Posts

Showing posts from January, 2014

Al Qaeda affiliate grows in Egypt

Guardian:
An al-Qaida-inspired group has emerged as Egypt's biggest terrorist threat in a decade, after a week in which its members claimed responsibility for shooting down a military helicopter, assassinating a senior policeman, and exploding a huge bomb outside Cairo's police headquarters.

Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis (ABM), or Champions of Jerusalem, first emerged in 2011, amid a security vacuum caused by the fall of Hosni Mubarak. Based in the isolated northern Sinai desert, next to the Israeli border, ABM's operations expanded drastically after the Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown in July 2013.

But what began as a Sinai-based insurgency now seems to have spread to the Egyptian heartland, with ABM now capable of increasingly sophisticated attacks both in and outside the peninsula.

"They are the premier terrorist threat to Egypt, both in Sinai and on the mainland," said Zack Gold, a Sinai-focused analyst, and author of apaper on militancy in the region.

Anti fracking study discredited

Washington Examiner:
Research claiming that hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- causes increased cancer risks and birth defects have been discredited by Colorado state public health officials.

The researchers with the Colorado School of Public Health cited "minuscule" statistical differences and ignored other factors in producing a report on the negative side effects of fracking, according to a statement released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Thursday.

“It is difficult to draw conclusions from this study, due to its design and limitations,” Dr. Larry Wolk, CDPHE’s chief medical officer, said. “We appreciate continuing research about possible public health implications that may be associated with oil and gas operations in Colorado.

“With regard to this particular study, people should not rush to judgment."

Why? Because the study didn’t distinguish between active wells and inactive wells. It also did not distinguish between vertical, horizontal…

Will Obama and Kerry ask for more studies?

NY Times:
Pipeline Project Clears Hurdle, Environmental Assessment
A government report said the Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly affect the amount of carbon released by oil sands exploitation, which President Obama has called a condition for his approval. Don't be surprised if the passive aggressive approach to killing this deal continues.  It is absurd to suggest the President needs to wait until summer to make a decision.

The ignorance of Wendy Davis

Jonah Goldberg:
Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator running to replace Rick Perry as governor of Texas, owes her political stardom to two things: a pair of pink sneakers and her unstinting support for a woman's right to terminate a late-term pregnancy in a substandard clinic. Yay Feminism!

Last year, Davis led an 11-hour filibuster -- that's where the sneakers came in handy -- to block legislation that would ban abortion after 20 weeks and require abortion clinics to meet the same standards that hospital-style surgical centers do.

This was all going on against the backdrop of the sensational Kermit Gosnell case in Pennsylvania. Gosnell ran a bloody, filthy "clinic" where he performed late-term abortions with a barbarity you'd expect to find in a "Saw" movie. Sometimes he'd "snip" the spines of fully delivered babies with a pair of scissors. His instruments were so unsanitary that some women got STDs from them. Cat feces was a common sigh…

The high cost of inefficient alternative energy

California Energy Update:
Will California’s Green Energy Policies Backfire Like Germany’s?

“Despite their ideological attractiveness, intermittent renewables remain the most expensive and least practical mechanism for C02 abatement.” – Schalk Cloete  ... This is why the proponents of these systems have tried to create artificial scarcity of oil and gas in order to make the inefficient energy resources look more competitive.  They are engaged in blatant market manipulation at the same time they are exporting energy jobs to exporting countries.

Uninsured oppose Obamacare 2 to 1

Washington Times:
The latest poll numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation reveal that the nation’s uninsured have taken a significant turn against Obamacare — now a near 2-to-1 margin regard the mandate in a negative light.

By the percentages, fully 47 percent of those in the nation without insurance now see Obamacare negatively, compared to 24 percent who regard it positively, Breitbart.com reported.

On its website, Kaiser said of its poll numbers: “These negative views have increased since December, when 43 percent of the uninsured panned the law and 36 percent liked it.”
... The Democrats really misjudged this demographic when they sold the program as something to benefit the unishured.  They are still pushing that theme, but those most directly effected are not buying it.

