Saturday, January 1, 2011

Political Digest for January 2, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Government by regulation. Shhh.
Excerpt: Most people don't remember Obamacare's notorious Section 1233, mandating government payments for end-of-life counseling. It aroused so much anxiety as a possible first slippery step on the road to state-mandated late-life rationing that the Senate never included it in the final health-care law. Well, it's back - by administrative fiat. A month ago, Medicare issued a regulation providing for end-of-life counseling during annual "wellness" visits. It was all nicely buried amid the simultaneous release of hundreds of new Medicare rules. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), author of Section 1233, was delighted. "Mr. Blumenauer's office celebrated 'a quiet victory,' but urged supporters not to crow about it," reports the New York Times. Deathly quiet. In early November, his office sent an e-mail plea to supporters: "We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists . . . e-mails can too easily be forwarded." They had been lucky that "thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it. . . . The longer this [regulation] goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it." So much for the Democrats' transparency - and for their repeated claim that the more people learn what is in the health-care law, the more they will like it. Turns out ignorance is the Democrats' best hope. (Eventually, the GOP will win the White House and will start governing in this way. Then the press will scream. ~Bob.)

2010: The Year of the Tea Party
Excerpt: The grassroots conservative political movement made its clout felt the entire year, from the healthcare reform debate to GOP primaries and the general election last month.
Senior Democrats, ranging from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.), aggressively attacked the Tea Party in the lead-up to the midterms, hoping that doing so would soften losses to the GOP. House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and other Republicans embraced the movement, believing its energy would benefit their party at the polls. In the end, the Tea Party was in many ways a net asset for the GOP as Republicans grabbed control of the House and cut into the Democratic majority in the Senate. However, there was collateral damage as Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) and other Senate GOP hopefuls seen as the party’s best chance of winning general-election races were ousted in primaries. Some blamed Tea Party candidates for costing Republicans a Senate majority to go with their new majority in the House. (In politics as in war, enthusiastic amateurs with a naive grasp of reality can be a double-edged sword. ~Bob.)

Which Massachusetts Democrat will leave the House?
Excerpt: A Massachusetts Democrat is leaving the House in 2012, whether he or she likes it or not. Massachusetts found out last week that it is one of 10 states that will lose a seat in Congress. And about now, its members of Congress are probably getting a little nervous. The good news for them, though, is that they are unlikely to be pitted against each other. Massachusetts, unlike many other states on the chopping block, probably won't have to go through a painful redistricting process. And who do the 10 members of the state's all-Democratic delegation have to thank for that? Republican Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.). Had Brown not shocked the world by winning a special election in January, there wouldn't be an opportunity for a Democratic member of Congress to challenge him. And without the opportunity for a promotion, the only way to avoid two members running against each other would have been if one retired. As it stands now, it appears likely that at least one member of the delegation will run against Brown. Failing that, the members could hope one of two septuagenarian members retires.
Important: China has seen the future, and it is coal
China needs to burn more coal to fire its plants making wind turbines to produce green energy—at twice the cost of coal—in the US. Got it? ~Bob. Excerpt: Cowlitz County in Washington state is across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore., which promotes mass transit and urban density and is a green reproach to the rest of us. Recently, Cowlitz did something that might make Portland wonder whether shrinking its carbon footprint matters. Cowlitz approved construction of a coal export terminal from which millions of tons of U.S. coal could be shipped to Asia annually. Both Oregon and Washington are curtailing the coal-fired generation of electricity, but the future looks to greens as black as coal. The future looks a lot like the past. Historian William Rosen (who wrote "The Most Powerful Idea in the World," about the invention of the steam engine) says coal was Europe's answer to the 12th-century "wood crisis," when Christians leveled much forestation to destroy sanctuaries for pagan worship and to open up farmland. Population increase meant more wooden carts, houses and ships, so wood became an expensive way to heat dwellings or cook. By 1230, England had felled so many trees it was importing most of its timber and was turning to coal….Half of the 6 billion tons of coal burned globally each year is burned in China. A spokesman for the Sierra Club, which in recent years has helped to block construction of 139 proposed coal-fired plants in America, says, "This is undermining everything we've accomplished." America, say environmentalists, is exporting global warming.

