March 6, 2015
Brookes: Much to fear in possible Iran deal
Netanyahu’s speech opens up debate on nuke talks
by Peter Brookes, as originally published in Boston Herald
Much to fear in possible Iran Deal: Netanyahu’s speech opens up debate on nuke talk.
Putting both countries’ politics aside (talk about heavy-lifting!), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress was essential — if for no other reason than it threw a spotlight on an issue hiding in diplomatic darkness.
Few probably realized, especially outside Washington, D.C., that while Netanyahu was speaking to Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Montreux, Switzerland, trying to cut a deal with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Indeed, Team Obama and Team Ayatollah had hoped to reach an agreement on nukes before the end of the month possibly without the public, perhaps even congressional, scrutiny that such an historic deal should unquestionably get.
Netanyahu changed that — and we should be thankful he did.
It might be said that if you weren’t paying attention to diplomatic developments in the nuclear negotiations, which is clearly one of the most important national security issues of our time, you are now.
The public/media attention the Iran nuclear issue will receive going forward could help ensure — clearly no guarantees, of course — that the administration gets America a better deal with Iran and not just a deal.
In fact, though President Obama criticized Netanyahu for saying “nothing new,” it’s likely that a lot of the supposedly already public information on Team Obama’s strategy was new to a lot of people — like the American public.
Perhaps that’s not something the White House wanted.
Actually, in his address, Bibi brought up a number of important points that we should be taking into consideration in our talks with Tehran.
For instance, the idea that a deal may allow Iran to keep a lot of its nuclear infrastructure in place, which would let Tehran pick up where it left off should it decide to depart an agreement.
More specifically, what about the nuclear reactor at Arak, which gives Iran a second pathway to the bomb using plutonium rather than uranium, Iran’s current choice?
Netanyahu also talked about the problem of relying on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), inspectors to prevent Iran from moving forward with its nuclear program, citing North Korea’s nukes as proof of the folly of that course of action.
In fact, recent reports indicate that Tehran continues to fail to come clean on its past bomb-building work with the IAEA, a request for information that goes back years.
Not surprisingly, Netanyahu also brought up the problem of “trust” or lack thereof with Iran, a critical element for negotiations and for compliance afterwards with any agreement.
To that point, how can one get “warm-n-fuzzy” on nukes with Iran when it refuses to discuss capping its ICBM program, a long-range ballistic missile designed to carry the bomb?
Sure, this is tough stuff; we’re dealing with a hard-line regime like Iran after all — not exactly a Western-style democracy or a fan of the good ol’ U.S. of A. for several decades now.
The worry among many is that if you want it bad, which is where some believe Kerry & Co. are regarding a deal with his Iranian interlocutors, sometimes you get it bad.
Not exactly ideal when talking about an atomic agreement that involves angry, ambitious ayatollahs and the world’s most destructive weapons.
Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. He tweets @Brookes_Peter
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 3/6/15
March 4, 2015
As originally published in the Washington Times
Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline veto: Whether to back the president puts Hillary in a bind
By John R. Bolton –
March 3, 2015
Experienced vote counters do not believe that either the House or the Senate will muster the two-thirds majority necessary to override President Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline bill. If so, Mr. Obama’s years of delay and disingenuousness on this issue, culminating in his veto, will guarantee negative consequences for America long into the future.
Keystone is a textbook example of the integral relationship between foreign and domestic affairs. The pipeline’s economic benefits are evident, including facilitating increased supplies of North American oil; helping integrate U.S. and Canadian hydrocarbon infrastructures; and providing energy without international political risk.
But blocking Keystone is not merely bad domestic policy. Equally unfortunate, and perhaps worse, are the negative implications for America internationally.
Mr. Obama’s veto thus provides a leadership test for prospective presidential candidates. In particular, the Keystone XL controversy highlights Hillary Rodham Clinton’s acute political dilemma over whether and how to separate herself from her own record as Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state. She has a lot to answer for, and she will have to state her position on his veto, if not now, then certainly when she becomes a declared presidential candidate. Will she support the veto, or will she finally find a major issue on which to distance herself from her former boss?
Mrs. Clinton’s record on Keystone as secretary was ambiguous. State had a responsibility to evaluate whether the proposed pipeline, which would cross the U.S.-Canadian border, was in the national interest. In 2010, speaking in California, Mrs. Clinton responded to a question about the pipeline this way:
“So as I say, we’ve not yet signed off on it. But we are inclined to do so and we are for several reasons . We’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada.”
She went on to bemoan congressional failure to pass Obama administration environmental and “clean energy” proposals, but her self-professed “inclination” favoring the pipeline was clear.
Subsequently, however, in 2012, Mrs. Clinton supported Mr. Obama’s objection to proposed legislation requiring the president to make a decision on Keystone XL within 60 days. In a carefully worded statement, the State Department did not object on the merits, but merely argued it hadn’t had enough time to complete its “national interest” review. Mr. Obama continued dodging a decision for three more years, until last week’s veto of a new legislative effort to force his hand.
Mr. Obama’s ideological intransigence on Keystone XL has already harmed our relationship with Canada. That takes work, but Mr. Obama succeeded both because of his policy objections to Keystone and because of his flip and gratuitous mishandling of Canada. For starters, Mr. Obama chastised Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government for weakening Canada’s environmental laws involving tar sands (which would produce a substantial part of the pipeline’s flow-through). Mr. Obama doubtless also opposes Mr. Harper withdrawing Canada from the Kyoto Protocol.
