Saturday, July 30, 2011
Good video anyway:
Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.
Not withstanding the Left's perverse blaming of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party for the attack-- with the debt ceiling debate forefront in Washington, the Left that President Obama represents should be out in front in attempting 'humble discourse,' right?
There are some legitimately non-hyperbolic editorials coming out from the Left. However-- a disproportionate amount coming from actual establishment news organizations and writers should be cause for alarm. Yes, there is the regular alarm-pulling at the Nation and the Daily Kos-- but there is a troubling trend. The most heavy-- and even obscene terms are being thrown at the GOP. Below are just some examples from this month alone.
- William Yeomans, Politico: Tea Party's Terrorist Tactics
- Paul Waldman, American Prospect: Underestimating Right Wing Insanity
- Nicholas Kristof, NY Times: GOP Zealots Threatening America's Security
- Andrew Leonard, Salon: New GOP Hostage Demand: Kill ObamaCare
- E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: Tea Party Extremism Endangering Nation
- Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA): "Cult Fringe" Holding Up Debt Ceiling Increase
- Gene Lyons, Salon: A Republican Party Divorced From Sanity
- Gary Younge, The Guardian: Debt Ceiling Crisis Exposing GOP Madness
- Bill Maher: Maher: Where Were The "Teabaggers" Before "Blackie McBlackman?"
- Senator John Kerry (D-MA): Kerry: Tea Party Republicans a "Group of Absolutists, Extremists"
- Robert Kuttner, American Prospect: The Joys of Fanaticism
- Paul Krugman, New York Times: The GOP Went Insane Long Ago
- Robert Reich, Huffington Post: The Wrecking Ball Right
- Joan Walsh, Salon: GOP's Extremist 2012 Field Helps Obama
- Jonathan Chait, The New Republic: The Republican Crazy Is Not an Act
- Mike Littwin, Denver Post: Tea Partier Crazies Want U.S. to Default
- Tina Brown, MSNBC: GOP Are Suicide Bombers in Debt Negotiations
- Martin Frost, Politico: The tea party Taliban
- Politico Cartoon: Norquist as the Mad Hatter
- Fmr Governor Ted Strickland (D-OH): 'Crazy'-sounding candidates can't beat Obama
-George Zornick, the Nation: The 'Right-Wing Nutters' Who Are Pushing the Country to the Brink
- Katrina vanden Heuvel, the Nation: The GOP Wants to Sabotage the Economy
- Andrew Leonard, Salon: The House GOP's debt ceiling hara-kiri
- Morning Joe, MSNBC: Is GOP Extremism the Problem in Politics Today?
- Steve Benen / Washington Monthly: How big is the House GOP's sane contingent?
And this is without delving into Kos, TPM, FireDogLake, Democratic Underground and others. Does anyone else see a meme or is it just me?
Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for helping me index and organize.
Instead, President Obama has repeatedly come on television to discuss the debt ceiling debate, while couching himself as between the Congressional Republicans and Democrats. To many observers, this could show aloofness or incompetence-- but perhaps this shows an intentional attempt to allow the two sides to make him look like a 'reasonable center.'
Take, for example, the President's role in the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. President Obama's negotiations with John Boehner eked out a plan to save $4 trillion over ten years, including about $800 bill taken from increased tax revenues. Both sides had agreed on this plan. The White House even threw in a sop about tax reform:
The White House was agreeable to parts of the deal — notably, the proposal for nearly $800 billion in added tax revenue.
"They were willing to accept our number," the GOP aide said. The group also talked about overhauling the tax code.
"We walked out of the room thinking we were making good progress on the tax reform," the aide said.
Abruptly, and without prior warnings, the White House abrogated the earlier potential solution and instead demanded $400 billion more in tax revenue, shattering the fragile plan:
The White House must have known that to Boehner-- and especially the Tea Party elements in the GOP, this would be not only unsavory, but unacceptable.
So since the President and his advisors made this deliberate decision to push an unpushable envelope, it comes to the question of whether this idea was made to push the increasing meme that the GOP was made up of 'extremists.'
