Saturday, 3 November 2012

Mark Steyn on Obama, Hurricane Sandy and Benghazi

Mark Steyn at his best:

In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era. In the days after Sandy hit, Barack Obama was generally agreed to have performed well. He had himself photographed in the White House Situation Room, nodding thoughtfully to bureaucrats ("John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; David Agnew, Director for Intergovernmental Affairs") and Tweeted it to his 3.2 million followers. He appeared in New Jersey wearing a bomber jacket rather than a suit to demonstrate that when the going gets tough the tough get out a monogrammed Air Force One bomber jacket. He announced that he'd instructed his officials to answer all calls within 15 minutes because in America "we leave nobody behind." By doing all this, the president "shows" he "cares" – which is true in the sense that in Benghazi he was willing to leave the entire consulate staff behind, and nobody had their calls answered within seven hours, because presumably he didn't care. So John Brennan, the Counterterrorism guy, and Tony Blinken, the National Security honcho, briefed the president on the stiff breeze, but on Sept. 11, 2012, when a little counterterrorism was called for, nobody bothered calling the Counterterrorism Security Group, the senior U.S. counterterrorism bureaucracy.

Back in Benghazi, the president who looks so cool in a bomber jacket declined to answer his beleaguered diplomats' calls for help – even though he had aircraft and Special Forces in the region. Too bad. He's all jacket and no bombers. This, too, is an example of America's uniquely profligate impotence. When something goes screwy at a ramshackle consulate halfway round the globe, very few governments have the technological capacity to watch it unfold in real time. Even fewer have deployable military assets only a couple of hours away. What is the point of unmanned drones, of military bases around the planet, of elite Special Forces trained to the peak of perfection if the president and the vast bloated federal bureaucracy cannot rouse themselves to action? What is the point of outspending Russia, Britain, France, China, Germany and every middle-rank military power combined if, when it matters, America cannot urge into the air one plane with a couple of dozen commandoes? In Iraq, al-Qaida is running training camps in the western desert. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are all but certain to return most of the country to its pre-9/11 glories. But in Washington the head of the world's biggest "counterterrorism" bureaucracy briefs the president on flood damage and downed trees.
I don't know whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can fix things, but I do know that Barack Obama and Joe Biden won't even try – and that therefore a vote for Obama is a vote for the certainty of national collapse. Look at Lower Manhattan in the dark, and try to imagine what America might look like after the rest of the planet decides it no longer needs the dollar as global reserve currency. For four years, we have had a president who can spend everything but build nothing. Nothing but debt, dependency, and decay. As I said at the beginning, in different ways the response to Hurricane Sandy and Benghazi exemplify the fundamental unseriousness of the superpower at twilight. Whether or not to get serious is the choice facing the electorate Tuesday.
Read the entire article here
One can only hope that Americans make the right choice when they vote on Tuesday!

National Climatic Data Center's Jim Kossin: Not fair to say that Sandy was associated with climate change

Kudos to the National Geographic for publishing this assessment by Jim Kossin, atmospheric research scientist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center:

Could Hurricane Sandy be the result of climate change?
It’s not fair to say it’s associated with climate change. It’s very difficult to attribute an event like Hurricane Sandy to a change in climate because it’s challenging to connect the immediateness of a single event to the time scales that we talk about for climate change. But conveying this to the public is really hard.
Are more hurricanes likely?
The number of very strong land-falling hurricanes has decreased over the last number of years in places like Australia. But they have become more common in the Atlantic—there is no question about it. Researchers seem to agree that there will be an overall reduction in the global number of hurricanes, but the strong ones will get even stronger.
Why is the Atlantic region seeing a rise in hurricanes?
One thing we know is that the climate of the Atlantic has changed since the mid-1980s, becoming warmer and more conducive to hurricanes. Where disagreement lies is what causes it. Some think it has nothing to do with climate change, and a growing body of evidence suggests that it has to do with aerosol pollution—basically small particles of a sulfate, a salt of sulfuric acid. There is this idea that after the Clean Air Act of 1970, pollution decreased and then the sun hit and warmed the water. If that were the case, by decreasing pollution, we would have increased hurricane activity—but that’s a tricky thing to say publicly.
 Compare Kossin's sober analysis with the kind of simplistic propaganda coming from warmists like Al Gore, Michael Mann and Bill McKibben ...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Global warming alarmists try to exploit the Sandy tragedy

“The terrifying truth is that America faces a future full of Frankenstorms. Climate change raises sea levels and supersizes storms. The threat of killer winds and crushing storm surges will grow by the year unless we get serious about tackling greenhouse gas pollution."

Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity

Martin Taylor, writing in Forbes, points out how global warming alarmists - like Shaye Wolf - are trying to use the Sandy tragedy for their own political causes:

Leave it to global warming alarmists to exploit the innocent victims of a human tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to spread the laughably false notion that global warming caused the storm. While our nation should be coming together to support the victims and repair the damage, far too many alarmists are cynically prostituting the tragedy under Rahm Emanuel’s theory of “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Shame on those alarmists for asserting a false connection to global warming to “make lemonade” out of this tragedy.

As Hurricane Sandy prepared to strike the Northeast, climate scientists from alarmist and skeptical camps alike reported the storm had little if anything to do with global warming. Martin Hoerling, who chairs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) climate variability research program, and who oversees NOAA’s Climate Scene Investigators, observed, “neither the frequency of tropical or extratropical cyclones over the North Atlantic are projected to appreciably change due to climate change, nor have there been indications of a change in their statistical behavior over this region in recent decades.”
Got that? Global warming models project no appreciable change in North Atlantic storm behavior, yet global warming alarmists now say global warming caused Hurricane Sandy.
Hoerling further explained, “In this case, the immediate cause is most likely little more that the coincidental alignment of a tropical storm with an extratropical storm. Both frequent the west Atlantic in October…nothing unusual with that. On rare occasions their timing is such as to result in an interaction which can lead to an extreme event along the eastern seaboard.”
So global warming models say global warming has little or no impact on North Atlantic storms and meteorologists report a convergence of natural factors that made Sandy especially powerful. To objective scientists not trying to sell global warming snake oil, this is yet another example of the very strong storms that always have – and always will – occur on our planet.
Scientists, moreover, report a striking decline in hurricane activity during recent years. National Hurricane Center data show a dramatic decline in major hurricanes striking the United States during the past half century (see my recent column on thishere). As the earth gradually recovers from the Little Ice Age (which lasted from approximately 1300 to 1900 A.D.), the frequency of major hurricane strikes is declining rather than increasing.
Read the entire article here 

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Czech President Klaus on renewable energy, Europe and the welfare state

Klaus on the "profits" from renewable energy: This profit is not an outcome of those energy sources, but an outcome of government subsidies that are paid by taxpayers through high taxes and by consumers through high prices of energy, food and other commodities. The environmental impact is not positive either, even though everything was done supposedly for the sake of the environment. Hundreds of billions of euros, dollars and Czech crowns have been thrown away, not out of the window, but into the pockets of groups and movements that look “idealistic” on the surface, or into the pockets of those who profit from their activities.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is soon to leave office after two terms, has for the last time spoken on the country's National Day to the Czech people and the diplomatic corps in Prague. As always, also these two addresses were out of the ordinary, containing the kind of wisdom that - sadly - is not to be found in the speeches of any of the other European heads of state or government (or for that matter anywhere else, for the time being):

