Arguments put forward to support ethanol and other biofuels hold water like sieves – leaking billions of gallons of precious fresh water that are required to produce this expensive, unsustainable energy.
These and other renewable energy programs may have originated for the best of intentions. However, the assumptions underlying those intentions are questionable, at best, and many are rooted in anti-hydrocarbon worldviews and Club of Rome strategies that raised the specter of “looming disasters” like resource depletion and catastrophic manmade global warming, in which the “real enemy” is “humanity itself.” They also underscore how hard it is to alter policies and programs once they have been launched by Washington politicians, creating armies of special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors.
A review of biofuel justifications shows why these programs must be revised, cut back – or scrapped.
* Renewable fuels will prevent oil depletion and reduce imports. Baloney. US oil and natural gas were declining and imports rising for decades, because environmentalists and politicians blocked leasing and drilling. The very people decrying the situation were causing it. They wanted to justify a non-hydrocarbon future that would give them greater control over our economy and living standards – and build a power base that tied them and votes to farmers and companies that benefitted from this Washington-mandated industry and wealth transfers from taxpayers and consumers to the new political power brokers.
In reality, the United States has vast storehouses of petroleum. Hydraulic fracturing alone has unlocked billions of barrels of oil equivalent energy, created 1.7 million jobs, generated hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity and government revenues, and made America the world’s number one energy producing nation. Opening up areas that are now closed to leasing would build on this record.
This renewed production also reduced oil imports – even as increasing ethanol mandates and a persistent drought have forced the USA to import ethanol from Brazil. So now we’re importing oil and ethanol!
* Renewable fuels reduce carbon dioxide emissions and dangers of catastrophic climate change. Bunk. Ethanol production and use in fuels actually increases CO2 output and airborne ozone levels.
As I point out here, here and here, there is no evidence that rising CO2 levels are about to cause climate chaos. Global average temperatures have not increased in 17 years. The new NIPCC report demonstrates that human influences on our climate are small and localized, and their effects on temperature, climate and weather are almost impossible to separate from frequent, cyclical, completely natural variability.
The latest UN IPCC report deleted all references to this temperature standstill from the Summary for Policy Makers, and eliminated an IPCC graph that revealed how every single climate model predicted that average global temperatures would be up to 1.6 degrees F higher than they actually were over the past 22 years. IPCC bureaucrats politicized the science to the point of making their report fraudulent.
* Biofuels are better for the environment. Nonsense. We are already plowing an area bigger than Iowa to grow corn for ethanol – millions of acres that could be food crops or wildlife habitat. The energy per acre is minuscule compared to what we get from oil and gas drilling, with or without fracking. To meet the latest biodiesel mandate of 1.3 billion gallons, producers will have to extract oil from 430 million bushels of soybeans – converting countless more acres from food or habitat to energy.
To produce that biofuel, we’re also using massive quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, fossil fuels – and water. The US Department of Energy calculates that fracking requires 0.6 to 6.0 gallons of fresh or brackish water per million Btu of energy produced. By comparison, corn-based ethanol requires 2,500 to 29,000 gallons of fresh water per million Btu of energy – and biodiesel from soybeans consumes an astounding and unsustainable 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of water per million Btu!
* Farmers benefit from ethanol. Yes, some get rich. But beef, pork, chicken, egg and fish producers must pay more for feed, which means family food bills go up. Biofuel mandates also mean international aid agencies must pay more for corn and wheat, so more starving people remain malnourished longer.
* Ethanol brings cheaper gas and better mileage. Nonsense. Ethanol gets 30% less mileage than gasoline, so motorists pay the same or more per tank but can drive fewer miles. It collects water, gunks up fuel lines, corrodes engine parts, and wreaks havoc on lawn mowers and other small engines. E15 fuel blends (15% ethanol) exacerbate these problems. Biodiesel and ultra-expensive biofuel for military ships and aircraft make even less sense, especially when we have at least a century of petroleum right under our feet, right here in the United States, that many “renewable” energy advocates don’t want us to touch.
* Ethanol creates jobs. Yes, spending billions in taxes that could otherwise pay for other government or private programs … and billions in extra consumer costs for energy and food … does prop up biofuel programs, until companies go bankrupt anyway. As to “green” jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines “green jobs” as any that make a company “more environmentally friendly” – and elsewhere includes bus drivers piloting natural gas, biofuel or hybrid vehicles. The Solar Energy Society includes accountants, lawyers and landscapers involved even part time with making or installing solar panels. Even burger flippers could be green job, if they sell a meal to a truck driver who’s hauling corn to an ethanol plant.
Those capacious definitions should certainly include prosecuting attorneys and staffs going after the growing number of shady dealers who got “renewable energy tax credits” for selling fuels that were not 100% biodiesel – and others who sold fraudulent RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) to refineries that face stiff penalties if they fail to buy mandated amounts of ethanol and blend it into gasoline.
Because gasoline consumption is down, many refineries have hit a “blend wall” – meaning the gasoline they are producing already contains as much ethanol as vehicle engines and related equipment can safely handle. However, the government still requires them to buy more corn pone fuel – or purchase RINs or pay hefty fines. That drives up the price of RINs and creates many opportunities or the unscrupulous.
If Congress would simply let real free markets work, instead of mandating pseudo markets, much of this crime and corruption would end. Instead, it perpetuates perverse incentives, perks and money trains – which promote what could be the Environmentalist-Industrialist-Governmentalist Complex’s motto: “We don’t tolerate corruption. We insist on it.” Outright criminal activity is merely the tip of the iceberg.
“Green slime” doesn’t just describe algae-based biofuels. It also describes the entire DC-mandated biofuel system. About the only thing really green about it is the billions of dollars taken from taxpayers and consumers, and funneled to politicians, who dole the cash out to friendly constituents, who then return some of it as campaign contributions, to get the pols reelected, to perpetuate the gravy train.
Even some Democrats are finally questioning their party’s “steadfast support” for policies that promote “renewable” energy over oil and gas: Ben Cardin (MD), Robert Casey (PA), Kay Hagan (NC) and several colleagues have openly expressed concern about renewable mandates. One has to wonder why so many Republicans still can’t say no to ethanol.
Here are the biggest Republican ethanol boosters. Readers may want to call or email them, to present the facts and ask them why they (and most Democrats) insist on perpetuating this wasteful system, which benefits so few, at the expense of so many.
It will be interesting to see how they defend their profligate and environmentally harmful ways.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.
On the very same day that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) announces: “US Rises to No. 1 Energy Producer”—thanks to the shale boom made possible through a technology known as hydraulic fracturing—an environmental group released a report calling for a complete ban of the practice, which would effectively shut down the oil-and-gas industry (and all of the jobs and revenues it creates) and increase dependence on foreign oil. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
You probably haven’t heard about either, as most news coverage, on October 3, centered on the government shutdown—eclipsing all else.
Why would Environment America choose to release a report, that they call “the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking,” on a day when it would likely receive little attention? The answer is found in the WSJ: “the shale boom’s longevity could hinge on commodity prices, government regulations and public support.” (italics added)
Americans support the concept of energy independence. We don’t like the fact that we’ve been funding terrorists because we buy oil from people who hate us and who happily slaughter our citizens.
The Obama Administration is the most anti-fossil-fuel in history, yet within the past month, three Obama cabinet members—two former, one current—have declared fracking a safe technology for extracting oil and natural gas:
·At a speech in Columbus, Ohio, former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said that fracking “is something you can do in a safe way” and dismissed a study critical of fracking by saying: “we didn’t think it was credible.”
·At the Domenici Public Policy conference in Las Cruces, New Mexico, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stated: “I would say to everybody that hydraulic fracking is safe.”
·In a meeting with the NY Daily News editorial board, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz asserted: “Fracking for natural gas is climate-friendly, environmentally safe and economically stimulating” and added: “Which is just what America and New York need.”
Then, in the same month, in the greenest state of the Union, against strong opposition, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a hotly-contested bill that reflects the fact that he favors some level of fracking.
These pro-fracking news items, along with several recent reports pointing to the safety of hydraulic fracturing, have the anti-fracking crowd resorting to desperation. And, then the WSJ announces America’s energy dominance on its front page. I suspect that Environment America had their little report ready to go and were just waiting for the right time to release it—probably after the shutdown, when the news cycle had some space. But, when the WSJ heralded the US energy comeback, they just had to spring it—hoping to shift public opinion.
The environmentalists’ advertising efforts have had an impact—even though, as Secretary Chu noted, the anti-fracking argument isn’t “credible.” A September Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that opposition to increased use of fracking rose to 49% from 38% in the previous six months.
Why, when hydraulic fracturing has brought America to the brink of energy independence, been the biggest driver of job growth, lowered utility bills, and positively impacted the trade deficit, are people opposed to it? Because they don’t really know what it is, and, therefore, are gullible to the old adage: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
A University of Michigan report on hydraulic fracturing found: “The public tends to view the word ‘fracking’ as the entirety of the natural gas development process, from leasing and permitting, to drilling and well completion, to transporting and storing wastewater and chemicals.” In fact, fracking is limited to the process of injecting fluids into a well—just a few days of a multi-month operation (not counting leasing and permitting).
This widespread misunderstanding explains why the repeated lies have taken hold.
One of the most rampant lies about fracking made by the environmentalists is about water. The press release about the “fracking by the numbers” report, claims: “Of particular concern are the billions of gallons of toxic waste created from fracking, which threaten the environment, public health and drinking water.”
On page 5, Fracking by the Numbers states: “Fracking operations have used at least 250 billion gallons of water since 2005.” Which sounds ominous until you get some perspective. For example, over that same period, car washes have used more than twice as much water: 600+ billion gallons. In the state of Colorado, where water supplies can be constrained and oil-and-gas development is high, water used for fracking amounts to less than one-tenth of one percent of the state’s total water demand.
Also on page 5: “While most industrial uses of water return it to the water cycle for further use, fracking converts clean water into toxic wastewater, much of which must then be permanently disposed of, taking billions of gallons out of the water supply annually.” And: “Farmers are particularly impacted by fracking water use as they compete with the deep-pocketed oil and gas industry for water, especially in drought-stricken regions of the country.” These statements are just plain false. The oil-and-gas industry is now often using water that is not suitable for farming or drinking and then reusing the water over and over.
Mike Hightower, a hydrologist at Sandia National Labs adds: “Five years ago fresh water was used for each frac job, now they are using frac fluids that are 5 times saltier than sea water. That allows more reuse of waters, and is putting less strain on water resources in many western states.”
Dexter Harmon, Exploration Manager at Fasken Oil & Ranch, says they are using 88 percent produced water and Santa Rosa water that has been treated to remove harmful components and 12 percent fresh water to frac their Wolfberry wells near Midland, Texas. It cost about $1.75-$2.00/barrel to treat the produced water to get it ready to re-use on a frac job.
