Sunday, December 31, 2017

The World As I See It - Iran

By Rich Kozlovich (Updated @ 4:34 AM, 12/31/17)
 
Yesterday I linked to this article, Western media are ignoring a revolution in Iran, commenting:
"These pensioners are old enough to remember how life was when the Shah of Iran was in charge, and when they were young, impetuous and....well....stupid. Now all a sudden the Reza Shah wasn't so bad after all." "Admittedly, he was a tyrant, but the freedoms under the Shah were far greater than anything going on in Iran right now."  
"They traded a beneficent tyrant for an insane group of clerics who've done nothing but suppress them, murder them, abuse them and rob them for decades, and now - they've discovered they've robbed them blind. And now they're shocked! Imagine that!"
I followed that up with this link: Iranian Women Defy Islamic Dress Code as Anti-Government Protests Sweep Nation, with the author stating:
"Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which established Islamic rule in the once free and prosperous country, women have been historically oppressed. However, brave women are now taking to the streets in defiance of Sharia law. These protests are reminiscent of 1979 when thousands of women publicly condemned the government imposed veiling of women."
We should remember that Iran was very westernized under the Shah, and the transition to an Islamic state had to have been a shock to a great many Iranians - who also dared not say anything for fear of what might happen to they and their families.

Which brings us to the important question: How important are these protests?

First, this isn't an isolated incident. These demonstrations are breaking out all over the country and the numbers are substantial, so substantial security forces have used tear gas and water cannons to break them up.

It's hard to know for sure just how big a deal this will become, but one thing is clear. These people know their leader's obsession with foreign involvement in the affairs of Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and their obsession with their nuclear program, and their obsession to defeat or control these non Shiite Muslim countries has absolutely been of no benefit to the people of Iran, and has impacted their economy adversely.

And the foreign investments the government promised hasn't materialized, and I'm sure Trump's decision not to recertify their nuclear program may have been part of the reason for that. It seems to me investors really understand - there's a new sheriff in town - and Iran may not be the best place to put their money.

Yet their oil production is way ahead of where everyone anticipated it to be, but the price of oil isn't what it once was and the Middle East can't make demands any longer - we now have fracking - the world doesn't need them.

I don't know what happened to the billions of dollars Obama sneaked into Iran, but it didn't go to the people of Iran who suffer from high unemployment, especially among the youths of the nation. A demographic that can explode with little provocation, especially when the entire nation knows governmental corruption is massive.

There are two things that aren't talked about in the news much, or at all, and that's the problem with Iran's geography and demography. Geographical boundaries of a nation don't necessarily create a national identity. Societies are made up of communities, and in this case - tribes. Tribes who may self identify in ways Iran's leaders may not like.

Modern Iran, once known as Persia, is mostly useless desert, but it's also a mountain country. And Iran has no navigable rivers - an important component to capital generation - the ability to move goods quickly and cheaply.

Mountain farming is difficult, but that's the only areas in Iran where they're high enough to get enough moisture to grow crops, but the rains are inconsistent, thus making Iran's agricultural economy a feast or famine cycle.

Being a mountain nation makes it difficult to invade, but it also makes it difficult to control. These mountain populations are populations separated by valleys, and those populations don't necessarily identify with people in the next valley, much less those further on.

In spite of the fact Iran has between a 90 and 95 percent Shiite Muslim population, this is not a demographically homogeneous nation. Not only do these mountains create separate identities, sixteen percent of Iran's population are Azerbaijanis, and they have a large Kurdish population, neither of which are easy to deal with. Over half of the Iranians don't even consider themselves Persian.

What will happen? At some point economic reality will have to set in on this nation. It's too small, too land locked, it has no ability to be a real capital generator outside of its oil, and that value is dropping by the minute, the United States is going to cause them as many problems as they can, and their single port could easily be destroyed by a deep water Navy. They are not in a position to enforce their will against anyone, ergo, they use proxy forces - terrorists - and that will come back to haunt them.

Their options are running low, their credibility is non-existent, they're despised throughout the region, and now they're dealing with a President of the United States who isn't going to be bluffed or intimidated. It would seem to me there's going to be a regime change of major proportions, and the clerics will not be a part of the change, and Islam - as it's being imposed on Iran now - will be in for a shock.

That's the world as I see it. 

Editor's Note: While I posted this article this morning, I wrote it yesterday, but things are happening quickly in Iran.  Below is an update I saw this morning, with videos worth seeing.  There may be a much faster regime change in the offing than I thought, but this seems to confirm what I've said.  One more thing: These protests are breaking out all over Iran and at the same time. Does that mean there's organization behind this?  It seems to me there are bound to be some groups organizing against the current government, but this could also be a potentially spontaneous movement, or a combination of both - Sometimes people have just had enough. Time will tell.

More videos from Iran: 'Death to Khamenei' chanted inIsfahan, Shiraz, Qom, Rasht, By Shahriar Kia - A new clip from the Kermanshah protest shows the suppressive forces beating up protesters.  According to the PMOI/MEK network in Iran, thousands took part in the Kermanshah anti-regime protest Saturday.  Please listen to the young people in Qom, chanting, "No to the Islamic Republic" and "Death to Rouhani," challenging the regime in its entirety.  There have been protests in scores of cities throughout Iran for the second day.  Information has been provided by the network of the PMOI/MEK in Iran.
 
 

Sheila Jackson Lee is a Disgrace as a Congresswoman and a Human Being

By Rich Kozlovich

Recently I posted an article entitled, Does Sheila Jackson Lee Know The Person She's Accused Of Racism For Airline Fiasco Is A Human Rights Activist?, which describes her outrageous behavior in her demand someone - who paid for a first class seat in advance - be bumped so she could have that seat - and the airlines did it.  That in itself is inexcusable, and they've done it over and over again for this obnoxious politician, which has enabled her disgusting behavior. 

And when she finds out the woman is upset what does she claim?  She claims she's upset because an "African American woman" took her seat.  The human rights activists resented being bumped - period - for a seat she paid for in advance, but to be bumped by an obnoxious, arrogant, self indulgent, inconsiderate politician, who has done this over and over again  - is even more aggravating.  I resent it and I'm not even involved. 

There was a time when airlines served food, and our girl Shelia, always in character, demanded they serve her a sea food option that wasn't on the menu.  In what classy way did this harridan handle this:
She started screaming: “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Where is my seafood meal? I know it was ordered!”
Well, that last time I looked - the airlines didn't take menu orders, and if someone did - it was probably to just get her off the phone and shut her up.  And at least one airlines - Continental - suggested she take another airline.

Continental's VP of governmental  affairs, Rebecca Cox stated:
"We have been dealing with the congresswoman for three years now, and we are tired of her bad behavior. Something has got to happen."
She abused reservation privileges and demanded "deluxe perks not always available in Continental's non-hub cities", and as a result - they gave "her the Delta Airlines schedule."

 Well, her consistently obnoxious behavior was at least........well...... consistent. 

This stunningly stupid woman regularly called one staff member a "Stupid M.....r F.....r, threw a phone at another and demanded she be driven by chauffeur between House office buildings which are connected by tunnels, she even demanded staffers run to the supermarket at 2 a.m. to buy garlic supplements, and all this from a woman who would angrily proclaim - ‘”What am I a prostitute? Am I your prostitute? You can’t prostitute me.”

