Tuesday, March 27, 2012

EPA revives cap-and-tax

Make it end. I'm talking about the insanity of the Obama administration in general and regarding energy policy and oil, in particular.

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new U.S. power plants, circumventing the Obama administration to push through cap-and-trade through Congress. Why would Obama use this strategy in an election year knowing it will be strongly contested by Republicans and the industry? To ask this question is to answer it. The Obama administration wants this fight.

There is a microcosm of Obama's philosophy within this decision -- ideology trumps realism. It's a desperate move to appeal to the the political left -- environmentalists who think the country should subject itself to great financial pains associated with extremely expensive energy and gasoline for an ephemeral benefit.

That's right. I give no credibility to the fear-mongering associated with CO2. The idea that CO2 has resulted in global warming is total baloney, as the Climate Research Unit effectively admitted recently. There's no uniform warming of the planet. The Earth temperatures have been completely in accord with the Sun cycle, for as long as accurate records have been kept.

Carbon dioxide happens to be essential for plant life, and unlike oxygen is not toxic. There's also the inconvenient fact that all of use exhale CO2, just like those evil power plants. So, what's to prevent the government for taxing you for you carbon footprint? How would you like to be taxed not just for oil and gas you use, but also the air breathe?

There's no fundamental justification for CO2 tax, beside tax revenue and increased government control.

The politics of this decision appear to be simply nuts. Consider, that a similar set of regulations - the so-called cap-and-trade, more accurately described as cap-and-tax, was rejected by Congress over a year ago. Then Obama has shut down the majority of exploration in the Gulf, sending dozens of off-shore pumping platforms to China, and costing many thousands of jobs. More recently Obama has rejected the Keystone pipeline. The gasoline has nearly doubled in price since Obama took office. External factors had a lot to do with this increase, but Obama administration's antagonism to oil development has not helped.

Yes, he can (and he did).
Democrats continue to use fallacious numbers. On March 7 Obama declared: “We've got 2% of the world oil reserves; we use 20%. What that means is, as much as we're doing to increase oil production, we're not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.”

The 2% number, in particular, is based on a very strict definition of proven reserves, which conveniently discounts more than half of the oil which could be economically extracted. The conclusion from Obama's description seems clear - the U.S. must be running out of oil. However, nothing is further from the truth. The known, financially lucrative reserves have actually grown -- due to improved technologies for detection that allowed identification of resources like shale oil that have become lucrative to develop consider given current prices. The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” columnist Glenn Kessler dismissed Obama’s figures as a “non sequitur”, which is exactly how I first thought of these figures, because the expected conclusion does not follow from these false statistics.

Even some Democrats from energy-intensive states have complained. "The overreaching that EPA continues to do is going to create a tremendous burden and hardship on the families and people of America," said Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.
No, he can't (and he didn't).
Obama once said regarding cap-and-trade: "Under my plan the energy costs will necessarily skyrocket". Is the Obama administration so obtuse as to double down with a losing hand in the debate on carbon-based fuels? They must be desperate to energize their left-wing base, despite the fact this issue is a loser with the general public. The geniuses in the Obama administration have not considered that the vacation season is around the corner. When gas approaches $5 per gallon, they will rue this short-sighted strategy.

Five dollar gasoline will certain results in an "O'bummer" summer of discontent for travelers, although nobody should be bummed too much. The pain at the pump serves a greater good. The true believers in the pie-in-the-sky alternative energy can look forward to decreased use of pricey oil in the U.S., while the rest of us can look forward to Obama's early retirement.

An errand boy and an appeaser

An errand boy and an appeaser walk into the Oval office. The errand boy is under-dressed, "I'm sorry, you can't be here unless you are wearing a tie," the Secret Service tells him. The errand boy goes to his car to find anything he can use for a tie. All he finds is a set of jumper cables, so he ties them around his neck. "This works," says the appeaser, "but we can't start anything yet, but after my election I will have the flexibility to hook you up with some 'juice'".

