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Showing posts from 2012

The Eagle Ford play at night

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Scientific American:
It can be difficult to comprehend just how big the current U.S. shale boom is. Here in Central Texas, we hear about the Eagle Ford Shale and how it’s transforming South Texas (in both positive and negative ways).

The shale, named for the town of Eagle Ford, TX, is a geologic remnant of the ancient ocean that covered present day Texas millions of years ago, when the remains of sea life (especially ancient plankton) died and deposited onto the seafloor, were buried by several hundred feet of sediment, eventually turning into the rich source of hydrocarbons we have today.

The shale was first tapped in 2008 and now has around 20 active fields goodproducing over 900 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. For perspective, the United States produced over 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in September 2012.

There is so much activity in the Eagle Ford Shale that you can see it from space. ... There is more.

The bright spot to the right of the Eagle Ford formation is Houston an…

Islam's bloody border with Thailand

Telegraph:
The young father walked slowly down the road, his face expressionless, as a light rain fell. In his arms he held the lifeless body of his 11-month-old daughter, killed just hours before when the tea shop in his village was sprayed with automatic gunfire that left six people dead.

Fellow residents of the Muslim Damabuah Village in Thailand’sNarathiwat Province walked behind in silence, while men and women from the security forces lined the road clutching rifles.

A few minutes later, the infant was laid to rest in a shallow, muddy hole under a mangosteen tree in the village cemetery, beside the newly dug graves of two other victims of the tea shop shooting.

Infami Samoh’s death, a couple of hundred miles from the tourist playgrounds of Ko Samui and Phuket, was shocking only because of her age. The 11-month-old was one of the youngest of nearly 5,400 people who have been killed in the three southernmost provinces of Thailand in the past eight years.

More than 9,500 have been injur…

It is time to go on offense against malware

NY Times:
Antivirus Software Makers Struggle to Keep Up
The programs rarely block freshly minted strains, because creators of malware move too fast. Malware is just another form of cyber warfare and what the government should do is actively attack the makers of this software like they should be doing with the cyber warriors that attack government and business.  Just staying on the defensive is costly and lowers productivity as the anti virus programs bog down the computing.   Criminal penalties alone are not enough to deter the criminals.  Finding a way to trace the virus and malware back to its source and destroy the operations of those responsible should be a priority.

Now those could be clues to intent

AP:
A Manhattan couple was facing weapons charges Monday after authorities said they found a substance used to make bombs and papers titled "The Terrorist Encyclopedia" in their Greenwich Village apartment. ...  At least one of them has been associated with the Occupy Wall Street Movement.   It is hard to find an innocent explanation for the material found.

Senate Committee's harsh assessment of State Department handling of Benghazi

Fox News:
A scathing Senate committee report on the Benghazi terrorist attack faults the State Department for failing to adequately respond to mounting security threats in the lead-up to the assault. The report says the facility was woefully under-protected at a time when the region, according to a top department official, was "flashing red" -- yet security was not improved, and nobody recommended the compound be shut down.

The report, produced by the Senate homeland security committee and obtained by Fox News, follows the release of a State Department-commissioned review earlier in the month. Both are highly critical of the department.

"It is so clear that (the Benghazi compound) is dangerous and what happened was due to extremely poor security," Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said Monday.

The Senate report noted the "large amount of evidence" in the months preceding the attack that Benghazi was "increasingly dangerous and unstable," with an attac…

Shale gas leads to new investment in US steel factories

Bloomberg:
The U.S. shale-gas revolution, which has revitalized chemicals companies and prompted talk of domestic energy self-sufficiency, is attracting a wave of investment that may revive profits in the steel industry.

Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine AG (VOE) said Dec. 19 it may construct a 500 million-euro ($661 million) factory in the U.S. to benefit from cheap gas. Nucor Corp. (NUE), the most valuable U.S. steelmaker, plans to start up a $750 million Louisiana project in mid-2013. They’re among at least five U.S. plants under consideration or being built that would use gas instead of coal to purify iron ore, the main ingredient in steel.

