Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Making predictions

Making Predictions from Warning Signs by Alan Caruba at Facts-not-Fantasy

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If there is one thing pundits like to do it is to make predictions. If they turn out to be right you can always look back and quote them as proof of your prescience and if they are not, you can always ignore them.

The best ones, of course, are those filled with doom and I suspect they are the most prevalent. We all live to some degree in fear of the future.

It is, after all, unpredictable and we are conditioned to believe something awful will happen. That’s what keeps insurance companies in business. Governments continue to create problems and then promise to solve them.

For example, at some point there will be a huge earthquake in California thanks to the San Andreas Fault and in a comparable fashion the Yellowstone National Park will have an even bigger event due to a huge volcano that lies beneath it. The loss of life and economic impact will be historic no matter when they occur.

What is predictable will be natural events such as hurricanes and tornadoes, but what is largely unreported is that both have been occurring less in recent years. As noted this year, “the Atlantic basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, produced the fewest tropical cyclones and fewest named storms since 1997.”

Worldwide, there are some 40,000 tornadoes and the U.S. averages some 1,200 a year. So the weather guarantees some unhappy news for some of us some of the time.

Blaming natural phenomenon on “global warming” which is not happening or on “climate change” which has been happening for 4.5 billion years is the way the merchants of fear keep everyone scared of real and imaginary weather events. The planet has been in a natural cooling cycle for the past nineteen years because the Sun is in one as well, producing less radiation.
As for climate, it is measured in units as small as thirty years and as big as centuries and millenniums. Nothing mankind does has any impact. The Pope is wrong. The President is wrong. And lots of others who claim that climate change is an immediate threat.
What interests most people is the state of the economy and the good news is that it appears to be improving although relying on government issued statistics is problematic because they are often mathematically skewed to show a favorable trend.

There is a natural dynamism to the U.S. economy which would be even greater if the government would eliminate the hundreds of thousands of regulations that interfere with the conduct of business and stop issuing more. Less taxation would boost the economy as well.

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I am hopeful people will stop being taken in by the talk about “income inequality.” If the economy improves there will be jobs and the marketplace will determine the salaries they will pay. By contrast, legislating minimum wage increases reduces jobs. We’ve been watching machines replace humans for a long time now.

Elsewhere in the world, the economy is very iffy. The drop in the price of oil will have a dramatic impact on nations whose economies are dependent on it. The Russian Federation will likely be less aggressive with neighboring nations. Venezuela is already in a world of trouble.

The Middle East will feel its impact as well. The reason traces back to the increase in the technology of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking. It had its beginnings in 1947 and today it is unlocking huge amounts of oil and natural gas. It will make the U.S. energy independent and that’s a very good thing. It will also continue to generate jobs and revenue.

Will there be wars in the world? The short answer is that there will always be conflicts because that is the nature of the world. Wars are very expensive and most nations want to avoid them. The big problem in 2015 will focus on two nations.

North Korea is led by a mentally unstable dictator, a threat to others in its region thanks to its nuclear weapons, missiles, and huge army. Iran will be a threat if it is allowed to acquire the ability to make its own nuclear weapons. When that happens the threat level to Israel and the U.S. increases, along with every other nation its missiles can destroy.

What is entirely predictable will be the horrific attacks of Islam’s “holy war” on all other religions and, testimony to its lack of internal cohesion, its attacks based on whether Muslims are Sunni or Shiite.

It would be nice to predict that science will find cures to many of the ills of mankind and the fact is that it has been doing that for much of the last century and will continue to do so in this one. In 1973, life expectancy in the U.S. was 71 years of age and it is now up to 78.

In much of the world people are living longer and that is having some interesting demographic impacts in nations that are trying to cope with providing care for a growing older generation.

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In the sphere of U.S. politics the most encouraging trend as seen in the last two midterm elections has been voters—those who actually show up and vote—toward conservatism. The Republican Party has regained control of the Senate and expanded its control of the House.

The majority of U.S. states have Republican governors. The Tea Party has played a significant role in this, but it is a movement and will continue to take the lead in seeking to reduce the size of the federal government that is far too large for a society based on the idea of freedom and liberty.

In what is likely to be an increasing bipartisan effort, the new Congress will work to control as much as possible the damage Obama seeks to inflict.

It takes no great prescience to predict that Barack Hussein Obama will spend his remaining two years in office doing what his Communist roots and ideology has trained him to do; stir as much racial divisiveness as possible, encourage more illegal immigration, keep the increasingly unpopular ObamaCare alive, undermine our moral structure, degrade our military strength, and other such mischief.

Two years sounds like a long time, but he will be gone by January 20, 2017 when a new President takes the oath of office that he has ignored. One prediction about him is easy. He will be judged the worst President the nation has had and, in fact, that judgment has already been rendered.

What is not predictable are the directions the U.S. Supreme Court will take the nation in 2015. Despite its August name, it has made some supremely bad decisions in the past.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it undermined ObamaCare after having helped inflict it on a health system that was the best in the world and is now suffering greatly from it?

If any of my predictions turn out to be true, I will claim bragging rights, but mostly what I intend to do is maintain my personal sense of hope, sensing that more people worldwide are discovering that others share their desire for less corruption and more freedom.

