BO has a soft spot for the American Burying Beetle that would (supposedly) be threatened if they build the Keystone Pipeline. Atleast that is today's excuse...
If current solar projections are any indication, the globe may be entering a new period of global cooling. SI meteorologist Paul Dorian explains: "It appears that the solar maximum phase for solar cycle 24 may have been reached and it is not very impressive. ... In fact, this solar cycle continues to rank among the weakest on record which continues the recent trend for increasingly weaker cycles. ... There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The first period is known as the 'Maunder Minimum' ... and it lasted from around 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the 'Dalton Minimum' ... and it lasted from about 1790 to 1830. Both of these historical periods coincided with below-normal global temperatures in an era now referred to by many as the 'Little Ice Age.'" So what does all this mean? "If this trend continues for the next couple of cycles," writes Dorian, "then there would likely be more talk of another 'grand minimum' for the sun." Only time will tell, but at this rate, alarmists will be clamoring "global warming" hubris through chattering teeth.
I have a feeling his environmental supporters will be angry about this one...
More good news on the energy front: "The Obama administration opened up the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration for the first time in nearly four decades on Friday," reports The Hill. "The announcement from Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) allows the use of air guns and sonic sensors to search off of the East Coast. It is a major step toward allowing future drilling in the Atlantic, which has remained off-limits for over 30 years." Obama has repeatedly claimed credit for the oil boom the U.S. has enjoyed over the last few years, though it's been entirely outside -- and even in spite of -- his doing. The news doesn't guarantee drilling, but it's a step in the right direction.
And didn't act on...
The Obama administration received reports of Central American children illegally crossing the border beginning in 2012, but chose to ignore the growing problem for political gain. The Washington Post reports, "Meanwhile, top officials focused much of their attention on political battles, such as Obama's 2012 reelection campaign and the push to win congressional support for a broad immigration overhaul, that would have been made more difficult with the addition of a high-profile border crisis." But now, Obama can argue for adopting his terrible immigration policies because it's for the children. Politicians can't let a crisis go to waste, but slicker still is manufacturing a crisis to leverage an agenda.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has long supported Barack Obama, but he's also become alarmed at Obama's increasing imperial presidency. "Our system is changing," he warned, "and [Congress] is the one branch that must act if we are to reverse those changes. We are seeing the emergence of a different model of government, a model long-ago rejected by the framers." Regarding a possible lawsuit against the president, Turley added, "A dominant presidency has occurred with very little congressional opposition. Indeed, when President Obama pledged to circumvent Congress, he received rapturous applause from the very body that he was proposing to make practically irrelevant. Now many members are contesting the right of this institution to even be heard in federal court." Moreover, "This body is moving from self-loathing to self-destruction in a system that is in crisis. The president's pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming, and what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge. When a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself, which is precisely the danger the framers sought to avoid."
BO strutted to the podium for a stump speech in Delaware Thursday, just after the Russians shot down a Malaysian airliner. He began his remarks with just 38 seconds discussing the plane. "[I]t looks like it may be a terrible tragedy," he said. "May be"? He then noted his national security team would stay on it, and quickly returned to his regular programming -- beginning with jokes about Joe Biden.
By contrast, when the Soviets shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, Ronald Reagan, who was on vacation in California at the time, immediately canceled all events to return to the White House. When Reagan addressed the nation about the shoot-down, there was no equivocation. He called it "a massacre," a "crime against humanity," an "act of barbarism." Obama, on the other hand, went on joking about Joe Biden and slamming Republicans. As Red State's Erick Erickson put it, "Reagan led. Barack Obama could learn from the last guy from Illinois to sit in the Oval Office."
Since taking office in early 2009, President Barack Obama has attended almost 400 fundraisers. For those keeping score, including The Washington Post, which published the presidential fundraiser tally Wednesday, that's quite a lot. It's more for Obama in less than six full years than George W. Bush amassed over eight years in the White House -- 318 for Bush to 393 for Obama. The president before George W. Bush is the record-holder. Bill Clinton held 638 fundraisers over two four-year terms.