“That technology has been around 30 years, but for 29 years gas prices in the U.S. were so high that the technology was not economical,” saidMichelle Applebaum, managing partner at consulting firm Steel Market Intelligence in Chicago. “This is how steel will be built moving forward.”

The new capacity may signal a turnaround for an industry that has …

Obama's incompetence in deal making

Jennifer Rubin:
Let’s get this straight: The president can’t make a deal with the speaker of the House on the fiscal cliff. He then punts to the Senate Majority and Minority leaders, but alas Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) can’t even come up with a counteroffer. Reid then punts to Vice President Joe Biden, who presumably is more skilled than the president at this sort of thing. One is tempted to ask what President Obama really does all day. The answer is neatly summed up by Yuval Levin: The president’s appearance on Meet the Press [Sunday] was downright pathetic in this regard, as have been his various press statements in the past few days. This sort of preening and lecturing from a politician who has basically just failed to do his job is bizarre.   Mr. President, you’re going to sign whatever congress ultimately passes, assuming something passes. Sometimes that’s just how it is for a president, any president. Can we not just accept that? And if the fiscal cliff is followed immediately by …

Hilllary's blood clot

NY Times:
Hillary Clinton Is Hospitalized After Exam Finds a Blood Clot
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is being treated with anticoagulant medication after the discovery of a blood clot stemming from her concussion this month. She should have been hospitalized when she first suffered the concussion.  While some have questioned whether she actually had one, a person of her age should not take any chances with such injuries because the damage may not be apparent without x-rays and monitoring.  It is likely that her dehydration caused her blood pressure to drop which led to her passing out and getting the head injury to begin with.  The possibility of internal bleeding in the brain is serious.  It causes pressure within the skull which required brain surgery to drain the bleeding and tie it off.

Apparently she is being treated with anti coagulants in an attempt to break up the clotting.  If left untreated it could lead to a stroke.

While I am a retired lawyer and not a doctor I…

Liberal groups try to smear model legislation ALEC

Washington Free Beacon:
Two more deep-pocketed groups—one funded by Iowa taxpayers—have joined the progressive campaign to dismantle the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The Iowa Policy Project and Good Jobs First coauthored a recent report, “Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity,” that claims ALEC’s free-market policies have negatively impacted states in which they were implemented.

The report claims “states that were rated higher on ALEC’s Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007,” the first year the ranking was published, “have actually been doing worse economically in the years since, while the less a state conformed with ALEC policies the better off it was.”

ALEC is a private-public partnership of state legislators and businesses that works to advance free-market legislation. ALEC’s members craft model legislation that is introduced roughly 1,000 times a year in state capitals around the country by a gro…

Texas legislators fear bucking Speaker Straus

Texas Tribune:
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While members engaged in the customary, private pre-session conversations about leadership, bills, and where to live and eat in Austin when the Legislature is in session, activists were trying to horn in. Cathie Adams, the former chairwoman of the Republican Party of Texas, has been gathering signatures of conservatives who would like to dump the incumbent Republican speaker.

Just before Christmas, the postings of a vaguely identified blogger spurred a flurry of responses from lawmakers. One post was a ramble on the “strange antics and extremist views” of state Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, who is challenging Speaker Joe Straus. Another listed some representatives whom Simpson purportedly claimed as supporters.

The first blog post inspired state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, to write to Straus about the need to calm his outside supporters, citing “a woefully inaccurate blog post that is being circulated by one of your surrogates.” Simpson jumped in next,…

Obama's transitory power already fading

Conn Carroll:
"The organization doesn't exist without belief in the candidate," White House senior adviser David Plouffe told Politico after November's election. "They turned out for Barack Obama. It was all because of him."

"All because of him." That comment may sting the hundreds of Democratic candidates who spent countless hours working on their own campaigns, but it is also probably true. Obama is a fantastically popular political figure whose personal connection with voters led to record turnout among many demographics.