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Earth Hour: Ignorance, Poverty, Backwardness

From the files of Ross McKitrick at the University of Guelph

Its ideas would send the West back 100 years and keep poor nations impoverished and wretched

A few years ago, a journalist asked me for my thoughts on the importance of “Earth Hour” – which was reprised this past weekend. What I told him applies today, perhaps even more so.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labor and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as on the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of safe hot water.

Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the Third World should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the West developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that. Instead, I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness.

By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation, it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining and enjoying the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there, too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations. No thanks.

I like visiting nature, but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its trade-offs is something to be ashamed of.

Ross McKitrick is Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute.

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Vote for 'Absurdity of the Year'

Vote for the “Absurdity of the Year!” by Michele Hickford, Editor-in-Chief at the Allen B. West Website

Meet Michele Hickford
Yes, folks there were an awful lot of absurd headlines in 2014. We can’t tell you how many times during last year we shook our heads and said “You just can’t make this stuff up.”

To be honest, it was hard to narrow the list to just these sixteen, and unfortunately you can only vote for one.

Check out the headlines below to refresh your memory. Then click here to vote!

We’ll be announcing the dubious winner on December 31st, just in time for you to say good riddance to 2014 and hope for a little less absurdity in 2015 — but we’re not betting on that. Vote now!

Scroll down to see our nominations for “Absurdity of the Year.”
1. Feds paid $182,129,786 to house illegals for 4 months
2. Army LTC may be forced to retire for preventing photos of lesbian couple kissing
3. Michael Brown’s mom tried to take her son’s case to the UN Committee on Torture
4. Iran executed a woman for killing her rapist
5. Your tax dollars funded Swedish massages for rabbits (which were killed afterwards)
6. Animal rights group sought “personhood” for chimpanzees
7. Openly gay Houston mayor demanded pastors turn over their sermons
8. Convicted cop killer gives college commencement speech
9. John Kerry: the Bible commands us to fight climate change, particularly in Muslim countries
10. Debbie Wasserman Schultz equates conservative policies to domestic violence
11. Nancy Pelosi says Hamas is a humanitarian organization
12. Kanye West says celebrities are treated like blacks in the 60's
13. Eric Holder’s Department of Justice investigates a parade float
14. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl could be eligible for $350,000 in back pay, tax free
15. Military troops are getting pink slips while in combat
16. Gwyneth Paltrow compares Twitter to war
Click here to vote now!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Economy grows in spite of Obama

Obama grows in spite of Obama from the political art studios of A.F. (Branco) and featured at Comically

Get Your Daily Dose of Humor from A.F. (Tony) Branco

Check out some of the websites listed below that publish the A.F. (Tony) Branco Political Cartoon features.

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ObamaCare is headed for "Death Panels"

Obama Adviser Jonathan Gruber In 2009: Obamacare Will NOT Be Affordable from Patrick Howley at the Daily Caller  (edited)

The ObamaCare Death Panels Were a Forecast Before the Bill Was Law 

President Obama’s health care adviser Jonathan Gruber said that the Affordable Care Act would definitely not be affordable while he was writing the bill with the White House.

Gruber said that ObamaCare had no cost controls in it and would not be affordable in an October 2009 policy brief, presented exclusively by The Daily Caller.

At the time, Gruber had already personally counseled Obama in the Oval Office and served on Obama’s presidential transition team.
Obama, told the American people that their premiums would go down dramatically.
Gruber also said that the only way to control costs is to effectively deny treatment.
The real substance of cost control is all about a single thing: telling patients they can’t have something they want. It’s about telling patients, that surgery doesn’t do any good, so if you want it you have to pay the full cost.
“There’s no reason the American health care system can’t be whatever you want, you just have to pay for it. We don’t say everyone has to have a large screen TV.

If you want a large screen TV, you have to pay for it. Above that people pay on their own, without tax-subsidized dollars, to buy a higher level of coverage,” said Gruber.

And despite the president’s pitches, Obama knew that his health care bill was unlikely to control costs, Gruber said.

There are still more than 45 million people without health care coverage despite what the whitehouse tries to spin.

People I do not like

People I Don't Like from the Warning Signs by Alab Caruba at Facts-not-Fantasy

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At the end of every year it is customary to offer up lists of all kinds—the best this, the worst that—and it is a brief, generally amusing exercise.

I don’t usually make lists, but lately though I have been thinking a lot about people I don’t like and at the top of the list are the monsters of the Islamic State, the Taliban, and Boko Haram, all “militant” Islamists who justify their barbaric immoral slaughters, kidnappings, and other crimes in the name of Allah.

I have had a bellyful of these horrid people and am weary of hearing they are only a small part of Islam.

There are more than a billion Muslims in the world and, if the Islamists are “just” ten percent, that means there are a hundred million who are active waging their “holy war” or who support them.

Among those whom I do not like are the millions of silent Muslims who do nothing to organize and speak out against them. It is true, however, that the handful that do speak out literally risk being killed. What kind of a religion is predicated on making war on all other religions?

Closer to home among the people I do not like are those who joined marches to denigrate our nation’s police corps, defaming them with charges of racism and murder.

The events that followed the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, one of self-defense by a white cop against a black thug and the death in Staten Island that resulted when a long-time offender refused to be arrested, were simply an excuse by those who apparently prefer the streets to be filled with criminals whom the police are not supposed to “profile.”

Well, cops make judgments about the people on their beat all the time, black, white, or otherwise. That’s their job!