Over the almost ten years that I have been the President of the Czech Republic I have been given to sign dozens if not hundreds of Bills that inevitably led to increasing our indebtedness and the power of institutions of all kinds. I have returned only a small part of those Bills back to the Chamber of Deputies for renegotiation, usually without any effect.
This was true both of the left-wing governments and of the governments with a prevalence of parties that were, or considered themselves to be, centre-right. The already excessive number of Acts, orders and regulations that harness our lives demotivates us and restricts our freedom. Besides, it does not express the true will of voters. The media help to promote the interests of small, yet powerful and often internationally interconnected pressure and lobby groups hiding under the banner of non-government organisations that have different names. An exemplary illustration of their success is what has been going on with the so called renewable sources of energy, when our legislation made it possible for those who had a better grasp of it than others or for those who may have even had the legislation tailor-made to their needs to gain unjustifiable profit.
This profit is not an outcome of those energy sources, but an outcome of government subsidies that are paid by taxpayers through high taxes and by consumers through high prices of energy, food and other commodities. The environmental impact is not positive either, even though everything was done supposedly for the sake of the environment. Hundreds of billions of euros, dollars and Czech crowns have been thrown away, not out of the window, but into the pockets of groups and movements that look “idealistic” on the surface, or into the pockets of those who profit from their activities.
Although austerity measures have recently been debated in our country almost on a daily basis, our debt still continues to increase. We cannot but clean up public finance and reduce the overall cost of the operation of the state at all levels and also curb our complex and expensive public administration. There are examples of best practice to draw on. When I received the President of the Slovenian Parliament here at the Prague Castle at the beginning of October, he told me that their newly formed government had reduced the number of Ministries from 19 to 12. Let’s attempt at something similar.
Even though it is politically extremely difficult, our welfare system needs to get back to realistic dimensions. This means to limit government mandatory expenditures predetermined by law, that is the money that merely passes through the budget without any government decision-making. Contemplating higher corporate and individual tax as a source of financing the mandatory expenditures is ineffective and it only makes the economic and financial problems deeper.
In his speech to the Czech people, Klaus had this to say about the "Nobel laureates" in Brussels - and the IPCC:

We must not be led to believe that somewhere far beyond the borders of our country there are thousands of eager supranational civil servants and politicians who think about nothing else but how to help us to be better-off, more fortunate and more carefree. We will not have anything save for the things we do ourselves, that we take care of, that we negotiate or fight for with a reasonable degree of confidence. We should wait neither for a modern Messiah nor for the European funds.
We must not be led to believe that our domestic policy is so bad that various non-democratic movements, civil “appeals” or “enlightened individuals” have to come to lead and govern our country. It is not possible without democratic politics.
In his speech to the foreign ambassadors, Klaus's message was clear:
I wish to see Europe as a community of democratic states. States which cooperate with each other, without any hegemon among them or above them. That is why I wish the countries to remain basic entities of our lives, retaining their governments with executive power and parliaments with legislative power, elected by their citizens and accountable to them. That is why I wish European integration to develop on intergovernmental basis in the direction which is and will be initiated and agreed upon by the states participating in it. The current European crisis should be seen as an opportunity for a fundamental systemic change of the European integration model on the one hand and of the European overregulated and paternalistic social and economic system on the other.
It will be a great loss to the Czech people, and free people everywhere, when Klaus leaves office. However, it is reassuring to know that he will continue to speak out about the most important issues in other fora.  

Monday, 29 October 2012

Overpaid Brussels bureaucrats take to the barricades

The EU civil servants enjoy high salaries. For instances a senior director general may receive over €17,000 per month, plus all the benefits such as family allowances, expatriation allowance, installation allowance, travel expenses, removal expenses, daily subsistence allowance as well as low taxes.

The Brussels bureacrats are taking to the barricades in order not to lose an euro's worth of their lucrative salaries and other benefits. Britain's David Cameron is said to lead the fight against the Brussels nomenklatura:
The main unions representing European Union employees have called a strike for Thursday Nov. 8 to protest a push from several member states to cut staff and administrative costs during the bloc’s next budget period.
The EU’s 27 member states are currently fighting tooth and nail over their financial framework for the seven years between 2014 and 2020. This struggle will come to a head at a summit currently scheduled for Nov. 22 and 23, but that European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has already warned could well stretch into the weekend. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened to veto any deal that doesn’t freeze spending at 2011 levels, and states like Germany and the Netherlands are also calling for a slimming-down of EU spending.
Mr. Geradon expects as much as 90% of council staff to walk off the job next Thursday with a lower turnout for the commission. Employees of the European Parliament at the moment only plan to hold a general meeting, but continue working.
The strike by Brussels bureaucrats won’t go down well with many politicians and European citizens at a time when the EU is prescribing harsh spending cuts in many member states. But Mr. Geradon says claims that EU staff is getting a cushy deal aren’t justified. “We are also taking our deal of the austerity measures,” he told Real Time Brussels.
Last year, member states blocked a pay increase that EU staff would have been due under the formula used to calculate their salaries (that formula is based on civil servants’ pay in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the three Benelux states) and Mr. Geradon says the same is likely to happen this year. On top of that, the Commission proposal foresees a 5% cut in staff at a time when the work load is increasing, as well as a rise in working time and the retirement age.
If the Nov. 8 strike doesn’t change member states’ position on the administrative costs, unions plan another day of strikes on Nov. 16. “We hope that we won’t have to do the other day of striking, but of course it could well be a long-standing industrial action,” says Mr. Geradon.
Our heart goes out to the poor people, working so hard to eke out a rudimentary living in the European (gourmet) capital! Fortunately, it appears that Cameron's rude campaign against the EU civil servants is not shared by his Foreign & Commonwealth Office, which has this to say about the lifestyle of a Brussels bureacrat:

More than just a career!