But Obama's appeal probably will not last much beyond 2016, if it even lasts that long. But you need not take my word for it -- nor even Plouffe's. Ask Obama's own 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina. When pressed by Politico to explain why Obama's re-election campaign was reluctant to share its now-mythical voter database with other Democrats, Messina said: "You know, this organization was built for people w…

Pakistan is more like an enemy than an ally

Barry Rubin:
The expression, “With friends like you who needs enemies?” is an apt summary of a major problem for U.S. foreign policy during Obama’s second term.

Here’s the issue: a number of supposed allies of the United States don’t act as friends. In fact, they are major headaches, often subverting U.S. goals and interests. But to avoid conflict and, for Obama, to look successful to the domestic audience, Washington pretends that everything is fine.

Consider, for example, Pakistan. The United States has given billions of dollars to that country in exchange for supposedly helping keeping the lid on Afghanistan—and especially to ensure the Taliban does not return to power—and to fight terrorism, especially al-Qaida.

In reality, Pakistan supports the Taliban, wages a terrorist war on India, and hasn’t been all that helpful in fighting al-Qaida. It would be interesting to see the U.S. intelligence document evaluating how high up in Pakistan’s government was their knowledge that Usama bi…

How the capitol wound up in Washington

Hugh Hewitt:
Jon Meacham's wonderful new biography, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, has within it four pages of particular interest to today's governing class in D.C.

In late April 1790, the new United States was poised on its first fiscal cliff, a massive public debt held by many but not all states, dating from the Revolutionary War. Some states had acted responsibly toward their obligations. Others had not. The former did not want to bail out the latter, and the genius of the young republic's finances, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton despaired of finding some way of persuading the recalcitrant to agree to have the federal government assume the debt and lay on the taxes and tariffs necessary to pay it off responsibly.

Thomas Jefferson, the secretary of state and Hamilton's opponent in theory and soon in practice, met the Treasury secretary in the street and began a conversation on the impasse which led to the grand bargain: federal assumption of the debt in ex…

Houston parents capture Mexican national having sex with 15 year old daughter

Daily Mail:
A mother checking up on her daughter before bedtime was shocked to discover a man having sex with the 15-year-old after sneaking into their Houston home, but rather than panic, the woman took matters into her own hands.

After catching the intruder in the girl’s bedroom, the mother and the girl’s stepfather detained the man until police arrived and hauled him away in handcuffs.

The suspect, 21-year-old Carlos Narvaez, of Houston, Texas, has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the 15-year-old girl whom he met on a gaming site.

According to the girl's parents, Narvaez was caught 'in the act' when the teen's mother walked into her room for a late-night check-up.

The unnamed woman told KHOU 11 that when she turned on the light in the bedroom, the startled 21-year-old man tried to flee, but she informed him that he's not going anywhere.

The woman alerted her husband, the girl's stepfather, who rushed to her aid and put the suspected child mol…

Not so sustainable after all

Daily Mail:
Wind turbines 'last for half as long as previously thought' as study shows they show signs of wearing out after just 12 years I am not surprised.  The size of the units put a lot of stress on the gears and the wings.   I also question the life span of the solar farms too.  To be effective they will take constant cleaning.  Both are inefficient before considering their limited life span.  These findings should require some serious reevaluation by lenders.

He never takes responsibility

Washington Times:
Obama takes to airwaves to blame Republicans for impasse over ‘fiscal cliff’ Nothing is ever his responsibility. It makes you wonder why he fought so hard for the job, since he never thinks it on him to get something done.

Cartel's latest contraband found dead near border

Houston Chronicle:
Back in October, asBarack Obama and Mitt Romney jousted about immigration issues in the second televised debate, the president made a remarkable assertion about control of the southern border.

“The flow of undocumented workers across the border is actually lower than it's been in 40 years,” he said.

And indeed, after a decade of increased enforcement that included construction of hundreds of miles of steel border wall and a doubling in size of the U.S. Border Patrol, the results are undeniable.

The 327,577 people caught by the Border Patrol on the southern border in fiscal year 2011 were the fewest since 1970. And it was about one-third of the apprehensions made in 2005.

But don't try telling folks in Brooks County that things are under control.

Here, apprehensions of immigrants crossing illegally, rescues of people lost in the brush and wild car chases all have increased markedly in the past couple of years.

