November 28, 2010

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Marty Peretz takes Jimmy Carter to task.

The former president has been gulled once again, this time by the Communist regime in North Korea, a very brutal system of control, indeed. It’s not the first time that the Kim dynasty has taken him in. But it is the ex-president at his most outlandishly doltish.

Take the column Carter published this week in the Washington Post. It argues the good intentions of the dictatorship with regard to nuclear weapons. But it does so only by assertion and reassertion.

“This past July I was invited to return to Pyongyang to secure the release of an American, Aijalon Gomes, with the proviso that my visit would last long enough for substantive talks with top North Korean officials. They spelled out in detail their desire to develop a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a permanent cease-fire, based on the 1994 agreements and the terms adopted by the six powers in September 2005. With no authority to mediate any disputes, I relayed this message to the State Department and White House. Chinese leaders indicated support of this bilateral discussion. …”

This is not the first time that someone so significant has argued the good intentions of a Marxist tyranny. More than six decades ago, Henry Wallace, who was dumped from the vice presidency by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, went on a rampage of support for the Soviet Union. After all, Wallace argued, the Red Kremlin had been pushed by the aggressive policies of the United States and its allies. …


In the Corner, Veronique de Rugy has a deficit graph that’s worth looking over.

Richard Epstein explains one way in which Obamacare gives inappropriate power to bureaucrats.

…Since the politicos miscalculated the regulatory burdens, they have to brace for the real possibility that some health care plans will collapse under the strain.  Starting in late September, reality hit home when McDonald’s announced that it would have cut out its “mini-med” program for about 30,000 of its low-paid workers. It insisted that it could not meet the statutory requirements for the simple reason that high employee turnover raises administrative costs.

Rather than face this public relations disaster, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, granted a one-year waiver from the requirements of the program.  That particular result does not stand alone.  Since that time fresh waivers have been routinely dispensed by the Department of Health and Human Services to many other organizations, including many powerful unions. At least one million workers are now out from under ObamaCare, with more to come.

The process vividly shows how unrealistic expectations can undermine the rule of law.  Waivers are by definition an exercise of administrative discretion that benefits the party who receives its special dispensation.  Yet nothing in ObamaCare explains who should receive these waivers or why.

The dangers from this uncertainty are enormous. Make no mistake about it, a waiver gives the favored organization a competitive advantage over its rivals. But it is not only one applicant that pulls out all the stops.  Its competitors often follow suit while simultaneously trying to block the waiver for the original applicant.  Administrative expertise quickly takes a back seat to old-fashioned political muscle and intrigue. …


George Will profiles California Congressman Kevin McCarthy.

…The reason Republicans think winning the presidency in 2012 is essential to fulfilling the promise of 2010 is that Barack Obama, former paladin of change, will veto change. So McCarthy understands that, pending a Republican president, much of Republican governance must occur down in the weeds of government – in the Federal Register, the record of the regulations by which the executive branch exercises its will without much congressional supervision or circumscription.

But looking up from the weeds at the clouds, McCarthy has a dismaying desire to bring a “futurist” to speak to the Republican caucus each week. This betrays an unconservative faith in prophets – pursuing prophecy is a recipe for forfeiting the present – and is a depressing reminder of Speaker Newt Gingrich’s swoon about Alvin Toffler’s books “Future Shock” and “The Third Wave.” Gingrich said of himself, oxymoronically, “I am a conservative futurist.” Fascination with clairvoyants is, however, symptomatic of an unconservative hankering to surf supposed “waves” of history and to put government in the service of, and society in harness to, Big Ideas.

…The biggest threat to Republicans, who are currently flushed with victory, is, McCarthy thinks, the delusion that “they won the election. They didn’t win anything.” Rather, Democrats got themselves fired. McCarthy is too polite to say that the Democrats were terminated because they, like the president, misread the 2008 elections as much more than the electorate’s pink slip for Republicans who were spendthrifts at home and blunderers abroad. …


Michael Barone looks at election demographics.

Some reflections on the revolution of 2010, based on extended examination of the election returns.

Gentry liberals: The tsunami swept from the George Washington Bridge to the Donner Pass, but didn’t wash away affluent liberals to the east and west of these geographic markers. Also surviving were the cannibals — the public employee unions that are threatening to bankrupt states like California and New York, a prospect that doesn’t faze the left-leaning gentry. In these areas Republicans picked up one House seat anchored in Staten Island, two in New Hampshire and one in Washington state, and they came close in two California districts wholly or partly in the Central Valley. Gentry liberal territory stayed staunchly Democratic. …

…Germano-Scandinavian America: …Republican gains in state legislatures were even more impressive. They will control the redistricting process in four of the five states in this region. The exception is Illinois, where Rod Blagojevich’s successor as governor, Pat Quinn, held on by a few thousand votes — helped perhaps by the refusal of some Democratic county clerks not to send out military ballots in the time required by federal law. They did manage to send unrequested ballots to inmates of the Cook County Jail, though. …


In Slate, Kate Roiphe ponders the current parenthood paradigm.

Last year, a friend of mine sent a shipment of green rubber flooring, at great impractical expense, to a villa in the south of France because she was worried that over the summer holiday her toddler would fall on the stone floor. Generations of French children may have made their way safely to adulthood, walking and falling and playing and dreaming on these very same stone floors, but that did not deter her in her determination to be safe. This was, I think, an extreme articulation of our generation’s common fantasy: that we can control and perfect our children’s environment. And lurking somewhere behind this strange and hopeless desire to create a perfect environment lies the even stranger and more hopeless idea of creating the perfect child.

Of course, for most of us, this perfect, safe, perpetually educational environment is unobtainable; an ineffable dream we can browse through in Dwell, or some other beautiful magazine, with the starkly perfect Oeuf toddler bed, the spotless nursery. Most of us do not raise our children amidst a sea of lovely and instructive wooden toys and soft cushiony rubber floors and healthy organic snacks, but the ideal exists and exerts its dubious influence.

This fantasy of control begins long before the child is born, though every now and then a sane bulletin lands amidst our fashionable perfectionism, a real-world corrective to our over-arching anxieties. I remember reading with some astonishment, while I was pregnant, a quiet, unsensational article about how one study showed that crack babies turned out to be doing as well as non-crack babies. Here we are feeling guilty about goat’s cheese on a salad, or three sips of wine, and all the while these ladies, lighting crack pipes, are producing intelligent and healthy offspring. While it’s true that no one seemed to be wholeheartedly recommending that pregnant women everywhere take up crack for relaxation, the fundamental irony does appear to illustrate a basic point: which is that children, even in utero, are infinitely more adaptable and hardy and mysterious than we imagine. …


In the Telegraph Blogs, UK, James Delingpole blogs on the true state of global energy resources. There is no shortage.

…The Global Warming Policy Foundation (Happy anniversary, GWPF!) has collated several pieces which offer a helpful counter to this hackneyed, and too often unquestioned, eco-fascist narrative.

Here’s the New York Times: …

“Just as it seemed that the world was running on fumes, giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia. In addition, the United States has increased domestic oil production for the first time in a generation.

Meanwhile, another wave of natural gas drilling has taken off in shale rock fields across the United States, and more shale gas drilling is just beginning in Europe and Asia. Add to that an increase in liquefied natural gas export terminals around the world that connected gas, which once had to be flared off, to the world market, and gas prices have plummeted.

Energy experts now predict decades of residential and commercial power at reasonable prices. Simply put, the world of energy has once again been turned upside down.” …

…Does any of this sound to you like evidence that the world is facing the kind of energy crisis which can only be solved by concerted government intervention?…

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