Commentary Magazine


Topic: Al Gore

You Don’t Need to Be a Weatherman but It May Help

The supposedly rock-solid consensus among all thinking human beings about the impending catastrophe of global warming has taken another hit from an unlikely villain: your friendly local TV weather forecaster. According to a front-page feature in Monday’s New York Times, some of the biggest global-warming skeptics are precisely those people whom many Americans look to for insight about the weather. The Times reports that a study released this week by George Mason University and the University of Texas reveals that “only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was caused mostly by human activities.” This is very bad news for environmental extremists, since the public seems to trust the weather guys more than Al Gore.

Apparently there is a real split developing in the world of weather between climatologists and meteorologists, with the latter showing a remarkable disinclination to accept the claims of the former that the planet is melting. But the frame of reference of this piece, like so much of the mainstream media’s coverage of those who raise questions about the alarmist theories of global warming, is not to examine the views and the reasons of the skeptics. Instead, the point of the article is to view it as yet another unfortunate problem to be overcome on the road to eradicating heretical dissent from the global-warming orthodoxy of our time. And since the average American is more likely to hear about the weather from a TV weather forecaster than to be lectured by a climatologist, this is especially dangerous for a field that has been rocked by a series of scandals that have undermined confidence in the honesty and accuracy of global-warming advocates.

For the Times, the problem is primarily one of academic achievement. The climatologists who are promoting fear of global warming—and profiting handsomely from it—are generally affiliated with universities and tend to have advanced degrees whereas many meteorologists do not. For Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who works to promote global-warming hysteria at something called Climate Central, the problem is that the weathermen are just not smart enough to understand her field. Indeed, she says the claim that it will be hotter 50 years from now is as open and shut a case as asserting that August will be warmer than January. But if you think about it, it makes sense that those who work on a day-to-day basis with weather forecasts would have their doubts about computer models about the weather we will get 50 years from now. They know all too well how variable the climate can be and that efforts to project forecasts with certainty, especially those promising apocalyptic disasters, should be taken with a shovel-full of salt.

The response from climatologists is, of course, not to listen to the skeptics or take them seriously, even if the skeptics in question know a thing or two about the weather. Instead, as the Times pompously relates, what the global-warming crowd wants is more “education” and “outreach” designed to squelch doubts about their theories before the debate about the issue—and the dangerous “cap and trade” schemes to handicap our economy to supposedly avert a global-warming disaster—gets out of hand.

As Bob Dylan famously wrote, “You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” But when it comes to bringing some common sense to the “climate change” debate, it apparently helps to be one.

The supposedly rock-solid consensus among all thinking human beings about the impending catastrophe of global warming has taken another hit from an unlikely villain: your friendly local TV weather forecaster. According to a front-page feature in Monday’s New York Times, some of the biggest global-warming skeptics are precisely those people whom many Americans look to for insight about the weather. The Times reports that a study released this week by George Mason University and the University of Texas reveals that “only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was caused mostly by human activities.” This is very bad news for environmental extremists, since the public seems to trust the weather guys more than Al Gore.

Apparently there is a real split developing in the world of weather between climatologists and meteorologists, with the latter showing a remarkable disinclination to accept the claims of the former that the planet is melting. But the frame of reference of this piece, like so much of the mainstream media’s coverage of those who raise questions about the alarmist theories of global warming, is not to examine the views and the reasons of the skeptics. Instead, the point of the article is to view it as yet another unfortunate problem to be overcome on the road to eradicating heretical dissent from the global-warming orthodoxy of our time. And since the average American is more likely to hear about the weather from a TV weather forecaster than to be lectured by a climatologist, this is especially dangerous for a field that has been rocked by a series of scandals that have undermined confidence in the honesty and accuracy of global-warming advocates.

For the Times, the problem is primarily one of academic achievement. The climatologists who are promoting fear of global warming—and profiting handsomely from it—are generally affiliated with universities and tend to have advanced degrees whereas many meteorologists do not. For Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who works to promote global-warming hysteria at something called Climate Central, the problem is that the weathermen are just not smart enough to understand her field. Indeed, she says the claim that it will be hotter 50 years from now is as open and shut a case as asserting that August will be warmer than January. But if you think about it, it makes sense that those who work on a day-to-day basis with weather forecasts would have their doubts about computer models about the weather we will get 50 years from now. They know all too well how variable the climate can be and that efforts to project forecasts with certainty, especially those promising apocalyptic disasters, should be taken with a shovel-full of salt.

The response from climatologists is, of course, not to listen to the skeptics or take them seriously, even if the skeptics in question know a thing or two about the weather. Instead, as the Times pompously relates, what the global-warming crowd wants is more “education” and “outreach” designed to squelch doubts about their theories before the debate about the issue—and the dangerous “cap and trade” schemes to handicap our economy to supposedly avert a global-warming disaster—gets out of hand.

As Bob Dylan famously wrote, “You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” But when it comes to bringing some common sense to the “climate change” debate, it apparently helps to be one.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

If you thought Obama was talking “We are the World” gibberish again to the “Muslim World,” you were right. He sort of seemed to be saying (if you get the plain English translation): “We’ll pull out of Iraq, soon and responsibly (is there any other way?); also, we’ll close our eyes and click our heels together three times and wish upon a star over and over again until Israelis and Palestinians reach Peace; in return you, in Afghanistan and beyond, will become modern, woman-respecting democrats because of our forged partnerships (and a few troops? Oh, never mind them!).” Read the whole thing, as they say.

Mickey Kaus reads the typically aggressive and hyper-partisan Obami’s invitation to Republicans to the health-care summit and finds: “Unsubtle subtext: We like our bill and the purpose of this meeting is to set things up so it can pass. … But what if, as a Republican, you don’t think we are ‘the closest … to resolving this issue in … nearly 100 years’? Maybe you don’t think the bill will resolve the issue at all! (I disagree, but I’m not a Republican.) … Even if Obama’s only trying to appear bipartisan, his aides are doing a mighty poor job of conveying that impression.”

Even Dana Milbank can figure out that the Washington blizzards were “an inconvenient meteorological phenomenon for Al Gore.” He writes: “In Washington’s blizzards, the greens were hoisted by their own petard. For years, climate-change activists have argued by anecdote to make their case. Gore, in his famous slide shows, ties human-caused global warming to increasing hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, drought, and the spread of mosquitoes, pine beetles, and disease.” He even concedes, “The scientific case has been further undermined by high-profile screw-ups. First there were the hacked e-mails of a British research center that suggested the scientists were stacking the deck to overstate the threat. Now comes word of numerous errors in a 2007 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including the bogus claim that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear in 25 years.” Maybe Al Gore should give back the Oscar.

I suppose it’s not news when Harry Reid screws up a potential bipartisan deal and blindsides the White House. But, on his sinking down the bipartisan Senate bill, even the New York Times acknowledges that “it was a telling glimpse into the state of mind of rattled Senate Democrats.” And another reason why Reid’s defeat might be a very welcome development by his party.

There is an alternative to civilian trials for terrorists. And it’s legal and everything: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) repeated his call Saturday for the Obama administration to try suspected terrorists in military tribunals. A former military lawyer himself, Graham said the tribunal system was well-equipped to handle delicate terrorism cases. . . . Graham was a main author of the Military Commission Act of 2009, which modified the tribunal system to align with a Supreme Court ruling.” Funny how none of the Obama spinners defending their handling of terrorist even mention the 2009 statute.

Politico asks “Why Cheney attacks?” The insiderish Beltway outlet can’t really be that dense, right? For starters, Cheney has been right and is in sync with the American people. And then the former VP does manage to get under the skin of the Obami and send them scrambling. (Politico might want to cut out the Stephen Walt and Keith Olbermann quotes — jeez — as well as the Beagle Blogger psychobabble if it wants to be taken seriously on these sorts of stories.)

Gov. Chris Christie earns plaudits: “As politicians spend America into the fiscal abyss, Republican Gov. Chris Christie has a novel idea: Freeze spending. For such statesmanship, watch him be demonized like no one before. . . New Jersey’s new governor, the successor of so many corrupt chief executives, is taking action that will make him, like Reagan, the focus of pure hate from those who think what taxpayers earn is Monopoly money to be treated according to the whims and desires of politicians, bureaucrats, union bosses and other power players.”

Not everyone (anyone?) is buying the itsy-bitsy-sanctions approach. (“Sanctions on the accounts of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in WESTERN banks?”) Amitai Etzioni writes: ” You can fool some people some of the time, but the Obama Administration credibility is melting faster than the snow in Washington.”

If you thought Obama was talking “We are the World” gibberish again to the “Muslim World,” you were right. He sort of seemed to be saying (if you get the plain English translation): “We’ll pull out of Iraq, soon and responsibly (is there any other way?); also, we’ll close our eyes and click our heels together three times and wish upon a star over and over again until Israelis and Palestinians reach Peace; in return you, in Afghanistan and beyond, will become modern, woman-respecting democrats because of our forged partnerships (and a few troops? Oh, never mind them!).” Read the whole thing, as they say.

Mickey Kaus reads the typically aggressive and hyper-partisan Obami’s invitation to Republicans to the health-care summit and finds: “Unsubtle subtext: We like our bill and the purpose of this meeting is to set things up so it can pass. … But what if, as a Republican, you don’t think we are ‘the closest … to resolving this issue in … nearly 100 years’? Maybe you don’t think the bill will resolve the issue at all! (I disagree, but I’m not a Republican.) … Even if Obama’s only trying to appear bipartisan, his aides are doing a mighty poor job of conveying that impression.”

Even Dana Milbank can figure out that the Washington blizzards were “an inconvenient meteorological phenomenon for Al Gore.” He writes: “In Washington’s blizzards, the greens were hoisted by their own petard. For years, climate-change activists have argued by anecdote to make their case. Gore, in his famous slide shows, ties human-caused global warming to increasing hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, drought, and the spread of mosquitoes, pine beetles, and disease.” He even concedes, “The scientific case has been further undermined by high-profile screw-ups. First there were the hacked e-mails of a British research center that suggested the scientists were stacking the deck to overstate the threat. Now comes word of numerous errors in a 2007 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including the bogus claim that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear in 25 years.” Maybe Al Gore should give back the Oscar.

