Saturday, June 04, 2011

D.C. Insomnia

Look of Love - Diana Krall

Geert Wilders' Closing Statement at Trial

Mister President, members of the Court, you must now decide whether freedom still has a home in the Netherlands.
Franz Kafka said: “one sees the sun slowly set, yet one is surprised when it suddenly becomes dark.

Full text of statement here

Rethinking Prevailing Fossil Fuel Beliefs

"Are we living at the beginning of the Age of Fossil Fuels, not its final decades? The very thought goes against everything that politicians and the educated public have been taught to believe in the past generation. According to the conventional wisdom, the U.S. and other industrial nations must undertake a rapid and expensive transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy for three reasons: The imminent depletion of fossil fuels, national security and the danger of global warming.

"What if the conventional wisdom about the energy future of America and the world has been completely wrong?

"As everyone who follows news about energy knows by now, in the last decade the technique of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," long used in the oil industry, has evolved to permit energy companies to access reserves of previously-unrecoverable “shale gas” or unconventional natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, these advances mean there is at least six times as much recoverable natural gas today as there was a decade ago.

"Natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than coal, can be used in both electricity generation and as a fuel for automobiles.

"The implications for energy security are startling. Natural gas may be only the beginning. Fracking also permits the extraction of previously-unrecoverable “tight oil,” thereby postponing the day when the world runs out of petroleum. There is enough coal to produce energy for centuries. And governments, universities and corporations in the U.S., Canada, Japan and other countries are studying ways to obtain energy from gas hydrates, which mix methane with ice in high-density formations under the seafloor. The potential energy in gas hydrates may equal that of all other fossils, including other forms of natural gas, combined.

"If gas hydrates as well as shale gas, tight oil, oil sands and other unconventional sources can be tapped at reasonable cost, then the global energy picture looks radically different than it did only a few years ago. Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come.

"So much for the specter of depletion, as a reason to adopt renewable energy technologies like solar power and wind power. Whatever may be the case with Peak Oil in particular, the date of Peak Fossil Fuels has been pushed indefinitely into the future. What about national security as a reason to switch to renewable energy?

"The U.S., Canada and Mexico, it turns out, are sitting on oceans of recoverable natural gas. Shale gas is combined with recoverable oil in the Bakken "play" along the U.S.-Canadian border and the Eagle Ford play in Texas. The shale gas reserves of China turn out to be enormous, too. Other countries with now-accessible natural gas reserves, according to the U.S. government, include Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, France, Poland and India.

"Because shale gas reserves are so widespread, the potential for blackmail by Middle Eastern producers and Russia will diminish over time. Unless opponents of fracking shut down gas production in Europe, a European Union with its own natural gas reserves will be far less subject to blackmail by Russia (whose state monopoly Gazprom has opportunistically echoed western Greens in warning of the dangers of fracking).

"The U.S. may become a major exporter of natural gas to China -- at least until China borrows the technology to extract its own vast gas reserves.

"Two arguments for switching to renewable energy -- the depletion of fossil fuels and national security -- are no longer plausible. What about the claim that a rapid transition to wind and solar energy is necessary, to avert catastrophic global warming?

"The scenarios with the most catastrophic outcomes of global warming are low probability outcomes -- a fact that explains why the world’s governments in practice treat reducing CO2 emissions as a low priority, despite paying lip service to it. But even if the worst outcomes were likely, the rational response would not be a conversion to wind and solar power but a massive build-out of nuclear power. Nuclear energy already provides around 13-14 percent of the world’s electricity and nearly 3 percent of global final energy consumption, while wind, solar and geothermal power combined account for less than one percent of global final energy consumption.

"(The majority of renewable energy consists of CO2-emitting biomass -- wood and dung used for fires by the world’s poor, plus crops used to make fuel; most of the remainder comes from hydropower dams denounced by Greens.)

