It sounds innocuous enough – at least in the broad language used below. I’m talking about Sen. Boxer’s promised push to move “global warming” legislation through Congress within weeks (or, per Boxer, no later than the end of the year):
Boxer’s principles for global warming legislation aim for a law that would:
– set “certain and enforceable” short and long-term emissions targets;
– ensure state and local entities keep working to address global warming;
– establish a market-based system that cuts carbon emissions;
– use revenues from this carbon market to help consumers make the transition to clean energy and invest in new technology and efficiency measures;
– ensure a level global playing field with incentives for polluting countries to give their share to the international effort to curb climate change.
These goals won quick applause from environmental and conservation groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Environment America and Environmental Defense Fund.
Well of course those groups applauded the list. They’ve been beating the AGW drum for years. And it occurs to me that one of the reasons Boxer is working so hard to move this into the legislative hopper as quickly as possible because the skeptic’s voices are becoming increasingly heard.
Like anything else, there’s a window for legislation and I think Boxer sees that window starting to close. The information countering the AGW nonsense is starting to build momentum. Boxer understands that at some point there will be a tipping point. Already polls have flipped and for the first time more believe the climate change we’re undergoing is the result of natural cycles and not man-made emissions.
If that gap continues to widen, and I believe it will, plus the cost to do what Boxer and the Democrats want to do is given more visibility, the opportunity to pass such legislation will wane (just as we see support for the present stimulus bill withering as more and more information about it becomes available).
Boxer and the Democrats hope to strike while the iron is hot – no pun intended.
Hope and change.
It sure has been getting low-key coverage in the MSM, but it appears the election in Iraq went off very well and is producing some surprising and, frankly, good results.
14,400 candidates stood for office. Unlike 2005, when 200 candidates were killed prior to the election, this time 8 were lost. 14 of the 18 provinces were included (Kurdistan’s provinces are having separate elections) and while turnout was considered to be low (51%), Sunnis participated en mass for the first time. William Shawcross describes the results:
All the Islamic parties lost ground, especially that associated with the so-called “Shia firebrand”, Moqtada al-Sadr, whose share of the vote went down from 11% to 3%. The principal Sunni Islamic party, the Islamic Party of Iraq, was wiped out.
The only Islamic party to gain ground was the Dawa party of the Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki – and even that party dropped the word Islamic from its name. The power of Maliki, who has emerged a stronger leader than expected, is further enhanced by these elections. Now no Islamic parties will be able to control any provinces on their own. The election is thus a big defeat for Iran which had hoped that Shia religious parties would control the south and enable Iran to turn them into a mini Shia republic.
I know this has some of you gasping for breath out there. We were assured by none other than the great Juan Cole and his fellow travelers that Iran was in total control of the Iraqi governmental apparatus and would quickly turn into what Shawcross characterizes as a “mini-Shia republic”.
Yet it appears that the Iraqi public are rejecting the concept of a theocracy in favor of a more secular government. And that, of course is a de facto rejection of Iran.
Obviously Iraq still has a long way to go, but it is hard to deny the amount of progress that has been made. Except for the dead-enders who’ve vested so much into this being the “worst foreign policy disaster in US history”, it is looking pretty darn good in Iraq.
USMC Maj Gen John F. Kelly gives you an indication of the level of change that has taken place in previously violent Anbar province:
Something didn’t happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today. Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy.
What did happen was Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives.
One of the things I’ve always said was that we came here to “give” them democracy. Even in the dark days my only consolation was that it was about freedom and democracy. After what I saw today, and having forgotten our own history and revolution, this was arrogance. People are not given freedom and democracy – they take it for themselves. The Anbaris deserve this credit.
Today I step down as the dictator, albeit benevolent, of Anbar Province. Today the Anbaris took it from me. I am ecstatic. It was a privilege to be part of it, to have somehow in a small way to have helped make it happen.
There will be further setbacks. But who knows, Iraq may yet even become a model for democratic change in other Arab countries. If so, who deserves some credit? The much maligned President Bush. And Tony Blair.
Now that’s real hope and change.
