February 1, 2016 – TED CRUZ

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

A couple of items today about Ted Cruz, one of the few candidates to have the courage to oppose ethanol while standing on Iowa soil. John Fund tells the story.

For more than 30 years, Iowa’s obsession with its ethanol fuel industry has played an outsize role in its presidential caucuses. The winner of every caucus in both parties during that period has strongly backed federal subsidies or mandates for the corn-grown fuel. That winning streak could end this year if Senator Ted Cruz takes Iowa. Polls currently show him with a narrow lead.

In 2008, Fred Thompson told me he didn’t see merit in subsidizing one fuel over another, but in Iowa’s GOP caucus that year “opposing ethanol was like pushing against a mountain.” Hillary Clinton voted against ethanol a total of 17 times in the U.S. Senate, saying she found it “impossible to understand why any pro-consumer, pro-health, pro-environment, anti-government member” could vote for ethanol mandates. In 2007, as she announced for president, she took a sharp turn on the Road to Des Moines and embraced ethanol. This year, she calls ethanol “a success for Iowa and much of rural America.”

But on the Republican side, two candidates have broken ranks. Senator Rand Paul, true to his libertarian principles, supports an immediate phase-out of subsidies. And Cruz addressed the Iowa Agriculture Summit, run by ethanol and wind-subsidy interests, in March 2015. His message: The federal mandate on ethanol, which has cost consumers at least $10 billion since 2007, had to end. In front of a crowd of pro-ethanol farmers and moneymen, Cruz said: …

 

 

And from the Texas Monthly, Erica Grieder writes on 10 things we need to know about Cruz.

One evening in 2009, I spent a few hours at a reception in Dallas, surrounded by assorted young professionals, chatting with a lawyer who had some kind of job in the private sector and the earnest interest in public policy that I tend to associate with political ambition. As a journalist, based in Texas, focused on politics and the economy, such small-talk situations are an occupational hazard. But this schmoozing session stood out. The lawyer and I quickly fell into a lively exchange about the ongoing contrast between the Texas Miracle and the Great Recession, with reference to Dallas Fed data and the political philosopher John Rawls. I was impressed enough to make note of his name: Ted Cruz.

I figured, back in 2009, that he was going to run for something at some point, and that someday I might end up writing about this bright and ambitious lawyer. I failed to foresee that within a few short years, Cruz would be a sitting senator with a realistic chance of being the leader of the free world or that our increasingly nervous nation would be worrying about who Cruz is, and whether he can be trusted with the power of the presidency. I did not anticipate the possibility that helping Americans make sense of the guy would become someone’s job, much less mine.

As it happens, though, I’ve been covering Cruz’s political career since it began, …

January 29, 2016 – CLIMATE

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

It’s a week since the big storm in the Northeast; time to have some more rational thought about weather. Our betters in media and government; that would be the climate Cassandra’s, have been singing an Armageddon song. Patrick Michaels is first up with a retort to claims of the “warmest year yet.”

An East Coast blizzard howling, global temperatures peaking, the desert Southwest flooding, drought-stricken California drying up—surely there’s a common thread tying together this “extreme” weather. There is. But it has little to do with what recent headlines have been saying about the hottest year ever. It is called business as usual.

Surface temperatures are indeed increasing slightly: They’ve been going up, in fits and starts, for more than 150 years, or since a miserably cold and pestilential period known as the Little Ice Age. Before carbon dioxide from economic activity could have warmed us up, temperatures rose three-quarters of a degree Fahrenheit between 1910 and World War II. They then cooled down a bit, only to warm again from the mid-1970s to the late ’90s, about the same amount as earlier in the century.

Whether temperatures have warmed much since then depends on what you look at. Until last June, most scientists acknowledged that warming reached a peak in the late 1990s, and since then had plateaued in a “hiatus.” There are about 60 different explanations for this in the refereed literature. …

… It is nonetheless true that 2015 shows the highest average surface temperature in the 160-year global history since reliable records started being available, with or without the “hiatus.” But that is also not very surprising. Early in 2015, a massive El Niño broke out. These quasiperiodic reversals of Pacific trade winds and deep-ocean currents are well-documented but poorly understood. They suppress the normally massive upwelling of cold water off South America that spreads across the ocean (and is the reason that Lima may be the most pleasant equatorial city on the planet). The Pacific reversal releases massive amounts of heat, and therefore surface temperature spikes. El Niño years in a warm plateau usually set a global-temperature record. What happened this year also happened with the last big one, in 1998. …

… Instead of relying on debatable surface-temperature information, consider instead readings in the free atmosphere (technically, the lower troposphere) taken by two independent sensors: satellite sounders and weather balloons. As has been shown repeatedly by University of Alabama climate scientist John Christy, since late 1978 (when the satellite record begins), the rate of warming in the satellite-sensed data is barely a third of what it was supposed to have been, according to the large family of global climate models now in existence. …

… Without El Niño, temperatures in 2015 would have been typical of the post-1998 regime. And, even with El Niño, the effect those temperatures had on the global economy was de minimis.

 

 

 

A good post from Power Line has more on the “warmest year.”

Government agencies and climate activists (but I repeat myself) are loudly proclaiming 2015 the “warmest year on record.” There are several obvious problems with this, starting with the fact that the “record” they refer to goes back only until the late 19th century, 1879, coinciding with the end of the Little Ice Age. So, yeah, things have gotten slightly warmer since the Little Ice Age. That’s a good thing.

Actually, current temperatures are relatively cool–cooler than the Earth has been something like 90% of the time since the end of the last real Ice Age, 12,000 or so years ago. When the place where I am typing was buried under ice a mile deep. If you want to worry about climate change, contemplate the fact that we are due, or soon will be due, for another Ice Age.

Then there is the fact that the margin by which 2015 was the “warmest ever” is tiny compared to the margin of error in such measurements. Does anyone seriously believe that we can determine an average global temperature to within a few hundredths of a degree? Now, or 150 years ago? No.

Finally–for now–there is the fact that the “warmest ever” claim is based on surface temperature data that are fatally flawed, both because historical data have been altered by government-funded activists for political reasons, and because surface temperature stations are frequently–usually–thrown off by local environmental factors, most notably (although not most scandalously) the urban heat island effect. …

… the world’s governments are pouring billions of dollars into “research” of one kind only: research that supports giving more power over the world’s economies to governments. Huh. Funny coincidence: when the supposed climate problem was global cooling (a more realistic scare than global warming) back in the 1970s, the solution was more government power, too. Global cooling would have worked just as well for statists, probably better. But: cooling, warming, what’s the difference? We want your money, and we want to run your life! That is what global warming hysteria is all about. The money and the power. Global warming activism is perhaps the most corrupt enterprise of the 21st century.

 

 

 

From WaPo we learn the snowfall totals from Reagan National might have been understated. Imagine that! Who knew government idiots could fail at such a small well defined task?

It has become apparent this afternoon and evening, through multiple conversations with the weather observers at ReaganNationalAirport, that the snowfall totals submitted to the National Weather Service for that location have not been measured properly.

As of 8 p.m., 17.8 inches of snow had been recorded at National – Washington, D.C.’s official weather monitoring location. That reflects just a 0.3-inch increase in the three hours since 5 p.m. during which time light to moderate snowfall was being reported at the airport.

The National Weather Service has clear guidelines on how to measure snowfall for one simple reason: snowstorms have a huge effect on the economy, life and property. They have an impact on millions of people and can result in millions of dollars lost. They also play an obvious important role in the historical record.

The way that the snowfall has been measured at National in this storm has led to snowfall totals that could be much lower than what has actually fallen and may have unnecessarily withheld the storm from ending as one of the top 3 snowiest on record. …

 

 

 

NY Post has a good piece on the faux intellectualism of Hollywood idiots.

Like most A-list celebrities in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio is frequently in the news.

There’s DiCaprio, in Cannes, France, on David Geffen’s mega yacht, alone. And there he is on a different yacht in St. Tropez with his blonde of the month.

There he is getting off a private plane in the celebrity uniform of sunglasses and hoodie. And there he is getting on one again.

And last week, there he was in Davos, Switzerland, lecturing us all and blaming corporate greed for causing global climate change.

It might be funny if it weren’t so galling.