I do not like people crying “racism” every time the commission of a crime goes badly for a black perpetrator are people I do not like. People in high office who use these events to exacerbate racial divisions are high on my list of those I don’t like.

Among the much discussed social issues, I am less than sympathetic for those women who enter into consensual sex and then cry “rape.” If they have been raped, they need to contact the police.

I am not sympathetic to those colleges and universities who think it is their job to regulate the private sexual activities of students with all manner of “codes” that one can add to those that crimp freedom of speech and other Constitutionally-protected behavior.

At this time of year, I really don’t like those people who insist that one cannot or should not say “Merry Christmas” or that communities should not display Christmas scenes on public property.

These are the same dreadful people forever declaiming against any public display of religious belief such as the kind that has for centuries opened government and legislative meetings of every description in America.

The atheists among us have every right to be atheists, but they have no right to insist we deny a greater power because they refuse to do so. Even the Supreme Court has ruled against them.

While I see no practical or even moral way to deport the eleven million illegal aliens among us, that doesn’t make them any less illegal. Like a lot of others, I want to see our borders made more secure and less open to swarms of invaders—not “refugees”—that we saw occur when 75,000 children and their families who invaded the U.S. this year and who must now be absorbed at a cost that comes out of the pockets of every native-born and naturalized citizen.

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That must stop. For those illegals who have been born here or lived here for five years or so, they should be permitted to go to the back of the line and seek naturalization. For others, temporary work permits are a common sense option.

A group of people I have not liked for decades are the environmentalists. The reason is very simple. They lie about everything they champion in the name of “global warming” or “climate change.” Both are hoaxes that, like most everything else the Greens protest, result from the way they debase meteorological science or their absurd claims about the use of fossil fuels.

As far as Greens are concerned, anything that benefits mankind from new housing to more industry producing more jobs, and anything that requires the use of chemicals in their manufacture (that is everything!) is just a tiresome scare campaign that is promulgated to line their pockets with the millions they receive every year. I don’t like the liberal foundations that give them millions.

In America politics has always been a blood sport. It’s vigorous. It sometimes produces real leaders. It increasingly requires millions of dollars to run for high office and that has led to a high degree of control by those entities that have deep pockets.

I suspect it has always been thus though not at the levels of cost that exist today. I am not a big fan of those politicians of the Far Left or the Far Right. Those in the middle and those who understand that a republic requires compromise are often seen as too willing to go along, but finding a middle way to solve problems is usually the best way.

In the last midterm elections those who showed up to vote sent a clear message to Congress and to a President who claimed he heard them as well as those who didn’t vote. Those who didn’t vote should shut their mouths because their message was surrender.

I don’t like the Obama administration that has produced six years of unrelenting failure domestically and internationally. That’s what happens when the voters put a Marxist and very likely a Muslim in office. I don’t like Barack Hussein Obama, a man many regard as the worst President this nation has ever had.

If the last two midterm elections are any indication, voters have learned their lesson—which leaves the 2016 election. Don’t listen to anyone who says they know who will run or who will win. Two years in American politics is an eternity and people vote differently in national elections than in midterms.

There are a lot of people I do like.

I like the ones who go to sporting events or concerts and share the enjoyment with everyone around them without regard to race, gender, or any other reason.

I like the ones who volunteer in their community to make it a better place in which to live and raise children.

I like the ones who put their lives on the line—police and firemen—for the rest of us.

I like those who are members of our armed forces at a time when they are being treated in a shabby fashion, but believe enough in America to defend it.

I like those in the medical professions who devote themselves to helping cure and treat the ill.

I like the legion of caregivers who look after older family members and others.

There are others I like, but this is a pretty good list, right?

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Muslims busted defrauding U.S. taxpayer

Muslims Busted in Massive Wefare Fraud Scheme from the Conservative Tribune

Here’s the religion of peace illegally milking our system. Is it the Hope and Change that was sought or the Hope and Islamic fraud that resulted?

From the Conservative TribuneWelfare

Fraud has become endemic in the United States over the past few decades. Just as it seemed that we were making some progress against the deluge of entitlement swindles, it’s become even worse under the Obama administration.

Between the Earned Income Tax Credit being extended to illegal immigrants and a millionaire collecting welfare, there’s no shortage of examples of cheats defrauding the system.

Now comes word that a Muslim-run food stamp ring has been broken up in the state with the largest Muslim population.

That state is Michigan, which has seen plenty of press for issues involving Muslims of late.

Three brothers who ran the Middle Eastern Market in Grand Rapids pled guilty to a food stamp scam in exchange for prosecutors not seeking charges against two more brothers.

The scam netted $736,000 from EBT and $544,000 in WIC payments.

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Terror on your street? Certainly in America

Terror comes to America by Judson Phillips, Founder of Tea Party Nation

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This story is perfectly predictable. As of right now it is not confirmed but even if this one is a hoax, because of the policies of the Obama Regime, this is coming.

Barack Obama will not secure our border from not only from illegal aliens but he won’t secure the border from narco traffickers either.

From Valley

A person claiming to be a member of a cartel said they have kidnapped a border agent and threatened the agent's life, according to police.

Border Patrol is making contact with all personnel in the Rio Grande Valley sector at this time.

They have now confirmed that all agents working the day of the threat have been accounted for.

Now, they are working to verify all those off-duty at the time of the threat are safe.

