Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Clean Power Plan

'As a law professor, I taught the nation's first environmental law class 45 years ago. As a lawyer, I have supported countless environmental causes. And as a father and grandfather, I want to leave the Earth in better shape than when I arrived.

Nonetheless, I recently filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to withdraw its Clean Power Plan, a regulatory proposal to reduce carbon emissions from the nation's electric power plants. In my view, coping with climate change is a vital end, but it does not justify using unconstitutional means…

The Clean Power Plan would set a carbon dioxide emission target for every state, and the EPA would command each state, within roughly a year, to come up with a package of laws to meet that target. If the agency approves the package, the state would then have to impose those laws on electric utilities and the public.

The agency would effectively dictate the energy mix used in each state and leave the state with essentially no choice in implementing its plan. But Supreme Court precedent settled over two decades ago in New York v. United States (1992) and reaffirmed by a 7-2 vote as recently as 2012 in NFIB v. Sebelius, the ObamaCare decision, holds that such federal commandeering of state governments defeats political accountability and violates principles of federalism that are basic to our constitutional order.

Even more fundamentally, the EPA, like every administrative agency, is constitutionally forbidden to exercise powers Congress never delegated to it in the first place. The brute fact is that the Obama administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress. Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation's electric generating system and power grid. It does not.




Saturday, December 27, 2014

Fwd: Oil

'OPEC produced more than its 30 million-barrel daily target in each of the past six months, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Non-OPEC production will expand 2.3 percent next year to 57.84 million barrels a day after climbing 3.5 percent this year, the International Energy Agency forecast in a Dec. 12 report.

"Irresponsible production from outside OPEC is behind the fall in prices," Mazrouei said. "We call on all other producers to stop the increase." …

Crude tumbled into a bear market this year as oil extraction soared at shale formations in Texas and North Dakota


Fwd: Keynes

'This year the tide changed in the economy. Growth seems finally to be returning. The tide also changed in economic ideas. The brief resurgence of traditional Keynesian ideas is washing away from the world of economic policy.

No government is remotely likely to spend trillions of dollars or euros in the name of "stimulus," financed by blowout borrowing.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fwd: China

'China is stepping up its role as the lender of last resort to some of the world's most financially strapped countries.

Chinese officials signaled Saturday that they are willing to expand a $24 billion currency swap program to help Russia weather the worst economic crisis since the 1998 default. China has provided $2.3 billion in funds to Argentina since October as part of a currency swap, and last month it lent $4 billion to Venezuela, whose reserves cover just two years of debt payments. '





Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fwd: Executive Memorandum

'President Obama has issued a form of executive action known as the presidential memorandum more often than any other president in history — using it to take unilateral action even as he has signed fewer executive orders.

When these two forms of directives are taken together, Obama is on track to take more high-level executive actions than any president since Harry Truman battled the "Do Nothing Congress" almost seven decades ago, according to a USA TODAY review of presidential documents.



Fwd: Pakistan

"Such acts of cowardice will not deter our resolve to end terrorism. The operation will continue till the extermination of the last terrorist."

Fwd: Insurance

'It suggests that the federal government is on track to spend at least $11 billion on subsidies for consumers who bought healthcare plans on marketplaces run by the federal government, even accounting for the fact that many consumers signed up for coverage in late March and will only receive subsidies for part of the year…

If these state consumers received roughly comparable government assistance for their insurance premiums, the total cost of subsidies could top $16.5 billion this year. Making precise estimates is difficult because of expected fluctuations in enrollment over the year…

Consumers who make less than four times the federal poverty level, or about $94,000 a year for a family of four, qualify for subsidies to offset the cost of their premiums in most places.'


'CBO: Cost of Obamacare Subsidy Will Increase 8-Fold in 10 Years

In 2024, the last year in the CBO estimates, the Obamacare subsidies will increase to $137 billion.

The combined $707 billion that the federal government will spend on Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies in 2024 is roughly equal to the $716 billion the CBO estimates the government will spend on national defense that year.'


'A total of 11.3 percent of Americans were uninsured in the first half of this year, down from 14.4 percent last year before the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.'


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Re: Judge

I think that political motivations are like icebergs.  Most of it is hidden from view.

Either Obama felt that his actions could withstand a court challenge, or if he knew that it couldn't then he has some other agenda.  This could be a win-win for Obama.  Either he gets his way, or he gets to blame the Republicans.  A less likely target might be the courts.

Anyhow, Obama didn't go into this without some sort of game plan if his actions were overturned by the courts.

