A new report by the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute, details adverse economic consequences of the Keystone XL pipeline's delay. The report highlights billions of dollars in untapped economic activity, and the over $1 trillion the U.S. has paid other countries for oil. It also details additional environmental benefits that could be provided by passing Keystone.
TransCanada, the company that would operate the pipeline, has been waiting for authorization on the project since September 2008. By breaking down crude oil prices over the past years, AAF estimates "$175 billion in economic activity has been unrealized due to the delay." Furthermore, "at today’s price of crude at $51.76, this would gross over $42 million dollars a day or roughly $15 billion per year."
AAF's report also touts Keystone's ability to decrease America's dependence on oil from countries in the Middle East, as well as Russia and Venezuela, by increasing imports from more friendly countries like Canada. That would be particularly advantageous, as United States relations with those places have been strained. The report cites statistics from the Energy Information Agency, noting that "the U.S. imported approximately 9 million barrels per day of petroleum in 2014 from 80 countries with the bulk of its oil imports from Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Russia," and that, "since 2009, the U.S. has paid over $1 trillion to these top five countries."
The report notes that despite President Obama's February veto of legislation authorizing the construction of Keystone, he could still approve it through executive order. Because of President Obama's statement that he would do so "only if it 'does not significantly exacerbate the climate problem,'” the State Department is now reviewing the proposal, and there is no deadline for completion. The House Oversight Committee subpoenaed those documents earlier this month.
AAF adds that not only does Keystone "not significantly exacerbate the climate problem," but it actually has environmental benefits. A January 2014 State Department report concluded that the pipeline "would not increase greenhouse gas emissions by a significant amount." AAF also notes their previous research shows that carbon emissions from the "pipeline would be significantly less than that coming from rail transport," and "the risk of oil spills is greatly reduced as pipelines have a lower spill rate than rail."
Earlier this week, TransCanada's southern segment of the Keystone pipeline pumped its billionth barrel of oil. “To put this achievement in perspective, it would take approximately 1.7 million train cars or 3.3 million trucks to transport one billion barrels of crude oil," noted TransCanada's president, Russ Girling. Girling also cited Keystone's economic and foreign policy benefits in his statement.
At an event in Washington, D.C., Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is attacking one of his opponents, Donald Trump.
"He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued," Perry will say, according to prepared text of his remarks.
"Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded."
The Pentagon is illustrating Defense Secretary Ash Carter's trip to Israel with a picture of any angry-looking Benjamin Netanyahu. The picture is available on the Defense Department's website:
The caption reads, "U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following a meeting to discuss matters of mutual importance in Jerusalem, July 21, 2015."
The photo was taken by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen.
Carter is in Israel to talk up the Iran deal with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a vocal opponent of the deal.
In the summer of 1994 the Clinton administration faced the gravest crisis on the Korean peninsula since the signing of the armistice agreement in 1953. The genesis of the crisis had come in 1992 when Pyongyang concluded an agreement accepting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safeguards in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Subsequent IAEA inspections discovered inconsistencies between Pyongyang’s initial declaration regarding its nuclear program and IAEA findings. Pyongyang then threatened to withdraw from the NPT triggering an international crisis.
Secretary of Defense William Perry recalled in his 1999 memoir Preventive Defense that by June of 1994 “We knew we were poised on the brink of a war that might involve weapons of mass destruction.” The United States had, according to press reports, drawn up plans for an air strike on Pyongyang’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The surgical strike was intended to prevent the re-processing of plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel rods which could be used in the construction of an estimated half dozen nuclear weapons. A 1999 CNN report on the crisis quoted Pentagon sources as estimating that such a strike would have led to all-out war with as many as one million casualties.
Then a last-minute phone call from former President Jimmy Carter, on a private North Korean visit, to chief U.S. negotiator Robert Gallucci in Washington reported a breakthrough in private discussions with aging North Korean Great Leader Kim Il-sung. Carter was quoted as telling CNN on June 15, 1994 that “I look upon this, this commitment by Kim Il-sung as being very important.” (Kim would die of heart failure in less than a month, but the imprimatur of North Korea’s god-like founder on a proposed nuclear agreement as one of his last official actions assured its universal acceptance in Pyongyang.)