Polls have long shown that Americans either don’t believe in global climate change or don’t consider it a serious issue. A Pew poll last November found that the United States was behind only China in its “concern” about climate change — but that such concern has grown substantially.

What polls also show, however, is that Americans are learning another lesson from our supposed elites: Believing in the existence of climate change or feeling “concern” is enough. Furrow your brow, and you’re a hero. Even as belief and concern has increased in America, our behavior has stayed the same.

Could it be that we are hearing the hysterical pleas of “environmental activists” to change our ways or face doom and noticing that not only are they not changing their ways, but that their ways are far worse than our own? The loudest, most obnoxious and aggressive voices telling us the world is about to end plain old don’t act like it. …

 

 

Here’s something from Joel Kotkin we missed at the start of the Paris climate confab in December.

The Paris Climate Conference, convening this week, takes place in the very place where, arguably, the most dangerous exemplar of hysteria, the Islamic jihadi movement, has left its bloody mark. Yet the think tank mavens, academics, corporate shills and endless processions of bureaucrats gather in the City of Light not to confront the immediate deadly threat, but to ramp up their own grisly scenarios and Draconian solutions.

Welcome to the age of hysteria, where friends and foes, and even those who blissfully talk past each other, whip themselves into an emotional frenzy that bears no discussion, debate or nuance. Rather than entering a technological age of reason, we seem to lurching towards a high-tech middle ages, where warring bands – greens, jihadis, libertarians, social conservatives, nationalists – immerse themselves not in intellectual competition but, inflating their own individual outrage. In this environment, exaggeration and hysteria are weapons of recruitment, while opposition is met with demeaning attacks, potential imprisonment and, at the worst, vicious acts of violence. …

 

 

For some more topical grins, we have a NY Times piece from 16 years ago bemoaning New York’s lack of snow.

Once, and not so many years ago, no New Yorker would have dignified a January with three chilly days in a row and a soggy spurt of whitish precipitation as winter. Winter in New York was a season of single-digit temperatures, icy winds whipping off the Hudson and snow forts that did not begin to melt until March.

That chilly stuff Thursday that melted as soon as it touched asphalt — snow? A sunny Friday afternoon in the 20′s — bitter cold? In Yazoo City, Miss., or Mobile, Ala., maybe. But not in New York City. Until now. Years of mild, rainy winters seem to be making New Yorkers hungry for the freezing winds and snow they deplored when it was plentiful.

So the arrival of a bit of real winter — of Thursday’s flurries in the city, of yesterday’s lows in the teens, of foot-deep snow in Albany and the Catskills — created the kind of excitement once reserved for much more extreme meteorological episodes. Radio and television announcers warned listeners about frostbite, and news writers dusted off adjectives like ”blustery.”

”It’s good, the snow,” said Glen Cooper, a telephone technician, standing on Eighth Avenue near Times Square, smiling, as the evanescent flakes melted on his face on Thursday. ”Snow slows people down. It makes people happy. It’s natural.”

Freezing, snowy winters are not only natural for New York’s trees and greenery, they are entwined in the lore and arts of the city. They influence moods, they inspire poetry and painting, they drive advertising and appetites, they build childhood memories. So the mild winters of the last few years have caused a major ripple effect, from ecology to gastronomy. …

January 24, 2016 – WEATHER

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

The forecasts of this weekend’s storm in the east were very accurate. However,

here’s why Nor’easters are so hard to forecast. From Mental Floss.

… All of the big, historic snows that live in the record books in cities like WashingtonD.C. and New York were produced by a unique kind of East Coast storm known as a “nor’easter,” so called because the storm produces strong northeasterly winds along the coast. Nor’easters form when the dynamics in the upper levels of the atmosphere come together just right to form a low-pressure system at the surface that eventually tracks off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic—think North Carolina and Virginia—and moves parallel to the coast as it heads toward New England and eventually Canada.

Nor’easters can grow into very powerful storms, sometimes the strength and size of a hurricane. The strong winds wrapping around the low-pressure system often drag bitterly cold air from the west and warm, moist air from the south. The varying temperatures through the storm usually lead to the whole spectrum of precipitation, including snow, sleet, freezing rain, and regular rain. The temperature gradient can be so sharp that two neighboring towns can see completely different weather conditions, with one hit by heavy snow while the other gets ice or rain.

When you have such dramatic differences in weather over such short distances, the track of the storm is everything when it comes to determining who will see the worst snow and who will see a cold rain—and this is usually where the greatest uncertainty lies. …

 

 

For grins we include a two year old NY Times article on “The End of Snow.”

Officials canceled two Olympic test events last February in Sochi after several days of temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a lack of snowfall had left ski trails bare and brown in spots. That situation led the climatologist Daniel Scott, a professor of global change and tourism at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, to analyze potential venues for future Winter Games. His thought was that with a rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit possible by 2100, there might not be that many snowy regions left in which to hold the Games. He concluded that of the 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, as few as 10 might be cold enough by midcentury to host them again. By 2100, that number shrinks to 6.

The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100.

The same could happen in the United States, where in the Northeast, more than half of the 103 ski resorts may no longer be viable in 30 years because of warmer winters. …

 

 

Adding to the mirth, Don Surber posts on the “curse of RFK, Jr.”

The fourth blizzard in six years is about to hit Washington, D.C., if the bureaucrats at the National Weather Station are correct.

If 15 or more inches of snow pile up in the nation’s capital, the blizzard will rank in the top 10 of blizzards ever recorded in Washington, stretching back to 1850.

Three of the top 10 blizzards occurred in this century!

Indeed, six of the 10 worst have happened since 1979.

Now what is with the sudden big snows in Washington?

Blame Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy Junior, a trust fund liberal who has found fame and fortune as a global warming huckster. On September 24, 2008, he doomed Washington to record snowfalls when he wrote a column in the Los Angeles Times that said there would never be big snows in Washington again because of Exxon! …

 

 

IBD editors opine on Al Gore’s global warming racket.

Ten years ago Monday, Al Gore said we had only a decade left to save the planet from global warming. But Earth has been doing just fine. Why do we listen to this man?

While preening at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2006 during the premiere of his “An Inconvenient Truth” fib-umentary, Gore made his grand declaration. The former vice president said, in the words of the AP reporter taking down his story, that “unless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are taken within the next 10 years, the world will reach a point of no return.” In Gore’s own words, he claimed we were in “a true planetary emergency.”

Ten years later, he’s probably hoping that everyone has forgotten about his categorical statement.

The terrible truth for Gore is that there is no planetary emergency. Not one of the dire predictions he and the rest of the alarmist community made has come to pass. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that they have been running a racket. Here’s how we know: …

 

 

You won’t believe the waste when Swedish windmills ice up. Power Line post reports on the idiocy.  

… The entire rationale for wind turbines is to stop global warming by reducing the amount of CO2 being returned to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

In the attached picture, recently taken in Sweden, freezing cold weather has caused the rotor blades of a wind turbine to ice up bringing the blades to a complete stop.

To fix the “problem” a helicopter is employed (burning aviation fuel) to spray hot water (which is heated in the frigid temperatures using a truck equipped with a 260 kW oil burner) on the blades of the turbine to de-ice them.

The aviation fuel, the diesel for the truck, and the oil burned to heat the water, could produce more electricity (at the right time to meet demand) than the unfrozen wind turbine could ever produce. (Before it freezes up again).

The attached picture is a metaphor of the complete insanity of the climate change debate.

In decades to come this one photo alone with sum up an era of stupidity, when rational thought, logic and commonsense was abandoned and immense wealth and resources needlessly sacrificed. …

January 20, 2016 – DRONES

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

Warfare made a quantum leap just 15 years ago. The history of the development of weapons has been a constant effort to kill from greater and greater distances. In October 2001 a drone pilot executed a discreet kill of two Taliban guards from 6,900 miles away. The birth of drone warfare is covered in an article in Wired Magazine

ON THE AFTERNOON of October 7, 2001, the first day of the war in Afghanistan, an Air Force pilot named Scott Swanson made history while sitting in a captain’s chair designed for an RV. His contribution to posterity was to kill someone in a completely novel way.