The caller dialed 9-1-1 yesterday and said they have kidnapped a Border Patrol agent, La Joya Police Chief Geovanni Hernandez confirms.

The La Joya Police Department contacted Border Patrol and the FBI, Hernandez said.

A Border Patrol spokesperson did not confirm the threat, but they did confirm the agency is doing an accountability check of all agents stationed in the RGV sector.

Right now there are more than 3,000 Border Patrol Agents stationed in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Border Patrol now claims that all of its agents are accounted for. Kidnapping and murder of police officers in Mexico is not an uncommon event. Sooner or later the cartels will realize they can cross the border and operate in the Southwest with impunity and Obama will do nothing.

This story may be a hoax today but in the near future it won’t be.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Leaving Afghanistan - Repeating Iraq

Leaving Afghanistan, Repeating Iraq from the Warning Signs of Alan Caruba at Facts-not-Fantasy

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You don’t have to be a soldier or diplomat to ask whether President Obama’s withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan on December 31 is a good idea or not.

Consider what happened when he withdrew our troops from Iraq in 2011. The answer to that is the Islamic State which filled the vacuum left behind.

On December 25, Obama addressed troops stationed at Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

He told them that their service had given Afghanistan a chance “to rebuild its own country” whatever that means. Having been invaded over and over again for centuries, one wonders what country Obama was referring to.

“We are safer,” said Obama, “It’s not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again.” This is an illusion. Obama cannot make such predictions anymore than the Afghans can. So far, when it comes to foreign policy, Obama has a nearly unbroken record of failure.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, Afghan civilian casualties are estimated to have been 10,000 while 2,200 U.S. troops have been killed. The war is estimated to have cost $1 trillion, plus another $100 billion for reconstruction.

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We have been in Afghanistan for 13 years and are scheduled to completely leave the country at the end of 2016 when Obama leaves office. As 2014 comes to a close, the White House had planned to have 9,800 troops there.

Together with Iraq, we will have 15,000 troops where we have been fighting al Qaeda since 2001. In Iraq, the war on Islamic terrorism forced the U.S. to return to fight ISIS. There are about 6,000 other international troops aiding us.

Afghanistan is likely to be a repeat of what occurred in Iraq. The cruel truth of the world we share is that the United States must be the planet’s policeman, leading coalitions of others who join us, or the bad guys who threaten us all will take over.

From the Roman Empire to the British one, this role is a vital one.

Corruption is the Enemy

Afghanistan has a Taliban problem, but close observers identify its corruption as the main enemy of progress. You can fight an enemy you can see, but fighting an inbred cultural problem is a whole other problem.

In April, testifying before a Senate subcommittee, framing his opening remarks in the form of a letter to whoever would win the presidency in then forthcoming elections, retired Gen. John Allen, a former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013, said that corruption, not the Taliban is the greater threat.

“For too long we focused our attention on the Taliban as the existential threat to Afghanistan,” but compared to the scope and magnitude of corruption, “they are an annoyance.”

Gen. Allen is so highly regarded that he is the President’s “special envoy” to more than 60 nations and groups that have joined a coalition to defeat the Islamic State. From just one reconnaissance mission per month after our withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. now flies 60 per day.

That’s what happens when you don’t maintain a force to defeat an enemy. Referring to the Islamic State Gen. Allen testified that “We’re not just fighting a force, you know, we’re fighting an idea.”

Gen. Allen’s view of the issue of corruption in Afghanistan was supported by John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction who addressed a gathering at the Middle East Institute in May, saying “corruption is more serious than the insurgency.”

Not only does it waste money, Sopko noted that it prevents helpful projects from being completed, robs the Afghan people of the resources they need, and makes them lose faith in their government.

Still hopeful for change, Afghans went to the polls in September and elected Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former finance minister as their new president to replace Hamid Karzai. He will share power with a former foreign minister, Abdullah Avbudullah. Typical of Mideast politics, Ghani is an ethnic Pashtun and Abdullah was backed by Tajiks.

When the then-Soviet Union decided to invade Afghanistan in 1979 following a Marxist coup, hundreds of Afghans left the country as refugees. By the time the Soviets withdrew in 1983, there were 3.2 million refugees, mostly in Pakistan. The invasion so weakened support within the Soviet Union that it collapsed in 1991.

When President Bush struck back at al Qaeda after 9/11 he successfully bombed them out of existence there, but decided to send troops as well. Bush’s goal was to deprive al Qaeda of a safe base, but also to establish a modern democratic government there as a model for the Islamic world.

He repeated this in Iraq when he invaded to remove its dictator, Saddam Hussain. A tribal culture, the Middle East has had difficulties emerging into the modern world.

Prior to Obama’s reassurances to the Marines, the White House announced the release of our more prisoners from Guantanamo. They were repatriated to Afghanistan. If he continues to empty out Guantanamo, the U.S. will not lack for enemies bent on revenge.

As for our troops, they have remained in Afghanistan and Iraq ever since 9/11. Obama may want to withdraw or at least reduce the number of troops, but recent history suggests that until ISIS and comparable forces are defeated, future U.S. Presidents will have to maintain our forces there for many years to come.

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Ethanol policy reform - Agreement?

Ethanol policy reform--the rare place where environmentalists and energy advocates agree by Marita Noon at EMAG, Inc.