Apparently she thinks everyone else should prostitute themselves for her, which makes it difficult for her to maintain staff for any length of time.  One staffer, Rhiannon Burruss, with 15 years experience on Capitol Hill lasted one month, who took the job in spite of warning after warning not to go there, thinking "how bad can she be?"  Well, her predecessor lasted 14 months, which I'm willing to bet is a record. 

And do you wonder why? Here's her typical behavior:
Lee called her from Alabama, where she had rented a car to participate in a re-enactment of the historic civil-rights march on Selma organized by a Washington, D.C. group, Faith and Politics. When Lee and Houston office director Gerald Womack flew to Montgomery, the congresswoman discovered that a white male colleague had been personally chauffeured to the event by a Faith and Politics staffer. 
Lee immediately called Burruss and chewed her out for not getting a similar arrangement. Lee wondered aloud about whether the white congressman had gotten the VIP treatment because of his race and then, Burruss says, yelled at her over the phone, "You don't understand. I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen."
 She would fail to show up to appointments and then blame staff and yell at them for this failure when in reality it was entirely her fault. When the staffer complained to Lee's chief of staff he "shrugged and commented: "I told you she lies."' The staffer finally responded with two words that are apparently heard a great deal by Shelia Jackson Lee - I quit!

She -  and I say that tongue in cheek - thinks:
  • The Constitution is 400 years old, predating the landing of the Pilgrims.
  • Apparently she "thinks" Neil Armstrong planted a flag on Mars in 1969.  Jackson-Lee's only qualification for sitting on the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics was the space between her ears. She visited JPL and asked if the Mars Rover would be able to show "the flag the astronauts planted there before". Staffers were reportedly surprised that she didn't complain about cost overruns on the Death Star. When this was made an issue - she claimed racism.  You just can't fix stupid!
  • North and South Vietnam are side by side.
  • Thinks a rock star who sexually abused young boys should be honored by Congress, and wanted a complete shutdown of a hallway in her congressional office building from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM so she could have a private meeting with Michael Jackson.
Here are quotes and events worth viewing.
  • “Why do we have the capacity, uh, to dismantle the transponders? Why wasn't the emergency call already in place that it automatically signals when a aircraft goes off its, uh, discerned or destinated, (sic) uh, destiny, uh and destination, uh, as relates to, uh, its flight pattern. Why does it have to be done manually?” (Editor's Note: I have no idea what she said there.  I guess Sheila and I are in harmony then since I doubt she understood what she said either. RK)
  • “We have martial law. What that means – and my colleagues know what it means – is that you can put a bill on in just minutes.”
  • “Don’t condemn the gangbangers, they’ve got guns that are trafficked, that are not enforced, that are straw purchased and they come into places even that have strong gun laws. Why? Because we don’t have sensible gun legislation.”
  • “I stand here as a freed slave because this Congress came together.”
  • After ordering her driver to literally park at the front door of the US Treasury against Secret Service orders, and then demanding her driver to not pull over for pursuing Secret Service officers, her driver finally pulled over against her wishes. She then confronted the Secret Service officials. “I’m Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee! Who do you think you are?”
  • Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee had an interesting response when a staffer requested to meet with her. “What? What did you say to me? Who are you, the Congresswoman? You haven’t been elected. You don’t set up meetings with me! I tell you! You know what? You are the most unprofessional person I have ever met in my life.”
Shelia Jackson Lee is disgusting, but she isn't a racist.  She would just as willingly abuse anyone respective of race, just ask her staff. 

The race card is merely a convenient ruse for her to get her way. 

As for her position as member in the Club For the Galacticly Stupid - that is never, ever, going to be questioned. 
"Sheila Jackson-Lee might be the dumbest person in congress. She might even be the dumbest person outside congress. If there were ever a global championship for idiots, the country could send her there. And leave her there; because unlike Lassie, she wouldn't be able find her way back on her own. 
Are there dumber members in Congress - you bet - but I have serious doubts anyone is as obnoxious, abusive or as arrogant as she. 

What's startling is she keeps being re-elected in her district.  If she's the cream of the crop in that district - that district must be among the dumbest districts in the Untied States. 

And you can't fix stupid!


The IRS Doesn’t Deserve Sympathy and It Doesn’t Deserve a Bigger Budget

December 30, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Libety
 
When I criticize America’s wretched tax code (now slightly less worse because of the recent tax bill), I generally focus my ire on the politicians who have spent more than 100 years creating an insanely complicated and convoluted system.

The Internal Revenue Service, by contrast, is simply the bureaucracy that is charged with enforcing the code.

But that doesn’t mean the IRS should escape criticism. The bureaucrats have some leeway and that discretion sometimes gets abused. The most glaring example in recent years was the agency’s despicable attempt to tilt the political playing field and influence elections by discriminating against Tea Party groups.

Yet not everyone thinks the IRS misbehaved. The Washington Post actually published an editorial that tries to portray the IRS as a victim. Seriously. I’m not joking.
Conservatives who long sought to restrain the Internal Revenue Service have managed to throw a wrench into an IRS division that is supposed to regulate tax-exempt nonprofits and charities, just at a time when these groups are becoming more partisan and complex. …The number of applications from new charities has exploded in recent years, and the law is a bit of a gray zone — vaguely written and hard to enforce. In recent years, overwhelmed by applications, the…division seems to have lost its will to scrutinize charities. According to Mr. O’Harrow, last year the division rejected just 37 of the 79,582 applications on which it made a final determination. He reported that charities have now begun to recognize they face little or no chance of examination or sanction. The division’s budget has declined from a peak of $102 million in 2011 to $82 million last year. The number of division employees has fallen from 889 to 642.
I have a modest bit of sympathy for the IRS. As the editorial notes, the tax code is “vaguely written and hard to enforce.”

But my solution is to remove IRS discretion. In the long run, that can happen with a simple and fair flat tax that does away with the deduction for charitable contributions and thus removes any need for monitoring and enforcement.

In the short run, the easy answer is that charitable status should be automatic and the 642 bureaucrats should concentrate on finding and punishing nonprofit groups that violate the law.
But here’s the part of the editorial that is delusional.
…the division and its then-leader, Lois Lerner, fell into the crosshairs of the conservative tea party movement for the slow pace of approvals of tea party groups, which they claimed was due to a conspiracy by the Obama administration to target them. Subsequent investigations found mismanagement — the IRS was taking shortcuts and using keywords to deal with the mountain of applications — but not deliberate targeting.
Wow. I wonder if the person who wrote this editorial is ignorant or mendacious. The IRS admitted that it targeted Tea Party groups! The bias was in the keywords.

And that wasn’t even the first time the Post tried to make excuses for the IRS.

Investor’s Business Daily opined on this issue over the summer.
This is one of the most serious abuses of power by a federal agency in decades. That no one really lost a job and no one has been prosecuted for abusing the powers of the federal government to harass groups for their political beliefs — the kind of thing routinely done in places such as Russia and Venezuela, not in the U.S. — is nothing less than shocking. For those who need a reminder and without getting too deep in the weeds, the scandal involves IRS bureaucrats denying tax-exempt status to groups apparently solely due to their conservative political beliefs. This is clearly highly illegal. … the Nonprofit Quarterly…notes that…”Various congressional committees attempted to ferret out what happened and who did it but were stymied by the IRS’ slow responses to records requests and, in some cases, destruction of computer media (that) might have contained important information.” In short, it looks like a classic case of a gross violation of federal law followed by a possibly criminal cover-up. …This is unconscionable behavior by a federal agency that is governed by that very same Constitution.
Amen.