Fwd: Judge

'A federal judge has declared parts of President Obama's immigration executive actions unconstitutional, in the first court opinion to tackle Obama's controversial policy changes.

In an opinion filed Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab, in Pennsylvania, said Obama's immigration actions are invalid and effectively count as "legislation" from the Executive Branch.  

"President Obama's unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore, is unconstitutional," the judge wrote.


Eric Holder believes all cops are racists, targets ‘unconscious bias’

Fwd: no come-back

'On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia. There would be no come-back, he wrote, for capitalists nor priests nor Tsars. Rather, in the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver "der echte Sozialismus": real socialism.

Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.

It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too.

The clue is in the name. Subsequent generations of Leftists have tried to explain away the awkward nomenclature of the National Socialist German Workers' Party as either a cynical PR stunt or an embarrassing coincidence. In fact, the name meant what it said.

Hitler told Hermann Rauschning, a Prussian who briefly worked for the Nazis before rejecting them and fleeing the country, that he had admired much of the thinking of the revolutionaries he had known as a young man; but he felt that they had been talkers, not doers. "I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun," he boasted, adding that "the whole of National Socialism" was "based on Marx".

Marx's error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity




Fwd: Food for thought

In an eye-opening essay in the current issue of Commentary, Kane refutes the notion that American military deployments have been a force for ill. That view isn't just wrong, he emphasizes, "it is tragically wrong." He backs up his claim with data: "Having compared growth and development indicators across all countries of the world against a database of US 'boots on the ground' since 1950, I've discovered a stunning truth: In country after country, prosperity - in the form of economic growth and human development - has emerged where American boots have trod."

Pakistan Taliban: Peshawar school attack leaves 141 dead

Fwd: Ebola

'Endless Ebola Endemic? That's The 'Risk We Face Now,' CDC Says

Speed. That's key to ending the Ebola epidemic, says the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Thomas Frieden is visiting West Africa this week to figure out how to reduce the time it takes to find new Ebola cases and isolate them.

Otherwise, Ebola could become a permanent disease in West Africa.




Fwd: Oil and the dollar

'Commodity prices are inversely correlated to the dollar. The oft-cited rationale is that a stronger currency makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive to buyers using other currencies.

The ICE dollar index DXY, +0.12% a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, is up more than 10.8% since the beginning of the year. Moreover, the index is up more than 10.3% since the beginning of May.

Binky Chadha, chief global strategist at Deutsche Bank, argues that the strong dollar is the primary factor in oil's decline. After all, oil supplies have been building for a long time. It's hard to believe that investors just "suddenly woke up" to the oil glut at midyear, he said.


Fwd: None of the funds

'Think Congress can't stop President Obama's unilateral executive action on immigration? It can.

All money spent by the federal government is under the ultimate control of Congress. If they choose, lawmakers can issue exquisitely detailed instructions on how federal dollars are spent. For proof, look no further than the 1,695-page spending bill passed by Congress over the weekend.

A particular phrase, "none of the funds," appears in the bill more than 450 times. In each case, Congress used those words to dictate how money can and cannot be spent.



Fwd: Mexico

'Mexico's gang-related violence has racked up a death toll of more than 100,000 people since 2007, Reuters

Fwd: Surgeon General

'In a rare show of defiance of the National Rifle Association, the Senate on Monday confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy to serve as surgeon general of the United States. Murthy's nomination had been stalled for nearly a year due to comments he made in support of stricter gun laws.

Murthy is a Harvard- and Yale-educated physician, and has identified obesity and chronic disease as areas of focus for his tenure. He will be the first Indian American to hold the position.

Murthy's confirmation represents a defeat for the NRA, which mounted fierce opposition to his nomination earlier this year because of previous statements characterizing guns as a "health care issue." 



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fwd: Government

'Intellectually undemanding progressives, excited by the likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — advocate of the downtrodden and the Export-Import Bank — have at last noticed something obvious: Big government, which has become gargantuan in response to progressives' promptings, serves the strong. It is responsive to factions sufficiently sophisticated and moneyed to understand and manipulate its complexity....

This, Kotkin believes, reflects the "growing alliance between the ultra-wealthy and the instruments of state power."




Friday, December 12, 2014

Fwd: Laser

'The U.S. Navy says its new laser weapon works and it will use it if it has to.

The Office of Naval Research reported Wednesday that its laser weapons system -- dubbed LaWS -- had performed flawlessly in tests aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce in the Arabian Gulf from September to November.

"Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations," Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research, said in a statement. "We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality."

Klunder said the laser performed so well that the commander of the Ponce is now authorized to use it in defense of the vessel, according to a report from the U.S. Naval Institute.

"The captain of that ship has all of the authorities necessary if there was a threat inbound to that ship to protect our sailors and Marines (and) we would defend that ship with that laser system," Klunder is quoted as saying in a USNI report.

The laser could be used to stop threats ranging from drones and helicopters to small patrol boats, Klunder said, according to the USNI report.

Navy video released Wednesday shows the LaWS hitting exactly those types of targets. Watching the video, you can't see any light beam as you might expect from watching science fiction movies. Instead, the targets just burn up.

The Navy says the laser weapon is safer than conventional arms that use propellants and explosive warheads, and more cost-effective.

"At less than a dollar per shot, there's no question about the value LaWS provides,



Democrats are learning to loathe themselves

Fwd: Senate Takes Up Unloved $1.1T Spending Bill Passed by House

Fwd: Russia

'Two highly credentialed scholars—Michael O'Hanlon and Jeremy Shapiro—from the prestigious Brookings Institution, no less,propose in the Washington Post a "win-win-win" diplomatic solution to Russia's War On Ukraine. They offer a "compromise" that concedes Crimea to Russia, deprives Ukraine of its sovereign choice of economic and security arrangements, refuses to arm Ukraine, and weakens NATO in return for Russian "promises" of good behavior. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fwd: Fuel

'Global group of Catholic bishops call for end to fossil fuels


"They're the ones who respect the planet, the Earth, the soil, the water and the rainforests.'


Fwd: McLaughlin

The most incredible and false claim in the Senate intelligence committee's report on the CIA interrogation program is that the program was neither necessary nor effective in the agency's post-9/11 pursuit of al-Qaeda....

The point is we did succeed in getting vital information — during a national emergency when time was limited by the great urgency of a clock ticking on the next plot.

Terrorists had just killed thousands of Americans, and we felt a deep responsibility for ensuring they could not do it again.

We succeeded.




Fwd: Blackout

'Anyone who followed this year's Senate race in Kansas — the one longtime GOP incumbent Pat Roberts appeared to be losing to Greg Orman, the businessman running as an independent — knows Orman and his supporters vigorously denied Roberts' allegation that Orman was really a Democrat running to further the Democratic agenda..


What voters did not know was at that very moment, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid's political action committee, the Senate Majority PAC, was preparing to pour more than a million dollars into the pro-Orman effort in Kansas. Reid was just waiting to make sure the donations came so late in the campaign that the public wouldn't find out about them until after the election.


Kathleen Sebelius on 'Obamacare': Change the name

Janice Norris: They have tried to warn us!

Fwd: Dell

'U.S. marshals handcuffed and took Dell "Super Dell" Schanze into custody Thursday after he disrupted a federal courtroom even before his hearing began on misdemeanor charges.

The vociferous former computer store owner and TV pitchman faces federal charges for allegedly chasing an owl with his motorized paraglider more than three years ago. Thursday was his first appearance on the charges in U.S. District Court.

As he waited for his name to be called, he stood and objected to U.S. Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells requiring a defendant in a separate case to give up his firearms as a condition of his release.

"That's totally unconstitutional," said Schanze, who once owned the Totally Awesome Computers retail chain. "That's not cool at all."

Wells asked the marshals to take him into custody. They handcuffed him and escorted him out of the courtroom.


Fwd: Budget

But not everyone on the right was happy with the current deal either. Some House Republicans felt that Mr. Boehner did not go far enough in fighting Mr. Obama over his executive action last month to defer the deportation of as many as five million illegal immigrants. The spending deal would fund the Department of Homeland Security — the primary agency tasked with carrying out the president's immigration policy — only through February, at which point Republicans will control both chambers of Congress, with the votes to try to curtail Mr. Obama's action.

But some conservatives wanted to immediately defund the Homeland Security agency, despite the risk of a partial government shutdown.


Fwd: Russia

Why I’m Giving Up My Passport - NYTimes.com


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fwd: Detailed contributions

'Countries may ditch a detailed checklist for what their pledges under a new climate agreements should contain, given deep splits over their breadth and scope, and whether they should draw a clear line between rich and poor nations…


The main aim of the Lima conference this week is to agree the precise format for these pledges, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in UN jargon. But that has set up a showdown over who should offer the most…


Fwd: Russia

The German Chancellor has been hailed as bringing "peace to Europe" after signing a non-aggression pact with Russia.

Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived back in the Germany today, holding an agreement signed by Vladamir Putin which stated the Russian leader's desire never to go to war with the West again.

The two met at the Munich conference between Russia, Britain, Germany, Italy and France yesterday, convened to decide the future of Ukraine's Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Ms Merkel declared the accord with the Russians signaled "peace for our time", after she had read it to a jubilant crowd gathered in Berlin.

The Russian leader stated in the agreement: "We are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe."

But many MPs are bound to criticize it as part of the Chancellor's "appeasement" of Russian aggression in Europe.

And Ms Merkel's personal pact will be little comfort to the Ukraine Government which has been forced to hand over the regions of Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk to Russia.


Fwd: Trolls

'The internet troll army's selling of the Kremlin's parallel universe to the Russian people and to a  skeptical Western audience is a matter of life and death for the Putin regime.  If the Russian people do not buy their story, Putin loses the high "ratings" on which his regime rests. If he cannot convince his Western audience, Europe and the United States will take actions that spoil his Novorossiya ventures and threaten his regime.  Trolling is a high stakes business that Putin takes seriously and the West must not underestimate.   

Germany's Angela Merkel described Russian President Vladimir Putin, after a phone conversation, as "living in another world." Like Merkel, we, who write on Russia's War on Ukraine, have all had our rude introduction to Putin's "other world." In his parallel universe, the aggressor is the victim, strangers appoint themselves "premiers" of non-existent "republics," hundreds of soldiers mysteriously perish in border exercises or "on vacation," a certified nationally elected government is a "neo-Nazi junta," and hundreds of tanks and heavy weapons crossing borders are optical illusions.


Obama tells a funny joke.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fwd: Rule of Law

'Do we want people punished, based on other people's preconceptions, rather than on the facts of the individual case?

Apparently there are ranting mobs who do, and many in the media who give them a platform for spouting off, in exchange for the mobs' providing them with footage that can attract an audience.

The law is not the place for amateurs. We do not need legal issues to be determined by academics, the media or mobs in the streets.

Every society has orders and rules, but not every society has the rule of law -- "a government of laws and not of men." Nor was it easy to achieve even an approximation of the rule of law. It took centuries of struggle -- and lives risked and sacrificed -- to achieve it in those countries which have some approximation of it today.

To just throw all of that overboard because of mobs, the media or racial demagoguery is staggering.


Obamacare Architect Apologizes to Issa for 'Stupidity' Remark

Fwd: China

'In all of the struggles for territory in history, none has been quite as ambitious or unusual as a country trying to steal a whole ocean.

But that is what China is actively doing in the ocean south of the mainland: the South China Sea. Bit by bit, it is establishing hegemony over this most important sea where the littoral states -- China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam -- have territorial claims.

The importance of the South China Sea is hard to overestimate. Some of the most vital international sea lanes traverse it; it is one of the great fishing areas; and the ocean bed, near land, has large reserves of oil and gas. No wonder everyone wants a piece of it -- and China wants all of it.

Historically China has laid claim to a majority of the sea and adheres to a map or line -- known as the nine-dash map, the U-shape line or the nine-dotted line -- that cedes most of the ocean area and all of the island land to it. The nine-dash map is a provocation at best and a blueprint for annexation at worst.

The mechanism for China's filching of one of the great seas of the world is control of the three island archipelagos, the Paracel, Spratly and Pratas islands, and several other smaller outcroppings, as well as the seamounts, called the Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal. Between them, they consist of about 250 small islands, atolls, keys, shoals, sandbars and reefs. Very few of these are habitable or have indigenous people. Some are permanently submerged, and many are only exposed at low tide.

Yet if China can claim title to them, it can use them to extend its hegemony into the area around them. First, it can claim the standard 12 miles of territorial waters around each land mass and it also can claim an economic zone of influence of 200 miles from the most dubious "island." Ergo, China can connect the dots and grab a large chunk of the South China Sea.'



Give up the dogma of the unshrinkable state

This government has cut £35bn since 2010 without Britain regressing into a desolate pre-modernity


The British state used to have a prices-and-incomes policy. Now it does not. It used to run utilities, airlines and car manufacturers. These are now businesses. It used to tell people how much currency they could take abroad, like a parent doling out pocket money. Go to Heathrow airport this Christmas and try that with outward bound holidaymakers.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says the cuts to public spending envisaged by George Osborne, the chancellor, imply a "fundamental reimagining of the role of the state". The august think-tank is right but any Briton over the age of 35 has already lived through one. Any Briton born around the time of the second world war also grew up during a great mutation of government, when healthcare and industry were nationalised.

