Monday, February 8, 2016

“Keep it in the ground” at work in the real world

By Marita Noon @ OILPRO

Going forward, we know what the new year of environmental activism looks like. They have told us. They have made it perfectly clear. They call it: “Keep it in the ground.”

The campaign is about all fossil fuels: oil, gas, and coal. Instead of an “all of the above” energy policy, when it comes to fossil fuels, they want “none of the above.” A big part of the effort is focused on preventing the extraction of fossil fuels on public lands—which is supported by presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton. The recent moratorium of leasing federal lands for coal mining, announced by Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, is considered a great victory for “keep it in the ground.”

I wrote about the movement in December. Last month, the Los Angeles Times published an opinion editorial for one of its leaders, Bill McKibben: “How to drive a stake through the heart of zombie fossil fuel.” In it, McKibben states: “In May, a coalition across six continents is being organized to engage in mass civil disobedience to ‘keep it in the ground.’”

While big news items fuel the fight, smaller, symbolic wins are part of the strategy. Introducing the plan late last year, The Hill states: “It stretches into local fights, over small drilling wells, coal mines and infrastructure.”

Here’s what keep it in the ground looks like in the real world—in “local fights” and “over small drilling wells.”

In a suburb of Albuquerque known more for computer chip-making than crude oil extraction, the anti-fossil fuel crowd is doing everything they can to prevent a “small drilling well” from being developed.
In Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the major employer is Intel. It is also home to several call centers—though the Sprint call center just announced it is closing and cutting 394 jobs. New Mexico has the nation’s highest jobless rate: 6.8%.

Rio Rancho is in Sandoval County—which currently, in the northern part of the county, has 600 oil-and-gas wells on tribal or federal lands. According to the NM Tax Research Institute, in 2013, when oil prices were higher, Sandoval County producers shipped 1.08 million barrels of oil worth $86 million and 394.1 million MCF (one MCF = one thousand cubic feet) of natural gas worth $1.6 billion.

After leasing the mineral rights last year, an Oklahoma company, SandRidge Energy Inc., is hoping to drill an exploratory well. The well, which has already received approval from the state Oil and Conversation Division (OCD), is “about four miles outside of the Rio Rancho city limits,” reports the Albuquerque Journal. It will be a vertical well, drilled to a depth of 10,500 feet—which is expected to take about 25 days. Until the well is drilled and logged, engineers will not know whether the resource will warrant development or, if it does, if it will require hydraulic fracturing. The OCD permit is to drill, complete, and produce the well. Jami Grindatto, president and CEO of the Sandoval Economic Alliance says the environmental footprint would be “small.”

Several previous exploratory wells have been drilled in the Albuquerque Basin that were determined not to be economically viable—though oil was found.

To begin drilling, SandRidge needs a zoning variance from the county. On December 10, the Planning and Zoning Committee held a contentious meeting to hear public comment on the SandRidge application. So many wanted to speak, there wasn’t time, nor space, to accommodate them. Another meeting, in a larger venue, was scheduled for January 28. There, dozens of people spewed generic talking points against fracking; speaking vaguely about pollution, earthquakes, and/or water contamination. The Committee, to no avail, asked presenters to stay on topic and address just this one well—this application.

A few folks braved the hostile crowd and spoke in support of the project—only to be booed.
It was in this atmosphere that the Committee recommended that the County Commissioners deny the request. Essentially, they threw up their hands and acknowledged that they weren’t equipped to deal with the intricacies of the application—which is why such decisions are better made at the state levels, where there are engineers and geologists who understand the process.

The Sandoval County Commissioners may still approve the special use permit at the February 18 meeting—as they are the final decision makers.

In December, Sandoval County Commissioner James Dominguez, District 1, said he “has some major concerns that the drilling could compromise the water supply and air quality in Rio Rancho.” KOAT News cites Dominguez as saying: “I know that eventually, in time, it will pollute our water sources”—this despite the definitive August 2015 EPA study released that confirmed hydraulic fracturing does not pollute the water supply.

In the past few years, when oil prices were higher, Encana and WPX drilled some 200 wells in the same geology, 70 of them in Sandoval County. Not one single instance of any interference, damage, or invasion of fresh water aquifers has occurred. For that matter, over the past 50 years of production in Sandoval County, even with technology and safety standards that were not as advanced or rigorous as todays, there has not been one instance of aquifer harm. Perhaps the upcoming meeting will be an opportunity to provide more factual information to the political decision makers. (Readers are encouraged to send supportive comments to the commissioners and/or attend the February 18 meeting.)

One “small drilling well” outside of a community on the edge of Albuquerque that would create jobs and help the local and state economy could be blocked because of a few dozen agitators who may cause the county to “keep it in the ground.”