The subsequent agreement, known as the Agreed Framework, signed on October 21, 1994, called for the freezing of Pyongyang’s reprocessing of plutonium from spent fuel rods at North Korea’s Soviet era graphite 5-megawatt nuclear reactor in exchange for the provision of heavy fuel oil and the construction of two light-water reactors to meet North Korean energy needs. The United States and North Korea also pledged to move toward normalization of political and economic relations.
A key flaw in the Agreed Framework, apparent from the beginning, was the stipulation that the estimated 16,000 spent fuel rods would be stored on-site in North Korea until all provisions of the agreement were finalized. Thus, when the Agreed Framework broke down a decade later, Pyongyang still had access to the plutonium in these spent fuel rods. The only airtight guarantee that North Korea would not ultimately make use of the reprocessed plutonium from its Yongbyon facility for its weapons program would have been to remove the spent fuel rods from North Korea and to have international authorities dispose of them.
This week, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a law protecting the lives of infants after the fifth month of pregnancy (or 20 weeks after conception), a point in human development when babies can feel pain and survive long-term if born prematurely.
The law includes an exeption for cases in which a physical health issue endangers the life of the mother, but Hillary Clinton still denounced the late-term abortion ban as an "extreme and unacceptable" measure:
Gov. Walker signed dangerous abortion restrictions into law in WI - without exceptions for rape or incest. Extreme and unacceptable. -H
Clinton especially objects to the fact that Wisconsin's law doesn't include an exception to allow the killing of infants late in pregnancies that resulted from rape. But laws in the blue states of Pennsylvania and New York (which take effect, respectively, at 22 weeks and 24 weeks after conception) also prohibit late-term abortions in that circumstance. Does Clinton think liberal New York's aboriton law is also "extreme and unacceptable"?
Scott Walker responded to Clinton with the following tweet:
.@HillaryClinton attacks me for protecting life after 5 months, but won’t condemn disgusting Planned Parenthood videos. -SW
Republicans in Congress have not only tolerated the legality of abortion in pregnancies that result from rape, they have voted since 1993 for laws allowing federal Medicaid funding of abortions in these extreme cases in order to prohibit funding in more than 99 percent of other cases. But even if one accepts this exception for principled or prudential reasons, it does not follow that this exception must exist in the ninth month of pregnancy.
So does Clinton support any limits on abortion? She has given conflicting answers over the years, and her campaign still hasn't answered several questions about her position on late-term abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion:
Anderson has pulled of a great trick with Truth Overruled: He's written a book that should be of interest not just to proponents of traditional marriage, but to the people who have advocated for redefining marriage, too. That's because what he does is distill, in an even-handed and philosophical manner, exactly what the arguments are for traditional marriage and what the costs to society are likely to be from redefinition.
Truth Overruled is so pithy and lean that I could quote the entire thing back at you. But I want to focus on two of Anderson's larger points.
The first is that when it comes to marriage, you can either have the traditional standard, or no standards, for defining the institution.
Marriage is, as Anderson explains, a human institution which predates the state. Why did it form? In order to make men and women responsible to one another, and to maximize the outcomes for both the adults and any children which result from their union. As such, "Marriage is society's least-restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children."
The people who want to transform marriage to include same-sex relationships have, whether they know it or not, not just a practical goal, but a philosophical one, too: They want, as Anderson puts it, to turn marriage into "an instrument for gratifying the emotions of adults." (This is not, I think, a redefinition that most same-sex marriage proponents would object to.)
The problem is that when you shift the institution's purpose, you then change the institution. And this isn't the first time we've confronted this movement. Here's Anderson:
The same argument was made during the no-fault divorce debate. No-fault divorce was for the relatively small number of people suffering in unhappy marriages and would be irrelevant for everyone else. But the change in the law changed everyone's expectations of marital permanence. The breakdown of the marriage culture that followed made it possible in our generation to consider removing sexual complementarity from the legal definition of marriage. And that redefinition may lead to further redefinition.
In short: Once you move away from the original purpose and definition of marriage, you enter a world in which the institution is infinitely plastic. Which means that if you support same-sex marriage today, you need to be comfortable with whatever marriage will be defined as tomorrow. And there will be future redefinitions.
Furthermore, you need to be comfortable with the trade-offs you're making.