This is why I agreed with George Will about the impeachment of the IRS Commissioner and also argued in favor of budgetary consequences for the agency.

Sadly, the Trump Administration has basically gone to bat for the IRS when it should be pushing for transparency and reform.

By the way, my complaints about the IRS go way beyond the fact that the bureaucrats persecuted the Tea Party.

Let’s look at a recent story about a dodgy contract the IRS recently issued.
The IRS will pay Equifax $7.25 million to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud under a no-bid contract issued last week, even as lawmakers lash the embattled company about a massive security breach that exposed personal information of as many as 145.5 million Americans. A contract award for Equifax’s data services was posted to the Federal Business Opportunities database Sept. 30 — the final day of the fiscal year. …The notice describes the contract as a “sole source order,” meaning Equifax is the only company deemed capable of providing the service.
What mostly bothers me is not that the IRS gave a contract to a company that had just suffered a major data leak. Instead, I’m very suspicious about it being a no-bid contract issued on the last day of the fiscal year.

Sounds like the bureaucrats had some use-it-or-lose-it funds and they decided to screw taxpayers.
And here’s another story that’s worth sharing.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees have backed Democrats over Republicans by 2-1 in their political donations over the last 25 years. Donors listing the IRS as their employer have donated roughly $453,800 to Democratic candidates and causes and $221,400 to Republican candidates and causes since 1990. About one in four of the dollars for Democrats, or roughly $117,500, went to President Barack Obama. But IRS employees since 1990 have also donated $203,000 to the National Treasury Employees Union, which in turn has given about 95 percent of its $6 million in political contributions to Democrats over the last 25 years, OpenSecrets.org data shows. Disclosure of the huge bias among IRS employees for Democrats won’t help an agency under fire for years for illegally targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
To be sure, bureaucrats can give political contributions and remain honest and fair in their dealings with the public.

Nonetheless, I suspect Lois Lerner wasn’t the only partisan hack who tried to interfere with the political process.

Let’s now end where we started. The Washington Post editorial implied that the IRS deserved a bigger budget and more staff so bureaucrats could investigate each application.

I’ve already explained why that’s not the right approach from a compliance perspective, but there’s also a moral argument against further expanding the IRS budget (something Republicans sadly don’t understand).

P.S. The IRS awarded itself “performance bonuses” after the scandal.

P.P.S. I also thought it was remarkable that IRS bureaucrats wanted to be exempt from Obamacare while asking for more money to enforce fines on ordinary people who didn’t sign up.

P.P.P.S. I’ve certainly done my part to explain why the IRS bureaucracy deserves scorn.
P.P.P.P.S. I don’t want to end on a sour note, so here are examples of IRS humor from my archives, including a new Obama 1040 form, a death tax cartoon, a list of tax day tips from David Letterman, a Reason video, a cartoon of how GPS would work if operated by the IRS, an IRS-designed pencil sharpener, two Obamacare/IRS cartoons (here and here), a collection of IRS jokes, a sale on 1040-form toilet paper (a real product), a song about the tax agency, the IRS’s version of the quadratic formula, and (my favorite) a joke about a Rabbi and an IRS agent.

A little slice of Alaskan tundra is finally open for drilling

Tax bill provision opens ANWR, to bring more oil online and keep Alaska pipeline operating
Paul Driessen
Way back in 1980, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, establishing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and making numerous other land use decisions for our 49th state. Section 1002 of the act postponed a decision on managing ANWR’s 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, which has enormous oil and gas potential and is important summertime wildlife habitat.
For four decades, environmentalists blocked legislation that would have opened the coastal plain to leasing and drilling. In 1995 President Clinton vetoed a pro-drilling bill that had passed both houses.
At long last, the tax-cut legislation just passed by Congress allows America to benefit from the petroleum resources that experts predict will be found in a small section of the plain, along Alaska’s northern coast. The legislation directs the Interior Department to hold at least two lease sales over the next 10 years, for a maximum of 2,000 acres opened to drilling. Analysts say the sales could fetch as much as $2.2 billion.
The area contains an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil, says Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Others put the petroleum potential even higher.
The U.S. Geological Survey and Congressional Research Service say it’s 95% likely that there are 15.6 billion barrels of oil beneath ANWR. With today’s exploration, drilling, fracking and other technology, up to 60% of that may ultimately be recoverable.
At $50 a barrel, that represents $460 billion that the USA would not have to send overseas; tens of billions in Alaskan and United States royalty and tax revenues; and thousands of jobs in oilfield, manufacturing and many other sectors.
After the IRS, oil company oil and gas royalty payments represent the single largest contribution to the U.S. treasury. Companies that produce from federal onshore and offshore leases pay royalties of up to 18% of wellhead prices, and then pay corporate taxes on profits and sales taxes at the pump. Workers pay income taxes, instead of receiving unemployment and welfare checks.
Every step in the leasing, drilling, production and pipeline process will require extensive environmental reviews. Unfortunately, each step will likely generate lawsuits and delays.
As they have since long before 1980, activists continue to claim that any drilling would destroy the entire ANWR area’s wilderness character and threaten its caribou, polar bears, birds and other wildlife. In all too typical hyperbole, League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski claimed the tax law provision will “turn one of our last remaining wild places into an industrial oilfield.” That’s absurd.
Alaska alone has 57 million acres (more than all of Utah) set aside as wilderness, plus tens of millions more wild acres off limits to drilling in national park, wildlife refuge and similar designations. Nationwide, land several times the size of California is protected in these and other land use categories.
ANWR is the size of South Carolina: 19 million acres. Of this, far fewer than 2,000 coastal plain acres would actually be disturbed by drilling, roads and other development work. That’s 0.01% of ANWR; one-twentieth of Washington, DC; 20 of the buildings in which Boeing manufactured its 747 jetliners.
To claim this minimal impact will despoil the entire refuge is like saying a few farms and airports scattered along South Carolina’s northern border would kill wildlife and ruin scenery throughout the state.
The potentially oil-rich coastal plain is actually flat, treeless tundra, 3,500 miles from Washington, DC – and 50 miles from the beautiful Brooks Range mountains that feature so prominently and deceptively in Sierra Club and other anti-drilling campaigns.
Even more telling, the same environmentalists never object to forests of 400-foot-tall wind turbines installed in or next to forests, grasslands, wildlife sanctuaries, migratory bird flyways and other sensitive areas – where they slice and dice eagles, falcons, geese, bats and other magnificent flying creatures day after day, year after year.
During some eight months of winter, when drilling will take place, virtually no wildlife are present in the coastal plain. Food is buried under snow and ice, and temperatures plummet as low as minus 40 F. The tundra turns rock solid. Spit, and your saliva freezes before it hits the ground.
But the nasty conditions mean exploratory drilling can be done using roads, “drill pads” and even airstrips that are all constructed with ice and snow. Come spring, all of this will melt, leaving only puddles, little holes and a few permanent facilities. The caribou will return – just as they have for years at the nearby Prudhoe Bay and Alpine oilfields – and do what they always have: eat, hang out and make babies.
In fact, the Prudhoe Bay oilfield’s Central Arctic caribou herd is over 20,000 today, compared to 5,000 in 1975. Arctic fox, geese, shore birds and other wildlife also return each spring, along with the Alaska state bird: giant mosquitoes.
If oil is discovered, modern Arctic drilling technologies from small gravel pads will ensure minimal land impacts, as other North Slope operations have demonstrated. Each drill pad will support multiple wells, and modern “directional” and “extended reach” drilling technologies will allow companies to punch multiple holes a mile deep and five miles long in any direction, steering drill bits to penetrate multiple oil zones and hit distant targets far below the surface, without disturbing the tundra high above.
Coupled with the ability to fracture rock formations and stimulate them to produce far more oil and natural gas liquids than previously possible, this accuracy means a series of small sites totaling less than 2,000 acres could produce up to 15 billion gallons of petroleum annually.
That’s far better than producing 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually from corn grown on an area larger than Iowa: 36 million acres – via a process that also requires massive amounts of water, pesticides, fertilizers and fossil fuels, to create fuel that gets one-third less mileage per gallon than gasoline.
Inuit Eskimos who live in or near ANWR have supported drilling by an 8:1 margin. They no longer want to live in poverty – especially after having given up their traditional land claims for oil rights that Congress, greens, presidents and courts have repeatedly denied them.
Gwich’in Indians have opposed ANWR drilling, and some were paid by environmentalist groups to appear in anti-drilling commercials. However, they actually live hundreds of miles away on the other side of the Brooks Range. And they leased many of their own tribal lands to generate revenue. Their leased areas were close to a major caribou migratory route, where caribou often birth their calves before arriving in ANWR. Unfortunately for the Gwich’ins, no oil was found.
Drilling in ANWR will also ensure sufficient production to keep the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in operation. Right now, declining North Slope production threatens to reduce oil in the pipeline to a point where it cannot stay sufficiently warm to flow under months-long winter conditions.
The pipeline needs between 250,000 and 350,000 barrels of oil per day to stay open. If there are inadequate supplies, because ANWR or other deposits are not developed, the pipeline will be shut down – leaving millions of barrels and billions of dollars behind. That makes ANWR oil doubly important.
Adding to the complexities, $50-per-barrel oil prices, shale development in the Lower 48, and decades-old seismic data mean relatively few oil companies may be interested in leasing acreage in the remote, frozen area. But America’s long-term strategic interests require a thorough look at ANWR’s potential.
Spending U.S. or Alaskan funds to pay an independent company to conduct high-tech modern seismic and other surveys of the coastal plain would ensure that energy companies and American citizens have the best possible information on which to base decisions on leasing and exploring those 2,000 scattered acres.
ANWR’s energy belongs to all Americans. It can and should be produced safely, to generate tremendous oil, gas, job, revenue and other bounties – in yet another huge benefit from this tax reform legislation.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of many books and reports on energy and environmental issues.