One day later, another small band from the anti-fossil-fuel movement also celebrated an almost insignificant victory that adds to the momentum. This one in California.

On January 29, a settlement was reached in a lawsuit environmental groups filed two years against two federal agencies that they claim permitted offshore fracking and other forms of high-pressure well stimulation techniques: the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). The settlement requires public notice for any future offshore applications for fracking and acidification. Additionally, the agencies have agreed to provide what’s termed “a programmatic” environmental assessment of the potential impacts of such techniques on the coastal environment.

To read the press releases from the environmental groups, one would think that these government agencies were in cahoots with ExxonMobil and that they were sneaking around, letting the oil companies run amok. In fact, the companies who’ve applied for drilling permits, have followed a very stringent application process—under which they were approved. However, once exploratory wells were drilled, they were found not to be good candidates for hydraulic fracturing.

A consulting petroleum geologist, with more than 30 years’ experience—almost exclusively in California—explained it to me this way: “There’s not a lot of hydraulic fracturing going on offshore, because, similar to most of California, it simply isn’t effective. Most of the rocks are adequately fractured by Mother Nature. Generally speaking fracking is effective in a few places where it has been used without incident since the 1940s. It is not an issue.”

The settlement requires “a programmatic” environmental assessment be completed by May 28—during which time “the agencies will withhold approval of drilling permits.” Sources I spoke with, told me that this, too, was not a big deal—which would explain why ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute agreed not to oppose the settlement. In the current low-priced oil environment companies are not clamoring for new drilling targets. It is believed that once the assessment is complete, the existing requirements will be found to be appropriate and permitting can move forward.

Additionally, offshore rigs are currently shutdown in the region—an overreaction to a pipeline break last spring.

So, if this “settlement” is much ado about nothing, why even bring it up? Because, it is an example of those “local fights;” the little “wins” that motive the “keep it in the ground” movement and encourage them for the bigger fights—like hydraulic fracturing in the deep water Gulf of Mexico.

These two stories are likely just a sampling of the battles being played out in county commissions and government agencies throughout America. As in these cases, a small handful of activists are shaping policy that affects all of us and impacts the economics of our communities by, potentially, cutting funding for education and public services.

“Keep it in the ground” is the new face of environmental activism. If those who understand the role energy plays in America and our freedoms don’t engage, don’t attend meetings and send statements, and don’t vote, the policy makers have almost no choice but to think these vocal few represent the many.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.http://oilpro.com/post/22157/keep-ground-work-real-world

Europe, Welfare Migration, and Hypocrisy

February 8, 2016 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty

Taxpayers don’t like coughing up big amounts of money so other people can choose not to work.
And they really get upset when welfare payments are so generous that newcomers are encouraged to climb in the wagon of government dependency.

 
This has an effect on the immigration debate in the United States. Most Americans presumably are sympathetic to migrants who will boost per-capita GDP, but there is legitimate concern about those who might become wards of the state.

Welfare migration also has become a big issue in Europe.
Reuters has a report on efforts by the U.K. government to limit and restrict the degree to which migrants from other E.U. nations can take advantage of redistribution programs.
Cameron says he needs a pact to curb benefits for new migrant workers from EU countries… Proposals to allow British authorities to withhold in-work benefits for up to four years from EU citizens moving to work in Britain are under intense scrutiny.
You can understand why Cameron feels pressure to address this issue when you read horror stories about foreigners coming to England and living comfortable lives at taxpayer expense.
This isn’t just a controversy in Britain.

The U.K.-based Guardian has a story on support for such measures in Austria.
The Austrian foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz,…would not only call on the chancellor, Werner Faymann, to vote in favour of Cameron’s “emergency brake” on migrants’ benefits, but also to adopt the measure in Austria as soon as possible. …”Those who don’t pay into the system will get fewer benefits or none at all,” Kurz told the newspaper Kronen Zeitung. “We should embrace that principle if we want to guarantee that our welfare state remains affordable and attractive for top talent.” …he also supported Cameron’s call for the UK to be allowed to stop paying child benefit to EU migrants whose children live abroad.
European politicians are right to be worried. There’s evidence even from Sweden that welfare programs lure migrants into dependency.

And studies of American data show that excessive levels of redistribution can be at least a partial magnet for welfare recipients.

