Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Abnormal radiation detected near Korean border

Yesterday the world media was abuzz with reports of abnormally high levels of xenon detected near the border between North and South Korea.  Some reports questioned whether the high radiation was a result of a successful nuclear fusion test by North Korea.  Joshua Pollack at Arms Control Wonk suspects something less nefarious:
There are a handful of other ways that some excess radioactive xenon could have found its way to South Korea’s skies.

One possibility is the production of medical isotopes. But it doesn’t appear that there’s a facility big enough and close enough to have caused the spike.

A second possibility is a reprocessing facility, like North Korea’s “radiochemistry laboratory” at Yongbyon. Pyongyang claims to have finished its last reprocessing campaign there last year, but it’s possible that they were bluffing until recently.

Unfortunately for this theory, even if the plant had been operating in May 2010, the spent fuel would have aged too much to release much xenon. The half-lives of its radioisotopes are counted in hours or days. So scratch that idea.

The last important possibility is a nuclear reactor of one sort or another. It seems that whenever a reactor is started up or the pressure vessel is opened for refueling, gases escape, including xenon. A typical light-water reactor is refueled annually. And given all the power reactors across the Far East, that probably happens around there with some regularity.

All that’s really required to explain the unusual reading at Geojin is for a reactor startup or opening to have occurred within hundreds of miles in the previous week or so. Heck, if you want a specific candidate, Japan’s Monju breeder reactor was restarted on May 6.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Man sinks two holes-in-one in same round

When considering the odds of the Republicans taking back the House and the Senate in November, consider this long shot accomplishment reported by The Herald Sun (Australia).   (Picture: Raoul Kochanowski):
Even before he walked off the Tasmania Golf Club course at 4.45pm (AEST) yesterday, the local golfing community was abuzz with Mr Kube's amazing double, The Mercury reports.

"We looked it up on the internet and it said it was a one in 67,000,000 occurrence, so it's pretty rare," the 23-year-old said at the 19th hole.

Richard Skeggs, of the Tasmanian Golf Council agreed.

"I've heard of people having two in one round, but never in Tasmania," he said.

"It's very, very rare."

But Mr Kube is no ordinary golfer.

He plays off a two handicap, and is a member of the Tasmanian senior team that will contest the Interstate Series against all other states in Queensland in September.

His hole-in-one double happened in the TGC's regular Wednesday competition, which he only entered because he got off work earlier than expected.

His first hole-in-one was on the par three eighth hole using a six iron.

"I saw it go in the hole and I thought, it's good to have my first one (hole-in-one)," he said.

The second came on the par three 11th using an eight iron and the same brand new Srixon ball he dug out of his bag on the seventh.

"I thought it had a good chance on the 11th because it was headed straight at the pin," he said.

"It landed behind the hole and rolled back in."

Mr Kube played it cool while his golfing buddies went wild.

"I thought 'Oh well, that's two'. It has to happen to someone," he said.

Obama rails. Congress fails.

In the President's address today, he scolded he Republicans for their obstructionist ways, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has no intention of fulfilling its obligation under the law to create a 2011 budget.  The Heritage Foundation highlighted this blatant dereliction of duty last month:
Yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that, for the first time since 1974, the House will not pass a budget resolution this year. Since the Budget Act of 1974, Congress has been unable to conference a budget resolution only four times: in 1998, 2002, 2004, and 2006. But in every one of these years, the House fulfilled its obligation to American taxpayers to create a budget. This year, however, this will not be the case.

Without a House budget, no final and binding budget can be enacted. As the House Rules Committee website explains, “The budget resolution provides Congress with the opportunity to lay out its spending, revenue, borrowing and economic goals and serves as the vehicle for imposing internal budget discipline through established enforcement mechanisms.” No budget means no caps on discretionary spending, and makes it severely unlikely that the Bush tax cuts will be extended, raising taxes on low- and middle-income families in the midst of a recession.

Most importantly, though, the failure to pass a budget this year makes lawmakers’ priorities crystal clear: they’ve simply been too busy increasing spending to actually think about controlling it. 63 percent of Americans believe Obamacare will add to the federal deficit. At the beginning of this year, Congress increased the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion to accommodate more spending. And the budget proposed by President Obama promises to create record deficits in years to come.

Members of Congress may point to the President’s deficit commission as an excuse for this negligent behavior, but this is a cop out. As Heritage’s budget expert Brian Riedl writes, “Congress is under deadline to finance the FY 2011 spending bills before September 30—well before the commission is even scheduled to release its report. Furthermore, the commission itself is focused on longer-term budget issues, such as reducing the deficit by 2015. Finally, there is no guarantee that the deficit commission will even come up with a budget plan that can achieve the required support of 14 of its 18 commission members as well as sufficient congressional support.”

Clearly, Congress is unwilling to be held accountable for its reckless behavior or to take the tough action necessary to reverse it. Instead, lawmakers will continue to talk the talk of fiscal responsibility but walk—no run— at a breakneck pace towards larger deficits. Greece, here we come.
The Democratic members of Congress delegate climate legislation to the EPA; internet regulation to the FCC; immigration reform to the Justice Department; the national foreclosure problem to HUD and national behavior modification to HHS.  And when it comes to passing a budget resolution, as required by the Budget Act of 1974, they just yawn:
Budget?  Budget?  We don't need no stinking budget.  It would only highlight the fact that government spending is out of control and we incumbents haven't the integrity, desire or spines to do anything about it.

Latest Iranian cleric fatwa targets ......dogs

This Reuters news report speaks for itself:
Dogs are considered "unclean" under Islamic tradition but, while relatively rare in Iran, some people do keep them as pets.

By issuing a fatwa -- a religious ruling -- Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi has sent a clear message that this trend must stop.

"Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West," he was quoted as saying in Javan daily. "There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children."

Guard dogs and sheep dogs are considered acceptable under Islamic law but Iranians who carry dogs in their cars or take them to public parks can be stopped by police and fined.

The Koran does not explicitly prohibit contact with dogs, Shirazi said, but Islamic tradition showed it to be so. "We have lots of narrations in Islam that say dogs are unclean."

The interpretation of religious rules on personal conduct is a constant source of debate and potential conflict in Iran which has been an Islamic republic since a revolution ousted the Western-backed Shah in 1979.

Friday, June 18, 2010

NPR polling news bad for Democrats

Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics sees real trouble on the horizon for House Democrats in November:
The last week of House polls have reinforced the view I have held from April of this year that a 50-seat loss or so is the midpoint scenario for Democrats this fall, rather than the 25-40 seat range that most analysts seem to be talking about. This week's generic ballot tracking poll from Gallup shows Republicans with a 5-point lead, tying their previous best showing from 1994. The previous two weeks revealed a 6-point lead (the largest in 50 years of Gallup tracking) and a tie. Three datapoints do not a trend make. But it is hard to ignore that two of the best three generic ballot showings for Republicans ever in Gallup occurred in the last two weeks.

