Friday, October 30, 2009
> Obama is obviously unhappy with the path he himself chose in March. > Fine. He has every right — indeed, duty — to reconsider. But what > Obama is reacting to is the failure of his own strategy.
Newt Gingrich is a historic figure who is rightly proud of many accomplishments, but in this case he has made a mistake. His pride is preventing him either from seeing it or from acknowledging it. Message to Newt: Give it up!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The News & Observer has disclosed new information this year about the actions of Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat and former state attorney general who served as governor from Jan. 2001 until Jan. 2009. The coverage has spurred state and federal investigations that are continuing, and led to the resignations or firing of several high officials, including the chancellor at N.C. State University.
Among other things, he and top administration officials are accused of leaning on North Carolina State University to hire the First Lady for a very expensive make-work job. The Easley also appear to have received a sweetheart deal on a prime lot in a coastal development spearheaded by political allies who boasted of their special ability to expedite state permitting for the project. The Easleys have been driving private cars they didn’t pay for. They’ve flown dozens of times on state aircraft for personal business, as well as on private aircraft in ways that appear to be in violation of state campaign-finance laws and gift restrictions. The most interesting revelation from this week’s hearings before the state elections board is that the governor reportedly had one of his pilot friends finance repairs to a personal home, then had the friend submit a fake invoice for campaign flights to be reimbursed by the Easley campaign, as a way of reimbursing himself for the home repairs. Then Easley had the audacity to file an insurance claim on the repairs and keep all the money.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
It’s an outrageous objection by the Civil Rights Division to a voting change in the small town of Kinston, N.C. The case involved a referendum by the residents of Kinston to change the elections for city council from partisan to nonpartisan. The referendum passed overwhelmingly in November 2008. But the Justice Department recently refused to pre-clear it, claiming that it discriminates against minorities. [...]The attorneys in the Voting Section also increasingly use the Voting Rights Act as primarily a political bludgeon to protect and enhance the electoral successes of the Democratic party. Thus, in the Kinston objection letter, the Department stated that “it is the partisan makeup of the general electorate” that allows the winner of the Democratic primary to win in the general election. But of course, the VRA is supposed to protect voters, not majority parties. The fact that blacks are a controlling majority in the city is essentially deemed irrelevant.Disturbingly, the Civil Rights Division attorneys’ action rests on the presumption that blacks simply cannot be trusted to make their own decisions as to which individual candidates to support, and will be presumed to vote against their own self-interest unless candidates on the ballot have the “right” party label. This approach to enforcement stands the Voting Rights Act on its head and is anathema to all of our constitutional requirements for fair elections.
THE National Health Service has spent £1.5m paying for hundreds of its staff to have private health treatment so they can leapfrog their own waiting lists.
More than 3,000 staff, including doctors and nurses, have gone private at the taxpayers’ expense in the past three years because the queues at the clinics and hospitals where they work are too long.
In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.
In a move with potentially sweeping implications for relations between the Catholic church and some 80 million Anglicans worldwide, the Vatican has announced the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to absorb disaffected Anglicans wishing to become Catholics. The structures will allow those Anglicans to hold onto their distinctive spiritual practices, including the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests.
Ron Bloom is the Manufacturing Czar. In the video he admits, “We kind of agree with Mao that power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.”
Monday, October 19, 2009
The White House stopped providing guests to "Fox News Sunday" after host Chris Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in August.
Dunn said fact-checking an administration official was "something I've never seen a Sunday show do."
"She criticized 'Fox News Sunday' last week for fact-checking -- fact-checking -- an administration official," Wallace said Sunday. "They didn't say that our fact-checking was wrong. They just said that we had dared to fact-check."
"Let's fact-check Anita Dunn, because last Sunday she said that Fox ignores Republican scandals, and she specifically mentioned the scandal involving Nevada senator John Ensign," Wallace added. "A number of Fox News shows have run stories about Senator Ensign. Anita Dunn's facts were just plain wrong."
Fox News senior vice president Michael Clemente said: "Surprisingly, the White House continues to declare war on a news organization instead of focusing on the critical issues that Americans are concerned about like jobs, health care and two wars. The door remains open and we welcome a discussion about the facts behind the issues."
Even if alternative energy were to meet a meaningful amount of our electricity needs, natural gas-fired power generation will be needed in large volumes because they are the only plants that can cycle up and down rapidly to keep maintain the integrity of the grid as the wind stops blowing or clouds pass over solar panels. Coal and nuclear are base load–meaning the size of the plants necessary for the economies of scale needed are not conducive to easily turning them on and off.