So, what do we make of all this? It speaks loud and clear about what lubricates the engine of our political system -- money, lots of it. Those little 30-second campaign commercials aren't cheap. Also expensive are campaign staffers, online strategists, number-crunchers, advisers, PR teams and, of course, experts in raising campaign cash that in turn keeps this vicious cycle going.
All this effort is extended so that a politician can win office, which, it turns out, is a wonderful platform from which to keep the contributions flowing. And calling the big office in the White House yours is the ultimate perch. Turning presidents into fundraisers-in-chief is an outcome of court decisions that have granted more latitude to those who want to give and those who want to receive. So, we are seemingly stuck in a system where politicians promise to look out for the 99 percent while raking in hefty campaign contributions from the privileged 1 percent.
I'm guessing planes being shot down and violence in Israel is welcome news for the White House. All these scandals get put on the back burner and people focus on international tragedies instead...
The Congressional Budget Office released its 2014 Long-Term Budget Outlook this week, and, predictably, the picture isn't pretty. We haven't heard much about the debt since the February deal to suspend the debt ceiling, as crisis after crisis dominate the news. But recall Democrats foisted record deficits on the country between 2009 and 2012, effectively setting a new minimum for federal spending. Then they hiked taxes to pay for their spendthrift ways. It's a recipe for economic stagnation.
First it was the IRS claiming its hard drives containing vital emails "crashed." Then the EPA asserted the same. Now the Obama administration apparently believes the third time's a charm. The FEC says a hard drive belonging to vociferously pro-Obama official April Sands who resigned earlier this year for violating the Hatch Act was -- surprise! -- recycled. Sands, who formerly worked with Lois Lerner, conceded wrongdoing in promoting Obama's re-election before her departure from the agency. But without the evidence, "FEC OIG could not pursue criminal prosecution for the misconduct," says House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). The FEC has until July 28 to hand server documentation and backup procedures over to the committee. For an administration that prides itself in transparency, it sure is inept -- and astoundingly criminal.
Harry says the border is secure...
"The border is secure," Reid said. "[Sen.] Martin Heinrich [D-NM] talked to the [Democrat] caucus today. He's a border state senator. He said he can say without any equivocation the border is secure." Ah, so Reid has it on good authority from a freshman senator of his own party. Given this revelation, The Hill reports, "Reid said lawmakers need to worry less about border security and focus instead on President Obama's $3.7 billion request to help process the tens of thousands of children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who have been apprehended on the border." Hmm...why would this be necessary if the border is secure? Should we believe Reid or your lying eyes?
The Mistake on the Lake? First Johnny Football, then Lebron, and now the pubs. A lot of buzz in that city lately...
Of the gap between Social Security taxes collected and benefits paid out, The Wall Street Journal's William Galston writes, "To close that gap while maintaining scheduled benefits, we would need to enact an immediate increase in the payroll tax rate from 12.4% to 15.9%. For workers earning $50,000 a year, that would mean a tax increase of $900, nearly 2% of gross income. And employers would have to match it. For workers making the maximum now subject to payroll taxes (a bit under $120,000), taxes would rise by $2,100."
If the income cap were lifted, workers at higher incomes would face an even more staggering tax increase. And yet as it stands, the payroll tax is regressive in that it hits lower income families disproportionately. If the income cap were doubled, it still wouldn't fix the problem. Galston notes, "One might imagine that such a sizable increase in covered earnings would be enough to stabilize the system for the long term. In fact, the CBO calculates, it would reduce the imbalance by only 30%. Indeed, eliminating the cap and taxing all earnings would solve just 45% of the problem."
Meanwhile, the expected return on the 12.4% in Social Security withholding from our income is practically criminal. Consider the potential return of investing 12.4% of a typical middle class income in indexed mutual funds, where decent investments would yield perhaps multiple millions of dollars over 30 years. Over a retirement span of 20 years or so, annual withdrawals could be six figures while still leaving a good chunk of change making money.