The Dishonest opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline

Washington Post:
Four Pinocchios for an over-the-top ad attacking the Keystone XL pipeline The ad is grossly misleading and twisted testimony on its head to reach its conclusions.  It says something about the nature of Big Green that they would have to resort to such distortions to fight something they know is supported by a majority of American voters.

Iran has few technical issues that prevent it from launching nuclear weapons

Politico:
Iran’s ability to make missiles loaded with nuclear warheads now rests primarily on the “political will” of its leaders, rather than any technical constraints, according to an annual U.S. intelligence assessment presented on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in written testimony submitted as he appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”

On that point, the U.S. Worldwide Threat Assessment suggests a lack of consensus at high levels of the Iranian government and notes that the interim agreement Iran …

Keystone could reduce carbon emissions

WFB:
Approving the Keystone XL pipeline will likely reduce U.S. carbon emissions, according to a professor of energy economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Oil imported from Canada via the pipeline would displace more expensive U.S. imports, according to MIT’s Chris Knittel. The displaced imports would likely have come from Venezuela. That country’s heavy crude oil is generally more carbon-intensive than the crude from Canadian oil sands.
For one thing, Knittel argues, even if Keystone XL isn’t built, a tar sands pipeline of some sort is bound to be built—there’s just too much money ($32 million a day [the original version had a typo and read “billion”]) to be made from building one to think that it won’t happen.  Whatever pipeline is built, it won’t actually increase oil production much, he says, because it will have only a tiny impact on the world oil market. It may lower prices a little, but not enough to increase demand. And if oil demand isn’t going to go up, neit…

Democrat Senator from Colorado in trouble

Aaron Gardner:
As I am sure most of you know by now, Mark Udall jumped through hoops, ducked, dived, and down right evaded questions from CNN’s Dana Bash on whether he would want President Obama to campaign with him in Colorado for the 2014 midterm elections.

I must admit, Udall was masterful in his ability to not answer a simple yes or no question. Admittedly this is a common trait among politicians of both parties, but few are as skilled as Udall. For a moment, he had me actually believing that he was never asked about Obama joining him on the campaign.

What makes Udall’s comments newsworthy is that he has been a loyal supporter of the President and his signature initiative, the Affordable Care Act. In fact, Udall was such a loyal foot soldier he had his Senate staff interrogate the Colorado Division of Insurance over what Udall claimed was incorrect data regarding the number of insurance plan cancellations in the state.

So why the sudden change? Why doesn’t Udall want the man who made…

Immigration reform prerequisites?

Byron York:
... And then there are by-now familiar guidelines for the handling of the 11 or 12 million immigrants in the country illegally. "These persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S.," the principles say, "but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits)."

That, too, is all standard issue. But then, in the very last sentence of the principles, comes the key to the whole thing: "None of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced."

It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of immigration reform in Congress depends on whether Republican leaders mean what they say in that single…

Texas continues to lead in adding new wind turbines

Fuel Fix:
Energy companies were installing a record level of wind turbines as 2013 came to a close, with most of the new capacity coming in Texas, according to new figures released Thursday.

More than 12,000 megawatts of wind power were under construction across 20 states during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s industry market report. The trade group says that’s enough to power 3.5 million homes.

By far the biggest chunk of that was in Texas, which saw 7,000 megawatts under construction, propelled by new transmission lines linking remote Panhandle wind farms to customers in Houston, Dallas and other cities. The only other state to come remotely close was Iowa, with 1,050 megawatts under construction late last year.

“Texas is really responsible for the boom in the construction numbers, largely due to the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission lines,” said Emily Williams, a senior policy analyst for AWEA.

Electricity d…

New Canadian rail terminal can move 250,000 barrels of oil sands a day

Fuel Fix:
With limited pipeline options to ship oil sands crude out of Canada, Exxon Mobil Corp. plans to move up to 100,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil using a new rail terminal that should be running by 2015, an executive said Thursday.

The terminal, to be constructed in Alberta, will cost up to $250 million if it is built to a maximum capacity of 250,000 barrels of oil per day, said David Rosenthal, Exxon Mobil’s vice president of investor relations, during a conference call with analysts.