Rasmussen's tracking poll showed Republicans opening up a 10-point lead in the generic ballot. This is significantly larger than the .4 average that RCP currently shows. But Rasmussen is the only pollster who has imposed a likely voter screen since mid-May. Other pollsters will add likely voter screens later in the year, and that usually moves the ballot toward Republicans. [snip]

But the worst news for the Democrats comes from NPR's recent polling. Using a top-notch Republican and a top-notch Democratic polling firm, NPR polled 60 districts represented by Democrats that it considered the most competitive. It isn't a simple generic ballot - it named the actual candidates where incumbents were running. It further broke these down into two "tiers:" Tier I (the 30 Democratic districts it considered "most competitive") and Tier II, (the next most competitive 30 Democratic districts). NPR also polled the ten districts represented by Republicans that it considered the most competitive.

Obama's approval is horrible in both "tiers" of districts represented by Democrats. 53% of voters disapprove of him in the "Tier I" districts, while 56% disapprove in the "Tier II" districts, including a near-majority who strongly disapproves of the President. He's 50-50 in the districts held by Republicans, but Obama averaged a 16.15% victory in these districts in 2008 (the districts polled that are held by Democrats were carried by McCain by a point or so on average in 2008).

Against this landscape, it should not be surprising that NPR finds a Democratic debacle in the making in these districts. Voters prefer, on average, a Republican to the Democrat by 9 points in "Tier I" districts and by a 2 point margin in the "Tier II" districts. Among the most enthusiastic voters, it is even more ominous for Democrats: Republicans lead by 14 points in the 60 districts represented by Democrats. In the districts held by Republicans, by contrast, the Republican lead by 16 points over all, and by 21 points among the most enthusiastic voters.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Obama DOJ moves to dismiss health reform lawsuits of 20 states

In a motion filed late Wednesday, the Justice Department asked the Federal District Court in Pensacola to dismiss lawsuits by  20 states challenging the constitutionality of  President Obama's health care reform law.  From The Associated Press:
The motion filed late Wednesday says the U.S. District Court in Pensacola lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over some claims raised in the suit. The motion also says other parts of the lawsuit fail to state claims upon which relief can be granted.

A key issue in the suit by the states, National Federation of Independent Business and several individual taxpayers is whether the federal government can require individuals to purchase health care insurance and fine those who fail to do so.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said Thursday that the government's defenses clash with comments Obama made during the health care debate, "including the president's insistence on national television that the purchase mandate was absolutely not a tax."

In its arguments for the motion to dismiss, the Justice Department says the requirement to buy coverage is an exercise of Congress' constitutional power to tax and spend.

"The Supreme Court has long held that an exercise of this power is valid, even if it has a regulatory function, even if the revenue purpose is subsidiary, and even if the moneys raised are 'negligible,'" wrote a team of government lawyers led by Assistant Attorney General Tony West.

Karen Harned, executive director of National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center, called the administration's argument a "bait-and-switch move" because of Obama's prior no-tax statements. She said the law itself does not used the word "tax" for the insurance requirement.
The Investor's Business Daily calls out the Obama administration for overt duplicity in wrapping the issue in the Congressional authority to tax and spend:
According to Obama’s Justice Department, the individual mandate is constitutional because “requiring individuals to buy health insurance is an exercise of Congress’ taxing authority.” (The National Federation of Independent Businesses has more here.)

President Obama insisted repeatedly during the health care debate that the individual mandate is “absolutely” not a tax increase.

More broadly, the administration’s legal position could create a big political problem. Back on Sept. 12, 2008, Obama said:

I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

On multiple occasions Obama promised, “you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.”

Some argue that Obama already violated that pledge when he signed the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan bill that boosted cigarette taxes. And that may, indeed, be the case.

But the individual mandate “tax” hits almost everyone and gives people no choice.

If the administration continues with its legal position, Obama is admitting he’s violated his tax pledge, giving political fodder to Republicans. But if he stops the DOJ, that weakens the case for an individual mandate, a critical part of ObamaCare.

Maintaining a campaign pledge vs. ramming through the transformation of American society? That’s a no-brainer for this president.
The chicanery of the Obama administration continues to astonish.  But what do you expect when the Speaker of the House of Representatives got away with this?


Will Obama's demand for $20 billion BP escrow backfire? Updated.

Wednesday's announcement that BP had agreed to President Obama's demand for creation of a $20 billion escrow to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon infuriated some GOP members of Congress and raised concerns of at least one Gulf state governor.  Not surprisingly, The Huffington Post attributes the negative response to a perceived vulnerability for political gain:
Republicans on the Hill have calculated that President Obama's successful demand that BP set up a $20 billion escrow account to pay out claims is ripe for political attack. In the wake of Wednesday's White House announcement, a host of GOP officials are raising questions about both the process by which the deal was made and the deal itself -- going so far as to apologize to BP on America's behalf.

"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) during a hearing on Thursday morning with BP's CEO Tony Hayward." I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion shakedown -- with the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, which has no legal standing, which I think sets a terrible precedent for our nation's future."

"I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize," Barton added. "I do not want to live in a county where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown."
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said of the escrow announcement, "We think it will help ensure that BP is taking ownership."  But Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour expressed reservations and concern that the move may backfire.  From Fox News:
Mississippi's governor said Wednesday he's not sure the federal government should have made BP put $20 billion into escrow to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill because the company needs it to drill more wells and make money so it can pay up.

President Barack Obama insisted BP set the money aside, and the company agreed to put $5 billion a year into the fund for the next four years.

"If they take a huge amount of money and put it in an escrow account so they can't use it to drill oil wells and produce revenue, are they going to be able to pay us?" Gov. Haley Barbour told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Millions of gallons of oil have gushed into the Gulf since a BP well ruptured eight weeks ago off the Louisiana coast.

"We need them to generate revenue to be able to pay us," said Barbour, a Republican. "I worry that this escrow account reduces the chance of that rather than increasing the chances of that."
I think both criticisms have merit, but Barbour suggests that the escrow burden has the very real potential of reducing BP's ability to pay damage claims for this historic disaster.  A quick look at the company balance sheet seems to bear that out.  Democrats like to rail about the obscene profits of the oil industry, and, in fact, BP did earn a $16.7 billion profit in 2009.  But anyone with a modicum of knowledge about business, knows that companies prosper and fail on cash flow. In 2009, BP's year-end working capital was just over $8 billion.  In 2008 it was a negative $3.4 billion.  Removing $5 billion a year for four years from BP's current assets will seriously impede its ability to operate and grow its core business activities.  The Obama drilling moratorium certainly will not help. If BP declares bankruptcy, who will pay for the cleanup?  We all know the answer to that question.  The taxpayer.

Aesop's fable about the goose that laid the golden eggs taught us, "Much wants more and loses all."

Update:  Rep. Barton apologizes for his apology.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

HHS misses multiple basic ObamaCare deadlines

The Daily Caller reports that multiple deadlines have been missed by the Department of Health and Human Services as the Obama administration scrambles to implement and sell the new health care reform law:
Key Republican lawmakers are pressing President Obama’s top health-care official for answers on why the administration has missed “numerous” early deadlines in implementing Obamacare.

