The First Deepwater Drilling Permit Has Been Issued In The Gulf Since The BP Blowout

Today’s New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Noble Energy has been issued the first deepwater drilling permit since the BP blowout last year.  The article noted that the permit was to resume work on a previously approved well. 

The article reports:

“Unrest in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East is fostering uncertainty in the oil markets and driving U.S. gas prices up significantly. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., reacted to the Noble permit by mentioning the specter of $4-per-gallon gas at the pumps and threatened to maintain his hold on Obama’s Fish and Wildlife Service nominee Dan Ashe until 15 deepwater drilling permits are approved.”

I hate to admit that I am cynical about this permit, but the above paragraph might explain why it was suddenly issued. 

The article further reports:

“”This permit represents a significant milestone for us and for the offshore oil and gas industry, and is an important step towards safely developing deepwater energy supplies offshore,” Bromwich said. “This permit was issued for one simple reason: the operator successfully demonstrated that it can drill its deepwater well safely and that it is capable of containing a subsea blowout if it were to occur. We expect further deepwater permits to be approved in coming weeks and months based on the same process that led to the approval of this permit.”

“Most drilling in deepwater was banned by President Barack Obama’s administration last May through Oct. 12. Since then, the only permits that have been approved have been for the type of technical work that wasn’t prohibited by the drilling moratorium, such as water-infusion wells that are not intended to tap into oil reservoirs.”

America has the oil and natural gas resources to be energy independent and to end the recession we are currently in (I know the government says the recession is over, but there are still an awful lot of people looking for jobs).  The problem has been that oil companies have not been able to obtain the permits and leases to go after the oil and natural gas.  Hopefully the recent unrest in the Middle East has caused the Obama Administration to see the need for energy independence (unfortunately, we are a carbon-based economy, so energy independence involves coal, oil, and natural gas–not wind and solar).  Wind and solar may be the energy of the future, but coal, oil, and natural gas are the energy of the present.

What We Need To Know About The War We Are In

I usually don’t try to summarize three page articles, but this one is important, so after you read this post, please follow the link to the original article.  It is worth your time.

On Saturday, Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review entitled, “The OIC and the Caliphate.”  The OIC is the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of 57 members (56 nations and the Palestinian authority) formed to pursue the interests of the world’s Muslims. 

Mr. McCarthy quotes some of the statements by the OIC leaders:

“Muslims are taught to think of themselves as a community, a single Muslim Nation. “I say let this land burn. I say let this land go up in smoke,” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini famously said of his own country in 1980, even as he consolidated his power there, even as he made Iran the point of his revolutionary spear. “We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah.” Muslims were not interested in maintaining the Westphalian system of nation states. According to Khomeini, who was then regarded by East and West as Islam’s most consequential voice, any country, including his own, could be sacrificed in service of the doctrinal imperative that “Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”"

The OIC for all intents and purposes is a caliphate–a religious state comprised of many states.  A caliphate functions under Sharia law.  Today the caliphate is an ideal, historically it was an actual state:

“The caliphate is an ideal now, much like the competing ideal of a freedom said to be the yearning of every human heart. Unlike the latter ideal, the caliphate had, for centuries, a concrete existence. It was formally dissolved in 1924, a signal step in Kemal Atatürk’s purge of Islam from public life in Turkey. Atatürk, too, thought he had an early line on the End of History. One wonders what he’d make of Erdogan’s rising Islamist Turkey.”

Again Mr. McCarthy reminds us of the history of Islam:

“”Individual Muslims,” Churchill wrote at the turn of the century, demonstrated many “splendid qualities.” That, however, did not mean Islam was splendid or that its principles were consonant with Western principles. To the contrary, Churchill opined, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.” Boxed in by rigid sharia, Islam could only “paralyse the social development of those who follow it.” Reason had evolved the West, but Islam had revoked reason’s license in the tenth century, closing its “gates of ijtihad” — its short-lived tradition of introspection. Yet, sharia’s rigidity did not render Islam “moribund.” Churchill recognized the power of the caliphate, of the hegemonic vision. “Mohammedanism,” he concluded, remained “a militant and proselytising faith.”"

Islam is not interesting in co-existing with other religious or political systems:

“…The Cairo Declaration boasts that Allah has made the Islamic ummah “the best community . . . which gave humanity a universal and well-balanced civilization.” It is the “historical role” of the ummah to “civilize” the rest of the world — not the other way around.”

