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FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, November 10, 2008


By John Hinderaker

I don't think we've commented on the anonymous trashing of Sarah Palin by unknown McCain campaign staffers. It's abhorrent, obviously, but I want to comment specifically on one aspect of the unsourced smear: the claim that Governor Palin didn't realize that Africa was a continent, but rather understood it to be a country.

This is a good example of a claim so ridiculous on its face that it requires a special kind of gullibility to believe it. It reminds me of a similar smear that was directed at Dan Quayle when he was Vice President: the assertion that he thought people speak Latin in Latin America. This line originated as a joke, but was later taken seriously and repeated as fact by many liberals. Who could be dumb enough to fall for the claim that Quayle, who had graduated from high school, college and law school, served in the U.S. Senate and as Vice President, somehow had remained ignorant of the facts that Latin is a dead language, and Latin Americans speak Spanish and Portuguese? I don't know, but I suspect some of the same people are now telling each other that Sarah Palin didn't know Africa is a continent. Which would mean, I suppose, that South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt are states. Or provinces, maybe.

Such gullibility stems from a willingness to believe anything bad about people with whom one disagrees or whom one dislikes. We saw the same phenomenon throughout the Bush administration, as the most absurd claims about President Bush were leveled, with apparent sincerity, by large numbers of liberals. It's a good lesson for us conservatives: let's not fall into the trap of believing everything we hear about Barack Obama and his associates, no matter how patently absurd, just because we disagree with their policies.


By John Hinderaker

The only news Barack Obama made in his first post-election press conference was when, in a classless moment, he falsely ridiculed Nancy Reagan for holding "seances" in the White House. He was then compelled to call her to apologize for what he termed his "careless remark."

It appears that Obama may have been careless again yesterday, with international consequences. He spoke with the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, on the telephone. Afterward, Kaczynski wrote that Obama "said that the missile-defense project would continue." The Obama camp then released a statement to the effect that Obama had said no such thing: "President Kaczynski raised missile defense but President-elect Obama made no commitment on it."

It's possible that President Kaczynski deliberately misquoted Obama, but that seems highly unlikely. It's much more probable that Obama indulged in his usual ambiguity, failed to choose his words carefully, and thereby conveyed a misleading impression.

Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total before he is inaugurated.  Sunday, November 9, 2008




By Richard Fernandez

Lawrence Solomon at the National Post describes the market for a new kind of value: carbon. Green is an appropriate name for the environmental movement not only because it is akin to the color of leaves, but because it is like the color of money. Carbon trading is big in Europe and getting bigger.

Europe’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) is the world’s largest trading exchange for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If ambitious Kyoto-style plans come to fruition, ETS will morph to account for, among other things, the carbon content of all industrial and biological processes, and the carbon carrying capacity of all the real estate on our planet. Because carbon is a building block of life, and because we live in a carbon-based planet, carbon prices will become more ubiquitous than the U.S. dollar. It would become, in effect, a globally traded currency tied to gaseous commodities that until recently were nowhere traded.

Europe’s carbon trading markets are slated to grow. According to Wikipedia, the European ETS is the largest emissions trading exchange in the world and a major pillar of European climate policy. Currently it covers 12,000 installations (usually industrial or energy producing in nature). Phase II is expected to include the aviation industry and eventually, “all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including aviation, maritime transport and forestry.”

In the US, “Obama energy adviser Jason Grumet said that, if elected, Sen. Barack Obama will classify CO2 as a pollutant and instruct the EPA that it can use the 1990 Clean Air Act to regulate CO2 emissions.” Carbon trading is also in the cards.

Sen. Obama said that “A cap-and-trade program draws on the power of the marketplace to reduce emissions in a cost-effective and flexible manner. Companies are free to buy and sell allowances in order to continue operating in the most profitable manner available to them. Those that are able to reduce pollution at a low cost can sell their extra allowances to companies facing high costs. Each year the number of allowances will decline to match the required annual reduction targets.”

The National Post’s Solomon is worried about the financial risks attendant to very large emissions markets. Consider the risks of fluctuations in carbon prices: “every carbon-intensive business will need protection against the extreme changes seen in carbon prices. This protection — carbon-hedging mechanisms of various kinds — will themselves assume outsized proportions because the businesses subject to carbon fluctuations will vastly outnumber those that now hedge against fluctuations in fossil fuels — in addition to the energy industry, airlines, utilities and others that now need fossil fuel hedges, will be forestry, agriculture, real estate, deserts, dams and other land-based sectors.”

And that could produce huge financial transactions based on “something that no one wants, can’t be seen, is entirely a creature of government and that may prove to benefit rather than harm the environment … The ‘marketplace’ for carbon allowances will be one in which both supply and demand are set by governments, in which intense corporate lobbying for changes to both supply and demand is all but certain, and in which moral hazard — in the form of an expectation of a government bailout — is an absolute certainty. Valuing the toxic instruments created by Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, that corrupted the pool of debt securities, will seem like child’s play in comparison.”

