Keystone XL

Today in Liberty: Email Scandals, Threats to Signature Legislation, and Netflix’s Discovery That Big Government Is No Friend


Plenty of red meat in the news these days, from Hillary Clinton’s homebrewed email server to the US Ambassador to South Korea getting slashed in the face. Taken individually, these stories are just a fun diversion as part of surprisingly full news cycle. Taken together, however, they represent a potential sea change in how government functions — and how citizens and voters are reacting to it. Not surprising that things are changing in the time of NSA data gathering, a newly confident Russia, and the (continued) rise of the brutal Islamic State. So here’s a rundown for those seeking the little glimmers of liberty buried under the chaos.

CPAC happened last week and there was an air of excitement and momentum surrounding the incredibly deep GOP field leading into 2016’s presidential election. Scott Walker has ramped up his game and Jeb Bush tried to make the case that he’s not just the guy the Democrats would love to see make a run. And Rand Paul, as he usually does, won the straw poll largely due to the contingent of young voters who attend the annual gathering. A really great thing in fact because it means the millenials may actually be migrating to the right at a greater clip than anyone knew. But while Rand won the youth, social media and news data says that Scott Walker’s the one to watch…for now:

President Obama’s first message to the new Republican majority tells you how the next two years will go


Upon receiving his second and final midterm electoral thumping last November, President Obama vowed to work with the new Congress and its Republican majorities in both House and Senate. On Sunday, Obama reiterated his pledge:

“I’m being absolutely sincere when I say I want to work with this new Congress to get things done,” Obama told reporters before leaving on his annual end-of-the-year holiday in Hawaii. “We’re going to disagree on some things, but there are going to be areas of agreement and we’ve got to be able to make that happen.”

But Tuesday, while the new Congress was being sworn in and voting for their caucus leadership, Obama sent his real message to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner: roughly, “GFY”:

“I can confirm that the president would not sign this [Keystone XL] bill,” Earnest said at a White House press briefing when asked about legislation set to advance in Congress this week that would greenlight the project.

It takes a lot of guts to project an image of bipartisanship, compromise, and utilitarian pragmatism and then threaten vetoes of bills that haven’t even been introduced. At least give them a day to put their names on the doors.

Battling over Keystone XL

Written by Chip Knappenberger, Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

The Washington Post has an article today on the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline.  There is a sense of urgency on both sides as the decision on the project is expected to be fast approaching.

The Post features arguments from pipeline proponents that the project will provide an economic boost to the state of Nebraska, and from pipeline opponents that the oil carried though it will lead to more carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought, thus upping the impact on global warming and climate change.

But the numbers being tossed about don’t tell the whole story.

First, a look at the new economic claims. An analysis from the Consumer Energy Alliance concludes that during the two year construction phase of the pipeline, the economic activity in Nebraska will increase by a bit more than $400 million per year—generating directly or indirectly, about 5,500 new jobs. Sounds impressive, but this boost is short-lived. After that, for the next 15 years, the economic input drops down to about $67 million/yr, supporting about 300 jobs.  A net positive, but not as much as many proponents claim.

Jay Carney lied to Americans about Keystone XL

As you know, the Obama Administration recently rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a head-scratcher given that gas is expected to rise upwards of $4 a gallon in the coming months. It’s also odd given the dire need for jobs, and the pipeline would have certainly aided those efforts.

Oddly, however, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday that his boss, President Barack Obama, wasn’t to blame for the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. According to the White House, congressional Republicans are to blame:

Obama’s Keystone XL rejection leaves America as losers

I like to think that while I am a very well informed person when it comes to US political news, I generally remain somewhat detached regarding what the latest artificially created crisis du jour facing the nation is.  I find that regardless of what dire consequence both sides try to convince us will happen if the other side gets their way, life goes on, business as usual for the rest of us, and inevitably some compromise is reached which allows both sides to claim victory.  It is a cycle I’ve seen play out so many times in my relatively short time on Earth that I find it quite comical.  However, I do find my blood pressure rise ever so slightly when contemplating the mismanagement and lack of leadership in energy policy in this country.  The recent Keystone XL Pipeline debacle is a perfect example of how DC politicians chose to put political posturing ahead of US energy security, national security and true environmental policy.

Mary Landrieu: Another one of #HillarysLosers?

Mary Landrieu

The bad news just keeps rolling in for former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Just a few days after Republicans dominated Federal and State elections, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced that it would pull all remaining TV advertisements for Mary Landrieu, all but giving up on the Senator and her bid to win a runoff election on December 6.