Those who believe that the west can make peace with Islam are sadly mistaken.  Please read the entire article for a better understanding of the historic conflict we now find ourselves engaged in.

What Is Hate Speech And Does It Matter

CBN News reported today on a group called the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971.  The group’s website features a ‘hate map’ listing hate groups in the United States.  There are groups in the United States that teach hate and prejudice, and it is good idea to know who they are and where they are.  However, there is a problem–who determines exactly what is hate speech?  That seems to be the question.

According to the CBN article, the Southern Poverty Law Center has now included Christian and pro-family organizations as hate groups. 

The article at CBN reports:

“A recent issue of the SPLC’s magazine, “Intelligence Report,” claims that homosexuals are the most targeted minority in America. 

“The magazine lists 13 organizations as haters because of their stance on homosexuality.  The Christian organization, Family Research Council, is among those added to the hate groups list this year.

“Editor Mark Potok, who helped compile the hate list, told CBN News that just because a group believes homosexuality is unbiblical does not earn it a spot on the list.   

“Potok says if the organization engages in name-calling and spouts arguments that the Southern Poverty Law Center believes have been proven untrue, then it’s a hate group.

“”While I am not absolutely trying to draw a comparison between say, the Family Research Council and a neo-Nazi organization, it does meet our criteria,” Potok said. ”The FRC does engage, certainly in our view, in the propagation of known falsehoods in an effort to defame gay people.”" 

The Family Research Council (FRC) was added to the list because of their reporting on a study that linked homosexuality to pedophilia.  The FRC has stated that it welcomes a debate on the study, while the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has started its own campaign by trying to convince CNN not to give air time to guests from what they call, “the anti-gay industry.”

Hate speech is something that should be strongly discouraged.  However, the problem occurs in determining exactly what is hate speech.  What is the difference between hate speech and speech that is simply politically incorrect?

Economic Growth In Brazil

Today, the American Thinker posted an article about the economy of Brazil.  Why in the world should we care about the economy in Brazil?  Well, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cited that economy as a good example to follow–3-6% economic growth recently and a place on the world stage with the World Cup Soccer games and the 2016 Olympic Games.  Sounds good, but that’s not the whole picture.

The article at American Thinker reports:

“Brazil’s economy actually is growing at a superheated pace, this much is true.  It is the B in the BRIC )Brazil, Russia, India, and China), which together seems to have a controlling destiny in the world economy.  After generations of misrule and flirtations with Communism, Brazil seems to have its legs beneath her.  The currency is finally stable (with interest rates, however, from 14% and upward) and taxes now just onerous rather than impossible.  There exists a growing middle class and considerable upward mobility that never really existed before.  The problem is that Brazil still cannot shake its pinko roots.
“Politicians in Brazil promise everything to everybody.  Its astronomically popular recent president Lula was the original community organizer.  What kind of promises? Every Brazilian with a “legitimate” job is guaranteed 30 days of vacation after the first year.  In addition, their Social Security system makes the US government look miserly.  And once you are hired in a legitimate job, you have to try very hard to lose your job — public or private sector.”   
The problem is that this is not sustainable.  There are not enough legitimate jobs, so the economy is being driven underground.  Corruption is rampant–pay-to-play between the government and businesses is common, and there is no dream of starting your own business.
The article states:
“Before extolling the virtues of beat-down market socialism, maybe our politicians should do their homework first, that is unless they like what they see-a people subservient to their will.  Good luck, America, with the endless lines like in Brazil and the mushrooming number of incompetent and corrupt politicians and public servants.  Get ready, also, for an army of those who think they know better about your life.” 
Big government does not work–anywhere.  Once the government gets its nose under the tent of private enterprise and our personal lives, prosperity and privacy are doomed.

The Numbers Behind The Protest In Wisconsin

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article yesterday about the numbers behind the protests by the Teachers’ Union in Wisconsin. 

The article reports:

“Some have called for Walker to reconsider his push to remove pensions and benefits from collective bargaining with public-employee unions as a compromise, but Gary Gross recalls a Patrick McIlheran column from December that explains exactly why Wisconsin needs to push for PEU reform now.   The MSJ columnist wrote about the big stake that the Wisconsin Education Association has in forcing individual school districts to negotiate benefits — because they can demand that their own WEA Trust have a monopoly on health insurance:”

The numbers tell the story.  WEA Trust plans average $1,665 a month for family, the state insurance programs cost an average of $1,466. 