Plus, the industry is continually being revolutionized by technological advances. For example, GE has a new energy-efficient process that could cut the cost of water treatment in half, eliminate the need to transport the water for treatment, and decrease the chances of spills. MIT Technology Review, September 24, 2013, reported: “Based on pilot-scale tests of a machine that can process about 2,500 gallons of water per day, GE researchers say they are on track to cut the costs of treating salty fracking wastewater in half. The system needs to be scaled up for commercial use, but a full-sized system could treat about 40,000 gallons per day.”
Another lie repeated in the report (page 9): “There are ‘more than 1,000 cases’ of groundwater contamination.” Yet, the three major investigations of water contamination that were conducted by the EPA—Pavillion, Wyoming, the Range Resources case in Texas, and Dimock, Pennsylvania (made famous by the Gasland movie)—have all been cleared.
Additionally, three different environmentally aligned Obama administration members have made statements regarding an absence of evidence of fracking contaminating groundwater:
·At an August 1 breakfast, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, stated: “To my knowledge, I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater.”
·Ken Kopocis, President Obama’s nominee to be Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, was asked recently in testimony before Congress if he was aware of any cases of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing. His answer? “No I am not.”
·Lisa Jackson, President Obama’s former EPA chief, said: “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the [fracturing] process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.” This comment follows her previous testimony before Congress, when she explained that she is “not aware of any proven case where [hydraulic fracturing] itself has affected water.”
We could go on picking apart the 47-page report, but these lies, untruths, and deceptions on water give you the idea. Energy In Depth has a more thorough review of Environment America’s “Fracking by the Numbers,” in which they call the anti-fracking group “professional activists bent on preventing responsible energy development from taking place.”
The budget they have to produce propaganda and advertising campaigns to change public opinion seems unlimited. Environment America’s IRS Form 990 for fiscal year ending 06-30-2011, shows it has 210 employees with revenues of $3.7 million. In the acknowledgements, Environment America thanks the “Park Foundation for making this report possible”—The Park Foundation funded the anti-fracking movie Gasland and other anti-fracking activities. And they call the oil-and-gas industry “deep-pocketed.”
Thanks to hydraulic fracturing America is on the brink of energy independence, it has provided the biggest driver of job growth, lowered utility bills, and positively impacted the trade deficit, yet one small, well-funded, and vocal segment of the population is opposed to it—using false scare tactics to sway pubic opinion. When you think about why they would want to ban this single, effective economic stimulus, it should make you shudder and cause you to commit—with me—to spreading the truth.
Those of you who are supposedly outraged or indignant over the partial government shutdown, or have friends or neighbors who are outraged or indignant, I can tell you all how YOU can fix it. All you have to do is tell pollsters who call that you think Obama and the Democrats are responsible for the shutdown. As soon as that hits the papers, the shutdown will be over before the end of the day.
That is because it is Obama and the Democrats who shut down the government, because they are so certain that the Republicans will be blamed for it. And that ploy is part of the quixotic quest of Obama and the Democrats to manipulate the public to take back majority control of the House in the President’s second mid-term. Quixotic because that is unprecedented in American politics, and is never going to happen.
House Republicans sent over to the Democrat majority Senate three Continuing Resolutions (CRs) to fund the government. The Senate Democrat majority shot each one down on a unanimous straight party line vote. Every supposed Senate Democrat moderate marched in goose step with the liberal/left party line. Even supposed maverick Joe Manchin of West Virginia, from a state being crucified by the party liberals, voted with the Senate Democrat majority to shut down the government.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp won her race in North Dakota last year by 1% running as a supposed moderate Democrat. The people of her state overwhelmingly oppose Obamacare. But Heitkamp, like Manchin, would rather shut down the government than compromise over Obamacare.
The last CR the Republican House sent over to the Democrat Senate even funded all of Obamacare, except it required a one year delay in the highly unpopular individual mandate, to match Obama’s arbitrary and illegal one year delay in the employer mandate that Obama declared by decree without legal authorization. And it nullified the special exemption from the requirements of Obamacare for Congress and its staff that the Obama Administration decreed as well without legal authorization.
But every single Democrat in the Senate voted to keep the special exemption from Obamacare for Congress and its staff, and against the same one year delay in the mandate on working people that Obama illegally granted for the mandate on big business. That included every supposed moderate Democrat in the Senate – Heitkamp, Manchin, Landrieu, Kay Hagan of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, etc. They would rather shut down the government than agree to these highly popular, modest compromises of Obamacare. There goes Harry Reid’s Senate Democrat majority next year, which is really what is going to happen in Obama’s second mid-term election. (President Obama will then be the lamest lame duck ever.).
Indeed, Senate Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid even refused a House request for a routine Conference Committee between the House and the Senate to compromise over the Continuing Resolution to fund the government, assuring the continued shutdown Democrats are so certain will unseat the Republican House majority next year instead. To attempt to further manipulate public opinion against the Republicans, President Obama ordered Park Police to barricade the World War II memorial to keep out vets visiting Washington on a privately organized Honor Flight to see it. Similar barricades were set up at monuments all over Washington, including at scenic overlooks on the George Washington Parkway, in service to the cause of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee. These crass attempts at manipulating voters that Obama and the Democrats are so certain are too stupid to see what is going on is what really should be angering and driving to indignation you and your friends and neighbors.
House Republicans even started passing targeted funding bills to address particular issues, such as providing continued cancer treatments for children at the National Institutes for Health, keeping national parks open, and funding services for veterans. But Obama and Reid refused to even consider those bills as well.
When a reporter asked Harry Reid why the Senate would not pass a bill so children could continue to get their cancer treatments while the House-Senate budget battle dragged on, Reid responded, “Why would we do that?” and questioned the intelligence of the reporter. The obvious human answer was to save the lives of children. But Reid was not thinking about humanity. He was thinking about the political consequences of engineering a shutdown in further manipulation of the public against Republicans he is so certain the public will blame. In that context, his question made sense, including his disparagement of the reporter’s intelligence. Couldn’t she see the political value in denying health care to cancer stricken children, when the Republicans would be so obviously blamed for that?
But those bills were the beginning of the Republicans stumbling upon the right answer to the Democrats’ ploy. House Republicans should go back to regular order and start passing the remaining 11 or 12 appropriations bills to fund the entire government, except for Obamacare. Pass one each day, and hold a press conference to say the Republicans are ready to go to a Conference Committee with the Democrats if they disagree on the appropriations bill just passed.
But when it comes to the Treasury Department appropriations, the Republicans should just not fund the role of the rogue IRS in administering and enforcing Obamacare. When it comes to appropriations for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), House Republicans should just not fund any payments from the Federal Employee Health Benefits program for health insurance on the Obamacare Exchanges for Congress and its staff, eliminating any special exemption for Congress from the requirements of Obamacare, because no other employer is allowed under Obamacare to help employees buy health insurance on the Exchanges. And when it comes to appropriations for HHS, House Republicans should fund the Department, except for any funds to enforce and administer the individual mandate for at least a year, matching Obama’s legally unauthorized one year delay of the employer mandate.
Then if the Democrats disagree with the provisions of these appropriations bills, they can pass their own appropriations bills with different provisions, and go to a Conference Committee with the House to compromise over final legislation. This is standard procedure for passage of bills. Check your high school civics book.
President Obama says he will not negotiate over funding the government. That is all to the good, because he has no role in this appropriations process, until both houses of Congress pass an appropriations bill for his signature.
Then if the President favors the role of the IRS in Obamacare, or a special exemption deal for Congress from Obamacare, or enforcing the individual mandate on working people but not the employer mandate on big business that is in his own Obamacare bill, he can say so in vetoing any of these bills and keeping the government shut down to that extent. But there is no point in negotiating with him in advance, because he thinks the shutdown works to his political advantage, so will not show the leadership to compromise, as Reagan did in working with Congressional Democrats so successfully.
If Senate Democrats never get around to Conference Committee meetings on the appropriations bills, that would only reveal to everyone who is really responsible for the government shutdown after all. That would only mean that 800,000 nonessential federal employees out of 2.9 million would stay on furlough indefinitely. No harm to the public in that, and it would save a lot of money the government doesn’t have besides. Once House Republicans pass their appropriations bills, they can wait for Senate Democrats to show up to do their part as long as it takes.
But to win a complete victory over Obamacare, Republicans will have to advance a complete, alternative, replacement bill, which can capture the support of the public as vastly preferable to Obamacare. Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) has already introduced a comprehensive Republican alternative – H.R. 2300. Last month, the House Republican Study Committee introduced its proposal, authored by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN). These two bills provide the foundation for a complete replacement for Obamacare that would ultimately be victorious
Roe’s proposal would expand the current tax benefits for employer health insurance to everyone, with a standard health deduction of $7,500 (individual) or $20,000 (family) for all for the purchase of health coverage, regardless of how much the insurance actually cost. That greatly improves incentives over current law, encouraging the purchase of health coverage, but only up to reasonable limits in costs.
Moreover, Roe’s proposal would substantially liberalize Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSA deposits not spent on health care could be withdrawn tax free without penalty, which would greatly strengthen incentives not to waste money on health care when not necessary. Moreover, the proposal would allow unspent Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds to be rolled over and saved for future use, which would turn 35 million FSA accounts into new HSAs. The poor could also choose HSAs for their Medicaid coverage.
Replacing Obamacare, both plans would also eliminate over $1 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, cutting the now current Obamacare capital gains tax by 16%. Repealing the individual mandate would also effectively be another tax cut, freeing families to choose their own health insurance rather than having Kathleen Sebelius impose her choice on them. Repealing the employer mandate would be another tax cut on jobs, eliminating the driving incentive diminishing American jobs to part time work. Gone also would be the Obamacare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which has the power to cut Medicare benefits further without Congressional approval.
Roe’s proposal would also address pre-existing conditions by making health insurance guaranteed issue for anyone with continuous coverage, which is feasible and workable on that condition. Both plans would also provide federal funding to help states set up high risk pools, which would cover the uninsured who became too sick to buy new coverage in the market. Both would also increase competition and reduce costs by allowing the sale and purchase of health insurance across state lines nationally.
Both plans would capture the public imagination as a far superior, complete alternative to Obamacare, if Price’s refundable health insurance tax credit of roughly $2,500 per person was expanded to everyone, in place of Roe’s standard deduction. With that done right, the two plans joined together would earn a CBO score of universal coverage, unlike Obamacare, which lets down its most ardent supporters by leaving 30 million uninsured 10 years after full implementation, as scored by CBO! Moreover, the credit would provide equal health insurance tax benefits for everyone, unlike the deduction, which cuts taxes more for those with higher incomes, exposing a long time Republican vulnerability.
In addition, the poor would benefit greatly, with a CBO scored savings of $1 to $2 trillion over 10 years, if Medicaid was block granted to the states following the model of the enormously successful 1996 welfare reforms of the old AFDC program. The poor would be demonstrably served far better for far less with such Medicaid block grants.
