Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Obama: Terrorism Now on G20 Agenda, But So Are 'Other Critical Issues Like Climate Change'

There is clearly nothing that will blast him out of his ideological bunker.  He is a fanatic

The terror attacks in Paris have steered the G20 Summit in unforeseen directions, but "we still had time to discuss some of the other critical issues like climate change," President Obama said in Turkey on Sunday.

Obama appeared at the microphone with President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey after their bilateral meeting.

"Traditionally, the G20 has been a forum primarily to discuss important economic issues facing the globe," Obama said. "But as President Erdogan noted, the skies have been darkened by the horrific attacks that took place in Paris just a day and a half ago."

The president called the murderous rampage "an attack on the civilized world," and he described Turkey as a "strong partner" in the anti-ISIL coalition.

"As a NATO ally, we have worked together to bring about pressure on ISIL (Daesh), even as we also try to bring about a political transition inside of Syria that can relieve the suffering of so many people and eliminate the environment in which ISIL can operate.

"So the discussion we had today, I think, was very helpful in helping to continue to coordinate the work that we're doing together to help to fortify the borders between Syria and Turkey that allow Daesh to operate."

Obama also mentioned refugees, on the same day it was reported that one of the Paris bombers came into France with refugees from Syria.

"We also had an opportunity to discuss the burden of refugees that Turkey has been bearing. And the United States, as the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to displaced persons and refugees, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Turkey, Europe, and others in trying to help those who need help right now, even as we hope to reduce the flow of migrants because of the situation inside of Syria."

The Obama administration insists the refugees can be thoroughly vetted before they are admitted, but many people, including Rep. Peter King, disagree.

Obama ended his remarks in Turkey with the following reassurance:

"And we still had time to discuss some of the other critical issues like climate change, including development and growth, and other topics that are of great importance to all the G20 countries."

Earlier this month, when he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama hailed the United States as "a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change."

And this is one fight for which he shows true enthusiasm:

"Today, we’re continuing to lead by example," Obama said on Nov. 6.  "Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.

"As long as I’m President of the United States, America is going to hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world...If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now.  Not later.  Not someday.  Right here, right now.

"And I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish together.  I’m optimistic because our own country proves, every day -- one step at a time -- that not only do we have the power to combat this threat, we can do it while creating new jobs, while growing our economy, while saving money, while helping consumers, and most of all, leaving our kids a cleaner, safer planet at the same time."

He promised that America will "show the rest of the world the way forward."

President Obama plans to attend the upcoming climate talks in Paris that are still scheduled to begin on Nov. 20.


What Does Bernie Sanders Think Our Biggest National Security Threat Is?

Just one night after the horrific events in Paris that left over 120 people dead, the Democrats had a debate. You might not have known about it, because the DNC scheduled it at 9pm on a Saturday night, as part of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's not so covert campaign to suppress any and all challenges to Hillary Clinton.

Anyway, it happened. And questions were asked about foreign policy, and answers were given. And they were...interesting. Particularly those offered by Bernie Sanders. The wild haired former Flower Child who honeymooned in Moscow and once cut a spoken word album of 60s protest songs was asked what the greatest threat to America's national security was, and his answer suggested that he might not have put the peace pipe down after Woodstock:

    "Bernie Sanders opened Saturday night's Democratic debate by vowing to rid the world of ISIS, the terrorist organization that claimed responsibility for killing more than 100 people in Paris Friday. In a follow-up question, moderator John Dickerson pointed out that during a debate last month, Sanders had identified "climate change" as the greatest threat to national security. "Do you still believe that?" asked Dickerson.

    "Absolutely," replied Sanders. He added that "of course international terrorism is a major issue that we have got to address today," but argued that "climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism." Sanders warned that global warming could cause international conflicts "over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to…grow crops."

Does Sanders have a point? It is certainly true that Middle Eastern nations have their share of problems, and that the nations arid climate makes it difficult to grow things. But perhaps there's more to it. I would ask Senator Sanders to perhaps put aside his Malthusian doomsaying and just consider that milennia old, sectarian religious tensions, autocratic rule, and an aversion to the Enlightenment might have played a role.

He probably won't. You see, Bernie Sanders has spent the greater part of his life blaming America and showing, at the very least, compassion for its enemies. He's made a career by outrightly rejecting the principles of the founding, crying "hypocrite" when America fails to meet their lofty standards, all the while giving a free pass to the radical leftist regimes who sacrifice their own people in pursuit of unattainable equality at all costs. That sort of long term cognitive dissonance probably has a traumaitc effect on the brain. It's the sort of thing that can lead a guy to believe that a lack of oral sex causes cervical cancer.