The missed deadlines “are some of the most basic provisions of this law,” the June 16 letter says, the administration’s “failure to meet these deadlines does not bode well for the [law’s] more complicated provisions.”

As reported earlier by The Daily Caller, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already missed as many as four deadlines under the law – not on any major regulations — but still a worrisome trend, critics say.

Congressional staff and industry representatives had been asking HHS for a timeline specifying when it will issue the numerous regulations required by the law. They were shocked to find the agency has not produced such a document, one aide said.

The issue is important because vast industry sectors are trying to plan their own implementations of the health-care law and most of the details remain in bureaucrats’ hands, leaving a vacuum of uncertainty about the final burdens the law will impose.

The missed deadlines include creating task forces on breast cancer and Alaskan health care, publishing a list of new authorities granted under the law, and work on defining “underserved” areas that receive higher health-care subsidies.

HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo has noted the administration had already implemented numerous parts of the health care law in advance of deadlines.

Rep. Dave Camp, Michigan Republican and ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, noted the missed deadlines stand in contrast to an aggressive public relations push by the White House and outside groups to sell the law.

“While the administration is focused on an aggressive, taxpayer-funded public relations campaign to combat the health care bill’s increasingly high disapproval numbers, they have missed numerous implementation deadlines. It is important that we carry out our congressional oversight responsibilities,” Camp said.

While missing deadlines, the administration has found time to send promotional material touting the law’s benefit, including a brochure for senior citizens and post cards from the IRS advertising tax breaks under the law.
Here's my interpretation of the administration position on the situation:  We don't know what's in the 2,409-page Senate bill and its 153-page House of Representative "fix-it" reconciliation bill that together constitute the new law, but we will implement its provisions as soon as we figure out what they are.  We're ahead of schedule on the easy stuff, but the hard stuff is, well, just hard.  But don't worry.  You are going to love it.  Everyone is going to love it.  Seniors are going to love it (oh, yeah, and check your mail because we are sending you a check for $250 to help you love it.)  And just in case that doesn't work, we are spending $125 million to explain it to you for the ten thousandth time.

Perhaps we should give HHS chief Kathleen Sibelius a break.  The phrase "the secretary," meaning Sibelius, appears 2,579 in the Senate bill and 49 times in the reconciliation bill.  The phrase "the secretary shall" appears 764 times in the Senate bill and 16 times in the reconciliation bill.  By any standard, that's quite a to do list.

Especially if you haven't read it.

Musings from the bridge

It is my habit to walk the Biloxi Bay Bridge from Ocean Springs to Biloxi and back when I visit my parents on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Since the heat index was expected to rise over 100 today, I set out early in the morning for my walk.  The bridge was teeming with walkers, young and old.  On the pier of the Ocean Springs Yacht Club at the base of the bridge, I was pleased to see a sandhill crane.  For a moment, I could almost forget that an ominous black cloud of crude was bearing down on the Magnolia State from her southern aqueous border.  That mental respite would not last. (Photo by Chief Petty Officer William McAnally, USCG)

As I reached the highest point on the bridge I saw two large commercial shrimp boats emerge from underneath the span heading out toward the Gulf.  I really didn't think much about it,  Then I saw another.  And another.  They just kept coming.  On the return leg of my walk, there were shrimp boats lined up all the way to the horizon, with others joining from the Ocean Springs harbor to the east and the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor to the west.  It was quite surreal.  In my forty-plus years of living in and visiting the area, I had never seen so many boats in Biloxi Bay.  It was reminiscent of the annual Blessing of the Fleet, but without the colorful flags and pageantry.  This looked more like a naval flotilla heading to war.

These shrimp boats and their crews were likely heading out to the Mississippi Sound as part of BP's Vessels of Opportunity program.  From the San Angelo (TX) Standard-Times
To date, more than 2,300 vessels have been hired as part of the Vessels of Opportunity program, and are working aggressively in multiple shifts across the Gulf to perform a variety of important tasks, including deploying and monitoring containment boom, transporting equipment and personnel and surface and subsurface surveillance (looking for oil).

The VOO program hires vessels of all sizes—with a priority placed on commercial vessels that make their living on the sea—to perform critical response tasks to mitigate the oil’s impact on our vital shorelines. Compensation depends on the size of the vessel and ranges from $1,200-$3,000 per day. Crew members are paid $200 per eight-hour shift.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama: "We cannot consign our children to this future." ....Seriously?

Crocodile tears and a breathtaking quote from the President tonight in his prime time speech about the Deepwater Horizon disaster:
We cannot consign our children to this future.
Of course, Obama was referring to the "menacing cloud of black crude" that encroaches on the shores of the Gulf Coast.  He conveniently discounts the crippling financial manacles placed on future generations of Americans by the blatant reckless spending of the Democratic majority.  From US News & World Report:
It is a measure of the nation’s economic illiteracy that the most recent debt projections have not received more coverage. Sure, most people can tell Karl Marx from Harpo but it is highly unlikely that they can distinguish between Adam Smith and Will, even if he were to bite them on a visible hand.

As reported Friday by Bloomberg, the total United States debt under President Barack Obama is poised to explode past its statistical post-war norms to a point where it “exceeds the value of the nation’s annual economic output.” Total federal government debt rose past $13 trillion for the first time in June 2010 and is on track to surpass U.S. Gross Domestic Product by the year 2012, according to projections just issued by the International Monetary Fund.

Part of the problem is that the U.S. economy is not growing. The stimulus spending that President Obama and the Democrats who control Congress said would solve the problem and bring about an early end to the recession has not worked as advertized, leaving unemployment figures at their highest point in decades and doing little to spark productive economic activity.
All government funding comes from the private sector.  The government does not and can not create wealth.  Government union membership now exceeds that of the private sector.  Government employment rates exceed that of the private sector.  Government employment growth exceeds that of the private sector.  Government wages exceed that of the private sector.

When the federal government declares war on the private sector, there are only two inevitable consequences:  insolvency and collapse.

Five things the President will not say tonight

In keeping with his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's exhortation to never let a serious crisis go to waste, tonight President Obama will speak in prime time from the Oval Office and try to convince the American people that the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is definitive proof of the need for cap and tradeclimate change clean energy legislation.  Here are five things you won't hear him say:

1.  "Under my plan, electricity prices will necessarily skyrocket:"

2.  It's time to destroy the coal industry in the U.S. so we can buy coal from China.  Charles Krauthammer put it succinctly on Fox News:
He [Obama] wants to tax carbon, which means they want to include coal, of which we are the Saudi Arabia of the world, we do not import it. We have an abundance of it. And it's not going to help us on global warming. The Chinese have said they are going to be opening a new coal-fired plant every week for the next ten years, so it will be a transfer of wealth out of our treasury into China's. (emphasis mine)
3.  Implementation of a cap and trade system in the U.S. will have no meaningful effect on global greenhouse gas levels unless China follows suit.  Obama EPA administrator Lisa Jackson admitted as much in a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last summer.

