Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Energy, Mexico, Middle East, National Security, Politics, The United States
The price of oil has dived, which is a boon for Americans who are filling up their gas tanks, partly as a result of ‘Fracking,’ and partly because the Saudis have opened the spigot on their oil reserves. For drivers, it’s a wonderful drop in the cost of commuting, and a bit more freedom in the family budget. For oil field workers, it has meant layoffs for many. For investors in oil futures, it’s scary. For many businesses it’s a drop in their costs and a welcome boost in the bottom line.
For the Saudis, it means that Iran loses money on the sale of their oil because their break-even cost is far higher than the current cost of a barrel of oil. The Saudis fear major attacks by ISIS or Iran. The intricacies of Middle East relationships are fascinating but puzzling. Most Middle East countries are composed of tribes with different religions, different histories and different cultures.
Here at home, an article from Bloomberg Business chronicles just how complicated it all is, yet we need to understand. Laredo, Texas is a border town. One hundred and fifteen million people cross into Texas legally from Mexico every year, most of them just on a shopping expedition. By some estimates those shoppers are responsible for one of every two retail dollars spent in Laredo. They buy jeans, smart phones, toys, products that are more costly or not available in Nuevo Laredo. The peso has dropped 26 percent in relation to the dollar.
What’s different this year is that Eagle Ford, one of the big oil fields behind the surge in U.S. oil output in the past half-decade h as slashed production in response to the drop in the price of oil. Many of the storefronts on the downtown’s main commercial drag, and others near the river are boarded up or braced with metal grids over the windows. Silvia Guerra’s popular turquoise-colored crepe satin priced at $8.50 a yard, cost Mexicans 127 pesos last year and is 152 pesos today.
Crude prices have plummeted 70 percent since June 2014, idling oil rigs. All Texas border cities are feeling the pinch, but Laredo’s merchants say business is off 50 percent or more. Laredo has four international bridges, and is the country’s biggest inland port.
Sylvia Guerra’s store has racks of dresses and colorful rolls of fabric, but purchases are rare, and her business is dead. She suspects she will be out of business by May. Her husband has lost his job leasing drilling equipment for Weatherford International Plc. Their daughter is an administrator for Baker Hughes Inc. in San Antonio was told her position is at risk after major layoffs at the oil services company. Their son who supervises fracking operations for C&J Energy Services has seen his paycheck shrink so much he’s looking for an additional part-time job.
It’s just interesting to see how a change in the price of a barrel of oil plays out around the world, and around the country. It’s a lot more complicated than we think.
Today’s price of a gallon of regular gas at the pump, and a year ago:
In Washington State today: $2.09. A year ago, it was $2.82. In California today: $2,45. A year ago, it was $3,94. In Texas today, gas is $1.60, a year ago it averaged $2.25. In Ohio, the average is $1.87, down from $2,38 a year ago. And in Pennsylvania, the average today is $1.91, while a year ago it was 2.60. Being close to a refinery helps, as does having a handy oil field in your backyard. As you can see, it is a significant drop in the family budget, depending on how many miles you drive in a week.
Of course state officials have noticed that you aren’t paying quite so much for gas and see this as a dandy opportunity to raise gas taxes.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Education, Election 2016, Free Markets, Freedom, History, Latin America, Law, Media Bias, Mexico, Politics, Progressives, Progressivism, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Marco Rubio, Recognized Minority Groups, Ted Cruz
The Washington Examiner published an article suggesting that the “Media questions whether Senators Rubio and Cruz are really Hispanics.” It is expected that in a political campaign, and this seems to be one of the more unusual ones, thee will be a lot of silly attacks to go with the substantive ones. When our culture decides that “diversity” is the most important thing to address, it leads to some very strange results.
“Diversity” seems to mean dividing people up into groups based on skin color and ethnic origin, if you belong to a recognized minority, you will get a great deal of attention. However, recognized minorities seem to be limited to blacks and Hispanics, Occasionally American Indians are included, but only if you have some activists speaking out, otherwise the tribes are mostly ignored. American blacks include only those who are descended from the slavery culture, and believe they are discriminated against. Those who have become successful and well to do are insulted and called “Uncle Toms.” Blacks who have immigrated from Africa don’t count, because they are not descended from the horrors of slavery, so they mostly just get on with their lives.