Mr. Obama then complained about the number of Canadian jobs Keystone would create, as if new jobs there reduce new jobs here. Obviously, the Canadian and U.S. economies are inextricably intertwined, to the enormous benefit of both. Mr. Obama complained further that only Canadian oil would be shipped through the pipeline, and it would all be sent overseas rather than used in the United States. Both these points are wrong. Oil from our own Bakken shale formation would be an important element of the pipeline’s business, and significant amounts could be refined and sold here.
Across both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, key U.S. allies are eager for U.S. energy production and technology to help free them from dependence on politically chancier sources of oil and natural gas. Europe, finally awakened by the Ukraine crisis, urgently wants to reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. North American oil and gas would provide an alternative source not only to help keep prices down, but also to provide a strategic alternative.
Similarly, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would welcome alternatives to Middle Eastern oil, itself inherently risky politically, but also increasingly endangered by Beijing’s efforts to turn the South and East China Seas into Chinese territorial waters. Moreover, North American energy could also be sold directly to China, thereby helping mitigate the balance-of-payments deficits that have provided Beijing with enormous dollar assets in recent decades.
Given the undeniable deniable economic and international strategic benefits of increased North American oil and natural gas production, exemplified by Keystone XL, this issue will unquestionably loom large in 2016’s presidential campaigns. U.S. public opinion polls have repeatedly shown majorities supporting the pipeline, despite opposition from powerful, well-funded environmental groups.
And there, of course, lies Mrs. Clinton’s dilemma. This is only one of many, but her ultimate Keystone XL position is also directly tied to her performance as secretary of state, the one resume item that she is relying upon to qualify for the presidency. This is an issue to watch.
• John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 3/4/15
March 3, 2015
Opposition to ‘clean power’ plans growing in Colorado
By Marjorie Haun | Watchdog Arena
Colorado lawmakers are on the path to undo the strong affirmation bestowed upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signing of a 2013 renewable energy bill that increased the state’s rural renewable energy requirement from ten to 20 percent by the year 2020.
This bill, SB-252, designed purportedly to reduce carbon emissions from coal and natural gas-burning power plants, further widened the rift between urban (the Boulder/Denver Corridor) and rural (the rest of the state) Colorado.
Two years ago, Hickenlooper had the cooperation of a Democratic majority in the state Legislature, which represented mostly urban districts in the center of the state. Republican legislators, many of whom represented Colorado’s rural regions, were unable to overcome the Democrat-sponsored Rural Electricity bill, which eventually made its way to the governor’s desk. Consequentially, urban Colorado successfully used the power of government to force rural Colorado to pay for its pet carbon-reducing, renewable energy projects.
The opposition for renewable energy mandates goes beyond the sour grapes from 2013. Rather, the experiences in Colorado, other states, and other countries show these mandates are costly to taxpayers and harmful to local economies and family farms.
Colorado legislators have taken notice as the opposition to renewable energy mandates is gaining steam in both private and governmental sectors. State Sen. Ray Scott (R) from fossil fuel-rich Mesa County passed SB15-044 through the Republican-led Senate. SB15-044 would cap mandated renewable sources at 15 percent, instead of the 20-30 percent requirements in the existing law. SB15-046, run by Sen. Kevin Grantham (R), who also represents a rural Colorado district, expands the definition of “retail distribution” regarding solar energy sources.
It’s unlikely that a full repeal of the 2013 renewable mandates would make it through Colorado’s Democrat-led House of Representatives, but both existing Senate bills are supported by rural electric cooperatives, farmers and ranchers, and other organizations representing Colorado’s rural counties.
Scott’s SB15-044 was originally heard in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Jan. 29. Most of those who testified against the renewable mandates rollback were representatives of the renewable energy industry. Several organizations which benefit financially from the government mandates, including Solar Energy Industries Association, Interwest Energy Alliance, Colorado Cleantech Industries Association, and Western Resource Advocate, spoke in opposition to SB15-044.A representative from the Colorado Mining Association and the Associated Governments of Northwestern Colorado spoke in support of the bill.
The opposition for renewable energy mandates goes beyond the sour grapes from 2013. Rather, the experiences in Colorado, other states, and other countries show these mandates are costly to taxpayers and harmful to local economies and family farms. EPA’s standards are even tougher for rural Colorado than SB-252, and its plan would force rural cooperatives to show a 34 percent reduction in carbon emissions by traditional source power plants by 2030.
The conjoined mandates of increasing renewable energy sources while eliminating cheap and abundant fossil fuel-powered electricity plants have proven burdensome and unrealistic. Many in Colorado are starting to push back, and the following are a few points in the case against the Clean Power Plan:
- Forms of Renewable Energy require massive taxpayer-funded subsidies in comparison to fossil fuel resources: A 2013 Forbes article revealed how per unit subsidies for renewable sources, (wind, solar) are 25 times greater than subsidies for fossil fuels.
- The EPA lacks legal authority to implement its Clean Power Plan: In a 2014memorandum from the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry (CACI), the organization challenged the EPA’s standing on implementing new regulations in the State of Colorado. The memorandum reads, “…we believe the EPA lacks the legal authority to implement the Clean Power Plan (CPP) under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. “ It continues, “CACI believes this rule creates unnecessary costs and burdens for electricity providers and those businesses that rely on affordable energy.”
- Renewable energy mandates have severely harmed Colorado’s coal industry:Stuart Sanderson, the President of the Colorado Mining Association, in a statementregarding EPA Hearings on Regulations for Existing Sources, noted, “These regulations will threaten the livelihoods of the hard working men and women in Colorado’s coal industry, which pays average wages and benefits in excess of $116,000 annually. Equally appalling, the (renewable) rule will produce nothing in the way of claimed benefits to the environment.” Of the costs he said, “…hardest hit will be states like Colorado that rely heavily on (clean) coal for affordable electricity.”
