Currently viewing the tag: “Power”

Daniel Walker Howe on the US/Mexican balance of power at the dawn of the war:

The United States census of 1840 counted a burgeoning population of 17 million. The population of Mexico, by contrast, had declined by 10 percent during the prolonged disorders of her revolution against Spain and then leveled off; the government’s calculation of 1842 (not an actual enumeration) showed 7 million Mexicans. The economies of the two countries displayed an even greater inequality. The years since 1815 had not been kind to the former New Spain; plagued by political instability, independent Mexico had not realized the economic potential of her natural resources. Fierce localism and poor transportation hindered the emergence of an integrated nationwide economy even more than they did in the United States. Independent Mexico received little European immigration and had even expelled its Spanish-born people, losing their talents and skills. Mexico’s gross national product fell to less than half the peak attained in 1805; not until the 1870s did it exceed that level.

That’s a reminder, among other things, that there’s a strong nationalist case for making the country more open to immigration. Had the pre-WWI United States not had a basically open borders policy, we’d still be a very rich country, but probably not a “great” one. Instead we’d be geographically smaller, less densely populated, and much more agriculturally oriented—more like Australia perhaps.


Yglesias

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By Christopher Preble

I have an op-ed in Politico today that explores what I call President Obama’s power problem, a common theme in my work (my book is now in a Kindle edition!).

Simply stated, when a country has more military power than it needs to defend itself and its core interests, it will expand its definition of “the national interest.” This will, in turn, lead it to intervene militarily in places and disputes that have no connection to the country’s security. That certainly has been the pattern for the United States for at least the last two decades. The problem is nicely encapsulated in the famous exchange between Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, which Powell recounted in his memoir.

Madeleine Albright, our ambassador to the UN, asked me in frustration “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” I thought I would have an aneurysm. American GIs were not toy soldiers to be moved around on some sort of global game board.

This brings us to Libya, and to a new group of people who likely said something similar to Mike Mullen and Bob Gates. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s disagreements with Gates were on public display last Sunday, but reports of a whisper campaign within the administration, in which Clinton and her advisers were frustrated by President Obama’s unwillingness to deploy the U.S. military on yet another mission, have been flying around for weeks.

In the end, the Valkyries got their war. Clinton’s advice, along with that of Samantha Power and Susan Rice, who have all loudly called for U.S. military intervention in the past, convinced President Obama to override Gates and Mullen’s objections, and to launch what Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman aptly characterized yesterday as “just the most muddled definition of an operation probably in U.S. military history.” Anne-Marie Slaughter, who recently returned to Princeton after a stint at State’s policy planning staff, was sniping from the sidelines.  Pressure from our European allies, especially France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron in the UK, also appears to have been decisive.

This is not so unique a set of circumstance, however, as I discussed with Cato Audio’s Caleb Brown a few days ago. Near the end of the interview, I focused on the particular challenges that confront the leader of a country whose military capabilities seem almost limitless:

I agree that it is difficult, it is very difficult, for the President of the United States to resist the impulse to intervene when he has people, many people, calling on him to do something. But it’s precisely because we have so much power, and because the temptation to use it is almost overwhelming, that a president has to have extraordinary discipline and say: “No. I was elected by the people of the United States to protect them, to keep this country safe and security, and if a mission does not advance those ends I will not do it.”

That is not the counsel of despair, and the counsel of inaction. On the contrary, there are many other countries, especially those in Libya’s immediate neighborhood, that have both a compelling  national security rationale and a moral rationale [to intervene]. And it’s precisely the combination of those factors that we, the United States, should have encouraged in the past, and we could have encouraged in this particular case. Instead, other countries waited for the United States to act,…

Caleb Brown, Cato Audio: And just the possibility the U.S. will act probably puts a lot of countries on the sideline…

Me: That’s correct…. Because of the expectation that the United States will act, it causes other people to wait it out. And sometimes, tragically, they wait it out too long. Because, again, the United States does not always intervene. There are a number of cases where we have not. And I fear that we have set up a system where, if the United States doesn’t act, nothing gets done, and I don’t think that’s the right approach. I think there are alternatives that will use other countries’ legitimate security interests to advance humanitarian ends.

You can listen to the whole clip here.

Obama’s Power Problem, and Ours is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog


Cato @ Liberty

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On the same day legal maneuvering force Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to temporarily place his budget-repair bill on hold-the one that takes away collective bargaining rights from most public-sector workers, a more far reaching bill was signed into law in Ohio.

Meanwhile, Illinois continues to head in the wrong direction.

