Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

One of the Democrats’ chief criticisms of the Bush Administration, one that sometimes had merit, was that it refused to alter its strategy or message in the face of new facts.  In foreign affairs, that meant it took us three years to react to the Iraqi insurgency in a manner beyond “staying the course.”  On the domestic front, that meant allowing several appointees to serve far longer than their records justified (Gonzales, McLellan, Powell, Rumsfeld) and establishing a bunker mentality in response to press criticism.

The Obama Administration struck at this central failing of the last regime by promising pragmatism and common-sense straight from the “reality-based community.” No longer would partisan bias cloud the White House’s response to the nation’s challenges.  Spin would be replaced by transparency.  Facts would drive policy, not the other way around.

But one year into the politics of hope and change, and we are seeing a pattern develop about how this crowd handles inconvenient facts.  All summer, the economic facts rolled in that the stimulus bill had done little to create jobs or improve the economy, and that the “shovel-ready” projects so urgently needed were figments of the Democratic imagination.  Rather than change course and respond with an alternative strategy, Joe Biden repeatedly claimed that the stimulus was working, and that things were better than they would have been.  Only recently, when the Administration wanted to pass a new stimulus, was it willing to acknowledge the grand failure that was spending $787 million billion for 2.5% fewer jobs.

When the mullahs of Iran bungled its election fix this summer, the Obama State Department first abetted it, then ignored it, then begrudgingly decried it before returning to full appeasement mode.  Iranians were left to shout a remarkably Bushian line at our President – “Obama, are you with us or are you against us?”   But the answer was clear — the White House was choosing to ignore a pro-freedom Iranian revolution in hopes for a deal with the despots.  Even so, deadline after deadline was ignored, deals were cut and then broken, and Ahmedinejad continues to promise death to Israel.  All the while, Team Obama has refused to acknowledge what even France has acknowledged — Iran is just playing out the clock while it builds a nuclear bomb.

On the eve of the global warming summit, stunning revelations about the science underlying the alleged global-catastrophe-in-waiting should have led a pragmatist to take a step back and review the facts before committing a country in the red to billions more in federal aid.  A pragmatist might have also postponed announcement of a sweeping regulatory decision based on that same science, which threatened to impose billions more in environmental compliance costs on a seriously wounded economy.  In an Administration committed to “restoring integrity to U.S. science policy to ensure that decisions that can be informed by science are made on the basis of the strongest possible evidence,” one might expect that getting the science right would be of the utmost concern.  Such an Administration, and such a pragmatist, is not in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, however.

Public doesn’t want Guantanamo closed?  Ignore them and do it anyway.  Released terrorists are returning to the war on terror?  Deny the war, release more terrorists.  Health care bill doesn’t bend the cost curve, which you required of any bill you’d sign?  Say it does anyway, and deny you ever required it to do that.  Islamic terrorists attack the U.S. three times in one year?  They’re lone wolves – we’ve got it all under control – but please stand in line another hour at the airport, just in case.

Carol Lee of Politico goes into greater depth about the P.R. tactics the White House has used to ignore the facts that threaten their worldview, but I’m more concerned about the worldview itself.  We have a president who ran exclusively on the idea that he was no ideologue, that he had no dog in the partisan fights that plague Washington, and that his Administration would rise above the pettiness and do what was necessary to reform and protect America. Given these facts, the pragmatist in me says there are only two ways to react to Year One of Obama: either our President is a lying ideologue, or he’s very, very bad at knowing what is necessary to reform and protect America.

The facts themselves are clear, however.  The President will be judged by the voters in November based on how he responds to the hard facts in Iran, the muddled half-truths of climate change, the plain facts of a falling dollar, a rising debt, and a nation out of work.  Rhetorical flourishes cannot change them.  I just hope our political leaders are prepared to face them.

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No, the title does not refer to what I’ve been doing to my readers for the last month.  Well, it doesn’t ONLY describe that.

What it does refer to is the very easy, quite appropriate way for Congress to deal with Lisa Jackson’s attempted blackmail of the legislative branch.  It’s plain as day that EPA’s endangerment finding with regard to greenhouse gas emissions is the gun to Congress’ head, ordering them to pass cap and trade or face limitless regulation of carbon dioxide from the bureaucracy.

There was a time, not long ago, that such a move by the administrative state would have been received with unanimous resentment on Capitol Hill.  It’s the ultimate disrespect from an agency that Congress never even created in the first place.  Even if a congressman or senator is in favor of greenhouse gas regulation, he or she should be offended that EPA believes it can bludgeon them into pervasive regulation of the nation’s economy at the precise moment that the science behind such actions is in serious question.

Many are calling for Congress to amend the Clean Air Act to exempt greenhouse gases.  Others are encouraging our representatives to pass cap and trade and avoid Carbogeddon.  These routes are either unthinkable in the current political climate or would have an unfathomable impact on our weak economy.

Luckily, Congress was granted a shorthand way of reining in wayward bureaucracies.  All it must do is insert the following language in the 2009 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill (or any appropriations bill, for that matter):

No funds may be used to develop, promulgate, or enforce any rule, proposed rule, or other regulatory action implementing or relying upon the December 7, 2009 Endangerment and Cause or Contribute findings issued by the Environmental Protection Agency with regard to regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

That sentence, or something like it, would starve the EPA of funds to develop any rules on greenhouse gases.  How do I know that?  Because I wrote just such a sentence for my boss in 2000 about the Clean Air Act, and it became law.  Let it not be said that EPA has the upper hand here.  Only a weak Congress, obeisant to Obama, would countenance such bullying from a lowly administrator.

Well, OK, you’ve got me there.

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