Ex-autos czar Steven Rattner to apologize, pay $10 million to settle civil charges
Typical Demo-corrupt. Didn’t admit wrongdoing, paid $10M. I would how much “wrongdoing” costs today? ~Bob. Excerpt: Former Obama administration auto czar Steven Rattner agreed Thursday to apologize and pay $10 million to settle civil charges brought by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for his participation in a "pay to play" scheme to win business from New York state's pension fund. The settlement caps a protracted and acrimonious confrontation between Rattner, a star in the worlds of journalism, finance and politics, and Cuomo, a high-profile critic of Wall Street, who will become governor of New York on Saturday. At the center of the clash are allegations that Rattner, a founder of the Quadrangle Group private-equity firm, paid kickbacks and orchestrated a distribution deal for a C-list movie to wins tens of millions of dollars in business from the pension fund….From Rattner's perspective, the payment is less than the $26 million penalty Cuomo sought when he filed civil fraud charges. But perhaps more important for Rattner, he escapes a lifetime ban on working on Wall Street, also sought by Cuomo. Under the settlement, Rattner did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

Snow job action backfires on public employee unions
New York’s Stinkyest screw up. But as the fiscal collapse accelerates, and the money runs out for politicians to redeem their vote-buying pledges, expect to see more “job actions” by public employees. Followed by riots. ~Bob. Excerpt: Gotham sanitation workers call themselves "New York's Strongest" in an effort to identify with the city's "finest" (police) and its "bravest" (firefighters). But when militant sanitation labor leaders chose this week's Blizzard of 2010 for a work slowdown to protest modest budget cuts, they brought down upon themselves the well-deserved anger of millions of residents struggling with snowbound streets and subway delays. Their job action was especially maddening because, like public employees virtually everywhere, New York's unionized municipal workers enjoy outstanding pay and exceptionally generous health and pension benefits. At least 300 Sanitation Department workers make more than $100,000 annually, according to SeeThroughNY, the Web site that posts New York public employee compensation data. All Sanitation Department workers get excellent health care benefits at no cost, and the retirement program is so generous that at least 180 retirees in the program get $66,000 annually in pension checks.

Excerpt: In New York, sanitation workers have reported that their union ordered them to sabotage the city's blizzard cleanup efforts. If that claim is true, the union may be responsible for at least one death. Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to investigate. It remains to be seen what will come of this particular controversy, but the broader point is coming into ever-clearer focus: it is time to ban public employee unions. For the large majority of our history, public employee unions have been illegal. It is only since the 1960s and 1970s that they have been allowed. Currently, they are legal in roughly half the states. The United States has carried on a four-decade experiment in legalization, and the results are in: public employee unions are a cancer on our country. Public employee unions flourish because government is, by its nature, a monopoly. Thus, there is no need for unionized government units to compete against non-unionized units. Moreover, public officials who negotiate with public employee unions generally lack the same incentives that private employers have to keep costs down. The result has been a fiscal disaster, with numerous states and municipalities now going over the waterfall of bankruptcy.

Bull-dozer 'following orders'
Excerpt: Snow was piling up -- but snoozing plow man Barry Delisle's orders were: Don't move! Delisle, caught on camera catching some Z's behind the wheel of his plow-fitted garbage truck as a blizzard socked the city, had been told to stay with his snowbound vehicle overnight, his bosses claim. But other vehicles easily drove right by as Delisle, 47, slept, his truck uselessly sidelined for nearly his entire shift. Delisle started a planned 12-hour shift at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Sanitation garage on
122nd Street
in College Point. At the height of the storm, Delisle's truck became snowed in on
14th Avenue
between 150th and 149th streets in Whitestone, the Sanitation Department claims.

Five ways Washington can fix unemployment
These would work, but would be politically-unpopular, so the unemployed will just have to suck it up, the price of economic ignorance. ~Bob. Excerpt: On Thursday the Labor Department announced that the number of Americans who filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance, a closely watched measure of job market strength, declined to 388,000 for the week ending Dec. 25, 34,000 fewer than the week before. This is the lowest level since July 2008, and it shows that layoffs are declining. If this trend continues, job creation is headed up. After the work force reabsorbs discouraged workers who dropped out of the labor force, the unemployment rate, now at 9.8 percent, will head down. Here are five ideas for the new 112th Congress to accelerate job creation.

Too funny. ~Bob.

Excerpt: At the very end of the report, almost as a throw-away observation, the reporter notes:
“To give you an idea of how intense this all got, Kayln [the wife] tells us the reason many of those teens backed off was because a witness at that theater, a good Samaritan of sorts, had a gun in his car and he flashed that gun at that group to get them to leave this couple alone.”

An open letter to the President from Congress
But the documents mean whatever BO says they mean, at any time. ~Bob.