 

 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Obama’s Foreign Policy and His Legal Vulnerability

Should his cynical mendaciousness enjoy further immunity? In a 2015 Investor’s Business Daily article, it was noted that “History will not be kind to President Obama’s effectiveness in fighting terrorism. His record is terrible…”

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr. December 29, 2017

Many of the deepest concerns about President Obama’s Middle East and terror policies have been justified by recent revelations. This raises a serious question: should legal action be taken when an Administration forges a path that diverges sharply from widely accepted norms, is accomplished in an intentionally deceptive manner, and produces unsuccessful and harmful results?..........
  1. The withdrawal from Iraq led to the empowerment of ISIS
  2. the consistent favoritism towards Iran did not diminish that nation’s belligerence, its hatred for America, or its’ financing of global terror.
  3. The former White House’s bizarre support for the overthrow of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak resulted in his replacement with a Muslim Brotherhood regime (itself eventually overturned)
  4. the unprecedented negotiations with the Taliban did nothing to soften that terrorist entity’s stance.....
  5. Obama’s inexplicable assistance in the deposing of Libya’s Gaddafi, who posed no threat, and the resulting chaos in that section of North Africa.
  6. The Administration’s overt misleading of the American public about the cause of the subsequent Benghazi disaster added to the voters’ mistrust.........
  7. There exists no cogent explanation concerning Obama’s apology speech in Cairo,
  8. his release of terrorists from Guantanamo,
  9.  his orders to intelligence services to eliminate the phrase “jihad,”
  10. his stonewalling of investigations into the terrorist links of the Moslem Brotherhood,
  11. and his orders to federal agencies to ignore Hezbollah’s drug running..........To Read More.....

BREAKING: Huma Abedin’s Unsecured Emails Released!

By Andrew West December 29, 2017

The uncanny corruption of Hillary Clinton is far from fading into obscurity this week, even as the democratic party wastes away into uselessness.

Throughout her doomed 2016 presidential campaign, the American people clamored for justice in the case of Clinton, who routinely shirked her political responsibilities in favor of self-serving and nefarious schemes that behooved only her own personal finances.  Pay to play schemes connecting the State Department and The Clinton Foundation were merely the tip of the iceberg when it came to Clinton’s skeleton-filled closet, and there were rumors of her subordinates acting equally as maliciously as Clinton herself...........To Read More....

Melugin Takes on 3 Common Net Neutrality Myths

Richard Morrison December 11, 2017 @ Competitive Enterprise Institute

This morning CEI released a new video on one of the hottest topics in Washington these days, net neutrality. In the video, CEI Adjunct Fellow Jessica Melugin addresses 3 common myths associated with net neutrality regulations.



Transcript:

The Three Biggest Myths About Net Neutrality
 
Have you heard of “Net Neutrality?” More importantly, do you know what it means for you?
Let’s be honest, it’s not an easy topic to understand. But, Net Neutrality regulations could make a big difference for what kind of Internet service you can buy and what you pay for it.
With so much bad information out there about Net Neutrality, here are 3 myths to watch out for:
 
Myth 1: We need government to keep the Internet “neutral.”
 
“Net neutrality” sounds like a nice, fair, neutral thing, right? …Wrong. What people actually mean by “net neutrality” is Washington regulators telling Internet service providers how to manage their business. Does that sound neutral to you?
 
These backwards, heavy-handed regulations would mean Internet providers can no longer prioritize Internet speeds for things like Netflix, Spotify, or Face-timing with your in-laws. Ok… that last one was a bad example.
 
Myth 2: Without Net Neutrality regulations, customers will get screwed by big evil Internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.
 
FACT: Look, Internet service providers are not going to randomly slow down your internet service for the same reason that Shake Shack won’t randomly spit in my food. One) I’m always respectful to restaurant workers And, Two) They don’t want to lose me as a customer.
What Net Neutrality regulations will do, is reduce our options, and create lousy service for everyone. Look at history: a free Internet that can respond to consumer choice – NOT government regulations – is why we have broadband,  not dial-up internet today.
 
MYTH 3: Without Net Neutrality regulations, internet providers would squash the little guys.
 
FACT: This one is hilarious. WHO are these “little guys? Amazon, Hulu, Netflix? I think they’ll be just fine. In fact, there is ZERO evidence of big broadband companies getting away with boxing out the little guys.
 
Broadband companies provided internet service for 20 years without regulations, and look where we are.  I streamed the entire second season of Stranger Things last weekend… you can watch pands do nothing at the National Zoo all day long.
 
If you want faster internet, we should ease rules—not increase them. Let’s make it easier for MORE internet service providers to enter the market and compete for your business. Look what happened to the mail system… More options mean better alternatives than the US Postal Service. Amazon Prime, anyone? (Images of FedEx and UPS)
 
No matter what John Oliver tells you, there is nothing neutral about the government picking winners and losers. That’s called government intervention. If we want real Internet neutrality, we need less government, not more.
 
