January 2, 2011

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



Facing a growing global population and growing energy consumption, it seems logical to assume that oil prices have increased significantly. John Tierney and other Cornucopians prove that assumption is wrong. Tierney notes he is following in the footsteps of the great Julian Simon’s famous wager with Paul “Malthus” Ehrlich. Tierney wrote about it 20 years ago in the NY Times Magazine in a 5,600 word article

…It’s true that the real price of oil is slightly higher now than it was in 2005, and it’s always possible that oil prices will spike again in the future. But the overall energy situation today looks a lot like a Cornucopian feast, as my colleagues Matt Wald and Cliff Krauss have recently reported. Giant new oil fields have been discovered off the coasts of Africa and Brazil. The new oil sands projects in Canada now supply more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia does. Oil production in the United States increased last year, and the Department of Energy projects further increases over the next two decades.

The really good news is the discovery of vast quantities of natural gas. It’s now selling for less than half of what it was five years ago. There’s so much available that the Energy Department is predicting low prices for gas and electricity for the next quarter-century. Lobbyists for wind farms, once again, have been telling Washington that the “sustainable energy” industry can’t sustain itself without further subsidies.

As gas replaces dirtier fossil fuels, the rise in greenhouse gas emissions will be tempered, according to the Department of Energy. It projects that no new coal power plants will be built, and that the level of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States will remain below the rate of 2005 for the next 15 years even if no new restrictions are imposed.

Maybe something unexpected will change these happy trends, but for now I’d say that Julian Simon’s advice remains as good as ever. You can always make news with doomsday predictions, but you can usually make money betting against them.


Noemie Emery discusses Obamacare: liberals’ pyrrhic victory that may still be, in Emery’s words, a catastrophic success.

…A parallel line of attack will be opened up by state governments, where the new crop of governors (and state representatives) will come in quite handy indeed. Complaining that compliance with the new law would bankrupt her state, Governor-elect Nikki Haley of South Carolina urged Obama to repeal his signature act outright, and then asked for opt-outs for some of its major provisions. In Virginia, the State Senate declared it illegal to mandate that the state’s residents buy health insurance, setting up a confrontation with the federal government. In Minnesota, Governor Tim Pawlenty directed state agencies to “reject participation in Obamacare unless required by law or consistent with existing state policy.” Some states are asking for waivers to opt out of parts of the health care reform act, others are considering dropping the Medicaid program in response to the expansion the new act demands. …

…Along with the lawsuits, and fights in the House and statehouses, there seems to exist a distinct possibility that the act may collapse of its weight. Assembled in haste??—?one might say desperation??—?and larded with deals to secure votes and backing, it is a 2,000-plus page assemblage of time bombs with varying fuse lengths that are starting to blow up in succession, causing large numbers of people inconvenience, or money, or both. Almost every provision seems to have some part that conflicts with another or contrives in some way to screw up the market in ways hitherto unforeseen. Increased costs are causing employers to drop people from coverage, to charge more for coverage, or to drop drug coverage for employees’ children. Thus far, 222 waivers have been granted to members of interest groups who favor the Democrats, enabling them to opt out of parts of the plan that might become onerous. Doctors are planning to shutter their practices. The promises made by Obama?—?about being able to keep your own plan or doctor?—?are turning out to be hollow. “Firms Feel Pain from Health Law” ran a recent article in the Wall Street Journal describing the problems faced by large and middle-sized businesses in trying to understand, much less to comply with, the act. 

“There’s [an] administrative burden just to try and understand the 2,400 pages,” said one executive, describing the pain of spending so much time and money on things that aren’t helping their companies grow. …


In the NYPost, Michael Walsh comments on the MSM spin for Obama.

So the year ends with the media pushing the notion that Barack Obama — having had one of the worst years in presidential history — has salvaged both his presidency and his re-election chances with his stunning “comeback” in the dwindling hours of the lame-duck session.

Don’t believe a word of it.

If generals are always fighting the last war, then the pundits are always reaching for the last cliché. …

…try as the media might, there’s simply no way that a few lesser legislative victories translate into a refreshed political potency. When you’ve been humbled on taxes by the minority Republicans and failed to pass an omnibus budget, you’ve been beaten soundly on matters of domestic policy — a clear signal that the incoming Tea Party-infused Republican majority in the House is already having an effect. … 


Tony Blankley gives a better assessment of the lame duck session than we find in the MSM.

…In the first week or so, the president capitulated to Ronald Reagan’s supply side theory that tax cuts expand the economy, and tax increases contract it. The central policy was to not let expire the Bush tax cuts, not only because it would be tough on middle-class taxpayers, but also, the White House argued,because keeping tax rates down would be good for the economy.

…And don’t think Obama merely took a week of embarrassment for that concession in December. We economic conservatives are still cheerfully reminding the public half a century later that President John Kennedy endorsed supply side marginal tax cuts. You can bet that Republicans will be reminding the public decades from now that “even Barack Obama” agreed to supply side tax-cut theory “way back in 2010.”

This is a historical intellectual capitulation of the first order by the Democratic Party president. …


Jennifer Rubin reviews the strong opposition to Obama’s recess appointments.

On Wednesday, Obama shed any pretense of bipartisanship in making six recess appointments. As were his previous recess appointments, this batch included two individuals whose records are so controversial that they could not obtain confirmation even with 59 Democratic senators. Also included was Stephen Ford, nominated as ambassador to Syria and stymied as a forceful rebuttal to Obama’s failed Syrian engagement policy. Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute voiced objection to bypassing the Senate, arguing that: “there were credible reasons why the Senate refused to confirm the several nominees Obama has just now given recess appointments, reasons that warranted full and proper Senate confirmation hearings.” He contends that “the striking feature here is that once again, as in the lame duck session, this Congress and the president managed to put off these important matters until after the November elections, which will result in this case in officers serving without the benefit of the legitimacy that comes from Senate confirmation.” A senior adviser to a key Republican senator was more succinct: “It is an outrage.”

The most egregious appointment is undoubtedly James Cole, installed as the deputy attorney general. There were good reasons why he could not secure Senate confirmation. The Web site Main Justice explained that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has strenuously objected to Cole’s controversial stance on the War on Terror, which Cole expressed in a 2002 op-ed. …

Sessions and other Republicans also objected to Cole’s work on behalf of AIG. Moreover, he represented a Saudi prince against 9-11 families …

…What, if anything, can be done by the imperious recess appointments of such controversial nominees? Todd Gaziano of the Heritage Foundation emails me, “The real threat (which Robert C. Byrd famously did once) is for the entire GOP caucus” to refuse to consent to any further nominees unless Obama agrees to refrain from issuing more recess appointments. Gaziano says that Republicans “could refuse to confirm another judge, diplomat, etc. until they extract their promise.” There is also the power of oversight (to grill appointees on how they intend to perform their jobs) and of the bully pulpit (to publicize the records of these nominees). But the lesson for the GOP here may be to refrain from offering too many open hands to an administration only too eager to slap them and demonstrate disdain for a co-equal branch of government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>