothing new of course, Democrats love to play tricks to win, it’s Alinsky 101. They’ve practically made an art out of creating fake tea party candidates to siphon votes away from Republicans (as scheme that was attempted in more than one location).  And interestingly, cases such as those linked above are directly tied to the Democrat party apparatus.  While there are plenty more examples of individuals who may or may not have official ties trying to muck things up on their own, one thing is certain: Democrats have been and continue to look for ways to infiltrate the GOP and direct where votes will go through misinformation and blatant fraud.

But now, it’s the Republicans that are under fire for supposedly using the very same type of trickery.

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Excuse Me While I Save The World

Having completed Andrew Breitbart’s book Righteous Indignation, I took a few moments to talk to him about it and how it came about.  The conversation found it’s way to subjects ranging from Eric Boehlert’s unhealthy obsession with things that are Big, to a little reported rift that has developed between Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck.  Suffice to say, the conversation was very interesting.

Prior to the interview, I brilliantly railed against the standards that the Obama administration is putting forth for fuel efficiency (you know, the ones that make the Nissan Leaf, Smart Cars & the all powerful Prius dirty polluters?), as well as a few words on the madness that is the TSA.

Renewing America – June 27th

Renewing America with Ben Howe airs Monday nights at 9pm EST only on FTR Radio.

Cross-Posted at





Congress had a great Christmas…

Sen. Tom Coburn’s office recently released the 2010 WasteBook to catalogue some of the worst offenses committed in the name of government spending this year.

Typically, some of the more rabid left-wingers have already come out of the woodworks to scream about the cost of the Iraq War, the “wasteful” spending of the wealthy, as well as, you guessed it, blame Bush.  These alleged thinkers ignore that government waste is irrespective of political affiliation which is precisely why the Tea Parties were started.

From Sen. Coburn’s press release, here are some of the more egregious offenses:

  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) took the term “cold case” to a new level in 2010. The agency spent over $20,000 in taxpayer money “to unravel the anonymity of a 2,500-year-old mummy.”
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent nearly $442,340 million to study the number of male prostitutes in Vietnam and their social setting.
  • This year, taxpayers forked over $60,000 for the “first-of-its kind” promotion of the Vidalia onion in conjunction with the movie, Shrek Forever After.”
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded over $600,000 to the Minnesota Zoo to create a wolf “avatar” video game called “WolfQuest.”
  • A $700,000 federal grant paid for researchers to examine “greenhouse gas emission from organic dairies, which are cause by cow burps, among other things.

If your stomach can handle it, here is a video I made documenting the most egregious offenses.

Government is out of control.  And as much as I can agree that a $787 Billion “stimulus” package is a waste of cataclysmic proportions; we aren’t going to make headway unless we can also agree that a $31 Thousand comic book from the Government Printing Office to teach the history of printing is insanely wasteful.  Yeah….it’s that bad.

How We Got In This Mess

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion surrounding how we got here. Here being at near 10 percent unemployment with no clear escape valve. From early on into this presidency, Barack Obama has made it clear that he knows who got us into this mess and how it was done.

There is little that I find more frustrating than the the claim that it was conservative principles and supply side economics that caused this mess. There are many reasons we are here but there is certainly one reason that, at least in my mind, stands head and shoulder above the rest. This country has not learned how to accept and get through the consequences of our decisions.

Following World War 2, the United States saw an enormous economic expansion. In fact, the largest economic expansion the country had ever seen up to that point. At the time, lending institutions called “Savings & Loans” or S&Ls, were lending money to homebuyers.

The capital for these home loans came from savings accounts which the S&Ls also managed. The S&L would offer very high interest rates to attract depositors to open savings accounts with them. In turn, they would offer loans at very high interest rates to finance these savings accounts. The high interest loans would often go to risky borrowers who, more often then not, were poor.

In 1966, Congress decided that this was unacceptable under the idea that while the rich got richer off their savings accounts, the poor got hosed with high interest loans. In response, they capped the interest that could be offered on Savings accounts through S&Ls.

This put a strain on the S&Ls ability to do business and to mitigate the risk of lending to high risk borrowers. With savings depositors defecting to traditional banks, S&Ls invented new ways to offer low payments with high interest rates for their high risk clientele. New loans packages were invented such as “interest only” loans and adjustable rate mortgages.

By 1979, S&Ls were doing very poorly and the Government finally recognized that over regulation was strangling their industry. So in 1980 & again in 1982, legislation was passed to massively deregulate the S&L industry.

Furthermore, the government insured all of the activity that the S&Ls were undertaking in hopes that the industry would regain profitability if they knew that no matter what, the government had their back.

This had the unintended consequence of eliminating any concern the lenders had with who they were lending to or the likelihood they would be paid back. Given that the companies had so much ground to cover just to reach profitability, they made careless loans to borrowers who were not in a position to responsibly pay them back. Within 5 years of the deregulation, the S&Ls were going out of business as loans were defaulting.