What people often fail to understand is that rights are in constant tension with one another. Expanding one set of "rights" and "freedoms" comes with a cost. Anderson sees four them, right off the top:
Last month the general synod of the United Church of Christ approved a resolution calling on its members and local churches to boycott products made in the West Bank. The resolution also called on the denomination's local churches and the organizations that manage UCC-related investments to divest from companies that do business with Israel's defense establishment. The same body, meeting in Cleveland, almost approved a resolution declaring Israel to be an apartheid state. This resolution received a majority of votes at the general synod, but failed to get the two-thirds supermajority it needed to pass.
The general synod’s pronouncements will not promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Instead, they highlight the intellectual decline of a historically important denomination whose Congregationalist roots go back to arrival of European settlers in New England in the 1600s. For the people who attend local UCC churches, the actions of the general synod should be a wake-up call.
To put it bluntly, the so-called peace activists who rule the roost at the UCC's General Synod are obsessed with Israel, which tries to prevent civilian deaths when it fights its adversaries, and indifferent to the misdeeds of radical Islamists who murder civilians in an attempt to terrorize the world.
The evidence is all right there in the general synod minutes. Since 1967, the UCC's deliberative body has passed nearly 20 resolutions about the Arab-Israeli conflict, but has failed to offer up one word of criticism of the misdeeds of jihadists who have been murdering and kidnapping non-Muslims and women in the Middle East and North Africa since the Arab Spring.
Boko Haram and ISIS have simply not made it onto the general synod's radar. When the Jewish state uses force to defend itself, the UCC's general synod responds with condemnation, but when Arabs and Muslims do bad things to other Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Bahais, the body has remained silent. And it’s not as if the general synod, which has promoted same-sex marriage and the rights of women, has spoken up on behalf of gay men who have been thrown from rooftops in Iraq or condemned ISIS-sponsored auction of women in sex-slave markets in that country. Any Christian body remotely concerned about human rights would confront these issues and yet the UCC’s general synod has remained silent in the face of these outrages.
The body even seeks to impose its silence about Islamist violence on other people and institutions. In 2011, the general synod passed a resolution condemning Islamophobia, which stated in part, that the mistreatment of Muslims in the U.S. contributed to Muslim violence against Christians in the Middle East. With this logic, people who criticize Islam become complicit in the murder of Christians in Muslim-majority countries.
How's that for moral inversion?
The failure of the UCC's general synod to speak up on behalf of Christians in the Middle East, coupled with its intense focus on Israel, is proof positive that the denomination's deliberative body has been hijacked by propagandists who are more interested in attacking Israel than they are in promoting human rights.
The Republican National Committee has come out against the Iran nuclear deal, which it labels as part of the "Clinton-Obama foreign policy." The RNC makes their case in a 33-second web video which will be released later today:
The ad uses audio from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. At the end of the short spot, the screen text reads, "Clinton-Obama foreign policy: Bad deals, a nuclear Iran. Too dangerous for America."
“The Clinton-Obama nuclear deal with Iran is the capstone on a failed foreign policy that has left America and the world less safe,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus says in a statement.
“Not only does the Clinton-Obama deal fail to ultimately prevent a nuclear Iran, it will leave the Ayatollahs with even more resources to fund terrorism and further destabilize the Middle East. It’s as clear as ever that in order to keep America safe, we must elect a Republican president.”
Democrat Hillary Clinton is trailing some potential Republican opponents in three key swing states, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac, and doing about as well against the GOP as one of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders.
The poll of likely voters in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia—all states Barack Obama and George W. Bush won at least once—finds Clinton trailing Republicans Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker. In Colorado, Clinton is losing to Rubio by 8 points, Bush by 5 points, and Walker by 9 points; in Iowa, Clinton trails Rubio by 8 points, Bush by 6 points, and Walker by 8 points; and in Virginia, Clinton is behind Rubio by 2 points, Bush by 3 points, and Walker by 3 points.
Sanders, an independent socialist senator from Vermont, is performing about the same as Clinton against those three Republicans. In Colorado, Sanders trails Rubio by 11 points, Bush by 6 points, and Walker by 8 points; in Iowa, Sanders is losing to Rubio by 7 points, Bush by 4 points, and Walker by 8 points; and in Virginia, Sanders is behind Rubio by 7 points, Bush by 10 points, and Walker by 8 points.
While Clinton has long been thought of as the clear favorite to win the Democratic nomination, her metrics are ranking poorly in these important swing states. In Colorado, for instance, 62 percent say the former secretary of state is not honest and trustworthy and 57 percent say she does not care about their needs and problems. Those numbers in Iowa are 59 percent and 55 percent, respectively, and 55 and 50 percent, respectively, in Virginia.