I suppose it’s not news when Harry Reid screws up a potential bipartisan deal and blindsides the White House. But, on his sinking down the bipartisan Senate bill, even the New York Times acknowledges that “it was a telling glimpse into the state of mind of rattled Senate Democrats.” And another reason why Reid’s defeat might be a very welcome development by his party.

There is an alternative to civilian trials for terrorists. And it’s legal and everything: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) repeated his call Saturday for the Obama administration to try suspected terrorists in military tribunals. A former military lawyer himself, Graham said the tribunal system was well-equipped to handle delicate terrorism cases. . . . Graham was a main author of the Military Commission Act of 2009, which modified the tribunal system to align with a Supreme Court ruling.” Funny how none of the Obama spinners defending their handling of terrorist even mention the 2009 statute.

Politico asks “Why Cheney attacks?” The insiderish Beltway outlet can’t really be that dense, right? For starters, Cheney has been right and is in sync with the American people. And then the former VP does manage to get under the skin of the Obami and send them scrambling. (Politico might want to cut out the Stephen Walt and Keith Olbermann quotes — jeez — as well as the Beagle Blogger psychobabble if it wants to be taken seriously on these sorts of stories.)

Gov. Chris Christie earns plaudits: “As politicians spend America into the fiscal abyss, Republican Gov. Chris Christie has a novel idea: Freeze spending. For such statesmanship, watch him be demonized like no one before. . . New Jersey’s new governor, the successor of so many corrupt chief executives, is taking action that will make him, like Reagan, the focus of pure hate from those who think what taxpayers earn is Monopoly money to be treated according to the whims and desires of politicians, bureaucrats, union bosses and other power players.”

Not everyone (anyone?) is buying the itsy-bitsy-sanctions approach. (“Sanctions on the accounts of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in WESTERN banks?”) Amitai Etzioni writes: ” You can fool some people some of the time, but the Obama Administration credibility is melting faster than the snow in Washington.”

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UN Panel Admits the Glaciers Won’t Disappear

Earlier this week, we noted in Contentions the revelation that another one of the standard scare stories of the global-warming “consensus” had been debunked when it was revealed that the assertion that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, was completely unfounded. Today comes news that the panel (which shared a bogus Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007) has itself admitted that its widely quoted assertion was not substantiated. MIT’s Technology Review reports that in the face of evidence that shows there was no data to back up the claim, the UN group has now backed down and publicly admitted that they were at fault.

According to Technology Review, “The disappearance of the glaciers would require temperatures far higher than those predicted in even the most dire global warming scenarios, says Georg Kaser, professor at the Institut für Geographie der Universität, Innsbruck. The Himalayas would have to heat up by 18 degrees Celsius and stay there for the highest glaciers to melt—most climate change scenarios expect only a few degrees of warming over the next century. The mistake has called into question the credibility of the IPCC, which has been considered an authoritative source for information about climate change.”

Like the equally embattled Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia that produced the “Climategate” e-mail scandal, the reputation of the UN panel was supposedly impeccable because of its devotion to the practice of peer-reviewed studies. But in this case, the notorious assertion about the glaciers was based not on critical research but on what the panel now says is “grey literature,” a theory that is not based on peer-reviewed sources.

The point here is not just that another instance of global-warming hysteria has been debunked. It is that the sources of the now widely accepted theory that the planet is “melting” and that this is the result of human activity are themselves deeply compromised. As the Climategate e-mails illustrated, the scientists involved in these assertions are so blinded by their ideological fervor that they are willing to falsify information, dissemble about their research, and suppress informed dissent. Under these circumstances, the refrain that the “science” behind global warming is settled is nothing more than an attempt to stifle the growing chorus of skepticism about this “scientific consensus.”

As it happens, Technology Review admits that they had also publicized the now discredited claim about the glaciers in their own pages in an article about efforts to combat climate change. The article about the panel’s admission of error includes a link to their own correction.

Earlier this week, we noted in Contentions the revelation that another one of the standard scare stories of the global-warming “consensus” had been debunked when it was revealed that the assertion that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, was completely unfounded. Today comes news that the panel (which shared a bogus Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007) has itself admitted that its widely quoted assertion was not substantiated. MIT’s Technology Review reports that in the face of evidence that shows there was no data to back up the claim, the UN group has now backed down and publicly admitted that they were at fault.

According to Technology Review, “The disappearance of the glaciers would require temperatures far higher than those predicted in even the most dire global warming scenarios, says Georg Kaser, professor at the Institut für Geographie der Universität, Innsbruck. The Himalayas would have to heat up by 18 degrees Celsius and stay there for the highest glaciers to melt—most climate change scenarios expect only a few degrees of warming over the next century. The mistake has called into question the credibility of the IPCC, which has been considered an authoritative source for information about climate change.”

Like the equally embattled Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia that produced the “Climategate” e-mail scandal, the reputation of the UN panel was supposedly impeccable because of its devotion to the practice of peer-reviewed studies. But in this case, the notorious assertion about the glaciers was based not on critical research but on what the panel now says is “grey literature,” a theory that is not based on peer-reviewed sources.

The point here is not just that another instance of global-warming hysteria has been debunked. It is that the sources of the now widely accepted theory that the planet is “melting” and that this is the result of human activity are themselves deeply compromised. As the Climategate e-mails illustrated, the scientists involved in these assertions are so blinded by their ideological fervor that they are willing to falsify information, dissemble about their research, and suppress informed dissent. Under these circumstances, the refrain that the “science” behind global warming is settled is nothing more than an attempt to stifle the growing chorus of skepticism about this “scientific consensus.”

As it happens, Technology Review admits that they had also publicized the now discredited claim about the glaciers in their own pages in an article about efforts to combat climate change. The article about the panel’s admission of error includes a link to their own correction.

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Will They Play Games?

Martha Coakley concedes. She has graciously given Scott Brown her congratulations. It’ll be hard in these circumstances to delay seating him, no? At some point the gamesmanship just doesn’t work.

And not to rub salt in the wounds, but sometimes a concession speech is the candidate’s finest moment (e.g., Al Gore). This deadly dull, rambling speech isn’t one of those.

Martha Coakley concedes. She has graciously given Scott Brown her congratulations. It’ll be hard in these circumstances to delay seating him, no? At some point the gamesmanship just doesn’t work.

And not to rub salt in the wounds, but sometimes a concession speech is the candidate’s finest moment (e.g., Al Gore). This deadly dull, rambling speech isn’t one of those.

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The Latest Global-Warming Baloney: Glaciergate

Those busy denying the impact of the Climategate e-mails have a new piece of damaging evidence to downplay: the much publicized claim that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030 turns out to be another global-warming fraud. The New York Times reports today that the 2007 assertion, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the group that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore that year), is based on bogus data:

But it now appears that the estimate about Himalayan glacial melt was based on a decade-old interview of one climate scientist in a science magazine, The New Scientist, and that hard scientific evidence to support that figure is lacking. The scientist, Dr. Syed Hasnain, a glacier specialist with the government of the Indian state of Sikkim and currently a fellow at the TERI research institute in Delhi, said in an e-mail message that he was “misquoted” about the 2035 estimate in The New Scientist article.

This new story comes on the heels of the Climategate e-mails, which revealed the fraud behind the global-warming movement’s efforts to suppress opposing voices. As with the data behind the exaggerated claims of increases in world temperatures, this revelation doesn’t mean that there isn’t some evidence that glaciers may be retreating. But there is a big difference between insisting that these glaciers will disappear and a more modest argument that there is evidence that they may be getting a bit smaller. The former reinforces the international hysteria that could lead to developed countries putting costly restrictions on economic activity — exactly what the Left had hoped would happen at the recent failed Copenhagen conference — while the latter would be something that would merely merit further study.

Yet what these revelations do prove, again, is that the groups and individuals attempting to sell the world the idea that “the planet is melting” are, at best, prone to wild exaggerations to scare people into accepting radical plans that would cripple economies and restrict freedom. At worst, they have, again, shown themselves capable of outright fraud in the name of their ideological commitment to cripple capitalism. Though most of the mainstream media continue to downplay or ignore Climategate, we can only hope that this latest story of global-warming baloney reinforces a growing trend of skepticism about the claims of environmental alarmists and puts a brake on damaging plans to “cap and trade” carbon, as well as other draconian measures that will do little about temperature changes but much harm to our future.

Those busy denying the impact of the Climategate e-mails have a new piece of damaging evidence to downplay: the much publicized claim that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030 turns out to be another global-warming fraud. The New York Times reports today that the 2007 assertion, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the group that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore that year), is based on bogus data:

But it now appears that the estimate about Himalayan glacial melt was based on a decade-old interview of one climate scientist in a science magazine, The New Scientist, and that hard scientific evidence to support that figure is lacking. The scientist, Dr. Syed Hasnain, a glacier specialist with the government of the Indian state of Sikkim and currently a fellow at the TERI research institute in Delhi, said in an e-mail message that he was “misquoted” about the 2035 estimate in The New Scientist article.

This new story comes on the heels of the Climategate e-mails, which revealed the fraud behind the global-warming movement’s efforts to suppress opposing voices. As with the data behind the exaggerated claims of increases in world temperatures, this revelation doesn’t mean that there isn’t some evidence that glaciers may be retreating. But there is a big difference between insisting that these glaciers will disappear and a more modest argument that there is evidence that they may be getting a bit smaller. The former reinforces the international hysteria that could lead to developed countries putting costly restrictions on economic activity — exactly what the Left had hoped would happen at the recent failed Copenhagen conference — while the latter would be something that would merely merit further study.

