…the point of Barack Obama is to dazzle. That’s why he got all the magazine covers of him emerging topless from the Hawaiian surf, as if his beautifully sculpted pectorals were long-vanished Pacific atolls restored to sunlight after he’d fulfilled his pledge to lower the oceans before the end of his first term. The squealing Obammyboppers of the media seem to have gotten more muted since those inaugural specials hit the newsstands back in late January. His numbers have fallen further faster than those of any other president – because of where he fell from: As Evan Thomas of Newsweek drooled a mere six months ago, Obama was “standing above the country … above the world. He’s sort of God.” That’s a long drop.
The Obama speechwriting team doesn’t seem to realize that. They seem to be the last guys on the planet in love with the sound of his voice and their one interminable tinny tune with its catchpenny hooks. The usual trick is to position their man as the uniquely insightful leader, pitching his tent between two extremes no sane person has ever believed: “There are those who say there is no evil in the world. There are others who argue that pink fluffy bunnies are the spawn of Satan and conspiring to overthrow civilization. Let me be clear: I believe people of goodwill on all sides can find common ground between the absurdly implausible caricatures I attribute to them on a daily basis. We must begin by finding the courage to acknowledge the hard truth that I am living testimony to the power of nuance to triumph over hard truth and come to the end of the sentence on a note of sonorous, polysyllabic if somewhat hollow uplift. Pause for applause.”
It didn’t come but once at Oslo last week, where Obama got bad press for blowing off the King of Norway’s luncheon. In Obama’s honor. Can you believe this line made it into the speech?
“I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war.”
Well, there’s a surprise. When you consider all the White House eyeballs that approve a presidential speech, it’s truly remarkable that there’s no one to scribble on the first draft: “Scrub this, Fred. It makes POTUS sound like a self-aggrandizing buffoon.” It’s not even merely the content, but the stylistic tics: “I do not bring with me” – as if I, God of Evan Thomas’ Newsweek, am briefly descending to this obscure Scandinavian backwater bearing wisdom from beyond the stars.
Sunday, December 13th, 2009
In the 1970s and early ’80s, having seized control of the U.N. apparatus (by power of numbers), Third World countries decided to cash in. OPEC was pulling off the greatest wealth transfer from rich to poor in history. Why not them? So in grand U.N. declarations and conferences, they began calling for a “New International Economic Order.” The NIEO’s essential demand was simple: to transfer fantastic chunks of wealth from the industrialized West to the Third World.
On what grounds? In the name of equality — wealth redistribution via global socialism — with a dose of post-colonial reparations thrown in.
The idea of essentially taxing hardworking citizens of the democracies to fill the treasuries of Third World kleptocracies went nowhere, thanks mainly to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (and the debt crisis of the early ’80s). They put a stake through the enterprise.
But such dreams never die. The raid on the Western treasuries is on again, but today with a new rationale to fit current ideological fashion. With socialism dead, the gigantic heist is now proposed as a sacred service of the newest religion: environmentalism.
One of the major goals of the Copenhagen climate summit is another NIEO shakedown: the transfer of hundreds of billions from the industrial West to the Third World to save the planet by, for example, planting green industries in the tristes tropiques.
Politically it’s an idea of genius, engaging at once every left-wing erogenous zone: rich man’s guilt, post-colonial guilt, environmental guilt. But the idea of shaking down the industrial democracies in the name of the environment thrives not just in the refined internationalist precincts of Copenhagen. It thrives on the national scale, too.
On the day Copenhagen opened, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claimed jurisdiction over the regulation of carbon emissions by declaring them an “endangerment” to human health.
Since we operate an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy, the EPA will be regulating practically everything. No institution that emits more than 250 tons of CO2 a year will fall outside EPA control. This means more than a million building complexes, hospitals, plants, schools, businesses and similar enterprises. (The EPA proposes regulating emissions only above 25,000 tons, but it has no such authority.) Not since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service has a federal agency been given more intrusive power over every aspect of economic life.
This naked assertion of vast executive power in the name of the environment is the perfect fulfillment of the prediction of Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus that environmentalism is becoming the new socialism, i.e., the totemic ideal in the name of which government seizes the commanding heights of the economy and society.
Eight people were under arrest today after several dozen protesters shouting “no justice, no peace” attacked Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s home on the UC Berkeley campus, smashing windows, lights and planters as well as throwing torches at the home and police vehicles, authorities said.
The attack, shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, followed a four-day occupation of Wheeler Hall and the arrest of 66 people who were protesting state funding cutbacks and a steep increase in student fees throughout the University of California system. They were later released.
No injuries or fires were reported in the latest attack. Those arrested were booked on suspicion of rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson, felony vandalism and assault. They were being held Saturday in the Alameda County jail on $132,000 bail each.
“These are criminals, not activists,” Birgeneau said in a statement released by the university. “The attack at our home was extraordinarily frightening and violent. My wife and I genuinely feared for our lives. . . . I urge the community and protesters to find more productive ways to express their points of view. To resort to life-endangering violence is never acceptable.”
UC Berkeley breeds loony leftism. This should come as a shock to no one.
Wang Weijia and her husband grew up surrounded by propaganda posters lecturing them that “Mother Earth is too tired to sustain more children” and “One more baby means one more tomb.”
They learned the lesson so well that when Shanghai government officials, alarmed by their city’s low birthrate and aging population, abruptly changed course this summer and began encouraging young couples to have more than one child, their reaction was instant and firm: No way.
“We have already given all our time and energy for just one child. We have none left for a second,” said Wang, 31, a human resources administrator with an 8-month-old son.
More than 30 years after China’s one-child policy was introduced, creating two generations of notoriously chubby, spoiled only children affectionately nicknamed “little emperors,” a population crisis is looming in the country.
The average birthrate has plummeted to 1.8 children per couple as compared with six when the policy went into effect, according to the U.N. Population Division, while the number of residents 60 and older is predicted to explode from 16.7 percent of the population in 2020 to 31.1 percent by 2050. That is far above the global average of about 20 percent.
The imbalance is worse in wealthy coastal cities with highly educated populations, such as Shanghai. Last year, people 60 and older accounted for almost 22 percent of Shanghai’s registered residents, while the birthrate was less than one child per couple.
Xie Lingli, director of the Shanghai Municipal Population and Family Planning Commission, has said that fertile couples need to have babies to “help reduce the proportion of the aging population and alleviate a workforce shortage in the future.” Shanghai is about to be “as old — not as rich, though — as developed countries such as Japan and Sweden,” she said.