The bottom line is that the resulting Obamacare replacement plan would provide for universal coverage (which Obamacare fails to do), with no individual mandate, no employer mandate, and a net tax and spending cut of at least $1 trillion over the first 10 years alone. The public would overwhelmingly embrace such a Republican health care alternative as vastly preferable to Obamacare. What a resounding reversal that would be in the public’s appraisal of President Obama and his legacy for Obamacare to be replaced by such a Republican alternative based on freedom of choice, market competition and incentives, rather than Obamacare’s effective take over and control over health care.
As we read and hear the accusations and counter-accusations, the insults and counter-insults — things like the Democrats accusing the Republicans of coming unhinged, and the Republicans accusing the Democrats of uncompromising arrogance — it’s important to acknowledge almost none of what politicians say about the so-called government shutdown matters.
Even if significant swaths of the government were to shut down, which will not happen, it would be only temporary. The long-term trajectory of government spending and debt has been and likely will continue to be up.
This is the 17th so-called government shutdown since the 1970s, and most people would agree the government is bigger, more intrusive, and more abusive than it’s been in living memory. See Obamacare. See No Child Left Behind. See NSA spying. See the 14,000 pages of regulations and 155 rules — and counting — of the Dodd-Frank law. See the record number of Americans in the federal and state prison systems. See the 40 years of Drug War failure. See the rise of warrior cops. See the nearly 79,000 pages of federal regulations. See the IRS and the nearly 74,000 pages of U.S. tax code.
It’s a bipartisan problem, as economist Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University reminds us:
Congress has the constitutional prerogative to control spending, and it does so through the debt ceiling, which sets the allowable limit of federal government borrowing. The first chart shows all the times that the debt limit has been raised since 1980, which includes 18 times under Ronald Reagan, four times under Bill Clinton, and seven times under George W. Bush. Most recently, President Obama raised the debt limit for his fifth time, to $16.69 trillion, $305 billion above the previous statutory limit, which is exponentially greater than when it first reached $1 trillion about 30 years ago in 1982.
It’s also apparently a split-personality problem. Here’s then-Senator Barack Obama on raising the government’s debt ceiling during a floor speech he gave in 2006:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up — raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.
Apparently the final destination of “the buck” Obama talked about in 2006 moved to Capitol Hill when he moved into the White House.
When Republican George W. Bush controlled the White House before Obama took office — a stint that included several years in which the House and Senate were also under the control of supposedly stingy Republicans — we saw the biggest spending binge since the launch of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs of the 1960s.
This shutdown isn’t a fight about the direction of government. It’s about the speed of government growth. Neither of the major political parties shows any evidence of really wanting to shrink government, because that would reduce their own power.
To those who might object that Republicans are trying to end Obamacare, thus reducing government’s power, remember two things: (1) the Republican establishment leaders did not want a shutdown over ending Obamacare, and (2) Obamacare was modeled on Romneycare in Massachusetts. Mitt Romney, of course, was the Republican governor of Massachusetts who lost to Obama in the 2012 presidential election.
We can bet there’d be much less agitation against Obamacare in Republican Party ranks if Romney had defeated Obama.
[First published at The Daily Caller.]
Rush Limbaugh recently cited research by The Heartland Institute and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) in a monolougue about global warming.
Rush pointed out that so-called “skeptics” (aka “scientists” adhereing to the scientific method) have a wealth of observed data and research to dispute the “policital science” claim that human activity is having a disastrous effect on the Earth’s climate.
Read more about what Rush was talking about at the Climate Change Reconsidered website — which contains the data that destroys the “political science” of the United Nations’ IPCC. And below the Rush clip, be sure to watch a one-minute-clip of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century explain what “scientific method” actually is. Hint: It’s not a bunch of experts declaring what “science” is.
So it came as a surprise when France flouted the studies and assurances of EU and US food safety regulators and sought to ban the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in any food contact item starting in 2015.
Activists are trying to push the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in the same direction. The EU should hold firm to the science and policy-making that led it to find that BPA, at levels at which humans are exposed, does not present a danger.
The science supporting the safety of BPA has become stronger as government bodies have poured tens of millions of dollars into independent research.
The widely used chemical is an important component in, among other things, food containers such as cans, where its application prevents botulism.
You’ve probably heard of BPA, since every time another animal study comes out, it gets disproportionately wide play in the press.
A Google search for “BPA causes” leads to related popular search results including “BPA causes infertility”, “BPA causes homosexuality”, and “BPA causes obesity”. This is all nonsense. But that’s what happens when animal studies that bear no relevance to real world human exposures are rewarded with press, prestige, and promises of more research funding.
The possibility that anti-chemical activists could succeed in removing such a well-tested and important chemical from the marketplace has some scientists uncharacteristically outspoken.
A group of prominent science journal editors with a broad range of backgrounds and experience wrote a powerful piece in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology this summer, which detailed why the BPA scare is scientifically unfounded.
They concluded that: “Regulations that profoundly affect human activities, that legally impose significant fines and even detention, should not be based on irrelevant tests forced to be regarded as relevant by administrative dictates, and on arbitrary default assumptions of no thresholds. Such standards would be contrary not only to science, but to the very principles of an enlightened governance and social contract. Not only scientists but society itself would pay dearly if unscientific approaches were to undermine our everyday practice of science, and the stringency of data analysis and evaluation developed by scientific thinking over the past centuries.”
The EFSA, the US Food and Drug Administration, and other governmental bodies have all pointed out that high dose animals studies are of little relevance to humans given our relatively low exposure.
So activists have fallen back on an old but still unproven theory that argues that very low levels of exposure actually have an even larger effect than higher exposures. But more and more research fails to support the allegations. In the US alone, the federal government handed out $30 million in economic stimulus money to study BPA. And even with that, the low dose theory still hasn’t been shown to exist in the real world.
Critics point out that some chemicals like BPA, known as endocrine disruptors, can briefly influence endocrine levels. But they dismiss the fact that our endocrine systems are dynamic, built to quickly adjust to brief exposure to endocrine disruptors, many of which occur naturally, in products like soy, and that our bodies metabolise BPA very quickly so that any minor change from such low exposure is transient, causing no harm.
Those seeking a ban have little to hang their hat on. The argument comes down to, first of all that endocrine disruptors are bad because they have a measurable effect on the human body, even though that effect isn’t shown to be harmful in humans. Secondly, that animals exposed to very high doses of endocrine disruptors do suffer harmful effects.
Thirdly, a regulatory scheme based on those justifications would amount to a de-facto ban on any product containing any amount of an endocrine disrupting chemical, since it is impossible to (ethically) prove, to the activists’ satisfaction, that the chemical is safe to humans.
That would be “ludicrous,” according to Daniel Dietrich, head of environmental toxicology research at Germany’s University of Konstanz. Dietrich, editor-in-chief of chemico-biological interactions, told the journal Nature, that he is among a group of respected scientists that rejects the “no threshold” theory that says absolutely no level of exposure is safe.
Instead, he argues regulators should rely on the “weight of the evidence,” which points clearly in the direction of a linear relationship between dose and response.
Regulators in the US, the EU, and other regulatory bodies have, to their credit, stuck with the weight of the evidence approach. Given the overwhelming evidence pointing to the safety of BPA at levels at which we are exposed, rational policy-making and sound science dictate regulators throughout the EU hold firm against the anti-BPA campaigns.[Originally posted on Pundicity]
On September 27 I was reading my Wall Street Journal as usual when I turned the page to read the following headline: “U.N. Affirms Human Role in Global Warming.” There is no human role in global warming and there is no global warming. The Earth has been in a cooling cycle for the past seventeen years. The Journal article began “Stockholm—A landmark United Nations report issued Friday reaffirmed the growing believe that human activity is the dominant cause because a rise in global temperatures and reiterated that a long-term planetary warming trend is expended to continue.” I concluded that the Journal had fallen into the common error of “verbatim reporting”, another way of saying that the two reporters bylined on the article had done nothing more than take the UN news release regarding the “summary report” of this week’s fifth “Assessment Report” (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and then embellished it with a few calls to people identified as experts or spokespersons. This isn’t journalism. It’s public relations. I know because I practiced both of these magical arts for many years. All governments, all institutions, all organizations, and all enterprises of every description practice public relations. The job of journalists, however, is to lend some balance to the claims or to expose outright lies. Much to its credit, a September 30 Journal editorial eviscerates the article, noting that the IPCC’s latest report is a “flimsy intellectual scaffolding…to justify killing the U.S. coal industry and the Keystone XL pipeline, banning natural gas drilling, imposing costly efficiency requirements for automobiles, light bulbs, washing machines, and refrigerators, and using scare resources to subsidize technologies that even after decades can’t compete on their own in the marketplace.” Every few years, in order to maintain the fiction of global warming, the IPCC has put out a report that it claims represents the combined wisdom of several hundred scientists and others—in this case 800 of them. I suspect that are far smaller group, a cabal, a coterie, and conspiracy of skilled propagandists actually write the IPCC reports. Most certainly, in 2009 with the online exposure of hundreds of emails between the so-called climate scientists at the University of East Anglia and others here in the U.S., dubbed “climategate”, we learned that they had been deliberately falsifying the outcomes of their computer models and, at the time, were growing increasingly worried over the obvious cooling occurring. What was striking about the totally uncritical Journal article was that even The New York Times—long an advocate of the global warming hoax—actually took note of the many scientists who have long since repudiated and debunked it. It reported that “The Heartland Institute, a Chicago organization, issued a document last week saying that any additional global warming would likely be limited to a few tenths of a degree and that this ‘would not represent a climate crisis.’” The Institute has created a website of useful information at www.climatechangereconsidered.com. As usual, one often has to read a British newspaper such as the Telegraph to get the other side of the story. It, too, took note of the Heartland Institute that, since 2008, has sponsored eight international conferences that brought together leading scientists to rebut the IPCC lies. In addition, it has released “Climate Change Reconsidered II”, a report that disembowels the IPCC’s report. The Telegraph quoted Prof. Bob Carter, a contributor to the Heartland report, who criticized the IPCC for its “profoundly distorted” view of climate science, calling it a “political body” that was “destroying the essence of the scientific method.” In a commentary posted on the widely-visited website, Watts Up With That, by Anthony Watts, two leading skeptics of global warming, Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger described the IPCC’s AR5 as a “Humpty Dumpty-esque report once claiming to represent the ‘consensus of scientists’ (that) has fallen from its exalted wall and cracked to pieces under the burdensome weight of its own cumbersome and self-serving processes, which is why all the government’s scientists and all the government’s men cannot put the IPCC report together again.”The IPCC report, said Michaels and Knappenberger, was rendered “not only obsolete on its release, but completely useless as a basis to form opinions (or policy) related to human energy choices and the influence on the climate.” They concluded by recommending that “The IPCC report should be torn up and tossed out, and with it, the entire IPCC process which produced such a misleading (and potentially dangerous) document.”
For the layman who has little or no knowledge of climate science or meteorology, it is sufficient to know that none of the claims put forth about global warming have come true. None of the claims being made again will come true. Indeed, given the cycles of ice ages, the present cooling could turn into a new one.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
The Great Government Shutdown is not that big a deal, even for the government. The federal civilian workforce includes 2.9 million bureaucrats. Out of that, only 800,000 are being furloughed, or just 27%. Even for these workers, the shutdown just amounts to a paid vacation for a few days.