It's quite possible that at age 74, decades of Soviet Era denialism, acid flashbacks, and deeply embedded bong resin has profoundly damaged Bernie's brain. There's simply no other way to explain a guy thinking the Koch Brothers are a greater danger to American security than the Islamic State.


Bill Gates On Climate Policy: More Hot Air

For years he was hated for his success, so he now courts popularity at any cost

Bill Gates is so worried about the prospect of global warming that he has pledged $2 billion of his own fortune to spur research and development (R&D) projects to, according to The Atlantic, “invent [our] way out of the coming collision with planetary climate change.”

He wants other billionaires to join the effort by ponying up some of their own wealth, but he also wants governments to impose taxes on carbon substantial enough to wean humankind off coal and natural gas. Mr. Gates thinks that the private sector is so “inept” that it cannot or will not rise to the challenge for two reasons.

For one, “there’s no fortune to be made” by investing in alternative energy sources. Second, most of the companies in which private venture capitalists invest “go poorly,” whereas “since World War II, U.S. government R&D has defined the state of the art in almost every area.”

That last statement is breathtaking and, by the accounts of many economists who have studied the wellsprings of innovation, simply wrong. Even a blind squirrel eventually finds an acorn, so it is not surprising that throwing tons of money at government-sponsored research projects sometimes pays off. But the public sector is too distant from markets and too much influenced by special interests to innovate routinely. History is littered with failed public investments in search of the next new thing. Remember President Carter’s taxpayer-financed push to develop a synthetic fuel to replace gasoline?

It is of course true that most startups financed by venture capitalists bomb, as do most privately funded R&D projects. Experimentation and disappointment are the hallmarks of a vibrant, market economy. Only by learning what doesn’t work can entrepreneurs learn what does. Freedom to fail is as key to innovation and progress as is the freedom to succeed. The pace may be slow, as Mr. Gates opines; it takes time, money and effort to figure out what investments ultimately will be profitable because no one person, especially so a politician or bureaucrat, possesses that knowledge at the outset.

Moreover, as documented in Matt Ridley’s new book, The Evolution of Everything, echoing Terence Kealey’s earlier The Economic Laws of Scientific Research, most of the major inventions of the past 150 years have originated not from scientific advances or from taxpayer-financed R&D, but from the private sector’s engineering departments and shop floors as people on the ground encountered and solved practical production problems. The steam engine, for example, preceded the discovery of the second law of thermodynamics, not vice versa.

According to the Energy Information Administration, although total annual carbon emissions in the United States rose somewhat in intervening years, they are now approaching levels not seen since 1990. And if one looks only at the CO2 produced by burning coal, emissions in 2012 are close to what they were in the early 1980s. That is a consequence of utilities responding to environment concerns and, perhaps more so, because the shale gas revolution made switching from coal to natural gas a rational (profitable) economic calculation.

Improvements in environmental quality track economic growth in every nation on Earth, once annual incomes per capita reach and then exceed about $8,000. The best recipe for clean air and clean water is market-driven economic progress, not government intervention.

Although Mr. Gates deserves applause for putting his own money where his mouth is, he is mendacious in maligning the economic system that made him the richest man on the planet. He is properly concerned that action against global warming will come to naught unless joined by China, India and other developing nations. That is unlikely, at least until they have become rich enough to worry about their own environments.

Climate change is not “settled science” – no science ever is. Even if we assume that global temperatures are climbing and that rising temperatures are caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, people like eminent physicist Freeman Dyson are correct to point out that the “consensus” ignores the benefits of CO2 emissions for, among other things, global food production.

Market forces triggered by changes in relative prices explain why coal is being replaced by natural gas in generating electricity. Such Schumpeterian “creative destruction” and the incentives thus unleashed are far more reliable than rule by climate change “experts” and the unholy alliances between the private and public sectors (“crony capitalism”) to which government intervention always gives rise.


Jerry Brown’s Costly Symbolism for Climate Activism

As we’ve been saying since June, when we published California Dreaming by Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan, the Golden State is facing a massive public-pension shortfall that will be covered with higher taxes and painful cutbacks in public services. Despite the fiscal disaster, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 185, a bill requiring state public pension funds to dump all their holdings of coal stocks—resulting in huge capital losses for the funds.

“Political correctness on so-called climate change thus imposes a cost on current and future public employees and taxpayers,” writes Independent Institute Research Director William F. Shughart II in an op-ed published in the San Jose Mercury News and elsewhere. “California’s symbolic action will have little or no impact on coal companies themselves, though, because other investors will buy the stocks CalPERS and CalSTRS dump at fire-sale prices.”

