Free Markets, Free People
Politico takes a look at the White House team in light of the recent revelations of a job offer to Joe Sestak to pull out of the PA Senate primary and now the emerging story about jobs that may have been offered to a Democratic candidate in Colorado to keep him out of a primary. Politico wonders how the crew which so deftly managed such a successful presidential campaign has lost their "golden touch".
Perhaps there never was a golden touch. Perhaps the inevitability of the win had little to do with their deft management. Perhaps it had more to do with historical timing and a historic first. That and an attractive candidate whose huge faults and thin resume were something people were obviously willing to overlook for the feel-good euphoria they got from him and his rhetoric.
Perhaps, as the Politico calls them, they always were always “one part Dick Daley, one part Barney Fife.”
It would explain their developing reputation as nothing more than machine Chicago pols. And their inability to spin and manage the multiple crisis enveloping the White House and the Obama presidency. It seems each and every day, events and actions by this group conspire to put the administrion in a bad light.
They undercut the Obama’s reputation on two fronts. Trying to put the fix in to deny Democratic voters the chance to choose for themselves who their Senate nominees should be is hardly consistent with the idea of “Yes we can” grassroots empowerment that is central to Obama’s brand. And bungling that fix is at odds with the Obama team’s image — built around the likes of Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Obama himself — as shrewd political operatives who know the game and always win it.
Democrats are now apparently complaining. They are of the opinion that the White House is unable to handle more than one major challenge at a time. And any student of the presidency knows that multiple challenges on a daily basis are the norm. Additionally, Obama’s recent forays into state races in support of Democratic candidates has been almost universally unsuccessful. Asks one Democrat:
“How one group of people can be so good at campaigning and so bad at politics?”
Answer? Experience. Campaigning, while it has multiple tasks, has only one goal. Obama has been campaigning his whole life. He knows how to do that. Governing has not only multiple tasks, but multiple challenges and goals. Obama has never run anything or governed anything. This is his first real job. That is the reason most rational people demand that those seeking high executive office have some experience somewhere in their life with the duties and responsibilities of an executive.
We’re now suffering the results of irrational thinking when it comes to electing a president. Timing and “historical moments”, coupled with good campaign theater should never replace the careful consideration of the bona fides of any candidate for office – even at the lowest level. But all too often it does, and, such as in this case, we suffer the consequences. The question, of course, is will we do what is necessary, as soon as possible, to correct the mistake? Or will we again be swept away by the hype and spin and glitz of the one thing this group seems to be able to manage?
That’s certainly what I take from a quote attributed to British scientist James Lovelock. Lovelock is the environmental scientist who developed the Gaia theory. Lovelock has finally concluded that for the most part humans simply aren’t bright enough to prevent climate change from impacting their lives.
But the biggest impediment, of course, is that pesky thing called “democracy”. What you and I would call freedom and liberty. Or as Lovelock would most likely term it, lack of a dictatorship and/or a version of war socialism:
One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is “modern democracy”, he added. “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”
That’s mostly because you rather dim humans aren’t buying into what he and the others are selling and we therefore need to have firmer measures enacted. Don’t get excited, it’s for your own good and we promise to return your freedom and liberty to you unchanged, undiminished and unlikely, er, complete. It’s just a temporary little thing, you know, until we get the climate back to where it should be, where ever that is and however long it takes us.
Hmmm … you know, now that I think of it, I have to ask: what is the ideal temperature for humans and “Gaia”, Dr. Lovelock? Seriously – what is the perfect temperature? And when you answer that, tell me when we’ve experienced that temperature as a constant, and how we managed to keep it that way previously? Because, unless I’m mistaken, the climate guys out there have been saying for years that the climate of the earth is in constant and eternal flux. So if you can indeed tell me the ideal temperature Dr. Lovelock (sounds like he ought to be making porn – and in some circles this contention of his that we must put democracy on hold is the moral equivalent of porn) has it been a constant or have we just been passing through that temperature for millennia as we go from natural cycles of warm periods and ice ages?
There are some amazing liberty averse agendas out there. It’s nice to see the green mask finally fully slipping away from the rather deep red face behind it on this particular one.