4.  There is virtually no chance that the Chinese will follow the U.S. in implementing a cap and trade system.  From The Heritage Foundation:
It is unreasonable to expect the PRC to follow the U.S. on climate change. China has rejected American leadership on security issues in Iran and North Korea and on human rights matters in Sudan and Burma. In economics, the PRC's existing and anticipated coal dependence dwarfs America's, making a serious adjustment far more difficult.

Moreover, China does not compete in most goods and services with the U.S. but with other suppliers to the American market, such as Mexico. These nations'--not American--climate change restrictions are more pertinent to Beijing's decision making.[7] And the PRC has steadfastly avoided the Western European cap-and-trade experiment (wisely so, as the EU has failed to cut emissions while harming its economy). That China will follow an American lead in cutting greenhouse gases flies in the face of all available evidence.
5.  My cap and trade plan will create thousands of cushy government jobs, but its net effect will be to increase our nation's overall unemployment rate:
Cap and trade has macroeconomic effects that would do economic harm that no rebate check would cover. Higher prices lower consumer demand, and the lower demand prevents higher prices from completely offsetting production cost increases. As a result, businesses must make production cuts and reduce labor. The Congressional Budget Office recently affirmed that job losses from a slower economy would outweigh those created by clean energy investments: “Job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, thereby raising the overall unemployment rate.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal orders National Guard to build barrier wall offshore

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has ordered the National Guard to start building sand barriers nine miles offshore to protect the state from the millions of gallons of crude that threaten his state's way of life.  ABC News reports:
Eight weeks into the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of the Mexico, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has told the National Guard that there's no time left to wait for BP, so they're taking matters into their own hands.

In Fort Jackson, La., Jindal has ordered the Guard to start building barrier walls right in the middle of the ocean. The barriers, built nine miles off shore, are intended to keep the oil from reaching the coast by filling the gaps between barrier islands.
Jindal's plan to construct physical barriers to the oil has been criticized by environmentalists, BP and the Army Corps of Engineers as an unproven oil-response technique.  Some question the effects the berms with have on natural tidal flows, citing the possibility that saltwater could be channeled in new directions threatening the marsh grasses.  A critical article in Scientific American seems to vaguely suggest that the marsh grasses may tolerate the oil more easily than the salty water of the ocean.

Rob Young, a coastal geologist at Western Carolina University recently expressed his doubts about the barrier walls to NPR:
"The structure that I see that they're planning to build is going to erode as soon as it's constructed, and it's going to have a tough time making it through a hurricane season that's predicted to be a fairly active one," Young tells NPR's Melissa Block. "I just don't have a very high level of confidence that a project that's going to require a lot of energy and a lot of sand and mobilize a lot of people is going to do what they promise it will do."
To borrow a hackneyed phrase from the Obama administration, Bobby Jindal has been at ground zero in this disaster "from day one," and has been begging BP and the federal government for more help in preventing the oil from reaching the fragile Louisiana coast.  Jindal is no intellectual slouch.  From the governor's website:
Jindal was born in Baton Rouge on June 10, 1971. He graduated from Baton Rouge High School in 1988 and went on to attend Brown University where he graduated with honors in biology and public policy. Following his graduation from Brown he attended Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar, having turned down admissions to medical and law schools at both Harvard and Yale.
As Jindal takes matters into his own hands, he reveals a refreshing and fearless leadership that our country has been sorely lacking.  Teddy Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech comes to mind:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

ObamaCare side effects: Physicians leaving medicine

My long time friend and technology guru, Alf Sauve', has graciously acquiesced to my request for personal testimony on ObamaCare:

On June 16, 2009 President Obama stated, "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period."(1) A promise he repeated on numerous occasions. And he has also has stated, "Nobody is talking about getting between you and your doctor."(2) What he didn't say was that Obamacare was so onerous that some doctors would be abandoning their profession. How many you ask? I'm not a researcher. I don't have access to the necessary data to even take a swag at it. But imagine my surprise when my personal physician (and friend) for the last 10 years announced he would be leaving his practice because of Obamacare. And he did exactly that. Oh retired, you say? No, he had been in his practice for about 10 years and was in his early 40's. Made a killing in the market, you say? No, again. He has an undergraduate degree in engineering and will be moving to a different community and joining the building trades. This really hurts. Medical care is so much more than charts and lab results. While there are extensive notes and computerized records about all my visits, exams and treatments, my doctor "knew" me. He knew, maybe even "felt" things about me that the replacement physician will never really know or understand. My new physician is certainly knowledgeable and competent, but it will take years to build up the knowledge of my body and the level of care that I had with my old doc. So I wonder how many more are like him? How many either have the assets to retire on or another profession to fall back on? What scares me even more is how many will feel trapped in a profession they no longer like. What kind of quality care will they give? And how many potential medical professionals will seek other lines of work now to avoid being part of Obama's socialized medical plan. Or to reverse the question, what type of personality will now want to become a physician? Do I want that person taking care of me? So yes, I could keep my physician, except Obamacare has come between me and my doctor. Welcome to the brave new world.

(1) Speech to AMA June 15, 2009 http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/06/15/obama-if-you-like-your-doctor-you-can-keep-your-doctor/

(2) Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlene-h-phillips/obama-confronts-misinform_b_264542.html

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Glick to Netanyahu: Remember the first rule of strategy

Caroline Glick warns Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is focusing on the wrong things.  From The Jerusalem Post:
The first rule of strategy is to keep your opponent busy attending to your agenda so he has no time to advance his own. Unfortunately, Israel’s leaders seem unaware of this rule, while Iran’s rulers triumph in its application.

Over the past few weeks, Israel has devoted itself entirely to the consideration of questions that are, at best, secondary. Questions like how much additional assistance Israel should provide Hamas-controlled Gaza, and how best to fend off or surrender to the international diplomatic lynch mob have dominated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s and his senior ministers’ agendas. Our political leaders – as well as our military commanders and intelligence agencies – have been so busy thinking about these issues that they have effectively forgotten the one issue that they should have been considering.

Israel’s greatest strategic challenge – preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons – has fallen by the wayside.
Glick urges the Prime Minister to appoint an equivalent to Obama's envoy George Mitchell to mind the fires of the ruthless and unending news cycle, and give him fancy offices, deputies, aides, spokesmen, "and a free hand in talking with the Palestinians and the Obama administration until the cows come home."  This would give Netanyahu the time he needs to address Israel's most pressing existential problem:  Iran:
In the meantime, Netanyahu and his senior cabinet ministers and advisers must devote themselves to battling Iran. They must not merely prepare to attack Iran’s nuclear installations.

They must prepare the country to weather the Iranian counter-attack that will surely follow.

Those preparations involve not only fortifying Israel’s home front. Netanyahu and his people must prepare a diplomatic and legal offensive against Iran and its allies in the lead-up, and aftermath, of an Israeli strike against Iran.
This strikes me as an important piece.  Read the whole thing.

Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iran

It's been an eventful week for Iran.  On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council passed a fourth sanctions resolution meant to stifle Iran's nuclear activity. Friday, Russia announced its plan to freeze delivery of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. And today, this, from The Times (UK):
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.

“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
It has long been the conventional wisdom that Saudi Arabia would not interfere with an Israeli airstrike on Iran, but to see it in print with confirmation, albeit anonymously, from the U.S. State Department is quite extraordinary.

Surprise! 51% of company health plans won't meet ObamaCare guidelines

President Obama must have repeated it a thousand times on the long road show to passing health care reform:  "If you like your health insurance, you can keep it."  Administration documents leaked to House Republicans and posted on the internet Friday tell a very different story.  From David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investor's Business Daily:
Internal administration documents reveal that up to 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage because of ObamaCare.

Small firms will be even likelier to lose existing plans.

The "midrange estimate is that 66% of small employer plans and 45% of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfathered status by the end of 2013," according to the document.

In the worst-case scenario, 69% of employers — 80% of smaller firms — would lose that status, exposing them to far more provisions under the new health law.

The 83-page document, a joint project of the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the IRS, examines the effects that ObamaCare's regulations would have on existing, or "grandfathered," employer-based health care plans.

Draft copies of the document were reportedly leaked to House Republicans during the week and began circulating Friday morning. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., posted it on his Web site Friday afternoon.

"It's been passed around the staffs here on Capitol Hill. Congressman Posey thought it was important enough to share," said spokesman George Cecala.

In a statement, Posey said the document showed that the arguments in favor of ObamaCare were a "bait and switch."

"The president promised repeatedly that people who like their current plans can keep them, but now the details of their plan actually confirm what many suspected all along, most Americans will lose their current health care plan," Posey said.
"Bait and switch" is entirely too generous.  It was a calculated lie.

View the entire document on Representative Posey's web site here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Putin to Sarkozy: Russia will freeze delivery of S-300's to Iran

Some rare good news today for Israel.  In an apparent reversal from published statements on Thursday, the Russian government has decided to freeze the delivery of S-300 missiles to Iran.  From The Associated Press:
The new U.N. sanctions prevent Russia from delivering S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran, a Kremlin official said Friday, in a reversal of the position announced by Russia's Foreign Ministry the day before.

The Kremlin statement was sure to please Israel and the United States, which have long urged Russia not to supply the powerful missile system. Russia signed a deal to sell the missiles in 2007, but has delayed their delivery.

The U.N. Security Council resolution passed Wednesday bans Iran from developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, investing in nuclear-related activities and buying certain types of heavy weapons.

The Kremlin official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the S-300 falls under these sanctions.

The U.N. resolution does not specifically prohibit Russia from supplying the S-300, the U.S. State Department spokesman said. "However, for the first time, the resolution calls for states to exercise vigilance and restraint in the sale or transfer of all other arms and related materiel," spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington. "We appreciate Russia's restraint in the transfer of the S-300 missile system to Iran."

This distinction may help explain the initial confusion.

On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said the U.N. resolution did not apply to air-defense systems, with the exception of shoulder-fired missiles.

The head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, which oversees arms trade, also said Thursday that the sanctions would not affect the S-300 deal. But on Friday the agency said an analysis of the resolution indicated the missile system was banned under the new sanctions.

In Paris, a French presidential aide said that Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday, said that Russia had decided to "freeze the delivery of the S-300 missiles."
It sounds like Russia has the latitude to reverse itself again under a strict interpretation of the UN resolution.  But for today, this is very good news.

Obama will support anti-Israel resolution at UN next week. Update: White House denies

William Kristol makes a sad, but not unexpected revelation today at The Weekly Standard:
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that senior Obama administration officials have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel's behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident. The White House has apparently shrugged off concerns from elsewhere in the U.S. government that a) this is an extraordinary singling out of Israel, since all kinds of much worse incidents happen around the world without spurring UN investigations; b) that the investigation will be one-sided, focusing entirely on Israeli behavior and not on Turkey or on Hamas; and c) that this sets a terrible precedent for outside investigations of incidents involving U.S. troops or intelligence operatives as we conduct our own war on terror.

While UN Ambassador Susan Rice is reported to have played an important role in pushing for U.S. support of a UN investigation, the decision is, one official stressed, of course the president's. The government of Israel has been consulting with the U.S. government on its own Israeli investigative panel, to be led by a retired supreme court justice, that would include respected international participants, including one from the U.S. But the Obama administration is reportedly saying that such a “kosher panel” is not good enough to satisfy the international community, or the Obama White House.
The outcome of any UN investigation of Israel cannot be in doubt.  It will be a reprise of the shameful Goldstone Report of 2009.  The Obama administration has decimated 62 years of goodwill with the only democracy in the Middle East in less than 18 months.

Update:  Ben Smith at Politico is reporting that the White House is sharply denying Kristol's claim.  Stay tuned.

Nah. No one's read the 1500-page financial reform bills

Mary Katharine Ham found a video nugget on C-SPAN that Congressional Democrats don't want you to see.  From The Weekly Standard on Thursday:
Today, a conference committee begins hashing out differences between the House and Senate visions for financial regulatory reform. As Congress begins deliberations on another sweeping overhaul of a complex national system with broad, international implications, one would hope they are well informed about the bills over which they'll be haggling.

But just a week ago, a member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission told billionaire investor Warren Buffett that "no one" has read the text of the financial regulatory reform bills, "including some of the co-sponsors."

Bill Thomas, former Republican Congressman and vice chairman of the commission, asked Buffett in a June 2 hearing what the Congress had gotten "mostly right" or wrong in financial regulatory reform. When Buffett confessed he had not read the "1500-page bills," Thomas told him no one had, so his admission was "a denial that's okay." Buffett smiles as staffers in the background chortle over the disclosure. Moments like these will not help Congress' all-time low rating among voters.

Legislation without representation: Murkowski resolution fails in Senate

By a 53-47 vote, the Senate defeated a resolution that would have effectively reversed the EPA's greenhouse gases endangerment finding.  From The Washington Times:
Environmentalists scored their first major Senate victory regarding climate change Thursday as Democrats gave a green light to the Environmental Protection Agency to impose strict new rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

Senators voted 53-47 to let the Obama administration proceed with its rules. But with all 41 Republicans and six Democrats voting to try to block the EPA, climate change remains a poisonous issue on Capitol Hill and the deeply divided tally likely heads off any chance the chamber could pass a broad climate policy this year.

Still, it's a high point for environmentalists, whose fortunes have improved dramatically since 1997, when the Senate voted 95-0 to tell President Clinton not to bother submitting the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty for ratification.

"Today, the Senate chose to move America forward, toward that clean energy economy - not backward to the same failed policies that have left our nation increasingly dependent on foreign oil," President Obama said, praising senators for giving his administration leeway to act.
More at The Wall Street Journal.