The article reports:

“Milton was paying $48,301 more in premiums for every month that it couldn’t switch from WEA Trust to a pair of plans from Madison-based Dean Health and Janesville-based MercyCare that it said were comparable.”

“…And it saved a bundle for a district saddled with “bleak local economic conditions,” as its arbitration case put it. It is losing students and, thus, state aid. The area is losing population. The district needed to control premiums, and the arbitrator agreed.

The question is why it had to go to arbitration at all. The answer is that in Wisconsin, school districts can’t change health carriers – even if they keep benefits the same – without negotiating. And teachers unions have been very partial to keeping WEA Trust.”

Essentially, the unions had tied the hands of the people running the state who were trying to limit the cost of running the state. 

Mr. Morrissey concludes:

“The refusal to collect union dues probably fuels the union opposition most, as it will strangle their political operation in Wisconsin.  But for the WEA in particular, the loss of their near-monopoly on health insurance in the public sector will do the next-highest level of damage to union finances.  Just remember that when people tell you that the cause for which they’re fighting isn’t about money, it usually is.”

Governor Walker has been accused of union-busting.  There is nothing wrong with unions, but when unions get out of control and are bankrupting the state, they need to be reined in.

 

Some Hope In The Fight For Freedom

We don’t know how the revolt in Egypt will eventually play out.  We do know that many of the people on the streets were expressing a sincere desire to be free from the rule of a dictatorship and to be free to thrive economically.  One of the aspects of the revolt in Egypt was the use of social networking and the internet to share information and to get information to the outside world.

On Thursday, February 17, the Walpole Times (Walpole, Massachusetts) published a story about an organization called the Tor Project which offers anonymity online.  The free software designed by the Tor Project hides the physical location of the internet user and circumvents government surveillance and censorship.  The Executive Director of the Tor Project is Andrew Lewman.

According to the article:

“Tor software was downloaded 36 million times last year worldwide, Lewman said, with about 500.000 on and off users of the privacy portal each day.  Before protests began in Egypt, however, people in the country didn’t utilize the software as much as other activists around the world.

“At the start of January, only about 200 to 300 sessions were originating from Egypt per day, he said.  By the time the Egyptian government basically shut down the country’s Internet and blocked cell phones late last month, those numbers increased tenfold.”

The highest number of users of Tor are in China, Germany and the United States. 

Tor is used by people who want to protect their privacy and by law enforcement agencies to hide their identity while investigating Internet crime.

The potential of Tor to allow a more free flow of information in countries where accessing certain websites can be hazardous to your health is wonderful.  The internet can be an amazing weapon in the fight against tyrants.  There are no guarantees that pro-western democracies will emerge out of the turmoil in the Middle East, but the Tor Project software may make it more difficult for dictators to stay in power indefinitely.

Did You Know Your Tax Dollars Were Fighting Obesity ?

On Friday the Daily Caller posted a story highlighting a stimulus-funded anti-obesity program that has been going on under the auspices of a program under the $650 million Recovery Act called Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW).  The program has now given grants to thirty-one localities to fight obesity.  California has received $55.1 million to “reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and promote healthy eating” and “implement physical education policies in schools.”  Washington State received $25.5 million to fight obesity–that money went to the Seattle and King County Department of Public Health.  Some of the other recipients of money–Philadelphia, Chicago, Pima County in Arizona, San Antonio and Austin in Texas, and Boston.  Some of these cities rank as the fittest cities in America, but they received money to fight obesity.

Meanwhile, Pepsi Beverages Company stopped production at its Baltimore, Maryland, plant, partly as the result of a new two-cent beverage tax in Baltimore. 

Just as a side note, West Virginia and Arkansas both have a soda tax.  Those states have two of the highest obesity rates in the country.  A tax on soda does not always result in a slimmer population.

Obesity is a health problem in America, but as usual, the government has intruded too far into our lives using our tax money.  Good nutrition and health habits need to be taught in our schools.  Healthy eating needs to be encouraged, but at the end of the day, what we eat should be our own personal choice.  It really is not the job of the government to tell Americans what to eat.  The government has more important things to do.