With the bully pulpit, consider the speech the President made on July 25, which some called a desperate attempt to stay relevant but could instead be seen as the 'middle ground' ploy:
Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?
They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word. They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table. And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington. They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans. They’re offended by that. And they should be.
The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.
Although a lot of the criticism was leveled at Republicans, the idea of blaming Congress in general is a winner, politically. The President has repeatedly attempted to be seen as the 'adult in the room' and instead has grasped defeat from the jaws of victory on the debt deal.
He is attempting to be the only one left standing, because-- let's face it-- he is the President and the office commands respect. And in the case of a default or whatever comes our way Tuesday, he will be in the most televised position to blame everybody but President Barack Obama.
Friday, July 29, 2011
It now appears that the bill sponsored by Speaker of the House John Boehner is going to pass the House. As of 6:19 PM the bill needs just four more votes, with 213 Republicans voting yes, 16 voting no. All Democrats have voted no.
It now appears that the bill sponsored by Speaker of the House John Boehner is going to pass the House. As of 6:19 PM the bill needs just four more votes, with 213 Republicans voting yes, 16 voting no. All Democrats have voted no.
Case in point is the most recent Gallup tracking poll. Taken over the course of three days, the rolling poll is among the most accurate in the business. According to the poll, the President's ratings have been falling the last several weeks. In a similar Rasmussen poll out today, his performance is rated favorably by 46%.
For Gallup, which usually tallies a higher approval rating for Obama than Rasmussen, this is not the case. The latest three-day average has Obama's rating down-- significantly.
Obama's approval rating had shrunk in recent weeks. For example, it had been hovering at 42% in Gallup recently. However, now that it has reached 40%, it is the lowest approval rating that Obama has had since elected. It was at 43% before bin Laden was killed May 2.
Now there is word that GDP growth is slowing and the debt issue is still on the table. To make matters more complicated, the July jobs numbers are coming out next week and could damage his ratings further.
1. When and why was For Repeal created?
For Repeal, an initiative of the Conservative Action Fund, was publicly launched on Wednesday, July 20, as the first and only user-powered and action-driven movement to repeal Obamacare. For Repeal will primarily focus on repealing a few of the provisions of Obamacare at a time, and we will provide the American public with the resources and tools it needs to repeal the outrageous law that is Obamacare.
2. What is the pledge goal in the next year?
Our immediate goal is to get 1,000 pledge signers that are also active volunteers through the various tools we provide to activists so that they can get involved.
3. If ObamaCare was disassembled-- who would be more likely to do it, the Congress or a federal court?
As stated before, our focus is on repealing a few components of Obamacare at a time. Though we certainly implore all efforts to repeal the bill in its entirety, we also realize that doing so will be a tremendous challenge. As such, we will empower grassroots activists around the country to get involved in efforts to repeal elements of the bill -- we have already had some success with this, as we have been able to repeal the 1099 provision, and there is increasing scrutiny over the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
4. Would the Conservative Action Fund support Congressional Democrats that pledge to end ObamaCare?
The Conservative Action Fund does not endorse any candidate or political organization. However, we certainly applaud the Democrats who have been willing to stand up against this terrible and hurtful bill.
5. Will ObamaCare be the albatross that sinks President Obama's 2012 bid?
Given that a majority of Americans are clearly opposed to the bill, there can be no question that it has contributed to Obama's falling approval ratings. We still face a difficult election in 2012, and Conservative Action Fund stands ready to help elect a Republican President.
6. Anything else you'd like to add?
We want to encourage any person who is opposed to Obamacare to sign up and get involved in our grassroots movement to repeal the law. It takes less than 30 seconds to get involved, there are a number of initiatives with which you can already help, and we will continue to keep our team informed of new ways they can help kill the bill. Sign up at ForRepeal.com!
The folks of South of 5 and 20 are a little upset. Seems they are taking offense at all the sniping coming from environmenalists directed at the "gas industry". If you live in any area of the Marcellus Shale you know what they are talking about and recognize the frustration. But who exactly is the nebulous and ever suspicious "gas industry"?
