PowerLine | Obama nominates Judge Garland to Supreme Court | The Clueless Presidency

PowerLine | Obama nominates Judge Garland to Supreme Court | The Clueless Presidency

Gas to Overtake Coal This Year

Posted: 16 Mar 2016 02:59 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

Coal has been the leading source of electric power generation by a huge margin for at least the last 65 years (and probably before, but that’s how far back the Dept. of Energy data series goes). But today the Energy Information Administration announced that it appears natural gas will overtake coal this year as the leading source of electric power generation> Here’s what the DoE chart looks like:

Now, the reason natural gas has overtaken coal is because the price of gas has fallen drastically from ten years ago (from about $14 TCF to less than $2 TCF right now). Thank you fracking. The price comparison just below is misleading, because although coal is still nominally cheaper on a BTU output basis, advanced combined-cycle natural gas plants can generate more electricity than coal for the same BTU output, so gas-fired electricity is actually cheaper than coal electricity in many cases.


Keep two things in mind. First, to repeat—fracking made this happen, which of course Bernie and the environmentalists want to stop. Second, most of this occurred for market reasons, rather than a regulatory diktat from Washington. (There are some regulatory factors at work, but the availability of cheap gas swamps them.)

Go to Yale? Are You Crazy?

Posted: 16 Mar 2016 01:06 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I was reflecting recently that as bad as the student left is on college campuses today, they’ve not (yet) showed up with guns and bombs, like the student mobs of the 1960s at Cornell and elsewhere. Instead, today’s leftists show up and . . . cry. And yet administrations crumple anyway. It’s one thing to capitulate when there are people with gun occupying your office, but when they’re just . . . crying?

Charles Kesler also noted in conversation recently that the students of the sixties wanted to be treated as responsible adults (just go back and re-read the Port Huron Statement, and note that by comparison with today’s campus leftism, it reads like a reactionary document), and moreover, they believed in having sex without lawyers present. Take THAT, Title IX!

Which brings me to this story from Piers Morgan in the Daily Mail on Monday:

Dear Harry, If you are really thinking about going to Yale, you must be nuts.

Dear Prince Harry,

I hear you may be considering attending Yale University to study law.

There was a time when I would have urged you to do this; a bygone, glorious time when Ivy League university campus life was actually fun.

A time in which young adult men and women came together in academic, sporting and social harmony. They worked hard, played hard, drank too much, had wild sex (a lot) and even took the occasional substance that wouldn’t pass a tennis dope test.

President William Jefferson Clinton’s studied law at Yale, for God’s sake – even if he didn’t inhale.

But those days are long gone and how, can I put this, you are a young, single man who quite reasonably enjoys the company of ladies and the odd night of partying.

And that’s a dangerous thing to be in an American university where the atmosphere is now so fraught and tense with political correctness that even contemplating doing anything remotely resembling ‘fun’ is an instant, shaming, life-ruinous thought process.

Morgan goes on from here to review Yale’s outrageous expulsion of Yale student Jack Montague on a risible rape complaint, and the lawsuit Montague is bringing against Yale that he is sure to win.

When even a nitwit like Piers Morgan gets it. . .

Incidentally, recently ESPN did a documentary report on the Duke Lacrosse scandal from a decade ago, and while the wrongly expelled students there reached confidential settlements from Duke for their shabby treatment, I am told by an informed source that the settlement amount from Duke was $20 million apiece. I think places like Yale and Duke should feel the pain of a few more such settlements.

Jeb Bush pouts as Donald Trump rolls

Posted: 16 Mar 2016 11:36 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Yesterday, Donald Trump won his biggest victory yet, a decisive triumph in Florida’s winner-take-all primary. With the win, the tycoon’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party becomes overwhelmingly likely.

Where was Jeb Bush during the battle for his home state’s primary? He was pouting.

Spinning Bush’s failure to endorse his one-time protege Marco Rubio (whom he once touted for the vice presidency), or another non-Trump candidate, the former governor’s confidante Al Cardenas said:

[Bush] put his heart and soul in this race, and the outcome was disappointing to him. You get emotionally drained, and you just want to stay off the grid for a while. If you support someone, you have to go out there and work for the candidate, and I think the governor just wanted to take some time off. He has no more political aspirations beyond what he’s tried.