Good Riddance to 2010: What's Going to Happen in 2011?
Excerpt: February: It will be a record warm February — further proof of global warming. Or it will be a record cold February — also proof of global warming. Or it will be the most average February temperatures on record — which would be the greatest proof of global warming of all.
No longer able to ram unpopular, costly legislation through Congress, Barack Obama will begin to lose interest in the presidency. He’ll miss meetings and even disappear for hours at a time. Eventually, his staff will find him at a nearby church pursuing what he now considers his true calling: becoming a crazed, racist preacher.

All About AMT: How a Tax Meant for the Wealthy Could Affect You
Excerpt: For most of 2010, the income thresholds for AMT were extremely low. Finally, with just a couple of weeks to spare, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 boosted those income levels. Under the new law, for 2010, the exemption amount has increased to $74,450 for married couples filing jointly; $48,450 for individual taxpayers and $37,225 for married couples filing separately. Generally, you may be subject to the AMT if your taxable income for "regular" tax purposes plus any adjustments and tax preference items results in an amount higher than the AMT exemption amount. If the AMT applies, you must separately figure a second tax by eliminating many deductions and credits. You pay whichever is higher -- the "regular" tax or the AMT. Key triggers for the AMT include claiming multiple personal exemptions; high state and local taxes, including property tax, income tax and sales tax; interest on second mortgages; extraordinary medical expenses; unusually high miscellaneous itemized deductions; and participation in a tax shelter. (Nothing generates unintended consequences like tax laws. This one, passed back in 1969, was never indexed for inflation, and can now put the bite on folks who not only aren’t rich, but aren’t even upper middle class. Check with your tax advisor if you have any doubts. Ron P.)

As Japan Abandons Emissions Caps, Obama Rushes Headlong Toward It
Excerpt: Even as the Japanese have abandoned its national emissions trading scheme because they’ve realized how many jobs would be lost as a result of the draconian regulations involved, President Obama continues to claim that he wants to impose similar jobs-killing regulations on America. Japan initially announced that its national carbon trading scheme was to have been approved in the now concluding parliamentary session. But common sense and business interests have delayed the bill until the next session begins in January putting the future of the law into question…. The sad thing is that the second biggest economy in the world has realized how destructive these foolish emissions schemes are yet Obama intends to hobble the largest economy in the world with the same absurd policies.

A few years ago, liberals were criticizing Bush for not going to the funerals of KIAs, despite the circus that would create for the families. Now, not so much. ~Bob. Excerpt: The parents of a Yelm soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month have received cards from friends and strangers expressing condolences, and they’re grateful for the support. “As a father of someone killed, it is overwhelming,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Collins (Ret.). His son, Sgt. Sean Collins, was buried Wednesday at the Tahoma National Cemetery. Among that outpouring of empathy, two politicians inadvertently stung the family. One slight came in a letter of condolences the family received from the office of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. At first, the Collins family appreciated that Cantwell had taken the time to send a letter acknowledging their son’s sacrifice.
But the letter misidentified the slain soldier in its last paragraph, which reads: “Again, please accept my warmest condolences. May your memories of Bryn and the knowledge that he made a positive impact on the lives of so many serve as a source of comfort to you during this time of sorrow.”

Eric Holder’s ‘Made-Up’ Defense
Excerpt: In the interview, Savage asks Holder about the New Black Panther dismissal. Despite the fact that the New Black Panthers were captured on video with weapons and fascist-style uniforms at the entrance to a polling place, Holder said: “There is no there, there.” Really? Heady stuff from the attorney general. When asked about the fact that Holder’s Civil Rights Division is hostile to racially equal enforcement of the law from top to bottom, Holder again deploys another cliché, calling it a “made up controversy.” Holder doubled down: “All I have on my side with regard to that is the facts and the law.” Maybe Holder has the facts and law on his side in Oz, but not in the United States of America.

Former director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center in Kalamazoo still hoping to get her job back
Excerpt: Boone, who was let go from the $96,000 job last February after authorizing a marksmanship class for students at the center, has been active in blind youth summer camps, in-service workshops at schools where blind children attend to educate teachers on best practice approaches for those kids and helping her husband expand his consulting firm. Boone, 51, who is also an attorney, is blind…..The marksmanship class – which was thought-up by students at the center and signed-off by the Michigan State Police and Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety – took place in a wooded ravine behind the center’s Oakland Drive facility from Sept. 2009 to Nov. 2009. In the class, students fired spring-loaded pellet guns at foam targets, an activity that many of them said struck to the core of the mission Boone tried to uphold after taking over as director of the center in 2006: empowering them to reach beyond their limits and realize their potential.