- Renewable energy mandates place excessive burdens on rural cooperatives, family farms and ranches: In a statement to the EPA, Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA) indicated, “While CREA understands the basic objective of the plan, the requirement for a 34% reduction in carbon emissions from coal plants state wide by 2030 is overly aggressive and will result in excessive costs for our membership. CREA member cooperatives serve some of the lowest income counties in Colorado. Increased costs will disproportionately impact low-income consumers in our service territory.”
- Renewable energy mandates negatively impact the reliability of electric service:The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) in its comments to the EPA said, “The potential reliability impacts associated with the transition from these traditional high-inertia resources (coal, oil and gas steam), and related loss of essential reliability services such as frequency and voltage support…need to be studied to ensure that proposed state compliance plans do not reduce the reliability of (electric services).”
- Renewable energy cost caps on electric bills have failed: Colorado’s Clean Energy bill promised a 2 percent cap on energy rate increases, yet in 2014 Colorado’s electricity costs rose 4.5 percent, more than twice that of the rest of the country. The average cost per kWh in the state is nearly 12 cents, giving Colorado the highest residential electrical rates in the Mountain West.
- Renewable energy costs impact farm operations by increasing energy costs for farmers, decreasing farm income, increasing retail and transportation costs of fertilizer and feed: In 2011 the USDA produced a publication titled, “Impacts on Higher Energy on Rural and Agricultural Economies.” In the abstract of the study, the USDA warned, “Higher energy-related production costs would generally lower agricultural output, raise prices of agricultural products, and reduce farm income…”
The parties for and against decreasing Colorado’s renewable mandate illustrate the same rift that existed in 2013, wherein green special interests located primarily in urban districts seek to force rural counties to pay for a product they can’t afford.
With data pouring in from recent years indicating that renewable mandates in Colorado and elsewhere are unrealistic, costly, and economically harmful, those most impacted will push for further roll-back of “carbon-reducing” government green energy initiatives.
As originally published on Watchdog.org
March 2, 2015
Rebuttal of disarmament advocates’ blatant lies
Posted by zbigniewmazurak on February 25, 2015
The unilateral disarmament lobby in the US has hardly given up on its goal to completely and unilaterally disarm America, even though Barack Obama himself seems to have given up on that goal. Nor have Russia’s, China’s, and North Korea’s nuclear buildups and aggressive actions sobered these people up.
They have written yet another garbage screed calling for deep cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal – while Russia, China, North Korea, and others are growing their own arsenals.
Specifically, ACA’s Daryl Kimball and NRDC’s Matthew McKinzie have written a garbage screed published by the leftist DefenseNews website.
In it, they falsely claim at the beginning (3rd paragraph):
“Moscow’s actions have prompted calls from some to halt implementation of nuclear arms control agreements, including the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which verifiably limits Russian nuclear potential to no more than 1,550 strategic deployed warheads.”
That is a blatant lie right at the start. The New START treaty has not limited Russia’s nuclear arsenal AT ALL. On the contrary, it has permitted Moscow to significantly GROW that arsenal – so much so that it now stands at 1,643 deployed (and many more nondeployed) strategic warheads, far above New START limits – and Moscow keeps ADDING warheads.
If limiting Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal was the goal, New START has failed abysmally to achieve it – as I predicted in 2010.
I was right, and the pro-disarmament lobby was wrong.
But the screed’s authors don’t stop at that one blatant lie. Despite Moscow’s, Beijing’s, and Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile buildups – and aggressive actions – they falsely claim that it’s time to cut America’s nuclear arsenal even further, that the US nuclear arsenal is “excess”, and that the US should rely on “diplomacy, economic sanctions, and conventional deterrence” instead!
They reject any calls to modernize and build up the US nuclear arsenal and falsely claim that:
“But rather than helping to protect Ukraine or NATO, these proposals would undermine strategic stability and increase nuclear dangers. Moscow’s actions in Ukraine require a tough and unified US and European response involving diplomacy, economic sanctions and NATO conventional deterrence, but the challenge can’t be effectively resolved with nuclear weapons or a US nuclear buildup.
As President Barack Obama declared in 2012, “[t]he massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited for today’s threats.” (…)
Moscow and Washington could do more to reduce their nuclear excess and should pursue a further one-third cut in their strategic stockpiles. With New START verification tools in place, additional nuclear reductions can be readily achieved without a new treaty.”
Au contraire! The only language that Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un understand is the language of force. Ony military strength – and that has to include nuclear strength – can dissuade them from further aggression.
Diplomacy and economic sanctions have utterly failed and will continue to fail. These dictators don’t care about their nations’ economic well-being (if they did, they’d have pursued market-based economic reforms long ago) or diplomatic niceties. Western sanctions have already wrecked havoc on Russia’s economy – but Moscow’s behavior towards its neighbors (especially Ukraine) and towards the West has only become more aggressive since 2014.
As for conventional deterrence, the US alone (not to mention the entire NATO alliance) already has a huge edge over Russia in conventional weapons. The problem is not inadequate conventional deterrence. The problem is inadequate nuclear deterrence – and a lack of will to enforce the West’s red lines. No amount of military power – nuclear or conventional – means anything unless it is used when aggressors overstep acceptable bounds.
