Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Republicans Are in Denial -

Tom Coburn has a great op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, but the ending falls flat.

Becoming Republicans again will require us to come to grips with what has ailed our party – namely, the triumph of big-government Republicanism and failed experiments like the K Street Project and "compassionate conservatism." If the goal of the K Street Project was to earmark and fund raise our way to a filibuster-proof "governing" majority, the goal of "compassionate conservatism" was to spend our way to a governing majority.

The fruit of these efforts is not the hoped-for Republican governing majority, but the real prospect of a filibuster-proof Democrat majority in 2009. While the K Street Project decimated our brand as the party of reform and limited government, compassionate conservatism convinced the American people to elect the party that was truly skilled at activist government: the Democrats.

Compassionate conservatism's starting point had merit. The essential argument that Republicans should orient policy around how our ideas will affect the poor, the widow, the orphan, the forgotten and the "other" is indisputable – particularly for those who claim, as I do, to submit to an authority higher than government. Yet conservatives are conservatives because our policies promote deliverance from poverty rather than dependence on government.

Compassionate conservatism's next step – its implicit claim that charity or compassion translates into a particular style of activist government involving massive spending increases and entitlement expansion – was its undoing. Common sense and the Scriptures show that true giving and compassion require sacrifice by the giver. This is why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his possessions, not his neighbor's possessions. Spending other people's money is not compassionate.


Regaining our brand is not about "messaging." It's about action. It's about courage. It's about priorities. Most of all, it's about being willing to give up our political careers so our grandkids don't have to grow up in a debtor's prison, or a world in which other nations can tell a weakened and bankrupt America where we can and can't defend liberty, pursue terrorists, or show compassion.

Yes, good stuff.  Maybe there's hope for the GOP.

And then this last paragraph is tacked on...

John McCain, for all his faults, is the one Republican candidate who can lead us through our wilderness. Mr. McCain is not running on a messianic platform or as a great healer of dysfunctional Republicans who refuse to help themselves. His humility is one of his great strengths. In his heart, he's a soldier who sees one more hill to charge, one more mission to complete.

You just lost me.  John McCain is in favor of creating a huge new bureaucracy to implement a cap-and-trade "solution" to carbon emissions in order to battle the mythical crisis of Global Warming.  That will cost us billions for no practical benefit other than "feeling better" about the planet.  John McCain is for amnesty for illegal aliens so that they can benefit equally from our welfare state and take full advantage of American taxpayers.  John McCain touts campaign finance reform as a great accomplishment, but all it amounts to is a major abridgment of First Amendment rights designed to quell criticism of incumbent politicians.  I judge him as a disaster for conservative hopes for the GOP.  It's better to lose an election than to lose your soul.

On the other hand, I like Tom Coburn and I hope he gets a chance to rebuild the Republican party.

Czech President Klaus ready to debate Gore on climate change : Environment,czech-president-klaus-ready-to-debate-gore-on-climate-change.html

Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Tuesday he is ready to debate Al Gore about global warming, as he presented the English version of his latest book that argues environmentalism poses a threat to basic human freedoms. "I many times tried to talk to have a public exchange of views with him, and he's not too much willing to make such a conversation," Klaus said. "So I'm ready to do it."
Klaus, an economist, said he opposed the "climate alarmism" perpetuated by environmentalism trying to impose their ideals, comparing it to the decades of communist rule he experienced growing up in Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia.

"Like their (communist) predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality," he said.

"In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat - this time, in the name of the planet," he added.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Charles Krauthammer on Barack Obama & Tyrants on National Review Online

Should the president ever meet with enemies? Sometimes, but only after minimal American objectives — i.e., preconditions — have been met. The Shanghai communiqué was largely written long before Richard Nixon ever touched down in China. Yet Obama thinks Nixon to China confirms the wisdom of his willingness to undertake a worldwide freshman-year tyrants tour. 

Most of the time, you don't negotiate with enemy leaders because there is nothing to negotiate. Does Obama imagine that North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela are insufficiently informed about American requirements for improved relations? 
Obama cited Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as presidents who met with enemies. Does he know no history? Neither Roosevelt nor Truman ever met with any of the leaders of the Axis powers. Obama must be referring to the pictures he's seen of Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, and Truman and Stalin at Potsdam. Does he not know that at that time Stalin was a wartime ally?