Actually, the meeting between Demitri Medvev, the current Russian Prime Minister, and Obama occurred in South Korea, but otherwise the description is apt. A hot mike caught Obama saying to Medvedev: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama said of incoming Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, who will replace Medvedev in May. “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” Medvedev replies, "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir," a reference to the next Russian President-elect Valdimir Putin.

The appeaser-in-chief meets an errand boy.
A few observations are in order. Medvedev's term as the Prime Minister won't run out until May 7th. He only served one term, and didn't even attempt to run again - it would interfere with Putin's ascendancy to the third (or fourth, if you count the last 4 years) term. Medvedev's response to Obama's comments is something that would be expected of a junior diplomat with no decision making power. Medvedev provided confirmation to the view that he's an impotent placeholder, an errand boy, in fact.

Obama bowing to Japanese emperor and
to Saudi Arabian King.
Medvedev is a joke - that's fine. Obama's comments are more significant, and disturbing. What does he mean by more "flexibility" after his potential reelection?

Consider Obama's record on missile defense. Obama's Start I treaty with Russia has betrayed US allies who wanted the defensive missiles house on their territory in Poland and the Czech republic. Even worse, this treaty amounted to a "unilateral disarmament", as John Bolton, the former ambassador to the U.N., has called this move.

What does "flexibility" mean in this context? Accommodation and appeasement. That has been Obama's strategy throughout his first term - appeasement of enemies, such as Iran, North Korea, Russia and Islamists in Egypt and elsewhere. What about friends? Obama has treated England and Israel with barely concealed contempt.

Charles Krauthammer's criticism of Obama's comments is so articulate, I'd like to quote a large part of his comments to RCP:
I think that the key word here in that exchange was Obama saying to the Russians, 'this is my last election.' It's not just that 'I have another election and I'll be occupied with other issues, let's talk about this. [...]
'This is my last election.' That's his way of saying with a nod and a wink, 'Look, you guys have a free hand because you run a dictatorship, your elections are rigged. Well, ours aren't rigged, but once I get passed my last election, I'm unleashed. I can do anything I want.
And what he's saying is, 'you know that reset I began three years ago where I completely undermined our allies in Eastern Europe. I cancelled the missile defense system and I began a process in which our supremacy in missile defenses is now negotiable, which the Republicans have never allowed to be negotiable.'
'Well, after election day, I can't speak about it now of course because it's my last election and Americans won't actually like that -- after election day, I'll be open.' 
This is a huge gaffe, if Etch-A-Sketch is a problem for Romney, this is the President himself saying, 'I'll be unleashed. I can govern hard left. I can do all this reset stuff in the future unmolested.' That's his way of telling people, 'you may have no idea what my agenda in the second term is going to be, but let me tell you, the Russians, it's going to be pretty hard left.'
Mitt Romney has jumped on the opportunity afforded by Obama's candor: "Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage. And for this president to be looking for greater flexibility, where he doesn't have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia, is very, very troubling, very alarming," Romney said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

So, how did Obama try to diffuse this situation? He made light of the issue, and added: "Arms control is extraordinarily complex, very technical, and the only way it gets done is if you can consult and build a strong basis of understanding both between countries as well as within countries."

Oh. It's a good thing the "Reset" button for which the State Department originally used the wrong Russian word is working out so well. Think of the cooperation U.S. has gotten from Russia concerning nuclear non-proliferation in Iran and and civil war in Syria! Actually, think of something else. Happy thoughts. La, la, la. Forget the fact that Russia is not a democracy, and its elections are rigged. Forget the fact that Putin accused Hillary Clinton of instigating and sponsoring protests in Russia. Another "reset" will sure fix this.

According to Obama's own logic, his promise to continue to appease Russia rests on the sound foundation of understanding with Russia. He is right - Russia, in the face of Putin does understand Obama - he avoids standing up for American values preferring the easy route of appeasement.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Black House in DC

Would you like to know what "social justice" looks like? Regular justice has no color, "social justice" depends on the social status (e.g. skin color, homesexuality, etc.) of the victim and the perpetrator. According to social justice the aggressor may actually be the victim, depending on the "classes" involved.

