Smart Diplomacy, Part Whatever

The Europeans and others aren’t as enamored with the president as they were a year ago, before they had to actually deal with him:

Together with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leaders of Russia, Brazil, Japan, the European Union and of other important countries, Obama went to work. But it did not go quite as the Nobel Peace Prize-winner had imagined. Only Norbert Röttgen, Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety remained optimistic. In spite of the tough negotiations, a compromise can be found, he said. “Today the die will be cast.”

Instead a fiasco had begun making itself visible and felt. It began during the night of Friday and Saturday. A small group of negotiators assembled from among the 30 important and representative countries, among them Germany, were still discussing the main features and principles to be included in a twelve-point document. It was titled “The Copenhagen Accord” and consisted of a three-page collection of vague aims, without specific legally-binding goals that were to be achieved.

Although China is among the worst climate polluters and has had a long ascent in becoming an industrial power deserving of respect and recognition, Premier Wen Jiabao was not among the participants in the talks-not that his participation was not desired. To the contrary!

According to rumors in the Bella Center, US President Barack Obama at about 11 PM, had impatiently asked to speak with Wen Jiabao in order to advance the discussion. But Obama had to wait. Wen, who, it was rumored, had rarely left his hotel room, could not be found. Finally, the US delegation located him in a room set aside for negotiations. A visibly furious Obama, according to reports, stormed into the room. “Are you now ready to talk with me, Premier Wen?” he was reported to have shouted. “Are you now ready? Premier Wen, are you now ready to talk with me?” What a scene for a US president.

Wen was not alone in the room at the time when Obama quite literally burst into the room, according to participants. At the time, the Premier was in a conversation with India’s head of state, Mammohan Singh and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. Suddenly the group saw itself forced into a conversation with the US president.

At the insistence of the impatient Obama, this unplanned and coincidentally-assembled negotiating round and participants, agreed on a minimal compromise.

Obama should have discussed, coordinated with and agreed to this compromise with his closest partners: the European Union or the G77 Developing Nations. Instead, at about 10:25 PM, he called together a number of American journalists for an impromptu press conference. There he announced, the “Copenhagen Accord” as the conclusion and product of the two-week long conference. He was aware, that many countries would consider the result as insufficient and unsatisfactory. More, however, was not achievable.

He thought it a significant achievement and milestone that large developing countries like India and China had, for the first time, recognized the necessity of reducing emissions and accepted to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

With that, he packed his bags and flew home.

I suspect they’ll be happy if he stays there.

Not Fascist Enough

Naomi Klein is complaining about the president:

Obama, it’s worth remembering, also came to office with the big banks on their knees — it took real effort not to nationalize them. Once again, if Obama had dared to use the power that was handed to him by history, he could have mandated the banks to provide the loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell the failed banks how to run their businesses. Green businesses report that it’s harder than ever to get a loan.

Imagine if these three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision. If that had happened, demand for a complementary energy bill would have been part of a coherent transformative agenda.

Imagine. It’s easy if you try.

Rogues’ Gallery

Here is a list of the bribes that Harry Reid paid with our money to buy votes on this monstrosity. At least lobbyists use their own money. As Mark Steyn writes:

You can’t even dignify this squalid racket as bribery: If I try to buy a cop, I have to use my own money. But, when Harry Reid buys a senator, he uses my money, too. It doesn’t ‘border on immoral’: it drives straight through the frontier post and heads for the dark heartland of immoral.

And when you see things like this, the blood just boils:

Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.)

—Exemption from the non-profit excise tax for Michigan insurers. Michigan and Nebraska were the only two states so exempted.

Is such blatant favoritism to particular states even constitutional? Is there precedent for it? Don’t other states have a right to protest this inequality under the law?

[Update a few minutes later]

Five reasons it still may not pass. Let’s hope.

[Late morning update]

Why the Reid bill is unconstitutional. Even without the payoffs to Michigan and Nebraska.

If anything resembling this planned man-caused disaster passes, I expect to see lots of legal challenges, many of them successful.

[Early evening update]

The ostensible beneficiaries of Senator Nelson’s corruption don’t seem to be very happy about it, especially after he tried to deflect blame onto others:

Gov. Dave Heineman “contacted me and he said this is another unfunded federal mandate and it’s going to stress the state budget, and I agreed with him,” the Nebraska Democrat said. “I said to the leader and others that this is something that has to be fixed. I didn’t participate in the way it was fixed.”

But Heineman expressed anything but gratitude, saying he had nothing to do with the compromise and calling the overhaul bill “bad news for Nebraska and bad news for America.”

“Nebraskans did not ask for a special deal, only a fair deal,” Heineman said in a statement Sunday.

That criticism is only a taste of what Nelson has received since announcing Saturday that he would become the 60th vote needed to advance the landmark legislation.

I wonder if this could influence his vote in the final after reconciliation? Unfortunately, it will be hard to change without looking as craven as he undoubtedly is, unless what comes out of conference is different.

Oh, and here’s a perfect example of the false choice fallacy that I talked about last week:

The Nebraska Democratic Party chairman called Nelson’s decision “courageous” and dismissed Republican criticism of it.

“Whatever he did, they would be critical,” Vic Covalt said. “They have no program and they have nothing to offer us other than more of the same.”