During the subsequent Cold War, Truman never met with Stalin. Nor Mao. Nor Kim Il Sung. Truman was no fool.

Obama cites John Kennedy meeting Nikita Khrushchev as another example of what he wants to emulate. Really? That Vienna summit of a young, inexperienced, untested American president was disastrous, emboldening Khrushchev to push Kennedy on Berlin — and then near fatally in Cuba, leading almost directly to the Cuban missile crisis. Is that the precedent Obama aspires to follow? 

Monday, May 26, 2008

Power Line: Memorial Day: A Contrast

Barack Obama must be the most gaffe-prone politician in memory. Today, he delivered a Memorial Day speech in New Mexico. After greeting the local Democratic Party dignitaries, he began:

On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Thinker: Is 2008 to be a Transformational Election?

This is what the GOP is running against: people who want to lose a war, who are keeping alive an environmentalist scam, who (as a byproduct of that scam) have created conditions of serious hunger across the world, and who would not mind seeing a recession in the U.S., no matter how many people it hurts.                   

How do you lose against a hand like this? You lose by throwing your cards down and collapsing under the table whining about being forced to play at all. That's what the GOP is doing -- it can't be described in any other way.

Peter Ferrara on Entitlement Reform on National Review Online

They said it couldn't be done. But Congressman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) has just done it.

Ryan is the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. This morning, Ryan will introduce legislation providing for a package of comprehensive reforms to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that will completely eliminate the long-term entitlement crisis, without tax increases.

Rove electoral projections

Karl Rove and Co. current electoral college projects for McCain vs. Obama and McCain vs. Clinton (via ABC News):

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide - Global Warming Petition Project

A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that increases during the 20th and early 21st centuries have produced no deleterious effects upon Earth's weather and climate. Increased carbon dioxide has, however, markedly increased plant growth. Predictions of harmful climatic effects due to future increases in hydrocarbon use and minor greenhouse gases like CO2 do not conform to current experimental knowledge. The environmental effects of rapid expansion of the nuclear and hydrocarbon energy industries are discussed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Brief Introduction to the Seasteading Institute

What is "Seasteading"?

Seasteading means to create permanent dwellings on the ocean - homesteading the high seas. A seastead [...] is a structure meant for permanent occupation on the ocean.

Why would you want to do that?

Because the world needs a new frontier, a place where those who are dissatisfied with our current civilization can go to build a different (and hopefully better) one.

Currently, it is very difficult to experiment with alternative social systems on a small scale. Countries are so enormous that no individual can make much difference in how they work, and the powers-that-be are deeply entrenched. Seasteaders believe that government shouldn't be like the cellphone or operating system industries, with few choices and high customer-lock-in. Instead, they envision something more like web 2.0, where many small governments serve many niche markets, a dynamic system where small groups experiment, and everyone copies what works, discards what doesn't, and remixes the remainder to try again.

Mark Steyn on Barack Obama on National Review Online

Last week, President Bush was in Israel and gave a speech to the Knesset. Its perspective was summed up by his closing anecdote — a departing British officer in May 1948 handing the iron bar to the Zion Gate to a trembling rabbi and telling him it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to one of the gates to the Old City of Jerusalem was in the hands of a Jew. In other words, it was a big-picture speech, referencing the Holocaust, the pogroms, Masada — and the challenges that lie ahead. Senator Obama was not mentioned in the text. No Democrat was mentioned, save for President Truman, in the context of his recognition of the new State of Israel when it was a mere 11 minutes old.  
Nonetheless, Barack Obama decided that the president's speech was really about him, and he didn't care for it.  
What a bunch of self-absorbed ninnies. Here's what the president said: "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
It says something for Democrat touchiness that the minute a guy makes a generalized observation about folks who appease terrorists and dictators the Dems assume: Hey, they're talking about me.

The Editors on Bob Barr on National Review Online

In a close presidential race, every vote is important. The press is speculating that Barr could be John McCain's Nader. We doubt it. It will probably be Barr's fate to be ignored, and those libertarians who care about the credibility of their cause should be glad of it.

Well, that's not very encouraging.  So give me a better choice for a conservative.  Would John McCain be better for conservatives.  I don't think so.

