I was taken aback by this paragraph in a Politico story by someone a colleague of mine styles as the best reporter in DC on these issues. It reveals the media are not only telling us what to watch for this year, but getting an early jump:
Despite mounting evidence that the greenhouse gas buildup in the Earth’s atmosphere is causing runaway changes to the climate - NASA this month declared 2010 the hottest year on record - several pollsters say the American public isn’t listening. (emphases added)
Now, the reason no evidence — mounting, or otherwise — of runaway climate change was cited there is because there is no evidence of runaway climate change. Let alone man-made. There is as there always has been a continuing stream of evidence of changes in climate, because change is the sole constant in climate. But it takes an environmentalist or axe-grinding politician to say that whatever happens is evidence supporting his faith and/or agenda. The ‘runaway’ business is just absurdly hyperbolic. Which, again, is why no such evidence was actually cited.
Get this straight because once they agree on a talking point they beat it to death: their new one, of 2010 being the hottest year ‘on record’, would not rise to the level of evidence of man-made warming despite being touted as a self-evident example of cause-effect. This would remain true even if the cited source, NASA — meaning James Hansen’s runaway office, known as GISS — had not also done two things: adjust the historical record to make older years cooler (rewriting history) and ‘extrapolate’ data over vast stretches in the Arctic where they have none…but which happens to be where they find the warming (making history up).
None of which is secret, all of which then makes the above-cited paragraph an embarrassment.
Then the reporter discussed what the global warming industry plans to do about this, and includes the following predictable punch telegraphed.
…Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), co-author of several unsuccessful climate bills over the last decade, said he agrees with the need to make more local connections for the public. Hitting home for him are studies showing lobster and winter flounder moving north out of Long Island Sound.
“It’s not the end of the world, and yet it suggests the world is changing,” Lieberman said. “It’s one small example. The world is full of them.”
Lieberman said he thinks there’s a need for more TV and radio commercials that capture the most eye-catching images. “Just show people what’s happening,” he said. “Show them satellite pictures of the ice caps.”
Yes, the world changes and, of course, if something happens then you did it and their agenda would change it. Even if after billions of dollars and several decades they cannot make their case and are reduced to doing what they started with. Primitively pointing to the world around them and shrieking that the witch — now, the SUV — did it.
Expect the media to run with this. And in response I will show you pictures of, say, the World Trade Center collapsing. Why? Because that is their logic: show you something and say it is evidence that you did it. Example, invoked by a mindless fellow panelist on a tv show last week:
Man-made global warming is causing Mt. Kilimanjaro’s glacier to recede.
How do you know?
Mt. Kilimanjaro’s glacier is receding.
The CIA brought the World Trade Center down.
How do you know?
The World Trade Center came down.
Your ‘conclusion’ is actually an assumption. And that’s too stupid even for Washington to re-engineer the economy around. Here’s to an invigorating 2011.
Later today, newly elected members of the Michigan House of Representatives will be sworn into office.
One of those rookie members is a 23-year old waitress named Andrea LaFontaine who after narrowly winning the GOP primary in August went on to defeat Democratic incumbent Jennifer Haase in November and will now represent Michigan’s 32nd District which comprises part of Macomb and St. Clair counties in the eastern part of the state. LaFontaine was part of a Republican resurgence that helped the GOP regain the Michigan House.
The Detroit News did a very nice profile on LaFontaine. They interviewed her during her shift at Ken’s Country Kitchen in Richmond, Michigan. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders and has no illusions that the work before her is going to be easy. LaFontaine said,”What’s going through my mind right now is how I have two years to make a difference and if I don’t do it then I don’t deserve to have this job again in two years.”
Well, that’s a refreshing attitude. With that sentiment in mind, let’s wish Andrea LaFontaine good luck.
While I don’t want to end the year on a down note I would like to draw your attention to a disturbing trend.
It seems that incidences of anti-Semitism are on the rise in this country. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Jews were targeted for hate crimes more frequently than any other group. In 2009, of 37% of all hate crimes committed in the Empire State were directed against Jews. With regard to hate crimes motivated by religious affiliation, Jews were targeted 85%. Most of the hate crimes directed against Jews were crimes against property (presumably synagogues and Jewish community centers) although more than half the incidents involved threats and assault against Jews. To put this figure into perspective, Muslims in New York State were targeted 1.6% of the time. While the report notes that such figures are underreported within the Muslim community one still cannot ignored the vast statistical differential.
It is also hardly an isolated trend. While hate crimes in Los Angeles County decreased overall in 2009, anti-Semitic vandalism rose nearly 50% from 2008. So while Jews were targeted 88% of the time, Muslims were targeted 3% of the time. Yet Los Angeles City Council saw fit to pass a resolution condemning Islamophobia while making no mention of the far more significant increase in incidents of anti-Semitism.
The FBI hate crime statistics tell a similar story. Jews were the targets of 71.9% of all religious hate crimes reported in the U.S. last year. Conversely, Muslims were the target of 8.4% of religious hate crimes. Interestingly, when Israel is criticized for its actions the word “disproportionate” or “disproportionately” are often used. Well, given that Jews comprise just over 2% of the U.S. population one must then conclude that Jews are “disrproportionately” targeted where it concerns crimes committed against people and their property because of religious affiliation.