Put simply, Western nations are not willing to defend themselves (let alone Ukraine), and Putin knows it.
What would REALLY undermine strategic stability and increase nuclear dangers would be to fail to modernize and sufficiently increase America’s nuclear deterrent. It’s the only effective protection the US and over 30 of its allies and friends have against nuclear, chemical, or bilological attack – or blackmail of such an attack.
Russia has a vast and very diverse nuclear arsenal and is still growing it (along with the fleet of delivery systems: ICBMs, bombers, and boomers). China has a large and still growing nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal – in fact, the fastest growing in the world according to USAF intel. North Korea is growing its nuclear stockpile, perfecting its ICBMs, and testing a ship-based ballistic missile intended for its Golf-class submarine.
What would REALLY undermine strategic stability and increase nuclear dangers would be to fail to modernize and sufficiently increase America’s nuclear deterrent under those circumstances. Yet, that is precisely what ACA and the NRDC advocate.
The claim that America’s nuclear arsenal is “poorly suited” for today’s threats and that it’s “excess” is a blatant lie. The US nuclear arsenal is perfectly suited to address the biggest threats to America’s and its allies’ security.
These threats are not Ebola, Al Qaeda, or the Islamic state, but the nuclear and missile arsenals of Russia, China, and North Korea. Nothing else comes even CLOSE to being as grave a threat as these three.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not an isolated incident, but a mere part of Russia’s overall pattern of aggressive behavior towards the US, the West, and any country Putin perceives as aligning itself with the West – including Ukraine and Georgia. In accordance with this pattern of aggressive behavior, Russia has, in recent years, threatend to aim or use its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles against the US or its allies 15 times; has flown nuclear-armed bombers near US and allied airspace, and sometimes even into the airspace of countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and Finland; has dramatically increased the frequency of its nuclear-armed submarine patrols; has threatened to deploy nuclear weapons in the Crimea; and has conducted a dramatic buildup of its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal.
In doing so, it has violated every arms limitation treaty it is party to, including the INF, CFE, CTBT, and New START treaties.
If the US fails to modernize and increase its nuclear arsenal, or worse, cuts that arsenal, it will fail to address that threat, and thus commit suicide.
Kimball and McKinzie deny that their organizations have recently called in Vienna on the US to disarm itself unilaterally, But ACA has repeatedly called on the US to do that on many occassions in the last several years. A few years ago, Tom Z. Collina, then ACA’s “Research Director”, called on the US to unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal and falsely claimed that “there’s no reason to wait for Russia.” Also, ACA has, for many years, advocated (and still advocates) foregoing the modernization of the US nuclear deterrent, including cancelling the replacement for the USAF’s obsolete bombers and ICBMs and cutting the planned buy new new ballistic missile subs to just 8. That would essentially be unilateral disarmament by atrophy and neglect. That would be just as bad as scrapping the US nuclear arsenal outright.
Last but not least, Kimball and McKinzie are trying to delude the American people with totally unrealistic, fantastic fairy-tales of global nuclear disarmament:
“We proposed “making nuclear disarmament” a global enterprise. We called on all states to press China, India and Pakistan, in particular, not to increase their fissile material or weapons stocks. A unified push for further US-Russian arms cuts combined with a nuclear weapons freeze by other nuclear-armed states could create the conditions for meaningful nuclear risk reduction.”
This is a total, unrealistic fantasy. The idea that cuts in America’s and Russia’s nuclear arsenals will prod other nuclear powers to reduce their own stockpiles is fantasy – as is the idea that China, India, and Pakistan will ever succumb to “pressure” not to increase their fissile materials or nuclear weapon stocks. These countries don’t care about international pressure or America’s meaningless unilateral disarmament gestures; they only care about their own military power.
Kimball’s and McKinzie’s screed is total garbage. Shame on DefenseNews for publishing it.
Reposted with permission of the author by Reagangirl.com
March 1, 2015
The following is a letter from a Moab, Utah conservative to elected officials regarding the takeover of the Grand County, Utah Council by radical environmentalist interests.
by Brian Ballard
To Whom It May Concern,
The Grand County Council is not representing the needs of Grand County citizens. Instead, they are listening only to the views of national non-profits like Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Trust.
Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz have personally invited each of these environmental groups, and others, to share their views with them as they develop the public lands initiative. The county’s role is to seek the input of Grand County’s citizens, NOT national non-profits.
The newly elected county council has chosen to hear from The Nature Conservancy, Public Land Solutions, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Grand Canyon Trust Utah, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association – all national entities. Most of the presenters are paid representatives of these environmental organizations. The newly elected county council does not want to listen to its citizens that are dependent upon public lands for their livelihood and recreation.
Many of our citizens are unaware that the county council is choosing to lock-up land that is now designated as multi-use. These people work hard each day to support their families, and have little time to write letters and attend workshops or public meetings.
These citizens live here and enjoy the outdoors. They hunt, hike, gather firewood, and 4-wheel to places their families have visited for generations. Many are dependent upon public lands to support their families, either through natural resource extraction or recreation.
Their voices are not being heard on this issue. Our current county council is not representing their interests.
Our county council should be seeking input from miners, oil field workers, ranchers, recreation business owners and more who are directly dependent upon public lands that are now designated for multiple use. The choice to lock-up additional lands then affects our local economy and those who are working to support these families – farmers, builders, teachers, hospital workers and service workers.
Tourism brought in $7.5 billion during 2013, with the majority of that – $6.4 billion – coming from people who live outside of Utah, according to a report recently released by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Instead of locking up the land, we should be creating more access to increase tourism revenue.