Here are some of the findings from a 2005 scholarly article by Professor Martin Bailey of Georgetown University.
…the results also indicate that welfare benefits exert a nontrivial effect on state residential choice. …the welfare migration hypothesis does not require welfare to exert a dominant effect, only a real effect. And here, the results provide strong, robust indications that the effect is real. …the results imply that migration may discourage states from providing high welfare benefits because such generosity attracts and retains potential welfare recipients.
Professor Bailey then found in a 2007 academic study that states understandably impose some restraints on welfare spending because of concerns that excessive benefits will lure more dependents.
Whether states keep welfare benefits low in order to prevent in-migration of benefit-seeking individuals is one of the great questions in the study of federalism. …This article develops a model which…suggests that competition on redistributive programs does…constrain spending to be less than what the states would spend if migration were not a concern.
This makes sense, and it echoes the findings of a study I wrote about in 2012 by some German economists.
Simply stated, you get better policy when governments compete.

But that doesn’t mean Cameron and other European politicians are doing the right thing. Instead of limiting handouts just for migrants, they should be lowering redistribution payments for everybody, including natives.
After all, European nations (like many American states) have elaborate redistribution systems that often make dependency more attractive than work.

Indeed, the United Kingdom has a more generous package of handouts that almost every other European nation.

The bottom line is that it’s a bit hypocritical (and in some cases perhaps even racist) for Cameron and others to target welfare for migrants without also addressing the negative impact of similar payments for natives.

P.S. To give British politicians credit, there have been some recent positive steps to reduce welfare dependency by cutting back on handouts.

P.P.S. In any event, Americans shouldn’t throw stones because we live in a glass house based on our foolish laws that shower refugees with initiative-sapping handouts.

The Candidate Chronicle

Editor's Note: It's my intention to post articles, both pro and con, about these candidates irrespective or what I think, and I think many of the views of some of these writers is more delusion than reality.  However - after New Hampshire it will be much easier as I expect to see six or possibly even as few as four left. 

The Bernie Bugle
 
The Bernie Insurgency - You listen to Bernie Sanders and hear something familiar. The party establishment has been corrupted by big money. It hasn’t achieved the promises it has made to voters. International trade has been a corrupt bargain for American workers. America has been too assertive and quick to take military action overseas and should work within international coalitions above all else. The mainstream of the party is much closer to the center than it is to the beliefs of its base....

Why Bernie Sanders Can't Govern - Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz have something in common. Both have an electoral strategy predicated on the ability of a purist candidate to revolutionize the electorate—bringing droves of chronic non-voters to the polls because at last they have a choice, not an echo—and along the way transforming the political system. Sanders can point to his large crowds and impressive, even astonishing, success at tapping into a small-donor base that exceeds, in breadth and depth, the remarkable one built in 2008 by Barack Obama. Cruz points to his extraordinarily sophisticated voter-identification operation, one that certainly seemed to do the trick in Iowa.
 
Venezuela Is Socialist, Senator Sanders. Any Questions? -  Like a skyscraper crane about to topple in high winds, Venezuela is teetering on the brink of a horrific economic collapse. It was brought on by one thing: socialism, taken to the hilt.   Yet incredibly, neither Bernie Sanders nor his voters make this connection.  It’s worrisome that so many Americans see socialism in a favorable light these days. A May 2015 YouGov poll showed that socialism was viewed favored favorably by 43% of Democrats, while a June 2015 Gallup poll showed that 47% of Americans would vote for a socialist.It points to a collective loss of memory. After all, it’s been decades since the fact that the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet empire collapsed. As chess champion Garry Kasparov has noted in “Winter Is Coming,” there have been no truth commissions or victory parades to institutionalize the monstrous idea’s discreditation and demise. In fact, the idea seems to be resurging in the U.S. Democratic Party, even with examples of its failures continuing, the latest example being Venezuela......

Sanders and Clinton Get Substantive... And Wrong -  Thursday night’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire was, all commentators agreed, unusually substantive. Bernie Sanders has clearly gotten the idea that he might actually win this thing, and decided it was time to actually attack Hillary Clinton, rather than gamely smiling and saying she was a nice lady, but what about Glass-Steagall?   Clinton fought back, politely deriding Sanders as warm-hearted but naïve, a rube whose impractical plans would never work. The result was certainly lively television -- at least, what passes for lively among people who really, really care about the proper treatment of key employee retention plans under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.....

Bernie’s Stupid Free College Proposal - Bernie Sanders, everyones favorite socialist running for the American Presidency, has as one of the central tenets of his campaign that college should be free to all Americans. It seems to be a popular proposal with some, especially those paying the circumspect fees colleges are charging these days. It is just plain stupid and let me explain why......

The Bush Beacon

Jeb's Last Stand? -  People want to like Jeb Bush. At least 700 folks packed into McKelvie Middle School this morning—most of them there a good 45 minutes before the candidate was expected to arrive. It was a real crowd, with another 200 or so overflowing outside the school. And that's not counting the hundred or so reporters on hand hoping to rubberneck at what has been a not great week for the candidate.  What they get is vintage Bush, in just about every respect....