The Pentagon, unsurprisingly, has completed a study in which it concludes that the US should lower its expectations in Afghanistan:
A classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasizing democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has seen the report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it has not yet been presented to the White House, officials said Tuesday. The recommendations are one element of a broad policy reassessment under way along with recommendations to be considered by the White House from the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, and other military leaders.
[T]he plan calls for a more narrowly focused effort to root out militant strongholds along the Pakistani border and inside the neighboring country, according to officials who confirmed the essence of the report.
In other words, the military is saying “let us do what we’re good at – killing bad guys.”
Let’s face it, nation building requires the intense participation of the State Department in addition to the military, and during the Bush years, State showed no stomach for that sort of work in Iraq. Under the Obama administration – and the Clinton State Department – the desire to participate will be even less.
And while only a fool would argue that the establishment of a democracy in Afghanistan would be the best case for the US (and the world), at this time, it may not be an attainable goal.
So the Pentagon, reading the hand-writing on the wall, is saying let’s go kinetic and forget about trying to establish another democracy – Afghanistan is just not worth the blood and treasure at this time.
Interestingly, that’s also the conclusion Michael Yon has reached a similar conclusion (via email):
My humble recommendation is to downgrade all expectations for Afghanistan. Treat the patient as best we can, and concern ourselves with more important matters while striving not to allow Afghanistan to again become a launching pad for international terror. President Obama should not stake our national reputation on the idea that we will achieve our current more ambitious goals. Decrease expectations, and work on more important matters such as the world economy and other more serious military threats. Afghanistan is not worth so much effort when most of NATO has no heart and is virtually worthless. Eventually we’ll likely end up alone, or mostly alone, holding the bag, while Europe goes home to its wine and beer.
Given the lack of progress with nation building and NATO’s intransigence, I’m beginning to think this approach may be the most rational way to proceed in Afghanistan.
That would be Robert Gibbs, Presidential spokesman for the Obama administration. He’s discovering that “just words” aren’t good enough anymore. For instance:
Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday, “The bar that we set is the highest that any administration in the country has ever set.”
Here’s a clue, Mr. Gibbs – unless you clear the bar it really doesn’t matter how high you set it. Setting the bar at 10′ but only being able to reach 6′ doesn’t really impress anyone.
Oh, and this is classic:
He also said those experts recognized that Obama would need to make exceptions to his pledge to run an administration free of former lobbyists.
As Maxwell Smart would say, Ah, the old “experts say” ploy. Yeah, that excuses absolute pledges doesn’t it?
It is “put up or shut up” time, Mr. Gibbs. You don’t get to promise anymore. You have to perform. You don’t get to tell us what you’re going to do, now you have to do it.
And in the face of Geithner, Holder, Dashle, Killefer, and all the lobbyists for which the administration has made exceptions, the bar doesn’t look very high from out here in flyover land. And you’re still far from getting over it.
Hope and change.
Of course “Dear Leader” and the boys also call the missile the Taepodong-2 and it is supposedly capable of reaching the US (Alaska or Hawaii – and no Sarah Palin can’t see NoKo from Alaska). But as the title indicates, there’s little doubt about why it is to be launched:
The apparent preparations for a launch, which are easily discernible by spy satellites, may be intended by the government as a way of asserting itself as it prepares to resume nuclear disarmament negotiations with the new US government of Barack Obama.
Dear Leader knows all about political brinksmanship and he wants to see how the Obama administration reacts to him and his machinations. This is all a pretty normal course of events in international relations. If there’s a new guy, the usual suspects try to test him to see what they can get away with. And, if he blinks, well, the full court press will be on.
One of the strengths of our American democracy, of course, is we don’t have a “Dear Leader” problem here. Nope, sure don’t. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Hope and change.
Far be it for me to advocate anything to do with the travesty of taxation that takes place in this country right now, but it sure is becoming clear why most Democrats have no problem with tax increases.
Tom Daschle, under increasing fire for his tax problems (i.e. not paying them) has reportedly withdrawn his name from consideration for HHS Secretary. Take a deep breath America – that’s good news.
Its early so it isn’t clear if he was warned off by Senate colleagues, asked to do so by the Obama administration (although that seems less likely given Obama’s endorsement yesterday) or had a fit of ethical conscience and did it himself. Whatever the reason, I’m happy about it.
