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Thursday, December 22, 2011

A FEW AFTERTHOUGHTS ABOUT THE NATION AND WORLD

My blog yesterday did not mention Jon Huntsman, Jr.  He was today endorsed by the third New Hampshire newspaper.  Is this significant?  Nope, for there are 23 newspapers in that state.  Certainly, Huntsman seems to me as the most sensible--anyone who agrees with me on evolution (E) and global warming (GW) automatically qualifies--Republican candidate this year.  Both Huntsman and Mitt Romney accept evolution and GW, but not necessarily for anything to be done at this time about this looming environmental disaster.  Interestingly enough, the Mormon religion might have something to do with this attitude.  Ron Paul does not believe in GW nor E, but 34% of Tea Partiers do...which means 66% don't!

You wonder if the travails of all those Republicans will mean that the strategy of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin to wait till the ideal moment next year might actually now make sense.  For the record, Trump thinks GW is a scam, while Sarah Palin feels that government should not address this issue and further does not believe in E.  Not sure what the Donald thinks about E.

Changing subjects:

1.  Surprise, surprise, I guess just one speech by President Barack Obama today, and everything else I've been saying the past couple of days, finally convinced the Tea Partiers and other Republicans to cave-in.  They just agreed to the Senate version of the payroll tax and continuance of the unemployment benefits for two months.  What was politically stupid about this was that on one side were most Republicans, Democrats, Obama and Americans, and on the other, the Tea Party types.  Either they are finally learning a lesson, or have totally lost their effectiveness.

2.  In the beginning, the Obama White House had too many other issues to contend with, so made an internal decision to just use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), headed by Lisa Jackson, to force the hand of global warming polluters by merely enforcing existing laws.  Unfortunately, the collapsed economy made it necessary to delay this effort.  The Durban quasi-fiasco showed that the inaction of the U.S. Congress can catalyze the attitude of the world to do nothing now.  Since we seem to be somewhat recovering (Dow Jones Industrials remain above 12,000), a few threatening edicts are finally being foisted on fossil fuel companies.  Carbon dioxide, per se, is not being underscored, but mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and "acid" gases are being targeted to reduce the incidence of cancer in nearby communities.  The effect, of course, will need to be a shift to natural gas and the installation of expensive pollution control systems for coal powerplants.  Certainly, if Obama gets replaced by a Republican in the White House, the EPA will be gutted.  Guess which party will get campaign funds from coal firms?

3.  If you made more than half a million dollars, you are in the top 1% (adjusted income of $344,000 in 2009).  By the way, this 1% paid 37% of all the Federal income taxes.  The top 10% (adjusted income of $112,000) paid 70%.  Or, in other words, the bottom 90% paid 30% of what our government gets.

4.  The Japanese government now estimates that it will take 40 years, using robots, to decommission the Fukushima nuclear reactors.  This will cost a minimum of $12.8 billion, plus another $12.8 billion to decontaminate some of the surrounding area (but not too close to the nuke facility) so some of the refugees can return someday.  Why there is some optimism about partial recovery of living space is that Fukushima only emitted about 15% the radiation of Chernobyl.

5.  There seems to be a relatively smooth transition to the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un in North Korea.  Whew!  The local media already calls him an outstanding leader...sort of in the spirit of when he was promoted from son of Great Leader to 4-Star General.  Is there any hope for an Orient Spring (ala Arab Spring)?  Any downtrodden populace can only take so much.  The perception of weakness at the top can be a powerful stimulant.  This revolution could well be initiated by North Koreans living in South Korea and privately encouraged by the democratic leadership.  There are 10,000 North Koreans, mostly defectors, in the south, and many South Koreans have family in the north.

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The Dow Jones Industrials rose 62 to 12,170, with world markets also mostly up.  Gold dropped $5/toz to $1605, while oil remained steady at $99/barrel (WTI) and $109/barrel (Brent).

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