Now unlike Whoopi Goldberg (who while appearing on The O’Reilly Factor in November dismissed the fact that Jews are more frequent targets of hate in this country than Muslims) I am not trying to trivialize hate crimes that have occurred against Muslims in this country. Far from it. Anyone stupid enough to commit vandalism against a mosque or an Islamic community center or wantonly accosts, threatens or assaults someone simply because they are Muslim deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Yet we do ourselves a disservice to pretend this country is awash in Islamophobia. Nor for that matter is this country rife with anti-Semitism. Outside of Israel, the United States is probably the least anti-Semitic nation on earth and I think most Americans would like it to stay that way.
That said I am fully supportive of being vigilant against attacks towards American Muslims and their property. But it is clear to me that at least for the time being we need to direct greater attention and resources towards combating anti-Semitism in the U.S.
They all support EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gases, even though that circumvents the citizens’ right to have their elected representatives make U.S. laws. More on the Obama Administration overreach and his crony corporatists support at the National Legal and Policy Center blog today.
Instead of making a bunch of predictions for New Years, I like the idea of opinion-mongers taking the time to admit the predictions they got wrong in the past year.
1. The 2010 elections will be good for Republicans in Massachusetts. For years, I’ve paid attention to Republicans with little hope in my home state. I wrote a column about Jim Ogonowski’s Senate campaign, the year he failed to even qualify for the Republican primary ballot. I followed up with a piece on the guy who eventually got the GOP nod to run against John Kerry. I even penned an NRO column with a headline referring to an upset — about Bay State Republican candidate who ended up losing by 40 points. (The rest of the column holds up pretty well, though.)
This year, I was convinced Massachusetts Republicans would be able to follow up on the January success of Scott Brown. To a certain extent, they did — they increased their numbers in the state legislature, won seats on the governor’s council, and ran more competitive congressional and statewide candidates than they had since 1994. But I thought at least one of those congressional or statewide candidates would actually win. None did. Massachusetts remains the single most frustrating place in the country outside D.C. to be a Republican.
2. Every Tea Party-aligned conservative Senate candidate who won the Republican primary would win the general, except for Christine O’Donnell — and even she would break 40 percent of the vote. Well, O’Donnell did break 40 percent of the vote (barely). But while Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, and Ron Johnson won, Sharron Angle and Ken Buck also lost. Which brings me to:
3. Harry Reid can’t win reelection. My view was that Reid’s numbers, generally stuck around the mid-40s and never breaking 50 percent, were too enduringly awful for him to win another term no mmatter how badly his Republican challenger campaigned. I thought the only exception would be a None of the Above vote (allowable in Nevada) larger than any in history. Well, Reid won reelection without that. I know a lot of readers are skeptical that Reid won fair and square, but his margin of victory is outside the margin of shenanigans.
4. Christine O’Donnell is a no-hoper in the primary. I wasn’t confident enough in that one to make the prediction publicly, but I did dissuade an intern from writing a piece that took her ability to beat Mike Castle seriously. Oops! Though in my defense, it was before she caught on with conservatives nationally — the prerequisite for a successful Tea Party challenge this year.
5. Dino Rossi. Yeah, I believed those late polls that he was pulling away. Nope.
I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones I got wrong off the top of my head.
Spain’s politicians, in something of an emergency move, have just stuck Spanish households and small businesses with a hefty new energy tax to go into effect tomorrow. Yeah, that oughta help matters.
This latest in a series of energy tax hikes is intended to help pay down the burst renewabubble, which they also realize they can’t just end but must perpetuate, continuing the harm as they sidle toward finally stopping the bleeding (they hope, even if they can’t quite figure out how to unwind their self-imposed mess). The bleeding their politicians created, and ours plan to replicate here before the 2012 re-elect. Yes: still.
As I have noted here before, it turned out that killing it, dead, would just bring down the banks who backed the ‘guaranteed’ scam, as well. Which does tend to happen when politicians create aid-dependent industries, and therefore bubbles. Which must burst.
No wonder Obama stopped saying ‘look at Spain.’ What’s amazing is that the kidz at the White House really didn’t understand. When they started him down that path. Or now. But seem only to get that they need a new phony success story to point to.
2011 prediction: Their decision to redirect attention to China and the looming scandal that is Germany’s bubble (hint: the government, Deutsche Bank, and talking one’s own book), will work out just as well.
President Obama has given career diplomat Robert Ford a recess appointment to the ambassadorship of Syria, bypassing Senators who had blocked the appointment for months. Regular readers may recall that this appointment caused angst among Syrian dissidents at a protest I reported on in April. Michael Young has an excellent column on why sending an ambassador to Syria now, for the first time in five years, is “remarkably foolish.” He’s being kind; this appointment is shameful.
Geraldine Hoff Doyle, a.k.a. “Rosie the Riveter”, passed away on Sunday. She was 86.
The famed image of Doyle’s flexed muscle would become a call to arms for women to enter the workforce during the Second World War to help manufacture munitions, aircraft, boats, jeeps and other goods. It would later serve as an inspiration to future generations seeking equality for women.
Only a couple of days before her passing, plans were announced to build a visitors center at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park which opened in Richmond, California in 2003. The visitors center could open as early as the fall of 2011.