President Obama went after Washington lobbyists in a big way last night, blaming them for what ails America in a major portion of his State of the Union speech.
In his State of the Union on Wednesday, Obama once again targeted K Street: “We face a deficit of trust — deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap, we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue — to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve.”
But that was yesterday. Today his administration reached out to those same lobbyists to help pass Obama’s agenda:
A day after bashing lobbyists, President Barack Obama’s administration has invited K Street insiders to join private briefings on a range of topics addressed in Wednesday’s State of the Union.
The Treasury Department on Thursday morning invited selected individuals to “a series of conference calls with senior Obama administration officials to discuss key aspects of the State of the Union address.” …
The invitation stated, “The White House is encouraging you to participate in these calls and will have a question and answer session at the end of each call. As a reminder, these calls are not intended for press purposes.”
Like a secret mistress, K-Streeters are not exactly thrilled with Obama demonizing them in public and then requesting their expertise behind closed doors:
Some lobbyists say they are extremely frustrated with the White House for criticizing them and then seeking their feedback. Others note that Democrats on Capitol Hill constantly urge them to make political donations.
One lobbyist said, “Bash lobbyists, then reach out to us. Bash lobbyists [while] I have received four Democratic invitations for fundraisers.”
Lobbyists say the Obama White House has held many off-the-record teleconferences over the past year.
For example, lobbyists and others were invited to a teleconference with “senior Obama administration officials” on Monday to discuss the administration’s plan to improve the lives of middle-class families.
The invitation, which is addressed to “Friends,” emphasizes in bold and italics that “this call is for background information only and not intended for press purposes.” It advises callers to tell the operator “you’re joining the ‘White House Briefing Call.’ ”
Another lobbyist said these types of teleconferences occur “all the time.”
And that is why many on K Street are exasperated with Obama’s use of lobbyists as a punching bag. Some have said they understood why he used strong rhetoric on the campaign trail but are irritated the White House solicits their opinions while Obama’s friends in Congress badger them for political donations.
That politicians court special interests is nothing new, nor is their blatant prevarication and hypocrisy when it comes to claiming to “work for the people.” Yet publicly targeting specific groups for opprobrium in order to drum up public support, and then immediately running to that very same group for their help, is a whole special class of slimy. Who is it, exactly, that Obama thinks he’s backstabbing? The electorate? The lobbyists? Indeed, why should anyone trust him at all? And all of this in the name of transparency.
Judging by his actions, Obama thinks “transparency” means “clearly lying”.
Incredible projection on view in an article by George Monbiot today. If you’re not familiar with Monbiot, he’s been a leading supporter of AGW writing for the Guardian. And when Climaquiddick broke, he agreed that there was fire within the smoke and made the point that the damage to the AGW cause from the emails is real.
Today we see him trying mightily to erect a strawman and beat it to death. But he does that after again admitting the problem brought on by the emails but not quite as much as he has in the past. So here is his first of three apparent observations in the wake of the email disclosures:
When you survey the trail of wreckage left by the climate emails crisis, three things become clear. The first is the tendency of those who claim to be the champions of climate science to minimise their importance. Those who have most to lose if the science is wrong have perversely sought to justify the secretive and chummy ethos that some of the emails reveal. If science is not transparent and accountable, it’s not science.
I believe that all supporting data, codes and programmes should be made available as soon as an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal. That anyone should have to lodge a freedom of information request to obtain them is wrong. That the request should be turned down is worse. That a scientist suggests deleting material that might be covered by that request is unjustifiable. Everyone who values the scientific process should demand complete transparency, across all branches of science.
I agree completly with his first observation. It is “not science” (and because it has yet to be reproduced, it’s not a theory either) and since the public is funding it, it should – no must – all be out in the open. And that’s doubly true when the so-called “science” is going to be used to make public policy.
Great. Now we come to the strawman:
The second observation is the tendency of those who don’t give a fig about science to maximise their importance. The denial industry, which has no interest in establishing the truth about global warming, insists that these emails, which concern three or four scientists and just one or two lines of evidence, destroy the entire canon of climate science.