Keystone XL: TransCanada will look at rail if pipeline is rejected

The rail terminal is being developed by Kinder Morgan and Imperial Oil at an initial cost of $170 million. Exxon Mobil has a 70 percent ownership stake in Imperial Oil.
... This demonstrates that there are ways around the artificial scarcity boondoggles of Big Green and their Democrat allies.  I would not be surprised to see the northern tier of the Keystone XL being built right up to a terminal on this side of border where the tr…

The problem with the legalization strategy for immigration

Washington Times:
Immigration officials warn of amnesty ‘overload’
The officers who would be charged with approving millions of applications from illegal immigrants for legal status warned Congress this week that they can’t handle the workload, and said the change would guarantee criminals and others would be approved to remain in the country. The other problem is that why should you trust Obama to enforce elements of the new law he does not like.

Chinese navy irresponsibly playing chicken with war ships

Business Insider:
As anyone who has seen “Rebel Without a Cause” knows, playing chicken is dangerous for California teenagers in hot-rods.
But playing chicken with warships, cruisers, and fighter jets — well, that’s just another level of crazy.

Unfortunately, vessels from the US military and from other countries increasingly find themselves in such high-stakes confrontations on the East Asian seas, where China has adopted a strategy of making rivals flinch or risk collision.

Just this week, Chinese sailors parked three ships on a disputed reef 50 miles from the Malaysian coast and performed a ceremony in which they swore an oath “to safeguard [China’s] sovereignty and territorial interests.” Malaysia also claims the reef, and is building a naval base nearby to protect it against China’s claim.

That’s just the latest in an escalating series of incidents.

In November, China declared its right to patrol and regulate a large swath of airspace, including a zone controlled by Japan and …

Chicoms supplying intermediate range missiles to Saudis

Foreign Policy:
Jeff Stein of Newsweekhas reported that "a well-placed intelligence source" has confirmed that Saudi Arabia purchased Chinese-made DF-21 ballistic missiles in 2007 -- apparently with the approval of the George W. Bush administration.

It's the first intelligence source to confirm, albeit anonymously, something that's long been rumored. It is a good bit of reporting -- and I say this not simply because Stein quotes me. If Saudi Arabia bought the missiles in 2007, it has taken a long time for a reporter to get a source to actually confirm the suspected sale. But the timing of the leak isn't surprising. Saudi Arabia is growing increasingly concerned about Iran, and over the past few years it has started talking a lot about its Strategic Missile Force. In the course of doing so, Riyadh has hinted that it has bought at least two new types of ballistic missiles -- one of which is possibly the medium-range DF-21, which, in China, comes in both conventional…

Texas continues to lead nation in job creation

Dallas Morning News:
Texas led the nation in job growth for the fourth straight year in 2013, reflecting the state’s strength and resilience recovering from the recession that ended in mid-2009.

The state added 252,400 jobs last year, according to preliminary state-by-state data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The next-closest states were California, with 235,700 new jobs, and Florida, with 192,900.

Texas also added the most jobs in December (17,600), followed by Florida (14,100) and California (13,600).

“It’s a nice way to end the year,” said Michael T. Wolf, an economist for Wells Fargo. “Year-over-year percentage growth was positive for every major industry in Texas — even government was up. That bodes really well for Texas.”
... The unemployment rate in Texas is down to 6 percent despite all the new workers flocking to the state by the hundreds everyday.  Energy continues to be strong for employment opportunities but jobs were growing across the board.

Chinese employment agencies in Houston accused of providing illegal Hispanic workers to restaurants in 3 states

Houston Chronicle:
Teams of federal immigration agents launched a tri-state human trafficking crackdown in southwest Houston by raiding two employment agencies in the Chinatown area, the alleged center of a large conspiracy that supplied hundreds of undocumented Hispanic kitchen workers to Chinese restaurants.

The workers were exploited by the owners and managers of Chinese restaurants who recruited them, who paid them less than minimum wage and deducted rent payments for cramped living quarters they assigned them, said Brian Moskowitz, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Houston.