Almost two years ago Obama has said in regard to Cambridge police detaining a black professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., who appeared to be breaking into a house:
"I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played. But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."
To summarize Obama's points: specifics don't matter, race does. Cambridge police is stupid, most likely due to being racially bigoted.

Later it was revealed that the police were called by a concerned neighbor and when they realized the was no break-in, they attempted to leave the scene until professor Gates showed his real colors he screaming his lungs out about the white officers mother, so the neighbors could hear. He was warned that he was out of order, but he persisted and was eventually arrested. Where was this paragon of equanimity and justice employed? At Harvard. At an Institute for African and African American Research. Any chance he preaches his bigotry there?

So, the only person who acted rashly and stupidly was ... Obama. His jump to the conclusion that Cambridge police "acted stupidly" and his insinuation that this had to do with bigotry in law enforcement is beyond the pale. Obama had to invite the white office for a few beers to the White House to patch things up. Not that Obama apologized to the officer. He attempted to suggest his sublime thinking was simply misunderstood. Oh well, that's the danger of Obama going off the teleprompter - he's likely to say what he really believes, like "spearing the wealth around is good for everyone". Talk about a Manchurian candidate.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) under Eric Holder is notoriously unwilling to prosecute black on white crime. He even let go the two black panther racists, who were found guilty of voter intimidation.
DOJ is OK with reverse racism, too.
This brings me to the recent events with Tayvon Martin. The events are not yet clear - it could have been justifiable self-defense action by a Latino man, as police have judge the case, or maybe it was more sinister. Just like in the situation with Prof. Gates, Obama decided to weigh in on this situation before all the facts are in. "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," said Obama and urged "soul searching" among all of us. Apparently he forgot to take his own advice. Is Obama's statement about appearances? In other words, the logic is "he's black like me, must be a good kid". Or was it about the essence of this young man, his character? This connotation is likely to come back to bite Obama, if it is confirmed that Trayvon was the aggressor, because it would expose his apparent contentment with the rotting culture of violence and the sense of entitlement that undermine future of many minority children.

I think the president has much better things to concern himself with, but since it is a black man who has been shot Obama's first reaction is to go to the bat for him, without bothering with waiting for the evidence. As a lawyer, and a politician Obama should know better - a good lawyers knows not to ask a question he does not know an answer to. A good politician has the presence of mind to avoid needless controversy. Why is Obama raising racial issues so imprudently again? It seems unlikely that Obama feels the need to prove his credentials to the black community - they will vote for him anyway. The remaining explanation is that he instinctively favors a black person in an altercation with a person of any other color. That's racial bigotry, and the country knows it.

Obama's imprudence mirrors the rhetoric of two established racists - Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, both of whom hurried to proclaim the Martin was a victim of racial prejudice. 'Blacks are under attack,' yelled Jesse Jackson. Farrakhan tweeted a warning: "Where there is no justice, there will be no peace... Law of retaliation may... be applied".

The black community meanwhile is following these "leaders" and coming out in strong support of Martin, including wearing "Hoodies" in a church during a service. These communities have prejudged the case, and have left themselves no room to retreat. If Trayvon turns out to be the attacker, they will look like a bunch of fools who champion delinquency.
Senior Pastor Rev. Raphael Warnock at Ebenezer Baptist
 Church  in Atlanta made the Trayvon Martin case
the focus  of his sermon on "Hoodie Sunday. 

Russians gave up on democracy

Russian opposition was utterly unsuccessful battling Putin's propaganda machine, and as I noted, it looked like an amateur battling a professional.

The polls of Russians indicate the their awareness of meetings in support of Putin was twice as outpaced those of the opposition fold. Russian polling agency VCIOM found that 60% of those questioned heard about meetings supporting Putin, while only about 30% were aware of demonstrations "For Fair Elections", 17% were not sure of the meetings political slant. 8% were not aware of these meetings.

According to the earlier polls, awareness of Russians about meetings favoring Putin or "United Russia" is rising - 20% in December, 38% in February and 60% in March. The awareness with the meetings organized by the opposition decreased - 54, 48 and 30%, respectively. These statistics are consistent with the view that the propaganda efforts of Putin's party was successful in displacing the awareness of meetings opposing Putin in the minds of most Russians.
Sign reads "My decisive vote - for Putin"
The poll found that the public support for the opposition is fairly broad, but waning. For example, in December 48% of Russians were for overturning the results of rigged Duma (Parliament) elections, with only 28% opposed.