Yet what these revelations do prove, again, is that the groups and individuals attempting to sell the world the idea that “the planet is melting” are, at best, prone to wild exaggerations to scare people into accepting radical plans that would cripple economies and restrict freedom. At worst, they have, again, shown themselves capable of outright fraud in the name of their ideological commitment to cripple capitalism. Though most of the mainstream media continue to downplay or ignore Climategate, we can only hope that this latest story of global-warming baloney reinforces a growing trend of skepticism about the claims of environmental alarmists and puts a brake on damaging plans to “cap and trade” carbon, as well as other draconian measures that will do little about temperature changes but much harm to our future.

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Man-Made Disaster

It is, of course, axiomatic that George W. Bush was to blame for natural disasters that struck during his presidency. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, it goes without saying that Bush failed on three major fronts: First, he did not go back decades in time and demand construction of more resistant levies. Second, he did not force Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to accept his offer of National Guard troops to help bail out New Orleans — when she refused, Bush didn’t invoke the Insurrection Act and invade a U.S. state. And third, as Al Gore helpfully pointed out, strong hurricanes are a more likely weather phenomenon when the U.S. ignores carbon-emissions warnings the way the Bush administration did.

And let’s not forget the wise words of one Kanye West, who, after the hurricane struck, told the country on national television, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

An administration-defining, open-and-shut case if ever there was one.

But we didn’t know the half of it. As it turns out, Bush is also responsible for calamities occurring after his presidency. Mother Jones has the scoop on the master of natural disaster:

In the aftermath of September 11 and the Bush administration’s numerous adventures around the world, Haiti returned to its usual state of invisibility in Western eyes. Few people noticed a remarkable report that appeared in the New York Times in 2006, based in part on the analysis of former ambassador Brian Dean Curran, showing how US policy helped to destabalize [sic] Haiti in the years leading up to 2004, when Aristede was again forced out by armed rebels under an accused death squad leader. … For the most part, Europe and the United States have continued to sit by as Haiti has grown poorer and poorer. … It is hard to imagine what a magnitude 7 earthquake might do to a city that on any ordinary day already resembles a disaster area.

Max Blumenthal weighs in with a far more sober reflection on the tragedy. “Of course, the earthquake can’t be blamed on the so-called Washington consensus.” Of course, Max. Good of you to point it out.

Or not. “However,” he goes on,

the Haitian government’s inability to mount even a band-aid relief effort, combined with the fact that the decimated rural economy has overwhelmed Port-au-Prince with new residents, placing enormous stress on its already inadequate infrastructure and leading to the mass casualties we are witnessing, are factors directly linked to American meddling.

In 2004, when the national press corps failed to report the American hand in the coup that overthrew Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, I embarked on a long and exhaustive investigative report on role of right-wing operatives in Washington and Haiti in toppling the government.

Don’t you love the self-congratulatory bit at the end there?  Through his evident grief for dead, maimed, and mourning Haitians, Blumenthal courageously forces himself to settle some personal scores. “Below the fold I have reprinted my piece for Salon.com, “The Other Regime Change” (which the NY Times’ Walt Bogdanovich basically plagiarized), in full.” Never let a crisis go to waste, and all that.

There is bound to be more of this stuff to follow. There is no cliff over which the liberal establishment will not follow the fringe. Some high-profile op-eds blaming Bush should be hitting the New York Times any day now, just in time to coincide with his and Bill Clinton’s joint-effort to help Haiti recover.

It is, of course, axiomatic that George W. Bush was to blame for natural disasters that struck during his presidency. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, it goes without saying that Bush failed on three major fronts: First, he did not go back decades in time and demand construction of more resistant levies. Second, he did not force Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to accept his offer of National Guard troops to help bail out New Orleans — when she refused, Bush didn’t invoke the Insurrection Act and invade a U.S. state. And third, as Al Gore helpfully pointed out, strong hurricanes are a more likely weather phenomenon when the U.S. ignores carbon-emissions warnings the way the Bush administration did.

And let’s not forget the wise words of one Kanye West, who, after the hurricane struck, told the country on national television, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

An administration-defining, open-and-shut case if ever there was one.

But we didn’t know the half of it. As it turns out, Bush is also responsible for calamities occurring after his presidency. Mother Jones has the scoop on the master of natural disaster:

In the aftermath of September 11 and the Bush administration’s numerous adventures around the world, Haiti returned to its usual state of invisibility in Western eyes. Few people noticed a remarkable report that appeared in the New York Times in 2006, based in part on the analysis of former ambassador Brian Dean Curran, showing how US policy helped to destabalize [sic] Haiti in the years leading up to 2004, when Aristede was again forced out by armed rebels under an accused death squad leader. … For the most part, Europe and the United States have continued to sit by as Haiti has grown poorer and poorer. … It is hard to imagine what a magnitude 7 earthquake might do to a city that on any ordinary day already resembles a disaster area.

Max Blumenthal weighs in with a far more sober reflection on the tragedy. “Of course, the earthquake can’t be blamed on the so-called Washington consensus.” Of course, Max. Good of you to point it out.

Or not. “However,” he goes on,

the Haitian government’s inability to mount even a band-aid relief effort, combined with the fact that the decimated rural economy has overwhelmed Port-au-Prince with new residents, placing enormous stress on its already inadequate infrastructure and leading to the mass casualties we are witnessing, are factors directly linked to American meddling.

In 2004, when the national press corps failed to report the American hand in the coup that overthrew Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, I embarked on a long and exhaustive investigative report on role of right-wing operatives in Washington and Haiti in toppling the government.

Don’t you love the self-congratulatory bit at the end there?  Through his evident grief for dead, maimed, and mourning Haitians, Blumenthal courageously forces himself to settle some personal scores. “Below the fold I have reprinted my piece for Salon.com, “The Other Regime Change” (which the NY Times’ Walt Bogdanovich basically plagiarized), in full.” Never let a crisis go to waste, and all that.

There is bound to be more of this stuff to follow. There is no cliff over which the liberal establishment will not follow the fringe. Some high-profile op-eds blaming Bush should be hitting the New York Times any day now, just in time to coincide with his and Bill Clinton’s joint-effort to help Haiti recover.

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The Massachusetts Polls and the November Election

The most startling news since Barack Obama’s colossal victory over Hillary Clinton in Iowa was the Democratic poll in Massachusetts the other day showing the little-known Republican Scott Brown beating the state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley, in the special contest for the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat by a  point. A subsequent poll by the Boston Globe had the Democrat winning by 15. Somebody is very wrong here, obviously, and we won’t know until next Tuesday’s election which poll got the Massachusetts electorate right. But if the Democratic poll is closer to the truth, and if Coakley can’t come up with something to pull Brown’s numbers down over the next week, she is going to lose and a Republican is going to win an ineffable symbolic victory against Barack Obama and especially against health care.

And yet Republican politicians shouldn’t celebrate just yet—and not because of the talking-point excuses that are being handed out by Democrats and their spin doctors about how Democratic retirements and losses don’t mean anything. They mean an enormous amount. But a Brown victory in Massachusetts would suggest something rather more complicated than a simple Republican wave in 2010. It suggests that disgust with the political system has reached a level never before seen in the modern era, a disgust so profound that a little-known Republican can come to inhabit the Liberal Lion’s office.

There have been hints and whispers of this kind of trend before; the Ross Perot phenomenon in 1991-2, for example. Ever since, we’ve been hearing about the possibility of a political conflagration that would originate in the most stable part of any electorate, its center, as the two parties increasingly find themselves in the thrall of their extremes and find it impossible to appeal to the broad middle.

That notion seemed overblown, and was proved to be overblown; since 2000, the electorate has seemed uncommonly engaged with the two parties, with turnout rising enormously in each national election. Al Gore received the most votes in American history in 2000, only to be eclipsed by both George W. Bush and John Kerry in 2004; Bush was eclipsed by Barack Obama in 2008.

But it doesn’t seem overblown any longer. The Bush administration’s inability to prosecute the war in Iraq effectively in its first three-and-a-half years combined with Republican corruption and the incompetence on display in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to bring the Republican “brand” low in 2006 and 2008. Now the Obama administration’s wild overreach on health care, coupled with its response to the Christmas Day airline-bombing attempt, has brought it similar difficulties. And both parties have lost the confidence of the American people when it comes to explanations for the financial meltdown of 2008 and the responses to it.

And so you have a damaged Republican Party and a damaged Democratic Party, and the elected politicians who represent them. The election coming up will be the first mass test of the effect of this mass bipartisan antipathy. Anti-incumbent fervor will, naturally, hurt Democrats far more than Republicans because there are more Democratic incumbents. But Republican incumbents have every reason to beware as well, just so long as the Democrats trying to unseat them don’t run dogmatically to the Left.

The most startling news since Barack Obama’s colossal victory over Hillary Clinton in Iowa was the Democratic poll in Massachusetts the other day showing the little-known Republican Scott Brown beating the state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley, in the special contest for the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat by a  point. A subsequent poll by the Boston Globe had the Democrat winning by 15. Somebody is very wrong here, obviously, and we won’t know until next Tuesday’s election which poll got the Massachusetts electorate right. But if the Democratic poll is closer to the truth, and if Coakley can’t come up with something to pull Brown’s numbers down over the next week, she is going to lose and a Republican is going to win an ineffable symbolic victory against Barack Obama and especially against health care.

And yet Republican politicians shouldn’t celebrate just yet—and not because of the talking-point excuses that are being handed out by Democrats and their spin doctors about how Democratic retirements and losses don’t mean anything. They mean an enormous amount. But a Brown victory in Massachusetts would suggest something rather more complicated than a simple Republican wave in 2010. It suggests that disgust with the political system has reached a level never before seen in the modern era, a disgust so profound that a little-known Republican can come to inhabit the Liberal Lion’s office.

There have been hints and whispers of this kind of trend before; the Ross Perot phenomenon in 1991-2, for example. Ever since, we’ve been hearing about the possibility of a political conflagration that would originate in the most stable part of any electorate, its center, as the two parties increasingly find themselves in the thrall of their extremes and find it impossible to appeal to the broad middle.

