Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bali, the War on Poverty

Joining the Democratic Party with the JFK election, I was proud to be a Kennedy Liberal. The president stood for strength in foreign affairs and for patriotism. “Ask not what your country can do for you …” resounded in my soul, and “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty” made me proud to be an American. When John Kennedy was assassinated my friends and I were crushed. We were also worried about the unattractive Lyndon Johnson; would he take the country on the course mapped out by our hero?

We were surprised by Johnson’s leadership in the civil rights movement. But being of draft age we were horrified by the interminable Vietnam War. Why wouldn’t Johnson just bomb the hell out of Hanoi? A little nuke should have done the trick, as we know from General Jiap’s memoirs.

While losing the Vietnam War, Johnson’s bright guys began another war, the War on Poverty. Having set the colossal forces of government in action, the intellectual elites found it impossible to admit that they were losing and that their methods were actually making matters worse.

The Democratic Party continued changing over the years, and not for the better. The op-ed article “The Gentry Liberals” by Joel Kotkin and Fred Siegel in the Los Angeles Times (12/2/07) explains that the Democrat leadership today is “more concerned with global warming and gay rights than with lunch-pail Joes.” Kotkin and Siegel trace the change to the ascendance in the Democratic Party hierarchy of an “intelligent aristocracy” whose governance would be guided by “enlightened policy.”

David Halberstam wrote about “the best and the brightest” brought into the JFK/LBJ administrations who arrogantly insisted on pursuing "brilliant policies that defied common sense." Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called these academic liberals “the vital center” but they never occupied the center and their progeny today push the envelope of the left wing. They obsess over abortion rights, gay marriage, global warming and the habeas corpus rights of war criminals while the middle class and the political center worry about terrorism, job security, affordable housing and the rising cost of education and energy.

According to Kotkin and Siegel, it is the “green tint” that distances liberals furthest from the values and interests of the middle and working (aka lower) classes. Furthermore, the crusade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by forcing the US to adhere to the Kyoto/Bali protocols is bound to end up hurting the middle and working classes economically. Rich liberals like Al Gore can afford to buy expensive hybrid cars (Al drives a Lexus LS 600h that gets 1 mpg less than its non-hybrid brother, but has a heck of a lot more horses.) and pay $5 for a gallon of gas.

With Kyoto petering out to no good effect, the global warming industries are gathering the UN-190 in Bali to divvy up the loot sure to be generated from trading carbon credits and the like. A recent New York Times editorial claims that the US cannot expect other countries to cut greenhouse emissions “unless it acts decisively at home.” Of course this is wrong on two counts. The EU countries will continue their cap-and-trade ways whatever the US does because (1) they love socialism and (2) it is the only way they can feel superior to the US. The developing nations, conversely, will happily accept subsidies from the rest of us while accelerating their production and use of fossil fuels. The Chinese are on track to build one coal-fired power plant per week for the next 10 years no matter what the US does.

As Phil Valentine notes “global warming is being used as a template to rob from the rich nations and give to the poor ones.” The UN issued a report last week that baldly admitted the truth: developed nations will need to cough up about $86 Billion per year to “strengthen the capacity of vulnerable people.” Of course most of that dough will be “skimmed off by tinhorn dictators, the same rabble that runs the U.N.” Brazil’s lefty president wants the US to pay to stop Brazil from cutting down their rain forests: “In Bali, we are going to very seriously discuss the price rich countries have to pay so that poorer countries can preserve their forests.”

Ironically, this Kyoto/Bali juncture comes at a time when the US carbon dioxide emissions are actually down 1.5 percent. I wonder if the “Gentry Liberals” know that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill, good to see your blob back in action. Looks like we were both good Democrats until the Vietnam war, which changed my perspective. I am still a registered Democrat, but haven't voted for one for president since LBJ.


3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill, good to see your blob back in action. Looks like we were both good Democrats until the Vietnam war, which changed my perspective. I am still a registered Democrat, but haven't voted for one for president since LBJ.


3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent - won't read that in the Times.


3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God you are back!!! So much crap is going on. I watched Ellen yesterday! What a wonderful show. Jena Bush was on and Ellen had her call her day and she did. President Bush came on the line and talked to her and Ellen. The bad part is that DAMN CNN. They have a gossipy show(forgot the name of it) they showed Jena. The lady said isn't that cute and the F---ing guy said yea cute but strange!!! STRANGE what the he-- is strange about it? Just because it is President Bush being the wonderful human that he is. I fell better now getting it off my chest..

Hope all is well with you and your sweetie pie.. Happy Holidays to you!!!


3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Bill

I received two pleasant surprises in reading your blog of the above title: One, you were once a Kennedy Liberal, and two, you subscribe to the L.A. Times. The second is particularly satisfying, because the poor old Times is ailing for lack of revenue, which will result soon its transfer to yet another Chicagoan, a private equity entrepreneur, with as yet unknown consequences for the House that Otis Chandler built. I hate to think of the Times descending to the level of the Bakersfield Californian, and every subscriber helps.

The first was quite a bit more of a shock, given the tenor of your most recent remarks on current affairs. JFK all the way, eh? Well, I'm an unapologetic Kennedy Liberal too, and I don't care if David Halberstam indicts him for hiring all those "Best and Brightest", who arrogantly entered the White House to remake the world in the image of Liberal Democracy, whether in Harlem or Hanoi.

The charge that the Democratic party has been taken over by limousine liberals has a nostalgic ring to it, dating back to just the Kennedy era. Then, the critics pointed to the Minimum Wage as an anti-Labor measure, because it would kill jobs. The owners and franchisees of the booming McDonald's culture were sure they could never survive if forced to hire kids at a dollar an hour. That still echoes in the Wal-Mart debates, whose management can't understand why the rest of country can't get along on Arkansas wages, sans union representation. Limousine Liberals turned a deaf ear to them, and the economy managed to survive.

Green. I know that so long a China has both the atomic bomb and its vast coal reserves, no amount of Kyoto Protocols is going to bring global warming under control. I abandon that problem to the next generation, who are going to have to adjust to a glacierless Swiss Alps and an absence of cold-water fishing in the Gulf of Alaska. There are some problems that are just beyond human powers to solve. The only thing I could wish for is that Dick Cheney be forced to admit that the world is on a runaway heat wave, and he caused some of it. But, spare me the campaigns to recycle belly-button lint as an alternative fuel. It ain't gonna happen.

But, for the next ten years, I feel confident that most of it will be governed by the new generation of the Best and Brightest, and I will live to see a superior (i.e. European) medical care in this country.

Good talking to you, Bill.

Dave Kase

3:11 PM  

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