Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Getting A New SecDef

For John, BLUFDecent pay, car and driver, chance to fly around the nation and to different countries.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

As we know, the US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has resigned (was pushed).

From the Instapundit:

WHO WANTS TO BE THE LAST CAREER TO DIE FOR A MISTAKEN PRESIDENCY?  Hagel successor, with limited room to maneuver, will face quandary in Iraq, Syria.  “The next defense secretary will also have to contend with a sometimes-tense relationship with the White House.  Both of Hagel’s predecessors, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, have criticized Obama’s handling of national security matters since leaving office and have complained of White House micromanagement of the military.”
The link inside the Block Quote is from The Washington Post.

I would think that if you want the job of America's Secretary of Defense, it could be yours.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Some think that SecDef Hagel was happy to go.

Another Non-Terrorist Act

For John, BLUFDon't you think they are crazy?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From San Antonio we have a short item from the Houston CBS Television Station website, "Saudi National Detained At Fort Sam Houston, Explosives Found In Vehicle".
Military officials told KCEN-TV that the man that drove through the gate at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio was a Saudi National and that explosive materials were found in the vehicle.
Maybe he was just lost and trying to find his worksite, where he is blasting rock.  For sure,
Military officials are not calling this an attempted terrorist attack.
I think I am seeing a pattern here.  If it is overseas it is terrorism, but if it is here in the US it is workplace violence or some other sort of mental instability.  And, that makes some kind of sense, since we think we have a pretty good system of Government here, thus anyone violently protesting is probably crazy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Admitting Error

For John, BLUFWe need transparency in order to help us cure our record.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Ouch!  This hurts:
Yes, Obama Is A Phony On Torture
Well, the author is Blogger and Harvard PhD Andrew Sullivan.

It isn't that torture is being conducted under the Obama Administration, but that the White House has been trying to suppress a report on torture under a previous administration.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  On the other hand, until someone leaks it, we wouldn't know.  Which is not to say it is going on.  I believe if it was ongoing, it would have leaked by now.

The Silent Cal Model

For John, BLUFThe 2016 Presidential field is still pretty hazy in my mind.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am not sure having the endorsement of Grover Norquist is an advantage, but Governor Scott Walker picked it up, in an OpEd published by Reuters.
After the GOP’s midterm-elections sweep, the Republican Party holds more U.S. House seats and controls more state houses than at any time since 1928.  Having reached this goal, the GOP now needs to look for a 2016 presidential nominee to match this success.

President Calvin Coolidge, who sat in the Oval Office from 1923 to 1929, would be a smart model for the party. He reined in spending and reduced tax rates at a time when it was as needed as it is today.  President Ronald Reagan admired Coolidge so much that he hung a portrait of the 30th president in his Cabinet Room.

One talked-about possible 2016 presidential candidate who shares many of Coolidge’s policy bona fides is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who won his third statewide race in four years on Nov. 4.  The two men have so much in common that it is worth seeing what Coolidge’s experience can tell us about a potential President Walker.

But, it is an open field.  Here is an article from The New York Times, by Reporters Michael Barbaro and Jonathan Martin.  They argue "A Deep 2016 Republican Presidential Field Reflects Party Divisions".
Republican presidential primaries have for decades been orderly affairs, with any momentary drama mitigated by the expectation that the party would inevitably nominate its tested, often graying front-runner.

But as the 2016 White House campaign effectively began in the last week, it became apparent that this race might be different: a fluid contest, verging on chaotic, that will showcase the party’s deep bench of talent but also highlight its ideological and generational divisions.

As Democrats signal that they are ready to rally behind Hillary Rodham Clinton before their primary season even begins, allowing them to focus their fund-raising and firepower mostly on the general election, the Republicans appear destined for a free-for-all.

“I can think of about 16 potential candidates,” said Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi and a veteran of Republican presidential politics dating to 1968. “Almost every one of them have a starting point. But there is no true front-runner.”

What is it with the Main Stream Media that they think it is a slam dunk for Ms Clinton?  There is still VEEP Joe Biden with a belief in his owns skills and personality.  And, if some critics are to be believed, he is the major-domo of national security in this Administration.  Then there is Senator James Webb of Virginia, who used to be a Secretary of the Navy, and who used to be a Republican.  And don't forget Senator E Warren.

But, perhaps the important thing to me is that their Lordships in charge of the Grand Old Party not dictate to me the next Presidential nominee.  We need an open competition.  It is when the members of the GOP, the registered voters, believe they have been consulted, that we get support on election day.