In the moments leading up to the act, Swanson was nervous. He sat in a darkened trailer tucked behind a parking garage at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, remotely piloting a Predator drone over Kandahar, 6,900 miles away. Nearly everything about his rig had been cobbled together and hastily assembled. The Predator itself, one of just a handful in existence, was flying about 250 pounds heavier than usual. And the satellite communications link that connected Swanson to the aircraft would periodically shut down due to a power issue, which software engineers in California were frantically trying to patch.

When the order came through to take the shot, Swanson pulled a trigger on his joystick. A little more than a second later, a Hellfire missile slid off an aluminum rail on the Predator’s wing and sailed into the Afghan night.

Swanson’s target was a pickup truck parked outside a compound thought to be hiding Mullah Omar, the supreme commander of the Taliban. The missile killed two unidentified men believed to have been his bodyguards. It was the first time a US drone had fired a weapon in combat. It was the first time a modern drone had ever killed a human being. …

… the national security establishment’s embrace of the drone has been so complete, it’s tempting to assume that this new paradigm of warfare was something dreamed up long ago by senior officials, who methodically plotted their way to it over a span of years and a string of defense contracts. That is, after all, how we got other major weapons like the M1 Abrams tank, the Apache helicopter, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

But that’s not how we got the modern drone. …

… The tiny team of engineers and operators behind the program, who rarely speak publicly about their roles as the architects of remote warfare, worked under intense pressure, almost entirely free from the scrutiny of Pentagon acquisitions officers. In a series of breakthrough hacks, they hot-wired together the lethal, remotely piloted Predator over the course of just a few months in 2000 and 2001, in a mad dash to meet the heinous design challenges of a single job: to kill Osama bin Laden before he could commit an act of terror greater than al Qaeda’s bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. 

The lethal Predator wasn’t a production vehicle. It was a hot rod, built for one all-out race against the clock. Of course, in those months before September 11, 2001, none of its designers knew the nature of the clock they were racing against. And most Americans have no idea quite how close they came to beating it. … 

 

… Sitting in his windowless office with a short public affairs staffer and a very tall security officer, the official—whom I’ll call Marshall—told me about that first time he saw the Predator in action in Hungary. “I was blown away,” he says. “It flies at 70 miles an hour with a TV camera, but it can stay there forever.” Marshall could see that it represented a strategic breakthrough comparable to that of the World War II codebreakers at BletchleyPark. From then on, he became a Predator evangelist, providing political cover and money when the project faced a roadblock. As I looked around Marshall’s office, I noticed several bottles of a wine called Predator Old Vine Zinfandel sitting on a bookshelf.

In 1998, Marshall helped see to it that the Predator program was handed over to a tiny outfit within the military that would essentially improvise the genesis of modern drone warfare: an entity known as Big Safari.

A HIGHLY SECRETIVE Air Force skunkworks based in Dayton, Ohio, Big Safari specialized in modifying standard Air Force aircraft for time-sensitive and highly classified operations, sometimes even for use in just a single mission. In 1961, for instance, when Nikita Khrushchev boasted that he was about to test the largest hydrogen bomb ever built, Big Safari had just five days to retrofit a Boeing KC-135 to carry a small lab’s worth of sensing equipment—shored up with two-by-fours—to snoop on the enormous detonation. …

 

… Today the Big Safari team members don’t have much to do with the Predator. They’re mainly retired or doing other things, while the national security establishment that once disparaged the drone has thoroughly embraced it. The Predator has ushered in a more precise era of warfare. It has also inspired new kinds of nightmares for those who live under drones—and those who fly them.

In the summer, Swanson Skypes me from Antigua. During those first missions, he says, he was struck by the intimacy of this new form of warfare. “You’re watching these people coming and going,” he says. “You’re watching them go out and take dumps or pees in the middle of the night.

“I’m not saying you ever really bond with the target,” he goes on. But you dwell on them for dramatically longer than with any other weapons system, he says. His pauses begin to draw out.

I ask how it feels to have participated in the creation of the Predator. He mentions a recent drone strike that killed Nasir al-Wuhayshi, al Qaeda’s second-in-command. “I feel proud to have been part of the team that brought that forward,” he says.

What about when a strike misses its target or is used for ill? That has less to do with what the Predator can and cannot do, he says. “That is just the ugly nature of war. And yeah, there’s always a little twinge of regret with that.” Swanson pauses again. “The world is not black-and-white,” he says. “It’s shades of gray presented to you in an infrared image.”

  

 

Wired had another piece on drones; When Good Drones Go Bad. 

LATE IN THE summer of 2014, surveillance footage of Syria’s Tabqa air base showed up on YouTube. That it was taken by ISIS forces is unremarkable. That it was shot with a DJI Phantom FC40—a popular consumer drone at the time, the kind you might have found under the Christmas tree—certainly was.

In the intervening year and a half, small quadcopter drones have become even more affordable and more broadly available. That’s enabled them to find all sorts of positive new purposes, from agriculture to inspecting cell towers. That increased accessibility, though, has also inspired a proportionate amount of concern about the misuse of drones. A new report (PDF) from the non-profit group Open Briefing lays bare just how far the threat from hobbyist drones has evolved, and how seriously we should take it. …

  

 

For comic relief, late night from Andy Malcolm.

Conan: New electronic gadgets out include a drone that follows you around and lets you take selfies 24/7. The device was developed by a team of the world’s leading Kardashiologists.

Fallon: I don’t want to say Hillary Clinton’s upset about Bernie Sanders’ poll rise. But this morning she was spotted shouting into a volcano, “YOU SAID WE HAD A DEAL!”

Meyers: The federal government has unveiled new nutritional guidelines, recommending people eat more fruit, vegetables and whole wheat. Or at the very least, cut back on foods that have the word “triple” in their name.

January 15, 2016 – CURRENT OCCUPANT

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

In this installment covering barry’s excellent adventure, we lead with a article from Oliver Darcy at the Blaze about the previous president. It involves W’s Christmas vacations. Seems he would never leave Washington until the day after Christmas. The writer explains why; 

… “[H]ere’s the thing: In December, we never left Washington, D.C., until the day after Christmas. Never. Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, would always depart the White House a few days before the holiday and hunker down at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland,” Curl wrote in a 2013 column that was republished Thursday.

After a few years, curiosity finally got to the former Washington Times reporter and he asked a low-level administration official why.

“I still remember what she said,” Curl wrote. “’So all of us can be with our families on Christmas.’”

“Who was ‘us’? Hundreds and hundreds of people, that’s who. Sure, the reporters who covered the president, but also dozens and dozens on his staff, 100 Secret Service agents, maybe more, and all of those city cops required whenever the president’s on the move in D.C.,” Curl added in his column.

However, things seemingly changed when Obama took office.

“[T]his president would never delay his trip to his island getaway. He’s off every year well before Christmas. Hundreds and hundreds head off with him, leaving family behind,” Curl wrote. …

Quite a contrast to the current occupant who purports to have concern for all. But if anything threatens his sybaritic vacations, barry has a heart of stone.

 

Craig Pirrong posts on the SOTU.

Lily Tomlin once said “We try to be cynical, but it’s hard to keep up.” She didn’t know the half of it, because she said this before the age of Obama.

Tonight Obama gives his last (thank God!) State of the Union Address. To guilt us all about the widespread reluctance to admit tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, Obama is trotting out a poor boy who lost his family–and his arms–to an bomb strike in Syria.

This is the most rank emotional manipulation I have ever seen in politics, and that is saying a lot. It is cynical beyond belief.

For one thing, as tragic as his story is, this boy is not representative of the refugees that will attempt to get in the US. It is well known that the refugees in Europe are disproportionately young adult males, not women and young wounded waifs.

You could get a more representative example of would-be refugees in front of the Cologne Cathedral on New Year’s Eve.

For another, Obama’s policies in Syria have been cynical beyond belief, and have dramatically worsened the humanitarian crisis in the country. As is his wont in such matters, he chose the worst option. He did not intervene decisively early in the crisis, thereby allowing it to spin out of control. That is defensible. But he also has supported the arming (via the CIA) of opposition groups in Syria, including Islamist groups. This has increased the intensity of, and extended, the war.

Don’t take my word for it. Walter Russell Mead, a very middle-of-the-road guy who started with high hopes for Obama, wrote a scathing article about Obama’s Syria cynicism back in November.