Meet Marita Noon, Author of Energy Freedom
We all expect to pay a price for missing deadlines—fail to pay a parking ticket on time, and you may find a warrant out for your arrest. People have lost their jobs when they can’t get the work done on schedule. Students, who turn in papers late, get lower grades—maybe even fail the class.

But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can apparently miss deadlines (many) with impunity. For the past two years, the EPA has failed to meet the statutory deadline under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring the agency to tell refiners how much ethanol to blend into the nation’s motor fuels.

In November 2013, the EPA did make an attempt to announce the proposed 2014 blend levels—which by then were already months past the legally mandated deadline. The EPA surprised and pleased the RFS opponents when it utilized its authority to adjust the mandate and took market conditions into consideration.

The EPA set the proposed 2014 standard to a level lower than 2013’s, even though the law requires increasing amounts. Ethanol producers, who were expecting the usual uptick, loudly opposed the reduction. They made so much noise, the EPA agreed to reconsider. To date, the 2014 standards have not yet been announced.

Then, on November 21, 2014, the EPA announced it would make a decision next year (2015) on how much ethanol refiners had to add to gasoline this year (2014)—yet, if refiners don’t meet the unknown requirement, they get fined. That’s akin to handing out the class syllabus after the students have failed the final exam.

With the goal of a reduction in foreign oil imports, Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 and revised it in 2007—which also provided incentives to America’s fledgling ethanol industry. At the time, gasoline demand was rising to an all-time high and oil imports comprised more than 58 percent of U.S. oil consumption. No doubt Congress believed it was saving American consumers from their addiction to oil.

Then the world changed. The U.S. economy plunged into its worst recession ever, unemployment soared, and gasoline demand fell sharply. Meanwhile, advanced drilling technologies, including the long-used hydraulic fracturing and newer horizontal drilling, began producing oil and natural gas from U.S. shale formations—which were previously uneconomic to develop—leading to America’s 21st Century energy boom.

Today the U.S. is the world’s largest natural-gas producer and is projected to pass Saudi Arabia as the number one oil producer. With crude oil supplies flooding the market, prices have been cut in half. Although fears over foreign-oil dependence have abated, the U.S. remains stuck with an ethanol mandate that is outdated, unworkable, and even harmful to vehicles, engines, and the environment.

Consider just some of the RFS’s flaws.

The law requires refiners to cap their blending of corn ethanol and use more cellulosic biofuels. Never mind that very little cellulosic biofuel has ever been produced—even according to EPA’s own data.

But that fact hasn’t prevented the EPA from levying millions of dollars in fines against refiners for failing to use the phantom fuel, without any assurance that enough cellulosic biofuel will ever be available. It’s kind of like receiving a bill for something you cannot buy because it doesn't exist, but you’re being charged anyway.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports cellulosic biofuels are: “complex, capital-intensive, and costly.” Given the difficulty of producing them, capacity will “fall far short of what would be necessary to achieve the very rapid growth in the use of cellulosic biofuels required” under the RFS.

Then there is the “blend wall” problem. With less gasoline being sold than Congress anticipated, refiners cannot add ever-rising amounts of ethanol to gasoline without exceeding E10—the fuel consisting of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline sold virtually everywhere in the country today.

To get around the blend wall issue, the EPA granted a “partial waiver” allowing the sale of E15, a fuel blend containing up to 15 percent ethanol for model-year 2001 and newer vehicles.

The EPA’s quick fix made a bad situation much worse, and all at the taxpayers’ and consumers’ expense. Ethanol levels higher than 10 percent can damage or destroy vehicle engines, according to a study conducted by the well-respected Coordinating Research Council.

Automakers are voiding warranties and refusing to be held responsible for mechanical problems caused by fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol. And the marine industry warns of potential engine failures on various types of watercraft powered by the industry’s most common engines.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is so concerned about safety hazards that it has launched a campaign telling consumers to “Look Before You Pump.” OPEI says equipment ranging from lawn mowers to “jaws of life” devices could be damaged by ethanol’s corrosive properties if used in concentrations above 10 percent.

Do want your expensive new lawn mower to quit the third time you use it? You certainly want life-saving devices to work on demand.

And that’s not all. Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline, forcing motorists to fill up more often, thereby causing more consumer expenditures. Ethanol production has driven up food prices here and abroad. Additionally, some studies indicate ethanol usage increases greenhouse gas emissions. Politico reports:
“Some green groups have vocally abandoned their support for corn ethanol, blaming the crop for polluting water supplies, wiping out conservation land and even increasing carbon emissions.”
According to Craig Cox, director of the Ames, Iowa, office of the Environmental Working Group, an environmental group that opposes the mandate as it is now structured:
“Corn ethanol’s brand has been seriously dented in the last 18 months. …it certainly doesn’t occupy the same pedestal that it occupied two years ago.”
But then, despite the fact that the EPA says decisions are made on merits, politics entered the scene. Rumors flew that the announcement of the 2014 blend levels was delayed to help Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-D) in his Senate bid.

Braley was pushing for an increase in the proposed levels and was hoping that he would be able to influence the White House to raise the targets. Additionally, a Republican-controlled Senate would be more likely to pass legislation to reform or repeal the RFS. Braley was quoted in Politico saying:
“Voters in Iowa look at where I stand on this issue and where my opponent stands, who’s supporting me in this campaign and who’s supporting [Ernst].”
The Politico story states: “Iowans say wavering on corn ethanol once would have been certain political suicide in a state where 90 percent of the land is farm acreage. So Braley sought to capitalize on Ernst’s expressed qualms about big government, portraying her as someone Iowans can’t trust to fight for them.”