Our mining and oil industry should not be blocked from responsible resource extraction that provides well-paying, year-round jobs that will support families.
Oil, gas and mineral extraction also contributes millions of dollars to county government through mineral lease funds and bonuses that offset property taxes. These monies allowed us to build the extended care center, senior center and recreation center; maintain roads and provide recreational programs within the county; and pay for the continued operation of the extended care center.
Reposted with the permission of the author by Reagangirl.com 3/1/15
February 28, 2015
How To Solve The Water Crisis: Use More Fossil Fuels
by Alex Epstein–as originally published on Forbes
It’s cliché to say we have a water crisis. It’s certainly cliché to blame it on “climate change,” i.e. fossil fuels.
But if we look at the big-picture data, as against fixating on the most dramatic headlines about the places that happen to be in a state of drought (such as southern California, where I live), a different story emerges: thanks in part to increasing fossil fuel use, we are bringing about a world where our bodies and our crops have more of the water they need, not less.
The Water Opportunity: Ending Drought as We Know It
Let’s look at droughts. To read the headlines about “megadroughts” you would think that drought is a worse problem than ever. And that would be a big, big problem.
Droughts are historically the most common form of climate-related death; a lack of rainfall can affect the supply of the two most basic essentials of life, food and water. Drought is also supposed to be one of the most devastating consequences of CO2 emissions, so let’s see how they match up.
Sources: Boden, Marland, Andres (2010); EM-DAT International Disaster Database; World Bank, World Development Indicators (WDI) Online Data, April 2014. Graph originally appeared in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.Clearly, CO2 emissions have not had a significant effect on droughts, but expanded human ability to fight drought, powered by fossil fuels, has: from better agriculture (more crops for more people), to rapid transportation to drought-affected areas, to modern irrigation that makes farmers less dependent on rainfall. Shouldn’t fossil fuel energy get some credit here?
To give you one particularly astonishing data point, the International Disaster Database reports that the United States has had zero deaths from drought in the last eight years. This doesn’t mean there are actually zero, as the database only covers incidents involving ten or more deaths, but it means pretty near zero. Historically, drought is the number-one climate-related cause of death. Worldwide it has gone down by 99.98% in the last eighty years, for many energy-related reasons: oil-powered drought-relief convoys, more food in general because of more prolific, fossil fuel-based agriculture, and irrigation systems. And yet we constantly hear reports that fossil fuels are making droughts worse. These reports give credibility to climate-prediction models that can’t predict climate, but no credibility to the plain facts about how important more energy is to countering drought.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 2/28/15
Rebuttal of UCS’s ridiculous tirade against nuclear weapons
Posted by Zbigniew Mazurak on February 10, 2015
One of the latest examples of this propaganda campaign is the Feb. 1st piece published in DefenseOne (a leftist website) by Stephen Young of the “Union of Concerned Scientists”, a far-left pacifist group that adamantly opposes (and has always opposed) a strong national defense, and in particular, America’s nuclear deterrent and missile defense system.
The Left has long (and wrongly) claimed that American nuclear weapons provide little security and cost much (both of which are blatant lies – see below). But Young goes even further and ridiculously claims that America’s nuclear deterrent actually makes her less safe and that disarming the US unilaterally would make the nation safer!
“Not only would reducing our bloated arsenal save U.S. taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, it would make us safer. Nuclear weapons are the only threat to the survival of the United States. (…) Again, not only is this an unnecessary expense, it undermines national security. (…) Rather than an asset that increases national security, nuclear weapons are now our greatest security liability.”
Needless to say, this is utter garbage. It is military strength – including, and especially, nuclear strength – that guarantees a nation’s security, and it is military weakness – such as an inadequate nuclear umbrella, or the complete lack of one – that puts a nation at risk, as more and more countries are recognizing.
Young claims that America’s nuclear weapons undermine her security because, allegedly, they undermine efforts to stop nuclear weapon proliferation. But that is also a blatant lie (like everything else he claims). The US nuclear arsenal actually HELPS global nonproliferation efforts by a) posing a huge obstacle to any nuclear challenger not named Russia or China; and b) reassuring over 30 of America’s allies and partners around the world who rely on the US nuclear umbrella for their security and their very survival.
Should the US reduce its umbrella further, however, many of America’s allies will acquire atomic weapons of their own – and thus, the proliferation problem will become much worse. Already, 66% of South Koreans want their country to be a nuclear power, and former Polish President Lech Walesa wants the same for his country. Saudi Arabia has already acquired DF-21 ballistic missiles from China and will arm them with nuclear warheads if it ever judges the American nuclear umbrella insufficient.
Young falsely claims that unilateral reductions in the US nuclear arsenal:
“enhance our efforts to eliminate North Korea’s limited arsenal, head off potential increases in China’s stockpile and limit Iran’s potential program. As they have in the past, U.S. cuts could prompt Russia to reduce its stockpile, particularly as the tumbling price of oil wreaks havoc on its economy. Even Putin’s decision to end cooperative programs to lock down Russian nuclear material and U.S.statements that Russia has violated the Intermediate Forces Treaty do not rule out such an outcome.”
Again, this is a blatant lie. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US has cut its nuclear arsenal by 75% – but that has utterly failed to prevent Pakistan and North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, Iran from undertaking to build them, or China from greatly increasing its nuclear arsenal (which credible experts, such as Professor Philip Karber and General Viktor Yesin, estimate at between 1,600 and 3,000 warheads). Cutting the US nuclear arsenal over the last 24 years has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER to slow down global nuclear proliferation.