The Carson Courier

Ben Carson Takes Forever To Come To GOP Debate Stage, Kasich Forgotten - At the beginning of Saturday night's Republican presidential debate, the moderators called Ben Carson's name, but for some reason he didn't come out onto the GOP debate stage. He stayed back for a few minutes, and eventually came out. Then the moderators seemed to forget about John Kasich.


The Christie Crusader

Maybe Christie Should Have Taken On Donald Trump - We caught a glimpse of Chris Christie at Bruchetti’s Pizzeria in Sandown, New Hampshire, yesterday, where the New Jersey governor shook hands and swapped stories with locals and tourists during a brief visit. (Christie didn’t get a slice of pizza. We did.1) If you didn’t know any better, you might have assumed that Christie was in his element and near the top of the field in New Hampshire. He’s a more natural retail politician than some of the others in the Republican field, and he’s from the Northeast, which can sometimes be an advantage. Christie’s moderate conservatism also isn’t a bad fit for New Hampshire, although he’s more of a “big government conservative” than someone in “Live Free or Die” mode

The Cruz Chronicle


Ted Cruz Sets His Sights on Marco Rubio - Ted Cruz and his team are smarting over the attention paid to the third-place finisher in Iowa, Marco Rubio, joking that “bronze is the new gold.”  When Mr. Cruz fields questions from voters about Donald J. Trump, he often manages to attack Mr. Rubio anyway.  And at a raucous town-hall-style event here on Wednesday, Mr. Cruz seemed to startle the crowd when he called Mr. Rubio’s positions “virtually indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton’s.” As audience members murmured, Mr. Cruz laid out what he saw as Mr. Rubio’s betrayals of the conservative cause.....

Cruz, Rubio, and the Moral Bankruptcy of Identity Politics - Here is the first reality of American identity politics: White progressives run the entire enterprise. Here is the second reality: That means sexual liberty trumps all, including racial equality. How else to explain the mainstream media’s gigantic yawn at the first Latino man in American history to win a major-party presidential caucus? Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined for 51 percent of the vote from a lily-white, conservative Iowa electorate, and no one seemed to mention race at all. Are we suddenly bored by “firsts” now? Or is there something wrong with Cruz and Rubio — something that has nothing to do with their heritage and everything to do with their politics? Writing in the New York Times, University of Southern California professor Robert Suro explored why the media response to this “first” was so muted. The piece is short because, as Suro notes, the answer is “not that complicated.”.....

The Way Ted Cruz Won in Iowa Suggests Trouble Ahead - Ted Cruz kept his hopes alive with a come-from-behind victory in the Iowa caucuses this week. But the way he won raises serious questions about his chances later on.  He won Iowa for one reason: He excelled among people who described themselves as “very conservative.” They voted for him by a big margin; he won 44 percent of them to Donald Trump’s 21 percent, according to exit polls. He lost every other ideological category, and often by a lot.  The national Republican primary electorate is far more moderate than Iowa’s, so Mr. Cruz will need to attract a far broader coalition. The history of recent conservative Iowa winners — like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee — offers plenty of reasons to wonder whether he can count on doing so......

PolitiFact Attacks Ted Cruz for Accurately Quoting CNN at Debate - There was a bit of a dust-up between the Cruz and Carson campaigns in Iowa. On caucus night, Cruz's campaign sent out a message to supporters telling them that "CNN is reporting Ben Carson will stop campaigning after Iowa" and urging them to tell other caucusgoers this news, and it soon spread from there. This, of course, made it sound as if Ben Carson was dropping out. The Carson campaign was understandably peeved, and Cruz publicly apologized for his campaign soon after IowaAt the debate Saturday, Cruz was again asked about the incident and he again apologized but also took the opportunity to explain what had happened. What Cruz said was pretty straightforward, yet for reasons I can't begin to understand, PolitiFact's reading of Cruz's remarks last night is completely unfair: "Ted Cruz falsely says CNN first said Ben Carson was 'taking a break from campaigning.'  This is not a difficult matter to parse. Here's what Cruz said at the debate
 
The Hillary Hearld

The Email Saga - For alumni of U.S. national-security departments and agencies, Hillary Clinton’s email saga is mind-numbing. The publicly available information makes clear she and her aides violated so many elementary security prohibitions that alumni are speechless. They wonder, had they done what she did, how quickly they would have lost their clearances and jobs and how extensive the criminal indictments against them would be By contrast, many who have never served in government or dealt with classified information see the affair as opaque, even overblown. Certainly Clinton has worked hard to foster that impression. Leaving political spin aside, and without delving into arcane legal analysis, which is it? What did Clinton and her entourage actually do day-to-day, and what does it mean? In hopes of making things a little clearer, herewith the observations of one State Department alumnus, who has pondered.....