Just like the overballyhood sequester, average Americans won’t notice any change in their lives at all. But for those you who are offended and indignant by the shutdown, or who know somebody who is, I can tell you how to fix it.
The Real Reason for the Shutdown
The government is shut down for only one reason. Barack Obama and the Democrats wanted a shutdown. That is because Obama and the Democrats are so certain that the public will blame the Republicans. And they are certain of that because your dopey neighbors keep telling pollsters that the Republicans are at fault.
Listen, if your friends, neighbors, and relatives are upset about the shutdown, and they want it to end, they have the power to stop itimmediately! All they have to do is tell pollsters that the shutdown is the fault of President Obama and the Democrats. If they will just do that, the shutdown will be over faster than you can say Your Mama.
I explained the shutdown to my son, one of the few young men his age in America with a good job, this way in a text, when he asked about it:
It is a good demonstration that we have too much government. A fourth of federal workers, 800,000, are sent home, and no one even notices. Obama and the Democrats wanted the shutdown because they are certain the public will blame the Republicans, and it is part of the grand Obama/Democrat strategy to manipulate the public into voting down the Republican House majority in 2014, the last check on Obama’s increasingly authoritarian rule. Democrats care ONLY about their own political POWER and nothing else. The poor, minorities, seniors, are all just used as props by the Democrats to expand their political power. Notice how easily the Democrats dropped seniors and slashed their Medicare when that was convenient to enact Obamacare, which is only all about another opportunity for massive expansion of their power.
The Republicans did everything they could to avoid a shutdown, and still represent their constituents, because they know what the Democrats are thinking, and licking their chops about. They know that the Democratic Party controlled media will tell everyone the shutdown is the Republicans’ fault. Candy Crowley, Ann Compton, David Gregory, George Stephanopoulos, and the rest of the Democrat operatives carrying on their revolution by other means, posing as journalists. This is the world we live in.
The Republicans are just doing what they were elected to do — stop Obama’s runaway socialist transformation of America, into a slow growth, lagging behind, former world-leading superpower. And as I recently explained in this space, they have done a good job. They have reversed the runaway Obama Democrat spending spree from O’s first two years, with total federal spending now actually declining, in actual dollars, the last two years in a row, since the Republican House majority was first elected in 2010. The last time that happened was right after the Korean War, 60 years ago.
And now the Republicans have bravely fought to reverse Obamacare, as the American people have been demanding, which they will do, once they get the chance, I am confident.
Democrats for Dictatorship
But the continuing resolution (CR) fight is well worth the price, for what the fight has revealed about the Democrats, if the low information voters out there would just put on their thinking caps and pay attention. Republicans have now passed three CRs to fund the government. President Obama and the Democrats have just sneered at them, and pronounced that they are the ruling class, and do not need to stoop to negotiate with Republicans about it.
President Reagan served his entire 8 years in office with a Democrat majority House run by the partisan Democrat Speaker “Tip” O’Neill. Reagan never refused to negotiate with O’Neill and his House Democrats. Reagan had them over to the White House to talk to him all the time. Consequently, Reagan got a lot done with them. They refused to even consider any entitlement reforms (payola for the Democrat political machine). But Reagan succeeded in getting them to agree to serious reductions in domestic discretionary spending.
Reagan got through the Democrat-controlled House in his very first year $31 billion in spending cuts, close to 5% of federal spending then, which would be the equivalent of about $175 billion in spending cuts today. And those cuts were co-sponsored by a House Democrat! In constant dollars, non-defense discretionary spending declined by 14.4% from 1981 to 1982, and by 16.8% from 1981 to 1983. Moreover, in constant dollars, this non-defense discretionary spending never returned to its 1981 level for the rest of Reagan’s two terms! By 1988, this spending was still down 14.4% from its 1981 level in constant dollars. Even with the Reagan defense buildup, which won the Cold War without firing a shot, total federal spending declined from a high of 23.5% of GDP in 1983 to 21.3% in 1988 and 21.2% in 1989. That’s a real reduction in the size of government relative to the economy of 10%.
President Reagan also got through Tip O’Neill’s Democrat-controlled House a 25% across the board cut in federal income tax rates for everybody, compromised down from the 30% cut he campaigned on. Then in his second term, he worked with the long-time Democrat Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to achieve bipartisan support for the most sweeping tax reform in American history. As a result, during his time in office, President Reagan slashed the top federal income tax rate from an abusive, confiscatory 70%, all the way down to 28%, the greatest tax cut in world history.
As a result, the economy which the Democrats had left in shambles in the 1970s, with double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment and double-digit interest rates, took off after a couple of years in the greatest economic boom in world history. Inflation was reduced to negligible levels at the same time, which all the Democrat poobahs said would be impossible, and federal tax revenues doubled as a result.
But President Reagan was a real leader, and heart and soul a product of middle-class American culture. Not a Marxist infiltrator who is not culturally an American, but raised during his formative years in Muslim Indonesia.
President Obama illegally granted Congress and its staff a special exemption to the requirements of Obamacare, contrary to the express language of the Obamacare law. Instead, Congress has its own special deal, financed by the taxpayers, with the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). If Obamacare is such a good deal, why did even Nancy Pelosi go crying to President Obama on behalf of Congressional and staff Democrats when they realized they would lose this special FEHBP deal for themselves under the law?
The Republicans in their CR to fund the government expressly reiterated that Members of Congress and their staffs, as well as the President and Vice President and top Obama Administration political appointees, would all be subject to Obamacare in the Exchanges under the same rules as they have imposed on everyone else. But every Democrat in the Senate voted against that and in favor of the special exemption from Obamacare for themselves in the process of unpeeling and rejecting the Republican CR to fund the government. Landrieu, Pryor, Begich, every vulnerable Democrat.
President Obama illegally delayed the employer mandate in Obamacare for one year, again contrary to the express language of the Obamacare law. The Republicans in their CR to fund the government provided that the individual mandate on working people requiring them to buy the highly expensive health insurance that the government has chosen for them to buy, or pay a penalty, shall be delayed as well. But every Democrat in the Senate voted against that and in favor of imposing the individual mandate and penalty on working people next year, but not the employer mandate and its penalty on their big business contributors. That again includes Landrieu, Pryor, Begich, every vulnerable Democrat.
President Obama in fact has illegally delayed over 20 provisions of his own Obamacare law, contrary to the express provisions of that law, with no legal authorization to do so whatsoever. The Republicans in another CR to fund the government provided for a one year delay in the entire Obamacare law, which the President has already effectively admitted by his own actions is not ready for prime time. But every Democrat in the Senate just laughed this down as well.
Thus we have the Senate Democrats for Dictatorship Caucus. The one-year delay in all of Obamacare would have legally authorized the President’s illegal actions in all the parts of Obamacare he has illegally delayed. Without that, President Obama today is now effectively ruling by decree, without authorization of law, like the authoritarian ruler of a Third World, banana republic, with the full support of the Democratic Party.
House Republicans should respond by opening hearings, where witness after witness will recount all the illegal actions Obama has taken without authorization of law, indeed, contrary to his Constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Such unspeakable conduct in office by Obama cannot be defended, amounting to impeachable offenses, and that is not a point over which reasonable people can differ.
It does not matter that the Republicans cannot succeed in removing Obama from office in the face of the Democrat majority in the Senate. The point is first of all that the Republicans must stand up for the rule of law in America. This is not Argentina or Venezuela,as Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and the rest of today’s Democrats believe. Secondly, this action will dramatize to the American people Obama’s egregious conduct in office. Thirdly, this action will put Obama and the Democrats on the defensive, over conduct that they cannot publicly defend.
Meanwhile, the Republicans seem to have hit their stride passing bills to fund the most urgent pieces of the federal government one by one. This may break through to even the low information voters out there that it is the Republicans trying to fund the government, and the Democrats refusing to do a thing to do so. The Republicans should pass these as actual appropriations bills in fact, and announce that they stand ready to meet Senate Democrats on these bills in a Conference Committee to keep the government funded whenever the Senate Democrats show up for work.
[Originally Posted on The American Spectator]
I was on a radio talk show with Bill Bunkley in Florida on September 26 when a caller who sounded otherwise sympathetic to fracking said the water used in fracking becomes “permanently toxic” and cannot be used for anything else, whereas water used for ethanol is generally just for irrigating corn fields and most of it recharges the aquifer.
I admitted to not knowing the fate of the water used for fracking but said I understood the water is re-injected below the level of aquifers and therefore didn’t pose a public health concern. He then expressed concern that this water was therefore “lost forever,” and we were permanently reducing the world’s supply (or at least a region’s supply) of freshwater. I invited the caller to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with his question and said we would post the answer at our Web site. I guess the email hasn’t arrived. So I asked Isaac Orr, a writer who studied geology with expertise on the subject of hydraulic fracturing, to reply to my understanding of the question, as stated above. Here is Isaac’s reply:
The caller said that the water is permanently contaminated, which isn’t true. The water can be treated, but it takes more than just your run of the mill water treatment facility to handle the job. The average fracked well uses approximately 2-4 million gallons of water. Of this amount, 80-90% of the original water used stays in the well permanently, i.e. is removed from the water cycle.
The other 10-20% of that water flows back to the surface (flowback water). In the Marcellus Shale, 90% of the flowback water is treated and recycled (which brings it back into the water cycle), while 10% of this water is trucked to disposal wells (removed from the water cycle).
So, while the water used for fracking isn’t made “permanently toxic,” most of it is not in fact returned to the water cycle. The bright side is hauling all of this water is expensive, and companies are constantly looking for ways to use less water to achieve the same level of fracturing. Also, from a global perspective, the amount of water being used for fracking is very small.
Attention climate realists: You must check out the news report embedded below from Sept. 28 on KSTP-TV, the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Background: Last week, KTSP asked Heartland to provide an “alternative view” for their coverage of the IPCC’s summary report. Heartland President Joseph Bast was happy to oblige via a remote interview during his tour stop in Tampa, Florida last week for promotion of the new climate report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). (Joe’s a trouper! And he wore one of his more attractive ties without a prompt by me!)
Short of a story with the correct angle — that the IPCC is full of (not-so) hot air and a truck load of beans — this is about as good as it gets by the MSM.
I have a lot of favorite parts from this report. It’s hard to top the graphic that shows covers of the IPCC report and the much more attractive and compelling NIPCC report side-by side, presenting them on rightful equal footing. But I also enjoyed the set up, which describes a “controversy” and a “long-running debate” on what is really affecting the climate (news, certainly, to many KSTP viewers.) It was also nice of them to find and run some “B-roll” of Heartland’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change.
At the end of the report, the anchor says this:
The report issued at the UN today does acknowledge that there is likely no way to stop global warming. It says policies regarding fossil fuel emissions could help slow the process, but it’s likely we will have to find ways to manage the impact of a warmer climate.