Any claim that cutting the US nuclear arsenal further would somehow entice other countries to cut or scrap their own nuclear stockpiles is utterly false – not just because of past experience, but also because of the nature of the nuclear-armed regimes the US faces. They won’t be impressed by such unilateral disarmament gestures; on the contrary, they will only consider them (and rightly so) as signs of weakness, to be exploited against the US. This would only jeopardize US national security. And no one should be deluded to think that Russia’s temporary economic problems will slow down, let alone stop, Putin’s nuclear buildup. They haven’t, and they won’t – and major European countries, such as Germany and Greece, are already talking about loosening the EU’s sanctions on Russia. The EU scrapping these sanctions is only a question of when, not if.
(Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who wants to retake the Presidency in 2017, wants the EU to go even further and officially recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimea and is parroting Russian propaganda.)
Young also falsely claims that
“But spending money on new types of warheads undermines efforts to stop additional countries from pursuing these weapons.”
Which is also a blatant lie, because other countries’ (Russia’s, China’s, North Korea’s, Iran’s) nuclear programs are caused NOT by America’s nuclear arsenal, but by these countries’ aggressive designs against the US and against their neighbors (and in Iran’s case, by its declared desire to wipe Israel off the map).
Pakistan’s and India’s nuclear programmes are due to their hostility towards each other and have nothing to do with the US. The nuclear weapon programmes of some of America’s allies are due to these allies’ uncertainty about whether the US will continue to provide a reliable, credible nuclear umbrella to them. Cutting the US nuclear arsenal further will only prove their doubts correct and prod them to acquire their own atomic weapons.
Young also falsely claims that nuclear weapons add very little to America’s national security:
“Nuclear weapons do precious little to address the real threats we and our allies face today, and do nothing to address the threat of terrorism. Nothing to counter Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria. Nothing to counteract the growing risk of cyber attack.”
And again, this is a blatant lie. In fact, nuclear weapons are PIVOTAL to America’s national security. That’s because by far the biggest threats to US and allied security – and to world peace – are posed by the nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals of Russia, China, and North Korea, and by Iran’s nuclear program.
Not terrorism. Not Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Not cyber attacks. Not Ebola. It is Russia’s, China’s, and North Korea’s nuclear arsenals and their delivery systems – and their willingness to use these weapons – that pose by far the biggest threat to the security of the US, all of its allies, and the world.
Nothing else comes even close.
Al Qaeda can blow up a few buses or trains, but it can’t wipe out any US cities or even repeat anything on the scale of 9/11. The Islamic State is the Middle East’s and Europe’s problem (which could’ve been easily avoided by not importing Muslim immigrants en masse). But Russia and China could both potentially wipe all major US cities off the map. North Korea could wipe at least one major US city out. Moreover, China’s regime-controlled media has openly written about attacking the US with nuclear weapons, while Russia has, in recent months, repeatedly flown nuclear-armed bombers very close to US airspace to “practice attacking the enemy”, as the Russians themselves have said. One such practice bombing run occurred on the Fourth of July in 2012.
Furthermore, the US has to provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself, but also to over 30 allies and partners – from Canada to European allies to Persian Gulf partners to allies in East Asia – who rely on it for their very survival. They cannot afford to bet their security and survival on Young’s and UCS’s “disarming unilaterally will make us more secure” fantasy.
Therefore, addressing the Russian, Chinese, and North Korean nuclear threat must be America’s highest defense priority and merits any investment necessary.
But Young disagrees, and falsely claims this about the Obama administration’s nuclear arsenal modernization programme:
“This is an expensive and profound mistake, and one that ignores the limited contribution that nuclear weapons make to U.S. security.
The administration’s costly plan proposes to rebuild the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal, including the warheads, and the missiles, planes and submarines that carry them. These plans will cost $348 billion over the next 10 years, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate released last week. The National Defense Panel, appointed by Congress, found that the price tag over 30 years could be as much as a $1 trillion.”
Again, this is dead wrong. Firstly, the $1 trillion figure comes from the Monterey Institute for International Studies, a far-left, anti-nuclear group, NOT from the National Defense Panel, and is therefore certain to be wildly exaggerated. Secondly, even if it were true (which it isn’t and likely never will be), it will only be a drop in the bucket compared to total planned defense spending over the next 30 years (in the pessimistic scenario, 30 * ca. 500 bn, i.e. about $15 trillion). Thirdly, 1 trillion is just 33.3 bn per year. And fourthly, even if that $1 trillion figure were true (which, again, it isn’t), such investment would’ve been fully justified, because the objective is the modernization of America’s nuclear arsenal – by far the most important part of America’s defenses.
Young also falsely claims that:
“And, while recognizing the very problematic behavior of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the truth is U.S. nuclear forces did not stop the Russian military from invading Ukraine either. Spending more money on nuclear weapons would not turn them back.”
Firstly, to say that Vladimir Putin’s behavior is “very problematic” is like saying that the Holocaust was “very problematic.” No, Mr Young, Putin’s behavior is not merely “very problematic” – it is a huge threat to US, allied, and world security. Putin’s aggressive behavior constitutes a string of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace – in Chechnya, in Georgia, and Ukraine.
If the world’s leaders had even a shred of decency and integrity, Putin would’ve already been tried and executed as a war criminal.
Putin’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine was not an isolated incident, but merely one of the many examples of Putin’s aggressive, Soviet-style, neo-imperialist behavior towards his neighbors, towards Europe at large, and towards the US itself – as exemplified also by the Russian Air Force’s frequent simulations of nuclear strikes on the US and its allies, his nuclear buildup, his coddling of North Korea and Iran, and his support of America’s enemies worldwide.
