American Elephants

The Keystone XL Pipeline Reveals an Enormous Amount About President Obama’s Real Priorities. by The Elephant's Child

TransCanada has proposed a pipeline, the Keystone XL, which would bring 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the oil sands of  Canada’s Alberta Province all the way to Texas and Oklahoma refineries. Application was made in 2008, and as an international project, it was the responsibility of the State Department.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to approve it.  She said” there is no reason to believe” that the State Department is “biased in favor of the pipeline,” and ” it is better to get oil from a friendly neighbor like Canada than from the Middle East.” All the regulatory agencies have approved it. So what’s the problem?

Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid has other ideas.  He wrote on October 5 that:

The proponents of the pipeline would be wiser to invest instead in job-creating clean energy projects, like renewable power, energy efficiency or advanced vehicles and fuels that could employ thousands of people in the United States rather than increasing our dependency on unsustainable supplies of dirty and polluting oil that could easily be exported…The fastest and best way to break our addiction to oil and free our country and our economy from the dangerous grip of OPEC is to develop and deploy new technologies and clean affordable alternatives that destroy demand for oil not exacerbate it.

To quote an old, but famous line about another subject: Every word of that statement is false including ‘and’ and ‘the.’ This is the kind of misinformation that drives much of the left and makes the ideological divide so nasty. Reid wants, apparently, a world free of fossil fuels, with the heavy hand of government doing a great deal of social engineering. Nancy Pelosi has claimed more than once that natural gas is not a fossil fuel. It’s discouraging to learn that our representatives have not done their homework and don’t know what they are talking about. They are only ordinary people, after all, but I do believe that we should expect them to be better informed than they often are. There must be some reason why they hav all those aides.

Fossil fuels will be the dominant fuels for the rest of the 21st century. There is no alternative. “Renewable power,” which cannot exist without 24/7 backup from fossil fuels, is not an alternative to oil.  Oil powers the transportation section. Corn-based ethanol or (non-existent) cellulosic ethanol only exist with large government subsidy, and their impact on food prices is becoming more apparent each day.

Wind and solar, with full-time back-up from fossil fuel electric plants, produce miniscule amounts of electricity at extraordinarily high cost. Britain is backing out because of the cost, and Europe is sure to follow. They keep thinking that improvements in the turbines or the solar panels will solve the problems, but they won’t. The problem is in the intermittent nature of wind and the diffuse nature of solar energy.

There are no net green jobs. Green jobs cause more lost employment in the regular economy than there are new green ones.

“Addiction to Oil” is cheap sloganeering, and completely ignorant. It would be like saying we’re addicted to water because we require so much of it in our daily lives.

The pipeline has been given a clean bill of health from both an environmental and engineering standard. The project has undergone innumerable reviews from regulatory agencies including the EPA and the Department of Transportation. The protests, such as they are, have no real basis, other than green propaganda.

Nevertheless, there was a recent announcement that the decision would be made by President Obama himself. He said he would consider it.  He responded to protestors that he had not yet decided.  Then the White House announced that he would decide next year — after the election. I think that President Obama would agree firmly with Harry Reid’s statement, but, of course I cannot read Mr. Obama’s mind.

President Obama has a real big problem with this one. The project would involve 13,000 union jobs, constructing the pipeline and another 118,000 spin-off jobs, and around $20 billion in investment. If President Obama is as concerned about jobs as he pretends to be, this should have been approved yesterday. Apparently Valerie Jarrett hasn’t decided yet.

Most of the stimulus funds went to paying back the unions for their support.  But when push comes to shove, it would seem that Green trumps Union.  It was supposed to be a twofer — the green project to develop alternative energy would produce green jobs for the unions. Didn’t work. Green jobs have proved to be an illusion. Alternative energy is also proving to be an illusion — it doesn’t work, and unless it is heavily subsidized it goes out of business — or goes bankrupt with subsidies as we have seen.

The president’s real interest is not in turning the employment problem around.  The Keystone XL pipeline is not the only energy project that would provide thousands of jobs. There are an amazing number of jobs in the energy industry. The Barnett shale gas field in Texas has produced 100,000 jobs since the mid 1990s. The Eagle Ford field is expected to create 68,000 by 2020.  More than 600,000 Americans already work in the natural gas field, and another 2.2 million jobs are sustained by the incomes of natural gas workers.  Secretary Salazar is continuing to delay and resist allowing the Gulf of Mexico to return to full production.