Activists prize the symbolism of divestment, but California’s public pension plans have paid a heavy price for it over the years. One estimate puts the total capital loss from various politically correct divestments at $4 billion to $8 billion. Shughart writes: “That estimate, if accurate, should drive angry pensioners and taxpayers into the street demanding that state officials rescind their precipitous action on SB 185, which adds to the total loss.”


Senate Undermines UN Climate Change Treaty

Just as Barack Obama is packing his bags to attend the United Nations' summit on climate change (held in Paris, which we hear is lovely right about now), the Senate will consider three proposals that, if passed, would undermine his standing at the international meeting.

Two resolutions, which only need simple majorities to pass because they are “resolutions of disapproval,” would nullify the Obama administration’s emissions regulations over operating power plants and roll back the regulations that essentially ban the creation of new coal plants.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a third piece of legislation that does the opposite of the bill introduced by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) that gave Obama the ability to ram the Iran nuclear deal through the Senate. Lee’s bill would require Barack Obama to get approval from the Senate for any climate change agreement he reached in Paris. “Pursuing a deal in Paris as an executive agreement, instead of as a treaty,” Lee said, “would not only violate the plain meaning of the United Nations convention, it would also defy the historical understanding of the constitutional limits that the president is subject to in connection with foreign affairs.”

Sure, Obama has his veto pen, but the resolutions would show Obama’s “international community” that he is not backed by America’s lawmakers. In other words, the Senate just, in the words of Mark Alexander, could frustrate Obama’s “political strategy to subjugate free enterprise under statist regulation — de facto socialism under the aegis of ‘saving us from ourselves.’”


EPA spent $1 million to put sex offenders on administrative leave

There are many reasons why an employer might sever ties with one of its employees, but apparently at the Environmental Protection Agency, breaking the law is not one of them.

In fact, drug and child-sex offenders received paid administrative leave in two cases of the agency’s use of administrative leave, which an audit called “unacceptable” and cost taxpayers over $1 million.

“Our analysis shows that the EPA’s use of administrative leave appears disproportionate when compared to U.S. Office of Personnel Management guidance related to unacceptable performance and misconduct,” the EPA’s inspector general wrote in an audit released Monday.

Auditors reviewed eight cases where employees received extended amounts of paid leave since 2010. The employees charged 20,926 hours of leave totaling $1,096,868. The cases were first identified by a Government Accountability Office investigation last year.

Investigators blasted the EPA for abusing administrative leave and giving employees paid time off for lengthy periods.

“According to Office of Personnel Management guidance, administrative leave should generally be limited to situations involving brief absences and not be used for an extended period of time. The cases reviewed involved administrative leave of 4 months or more for all but one of the employees included in the audit,” investigators wrote in the report.

“We do not consider 4 months or more to be a brief absence,” investigators wrote.

The report is also raising eyebrows among spending watchdogs who are fed up with the EPA’s abuse of taxpayer dollars.

“The EPA routinely shuts down productive businesses that create jobs. Now we come to find out that they spend $1 million on vacations for sexual predators and potheads working for them. They are out of control,” said Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform.

For using Americans’ tax dollars to pay for extended vacations for convicted criminals and other misbehaving employees who would have otherwise been fired, the EPA wins this week’s Golden Hammer, a weekly distinction awarded by The Washington Times highlighting the most egregious examples of federal waste, fraud and abuse.

“Once again, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has demonstrated a complete disregard for the rules, and the taxpayers are footing the bill by stretching the administrative leave rules beyond recognition,” said Richard Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government.

One of the employees examined in the audit confessed to “knowingly and intentionally engaging in sexual conduct with a child younger than 17 years,” in the 1990s. The same employee in August 2013 received paid administrative leave after being arrested on a probation violation.

The employee was put on 300 hours of paid leave before being removed from the agency five months later. The worker was then rehired from September 2014 to January 2015, with “no documentation” in their disciplinary action file, according to the report.

Another employee was placed on administrative leave for seven months after being arrested for marijuana possession. The EPA had proposed an indefinite suspension for that employee but ultimately signed a separation agreement and kept that employee on the payroll through November 2014. Once the leave period ended, the employee resigned.

“In the Obama administration’s EPA, a clear message has been sent that if you get in trouble with the law, you will continue getting paid your salary without the bother of showing up to earn it due to this abuse of the administrative leave system,” Mr. Manning said. “Given that this type of personnel issue continues to plague McCarthy, it is clear that she is not up to the basic managerial tasks of her position and should be replaced.”



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