For more background on the issue:
You can also watch the recent panel event co-hosted by the R Street Institute and the Lincoln Network, featuring remarks by Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and others.

 

Does Sheila Jackson Lee Know The Person She's Accused Of Racism For Airline Fiasco Is A Human Rights Activist?

Matt Vespa Posted: Dec 29, 2017
 
So, I bet you’ve heard about the airline incident between a woman and Texas Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Katie wrote about it. In all, Jean-Marie Simon was booted from her first class seat on a United flight for Lee. Simon was obviously upset, voiced her objections, and was even threatened with being forced off the flight. She was eventually given a $500 voucher for her pre-paid seat and relocated to economy class. She alleges that United gave the Texas Democrat preferential treatment.........To Read More....
 
My Take - Sheila Jackson Lee is a disgrace.  The first thing that came out of her mouth is the woman resented her being bumped by an "African American woman".  No she resented by bumped by an arrogant, self indulgent, inconsiderate politician, that's been a confirmed member in good standing in the Club for the Galacticaly Stupid.  What's startling is she keeps being re-elected in her district.  If she's the cream of the crop in that district - that district must be among the dumbest districts in the Untied States. 

Western media are ignoring a revolution in Iran

By Potkin Azarmehr December 30, 2017

Something profound is happening throughout Iran, and the Western mass media are just not reporting it. For some time now, protests by ordinary Iranians have become a daily routine. These protesters include workers who have not been paid wages or have become redundant; savers who have lost their savings in Iran's many quasi-banks, which are infested with corruption and embezzlement; people concerned about the environmental disaster Iran is fast becoming; people protesting rising prices; retired pensioners whose retirement funds have been plundered by successive administrations; and low-income people who can no longer make ends meet.

These protesters are across the spectrum of Iranian society. The protests are getting larger, and their chants are becoming more radical...........Iranian pensioners, who were protesting against their dwindling pensions, chanted in Isfahan, "What a mistake we made by taking part in the revolution." On Thursday, protesters in the holy city of Mashad chanted, "Reza Shah, bless your soul," referring to the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, Reza Shah the Great, the modernizer of Iran and the nemesis of the Shia clerics in Iran..........To Read More....

My Take - These pensioners are old enough to remember how life was when they Shah of Iran was in charge, and when they were young, impetuous and....well....stupid. Now all a sudden the Reza Shah wasn't so bad after all.  Admitedly, he was a tyrant, but the freedoms under the Shah were far greater than anything going on in Iran right now.  They traded a beneficent tryant for an insane group of clerics who've done nothing but suppress them, murder them,, abuse them and rob them for decades, and now - they've discovered they've robbed them blind.  And now they're shocked!  Imagine that!

Congress Is Forming a Bipartisan Alternative Medicine Caucus

By Alex Berezow — December 28, 2017 @ American Council on Science and Health
Open displays of bipartisanship are rare these days and, as such, should be applauded. Unfortunately, a recent example of bipartisanship promotes junk science and bogus health claims.
 
In a press release, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis and Republican Congressman Mike Coffman announced their intention to launch the Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus. That sounds nice, until you realize that "integrative" and "wellness" are code words for "alternative medicine."

However, as we've said multiple times, there's no such thing as alternative medicine. If alternative medicine worked, it would just be called medicine. In other words, a patient has two choices: evidence-based medicine or witchcraft. Congress has decided that it would like to throw more support behind the latter.

The press release says that integrative health treatments have been successful. That's wrong. Consider the following:
Echinacea for colds. Ginkgo biloba for memory. Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Black cohosh for menopausal hot flashes. Saw palmetto for prostate problems. Shark cartilage for cancer. All proved no better than dummy pills in big studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The lone exception: ginger capsules may help chemotherapy nausea.
The Associated Press wrote that in 2009. Since then, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has changed its name to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). It has spent roughly $3 billion since its inception, the vast majority of which was wasted investigating nonsense like "magnet therapy."

Where did this pseudoscientific monstrosity come from? Former Democratic Senator Tom Harkin is mostly at fault, but there is plenty of blame to go around. Current Republican Senator Orrin Hatch also likes alternative medicine, specifically the supplements industry. Dietary supplements are poorly regulated, often worthless, and sometimes dangerous.

The influence of alternative medicine is widespread and pernicious. A study reported by RealClearScience compared the outcomes of cancer patients on conventional therapy with those using alternative medicine. It found that, after five years, 78% of the former were still alive, compared to only 55% of the latter. Alternative medicine kills people. Literally.

Reps. Polis and Coffman should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of applause, they deserve reprobation. If they truly wanted to advance healthcare in America, they would demand that all forms of alternative medicine submit to the rigorous testing standards of the FDA. Then, most of it would disappear.

In Africa, You Oust A Tyrant, But Not Tyranny

By Ilana Mercer December 29, 2017

READERS were angry. I had rained on their parade by venturing that the appointment of a new party boss to head South-Africa’s dominant party was an insignificant game of musical chairs. But perhaps it is I who should have been annoyed.

Nobody with a modicum of cerebral agility should see in the new South-African Strong Man, union boss-cum-tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa, a significant change of the guard. Surely by now it should be common knowledge that in Africa, you replace a despot, but not despotism; you oust a tyrant, but not tyranny?

There’s a reason Ramaphosa riles crowds at a South African Communist Party rally just as easily as he excites the head of Goldman Sachs’s South Africa office. (For a clue, ask yourselves how a union boss becomes a tycoon.)

In the tradition of dimming debate, the chattering class has reduced systemic corruption in South Africa and near collapse in Zimbabwe, respectively, to the shenanigans of two men: Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe..........elections across Africa have traditionally followed a familiar pattern: Radical black nationalist movements like the ANC take power everywhere, then elections cease. “One man, one vote, one time,” to quote the book, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Or, if they take place, as they do in South Africa, they’re rigged, in a manner...........To Read More.....

Trump Administration to Repeal Obama’s Oppressive Fracking Regulations

By Constitution.com December 29, 2017 From the Daily Caller News Foundation:

President Donald Trump’s administration will give a belated gift to American energy producers and repeal former President Barack Obama-era regulations for hydraulic fracturing operations on federal lands. The Interior Department is expected to publish a repeal of the rule in the Federal Register on Friday, and already the oil and gas industry are celebrating. Producers challenged were locked in court battles over the rule since it was finalized in 2015.

“It was clear from the start that the federal rule was redundant with state regulation and politically motivated, as the prior administration could not point to one incident or regulatory gap that justified the rule,” Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance, said in a statement......To Read More.....

Cartoon of the Day!



 

EU Migrant Crisis Necessitates “Safe Zones” For Berlin’s NYE Party

By Andrew West December 29, 2017

While the globalists of the world continues to downplay the severity of the EU migrant crisis, police in Berlin are being tasked with peculiar new problems for ringing in 2018.

Over the course of the last few years, Syrian refugees have been pouring into Europe from the middle east after a civil war began ravaging their country.  Ever the bleeding heart liberals, (and globalists to boot), the European Union was quick to take advantage of this crisis to push their one-world-government ideals, mandating that member nations take in an exorbitant amount of displaced migrants or face financial penalties.

To make matters worse, the numbers being mandated by the EU were so ridiculous that member nations have been largely forced to abandon the stringent vetting processes of yesteryear in order to avoid the fiscal repercussions..........To Read More....

