Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sex Poodles and Global Warming

Al Gore is back in the news, though probably not in a manner he'd have preferred. The police report of his alleged assault upon a female masseuse in a Portland, Oregon hotel room makes him look like a buffoonish, bullying satyr. I'm not going to go into the sordid details here, but few who have followed Gore since his nomination for the presidency in 2000 will have trouble believing the buffoonish part. From his "impromptu" PDA with Tipper on the convention stage, to his ridiculous stalking behavior of George Bush in the debates, to his sudden acquisition of a black dialect when campaigning, er, speaking at a black church, to his "He betrayed this country... He played on our fears" performance after his defeat in the election, Mr. Gore has always managed to amuse those not gullible enough to take him seriously.

Anyway, if you want the short version of his shenanigans with the masseuse you can read Byron York's piece at The Washington Examiner, but if you were an admirer of Mr. Gore you might want to take a pass. Less disillusionment that way.

If you do read it, though, reflect on the fact that we came within a few votes and a Supreme Court decision of having this man as our president in 2000.

One thing about the report I will comment upon is the advice given the masseuse by one of her liberal friends:

Finally she got away [from Gore]. Later, she talked to friends, liberals like herself, who advised against telling police. One asked her "to just suck it up; otherwise, the world's going to be destroyed from global warming."

Pretty funny.



You remember, perhaps, the case of the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Mahboub in a Dubai hotel last January. The Israeli Mossad was believed to be responsible, but their connivance could never be proven. Now U.S. intelligence sources are reportedly suggesting that the caper was not actually supposed to be an assassination but rather part of a series of abductions designed to gain the freedom of an Israeli soldier named Gilead Shalit who had been kidnapped by Hamas gunmen four years ago:

Debkafile cites US intelligence sources as speculating that Mahboub was to have been one of half a dozen high-value Hamas operatives Israel planned to grab in January in different parts of the Middle East as bargaining chips for the Israeli soldier.

As the man in charge of Iran's weapons supplies to Hamas, Mahboub was judged a key lever for obtaining the Israeli soldier's freedom.

Those US sources believe the plan to snatch him from a Dubai hotel went smoothly enough up until the last step. But then, the drugs administered to knock him out appeared to have killed him on the spot. He was meant to be doped enough to let himself be bundled out of the hotel on his two feet in the middle of the team of abductors without drawing attention. According to this theory, the team was to have driven him to Dubai port and put him aboard a waiting yacht, which was to sail off and rendezvous with an Israeli naval missile boat in the Red Sea.

After delivering him, the same team was to have proceeded to its next target.

But whether they gave Mahboub an overdose or whether his health was frailer than believed, he did not survive. The abduction team leader, lacking instructions for this exigency, decided to abort the mission and leave the dead man in place. He told the would-be abductors to get out of Dubai fast and scatter. The rest of the high-risk, ambitious plan was scrapped.

Interesting theory.



The Supreme Court has ruled in another ideologically split 5-4 decision that public schools can refuse funding and facilities to campus groups that discriminate as to who they allow to join their organizations. The specific case pitted the Christian Legal Society against the University of California's Hastings College of Law (CLS v. Martinez) and devolved around the question whether Hastings could defund a Christian law student group which offered membership only to those who agreed that sex apart from a marriage of one man and one woman was wrong. This provision violated the school's policy of non-discrimination on the basis of religion or sexual orientation. The Court ruled that the school can indeed defund such groups.

Why, though, should religion and sexual orientation be the only criteria upon which to base non-discrimination? Why not race, sex, political affiliation, or even academic achievement?

The logic of the Court's decision seems to suggest that, in order to keep their funding and access to school facilities, Muslims should have to accept into their chapters Christians, Jews, atheists and any other infidels who wish to join and vice versa. Moreover, organizations for minority students should be obligated to accept non-minorities into membership, women's groups should have to accept men, Republicans should be able to join the Young Democrats, and organizations based on academic distinction should be required to accept academic sluggards onto their rolls. To do otherwise is to "discriminate."

Indeed, the decision will ultimately force any group which wishes to retain its distinctive identity - which is probably most student groups - off campus. I haven't read the ruling itself so perhaps I'm missing something, but if I'm not, what is there about the majority's reasoning in this case that makes sense? Have we become so politically correct, so egalitarian, so progressive, so fatuous that student groups will no longer be recognized by tax-payer funded schools if they seek to limit their membership to people with which they share some crucial quality in common? Has the very concept of discrimination, once considered the essence of wisdom and taste, now become an obscenity?