That notion seemed overblown, and was proved to be overblown; since 2000, the electorate has seemed uncommonly engaged with the two parties, with turnout rising enormously in each national election. Al Gore received the most votes in American history in 2000, only to be eclipsed by both George W. Bush and John Kerry in 2004; Bush was eclipsed by Barack Obama in 2008.

But it doesn’t seem overblown any longer. The Bush administration’s inability to prosecute the war in Iraq effectively in its first three-and-a-half years combined with Republican corruption and the incompetence on display in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to bring the Republican “brand” low in 2006 and 2008. Now the Obama administration’s wild overreach on health care, coupled with its response to the Christmas Day airline-bombing attempt, has brought it similar difficulties. And both parties have lost the confidence of the American people when it comes to explanations for the financial meltdown of 2008 and the responses to it.

And so you have a damaged Republican Party and a damaged Democratic Party, and the elected politicians who represent them. The election coming up will be the first mass test of the effect of this mass bipartisan antipathy. Anti-incumbent fervor will, naturally, hurt Democrats far more than Republicans because there are more Democratic incumbents. But Republican incumbents have every reason to beware as well, just so long as the Democrats trying to unseat them don’t run dogmatically to the Left.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

I think most Americans expect consequences for incompetence: “Two senators said Sunday that despite President Barack Obama saying the buck stops with him on the Christmas Day bombing attempt, disciplinary action should be taken against those who let Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab slip through the cracks and get on the Detroit-bound flight. ‘People should be held responsible for what happened’ Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. ‘And we can’t go back to the old Washington kind of routine, we are all responsible so therefore nobody is responsible. Somebody has got to be held responsible.'” Sen. Joe Lieberman agrees.

The mainstream media have figured it out: good campaigner, not so good president. “In winning the White House, Barack Obama’s team earned a reputation for skill and discipline in dominating the communications wars with opponents. In office, virtually the same team has struggled, spending much of the past year defending the administration’s actions on the two biggest domestic issues — the economy and health care.”

The Boston Globe poll has Martha Coakley up 15 points in Massachusetts. But here’s the interesting part: “Brown matches Coakley — both were at 47 percent — among the roughly 1 in 4 respondents who said they were ‘extremely interested’ in the race.”

Phil Klein notes that the Globe didn’t poll many independents.

The Nation or National Review? “The new unemployment numbers are devastating, and they should send up red flares in Washington, a city where officials have so far has been absurdly neglectful of the most serious social, economic and political crisis facing the country. …  President Obama and the Democrats in Congress face the prospect of serious setbacks in 2010 congressional and state races if they do not recognize that there is a disconnect between their focus and that of the American people who will decide the political direction of the country in November.”

Democrats probably didn’t need this: “Republican leaders called on Harry Reid to step down as Senate majority leader, Sunday, after the Nevada senator apologized for calling Barack Obama as a ‘light-skinned’ African-American who lacked a ‘Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’ … Forgiveness from Obama and other black political leaders is unlikely to bring an end to the controversy. While it does not appear that Reid will be forced out of his leadership post for his racially insensitive comments, Democratic strategists describe the incident as a serious blow to his already difficult re-election campaign.”

But Democrats generally have faith that they can say anything and get away with it: “[Sen. Diane] Feinstein said she ‘saw no Democrats jumping out there and condemning Senator Lott. I know Senator Lott. I happen to be very fond of him. And he made a mistake.” Huh? Al Gore sure did. Obama did.

This sounds right: “The nation’s first elected African-American governor said on Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should apologize to the entire country for his comments about President Barack Obama’s skin color. ‘The Reid apology should be to the totality of the American people,’ said Doug Wilder, former Virginia governor.”

Liz Cheney thinks we should stop making it worse: “It was actually a year ago today that the president announced the stimulus, because he said that we needed to put this in place in order to prevent — prevent unemployment from nearing double digits. So here we are, a year later, with unemployment, you know, over double digits, over 10 percent, having gone deeper into debt, and — and I think that the uncertainty in the economy isn’t because people are worried the stimulus won’t continue. I think the uncertainty is because people are watching things like the debate over the health care bill here, which has gone on and on and on, the actions by the administration, which I think are actually creating a drag on this recovery.”

I think most Americans expect consequences for incompetence: “Two senators said Sunday that despite President Barack Obama saying the buck stops with him on the Christmas Day bombing attempt, disciplinary action should be taken against those who let Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab slip through the cracks and get on the Detroit-bound flight. ‘People should be held responsible for what happened’ Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. ‘And we can’t go back to the old Washington kind of routine, we are all responsible so therefore nobody is responsible. Somebody has got to be held responsible.'” Sen. Joe Lieberman agrees.

The mainstream media have figured it out: good campaigner, not so good president. “In winning the White House, Barack Obama’s team earned a reputation for skill and discipline in dominating the communications wars with opponents. In office, virtually the same team has struggled, spending much of the past year defending the administration’s actions on the two biggest domestic issues — the economy and health care.”

The Boston Globe poll has Martha Coakley up 15 points in Massachusetts. But here’s the interesting part: “Brown matches Coakley — both were at 47 percent — among the roughly 1 in 4 respondents who said they were ‘extremely interested’ in the race.”

Phil Klein notes that the Globe didn’t poll many independents.

The Nation or National Review? “The new unemployment numbers are devastating, and they should send up red flares in Washington, a city where officials have so far has been absurdly neglectful of the most serious social, economic and political crisis facing the country. …  President Obama and the Democrats in Congress face the prospect of serious setbacks in 2010 congressional and state races if they do not recognize that there is a disconnect between their focus and that of the American people who will decide the political direction of the country in November.”

Democrats probably didn’t need this: “Republican leaders called on Harry Reid to step down as Senate majority leader, Sunday, after the Nevada senator apologized for calling Barack Obama as a ‘light-skinned’ African-American who lacked a ‘Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’ … Forgiveness from Obama and other black political leaders is unlikely to bring an end to the controversy. While it does not appear that Reid will be forced out of his leadership post for his racially insensitive comments, Democratic strategists describe the incident as a serious blow to his already difficult re-election campaign.”

But Democrats generally have faith that they can say anything and get away with it: “[Sen. Diane] Feinstein said she ‘saw no Democrats jumping out there and condemning Senator Lott. I know Senator Lott. I happen to be very fond of him. And he made a mistake.” Huh? Al Gore sure did. Obama did.

This sounds right: “The nation’s first elected African-American governor said on Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should apologize to the entire country for his comments about President Barack Obama’s skin color. ‘The Reid apology should be to the totality of the American people,’ said Doug Wilder, former Virginia governor.”

Liz Cheney thinks we should stop making it worse: “It was actually a year ago today that the president announced the stimulus, because he said that we needed to put this in place in order to prevent — prevent unemployment from nearing double digits. So here we are, a year later, with unemployment, you know, over double digits, over 10 percent, having gone deeper into debt, and — and I think that the uncertainty in the economy isn’t because people are worried the stimulus won’t continue. I think the uncertainty is because people are watching things like the debate over the health care bill here, which has gone on and on and on, the actions by the administration, which I think are actually creating a drag on this recovery.”

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Obama’s Multilateral Infatuation

As aptly described by George Will, the upside of the Copenhagen “agreement” is that it is no agreement at all. It’s yet another example of the utter unworkability of “multilateralism” as an operating principle in international affairs — and the silliness that Obama displays in attempting to pretend otherwise. As Will observes:

The 1992 Rio climate summit begat Kyoto. It, like Copenhagen, which Kyoto begat, was “saved,” as Copenhagen was, by a last-minute American intervention (Vice President Al Gore’s) that midwifed an agreement that most signatories evaded for 12 years. The Clinton-Gore administration never submitted Kyoto’s accomplishment for ratification, the Senate having denounced its terms 95 to 0.

Copenhagen will beget Mexico City next November. Before then, Congress will give “the international community” other reasons to pout. Congress will refuse to burden the economy with cap-and-trade carbon-reduction requirements and will spurn calls for sending billions in “climate reparations” to China and other countries. Representatives of those nations, when they did not have their hands out in Copenhagen grasping for America’s wealth, clapped their hands in ovations for Hugo Chávez and other kleptocrats who denounced capitalism while clamoring for its fruits.

Obama’s motives for perpetuating this charade are unclear. He didn’t want to be humiliated in Copenhagen a second time, of course, so it was essential to mask the entire affair’s uselessness and Obama’s inability to bend others to his will. But that, I think, is not all that’s going on here. It was also essential for him to preserve some sense that this sort of confab is credible and important.

Obama seems actually to believe the we-are-the-world hooey, which assumes common values and goals among nations that share neither. And even the supposedly “better Obama” at Oslo evinced an ongoing aversion to unilateral action by the U.S. and a preference for acting in concert — or avoiding acting in concert — with the “international community.” (“America’s commitment to global security will never waver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. America alone cannot secure the peace.”) So it wouldn’t do to have Copenhagen collapse spectacularly, thus demonstrating once again that getting China, India, and Zimbabwe on the same page with the U.S. is no easy feat.

But Obama clearly had another motive in Copenhagen — to use an international agreement to bludgeon Congress into doing what it had already indicated it was unwilling to do. Even Democrats spotted what he was up to and at least temporarily remembered their constitutional roles. James Webb wrote to Obama in early December:

I would like to express my concern regarding reports that the Administration may believe it has the unilateral power to commit the government of the United States to certain standards that may be agreed upon at the upcoming [conference]. … Although details have not been made available, recent statements by Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern indicate that negotiators may be intending to commit the United States to a nationwide emission reduction program. … you well know from your time in the Senate, only specific legislation agreed upon in the Congress, or a treaty ratified by the Senate, could actually create such a commitment on behalf of our country.

And had China, India, and all the rest been just a bit more amenable, that is what, one suspects, Obama was more than willing to do — box in the Congress with a unilateral commitment.