My Take - Europe is becoming a nightmare for Christians in their own lands, except Europe has largely abandoned any semblance of believing into what must be called a ceremonial effort by replacing it with secular socialist insanity. Insanity that’s inviting those who are even more insane except with religions insanity – Islam. This can't go on. In today's edition I posted Daniel Greenfields article - Europe’s Tolerance for Terrorists - Europe’s Tolerance for Terrorists - and how they've turning Jewish Europe into a nightmare. This can't go on either. As I read the article I couldn’t help but think of a book I read 50 years ago about Jewish resistance in Warsaw during WWII. Eventually by weight of sheer numbers the lack of necessary provisions they were overcome, but it took a toll on German forces. What if that had happened all over Europe?
 
It seems clear Europe’s leaders have lost their minds with their insane policies of multiculturalism with societies who hate the idea of multiculturalism. Muslims hate everyone – it’s their social paradigm based on the Koran. It’s required! They even hate all other Muslims who don’t practice their special brand of Islam. Why do you think there’s never any peace in the Middle East? Islam! Only the exercise of total power keeps these competing forces in control in Muslim nations, but let that power become impotent – and it hits the fan – both Libya, Syria are perfect examples, and even Egypt had it’s issues for a while.  The Obama administration and the EU must bear a major share of the blame for this.
 
At some point European Jews are going to either leave Europe or create their own guardian and enforcement agents – as in an underground – for their own protection. There’s a revolution brewing in Europe that’s going to destroy the EU within five years – both economic and social – and Europe – at least the western part - will end up being a third rate geographic designation – economically, militarily and socially. The exception may be Eastern Europe. Poland may once again save Europe from Islam as it did during the Battle of Vienna in 1683.

 

Europe’s Tolerance for Terrorists

Posted by Daniel Greenfield 6 Comments Friday, December 29, 2017
Saleh Ali was one of 64,000 Syrian refugees living in the Netherlands. The vast majority, like Ali, are young men. And the largest number of these migrants spend their days idling in Amsterdam.

On Thursday morning, Saleh Ali took a walk to trendy Amstelveenseweg while wearing a keffiyah and waving a terrorist PLO flag. He stopped in front of a Jewish restaurant, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and began smashing the windows. The Amsterdam police stood by and watched quizzically until he was done. Then when he entered the restaurant, they finally called him out and arrested him.

And in two days he was back on the street.

Amsterdam is a very tolerant place. Not just of drugs or prostitution, but of Islamic violence.

Saleh Ali had lied about his past to get his temporary residence permit while claiming to be a refugee. He had combat training and had fought with Jihadists in and out of Syria. He told the police that he had been prepared to die in the attack on the restaurant and that he will continue engaging in violence.

But this information was kept secret until an anonymous source in the police department leaked it. The lawyer for HaCarmel, the restaurant that had been assaulted by the Islamic terrorist, issued a statement expressing outrage that the attacker who had pledged to commit more attacks was back on the street.

“It is incomprehensible and shocking that this man with a terrorist background, who claims to be prepared to commit violence, has been released,” wrote Herman Loonstein, a lawyer and Jewish civil rights activist. He warned that the attacker poses “a serious danger to society.”

And the prosecutor’s office took immediate action by filing a complaint against the restaurant’s lawyer. The Chief Officer of the Public Prosecution Service objected that, “sharing of information from the police interrogation report is ’inappropriate’". It’s inappropriate because it revealed that Saleh Ali should never have been in the Netherlands and that the authorities had stood around watching while a trained terrorist attacked a Jewish restaurant and then let him go even after he vowed to launch further attacks.

While the prosecutors went after the restaurant for exposing the terrorist past of the attacker, the attacker was headed back to court for an appearance before a three judge panel.

Saleh Ali wore camouflage to court. According to Matthys van Raalten, a conservative commentator, he told the court that, “he feels like a volcano that is waiting to erupt”. He had already informed an officer that “the attack on the kosher restaurant was only the “first step” and that a next step would come.

He refused to discuss what the next step would be.

So of course they let him go a second time.

“If we assume that this person is a danger to society, we will not just put this person on the street,” the Public Prosecution Service claimed. But what more could Saleh Ali possibly do to prove he’s a danger to society?

He’s a Jihadist with weapons training who staged a violent attack, expressed a willingness to die during the attack, and promised that he would carry out future attacks, both to the police and the court.

Ali showed off a Koran, threatened violence and so the authorities, as they often do, decided that he might be suffering from psychological problems. And so the court released him for three months while a psychiatrist and a psychologist take turns trying to exonerate him on the grounds of mental illness.

Mental illness is a popular defense for Islamic terrorists in Europe.

A Muslim terrorist stabbed four people at a train station near Munich while screaming, “Allahu Akbar”. He shouted that his victims were all “unbelievers” and, “Infidel, you must die”.

The German authorities blamed mental illness.

In Russia, Gyulchekhra Bobokulova beheaded a 4-year-old girl and displayed her head in the street while shouting, “Allahu Akbar. I hate democracy. I am a terrorist. I want you dead.”

The Russian authorities decided that this could only mean mental illness.

In France, Karim Cheurfi had been investigated for terrorism activities for months. The French police had questioned him about his threats to kill police officers. Finally he opened fire on police officers in the Champs-Élysées. ISIS claimed credit for the attack. So of course his former lawyer claimed that he wasn't an Islamic terrorist, but suffered from a “psychologically fragile character”.

When Kobili Traore attacked Sarah Halimi, the 66-year-old director of an Orthodox Jewish nursery in Paris, while shouting, "Allahu Akbar", the police refused to do anything until she was thrown out of a window. The authorities then tried to blame the Muslim killer’s actions on "psychiatric problems."

Abdellah rammed his car into three Chinese students near a campus in a suburb of Toulouse. He told the police, “I am on a mission” and revealed that he had planned the attack for a month. The prosecutor insisted that it wasn’t terrorism. "What matters in this case is the psychiatric profile,” he said.

And you can bet that by the time the farce is done, Saleh Ali will also have a “psychiatric profile”. Sympathetic shrinks will reveal that he has a “psychologically fragile character” because his mother didn’t love him and his father was unimpressed by his Jewish restaurant window smashing skills.

The video and the police leak undermined the plot to pass Saleh Ali off as another poor, mentally ill terrorist whom only cruel bigots would accuse of being an anti-Semitic Jihadist. But Saleh is still back on the street. The court warned him to stay away from the Jewish restaurant he had already attacked.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party, declared that the authorities are putting “innocent Dutch people in great danger by letting terrorists run around freely.”

And Saleh Ali is one of thousands of Syrian migrants who are being allowed to run around freely. The authorities did everything they could to cover up his attack. Not only did they let a Jihadist stay in the Netherlands, but the Amsterdam police watched as he smashed up a Jewish restaurant. Then he was released twice, despite vowing violence twice, and the only meaningful action in this case was taken against a Jewish civil rights activist who had revealed his terrorist past and his threats of future violence.

According to Ali’s lawyer, the terrorist won’t carry out future attacks in the Netherlands. And he will only use violence in “self-defense”. Like defending himself against the windows of a Jewish eatery. But according to the lawyer, Ali only smashed the windows when he got mad that the door was closed.