"You have two businesses, two placement agencies, that in essence built a business model where the commodity was illegal workers," said Moskowitz. "They acquired and delivered illegal workers to greedy restaurant owners around the country."

ICE agents arrested Lina Sun, 54, owner of the Long Li Job Agency at 9107 Bellaire Blvd. and a competitor several doors away, …

New Hampshire Democrat senator in trouble

Boston Globe:
Scott Brown Tied With Jeanne Shaheen In NH Senate Race He Hasn’t Even Entered. Brown has move to New Hampshire and has been helping local Republican organizations raise money.  Shaheen has been under fire for her Obamacare vote.

Writing a generous husband out of Wendy Davis success story

NY Times:
Life Story of Wendy Davis Swings From Strength to Flash Point in Texas Campaign
A race for governor has led to second-guessing over the candidate’s biographical omissions and has sparked a debate about a woman’s balance of work, ambition and parenthood. Davis is trying to squirm out of a misleading "life story" bio in which she claimed success as a single mother.  In fact her success was dependent on a generous husband who cashed in his saving and took out loan to help her achieve her education dreams and she responded by dumping him after the loans were paid off.  There are words to describe this activity, but "single mom" is not among them.

Russia appears to have violate weapons treaty with US

NY Times:
U.S. Officials Claim Russia Tested Missile, Despite Treaty
American officials believe Russia tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, raising concerns about Moscow’s compliance with an arms deal that has been viewed as a bedrock accord in ending the Cold War. That is some reset button we ave the Russians.  They can now use to ignore previous agreements?  Do you trust this administration to do anything about it?

Iran, Norks help Syria build more missiles

NTI:
Syria has managed to enhance its missile-production efforts thanks to help from North Korea and Iran, according to a specialized defense magazine.

In its analysis, Jane's Defense Weekly concluded Bashar Assad's regime has been able to resume manufacturing missiles at a pace that existed before the 2011 start of the Syrian civil war, the Times of Israel reported on Tuesday. A major reason for the ramped up missile production is a desire to feed militant group Hezbollah's appetite for weapons, the report says.

The new missiles being manufactured by the Assad regime's Scientific Studies and Research Center are judged to have greater killing power, but possibly less range and lower accuracy.

The Syrian military is collaborating with North Korea to enhance its Scud D ballistic missiles, which have a reported range of approximately 435 miles. North Korean officials reportedly are developing Scud D missile parts intended to make it harder for adversaries' missile defens…

Al Qaeda flag flies in London demonstration for Syrian rebels

London seems to attract these people with weird religious affiliations and beliefs who hate all the other people in the world.

Texas responds to out of state propane shortages

Dallas Business Journal:
A widespread propane emergency brought on by freezing temperatures prompted Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to sign a special declaration that allows other states to tap into Texas’ supply.

The 14-day emergency declaration waives the licensing and rules that prohibit the sale of propane to sources outside the state. The Texas Department of Public Safety has waived restrictions on the hours that propane can be transported for truckers helping with emergency relief.

The shortage has affected 33 states from Oklahoma to Maine. An estimated 7 million homes use propane to heat their homes around the country, which makes the shortage a real health and safety emergency.

“Texas has the fuel, but motor carriers from other states could not get supplies from Texas, because they were not licensed and certified to enter our state,” Bill Van Hoy, executive director of the Texas Propane Gas Association (TPGA), said. “With these Texas leaders’ help, Northeastern, Midwestern and Southern …

Artificial energy scarcity hurts the poor most

Fuel Fix:
When exploring solutions to income inequality policy makers pay close attention to the costs. The cost of healthcare. The cost of food. The cost of child care. The cost of housing.

What about the cost of energy?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 the average U.S. family spent over $4,600 or about 9 percent of their budget to heat and power their homes and fuel their vehicles. Families in the bottom fifth of income earners spent nearly 33 percent more of their budget on energy costs than average $2,500 a year or 12% of their annual budget.