While we might breathe a sigh of relief that Copenhagen ended as it did, it is yet another unpleasant reminder that Obama’s reverence for the “international community” is virtually without limit. The constant failure of the “international community” to produce any agreement of consequence (whether it’s enforceable sanctions on rogue wannabe-nuclear states or anything else) and its unseemly habit of money-grubbing from developed nations have, at least so far, not cooled Obama’s ardor for multilateral confabs. But stay tuned: it’s less than a year before the next three-ring circus in Mexico City.

As aptly described by George Will, the upside of the Copenhagen “agreement” is that it is no agreement at all. It’s yet another example of the utter unworkability of “multilateralism” as an operating principle in international affairs — and the silliness that Obama displays in attempting to pretend otherwise. As Will observes:

The 1992 Rio climate summit begat Kyoto. It, like Copenhagen, which Kyoto begat, was “saved,” as Copenhagen was, by a last-minute American intervention (Vice President Al Gore’s) that midwifed an agreement that most signatories evaded for 12 years. The Clinton-Gore administration never submitted Kyoto’s accomplishment for ratification, the Senate having denounced its terms 95 to 0.

Copenhagen will beget Mexico City next November. Before then, Congress will give “the international community” other reasons to pout. Congress will refuse to burden the economy with cap-and-trade carbon-reduction requirements and will spurn calls for sending billions in “climate reparations” to China and other countries. Representatives of those nations, when they did not have their hands out in Copenhagen grasping for America’s wealth, clapped their hands in ovations for Hugo Chávez and other kleptocrats who denounced capitalism while clamoring for its fruits.

Obama’s motives for perpetuating this charade are unclear. He didn’t want to be humiliated in Copenhagen a second time, of course, so it was essential to mask the entire affair’s uselessness and Obama’s inability to bend others to his will. But that, I think, is not all that’s going on here. It was also essential for him to preserve some sense that this sort of confab is credible and important.

Obama seems actually to believe the we-are-the-world hooey, which assumes common values and goals among nations that share neither. And even the supposedly “better Obama” at Oslo evinced an ongoing aversion to unilateral action by the U.S. and a preference for acting in concert — or avoiding acting in concert — with the “international community.” (“America’s commitment to global security will never waver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. America alone cannot secure the peace.”) So it wouldn’t do to have Copenhagen collapse spectacularly, thus demonstrating once again that getting China, India, and Zimbabwe on the same page with the U.S. is no easy feat.

But Obama clearly had another motive in Copenhagen — to use an international agreement to bludgeon Congress into doing what it had already indicated it was unwilling to do. Even Democrats spotted what he was up to and at least temporarily remembered their constitutional roles. James Webb wrote to Obama in early December:

I would like to express my concern regarding reports that the Administration may believe it has the unilateral power to commit the government of the United States to certain standards that may be agreed upon at the upcoming [conference]. … Although details have not been made available, recent statements by Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern indicate that negotiators may be intending to commit the United States to a nationwide emission reduction program. … you well know from your time in the Senate, only specific legislation agreed upon in the Congress, or a treaty ratified by the Senate, could actually create such a commitment on behalf of our country.

And had China, India, and all the rest been just a bit more amenable, that is what, one suspects, Obama was more than willing to do — box in the Congress with a unilateral commitment.

While we might breathe a sigh of relief that Copenhagen ended as it did, it is yet another unpleasant reminder that Obama’s reverence for the “international community” is virtually without limit. The constant failure of the “international community” to produce any agreement of consequence (whether it’s enforceable sanctions on rogue wannabe-nuclear states or anything else) and its unseemly habit of money-grubbing from developed nations have, at least so far, not cooled Obama’s ardor for multilateral confabs. But stay tuned: it’s less than a year before the next three-ring circus in Mexico City.

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Oops, They Forgot to Include Siberia

First it was the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia playing fast and loose with scientific data, manipulating it to produce desired results while discarding much of the raw data. Now, according to a report in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, the Hadley Center for Climate Change, part of the government’s British Meteorological Office, did some data-cooking as well, leaving out temperature records for about 40 percent of the Russian landmass in calculating recent temperature trends.

Since Russia constitutes 12.5 percent of the world’s landmass, much of that a byword for brutal winters, that is no small omission. And the data from weather stations that were omitted do not show substantial global warming in recent decades.

Climategate is beginning to seem more and more like its namesake, Watergate. Those around in those days remember how, day after day after day, new revelations came out and ever more desperate attempts to minimize their significance or to explain them away were made. (One of my all-time favorite Herblock cartoons, from June 1973, as Watergate was just beginning to expand, shows a press conference in the East Room. In the background is a very large, very dead whale labeled “Nixon Scandals,” inadequately hidden beneath a small rug. The spokesman holding the press conference says, “I am authorized to say, ‘What whale?’ “)

The constant water drip of revelations and Nixon’s attempts to explain them and prevent further ones from leaking slowly but surely destroyed the Nixon presidency. The chronology of Watergate as it evolved over a year and a half is a fascinating window into the greatest scandal in American history as it slowly reached critical mass.

Climategate bids fair to be equally interesting, and it seems that we are getting nearer and nearer to that critical mass. I suspect that Al Gore, flying around in his private jet telling everyone else to walk, is not too happy right now.

First it was the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia playing fast and loose with scientific data, manipulating it to produce desired results while discarding much of the raw data. Now, according to a report in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, the Hadley Center for Climate Change, part of the government’s British Meteorological Office, did some data-cooking as well, leaving out temperature records for about 40 percent of the Russian landmass in calculating recent temperature trends.

Since Russia constitutes 12.5 percent of the world’s landmass, much of that a byword for brutal winters, that is no small omission. And the data from weather stations that were omitted do not show substantial global warming in recent decades.

Climategate is beginning to seem more and more like its namesake, Watergate. Those around in those days remember how, day after day after day, new revelations came out and ever more desperate attempts to minimize their significance or to explain them away were made. (One of my all-time favorite Herblock cartoons, from June 1973, as Watergate was just beginning to expand, shows a press conference in the East Room. In the background is a very large, very dead whale labeled “Nixon Scandals,” inadequately hidden beneath a small rug. The spokesman holding the press conference says, “I am authorized to say, ‘What whale?’ “)

The constant water drip of revelations and Nixon’s attempts to explain them and prevent further ones from leaking slowly but surely destroyed the Nixon presidency. The chronology of Watergate as it evolved over a year and a half is a fascinating window into the greatest scandal in American history as it slowly reached critical mass.

Climategate bids fair to be equally interesting, and it seems that we are getting nearer and nearer to that critical mass. I suspect that Al Gore, flying around in his private jet telling everyone else to walk, is not too happy right now.

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Global-Warming Poetry

Al Gore has departed from fictional films … er … “documentaries” to write some truly atrocious poetry. A COMMENTARY reader who prefers to go nameless has an alternative offering:

I do not want the Earth to warm
I do not want to do it harm
I do not want the Earth to heat
I fear the flames will hurt my feet
The time has come for me to rhyme
To save the Earth, I’m just in time

To save the planet from this flame
Aloft I, in my private plane
Hysterically my warnings shriek
Sounding not unlike some goofy freak
Fake data backs my warming shtick
The temp curve is a hockey stick

I can help relieve your guilt
Because you see, my fortune’s built
On carbon offsets that I sell
Before the world turns to hell
You’d best send money, for a tree
That I will plant in Zimbabwe

Dr. Seuss, take that!

(If you think that you, too, are a budding Wallace Stevens of eco-disaster, I’m sure Mr. Gore would love to hear from you. Perhaps there’s an anthology in the works!)

Al Gore has departed from fictional films … er … “documentaries” to write some truly atrocious poetry. A COMMENTARY reader who prefers to go nameless has an alternative offering:

I do not want the Earth to warm
I do not want to do it harm
I do not want the Earth to heat
I fear the flames will hurt my feet
The time has come for me to rhyme
To save the Earth, I’m just in time

To save the planet from this flame
Aloft I, in my private plane
Hysterically my warnings shriek
Sounding not unlike some goofy freak
Fake data backs my warming shtick
The temp curve is a hockey stick

I can help relieve your guilt
Because you see, my fortune’s built
On carbon offsets that I sell
Before the world turns to hell
You’d best send money, for a tree
That I will plant in Zimbabwe

Dr. Seuss, take that!

(If you think that you, too, are a budding Wallace Stevens of eco-disaster, I’m sure Mr. Gore would love to hear from you. Perhaps there’s an anthology in the works!)

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Harry Reid seems to say, “Never mind”: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is prepared to give in to demands from centrists in order to pass the health-care legislation before Christmas, senators say.Reid indicated at the Democratic Conference meeting on Monday that he would drop a controversial Medicare buy-in provision, which was offered as a replacement to the government-run health insurance option, to win the votes of Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).” All that’s missing is what’s in the deal.

Seems like the public doesn’t want any kind of plan. The RealClearPolitics average shows that 38 percent approve of ObamaCare and 53.3 percent disapprove.

Tevi Troy pulls off a Chanukah miracle — getting the White House to cough up 150 more invites to the White House Chanukah party.

The New York Post (h/t Ben Smith) reports that “Marc Mukasey, the son of Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey, is mulling mounting a challenge to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.” Bet we’d have some fun debates on the KSM trial.

Another inconvenient poll: “With world leaders debating how to address climate change in Copenhagen and the U.S. Senate poised to take up a climate bill in the coming months, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans believe the issue should be a priority for government leaders. That’s a significant drop from April of 2007, when 52 percent of those surveyed said the issue should be a high priority.” Apparently, these people want jobs and economic prosperity: “A clear majority – 61 percent – say stimulating the economy should come first. Only 29 percent say protecting the environment is more important.”

The Marx Brothers hold a climate-control conference.

And the scientific clown show continues: Al Gore’s prediction of an ice-free north polar cap in five years isn’t supported by any facts. “The climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast. ‘It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,’ Dr. [Wieslav] Maslowski said. ‘I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.’ ” Gore says it’s close enough for made-up science — er — for scaring the public  — er — for what he’s doing.