What “canon of climate science?” He admits that the data is unavailable and untested and that those supporting AGW have a tendency to minize the “wreckage”. Then he does exactly that. The person who obviously doesn’t “give a fig about science” is projecting that on those who are skeptical of the “science” – for the very reasons he previously gave. It’s a stunning few paragraphs.
In fact, the skeptics, like all good scientists, actually want to see the science upon which the assertions about climate change are based. You’d think that was the very “canon of science” every person would want to see upheld. His strawman – that skeptics don’t give a fig about the science – is in direct contradiction with the demand of skeptics – let us see the science.
Even if you were to exclude every line of evidence that could possibly be disputed – the proxy records, the computer models, the complex science of clouds and ocean currents – the evidence for man-made global warming would still be unequivocal. You can see it in the measured temperature record, which goes back to 1850; in the shrinkage of glaciers and the thinning of sea ice; in the responses of wild animals and plants and the rapidly changing crop zones.
But it is not unequivocal, as the disclosure of the emails proves. And there is much controversy concerning the cause of the shrinkage of glaciers and whether the amount of sea ice is declining or increasing. Just recently, one of the favorite AGW claims about the melting snow on Mt. Kilimanjaro has been declared not a result of global warming. And since the temperature data has been shown to have been fudged, that portion of it has never moved beyond hypothesis stage to that of a scientific theory via the scientific method.
And then there’s the bothersome fact that science has said that CO2 is a lagging indicator (by 800 years) and is an “effect” of warming, not a cause. Lastly there’s the exclusion of the sun, cosmic rays and solar wind from these supposedly infallible computer models that have been unable to duplicate the past and have been wrong about the present for at least 10 years. And I’m still waiting for someone to tell me what the earth’s optimum global temperature should be.
Monbiot’s final observation has to do with what he calls the denial industry. He classifies anyone who is “paid to say that man-made global warming isn’t happening.” He cites four cases where various entities with vested interests in seeing the status quo maintained have paid to have studies done that support their supposition.
Apparently irony free, Monbiot misses completely how the same effect has been achieved through public funding on the AGW side with grants going to those scientists who essentially support the premise of man-made global warming, and little if any money going to those who don’t.
He concludes by calling those who question the science and the cause stooges:
These people haven’t fooled themselves, but they might have fooled you. Who, among those of you who claim that climate scientists are liars and environmentalists are stooges, has thought it through for yourself?
I for one have done exactly that and continue to be very skeptical of the science and especially of the alarmist “industry”. If what Mr. Monbiot presents here is the best case for his side, then I can only say his case is weak and my skepticism is only deepened by it.
In a staggering blow to the credibility of the CRU at the University of East Anglia, the UK’s Met Office will re-examine 160 years worth of climate data in light of the scandal there. You can read about the Met Office here. They have been a very important and influential part of the man-made climate change cabal and are a government agency. They along with the Royal Society and the Natural Environmental Research Council issued a statement as recently as November 24th saying AGW was real and the scientific evidence for that hypothesis has actually “strengthened significantly”.
Now, apparently, it is concerned enough by what has been revealed through the released emails from the CRU to decide to review the entire 160 years of data upon which the hypothesis rests. The Times tells us:
The Met Office plans to re-examine 160 years of temperature data after admitting that public confidence in the science on man-made global warming has been shattered by leaked e-mails.
The new analysis of the data will take three years, meaning that the Met Office will not be able to state with absolute confidence the extent of the warming trend until the end of 2012.
The Met Office’s published data showing a warming trend draws heavily on CRU analysis. CRU supplied all the land temperature data to the Met Office, which added this to its own analysis of sea temperature data.
Why is this important?
The Met Office database is one of three main sources of temperature data analysis on which the UN’s main climate change science body relies for its assessment that global warming is a serious danger to the world. This assessment is the basis for next week’s climate change talks in Copenhagen aimed at cutting CO2 emissions.
Said another way, those in Copenhagen next week, will be making policy based on an assessment in which one of the providers of the data has no confidence.
And you’ll love this:
The Government is attempting to stop the Met Office from carrying out the re-examination, arguing that it would be seized upon by climate change sceptics.
Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ facts – our minds are made up. It’s much more important that we don’t give the skeptics ammo than actually settle the science. Talk about vested interests.
And, of course, there’s a bit of whistling past the graveyard:
The Met Office is confident that its analysis will eventually be shown to be correct. However, it says it wants to create a new and fully open method of analysing temperature data.
Couldn’t agree more on the “open method of analysing temperature data” – long, long overdue. And NASA needs to release their data as well and the sooner the better.
Meanwhile, even the IPCC has had to finally admit somethings actually going on which may have an effect on their findings:
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change admitted yesterday that it needed to consider the full implications of the e-mails and whether they cast doubt on any of the evidence for man-made global warming.
Here’s an idea – cancel Copenhagen until there’s some level of confidence that the “science” that undergirds the hypothesis claiming human activity is a main source for ongoing climate change is actually based in real, factual data before rushing into economy killing emissions controls.
Fat chance, I know – we’ll soon learn what the term “bureaucratic impetus” means, I’m afraid.
Iran, as we all know, is a theocracy. That means Islamic law and thus Islamic clerics, have great influence. One of the clerics which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly consults, has recently laid out the Iranian version of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. It is rather revealing, both about the mentality of those that we’re fighting (and make no mistake, we’re engaged in a war with Iran, even if only through surrogates) and the religion they claim.
It appears, at least in the version of Shi’a Islam this cleric claims, that the use of rape, torture and drugs are perfectly permissible for use against enemies of that state – after ritual washing and proper prayers, of course.
“Can an interrogator rape the prisoner in order to obtain a confession?” was the follow-up question posed to the Islamic cleric.
Mesbah-Yazdi answered: “The necessary precaution is for the interrogator to perform a ritual washing first and say prayers while raping the prisoner. If the prisoner is female, it is permissible to rape through the vagina or anus. It is better not to have a witness present. If it is a male prisoner, then it’s acceptable for someone else to watch while the rape is committed.”
Lovely – religiously sanctioned rape and sodomy. And, of course in the case of Iran, that means state sanctioned rape.
These questions were apparently raised after allegations of rape surfaced in connection with election protesters the regime had jailed. Oh, and you’ll love this little disclaimer:
This reply, and reports of the rape of teen male prisoners in Iranian jails, may have prompted the following question: “Is the rape of men and young boys considered sodomy?”
Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi: “No, because it is not consensual. Of course, if the prisoner is aroused and enjoys the rape, then caution must be taken not to repeat the rape.”
Because we certainly wouldn’t want anyone enjoying it – no word about what they’re supposed to do if the rapist enjoys it. Rinse and repeat, I suppose.
As for women?
A related issue, in the eyes of the questioners, was the rape of virgin female prisoners. In this instance, Mesbah-Yazdi went beyond the permissibility issue and described the Allah-sanctioned rewards accorded the rapist-in-the-name-of-Islam:
“If the judgment for the [female] prisoner is execution, then rape before execution brings the interrogator a spiritual reward equivalent to making the mandated Haj pilgrimage [to Mecca], but if there is no execution decreed, then the reward would be equivalent to making a pilgrimage to [the Shi'ite holy city of] Karbala.”
What a job description – a “rapist-in-the-name-of-Islam” who, while committing what any other civilized country would consider a heinous crime punishable by life behind bars is promised “Allah sanctioned” pilgrimage equivalents, depending on the status of his helpless prisoner. Always a nice bonus to get your Haj credits while performing such a valuable service for the state.
As we rip ourselves apart debating the cruelty of blowing second-hand cigar smoke in the face of a detainee caught trying to kill Americans, consider what our adversaries gladly reveal about their own moral code. That’s not to condone or rationalize torture by our side. It is instead to provide a reality check for those who need it.
Iranians love to tell the world how they are one of the world’s oldest civilizations and will expound at length about the contributions their civilization has made to the rest of the world. While it’s true that Persia has indeed make a number of outstanding contributions over the centuries, modern Iran is a religiously warped and perverted state which apparently regularly churns out religious leaders such as this whack job. The problem is he’s not hidden away in some mental hospital jibbering only to some health care professional who shakes his head in amazement before quietly closing the door of his cell and leaving him there alone until the next session.