"The disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima have dramatized the real but limited and localized dangers of nuclear energy. While their initial costs are high, nuclear power plants generate vast amounts of cheap electricity -- and no greenhouse gases. If runaway global warming were a clear and present danger rather than a low probability, then the problems of nuclear waste disposal and occasional local disasters would be minor compared to the benefits to the climate of switching from coal to nuclear power.

"The arguments for converting the U.S. economy to wind, solar and biomass energy have collapsed. The date of depletion of fossil fuels has been pushed back into the future by centuries -- or millennia.[...]" (read full article here)

Zero. Zip. Zilch in 2020

Democrats are in deep denial over Medicare’s looming doom. -
Deroy Murdock- 

"The Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is projected to become exhausted in 2020.”

"As plain as the sun, that sentence appears on page 4 of the Congressional Budget Office’s “March 2011 Medicare Baseline,” released on March 18. Those twelve words encapsulate the gargantuan problem that undergirds today’s national yelling match over Medicare. It hardly matters whether one loves or hates Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and his Path to Prosperity, or whether one believes Pres. Barack Obama is the reincarnation of George Washington or Karl Marx. Regardless, if America does nothing, the CBO calculates, Medicare will run dry on Sept. 30, 2020. If that fiscal year’s last day sounds distant, it isn’t. That milestone is five fewer months into the future than 9/11 is into the past.
From $239.4 billion in FY 2011, Medicare’s primary trust fund drops to $20.5 billion in FY 2019. The next year, it reaches zero. Zip. Zilch.

"The sentries of stasis counsel lassitude, since the Medicare trustees recently announced that the program will not collapse until 2024. That is ominous. Last year, the trustees predicted that Medicare’s bankruptcy would occur in 2029. In just twelve months, America has lunged five years closer to that precipice.

"Washington Democrats are in malignant denial about all this.

•“We have a plan,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California told the Washington Post. “It’s called Medicare.”

•“Keep your hands off my Medicare!” Rep. Paul Tonko (D., N.Y.) demanded at an April 15 Capitol Hill press conference. “Keep your hands off my Medicare!”

•“Americans don’t need a voucher, they have Medicare,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D., Calif.) also told journalists. “Americans don’t want ‘coupon care,’ we have Medicare.”

"Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada handles this matter with stunning sloth. “There’s no need to have a Democratic budget in my opinion,” Reid was quoted as saying in the May 20 Los Angeles Times. “It would be foolish for us to do a budget at this stage.”

"Why start now?

"The then-Democratic Congress passed no budget in 2010. The Democratic Senate last adopted one on April 29, 2009, 25 months ago. While Ryan’s proposal went down to defeat in the Senate last month, it secured 40 votes — all Republican — versus 57 naysayers. Meanwhile, senators that day crushed Obama’s budget 97 to 0. Like Republicans, Democrats rejected it unanimously. Thus, Senate Democrats offer America nothing: neither Ryan’s austere budget nor Obama’s profligate one. The Democratic Senate simply refuses to fulfill its most basic constitutional obligation.

"Rather than lead, Democrats frighten seniors with ghost stories so that they will spook Republicans into retreat.
"Reid decries a “Republican plan to kill Medicare.” Florida representative and Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says of Ryan’s measure, “This plan literally would be a death trap for seniors.”

"The most despicable political advertisement in U.S. history was Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson’s ad suggesting that Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the 1964 GOP nominee, would incinerate an adorable blonde girl in a thermonuclear blast. Vying for that dubious distinction, the pro-Democratic Agenda Project produced a commercial in which a Ryanesque Republican hurls a wheelchair-bound old lady off a cliff, no doubt fatally.

"Democrats previously claimed that Republicans dreamed of feeding Granny dog food to economize money for Wall Street’s champagne budget. Such calumny has become inadequate. Those who demanded civility in February now accuse Republicans of plotting to murder seniors." [...] Read all

Anyway - Martina McBride

Friday, June 03, 2011

The One-State Solution

...seems reasonable

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Paul Ryan's Budget is a Bigger Threat Than Al Qaeda!

