Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cruising the Web

As Obama has vetoed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, let us remember, as Holman Jenkins writes, that oil isn't traveling through our country. It's just doing so by a much more risky method than a pipeline.
It’s better to be lucky than good. President Obama, who arrived promising to heal the planet and halt the rising seas, instead presided over a fossil-fuel renaissance in America. If you were unemployed and found a decent job in Obama’s economy, there’s a good chance it was a fracking job. If things are finally looking up for the middle class, cheap gas is a major contributor.

He was lucky again on July 6, 2013. Thanks to various competing news stories (a plane crash in San Francisco, the Trayvon Martin shooting trial), Americans did not dwell on a fiery oil-train accident in Canada that killed 47. For if there’s one boom Mr. Obama can claim authorship of, it’s the oil-by-rail boom.

A business that barely existed when he took office now moves an impressive million barrels a day. The oil pouring forth from America’s resurgent fields, after all, has to reach market somehow. And as the Journal explained in December, political opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has “emboldened resistance to at least 10 other pipeline projects across North America. . . . The groups coordinate their moves in regular conference calls and at meetings in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.”

The publication Energy Monitor Worldwide elaborated in September: “Environmentalists and governments are making it more and more difficult to get approval to build pipelines, so producers are increasingly using rail to get their oil to refineries for processing into products that the American public needs. . . . If all the railcars carrying crude oil on a single day were hitched together to a single locomotive, that train would be about 17 miles long.” we are reminded every few weeks, trains will still derail, oil will spill, and messes will have to be cleaned up.

Which raises a question: What are Mr. Obama’s true policy convictions, if any?

After the midterm elections, we might have expected him to try to tempt the new Republican majority with a tax-reform deal in return for a carbon tax. Even if the effort didn’t bear immediate fruit, the way would be pointed toward a long-term bargain to restore growth while addressing climate-change fears.

We also would have expected him finally to wave through the Keystone pipeline, if only out of irritation with green allies for tormenting him over a phony symbolic issue.

Wrong on both counts. Polls show the public supports the pipeline; labor wants the jobs. But for Mr. Obama, the balancing factor is clearly the criticism he would receive from the Sierra Club, the hostile tweets that might be directed at him from millennials, and the money that a handful of green billionaires might redirect to the Clinton Foundation rather than Mr. Obama’s own post-presidential occupations.

What seems absent from his calculations are any practical considerations outside the political bubble, such as the millions of barrels of flammable liquid that will be rumbling through America’s residential neighborhoods aboard mile-long oil trains.
So no one should believe that Obama vetoed the Keystone pipeline out of true concern for the environment. He said he vetoed the bill out of respect for the procedural process. As if the man who ignored the procedural process in taking action to allow illegal immigrants to stay here and to allow extensions on Obamacare to avoid deadlines explicitly written into the law really cares about following correct procedure.

Kevin Williamson explains how extreme the left has gotten in opposing any development in energy infrastructure.
It isn’t just Keystone. The Left is working to block every piece of energy infrastructure of any consequence everywhere in the country, in the hopes that doing so will hobble the oil and gas industries and usher in a new age in which the American economy runs on solar panels and happy thoughts. (Never mind that solar panels are made out of polyester, meaning made out of oil, just as wind turbine blades are made from oil, etc.) In New York, Governor Cuomo has banned modern techniques of gas extraction categorically, while environmentalists are working to regulate into nonexistence the rail infrastructure used to transport oil where pipelines are not available. Others in New York are working to strangle the oil-shipping facilities at the port in Albany.

On the other side of the country, environmental activists are working to block the expansion of marine and rail facilities that enable the export of coal to foreign markets. The Sierra Club has been laboring mightily to block U.S. natural-gas exports to foreign markets.

There are two ways of looking at the fossil-fuel business: One is that the extraction, processing, and consumption of fossil fuels entails both risks and environmental costs, which have to be responsibly managed. The other is: Fossil fuels are evil, and the extraction, processing, and consumption of them must be stopped by any means necessary. That used to be a debate in the environmentalist movement, but it isn’t really a debate any more: The lunatics won. And the lunatics write a great many very large checks to Democrats, and therefore must be accommodated.

That’s why Keystone is being vetoed.

Read more at:

Jay Cost examines whether Jeb Bush has any appeal outside the professional political class. Cost, author of two excellent historical analyses on American power, sees a parallel to the election of 1880.
This points to Jeb’s big challenge. He might be able to attract his own version of the “Immortal 306,” corralling a sizeable portion of the GOP’s professional class, but as Grant’s experience in 1880 illustrates, that is not enough. One has to make a broader offer to the party. In 1880, Grant failed to do that. The logic of a Grant restoration made little sense that year -- at least to those who did not draw a living from politics. Hence, he never made it past those core supporters. The country, and for that matter much of the Republican party, had moved on. So Grant lost.