A far more tragic indicator: the death toll of those tr…

GOP has no incentive to cut a deal on fiscal cliff

Chris Cillizza:
Amid the last-minute wrangling over a “fiscal cliff” deal, it’s important to remember one overlooked fact of the 2012 election: Republicans in the House and Senate have absolutely no political incentive to compromise with President Obama.

The numbers are stark.

Of the 234 Republicans elected to the House on Nov. 6, just 15 (!) sit in congressional districts that Obama also won that day, according to calculations made by the Cook Political Report’s ace analyst David Wasserman. That’s an infinitesimally small number, particularly when compared with the 63 House Republicans who held seats where Obama had won following the 2010 midterm elections.

The Senate landscape paints the same picture — this time looking forward. Of the 13 states where the 14 Republican Senators will stand for reelection in 2014 (South Carolina has two, with Lindsey O. Graham and Tim Scott up in two years time), Obama won just one in 2012 — Maine. In the remaining dozen states, GOP presidential nominee …

Burglar taken down by Marine

Stars and Strips:
After two dangerous tours in Afghanistan, Marine Cpl. Alex Pohle confronted a new threat on the home front: a burglar in his parent’s Spokane Valley home.

Home for the holidays, the 22-year-old Pohle returned to their house after running errands and found the front door open “as plain as a summer’s day.” The family dog sat in the front yard along the 12400 block of East Desmet Road.

Without hesitation Pohle rushed inside after telling his wife to stay in the car. He stormed into the home, burst into his parents bedroom and took suspected burglar Christopher Schwanke, 43, to the floor.

After a short struggle, Pohle had him in a choke hold and Schwanke pleaded for his freedom. “Let me go, let me go,” Pohle’s mom heard Schwanke begging before he stopped moving.

Pohle credited his military training for the take down move and pointed out the blood on his pants and shirt that didn’t belong to him.

Alex and his parents, Kerrie and Jim, held the burglar down until Spokane Valley …

The Obamacare tax cliff

Americans for Tax Relief:
$1 Trillion Obamacare Tax Hike Hitting on Jan. 1 On January 1, regardless of the outcome of fiscal cliff negotiations, Americans will be hit with a $1 trillion Obamacare tax hike.

Obamacare contains twenty new or higher taxes. Five of the taxes hit for the first time on January 1. In total, Americans face a net $1 trillion tax hike for the years 2013-2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The five major Obamacare taxes taking effect on January 1 are as follows: The Obamacare Medical Device Tax:Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care – making everything from pacemakers to artificial hips more expensive.  The Obamacare Flex Account Tax:The 30-35…

Will Obama provide adequate security?

Fox News:
DEATH THREAT: Al Qaeda Puts Bounty on Head of US Ambassador This is on another hot spot--Yemen.  Will Sec. Clinton get back to work and see to taking care of her people?

Obama fails to lead on debt

The President has not been able to explain in a coherent fashion how he will solve the debt crisis.  All his proposals that supposedly deal with it make things worse.  Instead they offer nonsense like this.  Tired old tripe like "taking food out of the mouths of babies" is not going to solve the debt crisis.

More Pakistan Taliban war crimes

AP/Washington Post:
Twenty-one tribal policemen believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban were found shot dead in Pakistan’s troubled northwest tribal region early Sunday, government officials said.

Officials found the bodies shortly after midnight in the Jabai area of Frontier Region Peshawar after being notified by one policeman who escaped, said Naveed Akbar Khan, a top political official in the area. Another policeman was found seriously wounded, said Khan.

The 23 policemen went missing before dawn Thursday when militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked two posts in Frontier Region Peshawar. Two policemen were also killed in the attacks.

Militants lined the policemen up on a cricket pitch late Saturday night and gunned them down, said another local official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. ...  Gitmo does not sound so bad compared to the actions of the enemy when it deals with detainees.  …

Some good news for Americans

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Washington Post:
Congress: Unproductive to the end
The outgoing 112th session has passed the fewest number of bills in decades. That has to mean they are messing with us less.  Hopefully, they can keep this trend over the next four years. It seems to be one of the advantages of divided government.  There should be no more wasteful stimulus bills, and no more healthcare monstrosities.  There should also be no more gun control legislation.  They do need to stop the massive appropriation bills.  The House should pass separate spending bills for each category.  That will allow them to defend much of Obamacare without getting it caught up in more important legislation.