The point is, natural gas is the bridge fuel whether we acknowledge it or not.
And then the third lesson and tip actually comes from two of my favorite political philosophers: Mao Tse Tung and Mother Teresa, not often coupled together, but the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is, you're going to make choices. You're going to challenge. You're going to say "why not." You're going to figure out how to do things that have never been done before.
But here's the deal — these are your choices. They are no one else's. In 1947, when Mao Tse Tung was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over, Chiang Kai Shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities that had the army. They had the airport. They had everything on their side, and people said, "How can you win? How can you do this? How can you do this, against all the odds against you?" And Mao Tse Tung said, "You know, you fight your war, and I'll fight mine."
This is the point: last November, the American people thought they were electing a “post-partisan,” “post-racial” President who would work to restore unity and self-confidence to the country. They woke up on November 5, however, to find that they had elected someone who was deeply ambivalent about America, who distrusted its founding principles of limited government, individual liberty, and local responsibility. Like his radical friends — Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones, Anita Dunn — Barack Obama wishes to transform the United States according to a model whose basic shape was supplied by the utopian schemes of the 1960s. That’s why Anita Dunn said that Mao was one of the thinkers she most often turned to for wisdom about big-think political problems. It’s not that she admires his penchant for industrial strength homicide: rather, she admires his success at fomenting an egalitarian revolution. It’s not what we bargained for when we elected Barack Obama. But that’s what we’ve got.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Didn’t Obama say in July that Iran had to show compliance by the G-20 summit in late September? And when that deadline passed, did he not then warn Iran that it would face “sanctions that have bite” and that it would have to take “a new course or face consequences”? Gone with the wind. It’s the U.S. that’s now retreating from its already flimsy position of just three weeks ago. We’re not doing sanctions now, you see. We’re back to engagement. Just as the Russians suggest.Henry Kissinger once said that the main job of Anatoly Dobrynin, the perennial Soviet ambassador to Washington, was to tell the Kremlin leadership that whenever they received a proposal from the United States that appeared disadvantageous to the United States, not to assume it was a trick.No need for a Dobrynin today. The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and “reset” buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever, or even serious behind it. It is amateurishness, wrapped in naïveté, inside credulity. In short, the very stuff of Nobels.
Before President Obama even landed at Andrews Air Force Base, returning from his mission to Copenhagen to win the 2016 Olympic Games, Chicago had been voted off the island. Many shared the lamentation of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, "What has become of America, when Chicago can't steal an election?"
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Limbaugh's critics were so desperate to make a racism charge stick, to tag Limbaugh as untouchably "controversial," that they resorted to demonstrable lies -- statements Limbaugh never made -- and purposely indemonstrable innuendo. Not that this mattered. As in all dictatorships, the charge itself suffices. It didn't even matter that the dictatorship's emissaries, the eternal charlatans Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who actively lobbied the NFL to oppose Limbaugh, are themselves serially discredited race hustlers. Again, the charge is all it takes to demonize and ostracize the opposition. And Rush Limbaugh -- as the leading voice against the radicalism of the Obama administration, one of the most forceful opponents of the totalitarian social engineering we know as "affirmative action," as one of the great communicators of basic conservative principles -- definitely counts as the opposition.
Monday, October 12, 2009
In one mindless stroke, the committee has rendered the Nobel Peace Prize a laughingstock, perhaps for as long as a generation. And that is an act of true destruction, because it was actually good that the world had a prestigious award for peacemaking.
The members of the committee have also put the young American president in a terrible place. They make it look like all the talk of "The One," the heartthrob of the European elite, the darling of the international left, is true. They make him look prefabricated and inauthentic, an empty structure held up by essentially silly people. Which puts him at a disadvantage in his own country, because Americans don't really like it when flaky European politicians tell them how they ought to see him or the world.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is written. For America today, decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. Two decades into the unipolar world that came about with the fall of the Soviet Union, America is in the position of deciding whether to abdicate or retain its dominance. Decline--or continued ascendancy--is in our hands.
The transnational progressives who pass out these accolades believe America is the problem in the world, the main threat to peace, the impediment to "progress," etc. The award is a symbolic statement of opposition to American exceptionalism, American might, American capitalism, American self-determinism, and American pursuit of America's interests in the world. That is why Obama could win it based on only 10 days in office — merely by capturing the White House and the levers of power, he stands to do more for the Left's "knock America off its pedestal" program than any figure in history.