Oh, and another Obama appointee has also withdrawn from consideration with tax problems:
Nancy Killefer, the management consultant and former Treasury official who had been picked by President Obama to serve as the country’s chief performance officer, has withdrawn from consideration for the post, White House officials confirmed this morning.
In a two-paragraph resignation letter, Killefer indicated that controversy over failure to pay taxes by two other high-profile nominees of Obama’s had convinced her to decline the new president’s request to join his administration. Shortly after her appointment, the Associated Press reported that Killefer had a tax lien placed on her house by the D.C. government because she had not paid unemployment taxes for her household help.
Killefer at least had the good grace to step aside before it got to the Daschle stage.
That Obama administration vetting process? Awesome, no?
Hope and change.
[HT: Scott Jacobs]
You have got to love the tip-toeing the NYT’s Peter Baker does as he “gently” chastises and then excuses the Obama administration’s ethical lapses:
During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a “new era of responsibility.” What he did not talk much about were the asterisks. The exceptions that went unmentioned now include a pair of cabinet nominees who did not pay all of their taxes. Then there is the lobbyist for a military contractor who is now slated to become the No. 2 official in the Pentagon. And there are the others brought into government from the influence industry even if not formally registered as lobbyists.
In fact, as India Daily tells us, the count is 17 lobbyists who’ve needed exceptions to serve, to include the number 2 in the Treasury Department.
But the episode has already shown how, when faced with the perennial clash between campaign rhetoric and Washington reality, Mr. Obama has proved willing to compromise.
Compromise? This isn’t compromise, this is capitulation. And it is sounding more and more like a – dare I say it – lie. Some will try to excuse all of this as naiveté. Really? Is that what you want to be saying about a politician in the most powerful office in the world? That he’s naive? Just who you need in office when staring very complicated foreign policy in the face, isn’t it? I would assume that these decisions about who Mr. Obama would name to his administration began well before he was elected. One also assumes, like the number 2 at Defense, that the names and background of those he planned on choosing were known. So you then have to conclude that he may had no intention of living up to the promises he was making. Thankfully, there are some who will continue to call his hand on this, even if the MSM wont:
And so in these opening days of the administration, the Obama team finds itself being criticized by bloggers on the left and the right, mocked by television comics and questioned by reporters about whether Mr. Obama is really changing the way Washington works or just changing which political party works it.
Obviously it is the latter. For heaven sake, this is the Clinton administration reborn and ethics wasn’t what it was known for at all. Because Obama set the bar so high and because he claimed that his rhetoric wasn’t ‘just words’, the expectation that he’s a “different” politician who would change the way Washington does business remains a very imporant part of his appeal. But so far, not so good:
“This is a big problem for Obama, especially because it was such a major, major promise,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “He harped on it, time after time, and he created a sense of expectation around the country. This is exactly why people are skeptical of politicians, because change we can believe in is not the same thing as business as usual.”
And so far, other than a few bones to supporters, this administration is shaping up as a “business as usual” administration. One thing Obama could do to help save the day is something he was quite good at doing on the campaign trail – throw Daschle under the bus. I don’t think that will happen, and the fact that it most likely won’t is perhaps the most telling thing of all.
Hope and change.
Newmark’s Door tells us that J. Scott Armstrong, a noted professor of marketing at Wharton, has taken a look at the “global warming models” and come to some conclusions:
We have concluded that the forecasting process reported on by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lacks a scientific basis.
1. No scientific forecasts of the changes in the Earth’s climate. Currently, the only forecasts are those based on the opinions of some scientists. Computer modeling was used to create scenarios (i.e., stories) to represent the scientists’ opinions about what might happen. The models were not intended as forecasting models (Trenberth 2007) and they have not been validated for that purpose. Since the publication of our paper, no one has provided evidence to refute our claim that there are no scientific forecasts to support global warming.
We conducted an audit of the procedures described in the IPCC report and found that they clearly violated 72 scientific principles of forecasting (Green and Armstrong 2008). (No justification was provided for any of these violations.) For important forecasts, we can see no reason why any principle should be violated. We draw analogies to flying an aircraft or building a bridge or performing heart surgery—given the potential cost of errors, it is not permissible to violate principles.
