January 18, 2012

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A remarkable essay has surfaced in NY. Written by a self-employed craftsman and home schooling father, the essay recounts how the green movement has degenerated into groups who fight against advances that can improve the human condition. We get this from the NY Shale Gas Now blog.

Two generations ago the discovery of retrievable gas from the Marcellus Shale would have been greeted with — it’s there, we need it, let’s get it.  Today, after two generations of the environmental movement, the response is — it’s there, you don’t need it, it will hurt the earth.  Other than the agreement “it’s there,” the calculus has turned 180 degrees.??

In the mid-twentieth century the lords of industry reigned as the only team on the playing field.  Today environmentalism has become a full-fledged belief system and has largely won the public relations war.  The environmental movement now plays on the field from a dominant position as the white knights opposed to the now dark lords of industry.  But are the knights really so white and the lords really so dark?  I believe the lords are not so dark and the knights not so white.  However, it is the knights that generally get the free pass, and it is the knights of environmentalism and their seemingly pure quest for the perfect world that I would like to look at.

The current environmental movement fixates on improvements that are immeasurable, intangible and unaffordable.  Where earlier gains in environmental protection tangibly cleaned up dirty rivers, dirty lakes, and dirty air, it now fights against remote possibilities, against threats not actually visible but hiding under every stone and behind every tree in our future landscape.  For these “improvements” it will sacrifice jobs that measurably improve many lives.  It will sacrifice cheap energy that cooks our food, heats our homes, drives us to work and even pumps the water whose purity it holds supreme.  And it will sacrifice public funds on schemes that would never see the light of day if people were asked to invest their own personal resources. …

… The Marcellus Shale and many other resources in this country can be mined responsibly, but none of it can be done completely without risk.  There is neither progress nor freedom without risk.  It is foolhardy to think that a life without risk is even possible.  It is foolish to think that risk always favors the do-nothing position.  The risk of doing nothing is the risk of poverty and stagnation.  I think history will show that to be the greater risk.

The perfect world will be found in neither poverty nor prosperity.  But one is better than the other.  Prosperity will always be messy.  There will always be accidents waiting to happen and unforeseen consequences.  However, history shows — particularly the history of the United States — that more people live better lives when they are willing to take those risks and deal with the consequences as they occur.

It is our prosperity that has allowed us to live in a cleaner and healthier world than our ancestors.  It is our continued prosperity that will allow us to continue doing so.  This prosperity will require an attitude that says, “How can we make this happen?”  It will require an emphatic “YES!” rather than a tired, overused “NO.”


Matthew Continetti profiles Valerie Jarrett – the one we should run against this year.

If for nothing else, Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas will be remembered for an anecdote from 2010. After he spent hours disputing an allegation in the French media that Michelle Obama thought life in the White House was “hell,” press secretary Robert Gibbs encountered senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. She told him the first lady was unhappy with his work. Gibbs exploded in a rage, informing Jarrett that she didn’t “know what the f— you’re talking about” and that if Mrs. Obama was displeased, well, “f— her too.” Subsequent relations between the senior adviser and press secretary were strained. Gibbs told Kantor he stopped taking Jarrett seriously “as an adviser to the president of the United States.”

It’s about time. Many have wondered—and the Washington Post asked last year—“What, exactly, does Valerie Jarrett do?” No one has a clear answer. Whatever she does, the U.S. taxpayer pays her $172,200 a year to do it. A confidante of the Obamas for more than two decades, variously described as the president’s “closest adviser” and a member of the “innermost ring” of influence, Jarrett clearly has the first couple’s ears. She seems to function as a sort of third party to the Obama marriage, guarding the president and his wife from bad news and outside influence while meeting with Lady Gaga. Her lack of any national political experience whatsoever—she had never been to Iowa before Obama competed there three years ago—has not prevented her from shaping the White House’s political strategy and influencing economic and foreign policies. One might liken her to Don Corleone’s consigliere Tom Hagen, bedecked in a designer shawl, except Hagen gave better advice.

What Valerie Jarrett does best is represent the Obama administration in microcosm. She embodies its insularity, its cronyism, its cluelessness. Born in Iran to a prominent African-American family from Chicago, she took degrees at Stanford and Michigan Law. She worked briefly as a corporate lawyer but hated every moment. So she decided to “give back,” which is Chicago code for cashing in. She campaigned for Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, and worked for him in the corporation counsel’s office. Washington died in 1987, but Jarrett remained in government, working for his successor, Mayor Richard M. “Richie” Daley, son of legendary boss Richard J. Daley. It was all upward from there. …

… The House is lost, Obama’s reelection looks dicey, but Jarrett is flying high. In one sense she is the most successful Obama courtier of them all: She has outlasted her rivals. Gibbs is gone. Internal clashes led to Emanuel’s sudden discovery that he had always wanted to be mayor of Chicago. Emanuel’s replacement, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley (brother of Richie), was muscled out last week; word is he fought with Jarrett too. Her persistence is matched only by her tone-deafness. Wolffe describes the president’s first visit to Chicago after his inauguration. From the window of his helicopter Obama could see that his arrival had caused a major traffic jam. “We shouldn’t have come here in rush hour,” he reflected. This was too much for Jarrett. “You know what, Mr. President?” she said. “You may not be enjoying your new life, but I am.” 

Better enjoy it while it lasts—which won’t be for long if Obama continues to listen to his inept political fixer.