The anti-Semitic terrorist’s lawyer insisted that his client has nothing against Jews, but actually likes living in a place where different religions can co-exist. Of course his idea of interfaith coexistence is being able to practice his Islamic religious beliefs about attacking Jews while everyone in the Netherlands practices their secular religion of tolerating Islamic violence.

Saleh Ali’s case is one of many. It stands out because his attack was caught on video. And because the police leak told us the rare truth about an Islamic terrorist’s actual motivation before the authorities could begin dissecting his “psychologically fragile character”.

The Netherlands, like many European countries, has welcomed in Syrian refugees and other Muslim migrants. And then it’s done its best to cover up the violence that they brought with them.

Amsterdam’s authorities have behaved the way that the Cologne police did after the mass migrant sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve. The police did little to stop them and the authorities denied everything. It was only when police sources leaked the truth about the assaults that the authorities were forced to put on a show of doing something. And that’s just as true in Amsterdam and across Europe.

European governments would rather tolerate terrorists than fight them. The No-Go Zone isn’t just a place; it’s a state of mind. The No-Go Zone is anywhere that Islamic supremacism is asserted with no meaningful resistance from law enforcement. The No-Go Zone can appear at any moment near you.

It can be a Jewish restaurant in a trendy Dutch neighborhood or New Year’s Eve celebrations outside a German cathedral. It’s anywhere that Muslim violence is tolerated and protected from criticism.

Saleh Ali and all his fellow colonists know that the European authorities can’t and won’t resist them. Because they would rather tolerate terrorists than tolerate those who tell the truth about Islam.

The Never-Ending Rip Off of Government Infrastructure, the NYC Edition

December 29, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
 
In 2011, I wrote about how taxpayers were getting pillaged to finance a new metro line in Fairfax County, Virginia.

But you won’t be surprised to learn that California taxpayers are getting screwed even worse.

I’ve since learned, however, that the real experts at wasting money are in the Big Apple. Earlier this year, as part of a column on why the federal government shouldn’t be involved with infrastructure, I shared some depressing details about a far more expensive subway project in New York City.

And now the New York Times has a must-read report about how another big infrastructure project in NYC is an even more absurd boondoggle. The story starts with an anecdote
The budget showed that 900 workers were being paid to dig caverns for the platforms as part of a 3.5-mile tunnel connecting the historic station to the Long Island Rail Road. But the accountant could only identify about 700 jobs that needed to be done, according to three project supervisors. Officials could not find any reason for the other 200 people to be there. …“All we knew is they were each being paid about $1,000 every day.”
Nice “work” if you can get it, as the old saying goes. A pretend job that pays $1,000 per day.

That makes the gravy train for federal bureaucrats seem miserly by comparison.

Unfortunately, that anecdote is just the tip of the iceberg. The entire project is a monument to how money gets wasted in New York City.
The estimated cost of the Long Island Rail Road project, known as “East Side Access,” has ballooned to $12 billion, or nearly $3.5 billion for each new mile of track — seven times the average elsewhere in the world. …a host of factors have contributed to the transit authority’s exorbitant capital costs. …public officials have stood by as a small group of politically connected labor unions, construction companies and consulting firms have amassed large profits.
In other words, the story’s headline is no exaggeration.


The special deals for unions are jaw-dropping.
Trade unions, which have closely aligned themselves with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other politicians, have secured deals requiring underground construction work to be staffed by as many as four times more laborers than elsewhere in the world, documents show. …Worker wages and labor conditions are determined through negotiations between the unions and the companies, none of whom have any incentive to control costs. The transit authority has made no attempt to intervene to contain the spending.
The featherbedding belies belief.
Mr. Roach, a California-based tunneling contractor, was…stunned by how many people were operating the machine churning through soil to create the tunnel. “I actually started counting because I was so surprised, and I counted 25 or 26 people,” he said. “That’s three times what I’m used to.” …documents reveal a dizzying maze of jobs, many of which do not exist on projects elsewhere. There are “nippers” to watch material being moved around and “hog house tenders” to supervise the break room. Each crane must have an “oiler,” a relic of a time when they needed frequent lubrication. Standby electricians and plumbers are to be on hand at all times, as is at least one “master mechanic.” Generators and elevators must have their own operators, even though they are automatic. …In New York, “underground construction employs approximately four times the number of personnel as in similar jobs in Asia, Australia, or Europe,” according to an internal report by Arup, a consulting firm that worked on…many similar projects around the world.
The international cost comparisons are the most persuasive part of the story.

Taxpayers in New York City are paying far more to get far less.
…transit construction is booming around the world. At least 150 projects have been initiated since 1990, according to a recent study by Yale University researcher David Schleicher. The approximate average cost of the projects — both in the U.S. and abroad — has been less than $500 million per track mile, the study concluded. “There was one glaring exception,” Mr. Schleicher said. “New York.”
If you want a partial explanation of why this staggering level of graft and corruption is allowed, this sentence is a good place to start.
The unions working on M.T.A. projects have donated more than $1 million combined to Mr. Cuomo during his administration, records show.
And I’m sure huge amounts of money have also been diverted to city politicians as well.

It’s almost as if the whole thing is a racket, with politicians and union bosses conspiring to rip off taxpayers.

“Almost”? I must be getting soft in my old age. Let me rephrase that sentence: It is a racket to rip off taxpayers.

But let’s be fair. I don’t want to imply that it’s all the fault of the unions. The contractors also buy off the politicians.
…the…main engineering firm: WSP USA, …has donated hundreds of thousands to politicians in recent years, and has hired so many transit officials that some in the system refer to it as “the M.T.A. retirement home.”
Speaking of the M.T.A., the bureaucrats also get a sweet deal, with the rest of us picking up the tab.
More than a dozen M.T.A. workers were fined for accepting gifts from contractors during that time, records show. …A Times analysis of the 25 M.T.A. agency presidents who have left over the past two decades found that at least 18 of them became consultants or went to work for authority contractors, including many who have worked on expansion projects. “Is it rigged? Yes,” said Charles G. Moerdler, who has served on the M.T.A. board since 2010.
There’s a lot more to read in the article, including details on how a big French infrastructure project is being built at far lower cost.

It’s basically a perfect example of what Milton Friedman said about what happens when you get to spend other people’s money.

For instance, the story also has grim data about cost overruns, which are a routine feature of government infrastructure scams, both in America and other nations.

But one thing that isn’t in the report is the degree to which Washington is subsidizing this wretched boondoggle.

This is the part that irks me. I wouldn’t get too upset if New York City politicians were conspiring with interest groups to rip off New York City taxpayers. Heck, I wouldn’t even care if they were ripping off taxpayers from elsewhere in the state.

But the fact that I’m also paying for this pork-barrel project is very distressing. And it helps to explain why I want to shut down the Department of Transportation in Washington. That’s the real moral of this story.

P.S. Trump’s infrastructure plan will be unveiled next year. I’m not overflowing with optimism, but hope springs eternal that maybe he’ll listen to my advice.