It hasn’t gotten better. Indeed, tonight’s farce shows that it’s gotten even worse. …

  

 

From another direction, Barron’s has an interview with Harvard historian Niall Ferguson.

… Part of the reason the world isn’t as buoyant as it might be is that Europe is doing much worse than the U.S. It doesn’t help Europe to have a massive influx of real and “not so real” refugees. Some 220,000 people arrived in the European Union in October, a direct consequence of the disintegration of order in a whole bunch of countries, Syria principally, but not only.

The U.S. walking away from the Middle East has had a direct impact. We’re only beginning to see the ramifications, in Paris most recently. It isn’t going to stop there. There is growing anxiety in East Asia about the rise of China. Japan remains a large economy, but a depressed one in yet another recession. Economists tend to underestimate geopolitical factors because they aren’t in their models. Global order and stability need to be underwritten. It doesn’t just happen spontaneously.

Are you suggesting that the U.S. ought to be the world’s policeman?

Somebody’s got to do it. It better not be the Chinese or Russians. The market system requires an effective state that enforces the rule of law. That is true internationally, as well. As the world becomes less secure, it becomes a less safe place to do business.

A world in which the U.S. yields regional power to China or Russia is one in which the rule of law is driven back. We underestimate the extent to which the age of globalization depended on an American underwriting, and that is gradually unraveling.

Can the U.S. afford to keep the peace?

The U.S. has a fundamental problem: Gradually, its national security is being squeezed by social [benefits], particularly its health-care system. It will be squeezed by the burden of interest payments on Federal debt as interest rates go up. In theory, as the biggest economy in the world, the U.S. should be able to afford to build up its military power. In practice, the congressional budget sequester was a blunt instrument applied to the defense budget, cutting it indiscriminately.

The U.S. should be investing to maintain its lead, particularly in areas where it is vulnerable, such as cybersecurity. No matter how many aircraft carriers we have, it might not be that big of a technological leap for us to be matched in the new theaters of war that are emerging. …

 

 

Matthew Continetti writes on the “lamest duck.”

President Obama spent the week defending his proposals to curb gun violence, culminating in a CNN town hall. Think about that. What else happened during the last few days that might warrant a presidential town hall?

Oh, nothing much:

Iranian protestors stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran after the House of Saud executed a Shiite cleric, escalating sectarian warfare in the Middle East

The stock market tumbled on fears of a global economic slowdown

A U.S. soldier was killed in action in Afghanistan, where the Taliban controls more ground than at any time since 2001

Iran revealed the existence of an underground ballistic missile launch site

North Korea detonated a nuclear device

A terrorist was foiled in Paris on the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo massacre

We have entered a most dangerous period of the Obama presidency. It’s not just that every rogue actor from Kim and Putin and Castro to Maduro and Khamenei and Xi knows he has one last year to behave badly without fear of reprisal. It’s that the president and his team are isolated, aloof, detached from reality.

They think a climate deal is a rebuke to terrorism. They think the response to jihad in San Bernardino is to ‘close the gun-show loophole.’ They think a new communications strategy will convince the public that the war against ISIS is going well. I don’t question Obama’s sincerity. I question his sanity.

What actually results from a given policy seems no longer to matter to him. Take guns—he’d sure like to. His executive order does little more than reiterate current law. It wouldn’t have stopped the killing at Sandy Hook elementary or in San Bernardino. Indeed, the most important consequence of Obama’s fight with the NRA has been record gun sales and a windfall for gun manufacturer shareholders. At least when Hillary Clinton takes on an industry, its stock goes down. Obama can’t even get that right.

The Iran deal is another farce. …

  

 

Andrew Malcolm posts on vacation costs.

As Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama, family, friends, pets and staff enjoy their half-month-long Hawaiian vacation, the Secret Service finally complied with a court order to release some Obama vacation expenses from two years ago.

That’s how eager the Obama administration is about being transparent when it comes to spending large sums of taxpayers’ money on itself.

As with the slow-motion releases of Hillary Clinton’s emails, the idea of bureaucratic stalling, of course, is that the details become “old” news more likely to be ignored by media. Fortunately, we’re not on vacation this week, so we can help the president out. Here goes:

The new expense reports, heavily-redacted allegedly for security reasons, push the total known costs for vacations during Obama’s reign to nearly $71 million — with another full year to go. That’s about $10.1 million per year in known expenses. …

 

Thinking about vacations brings to mind a link in December 25′s post. That’s the one where a candidate promised he would not take vacations while in office. Here it is again.

A 2008 video of a presidential candidate promising no vacations during his time in office. Daily Caller has the story. Go to the link for the video of the liar.

January 12, 2016 – HILLARY

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

What do Hillary Clinton and Missouri’s professor “get me some muscle” Glick have in common? Kevin Williamson knows.

A group of state legislators in Missouri has, after a great deal of nagging by your favorite roving correspondent and many others, come around and made a public statement that Professor Melissa Click of the University of Missouri should be fired.

Professor Click, you’ll recall, is the petty commissar who assaulted a student journalist (who has since filed a police complaint) who was covering one of the daft, diaper-filling protests on the Mizzou campus. The protest was happening on a corner of the campus that not only is a public space but a public space recognized as such in Missouri state law, with access to it guaranteed. Captured on video, Professor Click attempts to intimidate the student, physically blocks him, and then swats at his face before calling for “some muscle” to forcibly remove him. So far, neither the university nor the campus police department, which are manifestly run by miscreants and moral cowards, has seen fit to do anything about the case. …

… But, so far, not one thing of any consequence has happened to Professor Click. …

 

 

 

There was a time when even NY Times columnists were trying to read the Clintons out of the Dem party. Here’s Bob Herbert from 15 years ago.

Some years ago, when Gennifer Flowers informed Bill Clinton that she had lied under oath before a grievance committee in Arkansas, the man already known as Slick Willie replied, ”Good for you.”

Mr. Clinton always had an easy, breezy relationship with wrongdoing. But the Democratic Party overlooked the ethical red flags and made a pact with Mr. Clinton that was the equivalent of a pact with the devil. And he delivered. With Mr. Clinton at the controls, the party won the White House twice. But in the process it lost its bearings and maybe even its soul.

Now, with the stench of yet another scandal polluting the political atmosphere, some of Mr. Clinton’s closest associates and supporters are acknowledging what his enemies have argued for years — the man is so thoroughly corrupt it’s frightening.

The president who hung a ”For Rent” sign on the door to the Lincoln Bedroom also conducted a clearance sale on pardons in his last weird sleepless days in the White House. …

 

 

Jonathan Tobin brings the sleaze up to date.

When Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash came out earlier this year, most Democrats spent months dismissing its charges of cronyism and conflict of interest as partisan hackery. But on Saturday night during their party’s second presidential debate, they got a taste of exactly what the former First Family’s critics have been talking about. When asked about the millions she has raised from Wall Street firms over the years and what she has been giving in return for those donations, Clinton invoked the 9/11 attacks as the justification for her actions. That was a bit much even for a complacent Democratic base that understands that nothing will stop Clinton from being their nominee. It wasn’t just that Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley made the most of a comment that was, at best, in bad taste and at worst, an egregious and inappropriate invocation of a national tragedy. It was that even her supporters knew that it was the kind of thing that would come back to haunt her in a general election campaign. Indeed, even the New York Times editorial page weighed to register amazement that she wasn’t better prepared to answer such questions.

But liberals who are either openly expressing worry about her poorly thought-out response, or who still harbor hope that somehow a more left-wing alternative to the former secretary of state can be found, shouldn’t have been surprised. Indeed, though the Democrat base thinks of her involvement with the financial industry as being an aberration that is solely linked to her campaign finance machine, their concerns are directly linked to the same issues that the rest of the country has about her integrity and trustworthiness. …

 

 

 

Roger Simon posts on Hillary’s Watergate. Notwithstanding her poll problems, there may be more trouble heading her way.

Of all the welter of predictions for 2016, by far the most dramatic seems to have been given short shrift or swept under the rug — the possible indictment of Hillary Rodham Clinton while running for the presidency.  Were such an event to occur, it would dominate our culture as nothing since Watergate.  Yet most of us put it in the back of our minds, thinking it could never happen and focusing on the latest back and forth with Trump.