Mr. West Goes to Washington
Excerpt: Congressman-elect Allen West, newly settled into a basement apartment in central Washington, plans an austere life in the nation’s capital with no car and little time for socializing. “I’ve had a life of being deployed 10,000 miles away, so this is not a hardship whatsoever….” The freezing weather hasn’t fazed him. “I have a nice office with a roof. And I have a nice little basement apartment, which is cozy,” he said. “I’m not up here to have a social life. I’ll be working or on the Metro (subway) late at night to get back to my apartment and get a few hours of sleep. And then right back to work.” Allen West has always described his running for Congress as an extension of what he did for 22 years in the military: serve his country. Evidently, he is also bringing to his new job in Washington the same kind of rigorous discipline that marks the military!

Excerpt: When the likes of Marco Rubio, the new Republican senator from Florida, say this is the greatest country ever, sophisticated opinion-makers cluck and roll their eyes. What a noxious Tea-Party nostrum. How chauvinistic. What hubris. Yet, what other countries deserve this designation? For the sake of convenience, start at 1648, when the Peace of Westphalia ratified the modern system of nation-states. And grade on power, prosperity and goodness. Is Spain the greatest ever? It had a nice run a couple of hundred years ago based on plundering the New World of its gold and silver. By 1800, it was one of the poorest countries in Europe. Today, it teeters on bankruptcy.

Did your central heating break down in the big freeze? Here's why...
How’s that “global warming” thing working out for you? ~Bob. Excerpt: Five years ago, New Labour heralded them as the modern, clean and green way to heat your house. As a result, today there are already eight million ‘condensing boilers’ in homes across Britain. In fact, since 2005 it is illegal to fit any other kind. At the time, John Prescott claimed they would massively reduce your carbon footprint and slash your fuel bills. As a result, every year some 1.2 million old-style ‘dirty’ boilers are scrapped in Britain and replaced by this wondrous new variety. However, the recent cold snap has revealed a major problem with them. Tens of thousands of people found themselves shivering as their shiny new boilers cut out without warning. British Gas is understood to have had 60,000 call-outs in Yorkshire alone. And the cost to call out a plumber? It can be between £200 to £300 on a bank holiday. And don’t forget about VAT.

Suspected suicide bomber kills 21 at Egypt church
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: A bomb killed at least 21 people outside a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria early on New Year's Day and the Interior Ministry said a foreign-backed suicide bomber may have been responsible. Dozens of people were wounded by the blast, which scattered body parts, destroyed cars and smashed windows. The attack prompted Christians to protest on the streets, and some Christians and Muslims hurled stones at each other. Egypt has stepped up security around churches, banning cars from parking outside them, since an al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq issued a threat against the Church in Egypt in November.

The New Conquistadors
Excerpt: The massive, catastrophic problem that is the presence of tens of millions of Muslims in Europe is finally dawning on the other citizens of that continent. Fitfully and unevenly, they are stirring themselves to find that they have invited a dangerous enemy into their home, who has no intention of leaving, or ceasing to act aggressively. Time will tell if this civilizational crisis will be solved by peaceful, lawful means, or the fate of Europe as a whole will mirror that of Kosovo--a province that as recently as 1900 was still majority Serbian and Christian. Indeed, with its ancient churches and monasteries, that region was the historic heart of the Serbian nation--the Balkan equivalent of Ile de France, Westminster, or Plymouth Rock.

South American drug gangs funding al-Qaeda terrorists
Excerpt: Islamic rebels familiar with the barren terrain of the Sahara have struck deals under which they provide armed security escorts for drug traffickers in return for a slice of their profits. Counter-terrorism experts said that the terrorists belong to the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group, which has kidnapped a series of Westerners and killed a British tourist last year. They warned that the money they receive from drugs gangs could be used to attract new recruits and plan terrorist attacks on European cities. (Wonder what a Mexican Drug Cartel would charge Al Qaeda to smuggle in 20 terrorists with automatic weapons And explosives? Or an A-bomb? ~Bob.)