Related posts:

Gov. Quinn Pro Quo: Pat Quinn’s public-sector union cash, part four

Illinois: Almost 97% of state workers could be represented by unions soon

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Marathon Pundit

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On the same day legal maneuvering force Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to temporarily place his budget-repair bill on hold-the one that takes away collective bargaining rights from most public-sector workers, a more far reaching bill was signed into law in Ohio.

Meanwhile, Illinois continues to head in the wrong direction.

Related posts:

Gov. Quinn Pro Quo: Pat Quinn’s public-sector union cash, part four

Illinois: Almost 97% of state workers could be represented by unions soon

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Marathon Pundit

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A big WTF to Obama’s speech?


In his energy speech yesterday, Barack Obama took the time to slam the “drill, baby, drill” political movement as nothing more than an empty slogan, and a gimmick that wouldn’t solve our problems … while standing in front of his “Winning the Future” backdrop.  According to the latest survey from Quinnipiac, most Americans beg to […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

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  • Scientists have developed a tiny chip which can generate energy using the body’s own movements.
Daily Commentary – Thursday, March 31st, 2011 – Power Your iPod… With Your Heartbeat [1:27m]: Download

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Scared Monkeys

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By Jim Harper

If two points are sufficient to draw a trend line, then state resistance to federal authority is growing.

I reported earlier on my recent testimony to the Florida legislature on REAL ID. The state’s legislators have taken notice of what the motor vehicle bureaucrats have been doing in collaboration with federal officials, and they’re not too happy.

Yesterday, I was pleased to testify in the Pennsylvania legislature, where legislation to push back against the Transportation Security Administration’s strip/grope policy at airports has been introduced. The Constitution’s Supremacy Clause seems to make federal law paramount, but states have many angles for challenging federal power, especially when it’s as flawed and reactive as the TSA’s airport checkpoint policies.

States Resisting Federal Power is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog


Cato @ Liberty

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By Jim Harper

If two points are sufficient to draw a trend line, then state resistance to federal authority is growing.

I reported earlier on my recent testimony to the Florida legislature on REAL ID. The state’s legislators have taken notice of what the motor vehicle bureaucrats have been doing in collaboration with federal officials, and they’re not too happy.

Yesterday, I was pleased to testify in the Pennsylvania legislature, where legislation to push back against the Transportation Security Administration’s strip/grope policy at airports has been introduced. The Constitution’s Supremacy Clause seems to make federal law paramount, but states have many angles for challenging federal power, especially when it’s as flawed and reactive as the TSA’s airport checkpoint policies.

States Resisting Federal Power is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog


Cato @ Liberty

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A solid majority of Members of Congress in both parties say that it is not an acceptable outcome for Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi to remain in power once U.S. military operations that have struck at his regime are concluded, according to this week’s National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll.

Is it an acceptable outcome for Qaddafi to remain in power after the military effort concludes in Libya?

Democrats
(30 votes)

Republicans
(31 votes)
Yes 33% 10%
No 63% 87%
No opinion (volunteered) 0% 3%
It’s up to the Libyan people (volunteered) 3% 0%

Hotline On Call

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A solid majority of Members of Congress in both parties say that it is not an acceptable outcome for Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi to remain in power once U.S. military operations that have struck at his regime are concluded, according to this week’s National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll.

Is it an acceptable outcome for Qaddafi to remain in power after the military effort concludes in Libya?

Democrats
(30 votes)

Republicans
(31 votes)
Yes 33% 10%
No 63% 87%
No opinion (volunteered) 0% 3%
It’s up to the Libyan people (volunteered) 3% 0%

Hotline On Call

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California Raises Renewable Energy Requirements

California lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would require a third of the state’s power to come from renewable energy sources by 2020, setting a new bar for the rest of the country.

The U.S.’s largest energy consumer is increasing its renewable portfolio standards and continues to pursue a cap-and-trade program that would put a price on carbon after similar initiatives to do so in Congress have flatlined.

California is typically seen as a trendsetter when it comes to setting environmental regulations aimed at slashing harmful emissions. The new law would make it the most aggressive adopter of renewable energy in terms of the amount of newgeneration that will be needed, which will draw investment dollars and create jobs through wind, solar, geothermal and other alternative projects.

The legislation “sends a signal to renewable energy providers that California wants them here,” State State Sen. Joe Simitian, who authored the bill, said in a statement. “They will respond, as they have in the past, with billions of dollars in investments that will provide jobs and tax revenues.”

Using Heat to Cool Buildings

Novel materials could make practical air conditioners and refrigerators that use little or no electricity.

It could soon be more practical to cool buildings using solar water heaters and waste heat from generators. That’s because of new porous materials developed by researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. These materials can improve a process called adsorption chilling, which can be used for refrigeration and air conditioning.