The term “Hispanic” refers, according to the EEOC, as “A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) may be the sons of Cuban immigrants , but”the senators only “embrace their Hispanic heritage” when it’s “convenient” said a Nightly Show panel:
“To me, it’s really upsetting especially when it comes to the issue of bilingualism because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish,” contributor Grace Parra said, as the rest of the group nodded along. “Because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish and he never chooses to pull it out.”
“I think race is important to talk about when talking about this because it feels like, in an attempt to get rich, white voters,” she added, “Rubio and Cruz especially have actually alienated Latinos to the point where Latinos don’t trust them … We don’t even necessarily consider them Latino because they haven’t embraced their heritage.”
The New York Times in an op-ed on Feb. 3, explored the arguments that the two are not really Hispanic:
Neither Mr. Cruz nor Mr. Rubio meets conventional expectations of how Latino politicians are supposed to behave. Neither of these candidates claims to s peak for the Hispanic population or derive a crucial portion of their support from Hispanics, and neither bases much of his political identity on being a Latino.
Univision’s Jorge Ramos called them “race traitors” because of their positions on immigration control.
“There is no greater disloyalty than the children of immigrants forgetting their own roots. That is a betrayal,” he wrote.
I have been listening to these two gentlemen since the first days of the campaign, and I would venture that only a Liberal would not know that they are both of Cuban heritage, and are proud Americans. They both talk about their families quite a bit, and their pride in being American and pride in their parents for escaping the communist state of Cuba.
It would seem that if you are not a victim of belonging to a minority group, and suffering from your minority status, but instead taking pride in becoming not only fully American, but a candidate for the office of President of the United States, you will be severely criticized for your offensive behavior. There is something rotten at the heart of this line of thinking.
Sometime back in 1978 there was a famous court case called Bakke vs. University of California. “In that decision, Justice Lewis Powell asserted that an undefined “diversity” could allow taking account of race in college admissions, and it was a “compelling state interest” that justified an exception to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on discrimination by race. In 2003, in Grutter vs Bolinger the Supreme Court reaffirmed the “compelling state interest” of diversity since it provided, as Justice Sandra Day O’Conner argued,”the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”
Well, all very nice, but what exactly are the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body? Diversity based on differences in ideas and ideology clearly has benefits to offer, but our universities at present are deeply concerned with allowing no diversity of ideas whatsoever, hence the rise of ‘microaggressions’ and ‘safe spaces,’ and the banning of any speaker who might have an opinion differing from accepted wisdom. You must not offend by offering a new idea. How is it possible that they got so far off track? Education has become indoctrination in correct ways of thinking and correct thought.
Here’s Bruce Thornton, college professor, fellow at the Hoover Institution and the David Horowitz Freedom Center:
Encumbered with a fossilized illiberal ideology, progressives must rely on what Robert Conquest called “thought-blockers”––empty words and phrases that comfort and rouse the party faithful, and camouflage the lack of coherent argument, consistent principles, and empirical evidence. More important, these empty words and phrases that lie at the heart of progressivism are the tools for increasing the progressives’ political power and influence, at the expense of everybody else’s freedom. …
That common feel-good notion of diversity, however, is the “bait” in the ideological “bait and switch” of politicized diversity. The latter is not about the wondrous variety of Americans, especially their political diversity. It is instead the old Marxist fable of American crime and tyranny, enhanced with multicultural identity politics, the clichéd melodrama of white neo-imperialist, neocolonialist oppression of carefully selected innocent “victims” and their superior “cultures.” This diversity, then, is a mechanism for increasing the power and influence of certain ideological factions in society, especially the schools, at the expense of others.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Crime, Democrat Corruption, Immigration, Law, Mexico, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, The United States | Tags: Executive Privilege, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, President Obama
A federal judge ruled Tuesday the Obama administration may not use executive privilege to keep requested documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious from Congress, and ordered the administration to turn them over. Makes you wonder how many attorneys are professionally involved in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation full time.
Since he lost his congressional majority, unlike most previous presidents, Mr. Obama has attempted to govern entirely by executive authority, just ignoring any laws or regulations or constitutional requirements might get in his way. He may get his way on some issues, but he is enraging the country.
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already revealed the sum and substance of the very material it is now seeking to withhold,” District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote. “Since any harm that would flow from the disclosures sought here would be merely incremental, the records must be produced.”
