April 30, 2012

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Charles Krauthammer writes on the “atrocities board.”

Last year President Obama ordered U.S. intervention in Libya under the grand new doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect.” Moammar Gaddafi was threatening a massacre in Benghazi. To stand by and do nothing “would have been a betrayal of who we are,” explained the president.

In the year since, the government of Syria has more than threatened massacres. It has carried them out. Nothing hypothetical about the disappearances, executions, indiscriminate shelling of populated neighborhoods. More than 9,000 are dead.

Obama has said that we cannot stand idly by. And what has he done? Stand idly by.

Yes, we’ve imposed economic sanctions. But as with Iran, the economic squeeze has not altered the regime’s behavior. Monday’s announced travel and financial restrictions on those who use social media to track down dissidents is a pinprick. No Disney World trips for the chiefs of the Iranian and Syrian security agencies. And they might now have to park their money in Dubai instead of New York. That’ll stop ’em.

Obama’s other major announcement — at Washington’s Holocaust Museum, no less — was the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board.

I kid you not. A board. Russia flies planeloads of weapons to Damascus. Iran supplies money, trainers, agents, more weapons. And what does America do? Support a feckless U.N. peace mission that does nothing to stop the killing. (Indeed, some of the civilians who met with the U.N. observers were summarily executed.) And establish an Atrocities Prevention Board.

With multiagency participation, mind you. The liberal faith in the power of bureaucracy and flowcharts, of committees and reports, is legend. But this is parody. …


Fouad Ajami has more.

Little more than a year into their terrible ordeal, the Syrians are a people unillusioned. “We have been forsaken by the world,” a noted figure of the opposition recently told me in Istanbul.

Days later, in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Antakya, in a tent city a stone’s throw from their tormented homeland, ordinary Syrians reiterate the same message. The ongoing Kofi Annan diplomacy and United Nations-brokered “cease-fire” are seen for what they are—an alibi for the abdication of Western powers, and a lifeline for the regime.

Abu Muhammad, a propertied man in his mid-60s from the town of Jisr al-Shughur, now in this camp with his family for more than 10 months, says the world knows all it needs to know about the Damascus regime but prefers to turn a blind eye to its savagery. Two of his sons have been killed in the protests, a third is missing. He is weary of the pronouncement of the mighty.

In the Syria deliberations, deliverance is always around the corner. American diplomacy is always on the verge of making Russia see its way to the proper path. In these tortured discussions, there is no end to finesse and to the parsing of things.

Syria is not Libya, the Obama officials opine. Homs is not Benghazi, they note. The air defenses of Syria are thick when compared with those of Libya, the army of the Damascus regime is mightier. And then there is the mother of all alibis—the borders of Syria are more sensitive, and they preclude a rescue operation akin to the one that delivered the Libyans from the grip of their tyrant.

The truth is that the air defense system of the Syrians can be dismantled with ease. And that mighty army of the House of Assad? The Syrians refer to it as jaysh abu shahatta (the army in slippers). The Sunni recruits are worn out, terrified and underfed, thrown into assignments they abhor and dread—the killing of their fellow Sunnis. …


California is slowly collapsing its economy. Joel Kotkin wonders why the administration would want to follow its lead.

Barack Obama learned the rough sport of politics in Chicago, but his domestic policies have been shaped by California’s progressive creed. As the Golden State crumbles, its troubles point to those America may confront in a second Obama term.

From his first days in office, the president has held up California as a model state. In 2009, he praised its green-tinged energy policies as a blueprint for the nation. He staffed his administration with Californians like Energy Secretary Steve Chu—an open advocate of high energy prices who’s lavished government funding on “green” dodos like solar-panel maker Solyndra, and luxury electric carmaker Fisker—and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who thrived as CEO of a regulated utility which raised energy costs for millions of consumers, sometimes to finance “green” ideals.

Obama regularly asserts that green jobs will play a crucial role in the future of the American economy, but California, a trend-setter in the field, has yet to reap such benefits. Green jobs, broadly defined, make up only about 2 percent of jobs in the state—about the same proportion as in Texas. In Silicon Valley, the number of green jobs actually declined between 2003 and 2010. Meanwhile, California’s unemployment rate of 10.9 percent is the nation’s third highest, behind only Nevada and Rhode Island.

When Governor Jerry Brown predicted a half-million green jobs by the end of the decade, even The New York Times deemed it “a pipe dream.”