As they were promised, the government bailed them out of these bad debts at a 124 billion dollar net loss to the tax payer, fully calculated by 1999.

This probably sounds familiar.

This is almost a carbon copy of what happened recently with the financial meltdowns in 2007-2008. This time it was the traditional Banking & mortgage industry. The mandate to lend to low income, high risk borrowers came in the form of the “Community Reinvestment Act” passed by Jimmy Carter in 1978 and dramatically expanded under Bill Clinton.

As before, lenders were encouraged to loan money to people they would normally find to be high risk. The government once again offered to insure the loans, should anything go wrong.

As we all know, it did. And when the chickens came home to roost, the government bailed them out. This time to the tune of 800 billion dollars.

Then in 2008, Barack Obama was sworn as the 44th President of the United States promising to turn away from the practices of old that had “gotten us into this mess.”

Shortly after taking office, he signed into law a $787 billion package of borrowed money to shower America with jobs. Most of it was swallowed up in the black hole deficits of various state and local governments and the often lauded 2 million jobs “created or saved” have all but netted zero nearly two years later.

Additionally, his administration continues to bail out Freddie Mac & Fannie May, the two government subsidized lending institutions who served as the insurer of all the bad debt until they went bankrupt themselves.

There is of course an incredibly complex set of circumstances playing out over almost a century. There are many factors from greed, to corruption, to burdensome government that played a role.

But there is a common thread as well.

That thread is inability for government to allow consequence. In the 1930’s during the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover at first responded to the stock market crash by doing nothing. His intention was to allow the free market to “fix” the problem. As the problem deepened, the public outcry grew larger.

Finally, Hoover relented and began trying to “fix” the problem. Nothing that he attempted had any lasting results and eventually he was defeated by Franklin Roosevelt who spent the next decade and a half experimenting with government spending until finally, the war economy brought us out of the depression.

Ever since Hoovers PR nightmare, it has been the goal of Presidents to make sure that nothing like the Great Depression happen on “their watch.” Whether or not there are future consequences, the key is stabilization. This is exactly why and how bubbles are created.

And every time a bubble is created, the next one must be bigger in order to contain everything that the previous administrations had covered up.

So when the President says “We know what got us in this mess” you remember this: It’s people exactly like him that got us into this mess. We cannot allow them to keep covering it up with our tax dollars.

“The System Worked”: Man Boards Plane with Loaded Gun

Some moments have come to define this administration’s level of incompetence and detachment from reality.  For Janet Napolitano of Homeland Security, the defining moment is when she claimed “the system worked” shortly after a man came within seconds of blowing up a commercial airliner having only been narrowly thwarted by other passengers.  She soon retracted her statement, however the damage had essentially been done.  Coming from the administration that referred to the wars as “overseas contingency operations” and terrorism as “man caused disasters,” it became clear that they cared more about process than substance.  What was important to them was correctly completing arbitrary screenings as opposed to making sure that terrorism is thwarted.  It’s really a typical liberal mindset: The intentions far outweigh the results and practical real-world application of experience is replaced by academic experimentation.

Now comes the news that a man in Houston boarded a plane with a loaded pistol despite having gone through the TSA screening process:

Unfortunately, this is par for the course:

Authorities tell ABC News the incident is not uncommon, but how often it occurs is a closely guarded government secret. Experts say every year since the September 11 attacks, federal agencies have conducted random, covert tests of airport security.

A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA’s new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.

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Obama is failing: Does this mean we’re not racist?

At 39 percent, President Obama’s approval rating now equals his all time low from two years ago, with 63 percent of those polled defining him as a “weak leader.”

Let me be clear: This president is failing.

The biggest hit was among Democrats, who dropped from 82 percent to 73 percent as a result of negotiations with Republicans over the tax deal. That’s right; the Democrat base is furious that compromise was reached. After two years of Republicans being cast as the ‘party of no‘ and having all the nation’s ills attributed to their supposed obstructionism by the MSM and the left, suddenly, a ‘party of no’ is exactly what the left expects from Democrats.

But their hypocrisy goes much further than their sudden belief that compromise is heresy.  From opposition to Obamacare to uttering the phrase “take the country back,” Republicans have been accused of racism at every turn for doing no more than disagreeing with the President on matters of policy.  In recent weeks, it’s become clear that Democrats are allowed to be as disappointed and upset with the President as they want without the racism accusations hurled at them.  Apparently, it’s cool to oppose the President now.  For the record, I opposed him before it was cool.

Since Obama has let them down on so many levels, from DADT to the wars to “Tax Cuts,” they have been unleashing Hell on him.

Here’s a screen shot from the Huffington Post summing up the feelings on the left:

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Cut the Allowance

The last few days have found me in unfamiliar territory. Normally, I am the first to stand up and demand that we give not an inch to the Democrats. Let them fall on their sword while we fight for liberty. Any losses will be short lived as the public is shown the difference and wakes up to the reality of an overreaching government.

Today, I find myself on less familiar ground with people claiming that I’m now for that dirty word: Compromise.

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