Yet, Ernst, a Republican, won the Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Tom Harkin by 8.5 percentage points.

The EPA’s unwillingness to do its job by setting ethanol volumes—along with ethanol’s loss of “political heft”— should provide the impetus for ending the complex and wasteful RFS program. Ethanol is a rare topic where environmentalists and energy advocates agree.

Now is the time to get our elected officials all on board. As soon as the new Congress convenes in January, it should give the RFS an “F” and reform, revise, or even repeal it.

(A version of this content was originally published on

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.

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Be less romantic about the past

Be less romantic about the past from the files of Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe

Read Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe
For many people, Christmas and New Year's feel like anything but the most wonderful time of the year. Some find the long winter nights depressing. Others can't muster much merriment in the face of what can seem like an endless procession of bleak headlines.

Still others yearn for the sweetness of auld lang syne, when life moved at a more humane pace, and concerns that generate such angst today — global warming, identity theft, Islamist terror, campaign finance — troubled no one's sleep.

Well, for anyone who could do with some extra cheer, a book published 40 years ago — "The Good Old Days — They Were Terrible!" — brims with reminders of all the blessings we have to count.

Its author was Otto L. Bettmann, a refugee from Nazi Germany who created the Bettmann Archive, one of the world's most important and extensive collections of historical images. In 1974 he set out to dispel the notion that life in America two or three generations earlier had been an idyll of freshness and simplicity, the benign and picturesque era of Currier & Ives prints and classic Christmas carols.

Bettmann acknowledged that his famous archive had helped create that impression of a lost golden age. Many of its most popular pictures "do indeed exude an aura of charm and well-being," he wrote. But there were countless others, less sought-after, that told a far more realistic tale.

It was dangerous to romanticize the past, Bettmann argued. For one thing, it was an assault on the truth: Living conditions in America on the eve of the 20th century were frequently poor, nasty, and brutish. Bettmann filled his book with images refuting the idea that the "good old days" were a paradise from which we have sadly fallen.

Like its title, "The Good Old Days — They Were Terrible!" is unflinching yet confident. To read it is to be liberated from unhealthy nostalgia, and to be buoyed by a powerful reminder of our potential for human progress.

We are endlessly hectored these days about the evils of the automobile and "carbon pollution," to take a single example of a contemporary boon all too often condemned by those nostalgic for an illusory past. Bettmann supplies invaluable perspective, recalling how befouled American streets and cities were before the "timely arrival" of the internal-combustion engine.

At the turn of the last century, he recounts, transportation in US cities required about 3 million horses, each producing 20 to 25 pounds of manure per day. "These dumplings were numerous on every street, attracting swarms of flies and radiating a powerful stench.

The ambiance was further debased by the presence on almost every block of stables with urine-saturated hay." In one modest-sized city — Rochester, NY — 15,000 horses "produced enough manure in 1900 to cover an acre of ground with a layer 175 feet high."

The ubiquitous pollution didn't come only from horses. All the "wastes of daily life, including kitchen slops, cinders, coal dust, horse manure, broken cobblestones, and dumped merchandise, were piled high on the sidewalks. There was hardly a block in downtown Manhattan that a pedestrian could negotiate without climbing over a heap of trash or, in rain, wading through a bed of slime."

Parking hassles in our era can be maddening, but who wouldn't prefer them to the foul congestion of the Gilded Age? Bettmann describes "sidewalks . . . lined with unharnessed trucks, beneath and between which dirtier citizens threw their filth."

At times New York reeked like a vast stable, one visitor commented — and what was true of the nation's largest municipality was true of smaller cities as well: "Pioneers trekked westward to breathe what they expected would be the fresh air of small frontier towns. What they often encountered was air like that of a malarial swamp."

A photograph of Helena, Mont., illustrates the point, depicting a busy street clogged with wagons, where hitching places for horses regularly turned into cesspools.

When You Say "Good Old Days" Do You Mean Wading
Through Horse Manure?
But at least roads were safer before the advent of car accidents, right? Wrong. Runaway horses were a serious danger, creating "havoc [that] killed thousands of people," Bettmann writes. "According to the National Safety Council, the horse-associated fatality rate was 10 times the car-associated rate of modern times."

From housing to education, street crime to medical care, urban sweatshops to rural despair — on topic after topic, Bettmann's pictorial history strips away the idealized sheen of wholesomeness from America's "good old days."

Neither paean to laissez-faire capitalism nor endorsement of vigorous government regulation, it is instead a frank reality check into the past that makes clear how blessed we are to be alive in the present.

The cynic's definition of optimist is a man who never had much experience. Bettmann knew better, and was happier for it. He relished being "a man of experience who remains a confirmed optimist."

Forty years on, his book is still in print — and more than ever an antidote to the blues, holiday or otherwise.

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NYPD says dump Mayor de Blasio

Funeral for fallen cop: NYPD asks New Yorkers to dump Mayor Bill de Blasio by Jim Kouri at the

Mayor Loses Support of the NYPD
The display of thousands of law enforcement officials representing departments and agencies throughout the country standing in the streets of the Queens section of New York City on Saturday, to honor one of two police officers assassinated last week, was a sight not seen since the large number police and firefighter funerals following the 9-11 terrorist attack.