Putting aside my own considerable skepticism of the validity of the anthropogenic global warming premise on which all this insanity rests, this is a dangerous precedent for our republic.  If  Congress can abdicate its responsibility to govern on a matter with such grave consequences for the U.S. economy, and leave us all at the mercy of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, then what, pray tell, is next?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

U.S. slow to accept Dutch expertise in oil disaster

From The Houston Chronicle:
Three days after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch government offered to help.

It was willing to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms, and it proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands.

The response from the Obama administration and BP, which are coordinating the cleanup: “The embassy got a nice letter from the administration that said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,'” said Geert Visser, consul general for the Netherlands in Houston.

Now, almost seven weeks later, as the oil spewing from the battered well spreads across the Gulf and soils pristine beaches and coastline, BP and our government have reconsidered.

U.S. ships are being outfitted this week with four pairs of the skimming booms airlifted from the Netherlands and should be deployed within days. Each pair can process 5 million gallons of water a day, removing 20,000 tons of oil and sludge.

At that rate, how much more oil could have been removed from the Gulf during the past month?

The uncoordinated response to an offer of assistance has become characteristic of this disaster's response. Too often, BP and the government don't seem to know what the other is doing, and the response has seemed too slow and too confused.

Federal law has also hampered the assistance. The Jones Act, the maritime law that requires all goods be carried in U.S. waters by U.S.-flagged ships, has prevented Dutch ships with spill-fighting equipment from entering U.S. coastal areas.

“What's wrong with accepting outside help?” Visser asked. “If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands.”

Even if, three days after the rig exploded, it seemed as if the Dutch equipment and expertise wasn't needed, wouldn't it have been better to accept it, to err on the side of having too many resources available rather than not enough?
All told, thirteen countries have offered assistance to the U.S.  All have been rejected.

Fox News correspondent Brian Wilson clarified a likely motivation for the Obama administration's swift lack of action on international offers of assistance.  He said unions love the Jones Act because it protects American (union) workers from foreign competition.  A more cynical blogger might also observe that three of the four states most affected by the oil spill (Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama) went for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

Americans should wake up and contemplate the long term impact of our President's dangerous devotion to organized labor. 

As oil flows into the Gulf, Obama redoubles efforts......on healthcare

President Obama has not met or spoken with Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, since the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in the Gulf nearly two months ago. (Although CBS News is reporting that he might...just might meet with Heyward on June 17.)  He has had time for other things like:

•Two days of media events (White House Correspondents Dinner and a tĂȘte a tĂȘte with Bono)
•Three days of fundraising
•Four commemorations
•Six days of vacation
•Six days of campaigning
•Six sports events
•Seven days of golf
He and his staff have also given several interviews defending the federal government's response to the oil disaster (from day one!), talking about keeping the boot on the throat of BP and finding out whose a** to kick.  Polls haven't been kind to the President.  So what does he do in response?  Release an ad on cable television basically daring the GOP to repeal healthcare.  From Talking Points Memo:
Democrats on Thursday will launch a new 60-second ad on national cable television accusing repeal-happy Republicans of wanting to get rid of health care reform and all its benefits. The ad, obtained by TPMDC, is timed to coincide with the government mailing to seniors the first $250 Medicare rebate checks fixing the so-called prescription drug "donut hole."

The ad is titled "We Can't Afford To Go Back." It outlines the positive parts of the health care law signed by President Obama this spring and charges, "Republicans want to take it all away."

I've learned that DNC Chairman Tim Kaine on Thursday will dare Republicans to make repeal the focus of their fall campaign to try and win back control of Congress, challenging the GOP to tell senior citizens and others benefiting from health care exactly which parts of the reform law they'd scrap.
I'm sure Gulf Coast residents will forget their troubles and come on, get happy when they see this:

Walpin-gate offender featured speaker at AmeriCorps conference

In November, I wrote about the hit job termination of career public servant and AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin here and here.  Walpin's investigation of AmeriCorps found former NBA star and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had misused federal grant money for his personal benefit.  Additional allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Johnson surfaced during the investigation.  When the White House tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug, Walpin protested and was eventually fired.

Kevin Johnson is back in the news in an unbelievable editorial at The Washington Times:
Only in the Obama administration would a public official sanctioned for a form of malfeasance be honored as a speaker by the same organization that sanctioned him. It helps, of course, when he is a self-proclaimed Friend of the First Couple. It also doesn't hurt that the administration already found it politically convenient to fire the inspector general, Gerald Walpin, who blew the whistle on his misdeeds.

Still, the public should consider it a brazen affront for this administration to feature Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson as a key speaker at a major conference sponsored later this month by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Common decency should disallow such a scandal.

On the grounds of image alone, Mr. Johnson sends the wrong message, considering that four different young women or teenage girls have accused Mr. Johnson of inappropriate sexual conduct. Three of the four were actually affiliated with the very institution, the St. Hope Academy, that was sponsored through CNCS grants. (CNCS is the parent body for the AmeriCorps national "volunteering" program.) In none of the cases were charges ever pressed, but one of the students said she was offered $1,000 per month in exchange for her silence, and two staff members resigned from St. Hope to protest how the academy tried (in the words of one of them) to "intimidate the student*." And in the first instance, in the summer of 1995, Mr. Johnson at one point agreed to pay the girl $230,000, according to the Sacramento Bee, after protesting that he "didn't recall us being a hundred percent naked" during the incident.

The sordid sex allegations weren't even what caused Mr. Johnson, a former National Basketball Association star, to be sanctioned. Instead, he was found responsible for multiple financial misdeeds and ordered personally to help St. Hope repay nearly half a million dollars to AmeriCorps. Specifically, investigators found that Mr. Johnson and St. Hope misused federal funds to assign political projects to AmeriCorps workers; to have them run personal errands for Mr. Johnson, wash his car and drive him to personal appointments; to pay staff salaries at St. Hope from funds meant for AmeriCorps grantees; and several other similar improprieties.
The Washington Examiner has more:
A spokeswoman for the Corporation for National and Community Service says CNCS had nothing to do with selecting Johnson and that the Sacramento mayor will appear at the request of a group called “Cities of Service.” “He was invited by Cities of Service, which is working to harness the power of volunteers in cities across America,” says CNCS press secretary Ashley Etienne. “He’s participating in a panel organized by Cities of Service, and we were not involved.”

“Cities of Service” is an organization founded last year by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as part of President Obama’s “United We Serve” initiative. According to the White House website, Cities of Service was created “in partnership with CNCS.” Bloomberg heads the host committee for the CNCS conference and his group is a “local co-host” for the event.

The claim that Johnson was invited by Cities of Service, without any involvement by the national Corporation for National and Community Service, strikes Walpin as implausible. “This is a CNCS/AmeriCorps conference,” he says. “I can’t believe that CNCS doesn’t control who is invited and who speaks at a CNCS national conference.” And even if Bloomberg’s group wanted to include Johnson, Walpin says, what was CNCS’s reaction? “Assuming that the invitation was tendered to Johnson by Cities of Service (hard to believe without CNCS approval), when CNCS learned about it, what did it do?” asks Walpin. “Did it, as it clearly could, being the host, tell the supposed independent inviting entity that CNCS would not allow it?”

