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Jewish World Review
July 6, 2009
/ 14 Tamuz 5769
Obama isn't cool the globe is
President Barack Obama was supposed to be "cool." But he isn't. He's square. Not just mildly so, but embarrassingly square. He's squaresville squared. It's like you're having a party with your friends, and he's the cringe-making middle-age parent who wants to show he digs where the young people are at by grooving around in the middle of the dance floor all night long.
How do I know? I've been there, and I've been square. By "there," I mean I've been in places that have tried all the cool Obama dance moves and eventually wised up to what utter clunkers they are.
A week ago, the House of Representatives passed some gargantuan "cap-and-trade" bill designed to "save" "the environment." Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, accused those Neanderthals who voted against the bill of committing "treason against the planet." By that standard, most of the planet is guilty of treason against the planet. I don't mean just in the sense that China, already the world's No. 1 CO2 emitter, and India and other rising economic powers have absolutely no intention of doing what the Democrats have done, no way, no how because they don't see why they should stay poor just because New York Times columnists think it's good for them.
No, I mean that most of the developed world has already gone down the paved road of good intentions and is now frantically trying to pedal up out of it. New Zealand was one of the few Western nations to sign on to Kyoto and then attempt to abide by it until New Zealanders realized they could only do so by destroying their economy. They introduced a Dem-style cap-and-trade regime and last year they suspended it. In Australia, the Labor Government postponed implementation of its emissions-reduction program until 2011, and the Aussie Senate may scuttle it entirely. The Obama administration has gotten to the climate-change hop just as the glitter ball's stopped whirling, and the band's packing up its instruments.
The congressional cap-and-trade shtick would be tired even if weren't the familiar boondoggle of tax hikes, big-government microregulation and pork-a-palooza payoffs to preferred clients of the Democratic Party. Granted that carbon credits were already a dubious racket equivalent to the sale of "indulgences" in medieval Europe, the decision by congressional powerbrokers to give away credits to well-connected Democratic Party interests surely represents the environmental movement's formal Jumping of the Endangered Great White Shark.
Back at The New York Times, Thomas Friedman agreed the bill "stinks" and says "it's a mess" and he "detests" it, but nevertheless says we need to pass it because his "gut" tells him to. Maybe his gut's really telling him The New York Times canteen's daily specials have been adversely affected by the company's collapsing share price. Who knows? At any rate, for reasons not entirely obvious from his prose style, the eminent columnist believes himself to have a special influence on the youth of today and so directed the grand finale of his gut's analysis to them especially: "Attention, all young Americans," he proclaimed. "You want to make a difference? Then get out of Facebook and into somebody's face. Get a million people on the Washington Mall, calling for a price on carbon."
Perhaps it'll work. Getting into Thomas Friedman's face, I see the ruddy bloom of late middle-age has not yet faded from it, so maybe, as his command of the lingo shows, he's hep to the scene. Maybe the kids'll abandon their Tweet cred for street cred. Maybe they'll get outta MySpace and into Sen. Robert Byrd's parking space.
I don't know how Mr. Friedman defines "young" but let's be generous: If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you're graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade. There has been no global warming this century. None. Admittedly the 21st century is only one century out of the many centuries of planetary existence, but it happens to be the one you're stuck living in. Alan Carlin, in a report for the Environmental Protection Racket whoops, Environmental Protection Agency that they attempted to suppress, says:
"Fossil fuel and cement emissions increased by 3.3 percent per year during 2000-06, compared to 1.3 percent per year in the 1990s. Similarly, atmospheric C02 concentrations increased by 1.93 parts per million per year during 2000-06, compared to 1.58 ppm in the 1990s. And yet, despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations, there's been no net warming in the 21st century and, more accurately, a decline."
The Obama administration is getting into the global-warming beads and kaftan just as everyone else is beginning to toss 'em into the recycling bin. Same with government automobiles: Been there, drove that from Eastern Europe to Northern Ireland.
There's something weirdly parochial about Obama, the supposed "citizen of the world." A recent piece of mine about "the Europeanization of America" prompted Randall Hoven of The American Thinker to respond that this was unfair … to Europeans. He has a point. While the U.S. is going full throttle for Scandinavia-a-go-go, the Continentals have begun to discern to the limits of Europeanization. In 2007, government spending in Europe averaged 46.2 percent of GDP; in America it was 37.4 percent, of which 20 percent was federal. A mere two years later, federal spending is up to 28.5 percent, so, even if state and local spending stand still, we're at 46 percent: the European average.
But, as Randall Hoven points out, the real story is that we're at 46 percent and climbing, while the Continentals are at 46 percent and heading down. In 1993, government spending averaged 52.2 percent in Europe, and 70.9 percent in Sweden. The Swedes have reduced government spending (as a fraction of GDP) by almost a third in the past 15 years. Their corporate tax rates are lower than ours. And that's before Obama's raised them. Last week, the doughnut chain Tim Hortons, which operates on both sides of the border but is incorporated in the state of Delaware, announced that it was reorganizing itself as a Canadian corporation to take advantage of Canadian tax rates.
"To take advantage of Canadian tax rates"? What kind of cockamamie phrase is that? And who'd have thought any columnist south of the border would ever have cause to type it?
The Europeans have figured out you can be too European for your own good, and are trying to reacquaint themselves with the real world. But not Obama. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! Male unemployment has hit 10 percent? The stimulus is a bust? It's stimulating nothing but non-jobs like Executive Stimulus Coordinator for Community Organization Stimulus Assistance Programs? Hey, let's spend even more, even faster, even less stimulatingly!
President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and their chums are spending at a rate that threatens American stability. And, except for the scale and the dollar figure, it's all been tried before, and it's all failed before. There's nothing cool about Obama. He's a nonstop square dance, swinging us around till we're dozy, and he's got all the dough.
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"America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It"
It's the end of the world as we know it...
Someday soon, you might wake up to the call to prayer from a muezzin. Europeans already are.
And liberals will still tell you that "diversity is our strength"while Talibanic enforcers cruise Greenwich Village burning books and barber shops, the Supreme Court decides sharia law doesn't violate the "separation of church and state," and the Hollywood Left decides to give up on gay rights in favor of the much safer charms of polygamy.
If you think this can't happen, you haven't been paying attention, as the hilarious, provocative, and brilliant Mark Steynthe most popular conservative columnist in the English-speaking worldshows to devastating effect in this, his first and eagerly awaited new book on American and global politics.
The future, as Steyn shows, belongs to the fecund and the confident. And the Islamists are both, while the Westwedded to a multiculturalism that undercuts its own confidence, a welfare state that nudges it toward sloth and self-indulgence, and a childlessness that consigns it to oblivionis looking ever more like the ruins of a civilization.
Europe, laments Steyn, is almost certainly a goner. The future, if the West has one, belongs to America alonewith maybe its cousins in brave Australia. But America can survive, prosper, and defend its freedom only if it continues to believe in itself, in the sturdier virtues of self-reliance (not government), in the centrality of family, and in the conviction that our country really is the world's last best hope.
Steyn argues that, contra the liberal cultural relativists, America should proclaim the obvious: we do have a better government, religion, and culture than our enemies, and we should spread America's influence around the worldfor our own sake as well as theirs.
Mark Steyn's America Alone is laugh-out-loud funnybut it will also change the way you look at the world. It is sure to be the most talked-about book of the year.
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© 2009, Mark Steyn