But despite Mayor Bill de Blasio's well-written comments during the service -- such as when he said the departed Officer Rafael Ramos was a devoted family man, aspiring chaplain and hero -- the animosity felt by cops for a mayor they say threw them under the bus could not be subdued by one flowery speech.

Although the cops sitting and standing inside the Christ Tabernacle Catholic Church behaved politely as Mayor de Blasio spoke, scores of New York's Finest outside on the streets turned their backs as he and his wife passed to demonstrate their distaste for his defense and out-and-out support for anti-police protesters.

While the liberal-left politicians and news outlets downplayed the violence and hate-filled speech directed at police, amateur videos showed protest marchers encouraging the killing of police officers.

One officer who turned his back during de Blasio’s speech said that the mayor is all talk.“He’s just being a politician like the others [Vice President Joe Biden and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo], but even before he was elected mayor, he was anti-cop,” said the officer. “As far as I'm concerned, He’s no mayor of my city.”

"I noticed that at least [President Barack] Obama and [Attorney General Eric] Holder didn't show up. They knew it would have been a bad time for their photo ops. At least, de Blasio had the stones to show up and take the heat," said a former New York police detective, Ronald Knudsen.

New York City's Police Benevolent Association union officials minced no words in their blaming de Blasio for his posturing and his anti-police sentiment.

It was obvious to anyone watching and listening to de Blasio he supported the angry protests when it was announced that no charges were filed in the police deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York.

Saturday's funeral was not the first time NYPD officers gave Mayor de Blasio a sign of their disrespect. At a hospital after the officers' died, the police union's president, Patrick Lynch, and others turned their backs on de Blasio. Lynch went as far as saying that the Democrat mayor had "blood on his hands."

Even before the cop-killings, Lynch, who spent his adult life as a cop, had urged NYPD officers to sign a petition that would forbid the mayor's attendance or participation in the funerals of fallen police officers who die in the line of duty.

The news media attempted to portray de Blasio as showing support for the NYPD since the shootings by a black Muslim repeat-offender, pointing to how he urged protesters to take time off from their demonstrations and marches.

But even one of his best friends, Rev. Al Sharpton, for whom de Blasio's wife once worked, continued the marches and protests.

Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm.

He's formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, an editor for, a columnist for the and a contributor to WPTF, Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Viva La Revolución - Begin the revolution

Viva La Revolución - Let the revolution begin from the political art studios of Dan Youra at

Get a Daily Dose of Political Humor from Dan Youra at

Dan Youra is one of the outstanding conservative cartoonists in the trade today who follows in the footsteps of the great political cartoon masters, whose quotes inspire a new generation of followers.
"Outside of basic intelligence, there is nothing more important to a good political cartoonist than ill will." ~ Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist.
"Too many of today's artists regard editorial cartooning as a trade instead of a profession. They try not to be too offensive. The hell with that. We need more stirrer-uppers." ~ Bill Mauldin.
Youra was one of the first recipients of a Fulbright Scholarship and worked in Latin America. He served as an editor of Current Thought on Peace and War at the United Nations in New York.

"As long as there are politicians who continue to try and fool the voters, there is no chance of ever running out of material to work with because they create it themselves and about themselves," says Dan Youra.

Dan is the small business owner and operator of the Youra Studios located in the State of Washington.

Visit the Youra Studios at

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North Korea calls Obama a 'Monkey'

N. Korea calls Obama a monkey over the hacking episode by Hyung-Jin Kim

What Do You Think?
North Korea called President Barack Obama "a monkey" and blamed the U.S. on Saturday for shutting down its Internet amid the hacking row over the comedy "The Interview."

North Korea has denied involvement in a crippling cyber attack on Sony Pictures but has expressed fury over the comedy depicting an assassination of its leader Kim Jong Un.

Sony Pictures initially called off the release citing threats of terror attacks against U.S. movie theaters. Obama criticized Sony's decision, and the movie has opened this week.

On Saturday, the North's powerful National Defense Commission, the country's top governing body led by Kim, said that Obama was behind the release of "The Interview." It described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary.
"Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest," an unidentified spokesman at the commission's Policy Department said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
It wasn't the first time North Korea has used crude insults against Obama and other top U.S. and South Korean officials.

Earlier this year, the North called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a "hideous" lantern jaw and South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute.

In May, the North's news agency published a dispatch saying Obama has the "shape of a monkey."

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Peace on earth? I don't think so

Peace on earth? I dont think so from the Warning Signs of Alan Caruba at Facts-not-Fantasy

Know Caruba's Warning Signs
Around the world millions of Christians joined together to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to pray for “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

The 2015 World Almanac puts the number of Christians in the world at 2,347,171,000, by far the largest group sharing the same spiritual beliefs. It puts the number of Muslims at 1,633,173,000.

Of the seven billion residents of planet Earth, more than six billion identify themselves as part of one of the many different faiths, to include Hindu, Buddhist, and others.

As it has for 1,400 years, Islam continues to pose the greatest threat to peace on Earth and is not displaying much good will even toward other Muslims.

A website, maintains an on-going, virtually daily record of those slaughtered around the world in the name of Islam and Allah.

The killing is daily, but earlier this month, Canon Andrew White, a clergyman known as the ‘vicar of Baghdad’, reported that Islamic State militant Islamists had beheaded four Iraqi Christian children, all under the age of 15, for refusing to convert to Islam. The barbarity of the ISIS killings and the numbers of others by Islamists add up to a record of atrocities that rival any in history.

