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The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama is a nice guy but an incompetent president. I think this gives him too much credit. There is a reason why Obama is the most divisive president since the Civil War: he is, for a holder of that office, uniquely mean-spirited.
On Monday in Las Vegas, Obama launched a personal attack against those who disagree with his energy policies. He began by hailing the growth of solar and wind energy generation:
For all the promise of solar, it’s still a small share of our economy in energy mix — less than 1 percent. Wind makes up almost 5 percent. But here’s the thing: Solar made up almost one-third of all new generating capacity last year. Wind power made up another 20 percent. So we see the trend lines.
Obama failed to mention that solar and wind energy facilities are being developed not because they are efficient or cost-competitive, but because utilities are being required by law to generate energy from such sources. Consumers will pay more for electricity, and few of them will understand why. While nuclear energy actually makes sense, wind and solar are driven almost entirely by government favoritism.
Obama proceeded to invert that well-known truth:
But while change this fast presents new opportunities, it is invariably going to create resistance from some fossil fuel interests who want to protect the old, outdated status quo.
There is nothing “outdated” about the status quo, other than the old-fashioned cronyism that enriches “green” energy magnates. Fossil fuels are, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, the world’s most efficient means of generating energy.
But when you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding — that’s a problem.
This can only be intentional misrepresentation. Obama surely knows that Charles and David Koch are the most consistent of men. Far from having “pushed for new laws to prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding,” they have always sought a level playing field and open competition, free of government favoritism. Obama is no doubt aware that every year, the Kochs write a letter to every member of Congress, urging that corporate welfare in all forms be ended, and that all subsidies, including any that happen to benefit their businesses, be repealed.
Barack Obama and Harry Reid at the Cronyism Summit in Las Vegas
That’s not the American way. That’s not progress. That’s not innovation. That’s rent seeking and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future.
Obama is no better educated in economics than he is in history, so he may not know what rent seeking is. There are indeed rent seekers in the energy industry; they are people like Tom Steyer, the Democrats’ number one funder, who relies on Democrats in government to require consumers to pay extra to support his uneconomic solar ventures. That is rent seeking. Advocating for free markets is not.
[I]n this situation, they’re trying to undermine competition in the marketplace, and choke off consumer choice, and threaten an industry that’s churning out new jobs at a fast pace. (Applause.)
Again, this is nothing but slander–the opposite of the truth.
And that has the potential to hurt a lot of communities — and set back America’s leadership in fighting climate change. They’re even fighting to protect billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars in corporate welfare each year that’s going to fossil fuel companies.
An outright lie–the Koch brothers have tirelessly advocated for an end to all such subsidies. It should be noted, however, that the fossil fuel industry is an enormous net taxpayer, unlike the solar and wind industries. Any subsidies that fossil fuel producers receive are trivial compared with the enormous taxes they pay. Solar companies like Tom Steyer’s live on subsidies and mandates, and do nothing but suck at the public trough.
Charles Koch is probably the most successful businessman of his generation. He is described as a genius by those who work with him, and is a perfect gentleman. But Obama’s reckless assault on his reputation was too much: Charles Koch responded in an interview with Politico’s Mike Allen:
“It’s beneath the president, the dignity of the president, to be doing that,” Koch said during a phone interview Tuesday. …
Koch, who is chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, said his opposition to subsidies for clean energy companies — or any other private businesses — doesn’t mean he’s against their success. Rolling back corporate welfare is one of the top issues Koch is pursuing with his richly funded political network.
Koch said his company also opposes subsidies for fossil fuels. And he portrayed Obama’s remarks as an unwarranted personal attack.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted that he could say so many things about us that were the opposite of the truth,” Koch said. “I was really dumbfounded. And I know he was there with Harry Reid. So we expect that with Harry Reid, but I didn’t expect that from the president.” …
Koch said his company is “opposed to renewable energy subsidies of all kinds — as we are all subsidies, whether they benefit or help us.”
“We are not trying to prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding,” Koch continued. “Any business that’s economical, that can succeed in the marketplace, any form of energy, we’re all for. As a matter of fact, we’re investing in quite a number of them, ourselves — whether that’s ethanol, renewable fuel oil. … We’re investing a tremendous amount in research to make those more efficient and create higher-value products.”
Koch added: “But it’s not going to help the country to be subsidizing uneconomical forms of energy — whether you call them ‘green,’ ‘renewable’ or whatever. In that case, the cure is worse than the disease. And there is a big debate on whether you have a real disease or something that’s not that serious. I recognize there is a big debate about that. But whatever it is, the cure is to do things in the marketplace, and to let individuals and companies innovate, to come up with alternatives that will deal with whatever the problem may be in an economical way so we don’t squander resources on uneconomic approaches.” …
Koch shot back: “I don’t know whether he knows what that phrase means, but ‘rent seeking,’ of course, is, in economic terms, is getting the government to rig the system in your favor. And that’s exactly what these so-called ‘renewable energy’ proponents are doing.”