The pro-energy, pro-jobs, pro-prosperity point of view is always represented as "the gas industry." What the "mainstream" media, which does not do well with economics, is missing is that the "gas industry," as they understand it, does not exist. Unlike coercive government programs, the "gas industry" would not exist if every man, woman, child and reporter didn't choose to consume energy on a daily basis. The "gas industry" is really nothing but a willing servant, doing the demanding bidding of the common man. But the "gas industry" is much easier to demonize than, say, Mrs. Smith's fifth grade class, which can study environmentalism in a nice warm classroom in January in the Finger Lakes, instead of shivering in a crude shelter in the woods, hoping to survive until spring.
Wait a second, I am the "gas industry", too? Well now I am angry! But just for fun, I would like to up the ante just a bit. What if we were to find out that the money used to finance all this industry outrage were coming from far left, philanthropic organizations and individuals like the Sandlers, or the Heinz Endowments, or George Soros?
Who are the multi-million dollar foundations and activists, nonprofits, media groups and academics that are attacking the natural gas industry and its safe, effective hydraulic fracturing process? Who spreads myths and lies about a business that has created thousands of jobs and has delivered energy extracted from U.S. lands to millions of Americans, reducing our dependence on foreign countries?
“Environmentalist groups and activists want you to believe that they — and by extension the land, water and air that we all treasure and want to protect — are endangered because so-called ‘big’ fossil-fuel companies allegedly have a huge advantage in spending on lobbying and messaging,” said Chesser, who is also a senior fellow for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Our report shows that ‘Big Green’ also play a big money game — often built on lies and distortions, which unlike energy, are useless to the public and harmful to the issues debate.”
Paul Chesser and Mark Newgent have put together some very interesting pieces of this puzzle in a 12 page policy brief entitled "The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas". It's only 12 pages and provides some very interesting reading. More from the ATI Press Release:
Among its revelations the report, titled “The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas,” exposes efforts by the Sandler-funded ProPublica, which to date has dedicated 120 articles in an assault on natural gas and hydraulic fracturing. Former subprime mortgage lenders Herb and Marion Sandler, who have joined George Soros in support of Center for American Progress and many other leftist groups, poured more than $9 million into ProPublica to help launch it on its mission. Herb Sandler serves as chairman of its board of directors.
Also examined in the report are the funding activities of the Heinz Endowments, overseen by liberal icon Teresa Heinz Kerry, which recently expanded its anti-gas funding dramatically. Among the Heinz grants were thousands of dollars for “outreach and organizing” and to “characterize pollution impacts” from drilling in the Marcellus Shale region. Another large Heinz grant went to a University of Pittsburgh public health center run by alarmist Conrad Volz, who left his position in April after several errors were found in a report where the natural gas industry was falsely accused of dumping carcinogenic agents into drinking water supplies.
The Oscar-nominated movie “Gasland,” activist groups Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future and PennEnvironment, and dozens of other national and state groups come under scrutiny in the report as well.
Thanks to the Instapundit, I happened across Alykhan Velshi, whose ad campaign is premised on the notion that oil exports ultimately underwrite the values of those states that produce them. "'Conflict oil' funds 'dictatorhship' and 'terrorism' and results in 'women stoned to death'.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
One man that has pushed a bill is Republican John Boehner. Mr. Boeher's bill would increase the debt ceiling nearly one trillion dollars and sets up the nation for another debate over the debt (and deficit) several months from now. Democrats in the Senate have unanimously said that they would vote against the bill, even though they claim that they want the ceiling raised. Most likely, Democrats will unanimously vote against the bill in the House.
However, the majority of the House is Republican. Yet, the bill is facing serious trouble, as many Tea Party Republicans are opposed to it for several reasons. This includes the lack of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a wish for deeper cuts, and/or a belief that the debt ceiling shouldn't be raised in the first place.
So, the question is: Do you believe that Speaker of the House John Boehner's bill should pass?
According to Fox News, Speaker of the House John Boehner will "tweak" his debt ceiling bill before it is to be voted on. What exactly he will change is unknown. Likewise, when exactly a vote will take place is unknown.
