Mexican Marines capture Los Zetas chief

July 15, 2013

Wow. This is huge news:

One of Mexico’s most wanted drug lords has been captured: Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, also known as “Z-40.”

Trevino Morales, leader of the brutal Los Zetas cartel, was caught Sunday by Mexico Marines in his hometown of Nuevo Laredo, just over the U.S. border, CBS News has learned.

The U.S. State Department had offered a $5 million reward for Trevino Morales.

The Zetas cartel is among Mexico’s most violent drug organizations, notorious for civilian killings and beheadings. Is leaders ordered the killing of 72 undocumented immigrants in 2010 in what is known as the San Fernando massacre. More recently in May, the Mexican army said their leaders ordered underlings to leave 49 mutilated bodies in a northern Mexico town square.

The Mexican drug cartels are a nasty bunch, but the Zetas are the worst of the worst. Founded by former Mexican Special Forces members who first worked as soldiers for the cartels before striking out on their own, they’ve been called the Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartel. Beheadings, bombings, massacres, terrorism… You name it, they’ve been in on it. “Well done” to the Mexican military; this is quite a take-down, and I hope this leads to information that allows the Mexican and US governments to roll up Los Zetas on both sides of the border.

Maybe we’ll even finally see justice for David Hartley, who was murdered at Falcon Lake, and some peace for his widow.

UPDATE: Fixed the headline to give proper credit to the Mexican Marines. Sorry, guys.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Newsbytes: Sun’s Bizarre Activity May Trigger Another Little Ice Age (Or Not)

July 15, 2013

Interesting speculations on the meaning of the sun’s decline in sunspot activity. My guess is that we’re much more likely to see another Little Ice Age than resumed warming.

Watts Up With That?

From the GWPF and Dr. Benny Peiser

“Weakest Solar Cycle In Almost 200 Years”

The sun is acting bizarrely and scientists have no idea why. Solar activity is in gradual decline, a change from the norm which in the past triggered a 300-year-long mini ice age. We are supposed to be at a peak of activity, at solar maximum. The current situation, however, is outside the norm and the number of sunspots seems in steady decline. The sun was undergoing “bizarre behaviour” said Dr Craig DeForest of the society. “It is the smallest solar maximum we have seen in 100 years,” said Dr David Hathaway of Nasa. –Dick Ahlstrom, The Irish Times, 12 July 2013

Illustration mapping the steady decline in sunspot activity over the last two solar cycles with predicted figures for the current cycle 24

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My heart bleeds for Big Labor. Really, it does.

July 15, 2013

It’s just that you can’t see that through all my laughing and pointing:

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios:

First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.

That’s an excerpt from an open letter written by the heads of the Teamsters, UFCW, and UNITE-HERE unions, whining that Obamacare will hurt their members and that it’s unfair that businesses got a delay in implementation, but the loyal unionistas didn’t. Do read the whole thing and see if you can get through it without saying “We tried to warn you, you corrupt dummies!” several times.

I found it impossible.

I was going to go into a long diatribe about the unions reaping what they sowed, but Ed Morrissey (hat tip) kindly did it for me:

Maybe if they’d listened to Tea Party activists instead of shouting them down, the union leaders might have figured this out in 2009.  Opponents of the bill argued all along that the incentives presented by ObamaCare would kill employer-based coverage, either by depressing hiring or by depressing hours.  We’ve gotten both since the bill’s passage, just as critics predicted.

(…)

[RE: Obamacare’s treatment of union group medical plans] Excuse me, but this was even more obvious than the employment consequences.  Subsidies are only available to consumers in the individual insurance exchanges.  Union health plans are group plans (and partly employer coverage, as the letter points out).  They’re no more eligible for subsidies than consumers in employer plans, and they’ll get taxed just like all other “Cadillac” group plans.  This is only news to those who manned the barricades rather than reading the fine print, or really any print at all.

Ed’s right, the union bosses should resign in disgrace for selling out their membership. But, they won’t. Mob bosses never go quietly. Meanwhile, I’m going to relax and enjoy the sweet scent of schadenfreude.