Something To Consider When You Hear Second Amendment Debates

The Sunday Times of Australia posted an article this week about the tempered glassware that will be introduced in the pubs and clubs in Western Australia.  Britain made a similar move last year (see rightwinggranny.com article of February 6, 2010). 

Western Australian Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron and the Australian Hotels Association have been working to introduce the safety glass–identical in look, feel, and weight to the standard glass, but it shatters on impact rather than producing shards.

The move to the safety glass is supposed to cut down on ‘glass attacks’ in clubs and pubs in Western Australia.  A safety glass cannot be used as a weapon because it shatters on impact.

Why am I mentioning this story in connection with the Second Amendment of the U. S. Constitution?  Australia instituted a program of buying back guns from its population in 1997.  Obviously, this was done to cut down on crime.  Now they are changing the type of glass used in pubs to avoid glass attacks.  Maybe the problem isn’t the weapon–it’s the person.  United States crime statistics show that murder and robbery rates are lower in states that allow for concealed carrying of weapons.  Grandma is less likely to be mugged if the muggers suspect she may be packing heat.  It’s simple logic.

The next time someone tells you that they want to prevent American citizens from owning guns, you might ask them if they think Americans should be allowed to own glasses.

Just Because Someone Said It Doesn’t Make It True

“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
– Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
 
That sums up some of what is happening in the debate over cutting state spending in Wisconsin.  Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted a commentary about the claim made by Wisconsin union supporters that Virginia, a state that bans collective bargaining in state agencies, ranks 44th in the nation in ACT/SAT scores, as opposed to Wisconsin’s ranking 13th. That is simply not true.  In 2010, Virginia ranked 12th and Winconsin ranked 17th.  Virginia bans the forcing of workers to pay union dues and prohibits collective bargaining with government employee unions.  The claim is being made in order to further the idea that strong unions provide good schools with good results.  There is, in fact, no evidence to support that claim–there may be evidence to the contrary.
 
The claim being made about Virginia ranking 44th has made its way into various news outlets–it is on the website of The Economist, and the writer of the article at the Washington Examiner commented that he expected to see the statistic cited in newspapers in the near future.
 
Unfortunately, when it comes to news reporting, we have reached the point in America where the word of the day is ‘buyer beware.’

Jihad Comes To Texas

This story is based on two sources–a press release from the Justice Department yesterday, and a story at CBN.com today.

Some highlights from the Justice Department Press Release:

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested late yesterday by FBI agents in Texas on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and his research of potential U.S. targets.

…Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock at 9:00 a.m. on Friday morning.  Aldawsari, who was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

…In another e-mail titled “NICE TARGETS 01,” Aldawsari allegedly sent himself the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California.   In another e-mail to himself, titled “NICE TARGETS,” he listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants.   On Feb. 6, 2011, the affidavit alleges, Aldawsari sent himself an e-mail titled “Tyrant’s House,” in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush.   The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari conducted research that could indicate his consideration of the use of infant dolls to conceal explosives and possible targeting of a nightclub with an explosive concealed in a backpack.

There are a few things in this press release worth noting:  the chemicals and materials needed to build an improvised explosive device (IED) are readily available, this man was in the country legally on a student visa, and this man felt secure enough about not being watched or monitored that he was sending himself emails detailing his plans.  Mr. Aldawsari is believed to be a ‘lone wolf’ terrorist, which means that there was no group to infiltrate and no member of the group to make a mistake that led to exposure.  There is the most difficult type of terrorist to find and thus, one of the most dangerous types.

The article at CBN points out:

“Federal officials were tipped off about the suspect after he tried to purchase a large amount of phenol — a chemical used to make high explosives.”

He was discovered because someone noticed his purchases of a a large amount of phenol, a chemical used to make high explosives.  Thank God someone was alert. 

“You’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat”

When I read this story, all I could think of was the line from JAWS, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

The U. K. Daily Mail reported today that 167 stranded U. S. citizens have left Tripoli this morning on the Maria Dolores.  There are 167 Americans on the ship and 118 people of other nationalities.  The ship is expected to reach port in Malta at about 3 o’clock EST.  The Americans have been on the boat since Wednesday.