Then there is this NYT headline, Balance of Power: What 2014 Elections Can Tell Us About 2016: Not Much at All

Regards  —  Cliff

The New SecDef

For John, BLUFWhen hiring for a crisis, look for experience.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

With the resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, pending his replacement being confirmed, it seems reasonable to consider what the President and his inner circle should be looking for in such an appointment:
  • Easily Confirmed by the Senate
  • Conversant in National Security
  • Committed to fighting De'ith (ISIL)
  • Understands the Military
  • Knows the Pentagon
  • Understands how Congress works
  • Knows how the West Wing works
  • Conversant with the Press
  • A Republican

The obvious candidate is Dick Cheney.

Regards  —  Cliff

Benghazi Report

For John, BLUFThis is going to take a while to find the truth.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Fisking of the reporting on the House Benghazi Report.

Everyone misses the First Amendment implications surrounding the US response to Benghazi.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fight in the Global Energy Market

For John, BLUFThe Global Market for oil may kill the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In the British Newspaper The Telegraph there was an article by Reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, "Oil industry risks trillions of 'stranded assets' on US-China climate deal".  The sub-headline is "Petrobas' hopes of becoming the world's first trillion dollar company have deflated brutally".

From deep in the article is this:

JP Morgan expects US crude to slide to $65 over the next two months, a level that could lead to a "cumulative default rate" of 40pc for the low-grade energy bonds that have financed much of the fracking boom, if it drags on for two years.

Gordon Kwan from Nomura says OPEC (or at least the Saudi-led part) is "engaged in a price war with US shale producers" and will not rest until it has inflicted serious damage.  He thinks Saudi Arabia will deflate US crude prices to $70 and hold them there for three to six months, targeting high-cost shale plays in the Bakken and Eagle Ford fields.

OPEC has a clear motive to do this.  The US has slashed its net oil imports by 8.7m barrels a day (b/d) since 2005, equal to the combined exports of Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.  Yet this game of chicken could be dangerous.  There will be collateral damage along the way.

The economies of several nations will be impacted by this move (a move some say can not be sustained).  Included is Brazil, where Petrobras is the most indebted company in the world and their stock price has dropped 87pc from the peak.  Then there is Venezuela, Russia and Iran, each of which has a national economy and government financing based on a higher price for crude oil.

Further on the article notes this:

China is already shutting down its coal-fired plants in Beijing.  It has imposed a ban on new coal plants in key regions after a wave of anti-smog protests.  Deutsche Bank and Sanford Bernstein both expect China's coal use to peak as soon as 2016, a market earthquake given that the country currently consumes half the world's coal supply.
This will impact US exports, in that vast quantities of coal are mined in the Powder River Basin and shipped by rail to West Coast ports, including as far away as Terminal Island, in Long Beach, California, for shipment to China.

But, the article continues.

The US in turn has agreed to cut emissions by 26-28pc below 2005 levels by 2025, doubling the rate of CO2 emission cuts to around 2.6pc each year in the 2020s.

Whether or not you agree with the hypothesis of man-made global warming, the political reality is that the US, China, and Europe are all coming into broad alignment.  Coal faces slow extinction by clean air controls, while oil faces a future of carbon pricing that must curb demand growth far below what was once expected and below what is still priced into the business models of the oil industry.

As President Obama promised back when first running for President, he is going to shut down the coal industry.  It looks like he is well on the way.  What will replace it?  Will the replacement be more "environmentally friendly?

The article ends with this discussion of how an innovative society is a disruptive society and how technology change means that past investments may well lose their value as new technologies emerge.

Great fortunes were made in 18th Century in the British canal boom. The network of waterways halved coal prices and drove the first leg of the Industrial Revolution. Yet you had to know when the game was up.

The canal industry was on borrowed time even before the Liverpool and Manchester Railway first opened in 1830, unleashing the railway mania that entirely changed the character of Britain.

These historic turning points are hard to call when you are living through them but much of today's the fossil fuel industry has a distinct whiff of the 19th Century canals, a pre-modern relic in a world that his moving on very fast.

So, if Climate Change is (1) real and (2) bad, what are we going to do to reverse it?  Perhaps a better question is how are we going to change how we live and work in order to reverse climate change.  There is no free lunch.  Changing the CO2 levels in the atmosphere will require major changes in how we live and work.  It might mean changes such as no more going to Florida to visit Disney World.  No more commuting to Boston by auto, and maybe no commuting to the train station by auto.  No more air conditioning.

I recall from my time in the Fairbanks area that some person was heating his cabin with one light bulb and a bunch of chickens.  Should we all be keeping chickens, again?  Less drastic, should we be replacing all the homes in Lowell to provide for more energy efficient, and more compact, living spaces?

And, there is the question of if the Climate Change folks can actually “live up to its own book of rules”?

Regards  —  Cliff