Hanson: The Problem is not conservatism, but conservatives who aren’t conservative
What mystifies is the paralysis of Republicans and their impotent protestations that "Bush did it". The truth is that Congressional Republicans, responsible for turning principles into governance, deserve to lose—unless they craft clear positions that won't be compromised and then offer them as alternative choices to the voters this fall.

Follow the link (above) for examples. Hanson is right, but I don't expect any Republican congressman to take heed.  They know that they're going to be in the minority so all they care about is securing their own re-election, which generally means buying votes with the voters money.

The Republican Party treats conservatives as if they have no other place to go.  I say: vote Libertarian.  We're going to lose anyway so we might as well send a message.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Charles Krauthammer on Israel on National Review Online

Israel's crime is not its policies but its insistence on living. On the day the Arabs — and the Palestinians in particular — make a collective decision to accept the Jewish state, there will be peace, as Israel proved with its treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Until that day, there will be nothing but war. And every "peace process," however cynical or well-meaning, will come to nothing.

Noonan: Pity Party

What happens to the Republicans in 2008 will likely be dictated by what didn't happen in 2005, and '06, and '07. The moment when the party could have broken, on principle, with the administration – over the thinking behind and the carrying out of the war, over immigration, spending and the size of government – has passed. What two years ago would have been honorable and wise will now look craven. They're stuck.

Mr. Bush has squandered the hard-built paternity of 40 years. But so has the party, and so have its leaders. If they had pushed away for serious reasons, they could have separated the party's fortunes from the president's. This would have left a painfully broken party, but they wouldn't be left with a ruined "brand," as they all say, speaking the language of marketing. And they speak that language because they are marketers, not thinkers. Not serious about policy. Not serious about ideas. And not serious about leadership, only followership.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Steyn: nobody likes the GOP
So I meet Republicans for Barr, Republicans for Staying Home, and Republicans for Voting McCain With An Industrial-Strength Clothespin. But I can't remember the last time I had a conversation with anyone who likes the Republican Party. And one can't but feel this bodes ill for November. A McCain victory with Democrat gains in Congress would be an invitation to a one-term "maverick" president to go on an almighty bipartisan binge.

Sounds like a good reason to vote for Barr.  At least, whatever happens won't be our fault.

California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban

California's supreme court ruled that a ban on gay marriage was unlawful Thursday, effectively leaving same-sex couples in America's most populous state free to tie the knot in a landmark ruling.

In an opinion that analysts say could have nationwide implications for the issue, the seven-member panel voted 4-3 in favor of plaintiffs who argued that restricting marriage to men and women was discriminatory.

"... limiting the designation of marriage to a union 'between a man and a woman' is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute," California Chief Justice Ron George said in the written opinion.

I guess this also opens the door to polygamy as well.  And of course all those spouses should be legal dependents for tax purposes and eligible for welfare.

Seriously, expect a backlash.  San Francisco does not speak for all of California.   At some point, Californians are going to decide to take back the state from the courts.  In the meantime, other states will choose not to honor homosexual marriages and the issue will end up before the Supreme Court.  

Republicans have done everything they can to lose elections lately, but this issue might just save them.  Nancy Pelosi can't be too happy about the timing of this decision.

Oil dependence from "Set America Free"

Fortunately, with appropriate vision and leadership, we can make major strides in this direction by exploiting currently available technologies and infrastructures to greatly diminish oil consumption in the transportation sector, which accounts for two thirds of our oil consumption. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Maverick in a pantsuit

However, what she can do is stay in the picture long enough as an off-color liberal commentator, the beaten but unbowed grand dame, ever with the ready opinion on every foible of the Obama campaign. She can present herself to voters as the missed opportunity, the jilted ex-lover for whom they all still secretly pine. [...]

Yes, this strategy will make the Tammany bosses angry and perhaps even "bitter," but if it works or helps unhorse the golden boy with the nutty preacher and oily ties to the Chicago demimonde, what choice will they have in four years? Adlai Stevenson didn't get them anywhere, maybe it's time to revisit Richard Nixon in a pantsuit. After all, the only thing that exceeds the Clintonian immunity to defeat is the Democratic willingness to forgive all Clintonian sins for the sake of victory.

I suppose this is another way of saying that Hillary is about to become the Democratic party's John McCain?  They're both willing to damage their parties in order to further their own political ambitions.  She's a maverick in a pantsuit.