According to the Politico, the DSCC cancelled all local ad buys that it had purchased through December 6. In addition to the $1.6 million that it has already pulled, it is also working to pull another $275,000 from local markets. Contrast that with the $7.2 million in airtime that Republicans still have in lined up until December 6.

While the DSCC is backing off, Landrieu is finding support among a couple of her Democratic colleagues: Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergran Grimes, who was destroyed by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in last Tuesday’s race, and soon to be former N.C. Senator, Kay Hagan, who was defeated by Thom Tillis. Grimes and Hagan have both sent fundraising emails in support of Landrieu, encouraging their donors to support the next victim of the Republican wave.

Harry Reid’s dictatorial Senate rule kills Keystone XL

It looks like the Keystone XL oil pipeline is may be dead until next year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republicans in the chamber failed to reach a deal on the Shaheen-Portman energy bill in an advance of an unsuccessful procedural vote earlier this week that could have setup a binding vote on the pipeline:

The failure to reach a deal pushes the issue firmly back into the hands of the administration, which is unlikely to make a decision until at least the end of the year.

The State Department has said it will not complete its review until litigation over the pipeline’s route becomes more clear in Nebraska, a process that could put off an administration decision indefinitely.


As a result, the Senate standoff left green groups confident that Keystone would not be approved this year, and that it was dead for the rest of the Obama era.
Even supporters of Keystone acknowledged Monday’s vote was a blow.

Reid has offered a binding vote on Keystone XL in exchange for enough Republican support to invoke cloture and set the stage for final passage. Republicans, however, wanted votes on amendments to the bill. Reid refused, the latest example of the majority leader blocking GOP-backed amendments for fear that they would pass:

Voters could hand Republicans a Senate majority if Obama rejects Keystone XL

As Democrats struggle to come up with a coherent message on the proposed Keystone XL, voters in five states with potentially competitive Senate race are signaling that President Barack Obama’s decision on the oil pipeline could loom large when they head to the polls this fall.

Vulnerable “Red State” Senate Democrats have been pressuring Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other leaders to hold a vote on Keystone XL, though the measure could be a pointless, nonbinding statement of support from the chamber. Republicans, however, want the measure brought up as an amendment to the Shaheen-Portman energy bill, a nonstarter for Democratic leadership.

Democrats are in one helluva pickle on Keystone XL. On one hand they have their radical environmentalist base and big money donors like Tom Steyer. On the other, they have vulnerable members running for reelection in states in which there is support for the oil pipeline.

But utterly meaningless on statements of support in the Senate or even a binding resolution may not be enough for Democrats running in competitive Senate races. New polling, conducted by Hickman Analytics for Consumer Energy Alliance, finds that Democrats could face problems if President Obama rejects Keystone XL.

Politico’s Mike Allen: Democrats Say GOP Has 60% Chance Of Winning Senate

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During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mike Allen, chief political reporter for Politico, explained that Democrats are increasingly worried about keeping control of the Senate this fall, which is why party leaders are going to bring up the Keystone XL pipeline for a vote.

“They’re actually going to have a vote, and this is a real surprise. It’s a sign of how worried Democrats are about the Senate” says Allen.” “Yesterday, I was out at the Milken Conference in Los Angeles [and] did a poll of a panel including a lot of Democrats, asking them what they thought the chances were that Republicans would take over the Senate.

“Nate Silver said it’s around 60 percent, David Leonhardt, in his new feature at The New York Times, has said it’s around 51 percent,” Allen noted. “The sense of Democrats I talked to is it’s more like 60 percent. They are very worried about a Republican Senate.”

Vulnerable Red State Democrats support Keystone XL and they’ve urged President Obama to approve the pipeline. Reid and other Democratic leaders are still debating on whether the vote will be on binding measure or on a non-binding “Sense of the Senate” resolution.

Harry Reid doesn’t actually give a damn about the economy

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is dead set on bringing to the floor a measure to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per house. He scheduled a vote on the proposal despite a warning from the Congressional Budget Office that it will cost the economy at least 500,000 jobs:

Reid filed cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 2223, a bill from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. The vote could come as early as Wednesday.

The vote will be a major test of unity for Senate Democrats, who have made the wage hike central to their populist agenda for the midterm elections.

So, there’s that. They’re going to hold a vote on raising the minimum wage. Virtually every Republican will vote against it. On the ropes politically, Democrats will use the vote to claim that Republicans hate poor people. Because populism.

Here’s the thing, though. While Democrats are pushing a feel good measure that will hurt the economy, they’re having an internal debate on whether or not to bring another to the floor that would actually create jobs:

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