Opening The Floodgates
Excerpt: reader in the Czech Republic wrote this morning and asked whether today is the day the EU’s new relaxed visa policies come into effect. He was quite right: as of January 1, 2011, citizens of Bosnia and Albania will no longer need visas to enter the Schengen Area. The same privileges were granted to Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro a year ago, so that there are now five additional Balkan countries whose citizens may travel freely in the continental portion of the EU. The “nation” of Kosovo is expected to be granted the same status in the near future. What does this signify for the Islamization of the rest of Europe? Let’s take a look at the demographics of the region that will enjoy newly unfettered access to the Schengen Area. Assuming that Kosovo will eventually join the club — which seems likely — here are statistics for the relevant countries, using 2004 population data from my database:

The Antithesis
Though not written for the casual reader (I urge you to read it anyway, I suspect most will find their way through it without too much difficulty), this paper points out some essential truths about climate science and offers a completely different possibility that Bob and I have often joked about, except the author isn’t joking. --Ron P. Excerpt: You know, in science, there was once this thing we called the Theory of Multiple Working Hypotheses. Anathema (a formal ecclesiastical curse accompanied by excommunication) in modern climate science. So, in juxtaposition to the hypothesis of future global climate disruption from CO2, a scientist might well consider an antithesis or two in order to maintain ones objectivity. One such antithesis, which happens to be a long running debate in paleoclimate science, concerns the end Holocene. Or just how long the present interglacial will last. Looking at orbital mechanics and model results, Loutre and Berger (2003) in a landmark paper (meaning a widely quoted and discussed paper) for the time predicted that the current interglacial, the Holocene, might very well last another 50,000 years, particularly if CO2 were factored in. This would make the Holocene the longest lived interglacial since the onset of the Northern Hemisphere Glaciations some 2.8 million years ago. Five of the last 6 interglacials have each lasted about half of a precession cycle. The precession cycle varies from 19-23k years, and we are at the 23kyr part of the range now, making 11,500 years half, which is also the present age of the Holocene. (...) An astute reader might have gleaned that even on things which have happened, the science is not that particularly well settled. Which makes consideration of the science being settled on things which have not yet happened dubious at best. (...) In their work, at least 13 of the 24 D-O oscillations (indeed other workers suggest the same for them all), CO2 was not the agent provocateur of the warmings but served to ameliorate the relaxation back to the cold glacial state, something which might have import whenever we finally do reach the end Holocene. Instead of triggering the abrupt warmings it appears to function as somewhat of a climate “security blanket”, if you will. Therefore in constructing the antithesis, and taking into consideration the precautionary principle, we are left to ponder if reducing CO2’s concentration in the late Holocene atmosphere might actually be the wrong thing to do.

Wilders to Publish Anti-Islam Book
Excerpt: The Dutch right-wing populist politician Geert Wilders to publish a book highly critical of Islam in 2011, he revealed in a newspaper interview Friday. The book, following his controversial 2008 anti-Islam film called Fitna, is particularly aimed at the American market, Wilders said. The head of the Party for Freedom (PVV) told De Telegraaf the book would be 'about how we can better fight the Islamisation of the world.' Wilders, whose PVV is now supporting the coalition Dutch government but not formally part of the coalition, is also intending to found an 'International Freedom Alliance.' Wilders praised a similar book by the former German central banker Thilo Sarrazin this year, which complained that Germany's level of Turkish immigration was destroying the country from within.

Narcissus And Echo: Obama And The Mainstream Media
Excerpt: It is troubling that our president is a pathological narcissist caught up in the thought patterns of Darwin, Marx, and Alinsky. Even more troubling is the fact that the Mainstream Media (MSM), suffering from an Obama-inspired narcosis, shirks its duty, refusing to publish or even explore any aspect of Obama's dark side. There is room for much optimism, however. If the ancient story of Narcissus and Echo plays itself out as Ovid recorded it, and Obama and the MSM are their contemporary counterparts, both will fade away in the not too distant future. Narcissus did not fall in love with his own reflection by accident; he was thus cursed by Nemesis for his audacious mockery of others. As for Echo, it was her dishonesty and deception that caused Hera, queen of the gods, to curse her so that her body would dwindle away to a mere voice able only to echo the words of Narcissus.

EU Uses Bailout Money to Finance 2 Mega Mosques in Athens
Excerpt: Despite the Islam debate activated by people like Thilo Sarrazin in Europe nothing changed. Everything continues like before – only more absurd and still faster. Now Greece will get two brand-new mosques, built with Brussels auxiliary billions (your tax money at work) While the coffers of many bankrupt European Union member states are empty, everywhere sufficient funds are available for the assistance with the propagation of Islam in Europe. One of the first measures after the transfer of billions, (assistance from Brussels for the Greek government 2010) was the announcement that 15 million euros would be allocated to build a large mosque in Athens….