“Cramdown” mortgage legislation is also going down for the count. Almost like there isn’t a majority for extreme antibusiness regulation.

Bill McGurn thinks actions count more than words: “In wartime, people soon tire of lofty words that do not seem borne out by events. In September 2001, with the twin towers still smoldering and the Pentagon wounded, President Bush delivered a war address to a joint session of Congress (which I had no part in, so am free to praise) that ranks with the best of FDR. Whether that speech ever receives its full due depends in part on how this war ends. The same goes for President Obama. At West Point and Oslo, he spoke to the challenge of defending our freedom against hard men with no moral limit on what they are willing to do to crush it. The irony is that whether these fine speeches are remembered by history depends on a word he didn’t use in either one: victory.”

Harry Reid seems to say, “Never mind”: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is prepared to give in to demands from centrists in order to pass the health-care legislation before Christmas, senators say.Reid indicated at the Democratic Conference meeting on Monday that he would drop a controversial Medicare buy-in provision, which was offered as a replacement to the government-run health insurance option, to win the votes of Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).” All that’s missing is what’s in the deal.

Seems like the public doesn’t want any kind of plan. The RealClearPolitics average shows that 38 percent approve of ObamaCare and 53.3 percent disapprove.

Tevi Troy pulls off a Chanukah miracle — getting the White House to cough up 150 more invites to the White House Chanukah party.

The New York Post (h/t Ben Smith) reports that “Marc Mukasey, the son of Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey, is mulling mounting a challenge to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.” Bet we’d have some fun debates on the KSM trial.

Another inconvenient poll: “With world leaders debating how to address climate change in Copenhagen and the U.S. Senate poised to take up a climate bill in the coming months, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans believe the issue should be a priority for government leaders. That’s a significant drop from April of 2007, when 52 percent of those surveyed said the issue should be a high priority.” Apparently, these people want jobs and economic prosperity: “A clear majority – 61 percent – say stimulating the economy should come first. Only 29 percent say protecting the environment is more important.”

The Marx Brothers hold a climate-control conference.

And the scientific clown show continues: Al Gore’s prediction of an ice-free north polar cap in five years isn’t supported by any facts. “The climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast. ‘It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,’ Dr. [Wieslav] Maslowski said. ‘I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.’ ” Gore says it’s close enough for made-up science — er — for scaring the public  — er — for what he’s doing.

“Cramdown” mortgage legislation is also going down for the count. Almost like there isn’t a majority for extreme antibusiness regulation.

Bill McGurn thinks actions count more than words: “In wartime, people soon tire of lofty words that do not seem borne out by events. In September 2001, with the twin towers still smoldering and the Pentagon wounded, President Bush delivered a war address to a joint session of Congress (which I had no part in, so am free to praise) that ranks with the best of FDR. Whether that speech ever receives its full due depends in part on how this war ends. The same goes for President Obama. At West Point and Oslo, he spoke to the challenge of defending our freedom against hard men with no moral limit on what they are willing to do to crush it. The irony is that whether these fine speeches are remembered by history depends on a word he didn’t use in either one: victory.”

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Copenhagen Ultimatum: Pay or Die!

While the poorer countries squabble with the richer ones at the Copenhagen global-warming jamboree, at least some of those in attendance have given a passing thought to how much the grand schemes being cooked up there will cost the rest of us. The New York Times reports that the International Energy Agency estimates that the tab for the goals set at the conference for energy infrastructure alone “will cost more than $10 trillion in additional investment from 2010 to 2030.”

If you think that’s a scary number, the Times’s advice is don’t worry about it. After all, while it is “a significant sum,” it’s only “a relatively small fraction of the world’s total economic output.” Which means that while the environmental alarmists are planning to place crippling handicaps on a global economy in the throes of a historic slowdown, it’s no problem because there will be at least some money left for the rest of us after Al Gore’s favorite “green” companies reap gigantic profits.

But the alternative isn’t pretty for those of us who are still reluctant to fork over the dough and trust those who say the Climategate e-mails are meaningless chatter, not an insightful look at the closed and corrupt world of climate science. Kevin Parker, the global head of Deutsche Bank Asset Management, who is in Copenhagen to track climate policy for the bank, has views about the issue that make Gore look like a conservative. According to Parker, those who worry about how to pay for all the Copenhagen plans aren’t looking “at the cost of inaction, which is the extinction of the human race. Period.”

So much for reasoned argument and analysis. Not even the most alarmist and far-fetched scenarios envisioned by Gore and company pose any such threat. But that’s the spirit of Copenhagen for you. As the global-warming crowd escalates demands for support of the various ploys they claim will help the situation, they are forced to keep raising the temperature of the fears they are stoking, no matter how unreasonable they might be.

But the bottom line here is that the plans being discussed represent a major drain on world capital as well as the pockets of taxpayers, while simultaneously enacting measures that will limit the ability of the economy to recover. Copenhagen’s ultimatum to the world is to stop thinking critically about the issue and just pay or die.

While the poorer countries squabble with the richer ones at the Copenhagen global-warming jamboree, at least some of those in attendance have given a passing thought to how much the grand schemes being cooked up there will cost the rest of us. The New York Times reports that the International Energy Agency estimates that the tab for the goals set at the conference for energy infrastructure alone “will cost more than $10 trillion in additional investment from 2010 to 2030.”

If you think that’s a scary number, the Times’s advice is don’t worry about it. After all, while it is “a significant sum,” it’s only “a relatively small fraction of the world’s total economic output.” Which means that while the environmental alarmists are planning to place crippling handicaps on a global economy in the throes of a historic slowdown, it’s no problem because there will be at least some money left for the rest of us after Al Gore’s favorite “green” companies reap gigantic profits.

But the alternative isn’t pretty for those of us who are still reluctant to fork over the dough and trust those who say the Climategate e-mails are meaningless chatter, not an insightful look at the closed and corrupt world of climate science. Kevin Parker, the global head of Deutsche Bank Asset Management, who is in Copenhagen to track climate policy for the bank, has views about the issue that make Gore look like a conservative. According to Parker, those who worry about how to pay for all the Copenhagen plans aren’t looking “at the cost of inaction, which is the extinction of the human race. Period.”

So much for reasoned argument and analysis. Not even the most alarmist and far-fetched scenarios envisioned by Gore and company pose any such threat. But that’s the spirit of Copenhagen for you. As the global-warming crowd escalates demands for support of the various ploys they claim will help the situation, they are forced to keep raising the temperature of the fears they are stoking, no matter how unreasonable they might be.

But the bottom line here is that the plans being discussed represent a major drain on world capital as well as the pockets of taxpayers, while simultaneously enacting measures that will limit the ability of the economy to recover. Copenhagen’s ultimatum to the world is to stop thinking critically about the issue and just pay or die.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Michael Gerson on the West Point speech: “After a sober, coherent beginning, the speech became defensive and overly self-referential. Large portions of his remarks concerned his own personal views and struggles, designed to prove he did not take the decision ‘lightly.’ … Great war speeches involve policy, words and tone. On Tuesday night, the president’s policy was strong. His words sent conflicting messages of resolve and reluctance. His tone was uninspired and uninspiring. But we can hope that good policy is good enough.”

Jon Stewart goes to town on Climategate: “Poor Al Gore. Global warming completely debunked via the very Internet you invented.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions: “The attorney general himself admitted during his testimony that military commissions — part of settled law for hundreds of years — are a perfectly proper way to try war criminals. In fact, as KSM and his cohorts are sent to New York, the administration is sending five other terrorists before military tribunals. So let’s be clear: The KSM decision was not compelled by our Constitution. Nor was it a strategic decision designed to increase the government’s chances of success at trial.”

Once again, “No!”: “Iran said Wednesday it will enrich uranium to a higher level on its own, the latest indication the country was rejecting a U.N.-backed proposal aimed at thwarting any effort by Tehran to make material for a nuclear weapon. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted Iran will not negotiate with the West over its nuclear program.”

Some doctors’ groups are catching on: “The state’s largest doctors group is opposing healthcare legislation being debated in the Senate this week, saying it would increase local healthcare costs and restrict access to care for elderly and low-income patients. The California Medical Assn. represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, making it the second-largest state medical association in the country after Texas. … They join a handful of other state medical associations that have opposed the bill in recent weeks, including Florida, Georgia and Texas.”

Not even Democratic governors will back this monstrosity: “Republican governors are not alone in being concerned about what the proposed health care legislation might mean for their already overstrained budgets: Democrats share the same worries. ‘We’ve got concerns,’ Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware said in an interview Wednesday, hours before getting elected as the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. ‘And we’re doing our best to communicate them. We understand the need to get something done, and we’re supportive of getting something done. But we want to make sure it’s done in a way that state budgets are not negatively impacted.'”

But they’ve worked so hard this year: “The House will work a total of 17 days during January and February of next year, according to the 2010 legislative calendar released Wednesday by the Majority Leader’s office. Finishing what many veteran Capitol Hill aides described as the busiest legislative year they can remember, the House now appears to be setting itself up for a significant downshift in 2010.”

New math: “We’re spending $450 billion on subsidies to drive up insurance premiums in the individual insurance market by 10–13% (according to the CBO), and this is defined as ‘success.’ Remember when health-care reform was about lowering costs?”

Michael Gerson on the West Point speech: “After a sober, coherent beginning, the speech became defensive and overly self-referential. Large portions of his remarks concerned his own personal views and struggles, designed to prove he did not take the decision ‘lightly.’ … Great war speeches involve policy, words and tone. On Tuesday night, the president’s policy was strong. His words sent conflicting messages of resolve and reluctance. His tone was uninspired and uninspiring. But we can hope that good policy is good enough.”

Jon Stewart goes to town on Climategate: “Poor Al Gore. Global warming completely debunked via the very Internet you invented.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions: “The attorney general himself admitted during his testimony that military commissions — part of settled law for hundreds of years — are a perfectly proper way to try war criminals. In fact, as KSM and his cohorts are sent to New York, the administration is sending five other terrorists before military tribunals. So let’s be clear: The KSM decision was not compelled by our Constitution. Nor was it a strategic decision designed to increase the government’s chances of success at trial.”