You will have the opportunity to work in a diverse and multi-cultural environment and have the opportunity to make lifelong friends with colleagues from 27 different countries. You will live and breathe the multinational culture that Brussels has to offer, learn new languages and have the opportunity to travel around the world with the EU civil service. If this sounds like a career you want then take our interactive quiz to see if you have what it takes!

The benefits

The benefits of a career in the EU include:
  • A generous starting salary in excess of €45,000 a year (plus other allowances)
  • A lifetime of different jobs
  • Final salary pension scheme
  • 24 days leave per annum
  • Working arrangements that help ensure a good work-life balance
  • Discounted medical insurance
  • Excellent training and development opportunities

Willam O'Keefe on why it is wrong to blame global warming for hurricane Sandy

As expected, warmists have been quick to use Hurricane Sandy in their global warming scaremongering propaganda. William O'Keefe, Chief Executive Officer of the George C. Marshall Institute puts the issue in perspective:

What we know is that the dire predictions of the past have not come about, although climate advocates will be quick to blame fossil energy use for Hurricane Sandy. The models on which advocates base their faith remain seriously flawed. In a recent discussion about the lack of warming for 16 years, Phil Jones of East Anglia University admitted that we really don’t understand natural variability. If that is not better understood, it is impossible to lay the blame for warming between 1976 and the 1990s, or over the past century, on human activities.
The crux of the human causality argument is that increases in greenhouse gas emissions will prevent more solar radiation to be reflected back to outer space. For that to happen there has to be an increase in atmospheric water vapor. That has not happened. In addition, more recent research has raised the possibility that that the climate pattern observed over the past 30+ years has been the result of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. There also is more robust information on the relationship between solar radiation and cloud formation.
It is unlikely that Congress in the near future will pass any legislation that forces a reduction in fossil energy use. The real danger is that EPA will continue its regulatory onslaught even though CO2 emissions have been falling and according to the EIA will not exceed their 1990 level until about 2035.
It is equally unlikely that international negotiations will be any more productive that past ones. EU nations that have led the charge for another Kyoto-like agreement are moving away from emission reduction actions because their economies are in crisis and will remain in such states for many years to come. These annual climate meetings are nothing more than a way to keep climate bureaucrats and hand-wringing advocates employed.
Read the entire article here

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The reality of Merkel's failed energy transition is beginning to dawn on German consumers and industry

Merkel will not be re-elected unless she begins to reverse her failed energy  transition  policy.

The reality of Angela Merkel's failed energy transition policy is beginning to dawn on German consumers and small and medium-sized companies:

Major industry is being spared of the costs relating to Germany's expensive shift from nuclear to green energies. The burden is being placed on small and medium-sized business as well as German consumers, who pay the second highest price for electricity in Europe. Resentment is starting to grow.

Small- to medium-sized companies such as these are finding themselves in surprising solidarity with private energy consumers, who now pay more than 25 euro cents ($0.32) per kilowatt hour of electricity, with that price steadily on the rise. Industry pays 12.4 cents per kilowatt hour, according to Eurostat. Within the 27-member bloc, only Danish households pay more than Germans, with electricity costing an average of 29.8 cents for kilowatt hour compared to the EU-wide average of 18.4 cents. By comparison, the average price per kilowatt hour of electriticity in the United States in 2011 was 11.8 US cents (9.12 euro cents) for residential customers, $0.102 for commercial enterprises and $0.0688 for industry, according to statistics provided by the US Energy Information Administration.
A Two-Class Society
Germany is increasingly splitting into two different countries when it comes to energy: the land of those who have to fork up the cash to fund the transition to renewable energy sources, and the land of those who have remained unscathed, at the expense of others.
This imbalance then ends up doubled and tripled, because the savings made by major industrial players show up instead on the bills of private energy consumers. Then there's the fact that big consumers such as steel mills draw their electricity from the spot market at the European Energy Exchange (EEX) in Leipzig, where major consumers from the industrial sector pay just six cents per kilowatt hour.
Fully half of all energy consumption in Germany is now accorded special status or allowed to waive fees, he says, and the ones who lose out the most are small and mid-sized companies, whose energy bills increase all the more as a result. "This sends a devastating message," Leprich concludes.
The main reason for the increase in energy costs is the simple fact that generating electricity with wind parks and solar arrays is more expensive.

