Interesting Items 7/09 -
Howdy all, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy -
In this issue:
1. Roberts. The aftermath of the Roberts-led upholding of ObamaCare as constitutional because it was a tax continued to reverberate around the body politic last week. Make no mistake; this was a large caliber shock to the system. I still do not know what to make of it and perhaps am allowing my Pollyanna view of the political wars to color my judgment. Perhaps I am continuing to dig through the manure in an attempt to find the pony. And there is a lot of manure to be moved aside in this ruling. But the laws of physics continue to operate in the political world, and the reaction at the state level to the ruling has been most positive with Republican governors opting out of the Medicare / Medicaid expansion. As usual, Texas Governor Rick Perry led the way on this. There will be more, with Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Nikki Haley of SC also considering opting out. They could go further and look into a series of state compacts inviting the feds out of health care entirely. As state compacts are passed by legislatures and submitted to congress for approval, the political play will be most interesting, especially given the 26 states that joined the lawsuit against ObamaCare. Randy Barnett and Mark Levin had a fascinating rolling debate on the Roberts opinion, with Levin (and Limbaugh) continuing the nuclear winter routine. Barnett continues to find a lot to like. You can find Levin’s commentary on his Facebook page. You can find Barnett’s commentary here. Leaks claimed to originate from within the SCOTUS continue with Chief Justice Roberts taking the brunt of the heat. The latest series has him changing his mind after initially deciding to find ObamaCare unconstitutional. If accurate (and we are in the middle of campaign disinformation), Roberts has managed to so irritate and solidify the conservative Justices that the four of them (including Kennedy) will be operating as a block. The liberals will likewise be doing the same thing. One interesting piece of fallout was the refusal of Obama’s former Solicitor General Elena Kagan to recuse herself from this case. Louis Gohmert (R, TX) is looking into grounds to impeach her for lying during her confirmation hearings. This investigation is serious and may end up impeaching Kagan. This is not yet over and it will take a long time for the perturbations to the political system to settle down. If nothing else, conservatives and TEA Party people are infuriated and will stop at nothing to elect a congress and an administration that will repeal this disaster.
2. Fires. Parts of the western portion of Colorado Springs burned last week as several forest fires broke out and ravaged the dry, dry hillsides. This has been a particularly devastating fire season in Colorado, with hundreds of homes being burned. The cause appears to have been a combination of very dry conditions, high winds, and a long period that undergrowth was never removed or small fires allowed to burn. Small relatively frequent fires were the natural way to control undergrowth and Ponderosa Pines which grow on the slopes evolved to take advantage of those conditions. The trees were usually widely spaced. However, when people show up, they control fires as the fires will destroy buildings, ranches, farms and other infrastructure. The undergrowth and extra trees used to be removed mechanically by harvesting trees. Enter the environmental movement over the last few decades and you get increasing obstruction to logging and brush clearing, eventually halting all undergrowth removal completely. Eventually you get conditions for a really bad series of fires. As of this writing, the finger pointing and blame placing is going fast and furiously. Solution? Bring back logging. Bring back land clearing. Otherwise, your only option is a series of fires. Sooner would be better than later.
3. Economy. There have been a number of conservative commentators closely following the unemployment rate as an indicator of Obama’s chances of getting reelected. The magic number of 8% seems to be the agreed-upon target; with Obama being a relative lock for reelection should his administration be able to cook the employment statistics to report numbers below that line. But presidents have been reelected with double digit unemployment. The most recent was FDR who was reelected twice in the 1930s. He carried 48 states in 1936 with a 17% unemployment rate. Message to politicians and conservative bloggers: do not hang your hat entirely on magic numbers. First, because they are just numbers, and not particularly magic ones at that. Second and most importantly, the unemployment rate does not reflect actual pain of the unemployed in this economy as the Obama administration and democrats in congress have managed to turn the safety net into a hammock. The entire economy is at a standstill as businesses at all levels hold their collective breath and wait for the outcome of the election in November. Should conservatives fail on any of their three goals at the federal level: keeping control of the House, gaining a working majority in the Senate, and taking the Presidency - all Hell will break loose as the 21 new taxes of ObamaCare / ObamaTax kick in and the Bush tax cuts expire. It will not be a pretty beginning to 2013 should we lose.
4. Race. Sporting events here in Alaska are a bit more dangerous than those in the Lower 48. Typical problems include cold, wet conditions, snow, the occasional encounter with moose or bear, and high, cold water. The latest example is a yearly race up and down Mount Marathon out of Seward, AK. The footrace is up and down the 3,100 foot mountain and takes place yearly on the Fourth of July. The mountain is a pretty rough place, with the trip up being relatively easy, and the trip down being pretty exciting. This year, there were two runners put into the hospital with severe injuries due to falls on the way down. One is still in critical condition and the other is somewhat better. Worse, there is a missing 66-year old runner who was last seen on the way up, 200 feet from the summit. He never made it off the mountain. The search for him started less than two hours after the end of the race and as of this writing, he has not been found. Weather during the race was cold and wet with temperatures in the low 50s at the start. Cold water kills, and it is especially dangerous here in Alaska where you do not realize that you are living on the edge with little of the safety margin you have in the Lower 48 where it is warmer. Hypothermia / thermal shock kicks in incredibly quickly and is life threatening.
5. XCOR. The terrible economic conditions and hostility to business jettisoned yet another entrepreneurial startup out of California. NewSpace company XCOR announced it would be departing Mohave and moving its operations to Midland, TX. XCOR Aerospace is one of the suborbital startups currently selling tickets for suborbital rides into space. They were one of the competitors for the X-Prize won by Bert Rutan’s Scaled Composites in 2004. The private sector is falling all over itself to fill the void now that NASA is out of the manned space flight business, now that congress has finally broken the monopoly on manned space flight. And like all small businesses, they will go wherever they need to go to be successful. California’s loss is Texas’ gain and another feather in the hat of Rick Perry. Congratulations to all involved. Note that XCOR will not be the last NewSpace company to leave California. http://www.xcor.com/
6. Biofuels. Hot Air and a few other blog sites have been running stories about the Navy’s biofuels program. The stories have been written from the perspective that the program is a large waste of time, energy and resources with the bio-diesel costing in the neighborhood of $21 / gallon. On the face of it, this is yet another horrendous example of waste and fraud by the Obama administration. Yet if you look a bit further, it is part of a psy-ops program aimed squarely at our enemies from the Religion of Endless Outrage (Islam). The program started in the mid-2000s under SECDEF Donald Rumsfeld and was intended to manufacture vehicle fuels (ships, aircraft and ground vehicles) out of animal parts and leftovers (think pork and swine). The idea is to publicly advertise what is actually a very small effort (in actual gallons delivered and used) and to point out to our friends in the Middle East that they are snarfing down pork and swine fumes every single time a vehicle passes by, a jet or helo flies overhead, or a ship passes by. Not only do they breathe the fumes, but they cannot escape and get to live in it continuously. So much for being â€œunclean.â€ It is simply another way to get inside the skulls of our enemies, which is not a bad thing at all.
More later -