FBI, Intelligence Sources: Hillary's Debate Answer On Email Scandal Was Nonsense -
Yesterday, we meticulously exposed several misleading assertions Hillary Clinton offered up to deflect concerns over her email scandal at this week's Democratic debate. We cited evidence proving that she was wrong on several central facts, and that the equivalence she attempted to draw between the actions of previous Secretaries of State and her own misconduct is deeply flawed. Now, a former Assistant Director of the FBI and several additional intelligence sources familiar with the Clinton investigation are filling in more blanks -- splashing ice cold water on Hillary's deceptive spin. Fox News' Catherine Herridge, who's been dogged in her coverage, reports:......

Clinton Corruption Leads to Russian Aggression - The New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, calling her “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.” There was one big problem with the editorial. Her policy toward Russia laid the groundwork for the Russian aggression that the Pentagon now has to spend billions of dollars to prepare for. The paper somehow forgot to mention that.  The Obama/Clinton Russian “reset” policy in 2009 set the stage for Russian wars of aggression and military intervention in Ukraine and Syria, and Vladimir Putin’s decision to give sanctuary to NSA defector Edward Snowden. Snowden’s stolen documents have assisted the rise of ISIS.  The liberal paper is entitled to endorse anybody it pleases. But to endorse Mrs. Clinton and not explain or justify her failed policy with regard to Russia is an oversight that borders on dishonesty.......

Email Scandal Spin: No, Hillary, Powell and Rice Didn't 'Do It Too' - Team Clinton seized on this report yesterday, claiming it was an email scandal "game-changer" that shifts the terrain of a controversy that has plagued Hillary's campaign for months. It is, and does, nothing of the sort, for reasons we'll address in a moment. First, the basics, via Politico:......, Hillary's server contained 1,600 classified emails and counting, including the most sensitive level of intelligence in existence (SAP, beyond-top-secret)......

Hillary Battles Bernie Sanders, Chick Magnet - Hillary Clinton first grabbed the national spotlight 47 years ago as an idealistic young feminist, chiding the paternalistic establishment in her Wellesley commencement speech. So it’s passing strange to watch her here, getting rebuffed by young women who believe that she lacks idealism, that she overplays her feminist hand and that she is the paternalistic establishment.   Bernie Sanders may be a dead ringer for Larry David, but Hillary is running the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” campaign. She can’t fire up young voters by dwelling on what can’t be done in Washington and by explaining that she’s more prose than poetry.....

The Coming Hillary Meltdown? - Interesting tidings in the media the last 24 hours that suggest a smoldering volcano of Democratic discontent and near panic. The Democratic establishment has cleared the field for Hillary, and she’s having trouble putting away Bernie Sanders! If she can’t handle Bernie Sanders, how will she match up with a Republican nominee?......

Sanders and Clinton Get Substantive... And Wrong -  Thursday night’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire was, all commentators agreed, unusually substantive. Bernie Sanders has clearly gotten the idea that he might actually win this thing, and decided it was time to actually attack Hillary Clinton, rather than gamely smiling and saying she was a nice lady, but what about Glass-Steagall? Clinton fought back, politely deriding Sanders as warm-hearted but naïve, a rube whose impractical plans would never work. The result was certainly lively television -- at least, what passes for lively among people who really, really care about the proper treatment of key employee retention plans under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.....

Clinton Says Victory Is Still Possible in New Hampshire - Hillary Clinton is looking at the past as a possible prologue to next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.  Trailing Bernie Sanders in the Democratic contest by 20 percentage points or more in some polls of voters in the state, Clinton recalled that New Hampshire gave her a come-from-behind victory in the 2008 primary race and a dramatic boost to her husband, Bill Clinton, in his first run for the presidency in 1992.  "I am not going to stop fighting for New Hampshire," she said Friday at a Manchester rally to kick off the final weekend of campaigning before the primary. "This state has been so good to my husband and me and my family.''

Hillary Clinton Should Play to Her Strengths - Twice in two nights now, the voters of New Hampshire (and television viewers across the nation) have had a chance to see Hillary Clinton answering questions at length. At times, she has looked like the President-in-waiting that she was supposed by many to be: smart, knowledgeable, persuasive. At other times, particularly when, during Thursday’s MSNBC debate, she accused Bernie Sanders of orchestrating a smear campaign against her, Clinton has appeared a bit rattled....