... low-income families spend two and half times more on energy than on health services. Unlike food and housing, consumers cannot shop around for the lowest cost energy. Bargains can be found in the supermarket, but, prices at the pump do not vary from one station to the next. Conservation similarly is not an option when it’s a choice between driving to work or saving a gallon of gasoline.

A solution to remedying income ineq…

Obama avoiding red states with Democrat senators

Image
Daily Mail:
Obama branded 'Typhoid Mary' as Democratic senators in tight races are terrified of campaigning with president after limp State of the Union address Obama's latest road trip has him avoiding red states where his presence could hurt Democratic incumbents, as the White House fears the real possibility of losing control of both houses of Congress in November. I could see the fear in the eyes of many of these Democrats last night after the State of the Union address.  They seem to be holding on to hope that things get better for Obamacare in a couple of months.

Aspirations for an attack on US mainland

Guardian:
Al-Qaida faction in Syria contemplating US attack, intelligence officials warn Most of al Qaeda has similar aspirations, but this one seems particularly intent on making it happen.

Iran, Iraq plan to flood the market with oil

Telegraph:
Iraq is poised to flood the oil market by tripling its capacity to pump crude by 2020 and is collaborating with Iran on strategy in a move that will challenge Saudi Arabia's grip on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"We feel the world needs to be assured of fuel for economic growth," Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy in Iraq told oil industry delegates attending a Chatham House Middle East energy conference.

Al Shahristani said on Tuesday that Iraq plans to boost its capacity to produce oil to 9m barrels a day (bpd) by the end of the decade as Baghdad rushes to bolster its economy, which is still shattered by war and internal conflict. Iraq was producing 3m bpd in December, according to the International Energy Agency.

Iraq's intention to challenge Saudi Arabia's status as the "swing producer" in the OPEC cartel could see a dramatic fall in oil prices if Baghdad decides to break the group's quotas and …

Obama has lost the trust of American voters

Starting around the four minute mark when they are asked about the MyRA accounts proposed there is great skepticism that morphs into a discussion of Obamacare and there is almost universal negative reaction to it with personal stories that show how it is really hurting people.

Leadership and abuse in the military

Washington Post:
There are miserable bosses, and then there are toxic military commanders.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Schmidt was unquestionably among the latter in the view of some staff members under his thumb. A profane screamer, he ran through six executive officers and aide-de-camps in a year. He retired this month after an Air Force inquiry concluded that he was “cruel and oppressive” and mistreated subordinates.

More than a dozen people who worked with Brig. Gen. Scott F. “Rock” Donahue, a retired commander with the Army Corps of Engineers, reported him as a verbally abusive taskmaster. One was so desperate to escape from division headquarters in San Francisco that he asked for a transfer to Iraq. An Army investigation cited the general for “exhibiting paranoia” and making officers cry.

Troops who served under Army Brig. Gen. Eugene Mascolo of the Connecticut National Guard, described him as “dictatorial,” “unglued” and a master of “profanity-fused outbursts.” An Army investig…

China's space warfare efforts aimed at blinding US capabilities

Bill Gertz:
China is developing anti-satellite missiles and other exotic weapons that can destroy or disrupt vital U.S. military and commercial communications, space warfare experts told Congress on Tuesday.

“The current and evolving counterpace threat posed by China to U.S. military operations in the Asia Pacific theater and outside is extremely serious,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a former State Department and National Security Council strategic specialist.

“And the threat ranks on par with the dangers posed by Chinese offensive cyber operations to the United States more generally,” said Tellis, now with the Carnegie Endowment.

China’s growing space warfare capabilities were the subject of a hearing at the House Armed Services joint subcommittees on strategic forces and seapower.

Robert L. Butterworth, a former chief of strategic planning at Air Force Space Command, said China’s growing space weapons include cyber weapons, electronic jammers, laser, both high- and low-earth orbit ASAT missi…

Obama lawlessness

Ted Cruz:
Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president's persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat. On Monday, Mr. Obama acted unilaterally to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contracts, the first of many executive actions the White House promised would be a theme of his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The president's taste for unilateral action to circumvent Congress should concern every citizen, regardless of party or ideology. The great 18th-century political philosopher Montesquieu observed: "There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates." America's Founding Fathers took this warning to heart, and we should too.