 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Global Cooling! But This Isn't a Schadenfreude Moment

By Rich Kozlovich

Andrew West published an article entitled, Deadly Temperatures Are Set To Invade America…Are You Safe? on December 28, 2017 saying: 
"All good hoaxes must come to an end, and this week’s frigid and dangerous arctic blast may be another nail in the coffin for the “global warming” charlatans. The idea that the entire globe is somehow filling with greenhouse gasses, thusly heating the planet up to the point of no return, is patently absurd. Even the liberal science community believed 30 years ago that this process would likely cause a mini ice age, before dramatically shifting to their current hangup regarding an increase in temperature.  The reason for this abrupt change was not some scientific breakthrough, rather, the idea that the earth could become uninhabitable via heat is a much more profound problem."
Unfortunately, this isn't a schadenfreude moment.  You love to smugly say "I told you so", when arrogant, smarmy leftists look down their noses at everyone and declare any who disagree with them as enemies of humanity, flat Earthers, deniers, and more in their efforts to impose a totally destructive economic plan on the world based on the Kyoto Accords.  A scientifically fraudulent plan with the real goal of creating a scheme of worldwide governance under the United Nations.  Even a past president of France, Jacques Chirac acknowledged the Kyoto Accord was the first step in global governance.
 
However, this cooling trend is what many of us who've been on the right side of this issue from the beginning has been expecting for some time:  The potential for another solar minimum, and they're deadly!
 
The last minimum was during what's called the Dalton Minimum, which was another low sun spot period starting "about 1790 to 1830 or 1796 to 1820, corresponding to the period solar cycle 4 to solar cycle 7."  "Like the Maunder Minimum, 1645 - 1715, and Sporer Minimum 1460 -1550, the Dalton Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures.  During that period, there was a variation of temperature of about 1 °C in Germany." 
 
Some are claiming the cause for that cooling was a result of volcanism - and while that may have been a contributing factor - the fact of the matter is the cooling temperatures and solar minimum patterns are solid evidence, and that pattern is playing out right now.
 
But here's something to think about.  There's no consistent pattern as to how long these minimums go on.  The Maunder Minimum started in "about 1645 and continuing to about 1715", about 70 years, and if the Dalton minimum started in 1790 and lasted until 1830, that was 40 years, if it lasted, as some claim, from 1796 until 1820, that was a mere 24 years.  But no matter - there was only about a 75 to 85 year period where temperatures rose to level better suited to human and animal survival during that either 175 or 185 year period. 
 
Let's understand this - over the last 1000 years it's been the cold that's been deadly, not the warming.  The warm periods were periods where agriculture, humans and animals flourished, including the Roman Warming Period from approximately 250 BC to AD 400.
 
A thousand years ago that age, now known as the Medieval Warming Period from 800 to 1400 AD, it was substantially warmer than it is today.  Although there are those who claim - through the use of Climate Proxy records this warming period wasn't universal.  Proxy records like tree ring counting, but is that reliable?
 
As a result of Biffa's offerings - tree ring counting that supplied evidence in support of what's now being called the "fraudulent" Hockey Stick Graph - we now know it isn't. 
 
We now know that  not only can it be unreliable, it can be manipulated to get the results the researcher wants, all of which Anthony Watts covers quite well in his December 4, 2009 article, Jo Nova finds the Medieval Warm Period.  It's also interesting no one questioned the universality of that warming period until it interfered with the Warmist’s claims, especially since in Mann's Hockey Stick Graph the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age completely disappear.

The Medieval Warming period ended with what's called the Little Ice Age - 1300 to about 1850 - which forced the Vikings who lived there for about 300 years to abandon Greenland and return to Iceland. Greenland really was green over a large section of the Southern region.  It's also known from the historical records they're agricultural practises were the same as those practiced in Norway and Iceland.  They had to leave because they could no longer maintain those practises.  Because cold kills!  And every warming period humanity has experience has been beneficial.
 
In the paper, The `Hockey Stick': A New Low in Climate Science by John L. Daly he outlines the time lines in this way:
  1. Medieval Warm Period (AD 700 - 1300)
  2. Sporer Minimum' cool period (AD 1300 - 1500)
  3. Brief climatic warming (AD 1500 - 1560)
  4. Little Ice Age (`Maunder Minimum') (AD 1560 - 1830) (Editor's note:  I think he must be melding the Maunder and Dalton Minimums in this time frame.  One thing we all have to acknowledge is the exact time frames for all of this is malleable, which can be a source for controversy, but the fact these eras existed isn't disputable. RK)
  5. Brief warmer period (AD 1830 - 1870)
  6. Brief cool period (AD 1870 - 1910)
  7. 20th century warm period (AD 1910 - 2000)
 He goes on to say:
 
"As to what caused these two major climatic events, the most probable candidate is the variable sun, particularly with respect to the Little Ice Age. This is because we have direct observations of sunspot counts going back to 1600 AD, which allows us to compare variations in the sun with variations to global climate. Fig.2 shows how the sun has changed over time, the radiation being greatest during a sunspot maximum and least during a sunspot minimum, both recurring on an 11-year cycle."
 
All the claims about Anthropogenic Climate Change are based on two foundations.  The Hockey Stick Graph, which is now being challenged by more and more scientists, including those who previously adhered to this tenet of green religion, and computer models, all of which are failing or have failed, which is why I call that Game Boy science.  
 
There are three things Warminsts leave out of these models that actually have something to do with climate: The decadal cycles of the oceans currents, the sun's cycles and the number one component of our atmosphere which actually does hold warmth - water vapor!  Why are they left out?  Because these are natural components of climate and mankind can't be blamed. 
 
Computer models are an important part of science as it allows scientists to test new ideas quickly, then change the parameters to see what comes out, allowing for more speculation.  But speculation isn't science!  It’s a component of science which can allows for shortcuts in deciding what areas they need to pay attention to in order to do real science.  Science based on actual observation, not speculation.
 
We're hearing all these claims of Anthropogenic Climate Change and disaster, but we should be asking this:  Why did these hystarians opt out of  the phrase, Anthropogenic Global Warming and choose Anthropogenic Climate Change instead?  They knew their claims were unraveling!  It was also clear the "climate deniers" weren't walking away from the evidence of their fraud so they had to find a way to make whatever temperatures changes which might occur the fault of mankind, and most importantly - capitalism - and especially the capitalists of the United States.
 
But their efforts are failing so rapidly even Al Gore won't be able to further enrich himself with the scam.  The biggest reason is the Internet!  Finally, those who've opposed all the fraudulent claims put out by that neo-pagan secular religion known as Environmentalism, had a platform - an international platform - to challenge these people.  A platform the media would have never given them.  That's why the Kyoto Protocol never passed, and that piece of junk science known as the Montreal Protocol would have never been passed if the Internet existed then.
 
What I would like to know is when are these fraudsters going to be charged with a crime?  The Global Warming scam is a fraud paid for by the American taxpayer.  And the last time I looked: Fraud is a crime!
 
There are a five questions everyone has to ask.

1. Was it substantially warmer during the Midieval Warming period than it is now? The answer is yes!

2. If the answer is yes, and it is, then we have to ask: What caused that warming period and what caused the Roman Warming Period?  Answer:  Those periods of warming must  have been naturally occurring.

3. If those warming periods were naturally occurring why shouldn't we believe any warming occurring now (which stopped over 20 years ago) isn't naturally occurring?  Answer: We shouldn't 

4. If it was substantially warmer during both the Roman and Medeival Warming periods did any of the disasters they're predicting for today occur then?  Answer:  There's absolutely nothing in the historical record to show any of these disasters occurred then.

5. If these disasters didn't occur then, when it was substantially warmer, why should we believe any of these disasters will occur today.  The answer is - we shouldn't!

We're going through another period of little or no sun spot activity.  Does that mean another solar minimum?  No one knows for sure, but it seems historically and scientifically probable.  It's hard to feel schadenfreude when that happens - because cold kills!