In every circumstance, the fossil fuel industry is restrained, and over-regulated to attempt to force America into a alternative-energy economy that Americans don’t want and cannot afford.

The World Doesn’t Stop Being Dangerous Just Because We’re Having an Election. by The Elephant's Child

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released their long-awaited report on Iran’s nuclear program today. It has confirmed that suspicions are well justified. Iran has made substantial progress in their nuclear weapons program.. Their quarterly report concluded:

The Agency has serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the Agency finds the information to be, overall, credible. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.

That’s fairly politically correct language, but of course Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already denounced the report, and claimed that “The Americans have fabricated a stack of papers and he [IAEA Director General Yukiaya Amano] keeps speaking about them.” The report called for Tehran to clarify, and Iran has continued to spurn all calls for clarification.

While previous IAEA reports have focused on Iran’s efforts to produce fissile material that could fuel a reactor or a weapon, this report cited evidence that Iran has experimented with the components of a nuclear weapon and worked on engineering studies for mating a nuclear payload into Iran’s Shahab 3 ballistic missile.  An attachment covered Iran’s contacts with foreign experts, Iran’s procurement activities and the preparatory experiments for conducting the test of a nuclear device.

In theory, this new report should jumpstart some sense of urgency into the Obama administration about Iran’s speedup in nuclear efforts.  The administration has seemed to be sleepwalking through the possibilities.  Complacency reigns, and they have promoted the idea that the stuxnet virus has dealt Iran’s efforts a decisive blow.  Others see a growing and dangerous threat.  Obama is still wallowing in the celebration of the executions of bin Laden, Ghaddafi, and American born al-Awlaki. Those are supposed to be the proof of the success of the Obama foreign policy.

Today’s liberals don’t like war, or guns or violence. They don’t want funding to go to the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates launched an “efficiency” campaign in 2009, and we have since cut over half a trillion dollars from our armed forces. Defense spending accounts for less than 20% of our federal budget, yet it has absorbed about half of our deficit-reduction efforts since 2009.

Now the budget super committee is operating under a mandate that holds the military hostage if the committee members cannot agree on $1 trillion in cuts from the huge federal budget. If they cannot agree, an automatic trigger will slash $500 billion from defense along with $500 billion from some other part of the budget.

This is a typical Democrat trick. They are well aware that Republicans are very resistant to extreme defense cuts. President Obama is building his 2012 campaign on the idea of uncooperative and unpatriotic Republicans who will not do what is necessary to save the economy.

Since Obama has already cut and run in Iraq and Afghanistan, and bolloxed-up negotiations with those countries, the outlook is not good. America is perceived as weak and unreliable.  The Taliban is stepping up their attacks. Iraq is quite conscious that when the Americans go home, they are left with Iran and Syria as next-door neighbors. We may have sacrificed, once again, a lot of hard, hard work by our brave military men and women, their enormous accomplishments, not for the good of the country, but for a political campaign.

Americans always seem to think that any war is the last one. We will have peace and we don’t need to worry about that nasty military stuff anymore. In 1933, the year that Adolf Hitler became Chancellor,  the U.S. Army was 16th in the world at 137,000 men. After Pearl Harbor, it was over 6 months before we could strike back at Midway with old outdated equipment, tremendous courage and sheer luck. After the boys came home at the end of World War II, we were totally unprepared for the North Korean invasion of South Korea less than five years later, both in men and equipment.  And we have never been prepared for the other wars, police actions, or challenges that are part of the real world and real human nature.

Let me repeat, failure by the 12-member Joint Committee of Congress to come up with $1.5 trillion in cuts, would trigger an automatic across-the-board process that would make half the cuts at the expense of the defense of the nation.

The idea that they cannot find places to cut in the bloated federal government is so absurd that it doesn’t pass the smell test.  Democrats will not agree to cut the obscene growth rate of entitlement programs — where the real problem lies.  The Department of Defense is not where the problem lies. It’s a dangerous world out there. The supercommittee seems unprepared to deal with reality.

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