Well if that happens and companies go bankrupt in some kind of sub-green crisis, the taxpayer will just have to bail them out.  Sunday, November 9, 2008




By Jerry Holbert

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert




By Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama wants to find ways to make his mark quickly in the opening days of his presidency and reverse the legacy of George W. Bush.  Obama will focus his efforts on the list of executive orders that shaped White House policy, reversing them quickly.  That does not require legislative approval, but it could bring the most contentious issues to the forefront immediately and create more polarization than post-partisanship (via Jazz Shaw):

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.

In some instances, Obama would be quickly delivering on promises he made during his two-year campaign, while in others he would be embracing Clinton-era policies upended by President Bush during his eight years in office.

One suggestion might even make sense, from a states-rights perspective.  Bush signed an EO blocking California from adopting its own emissions requirements for automobiles, apart from the federal CAFE standards.  That EO was a sop to the auto industry, but it defied federalism.  If Obama rolled back that EO, it would support the federalist principle of state sovereignty and weaken, however slightly, the Commerce Clause attack on it.

The other top two targets will enrage the pro-life lobby.  Obama plans to end the federal ban on funding for human embryonic stem-cell research (hEsc) and upend the Mexico City rule that forbids federal foreign aid to be used to promote abortion. He can expect a big controversy on both.

The hEsc order annoys researchers who can’t get money for their projects elsewhere, but that’s because the technology has surpassed hEsc.  Scientists have since developed plenipotentiary stem cells from adult tissue, ending the need to destroy embryos at all.  If hEsc really held out any promise apart from other technologies, it would not need federal funding at any rate — it would have private donors lining up to invest in it, as other stem-cell research does.

While American voters feel some ambiguity on abortion, they overwhelmingly do not want their tax dollars paying for or facilitating abortions.  The Mexico City rule forbade federal funds to be used to facilitate the acquisition of abortions by groups abroad, much as the Hyde Amendment prohibited federal funds to be used in the same manner domestically.  If Obama rescinds it, he can expect a great deal of outrage from pro-life groups and a reopening of the debate over the use of tax money to procure abortions anywhere.

These aren’t exactly low-hanging fruit, nor are they the acts of someone who professed to find middle ground between pro-life and pro-choice groups.  These are the acts of a pro-abortion absolutist, and they presage the sponsorship of Planned Parenthood’s Freedom of Choice Act.  So much for governing from the center.


By Ed Morrissey

Politico reports that estimates of voter turnout continue to decline in this year’s national election.  At first, some predicted a turnout of 137 million.  Now the estimates have declined to the point where the percentage of eligible voters would be the same as in 2004, but only if one accepts the idea that we’re still missing millions of votes from the final total:

Despite widespread predictions of record turnout in this year’s presidential election, roughly the same portion of eligible voters cast ballots in 2008 as in 2004.

Between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent of the 208.3 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, compared with 60.6 percent of those eligible in 2004, according to a voting analysis by American University political scientist Curtis Gans, an authority on voter turnout.

He estimated that between 126.5 million and 128.5 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, versus 122.3 million four years ago. Gans said the gross number of ballots cast in 2008 was the highest ever, even though the percentage was not substantially different from 2004, because there were about 6.5 million more people registered to vote this time around.

The historic candidacy of President-elect Barack Obama, as well as the emphasis his campaign put on early voting and Election Day turnout, led many media and academic pundits to speculate that voter turnout this year would increase dramatically. In the run-up to the vote, even John McCain’s top pollster, Bill McInturff, joined other experts in predicting that turnout might surpass 130 million.

I wrote about this on Wednesday, when MS-NBC tried to argue that a 20-million vote deficit between the predictions and the total counted to that point would get erased by the West Coast, even though most of those votes had already been counted.  Five days after the election, we still have yet to surpass 123 million votes, and nationwide 99% of all precincts have been counted.  Only Washington and Oregon have any significant number of precincts still out (8% and 3%).  At worst, that might represent 400,000 uncounted ballots at this stage.

Let’s add the 400,000 to the current vote totals.  That would make the vote total 123,176,039 votes cast for the presidential race — far below the estimates given by so-called experts even today.  With over 121 million votes cast in 2004 and over six million new voters registered in the last four years, that’s a rather disappointing conclusion to the longest presidential race in American history.  That would mean that only a third of new voters bothered to cast ballots, or that a lot of previous voters withdrew from the process this time.