Now where have I heard that before? That anchor is ready for promotion to the Big Network!
This is yet another example of what winning the climate debate looks like.
In an interview with The New American magazine, Illinois-based Heartland Institute Education Research Fellow Joy Pullmann outlined the crucial link between the Obama-backed “Common Core,” the federally funded tests that go with it, and the vast data-gathering apparatus being erected by the administration to gather private information on U.S. students.
“The first thing people have to know is that testing is inseparable from Common Core,” said Pullmann. There are currently two testing consortia developing Common Core assessments for state governments with federal tax dollars, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
As part of the agreements signed between state governments and the federally backed consortia, data gathered on children at school will be provided to the organizations. As an example of the types of data being sought, one of the consortia was interested in information on “student behavior, their attitudes, their persistence, their discipline, and so forth — a lot of non-academic things that a lot of parents aren’t comfortable with.”
“We have a mass of student information available and open and unprotected — personal information about kids — that is literally being collected by Common Core,” Pullman continued. Indeed, the administration has essentially re-written federal privacy regulations — without approval from Congress — to claim that information on children can be shared without parental knowledge or consent.
Aside from the data-mining schemes, Pullmann said other problems with nationalizing education through Common Core include the fact that it enhances the education monopoly already held by government. That will allow special interests, which invariably seek out power sources, to push their agenda more easily. Beyond that, the agenda goes even deeper. “The real goal is social engineering,” Pullmann said, echoing widespread concerns among Common Core critics across the political spectrum. “…The goal is to create a workforce that responds to the needs of the 21st century, as determined by the central planners.”
[First posted at Illinois Review.]
If EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy kept her eyes open last month during her tour of the Pebble Group’s proposed mining site in southwestern Alaska, she saw a mining group committed to the most impressive environmental stewardship possible. I know this because I toured the Pebble Group’s proposed mining site just a few days before McCarthy.
Everything I had read during recent years about the Pebble Mine site indicated the Pebble Group was committed to mining the world’s largest untapped copper deposit (as well as substantial gold and molybdenum deposits) in an environmentally friendly manner. I liked what I saw from afar, but there was a part of me that wanted first-hand assurance that what looks good on paper is actually environmentally friendly in real-world application. This is especially so because I consider Alaska one of the most beautiful places on Earth. So when the Pebble Group invited me to tour the proposed mining site and examine their preliminary work, I accepted.
In full disclosure, the Pebble Group covered my airfare and hotel costs. I flew from Florida to Alaska on a Thursday, toured the proposed mine site on Friday and flew back to Florida on Saturday. It rained during two of my three days there. The cross-continent trip required me to spend a heck of a lot of time crammed into economy airplane seats, but I considered this worth the opportunity to see what has become an environmentally controversial mining proposal. While accepting the Pebble Group’s offer to cover my costs to come see the proposed mining site, I made no promises that I would say good things about what I saw.
Make no mistake, despite my initial positive impression from afar, the proposed Pebble Mine has become a lightning rod for environmental controversy. Environmental activists claim the proposed mine would endanger the Bristol Bay salmon population, which is the subject of commercial salmon fishing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even took the highly unusual step of producing a lengthy (and negative) environmental critique of what they assumed the Pebble Group’s mining plan would be, even though the Pebble Group had yet to present a formal mining plan. To date, the Pebble Group has indicated they would like to recover natural resources on the site, but they are still formulating a specific mining plan.
My first impression of the mining site was its isolation. It is approximately 18 miles Northwest of Iliamna, a small village of 100 people located approximately 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. Iliamna stands by itself. The only roads are local and the only way into town is by air.
Flying the 200 miles from Anchorage in a small airplane, I didn’t see a single town until we landed in Iliamna. Alaska as a whole is incredibly vast and largely devoid of humans. Southwestern Alaska seemed especially vast and devoid of humans.
Adjacent to the small Iliamna airport, the Pebble Group has a small orientation building. For Pebble visitors, this is the first stop before touring the proposed mining site. Environmental stewardship is emphasized in the orientation presentation, guidance posters, and rules and procedures posted throughout the orientation center.
“Fish Come First,” reads the title of a prominent poster at the entrance to the orientation center, with several underlying paragraphs providing instructions on the fish-friendly rules and regulations applying to Pebble employees and visitors. Pebble employees and visitors are not even allowed to go fishing in local streams and rivers on their own free time.
“Zero Harm” is emblazoned in large letters on safety vests that all employees and visitors must wear when traveling to the mine site.
To reach the prodigious copper deposit, employees and visitors must travel by helicopter 18 miles northwest of the village. The Pebble Group’s environmental commitment is apparent in its decision to transport all people and equipment to and from the deposit by air rather than build a small road that would save substantial transportation expense.
The deposit itself is in the approximate shape of a circle with a mere two-mile diameter. The rare concentration of so much copper, gold and molybdenum (a mineral extremely valuable for high-strength steel alloys and for non-liquid lubrication) in such a small area makes the site the most valuable undeveloped mining site in the world. The Pebble Mine by itself would expand U.S. copper production by 20 percent.
The deposit sits in a small circular depression in the land, surrounded by rolling hills. No rivers or significant streams run through the deposit site. The lay of the land is especially well-suited to containing the environmental impacts of a mine.
Bristol Bay is over 100 aerial miles away from the deposit site. Streams and rivers near the deposit site twist and turn their way approximately 200 miles before reaching the bay. It is difficult to imagine how mining activity so far inland, within such a small topographical depression surrounded by hills, would have any measurable impact on salmon populations in Bristol Bay. Nevertheless, the Pebble Group is employing the most environmentally advanced technologies to safeguard Bristol Bay salmon, pre-testing water throughout the region and planning to diligently monitor water throughout the area after mining activity commences. The most likely environmental challenge confronting the mining group is their environmental safeguards are so technologically advanced that their water discharges are likely to be cleaner and purer than surrounding waterways. To address this, they are planning ways to mix area sediments into their water discharges to perfectly match area water quality.
The deposit sits on land owned by the State of Alaska. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation will oversee any mining operations, in addition to a multitude of federal environmental agencies. Even in the absence of the Pebble Group’s diligent environmental stewardship, it would be highly unlikely for Alaska environmental regulators to allow mining operations that would cause substantial environmental harm. Federal rules and regulations appear to be overkill regarding proposed mining operations on Alaska state lands.
For such minimal environmental impact, the economic benefits are substantial. With all the attention justifiably given to the potential economic benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline, the economic benefits of the proposed Pebble Mine are potentially even greater.
The estimated value of the copper, gold and molybdenum at the site is between $300 billion and $500 billion. Much of the profits will remain with the Alaskan people, in the form of fees, taxes and royalties paid by the Pebble Group. Still more money will be paid to the federal government. Mining operations will create more than 2,000 high-paying jobs, including 1,000 permanent jobs. This economic bounty will benefit the entire U.S. economy, while the people of Iliamna would be the greatest beneficiaries of all.
During her visit to Alaska late last month, Gina McCarthy promised the Pebble Group that science would govern any EPA determinations regarding the proposed mine. If McCarthy is true to her word, expect to see approval for the most important new mining project in recent years, supported by environmental stewardship that is second to none.
[First Published by Forbes]
Constitutionally, the people’s House holds the government’s purse strings. It does not need to pass a law requiring an agency to stop spending money. It can simply withhold authorization to spend it. That is, the House can simply refuse to act.
Suppose you have a child who is profligately spending your money on things that you disapprove of and that are very harmful—by charging them to your credit card. If the card is about to expire, you don’t have to use force to restrain the child, you could simply decline to renew it.
The government would grind to a halt if the House did not appropriate any money. After passing a Continuing Resolution to continue all spending except for ObamaCare all the House has to do is stand firm.
There are two men in our “democratic” government with the power to stop a law single-handedly: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, by refusing to bring it to a vote, and Barack Obama, who can veto it.
But neither or both of them have the power to force 218 members of the House to vote for funding ObamaCare. Remember, it is funding that requires affirmative action, not defunding. Obama, Reid, and their allies in the government and in the press can remonstrate, argue, plead, bully, and threaten. But if 218 Representatives refuse to capitulate, ObamaCare does not get funding. That means that implementation of ObamaCare cannot continue to defund other government agencies, the taxpayers, and the future generations responsible for paying the debt—and of course businessmen and workers who are being hammered by the unworkable regime.
So what will the Obamacarians do? Will they refuse to spend money that has been appropriated, holding the military, air traffic control, firefighters, food stamp recipients, and millions of other federal workers and recipients of federal benefits hostage to their signature program? If HHS bureaucrats, navigators, and exchanges don’t get their checks, will everyone else have to suffer?
If the ObamaCare zealots inflict this disaster on the nation to save their much-hated program, how do they imagine that people will blame the 218 for the refusal of the two to let the voice of the people, as expressed by the people’s House, prevail?
With the complicity of the media, this could possibly occur, a testament to the power of indoctrination of masses who are dependent on government and bereft of any understanding of how it operates.
But as their increasing shrillness suggests, the Obamacarians have cause to worry. They rammed the law through with parliamentary skullduggery and bribes, despite massive opposition in townhalls, marches, and jammed telephone lines. They apparently thought people would accept the law once passed. But now that people are learning what it really means to them, opposition is growing, not dying down. Some polls show that Americas who disapprove of the law outnumber those who approve by a margin of 2 to 1.
“Our nation, our people, our doctors, and our entire medical industry are seriously threatened by the misguided program known as Obamacare. With our political institutions divided by special interests, our nation’s last line of defense is the Constitutional authority granted to the House of Representatives to control our national expenditures.
“We call upon all Republican Congressional Representatives and all Democrat Congressional Representatives, who are concerned about truly representing their constituents, to use their authority to stop Obamacare by withholding funding of the program.”
In petitions circulated by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, doctors state that the law “makes it impossible for me to fully fulfill my obligations.” Patients state that “I rely on the patient physician relationship to serve my best interests, but Obamacare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, forces the physician-government relationship to be placed ahead of me in the exam room.
This debate shows how far we have come toward inverting the relationship between American citizens and their government, putting government on top of subservient subjects.
[First Published by AAPS]
How appropriate that Rupert Darwell and his book, The Age of Global Warming: A History, should be featured by The Heartland Institute at its Author series on Thursday, September 26, the day before the release of the UN IPCCreport on global warming. The UN’s 2013 report followed the same set hypothesis as in prior years; namely, that the root cause of global warming was man-made and that its cause was CO2. Unexplained was how the probability factor of man-made global warming was cited as 95% in the 2013 IPCC report, while in the 2007 report it was five points lower at 90%.
About Rupert Darwell, he read economics and history at Cambridge, after which he worked at the Conservative Research Department and then in the City as an investment analyst and in corporate finance. He has written or leading publications in the UK and the US and for London-based think tanks.