Biden on gun control

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That was then, this is now:

NY Times:
Biden Is Back for a 2nd Run at Gun LimitsThe current debate offers Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. a chance to craft a legislative response that would reinstate his assault weapons ban, while also making it more effective. I think Joe loses track of his own "malarkey."  Which Joe are you going to believe?  I think it would be wise to believe the one that wants your weapons.  It is unfortunate that this issue did not come up before the election.  We would not be having this debate now or the one on the fiscal cliff because President Romney would be working on getting the country moving in a direction of a more prosperous America.

Obama fails to negotiate a compromise on taxes

NY Times:
Obama Accuses Republicans of Blocking Tax Compromise
In remarks taped for broadcast on NBC, President Obama implored Congress to act within the next 48 hours to avert the sharpest tax increases and benefit cuts scheduled to take effect on Tuesday. Why want Obama compromise?  He has shown himself to be one of the worst negotiators in history.  His central fault is a tendency to try to retrade a deal that has already been struck.  That is what he did during the debt limit debate that led to the current impasse and he is showing the same inability to strike a deal.  To really get a deal he needs to understand the perspective of the Republicans and he seems clueless in that regard.

The Times headline does gives clues to Obama's failure.  Republicans are not blocking compromise anymore than Obama is.  But by presenting the differences in that light Obama is only making it harder to reach an agreement.  What he should be saying is that there are still some differences that need …

400 Texas teachers take hand gun training in Schertz

Houston Chronicle:
Middle school teacher Kim Williams traveled from Houston Saturday to cash in on a free concealed handgun licensing course offered to educators after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary this month.

“I feel the need to be proactive,” said Williams, 38, during a break in the 10-hour class at LoneStar Handgun.

“I'm entrusted to the care and safety of over 100 students. I want to be prepared, if and when things go that way,” said the long-time employee of the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District.

The local firm's owner, Josh Felker, advertised the class on Dec. 17, three days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. All 400 available slots were booked within 24 hours, Felker said.

“We're trying to educate the educators and get forward momentum in the Legislature to allow teachers and any other concealed handgun license holder into schools or any other public place,” the former Army Ranger said Saturday. “Gun-free zones are not gun-free t…

Zeta body snatchers die in firefight with Mexican Marines

AP/Houston Chronicle:
Mexican marines have slain four gunmen who apparently were trying to steal the body of a Zetas cartel chieftain killed by the military a day before in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

The state government said the gunmen evidently wanted to take the body of Angel Enrique Uscanga, nicknamed "The Pokemon," identified as the leader of the brutal gang in that region.

The gunmen shot at marines from a vehicle after they arrived late Friday in the city of Cordoba at the building, where authorities were keeping the bodies of Uscanga and four others who had died in a firefight with the military. The marines shot back and killed the four armed men, said a government statement. Authorities confiscated a grenade and other weapons.

In October, Zetas cartel leader Heriberto Lazcano was shot by Mexican marines in northern Mexico and his body was stolen from a funeral home 12 hours afterward. It raised doubts in Mexico about whether the feared drug lord had really been …

Accuracy, persistence give Israeli drones an advantage

Fox News:
A single Syrian missile strike on a bakery near Hama killed more than 60 innocent civilians last week, so how did Israel manage to fire more than 1,500 high powered missiles into densely-populated Gaza in November, with the total loss of 161 lives, of which 90 have been acknowledged by Hamas itself as active combatants?

The numbers speak for themselves, but very little credit has so far been given by foreign governments, NGOs, and the international media for the care taken by the Israeli military to avoid collateral damage during its recent vicious engagement with Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters.