Johnson’s presence on the list of speakers answers that question. And so the man who spent hundreds of thousands of AmeriCorps dollars for his own personal purposes will speak to the very people whose grants he misused.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Senate to vote on Obama's power grab

Tomorrow the Senate will vote on a resolution to stop an egregious power grab by the executive branch.  Chris Horner has been on the case at The Daily Caller and Big Government.  From the former:
On Thursday, the Senate will vote on S.J.Res.26, a resolution to block EPA from usurping powers never delegated to it by Congress. Failure means allowing EPA to go forward, apparently in flagrant violation of our constitutional traditions simply because too many in Congress desire, but can’t bear to take responsibility for, more of the Obama agenda.

EPA’s breathtaking Power Grab raises questions critical to our form of governance. The powers EPA has claimed for itself include staking out national policy on the contentious “climate” issue, and even amending the Clean Air Act on its own initiative and authority.

S.J.Res. 26 was originated by Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). It is co-sponsored by 40 others, mostly Republicans but including three Democrats (the math of which also tells you that three Republicans are not on board: Sens. Brown, Collins and Snowe). It seeks to exercise, for just the second time, the Congressional Review Act passed in 1996 as part of the “Contract with America”. That law allows legislators to check bureaucrats gone wild by vetoing a “major rule” within 60 days of an agency publishing it.

In this case, the rule is the Obama EPA’s effort to delegate to itself inherently legislative powers. These include Congress’s authority—wisely eschewed to date—to regulate carbon dioxide as a “pollutant” under the Clean Air Act, which would make EPA an economic regulatory agency despite having been caught as complicit in promoting scandalous “climate science” in the push to spectacularly expand its budget and powers.
When the White House dispatched EPA chief Lisa Jackson to the Huffington Post to slam Murkowski's resolution, Horner was quick to point out how the administration's justifications for relegating what should clearly be a legislative matter to an unelected body of bureaucrats, keep changing to suit the political flavor of the day.  From Big Government:
So. The White House sent EPA chief Lisa Jackson over to HuffPo to slam (smear?) the Murkowski resolution set to be voted on in the Senate on Thursday, which is designed to block a Power Grab by EPA and thereby to maintain our Constitution’s separation of powers.

The White House then followed this by threatening to veto the resolution if it passes.

In both cases, Team Obama tie S.J.Res. 26 to the Gulf oil spill and argue that, by blocking EPA’s claimed authority to regulate greenhouse gases, this exercise of the Congressional Review Act would cruelly block the administration’s diligent and dedicated campaign to reduce our dependence on oil and reduce the risk of such spills in the future.

Huh? Far from sounding familiar (at least, before this newest revision of the reasons for the “global warming” agenda was rolled out last week), this should sound somewhat newfangled.

In fact here we see that the “global warming” agenda — that had already morphed into a “climate change” agenda before it was an energy tax to create new jobs (because we all know that’s what tax increases do, silly) — is actually aimed at stopping oil spills. And we’ve always been at war with Eastasia, Winston.

What we have now is a pristine case study of there being no good reason for an agenda, as proved by the fact that the reason for the agenda (read: excuse) keeps changing.

In what was surely little more than an exercise in cynicism, I performed a quick search to see just how deeply embedded are these real reasons for what has for years been a “global warming” regulatory agenda. It turns out that EPA forgot to cite them as the reason for, or even related to, its “Endangerment Finding” (that the Murkowski Resolution would block).

OK. To be generous beyond a fault, let’s say they cited these real reasons one half of one time. In 52 deathless pages of background and “global warming” hysteria.

Go ahead. Perform a word-search yourself. You’ll see the following:

“warming” — 82 invocations

“temperature” — 117 invocations

“climate change” — 259 invocations

“dependence” (or “independence”; or “depend” in any relevant way) — 0

“spill” — 0

“drill” or “drilling” — 0

“oil” — 1 relevant usage, but which, well… refers to a different rulemaking altogether, as part of EPA’s lengthy discourse of the regulatory context (see very bottom of page 5 of 52).

“automobile” — see “oil”, above; the same discussion dragged “fuel economy” into the mix.

It turns out that at the time, in promoting the “Finding” that the Murkowski resolution seeks to block, the administration actually forgot to make what are now apparently its marquee arguments for the thing. At least, to listen to their keening in opposition to the measure.

Landrieu and drilling experts blast Salazar

The Independent Weekly has obtained a letter drafted by a panel of experts the Obama administration consulted before declaring a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling, claiming that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar misrepresented their positions:
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has some explaining to do. The panel of experts the Obama administration turned to for advice on how to address offshore drilling safety in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and ongoing gush of oil into the Gulf of Mexico are speaking out, saying they never agreed to the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling and that Salazar misrepresented their position. The INDsider has obtained a copy of the letter penned by those experts, along with a fax they sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter.

In no uncertain terms, the experts claim Salazar falsely implied that they supported the six-month drilling moratorium. However, in his May 27 report to President Barack Obama, the interior secretary said a panel of seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering “peer reviewed” his recommendations, among which is a six-month moratorium on all drilling in water depths of more than 500 feet. That ban went into effect a few days later, shutting down more than 30 rigs.

In their letter, the angry panelists clarify that what they reviewed was an earlier version of the secretary’s report that suggested a six-month moratorium only on new drilling — and only in waters deeper than 1,000 feet.

“We broadly agree with the detailed recommendations in the report and compliment the Department of Interior for its efforts. However, we do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium on floating drilling,” they write. “A moratorium was added after the final review and was never agreed to by the contributors.” The panel members say the blanket moratorium will not measurably reduce risk and will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy, which may greater than that of the oil spill. They say Salazar’s report highlights the safety record of the industry in drilling more than 50,000 wells on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, more than 2,000 of which were in water over 1,000 feet and 700 in depths greater than 5,000 feet. Noting that the safety of offshore workers is much better than that of the average worker in the U.S., they write, “We have been using subsea blowout preventers since the mid-1960s. The only other major pollution event from offshore drilling was 41 years ago. This was from a shallow water platform in Santa Barbara Channel drilled with a BOP on the surface of the platform.”
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu used the revelation to blast Salazar.  From The Daily Caller:
Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, a key Democrat on the Senate energy committee, blasted Obama’s top offshore drilling official for the administration’s ongoing ban of deepwater drilling in the Gulf Coast, charging the decision could cost her home state more than 300,000 jobs.

Landrieu said a majority of experts consulted by Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar in deciding to impose the moratorium have come forward to her to express their disagreement with his decision.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – with oil still gushing from more than a mile beneath the ocean’s surface – Salazar conducted a 30-day review of the safety and environmental precautions for offshore drilling rigs.

That review formed the basis for the decision to halt basis and was reviewed by 15 experts that are listed in the report.

Now Landrieu claims eight of those experts – a majority – disagree with Salazar’s decision based on their advice.