Bill Clinton's Legacy Haunts the Democratic Debate - Early in Thursday night’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton took a curious tack in answering Bernie Sanders’s accusations that she’s too beholden to Wall Street: She went after the Vermont senator for voting for a bill that her husband signed into law when he was president (and which she herself did not oppose). “While we’re talking about votes,” Clinton said, “you’re the one who voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives in 2000, which contributed to the over-leveraging of Lehman Brothers, which was one of the culprits that brought down the economy.” ....

Gloria Steinem demeans young women supporters of Sanders - Hillary Clinton’s surrogates are getting desperate in their efforts to persuade young voters to stop dumping Hillary in favor of Sanders. In Iowa, Sanders won 84% of the 17-29 demographic, a 70 point margin over Clinton, which has the old guard feminists in a panic.
So Gloria Steinem, who once upon a time (when she was young and pretty) celebrated young women as capable of making up their own minds, has now resorted to demeaning them for their support of Sanders. Eugene Scott of CNN:....

 
The Kasich Kitschy

The Transformation of John Kasich - A year ago, John Kasich wasn’t running for president.  He was enjoying the whispers about his moderate appeal in the quintessential purple state where he is governor. He was relishing the chance to tout his congressional bona fides and to watch the grins and head-shaking as the Kasich urban legends of old crept to the edges of public consciousness. My life has been like a movie, he told people.  Something else he told people: If I run for president, and I look in the mirror at the end and can’t recognize myself, I’ve failed.  Give Kasich credit. In an election season shaped by anti-establishment sentiment and conservative extremism, the Ohio governor mostly stuck by his message of experience and bipartisanship....

The Rubio Report

Rubio Started Night With Momentum and Then Choked - Marco Rubio knew exactly what he was doing on Saturday night.  Marco Rubio knew exactly what he was doing on Saturday night.  Marco Rubio knew exactly what he was doing on Saturday night.

The problem was he flubbed it.

Rubio awkwardly pivoted four times to a well-rehearsed line that President Barack Obama “knows exactly what he’s doing” as he tried to drill home the idea that he’s the inevitable general election candidate – an unforced error that his rivals pounced on and that quickly went viral.  “There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody,” Chris Christie charged.....

Chris Christie’s attacks rattle Marco Rubio - Chris Christie did not disappoint.The New Jersey governor had made it quite clear that when he stepped on the debate stage Saturday night here, three days before the New Hampshire primary, he would be looking to draw a very sharp contrast between himself and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.  From the jump, Christie went after Rubio like an attack dog, tearing into the 44-year-old first-term senator and mocking his youth and inexperience. And Rubio, who increasingly has gathered momentum after a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses last week, was put on the defensive in a way that he has not been so far in this campaign.....

Marco Rubio Is a New Kind of Republican. Really. - Apparently Iowa Republicans don't want to make America great again. And that's just fine with the GOP elite, uttering a Monty Burnsian "excellent" over the prospect of Marco Rubio as the party's presidential nominee. The Florida senator is attracting new attention from donors and landing key endorsements in the wake of his third-place caucus finish. A strong showing in New Hampshire would further separate him from the other candidates in the "establishment" lane — Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich.  But given Rubio's support from what rival Ted Cruz might derisively call the "Washington Cartel," would he be a same-old, same-old Republican? The Week's Michael Brendan Dougherty writes that nominating Rubio would be "a statement that the party does not need a course correction." More pre-emptive wars for nothing, and tax cuts for free. Likewise colleague Damon Linker argues Rubio would be an even worse sequel to a pretty terrible film, that clunker being the Bush II presidency.....

Rubio's Foreign Policy Is Not Conservative -   Lindsey Graham--whether it's Obamacare, whether it's the outrageous immigration situation, whether it's same-sex marriage, which is a decision the states should be making--Lindsey Graham keeps telling us to move on and to move along.  When it comes to the massive national debt, Lindsey Graham supports it.  When it comes to taking the United States military and sending ground troops in every hellhole all over the Earth, Lindsey Graham supports it.   That's not conservatism, that's not being hawk, a that is utterly irresponsible and unconscionable.......And quite frankly I don't see a hell of a lot of distance between Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio....

'Marcomentum' stopped dead in its tracks after NH debate - It was the biggest stage Senator Marco Rubio had ever been on and he froze like a side of beef in a Kansas City meat locker. Following his surprising third place finish in Iowa and 5 days of ever rising poll numbers in the Granite State, Rubio had an opportunity to soar. Instead, he crashed and burned, leaving both his supporters and opponents wondering if he could recover.....

The Bullish and Bearish Cases for Rubio - The morning after Marco Rubio’s bad debate, a crowd of perhaps 550 packed into a high school cafeteria to see the candidate in the flesh. Outside, the Democratic PAC American Bridge sent two guys dressed up as robots to capitalize on Rubio's failure last night.  The crowd seems receptive, but not jubilant. It seems like it's split about equally between people who are supporting the candidate and people who are shopping. And Rubio opens by referring to his debate misstep. He doesn't make a joke out of it, though. He tries to make a larger point, doubling-down and unpacking what he was saying.......