While there were battles to be won in Europe and in the Pacific these battles could not have been won without help from “Rosie the Riveter” and millions of other women here on the homefront. Their efforts were indispensable to the war effort.
Gene Healy presents a list of the worst op-eds of 2010 (well, just a few of them, actually). Somehow, I failed to make the cut.
They’re not all predictions contained within this year, some time needed to pass to determine whether they came true, but FoxNews.com has “Eight Botched Environmental Forecasts” posted today. Most are climate- (but not necessarily warming-)related, and the first is my favorite only because it received a hearty rebuke from this past month’s weather, especially in much of the U.S. and Europe:
Within a few years “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Snowfall will be “a very rare and exciting event.” Dr. David Viner, senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, interviewed by the UK Independent, March 20, 2000.
Yes, that came from an expert identified as “senior,” “doctor,” “climate researcher,” and “scientist” — all from the authoritative University of East Climategate, the gatekeeper of UN IPCC data points and well-known apolitical practitioner of science.
I know it’s MSNBC and everything, but I still had difficulty believing I actually witnessed this clip of a silly little man saying the Constitution is irrelevant and confusing because it’s, like, more than 100 years old.
That does seem to be the sort of thing only the very young might say. So long as they are also rather foolish.
So I did a quick search for ‘Ezra Klein graduated with degree in’, hoping against delicious hope he was some sort of classics major. Or something indicating this young feller had possibly been required to read other really, you know, old stuff like maybe the Gettysburg Address or the Bible or…oh, dear, did he just say what I think he said about the Koran? Maybe Burke (I kid). Marbury v. Madison. Or Robinson Crusoe (‘Friday’? What the hell kind of name is that? Oh. 1719. Nooo wuuunder.)
But his degree was in political science. So class assignments probably didn’t range far beyond reading the writings of 26 year-olds at the Washington Post, which he wanted to grow up to become when he was 26. And did!
Which I learned while so searching, when this post came up near the top. Watch Klein, then read this from a few months ago. You can almost imagine the author, today, saying “I almost wrote that he might say something remarkably stupid nicely proving beyond dispute and in one fell swoop my and the WaPo commenters’ point, like…well, this. But that seemed mean.”
I defend the Truman-era 80th Congress, the first Republican majority of the postwar era, and argue we could use another today.
The 74-year-old Killebrew stated it is “perhaps the most difficult battle of my life” but is optimistic he can make a full recovery.
Killebrew spent nearly his entire twenty-two year big league career in the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins organization. Nicknamed “Killer”, he hit 40 or more homeruns in eight different seasons and six times led the American League in homeruns. Killebrew also led the AL in RBIs thrice and in OBP four times. His only World Series appearance came in 1965 when the Twins came up just short against Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Killebrew’s best season came in 1969 when he won the AL MVP. That season, Killebrew hit .276 with 49 homeruns, 140 RBI and drew 145 walks (good for a .427 OBP) for the AL West Division champion Twins. He was named to 11 AL All-Star teams and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
Here’s hoping Killebrew knocks his cancer out of the park.
Pew has produced an interactive news IQ quiz. I scored 12/12, putting myself in the 99th percentile of people taking the test, even though there’s one question (number 9) that is a little ambiguous. I would expect that anyone reading this blog would get at least 10/12.
Aaron Zelman of the hard-line gun rights group Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership is dead at the age of 64. I interviewed him for my September cover story on the NRA, an organization Zelman found insufficiently zealous in its defense of the Second Amendment.
You didn’t need to agree with JPFO on every tactical question to find some of its projects interesting. Zelman told me when I talked to him this summer that the most important thing to do when debating guns and other issues is to restore a “Bill of Rights culture.” For the record, this Aaron Zelman wasn’t the television producer.
Mark Pinsky makes the case that ousted Congressman Alan Grayson should challenge President Obama in the 2012 Democratic presidential primaries. It starts out as an argument for Grayson running against the war in Afghanistan, but quickly escalates — if you’ll pardon the expression — into a call for a full-blown left-wing insurgency.
Pinsky does worry that even a semi-successful Grayson campaign could weaken Obama against the Republicans. More oddly, he frets that “the challenge would pit a left-wing Jew against a centrist African-American.” Since Grayson would probably be more John Ashbrook than Gene McCarthy, I wouldn’t worry.
In theory NATO is still supposed to protect Europe from untold dangers. The list of likely aggressors is small—whatever their neighbors say about Germany, Serbia, Iran, and China, none look to be would-be conquerers of Europe. Which leaves Russia.
Yet France plans on supplying Moscow with an advanced ship, the Mistral. Reports the New York Times:
The boxy, 600-foot-long Mistral vessel is an advanced helicopter carrier equipped with a command center and hospital for military landing operations. It is the first major arms purchase by Russia abroad and the first sale by a NATO country, illustrating the shifting role of an alliance once conceived to counter Soviet military power.
One of the sticking points in negotiations was whether the deal would include advanced naval weapons and defense systems. In the months leading to the deal, a series of French officials softened their stand, saying that France was willing to supply the technology without restrictions.
Indeed, Paris has been treating the sale like a sporting event. The big contract means France is the winner. Explains the Times:
Since a low-key Christmas Eve announcement of a French sale of assault ships to Russia, high-level government deal makers have boasted about the multimillion-euro deal like it was a soccer game triumph. “France wins,” declares the Web site for the Élysée Palace.
