Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cruising the Web

Jillian Kay Melchior explains what a giant piece of bogosity Obama's ballyhooed climate deal with China is.
Though the announcement is politically expedient for both Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, China almost certainly won’t take significant steps to reduce carbon emissions.

That’s because the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist party’s government rests squarely on economic development. Energy — often produced by dirty coal — allows that economic development to occur, lifting millions out of hand-to-mouth poverty....

China’s ruling class cares far less about carbon emissions — or about the international community’s opinion, for that matter — than it does about maintaining its chokehold on power. So don’t expect it to gamble economic progress on lofty environmental goals.

At the same time, Chinese frustration with constant smog, heavy pollution, and environmental recklessness is also growing, so Beijing benefits politically from agreeing to far-off carbon-emissions reductions. The announcement gives the illusion that China’s official environmental policy is gradually improving.

In reality, Beijing hasn’t actually agreed to much: It will try to “stop increasing” carbon emissions by 2030 — which is a slanted way of saying its emissions will continue to grow for another 16 years — and derive 20 percent of its energy from renewables by then, up from about 10 percent now. Though these goals may be codified into Chinese law, the CCP does not have a reputation for respecting the rule of law. And the United States and the international community won’t have any way of enforcing these goals. No wonder Reuters called it a “largely symbolic plan.”

The Obama administration and its allies in Congress surely know all of this, but they don’t care. The deal, realistic or not, offers a valuable talking point for ramming through radical environmental policy.
As always with this president, the appearance is more important than the reality.

Joy Pullmann offers some warnings to Republicans excited about a Scott Walker presidential candidacy. Of course, no candidate is perfect, and I certainly like him better than some of the other prospective candidates. For example, John Yoo lays out his arguments why Rand Paul has disqualified himself to be president.
We should never put someone in the Oval Office who thinks that the United States can only use force when it is actually attacked, as he argues. That is the mindset that led the United States to ignore events in Europe as they spiraled out of control 100 years ago and to withdraw from the continent in the interwar years, leaving it to fascists who ultimately drew the U.S. back into another destructive war. It is a point of view that would have led to defeat in the Cold War and would handcuff the United States’ ability to protect itself by intervening against security threats before they arrive on our shores. It is a point of view that no serious candidate for president should hold and that no great president in our history has ever held.

If Senator Paul wants to be a leader in his party, he can begin by getting his arguments and facts straight. He is wrong to say that there are those in the Republican party, such as myself, who believe the president’s power is unlimited. That is as much a caricature as saying that Senator Paul thinks that Congress’s power is unlimited. The important difference is how, not whether, the Constitution limits presidential power.
I know that it would be distasteful to have to vote for a Rand Paul candidacy against Hillary Clinton. So, Scott Walker might not be a perfect candidate, but I'd pick him over Paul any day.

Ron Fournier explains why he, as a liberal who supported Obamacare, is so angry to hear Jon Gruber admit publicly that the Democrats deliberately misled the American people because they assumed the people would be too dumb to figure out what was going on.
He called you stupid. He admitted that the White House lied to you. Its officials lied to all of us—Republicans, Democrats, and independents; rich and poor; white and brown; men and women.

Liberals should be the angriest. Not only were they personally deceived, but the administration's dishonest approach to health care reform has helped make Obamacare unpopular while undermining the public's faith in an activist government. A double blow to progressives....

Last year, The Post helped document how Obama and his advisers knowingly misled the public during his 2012 reelection campaign by repeatedly saying that, under Obamacare, people could keep their doctors and keep their health plans. To knowingly mislead is to lie.

"It's hard to know what might have happened if the truth had won the day," writes Post columnist Kathleen Parker. "But we do know that truth squandered is trust lost."

And so even I have to admit, as a supporter, that Obamacare was built and sold on a foundation of lies. No way around it, unless you're willing to accept a political system that colors its lies—the reds, the whites, and the blues.
Of course, there were plenty on the right who were writing about how deceptive the law was at the time back in 2009 and 2010, but their warnings weren't given much attention by the MSM. And now they're not paying much attention to all the blabbing that Jonathan Gruber has been doing about how clever the Democrats were in deceiving the American people. Howard Kurtz can't figure out why the MSM is ignoring the Gruber videos.
This is utterly inexplicable, except as a matter of bias. No matter what you think of ObamaCare, on what planet is this not news? Maybe on that comet where the spaceship just landed.

I tried to think of the possible excuses. Too busy covering other stories? Hey, nobody in America has Ebola anymore! The only real competition is a big winter storm and Eminem disgustingly dropping F-bombs at HBO’s Veterans Day concert.