Rule of law doesn't simply mean that society has laws; dictatorships are often characterized by an abundance of la…

Christie's alleged abuse of power has nothing on what the Obama administration has been doing

Washington Examiner Editorial:
Closing down a bridge to punish a mayor for not endorsing Gov. Chris Christie for re-election was an unambiguous abuse of power by individuals on the governor’s staff and was rather petty to boot. This kind of bullying is hardly unique to New Jersey, though. It goes on at the federal level, too. In fact, the now-former Christie associates are amateurs compared to President Obama’s team of pin-striped tough guys.

Consider the government shutdown last fall when the president authorized the needless closing of federal parks and museums in an attempt to smear Republicans. Obama’s team got so carried away that they even tried to close state-run parks in Wisconsin that weren’t dependent on federal funds. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had to defy federal orders to keep them open.

Then there were the Tea Party groups that challenged the Obama agenda and soon found themselves targeted and harassed by the IRS. Yes, the tax official who ran the program claimed her Fif…

Another Obama job killer idea

Diana Furchtgott-Roth:
President Obama's executive order raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour covers employees of federal government contractors who work on federal projects, and applies to new contracts.

It would give some workers as much as a 39 percent raise. But others would lose jobs, since Congress is unlikely to increase contractors' funding because Obama has raised the minimum wage by executive order, skirting congressional authority.

In a fact sheet, the White House stated, “Low wages are also bad for business, as paying low wages lowers employee morale, encourages low productivity, and leads to frequent employee turnover--all of which impose costs."

Sign Up for the Politics Today newsletter!

Although he has little private-sector experience, the president thinks he knows best how to run a business.

Some unintended consequences: Under the new order, food service contractors operating federal cafeterias might lay off workers to keep costs even. Or, if fi…

Keystone opponents pushing hard to create artificial scarcity and market manipulation

Bloomberg/Fuel Fix:
Environmentalists are making an unusual argument in their attempt to stop the Keystone XL pipeline: that trains can’t move all the oil out of Canada.

Keystone supporters say Canada could just as easily transport the additional oil to the U.S. on trains — meaning building the pipeline won’t contribute to climate change because the oil’s coming out, pipeline or no.

Opponents have worked furiously to knock down that argument ahead of the U.S. State Department’s release of a key environmental impact statement in coming weeks, pointing to recent oil-train crashes to show railroads aren’t a good alternative.

“The environmental guys are making that argument to State and to the White House,” Michael McKenna, a Keystone supporter and president of MWR Strategies Inc., a Midlothian, Virginia-based lobbying firm, said in an interview. “They’re getting a favorable response. It’s probably a legitimate argument. Maybe all this stuff doesn’t come to market and that affects the profil…

Texas oil replaces Saudi oil in California?

Fuel Fix:
Texas is poised to join Saudi Arabia as a supplier of oil to California as the mounting glut of crude on the U.S. Gulf Coast makes the trade profitable.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, the pipeline operator that’s buying U.S. oil tankers, said it’s in talks to ship Texas crude to California through the Panama Canal. The 4,500-mile voyage would cost about $10 a barrel, broker Poten & Partners Inc. estimates, making Texas crude competitive with imports traveling 11,400 miles from Saudi Arabia, the West Coast’s largest supplier, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Until now, a U.S. law that makes domestic shipping more expensive left Californians buying oil from the Middle East instead. If a shortage of qualifying ships can be overcome, Texas crude will become affordable on the West Coast as the highest domestic output in a quarter century creates a surplus of light oil and drives down prices.

Saudi Texas: New data show ‘meteoric’ rise of Texas oil

“The West Coast has been short…

Obamacare is hurting people

Democrats are hanging on to hope that things will get better with this monstrosity when most of the evidence is to the contrary.  Obama and the Democrats have lost the trust of the American people.

What the President did not say

People want government out of their lives.  He also did not talk about the administrations lowest labor participation rate in decades.