The administration has been fighting over records related to the operation that ended up killing a Border Patrol officer for years. The House voted in 2012 to hold former Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress for withholding the records. A federal judge ordered the DOJ to turn over the documents sought by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in August, 2014, and rejected claims of executive privilege, and they turned over some 60,000 pages then, but still attempted to shield more.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Economy, Immigration, Latin America, Law, Mexico, National Security, Regulation | Tags: Only 36 Miles, Over $17 Million per Mile, Vehicle - Pedestrian - Double Layer
According to the Washington Examiner, only 36 miles of effective double-layer fencing has been erected along the U.S.– Mexico border.
Sixty-six percent or 1,300 miles have no fencing. This is despite repeated congressional demands, and a congressional bank account of $2,5 billion. Congress has asked for 700 miles of fencing.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says that different types of fencing has been put up along the border, the cost so far is $7.1 million per mile.
— 1,300 miles have no fencing (66.5%)
— 299.8 miles have vehicle fence (15.3%)
— 316.6 miles of pedestrian fence (16.2%)
— 36.3 miles of double-layer fencing (.02%)
— The current total for primary fencing to be 352.9 miles. 316.6 single layer plus 36.3 miles of double layer = 352.9 miles of primary fencing.
What’s more, no fencing is currently being erected on the empty 1,300 miles.
A Senate official said that the 2006 Secure Fence Act required 700 miles of double-layer fencing because Border Patrol members said double layer works best. Reports indicated that illegal immigrants can easily scale single fences.
Donald Trump is not going to build a great big wall, and Mexico is certainly not going to pay for it. That’s just braggadocio. But an accurate count of what we have, how much it costs and what is being done may be useful. Checking in with what other countries are doing may be more useful as would details of what works and what doesn’t.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Humor, Immigration, Law, Mexico, The United States | Tags: Coyotes and The Drug Cartels, The Border With Mexico, The U.S. Border Patrol
Jose Manuel Marino-Najera is suing the Border Patrol. It seems he sustained dog bites after entering America illegally with a supply of drugs. He apparently became an illegal immigrant after he chose to have coyotes (human smugglers) help him get across the U.S. border with Mexico. To get their help, he allegedly had to agree to carry a large bag full of marijuana for the drug cartel.
The coyotes band of illegals made it into Arizona and reportedly decided to get some rest under a tree while recovering from alleged dehydration. Marino-Najera and his fellow illegals fell asleep and were awakened only when a Border Patrol dog arrived on the scene and began the job he was trained for—sniffing for drugs.
Marino-Najera claimed a Border Patrol dog was “mauling” his hand when he woke and saw the agents. He alleges that the U. S . Border Patrol agents ignored his cries and shouts for help —allowing the dog to” tear apart” his hands for “several minutes.” His lawsuit claims the Border Patrol agents did not call off the dog until they walked over to arrest him. Because the dog was aiding the Border Patrol in their law enforcement duties, Marino-Najera claims that he deserves compensation from the federal government (us) for his injuries.
Bill Riser, the attorney assigned as public defender, maintains that Marino-Najera is entitled to sue because the injuries occurred on American soil. He claimed the illegal act of border crossing, coupled with being a mule for drugs had no bearing on his client’s standing to file a lawsuit against the Border Patrol. Another in a long list of interesting claims by public defenders. You can’t make this stuff up.
(h/t: Weasel Zippers)
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Law, Mexico, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Fast and Furious, Gun Running Scandal, Scandal Central
Unbelievable. Scandals under investigation all over the place. The IRS monumental crashes of hard-drives turns out to be contagious. First it was Lois Lerner, then it was six other hard drives of those who were accustomed to communicating with Lois Lerner. Then it was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who failed to get approval for a massive redecorating of their offices. And the EPA could not produce the evidence supporting their claims because of a hard drive crash.
The administration’s cause and effect enormous immigration scandal just keeps growing, and they are so fixated on the politics of future Democrat voters that they refuse to recognize what a mess they are making. Mara-Salvatrucha is being paid thousands to get questionable people across the border from China and the Middle East, because the border is essentially wide open. They are sneaking big groups of illegal aliens into states around the country without even informing governors. It will get interesting in the fall when your kids’ school classes are inundated with vast numbers of Spanish-speaking kids, hopefully the ones who have been cleared of being contagious. Apparently there are big problems with kids unfamiliar with modern plumbing who have to be taught how to use the bathroom facilities. The problems are far larger than the administration realized and they are relying on secrecy to prevent the public from finding out.
Congress is attempting to respond to the VA scandal with more funding and a possibility for vets to escape the wait-times and get more prompt service in the private sector. We would seem to need a major firing spree of those responsible for the long wait times that caused the deaths of so many veterans. I don’t know if that is possible with unionized workers. Jail time would be good. If, as it looks, there is no recognition of the bad incentives based on a requirement that everyone be treated within 14 days. That was the sole efficiency guideline, and hey could not meet it, with the result that they tried to hide the real results. That has to be changed, or it will just repeat.