Throw in the welfare state conceived by David Lloyd George as Liberal chancellor between 1908 and 1915, and that is four "reimaginings" in roughly a century: two extending the role of government, two rolling it back. That is roughly once a generation. We are due one.'





Monday, December 8, 2014

Fwd: China

'Satellite images analyzed by defense intelligence magazine IHS Jane's show that China is reclaiming on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands a piece of land that bears the shape of a 3000-meter airfield and a harbor large enough to receive tankers and major warships. This is not the first, but the latest in a series of land reclamations that China is conducting both in the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

What does China want with this island building? What is the ultimate objective of these projects? The usual lens we use to decipher strategic moves on the international arena is ill suited to answer these questions. It views the game nations play in term of chess, but China is playing weiqi in the South China Sea.

Weiqi, better known in the West by its Japanese name, go, is the oldest Chinese board game that bears much parallel to an influential branch of traditional Chinese strategic thinking. While chess is a game of checkmate, weiqi, as its very name tells us, is a game of encirclement. In weiqi, there are no kings, queens or pawns as there are in chess, only identical stones whose power depends on where they are in the larger arrangement of the pieces. If chess is a contest of armies, weiqi is a struggle between configurations. Whereas the competent chess player aims at the destruction of the enemy's physical power, a proficient weiqi player strives for the control of strategic positions, from which position-based power emanates.

If the South China Sea is seen as a chessboard, China's moves in it appear largely trivial. Advanced forward are mostly pawns, while there is little movement of the more powerful figures. Perhaps the most formidable piece on the board is an underground base for nuclear missile submarines at Yulin on the southern coast of Hainan Island. However, this base is not located in the disputed areas. The main forces involved in the South China Sea dispute are rarely the military, but predominantly fishing boats and lightly armed government vessels. And the central objects of the contest are tiny, barren, often-submerged rocks.

Apparently looking at this game from a chess-like perspective, a very senior U.S. diplomat said, "great powers don't go to war over rocks," and a leading scholar of Chinese naval affairs concluded, "these tensions between a rising power and its neighbors are natural and constitute no major danger to the global balance of power, nor even to the normal functioning of the international system."

But in the eyes of the weiqi player, what China has done in the South China Sea is a classic example of how to play the game masterfully. The ultimate goal is to gain control of the region. The campaign to achieve this goal relies on creeping expansion, rather than major battles. This creeping expansion is a protracted undertaking that is played out in decades. In accordance with this strategy, salami slicing and small-stick diplomacy are the preferred tactics. The underlying logic is to gradually shift the propensity of things in favor of Chinese dominance by unobtrusively maneuvering the strategic configuration of the region.'


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

France says diesel cars a 'mistake,' announces phase-out plans - Autoblog


Fwd: Attacks

'A murder investigation has been launched after an American mother was stabbed to death during a clash with a burqa-clad 'woman' in shopping mall toilets in Abu Dhabi.


The 37-year-old kindergarten teacher, who has 11-year-old twin boys, was stabbed with a knife in the altercation in the ladies' toilets a supermarket in Boutik Mall on Reem island in the United Arab Emirates capital.


She was taken to be treated at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City but died later from her injuries in the incident on Monday afternoon…


Police say they do not know if it was a woman or a man in the burqa.




'Two people were injured in a stabbing attack in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone on Wednesday afternoon.


The attack occurred in the Rami Levy supermarket. Mishor Adumim is situated just east of Jerusalem.


One of the injured is an MDA paramedic. The victims were in moderate condition and were transported to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem with wounds to the upper body. The injured Israelis are in their fifties. Avi Levberg, a paramedic with United Hatzala said that the two people were shopping when they were attacked.


Security forces were searching the area and said the terrorist was shot in the legs by an off duty security guard and was in light to moderate condition.'




'Israeli stabbed by Palestinian woman in West Bank

Same attacker tried to stab soldier in 2011, according to Palestinian reports; victim lightly injured; assailant badly hurt





'First, a 20-year-old Israeli soldier was stabbed Monday in Tel Aviv. Then, three Israelis were stabbed at a hitchhiking post near the entrance to a settlement in the West Bank, police said.


One of the three, a 24-year-old woman, was killed, emergency services said. The soldier stabbed earlier also died of his wounds, according to the Israel Defense Forces.'