Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Irish Solution for Israel?


Applying lessons from Northern Ireland
Israel should push for the establishment of a semi-permanent peace conference involving moderate Arab countries and representatives of the Quartet.
[...] Two creative breakthroughs are needed: the first is to see moderate Arab states as true partners with a common interest in resolving the problem, and to break with the decades old Israeli doctrine that we should never meet the Arab world as a whole. This policy is based on the denial of historical reality: The Arab world as a whole needs to accept Israel's presence in the Middle East.

The Arabs should help us? Yes. Social psychology has shown time and again that the best way to create solidarity between feuding parties is to have them work on a common problem. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not just our problem: It is one of the whole Arab world, because it fuels Islamic fundamentalism and destabilizes the region. No Palestinian leader can opt for compromise without looking for the legitimacy bestowed by all Arabs.

The second breakthrough we need is to rethink Israel's phobia of participating in permanent conferences that allow a process to evolve. This is exactly the opposite of the situation of the Camp David summit in 2000, which was completely identified with Bill Clinton, who was in the last phase of his presidency. The frantic pressure of having to strike a deal before he left the White House, with no one in sight who would shepherd the process to an end, was a recipe for failure.

Instead we need to apply the model of the Northern Ireland process. In Alderdice's view the major factor that made success in that process possible was the participation of the British and Irish governments, as well as the support and involvement of the American government. All pledged to be there for as long as it took to reach an agreement.

Psychologically, it makes a huge difference to know that external support is there to stay. [...]
Some good stuff here. But where is the Palestinian's Nelson Mandela? That would help too.      

About the 3,000,000 Republicans who didn't vote, and other reasons why the GOP lost

How Republicans Can Rebrand
While listening to conservative pundits lamenting Mitt Romney's defeat, incredulous that three million Republicans didn't vote -- ostensibly because the GOP (Grand Old Party) had failed to get out the vote -- the real problem hit me: cultural infantilism. Liberalism, and its pillars entitlement and dependency, is now so pervasive, corrosive, and infectious that many of America's adults have regressed.
The GOP shouldn't have to "get out the vote" in any election. Responsible adults know that voting is a civic duty, a responsibility, an obligation, a self-directed act. We tell children to fulfill their obligations, right? Barack Obama exhorted his sycophantic base to vote, even instructing them that voting is the best revenge. Although he won, Obama received 10 million fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008.
Adults, conversely, get themselves out to vote. They take responsibility for their lives, make difficult choices and sacrifices, fight to limit government, and control their own destinies. Adults respect the laws of finance and accounting, resent wealth confiscation and redistribution, and loathe unpayable debt.
Alas, there are few adults in socialistic America; that's why Barack Obama, the Candy Man, appeals so much to Candylanders, who childishly accept free candy in exchange for their own freedom. President Obama understands the infantilism of his base and, accordingly, crafted a simple re-election strategy: promise and deliver them free candy; they will overlook my failures and vote for me with messianic zeal. It worked. [...]
That's one way of looking at it. I understand the rest of the author's rant, and as much as I sympathize with his proposed solutions, I'm not sure it's that simple, or that his proposed solutions alone would be effective enough. I think there is more that needs to be considered.

This also makes a lot of sense to me:

Republicans learn the hard way: George W. Bush was right
[...] Compassionate conservatism always struck me as a philosophical surrender to liberal assumptions about the role of the government in our lives. A hallmark of Great Society liberalism is the idea that an individual's worth as a human being is correlated to his support for massive expansions of the entitlement state. Conservatives are not uncompassionate. (Indeed, the data show that conservatives are more charitable with their own money and more generous with their time than liberals). But, barring something like a natural disaster, they believe that government is not the best and certainly not the first resort for acting on one's compassion.

I still believe all of that, probably even more than I did when Mr. Bush was in office.

But, as a political matter, it has become clear that he was on to something important.

Neither critics nor supporters of compassionate conservatism could come to a consensus over the question of whether it was a mushy-gushy marketing slogan (a Republican version of Bill Clinton's feel-your-pain liberalism) or a serious philosophical argument for a kind of Tory altruism, albeit with an evangelical idiom and a Texan accent.

Some sophisticated analysts, such as my National Review colleague Ramesh Ponnuru, always acknowledged the philosophical shortcomings and inconsistencies of compassionate conservatism, but argued that something like it was necessary nonetheless. The evolving demographics of the country, combined with the profound changes to both the culture and the economy, demanded the GOP change both its sales pitch and its governing philosophy. [...]
The playing field has changed. There are new demographics at work. The GOP needs to stop acting as if it's still the 1980s, if it wants to remain relevant.

