Last week, Congress failed to repeal new regulations that effectively banned the traditional incandescent light bulb, making the purchase of new expensive halogen bulbs or florescent lights mandatory. Most Americans buy the line they’ve been sold about the bulb: the new lights are more efficient and therefore will “save the planet.” But what they don’t know is the drive to ban the old bulbs has more to do with the interests of the manufacturers than the poor suffering planet.
COMMENTARY contributor Jeff Jacoby does his usual excellent job of summing up the situation in his Boston Globe column on the subject. Jacoby points out the push for the regulatory ban was the brainchild of an industry eager to force consumers to buy a new product that costs nearly 10 times as much as the old popular light bulbs. Consumers have been understandably reluctant to shell out more money for the new lights; not only due to the price but also because they are slow working, contain toxic mercury and don’t work with dimmers or some kinds of fixtures. The industry’s response has been to put in a political fix that legislates higher profits for them in return for the possibly illusory promise of greater efficiency. This is, as Jacoby aptly puts it, a classic example of “crony capitalism.”
In Istanbul on Friday, Hillary Clinton was asked about her statement that Syria’s Assad has “lost legitimacy.” She responded that he “lost his legitimacy in the eyes of his people because of the brutality of their crackdown, including today.” It was the doctrine President Obama first developed in a February phone call to German Chancellor Merkel about Libya’s Qaddafi :
The President stated that when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.
This past week, Rudy Giuliani continued his flirtation with another presidential run with a limited schedule of appearances in New Hampshire. The former New York City mayor hasn’t decided whether he wants to try again for the Republican nomination, but his interest is obvious. While we’ve noted before his chances of winning in 2012 are practically non-existent, if, as reports indicate, a Giuliani run would be focused primarily on trying to win in the Granite State, the consequences of such an effort might be serious for frontrunner Mitt Romney.
While everyone in Giuliani’s camp swears he has learned the lessons of his disastrous run four years ago, the notion the GOP is ready to nominate a pro-abortion, pro-gun control candidate is farcical. Even if Giuliani runs on his fine fiscal record as mayor rather than on his strong stands on foreign policy and terrorism as he did then, there is even less reason to believe he could now win. But the ability of Democrats and independents to vote in the New Hampshire primary does increase his chances at least in that state. Which is bad news for Mitt Romney, the man who believes his centrist approach and status as former governor of neighboring Massachusetts puts New Hampshire in the bag.
During his press conference on Friday, President Obama made this claim:
Chuck, you have 80 percent of the American people who support a balanced approach. Eighty percent of the American people support an approach that includes revenues and includes cuts. So the notion that somehow the American people aren’t sold is not the problem. The problem is members of Congress are dug in ideologically into various positions because they boxed themselves in with previous statements. And so this is not a matter of the American people knowing what the right thing to do is. This is a matter of Congress doing the right thing and reflecting the will of the American people. And if we do that, we will have solved this problem.
Matt Drudge has done us the service of calling attention to this poll that shows most voters oppose including tax hikes in the deal. Approximately one-in-three voters (34 percent) believe a tax hike should be included in any legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Well over half (55 percent) say it should not.
The News of the World hacking scandal continued to fester this week. Accusations were made that the police went soft on the investigation during the past few years. This is extremely messy, and given the nastiness of some of the charges, it is understandable that the British public will demand some people over and above those specifically involved in the crime will be held accountable. Which means that until media mogul Rupert Murdoch can prove himself innocent of any role in the wrongdoing, he and his vast media empire will be tainted, if only by association.
But there are a couple of points about the feeding frenzy in which Murdoch is being represented as the font of all that is evil in the world. One is that as bad as the accusations lodged against the News International organization are, the belief the hacking was solely the product of Murdoch’s influence rather than the longstanding gutter culture of British tabloids seems to be grounded firmly in bias against the publisher. The other is that much of the dumping on Murdoch by rival media outlets is barefaced hypocrisy.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton hasn’t decided whether he wants to run for president next year, but he has started a new group whose purpose will be to promote discussion about national security issues. The organization, named Decide America, is focused on influencing the debate in the 2012 presidential race that has been largely devoid of serious discussions of foreign affairs.
The launch of Decide America may be a sign Bolton is ditching the notion of what would undoubtedly be a futile run for the Republican presidential nomination. Bolton’s candidacy would be a major complication for this new non-profit group. While having a foreign policy expert on the stage at the GOP presidential debates would ensure that security issues get a hearing, it is to be hoped Bolton can have an impact even if he doesn’t run.
An announcement from the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday is fueling speculation that Tehran is seeking a rapprochement with Argentina. The statement indicated that Iran is ready to discuss the deadly bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s. Hezbollah and its Iranian ally were responsible for those crimes which together took the lives of more than 100 persons. Current Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi is believed to be the person who planned the bombings.
Iran formally requested Argentina drop the investigation into the bombings in March. While efforts to bring the guilty to justice continue, the history of that investigation has been one of delays and political maneuverings inside Argentina that have frustrated the cause of justice. According to an Argentine tabloid that reported the Iranian overture, the South American nation is far more interested in normalizing relations with Tehran than with prosecuting those involved in the bombings.
A week ago when the White House let it be known that President Obama would not meet with the Dalai Lama during his current visit to Washington, D.C., we were among those who condemned the decision as both morally wrong and a mistaken appeasement of China. But we’re glad to note that the president thought better of his decision and invited the exiled Tibetan leader to the White House for a private meeting on Saturday.
Among the hallmarks of the administration’s foreign policy has been Obama’s disinterest in the cause of human rights and a desire to appease powerful tyrants. Thus, the president refused to see the Dalai Lama during his first year in office and then did his best to downplay it when he did meet him. He seemed more interested in bowing to China’s demands to isolate the revered religious leader than in making a statement about the rights of Tibetans. So the reversal of the announced snub of the Tibetan icon gives an unexpected boost to supporters of Tibet and a well-deserved slap to the Chinese.