Nevertheless, as pointed out on PJM by Debra Heine, it very much could happen.  Heine cited Laura Ingraham’s Tuesday radio interview with former U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova, some of which went as follows in verbatim transcription (you can listen to the full interview here):

DiGenova: Hillary Clinton’s going to have problems because of what’s in the emails, but also the classifications. Her biggest problem right now is the FBI. They’re not going away. They have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the Secretary and all of her senior staff. And, it’s going to come to a head, I would suggest, in the next sixty days. …

 

 

Jep and Hillary had the worst years in Washington according to Chris Cillizza.

… Clinton ends 2015 on a far better note than seemed possible in the doldrums of August. But, like Bush, she took home Worst Week in Washington four times this year. And problems remain. She’s locked in competitive contests with Sanders in Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. Her trustworthiness remains questionable for some voters. In a DecemberQuinnipiacUniversity poll, 60 percent of people said they found Clinton neither honest nor trustworthy; 68 percent of independents felt that way. Meanwhile, the Justice Department continues its inquiry into whether she sent or received classified emails on her homebrew server. (She insists she did neither.) …

 

 

Jonah Goldberg reminds us what “progressives” have in store for us.

… President Wilson is mostly remembered today as the first modern liberal president, the first (and only) POTUS with a PhD, and the only political scientist to occupy the Oval Office. He was the champion of “self determination” and the author of the idealistic but doomed “Fourteen Points” – his vision of peace for Europe and his hope for a League of Nations. But the nature of his presidency has largely been forgotten.

That’s a shame, because Wilson’s two terms in office provide the clearest historical window into the soul of progressivism. Wilson’s racism, his ideological rigidity, and his antipathy toward the Constitution were all products of the progressive worldview. And since “progressivism” is suddenly in vogue – today’s leading Democrats proudly wear the label – it’s worth actually reviewing what progressivism was and what actually happened under the last full-throated progressive president. 

The record should give sober pause to anyone who’s mesmerized by the progressive promise. …

 

 

 

Huma Abedin says Hillary is “often confused.” Judicial Watch has the story.

… The Abedin email material contains a January 26, 2013, email exchange with Clinton aide Monica Hanley regarding Clinton’s schedule in which Abedin says Clinton is “often confused:”

Abedin: Have you been going over her calls with her? So she knows singh is at 8? [India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh]

Hanley: She was in bed for a nap by the time I heard that she had an 8am call. Will go over with her

Abedin: Very imp to do that. She’s often confused. …

… “Huma Abedin’s description of Hillary Clinton as ‘easily confused’ tells you all you need to know why it took a federal lawsuit to get these government emails from Clinton’s illegal email server ,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. …

January 4, 2016 – 2016′s ECONOMIC HEADWINDS

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

David Stockman gives us lots to think about as he looks over the world’s economy. First he takes on the commodity bubble fueled by the giant credit boom.

The giant credit fueled boom of the last 20 years has deformed the global economy in ways that are both visible and less visible. As to the former, it only needs be pointed out that an economy based on actual savings from real production and income and a modicum of financial market discipline would not build 65 million empty apartment units based on the theory that their price will rise forever as long as they remain unoccupied!

That’s the Red Ponzi at work in China and its replicated all across the land in similar wasteful investments in unused or under-used shopping malls, factories, coal mines, airports, highways, bridges and much, much more.

But the point here is that China is not some kind of one-off aberration. In fact, the less visible aspects of the credit ponzi exist throughout the global economy and they are becoming more visible by the day as the Great Deflation gathers force.

As we have regularly insisted, there is nothing in previous financial history like the $185 trillion of worldwide credit expansion over the last two decades. When this central bank fueled credit bubble finally reached its apogee in the past year or so, global credit had expanded by nearly 4X the gain in worldwide GDP. …

… The credit bubble, in turn, led to booming demand for commodities and CapEx. And in these unsustainable eruptions layers and layers of distortion and inefficiency cascaded into the world economy and financial system.

One of these was an explosion of CapEx in the oil patch and the mining sector in response to massive price and margin gains and the resulting windfall rents on existing assets. In the case of upstream oil and gas, for example, worldwide investment grew from $250 billion to $700 billion in less than a decade.

Needless to say, there is now so much excess supply and capacity on the world market that oil has plunged into a collapse that is likely to last for years, as old investment come on-stream while world demand falters in the face of the gathering global recession. …

… The same kind of malinvestment occurred in the mining sectors where Australia’s boom in iron ore, coal, bauxite and other industrial materials provides a good proxy. …

… Nor was the credit-fueled CapEx boom limited to energy and metals. Bloomberg carried a story today outlining a similar super-cycle in the global rubber industry. As a result of massive rubber plantation expansion in response to soaring prices and windfall profits, the industry is now facing investment and job killing surpluses as far as the eye can see. …

… The unfolding correction of the visible excesses of the credit inflation—such as overinvestment and malinvestment—— will destroy incomes and profits; the Great Unwind of the less visible effects, such as the sovereign wealth fund liquidations, are a giant pin aimed squarely at the monumental worldwide bubbles in stock, bonds and real estate.

 

 

Turning his attention to the stock market, Mr.Stockman posts on valuations pointing out that the price increase of just four stocks accounted for one half of a trillion dollars. He starts out with Amazon.

 

If you have forgotten your Gulliver’s Travels, recall that Jonathan Swift described the people of Brobdingnag as being as tall as church steeples and having a ten foot stride. Everything else was in proportion——with rats the size of mastiffs and the latter the size of four elephants, while flies were “as big as a Dunstable lark” and wasps were the size of partridges.

Hence the word for this fictional land has come to mean colossal, enormous, gigantic, huge, immense or, as the urban dictionary puts it, “really f*cking big”.

That would also describe the $325 billion bubble which comprises Amazon’s market cap. It is at once brobdingnagian and preposterous——a trick on the casino signifying that the crowd has once again gone stark raving mad.

When you have arrived at a condition of extreme “irrational exuberance” there is probably no insult to ordinary valuation metrics that can shock. But for want of doubt consider that AMZN earned the grand sum of $79 million last quarter and $328 million for the LTM (Last twelve months) period ending in September.

That’s right. Its conventional PE multiple is 985X! …

… we are just completing a year in which the Fabulous Four FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) gained $500 billion of market cap while the remaining 496 companies in the S&P index went down by more than one-half trillion dollars.

In that context, AMZN’s market cap one year ago was just $145 billion, meaning that it gained a stunning $180 billion or 125 percent during the interim. …

… Indeed, Amazon’s $325 billion valuation is just plain irrational exuberance having one last fling. Spasms like this year $180 billion gain (125%) on the AMZN ticker or the $190 billion gain (55%) on the GOOG account are absolutely reminiscent of the final days before the tech wreck exactly 15 years ago.

In a recent post I demonstrated how the 12 Big Cap Techs of 2000—-led by Microsoft, Intel, Dell and Cisco——-saw their combined valuation soar from $900 billion to $3.8 trillion in the 48 months leading up to the March 2000 peak; and that they then plunged to just $875 billion a decade later.

To wit, their bubble era market cap got whacked by $3 trillion in the years ahead, even as their sales and earnings continued to grow. What got purged was irrational exuberance in a casino high on the central bank’s monetary heroin. …

… At the end of the day, AMZN’s current preposterous $325 billion market cap has nothing to do with the business prospects of Amazon or the considerable entrepreneurial prowess of Jeff Bezos and his army of disrupters.

It is more in the nature of financial rigor mortis——-the final spasm of the robo-traders and the fast money crowd chasing one of the greatest bubbles still standing in the casino. …

… So Amazon’s total $325 billion valuation is just plain irrational exuberance. It is surely a sign that the third great financial bubble of this century has narrowed down to just a handful of brobdingnagian beanstalks that are soon to come crashing down from the sky.

When the big market break comes in the period just ahead, AMZN is sure to shed as much of its excess market cap as did Cisco after March 2000. That would be hundreds of billions of evaporating bottled air. It would be the short of a lifetime.

  

 

If all of that is not enough to trouble your sleep, here’s Harry Dent

A Yahoo Finance headline this morning reads: “Unhappy New Year: The U.S. Economy Is Stalling Out.”

We recently learned that existing home sales in November crashed 10.5% from the month before.

Guess when the last time was when we saw these levels? The housing crisis of the mid- to late-2000s!