Read the entire article here

Germans are hard working people, who do not easily complain, but with the economy slowing down, energy prices skyrocketing, and with no end in sight for the paymaster role in the euro crisis, no wonder that resentment is growing. If Merkel wants to get re-elected, she must soon begin to reverse her failed energy transition and euro rescue policies. The longer she delays, the more difficult the task becomes. 

Corruption in China: The Ferrari-Red communists

China is a country run by a bunch of corrupted authoritarians. Unfortunately, western leaders cowardly choose to turn a blind eye on this reality. That is why why Mitt Romney must be congratulated for his critical stand on the red empire. 

German Der Spiegel's extensive and well researched article on China is spot on:

The Germans' high-tech expertise is often "fed" into Chinese companies, which have copied the patents so that trains, cars and machine tools and the original products are often as identical as two peas in a pod. Recently, the Chinese company FAW reportedly recreated an entire VW transmission in Changchun in northern China. This practice can turn partners into dangerous competitors, and it also creates bad blood.
China's dumping activities are an equally serious problem for Western companies. The government subsidizes individual, future-oriented industries with so much cash and loans that they are able to displace their competitors in the world market by charging rock-bottom prices.
Many Chinese are embittered over blatant corruption, in a country where the relatives of politicians are usually the ones who become multi-millionaires, often without any discernible effort.
When the members of the Beijing Sports Car Club, founded in 2009, meet once a week in their own, exclusive lounge near the city's football stadium, they like to show off their toys, the Lamborghinis and Ferraris parked on a well-guarded parking lot. Zhang Kuan, 32, the chairman of the club, is eager to show off his dark-gray McLaren MP4-12C, a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, which he picked up in person at the Tianjin customs port in May. The club's 700 members also travel on luxury trips together, to places like Las Vegas and London. It's an insular group, and when they race at night, it's usually against each other. During the day, members are often spotted in the company of fashion models.

Ferrari Becomes a Red Rag for the Party
The provocative display of wealth troubled almost no one until recently, and certainly few government officials. But the word "Ferrari" recently became a red rag for many politicians, and it's even blocked on the Chinese Internet. Things aren't going well for the Communist Party and with preparations for its party congress. After the murder and corruption affair of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and his wife, a new scandal surrounding an Italian sports car, its driver and an accident he had threatens to cast a shadow on the carefully planned political show.
Early one morning, seven months ago, a man driving a Ferrari in Beijing lost control over the car, possibly while engaged in sexual activity. The driver, who was allegedly naked, was killed immediately, while his female companions reportedly survived, but were seriously injured. The police covered up the circumstances of the accident. But soon the Internet was filled with rumors that the driver could have been the son of a prominent individual.
In early September, it was apparently no longer possible to conceal the details, or someone deliberately leaked them to the public. The dead driver of the Ferrari, Ling Gu, 23, was the son of a top official and a graduate of Peking University. His father is the long-standing secretary of party leader and President Hu Jintao. After the incident, he lost his influential job as head of the main office of the Central Committee and was demoted to an insignificant position. He was replaced by Li Zhanshu, a close associate of the new "emperor" designate. Was the scandal misused as a tool in the power struggle in Beijing?

Corruption in China has reached proportions that will in the end lead to a disintegration of the current authoritarian regime. Those in the West who refuse to recognize this, are doing a disservice both to their own countries and to the Chinese people, who would deserve something better than the present corrupted band of deeply corrupted communist leaders. 


The New York Times also has published an excellent article on corruption among China's ruling elite. Here is a sample:

The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year.

But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.

The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister.
Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.