The article explains that the ship was too small to handle the heavy weather in the Mediterranean Sea and had to wait for calmer seas.  Evidently, the Greeks had chartered a 204-meter boat and were able to evacuate their citizens earlier.  The Maria Dolores is a 68 meter boat.

The article also has a chart showing the nationalities of non-Libyans currently living in the country. 

The article states that Gadhafi is using foreign mercenaries to back up his regular forces in fighting the anti-Gadhafi forces.  Evidently, Gadhafi has no problem shooting or killing his own citizens.  That makes it very difficult to have a successful revolution.

Certainly Gadhafi is not a friend of the United States, however, I sincerely doubt that any regime coming in if his regime fails will be friendlier.

The anti-Gadhafi forces are very angry at the fact that none of the major nations of the world have taken a strong stand in favor of democracy.  That alone is an indication that the relationship between Libya and the democracies of the world may not improve after the revolution is over.

What The Congressional Budget Office Says About The Stimulus

CNS News reported yesterday that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has issued a report entitled, “Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from October Through December 2010.”

The CBO reported that the Stimulus Act cost a total of $821 billion, rather than the $787 billion originally estimated.  The CBO report estimated that in the last quarter of 2010, between 1.3 million and 3.5 million people were employed due to the Stimulus Act.  In the third quarter of 2010, the number was somewhere between 1.4 million and 3.6 million.  If you do the math, that makes the cost of each job between $228,055 (for the 3.6 million number) and $586,428 (for the 1.4 million number).  Where can I go to get one of those jobs?  Somehow I think the private sector can produce jobs much more efficiently if only the government would leave it alone.

The article points out:

“In February 2009, when President Obama signed the stimulus law the national unemployment rate was 8.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In January 2011, the national unemployment rate was 9.0 percent.”

There is no way to know what the unemployment rate would be at the present time if the stimulus had not been passed.  We do know, however, that much of the stimulus money went to public sector workers to insure that union workers would not be laid off.  Obviously this does nothing to solve a long-term unemployment problem.  If the stimulus money had come in the form of a tax cut, letting people keep more of their own money, we might now have the lower unemployment rate the stimulus was supposed to create. 

Mark Steyn In Massachusetts

Tonight I was privileged to be at the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts, listening to Mark Steyn giving a speech entitled, “Relighting the Lamps of Liberty:  Standing Up For Freedom in a Darkening World.” 

Mark Steyn is the author of the book America Alone:  The End of the World As We Know It.  He was introduced by Michael Graham of Boston Radio Station WTKK (96.9).

Mr. Steyn’s opening remarks dealt with the fact that security concerns are being used as an excuse for government authorities to control public discourse.  He pointed out that Ann Coulter had been prevented from speaking at a university in Canada due to ‘security concerns’ and that he had been prevented from speaking at a public forum in Canada due to ‘security concerns.’  He praised the Rabbi of the Ahavath Torah Congregation for refusing to bow to the pressure of ‘security concerns.’

Mr. Steyn described the current events in the Middle East as the ‘Palestiniazation’ (I suspect he coined the word–it’s a great word) of the Middle East.   He pointed out that the events in the Middle East are the result of what former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred to in 2005 as ‘the pursuit of stability at the expense of democracy.’  Mr. Steyn predicted that the new rulers in the countries where the dictators are being ousted will not be friendly to the West–the new leaders will be friendlier to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Iran.  He also pointed out that Anti-Semitism is already prevalent in the protests.  Mr. Steyn reminded us that in 1923, Egypt’s first full year as a sovereign state, the Egyptian Minister of Finance was Jewish.  Unfortunately, that is not possible today.  As the Middle East unravels, America, supposedly the world’s superpower, is a spectator.  This is not about America.  It is about people in the Middle East who want freedom being used to usher in governments that will not give them that freedom.

Mr. Steyn cited four ways to relight the lamps of liberty:

1.      Stop out-of-control spending now and roll back government regulations and intrusion into our lives.

2.      Put an end to one-way multiculturalism.  It is amazing that a pastor in Florida who threatened to burn a Koran drew a visit from the FBI and a call from President Obama.  President Obama has never spoken out about either honor killings or female genital mutilation.  Why was burning the Koran worth a comment and not the other items?  We need a President willing to stand up and defend Western Civilization.