I also recently shared a chart showing a cataclysmic 82% drop in the ratio of new home sales to the U.S. population. To put it simply, we won’t need more real estate for decades to come, with baby boomers increasingly dying to offset rising millennial home purchases.

I and a few other experts like David Stockman have continued to argue that this re-bound since 2009 has been all smoke and mirrors – artificial stimulus that has only created greater bubbles in financial assets like stocks, and financial engineering to create rising corporate profits. None of it goes toward real expansion for future jobs, productivity and growth… things like new office space and industrial capacity. …

… financial engineering does not result in real growth.

And speculation does not expand the money supply.

It is only a sign of decreasing money velocity, and a bubble that will only burst – like in 1929, 2000, and now again!

It’s a mirage.

It isn’t real.

And it isn’t sustainable.

Despite such endless financial engineering, sales for the S&P 500 have been declining for the last three quarters. And profits have declined for the first time since the 2009 expansion.

I’d be surprised if both didn’t continue down in the 4th quarter.

This will end badly… which is the only way bubbles end.

My forecast today: the stock market will start to crash by early February, if not sooner, when it gets this clear realization.

December 25, 2015 – HUMOR

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

We start with Dave Barry’s End of the Year Review.

Sometimes we are accused — believe it or not — of being overly negative in our annual Year in Review. Critics say we ignore the many positive events in a given year and focus instead on the stupid, the tragic, the evil, the disgusting, the Kardashians.

OK, critics: We have heard you. This year, instead of dwelling on the negatives, we’re going to start our annual review with a List of the Top 10 Good Things That Happened in 2015. Ready? Here we go:

1. We didn’t hear that much about Honey Boo Boo.

2.

 

OK, we’ll have to get back to you on Good Things 2 through 10. We apologize, but 2015 had so many negatives that we’re having trouble seeing the positives. It’s like we’re on the Titanic, and it’s tilting at an 85-degree angle with its propellers way up in the air, and we’re dangling over the cold Atlantic trying to tell ourselves: “At least there’s no waiting for the shuffleboard courts!” …

… JANUARY

… which finds the Midwest gripped by unusually frigid weather, raising fears that the bitter cold could threaten the vast herd — estimated in the thousands — of Republican presidential hopefuls roaming around Iowa expressing a newly discovered passion for corn. As temperatures plummet, some candidates are forced to survive by setting fire to lower-ranking consultants.

For most Americans, however, the cold wave is not the pressing issue. The pressing issue — which will be debated for years to come — is how, exactly, did the New England Patriots’ footballs get deflated for the AFC championship game. The most fascinating theory is put forth by Patriot Head Coach Bill Belichick, a man who, at his happiest, looks like irate ferrets are gnawing their way out of his colon. He opines — these are actual quotes — that “atmospheric conditions” could be responsible, and also declares that “I’ve handled dozens of balls over the past week.” This will turn out to be the sports highlight of the year.

In Paris, two million people march in a solidarity rally following the horrific terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Eyebrows are raised when not a single top U.S. official attends, but several days later, Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in France with James Taylor, who — this really happened — performs the song You’ve Got a Friend. This bold action strikes fear into the hearts of terrorists, who realize that Secretary Kerry is fully capable, if necessary, of unleashing Barry Manilow. …

… AUGUST

… The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that July was the hottest month globally ever recorded. With a renewed sense of urgency, the world’s industrialized nations vow to continue sending large delegations via jumbo jets to distant conferences on climate change until this darned thing has been licked.

In politics, the Republicans hold their first presidential debate, featuring approximately 75 candidates ranging outward in popularity from Donald Trump at center stage to John Kasich and the late Warren G. Harding out at the far edges. …

… DECEMBER

… when, with the menacing specter of global climate change looming like some kind of spectral menace or something, 150 world leaders, finally getting serious about this urgent threat to the planet’s future, decide to stay home and confer via Skype.

Ha ha! Seriously, the leaders all fly to Paris, where they and their security details and their vast minion entourages travel around in high-speed motorcades to attend dinners and make speeches about the importance of figuring out how to reduce these pesky carbon emissions. …

 

 

 

No humor post would be complete without Andy Malcolm’s collection of late night humor.

Meyers: A new poll says Newark is the country’s least favorite airport. But only because LaGuardia is technically classified as a prison.

Conan: United Airlines is bringing back free snacks for the first time since 2008. Unfortunately, the snacks are also from 2008.

 

 

 

Now a selection of Jewish humor from Commentary Magazine.

The Eye-Test Joke 

Max Goldman, 88 years old, goes to the Motor Vehicles Bureau in Miami. He has to take an eye exam before they will renew his license. After a spate of accidents involving senior drivers, the Bureau has decided to make the test difficult and ask people to read the fifth line from the top only. The line says “KPROGNRWY.”

The tester asks, “Can you read that, Mr. Goldman?”

“Read it?” he says. “That momzer was my next-door neighbor in Lodz!”

 

 

 

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has a couple of posts on the Trump phenomenon.

The normal view of human beings is that we are mostly rational, but sometimes we get a bit emotional or crazy. My so-called Moist Robot Hypothesis on reality says the reverse, that we are irrational nearly all the time and that we rationalize our decisions after the fact. That view comes from my experience as a trained hypnotist.

I know that most of you don’t completely buy into the Moist Robot Hypothesis, so I devised an unscientific test to rattle your confidence in your own rational processes.

I went into my garage and spent approximately two minutes selecting tools that represent the main political candidates for U.S. president. See how quickly you can tell which tool represents which candidate. My hypothesis is that those of you following American politics will easily map the tools to the candidates. No real “thinking” required. The pattern matching (bias) will be immediate.

But before you start, remember to observe your own mental processes as they happen, to see if the “thinking” happens before or after you decide which tool is which candidate. I’m betting you’ll decide first and think second. See if you feel it happening that way.

From the image below, identify the tool that maps to: Rubio, Cruz, Trump, Carson, Clinton, Fiorina, Christie, Paul. …

 

 

Scott Adams also posts on the “schlong” comment.  

… 1. Schlonged has just enough deniability built into it (similar to saying someone “sucks”) that Trump could almost-sort-of-but-not-quite explain it away. That “almost-but-not quite” quality makes it news. That is precisely how one would engineer a sticky story. A future president (and potential role model) who uses vulgar terms is a “man bites dog” story with just the right amount of “maybe not” to keep people jabbering. …

3. A strong majority of humans love schlongs. Men love schlongs because we have them. Lots of women like them too. Schlongs are not politically correct, but when it comes to popular body parts, they are in the top two. From a rational perspective, using a vulgar-sounding expression is a mistake. But the Master Persuader filter only cares about the reflexive associations you make in your mind. And on the reflex level, schlongs are a base-clearing home run. 

4. Schlongs also make you think of Bill Clinton and how hard Hillary must have tried to get a lock on his schlong. That doesn’t help her. …

  

 

We have one last joke. This one is on us. A 2008 video of a presidential candidate promising no vacations during his time in office. Daily Caller has the story. Go to the link for the video of the liar.

 

 

December 22, 2015 – LACK OF LEADERSHIP

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

The president is on vacation, so the country is safer for a few weeks. This is 2015′s last roundup for him. 

Krauthammer writes on the president’s “legacy of fakery.”

Last Saturday, Barack Obama gained the second jewel in his foreign policy triple crown: the Paris climate accord. It follows his Iran nuclear deal and awaits but the closing of Guantanamo to complete his glittering legacy.

To be sure, Obama will not be submitting the climate agreement for Senate ratification. It would have no chance of passing — as with the Iranian nuclear deal, also never submitted for the Senate ratification Obama knew he’d never get. And if he does close Guantanamo, it will be in defiance of overwhelming bipartisan congressional opposition.

You see, visionary thinkers like Obama cannot be bound by normal constitutional strictures. Indeed, the very unpopularity of his most cherished diplomatic goals is proof of their prophetic farsightedness.

Yet the climate deal brought back from Paris by Secretary of State John Kerry turns out to be no deal at all. It is, instead, a series of carbon-reducing promises made individually and unilaterally by the world’s nations.

No enforcement, no sanctions, nothing legally binding. No matter, explained Kerry on “Fox News Sunday”: “This mandatory reporting requirement . . . is a serious form of enforcement, if you will, of compliance, but there is no penalty for it, obviously.”