Of course, the likelihood of Russian aggression is small and the Mistral sale alone won’t change Europe’s balance of power. But just what is NATO for if its members are arming the one country which it is directed against? The U.S. has better things to do with its manpower and money than defend nations which don’t believe they need defending.
Radley Balko writes that Tucker Carlson “is absolutely out of his mind” for saying Michael Vick “should have been executed” for killing dogs in heinously cruel ways. What really amazes Radley is that
not only hasn’t he walked the comment back, but The Daily Caller is promoting the clip on its front page. Which is to say that The Daily Caller is trumpeting the idea that its founder believes the government should kill a man because he was cruel to his animals.
Now, if Tucker is actually proposing death penalty legislation for dog-killers, then yes, that’s totally nuts. But I suspect his comment was more in the spirit of Bill Bennett’s infamous remark that it would be “morally plausible,” albeit difficult as a matter of law, to execute drug dealers. I have a very low opinion of the position that Bennett staked out there, because I think it was premised on a misunderstanding of what drugs do to the average user. (There was a myth in the 80s — which to a large extent still persists despite the best efforts of libertarian reformers — that one hit of crack would instantly turn an otherwise upstanding citizen into a hopeless addict with no free will.) But applying that sort of sentiment to what Vick did doesn’t strike me as completely insane; torturing dogs to death really does shock the conscience in a profound way that provokes a draconian instinct in many of us. Jonah Goldberg did a good job of explaining the philosophical underpinnings of that instinct in this 2007 column on Vick.
But I suspect the reason that the clip of Tucker’s comment is featured so prominently at the Daily Caller is not so much to underline a legal or moral point as to attract traffic and grab attention for a charitable cause that Tucker cares about. Notice that below the clip, the Caller features an ad for the Washington Animal Rescue League starring Tucker and Ana Marie Cox as the bipartisan odd couple for animal adoption. I visited WARL for the first time a few weeks ago when Tucker and Ana held a small reception there. A very nicely-furnished shelter that brings in animals — many of them mistreated — and gives them a new lease on life by training them to be suitable pets, it’s an institution that is very worthy of animal-lovers’ support. If Tucker is staking out a somewhat crazy position mainly to draw attention to WARL, he’s being (speaking of canids) crazy like a fox.
The internet is aglow with a report by the Associated Press claiming that Delaware GOP Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell is under federal investigation for improper use of campaign funds. The report is based on an anonymous source.
For her part, O’Donnell calls the report “phony.” However, POLITICO claims the story has been confirmed by “a top Delaware Republican.” It begs the question if this “top Delaware Republican” was a supporter of her GOP primary opponent Mike Castle.
Methinks this story has caught fire because there are certain people who want it to be true. But if it turns out that O’Donnell is not under federal investigation somehow I don’t think the mainstream media will report that development with quite the same enthusiasm and vigor.
But what if O’Donnell is, in fact, under federal investigation?
If O’Donnell is under federal investigation shouldn’t the FBI apprise O’Donnell before they tell the AP?
After all, these are serious allegations that are being leveled against O’Donnell. If she is under federal investigation she has the constitutional right to face her accusers and call their evidence into question. The onus is on the federal government to prove her guilt.
However, as far as the mainstream media goes, O’Donnell has already been tried and convicted.
It seems that The Village Voice has some fellow named Roy Edroso who monitors the conservative blogosphere for impure thoughts.
I know this because I have made his list of “The 10 Best Rightblogger Rants of 2010.” Yeah, yeah, I’m only tenth on the list. But hey, I made the team.
So what exactly did I do to make the cut? Was it my defense of Arizona’s immigration law? Is it because I believe The Tea Party isn’t racist? Or perhaps because I’m not a fan of the Ground Zero Mosque?
But alas none of these things qualified me for a spot on Edroso’s list. However, my commentary on the 2010 World Series between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants did.
“You’d think people who are always bitching about Political Correctness would know enough to leave politics out of sports. Alas, not even the October Classic is safe from their ministrations,” harrumphed Edroso. He goes on to write, “You can guess which Goldstein considered a suitable home for America’s team.”
Apparently, Edroso did not read my article from start to finish. For his edification, here is the concluding paragraph:
I really don’t have a dog in this fight. There are no Yankees to root against. So I’m happy if either team wins. The Rangers have never won a World Series and the Giants haven’t won since 1954 when they were still playing at the Polo Grounds. Rangers and Giants fans might not agree on much. But I think they can both agree that it is fun to watch their teams play in the World Series.
Not that I mind being Edroso’s list (even if I’m at the bottom of it). Where’s the fun if I can’t annoy liberals, socialists, communists and other assorted left-wing travelers?
Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) is already stirring up trouble. He says all major pieces of legislation should contain spending cuts.
“I think that every piece of major legislation that goes forward from now on needs to have attached to it spending cuts,” Paul said during a podcast with conservative blogger Ben Domenech. If Congress is serious about the nation’s ballooning debt and deficits, Paul said, “We have to be serious and introduce spending cuts.
“That’s one thing that I will do when I am there, is introduce it at every opportunity and we will have votes on it,” he said.