Bleeding Jobs

President Obama's decision to declare a moratorium on off-shore oil drilling would, if enacted, put thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of Americans out of work and do nothing to stop foreign companies from drilling in the Gulf. The decision makes no sense, but it's not the only inexplicable environmental decision that has resulted from this president's policies. Recently, an American firm was denied an opportunity to sell $600 million worth of equipment to an Indian company that's building a coal-burning electricity plant because the Indian firm was denied financing by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The U.S. bank, which is funded by congress, denied the funding because it felt constrained by Obama administration directives.

Of course, the Indians will simply go elsewhere for their equipment, the plant will be built, and carbon will still be pumped into the atmosphere. All the administration will have accomplished is to bring harm to the American company and to put up to a thousand jobs at risk:

Up to 1,000 jobs at Bucyrus International Inc. and its suppliers could be in jeopardy as the result of a decision by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, funded by Congress, to deny several hundred million dollars in loan guarantees to a coal-fired power plant and mine in India.

On Thursday, the Export-Import Bank denied financing for Reliance Power Ltd., an Indian power plant company, effectively wiping out about $600 million in coal mining equipment sales for Bucyrus, chief executive Tim Sullivan said.

"President Obama has made clear his administration's commitment to transition away from high-carbon investments and toward a cleaner-energy future," Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said in a statement. "After careful deliberation, the Export-Import Bank board voted not to proceed with this project because of the projected adverse environmental impact."

The bank's decision is puzzling, Sullivan said, because the power plant will meet international standards and the bank's environmental criteria.

The plant is under construction in Sasan, central India, and is scheduled to be up and running in 2012. Coal mining will take place for the plant whether it's done with Bucyrus machines or equipment from China and Belarus, Sullivan said.

"Unless the Obama administration jumps all over this and corrects a wrong fairly quickly, I am confident this business is going elsewhere," Sullivan told the Journal Sentinel on Saturday. "The bank's decision has had no impact on global carbon emissions but has cost the U.S. nearly 1,000 jobs," he added.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and Sen. Herb Kohl, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate for governor, voiced their objections to the Export-Import Bank decision, which may be irreversible since there isn't an appeals process. Doyle said he met with Hochberg to stress the importance of the mining equipment sale, which was contingent on the loan guarantees, for sustaining jobs here.

"I was absolutely stunned by their decision. It was the most shortsighted, unconscionable decision you could imagine, and I can't see any justification for it," the governor said. Doyle said he hopes the bank's decision can be reversed before India turns to China or Belarus for mining equipment.

The decision could set a precedent that would keep other nations from buying U.S. mining equipment, especially since China offers discount financing on machines built there, which puts the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage. "My discussions with the bank chairman were hardly confidence-building," Doyle said. "They really could not justify their decision except somehow, somebody told them that if the word coal is anywhere in a plan, then they can't move forward with it."

"By rejecting the Bucyrus proposal, the bank has guaranteed companies who care little for carbon emissions in Russia or China will get these jobs. These are the common-sense arguments I will make to the bank to reverse this awful decision. And they are points I'll personally share with the president when he is in Wisconsin this week," Barrett added.

Ryan said he was angered by the "slippery explanation" given by the Export-Import Bank for denying the loan guarantees.

"This is an ominous preview of the economic damage from Washington's environmental overreach. Should they fail to overturn this decision, the administration is sending a clear signal to the Midwest that political ideology is a higher priority than the livelihoods of Wisconsin families," Ryan said.

"I am a green-energy guy," Doyle said. "But I also understand that we need coal as a major source of energy. What that means is, we need to develop and support the technologies and businesses that are involved in the production of energy from clean coal. Bucyrus is one of those businesses."

So what reason could the administration have for putting people out of work when doing so accomplishes nothing? Does Mr. Obama even care about the suffering his hostility to fossil fuels is causing? Does it not matter to him that he's, in effect, sending American jobs overseas, something for which he and other Democrats volubly criticized President Bush? If it does matter to him, I think he needs to give us an explanation as to how these decisions are really in the best interest of both the environment and the American people, because it's certainly not obvious that they are, and if it doesn't matter to him then the American people need to know that as well.