Send a message

Instapundit quotes Jerry Pournelle...

I have a number of letters about McCain and why we ought to vote Libertarian and "Send a message." I understand the argument.

The fact is that the Democrats will control Congress. If they also control the White House, we will have a series of legislative packages that will make the Great Society look like a libertarian government. . . . The argument is to give the Democrats their head, and pick up the pieces after the inevitable crash. I think that overlooks the resilience of tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect regimes.

Sure, it will be bad for the country if the Democrats control Congress and the White House.  It was bad when Jimmy Carter was president.  But out of that malaise came a resurgent GOP led by Ronald Reagan.  My contention is that Reagan would never have been nominated if things weren't so bad during the Carter years.  Was suffering through Carter worth having eight years of Reagan?  I say yes.  Yes, we can!

In any case, I expect that McCain would govern like a Democrat so there's no point in voting for him if you're against big government.  The message I want to send to the Republican party is:  reform or die.  I'm a conservative first.  If the GOP has to lose in order for libertarian conservatives to have a chance to have their voices heard, that's a deal I'm willing to make.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Backing McCain Energy Plan, GOP Voters to Stay Home

ScrappleFace provides the reverse spin:

My take on some future headlines: Voters don't feel Global Warming towards McCain.  Scientists fear extinction of GOP if political climate doesn't change.  

Bob Barr Announces His Candidacy for President

Bob Barr is running for the Libertarian nomination for President...

That's good news.  Now I can against McCain with a clear conscience.  I feel liberated already.  

Go Libertarians!  Onto victory and less... government and taxes.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Global Warming not so much in April

The official government statistics are in:

The average temperature in April 2008 was 51.0 F. This was -1.0 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average, the 29th coolest April in 114 years. The temperature trend for the period of record (1895 to present) is 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. 

This is of course further evidence that the Global Warming crisis will hit even harder after it quietly lulls us into a false sense of cool.  Thank God we have Al Gore to keep the heat on government officials to do something.

Earth Day: The Doomsayers Were Wrong

Another Earth Day (April 22) has come and gone. 

Earth Day is a great time to celebrate our planet and discuss serious 
environmental concerns. 

It's also a time to pause and remember that, during the first Earth Day in 
1970, some of the world's leading (and loudest) environmentalists were 
terrifying the public with horrific predictions of planet-wide doom. 
Predictions that, thankfully, were spectacularly wrong. 

The Washington Policy Center (WPC), a free-market think tank, reminds us: 

"Most Earth Day predictions turned out to be stunningly wrong. In 1970, 
environmentalists said there would soon be a new ice age and massive deaths 
from air pollution. The New York Times foresaw the extinction of the human 
race. Widely-quoted biologist Paul Ehrlich predicted worldwide starvation by 

"On this Earth Day 2008, new predictions will again be made about looming 
environmental disasters about to strike our planet. If past experience is any 
guide, most of these predictions are wrong. People concerned about our planet's 
future should be wary of statements from activists and other interested groups, 
so we stay focused on real environmental concerns, and don't waste time on 
fearsome predictions that will never happen."

Here are some examples from 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, gathered by 
the Washington Policy Center: 

* "By 1985...air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching 
the earth by one half..." -- Life magazine, January 1970.

* "...civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is 
taken against problems facing mankind..." -- biologist George Wald, Harvard 
University, April 19, 1970.

* By 1995, "...somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living 
animals will be extinct..." -- Sen. Gaylord Nelson, quoting Dr. S. Dillon 
Ripley, Look magazine, April 1970.

* Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor "...the planet will 
cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born..." -
- Newsweek magazine, January 26, 1970.

* The world will be "...eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about 
twice what it would take to put us into an ice age..." -- Kenneth Watt, 
speaking at Swarthmore University, April 19, 1970.

* "We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this 
nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation..." -- 
biologist Barry Commoner, University of Washington, writing in the journal 
Environment, April 1970.

* "Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance 
existence but to save the race from the intolerable deteriorations and possible 
extinction..." -- The New York Times editorial, April 20, 1970.

* "By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching 
earth by one half..." -- Life magazine, January 1970.

* "Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases 
in food supplies we make..." -- Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle 
magazine, April 1970.

* "...air certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives 
in the next few years alone..." -- Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle 
magazine, April 1970.