Adsorption chillers are too big and expensive for many applications, such as use in homes. Peter McGrail, who heads the research effort, predicts that the materials could allow adsorption chillers to be 75 percent smaller and half as expensive. This would make them competitive with conventional, compressor-driven chillers.

All refrigerators and air conditioners cool by evaporating a refrigerant, a process that absorbs heat. They differ in how that refrigerant is condensed so that it can be reused for cooling. Unlike the technology inside most air conditioners, which employs electrically driven compressors to mechanically compress the vaporized refrigerant, adsorption chillers use heat to condense the refrigerant. Adsorption chillers are typically far less efficient than chillers that use electrical compressors, and are bulky and expensive. But they have the advantage of being cheap to operate, since they require very little electricity. “If you have waste heat, you can run it for free,” McGrail says.

So far these chillers have been limited to applications where there is a lot of waste heat—such as industrial facilities and power plants—or where electricity isn’t always available. Cutting their size and cost could make them attractive in more applications, including in homes, where they could be run using hot water from solar heaters, McGrail says.

Unused Oil Leases in Gulf May Meet Two Years of U.S. Demand

Undeveloped oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico may hold 11.6 billion barrels of crude, enough to meet U.S. demand for almost two years.

Companies are producing from less than 20 percent of 34 million acres leased in the Gulf, according to data released today by the Interior Department. Less than half of leases on federal lands are active, the report found.

The Obama administration said it sought the inventory of leases as a way to press companies into speeding development of energy resources. The oil industry and Republican lawmakers in Congress are seeking to open the Arctic and Atlantic oceans for additional exploration, to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

“They should either use the leases they have, and score on it, or give them up,” Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said today in an interview. “ I hope this will give us a new impetus.”

Republican measures seek to expand offshore drilling

House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a suite of bills that aim to expand offshore drilling by forcing the Obama administration to vet proposed exploration quickly and sell more oil and gas leases along the East Coast.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., led the move, which seizes on worries that spiking oil prices could constrain the U.S. economic recovery and taps into drilling advocates’ frustration with the pace of the government’s approval of offshore projects in the wake of last year’s deadly oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The majority of Americans support offshore energy production, and these bills will allow it to move forward in a safe, responsible and efficient manner,” Hastings said. “With thousands un- employed in the Gulf region and gasoline prices nearing $ 4 per gallon, swift action must be taken.”

As head of the House Natural Resources Committee, Hastings is positioned to leverage the legislation through that panel and onto the House floor, where the bills could swiftly get a debate and vote. The measures would face an uncertain future in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

It’s not easy being green anymore

Big votes are coming on the Obama administration’s environmental agenda, and green groups are being forced to play defense in a world where D.C. pols aren’t scared of them.

Environmentalists are being pummeled by Republican- and Democratic-minded competitors in advertisements and lawmaker donations, and they are finding it difficult to convince members that voting against their issues could hurt them at the ballot box.

What’s worse, the greens’ political punch has grown weaker as their issues stay in the headlines, from California’s rolling blackouts a decade ago to last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill to more warnings about global warming. None of those have translated into political victories they can claim credit for.

“I don’t understand how these guys, the funders, don’t ask for their money back or start suing for political incompetence,” a longtime Democratic strategist said of the Washington-based environmental movement. “You’re judged by how many campaigns you win, lose or come damn close. They haven’t gotten anywhere with that.”

Obama doesn’t want to be the pain-at-the-pump president

In what a senior aide has promised will be a “concerted” transition to a new energy initiative, President Obama Wednesday will declare that he wants to reduce America’s oil imports by a third in ten years.

The political context is obvious: The president has long sought to inoculate himself from criticism over rising gas prices. Last year Obama announced that he would allow oil and natural gas exploration in untouched areas of the outer continental shelf. Then the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama reversed his decision, closing off some areas he had been poised to open. And his Interior Department has since moved cautiously in permitting new drilling in the gulf. So now that gas prices are up, Republicans are mercilessly attacking the president. No doubt exactly what the White House thought it would avoid as it developed its original offshore drilling plan.

And the policy? High gas prices, of course, aren’t Obama’s fault — as if a few drilling leases would make a noticeable difference in the massive world oil market. But a focus on oil imports can lead to funny energy policy. Reducing carbon emissions — which directly addresses climate change, the great environmental threat of our time, and should also discourage oil consumption — is a lot more important than simply reducing foreign oil dependence — which has led policymakers to do things such as over-subsidizing corn ethanol, with dubious environmental benefits.