Was Gruber’s point about health care taxes and mandates too complicated? Then explain it. Besides, it isn't that this argument never came up before; it's that Gruber fesses up to the attempt at deception.

Even MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, who makes no secret of being a liberal, admitted yesterday that “had it been a Republican, the media would have been exploding.”

Ian Tuttle observes that liberals seem to always believe that American voters are stupid.
Liberals’ disdain for the brainpower of the average American has long been evident. To a supporter who told Adlai Stevenson he would have “the vote of every thinking person,” Stevenson famously replied, “That’s not enough, madam. We need a majority.” Said Senator John Kerry in 2006, if “you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” And in 2009, Gore Vidal, whose estimation of his own intelligence had no limits, proclaimed Barack Obama “too intelligent” for America.

But Gruber’s comments point to a more disturbing reality: To the liberal mind, there is no distinction between academic intelligence and moral intelligence, between what we might call “learnedness” and “wisdom.” In fact, they correspond. The more one learns, the “better” a person one becomes. Since Obama is “perhaps the smartest guy ever to become president” (per presidential historian Michael Beschloss), he must also be virtuous. Since the people who crafted Obamacare had excellent credentials and prestigious tenured positions, Obamacare must be not just smart policy, but good.

This belief is not the product of reason or careful thought. It is an article of faith, and those who would dispute it are not just “stupid”; they are heretics.

David Weigel has a great story about the guy who tracked down those damning Jonathan Gruber clips. He's just an ordinary guy who was angry when he lost his health care plan after Obama had promised that no one who liked his plan would have to lose it. So he started researching the people who were involved in writing the healthcare law and then looking for what those people had said and written. And he found those revealing Gruber videos.

Politico wonders if Paul Ryan is too smart to be president? It's a dumb question. We've had plenty of smart presidents. I just finished today going over Lincoln's Second Inaugural with my AP US History class and talking about how Lincoln was almost totally self-educated, having had only a total of about a year's formal schooling in his lifetime. What most impressed the students is that Lincoln taught himself trigonometry as a young man when he decided he wanted to be a surveyor. I'd add in both the Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Teddy Roosevelt as some of our smartest presidents. I'm not going to even get into debating how smart our current president is reputed to be. So Paul Ryan, a very smart man, is not too smart. But I am starting to doubt that he's even interested in running for the presidency. Read this profile from the National Journal and it sounds like he's yearning to leave Washington and return to his home in Janesville. Sigh. It seems like the candidates I could be most excited about such as Mitch Daniels in 2012, just don't have enough of the fire in the belly to run for the presidency. And the ones who do are not the ones I'm excited about. That's why I usually am just voting against the other candidate.

Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30), writes in the New York Times that the Democrats' own success with appealing to the youth vote on social issues might mean the end of their dominance among young voters.
When it comes to young voters, liberal politicians are victims of their culture-war success. They have pressed a laissez-faire posture in moral and private matters, and have won. But millennials have adopted not the posture of their liberal elders that fostered group identity (be it “union member,” “disenfranchised minority” or “F.D.R. Democrat”), but a soft libertarianism that makes individual preference king.

That pose carries over to politics and blunts lasting commitments to any political organization. Indeed, another finding of youth surveys is mistrust of institutions of any kind, including political parties. Once social conservatism was defeated, the set allegiance to Democratic campaigns was bound to erode.

This doesn’t mean that the youth vote is going Republican. Party identity is meaningless to half of them, and that rate will rise. They pose a new kind of constituency, fluctuating and unpredictable, socially liberal but willing to back conservatives now and then, interested less in party ideologies than in actual individuals put forward as candidates, such as the cool young black senator in 2008.

Megan McArdle has been reading Sean Trende's book, The Lost Majority and now understands that neither party will ever be able to put together a permanent majority.
To state Trende's thesis simply: There is no such thing as a permanent majority. Parties are coalitions of disparate groups of voters, and they win by strapping enough different groups together to push themselves across the electoral finish line. Unfortunately, the broader your coalition, the harder it is to hold together. Those different groups may have radically different values and interests; satisfying one may end up alienating the other. Trende suggests that the longest-lived coalition was not, in fact Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famed "realignment," which showed large cracks as early as 1937, but the Eisenhower coalition that lasted roughly from 1952 to 1988. As the dates suggest, the reason for unity was the external threat from the Soviet Union. That's a pretty stiff price to pay for internal unity.