Jeb certainly looks to be cornering the market on the modern variety of professional Republicans, but he too will have to do more. What is the case for a Bush restoration, beyond the fact that it would make the professional GOP comfortable once again? Why should average Republican primary voters -- the insurance salesmen and truck drivers, not pollsters and policy advisors -- choose Jeb over Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, or the dozen other potential nominees? Jeb will have to make a very persuasive argument on this front. He will face tougher competition than his brother did in 2000. Indeed, 2016 could see the most competitive GOP primary since 1980.

As Grant’s experience in 1880 demonstrates, winning over the insiders and professionals is simply not enough. The Immortal 306 may stay with you the whole way, but they are never a majority of the party. Can Jeb expand beyond them? It remains to be seen.

The secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, has offered up the lamest excuse for his lie that he was in special forces.
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is admitting he erred in claiming during a conversation with a homeless veteran that he served in the U.S. military's special forces.

McDonald's claim came in a January exchange with the veteran, who said he'd served in special forces, that was captured by CBS News cameras for a story on the VA's effort to find housing for homeless veterans.

"Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!" McDonald told the man.

McDonald completed Army Ranger training, but was never assigned to a Ranger battalion, serving instead in the 82nd Airborne Division.

When The Huffington Post contacted McDonald about the claim, he acknowledged that what he'd said "is not right. I was not in special forces. What I said was wrong."

McDonald also admitted he misled the veteran in a statement issued Monday.

"While I was in Los Angeles, engaging a homeless individual to determine his Veteran status, I asked the man where he had served in the military. He responded that he had served in special forces. I incorrectly stated that I had been in special forces," McDonald said in the statement. "That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement."
He said he was trying to "connect" with that veteran. McDonald did serve honorably in the 82nd Airborne in the 1970s and did graduate from Ranger School although he never served in a Ranger battalion. Why exaggerate his service? How can he serve to help veterans if he's been exposed as puffing up his resume?

Now he tells us. It is only now that David Axelrod tells us that he never thought all that well of John Edwards even as he was working on Edwards' 2004 campaign.

Body language experts analyze what John Travolta and Joe Biden have in common in how they inappropriately touch women in public.

John Hinderaker wonders why government funding of environmental research should be any less suspect than private funding. It's not as if the government doesn't have a predetermined interest in certain results being found.
This is the point I really want to make: the New York Times and other pro-government sources assume that government funding of research is lily-white, while corporate funding is inherently suspect. This is ridiculous. Put aside, for a moment, the fact that the American environmental movement is funded by Russia’s state-controlled oil company. Also the fact that Greenpeace gets money ($203 million) from the American Petroleum Foundation, with another $214 million coming from the Chamber of Commerce.

That isn’t the real scandal. The real scandal is that the overwhelming majority of money spent on climate research comes from governments. Governments, most notably ours, fund climate hysteria to the tune of billions of dollars per year. Why? Because the whole point of global warming alarmism is to persuade voters to cede more control over Western economies to government. (No one actually cares about CO2 emissions from India or China, which together vastly exceed ours.)

Governments fund climate research–but only climate research that feeds alarmism–because they are the main parties in interest in the climate debate. Governments stand to gain trillions of dollars in revenue and unprecedented power if voters in the U.S. and other Western countries can be stampeded into ceding more power to them, based on transparently bad science.

Mary Katharine Ham, co-author with Guy Benson of the upcoming book, End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun), explains how the fight between the University of Chicago and Columbia over hosting President's Obama's presidential library is "pretty much the most Obama thing ever." Apparently, the University of Chicago has included land in its proposal that the university does not own.
The green-space citizens will lose. The trauma-center advocates and everyone injured seriously on the South Side will lose. There are more important issues at stake here, like stealing property from public coffers on the orders of a strong-arming mayor who used to work for the president whose library foundation is ostentatiously waffling about its decision to come to Chicago so as to extract as much as it can from the citizens of his former city in service to his legacy.

If their goal was to accurately reflect the legacy of this president, they’ve already done it beautifully.

Chicago, you toddlin’ town.

Oops. There's a pause on Rahm Emanuel's road to a reelection coronation. He's been forced into a runoff.

Representative Steve Israel wonders how Atticus Finch would survive in modern politics.
He’d never cut it in elected office.

His defense of Tom Robinson would make him “soft on crime.”

His distaste for guns would make him a target of the gun lobby.

His use of a gun to kill a rabid dog would make him inhumane to the animal rights PACs.

His belief in considering other opinions would make him “Flip-Flop Finch.”

And his association with the shadowy Boo Radley would trigger questions about his own character. I can imagine the grainy footage of Boo, the foreboding piano music, the narrator’s voice exhorting us to “Call Atticus Finch. Because we deserve the truth!”

That's inconvenient. A multicultural expert on Islamophobia in Sweden has now joined ISIS and appeared in one of their videos encouraging other Swedes to join up.

This is classless. Rand Paul's chief political adviser has been soliciting donations from conservatives and political insiders, some connected to Rand Paul's RAND PAC, to help pay the expenses for he and his wife to adopt a child.