Finally, Young falsely claims that the US could unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal down to the low hundreds and still be secure:
“In fact, the United States could maintain a fully capable deterrent without the unnecessary and redundant weapons or spending. No current or conceivable future threat requires the United States to maintain more than a few hundred survivable warheads. As a first step in this direction, the Obama administration should limit its total nuclear arsenal to 1,000 weapons, including both long- and short-range weapons, deployed and reserve.”
Again, like the rest of his screed, it’s a blatant lie. An arsenal of just a few hundred warheads would be woefully inadequate to protect America, let alone her allies. This is for two reasons. Firstly, a small nuclear arsenal, consisting of just a few hundred warheads, would be way too easy for a potential adversary – like Russia or China – to destroy in a first strike, leaving the US with no nuclear weapons to retaliate with against the aggressor. Secondly, even if some of these few hundred atomic weapons survived a first strike, they would be woefully inadequate to execute a truly painful retaliatory strike against the aggressor.
To do be able to do that, the US needs thousands of nuclear weapons – not a mere few hundred. This is because both Russia and China have thousands of military assets which the US needs to be able to credibly threaten to destroy – e.g. ICBM siloes, airbases, naval bases, weapon production plants, command centers, etc. Short of that, the US will NOT be able to threaten a credible retaliation against Russia or China for major aggression they may commit against the US or its allies.
In short, Stephen Young’s screed is a litany of blatant lies. Not a single claim he makes therein is true. Not a single one.
Reposted with permission of the author on Reagangirl.com 2/26/15
And why would Bullock support the feds instead of Montana? Don’t forget the power wielded by the far left environmental movement, which has copious amounts of money to fund elections for those that support them. Contrary to Bullock’s mantra, Montanans can do a much better job managing our land than the feds. We can make certain we have access, support jobs, promote and maintain a healthy ecosystem, take care of our wildlife and hunting and create wealth for our schools, our communities and our citizens. But to do such we need elected officials who support Montana not the federal government. We will remember Bullock turning his back on Montana in the next election.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 2/24/15
February 24, 2015
Doctors say Obamacare’s electronic health record mandate is too costly, results in worse care
By Karen Beseth | Watchdog Arena
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Obamacare’s electronic health record mandate would “reduce paperwork and administrative burdens, cut costs, reduce medical errors and most importantly, improve the quality of care.” Now that the law has been implemented, it doesn’t appear that any of those goals have been met, at least not as far as a majority of American physicians are concerned.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act was approved by Congress in 2009, and mandated that all medical providers digitize medical records. The mandate was strengthened by the passage of Obamacare in 2010.
In theory, electronic medical records systems are supposed to streamline patient care by allowing multiple health care providers access at once to patient records. But the reality is that many of the systems were poorly designed, are vulnerable to hacking, are extremely costly and lead to billing errors.
Earlier this month, industry group Medical Economics released the results of a survey of doctors on the functionality and cost of electronic health record (EHR) systems. Despite subsidies from the federal government, physicians reported that the EHR systems were not worth the cost, which includes licensing fees, training, hardware and increases in staffing. Doctors also reported that they have become less productive.
One survey respondent was quite blunt in his assessment:
We used to see 32 patients a day with one tech, and now we struggle to see 24 patients a day with four techs. And we provide worse care.
That respondent is not alone. Forty-five percent said that patient care has gotten worse since implementing EHRs. More than 70 percent of large practices, 66 percent of internal medicine specialists, and 60 percent of family practice physicians would not purchase their current EHR system again if they could do it over. Sixty-seven percent do not like the functionality of their systems, and more than 50 percent say the EHRs are too expensive. A majority of respondents reported financial losses related to EHRs, and 69 percent said that coordination of care with hospitals hasn’t improved.
Dr. Jeffrey Singer provided more insight into the problem in a Wall Street Journal editorial. Singer reports that doctors who fail to comply with the EHR mandate will be penalized by Medicare through cuts in reimbursement rates. He noted that compliance is too costly for many small practices, so hospitals and large health clinics will acquire even more independent medical practices. Practices that are able to incur the high price tag will still pass the costs along to patients, so the cost of medical care will rise for everybody. But the biggest drawback is the impediment to quality care due to the rigidity of the new system:
The EHR system assumes that the patient in front of me is the “average patient.” When I’m in the treatment room, I must fill out a template to demonstrate to the federal government that I made “meaningful use” of the system. This rigidity inhibits my ability to tailor my questions and treatment to my patient’s actual medical needs. It promotes tunnel vision in which physicians become so focused on complying with the EHR work sheet that they surrender a degree of critical thinking and medical investigation.
Singer went on to note another study that found EHRs encourage errors and decrease the quality of care. He cited the “real life example” of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient whose diagnosis was missed the first time he visited a Dallas emergency room. In cases of infectious diseases those sorts of errors put the safety of the entire public in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, the EHR debacle is just one more example of how Obamacare not only fails to deliver on its promises, but actually makes things worse.
This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.
February 17, 2015
Every bill is bad because, unless it is a bill repealing a bad law, it is somehow growing government while simultaneously contracting individual liberty. The Colorado Kill Blog is the good news of the Limited Government Gospel. Here, we chronicle, with gratuitous glee, the deaths of bad bills.