Charles Koch is far smarter than Barack Obama, and much more successful. More important, he is an infinitely better man. Obama should be ashamed of himself, but on that score he is downright Clintonian: shame, implying a conscience, is an emotion to which he is not subject.
Sarah Westwood of the Washington Examiner reports that “Hillary Clinton’s classified emails contain discussions of conversations with foreign diplomats, issues with embassy security, and relations with countries from Russia to China.” Embassy security. I seem to recall hearing about this issue before.
The issue arose in Clinton’s emails via a summary that Huma Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, forwarded to Clinton of a high-level 2009 meeting about “embassy security issues.” The “issues,” presumably concerns, had been raised by Eric Boswell, a diplomatic security official. Ironically, Boswell was later forced to resign in the wake of the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi.
A memo regarding “embassy security issues” is among the most sensitive information a Secretary of State handles — as Clinton was reminded by the Benghazi attack. By transmitting such information on a private, unsecured email server, Clinton increased the likelihood that those who wish us harm would learn about problems with embassy security.
This was the height of irresponsibility. And the connection between Hillary’s email scandal and Benghazi represents a new blow to Clinton’s candidacy — one that won’t be lost on Joe Biden.
Team Clinton would like us to believe that Hillary was simply a passive recipient of emails containing information that subsequently was deemed “classified.” But Westwood reports that she also sent such emails:
For example, in July 2009, she discussed relations with Russia and Afghanistan with then-Deputy Secretary William Burns in an email that has been partially classified. She also discussed her travel plans with Burns over the private network.
Clinton knew or should have known that the Secretary of State’s confidential views about relations with Russia and Afghanistan were classification-worthy. This was some of the same subject matter the revelation of which through WikiLeaks caused so much consternation and, indeed, damage.
The emails reviewed by Westwood strongly suggest that foreign leaders knew about Clinton’s private email set-up. In November 2009, an aide to David Miliband, then Britain’s equivalent of Secretary of State, sent Abedin a classified note. Abedin passed the note to Clinton, saying it was information Miliband “doesn’t want to send through the system.”
If officials of foreign governments knew that Clinton had her own private email system, the risk of her system being hacked — whether by an ally or an adversary who learned of the system by spying on an ally — was all the greater. And Clinton warned of the inherent risk of a private email system being hacked.
I called this post “What Hillary’s classified emails discussed.” With thousands of Clinton emails yet to be made public, the question going forward will be “What else did Hillary’s classified emails discuss?”
That is actually a fair summary of this report by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute. I have not yet had time to study the document, but will report on it more fully in due course. In the meantime, Anthony Watts writes:
Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, a 501 (c) (3) watchdog group, released an investigative report, Private Interests & Public Office: Coordination Between Governors, the Obama White House and the Tom Steyer-“Founded and Funded” Network of Advocacy Groups to Advance the “Climate” Agenda (and an appendix of source documents), revealing a vast, coordinated, three-track effort by public officials and private interests to promote EPA’s expansive, overreaching and economically devastating greenhouse gas rules, specifically the section 111(d) regulation to shut the nation’s fleet of existing coal-fired power plants, as well as the December Paris climate treaty President Obama is expected to sign to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
“Our report pulls the curtain back on a carefully planned and heavily funded ‘orchestration’ by individuals who have placed their personal interests ahead of the public interest,” said Chris Horner, E&E Legal’s Senior Legal Fellow and the report’s author.
We have been writing about this unholy left-wing cabal for a long time. Nothing in American politics is more corrupt than the environmental movement.
The scheme took shape at a meeting in the White House in December 2013, after which the Obama administration launched coordinated with the “core group” of activist Democrat governors to design one of what we see are three tracks to promote the climate agenda. One was run by the Steyer network and left-wing foundations. Another is run by governors with green groups, which are “useful” but whose “standard NGO shaming strategy might not deliver”. A third, run by the White House includes, in the words of a senior aide, “a few other tracks with private sector and unusual allies”. …
In what is possibly the most intriguing element, seemingly out of an episode of “House of Cards,” Democratic governors’ aides repeatedly reference a plan of “creative engagement” to “compel” certain electric utilities — those subject to their jurisdiction whose businesses cross lines into states led by Republicans — to bring “red state” governors around to support the EPA rules: “[B]ecause there are key utilities whose service territories cross red and blue states Governors in these states could quietly engineer a breakthrough strategy that compels utilities in key red states to lead the charge to win over a key Governor, rather than rely on a standard NGO-shaming strategy that might not deliver.”