In march polls taken after Putin's reelection 38% of Russians continued to support the main demand of the opposition - review of elections, however, a majority of 49% consider them baseless. Unfortunately, these numbers have moved in the wrong direction. The general discontentment with rigged elections has not translated into a proactive stance for majority of the Russians. 

The March poll found the majority Russians (42%) to be indifferent to the protests. A mere 17% of responders favored opposition protests, with 14% expressing unease about them. 10% of Russians are tired of meetings "For Fair Elections" or have become disappointed with them.

These poll numbers quantify what many have feared - Putin's propaganda successfully countered the opposition protests by parroting them, then driving the Russians towards their familiar state of resignation.
The opposition has run out of steam. The failure of opposition to provide a credible alternative to Putin, or to differentiate itself in the media in the eyes of an average Russian, may herald a few years of resigned acquiescence of the hopeless masses, and a weakening of the opposition.

What's the point of coming to a meeting now to stand for hours in the cold? All of opposition's demands were ignored, and they have no hope of effecting change in the foreseeable future.

French response to terrorism

Terror has come to the Toulouse. How did the French response to the massacre? In a way that reinforces the unfortunate stereotypes of French as great talkers.

A recap of the facts: a French national of Algerian descent, Mohamed Merah, murdered seven people in cold blood, including three Jewish children and a rabbi.

First of all, French have had many warnings of Merah's radicalism, as well as his criminal behavior. Merah has trained in al-Quada camps and was arrested in Afghanistan by the U.S. forces. The French authorities were aware that Merah distributed radical Islamist literature in Toulouse, after the mother of one of the teenagers Merah approached talked to the police. The police did nothing. Merah beat up the teenager and his younger sister, prompting the concerned mother to talk to the police again - to no avail.

As the mother of the teenager said, “All these people had to die before they finally arrest Mohamed Merah. What an enormous waste. The police knew this individual was dangerous and radicalized. I complained to the police twice about Mohamed Merah and tried to follow up several times.”

Melah's older brother Abdelkader told the police he was "proud" of his brother's actions, admitted helping him steal the scooter used in the murders, but claimed he was not aware of the deadly plot. The lawyer for Abdelkader girlfriend, Guy Debuissou, said that Abdelkader "celebrated" the death of his brother. The police have wised up and charged Abdelkader as an accomplice. Has justice been served? I wish the answer was "yes".

The French authorities are reluctant to admit the danger of rising antisemitism, and their attempts to whitewash the reality, reduce the likelihood any meaningful action is taken.

Consider the response of authorities in this case - they initially tried to pin the blame for the Toulouse massacre on Nazis, and when they reluctantly acknowledged Merah’s jihadist identity, they also provided his justification for murder. Speaking to reporters, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said that Merah was associated with al-Qaida and he was upset about what he referred to as Israel’s “murder” of Palestinian children.

You can't help but be reminded of the fact that many Europeans view terrorism against Jews as justified by Israeli politics. After Anders Breivik's attack against his fellow Norwegians, including the government sponsored camp where young people terrorism role-played being Hamas, the Norwegian Ambassador Svein Sevje on Israel gave to an interview to Maariv, where he said "We Norwegians view the occupation as the reason for terror against Israel. Many Norwegians still see the occupation as the reason for attacks against Israel. Whoever thinks this way, will not change his mind as a result of the attack in Oslo."

Toulouse victims.
Imagine an ambassador to your country hypocritically tells it that terrorism against you is justified because you're bad (while terrorism against us makes no sense). How does he remain ambassador after that? As far as I'm concerned, Norway government is a sympathizer and an ally of Hamas. That's a damning statement, and by using ambassador's own logic the killing of Norway's children by Breivick is justified.