Instead he’s an adviser to the President of the country and what he says is being acted upon throughout the prisons and jails of Iran. What a miserable, awful place. It is hard to imagine living in a country in which religious leaders not only condone but encourage and incentivize the behavior you read about above, isn’t it?
For you lovers of the state, this is a cautionary tale – anything can be made legal, as demonstrated above. And, as a wise man once said, “the state is coercion”. The combination, unfortunately, can, and does, bring exactly what Iran now suffers.
Eric Zorn does a little “what if” in the Chicago Trib, wondering if Ted Kennedy could have survived Chappaquiddick in today’s news environment.
If we’d had insatiable 24/7 cable news networks in July 1969, the accident on Chappaquiddick Island in which a passenger in a car driven by Sen. Edward Kennedy drowned would likely have dominated the national consciousness for months.
Zorn then proceeds from the premise that Kennedy’s life and work after that event make the point that it is a good thing we didn’t have the 24/7 news cycle because we’d have lost a giant among legislators.
Of course, you have to accept his premise that Kennedy’s life and work after Chappaquiddick were worthwhile to sign on to the premise. I, for one, don’t.
I mean this is a guy who, as he schemed to figure out a way to become president, tried to make a deal with the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Yuri Andropov, to undermine Ronald Reagan and gain politically.
So there are probably just as many out here who might have welcomed such coverage if it had had the desired effect of running Kennedy out of public life.
“Politically, Kennedy wouldn’t have survived that kind of media bombardment,” said Bruce DuMont, president of Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications and host of “Beyond the Beltway,” a national weekly talk-radio show. “It wouldn’t have just been a spotlight, it would have been a heat lamp. On him, on all the investigators, on everyone connected to the story.
The cable networks turned Scott and Laci Peterson into household names, DuMont said. “Just think what they would have done with Ted and Mary Jo. Remember all the coverage they gave to the  plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr.? Multiply that by 10.”
Two things argue against this scenario. One – Scott and Laci Peterson didn’t have the upper hand with an adoring media. The Kennedys have always seemed larger than life because the media made them that way. One also has to remember the media of the time knowingly covered up brother Jack’s infidelity. 24/7 news coverage or not, that same sort of mentality was at work with any Kennedy. Expecting a critical look at this particular event is simply not something one can assume – especially given the fact that it never really got it at the time.
Two – Ted Kennedy was shameless. There was nothing that would run him out of public life, to include his cowardly act which led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Had it been otherwise, the facts surrounding the incident at Chappaquiddick and the amount of coverage it did receive should have been sufficient to do what Zorn claims only 24/7 coverage would have accomplished now. But Kennedy waved it off, ignored it and plowed on.
So while I find Zorn’s point about today’s news cycle (and talk radio) to be interesting, I also find it to be a flawed rationalization for keeping certain bad actors in place supposing that some will become “Ted Kennedys” if we don’t run them off. In fact, he says as much:
Or, as I believe, is the nation — particularly our disabled and disadvantaged residents — better off for the 40 years of service he was able to render after that terrible night?
The momentary satisfaction of destroying Ted Kennedy for his failings would have had a significant price. Something to keep in mind when the next fallen figure, Democrat or Republican, stumbles into the heat lamp.
Zorn’s argument is that justice delayed or belayed might turn out for the better in some cases. That’s an incredibly silly notion. And again you have to agree with the premise that Kennedy’s “40 years of service” were worth Kopechne’s life. Zorn is arguing it is. And he’s not the only one.
Joyce Carol Oates attempts to push the very same premise under a different guise:
His tireless advocacy of civil rights, rights for disabled Americans, health care, voting reform, his courageous vote against the Iraq war (when numerous Democrats including Hillary Clinton voted for it) suggest that there are not only “second acts” in American lives, but that the Renaissance concept of the “fortunate fall” may be relevant here….Yet if one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?
One is to think that there isn’t equal justice for all, that some are more privileged and apparently valuable than others. And certainly any future accomplishments, if good, are simply pure luck, even if you agree they’re “good” . We have no way to look into the future and decide that someone will contribute to society in a grand way.