And this too:

The real reason Obama won
History, not an imagined rejection of capitalism, explains the president's re-election victory
[...] In 1992, George H.W. Bush, presiding over a sluggish economy, faced the hard-charging Bill Clinton, who promised fundamental changes in the nation's economy and an alteration of priorities. Mr. Clinton's charisma and message that he represented change, coupled with a third-party candidacy in the person of Ross Perot, helped ensure Mr. Bush's defeat.

This year, Mitt Romney talked about change but failed to offer a clear agenda that represented a recognizable break with the past. Most informed voters surely recognized that they had heard the promised magical benefits of tax cuts before. In fact, the policy was very recently in place during the administration of George W. Bush, and helped turn a $290 billion budget surplus into a $455 billion deficit, while nearly doubling the national debt from $5.6 trillion to more than $10 trillion. Mr. Romney's assertions that he would reduce spending and close tax loopholes (without meaningful specifics), along with promised defense increases, prevented his ever gaining the credible high ground in the economic conversation. Bill Clinton's retort that "it's arithmetic" probably rang truer with voters than anything offered by the billions of dollars spent on political advertising.

While this year presented an economy still in slow recovery from its 2008 collapse, the other factors present in past presidential defeats were clearly lacking. President Barack Obama had no primary challenge, nor was there any thorny third-party candidacy. He was spared blame for the economic collapse, while being able to take credit for slow but undeniable growth. No charismatic personality dominated the agenda, and the challenger never offered an inspirational program of truly new ideas that signaled a compelling reason for change.

These facts, more than any theories about the rise to prominence of some entitlement-dependent mass bent on turning America into Europe, provide the basis for why the country decided to stay with the guy in office.
Read the whole thing. I think it's possibly the most objective and fair explanation I've read so far, based on historical comparison and analysis, of why the GOP didn't defeat the incumbent. All things considered, the outcome was inevitable.

It's not the end of the world, IF the GOP learns from it's mistakes. And as the next article I'm linking to points out, the Democrats would do well to not become over confident:

Don’t get cocky, Democrats: The post-Romney GOP looks just like you did two decades ago
You’re looking at a political party that has lost the popular vote in five of the past six elections; whose one winning presidential candidate achieved the White House thanks to a fluke; and whose prospects for the future seem doomed by demography and geography.

No, it’s not today’s Republican Party you’re looking at—it’s the Democratic Party after the 1988 elections. And the past (nearly) quarter-century is an object lesson in the peril of long-term assumptions about the nature and direction of our political path.

Consider where the Democrats found themselves that November. They had just lost their third straight presidential election, and not to the formidable Ronald Reagan, but to George Herbert Walker Bush, a WASP aristocrat prone to sitting down at a diner and asking for “a splash of coffee.” They’d lost by more than seven points in the popular vote, and by 416-111 in the Electoral College, winning only 10 states.

The most enduring element of their geographic base had vanished. The once-solid Democratic South was now solidly Republican and, for the second straight election, their candidate had not won a single state in the region.

But that was only the start of the wretched geographic picture. Four of the six New England states had gone Republican, and the Plains and the Mountain West were all in the GOP camp. Most daunting, three big states—New Jersey, Illinois and California, with 87 combined electoral votes—had gone Republican for the sixth consecutive election. The weakness of Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis could not explain away a recent political fact: The Republican Party appeared to have “an electoral lock” on the White House.

What had happened to the Democrats? What changed? And why is this relevant to Republican woes today? [...]
Read the whole thing, for a good reminder of how things can change.      

Monday, November 12, 2012

USA, the world's largest oil producer?

Yep. That's where we are heading:

U.S. to become world's largest oil producer before 2020, IEA says
The U.S. will become the world’s top producer of oil within five years, a net exporter of the fuel around 2030 and nearly self-sufficient in energy by 2035, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.

It’s a bold set of predictions for a nation that currently imports some 20% of its energy needs.

Recently, however, an “energy renaissance” in the U.S. has caused a boost in oil, shale gas and bio-energy production due to new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fuel efficiency has improved in the transportation sector. The clean energy industry has seen an influx of solar and wind efforts.

By 2015, U.S. oil production is expected to rise to 10 million barrels per day before increasing to 11.1 million bpd by 2020, overtaking second-place Russia and front-runner Saudi Arabia. The U.S. will export more oil than it brings into the country in 2030.