The “core group” of governors also coordinated with Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer and his managing partner, Ted White, who directed them to “affiliated groups that we founded and fund (such as NextGen Climate Action, or Next Generation, or AEE [Advanced Energy Economy]” . Those groups in turn underwrote consultants and activists to hand-hold governors through implementing the Obama EPA’s rules, keeping them from the clutches of the “just say no” states.
What’s it all about? Money. Money for the politically connected, at your expense:
“[W]hat is clear is that 1%-ers are using ‘climate’ policies to destroy politically disfavored industries in order to transfer wealth to the politically preferred,” said Craig Richardson, E&E Legal Executive Director. “The campaign by self-serving individuals must be made known to the public as policymakers consider this plan that will destroy parts of our economy and ruin the most efficient, affordable, and clean energy system ever created.”
Destruction: that is what the Left leaves in its wake.
Over at Commentary today Noah Rothman raises a great question: by tacking left to reflect the current center of gravity in the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton is essentially repudiating the policy orientation of her husband’s presidency:
Does Hillary Clinton believe her husband’s presidency set the Democratic Party back?
. . . Hillary Clinton has been compelled on a variety of occasions to renounce her husband’s greatest achievements. In the wake of the unrest in Baltimore last month, Clinton delivered a speech in which she advocated for an end to “mass incarceration” in America. Inherent in that address was her contention, one shared by her husband, that the landmark 1994 crime bill was discriminatory.
During his tenure, Bill Clinton signed into law measures that expanded the death penalty, promoted longer prison terms, funded the construction of new prisons, eliminated inmate amenities, barred felons from living in public housing, and discouraged judicial discretion. “We went too far,” Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin lamented on May 1 when reflecting on the Clinton presidency’s approach to crime and justice. “I think that the results,” Hillary Clinton said of the justice reforms that she lobbied for strongly in 1994, “have been an unacceptable increase in incarceration across the board.”
While it takes a fair bit of inference to identify Clinton’s stances on these issues, seeing as she is fond of maintaining vague and amorphous policy positions, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton does not regard her husband’s presidency as one replete with successes. That’s not a personal conviction, of course; you would be hard pressed to identify any sincerely held and necessarily constricting values espoused by the former secretary of state. Her disparagements of her husband’s legacy are solely designed to appeal to an influential subset in the Democratic Party that has veered wildly leftward in the interim 15 years. If Hillary Clinton is to win the White House, it seems that her fellow Democrats will make sure that she is compelled to renounce all her husband’s works in the process.
In November 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, which downgraded drug possession and many property crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor. As Debra Saundersreminds us, proponents argued that lesser punishment for low-level offenders would enhance public safety.
Unfortunately, this utterly counterintuitive notion has not panned out. In San Francisco, according to a police spokesman, theft from cars is up 47 percent this year over the same period in 2014. Auto theft is up by 17 percent. Robberies are up 23 percent. And aggravated assaults are up 2 percent. (To be fair, burglaries are down 5 percent).
How about Los Angeles? It has seen a 12.7 percent increase in the overall crime this year, according to the Los Angeles Times. Violent offenses are up 20.6 percent; property crimes by 11 percent.
Is there are a connection between Prop 47 and the California crime wave? Of course. A district attorney explains:
It used to be that if you were caught in the possession of methamphetamine, you would be arrested; you’d end up in drug court or in some other program, probably in custody receiving some type of treatment. Well, now the officers on the street just give them a ticket. . . .
The case actually gets forwarded to my office. We charge them with a crime, but they never show up to court. They get arrested again and are given another ticket for methamphetamine.
LA substance treatment rolls are down by 60 percent, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. The reason is Prop 47. As Sheriff Geoff Dean told the Ventura County Reporter, Prop 47 got drug offenders out of jail “but it also got them out of treatment.”
Dean believes the measure will increase violent crime, as substance abusers commit more robberies and assaults. Based on the figures Saunders cites, it probably already has done.
Although Prop 47 doesn’t formally decriminalize low level offenses, it does so in practice. Why bother enforcing statutes and ordinances if they carry no prison sentence? What’s the point of writing a ticket if the recipient isn’t going to show up in court?
According to Saunders, Prop 47 prompted California to release 3,700 prison inmates. Overall, the state’s prison population is down by more than 50,000 state inmates in the three-and-half years since Gov. Jerry Brown began his policy of “realignment,” of which Prop 47 is an extension.
I agree with Saunders. “A change that big cannot come without consequences,” not even if you call it “smart sentencing.”