An admission of failed leadership and inability to negotiate

NY Times:

Obama Vows Solo Action on Economic Gap
“Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” He is a guy who does not know how to negotiate a deal and thinks threats are going to help him.  In reality they are about as meaningful as his red lines in Syria.  He needs to find out what Republicans think is needed and find a way to get it in  some compromise package.  But he does not know how to do it.  He should hire Bill Clinton and George Bush to teach him how it is done.

I suspect his attitude has resulted more people tuning him out.

Pakistan on war footing against Taliban?

Guardian:
Pakistan is being put on a "war footing" to counter a surge in terrorism, according to a senior leader in the ruling party who promised military strikes against the Taliban and brushed aside human rights fears about draconian new anti-terror laws.

Rana Sanaullah, the law minister of Punjab province and one of the prime minister's closest confidants, told the Guardian the time had finally come to "smash" militant safe havens.

A spike in Taliban-led violence has prompted a dramatic rethink in policy from a government long determined to avoid a confrontation with the country's militant groups.

Expectations are growing of a long-delayed military push against al-Qaida-linked groups operating from North Waziristan, a semi-autonomous tribal area on the Afghan border.

In a meeting on Monday evening of assembly members of the governing Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), a majority voted to support a military operation against militants.

"Without el…

F-35 defensive electronic system

This looks pretty cool.  The aids to situational awareness are phenomenal.  This is one of the better videos of the planes capabilities.

George W. Bush did the most to raise up the poor

Jim Lindgren:
...
The president under whom the poorest quintile enjoyed the largest increase in after-tax household income was George W. Bush. And the two administrations under whom the richest quintile and richest 1 percent fared the worst were the two Presidents Bush. Among Barack Obama’s four immediate predecessors, the two biggest income equalizers were George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
... There is much more.

The Bush tax cuts did the most to help the lower income taxpayers.

Low cost desalination could cure water shortage

Guardian:
Thousands of acres on the west side of California's San Joaquin Valley lie fallow. In official speak, the former agricultural land has been "retired". Water supplies have always been a problem for this drought-prone region. Yet what's pushed the area over the brink is salinity.

The problem is in large part caused by farm irrigation, which picks up the salt that naturally occurs in the rocks and soils of the Central Valley and transfers it through drainage. Compounding the problem is the tidally influenced water that is pumped into the area from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A study by the University of Californiaestimates that, left to continue, the Central Valley could be facing reparation costs of up to $1.5bn by 2030 and the loss of up to 64,000 jobs as agricultural production slides.

A California-based startup thinks it might have the answer. WaterFX's solution comes in the unlikely shape of a vast bank of parabolic mirrors and an advanced "m…

A President who ignores the law

This video focuses on Obama's abuse of power.  It seems ell timed to put his State of the Union address in context.

Job boom follows cut in unemployment benefits in North Carolina

David Freddoso:
We don’t like to buy into shoddy post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc arguments around here. But even worse than post-hoc arguments are the ones based on events that haven’t actually happened. I’m thinking specifically of the lamentations in the pundit class that North Carolina’s economy would implode when unemployment benefits were cut and shortened in length last July.

I wrote on this four weeks ago in my Washington Examiner column:

In July, North Carolina became the first state to end extended unemployment benefits altogether. As John Hood notes in the Carolina Journal, the number of employed in the state jumped by 39,000 between July 1 and Nov. 30, after standing still for the entire first half of the year. The state’s unemployment rate had taken more than two years to come down by 1.5 points to where it was in June (8.8 percent). Between July 1 and Nov. 30, it declined by roughly that amount (to 7.4 percent). During that same period, about 26 percent fewer workers were droppi…

Talk about confiscator taxation!

Forbes:
New Jersey Taxes Could Eat Up All Of Peyton Manning's Super Bowl Earnings If he wins taxes will take up 51 percent of his pay and if he loses they will take 101.83 percent of his game check.