Harry Reid’s not going to like this.
According to this Associated Press report, we’re likely to see more contested GOP senatorial primaries in 2012 as Republicans smell blood in the water. One such race might be in Missouri, with Sarah Steelman facing off against former Sen. Jim Talent for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. But this bit about Virginia caught my eye. Like Talent, former Sen. George Allen is considering a rematch against the Democrat who unseated him but Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart might not give Allen a pass:
“Sen. Allen was a great governor of Virginia, he really was,” Stewart, a Republican, said on a local TV interview. “But his record in the United States Senate was mediocre. And I don’t think most people in Virginia think of him as a great United States senator. They think of him as a great governor.”
Things could get interesting.
The Philadelphia Eagles lose as Michael Vick’s footwork comes up short against a blitzing Minnesota Vikings defense.
What did I tell you?
That would explain the icy conditions over there.
But this headline — Europol Arrests More Than 100 In Carbon Trading Fraud — also leaves me wondering.
One would think that a certain beachfront-property owner — among his other dissonantly multiple carbon footpr…er, palatial…sigh, ‘residences’ — didn’t need any more bad headlines this month (what is it with December’s cruel treatment of the warming class?). But this one must have sent more shivers down his spine than the ongoing frigid ‘winter’ of the sort we were assured was relegated to the history books, before we were assured it was precisely what one should expect, even if no one did.
As I write in the Daily Caller about this inane talking point selected by Sen. John Kerry and the green groups to drive their agenda in 2011, that really depends on what the meaning of the word ‘it’ is…
Searching on Nexis, I found that John O’Sullivan column I mentioned in a post yesterday. I’ll reproduce some of it because I think O’Sullivan’s observations on Trent Lott are relevant to the controversy engulfing fellow Mississippian Haley Barbour:
In order to soothe the South into accepting the 1964 Civil Rights Act, such politicians had to treat their constituents not as bigots but as essentially good people open to change. They had to make occasional gestures of solidarity with the southern tradition by, for instance, praising Jefferson Davis or defending the Confederate flag. And they had to make speeches to bodies like the Citizens’ Councils.
But what did those speeches say? Nine times out of 10, especially behind closed doors, they went like this: “Look, boys, I know you all are decent folks. But we gotta admit we treated the Negroes badly, and there have to be changes. Some of those changes I don’t like any more than you. Others—let’s admit it—are long overdue. And all of them will help us attract new industries and make everybody better off. To make this work, though, we need responsible leadership. And that sure as hell doesn’t mean the northern Democrats.”
This kind of politics is messy, uninspiring and not particularly noble. It explains why a master of them, like Lott, strikes Charles Krauthammer, Andrew Sullivan, the National Review, and the high-minded philosophers in the Blogosphere as shifty, insincere and opportunist. But that is how democratic politics works when the voters are attached to institutions and traditions that have to be reformed half out of existence.
And they really did work. Yesterday’s South has been transformed into—well, a region much like the rest of America. Selma has an enterprising black mayor, and public schools and colleges are integrated.
At the time, I stood with the “high-minded philosophers of the Blogosphere” and advocated Trent Lott’s removal from the Senate Republican leadership. Then and now, I thought that a major party leader in the U.S. Senate ought to be able to come up with a more convincing disavowal of racial segregation than Lott was able to muster. But there is something to O’Sullivan’s account: while the civil-rights movement was the heroic catalyst of racial progress in America, there were others who played a more conflicted yet still important role in making that progress possible.
At Newsweek, Mickey Kaus suggests that if President Obama and liberal Democrats really want to address the problem of increasing income inequality, they should crack down on illegal immigration. Kaus points out that the worst feature of inequality is the concentration of poverty at the bottom, not runaway earnings at the top, and argues that accordingly stricter immigration laws are necessary to prevent Brazil-style social stratification in the U.S.:
If you’re worried about incomes at the bottom, though, one solution leaps out at you. It’s a solution that worked, at least in the late 1990s under Bill Clinton, when wages at the low end of the income ladder rose fairly dramatically. The solution is tight labor markets. Get employers bidding for scarce workers and you’ll see incomes rise across the board without the need for government aid programs or tax redistribution. A major enemy of tight labor markets at the bottom is also fairly clear: unchecked immigration by undocumented low-skilled workers. It’s hard for a day laborer to command $18 an hour in the market if there are illegals hanging out on the corner willing to work for $7. Even experts who claim illlegal immigration is good for Americans overall admit that it’s not good for Americans at the bottom. In other words, it’s not good for income equality.
I’d argue Obama’s main effort on immigration would, in fact, have made the inequality problem at the bottom worse. A “comprehensive” bill would almost certainly have attracted new illegals, but the efforts to stop them at the border might well have failed, as they failed after a similar 1986 bill. The result of that failure has been a looser labor market at the bottom. Lower unskilled wages. Even the emergence of favela-like shantytowns in California. You want Brazil? Obama’s 2009-2010 immigration plan would bring us Brazil. Obama was putting coalition politics—pleasing Latino voters, and especially Latino politicians—over economics, at least egalitarian economics.
I think that Kaus is absolutely right that less illegal immigration would entail less measured inequality. But that’s not the same as saying that it would solve the underlying problems with growing measured inequality in the U.S. There’s a big difference, as I argued in my magazine piece on inequality in the latest issue of the Spectator.