2010 was a stunningly bad year for B.O.; 2011 could be worse
Excerpt: Ignore the revisionist hype in sections of the liberal media about President Obama staging a (mythical) political comeback – this is a presidency with an approval rating of 45 percent (according to the RealClear Politics poll of polls), that presides over a nation where just 27 percent of voters think the country is moving in the right direction, and which just 29 percent of Americans think will be returned to power in 2012. The White House may be claiming a couple of political wins in the dying embers of the lame duck Congress after expending a great deal of political capital in the Senate over the reckless ratification of the Moscow-friendly START Treaty and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but these are issues barely on the radar screens of most American voters in the lead-up to 2012, an election which will be dominated by the economy and health care reform.

Three Simple Reaganite Ideas for the New Congress
Excerpt: Republicans should enact the HOT Tax. The Higher-Rate Optional Tax would satisfy liberals who don’t like their taxes cut. “I am in the highest tax bracket,” an unidentified woman said in a November 30 commercial that attacks the Obama-GOP tax-cut compromise. “We don’t need the money. The country does.” No American should be forced to accept an unwanted tax cut. So, the HOT Tax would require new language on IRS tax returns: “If you believe your tax bracket is too low, please indicate the higher rate at which you prefer to be taxed. Multiply that rate by your Adjusted Gross Income. Send in that higher amount.” The HOT Tax would spare tax-cut opponents from accepting undesired tax relief. The rest of us can enjoy the lower taxes we need to pay our bills and take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Everybody wins. (Think Massachusetts did something similar when they cut the state income tax awhile back. Few elected the higher bracket. ~Bob.)

2010's Leading State: North Dakota
Excerpt: The most dynamic economy in America belongs to the state of North Dakota, aka "The Peace Garden State." The underlying reason (pardon the pun) is development of the vast Bakken shale oil deposits underway. As a result, North Dakota has the lowest unemployment and highest economic growth of any state in America. Barbara Hollingsworth of the Washington Examiner writes: North Dakota's oil boom has already increased the sparsely settled state's population by 5 percent, and the director of the state's Mineral Resources Department predicts that 2,000 new wells (there are now 166 active ones) will be drilled in 2011. Half will be located in a 70-mile radius around Williston, which had to add 1,200 new housing units this year to keep up with demand.

The Facts On The Ground For Jews In Holland Today

Why Muslims Must Look in the Mirror
Excerpt: If 2010 was the year America finally woke up to political Islam's nefarious reach on US soil, with luck 2011 will be the year we launch an offensive against it. One way to begin that process is through hearings that Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the new chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, plans to hold on American Muslim radicalization. Attention to this issue offers an opportunity for American Muslims to confront the radicalization problem and provide solutions -- as only they can. My group, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, believes these hearings will shed light on the diversity of American Muslims, giving our community a chance to step from behind the veil of Muslim victimization and address head-on the need for long-overdue ideological reforms. Alas, the announcement of the hearings has triggered heated denunciations by groups like ISNA, CAIR and MPAC, which try to deny and obfuscate the connection between "political Islam," or Islamism, and terror. This year, the debate on the development of the Ground Zero mosque brought the discussion of political Islam to the front page of every newspaper. While raucous at times, it provided an opportunity for Muslims who don't toe the line of American Islamist organizations to present an alternative vision for American Muslims -- one based in American values and Muslim reform. Unfortunately, political correctness still too often dominates incidents involving Islamists...

The Year that Humbled the DC Establishment
Excerpt: The "professional left" blames its undoing on the bad economy. This is a convenient culprit. If the environment is at fault then liberals' bear none. But awful economies do not dictate midterm collapses. Franklin Roosevelt proved that in 1934, when Democrats retained power despite failing, by that point, to lower the unemployment rate. Some reporters still struggle to get their head around the public's refusal to get behind Democrats' major legislation. Politics Daily's "Top 12 Political Surprises of 2010" included this telling thread: "The biggest mystery of 2010 may be Democrats' failure to explain and sell their landmark health law, and the public's sustained resistance to it despite the popularity of many of its components." The mystery is why it's still such a mystery. About 85 percent of Americans had healthcare. Polls showed Americans were largely pleased with the status of that care. The one consensus complaint was cost. But Democrats sought to address everything but cost. Democrats' top priority was healthcare when the nation's top priority was the economic crisis.