This brief synopsis of Rupert’s book appears on its dust jacket:
Rachel Caron’s epoch-creating Silent Spring marked the beginnings of the environmental movement in the 1960′s, its “First Wave” peaking at the 1972 Stockholm Conference. The invention of ‘sustainable development’ by Barbara Ward, along with Rachael Carson the founder of the environmental movement, created an alliance of convenience between First World environmentalists and Third World set on rapid industrialization.
The First Wave crashed in 1973 with the Yom Kippur War and a decade long energy crisis. Revived by a warming economy of the 1980s, environmentalism found a new political champion in 1988 with Margaret Thatcher. Four years later at the Rio Earth Summit, politics settled the science. One hundred and ninety-two nations agreed that mankind was causing global warming and carbon dioxide emissions should be cut. Rio launched rounds of climate change meetings and summits, with developing nations refusing to countenance any agreement restraining their greenhouse gas emission — their blanket exemption from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol leading to its rejection by the United States that year, and again twelve years later in Copenhagen.
In the absence of The Heartland Institute’s CEO and president Joe Bast and Communications Director Jim Lakely (Both were out-of-town making appearances in Washington, D.C., New York, Tampa, and St. Louis promoting Heartland’s published September 17th NIPCC report based on a “null” hypothesis that global warming is caused by natural factors.), Donn Dears introduced author Rupert Darwall. Dears, one of many Heartland experts and a retired General Electric executive and Energy Expert, prefaced his introduction with a few remarks of his own.
Stressed by Donn Dears was this fact: Concern over global warming in this nation started in 1992 at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, out of which came the UN treaty which was ratified by the U.S. Senate. Continuing, Dears offered this remark: We are now committed to stopping global warming, whatever that it!
After expressing his delight at being in Chicago on such a beautiful day, and applauding the great work of The Heartland Institute, Rupert Darwallwasted no time in getting to the “meat” of his book. Fundamental is how debate and argument form the lifeblood of a democracy and for those who believe in objectivity and freedom. As such, global warming is a question of truth and freedom.
To demonstrate how opinions of global warming alarmist are unaffected even after experiencing a happening that should at least made them a bit curious, Darwall related a story as published on Sept.18th of this year in the Valdez Star. Four adventurers and believers of climate change attempted to row through the Northwest Passage, only to have to abandon their journey due to winds and an ice-clogged passage from Cambridge Bay northward.
In another example, when a report in May of 2009 noted that temperature had remained level since 1998, those invested in global warming called for another 15 years to ascertain whether this was an actual trend or just a time out period. This is akin to a doctor telling a person he has a serious disease, only to tell him to come back in 15 years to see if it’s really so!
When oceans don’t rise, more time must be given for climate model predictions to come true. When surface temperature of oceans don’t rise, it is because the warming is now in the deep ocean.
Most scientists knew that the Hockey Stick graph – a plot of the past millennium’s temperature that shows the drastic influence of humans in the 20th century – developed by Michael Mann in 1998 was bad; nevertheless, they all lined up behind it. The lack of curiosity by scientific bodies to investigate what they knew was untrue could only be called incredulous behavior. This is what happens when science is based on what scientists want the message to be, so as not to tinker with what the public already believes and thinks is true.
These three men played an important part in the history of global warming, Bacon, Locke, and Popper:
- Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was a medieval philosopher who advocated a scientific foundation to engage in discovering the knowledge of causes. For Bacon, knowledge about nature was not to be acquired for its own sake, but for the purpose of enabling man to use nature to better his material conditions of life.
- John Locke (1632-1704) based his views on the Socratic insight that to err is human. The framers of the American constitution followed Locke: Checks and balances and the separation of powers are an implicit repudiation of the assumption that ’the people’, or, at any rate, a majority of them, cannot not err. Page 8 of The Age of Global Warming
- Karl Popper (1902-1994), a leading twentieth century thinker on the theory of science, viewed science theories as being provisional, only valid until they’ve been refuted, which conflicts with the political need to characterize the science of global warming as settled.
Rupert Darwall described global warming for the true believers as a mission to save the world. In so doing Darwall likened those passionate about man-made global warmer to Don Quixote, who obsessed with the chivalrous ideals in the books he has read, decides to take up his lance and sword to defend the helpless and destroy the wicked to honor one who was but a figment of his imagination. Friends realizing that Don Quixote was crazy, and attributing Quixote’s madness to his books, destroyed his book by burning. However, unlike the story of Don Quixote, the belief in global warming does have human and financial consequences.
In a question about climate change markets, Darwall called them phony markets, riddled with corruption, that don’t work and never will.
Regarding what the future holds for global warming, Mr. Darwall opined that the scenario, although deposing and fraying because of predictions that are wrong time and again, will still be around for some time simply because political interests and financial capitalists are invested in it.
Diane Bast, Executive Editor and Finance Manager of The Heartland Institute, asked those present to go to where reviews of organizations are listed for donating and volunteering. As The Heartland Institute is controversial to those who do not think warmly about the organization’s stance as a recognized worldwide skeptic of global warming, Bast asked that positive comments be posted to counter the negativity expressed.
Heartland Author Series event in October will feature:
Wednesday, October 2 – Henryk A. Kowalczyk: “Why do we have such a big immigration Problem?”
Thursday, October 17 – Donald J. Devine: “Ameica’s Way Back – Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition, and Constitution”
Thursday, October 24 – Travus G. Brown: “How Money Walks”
Wednesday, October 30 – Mark Q. Rhoads: “Land of Lincoln, Thy Wondrous Story”
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 at 07:13 AM | Permalink
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said on Fox News Sunday (September 15th) that the delay in the employer mandate is no big deal, since only five percent of employers would be affected by it. I’ve heard this argument from a large number of ObamaCare supporters now, so it must be part of the talking points circulating among Democrats. It raises two possibilities –
- Mr. Van Hollen is perfectly willing to lie to score political points, which is scary, or
- He thinks it is a true statement, which is scarier still.
Now, like most misstatements there may be a grain of truth here. The best source of information about employer health benefits is the annual Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research and Educational Trust survey.
The 2013 survey finds that –
99% of large firms (200 or more workers) offer health benefits to at least some of their workers. In contrast, only 57% of small firms (3199 workers) offer health benefits in 2013.
So, given the ObamaCare exemption of firms with fewer than fifty employees, and the vast majority of large firms offering (some) coverage to (some) employees, it is plausible that only five percent of firms that don’t currently offer any coverage at all, will be required to provide it in the future.
But that barely scratches the surface.
While overall 57% of all companies offer health insurance, the percentage varies dramatically by industry. The industries that are lower than the average include Wholesale (54%), Finance (49%), Retail (29%), and perhaps surprisingly, Health Care (51%). So the impact of the employer mandate will vary dramatically by industry. 100% of state and local government employers offer coverage.
More importantly, even in the 99% of large companies that offer coverage, only 61% of workers are actually covered. Why? The companies likely don’t offer coverage to part-time or temporary workers, they probably require a certain amount of time on the job (like three to six months) before the employee becomes eligible, and large numbers of workers don’t sign up for coverage even when they are eligible.
ObamaCare will change most of this. Not so much for part-timers, but certainly for temporary workers and new hires (they must all be covered after 30 days), and certainly for many of those who don’t currently take-up the coverage. Employers will be required to actually provide, not just “offer” health benefits and that will raise their costs of employment substantially.
That means, Congressman Van Hollen’s spin notwithstanding, virtually all employers with over 50 employees will be profoundly affected by the employer mandate — even the 100% of state and local governments that currently “offer” health benefits to some of their workers.[Originally posted on healthblog.ncpa.org]
Everyone is so sure of their opinion. But almost no one knows anything about it. With most of the news media actually participating in the
partisan political wrangling, instead of reporting on it, can anyone even follow the budget/government spending/CR debate?
Most people don’t know about the big victory over spending the Republicans won in the 2011 Debt Limit battle. Federal spending exploded over Obama’s
first two years in office, 2009 -2010, with an overwhelmingly Democrat Congress more than ready to spend every dime possible. Steve Moore reports in the Wall Street Journal on August 11, “In fiscal 2009 alone, federal spending surged by $600 billion.”
But in November, 2010, the American people replaced the Democrat House majority with a Republican majority to put a stop to that, in one of the most decisive blowouts in the history of Congressional elections. The Republicans gained 63 seats, a New Deal size landslide. And that Republican House majority actually did its job, as discussed below. To this day, that Republican House majority is just about the only check on Obama’s creeping authoritarianism left in America. Certainly, the ne
ws media is no check and balance on Obama.
Actual federal spending peaked in fiscal year 2011 (which started in October, 2010), at $3.6 trillion. In fiscal year 2012, the first year controlled by the new Republican House majority, total federal spending actually declined (which almost never happens) to $3.537 trillion. In fiscal year 2013, which just ended on September 30, total, actual federal spending declined again, by the latest reckoning, to $3.45 trillion. Moore added in the August 11 Journal that this “$150 billion budget decline of 4% is the first time that federal expenditures have fallen for two consecutive years since the end of the Korean War.”
Moore explained how this happened,
“This reversal from the spending binge in 2009 and 2010 began with the debt- ceiling agreement between Mr. Obama and House Speaker John Boehner
in 2011. The agreement set $2 trillion in tight caps on spending over a decade and created this year’s budget sequester, which will save more than $50 billion in fiscal
Note that it is not just the sequester that has achieved these results. It is the $2 trillion in spending caps over a decade that is also holding the line over the longer run.
As Moore further explains the spending victories, “Discretionary spending soared to $1.347 trillion in fiscal 2011, according to the CBO, but then was cut by $62 billion in 2012 and another $72 billion this year….And these are real cuts, not pixie dust reductions off some sham baseline.” As a percent of GDP, federal spending has plummeted from “a post-World War II high of 25.2%” in 2009, to roughly 21.5% by the end of this 2013 fiscal year. (That needs to continue down to 20% at least, and if we are smart politically, to 15%, instead of on track to 30% or 40% of GDP or more, which is where we still are headed over the long run, due to still entirely unreforme
This is why the federal deficit has plummeted as well, “from its Mount Everest peak of 10.2% of gross domestic product in 2009, to about 4% this year,” Moore writes. “That’s a bullish six percentage points less of the GDP in new federal debt each year.” In actual, nominal dollars, the deficit has been slashed by nearly 40% this year alone.
Moore summarized it all this way: “In other words, Mr. Obama has inadvertently chained himself to fiscal restraints that could flatten federal spending for the rest of his presidency.” A letter writer to the Journalchallenged the interpretation that this result was inadvertent by the President. Obama was effectively controlling federal spending after all, the letter writer claimed, and everything is going to be fine by the time he is done.
But what really happened is that Obama overconfidently outsmarted himself. As a Journal editorial explained on September 26, “Mr. Obama proposed the automatic cuts only because he thought Republicans would never be able to live with them, and he now regrets it.” He thought the Republicans would recoil from
the sequester cuts in horror. It came as a huge shock to him that the Republicans went ahead with them at the start of the year after all.