Just as I said:

There is a variation on this fallacy, in fact. It goes: There is a crisis; something must be done! What we propose to do is something. Therefore, it must be done!

This invalid argument is otherwise known as false choice, of course, because the alternative to the particular something being proposed is not nothing (even if one accepts the initial premise that there is a crisis about which something must be done) — it is a variety of other somethings, some of which may be the something that is actually key to solving the problem, even if their own is not necessarily.

We saw this last January when many of the same people promoting AGW hysteria also used it to ram through the failed “stimulus” bill without reading it. It is now being used to justify taking over the sixth of the US economy represented by the health care industry. All the while, these people have been lambasting their political opponents who offer more sensible alternatives as proposing that we do “nothing.”


More Exploding Watermelons

Here’s the latest from the fruit salad, over at The Independent:

The most progressive US president in a generation comes to the most important international meeting since the Second World War and delivers a speech so devoid of substance that he might as well have made it on speaker-phone from a beach in Hawaii. His aides argue in private that he had no choice, such is the opposition on Capitol Hill to any action that could challenge the dominance of fossil fuels in American life. And so the nation that put a man on the Moon can’t summon the collective will to protect men and women back here on Earth from the consequences of an economic model and lifestyle choice that has taken on the mantle of a religion.

I’m long on record of opposing the idiocy of inappropriate comparisons of the crisis du jour to Apollo. Is he really comparing a massive technological achievement of engineering to “summoning a collective will” (i.e., social engineering)? Apparently.

And when it comes to “taking on the mantle of a religion,” I can only suggest that he and his gaze long into a mirror.

The War Against Christmas

by the Nazis:

“The baby Jesus was Jewish. This was both a problem and a provocation for the Nazis,” explained Judith Breuer, who organised the exhibition using the items she and her mother collected at flea markets over 30 years. “The most popular Christian festival of the year did not fit in with their racist ideology. They had to react and they did so by trying to make it less Christian.”

The regime’s exploitation of Christmas began almost as soon as the Nazis took power in 1933. Party ideologists wrote scores of papers claiming that the festival’s Christian element was a manipulative attempt by the church to capitalise on what were really old Germanic traditions. Christmas Eve, they argued, had nothing to do with Christ but was the date of the winter solstice – the Nordic Yuletide that was “the holy night in which the sun was reborn”.

The swastika, they claimed, was an ancient symbol of the sun that represented the struggle of the Great German Reich. Father Christmas had nothing to do with the bearded figure in a red robe who looked like a bishop: the Nazis reinvented him as the Germanic Norse god Odin, who, according to legend, rode about the earth on a white horse to announce the coming of the winter solstice. Propaganda posters in the exhibition show the “Christmas or Solstice man” as a hippie-like individual on a white charger sporting a thick grey beard, slouch hat and a sack full of gifts.

But the star that traditionally crowns the Christmas tree presented an almost insurmountable problem. “Either it was the six-pointed star of David, which was Jewish, or it was the five-pointed star of the Bolshevik Soviet Union,” said Mrs Breuer. “And both of them were anathema to the regime.” So the Nazis replaced the star with swastikas, Germanic “sun wheels” and the Nordic “sig runes” used by the regime’s fanatical Waffen SS as their insignia.

Housewives were encouraged to bake biscuits in similar shapes. One of the exhibits is a page from a Nazi women’s magazine with a baking recipe: “Every boy will want to bake a sig (SS) rune,” proclaims the accompanying text.

The Nazification of Christmas did not end there. The Christmas tree crib was replaced by a Christmas garden containing wooden toy deer and rabbits. Mary and Jesus became the Germanic mother and child, while dozens of Christmas carols, including the famous German hymn “Silent Night”, were rewritten with all references to God, Christ and religion expunged. At the height of the anti-Christian campaign, an attempt was made to replace the coming of Christ the Saviour with the coming of Adolf Hitler – the “Saviour Führer.”

“We cannot accept that a German Christmas tree has anything to do with a crib in a manger in Bethlehem,” wrote the Nazi propagandist Friedrich Rehm in 1937. “It is inconceivable for us that Christmas and all its deep soulful content is the product of an oriental religion,” he added.

This kind of thing would be a palliative against the historically ignorant who think that Nazism, or fascism in general, is a “right wing” or “Christian” phenomenon. But they won’t read it — it conflicts with what they were taught in government schools.

Conflict Of Interest?

Mark Matthews and Bobby Block have the most in-depth reporting on Chairwoman Giffords’ too-cozy relationship with NASA and Constellation defenders that I’ve seen to date. But is it actually a conflict of interest? I’m not sure about that. As the article notes, her husband is unlikely to fly on anything resulting from the POR, and while he may have a job lined up with one of the usual suspects, he’d probably be able to get it regardless. If anyone is aware of a more quid-pro-quoish possibility on this front, I’d be interested to hear about it, though, in light of the history of the Horowitz revolving door with ATK.

But what I do think is happening is that her husband is a big supporter of the POR, and he has no doubt influenced her to be one as well. I’m not excusing her behavior toward the committee or Chairman Augustine, or her apparent ignorance or flawed understanding of the issues about which she has oversight responsibility, and I wish that someone else had her job, but I just don’t see it as corrupt. I do think, though, that the criticism of her husband for romancing her with taxpayer resources is fair and legitimate.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!