If you think that’s gibberish, you’re not alone. Retired NASA scientist James Hansen, America’s leading carbon abolitionist, indelicately called the whole deal “bulls—.”

He’s right. …

 

 

 

Mark Steyn comments on the court martial of Bowe Bergdahl and the surreal scene with his parents and the Fool.

… The deserter may get his just deserts, but what of the man who made the “deal” for him and then honored the deserter with a Rose Garden photo-op with his Taliban-supporting dad. As I wrote on June 6th 2014:

The justification for Bergdahl Snr’s wacky behavior – the Taliban beard, the invocations of Allah, the Arabic and Pushtu, the pledge that the death of every Afghan child will be avenged – the justification for all this is that, well, he’s also been under a lot of strain. He hasn’t seen his kid for half-a-decade. That could unhinge anyone. Give the guy a break…

But the point is he was pulling this strange stuff before his son was kidnapped.

Which makes that Rose Garden ceremony even more bizarre in its weird optics – the President of the United States embracing a Taliban sympathizer at the White House. There was no need to hold such an intimate photo-op. Yet Obama chose to do it. Why?

Given what the United States Government knew about Bergdahl at the time of that ceremony, ignorance of who he was is not a plausible explanation. …

 

 

The Federalist Blog catches the NY Times hiding bad news about the president.

… A story published by the New York Times late Thursday night caused some major media waves. The story, which was written by reporters Peter Baker and Gardiner Harris, included a remarkable admission by Obama about his response to the recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

By Friday morning, however, the entire passage containing Obama’s admission had been erased from the story without any explanation from the New York Times. …

 

 

 

Writing in WaPo, Dan Lamothe points out why it matters that Chuck Hagel is trashing the White House. Even someone as dense as Hagel can figure out we are worse than leaderless.

When Chuck Hagel resigned as defense secretary last year, the narrative was clear: President Obama and he did not see eye-to-eye on how to prosecute the war against the Islamic State, so Hagel needed to go. White House officials, speaking anonymously, said at the time that the president had lost faith in Hagel’s ability to lead — a charge that Hagel’s advisers brushed aside.

Now, a little over a year later, Hagel is swinging back. In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine published Friday, he said he remains puzzled why White House officials tried to “destroy” him personally in his last days in office, adding that he was convinced the United States had no viable strategy in Syria and was particularly frustrated with National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who he said would hold meetings and focus on “nit-picky” details.

“I eventually got to the point where I told Susan Rice that I wasn’t going to spend more than two hours in these meetings,” Hagel told Foreign Policy. “Some of them would go four hours.”

Hagel said the administration struggled with how to handle Syria — hardly a surprise, given the way Obama said in August 2012 that it would be a “red line” for the United States if Syria moved or used its chemical weapons stockpiles, but did not intervene militarily the following year when Syria did so. Hagel said that hurt Obama’s credibility, even if declared stockpiles eventually were removed through an agreement reached with Damascus.

“Whether it was the right decision or not, history will determine that,” Hagel told Foreign Policy. “There’s no question in my mind that it hurt the credibility of the president’s word when this occurred.” …

 

 

The Washington Post editors call attention to Iran’s provocations and the do-nothing administration.

IRAN IS following through on the nuclear deal it struck with a U.S.-led coalition in an utterly predictable way: It is racing to fulfill those parts of the accord that will allow it to collect $100 billion in frozen funds and end sanctions on its oil exports and banking system, while expanding its belligerent and illegal activities in other areas — and daring the West to respond.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s response to these provocations has also been familiar. It is doing its best to downplay them — and thereby encouraging Tehran to press for still-greater advantage. …

 

 

 

Before Hagel’s blast, Bob Gates suggested in a WaPo OpEd we do not want another president like this one. The story is from Market Watch.  

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been on a tear denouncing his most recent commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama.

His latest salvo came last week in a blistering op-ed in the Washington Post. Gates painted a picture of what our next president must be simply by listing, bullet point by bullet point, everything that Obama is not.

The next president, according to the Gates opinion piece, must understand the form of government we have and the need to build coalitions with the other two branches of government to get things done.

He or she needs to speak truthfully to the American people, not spin everything; must be resolute, not draw red lines without the firm intention of backing them up; must be a pragmatic problem solver, not an agenda-driven ideologue like our, ahem, most recent presidents; and must be restrained, in rhetoric and in his or her attitude toward the other branches of government.

Above all, according to Gates’s conclusion, the next president must be a unifier of the country and restore civility to the political process. …

… If nothing else, however, his experience in intelligence, on the National Security Council and as head of the Pentagon makes him one of the most seasoned analysts of foreign policy and national security that we have. So when he suggests we need someone as our next president with different qualities of leadership than those possessed by Barack Obama, it bears listening to.

 

 

Abe Greenwald sums up in Commentary. Saying on Barry’s watch we have had; the meltdown of Syria, the rise of ISIS, the worst refugee crisis of our time, and homegrown terror in the United States.

Three days after ISIS’s mass-casualty assault on Paris, Barack Obama proclaimed that the U.S. policy he had authorized to defeat the terrorist organization was nonetheless working. “We have the right strategy,” he told reporters who had come with him to Turkey for the G-20 Summit, “and we’re gonna see it through.”  The international press was incredulous. The president seemed to be standing behind his claim, made the day before the attacks, that ISIS was “contained.” How could Obama still say that the fight was succeeding? Reporters fired back with a series of questions. An AFP correspondent set the tone: “One hundred and twenty-nine people were killed in Paris on Friday night,” he said. “ISIL claimed responsibility for the massacre, sending the message that they could now target civilians all over the world. The equation has clearly changed. Isn’t it time for your strategy to change?” 

It was the thought on everyone’s mind—and it seemed to offend the leader of the free world. He became impatient, and assured one journalist after another he was correct. By the time CNN’s Jim Acosta asked bluntly, “Why can’t we take out these bastards?” Obama was in high dudgeon.

“If folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan,” he said. “If they think that somehow their advisers are better than the chairman of my joint chiefs of staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate.”

Eighteen days later, on December 2, U.S. citizen Syed Farook and his Pakistani wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot up a party at the InlandRegionalCenter in San Bernardino, California. They killed 14 people, wounded 21 others, and were discovered to have built an arsenal of pipe bombs in their apartment. As information on the couple trickled in that Wednesday afternoon, Obama was giving an interview to CBS News about national security. “ISIL will not pose an existential threat to us. They are a dangerous organization like al-Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses,” he said. “The American people should feel confident that, you know, we are going to be able to defend ourselves and make sure that, you know, we have a good holiday and go about our lives.” Two days later, authorities discovered that Malik had pledged fealty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It is no longer in dispute that the president has been overtaken by events. While he alternately scolds and reassures, ISIS fights on, gaining power and claiming lives.

But Obama has not been blindsided; he has chosen policies that have emboldened ISIS and has rejected other options at every turn. In fact, his words in Turkey were patently false. Obama doesn’t need an introduction to those who would have done things differently; he knows them well. They include two of his secretaries of defense, his former under secretary of defense, his former secretary of state, his former head of the CIA, his former Army chief of staff, the last commanding general of forces in Iraq, his former ambassador to Syria, his former deputy national-security adviser, and, yes, even his former joint chiefs chairman—among others.

… All these issues, however, are but manifestations of the larger encumbering reality: Barack Obama’s theological opposition to exercising effective American power abroad. The president’s inflexibility on that point has nurtured the rise of ISIS and tied our hands in the fight against it. But, with so few prudent options left, his stubbornness may have made a larger conflict with ISIS inevitable, either during the remainder of his term or after it. If so, Obama will have worked for eight years to avert a fate his very actions have summoned.

Today, the president still dismisses significant “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria as a nonstarter. On December 6, Obama spoke from the Oval Office, saying, “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria.” He then added this bizarre coda: “That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield.” ISIS wants to engage the United States in a war in order to lose? And we should therefore resist the fight? This is theology outweighing logic.