Clinton also has a 56 percent unfavorability rate in Colorado, 56 percent in Iowa, and 50 percent in Virginia—all the worst ratings among the Democratic candidates. Only Republicans Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, and Donald Trump rank as high in unfavorability in some or all of those three states.
The White House pool reporter provides more details of the encounter:
VP Biden left the discussion at the Community College of Denver's Advanced Manufacturing Center and traveled 1.6 miles to Little Man ice cream in Denver's Lo-Hi neighborhood. He stepped out of the vehicle at 3:38 p.m. wearing aviator sunglasses and a dress shirt and tie (no jacket) with his sleeves rolled once to his forearms. He took photos at the iconic Denver ice cream shop -- housed in huge silver milk jug on Tejon Street -- with dozens of onlookers and fans as "Signed, Sealed and Delivered, I'm Yours" played on the loudspeakers. He walked to the shop's window with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
"I'm buying," Biden declared.
"No, I'm buying," Hancock said.
Biden ordered a scoop of Salted Oreo -- a local favorite -- in a waffle cone he soon emptied into a bowl. He continued to take photos with onlookers, including Angel Cruz, the owner of Denver's BambuCycles, who wore a High Times U.S. Cannabis Cup T-shirt. Cruz brought a green T-shirt with the words "I got high in Colorado" on the front. Cruz said he wanted to give the T-shirt to give to Biden but forgot after taking the photo with him.
The press was escorted to the motorcade at 3:53 p.m. The VP's vehicle then diverted to an unknown location as the press were taken to the manufacturing center.
That Donald Trump was supported by 24 percent of Republican voters in the Washington Post/ABC News poll on presidential candidates isn’t the most worrisome number for the GOP. Even scarier is the devastating role that Trump would play as an independent or third party candidate.
The Post poll found this in a three-candidate race in the general election: Hillary Clinton 46 percent, Jeb Bush 30 percent, Trump 20 percent. Trump took more votes from Bush than from Clinton. One on one, Clinton beat Bush 50-44 percent.
Republican elites need to come grips with the real Trump threat and not make things worse. Which is what they have been doing so far.
Calling on Trump to drop out of the race or insisting he is unqualified to be president because of his harsh language zinging John McCain and immigrants from Mexico isn’t working and probably never will. It’s more likely to cause him to stay in the race. He does have gigantic ego, after all.
Republicans need to think about who backs Trump at the moment. It’s a big chunk of the GOP base, at least the anti-immigrant wing. If Republicans lose these folks next year in the general election, they’re doomed.
Besides his views on immigration, why do these people like Trump? Two reasons. One is that Trump says what he thinks. Sometimes it seems he utters whatever pops in his head. Most politicians aren’t so candid. They’ve been trained not to blurt. Think of Hillary Clinton. When she takes a question, you can almost see the wheels spinning in her head as she tries to formulate an evasive answer.
The second reason: Trump has all the right enemies. It’s the folks that are demonized on much of conservative talk radio – the Republican hierarchy, mainstream media, and the pro-immigrant crowd. Let me paraphrase what Howard Jarvis, the father of California’s tax-cutting Proposition 13, once said in 1978: when he saw all the bankers, businessmen, politicians of both parties, and their pals lined up against him, he knew with absolute certainty that he could not be wrong. Trump’s fans are similar, I suspect.
For the moment, I think Trump is in a position like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s in the gubernatorial recall election for governor in California in 2003. Story after well-documented story in the press told of his groping many women, but a majority of voters didn’t appear to care. It wasn’t that they thought the stories weren’t true. They just wanted the incumbent Democratic governor, Gray Davis, out. In Trump’s case, his supporters don’t care about all his baggage.
So Republicans have a difficult task. They must deal wisely with Trump with an overriding goal of keeping him from becoming a third party or independent candidate next year.
General Ray Odierno, the outgoing chief of staff of the Army, blamed President Obama's disengagement from Iraq for the country falling apart. He made the comments in an interview tonight on Fox News:
"Well, it's frustrating to watch it," Odierno said of the collapse of Iraq. "I think a lot of hard work into that. And we thought we had it going exactly in the right direction. But now we watch it fall apart--it's frustrating."
Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin asked, "Did it have to be this way?"
"I think maybe if we had stayed a little bit more engaged, I think maybe it might have prevented it. I've always believed that the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups. And when we pulled ourselves out we lost that role as honest broker," Odierno said, blaming Obama for disengaging from Iraq without explicitly naming his boss.
When Cory Gardner was persuaded by national Republican leaders to run for the Senate in Colorado against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall, he was a latecomer to the race. Mr. Gardner was a one-term House member and the 2014 midterm election was eight months away. And it was soon discovered from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll that Mr. Gardner had a problem: Colorado’s population is 22% Hispanic and the poll found that Mr. Gardner was supported by only 11% of Hispanic voters, a dismal showing.
Mr. Gardner says he was “unknown to the Hispanic community” yet determined to increase his visibility. He appeared at Hispanic events. He was respectful of Hispanic values and sympathetic with difficulties facing Hispanic families. He advertised on Spanish-language radio and TV. Jeb Bush cut a TV spot for him in Spanish, Marco Rubio one in English. Mr. Gardner advocated immigration reform that included beefed-up border security and a guest-worker program.
There were important things Mr. Gardner didn’t do. He didn’t call for a special path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Nor did he identify himself with liberal positions, such as broader spending and welfare policies, that Hispanics supposedly favor.
His support soared among Hispanics. Exit poll data for Hispanics on election day is not available, but in an Oct. 26 NBC/Marist Poll, he was favored by 44% of Hispanics to Mr. Udall’s 48%. In an Oct. 30 Denver Post/SurveyUSA poll, Mr. Gardner trailed Mr. Udall among Hispanics by only three points, 43% to 46%. And he did well in two of Colorado’s most heavily Hispanic counties, with 45% of the overall vote in Pueblo and 44% in Adams. By any reckoning, this was a remarkable achievement by Mr. Gardner and a shock to Democrats.
Last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized President Barack Obama for the Iranian nuclear deal. We're not "credible anymore," Cheney said, saying that our allies around the world no longer trust us.
Tonight, in an appearance on Jon Stewart's Comedy Central show, Obama hits back. My critics believe, Obama said, "if you had brought Dick Cheney to the negotiations, everything would be fine."
The show will air tonight, but highlights were passed along to reporters by the White House pool reporter:
There were gags on the Middle East, with Stewart asking “whose team are we on in the Middle East?” before laying out the amalgam of alliances and clashes that crisscross the region.
“That’s not quite right, but that’s okay” Obama joked, before Stewart interrupted: “Who are we bombing?”
Mr. Obama playfully lashed out at the critics of his Iran deal, marveling that they seem to believe "if you had brought Dick Cheney to the negotiations, everything would be fine."
Stewart joked that the United States had tried many different approaches in the Middle East, including sending 100,000 troops and arming militant groups.
"This new thing, you called it earlier, diplomacy," Stewart said. "That sounds interesting."
Mr. Obama took the bait, saying that Iran will remain a problem in the region, but that "we have taken off the table what would be a catastrophic problem if they got a weapon."
More highlights include:
POTUS said “I can’t believe you’re leaving before me. I’m going to issue an executive order. Jon Stewart cannot leave the show. It’s being challenged in the courts,” he said to laughter.
Stewart said “to me this is a state’s rights issue.”
Stwart said to POTUS e didn’t have much time to take people’s guns and push them into FEMA camps.
“It appears that you’re feeling it a little bit right now.” citing the Iran deal and fast track authority win.
Stewart: “Do you feel like 7 yrs in..
POTUS: “I know what I’m doing?”
Stewart: “yeah you’re figuring this thing out.”
Obama said he’s readying the home stretch of his presidency – 18 months left – and basking in the glow of accomplishments on Iran, healthcare and more.
“A lot of the work that we did early starts bearing fruit, late,” Obama told Stewart.
Obama joked that you get better as “you get experience.”
On healthcare: “There’s a lot of euphoria, but we had already 16 million people health insurance who didn’t have it before.” (CHEERS). He also said: "Obviously we've been all kinds of ups and downs..." Obama said.
“The way I’m feeling right now is, I’ve got 18 months.” He says he hopes to tackle climate change next, fuel efficiency standards and to persuade countries like China and India to come aboard.
“That’s my goal,” Obama said.
"It finally comes to fruition. That represents a lot of work."