I've pointed out before that some parts of Europe are conducting a war by proxy against Israel. After the murders of Jewish children and a father of two of them, the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's moral obtuseness and evidence of anything but upright impartiality. Ashton compared the murder of three Jewish children in Toulouse on March 19 to the incident involving a crashed bus full of children and the suffering in Syria and Gaza. “Such disgraceful equation reflects an incredibly twisted value system coupled with total blindness in the face of global and Mideastern reality”, writes Ygal Walt in conservative daily Yediot Aharonot:
It is no wonder that Hamas rushed to praise Ashton for her statements, thereby highlighting Europe’s moral confusion. […] The European Union’s embarrassing “clarification,” which did not deny Ashton’s remarks but merely claimed she did not mean to compare Toulouse to Gaza, made no difference. If anything, it further demonstrated Europe’s spinelessness and the tendency to shift positions and appease different groups, without adhering to a credible, enduring moral compass.
All that remains now is to watch the deterioration of the “old continent” into a new, murky horizon. On the one hand, Islamization trends are expected to grow, while on the other hand, radical nationalistic parties will continue to gain strength. Europe of the late 20th Century, which vowed to uphold the banner of tolerance and liberalism, will slowly turn into a chaotic, angry region where various groups are fighting each other while shunning genuine moral values. In any case, Ms. Ashton need not apologize for or clarify her remarks. After all, her words accurately reflected the mood of her decayed, dying continent.

Clearly, Ashton's speech is at a minimum a proof of “Europe’s spinelessness”, if not moral complicity, although some apologists for its behavior argue that Israel is "playing victim".

There are about 6 million Muslims living in France, or  about 10% of the population. This demographic reality has a lot to do with French impotence in dealing with Islamic terrorism. The other part, as I have argued before is a culturally-ingrained, reflexive antisemitism.

Consider the horrific case from 2006 when a Muslim gang in led by Youssef Fofana kidnapped and tortured Ilan Halimi to death. They also took pictures of their handiwork that were clearly imitations of the photos that Daniel Pearl’s killers took of him before they chopped his head off. In the case of Halimi’s murder Paris police refused to view his abduction as a hate crime, despite the fact that Fofana and his followers called Halimi’s family and recited Koranic verses while Ilan screamed out in agony in the background.

France 2 TV channel gave French this century’s first anti-Semitic blood libel with its October 2000 tale of Muhammad al-Dura’s alleged death at the hands of IDF soldier. When Philippe Karsenty wrote on his personal website that the al-Dura story was a hoax, he was charged with libel. An appellate court in Paris in overturned a lower court’s libel ruling against the Internet activist in 2008. Last month, France’s Supreme Court overturned the appellate court’s ruling and ordered it to retry the case.

As far as the Supreme Court of France is concerned, the appellate court had no right to ask France 2 to provide evidence that its story was true. According to the court, the unedited footage which proved the story was a blood libel should never have been admitted as evidence. The truth should never have been permitted to come to light.

Yes, it's that bad. So, I repeat my charge - these examples demonstrate nothing short of a propaganda and proxy war against Jews and Israel. Although I consider the continent to be a lost cause - it is largely bankrupt morally and economically - it is important to shame the EU for it's outrageous stance, and not merely let it slide.

Unfortunately, Europe is not alone in it's hatred of the Jews. Similar to Ashton and other moral equivocators, the U.S.President Barack Obama engaged in outrageous libels when during his speech to the Muslim world in June 2009 he compared the Holocaust with Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.

Barack Obama has called on the U.S. to do some "soul searching" when a punk teenager was gunned down. It is already emerging that the teenager was an aggressor, and the police have considered the shooting to be justified self-defense. Jesse Jackson opined that "blacks are under attack". The horrific race-based attack in Toulouse is cause for "soul searching" because "Jews are under attack" for being Jewish. Yet, Obama chose to defend a black teenager who may have been a perpetrator of an assault rather than innocent Jewish children.

The knee jerk defense of a black boy, and the relative indifference of the White House to the clear horror Toulouse shows that Obama is a racist-in-chief. So, in defense of French incompetence in fighting the rising antisemitism I can say that they are not alone - despite claims of egalitarianism in the West racial biases are still widespread.