* Paul Ehrlich also predicted that in 1973, 200,000 Americans would die from 
air pollution, and that by 1980 the life expectancy of Americans would be 42 

* "It is already too late to avoid mass starvation..." -- Earth Day organizer 
Denis Hayes, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.

* "By the year 2000...the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, 
North America and Australia, will be in famine..." -- Peter Gunter, North Texas 
State University, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.

Some of this may seem laughable now, but it was taken very seriously at the 
time. Had the nations of the world followed the prescriptions of these original 
Earth Day prophets of doom, it is possible that millions or even billions of 
people would have suffered and died.

The Washington Policy Center notes: "By being skeptical about routine portents 
of doom, we can stay focused on the real threats that face our planet, and on 
the reasonable and achievable actions we as a society can take to meet them."

Today -- as food prices are doubling and food riots taking place in 
impoverished nations as a direct result of the disastrous ethanol scheme pushed 
by today's statist doomsayers -- that's a vital lesson to remember.

(Sources: Washington Policy Center:
Washington Post on the ethanol disaster:
dyn/content/article/2008/04/29/AR2008042903092.html?wpisrc=newsletter )

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off

Why have rising oil prices not wrecked the global economy? The consensus five years ago was that every $10 increase in oil prices slashed at least 1/2% off real global GDP growth. Answer: energy consumption per dollar of GDP has declined — a lot. In 1950 the US used almost 20 British Thermal Units (BTU) to produce $1 of GDP. In 1970 it was 17.44 BTU. Today it takes 8.78 BTU. (From The Gartman Letter, 7 May 2008, based on data from the EIA and Dr. Mark Perry of the University of Michigan)

This is not because we "no longer make things." US manufacturing as a % GDP has been flatish for a generation.

ABC News: George's Bottom Line on Clinton for Veep

George Stephanopoulos says that Hillary may be negotiating to get the VP nomination.  Sure, her people might be talking about it, but there's no way Obama will pick her.  She's got too much baggage (Bill) and she won't bring him any states that he couldn't win on his own.  The VP discussion is not serious.  On the other hand, I do expect Hillary to get something big from the party and Obama.  I doubt she has to worry about paying off her campaign debt (mostly to herself).  The Obama people will somehow take care of that.  Hillary will get a featured speech at the convention.  I think at this point, she'll want more power in the Senate.  Reid has done a poor job, so maybe it's Hillary's turn to be Majority Leader.  That would give her plenty of time in front of the press.

Why has she stayed in the race so long?  She was hoping for the inexperienced Obama to self-destruct.  The Rev. Wright fiasco hurt him, but he survived.   The Resko scandal hasn't crystalized yet, and it's too complicated for the nightly news so that won't make a difference for the nomination.  Now, I suspect that she's playing a long term game of trying to damage him for the general election so that he loses to McCain.  That gives her one more shot in four years, maybe this time without Bill.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

John Hood on North Carolina Primary on National Review Online

Obama wins big in NC.  Clinton squeaks by in Indiana.  Pretty much what most people expected.  The Clintonistas were hoping for a miracle in NC, but it didn't happen. Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos can take some credit for pushing her over the top in Indiana, but it's hardly enough to sway any superdelegates.  However, she seems unlikely to quit.  It's now time to bargain to see what the party and Obama will give her to get her to bow out.  She can't win, but she can still hurt him so they'll give her a good deal.

I tend to agree with John Hood's predictions:

Here's what I think happens next. The Clintons won't be willing to go out on Tuesday's poor showing. They'll wait to win the West Virginia and Kentucky contests, at least. But the uncommitted super-delegates are going to stop trickling and start streaming into the Obama fold. The national media will (rightly this time) declare her chances remote of accumulating enough popular votes to convince the delegates to pick her instead. Some of the disappointed Clinton base will, indeed, prove to be persuadable by John McCain in the fall, but Republican partisans are dreaming if they think that permanent, irreparable damage has been done to the Democratic electoral coalition. The American public has heard troubling things about Barack Obama. But it heard them in the spring, not in the fall. All the basic rules of political science tell us that McCain has a steep uphill climb ahead of him. These rules haven't been eradicated by a few impolitic words and a couple of weeks of bad press.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Instapundit on the student load bubble

A MARKET BUBBLE in student loans? I wonder if it's a student-loan bubble -- or a higher-education bubble? Bubbles are usually inflated by easy credit, and usually end when the credit market gets less generous. I suspect that runups in higher education costs have been underwritten by the availability of easy credit to students and parents, and I wonder if colleges and universities won't meet a lot more market resistance if that credit dries up even partially.