So what happened?  Obama got six million more votes than John Kerry and John McCain got slighly under five million less than George Bush.  Given the efforts at new registrations, it looks like Democrats turned out well, while a significant chunk of Republicans stayed home.  Democratic GOTV efforts worked better than in 2004, but it didn’t produce a landslide.  Republican GOTV efforts had been in full swing, but in the end, the ticket simply didn’t produce the excitement needed to carry the GOP to victory.

This doesn’t delegitimize the victory that Barack Obama won on Tuesday, but it does help demythologize it.  Obama didn’t inspire any boost in participation in the election process throughout the entire population.  The nominal gain seen will probably show as a slight decline in percentage participation among elegible voters from 2004, once the dust settles.  Sunday, November 9, 2008




By Larry Wright

Political Cartoons by Larry Wright




By Charles Johnson

El Marco has some great photos from Bali, including powerful images of the memorial for the victims of the Islamic terror attack in 2005: Bali Bombing Victims, R.I.P.

The monument’s design contains dragons and fierce spirits which envelop and protect the dead from evil. These are very powerful Balinese Hindu symbols which not only represent, but are believed to be real physical beings. Here they protect the dead of many religions and nations.  Sunday, November 9, 2008



US fighters and artillery batteries struck inside Pakistan's Khyber tribal agency, according to reports from the region. Seven people were reported killed and three were wounded in the strikes.

The strikes occurred after Taliban fighters attacked Afghan forces along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Zee News reported. US forces targeted the Taliban force as they crossed the border into the Tirah Valley in Khyber agency.

The Tirah Valley is home to the Lashkar-i-Islam, an extremist group that is run by Mangal Bagh. The Lashkar-i-Islam has been battling for control of the valley with the rival Ansarul Islam.

Bagh claims he does not support Baitullah Mehsud's Taliban, nor does he oppose the Pakistani state. But he has carved out a Taliban-like state in Khyber, despite a military operation last year that was designed to relieve pressure on neighboring Peshawar.

The US military has chased and attacked Taliban forces while in "hot pursuit" across the border in to Pakistan several times since 2001. The US and Pakistan have agreed to a set of rules for hot pursuit: US forces must be engaged with the Taliban or al Qaeda as they cross into Pakistan; US forces should not penetrate more than 6 miles into Pakistani territory; and US could enter Pakistan if they have identified the location of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahri, or Mullah Omar. Pakistan has denied the agreement exists and the US military refused to comment.

The most controversial incident occurred in the tribal agency of Mohmand in June of 2008.

US forces killed 11 Taliban fighters after they attacked US and Afghan troops in Kunar province. The Taliban fighters fled into Mohmand, and US forces struck with artillery and aircraft.

Pakistan claimed the 11 men killed were members of the Frontier Corps, the paramilitary security force that is raised from the tribal areas. But members of the Frontier Corps often fight alongside the Taliban to attack US forces in Afghanistan.  Sunday, November 9, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Remember when presidents had to actually lead and accomplish things before they had national holidays named after them?

Planning under way for Obama holiday.

Plans are being made to promote a national holiday for Barack Obama, who will become the nation’s 44th president when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20.

“Yes We Can” planning rallies will be at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. every Tuesday at the downtown McDonald’s restaurant, 1100 Kansas Ave., until Jan. 13. The goals are to secure a national holiday in Obama’s honor, to organize celebrations around his inauguration and to celebrate the 200th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, who was born on Feb. 12 1809.

(Hat tip: Ethel.)  Sunday, November 9, 2008




By Richard Fernandez

The AFP reports that nuclear-armed Pakistan is nearly bankrupt and is looking to the West to save them:

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Already nearly broke when the global financial crisis took hold, Pakistan now faces further woes that could take the nuclear-armed nation’s security situation closer to the edge, experts said.

The country, a frontline ally in the US-led campaign against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, has been forced to seek 10 billion dollars from western backers to stave of the threat of going bankrupt as early as February 2009. … Pakistan may soon be unable to pay its creditors or get further loans, forcing it to pay for imports such as oil in cash — slowing down the economy rapidly.

The biggest impact of Pakistan’s economic problems could be on its battle against extremism near the Afghan border. The country is still reeling from the bombing last month of the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, one of the few remaining symbols of foreign investment.

It’s often argued that economic development is necessary to stop terrorism. But it does so slowly. It’s also true that terrorism stops economic development. And it does so quickly. One of the best economic investments a society can make is establishing the rule of law in a civil society. Closing the factories of hate makes good economic sense. You can’t eat trouble and eventually even the blackmailed run out of money.

Political and religious extremism have kept the Pakistani economy from going anywhere. Something is wrong when a country can afford to develop nuclear weapons, bomb its infrastructure into oblivion and can’t afford the bare necessities. Maybe this is because too many regard nukes and terrorism as the bare necessities.  Sunday, November 9, 2008


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