Various Thoughts

I’ve been very busy getting two papers ready, so I haven’t been posting. But there are some stories to which I want to draw your attention.

1. High gasoline prices are just one obvious way in which President Obama’s environmental and energy policies are bearing their intended and foreseen fruits. I’m delighted that people are remembering his 2008 claim: “Under my plan… electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Yes, this is a war on coal: “If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” But it’s also a war on fracking, on oil production (see “Gulf of Mexico, drilling ban”), and on energy use generally. Liberals have begun scoffing at the thought that the President is responsible for high gasoline prices. And when liberals scoff, which is often, it means they have no argument and are trying to deny the obvious.

2. Obama seems to be tying himself to the “higher taxes” mast for the general election. It starts with the Buffett rule, which will affect only 400 families (one of which is Mitt Romney’s) and raise very little money (see above). Maybe the Republicans should respond in kind:

The Republicans could say, sure, we’ll go along with the Buffett Rule if you Democrats will agree to the Reynolds Tax, a 50% surtax on the increased incomes of former government officials when they move into the private sector, working for the same companies they once regulated. Or Republicans could offer an amendment incorporating the Clooney Rule, based on the fact that actors and actresses are such advocates of higher taxes: a new, 80% tax rate on all income in excess of $1 million earned by acting in any film or theatrical production. Or they could counter with the K Street Rule, an 80% tax on all income in excess of $1 million earned by lobbying. Or the Ambulance Chaser Tax, an 80% levy on all lawyer contingent fee income in excess of 10% of a recovery.

But the real issue is tax increases on the middle class, which are already slated to happen in January 2013, and will if Obama wins reelection.

3. James Fallows recalls an episode of Ethics in America, a wonderful program that brought top policy makers, thinkers, and doers together to discuss ethical issues under the brilliant guidance of Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree. I remember the show, and this particular episode, well. It says a lot about the ethics of journalists. Ogletree asked Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace what they would do if they were filming in the company of an enemy unit which encountered and began to plan to ambush an American patrol. Jennings said he would do what he could to warn the American soldiers, but Wallace said he would roll the tape, doing nothing of the kind.

Ogletree pushed Wallace. Didn’t Jennings have some higher duty to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot?

“No,” Wallace said flatly and immediately. “You don’t have a higher duty. No. No. You’re a reporter!”

Jennings backtracked fast. Wallace was right, he said: “I chickened out.” Jennings said that he had “played the hypothetical very hard.”He had lost sight of his journalistic duty to remain detached.

As Jennings said he agreed with Wallace, several soldiers in the room seemed to regard the two of them with horror. Retired Air Force General Brent Scowcroft, who would soon become George Bush’s National Security Advisor, said it was simply wrong to stand and watch as your side was slaughtered. “What’s it worth?” he asked Wallace bitterly. “It’s worth thirty seconds on the evening news, as opposed to saving a platoon.”…

A few minutes later Ogletree turned to George M. Connell, a Marine colonel in full uniform. Jaw muscles flexing in anger, with stress on each word, Connell said, “I feel utter contempt.”

Two days after this hypothetical episode, Connell said, Jennings or Wallace might be back with the American forces—and could be wounded by stray fire, as combat journalists often had been before. When that happens, he said, they are “just journalists.” Yet they would expect American soldiers to run out under enemy fire and drag them back, rather than leaving them to bleed to death on the battlefield.

“I’ll do it!” Connell said. “And that is what makes me so contemptuous of them. Marines will die going to get . . . a couple of journalists.” The last words dripped disgust.

Not even Ogletree knew what to say. There was dead silence for several seconds. Then a square-jawed man with neat gray hair and aviator glasses spoke up. It was Newt Gingrich, looking a generation younger and trimmer than he would when he became speaker of the House, in 1995. One thing was clear from this exercise, Gingrich said. “The military has done a vastly better job of systematically thinking through the ethics of behavior in a violent environment than the journalists have.”

4. Former NASA scientists have come out against the global warming hysteria. A key sentence: “We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data.” There’s some background to this story that few people know. NASA’s administrator, Charles Bolden, asked a team of his top scientists to put together what was known about global warming from the literature and what NASA itself could determine from its own databases and research. They did so—and produced a report sharply critical of the anthropogenic global warming theory. Bolden ordered all copies of the report destroyed, and gave orders that no one was to speak of any of it. Former scientists are speaking out because no one currently with the agency is permitted to speak out. But NASA data casts serious doubt on the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis.

Comrade Chen Xiaodan

5. Richard Fernandez, as always, is spot on:

The thing about Communism, at least to the uninitiated, is that it appears to be identical in all respects to a hereditary aristocracy. If one didn’t know better it would seem that the more Communist a country, such as North Korea, the more it resembles a monarchy. In China the children of the Polituburo members are actually called princesses and princes and they gad about in a style that make the current European royalty look like a bunch of low-rent grifters.

How admirable then, that intellectuals like Cornell West, Van Jones and Bill Ayers can go around and seriously sell socialism and Marxism in the name of “equality” and “egalitarianism”. You know, because they are one with the Common Man. Their superior educations must provide a true insight into the nature of Marxist societies because to uninitiated the whole thing looks like a scam to trick people into waging “revolution”, in which a few odd million will be horribly killed, to create a worker’s paradise and Green society. Except all the resulting outcomes we actually examine reveal only societies ruled by an aristocracy no different from, nay more lavish than the Court of the Sun King’s at Versailles. Versailles didn’t even have indoor plumbing….

Future generations may wonder how it was possible for sophisticated Western intellectuals to actually devote their lives to bringing about Communism as if it were anything more than a swindle.

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