UPDATE: 7:00 PM
Two items of note - 1. The House is in recess and 2. Boehner's likely to hold a vote tonight, regardless of whether he has the votes, or not.
UPDATE: 6:32 PM
Speaker Boehner's spokesman says there will be a vote tonight.
UPDATE: 6:11 PM
Excellent question from Ed Henry of Fox News: "If Speaker Boehner is struggling this much to get through this measure, what can pass [the] House?"
That's what scares me.
UPDATE: 6:02 PM
I am done live-blogging - at least until they start voting - but I want to leave everyone with this: any GOP no votes that change will be because of Speaker Boehner's ability to lead; not his ability to bribe.
UPDATE: 5:47 PM
So what does this mean?
Well, House Republicans are still not united (or, at least not united enough) to pass their leadership's proposal and force Senator Reid's hand on the debt.
UPDATE: 5:45 PM
Whoa, Nelly! Final vote on passage has just been postponed until later.
UPDATE: 5:38 PM
Pelosi continues to blather about protecting the children; the children's water and the children's grandparents. Probably their pets too.
UPDATE: 5:33 PM
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California): "Republicans want to dismantle decades of progress for the middle class." Yes we do, because progress has us in debt.
UPDATE: 5:27 PM
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has slammed Democrats on accounting tricks and gimmickry in Senator Reid's proposal.
UPDATE: 5:23 PM
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Illinois) just brought Martin Luther King into the debate on raising the national debt-ceiling. Oy vey.
The House of Representatives will be voting shortly on Speaker John Boehner's proposal to raise the national debt-ceiling; cut spending and guarantee congress considers the Balanced Budget Amendment sometime later this year.
I support passage of the plan, but current whip counts have the vote coming in close - due to revolt by Tea Party members and obstructionism by Democrats, even the supposed blue dogs. Thus anything can happen over the next sixty-to-ninety minutes on Capitol Hill.
Stay tuned for updates through-out the evening and turn on C-SPAN for debate.
Gov. Chris Christie was hospitalized this morning after he complained of having trouble breathing, according to the governor's office.
A spokesman, Michael Drewniak, said Christie suffers from asthma, and was taken to Somerset Medical Center in Somerville "out of an abundance of caution."
Drewniak said the governor was "doing fine: and undergoing tests.
At town hall events, Christie often tells audiences that he has asthma. When explaining the difference between the federal government's health care plans and New Jersey's, he describes going to his local pharmacist to refill his inhaler prescription.
Christie had been scheduled to attend a bill-signing ceremony at 10:30 a.m. in Hillsborough, but the event was canceled. He is also expected to take questions at 7 p.m. tonight on "Ask the Governor," a monthly call-in radio show on New Jersey 101.5 FM, but there was no indication whether he would participate.
FBI agents discovered a bevy of bomb-making materials in the hotel room of an AWOL soldier who was arrested near Fort Hood, Texas, the military base where a 2009 shooting spree killed 13 people, a Defense Department official told CNN on Thursday.Please bookmark!
Pfc. Naser Abdo, a Muslim American who refused to deploy to Iraq and later went AWOL after facing child pornography charges, was arrested by police in Killeen, Texas, just outside Fort Hood.
Killeen police received a call from a gun shop owner about a suspicious man in the store who was asking questions about .40-caliber ammunition and then bought three boxes of 12-gauge ammunition and a magazine for a pistol, the defense official said.
He paid cash and departed in a cab. He then went to a surplus store and allegedly bought a military uniform.
FBI agents searching the soldier's hotel room found gunpowder, shotgun shells, 18 pounds of sugar, a pressure cooker, four magazines and ammunition, the defense official said.
Of course, many Democrats are blaming Republicans for this entire mess and are citing racism in mass amounts. Read it on twitter. Democrats are falling all over themselves to say that Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling numerous times while he was in office. Unfortunately, anyone who has eyes can see that many of their claims are either exaggerated or simply political posturing. For example, they can't even get the number of times Congress voted the debt ceiling up right:
Screw it, nineteen!
much smaller amounts (that link is to NPR, which I'm sure will make liberals' heads explode).