Obama’s push to nationalize many of California’s economy-stifling green policies has been slowed down, first by the Republican resurgence in 2010 and then by his reelection considerations. But California’s politicians, living in what’s become essentially a one-party state, have doubled down on green orthodoxy. As the president at least tries to cover his flank by claiming to support an “all-in” energy policy, California has simply refused to exploit much of its massive oil and gas resources.

Does this matter? Well, Texas has created 200,000 oil and gas jobs over the past decade; California has barely added 20,000. The state’s remaining energy producers have been slowing down as the regulatory environment becomes ever more hostile even as producers elsewhere, including in rustbelt states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, ramp up. The oil and gas jobs the Golden State political class shuns pay around $100,000 a year on average. ….


The dog thing blew up in their faces, so next the Dems tried polygamy. Mark Steyn explains.

… For their next exploding cigar, the Democrats chose polygamy. Brian Schweitzer, the Democrat governor of Montana, remarked that Romney was unlikely to appeal to women because his father was “born on a polygamy commune.” Eighty-six percent of women, noted Gov. Schweitzer with a keenly forensic demographic eye, are “not great fans of polygamy.” You can understand the 86 percent’s ickiness at the whole freaky-weirdy idea of a president descended from someone who had multiple wives. Eww.

Just for the record, Romney’s father was not a polygamist; Romney’s grandfather was not a polygamist; his great-grandfather was a polygamist. Miles Park Romney died in 1904, so one can see why this would weigh heavy on 86 percent of female voters 108 years later.

Meanwhile, back in the female-friendly party, Obama’s father was a polygamist; his grandfather was a polygamist; and his great-grandfather was a polygamist who had one more wife (five in total) than Romney’s great-grandfather. It seems President Obama is the first male in his line not to be a polygamist. So, given the “gender gap,” maybe those 86 percent of American women are way cooler with polygamy than Gov. Schweitzer thinks. Maybe these liberal chicks really dig it.

The exploding cigars are revealing not merely of Democrat hypocrisy but of a key difference in worldview between liberals and conservatives. Jeremy Funk and Gov. Schweitzer reflexively believe that their dog-eating polygamy-scion is different from the other guy’s dog-transporting polygamy-scion. This is nothing to do with young Barack being 6 or 10 years old and meekly eating whatever was put in front of him. He was 34 years old when he wrote the passage quoted above and 10 years older when he recorded the audio edition. And, as both versions make plain, he thinks it’s kinda cool, and he knows that to the average upscale white liberal it has the electric frisson of the exotic other. …


John Steele Gordon posts on EPA administrators gone wild.

It is often said that the definition of the word gaffe in Washington-speak is when someone accidentally tells the truth. Al Armendariz, the EPA administrator for Texas and surrounding states, certainly made a gaffe when he said in a speech in 2010, that the best way to enforce environmental laws was to crucify a few oil companies so that the rest will fall in line. He noted that the Romans used this technique when they conquered a new town, crucifying the first five people they could get their hands on so that the place would be very easy to manage for the next few years. (I expect that that is actually a slander against the Romans, although they had no scruples against selling whole populations into slavery.)

Armendariz was, let us hope, using a metaphor. But his actions indicate that he is all too willing to act first and get, well, evidence of wrong doing, later. The New York Times reported on December 8th, 2010, that he had signed an emergency order:

Dallas-based EPA Regional Director Al Armendariz issued an emergency order yesterday against Range Resources Corp., charging that its drilling in the Barnett Shale contaminated at least two water wells with methane and benzene. The order gave Range 48 hours to provide clean drinking water to affected residents and begin taking steps to resolve the problem.

Armendariz’s order is not simply an action against the company, but a slap at regulators at the Texas Railroad Commission, whom he accused of not doing enough to help the people living near the drilling operations in the Fort Worth area.

Earlier this month, the EPA finally withdrew the order, having been able to produce no evidence whatever that Range Resources was in any way responsible.  (It might be noted in passing that while the emergency order was a major story in the Times, its withdrawal was not news fit to print. Nor is the news of  Armendariz’s recently revealed remarks.)

The United States, which invented both the petroleum industry, in 1859, and the transportation of natural gas over long distances by pipeline, in 1891, is on the cusp of what could be the greatest boom in energy production in its history, a boom that would not only reduce the price of energy—a major input into the struggling economy–but would greatly improve the country’s trade balance, help the dollar, and improve America’s foreign policy options.

The Obama administration, in thrall to the anti-capitalist environmental lobby, is doing everything possible to prevent it.

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