Once again, “No!”: “Iran said Wednesday it will enrich uranium to a higher level on its own, the latest indication the country was rejecting a U.N.-backed proposal aimed at thwarting any effort by Tehran to make material for a nuclear weapon. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted Iran will not negotiate with the West over its nuclear program.”

Some doctors’ groups are catching on: “The state’s largest doctors group is opposing healthcare legislation being debated in the Senate this week, saying it would increase local healthcare costs and restrict access to care for elderly and low-income patients. The California Medical Assn. represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, making it the second-largest state medical association in the country after Texas. … They join a handful of other state medical associations that have opposed the bill in recent weeks, including Florida, Georgia and Texas.”

Not even Democratic governors will back this monstrosity: “Republican governors are not alone in being concerned about what the proposed health care legislation might mean for their already overstrained budgets: Democrats share the same worries. ‘We’ve got concerns,’ Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware said in an interview Wednesday, hours before getting elected as the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. ‘And we’re doing our best to communicate them. We understand the need to get something done, and we’re supportive of getting something done. But we want to make sure it’s done in a way that state budgets are not negatively impacted.'”

But they’ve worked so hard this year: “The House will work a total of 17 days during January and February of next year, according to the 2010 legislative calendar released Wednesday by the Majority Leader’s office. Finishing what many veteran Capitol Hill aides described as the busiest legislative year they can remember, the House now appears to be setting itself up for a significant downshift in 2010.”

New math: “We’re spending $450 billion on subsidies to drive up insurance premiums in the individual insurance market by 10–13% (according to the CBO), and this is defined as ‘success.’ Remember when health-care reform was about lowering costs?”

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E.J. Dionne’s Glaring Double Standard

The Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. has a peculiar little habit. He discovers the importance of civility in political discourse only when a Democratic president is on the receiving end of heated attacks. That was true when Bill Clinton was president — and it’s true again now that Barack Obama is. “The most surprising and disappointing aspect of our politics,” Dionne writes, “is how little pushback there has been against the vile, extremist rhetoric that has characterized such a large part of the anti-Obama movement.” It’s all just so nasty, isn’t it?

And yet when President Bush was on the receiving end of attacks far worse than what Obama has had to endure — I document a few of the higher-profile examples of calumny here, including former Vice President Al Gore’s charges that Bush “brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon” and that Bush had “betrayed this country” and was a “moral coward” — E.J. was nowhere to be found. It would have been nice to hear from the defenders of civility at that time.

Mr. Dionne was, in fact, a fairly harsh and relentless critic of President Bush himself — and if Dionne ever upbraided influential Democrats and those on the Left for their vile, extremist attacks on Bush, it’s news to me. Assuming I’m right, Dionne’s newfound outrage should be ignored. For him, civility seems to be a means to an end, a tool to advance liberalism. Ideology and partisanship determine just how delicate his sensibilities are. After all, if that were not the case, we would have heard from E.J. sometime during the Bush era, when it would have required (to use a Dionne phrase from his most recent column) “an immoderate dose of courage.” We didn’t — and so his lectures on the vital role that comity should play in our civic life are now hard to take seriously.

There is a case to be made for civility in public discourse — but E.J. Dionne is not in the strongest position to make it.

The Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. has a peculiar little habit. He discovers the importance of civility in political discourse only when a Democratic president is on the receiving end of heated attacks. That was true when Bill Clinton was president — and it’s true again now that Barack Obama is. “The most surprising and disappointing aspect of our politics,” Dionne writes, “is how little pushback there has been against the vile, extremist rhetoric that has characterized such a large part of the anti-Obama movement.” It’s all just so nasty, isn’t it?

And yet when President Bush was on the receiving end of attacks far worse than what Obama has had to endure — I document a few of the higher-profile examples of calumny here, including former Vice President Al Gore’s charges that Bush “brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon” and that Bush had “betrayed this country” and was a “moral coward” — E.J. was nowhere to be found. It would have been nice to hear from the defenders of civility at that time.

Mr. Dionne was, in fact, a fairly harsh and relentless critic of President Bush himself — and if Dionne ever upbraided influential Democrats and those on the Left for their vile, extremist attacks on Bush, it’s news to me. Assuming I’m right, Dionne’s newfound outrage should be ignored. For him, civility seems to be a means to an end, a tool to advance liberalism. Ideology and partisanship determine just how delicate his sensibilities are. After all, if that were not the case, we would have heard from E.J. sometime during the Bush era, when it would have required (to use a Dionne phrase from his most recent column) “an immoderate dose of courage.” We didn’t — and so his lectures on the vital role that comity should play in our civic life are now hard to take seriously.

There is a case to be made for civility in public discourse — but E.J. Dionne is not in the strongest position to make it.

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Whatever Happened to Donna Brazile?

The wackiest political development this past weekend was the arbitrary division of the Michigan and Florida Democratic Convention delegates. Final result: The delegates will be seated at the convention in August, but each vote will count only half. For one member of the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee, Donna Brazile, this decision should have provoked a lot of ire.

As Al Gore’s presidential campaign manager, Brazile published an op-ed in the Washington Post on December 25, 2000. By then, Gore had conceded the election, but Brazile was still worried enough about alleged voting suppression in Florida to write the following, an attempt to de-legitimize the election results:

I hope the civil rights community will start the healing process by holding town meetings and vigils on Jan. 15, the birthday of Martin Luther King and a federal holiday.

As for me, this was supposed to be my last campaign—my exit from grass-roots politics and moving on to other things to enjoy—such as teaching, cooking and gardening. But how can anyone move on with so many angry voices and so much bitterness? With all the progress made over the past eight years under the leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, we must still fight on and work with Congress and the new administration on fixing what ails some of us at the ballot box.

The question must now be posed to Brazile: how does eliminating half the voting power of the Michigan and Florida voters rectify of ballot-box ailments? Moreover, why should an “uncommitted” vote be automatically awarded to Barack Obama, as it now is resolved to be for 45% of the Democratic voters in Michigan? Brazile’s outlook seems to have changed, without explanation or qualification. According to the Los Angeles Times,

Brazile described herself as wanting to give the two states a voice at the convention, but “I also want to put on the record, because this goes to what my mama taught me . . . that when you decide to change the rules, especially [in the] middle of the game, end of the game, that is referred to as cheating.”

Cheers, boos and applause followed.

Brazile urged the panel to craft a compromise that would “pay tribute” to voters who wrote in candidates or did not go to the polls.

So, since the state parties “cheated,” as Brazile calls it, the voters of each state lose their voting power. Sounds like voter suppression to me! What about the will of the people?

In her 2000 Op-Ed, Brazile ends by suggesting that she will take a much-needed break from politics and take time to turn in upon herself:

But as most Americans prepare for a new political season in Washington, I look forward to cooking and stirring my creole gumbo. After I open my gifts, I will go down to my basement and play favorite songs from my youth—songs that will remind me that the struggle for civil rights in America will never die unless we let it.

What say you now, Donna? Perhaps the time has come for yet another self-indulging trip to the basement.

The wackiest political development this past weekend was the arbitrary division of the Michigan and Florida Democratic Convention delegates. Final result: The delegates will be seated at the convention in August, but each vote will count only half. For one member of the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee, Donna Brazile, this decision should have provoked a lot of ire.

As Al Gore’s presidential campaign manager, Brazile published an op-ed in the Washington Post on December 25, 2000. By then, Gore had conceded the election, but Brazile was still worried enough about alleged voting suppression in Florida to write the following, an attempt to de-legitimize the election results:

I hope the civil rights community will start the healing process by holding town meetings and vigils on Jan. 15, the birthday of Martin Luther King and a federal holiday.

As for me, this was supposed to be my last campaign—my exit from grass-roots politics and moving on to other things to enjoy—such as teaching, cooking and gardening. But how can anyone move on with so many angry voices and so much bitterness? With all the progress made over the past eight years under the leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, we must still fight on and work with Congress and the new administration on fixing what ails some of us at the ballot box.

The question must now be posed to Brazile: how does eliminating half the voting power of the Michigan and Florida voters rectify of ballot-box ailments? Moreover, why should an “uncommitted” vote be automatically awarded to Barack Obama, as it now is resolved to be for 45% of the Democratic voters in Michigan? Brazile’s outlook seems to have changed, without explanation or qualification. According to the Los Angeles Times,

Brazile described herself as wanting to give the two states a voice at the convention, but “I also want to put on the record, because this goes to what my mama taught me . . . that when you decide to change the rules, especially [in the] middle of the game, end of the game, that is referred to as cheating.”

Cheers, boos and applause followed.

Brazile urged the panel to craft a compromise that would “pay tribute” to voters who wrote in candidates or did not go to the polls.

So, since the state parties “cheated,” as Brazile calls it, the voters of each state lose their voting power. Sounds like voter suppression to me! What about the will of the people?

In her 2000 Op-Ed, Brazile ends by suggesting that she will take a much-needed break from politics and take time to turn in upon herself:

But as most Americans prepare for a new political season in Washington, I look forward to cooking and stirring my creole gumbo. After I open my gifts, I will go down to my basement and play favorite songs from my youth—songs that will remind me that the struggle for civil rights in America will never die unless we let it.

What say you now, Donna? Perhaps the time has come for yet another self-indulging trip to the basement.

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Not So Good At History

A number of blogs (and now cable news outlets) are on to the fact that Barack Obama did not get the details right on the story of his uncle (or was it a grand-uncle?) and his return from World War II. I am rather forgiving on war memories, and if the uncle or Obama got a few facts wrong about where he served I am not one to grouse. However, Obama and his staff get a lot of history wrong (and a lot of other stuff wrong, too).