If we are to believe the second twitter post above, that would mean President Bush raised the debt ceiling a little under $600 Billion each time the debt ceiling was raised. How much is the President trying to raise the debt ceiling now? $2.4 Trillion. That's more than four times the average of President Bush. Damn, don't you just hate facts?
So the big thing now is that the debt ceiling is an issue. Democrats are flailing, lying until they are blue in the face that the debt ceiling was never an issue under Bush. Raaaaaaaaacism! Well, here's the inside scoop to the sheep that actually believe that: you are wrong. Very wrong.
And guess something else. The debt ceiling raise barely passed. Every. Single. Democrat. In the Senate voted against it. It passed 52-48 (again, the source is AP. Is your head exploding yet?). But, oh shucks, it's the Republicans that are partisan, right?
Oh, and the liberal argument that Republicans never said boo under Bush is an utter lie. In fact, a simple Google search provides hundreds of articles about Republicans calling for a balanced budget under (gasp!) President Bush. By the way, the last article I cited is from the New York Times from 2006.
And just to make this article complete, here is a quote from Mr. Obama on the floor of the Senate from 2006:
Senator Obama- Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America's debt problem.
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies.
Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is "trillion'' with a "T.'' That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President's budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion...
Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here.'' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.
A top Russian official today called Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) "radicals" and "monsters of the Cold War" and warned that the U.S.-Russia relationship would collapse if Republicans came to power.
Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, met with Kyl and Kirk yesterday in Washington -- but they probably won't be meeting again anytime soon. After the meeting, Rogozin let loose on the senators in an extensive interview with the Russian news service RIA Novosti, and sought to warn the Russian public of what he sees as the dangers of a return to Republican rule in America.
Rogozin accused the two senators of threatening to scuttle the U.S.-Russia reset by stalling or attacking U.S.-Russian cooperation on several issues, such as nuclear arms control and missile defense.
"Today in the Senate, I met with Senators Jon Kyl and Mark Kirk. The meeting is very useful because it shows that the alternative to Barack Obama is a collapse of all the programs of cooperation with Russia," he said. "Today, I had the impression that I was transported in a time machine back several decades, and in front of me sat two monsters of the Cold War, who looked at me not through pupils, but targeting sights."
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion shall not be questioned.”You'll notice that it does not say that the President can unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. You'll also notice that the sentence is specifically made for the states that rebelled against the union during the Civil War. And if you have done any research what-so-ever, you'll learn quickly that the Supreme Court decided that this passage is no longer relevant today:
The Supreme Court has said in passing that those words have outlived the historical moment that gave rise to them.But hey, what are a few facts between friends, right?
Thus, Democrats who are blind enough to follow President Obama have decided that they are also blind enough to do absolutely no research or thinking and have declared that the President must quickly and illegally raise the debt ceiling. These poor souls are just a few examples in a long list of people who are sheep to the Democratic Party:
Anyway, bask in the glorious stupidity of Democrats who clearly cannot think on their own.
Would you spend a million dollars on this:
|On the bright side: free shipping!|
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Looking ahead to November, it seems there are three possible candidates who could give President Obama a difficult time. President Obama would lose his re-election if Rudy Giuliani (53% to 47%) or Mitt Romney (51% to 49%) was the Republican nominee. Each candidate would receive 50% of the vote if the President was running against Ron Paul. Right now, President Obama would win re-election against the 10 other candidates presented.Please bookmark!
Consumer activist Ralph Nader said Tuesday that he’ll launch an initiative soon to field primary challenges to President Obama in key states.
Nader, who waged two presidential campaigns as a third-party candidate, is working with a group of frustrated Democrats who are hoping to turn up the heat on Obama from the left.
“It’s an initiative to scan the possibilities of people who may run,” Nader said in a phone interview. “My guess is that it’s almost 100 percent sure there’s going to be a primary challenge to Obama from somebody or somebodies — plural — in some states.”
Nader’s effort follows comments over the weekend by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), a liberal independent who caucuses with Democrats, that it would be a “good idea” for Obama to face a primary challenge in 2012.