...according to fromer B.O. "Green Czar" Van Jones.
Useful idiot extrordinaire tickles his fans ears:

Medicare "As We Know It" is Already GONE

God help us if we allow elderly citizens to choose their own health benefits.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

How Capitalism Can Compliment the Environment

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Meanwhile in Italy...

The Zero-Sum Political Game

Monday, May 30, 2011

Taps For Every Fallen Soldier

Where Dreams Die

Where Dreams Die
May 24, 2011 - 5:51 am - Victor Davis Hanson
I was given a great gift — but see below — to travel throughout California the last week, by land and by air over the state. It was hard to determine whether the natural beauty of the landscape or the ingenuity of our ancestors was the more impressive. The Sierra is still snow-locked and towers in white above a lush valley floor below. The lakes of the 1912 Big Creek Hydroelectric Project — Shaver, Huntington, and the still snowbound Edison and Florence above — belong in Switzerland. The squares of grapes and trees below look like a vast lush checkerboard from above.

I prefer the beauty of the Napa and Sonoma valleys to Tuscany; the former lacks only the majestic Roman and Renaissance history of the Italian countryside. Human genius in just a half-century has almost matched 2500 years of Italian viticulture. The California coast — the hills, beaches, and landscape — could be in the Peloponnese and easily stands the comparison. When early summer finally comes to the state in late spring, as it did last week, the result is almost divine: warmth and light without high humidity, daily rains, or high winds.

They say the Central Valley is the ugliest part of the state; I disagree. Last week from my great-great-grandmother’s upstairs balcony I could see snow capped mountains tower just thirty miles away; in-between were millions of green trees and vines and the water towers of small towns in every direction. Nothing in Spain or southern France is prettier. A man would have to be mad to leave such beauty, and the brilliant work of his predecessors who as artists built the dams and canals, laid out the agrarian patchwork, founded these communities that serve as bookends to the works of architectural and municipal genius in San Francisco, or Los Angeles and San Diego. Yes, a man would have to be mad — or quite rational — to leave paradise lost.

You see, here is the situation in California. Tens of thousands of prisoners are scheduled by a U.S. Supreme Court order to be released. But why this inability to house our criminals when we pay among the highest sales, income, and gas taxes in the nation? Too many criminals? Too few new prisons? Too high costs per prisoner? Too many non-violent crimes that warrant incarceration? God help us when they are released. We know what crime is like now; what will it be like if thousands are let go? I doubt they will end up in the yards of the justices who let them out.

I think I have a clue to what’s ahead. Here is an aside, a sort of confession of my last six months in the center of our cry-the-beloved state:

December 2011: rear-ended by a texting driver; I called 9/11 and the police; she called “relatives” who arrived in two carloads. You get the picture. Luckily the police got there before her “family” did, and cited her. Still waiting to fix the dented truck.

March 2011: riding a bike in rural California, flipped over a “loose dog,” resulting in assorted injuries. Residents — well over 10 in various dwellings —claimed ignorance about the dogs outside their homes: no licenses, no vaccinations, no leashes, no fence. Final score: them: slammed door and shrugs; me: ruined bike, injuries, and a long walk home.

May 2011: two males drive in “looking to buy scrap metal.” They are politely told to leave. That night barn is burglarized and $1200 in property stolen.

Later May 2011: a female drives in van into front driveway with four males, “just looking to rent” neighbor’s house. They leave. Only later I learn they earlier came in the back way and had forced their way in, prying the back driveway gate, springing and bending armature.

Later May 2011: shop is burglarized — both bolt and padlock knocked off. Shelves stripped clean. It is the little things like this that aggravate Californians, especially when lectured not to sweat it by the academics on the coast and the politicians in Sacramento.