2. Improper peer review process. To our knowledge, papers claiming to forecast global warming have not been subject to peer review by experts in scientific forecasting. . . .
5. Forecasts are needed of the costs and benefits of alternative actions that might be taken to combat climate change. Assuming that climate change could be accurately forecast, it would be necessary to forecast the costs and benefits of actions taken to reduce harmful effects, and to compare the net benefit with other feasible policies including taking no action. Here again we have been unable to find any scientific forecasts despite our appeals for such studies.
Speaking of the peer review process, Warren Meyer at the ever readable Coyote Blog reminds us that, in fact, “peer review” has a fairly narrow function, and not the power most would like to give it.
Jennifer Marohasy posts:
Last Friday there was an article in one of the most read science journals, Science, entitled “Galloping Glaciers of Greenland have Reined Themselves In” by Richard A. Kerr.
Yes, as the title suggests, the article explains that a wide-ranging survey of glacier conditions across south eastern Greenland, indicates that glacier melt has slowed significantly and that it would be wrong to attribute the higher rates of melt prior to 2005 to global warming or to extrapolate the higher melt rates of a few years ago into the future.
She further reports that for some reason, the MSM just hasn’t managed to pick up on this story.
That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who has followed the AGW issue from its beginning. The MSM has been one of its chief enablers. And it appears that the BBC has given up all semblance of impartiality in its coverage of AGW:
Londoners might have been startled last Monday to see a giant mock-up of a polar bear on an iceberg, floating on the Thames outside the Palace of Westminster. They might not have been so surprised to learn, first, that this was a global warming propaganda stunt and, second, that the television company behind it is part-owned by the BBC.
And finally, Czech President Vaclav Klaus fired at Al Gore again:
“I don’t think that there is any global warming,” said the 67-year-old liberal, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. “I don’t see the statistical data for that.”
Referring to the former US vice president, who attended Davos this year, he added: “I’m very sorry that some people like Al Gore are not ready to listen to the competing theories. I do listen to them.
“Environmentalism and the global warming alarmism is challenging our freedom. Al Gore is an important person in this movement.”
Klaus was speaking at the World Economic Forum and said that he was more concerned about the planned actions to combat the so-called problem than the consequences.
The key phrase is “as written”.
The NY Post notes:
Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.
The very heart of the widely applauded Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is a cap on the amount of federal cash that can be sent to states each year for welfare payments.
But, thanks to the simple phrase slipped into the legislation, the new “stimulus” bill abolishes the limits on the amount of federal money for the so-called Emergency Fund, which ships welfare cash to states.
“Out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, there are appropriated such sums as are necessary for payment to the Emergency Fund,” Democrats wrote in Section 2101 on Page 354 of the $819 billion bill. In other words, the only limit on welfare payments would be the Treasury itself.
“This re-establishes the welfare state and creates dependency all over the place,” said one startled budget analyst after reading the line.
So the limits on welfare payments, written into law when welfare was reformed, would be lifted. Welfare reform, widely panned when it was first passed, has been very successful in cutting dependency on tax payer dollars. Now, without any need evident, Democrats are attempting to reinstate welfare as we once knew and hated it.
And that means the obvious – more dependency and more government to administer it. It also will mean more taxes.
Then there’s the “Buy American” clause in the stimulus bill. It would require government to be restricted to goods and services produced by US companies.
Of course that sounds just peachy keen when you first hear it. Our government should buy from American firms if it can. But only if they provide the best services/products at the best price.
But that’s not what is being required. And to the rest of the world, that means protectionism. We don’t take very kindly to protectionism when others do it, so we shouldn’t be particularly surprised when they aren’t any more happy about it than we are.
So the obvious reaction by the rest of the world would most likely be to reciprocate in kind. We would see the same sorts of provisions pop up in countries we trade with.
And not as obvious is the fact that it will end up making the American goods the government is required to buy even more expensive than now.
Protectionism imposes large-scale structural sectoral dislocation, as exporters are ejected from their foreign markets and domestic producers that depend on cheap imported imports suddenly find themselves to no longer be competitive, on top of the global effective demand failure we are already suffering from.
This isn’t progress “as written”. For such a “progressive” administration, it is a return to the 20th century, and in the case of trade, the 19th century.
Hope and change.