Sanders brusquely declined to talk Tuesday about his weekend remarks, saying only that he hadn’t heard from anyone in the White House about the comments.
1. When and why did you start Transterrestrial Musings?
It was October 2001, a few weeks after 911. But it wasn't a result of 911 -- it was a result of something that fortuitously happened a week or two earlier. Glenn Reynolds had started a blog, and a mutual friend of ours (Jim Bennett, who would later write The Anglosphere Challenge) emailed me with a link, writing, "Hey, look what Glenn is doing."
A few days later, 911 happened, and the rest is history for his blog, but I saw him doing the kind of "letters to the editor" thing without needing an editor, and said to myself, "I could do that, too." So I found some blog software (Graymatter), installed it on my server, and I was off to the races. Unfortunately, due to some glitches in software changes/updates over the past decade (frightening to think that it's coming up on both Glenn's and my tenth bloggiversary), I've lost the very earliest posts, but most of it is still there in one form or another. I've been on Wordpress for the last two or three years after giving up on Moveable Type.
Interestingly, if you look back through his archives, you'll note that his posts used to be a lot longer when he first started, because he didn't have as many outlets for his writing. The same has happened to me over the years. I now only write long blog posts when I don't think I can place them somewhere else where they'll find a greater, more appropriate audience (e.g., Pajamas Media, Popular Mechanics). I won't deny that knowing him before he was Instapundit probably helped me get started, because he was probably more willing to link my stuff in the beginning, but he's always been very much about introducing new voices to the blogosphere, regardless of whether he knew them or not, if he found them.
2. Do you believe that space can be successfully privatized in the next century?
No, I believe it can be successfully privatized in the next decade (for various values of "privatized"). I think that by 2020 there will be regular traffic to and from private space facilities on private launch systems with private, or other-government (e.g., Japan, Netherlands, Korea, et al) money. I also think that someone will have flown around the moon on a non-government system by then. Private moon landings, and settlements, will occur in the twenties (which will be "roaring" in their own way).
3. Was the cancellation of the Constellation project a disappointment?
It was a disappointment that it took so long to happen, because it was obvious to anyone who understood the issues from its inception that it would be a disaster. It was a horrific waste of money if you were truly interested in getting humans beyond earth orbit, or if you are an American taxpayer. Unfortunately, Congress seems determined to keep the zombie marching on, because it provides jobs in the right states and congressional districts of the only congresspeople who care about space, because they want the votes and campaign contributions that come from steering NASA money in the right direction.
4. Do you see the debt ceiling drama ending in either a) real cuts or b) a default?
As of Monday night the 25th of July, I think there will be a deal that results in real cuts, but not major ones. I hope it's enough to soften the blow of the debt downgrade, and that the markets will perceive that it will damage Obama enough that real cuts will be coming in a year and a half. The Senate in 2012 is a foregone conclusion, just because of all the Democrats up for reelection. It will be a completion of what started last fall. The Republicans may even have a supermajority. I'm not a Republican, but after the last five and a half years, I'll be looking forward to that.
5. Has President Obama been better or worse than expected?
Ideologically, he's been pretty much exactly as expected. Anyone who thought that the only senator with a voting record to the left of Barry Sanders would be a centrist was delusional. He has, shockingly, been even more incompetent than I expected, which was a pretty high bar. That is both good and bad, as many of the things that he has been trying to do would be disastrous if he were better at accomplishing them, but he did manage, with the help of Pelosi/Reid, to ram the health-care disaster through. On the other hand, he's now proving to be politically incompetent as well, which I'm hoping (and expecting with fingers crossed) to mean that we'll have someone else to kick around two Januaries from now.
I always thought that his political competence was highly overrated. He won because the public was tired of the Republicans (including many fiscal conservatives), McCain ran an awful campaign (and was hard to get enthused about in general), the media gave him a tongue bath instead of vetting him, and the economy melted down in the middle of the campaign. Not to mention that everyone wanted to feel good about themselves and prove what an enlightened nation we were for voting for the black guy. Even I thought that it was a good reason to vote for him (the only one). Now that they've gotten that out of their system, they can dump him in good conscience next year.