Is Jim Antle trying to say that President Obama’s advocacy for Michael Vick will dog the Eagles quarterback?
New York Times columnist John Tierney describes how he won a bet on the price of oil against a peak oil doomsayer. He followed in the footsteps of the “Cornucopian” economist Julian Simon, who famously won a bet that a basket of metals would be cheaper in 1990 than it was in 1980. The losers of that bet were the famous Mathlusian Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren, President Obama’s science czar. Tierney won his $5000 bet against Matthew Simmons, an energy investment banker, by relying on economic optimism and the price mechanism:
It’s true that the real price of oil is slightly higher now than it was in 2005, and it’s always possible that oil prices will spike again in the future. But the overall energy situation today looks a lot like a Cornucopian feast, as my colleagues Matt Wald and Cliff Krauss have recently reported. Giant new oil fields have been discovered off the coasts of Africa and Brazil. The new oil sands projects in Canada now supply more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia does. Oil production in the United States increased last year, and the Department of Energy projects further increases over the next two decades.
The really good news is the discovery of vast quantities of natural gas. It’s now selling for less than half of what it was five years ago. There’s so much available that the Energy Department is predicting low prices for gas and electricity for the next quarter-century. Lobbyists for wind farms, once again, have been telling Washington that the “sustainable energy” industry can’t sustain itself without further subsidies.
As gas replaces dirtier fossil fuels, the rise in greenhouse gas emissions will be tempered, according to the Department of Energy. It projects that no new coal power plants will be built, and that the level of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States will remain below the rate of 2005 for the next 15 years even if no new restrictions are imposed.
Maybe something unexpected will change these happy trends, but for now I’d say that Julian Simon’s advice remains as good as ever. You can always make news with doomsday predictions, but you can usually make money betting against them.
Surely they can’t be serious. Well, they are serious and don’t call them Shirley.
Well, perhaps it was their way of paying tribute to Leslie Nielsen.
I actually watched Airplane! on AMC yesterday. The perfect movie for a snow day in Boston.
The Pink Panther, The Exorcist, All The President’s Men, Saturday Night Fever, The Empire Strikes Back and Malcolm X were amongst the other films selected by the National Film Registry.
Personally, I would like to have seen The Blues Brothers added to the list. Besides having arguably the best car chase sequence ever captured on film (outside of Bullitt and The French Connection) how many films can boast the presence of John Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin? Almost all of them are gone and with Franklin’s recent surgery for pancreatic cancer who can tell if she has sung her last song? Still, rumors of the demise of The Queen of Soul have been greatly exxagerated. Yet all the more reason for the National Film Registry to consider honoring Jake and Elwood Blues and their musical inspirations at this time next year.
W.H. confirms Obama discussed Vick
HONOLULU - The White House confirmed Monday that President Barack Obama praised Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie for giving a second chance to quarterback Michael Vick, who played for the team after serving time in prison for running a dog-fighting ring.
“The president did place a call to Mr. Lurie to discuss plans for the use of alternative energy at Lincoln Financial Field, during which they spoke about that and other issues,” deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton said in a statement.
Whew. It wasn’t a presidential call to discuss free agency signings. But other things, too, like reminding them to make sure the press release said windmills, not solar panels, would now light up those night games. Thank goodness this master of prioritization’s hand guides the helm of our ship of state. He’s going to focus singularly on the economy, incidentally. Beginning sometime tomorrow. After a pivot to school uniforms for ex-cons earning Davis-Bacon wages to install stimulus-funded foreign-made wind-powered “energy of the future” (from the past) thingys. Important stuff.
I’d be worried that this was really true except it’s Peter King that broke the story.
Is Barack Obama trying to undermine Michael Vick’s quest to become NFL MVP by associating the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback with the president’s unpopularity?
Cuccinelli’s high-profile actions have included suing the EPA for planning to regulate greenhouse gases, subpoenaing UVA to investigate climate scientist Michael Mann for his role in the Climategate controversy, and arguing that state schools do not have the right to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Most importantly, of course, is his lawsuit that led to a Virginia district court judge ruling that the individual mandate that is a key part of Obamacare is illegal.
It’s interesting that the same headline-grabbing lawsuits and statements that made Cuccinelli a rock star among conservatives also made him an object of derision among mainstream liberals. For taking on climate scientists and university anti-discrimination polices as well as abortion clinics and the constitutionality of the health care bill, he was regarded as a harmless, if embarrassing, wingnut. At least he was, up until his health care lawsuit threatened the viability of President Obama’s signature legislative achievements.
It’s a sign of the disconnect between what Democrats on Capitol Hill think they can do to the public at large, and what the public thinks they should be allowed to do. Consider a quote that Time produces, just one of many such quotes from Cuccinelli that would seem outlandish to anyone who favored the health care bill:
The health care law, he said at a Sept. 12 Tea Party rally, is an affront to American liberty perpetrated by an Administration with less respect for the concept than King George had.
Pretty extreme, right? But then read Cuccinelli’s explanation:
“It’s not so much that they wanted to trample [the Constitution],” Cuccinelli says of the health care law’s backers. “It’s that they didn’t care.”