After a number of years, the NFL renamed its Super Bowl trophy after its most fitting recipient — it's now called the Vince Lombardi Trophy. I'd like to see the Nobel Foundation follow suit. If today's headlines said, "Barack Obama Wins Yasser Arafat Prize," that would be perfect.
OSLO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for giving the world "hope for a better future" and striving for nuclear disarmament, in a surprise award that drew both warm praise and sharp criticism.
The decision to bestow one of the world's top accolades on a president less than nine months into his first term, who has yet to score a major foreign policy success, was greeted with gasps of astonishment from journalists at the announcement in Oslo.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Obama for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
The award of this year’s Nobel peace prize to President Obama will be met with widespread incredulity, consternation in many capitals and probably deep embarrassment by the President himself.Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.
Two U.S. spacecraft crashed on the moon Friday. On purpose. NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite dropped its Centaur upper-stage rocket on the lunar surface at 7:31 a.m. ET.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
But the current rules of engagement (ROE) in Afghanistan are simply far too constrictive to eliminate large pockets of threat. The people of Afghanistan don’t trust their government and their police forces. We are years away from relying on them as we have with their Iraqi counterparts. The ROE are a direct reflection of that: We are forced to be gentle because of the barbaric manner in which the Afghanis treat their own people. This may make us feel good, but we choose this tactic at the risk of our young men and women. [...]
Until we as a nation understand what we are doing fighting the war on terror, we have no chance to win it. The decision as to what to do next in Afghanistan is taking entirely too long, coming from a president who literally talked about the “good war” for over two years. If we are not resolute in our methods in fighting this counterinsurgency we might as well just bring everyone home. And then, after the next 9/11 happens, we will hold benefits for the victims, pray for the families of the fallen, and carry the hope that our good nature as a people will cause other enemies of America to appreciate the way we live and leave us alone.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
We have only one military mission in Afghanistan, and it is not to protect the Afghan population, who are not properly our concern so long as they don’t allow their country to be a launching pad for attacks on the United States. Our troops are in Afghanistan because we, not the Afghans, are in a war to destroy al-Qaeda and its enablers — the Taliban, Hekmatyar, and the Haqqani network, all of which draw support from Pakistan. Obviously, we should always try to avoid civilian casualties in achieving our objectives. But this is a war, and our objectives take precedence. Afghan and Pakistani civilians will best be protected if we use the back-breaking force necessary to achieve our objectives as swiftly as possible; American civilians and troops will best be protected by making clear that if America is threatened again our troops will be back again — and not to bring hope and change.A well-meaning social experiment masquerading as a counterinsurgency — oblivious to the unintended downsides and bent on delegating our counterterrorism work to the Afghans a couple of years hence — is not a good reason to have any troops in Afghanistan, much less to send in 40,000 more. The nice, friendly war — in which we pretend that we love the wonderful native people, have a quarrel solely with their wayward fringe, fight only until our enemies scatter but not until they are defeated, and define success (rather than victory) by how much we improve life for the indigenous population — is a delusion. If we’re not up for the real thing, we should leave Afghanistan now. Those who worry that we would give al-Qaeda a huge propaganda victory should consider that we’re already giving them one by hamstringing our warriors and exhibiting a failure of will.
What is most frightening about the political Left is that they seem to have no sense of the tragedy of the human condition. All problems seem to them to be due to other people not being as wise or as noble as they are.Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Think things, not words.” In words, many see a need for “social justice” to override “the dictates of the market.” In reality, what is called “the market” consists of human beings making their own choices at their own cost. What is called “social justice” is government imposition of the notions of third parties, who pay no price for being wrong.
Beyond principle, there are practical reasons to expand Congress. For decades, presidential candidates have promised to change the “way Washington works.” But once elected, they’re soon captured by their own congressional parties, which are in turn beholden to the “old bulls” and constituencies rooted in interests outside their districts.A Congress of, say, 5,000 citizen-legislators would change that overnight. Would it cost more money? Yes. But today’s huge staffs could be cut, and perks and pork might even be curtailed by using the old chewing gum rule: If there’s not enough for everyone, nobody can have any.Term-limit activists have the right idea — getting new blood in Washington — but their remedy is anti-democratic. The trick is to swamp Congress with new blood and new ideas. Want more minorities in Congress? Done. Want more libertarians? More socialists? More blue-collar workers? Done, done, done.In free-speech debates, it’s often said that the cure for bad speech is more speech. Well, the cure for a calcified Congress just might be more members; the remedy for an undemocratic system, more democracy.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I thought the world loved us now that Obama was President. It turns out that they still hate Bush more? I don't think so.