‘Major G,' the chief instructing officer of the Israeli UAV (Drone) School, spoke exclusively to Foxnews.com on condition of anonymity about Israel’s hi-tech drone capabilities, his military’s terms of engaging the enemy, and aspects of his direct role in the recent Gaza conflict in which Israel strongly contends most non-combatant deaths were as a result of Palestinian civilian…

From gyms to shelters

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Daily Mail on Sunday:
'Hurricane domes' rising across Texas as shelters -- and they double as gymsMost of the time, the windowless building with the dome-shaped roof will be a high school gym filled with cheering fans watching sports games. But in hurricane season, the structure will double as a shelter.
Coastal Texas cities far enough inland to avoid the storm surge would probably be protected in such structures.  About 40 to 50 miles would probably be enough.  Texas has been pretty organized when it comes to storm responses.

Could Syria become another Somalia?

Observer/Guardian:
A diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria seemed as far away as ever on Saturday, as the UN-Arab League envoy to Damascus, Lakhdar Brahimi, said the country risked slithering into "hell".

Following talks in Moscow with Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Brahimi said there was no alternative to negotiations. The country faced two stark choices, he said – a serious, Syrian-led political dialogue between the rebels and the regime, or what he darkly called "Somali-isation".

Brahimi – who held talks on Monday in Damascus with Syria's defiant president, Bashar al-Assad – said stopping the bloody civil war in 2013 was indispensable. But, he conceded, the obstacles to peace were enormous.

After almost two years of fighting, both sides "disagreed violently even about the analysis of the situation", he said. The Assad regime insisted it was battling "terrorists", while the armed opposition said it was leading a popular …

Venezuela more dangerous than a war zone

Sunday Telegraph:
The number of victims was up by 12 per cent from last year when there were 19,336 deaths, the Venezuelan Violence Observatory said in its annual report.

High profile killings included that of a three year-old child, Edgar Torres, who was fired on 10 times while he was asleep in bed, after a gunman had come in to kill a teenage relative.

In August more than 20 people were killed in a battle between two heavily armed groups inside the Yare I prison. More than 300 prisoners died in Venezuelan jails in the first half of the year.

The Mexican ambassador Carlos Pujalte and his wife were seized from their car in a wealthy area of Caracas and held for several hours before being released alive in a slum in January.

Unlike other Latin American countries Venezuela is not involved in a drug war or on-going battle with guerrillas.

But according to the Observatory, a think tank set up by public and private universities, it now has a murder rate of 73 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, com…

California proving validity of Laffer Curve

Daniel Mitchell: ... I’m glad when that happens to French politicians. I’m glad when it happens to Italian politicians. I’m glad when it happens to Illinois politicians. And British politicians. And Spanish politicians. And Maryland politicians. I could continue, but I think you get the point.

I’m even glad when it happens to the politicians in Washington.

I smile because I envision the moment when some budget geek tells these sleazy politicians that projected revenues aren’t materializing and they don’t have more money to spend.

So I wish I could be a fly on the wall when this moment of truth happens to California politicians. Theyconvinced voters in the state to enact Prop 30, a huge tax increase targeting those evil, awful, bad rich people.

Governor Brown and his fellow kleptocrats in Sacramento doubtlessly are salivating at the thought of more money to waste.

But notwithstanding a satirical suggestion from Walter Williams, there aren’t guard towers and barbed-wire fences surrounding th…

Is this guy serious?

Chris Cillizza:
The Clintons’ good year in Washington This headline shows how out of touch Washington insiders are from the real world.  In the real world Hillary Clinton's State Department screwed up so badly that an ambassador and three others were killed because they were not provided adequate security after begging for it for weeks.  The Arab spring has turned intoa  disaster for the US.  The Libyan war led to al Qaeda's take over of Mali with weapons taken from Qaddafi's arms depot that the US failed to secure because it was too busy leading from behind.  Tens of thousadns of Syrians have been killed and it appears that al Qaeda is getting a toe hold in another country.  Negotiations with Iran have gone exactly nowhere.

You have to wonder what Cillizza it would take for Cillizza to call it a bad year for her.