3.      We need to regain our individual liberty.  Our government’s response to Islamic intimidation has been to find ways to limit the free speech of people who are telling the truth about Islam.  Islam wants to use hate speech rules to make it a crime to criticize Islam.  Public discourse can be controlled and limited by setting up the state as the sole arbiter of acceptable discourse.  The group who applies the most muscle to the government will be the group who wins the concessions.

4.      We need to spread the risk of speaking out against Islam.  It is time for an “I am Spartacus” moment.  If an artist who drew a cartoon or the newspaper who published a cartoon is threatened, that cartoon should be on the front page of every newspaper in the country.  Until we are willing to share the risk of speaking out, we will lose our freedom incrementally. 

 During the question and answer period after the speech, in response to a question about what we are teaching our children in our schools, Mr. Steyn quoted George Orwell: 

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

It was an inspiring speech.  There were between four and five hundred people there.  It is encouraging to know that there are that many people in Massachusetts willing to come out on a cold winter night because they love their country and its freedom.

Follow The Money In Wisconsin

BigGovernment.com reported yesterday on some tax problems recently encountered by the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC).  Landmark Legal Foundation was founded in 1976.  Its current President is Mark Levin.  The article deals with some of what they have uncovered in regard to the spending and tax returns of the WEAC.

The article reports:

“In April, the Landmark Legal Foundation asked federal officials to investigate its claim that WEAC failed to report or pay taxes on $430,000 in contributions to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee between 2000 and 2002 in apparent violation of federal law.

“The Wisconsin Education Association Council has voluntarily made $171,091 in payments to the Internal Revenue Service after a review of past federal tax returns, the state’s largest teachers union said Wednesday.”

The WEA Trust was created by the Wisconsin Education Association Council to provide insurance, and retirement and investment services to Wisconsin public school employees and their families.  The bill proposed by Governor Walker of Wisconsin would require teachers to join the state employees’ health insurance program, rather than have the state pay the WEA Trust to insure the teachers.  If the teachers are forced to join the state’s health insurance program, that will take a major source of funding away from the union.  Obviously some of that funding has not been used for healthcare.

Wisconsin is the site of a battle between a union that has taken money from the taxpayers to pay for healthcare for teachers, then spent some of that money on political contributions to make sure the people that set up the system were elected.  That sounds like something that should be stopped, whether you are a union member or not.

When America Has A Weak President, The World Is A More Dangerous Place

This story is based on two sources, the U.K. Telegraph yesterday and CBN News today.

I  have no idea who said, “When American has a weak President, the world is a more dangerous place,” but it is obviously true.  Yesterday four Americans were killed by Somali pirates.  Their ship was hijacked about 300 miles off the Somali coast.

The small yacht was manned by Jean and Scott Adam, the yacht’s owners, and two of their friends, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle. 

According the the CBN News article:

“The boat belonged to California couple Scott and Jean Adam, who’d been living on the ship and sailing the seas since 2002. According to their website, their mission was to travel to ports around the world distributing Bibles and “seeking fertile ground for the Word.”"

The pirates hijacked the yacht and U. S. Naval Warships followed the pirates and the hostages at a distance.  After gun shots were heard from the yacht’s crew quarters, armed commandos sped from a US Navy vessel less than 600 yards away.  Unfortunately, the hostages had already been shot. 

On December 25, 2010, a website called Neptune Maritime Security published a list of the ships currently held by Somali pirates.  Please follow the link to see the list.

According to information at goafrica.about.com:

“According to a recent BBC report, Somali pirates seized a record 1,181 hostages in 2010, and were paid many millions of dollars in ransom.”

Because Somalia does not have a stable government or an economy that supports its people, piracy is a very attractice profession.  Just as Afghanistan has tribal leaders, Somalia has overlords who supervise the pirates and share the booty.  Because of the general lawlessness of the society, a young man may be given a choice of becoming a pirate or being shot by one of the people supervising the pirates.  When I think about this, I am really grateful that I do not run America–I might be having one of my ‘nuclear parking lot’ days.

Piracy off the African coast cannot be allowed to continue.  At some point the nations of the world who believe in law and order are going to have to combine their naval resources and wipe out the pirates.  Unfortunately, a lot of innocent hostages will die when that happens, but until we are willing to do that, the piracy will continue.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Yesterday the Daily Caller reported that Solyndra, Inc. received a $535 million loan guarantee from stimulus money to finance the first phase of building the company’s new facility for manufacturing photovoltaic solar panels.  President Obama and Vice-President Biden praised the company for its plan to create 1,000 jobs.  Unfortunately the jobs never materailized. 