This is indisputable. Nancy Pelosi bore witness to Cuccinelli’s claim when she responded to a reporter’s question about the constitutionality of the individual mandate with “Are you serious? Are you serious?” So who’s more of a wingnut: the guy who pointed out that the Democrats didn’t care about the Constitution, or the Democrats who mocked him for it, right up until a federal judge sided with him?
Sometimes I feel a little guilty about my chosen profession. Wading through Christopher Beam’s long essay on libertarianism is one of those times. New York magazine gave him many words and who knows how many dollars to write an article that doesn’t say much more than: Libertarianism is a big deal because there is exactly one congressman and one senator who are libertarians, more or less. And because conservatives are talking about shrinking government while liberals are talking about not liking wars or civil liberties violations. And because of the Founding Fathers. And because Will Wilkinson has a blog.
But then what Beam giveth, Beam taketh away: Conservatives won’t really shrink the government. Lots of people tell pollsters they don’t mind being groped by the TSA. Some people at the Cato Institute didn’t like Will Wilkinson’s blog or Brink Lindsey’s book, and they don’t work there anymore. Pat Buchanan wrote a book critical of World War II. And, like, what would happen if all the people who could be on welfare can’t be taken care of by private charities?
To be fair, the piece does contain some discussion of libertarianism and its factions that might be news to readers of mainstream magazines like New York. Libertarians have had a hard time convincing the public they are right when confronted with some of the basic counterarguments Beam offers. Finally, I’m not a libertarian purist myself.
Yet somehow, I doubt New York would give me comparable space to write an essay critical of liberalism that amounted to little more than: Bernie Sanders is in the Senate. We have a national health care plan. Jane Hamsher has a blog. Gee whiz, what would happen if taxes got too high?
After his comments about Yazoo City’s White Citizens Council, Haley Barbour is probably done as a serious presidential contender. (Jennifer Rubin wonders if being on the cover of the Weekly Standard is to Republican presidential candidates as the Madden Curse is to professional football players.) While it’s far from the whole story, there’s more where that came from on the racial front and the baggage of being a lobbyist was going to be difficult enough to overcome all by itself.
But it’s worth noting that there is an element of truth to Barbour’s comments. There were many people in the South who weren’t sympathetic to integration — and were in fact sympathetic to white racism — who nevertheless made the success of the civil-rights movement possible by abjuring violence and extremism, marginalizing the Klan, and ultimately accepting the changes in the law and culture after they came to pass. Walter Russell Mead wrote about this in the Wall Street Journal shortly after the retirement of Jesse Helms:
Even as the passions of the civil-rights movement were at their height, Messrs. Helms and Thurmond (whose father was Ben Tillman’s lawyer) shunned violence. Without ever losing their credentials as hard-core defenders of Southern values, they hired African-American staffers and gave African-Americans the same level of constituency service they gave whites. Even their opposition to affirmative action is based on their claim that these principles violate what ought to be a color-blind stance on the part of the government.
That is something no white Southern politician, and especially one representing Mr. Helms’ core supporters of farmers and small-town whites, would have ever said before Jesse Helms came along. It is something they all say now.
Mr. Helms could have followed the Tillman path and led the white South into violent resistance; he also could have failed to carry his supporters with him into grudging acceptance of the new racial order. He disciplined and tamed the segregationist South even as he represented it to a hostile nation. We are all better off because he managed this difficult high-wire act.
John O’Sullivan made a similar argument in a column for the Chicago Sun-Times, unfortunately no longer online, when Trent Lott got himself in trouble at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. This isn’t to argue, as Barbour seemed (perhaps inadvertently) to suggest, that those who grudgingly accepted racial equality are somehow the real heroes of the civil-rights movement. But perhaps the country would be better off if we recognized their role in the New South instead of trying to recreate the divisions of the Old one.
Philip notes that the news reported by Robert Pear in the New York Times — that the Obama administration has issued a regulation affecting Medicare that will amount to the infamous “Death Panels” provision originally in the Democrats’ health care bill — is simply “the reality of what happens when government is involved in medical care — suddenly the state gains an interest in individual decisions.” Philip also explains that the regulation was devised by Donald Berwick, who has a “self-professed love of Britain’s health care system and fondness for rationing….”
For all the talk of Death Panels, the kind of end-of-life counseling and advance directives that were stripped from Obamacare and are now funded in this regulation are good and worthwhile ideas on their own, separate from the question of government involvement. They can help dying patients and their loved ones avoid unhelpful trauma at the end of their lives, and prevent unnecessary spending on procedures that won’t help ease patients’ pain or prolong their lives. Given that a huge percentage of Medicare spending goes toward treating people in their last months of life, Berwick is only smart to try to cut costs there without harming anyone.
The charge that Berwick’s regulation constitutes — or could lead to — Death Panels arises because, as Avik Roy explained in what I think was one of the best posts on health care of the past year, “if the government is funding health care, and simultaneously funding end-of-life counseling, the government has a conflict of interest.” In other words, someone has to make decisions about the trade-offs between humane, life-prolonging health care and its costs, but that person shouldn’t be paid by the government or advised by someone paid by the government if the government is footing the bills.