Universities have the wrong incentives.  They think it's the government's job to find a way to pay for students to get a good education as if the costs are out of their control.  Thomas Sowell has written several columns recently about the "Economics of College".  He's against government subsidies.  One novel idea is to make the education of students truly an investment on the part of the institution:

What will happen to the poor if there are no government subsidies for college?

If this argument is meant seriously, rather than being simply a political talking point, then there can always be some means test used to decide who qualifies as poor and then subsidize just those people -- rather than the vastly larger number of other claimants for government largesse who advance toward the national treasury, using the poor as human shields.

Another option would be to allow students to sign enforceable contracts by which lenders would pay their college or university expenses in exchange for a given percentage of their future earnings.

That way, students would be issuing stocks to raise capital, the way corporations do, instead of being limited to borrowing money to be paid back in fixed amounts -- the latter being equivalent to issuing corporate bonds.

Not only would this get the conscripted taxpayers out of the picture, it would also make it unnecessary for parents to go into hock to put their children through college.

I like this idea.  Maybe the colleges could even open up a market and let the public trade in the mutual funds based on their students.  I'll buy a 1000 shares of "The Stanford CompSci" fund!   Top professors could be granted options in the student mutual funds as an incentive to reward the good teaching.  The free market works if you let it.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Boris Johnson story

The new mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is a Conservative with an interesting history...

"Over the next few years, he developed the persona which has become famous today, a facade resembling that of PG Wodehouse's Gussie Finknottle, allied to wit, charm, brilliance and startling flashes of instability," Sir Max wrote recently in The Observer.

Opponents began to wonder what had happened to "old Boris" - when, they wondered, was he going to make some outrageous gaffe or turn in befuddlement to an aide, as he had done on a previous occasion, and ask: "What is my policy on drugs?" But he was having none of it. "There is no distinction between the old Boris and the new Boris. They are indivisible, co-eternal... consubstantial," he would reply testily when challenged about his new, serious persona.

He said that the media had a "pent up rage" after spending the campaign "deprived of their prey - a Johnson blooper".

He has stressed he is serious about running London and making "Greater London greater". But as he put it in a BBC interview after winning the election: "Of course there will be the odd indiscretion."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

David Freddoso on Congress & Carbon on National Review Online

House Republicans sent out an e-mail to celebrate the second anniversary of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D., Calif.) promise that she had a "common-sense plan" to reduce gasoline prices — details of which she has yet to reveal. Their release included the gory details on how today's fossil-fuel prices compare to those of two years ago: a barrel of crude oil up to $117 from $64; heating oil at $3.31 per gallon, up from $2.71; gasoline up to $3.56 a gallon from $2.96 (remember when we used to complain about gas flirting with the $3 mark?); and diesel fuel up to $4.14 from $2.87 per gallon. 

Republicans have taken to calling this phenomenon the "Pelosi Premium." 

Now that may be unfair: Party control of the Congress (or the White House, for that matter) has very little to do with short-term oil and gasoline prices. The big factors today, for instance, are a weak dollar and surging demand for petroleum in emerging markets like India and China. 

Still, it hasn't helped that Democrats have routinely blocked oil exploration on public lands. President Clinton's 1995 veto of a bill allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1995 is probably now costing us about a million barrels of oil per day. In 2006, Pelosi's Senate Democrats blocked an effort to drill the Outer Continental Shelf for what the Department of the Interior estimates to be 8.5 billion barrels of known oil reserves and 86 billion barrels undiscovered.

All that said, the real problem — and the reason Pelosi really does deserve blame — is that Democrats' political goal of reducing carbon emissions continues to trump their populist rhetoric on gasoline prices. The two stances are impossible to reconcile. Try as they might to blame oil companies for the pain Americans feel at the pump, the Democrats want higher prices for gasoline — and for all forms of energy that emit carbon. Economic barriers against CO2 emissions are a requirement for environmental progress in the Democrats' view, and this is the entire purpose of the carbon cap-and-trade system they will put before the House this summer — to create economic disincentives for emitting CO2.