The Trump Tribune

Strong Night for Governors, Good Night for Trump -  The big media story from the debate will be Marco Rubio’s confrontation with Chris Christie. But the larger picture might be about how well Donald Trump did.  Trump was relatively reserved. He wasn't bombastic. Or erratic. He was—by Trumpian standards—presidential? Okay, let's not get crazy. Trump wasn't able to stay in check for the full three hours—he couldn't help himself from lashing out at Cruz in his closing statement. And where candidates often lash out at the media when they get in trouble in a debate, Trump attacked the audience. The move was classic pro-wrestling—like Vince McMahon baiting the crowd. And it was so crazy that it kind of worked.....
 
Donald Trump, the Classic European Candidate -   American populism has a European streak - or perhaps it is the other way around. The way Donald Trump and his supporters operate is very much like on The Old Continent, right down to the seemingly incomprehensible contradictions. What may unite them is that many of their own supporters don't actually want them to have real power. Like in Europe, many followers of Trump-like populists have not been seen in voting booths for years, sometimes decades. Like in Europe, after polls suggest that these followers will turn up to vote, many on Election Day don't, leading to surprise losses when results come in.  In the Netherlands one politician is once again riding high in the polls, outrunning all others by wide margins. Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party has for months outpaced all other figures with his tough talk on immigrants, Muslims, the European Union, and the establishment elite.......

Trump Won't Say If He'd Appoint Supreme Court Justices Who Disagree with Him on Eminent Domain - The February 7 GOP presidential debate was a good one for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. With three days until the New Hampshire primary, where Trump has a commanding lead in the polls, his rivals spent most of the night fighting each other.  The main story in the press coming out of the debate is that Marco Rubio, currently in second place in New Hampshire polls, had a disastrous night because he repeated the same criticism of Barack Obama four times. Rubio had thoughtful and substantive answers on topics like ISIS, religious liberty, and the right to life. But Chris Christie's mockery of Rubio's repetitive remarks about Obama was the highlight of the night in the

Sunday, February 7, 2016

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Obama’s 0.7 percent “solution”

Obama, Democrats and bureaucrats bury America’s future under more federal regulations
 
Paul Driessen
 
America’s abysmal 0.7% economic growth during the fourth quarter of 2015 meant the annual growth rate was an anemic 2.4% … and average annual growth for the six-year Obama era a pathetic 2.2 percent.
 
This is “dead last compared to six other recession recoveries since 1960,” Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore points out. The six averaged a robust 4.0% while the Reagan era recovery averaged a “sizzling” 4.8% over six years. That means the Obama recovery lost $1.8 trillion (in constant 2009 money) that would have been pumped into the economy under an average recovery, and $2.8 trillion under a Reagan-style rebound, Moore says, citing a congressional Joint Economic Committee analysis.
 
But job growth is “strong,” the White House insists, averaging 280,000 each of the last three months of 2015 (and a mere 151,000 last month). This deceptive claim hides the fact that 94 million Americans over age 16 are not working. The horrid 62.7% labor force participation rate remains the worst in decades.
 
Under an average post-1960 recovery, 5 million more Americans would be working today than actually are; a Reagan recovery would have 12 million more working now. Even an average recovery would have given every American an after-tax annual income $3,339 higher than he or she is actually getting today, the JEC calculates. That’s why tens of millions are on unemployment, disability and food stamps.
 
Many jobs created during the Obama era are part-time, held by people who want full-time work but cannot find it – and those part-time slots offer lower salaries, benefits and job security. That means family bread winners must work several jobs to make ends meet, often suffering the adverse health effects of increased stress and sleep deprivation: ulcers, weight gain, strokes, heart attacks, alcohol, drugs, suicide.
 
While the official jobless rate is 5.0% the real one is 10% or higher, since the official rate ignores those who have given up looking and dropped out of the analysis – or have entered the cash only, barter, pay-little-income-tax economy. Moreover, jobless rates for black and Hispanic Americans are much higher. The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Henninger notes that black unemployment is 9% in Texas, 12% in South Carolina, and 13% in Arkansas, again not counting those too demoralized to look for work.
 
What has gone wrong with the American economy and job-creating machine?
 
First of all, the Obama Administration has deliberately destroyed tens of thousands of jobs in the name of preventing “dangerous manmade climate change” and “fundamentally transforming” our energy, economic, social and legal systems – via its war on coal, oil, natural gas, manufacturing, and the vast majority of economic activities on government controlled lands in the western states and Alaska.
 