Democrats in trouble in several Senate races

LA Times:
Gallup poll: Obama unpopular in states with key 2014 Senate contests
...
... eight states have remained among the top ten when it comes to their dislike of Obama: Wyoming, West Virginia, Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Alaska and Arkansas. Just over one in five residents in Wyoming approved of Obama--making it the toughest state for him--and the rating in Montana, Alaska and Arkansas ranged from 33-35%.
... The Republicans stand a good chance of winning in all those states.  Seats being contested in West Virginia, Montana, Alaska and Arkansas are currently held by Democrats

Why the Democrats are in deep trouble

John Judis:
In his memo this week, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg warns me to “forget the conventional wisdom” that “the president is in trouble.” Greenberg points to Barack Obama’s approval rating being up, the Republicans’ reputation at a “remarkable low,” and the generic Congressional vote between the parties even. Some of this makes sense, but on eve of Obama’s State of the Union address, I’m going with the conventional wisdom: Obama and the Democrats are in deep trouble.

Greenberg cites an improvement in Obama and the Democrats’ polling numbers over the last month, but the improvement is very slight. What I’d point to instead is a comparison between where Obama and the Democrats stood in January 2010 and where they stand today. In January 2010, they were about to lose the Massachusetts senate race, and in November 2010 would lose 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate. If Obama and the Democrats’ numbers are better now than they were then, they may not be in trouble…

Fallout from Obamacare continues

NY Times:
Obama’s Puzzle: Economy Rarely Better, Approval Rarely Worse
Never during President Obama’s time in office has the state of the economy been better. Yet, as he prepares to deliver his fifth state of the union address, rarely has he gotten such low marks from the public for his handling of it. The problem is the economy does not feel so good when Obamacare is sucking the life out of it.  People are being forced to pay more for less coverage, and the promises made by Obama were fraudulent on their face.  Of course he is going to get low marks because his polices have reduced people's disposable income at a time when it has already shrunk because of his excess regulation and control freak policies.

The income inequality President

John Hayward:
As expected, one of the big themes for President Obama’s State of the Union speech will be “income inequality.” Those of you who were expecting the big “ObamaCare: What Was I Thinking?” speech will have to contain your disappointment. You’ll have plenty to discuss with Linus when you’re camped out in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear next fall.

Of course Barack Obama wasn’t going to take responsibility for his cataclysmic failure, or offer a frank discussion of why he didn’t use the pen and phone he keeps bragging about to get in touch with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and ask her how Healthcare.gov was coming along, or explain why five years of double-digit unemployment persists despite his several dozen dramatic “pivots” to combat it. No, he just can’t wait to tell us all about income inequality, and the exciting plans he has for dealing with it, as soon as we surrender more control over our lives.

Naturally an endles…

Ethics complaint filed against Wendy Davis

Watchdog Wire:
A Texas citizen filed a complaint before the Texas Ethics Commission Monday afternoon, alleging that State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) knowingly misrepresented her assets on her annual Personal Financial Statements.

The complaint alleges that Davis failed to disclose her ownership of stocks and mutual funds, capital gains made on the sale of those mutual funds, interest earned on several bank accounts, and professional ties to registered lobbyists associated with a law firm at which she is employed. Davis allegedly failed to make these financial disclosures on three of the four Personal Financial Statements she has filed since taking office in 2009.

Davis disclosed ownership of a single stock and two mutual funds on each of her Personal Financial Statements, but reported ownership of several additional mutual funds on her income tax returns for each corresponding year. Davis’ 1040 and 1099-B forms include over 40 pages of proceeds from m…

Public not interested in immigration 'reform'

Byron York:
Just a few weeks ago, a State of the Union call for immigration reform would have seemed an exercise in futility. But now, President Obama, who Tuesday night will urge the House to pass new legislation, might have at least an outside chance of getting what he wants.

Immigration reform is back. Left for dead countless times in recent months, the effort to overhaul the nation's immigration system -- and deal with the estimated 12 million immigrants now in the country illegally -- is again on the priority list for Speaker John Boehner and House GOP lawmakers.

But there's a problem, and it's the same problem that always snags immigration talks: How to structure a system that will both beef up the nation's border security and legalize those here illegally.

Many Republicans who might be open to some sort of reform will not accept legalization until security measures are not only passed but in place and working. Many Democrats will not accept anything less than immed…