Berwick would probably shrug off such concerns by arguing that the conflict of interest wouldn’t matter, considering how Medicare is organized, and he might be right for the near future. But Roy demonstrates that conservatives’ concerns that such policies will ultimately lead to something resembling Death Panels are well-founded: that is already the case in the U.K.’s government-run health care system, as well as in the Veterans Administration’s (please read Roy’s post for detailed examples).
The most humane health care system in the world would be useless if it were unaffordable. Right now Medicare is unaffordable and unsustainable, so it’s only logical to try to cut costs where possible. For now, saving money in end-of-life care is humane, but it’s only likely that at some point it will lead toward Death Panels. That reality makes the case for replacing Obamacare with a more free-market, patient-centered plan stronger.
On Christmas Day, I commented on the demand of the Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister that Israel apologize to and compensate Turkey for the “raid” on the Mavi Marmara last May.
Well, in a TV interview broadcast in Israel today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his government will not apologize to Turkey.
Now that’s a leader with backbone.
Of course, if this incident had involved the United States, President Obama would have bowed before Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and apologized profusely. If only Obama were half the man Netanyahu is.
Jim Antle writes about the growing disaffection here in Massachusetts amongst conservatives with Scott Brown citing an article in the Boston Globe quoting Christen Varley, President of the Greater Boston Tea Party, who has raised the possibility of a GOP primary challenge in 2012. Over the past month, Brown has voted in favor of the tax cut compromise, for the repeal of DADT and for the START Treaty.
Antle nevertheless remains optimistic about Brown’s chances noting that he has time on his side. I can understand the rationale of lighting a fire under Brown’s feet. Nevertheless methinks a primary challenge to Brown is counterproductive. Consider what I wrote in July when conservative disenchantment began to surface:
Now, of course, Brown would have to win the 2012 Massachusetts Republican Primary. It is certainly possible that Tea Party activists could find a viable candidate to challenge Brown in the primary. Yet it could prove to be a poison pill. Unless Brown wins the primary in a landslide (as he did last year), a strong challenge to him could cause the kind of division amongst Republican ranks that might very well lead the people’s seat to fall back into Democratic hands. In this part of the country, those hands have a very tight grip.
Still, given the anti-incumbent sentiment that exists amongst the electorate, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Brown could lose the primary. But unless the person carrying the GOP banner is physically attractive, has beautiful adult daughters and drives a truck, don’t expect another Massachusetts miracle. Bay State Republicans could find a candidate more conservative than Brown, but if that candidate says or does anything that scares the daylights out of voters then it could become Deval Patrick’s seat.
But let me take a leap of faith here. Suppose the GOP primary challenger not only dislodges Brown but somehow beats Patrick (or whoever the Democratic nominee happens to be) in the 2012 senatorial race. Who is to say that new Massachusetts Republican senator won’t be susceptible to the same fallibility and folly?
Massachusetts Republicans and conservative activists should think about that long and hard before they organize an attempt to dislodge Brown.
The New York Times reports that the administration has brought back the end-of-life planning provision that triggered last year’s “death panel” debate. The measure allowed doctors to be paid for providing voluntary counseling to patients about deciding what kind of life-sustaining treatment they’d want if they were no longer in a condition to make decisions about their own care. As I wrote at that time, this is the reality of what happens when government is involved in medical care — suddenly the state gains an interest in individual decisions. And given that government at all levels is spending $1.1 trillion a year on health care, roughly half of which is federal Medicare spending, decisions about what they decide to pay and not pay for is going to have a major impact on medical care.
The Democrats’ dropped this provision in the Senate Finance Committee last summer because the “death panel” talk was generating too much negative attention to the then fledgling bill. But now, it’s back — and not surprisingly, it was revived by none other that Donald Berwick, the Medicare administrator who if you recall, was recess-appointed, because his self-professed love of Britain’s health care system and fondness for rationing made him unconfirmable. So though it isn’t a surprise, this news is it’s another example of how the Obama administration plans to achieve through regulation what it could not pass through legislation.
The Boston Globe reports on mounting conservative disaffection with onetime Tea Party favorite Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA):
“I think that there will be a primary challenge,” said Christen Varley, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party. “There’s enough of an underground movement in the Tea Party movement as seeing him as not being conservative enough. There probably will be multiple people who attempt to run against him.”
Varley said it is too early to name a possible opponent, and she acknowledged that Brown’s campaign war chest and statewide organization would probably be enough to fend off an opponent. But if Brown has to devote energy and resources to a primary campaign, it could put him at a greater disadvantage in a general election in which Democrats will be fighting hard to reclaim a seat they consider theirs.
I’ve written about this before. Nevertheless, Brown has several factors cutting in his favor: a $6.8 million warchest, a track record of winning elections, a statewide organization, a dearth of conservative leadership in Massachusetts from which to draw a viable primary challenger, and —- perhaps most importantly — almost two years with a more Republican Congress to get right with his base.
A new CNN poll shows that the public is still overwhelmingly opposed to ObamaCare. Yet when you break down the individual provisions, they hold views that are contradictory from a policy perspective. On the one hand, Americans oppose the mandate to purchase health insurance by a 60 percent to 38 percent margin, and yet by an even wider 64 percent to 35 percent margin, they favor preventing insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Regardless of political ideology, health care policy experts generally agree that you cannot force insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions if you aren’t requiring all people to purchase insurance — otherwise the market will break down.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online