6. Anything else you'd like to add?
If you want to start a blog, write what you know and what you're passionate about. I've had a lot published on a lot of topics, but at the end I think I'm best known for my space-policy stuff, and I think I've gotten a lot of people to think a lot differently about that topic because of my blog. If so, I'm very happy, because I think it's a lot more important subject than the politicians do.
Since the United States, and other war allies, have started to pull troops out of Afghanistan - Ahmed Karzai and Jan Khan (both close with Hamid Karzai) have been assassinated - while the tough anti-crime/Taliban Mayor of Kandahar was murdered earlier today near his office by a suicide bomber.
All three were powerhouses in Southern Afghanistan, who held significant sway and who will be hard to replace. This creates a dangerous power vacuum, which the Taliban and other local jihadist networks would love to fill.
With our role starting to decrease in Afghanistan, all for political reasons, the Taliban is striking hard against our Afghan allies in an attempt to weaken their resolve to carry-on the fight when we leave them basically defenseless in 2014. The rise of the Taliban, if it occurs, is on our hands if we do not stop them now.
What say you?
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Highlighted by the Lonely Conservative herself is the untenable position that Ronnie Bryant finds himself. Reaching his wits end, he has decided to call it quits and throw in the towel. You could say he is going Galt and that may indeed be an apt description, but Mr. Bryant is quitting before the fight has been waged. These environmental activists are vocal, well financed fools and hypocrites who exert their influence through intimidation. They cannot win the arguments on the basis of fact or science and are left emotional gamesmanship to manipulate the masses.
Politico had an article the other day that made the argument that the greens were arguing amongst themselves and the fragile coalition was beginning to fracture. One can only hope, but I fear that green goal of hydrofracking ban will be pretty effectively achieved through regulation, at least in the short term.
Still, anti-fracking activists in New York are livid at moves by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to allow the gas-extraction practice, which has largely been the subject of a de facto statewide moratorium. And some say the panel’s environmentalists are abandoning their main mission by participating.
“The environmental groups that are involved are too interested in regulating rather than serving their general purpose, which is to defend our resources, defend the people and to not push these sorts of things through,” said David Braun, co-founder of United for Action, a New York-based anti-fracking group.
Claire Sandberg, executive director of the group Frack Action, said the panel’s membership is irrelevant.
“Regardless of the composition of the panel and the voices on it, we don’t feel a panel looking at implementing regulations will come to any conclusions that will protect the public,” she said. “We believe there needs to be a statewide ban. We believe the practice is too unsafe, and we don’t believe we should be subject to this industry.”
“No matter who you put on the panel, what the panel is charged to do is incorrect,” said Mitch Jones, senior legislative and policy analyst for the group Food & Water Watch, which also supports an all-out ban. “They’re not going to say, ‘Instead of regulation A, B and C, we’re going to ban [fracking].’”
That having been said a recent poll by Sienna Research showing that 45% of New Yorkers surveyed are in favor of allowing hydrofracking, while 43% oppose, has to be more than a bit disheartening for the true believers who have spent the past year bemoaning the hazards and environmental pitfalls of natural gas production. In spite of their best efforts, they are losing the debate.
The green hypocrisy is highlighted by Ronald Bailey of Reason.com:
The ability to produce clean-burning natural gas from shale could transform the global energy economy. Right now we burn about 7 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas to generate about 24 percent of the electricity used in the United States. The U.S. burns a total of 23 TCF annually to heat homes and supply industrial processes as well as produce electricity. Burning coal still produces about 45 percent of U.S. electricity.
A rough calculation suggests that 100 percent of coal-powered electricity generation could be replaced by burning an additional 14 TCF of natural gas, boosting overall consumption to 37 TCF per year. The EIA estimates total U.S. natural gas reserves at 2,543 TCF, which suggests that the U.S. has enough natural gas to last about 70 years if it entirely replaced the current level of coal-powered electricity generation.