Perhaps in this period of post-Bush America, however, a ground war against ISIS really is out of the question. But we should be clear about something. ISIS controls vast swaths of land, out in the open. In adopting the structure of a state, the group has given up some measure of the asymmetrical advantage enjoyed by terrorists who traditionally “melt away” into the shadows after an attack; ISIS, in short, can be targeted and defeated like a state. If an American commander in chief cannot even countenance deploying ground soldiers and Marines to defeat a state comprising the worst terrorist threat we’ve ever faced, then we might have finally forfeited our last defense against evil. We are in the final year of a presidency that unwittingly midwifed a monster.

December 16, 2015 – CLIMATE AND GUNS

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

Today’s topics are climate and guns. Two topics upon which left/liberals go absolutely bonkers. Few things better illustrate their urge to coerce and command. Why is it their solutions always increase the state’s power?

 

We start with a post from Watt’s Up With That. Says the Paris confab has produced voluntary mush.

Paris climate talks this week descended into madcap all-night negotiations, as delegates desperately tried to salvage some kind of agreement beyond empty promises to do something sometime about what President Obama insists is the gravest threat to our planet, national security and future generations.

He gets far more energized about slashing energy use than about Islamist terrorism, even after the Paris and San Bernardino butchery. Determined for once to lead from upfront, he took a 500-person greenhouse gas-spewing entourage to the City of Light, to call for preventing increasing droughts, floods, storms, island-swallowing rising acidic ocean levels and other disasters conjured up by alarmist computer models.

Legally binding carbon dioxide emission targets were too contentious to pursue. So was modifying the concept of “differentiated responsibilities.” It holds that countries that historically caused the recent atmospheric carbon dioxide build-up must lead in cutting their emissions, while helping developing countries eventually do likewise, by pouring trillions of dollars in cash and free technology into the Green Climate Fund for supposed climate change adaptation, mitigation and compensation. Developing countries had insisted on that massive wealth redistribution as their price for signing any binding document.

Although China now emits far more CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) than the USA or EU, it refused to fast-track reducing those emissions. China and wealthy petro-states also opposed paying into the Climate Fund. Other major bones of contention were likewise never resolved.Thus, in the end, what we apparently got out of Paris is voluntary emission caps, voluntary progress reviews, no international oversight of any voluntary progress, and voluntary contributions to the Fund. …

 

 

 

David Harsanyi writing for the Center for Individual Freedom says the climate talks reveal progressives true hypocrisy.

What do you call it when elites fly their private jets to an international climate change conference to forge a deal with despots that caps American prosperity without our consent? You call it progressivism.

It’s estimated that 50,000 carbon-spewing humans participated in the Paris climate conference. …

… On Wednesday, Obama alleged that without a climate change agreement, there could be “submerged countries, abandoned cities, fields that no longer grow” — assertions that are no more than fearmongering, ratcheted up over the decades by frustrated environmentalists and now confidently thrown around by presidents. These prophecies are tethered to reality in the same way Donald Trump’s whoppers are, although the media treat the former with undeserving respect.

Transforming ideology into a “science” is not a new development on the left. But the most useful indicators tell us that humanity’s prospects are on the upswing. Poverty is declining; crops are producing higher yields; and humans are living longer and healthier lives despite the mild warming we’ve experienced. And in spite of these advancements (or maybe because of them), Western leaders are prepared, conveniently enough, to cap growth, spread wealth and centralize power in the way progressives have always wanted to cap growth, spread wealth and centralize power. …

 

 

 

John Hinderaker says if you follow the money you’ll learn what climate meeting was about.

Yesterday in Paris, Secretary of State John Kerry inadvertently said something true, admitting that the policies the Obama administration has pursued with the ostensible object of fending off global warming are worthless:

“The fact is that even if every American citizen biked to work, carpooled to school, used only solar panels to power their homes, if we each planted a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what – that still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world.

If all the industrial nations went down to zero emissions –- remember what I just said, all the industrial nations went down to zero emissions -– it wouldn’t be enough, not when more than 65% of the world’s carbon pollution comes from the developing world.”

So what is global warming hysteria really all about? Money, mostly. The Paris conference is going into overtime, as we all knew it would, as the parties debate who is going to pay whom, and how much: …

 

 

 

Craig Pirrong turns our attention to gun control.

The San Bernardino massacre unleashed an all-too-common phenomenon: literally (and I am using the word properly) before the bodies were even cold, politicians, pundits, and the hoi polloi (especially on Twitter) were using the atrocity to advance their own preferred narrative. The most common of these on the left was the gun control narrative. Hillary Clinton was one of the first off the mark to use San Bernardino to call for more stringent gun control measures. You know, before anyone–most notably one Hillary Rodham Clinton–knew anything about what had happened, beyond the fact that more than a dozen people had died. Obama was actually somewhat reserved, by his standards on this issue, and unexpectedly soft-pedaled his gun control message in his Oval Office speech on Sunday. But on the left the gun control drum was pounded for all it was worth, notably in a New York Times front page editorial.

Mass shootings like San Bernardino and Colorado Springs catalyze a flurry of calls for further restrictions on gun ownership, though these calls are frequently lacking in specifics, and are often more like ritual acts and political signaling of right-thinking (or should I say left-thinking?) views than concrete proposals. Moreover, mass shootings also unleash a volley of bad and misleading statistics. So bad, in fact, that those using them are almost certainly doing so in bad faith.

This phenomenon is not limited to activists, or the left generally. Even allegedly reputable mainstream publications like The Economist also peddle agitprop. The MO is to claim that mass shootings occur almost daily in the US: when brought up in the context of a Newtown or Aurora, the clear intent is to suggest that these types of mass shootings are representative. But even a cursory look shows that this is definitely not the case. …

 

 

More on guns as Kevin Williamson writes on “Irish Democracy.”

It isn’t even St. Patrick’s Day, but we are all Irish now: In Connecticut, the boneheaded state government passed a law demanding the registration of certain firearms, and the people of Connecticut, perhaps communing for a moment with their independent-minded Yankee forebears, mainly refused to comply. On the other side of the country in the heart of California’s technology corridor, the city of Sunnyvale demanded that residents hand over all firearms capable of accepting magazines holding more than ten rounds — effectively, everything except revolvers and some single-shot rifles — and the good men and women of Silicon Valley responded by turning in a grand total of zero firearms. Similar initiatives in other jurisdictions have produced similar results.

Political scientists call this “Irish democracy,” the phenomenon by which the general members of a polity resist the mandates of their would-be rulers by simply refusing to comply with them. It is a low-cost form of civil disobedience, but one that can be very effective at times: Mohandas K. Gandhi was entirely correct in his famous declaration to the British powers that they would eventually be forced to simply pack up their tiffin pails and go home, because 300,000 Englishman could not control 300 million (at the time) Indians if those Indians didn’t cooperate.

One way of considering the radical potential of simple noncompliance is the “10 percent synchronous subversion factor,” the proposition that if 10 percent of the U.S. population refused to (for instance) pay taxes or answer jury-duty summonses, then the rules would have to change, because they would be unenforceable: There aren’t enough tax agents, constables, slots on court dockets, or jail cells to enforce the rules against 32 million Americans if they should decide to refuse to comply with a given law. …

 

 

 

The No Pasaran blog found its way into the NY Times with a rebuttal to the front-page editorial.

… It is easy to tout the success of gun control laws in the rest of the Western world and to say that “this just doesn’t happen in other countries” when you ignore : the 1996 massacre of 16 children at a Scottish primary school; the 2000 killing of eight kids in Japan; the 2002 deaths of eight people in Nanterre, France; the 2002 killing of 16 kids in Erfurt, Germany; the 2007 shootings to death of eight people in Tuusula, Finland; the killing of 10 people at a Finnish university less than a year later; the 2009 killing of 15 people in Winnenden, Germany; and, needless to say, Anders Breivik’s 2011 mass murder of 77 Norwegians, most of them teenagers.

Is it unrealistic to wonder whether the tolls would have been lesser had a few of the adults in each place — as well as in Paris’s Bataclan a couple of weeks ago — carried a weapon and tried to shoot back at the respective killers? …

 

 

Late Night from Andy Malcolm.

Fallon: Sting will perform at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton this month. Hillary says she’s been a huge Sting fan ever since he agreed to perform at her fundraiser.

Fallon: Mark Zuckerberg is taking two months’ paternity leave now that his first child is born. That marks the first time anyone’s had a baby and tried to avoid Facebook.