On November 3rd, the company announced that it was postponing expanding its manufacturing facility and no longer planned to hire the 1,000 workers.  In addition, the company planned to shut down one of its older plants and lay off 135 workers.  Since the company was founded in 2005, it has never shown a profit (according to the Securities and Exchange Commission).  In June 2010 the Wall Street Journal reported that Solyndra, Inc., was a major contributor to the Obama presidential campaign.  I am sure that is simply a coincidence.

“According to a Feb. 17 letter signed by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Fremont, Calif.-based solar panel manufacturer should never have received a $535 million loan guarantee from the stimulus.*”

*Correction: The sentence originally stated the money was squandered.

Hopefully, someone is Congress will take a serious look at how stimulus money was spent.  It is becoming very obvious that political connectiveness was the requirement–it had nothing to do with creating jobs.

Is This Legal ?

CBS News is reporting today that President Obama has instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the law which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. 

The article quotes the following statement from Attorney General Eric Holder:

“”After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny,” he said. “The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination.”"

I am not a lawyer, but does the President have the power to declare a law unconstitutional? 

The article reports more of the Attorney General’s statement:

“”The Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense,” he said. “At the same time, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because – as here – the Department does not consider every such argument to be a ‘reasonable’ one.”"

If this is legal, I am surprised.  I was under the impression that it was the responsibility of the Supreme Court to rule on the Constitutionality of law–not the President.

Remember The Call For Civility ?

The Hill‘s Blog Briefing Room reported today that Democrat Congressman Michael Capuano (from Massachusetts, of course) told a group of people protesting in Boston in support of union workers in Wisconsin to “get a little bloody.” 

The article quotes Representative Capuano:

“”I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going,” Capuano said, according to the Dorchester Reporter. “Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.”"

I know enough history to know that when unions were originally formed, they were desperately needed.   We didn’t have labor laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or the many other federal agencies that control working conditions, and other aspects of the workplace.  Today, because workers are generally protected by laws, unions have lost a lot of their power.  What we are seeing in Wisconsin and Indiana is the unions attempting to take back that power before anyone figures out what the unions are costing the average American family because of their wage and benefit demands in the public sector.  The average state and federal worker is paid 150% of what their counterparts in the private sector make, and their benefits are such that private sector workers can only dream of receiving that kind of benefit package. 

The battle in Wisconsin and Indiana is about preventing those states (and others) from going broke.  States (unlike the federal government) do not have the right to print money, and many states have laws requiring that they balance the budget every year.  Unless we want to see a bunch of the states run out of money and ask for bailouts from the federal government (which I hope will not be granted), the government employee unions need to rethink their demands–not call for bloodshed.

Transparency In Government ???

Yesterday at BigGovernment.com, Tom Fitton reported that after a five-year battle, Judicial Watch has been given the documents it requested regarding Hillarycare.  The article points out that President George W. Bush was generally reluctant to release records from the Clinton Administration–he publicly expressed a desire to move beyond the scandals of hte Clinton Administration.  This policy probably prevented the Clinton smear machine from attacking him even more than they did.

The article cites information from three of the documents included in the 54,527 pages.  The documents cited deal with issues that also apply to Obamacare.  It is interesting that these documents were not released until Obamacare was passed by Congress.

Please follow the link above the read the contents of the three memoranda cited.  I don’t know if any of the press will run this story, but it is noteworthy that it took five years to obtain these documents.  The American people are entitled to know in a timely manner what goes on in their government in matters that do not endanger national security–five years is not a timely manner.

Funding For Obamacare And The Small Print

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article yesterday stating that despite the bill the House Republicans passed to defund Obamacare, the mandatory funding mechanisms of the bill were not touched.

Mr. Morrissey explains:

“The problem is that House rules prevent statutory changes through budget bills.  Since ObamaCare has already been signed into law, King’s amendment would have to change the law to reverse the mandatory spending.  The rule prevents members from slipping changes in statutes into must-pass budget bills, as well as protect entitlement programs like ObamaCare.  King knew about the restriction but offered the amendment on the floor in order to serve notice of the funding mechanisms remaining for ObamaCare.  Unless the Rules Committee wanted to set a new precedent — one that might haunt the GOP when they return to the minority — House leadership had little choice in the matter.”