In California, the consequences include more crime and less drug treatment. Conservatives are deluding themselves if they believe the consequences elsewhere will be less toxic.
The problem with nearly every government program or regulation is that it spawns a private sector industry to leech off the regulation, as well as a new constituency group to support the perpetuation or expansion of the regime.
Today’s example is the egregious Title IX sexual assault protocols for college campuses, which, as noted here previously, isn’t even a formal federal regulation. It proceeded from a “dear colleague” “guidance” letter from the Department of Education—an example of what legal scholars call the growing practice of “informal rule-making.” It may seem informal to you, but when you’re on the receiving end, with the threats and blandishments of the federal government coming at you, it seems about as “informal” as a request from Don Corleone.
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The Title IX campus rules would never survive a the formal regulatory rule-making process under the Administrative Procedure Act, but the DOE’s “guidance” letter was enough to generate the Association of Title IX Administrators, which exists to offer expert guidance to college administrators everywhere. (This seems to be the creature of the plainly leech-like NCHERM Group, which offers “risk-management consulting services” to universities.) They offer a premium newsletter, Title IX Today, for a mere $299 a year. Such a deal! (The email I received promoting this must-reading has the subject heading: “Title IX: Now Better than Ever!”)
But based on the public content of the newsletter, readers will be in for a disappointment. The latest issue leads off with an article from the editor and publisher of Title IX Today, Brett Sokolow, J.D., reviewing a recent sexual assault ruling at Vassar College. Vassar recently had a rape finding against a male student stand up to challenge in federal court (though an appeal is pending), but as you read Sokolow’s account you wonder why anyone could think this was a just outcome. You may wonder further about the legal acumen of Mr. Sokolow, who I doubt is fit to litigate a parking ticket. I’ve marked a few of the more outrageous aspects of this case in bold:
The Association of Title IX Administrators’ Model Policy had its first serious test in federal court in March, in the case of Yu v. Vassar. Yu was expelled from Vassar for sexual misconduct, and the college’s policy, based on the ATIXA model, was deeply scrutinized by Federal Judge Ronnie Abrams in her ruling. The fairness of the policy was a central issue in the case, and Judge Abrams dismissed Yu’s lawsuit on summary judgment in favor of Vassar, finding fundamental fairness in the policy prohibiting sexual activity by a student who knows their partner to be — or should know their partner to be — incapacitated by alcohol or other drugs.
Xiaolu “Peter” Yu, a student on the rowing team, and a female teammate who is the daughter of a faculty member, attended a party, where they drank alcohol and chatted, and afterward left to together [sic]. Two student-witnesses who saw them walking together reported that the female student looked very intoxicated. Later that night, Yu lost his virginity to her in his dorm room.
In Facebook messages following the encounter, the young woman apologized for having led Yu on that night, and wrote that while she had a “wonderful time,” she was just “too close to her previous relationship to be in one right now.” When Yu added that he hoped he would not be written up by the resident advisor who knocked on his door during the encounter, the female student replied that if that happened, she would stand up for him and that she hoped he didn’t get in trouble.
Between then and the time almost a year later when she accused him of sexual assault, she sent him other Facebook messages, writing: “I did not treat you very well,” “It was disrespectful on my part to do what I did because I was drunk,” and “I never meant to hurt you.”
Yet it was Yu who was found in violation of campus policy by an all-faculty hearing panel and expelled. After an appeal panel denied his appeal, Yu sued the institution, claiming: 1) that he was wrongly found guilty of the offense due to institutional gender bias; and 2) the severity of the penalty was affected by his gender.
In granting the institution’s motion to dismiss, a district court judge found the element of gender bias to be missing from the policies and procedures that school officials and members of the disciplinary and appeal panel’s followed in finding him responsible for a policy violation and sanctioning him with expulsion.
Vassar’s policies prohibit sexual misconduct, including non-consensual sexual intercourse, which is defined explicitly in the ATIXA Model Policy. It states that for individuals to engage in any sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be “clear, knowing and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity.”
Vassar’s policy states that the question of incapacitation is determined on a case-by-case basis and includes an analysis of whether the accused knew, or a sober, reasonable person in the position of the accused should have known, that the complainant was incapacitated. Yu himself never claimed that he was incapacitated. But even if he had been, that’s irrelevant given that the school’s rule, and ATIXA’s Model Policy, provide a sober, reasonable person standard. This was not lost on the court.
Title IX Now Better Than Ever, indeed! Based on the facts as reported here, it seems like the Title IX sexual assault judgment should have been handed down against the woman. As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, the whole point of the Title IX Inquisition is to create a hostile campus environment for men. I hope universities keep having to pay out large settlements for these kangaroo court proceedings (apologies to kangaroos, who deserve better than this comparison).