And we know that Obama regrets it because he has been telling us precisely that all year long, calling for the sequester to be repealed and replaced by tax increases, in speech after speech all across the country. The Senate Democrat budget, in fact, proposes precisely that policy, adopted by the Democrat Senate majority.
This is all immediately relevant today, because the question is what will happen to the sequester and the budget caps in the current Continuing Resolution (CR) fight. Obama has already called for replacing the sequester spending cuts with still more tax increases, and has said he will shut down the government if House Republicans do not go along. I bet many of your neighbors who only watch, listen to, or read the Democrat controlled media have never heard that. This is what Rush Limbaugh is talking about with his phrase, “low information voters.” It means disabling dysfunction in our democracy, where millions of voters have no idea what they are voting on.
And so the CR sent back to the House by Harry Reid’s Senate increases spending by $70 billion, reversing the sequester and breaking throu
gh the budget caps. But House Republicans must hold the line on spending victories already won. This is worth a government shutdown to fight over. If Republicans press their case articulately in a unified way even in the Democrat Party controlled media, they will win the public’s support over on the spending issue.
Obama is the President, and so any government shutdown that results is his fault. He has shown no leadership on this fall’s budget, spending and debt trainwrecks, issuing his dictates and pronouncements that he is not negotiating over anything. President Reagan negotiated with the Democrat controlled House all the time, and found common ground on many issues. That was real leadership. But Obama is no Reagan. In fact, Obama is not even the President. In his mind and in his actions, he is the King. And so we are just one Presidential phone call away from martial law and a military presence in the streets.
After much public wrangling, the Republicans have now caught their stride in the CR fight over Obamacare as well. As of this writing, it now appears that the House will send back a CR to the Senate delaying all of Obamacare for one year, with the threat of removing the Congressional exemption from Obamacare illegally
granted by Obama contrary to the express language of the Obamacare law. That one year delay means an additional $35 billion at least in further spending savings. The House Republicans should pocket that as well, and not grant any offsetting spending increases elsewhere.
President Obama has already acted illegally in delaying vast swaths of his own Obamacare law for a year, without any authorization in law. So Boehner should send his CR back to Reid with a cover letter explaining to him that Reid and his Senate majority can either accept the one year delay legalizing what Obama has done, or Reid can schedule floor time for a televised discussion of these illegal maneuvers by Obama vis-à-vis his own law.
The position of the Democrat Party today is that Republican Presidents are not above the law, but Democrat Presidents are! And the position of the Republican Party needs to be that Obama will surely obey the law.[Originally Posted on Forbes]
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded in 2007 through the Energy Independence and Security Act, requires 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into gasoline and diesel fuel by 2022. The program also requires American agriculture/energy producers to generate 1.28 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2013, a 28 percent increase from 2012.
From the letter:
The RFS will increase the cost of gasoline and diesel. A study by NERA Economic Consulting concluded that the new Renewable Fuel Standards will cause a 30% price increase to gasoline and a 300% price increase for diesel in 2015. Additionally, the RFS reduces fuel efficiency. Ethanol has a much lower energy density than gasoline. According to U.S. News, ethanol delivers 25% fewer miles per gallon than gasoline.
Numerous studies show that ethanol’s corrosive properties damage engines. Increasing the blend by 50% will damage newer automobiles and could prove dangerous in older vehicles. Numerous manufacturers have warned against the new ethanol blend and the AAA has issued a warning as well.
Higher gasoline prices and damaged engines aside, at least we have fewer carbon dioxide emissions, right? Not really. A University of Michigan energy researcher just found ripping plants out of the ground to use for fuel doesn’t reduce any more CO2 than if we let them stay in the ground and absorb CO2 through photosynthesis, and concludes “subsidies, mandates and other programs to prop up biofuels is unwarranted.”
The concept of an alternate universe is familiar to many people, especially those who read or view science fiction books or movies. An example of a storyline in an alternate universe would be the re-booting of the Star Trek franchise.
In the production of the 2009 movie “Star Trek” JJ Abrams and company wanted to bring the Star Trek series back into the theaters but they wanted to do it in such a way that they could have the artistic freedom to craft stories that were not confined to the history of all the series and movies of the past several decades. The answer was to find a way to alter the “real” world and place the same characters, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others into a new “alternate reality” that in some ways mirrors the familiar, traditional world but in other ways is radically different. There are parallels to this concept today, not in the movies but in the White House.
If the producers of the next Star Trek movie want some ideas as to how to craft a bizarre story that exists in an alternate universe they need look no farther than our own president. On Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, President Obama unwittingly revealed that while he appears to live in our universe, he actually does not. Some of the statement and declarations made in his “Climate Action Plan” are so strange and so out of touch with the reality that you and I live in, I can only conclude that our president is from and lives in an alternate reality.
In his Climate Action Plan the president states over and over again that we must reduce “carbon pollution.” In fact the phrase “carbon pollution” is mentioned 21 times. The term “carbon pollution” is an excellent example of what universe Obama lives in. In an alternate universe white can mean black, good can be bad, up can be down and so on. In Obama’s “reality” carbon is pollution. Carbon is a chemical element and is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. Who knew the universe is full of pollution! It is also present in all known life forms on earth. In the human body carbon is the second most abundant element by mass other than oxygen. We humans are carbon based life. In Obama’s alternate universe, all humans and all life forms are made of pollution. With the large amount of carbon in our bodies, if it were pollution, we would all be dead.
In the alternate universe that President Obama resides, what appears to be something in our reality is something very different in his. For instance, in his Climate Action Plan he states that carbon pollution from power plants, cars, trucks, trains, planes and everything that uses fossil fuels to make energy must be reduced. His reason for this is that the use of these fuels is changing the weather and ultimately the climate. Being that he is speaking to us from an alternate reality means he does not know that in our universe the term carbon pollution, translated into our reality, is actually carbon dioxide pollution. To many people the word carbon conjures up images of black chunks of coal, dirty and full of soot. The imagery of black carbon smoke filling the sky, fouling our water, covering the earth in a dark fog of unbreathable air and causing the seas to rise alarms and scares many people. This is all intentional.
What Obama is actually talking about, from his alternate universe point of view, is carbon dioxide gas, not black carbon. However, in his universe they are the same. Carbon dioxide is a gas, not a chunk of sooty coal. It has no color, no odor and is used by plants, trees and algae as food. The end result of this usage is to produce oxygen. The early plants that evolved in earth’s distant past produced enough oxygen by ingesting carbon dioxide to make our lives and all other living things possible. Life on earth, without carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, would cease to exist if it were eliminated. In Obama’s universe carbon dioxide means death, not life. Do you see what I’m getting at?
President Obama’s alternate universe is so different from our reality that life giving carbon dioxide is the same thing as mercury, arsenic and lead pollution. The very fact that the president insists that carbon (dioxide) is pollution is evidence that he has little concept of the reality you and I live in. Water vapor in the air causes most of the earth’s greenhouse effect. Will he next proclaim the water in the air is pollution? President Obama also appears to have no clue as to what is happening to the earth’s temperature. The president has stated that “temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago.” In the universe that you and I live in this is obviously not true and is frankly bizarre. There has been no acceleration of any temperature rise and in fact there has been no measured increase in global average surface temperature in at least 15 years and counting. Apparently things look very different when you live in an alternate reality.
What is especially dangerous about being governed by someone who lives in an alternate reality is that he has the power to dictate what happens in our reality! The use of the word “dictate” is intentional since he has said ” If congress won’t act on climate change I will.” In our universe the founding fathers of the United States wrote the constitution to limit the power of any one branch of government so that the system has a number of checks and balances so that no branch of government becomes too powerful. In Obama’s alternate universe there is no congress or constitution, he is the sole power. Instead of going through congress he will use “executive orders” to bring his alternate universe view of climate change, and what needs to be done about it, to our reality.
In the land of the free and the home of the brave, capitalism has brought about the greatest economy the world has ever known, fueled by our ability to extract the vast natural resources at our disposal. In president Obama’s view from his alternate universe, this is bad and will destroy the earth. With his recent pronouncements it appears likely he will use executive power to impose a tax on everything that uses fossil fuels to increase the cost of using them and in doing so make them more and more expensive. His ultimate goal is to eliminate fossil fuel use.
In the universe you and I live in there is science. In science we have open discussions about theories. If a theory does not stand up to real world observations and experiments it is discarded and replaced with a new theory that must also go through the same evaluation. In Obama’s universe there is no science and no room for discussion. Speaking from is alternate universe pulpit on June 25th, 2013 Obama said “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society.” He went on to say “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.” He may be correct. The storm is coming but it is not the one he is talking about. It is the storm of economic upheaval and the destruction of industries brought about by his dictates that we must be worried about.
In theory, if alternate universes exist, they are apparently operating independently of each other. In theory, if two universes come in contact with each other there could be severe consequences. President Obama seems determined to make that happen by pushing his alternate reality on all of us no matter what the real world data shows. To him the theory is reality, not the evidence.
This fall marks the fortieth anniversary of the Arab oil embargo, a painful episode in American history that had a profound effect on both the economy and psyche of the United States. It began in mid-October 1973, following the US decision to resupply Israel with weaponry after Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
In response to President Nixon’s decision, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Arab members of OPEC, declared an embargo and cut off oil supplies to the United States and its allies.
In the three months after the embargo was announced, oil prices quadrupled, from $3 to $12 per barrel. Yes, twelve bucks would be a monumental bargain in these days of $100-a-barrel crude, but back then it sent shock waves through developed country economies.
Meanwhile, the supply disruptions forced American motorists to wait for hours in long lines to get gasoline. The US government response was largely limited to attempts to reduce consumption, by lowering the national speed limit to 55 mph and asking people to refrain from decorating with holiday lights, to reduce the use of oil that then powered many generating plants.
During the 1970s, Washington also launched efforts that still continue today. Those efforts would purportedly increase the nation’s energy independence by promoting conservation and energy-efficient appliances, nuclear power, and “alternative” energy development via tax breaks, mandates and subsidies for ethanol, wind and solar energy. Our three branches of state and federal government did very little to expand leasing and drilling, onshore or offshore, in the Lower 48 States or in Alaska; much to block such development; and little to encourage these activities.
In August 1973, just before the embargo, even enacting a law to end incessant lawsuits over the Trans-Alaska Pipeline passed Congress by a single vote (by Vice President Spiro Agnew, following a 49-49 Senate vote). After the embargo hit, Congress finally authorized building the pipeline.
Of course, policies aimed at addressing the nation’s long-term energy needs did nothing to alleviate the crisis of late 1973. The United States and most of the developed world desperately needed liquid fuels – to power cars, trucks and tractors, generate power, produce electricity, and safeguard jobs and living standards. Nuclear power could do nothing to feed their transportation network, and wind and solar installations provided barely measurable amounts of electricity. Lack of preparation hurt us badly.
Environmentalist opposition to all things nuclear and hydrocarbon continues. So does their refusal to acknowledge the land, raw material and wildlife impacts of wind and solar power, or even require an honest accounting of how many birds and bats wind turbines slaughter each year. Even as (or because) fracking proves the United States still has vast untapped riches of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids, they do all they can to delay, block or ban this safe, proven technology.