The article further reports:

“But that may change in the next big showdown with Barack Obama and the Democrats in the Senate.  The House has to consider a debt-ceiling hike, and one of the demands they may make is to strike those mandatory-spending mechanisms.”

Stay tuned.  This is not over yet.

Hezbollah And The Mexican Drug Cartels

Yesterday, Adam Housley at Fox News filed a report about the cooperation between Hezbollah and the Mexican Drug Cartels.  The tunnels on the border of America and Mexico and becoming more sophisticated and looking very much like the tunnels going into the Gaza Strip.  The question does not seem to be whether or not Hezbollah terrorists are being smuggled into America, but how many. 

The article points out:

“This comes as Mexican authorities busted a senior Hezbollah operative who employed Mexicans nationals with family ties to Lebanon to set up the network, designed to target Israel and the West, according to multiple reports. The man’s name is Jameel Nasr and he was arrested after a Mexican surveillance operation revealed that he traveled frequently to Lebanon to receive information and instructions from Hezbollah commanders and he also spent several months in Venezuela working with the terror group and Hugo Chavez’s people. American security contacts say the Mexican operation was impressive and they are seeing some increased pressure on the cartels from Mexican authorities and thus…their friends.”

This is another reason we need to enforce the borders and find a way to quickly locate the drug tunnels.  Declaring areas of Arizona off limits to Americans is not the answer!  (see Fox News article of June 2010).

Michael Ledeen On The Revolutionary Age

On Saturday, Michael Ledeen posted an article at PajamasMedia.com about the political unrest in the Middle East and North and South America. 

Mr. Ledeen notes that it is difficult (other than in Iran) to separate the freedom fighters from those who want to set up a Middle Eastern caliphate.

Mr. Ledeen points out:

“The vast insurrection is aimed at sitting rulers, but not all the insurrectionaries are fighting for freedom.  Indeed, many of them are prepared for martyrdom if they can advance the cause of even more terrible tyrannies, wrapped in the glory of a new caliphate.  The demonstrations in Bahrain and Jordan, like the virtual civil war in Yemen, are sponsored by the intelligence arms of the Iranian Islamic Republic, and supported by killers from Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, and their proxies.  And we have already seen the Egyptian Islamists come front and center to lay claim to the country.  Andy McCarthy is appropriately alarmed.”

We have no way of knowing how all of this will turn out–either in Iran, Venezuela or Wisconsin.  We can take heart in the fact that in Iran Mr. Ledeen has confirmed that some of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have asked for guidelines suggesting restraint when dealing with protestors.  The 1979 Iranian revolution succeeded in part because the military and police did not shoot the protestors.  We may reach that point again. 

Please follow the link above to read the entire article.  Mr. Ledeen is considered a scholar on the Middle East, and the article is very insightful.

The Season Of Protest

This seems to be the year of the protest–from the Middle East to Wisconsin.  Now, there is a new protest planned.

The U.K. Mail reported yesterday that Anjem Choudary, a Muslim cleric, will hold a demonstration outside the White House on March 3.  The purpose of the demonstration is to call on Muslims to establish the Sharia law across America.

Mr. Choudary has called America “the biggest criminals in the world today.” 

There are two other British extremists, Abu Izzadeen and Sayful Islam, who have been asked to speak at the demonstration.

The article points out that there may be a problem with the men entering America to hold the protest:

“However, whether the three will be able to enter the U.S., especially Izzadeen, remains to be seen. Even a tourist visa requires applicants to answer questions on whether they have been involved in acts of terrorism or plan to commit crimes in the U.S.”

Mr. Choudary appeared on the Sean Hannity show earlier this month.  Please follow the link above the view the video.

The article quotes Mr. Choudary:

‘We are going to address ­corruption in the Senate, corrupt foreign ­policy, the mayhem around the ­Muslim world, the drug and ­alcohol culture, ­promiscuity and the pandemic of crime in America.

‘It is only right the call is made in the heart of Western ­civilisation in front of the biggest pharaoh that ­exists today, which is Barack Obama.

So much for the President’s policy of outreach to Muslims.