Democrats go silent on spying bill

NY Times:
Federal Power to Intercept Messages Is Extended
Congress gave final approval on Friday to a bill extending the government’s power to intercept electronic communications of spy and terrorism suspects under a law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It appears that Democrats have been struck by common sense this go round for the law that lets the NSA gather information on potential plots.  When Bush was President the bill was seen as big brother reading your kids email.  Paranoia ran amok.   Now the renewal of authorization barely rates a back page story in the Times.

The original debate over the act actually helped the enemy avoid intercepts as they learned our sources and methods because of the controversy stirred by the liberal Democrats.  Now that a liberal Democrat bears responsibility for safe guarding the country, they do not seem to think the subject should be controversial.  Go figure.

Perspective on proposed assault rifle ban

IBD: ...
In fact, when added together, knives, blunt instruments and the human body were responsible for more than nine times as many homicides as rifles in 2011.
... Killers will generally find a way, and rifles appear to be rather low on their weapon of choice list.  I suspect that so called "assault rifles" are even lower on the list of weapons used.

Obama who has been playing golf and on vacation ...

Daily Mail:
'The hour for immediate action is here:' Obama scolds Congress for waiting until deadline to avert fiscal cliff ... says he's 'modestly optimistic' a deal will be reached Obama may be the laziest leader in recent history as President   His other fault is to never really accept responsibility for anything of consequence unless it is something that someone else actually did.  In this case he has failed to meet with Congressional leaders, and when he has he has negotiated in bad faith.  He is always trying to retrade a deal he previously agreed too.  He is just not a good negotiator and fails to understand the art of getting a deal done.

NY gun laws ineffective at stopping felon in ambush

NY Times:
Woman Bought Gun Used in Ambush, Police Say
The police arrested a woman they said obtained the rifle used to kill two firefighters in Webster, N.Y., on Monday. People who commit murder are rarely bothered by compliance with laws on gun ownership.  They are just not inhibited by the law and they can usually find someone who is equally uninhibited to help them get around the law.  How do you think all those people killing each other in Chicago got their guns?

Saudi sex cops target Christmas

Al-akhbar:
Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said.

The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country's strict religious code.

The host of the alleged Christmas gathering is reported to be an Asian diplomat whose guests included 41 Christians, as well as two Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Muslims. The host and the two Muslims were said to be “severely intoxicated.” ...  We again see how fragile Islam is that the mere presence of someone at a celebration of Christmas could topple the whole religion.  Normally these religious cops harass people for alleged violations of rules against people of the opposite sex talking to one another in public places.  They have become a major embarrassment to the kingdom.

The high cost of EPA regulations

Ryan Young:
Transparency is the lifeblood of democracy. Washington needs more of it, especially in the all-too-opaque world of regulation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, is the most expensive federal regulatory agency. Its annual budget is fairly modest in Beltway terms, at a little less than $11 billion, but that’s not where the vast majority of its costs come from. Complying with EPA regulations costs the U.S. economy $353 billion per year — more than 30 times its budget — according to the best available estimate. By way of comparison, that is more than the entire 2011 national GDPs of Denmark ($332 billion) and Thailand ($345 billion).

That figure doesn’t come from the EPA, which last released such an estimate in 1990, but from the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Wayne Crews, who parsed through publicly available documents, cost estimates of economically significant regulations, and whatever else he could find. That so much effort was required is part of …

The case for federalism

Jonah Goldberg:
One of my New Year's resolutions is to work harder to persuade ideological friends and foes alike that the way to reduce partisanship and maximize happiness in America is to embrace federalism -- the view that we should push as many decisions as possible to the lowest local level feasible.

Federalism reduces partisanship by shrinking the importance of the federal government. It increases happiness by maximizing the number of people who get to live the way they want to live.

Unfortunately, proponents of federalism tend to start the conversation with the really big issues: gay marriage, drugs, guns, abortion, etc.

I'm for making all of those things local issues wherever possible, too. But, admittedly, those questions are complicated or emotionally freighted. Some questions do cut to the heart of what it means to be an American.

But many don't. So let's start there. ...  Goldberg goes on to describe Ernest Hemingway's six toed cat and its progeny that are …