Clean Coal (Say WATT?) – Our Energy Future
Excerpt: According to Fallows, China is in the lead on this clean coal technology, with help from American and other western corporations. While it is good that at least some of the Global Warming alarmists are warming up to coal as a necessary part of the solution, it would be better IMHO, if they were also more realistic about the actual dangers of climate change and the likelihood (again IMHO) that most of the warming of the past century is due to natural cycles not under human control and that we are likely already in a multi-decade period of stable temperatures, and perhaps a bit of cooling. (...) Rather than have governments pick winners (and mess up as they did with corn ethanol subsidies that raised food prices and reduced gas mileage without doing much to control CO2 emissions) I prefer to tax carbon progressively a bit more each year and let industry and other users decide for themselves how to adapt to the higher prices. Nothing stimulates action and invention like saving your own money. Nothing wastes money like government taking money from “Mr. A” and giving it to “Mr. B” for the “good of society”. (Although I disagree with the author of this comment, Ira Glickstein (Dr. Glickstein favors state-imposed controls, just not the ones currently on the table), he brings out some points that really should be acknowledged. Emphasis is in the original. Ron P.)

2010 a Banner Year for MSM’s Ministries of Mistruth
Excerpt: In George Orwell’s 1984, set in a pre-computer era, Winston Smith, working in the misnamed Ministry of Truth, alters documents that contradict or conflict with his totalitarian government’s take on history, wiping out inconvenient truths or revising them to fit the current template. In 2010, the establishment press ramped up its propaganda role, acting as a collective of preemptive Winston Smiths. They ignored or massaged important news stories in ways that prevented the vast, relatively disengaged majority of the population (probably 85%, but perhaps as low as 80% thanks to the Tea Party movement) from getting their arms around the truth without doing a great deal of independent research.

E.P.A. Limit on Gases to Pose Risk to Obama and Congress
Excerpt: With the federal government set to regulate climate-altering gases from factories and power plants for the first time, the Obama administration and the new Congress are headed for a clash that carries substantial risks for both sides. While only the first phase of regulation takes effect on Sunday, the administration is on notice that if it moves too far and too fast in trying to curtail the ubiquitous gases that are heating the planet it risks a Congressional backlash that could set back the effort for years.  But the newly muscular Republicans in Congress could also stumble by moving too aggressively to handcuff the Environmental Protection Agency, provoking a popular outcry that they are endangering public health in the service of their well-heeled patrons in industry.  “These are hand grenades, and the pins have been pulled,” said William K. Reilly, administrator of the environmental agency under the first President George Bush. (Notice the not-so-subtle approving tone of the article. Why bother to legislate when nameless, faceless, unelected—and, frequently, unelectable—regulators can do the job for you? As I keep saying, to beancounters, the whole world looks like beans just waiting to be counted. It was a serious error to allow regulatory agencies to “promulgate their own regulations” by publishing them in the Congressional Register, that only the most serious of wonks read beyond the first page, anyway. I’m thinking we need a new Constitutional Amendment that says something like: “No law, regulation, rule, or procedure shall be enforceable in any court of law unless specifically read aloud and debated while each House of Congress is in session, and passed by a majority vote in both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President.” These rascals need to be held accountable for what they do to us. Ron P.)

The Liberal Reckoning of 2010 - The year voters saw the left's unvarnished agenda and said no.
Excerpt: The real story of 2010 is that the voters were finally able to see and judge this liberal agenda in its unvarnished form. For once, there was no Republican President to muddle the message or divide the accountability. The public was able to compare the promise of 8% unemployment if the government spent $812 billion on "stimulus" with the 9.8% jobless result. They stood athwart liberal history in the making and said, "Stop." Note well, however, that the Democrats still standing on Capitol Hill remain unchastened. In her exit interviews, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would do it all the same way again, and her colleagues have seconded her lack of remorse by keeping her as their leader despite their November thumping. Her consolation to defeated Democrats was not to invite them to the House caucus meeting when she denounced President Obama's tax deal with Republicans. Note, too, that the organized left and its media allies are also beginning to rewrite the story of the 111th Congress as an historical triumph. The same people who claimed that ObamaCare was a defeat because it lacked a public option are suddenly noting it will put 32 million more Americans on the government health-care dole. It won't be long before liberals and the press are defending the 111th Congress's every achievement as historic.

A Fisking
An evisceration of an anti-military writer. ~Bob. Excerpt: Yes, we’re going to find out if our Ivy League schools are merely anti-military, or anti-military and hypocritical. I can hardly wait.