But we can look into the the interior of a ’67 Oldsmobile, see a woman left to drown through the sheer cowardice of the driver who was more concerned about his political career than her life, and draw certain conclusions then.
To some, such as Zorn and Oates, they see a redeemed person who did well with the second chance. Others, such as myself, see such thinking as rationalization for making an exception of Kennedy where they wouldn’t make one for anyone else (despite the lip service). “Second acts” or second chances, where I come from, occur after a price has been paid for the act in question. Kennedy never paid that price.
What Zorn and Oates are really saying here is since it turned out well in their opinion, the ends justify the means. As I see it that’s not justice, it’s elitism on steroids.
Dave Schuler, via Cassandra, provides the best counter to the emerging argument on the left meant to reframe the health care debate. That of a supposed “moral obligation” to provide it through government.
As I’ve said before, I don’t believe that there’s a right to healthcare nor have I seen a coherent argument made that it is, merely a claim. However, bear with me.
Is it possible to make a coherent argument that government-provided healthcare is a moral obligation but that our obligation doesn’t extend to people in Zambia? I don’t think it is but I’m willing to listen to the arguments.
As am I. Because what Schuler lays out there in question form is the logical extension of such a “moral obligation”. It is either a universal one (government has the obligation to provide health care to everyone), or it is no moral obligation at all – just another bit of cheap political rhetoric designed to appeal to your emotions.
And that brings me to the attempt this past week by Obama to enlist religious leaders into his campaign by claiming such a moral obligation (MichaelW has written about it here) and framing it in such a way that the inevitable “What Would Jesus Do” questions emerge.
Well, quite frankly, Jesus wouldn’t say anything about the state, much less anything about the state providing aid and comfort to the people. As is clear to even those with just a passing familiarity with Jesus’s ministry he implored individuals to care for their friends, neighbors and even strangers in need.
But the state was never a part of his ministry or his exhortations to help the poor. In fact he made a distinct separation between the two noting that the state was of this world and his ministry was of the divine.
Ironically, if George Bush had said some were out there were “bearing false witness”, or called his effort “40 days to health care reform”, or had told religious leaders that he felt that it was a “moral obligation” to provide health care (through government) the left would have exploded. We’d have seen references to separation of church and state and claims we were headed into a “theocracy” from the usual suspects.
Yet so desperate is the left right now to push government run health care that even the sort of appeal for religious support that would have initiated a veritable feeding frenzy with the anti-Christian zealots among them has solicited barely a whisper of dissent.
In a free country if you feel you have a moral obligation to provide health care to others, no one will stop you from acting to provide it. However, in a free country, no one will force you to act on what they arbitrarily choose to define as a “moral obligation” and with which you don’t agree.
I have not posted much lately. Busy. Very busy. I don’t see how McQ does it. He’s a machine.
But I have been paying attention, and I must say Obama is as amusing during his first six months as I had hoped, and maybe more. Here’s a brief summary of where he’s at as far as I’m concerned, categorized into various types of success and failures on the political front.
One of the reasons we’ve reached a tipping point between freedom and welfare statism is because much of the country pays no taxes and increasingly the burden of taxes is being shifted to a smaller and smaller percentage of the population. Now I’m not a tax advocate by any stretch. But it is obvious we’re not going to be able to avoid them, especially with this new crowd in town who wants to tax just about everything.
But back to the point – if you’re not paying taxes, but the government is taxing others to your benefit, why wouldn’t you want more stuff? Oh I know the moral argument and I agree with it. What I’m describing is a dynamic which plays on human greed. It’s funny, we hear politicians talk about the “greed” of Wall Street, or the “greed” of big oil or the “greed” of big pharma.
But what is never discussed is the “greed” of those who don’t pay taxes but demand more benefits paid for by others. Or how politicians have “incentivized” that greed.
How ridiculous has it gotten?
Yes, that’s right – the top 1% pay more taxes than the bottom 95%. And the plan is to have them pay even more as this health care boondoggle comes on line.
So the next time you hear your favorite “progressive” begin their “greed” or “fairness” nonsense, show them this chart. If that doesn’t shut them up, nothing will.