Entire communities, states and regions are being hammered. If these policies continue, millions more Americans will lose their jobs in the next few years.
 
Second, government has simply gotten much too big, powerful and unaccountable – at the local and state level, and especially at the federal level. It is not coincidental that five of the ten wealthiest counties in the United States are in the Washington, DC area. Members of Congress and 20% of federal bureaucrats earn well into six-figure incomes, while many lawyers and lobbyists working the legislative and regulatory hallways and back rooms earn millions annually.
 
According to carefully nurtured mythology, our “public servants” are more knowledgeable and altruistic than almost anyone in the private sector; and they are dedicated to finding and punishing miscreants who would routinely rob, cheat and pollute if it weren’t for the lawmakers and regulators. It does happen. But IRS, VA, EPA, Benghazi, Gold King, Flint, Michigan and countless other examples dramatize how false this narrative is – as do multiple studies by Congress, Ron Arnold, E&E Legal, myself and many others.
 
In far too many cases, the president and his regulators are arrogant, incompetent, negligent, abusive and vindictive. While they still employ the formal regulatory process (draft rules, comment periods, reviews and final rulemaking), they increasingly avoid it via executive orders, guidance memos, informal bulletins and other tactics that have equally effective regulatory impact. They also use investigations, tax exemption denials, tax audits, warning letters, land and property seizures, and selective arrests, fines and prosecutions, to compel businesses, nonprofits, political groups and individuals to kowtow to them.
 
Government agencies and officials routinely coordinate or collude with activist groups to develop and promote policies and regulations, often employing secret personal email accounts, off-site meetings that avoid transparency, and million-dollar payments to activists who rubberstamp and promote the rules. They exaggerate and manipulate data and studies to justify policies and regulations, while demanding larger budgets, more personnel, more power to control our lives, livelihoods and business operations.
 
And yet even shady, incompetent or blatantly illegal actions are shielded by colleagues, judges, laws, politicians and the media from any accountability, liability or penalty. And policies and rules arising from these questionable to illegal means are rarely overturned by the courts.
 
Large corporations and wealthy individuals can often survive, even thrive, under these conditions – especially if they secure mandates, subsidies and government-guaranteed loans for their products. They also use laws, regulations and bureaucracies to stifle competition. Small businesses cannot even read the mountains of laws and regulations, much less comprehend them or know they are in compliance.
 
* The Tax Code is 74,000 pages and 33 million words long, counting important cases and interpretations. America’s 35% corporate tax rate is the highest among all developed countries.
 
* The Code of Federal Regulations is 175,000 pages long and coupled with more than 1.4 million pages of ten-point-type Federal Register proposed and final rules published just since 1993.
 
* The 2015 Federal Register contained a record 81,611 pages. The 2016 FR will likely be even longer, as some 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions have more than 3,000 regulations in the pipeline, to implement and impose every remaining item on the Obama agenda.
 
* Over 4,450 federal crimes are embedded in those laws and regulations – and neither an inability to understand the complex edicts nor an absence of intent to violate them is a defense.
 
* Complying with all these regulations costs American businesses and families $1.9 trillion per year. That’s one-tenth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product – $5,900 a year for every American citizen.
 
* EPA’s new 70 ppb ozone standard will likely put half of all U.S. counties out of compliance and close down transportation, housing and factory projects, for minuscule to imaginary health benefits.
 
* EPA’s Clean Power Plan will cost up to $73 billion annually in higher electricity prices, force states to shutter their coal-fired power plants, and destroy numerous mining, utility and factory jobs – to prevent a hypothetical and undetectable 0.018 degrees C (0.032 degrees F) of warming 85 years from now.
 
* The 2015 Paris climate treaty will cost some $484 billion per year for the next 25 years, just to replace carbon-based energy with wind, solar and biofuel energy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance calculates.
 
Now climate activists want EPA to use the Clean Air Act and Paris treaty to regulate and eliminate all vehicle, drilling, pipeline, landfill, gas-fired generator and other CO2 and methane sources, crippling our economy – and then still send hundreds of billions to developing countries for “climate reparations.”
 
But as climate scientist John Christy recently told Congress, the entire Obama climate agenda is based on computer models that do not work. “The real word is not going along with rapid warming” assertions, he emphasized. “The models need to go back to the drawing board.” And EPA’s rules need to be scrapped.
 
You may despise politics. But the politicians and bureaucrats are hot on your trail – and Democrats running for president would put Obama’s policies on steroids. (So would Michael Bloomberg). So get motivated, informed and involved – before our vibrant free enterprise republic is only a dim memory.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of  Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death. © February 2016

Pamela Geller's Atlas Shrugs

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