NB: I have been hit three times in the last 10 years: 1) driver ran stop sign, slammed into my truck, limped off, was run down and detained by me until police arrived; 2) speeding driver hit a mattress in the road (things such as that are rarely tied down by motorists in California), swerved, was hit, did a 180, braked, but still hit me at 45 mph head-on (survived due to the air bags of the Honda Accord); 3) rear-ended as explained above. But this time your wiser author, when the car rear-ended me at 50 mph, was driving a four-wheel-drive Toyota Tundra with huge tow bar in back; the texter was driving a Civic. Nuff said.

Such is life 180 miles — and a cosmos away — from the Stanford campus.

Our schools rate just below Mississippi in math and science. Tell me why, given our high taxes and highest paid teachers in the nation? Can the governor or legislature explain? Is the culprit the notoriously therapeutic California curriculum? The inability to fire incompetent teachers? The vast number of non-English speaking students? Derelict parents? How odd that not a single state official can offer any explanation other than: “We need more money.” What is the possible cure for the near worst math and science students in the nation? Yes, I see it now: the California Senate just passed a bill mandating the teaching of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered history, just the sort of strategy to raise those English composition and vocabulary scores among the linguistic and arithmetic illiterate.

Try driving a California “freeway” lately, say the 101 between Gilroy and San Luis Obispo or the 99 between Modesto and Stockton, or an east-west lateral like the 152 between Casa de Fruita and Gilroy, or the 12 between Napa and Stockton. In other words, just try driving across the state. These stretches are all nightmarish death traps (the concrete divider on the two-lane 12 is a sick joke, a sort of kill-contraption), no improvements from 40 years ago when there were 15 million fewer people and far better drivers. But how did this happen when we pay the highest gasoline taxes in the nation; where did the revenue go? Is there some cruel joke I’m missing — a stash of billions in gas tax money buried somewhere and never used? And how can we even begin discussing “high-speed rail” (stage one planned from Fresno to the megalopolis of Corcoran no less!) when millions do not yet have “high-speed roads”? Madness, sheer madness.

How did we suddenly save the 250,000 irrigated acres on the west side, recently idled to ensure that rivers run into the delta and the sea to save the three-inch smelt? Brilliant legislative compromise? Judges who finally came to their senses? Massive dam and reservoir construction?

No, the land is being irrigated again only because we have a near record wet year. The Sierra snowpack in the age of global warming is about 180-190% of normal, one that will last well into late July. When things go bad in California, we pray for supernatural help.

Our governor just stepped down. We discovered two salient facts about his departure. As he exited, he vastly reduced the prison sentence of the son of former Assembly speaker and self-described “friend” Fabian Nunez, who had been tried and convicted of voluntary manslaughter for his role in aiding and abetting the murder of a San Diego area student. That surely was a pressing issue for the departing governor, key to the safety and well-being of 37 million Californians.

Two, he announced that in fact when he ran for office in 2003, despite adamant denials of his supposed womanizing, he had recently impregnated his household assistant, and was now eight years later to be the admitted father of an illegitimate son (she got a nice home but mysteriously still defaulted on her car loan). The usual sordid stories followed. In 2003 the tabloids that trafficked in such unbelievable rumors were dismissed as liars as Mrs. Schwarzenegger defended her husband’s virtue; eight years later the two are out of power, and suddenly we are to be told the sleazy tabloids sort of had it right: the child is now ten, and Mrs. Schwarzenegger is no longer defending her now governor emeritus, soon-to-be-ex-, soon to be far poorer husband. Shocked, shocked, she is, as they say in Casablanca. (continue reading)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Vintage STAPLES-Wade In The Water

Administration's Anti-Energy Betrayal

Hot Air/Voices from the Gulf
/-posted at 2:10 pm on May 27, 2011 by Tina Korbe
"A year ago today [May 27], President Barack Obama announced a moratorium on all deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. A knee-jerk reaction to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the moratorium might have made sense for a very brief period — and even that is debatable — but, a year later, the administration continues to punish the Gulf. While the official ban on drilling ended in October, the agency responsible for drilling permits has issued just 1 deepwater permit for truly new activity." [...] Read all