The revelation could undercut the credibility of Salazar’s decision to halt drilling in the Gulf that has been criticized by Republicans and industry officials as a knee-jerk, politically motivated reaction.
Salazar's response to Landrieu's concerns:  Don't worry.  We'll make BP pay for those 300,000 lost jobs:
Notably, Salazar, pressed by Landrieu on the issue, said BP is financially responsible for paying the salaries of workers whose jobs are going to be lost because of the administration’s decision to ban drilling.

“If this long list of companies that are not oil companies, but oil service companies, have to either go out of business or take bankruptcy or layoff thousands of workers are you going to ask BP to pick up their salaries and to make them whole?” Landrieu asked.

“The answer to that is yes,” Salazar said, “BP is responsible for all the damages that flow from the BP oil spill and these are some of the consequences from that oil spill.”

It’s unclear whether BP faces any legal responsibility to pay the salaries of workers laid off directly because of a regulatory decision by the federal government. BP did not immediately return a request for comment.
I wonder if Salazar has a panel of 15 legal experts that will back him up on that?

More from The Times-Picayune hereLaura Curtis at HotAir's Green Room raises the question, is the moratorium even legal?

White House official: Organized labor just flushed $10 million...down the toilet

In a stunning blow to organized labor, Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln narrowly survived Tuesday's primary runoff against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.  The estimable Michael Barone summed up his perspective on that contest and others in a late-night post at The Washington Examiner (via Lucianne.com):
Blanche Lincoln’s (narrow) victory leaves the unions’ strategy in ruins. They can’t credibly threaten any Democratic incumbent who opposes card check with political defeat. Some, in states less anti-union than Arkansas, might be vulnerable to a challenge like Halter’s; but others won’t. And in some states or districts there won’t be an opportunistic challenger like Halter willing to go along with the strategy and well enough established to be a serious primary challenger. Give the unions credit for daring, and for putting their money (or the money of their members) on the line. They’re playing for high stakes—for the ability to plunder the private sector for dues money as they have successfully plundered the public sector (i.e., taxpayers) for dues money in states with strong public employee unions like New York, New Jersey and California. They just came up a little bit short.

Obviously this is a case of a divergence of interest between the unions (which want to deter any Democrat from opposing card check) and the Obama administration political strategists (who want to maximize the number of Democrats elected no matter what their position on substantive issues). Which brings to mind the old saying about honor among thieves. When you’re trying, in different ways, to plunder a once productive private sector economy, you won’t always agree on how to do so. As you watch the videotape of Blanche Lincoln’s rather shrewd victory speech, you might want to keep that in mind.
Ben Smith at Politico got this unsolicited scoop from the White House:
A senior White House official just called me with a very pointed message for the administration's sometime allies in organized labor, who invested heavily in beating Blanche Lincoln, Obama's candidate, in Arkansas.

"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the official said. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No joke: Obama warns graduates not to blame others for their problems

In the commencement address to the graduates of Kalamazoo Central High School on Monday, the President urged the young adults not to make excuses.  Henry Payne at the Corner and other bloggers and broadcast media have taken him to task for his hyprocrisy:

Yesterday, Obama was at it again at another southeast Michigan school. In a speech to Kalamazoo High School graduates, the president advised the Class of ’10 not to “make excuses. Take responsibility not just for your successes, but for your failures as well. When you screw up…it’s the easiest thing in the world to start looking around for someone to blame. We see it every day out in Washington, with folks calling each other names and making all sorts of accusations on TV.”

Did the impressionable young men and women in the audience know that “those folks” included the man standing before them?

“Angry Obama Seeks to Deflect Blame for Gulf Oil Spill Crisis” was the headline on CBS News’s Chip Reid’s report last week about the president’s strategy of blaming George Bush for the BP oil spill.

Obama diverted responsibility to prior administrations, claiming “a decade or more” of “a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill.”

“But,” Reid noted, “Mr. Obama’s been president for nearly 16 months. Does he get at least a little piece of the blame? Not a bit, he made clear.”

Do as I say, not as I do. Not a very inspiring message in this graduation season.
I actually found another line of his speech stupefying:
So, today, you all have a rare and valuable chance to pursue your own passions, chase your own dreams without incurring a mountain of debt. What an incredible gift. So you've got no excuse for giving anything less than your best effort. (Applause.) No excuses. (emphasis added)
He actually said that.  What chutzpah.

As of yesterday, the nation's debt was $13,052,204,878,286.76.  That's about $42,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.  The interest on that debt is about a billion dollars a day.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that the debt will increase by nearly $10 trillion in the next decade under Obama's proposed budget.

Through no fault of their own, these poor kids have already incurred a mountain of debt.

Nancy Pelosi heckled at leftist Campaign for America's Future Conference

At a conference of America's Future Now this morning, Nancy Pelosi received a less than warm welcome when she tried to deliver her prepared speech:

The YouTube caption identifies the hecklers as members of Code Pink, but The Washington Post reports they were from the group ADAPT:
Raucous demonstrators greeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at a gathering of progressive activists in Washington on Tuesday morning, forcing her to yell her 28-minute policy speech over their loud and uninterrupted protests.

It was a bizarre scene at the America's Future Now conference, as protesters screamed just a few feet away from the speaker's stage. At first, Pelosi paused and appeared rattled, apparently trying to discern what the protesters were chanting. But minutes later, surrounded on stage by her security detail, Pelosi pressed ahead.

"I'm not going to leave," Pelosi said to the audience of several hundred leaders of the progressive movement. "I'm going to deliver my speech. . . . I am going to make my speech over your voices."

The protesters, wearing orange shirts and chanting "Our homes, not nursing homes," did not let up until Pelosi finished her address and left the stage with security guards. The protesters said they were members of ADAPT, an activist group that advocates for disability rights and is fighting for passage of the Community Choice Act. The bill was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in 2009 but has not advanced out of the Finance Committee. In the House, a similar measure remains in the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The act would allow those who are eligible for care in a nursing home to instead receive similar care in their own homes through community-assisted living.
As the President kicks off his $125 million health care PR campaign today with events around the country, I don't think this is the adoring coverage and imagery he had in mind.
The Huffington Post tries to make lemonade out of this lemon:
In response to the unexpected and prolonged disruption, Pelosi held her ground and shot back at the demonstrators that she wasn't going to cut her speech short or leave the stage.

"I'm not going to leave, I'm going to deliver my speech," the House Speaker said, later quipping, "Listen I'm used to noise, I talk to the Democratic Caucus everyday."

Despite breaking briefly to address the disruption, the House Speaker reportedly delivered her speech in its entirety in a graceful manner.
Turns out Code Pink was there, but not to protest the health care law:
A bizarre scene at the America’s Future Now conference. Two protests have interrupted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s speech, but she continued on above the very vocal protests as the crowd alternately cheered and shushed.

Code Pink held up a large banner reading “Stop Funding Israel Terror,” but they remained mostly silent.
The Star Wars Cantina scene comes to mind.