Andrew Sullivan gets the once over from Big Government.

“Why Are Obama’ Critics So Dumb?” That’s the question posed by Andrew Sullivan in the cover story of this week’s Newsweek.

But you’d have to be stupid, fanatical, and dishonest to argue–as Trig Truther Sullivan does–that Barack Obama’s failures are part of an ingenious “long game” that is destined to succeed.

If this is the best Obama’s supporters can do, Obama’s only hope for re-election is the weak Republican field.

Sullivan, who claims to care about national debt, begins by arguing, contrary to reality, that Obama’s massive $787 billion stimulus (actually, $862 billion) turned the economy around. He offers no proof other than the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy familiar from basic economics. Sullivan also ignores the composition of the stimulus, which shoveled cash to cronies and bloated big states with their massive public sector obligations.

In addition, Sullivan claims that Obama’s auto bailout succeeded–when in fact it pushed aside property rights and subsidized failed “green” cars, rather than allowing car makers to rebuild through normal bankruptcy. He also commends Obama for continuing George W. Bush’s bank bailouts–but does not mention the Dodd-Frank financial “reforms” that enshrine “too big to fail,” hurt small businesses and fail to address Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Next, Sullivan tries to defend Obama on taxes, pointing out that the president passed tax cuts as part of the stimulus. He ignores the numerous new taxes and tax increases that Obama signed into law–from higher cigarette taxes to the many ObamaCare taxes–as well as the glaring fact that Obama has been campaigning for the past several years on the promise to raise taxes on the rich, and would have done so if not for Congress.


Additional response to Sullivan from Nile Gardiner.

… As I’ve noted previously, this is probably the nastiest US presidency in decades. There is nothing “dumb” about the administration’s critics questioning attacks on political opponents, which have been a hallmark of this administration. Take Joe Biden’s appalling comparison of the Tea Party to terrorists last August. As I wrote at the time, “there is something deeply sad and disconcerting when the vice president decides to compare opposition legislators in Congress with terrorists simply because he disagrees with their views and principles. This is the kind of ugly, threatening rhetoric that has no place at the heart of the US presidency.”

Obama’s critics have also been smart to criticise the arrogance of an imperial-style presidency with a penchant for acting without Congressional restraint. The president’s hubris, from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize just months after taking office, to declaring himself the fourth best president in US history, knows no bounds, and has been a defining characteristic of a presidency that is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

For all its talk of “smart power”, this is a gaffe-prone presidency that makes mistakes so elementary they are embarrassing. Instead of calling Obama’s critics “dumb”, the president’s supporters should be telling their own Executive Branch friends to smarten up their act and do a bit of homework, especially when it comes their less-than-stellar knowledge of current affairs. From Hillary Clinton’s description of murderous Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad as a “reformer” to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s calling the Muslim Brotherhood “largely secular”, this administration’s foreign policy track record has been a mess. And as for the myth that the current president is smarter than his Yale-educated predecessor, I don’t recall George W Bush ever referring to “the English Embassy”, or incredibly describing France as America’s strongest ally.


Andrew Cline in the Corner with a snarky send-off for Jon Jon.

Jon Huntsman ended his presidential campaign exactly as he began it: as a pompous, sermonizing mannequin.

To say that Huntsman was Mitt Romney without the flair would be unfair — to Mitt Romney. Despite their surface similarities, Romney and Huntsman were enormously different candidates. Huntsman lacked all of Romney’s great strengths — a reason for running, a coherent message for the voters, a plan for winning, and the discipline, organization, and killer instinct necessary to defeat his opponents. Huntsman brought two visible attributes to the table: condescension and the need for adulation.

He tried to mask his disdain for rank-and-file Republican voters by pandering to them relentlessly. He treated them as beings of little intellect who could be manipulated with cartoonish sloganeering. …


A Corner post asks if a second language is a liability.

During his campaign speeches, Jon Huntsman would often say a few sentences in Mandarin Chinese. This display did not go over well with audiences, which led some commentators to suggest that knowledge of a second language is a political liability. This commentary misses a distinction.

It’s good for candidates to know other languages. Because so many issues involve statistics, it’s also good for them to know calculus. But it would be strange if a candidate routinely interrupted speeches to solve differential equations. People would think that the candidate was just showing off.

And that’s why the Mandarin phrases flopped: People saw them as a sign of boastfulness, not expertise.

Newt Gingrich is overlooking this distinction. Though Romney does not drop French into his speeches, Gingrich is running an attack ad with a 9-year-old clip of Romney greeting French volunteers to the Winter Olympics. Not only is the attack ineffective, it also serves as a reminder that Gingrich himself learned French. (His dissertation cites many French-language sources.) It seems that his new campaign slogan is: “I used to know French, but don’t worry: I forgot it!”


Peter Wehner says Newt has a new friend – Michael Moore. 

Here are two sentences that buttress the argument of those of us who said Newt Gingrich was temperamentally unfit to be president by virtue of his chronic indiscipline, erratic style and lack of philosophical grounding. It comes from Michael Moore, perhaps the most visible and harshest American critic of capitalism in the last couple of decades.

In commenting on Newt Gingrich’s assault on Bain Capital specifically and capitalism more broadly, here is what Mr. Moore said: “I wondered who they stole from my crew. It was fun to hear what I have been saying for 20 years, not just by any Republican candidate, but Newt Gingrich.”

Say goodnight, Newt.

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