Now comes news of a scandal so old that we had almost forgotten it. “Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit (FOIA) against the Department of Justice b government watchdog Judicial Watch, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled a list of documents being withheld from Congress under President Obama’s claim of executive privilege must be turned over. Obama made the claim on the same day Attorney General Eric Holder was voted in criminal and civil contempt of Congress in June 2012.” Excellent article by Katie Pavlich, and a huge step forward.
The documentation DOJ is required to now turn over is a “Vaughn index” of “all requested Fast and Furious materials from a June 2012 Judicial Watch FOIA request.”
A Vaughn index must: (1) identify each document withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption.” In ordering the DOJ to provide Judicial Watch the Vaughn index, the Court ruled, “In this circuit, when an agency is withholding documents under exemption claims, courts require that the agency provide a Vaughn index so that the FOIA requester – at a distinct informational disadvantage – may test the agency’s claims.”
“Fast and Furious” if you have forgotten was the huge gun-running scandal that got one of our Border Patrol agents killed and hundreds of Mexican citizens killed by flooding the cartels in Mexico with guns, in some misguided attempt to promote gun control.
A mostly unacknowledged scandal is the American media’s reluctance to cover anything that might discredit the Obama administration. Apparently American Journalism schools are failing to prepare their students for their important place in the American polity. They are not there to change the world, and they are not there to play politics. An honest journalism profession is knowledgeable about history and geopolitical reality, not just about how to write a lede. They are there to search for truth and report the facts. They are the watchdog for the people. When they are partisan and report only the news favorable to their side of a debate, they fail their most basic function.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Immigration, Latin America, Liberalism, Media Bias, Mexico, Politics, Progressivism
Remember how this all started? Breitbart broke the story of something like 50 thousand unaccompanied children escaping the violence at home arrived illegally at our borders. It was a way to pressure the GOP into caving in on amnesty. Stories of Border Patrol agents changing diapers, mothers with toddlers, always emphasis on the “children.” We must have compassion for the little children. Well, as the news spread, it became clear that the media, as usual, were either lying to us or ill-informed themselves. Take your pick. 47% of the illegals were young men of age 11-18. A significant number were recruiters for Mara-Salvatrucha, the violent street gang of young men also, coincidentally, age 11-18.
The amnesty idea caved in among the public pretty rapidly. A new poll from Economist/YouGov makes it pretty clear that the plan has backfired badly. Only 11% of the people want what Obama, the Democrats and the media want, which is amnesty for everyone. 77 percent of Americans want the kids sent back home. A full 43 percent want them deported immediately, regardless of what’s happening in their home countries. Another 35 percent want them sent back unless their home country is unsafe.
Further information from questioning the kids has demonstrated that they are NOT escaping violence at home, but are here because of Obama’s promises of amnesty. They were told in their home countries that if they got here they could get in and be cared for. Many were sent with an address or phone number of relatives in the U.S. Many were sent with smugglers. Neither the Border Patrol nor ICE are checking the people to whom the kids have been delivered, not the citizenship, address, nor their relation. The same people have turned up to accept several different children. They are told to turn up for a deportation hearing, but statistically only 20 percent ever do. The rest disappear in the population.
It turns out that Hispanics aren’t all that different from the rest of Americans. Only 22 percent want to give the children amnesty, and a full 64 percent want the children deported. Of that 64 percent, 28 percent want them deported immediately, 36 percent want them deported unless their home country is considered unsafe. But I thought all the Hispanics were demonstrating, demanding amnesty for all. Mostly, they’re right in line with the rest of the country.
The media apparently decided to ignore the problem in favor of concentrating on Israel and Hamas. But 81 percent of the American people believe the jump in illegal immigration is a very serious problem. 57 percent believe that the increasing numbers of illegals is due to the belief that the American government will grant the children amnesty. Only 29 percent believe it was due to increased violence in Central America.
Obama seems remarkably uninterested in the problem, which is interfering with his fundraising and golf. He seems indignant that Republicans are not going along with his ideas about amnesty and determined to pay them back for not letting him have his way. Stubborn petulance would seem to describe it. He is the President of the United States and he expects deference and cooperation, because — he is the most important man in the free world. That doesn’t seem to comport with the idea that America should just be one nation among many, does it.