Climate Progress

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The most effective welfare benefit is the one that leads to a job. That’s why H.R. 1167 requires able-bodied adults on food stamps to either work or prepare for work.
American Thinker Blog

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Daniel Holz makes the connection:

Frankenstein’s creation is not inherently evil. He is endowed with the spark of life, and becomes twisted into a dark and inhuman creature through mistreatment, abandonment, and neglect. The nuclear spark is similarly indifferent. Although it can have terrible consequences, it also offers the ability to power our civilization without warming our planet. The dangers attendant with nuclear power almost certainly pale in comparison with the dangers of global warming. The challenge is to learn to control our discovery, rather than become engulfed by it.





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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

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The Senate is expected to vote today on several amendments that would affect the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) told reporters that it’s now or never and voting on the amendments will “get rid of that issue one way or the other.”

Policymakers have introduced a number of legislative fixes, both bad and good, to address the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. A temporary fix by means of a two-year delay is no fix at all and leaves a lot of uncertainty for businesses expansion because of the threat of future regulations. CO2 permit exemptions for small businesses and farmers will not exempt them from the higher energy prices they will pay when the EPA regulates larger facilities. Regulating these entities would significantly increase the cost of energy for all of America. Congress needs to enact policies that would permanently prevent unelected bureaucrats from regulating CO2 and the catastrophic economic consequences that come along with it. Only this approach would provide the regulatory certainty American businesses need.

The Bad: Two Year Delay or Exemptions

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D–WV) introduced legislation that would delay the EPA’s ability to regulate CO2 for two years, but this is not the right approach for Congress to take. It is not a step in the right direction and would do more harm than good by creating uncertainty and leaving the endangerment finding intact.

One problem with a two-year delay is that it creates uncertainty for energy-intensive businesses looking to build new projects or make major expansions. From planning to construction and operation, such projects have much longer time horizons than two years. Not knowing whether the energy tax will go into effect in two years would deter businesses from making new investments and creating jobs at a time when they’re most needed. Another serious problem with a two-year delay, specifically the Rockefeller bill, is that the EPA can still regulate CO2 under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program.

Another bad legislative fix is to permanently exempt small emitters of greenhouse gas emissions from CO2 regulations. Senator Max Baucus (D–MT) introduced an amendment that would in effect codify the 75,000-ton-per-year threshold and carve out permanent exemptions for the agricultural community from regulation under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration preconstruction permitting program and Title V operating permits program. Doing so would remove the legal questions surrounding the Tailoring Rule but would provide no protection from higher energy costs that small businesses, farms, and consumers would face since larger emitters, such as energy producers, would still be taxed. Further, the EPA could still regulate greenhouse gases under the NAAQS program.

Since the EPA determined that CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions are a pollutant that is dangerous to public health and welfare, it would have to go down the road of establishing NAAQS for greenhouse gases. As Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote, this has the potential for devastating economic consequences:

Eco-litigation groups were quick to pick up on this logic. In December 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity and 350.Org petitioned EPA to establish NAAQS for CO2 at 350 parts per million (about 40 ppm below current concentrations) and for other [greenhouse gases] at preindustrial levels. Numerous other environmental organizations and activists (including Al Gore and NASA scientist James Hansen) have joined the 350 Petition. …

The potential for mischief is hard to exaggerate. Not even a worldwide depression permanently reducing global economic output and emissions to, say, 1970 levels, would stop CO2 concentrations from rising over the next 90 years. Note also that the [Clean Air Act] allows states only five or at most 10 years to attain NAAQS or face sanctions such as loss of highway funding. For perspective, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which Senate leaders considered too economically risky to bring to a vote, aimed to help stabilize CO2 concentrations at 450 ppm by 2050. The economic sacrifices required to implement a CO2 NAAQS set at 350 ppm hugely exceed those associated with any climate bill Congress has either rejected or declined to pass.

The Good: Stop the EPA and Stop All Climate Change Regulations

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed legislation introduced by Representatives Fred Upton (R–MI) and Ed Whitfield (R–KY) that would repeal the EPA’s endangerment rule and block the EPA from regulating CO2. Senator James Inhofe (R–OK) introduced companion legislation. Specifically, the Energy Tax Prevention Act would “amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change, and for other purposes.”

The most effective and comprehensive approach would be to permanently prohibit any federal regulators from using greenhouse gas emissions as a reason to slow or prevent economic activity. Senator John Barrasso (R–WY) introduced the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act, which would prevent the EPA and other federal regulators (such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) from using any environmental act to impose regulations based on climate findings, including Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The act would “preempt regulation of, action relating to, or consideration of greenhouse gases under Federal and common law on enactment of a Federal policy to mitigate climate change.”

Congress needs to enact policy that would permanently prevent unelected bureaucrats from regulating CO2 and the catastrophic economic consequences that come along with it. Only this approach would provide the regulatory certainty American businesses need.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

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Joe Biden becomes the latest member of the Obama Administration to eat his words on international intervention:




Outside the Beltway

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