The Immortal Tyranny Of Climate Change: Regulation takes over when legislation is defeated.
Excerpt: Thomas Sowell wrote yesterday of the effort to secretly re-introduce the ObamaCare “death panels” through regulation as an “end run around the Constitution.” Here’s another one, and it’s even bigger: a year after the Climagate scandal decisively exposed the fraud of global warming, and acting in the face of a new Republican House that does not look kindly on climate change flim-flams, the Obama Administration is preparing to enforce their ideology through EPA greenhouse gas regulations. So much for the latest “hard pivot to jobs,” announced only five days ago by President Obama. These EPA regulations are guaranteed job-killers, dropping a huge new tax on every affected business… which will, ultimately, be every business that uses energy. Yes, cap-and-trade is back again. It crawled out of the House of Representatives chewing on a couple billion dollars of fried pork, then collapsed and died of a coronary on the Senate floor… but it’s simply been retooled and forced on America as a set of regulations, due to take effect on January 2nd. The latest vehicle for delivering this immortal tyranny is the Clean Air Act, which has been mutated by ten year’s worth of lawsuits into an open-ended warrant for the Environmental Protection Agency to give itself any powers it thinks it needs, any time it sees a problem it wants to address. (No matter what is proven or disproven, no matter what the American public wants or doesn't want, Obama and his team will ride roughshod over the Constitution, common sense, logic, and the will of the people to put into place whatever systems they choose. Their arrogance and underhandedness are creating new records, surpassing even the various efforts of past Presidents to impose their will on the nation. And they are stupider by far than any of the past Administrations, pushing things like Cap&Trade or its mutated version from the EPA, when global warming has become extremely debatable and nations in Europe that tried policies based on it are retreating from those policies because they proved harmful. We all have to pray that Texas gets joined by other states and a challenge to the EPA authority goes into the courts and is eventually upheld. This creeping towards total power by federal agencies has got to be stopped; the Founders would have been loading pistols and riding to DC if anything remotely like this occurred in their lives. --Del)

The 10 worst (political) decisions of 2010
Have to agree with most of these. ~Bob. Excerpt: They must have seemed like good ideas at the time. But the politicos who made these bad decisions are surely looking back on 2010 and kicking themselves.

Kosovo Protestants tell of hardship, survival
Say, didn’t we go to war there to protect the Muslims from the Christians? ~Bob. Excerpt: Sometimes, the pressure takes the form of physical violence. In Prizren, Krasniqi says, Muslim extremists beat a Kosovo Protestant, Besim Ajeti, earlier this year. Six people were arrested but released for lack of evidence. In what the Protestants say was another example of intimidation, the Islamic community in Gjakova decided to post a list of Protestant missionaries and leaders, together with their addresses, on a website.

Obama Blocks Probe Of Fired IG
Excerpt: Violating its own guarantee of unprecedented transparency, the White House is blocking an investigation into the controversial firing of an inspector general who exposed one of President Obama’s political supporters—a California mayor—for misusing federal funds. 
First Lady Michelle Obama was reportedly behind the contentious June dismissal of AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin and congressional investigators want to interview the aide (Jackie Norris) who may have given the order. At the time Norris was the First Lady’s chief of staff but the White House counsel’s office has blocked investigators from interviewing her, according to a national news report.

The Return of Obama Gravitas
Excerpt: Stay tuned for 2011, when the political and media establishment will declare that indeed, Barack Obama has found his misplaced gravitas. Insiders will celebrate an awesomely deep president who will have sharpened his pants crease and will again bask in the unrestrained praise of the media gods. Amazing media grace: It once was lost, but now it's found, a gravitas for all to see. Do not be surprised when the first quarter of the new year brings a flood of stories celebrating the newly found effectiveness of the president and his policies. Official Washington will join with old media to again celebrate the president's "gravitas," which is code for belief in the necessity of "a rather small Western elite" to manage every aspect of our lives. At the same time, a Tea Party-influenced Congress will be portrayed as lacking seriousness of purpose -- gravitas, the media will put it -- by virtue of its constrictive policies and approaches. Limited government? Individual responsibility? Constitutional restrictions? All simply the thoughts and machinations of people who lack the intelligence to think big, to engage in social engineering on behalf of a greater vision. In other words, a citizenry and new Congress that lack gravitas, the media will tell us.

More rumors and few facts regarding the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry
Excerpt: It is getting stranger and stranger regarding the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry west of Rio Rico on December 14th. Agent Terry was part of a Border Patrol Tactical unit (BORTAC) pursuing bandits in Peck Canyon west of Rio Rico, Arizona. As noted by many, the federal stonewalling of information about the incident creates more doubt, suspicion and rumors. The fact that the 4 suspects caught by the Border Patrol haven’t been named or charged after 2 weeks really raises some serious questions. Why is there no real information coming out from the feds?

1 comment:

  1. If these oil wells from Bakken continue to increase in number, we might not even need to import oil from other countries anymore.