PS: If you’ve forgotten why I feel a special disdain and contempt for Jimmy Hoffa, jr., the Teamsters boss, let me remind you.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Democrats may well curse Harry Reid’s name in future years

July 15, 2013
"Senate Grinch"

“Ready to shoot his own foot off?”

For reasons that that amount to pique and pettiness (both qualities the Senate Majority Leader possesses in abundance), Harry Reid has decided that this upcoming week would be a good time to gut the filibuster, the procedure that allows a determined minority to block legislation or a nominee it doesn’t like by threatening to keep talking and prevent a vote. (In  modern times, the threat is all that’s really been needed, Rand Paul’s filibuster aside. Real talk-until-you-drop filibusters have become quite rare.) To move to a vote, the majority has needed at least 60 votes to tell the other side to, well, shut up and vote. Republicans, having the temerity to act like an opposition party and often filibuster the administration’s agenda and appointees (both of which actions I heartily approve), have incurred Darth Reid’s wrath. And so, he wants to break the filibuster:

On Monday, Reid informed President Barack Obama about his intention to use the nuclear option if no deal is struck, sources said, and Obama signaled he would support the effort.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is trying to head off the high-stakes fight, privately reached out to Vice President Joe Biden, but it’s expected that Biden would vote with Democrats in case there’s a 50-50 tie.

The crisis could still be averted. Reid signaled that he would drop the threat of the nuclear option if Republicans ended their filibusters on pending Obama nominees.

But senators in both parties agreed Thursday that if Reid moves to change the rules by 51 votes, it would be used by the majority in the future to further weaken the filibuster, potentially eliminating the potent procedural weapon altogether one day. While Democrats said they were willing to roll the dice on the nuclear option, believing the GOP would go that route anyway when they get back in the majority, Republicans said Reid’s move all but assured a continued weakening — and eventual demolition — of the filibuster.

While Reid claims he was “Mr. Bipartisan Comity” back when the filibuster was a serious issue in 2005 over Bush judicial nominees (Harry put it much more colorfully in the article), the truth is far different.

Why Reid needs to fear having his name cursed for all time by future Democratic caucuses is something pointed out by Democrats and Republican senators quoted in the Politico piece: if Reid make the Democrats do away with the filibuster for Cabinet and other Executive Branch appointees, there’s nothing to stop a future Republican majority from eliminating it for judicial appointments and legislation. Think not only of Supreme Court appointees; the Republicans have a whole laundry list full of items they’d love to ram through with only 51 votes:

[Senator Lamar] Alexander, a longtime institutionalist, agrees, saying now it would be far harder to tell future Republican majority leaders to forgo eliminating the filibuster if Reid acts next week. Alexander claimed it would allow future Republican-led Senates to easily approve a laundry list of GOP dreams: national right-to-work laws, finishing the Keystone XL pipeline, repealing Obamacare and altering Dodd-Frank financial rules.

“We’ll take our case to the people, we’ll argue for a new majority and then Republicans will be in a position to do whatever Republicans with 51 votes want to do,” Alexander said. “The more we think about it, the more attractive it becomes.”

And when that happens —and it will— current and future Democrat senators will rue the day ol’ Pinky Reid came out of Searchlight, Nevada.

On my own part, I oppose eliminating the filibuster. While nowhere a part of the Constitution, it evolved as a natural and fitting part of our Madisonian system of government, which is designed to make the passage of major legislation difficult and slow. The filibuster assures that the minority’s concerns are taken into account and major legislation is passed with something approaching a consensus. (Remember the ire generated by the tricks used to ram Obamacare through?) And if concerns aren’t addressed and consensus isn’t reached, then the bill is blocked, as it should be.

Do away with that, effectively turning the Senate into a smaller version of the House, and you’ll wind up with something akin to the British parliamentary system, where the majority in Commons has, in essence, a legislative dictatorship.

But, if Harry wants to torpedo his own future minority caucus, far be it from me to stop him. We, after all, have a list.

RELATED: Conservative analyst Avik Roy argues that Republicans should support reform of the filibuster, for many of the reasons Sen. Alexander mentioned. I don’t agree with him, but it’s an argument worth considering.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)