Colorado Kill Blog 2015 Edition II
SB15-009 The Woody Biomass Fuel for Public Buildings Bill–Sponsor Jones (D) of Louisville
This bill would attempt to promote the use of “woody biomass” materials by creating a $1 million grant program. General fund monies would be awarded to any public entity which used “woody biomass” as a source of fuel for public buildings. The program funding would be taken from the General Fund for 5 fiscal years. This weirdly retrograde bill fails to take into account that we live in the 21st Century, in which natural gas, electricity, and solar power are the norms for public building fuel sources. The bill also fails to address the pollution caused by the burning of woody biomass products or the fact that public buildings heated by pellet stoves are exceedingly rare, even in Colorado.
SB15-009 was killed by the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee which saved Colorado $1,000,000.00 in new spending.
SB15-034 The Finance Charge on Credit Cards Bill–Sponsor Ulibarri (D) of Commerce City
A breech of free market banking principles, this bill would force credit card companies to cap their finance charges on unpaid balances at 12.5% per year. This bill would apply to consumer loans and consumer credit accounts. In Colorado, credit card companies may currently assess finances charges of up to 21%. This bill would impose an additional layer of state regulations upon private credit card transactions, and would allow the government to set arbitrary limits on fees that are currently dictated by market conditions within the industry. Government price controls are never a good thing.
SB15-034 was declined by the Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee.
SB15-048 The Mandatory Background Checks for Youth Sports Organizations Bill–Sponsor Heath (D) of Boulder
Background checks for adults volunteering for youth sports organizations are already a standard practice in most cases. The potential for liability dictates this as a matter of practicality and, as youth sports organizations compete for members, background checks add an appealing sense of security and professionalism. This bill, regulating and creating a mandate for something that is already a common practice, is an example of government trying to fix what ain’t broken. Think about it; parents who go to the effort to get their kids involved in organized sports are already engaged with their kids, and naturally, become the watchdogs of the youth sports community. This bill would take from TABOR resources to impose a new “mandate” on organizations that are already employing the practice.
SB15-048 was knocked out in the first round by the Senate Judiciary Committee and save $438,733 in state appropriations.
SB15-054 The Fifth Day of Free School Lunches Bill–Sponsor Donovan (D) Vail
Another “let’s throw money at poor people” effort crafted by the wealthy Democrat from Vail, Kerry Donovan, this bill would force Colorado schools to make box lunches for students to take home and eat the next day. This bill, and others like it, fails to address the root causes of authentic childhood hunger, which have more to do with parental neglect than a lack of resources. This bill would have done nothing to help the kids who aren’t getting proper nutrition at home, and it would have grown the nanny state, which has for decades proven ineffective in helping people to prosperity and well-being.
SB15-048 died of starvation in the Senate State Affairs Committee which saved the state $1,587,562.00 in new spending.
SB15-068 The Cap on Student Loan Interest Bill–Sponsors Jones (D) of Louisville and Todd (D) of Aurora
This bill would reduce student loan repayments by exercising government price controls on the rates of interest charged on such loans. Private financial institutions which loan money to students would be forced to cap their interest rates at not more than 2 percentage points above what the Federal Government charges for an unsubsidized loan. This bill would also create an incentive with a tax deduction for repayment of student loans. Price controls and tax incentives are factors which interfere with free market dynamics and would, in the case of SB15-068, increase the problematic nature of student loan debt in America.
SB15-068 lost its fight for survival in the Senate State Affairs Committee, saving the state $420,663.00 over the next 3 fiscal years.
SB15-095 The Manufactured Home Communities Bill–Sponsor Kefalas (D) of Fort Collins
This lengthy and convoluted bill, which was once called the “Mobile Home Parks Act,” requires that the Division of Housing (DOH) collect data on mobile home parks such as vacancies, rental rates and resident disputes. The DOH would then create and administer a dispute resolution program for landlords and homeowners, create a website directing people to non-profit agencies which mediate property disputes, and create the “Manufactured Home Communities Fund” to assist those living in mobile home communities. Finally, SB15-095, advances “affordable housing policy” which could mean anything from price controls to deregulation. This weird bill ran long on micromanaging human nature, but short on specifics and common sense.
SB15-095 fell apart in the Senate Finance Committee, saving the state $170,432.00 in new spending, and a lot of drama.
And…last but not least, lest you perceive that Democrat bills are the sole targets of the Colorado Kill Blog…
SB15-042 The Mandatory Reporting of Animal Abuse Bill–Sponsor Sonnenberg (R) of Sterling
This well-intentioned bill, crafted by a legislator who is also a farmer, would essentially make everyone in Colorado mandatory reporters of actual or suspected cases of animal abuse. Animal abuse, in this case, is defined as any animal that is “alleged to be abandoned, mistreated or neglected.” The mandatory reporter would be any person that “witnesses or has knowledge of abandonment, mistreatment or neglect of an animal…” The problem with this bill is that it fails to clearly and specifically define, “abandonment, mistreatment and neglect.” This leaves open the potential for misreporting by parties which might arbitrarily define unremarkable treatment of livestock and pets, such as the branding of cattle or the leashing of dogs, as “mistreatment.” The Pandora’s Box of litigation potentially spewing forth by so-called animal rights organizations, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the ASPCA, or various humane societies, could cripple livestock operations, pet stores, and even ordinary citizens whose interactions with animals may be deemed “abusive.”
SB15-042 was quietly euthanized in the Senate Judicial Committee, whence, because of its positive Karma, it may be reincarnated in some future form.
This round of executions saved the State of Colorado a total of $3,617,390.00.
Posted by Reagangirl.com 2/19/15