Around the same time, however, Saudi Arabia will be producing some 11.4 million bpd of oil, outpacing the 10.2 million from the U.S. In 2035, U.S. production will slip to 9.2 million bpd, far behind the Middle Eastern nation’s 12.3 million bpd. Iraq will exceed Russia to become the world’s second largest oil exporter.

At that point, real oil prices will reach $125 a barrel. By then, however, the U.S. won’t be relying much on foreign energy, according to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook.

Globally, the energy economy will undergo a “sea change,” according to the report, with nearly 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports redirecting toward Asia. [...]

This report also confirms the claims made by Porter Stansberry, that I referred to in an earlier post about President Obama capitalizing on an oil boom, like Teddy Roosevelt and FDR did. And with the same corrupting influences.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

In Honor of Veteran's Day 2012

To All of Our Veterans,

Thank You


We owe you more
than words can say.

Will Obama become America's Hugo Chavez?

Here is one person's version of "What's Next": The Third Term

On the above link, a video will try to play, showing text with someone narrating it. It's very long. If you prefer to read (as I do), simply try to shut the window. When you do, a pop up will ask you if you really want to leave. Don't do anything for a moment; the page will reload, with the full text from the video. Then from the pop-up box you can choose to stay on the page and read.

It's a long ramble, by Porter Stansberry, who is trying to sell his investment newsletter. In the course of that, he predicts that Obama, in his second term, will consolidate and keep his power from an economic boom caused by shale oil and natural gas.

That may sound far-fetched, but he does explain with extensive sources and data to back his prediction. He also makes two very compelling historical comparisons, with Teddy Roosevelt and FDR, who both used similar circumstances to do what Stansberry believes Obama will also do. FDR managed a third term, and Obama could do the same, either by changing the constitution or by having his wife Michelle run as his proxy.

The data he gives for shale oil and natural gas is also fascinating. He uses his record of past accurate predictions, to bolster his predictions for Obama. The extensive references and data he offers to back up his ideas and predictions seems very plausible; it pieces together a lot of things I've heard from various other sources.

I wanted to print some excerpts here, and discuss some of the ideas, but blogger has changed it's publishing software, and I am now finding it very difficult to work with. The new blogger software requires me to do extensive reformatting of excerpted text, which is very time consuming. And even then, it often won't let me publish it (like it did today, after I did all the work!).

Thus, I predict, that I will not be blogging very much anymore. I have a life, and I'm going to start living it more. I may occasionally post interesting links and small amounts of text, but I'm pretty sure my most active blogging days are behind me.

It was fun, it was a learning experience. But now, seeing as Blogger has made this so unnecessarily arduous and time-consuming, methinks it's time to make better use of my time.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Don't Worry, The End is Near


Health related links, 11-03-12

Are There Natural Options for Treating GERD?
[Dr. Sinatra]Program for Digestive Health

Hooray for the Old West!

Or rather, Hooray for the Old in the West:

In U.S., 15% of Registered Voters Have Already Cast Ballots
Early voting highest in the West and among seniors; similar by party ID
[...] 2012 Early Voters Are Older, Concentrated in the West

Early voting this election year is most prevalent in the West, followed by the South and the Midwest, but is relatively light in the East. These differences largely reflect regional differences in state laws on absentee and mail voting, with two states -- Washington and Oregon -- focused exclusively or mainly on mail-in voting. One in four voters in the West say they have already voted, and another 30% plan to vote before Election Day. The combined 55% in the West contrasts with 40% in the South, 23% in the Midwest, and 9% in the East.

Early voting is also strongly related to age, with seniors the most likely to have already voted (26%), compared with 7% of voters aged 18 to 29.

Postgraduates are more likely than voters with no more than an undergraduate-level education to say they have voted or plan to vote early, while adults with no college experience are the least likely. [...]

More Republicans vote early, among other statistics. Read more for a further breakdown of the stats.      

Friday, November 02, 2012

Over-powerful Unions are for the birds

Report: Non-union utility crews turned away from NJ
Not exactly helpful to the suffering victims with no electricity and heat, as nighttime temperatures turn freezing.

The above picture has nothing to do with the article. But I had noticed, that in several of the photos of the flooding caused by Sandy, there were Swans. This one was my favorite. The title of this blog post, an excuse to use it. A bit of natural beauty among a lot of tragedy.

If Candies Were Taxes...

From the Mouths of Babes:

H.T. Happy Redistributionist Halloween!