I took two major things away from the book: First, you can't count on demographics to hand you a victory in such a vast and diverse country, because today's coalition members may end up as a large and growing pillar of the opposition. And second, although both parties are constantly hunting for a mandate for radical change, the voters almost never deliver one. The party stalwarts may want to tear down the current edifice and start over, but the less ideological coalition partners are usually looking for some light redecorating, perhaps along with a specific personal interest like freedom of conscience in business operations, or less restrictive immigration policy. The harder the parties push on their ideological platforms, the faster the "coalition of everyone" starts leaking supporters to the opposition.
I had a lot of students who were pretty glum after last week's election results. In my A.P. Government class, they'd worked in small groups to follow a single Senate race and present it to the class. While they were excited about their individual races and almost all of them predicted that the Republican would win their state's race, they just weren't prepared for the Republicans to almost run the table. And most of my students are liberal and the children of Democrats (we've already discussed ideology and how often children's ideologies are in alignment with their own parents. So they were feeling glum. I tried to cheer them up by explaining that politics is a pendulum swing and, at some point in their future, the Democrats will regain control. Being young people who have trouble planning to do homework more than a day in advance, they weren't happy to hear that their party would win back control sometime in the future. But it's true. And the Republicans in Congress should be quite aware that that is how partisan politics work in our country.
The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs - and Who Will Take It
Barack Obama hears his own silent majority. He says that he hears the two-thirds of people who didn't vote. And, amazingly, he knows what their silence meant.
Richard Nixon once claimed a “silent majority” for himself too. But he never had the audacity to suggest its members didn’t vote. Nixon’s silent majority voted but didn’t protest. Obama’s apparently protests but doesn’t vote....

Obama says that he can at once hear voters and nonvoters, and they are both conveniently communicating the same message, that Republicans should capitulate to his political philosophy. That is all he means by getting “stuff done.”
Jonah Goldberg has a giggle over the spin that the results of the elections were really a good thing for Hillary Clinton.
Maybe it’s true that that there is a silver lining for Hillary Clinton in the shellacking her party took last week. Maybe her ineffective stumping for Democrats means nothing. Maybe a 17-percentage-point loss for putative Clinton Democrat Mark Pryor in Clinton’s home base of Arkansas is a blessing in deep, deep, deep disguise. Maybe the staggering indifference of the Democratic coalition of young people and minorities on display last week is proof that they are really just husbanding their voting energies for 2016. And maybe the fact that the “war on women” shtick proved as stale as a 1980s sitcom catchphrase is irrelevant for a candidate so invested in her gender.

But the notion that this monumental rebuke of Clinton’s party, and the administration she served in, amounts to an unambiguous Clinton win invites many to ask, “What you talkin’ ’bout, Hillary?”

You can always tell you’re being spun if the opposite facts would yield the same result. Does anyone doubt that if the Democrats Clinton vigorously campaigned for had held on to the Senate, the same people would be telling the New York Times that the election results were a boon for Clinton? If the midterm results are scaring away potential left-wing insurgents, why is Clinton Inc. expediting its schedule? Shouldn’t the lack of a challenger make it easier for Clinton to lay low for a while longer?

I guess my students aren't the only ones fooled into thinking that Hillary Clinton is 20 years younger than she actually is. Here is what a Pew Research survey found:
An eye-popping 69% of 18-29 year olds believe Mrs. Clinton is either in her 50s or younger. Only 27% accurately place her age as between 60 and 69 (she’s 67), while only 2% say she’s older than 70.
One GOP strategy would be to keep referring to how she's been in Washington for 24 years and still hasn't accomplished anything.

Caroline Glick examines Obama's use of the word Islamic to condemn ISIS, but negotiate with what he persists in calling the Islamic Republic of Iran as that country's leaders call it. As she points out, Iran's treatment of women and human rights activists is not that much better than ISIS. Yet Obama condemns ISIS as not being Islamic while supporting Iran's definition of its own terrorizing policies as Islamic.
And of course, as we see more and more clearly each day, the centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy has been appeasing the Islamic Republic of Iran in the hope of achieving d├ętente with the nuclear weapons pursuing state sponsor of terrorism.

The likes of IS, with its love of the video camera, discredit Obama’s narrative that radical, terror- supporting Muslims are peaceful. Since IS is openly evil, it is un-Islamic.

On the other hand, despite the fact that it is nearly as barbaric as IS, the Iranian regime is Islamic, because as far as Obama is concerned, it is good. And it is good because he wants to make a deal with the mullahs.

In other words, Obama is neither an expert on Islam, nor a man moved by moral indignation.

He opposes IS because IS makes it hard for him to defend Islam from bad public relations. And he coos about the “Islamic Republic of Iran” because he is dedicated to his mission of whitewashing and mainstreaming the regime born of an Islamic revolution.