Now, four decades later, America is still vulnerable to a major and prolonged oil supply disruption. While the Strategic Petroleum Reserve stands ready to cushion an oil shock, it contains barely enough oil to replace imported crude for 93 days. Furthermore, since oil prices are determined globally and affected by political instability, the US economy could still suffer severe repercussions from an oil price spike.
Why does the threat of oil disruptions still plague us? Because of political bickering, regulatory overkill, anti-hydrocarbon ideologies, courts putting almost any ecological argument (no matter how minor or far-fetched) above our need for hydrocarbons – and our government’s systemic inability to focus on the most important issues facing our nation: economic growth, job creation and preservation, and protecting people’s overall health and welfare. Even though petroleum still supplies 63% of the energy that powers our economy, our politicians and policy makers remember the embargo, but ignore its lessons.
Despite the fact that the United States owns some of the world’s largest collective oil resources, about 51% of our oil still comes from other countries. Canada is our largest supplier, but Persian Gulf oil still accounts for almost one-third of total imports. The risk of supply disruptions remains very real.
However, that is just a small part of the problem. Over fourteen million working age Americans are still unemployed, are involuntarily working part-time below their potential and preference, for less pay than with their old jobs – or have simply given up looking for a job. Washington is spending some $3.6 trillion a year, while bringing in only $2.6 trillion in annual revenues. The deficits keep skyrocketing.
The USA could be producing much more of its own oil and natural gas – creating millions of jobs and generating hundreds of billions of dollars in royalty and tax revenues. But it has lacked the political will to open the vast majority of the Outer Continental Shelf. Even the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the entire East and West Coasts are off limits to leasing and drilling.
The vast majority of US onshore lands owned or controlled by the federal government are likewise off limits, including ANWR and even the Alaskan National Petroleum Reserve. The Obama administration has even increased the regulatory burdens and delays on the few areas it has technically left open, onshore and offshore – while expediting permits and waiving endangered species laws for wind and solar projects. Oil and gas projects have been delayed or scrapped, and virtually all have seen their costs skyrocket.
As a result, our economy has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of billions in salaries. The US Treasury has lost hundreds of billions in bonus, royalty and tax payments. Meanwhile, we continue to subsidize “green” energy, amass debt, and convert millions of jobs from full-time to part-time or no-time. The adverse impacts on people’s lives, livelihoods, living standards and life spans continue to increase.
Were it not for drilling and fracking on state and private lands – in spite of the federal government and constant environmentalist attacks – US oil and gas production would have continued the decline that began in 1970. Instead, due to advanced drilling and production technologies, dedicated entrepreneurs have safely extracted billions of dollars worth of oil and natural gas from shale formations, created 1.7 million jobs, ramped petroleum production back up, and sent almost $100 billion to state treasuries.
Rather than meet our country’s needs for oil and gas, President Obama’s Interior and Energy Departments, EPA and other agencies have strangled our economy in red tape and poured billions of taxpayer dollars down the toilet of ill-conceived, crony-corporatist wind, solar, battery, “green” car and “renewable” fuel projects. Many went belly-up without ever producing any jobs, products or revenues. Worse, the “green” jobs (ie, subsidized by greenbacks) kill 2-4 jobs for every “renewable” job created.
But they ensure that millions of tax dollars return to “green” politicians via campaign contributions, to keep the schemes alive. Tens of millions more are funneled annually through government agencies to eco-activists who work full time to promote renewable energy, oil depletion and climate change myths.
To top it off, five years after the first permit application was submitted, Mr. Obama still refuses to make a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline. That one project would create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs and transport over 800,000 barrels of US and Canadian crude to Texas refineries, which are currently paying $100 for every barrel they refine into gasoline and myriad other products.
In 1973, America was rocked by a shocking truth. Our nation was not prepared to control its own energy, economic, employment, trade and revenue destiny. In 2013, even amid deepening crises in the Middle East, Africa and other regions, we could be poised to repeat mistakes and painful lessons of the past.
Our energy and economic problems continue today, but not because America lacks the resources. They continue because our “leaders” have put their anti-hydrocarbon attitudes and political alliances ahead of the best interests of the American nation and people.
So in the end President Obama did not let the Navy Yard tragedy go to “waste.” He finally addressed the nation last Sunday to explain why the deaths of a dozen innocent victims on September 16 should mean more power for him and the government, and less freedom for millions of innocent, law-abiding citizens across America — who are actually reducing gun violence (and much more effectively than Obama and the Democrats).
Obama recounted in his September 22 remarks, “As president I have now grieved with five American communities ripped apart by mass violence: Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, and now the Washington Navy Yard. And these mass shootings occur against a backdrop of daily tragedies as an epidemic of gun violence tears apart communities across America, from the streets of Chicago to neighborhoods not far from here.”
Then Obama came up with this explanation:
But we Americans are not inherently a more violent people than folks are in other countries. We’re not inherently prone to mental health problems. The main difference that sets our nation apart, what makes us so susceptible to so many mass shootings is that we don’t do enough, we don’t take the basic common sense actions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. What’s different in America is it’s easy to get your hands on a gun.
Excuse me, Mr. President, but it is not “we” who don’t take the basic common sense actions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. It is Democrats who don’t do enough.
When was the last time a Republican served as Mayor of Chicago? Or of Detroit? Or governed the “neighborhoods not far from here”? But Republicans have served in the Mayor’s office in New York City since 1992, and during that time the murder rate and gun violence in New York City has plummeted. But Democrats are now complaining and moaning and campaigning against the very policies that have made that possible.
So one lesson to take away. If, to quote Obama, “The question is do we care enough, do we do we care enough to keep standing up for the country…even if it’s politically uncomfortable? Do we care enough to do everything we can to spare other families the pain that is felt here today?” The answer is NO, unless we are willing to vote Republican for local government at least.
And what is the common thread of the mass killings, from the Washington Navy Yard, to Sandy Hook, to Aurora, to Tucson, if not Fort Hood (which is the same actually)? That common thread is mental illness. Something more serious needs to be done about people crazy enough to engage in random mass murder. Something like the policies in other advanced countries that do not suffer so many mass killings. Something like policies to make sure they take their meds, and to hold them until they can reliably do so.
But Democrats oppose this as a violation of civil liberties. You know, the right to mass murder. They prefer to use the issue as an excuse to disarm the population, so it will be less resistant to other left-wing restrictions on their liberty. The Second Amendment be damned, as they have said quite explicitly before.
But much, much bigger than mental illness as a real cause of gun violence is the gang and drug culture of the inner city. That stems from the breakdown of the family, and single women bearing and trying to raise children, particularly males, outside of marriage.
Republicans like Ken Cuccinelli running for Governor of Virginia have tried to address that, by opposing policies that promote family breakup, like welfare paying women for having children outside of marriage, and substituting for supporting husbands. But Democrats oppose that, and resort to ridicule and vilification of Republicans like Cuccinelli. Welfare buys votes for the Democrat political machine. So we can’t mess with that.
The Fatal Fallacy of Gun Control But there is an even more fundamental, mental problem with Obama’s proposed “basic, common sense actions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people.” (His speech did not get any more specific than this dopey rhetoric.)
Gun control laws cannot stop criminals from getting guns, by definition. Criminals, by definition, do not obey laws. That is why they are criminals.
Criminals do not get their guns by walking into gun stores and filling out forms for a criminal background check they know they can’t pass. (Your average criminal is a lot smarter than your average liberal Democrat). They get their guns on the black market. That is where the gangs from Obama’s Chicago get their weapons.
Government gun control laws cannot stop that, by definition. Government laws, regulations, and restrictions do not apply in the black market. That is why it is called the black market.
The only effect of gun control laws is to disarm the law-abiding victims of “criminals and dangerous people.” That is because the law abiding obey the law, by definition. This is precisely the only effect we see of gun control laws wherever the liberal/left rules, where gun violence rages more than anywhere else.
Does that make any possible sense, to disarm the law-abiding victims of “criminals and dangerous people”? No. Are Obama and his liberal Democrats too dumb to understand that? No. That is because disarming “criminals and dangerous people” is not the real goal of the gun control laws they support. The real goal is to disarm the general, law-abiding public, which is what gun control does. Why do they want to disarm the general, law-abiding public? That is a good question we should and could ask them, if we had a politically independent news media, as our nation’s founding fathers originally envisioned.
What Is David Frum Thinking? On the very day of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, David Frum wrote at the Daily Beast: “Gun enthusiasts say it is inappropriate to talk about gun violence at the time it occurs. Better to wait…wait…and wait…until time has passed, and the weeping next of kin have vanished from TV, and it is safe to return to business as usual. The idea of gun enthusiasts is that the way to show respect for the victims of gun violence is to do everything possible to multiply their number” (emphasis added).
Okay, David, you put that in writing, so it is not too much to ask you to back it up. Please name at least two (you used the plural) gun “enthusiasts” who favor doing everything possible to multiply the number of victims of gun violence. Which in plain English means killing people (everything possible to increase their number), or at least favoring the death of innocent victims. Or in the alternative, just give me any evidence whatsoever that any opponent of your left-wing policy of gun control favors doing everything possible to multiply the number of the victims of gun violence.
Frum marketed himself to the conservative movement as the genius from Canada who would show conservatives how to succeed in a political comeback, after Obama routed Republicans in 2008. But I never heard one good, original idea from him. All I have heard is criticism of conservatives and conservative and free market, libertarian positions, as on this issue.
Just this month, in Colorado, the people recalled and removed from office two liberal Democrat state senators who voted in favor of gun control measures enacted in that state. So much for Frum’s self-touted, far sighted political acumen in potentially leading conservatives to a comeback.
But David offers us this further insight on the gun issue, writing, “Most gun casualties occur in the course of quarrels and accidents between people who would be described as ‘law-abiding, responsible gun owners’ up until the moment when they lost their temper or left a weapon where a 4-year old could find it and kill himself or his sister.” But that is not what the data show. The numbers show that most gun casualties are due to the conduct of violent criminals and gang members, unrestrained by any threat or fear of self-defense.
David, I would refer you to John Lott, the most thoughtful and knowledgeable person on the planet on these issues. His book, More Guns, Less Crime, presents a sophisticated econometric analysis of copious data showing that in areas where the population owns more guns, there is less crime. And where they own fewer guns, there is more crime, as in the killing fields liberals designate as “gun free zones,” and in all the cities where liberal Democrats govern. That is because of something called self-defense, which potential victims deploy, or threaten to deploy, with their guns, and something else called self-preservation, in which criminals engage in the face of armed, potential victims.
So I ask the same question of David I asked above of Obama and the liberal Democrats. Is he too dumb to see that it makes no sense to disarm only the law-abiding victims of criminals and dangerous people? I would have to say yes, on the basis that he is transparently incapable of Aristotelian logic.
[First Published by American Spectator]