The silence from Muslims condemns this so-called religion.

The Jewish genocide of the last century is being matched by the Christian genocide that is continuing in this century.

The human price paid for the Islamic fascism currently adds up to more than 57 million displaced refugees in 22 countries, a humanitarian disaster equal to the entire population of Great Britain. The UN’s emergency aid chief is asking for $16 billion in funding to address the crisis of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan, in addition to places like the Central African Republic, Somalia, and Ukraine.

There are other events that undermine the prospect of peace. One need only watch as Western nations attempt to negotiate a deal to stop Iran from making nuclear weapons. It is an exercise in futility. Iran is tempting an attack from those nations that understand the enormity of the threat that represents. The Obama administration seems oblivious to it.

Europe is concerned about the threat that the Russian Federation poses with its intent to split eastern Ukraine off from its western half. Former Soviet satellite nations are also concerned about Russian nationalism and the desire to reclaim its former empire. While not overtly aggressive, the West and Asian nations in China’s sphere of influence worry about its intentions too and, as always, North Korea continues to threaten its neighbors.

All this is happening as the residents of planet Earth are gaining the increasing ability to communicate with one another via the Internet, to learn about the events affecting their lives and others, and, as in the case of the “Arab Spring”, to come together to overthrow dictators in an effort to establish governments that provide more freedom and justice.

It transformed Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia to name just three nations affected by it. In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power, outlawed, and is under attack these days in the Sinai.

In the United States there has been a dramatic political shift from the progressive policies of the Obama administration to a growing conservatism opposing ObamaCare, amnesty, and attacks on the nation’s energy sector.

When right-wing Republican and left-wing Democrats joined together to oppose elements of the $1.1 budget, something significant is occurring. As 2015 dawns, a Congress controlled by the Republican Party will have to demonstrate that it reflects the will of the people who put it in power.

What has caught many Americans by surprise is the utter contempt with which they were held by the Obama administration and its leaders, from the President on down, who deliberately lied to voters and regarded them as “stupid.”

Politics in America does not generate peace even within the two parties, but this exercise in democracy is a worldwide phenomenon except in nations still rule by despots and monarchs. It is a healthy republic in which issues are vigorously debated.

Peace on Earth is a noble aspiration and one for which I suspect the vast population of the Earth yearns. It is threatened by the vanity, greed, and desire for power that too often defines the leaders of large bodies of people who are themselves threatened by such men.

Peace needs to be pursued because the alternative is Hell on Earth.

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Michigan welfare recipients to be drug tested

Michigan Legislature approves drug testing for suspicious recipients by Christopher Zara

Welfare Suspension for Substance Abuse
Michigan has become the latest U.S. state to approve the controversial practice of testing welfare recipients for substance abuse.

In a one-year pilot program signed into law Friday by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, welfare recipients suspected of substance abuse will be required to submit to a drug test or lose their benefits eligibility for six months.

The legislation passed the Michigan House of Representatives earlier this month despite pushback from Democrats and criticism from some in the local press who say the concept unfairly stigmatizes the poor as drug addicts.

The suspicion-based program will be rolled out in three yet-to-be named counties.

Under the law, welfare applicants will be screened for suspicion of drug abuse using an “empirically validated substance abuse screening tool,” which the legislation does not describe in detail.

Recipients who test positive for controlled substances will be referred to state treatment programs and must pass a future drug test before having their benefits restored.

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Of course it is racism

Of course it is racism from the files of Judson Phillips, Founder of the Tea Party Nation

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Want to get out of any form of bad behavior? Now, all you have to do is play the racism card.

Of course sometimes the race card back fires.

From NBC:
A passenger's loud singing and references to Ferguson, Missouri, was behind Thursday's diversion of a Los Angeles-bound jet, officials said in their report of the incident.

Delta Flight 81, traveling from Atlanta to Los Angeles, made the unscheduled stop at Albuquerque International Sunport just after 6 p.m. Thursday so that a first-class passenger could be removed from the plane, in what a passenger said was described as a "security issue."

An incident report shows that issue was a 27-year-old Wichita man's singing aloud to music playing from his headphones, which bothered other passengers.
When he was asked by another passenger and later a flight attendant to stop, the passenger "made references to the recent Ferguson Missouri incident" and "also stated he was being harassed because he was black," according to an incident report released by airport police.
The upset and crying passenger went to the restroom several times "and it became a concern to the flight crew" and prompted the diversion, aviation police said in their report.

The passenger was not charged but was not allowed back on the flight. He caught a flight to Los Angeles Friday morning, police said. He never made any direct threats, passengers interviewed by police said.
This story reflects something much worse in American culture. Respect and courtesy for fellow Americans is gone. A generation ago, if someone was doing something was disturbing a neighbor on a flight, there would be an apology and a reasonable accommodation.

Unfortunately this decline is a sign of the decline of our civilization. Common courtesy is the lubricant that keeps our society functioning.

But now a significant part of America thinks the rules no longer apply to them. A significant part of American now believes they are privileged and other parts of society simply have to put up with them.

That does not bode well for the future of this nation.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

No sweat NYPD: DeBlasio's got your back

Don't Sweat It - Bill DeBlasio has Got Your Back from the political art studios of A.F. (Tony) Branco and featured at Comically

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