Isn’t Obama supposed to be highly educated, sophisticated, a great intellect? Shouldn’t the media’s bar be higher for this brilliant leader of the new age of politics? Had it been Hillary Clinton or Al Gore who made all these errors, we would have heard by now that the candidate was a fabulist. Had it been John McCain it would have been a sign of senility. Had it been George W. Bush . . . oh, you can imagine. So maybe Obama’s gaffes are a sign of inexperience and shallow knowledge? Nah, couldn’t be.

A number of blogs (and now cable news outlets) are on to the fact that Barack Obama did not get the details right on the story of his uncle (or was it a grand-uncle?) and his return from World War II. I am rather forgiving on war memories, and if the uncle or Obama got a few facts wrong about where he served I am not one to grouse. However, Obama and his staff get a lot of history wrong (and a lot of other stuff wrong, too).

Isn’t Obama supposed to be highly educated, sophisticated, a great intellect? Shouldn’t the media’s bar be higher for this brilliant leader of the new age of politics? Had it been Hillary Clinton or Al Gore who made all these errors, we would have heard by now that the candidate was a fabulist. Had it been John McCain it would have been a sign of senility. Had it been George W. Bush . . . oh, you can imagine. So maybe Obama’s gaffes are a sign of inexperience and shallow knowledge? Nah, couldn’t be.

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Senator Lieberman’s Address

Senator Joseph Lieberman spoke last night at the annual Commentary Fund dinner at New York’s University Club, which I attended. Although he termed it a “lecture,” his address was in fact a history lesson, one that–in light of the past week’s events–it appears the country badly needs.

Lieberman reviewed the bipartisan war that both American political parties waged against fascism and then communism in the 20th century. He traced the committment to fighting totalitarianism that ran from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan. After a near-collapse during the Carter presidency and abandonment by a series of failed Democratic presidential candidates, that tradition of support for freedom and opposition to tyranny, he contended, was restored and became a mainstay in the Clinton administration. He praised Clinton’s willingness to use American military power in Bosnia to prevent ethnic cleansing in Europe’s midst. And he maintained this was the essential platform that he and Al Gore ran on in 2000.

With obvious pained disappointed he argued that his once stalwart Democratic party has in fact fallen prey to isolationism and defeatism. He spoke of his decision to endorse John McCain, who, he contends, understands the stakes in Iraq and more generally America’s role in the world. As for his own historic party, he is not yet ready to give up on the notion of a Democratic Party devoted to a muscular defense of American interest and thus remains an “Independent Democrat.”

What to make of the address? I confess I came away wondering how the American political alignment on this issues would have turned out had that Florida vote gone differently in 2000. But overwhelmingly, I felt a sense of regret that he really is a voice in the wilderness, without bitterness but nevertheless alone, in his struggle to return the Democratic party to its robust national security position. Still, his erudite and good-humored address reminds us that those in public life (and those who write about it) are obligated to teach and reteach the lessons of the past. Without them– properly told and properly understood–we are lost. And never more so than now.

Senator Joseph Lieberman spoke last night at the annual Commentary Fund dinner at New York’s University Club, which I attended. Although he termed it a “lecture,” his address was in fact a history lesson, one that–in light of the past week’s events–it appears the country badly needs.

Lieberman reviewed the bipartisan war that both American political parties waged against fascism and then communism in the 20th century. He traced the committment to fighting totalitarianism that ran from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan. After a near-collapse during the Carter presidency and abandonment by a series of failed Democratic presidential candidates, that tradition of support for freedom and opposition to tyranny, he contended, was restored and became a mainstay in the Clinton administration. He praised Clinton’s willingness to use American military power in Bosnia to prevent ethnic cleansing in Europe’s midst. And he maintained this was the essential platform that he and Al Gore ran on in 2000.

With obvious pained disappointed he argued that his once stalwart Democratic party has in fact fallen prey to isolationism and defeatism. He spoke of his decision to endorse John McCain, who, he contends, understands the stakes in Iraq and more generally America’s role in the world. As for his own historic party, he is not yet ready to give up on the notion of a Democratic Party devoted to a muscular defense of American interest and thus remains an “Independent Democrat.”

What to make of the address? I confess I came away wondering how the American political alignment on this issues would have turned out had that Florida vote gone differently in 2000. But overwhelmingly, I felt a sense of regret that he really is a voice in the wilderness, without bitterness but nevertheless alone, in his struggle to return the Democratic party to its robust national security position. Still, his erudite and good-humored address reminds us that those in public life (and those who write about it) are obligated to teach and reteach the lessons of the past. Without them– properly told and properly understood–we are lost. And never more so than now.

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McCain’s Thermostat

John McCain is talking climate change this week and has a new ad out on the subject. He outlines his embrace of a “cap and trade” carbon reduction plan in a speech in Oregon today. Even more interesting than the substance of the ad, I think, is the underlying message that he is, excuse the expression, the “third way,” standing between Democrats’ environmental extremism and Republicans’ inactivity. He’s looking for an issue to demonstrate his independence from standard-fare Republican policy–and this is it.

In response to the predictable attacks on his plan coming from the DNC and Obama’s team, the McCain folks have responded via email with a long list of the nice things all sorts of Democrats–from Harry Reid to Hillary Clinton to, well, Barack Obama–have said about his bipartisan efforts in this area.

In short, this is all about not being a George W. Bush Republican. It’s an attempt to assure independents that on a feel-good issue like global warming McCain will chart a middle course. Are conservatives grousing? You bet.

And McCain is probably delighted. That’s the point of all of this triangulation: to portray himself as occupying the sensible center. Will it work? Well, he’s not going to get Al Gore’s vote, but he never was. But for moderate voters opposed to supporting a candidate who’s “out of it” on an issue that has taken on the aura of a civic religion, this may help.

John McCain is talking climate change this week and has a new ad out on the subject. He outlines his embrace of a “cap and trade” carbon reduction plan in a speech in Oregon today. Even more interesting than the substance of the ad, I think, is the underlying message that he is, excuse the expression, the “third way,” standing between Democrats’ environmental extremism and Republicans’ inactivity. He’s looking for an issue to demonstrate his independence from standard-fare Republican policy–and this is it.

In response to the predictable attacks on his plan coming from the DNC and Obama’s team, the McCain folks have responded via email with a long list of the nice things all sorts of Democrats–from Harry Reid to Hillary Clinton to, well, Barack Obama–have said about his bipartisan efforts in this area.

In short, this is all about not being a George W. Bush Republican. It’s an attempt to assure independents that on a feel-good issue like global warming McCain will chart a middle course. Are conservatives grousing? You bet.

And McCain is probably delighted. That’s the point of all of this triangulation: to portray himself as occupying the sensible center. Will it work? Well, he’s not going to get Al Gore’s vote, but he never was. But for moderate voters opposed to supporting a candidate who’s “out of it” on an issue that has taken on the aura of a civic religion, this may help.

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The Task Ahead

Between them, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have generated more than 30 million primary votes. To say there has never been anything like this is to understate the case. In 2000, when George W. Bush and John McCain were fighting it out for the Republican nomination, a total of 20 million votes was cast. The Democrats in 2008 have bested that by 50 percent. What this means is that, even if a third of Hillary’s voters absolutely refuse to vote for Obama in November, that will leave him with a probable 30 million votes in the bank. In May. Six months before the November election.

Now, surely those 30 million votes would have turned out for Obama in November anyway, even if Hillary had dropped out of the race in Iowa. But that is not the significance of this number. It means something because Obama will not have to spend a nickel to get their vote. Instead, he will only have to spend money to get another 30 million or so votes, and he will have more money than anyone else has ever had before to do so.

It is important for conservatives and Republicans, who have comforted themselves with the thought that Obama cannot possibly win because no one as far to the Left as he is can win the presidency in the United States, to understand the nature of the challenge he poses. Think of it this way. In 1972, George McGovern, on Election Day, received 29 million votes — fewer than Obama’s and Hillary’s combined vote totals in the Democratic primary in 2008.

Think of it this way as well, if you want to delude yourself that a left-liberal can’t win. In 2004, John Kerry, the most liberal member of the Senate and nobody’s idea of a good candidate, received 59 million votes. He bettered Al Gore’s 2000 vote total by 17 percent. He only lost because George Bush generated 62 million votes, the greatest number in American history. Who received the second greatest number of votes in American history? John Kerry.

A left-liberal can win, and will win, unless he is defeated by his rival. Barack Obama will not defeat himself. He’s already too strong a candidate for that to be a possibility.

Between them, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have generated more than 30 million primary votes. To say there has never been anything like this is to understate the case. In 2000, when George W. Bush and John McCain were fighting it out for the Republican nomination, a total of 20 million votes was cast. The Democrats in 2008 have bested that by 50 percent. What this means is that, even if a third of Hillary’s voters absolutely refuse to vote for Obama in November, that will leave him with a probable 30 million votes in the bank. In May. Six months before the November election.

Now, surely those 30 million votes would have turned out for Obama in November anyway, even if Hillary had dropped out of the race in Iowa. But that is not the significance of this number. It means something because Obama will not have to spend a nickel to get their vote. Instead, he will only have to spend money to get another 30 million or so votes, and he will have more money than anyone else has ever had before to do so.

It is important for conservatives and Republicans, who have comforted themselves with the thought that Obama cannot possibly win because no one as far to the Left as he is can win the presidency in the United States, to understand the nature of the challenge he poses. Think of it this way. In 1972, George McGovern, on Election Day, received 29 million votes — fewer than Obama’s and Hillary’s combined vote totals in the Democratic primary in 2008.

Think of it this way as well, if you want to delude yourself that a left-liberal can’t win. In 2004, John Kerry, the most liberal member of the Senate and nobody’s idea of a good candidate, received 59 million votes. He bettered Al Gore’s 2000 vote total by 17 percent. He only lost because George Bush generated 62 million votes, the greatest number in American history. Who received the second greatest number of votes in American history? John Kerry.

A left-liberal can win, and will win, unless he is defeated by his rival. Barack Obama will not defeat himself. He’s already too strong a candidate for that to be a possibility.

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