Similarly, it should be possible to replace all current U.S. gasoline consumption with about 17 TCF of natural gas per year. So replacing coal and gasoline immediately would require burning 54 TCF annually, implying a nearly 50-year supply of natural gas. And replacing dirtier coal and gasoline with natural gas would reduce overall U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by about 25 percent.
The national green lobbies initially welcomed shale gas. In 2009, for example, Robert Kennedy Jr., head of the Waterkeeper Alliance, called it “an obvious bridge fuel to the ‘new’ energy economy.” Local environmental activists were not as enthusiastic, arguing that fracking contaminates drinking water and causes other forms of pollution. After a while, some of the national lobbies began to come around to the locals’ side. In the words of the journalist Matt Ridley, “it became apparent that shale gas was a competitive threat to renewable energy.” Josh Fox, director of the anti–natural gas documentaryGasland, put it bluntly on Kennedy’s radio show: “What’s really happening here is not a battle between natural gas and coal. What’s happening here is a battle between another dirty fossil fuel and renewable energy.”
The Wall Street Journal does New York a service by highlighting in stark contrast the realities of natural gas production by comparing the economic and environmental realities taking place in Pennsylvania, where hydraulic fracturing has been welcomed and New York, whose green lobby has effectively strangled economic development for the better part of 3 years.
Consider New York's Broome County, which borders Pennsylvania and from which you can spot nearby rigs. The county seat of Binghamton ought to be a hub for shale commerce, but instead its population is falling as its young people leave for jobs elsewhere.
A study commissioned by the county in 2009 found that Broome could support up to 4,000 wells, but drilling even half that number would create some $400 million in wages, salaries and benefits; $605 million in property income from rents, royalties and dividends, and some $43 million in state and local tax revenue.
Governor Cuomo has said he wants to lift New York's moratorium, and the state's recently released draft rules are a step forward. But they must still undergo legal review and a public comment period that could bar New York drilling for the rest of this year, if not longer. New York will also still ban drilling in about 15% of the state's portion of the Marcellus and impose more onerous rules than other states on private property drilling. Such bows toward the obsessions of rich, big-city greens explain why parts of upstate New York are the new Appalachia.
As they look across their northern border, Pennsylvanians can be forgiven for thinking of New Yorkers the way Abba Eban once described the Palestinians: They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Indeed! We are on the cusp of victory over an environmental lobby flush with cash and short on argument. The fight now is a political one and in spite of all the rhetoric, New Yorkers are anxious for an economic revival and cheap gas. Be strong, hassle your representatives and senators and don't be afraid to speak out. There is plenty of time to go Galt, but don't quite while the battle is being won.
Hank Rearden gave up his metal after a lengthy battle with an entrenched political class. Ceding the argument now implies that the argument is lost. It is not, yet.
Some very interesting background on Mr. O'Reilly, plus this:
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee met today to further investigate Operation Fast and Furious and Project Gun Walker.
William Newell, former Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives Phoenix Field Division stated that four federal agencies were "full partners" in an operation that has been described as a "perfect storm of idiocy". The agencies involved were Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Agency as well as ATF.
The obvious question here is why is it important that there was communication between Newell and O'Reilly? Part of this has to do with statements made by President Obama that he and Eric Holder had no knowledge that guns were being walked into Mexico by straw as part of ATF policy and the idea that "[Congressional investigators are] gradually building a case for a much wider, national conspiracy. By the end of this process, they'll be able to prove that orders came for the very top."
Remember that Kevin O'Reilly is Director of North American Affairs of the National Security Council which puts him in a very interesting position:
The National Security Council (NSC) is the President's principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and cabinet officials. Since its inception under President Truman, the Council's function has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies.
The NSC is chaired by the President. Its regular attendees (both statutory and non-statutory) are the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the statutory military advisor to the Council, and the Director of National Intelligence is the intelligence advisor. The Chief of Staff to the President, Counsel to the President, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy are invited to attend any NSC meeting. The Attorney General and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget are invited to attend meetings pertaining to their responsibilities. The heads of other executive departments and agencies, as well as other senior officials, are invited to attend meetings of the NSC when appropriate.
H/T David Codrea