Some Chicago officials say anti-American resentment likely played a role in Chicago's Olympic bid dying in the first round Friday.
President Obama could not undo in one year the resentment against America that President Bush and others built up for years, they said.
"There must be" resentment against America, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, near the stage where he had hoped to give a victory speech in Daley Center Plaza. "The way we [refused to sign] the Kyoto Treaty, we misled the world into Iraq. The world had a very bad taste in its mouth about us. But there was such a turnaround after last November. The world now feels better about America and about Americans. That's why I thought the president's going was the deal-maker."
Last week U.S. automakers reported that new car sales for September, the first month since the clunker program expired, sank by 25% from a year earlier. Sales at GM and Chrysler fell by 45% and 42%, respectively. Ford was down about 5%. Some 700,000 cars were sold in the summer under the program as buyers received up to $4,500 to buy a new car they would probably have purchased anyway, so all the program seems to have done is steal those sales from the future. Exactly as critics predicted.
Cash for clunkers had two objectives: help the environment by increasing fuel efficiency, and boost car sales to help Detroit and the economy. It achieved neither. According to Hudson Institute economist Irwin Stelzer, at best "the reduction in gasoline consumption will cut our oil consumption by 0.2 percent per year, or less than a single day's gasoline use." Burton Abrams and George Parsons of the University of Delaware added up the total benefits from reduced gas consumption, environmental improvements and the benefit to car buyers and companies, minus the overall cost of cash for clunkers, and found a net cost of roughly $2,000 per vehicle. Rather than stimulating the economy, the program made the nation as a whole $1.4 billion poorer.
The basic fallacy of cash for clunkers is that you can somehow create wealth by destroying existing assets that are still productive, in this case cars that still work. Under the program, auto dealers were required to destroy the car engines of trade-ins with a sodium silicate solution, then smash them and send them to the junk yard. As the journalist Henry Hazlitt wrote in his classic, "Economics in One Lesson," you can't raise living standards by breaking windows so some people can get jobs repairing them.
The criticism leveled at Obama was that he is failing to execute the brilliantly conceived left-wing aspects of his agenda as stated in his campaign. Of course, there is no casting judgment on those ideas and no mention that most of America doesn’t actually support them.
When the Obama stimulus plan was proposed, the president's economic team put out a report in January 2009 that purported to show what would happen with and without the fiscal stimulus. The chart above is from page four that report, together with the actual results over the past couple months. As you can see, the actual outcome is significantly worse than the projection with the stimulus plan and is, in fact, roughly on track with what was projected without the stimulus.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
The "difficulty" -- the "intricate challenge," the Times says -- is "building momentum" for carbon reduction "when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years." That was in the Times's first paragraph.
In the fifth paragraph, a "few years" became "the next decade or so," according to Mojib Latif, a German "prize-winning climate and ocean scientist" who campaigns constantly to promote policies combating global warming. Actually, Latif has said he anticipates "maybe even two" decades in which temperatures cool. But stay with the Times's "decade or so." By asserting that the absence of significant warming since 1998 is a mere "plateau," not warming's apogee, the Times assures readers who are alarmed about climate change that the paper knows the future and that warming will continue: Do not despair, bad news will resume. [...]
Actually, what makes skeptics skeptical is the accumulating evidence that theories predicting catastrophe from man-made climate change are impervious to evidence. The theories are unfalsifiable, at least in the "short run." And the "short run" is defined as however many decades must pass until the evidence begins to fit the hypotheses.
After the Iraq story line, Battlestar Galactica deteriorated rapidly over the course of its final two seasons. The plot shift led the show’s writers and producers into a bizarre and meandering world of visiting angels, pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, and deus-ex-machina literary devices. Human and Cylon fell in love; robots killed themselves; a key character’s death and resurrection were never explained; and in the end it turned out that everything we were watching had led to the population of our Earth 150,000 years ago and that we were heading in a similar direction because we have some robots now too. The disappointment among the show’s fans was palpable, and its final episode provoked widespread rage-—there is no other word for it—among those who had followed the series passionately for the previous five years and felt they had been tricked by its conclusion.