What nonsense. Bush could have endorsed another candidate without going on the campaign trail. In any event, is Bush so heartbroken that he couldn’t have showed up at a rally or two?

The fact that Bush, thankfully, “has no more political aspirations beyond what he’s tried” doesn’t mean he shouldn’t try to block Donald Trump’s dangerous aspirations. At this point, it shouldn’t be about Bush; it should be about the country.

Most likely, the main reason Bush didn’t endorse Rubio is pettiness. As one Florida operative told the Washington Times, Rubio had a “snowball’s chance in hell,” of getting Bush’s backing after his “ultimate betrayal” of entering the 2016 race.

In addition, I suspect, Bush saw Trump’s big Florida victory coming. Having already been trounced by Trump, he didn’t want the additional indignity of seeing the fat cat romp to victory in Bush’s home state in the face of Bush’s endorsement of a rival candidate.

Whatever Bush’s motive — pique, face-saving, or fatigue — his unwillingness to stand against Trump is unforgivable. Bush talks a high-minded game, but when push came to shove he put his own interests and feelings ahead of the national interest.

Chris Christie and Ben Carson — who also put their heart and soul in the race — have endorsed Trump. In doing so, they embarrass themselves. But at least they are in the arena pushing for the candidate of their choice.

Bush’s refusal to take a stand is more embarrassing. You could even call it a disgrace.

Obama nominates Judge Garland to Supreme Court

Posted: 16 Mar 2016 08:35 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, for the Supreme Court. Last night, displaying my usual powers of prophesy in these matters, I suggested that Garland’s inclusion on the short-list was a “head fake” and that Obama would select someone younger and further to the left. Sometimes you can fake yourself out.

The selection of Garland wasn’t self-evident, though. According to the Washington Post, “initial reaction from interest groups supportive of the president was mixed.” The Post cites comments by Terry O’Neil, president of the National Organization for Women, who called Garland “a cipher — a real nowhere man.”

Actually, I’m pretty sure that Garland has a point of view (and knows where he’s going to). But his point of view and destination probably aren’t perfectly in sync with the hard core leftist Democratic base.

What does Obama hope to achieve with this pick? I’ve always thought the selection would be driven by the goal of making Republicans pay the maximum price for non-confirmation. It seemed to me that this consideration would produce a nominee from a minority group.

Instead, it produced a nominee who is highly respected and not easily portrayed as a left-wing ideologue. The fact that Garland, age 63, is old by today’s standards doesn’t matter much, since he probably won’t be confirmed.

I suppose Obama sees this pick as win-win. Most likely, the Republicans will block Garland and the Democrats will get to cry foul at the obstruction of the respected chief judge of the nation’s second most important court.

Alternatively, in the unlikely event that Garland is confirmed, Obama will have transformed the Supreme Court through another liberal Justice who should be good for 15 to 20 years of service.

UPDATE: Ed Whelan had what I think is the right line on Judge Garland when he compared him to Elena Kagan and Diana Wood back when Obama was filling the last Supreme Court vacancy. Ed wrote:

I have zero illusions that a Justice Garland would help move the Court in the right direction in undoing the damage of decades of liberal judicial activism. I merely have reasonable hopes that he’d move more slowly than the other leading candidates in compounding the damage.

Today, Ed reiterates this view. He expresses his “very high regard for [Garland’s] intellect and his decency” but isn’t remotely arguing that he should be confirmed.

When Justice Kagan was nominated, it made sense to wish for Garland because Republicans lacked the votes to stop Kagan. Now Republicans have the votes to block any Obama nominee and the fact that we’re in a presidential election provides solid ground for doing so, given the historical precedents.

Things might look different in September, if Hillary Clinton is 25 points ahead of Donald Trump in the polls and the Republicans are headed towards losing the Senate. In that event, Garland might look a lot better.

As things stand now, however, Republicans should block this nominee.

The Clueless Presidency


Posted: 16 Mar 2016 05:45 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

If you cast your mind back to 1979 or so, one of the signs that Jimmy Carter was washed up was a long cover story in The Atlantic by James Fallows, who had been one of Carter’s speechwriters, called “The Passionless Presidency.” “[T]here was a mystery to be explained about Jimmy Carter,” Fallows wrote, “the contrast between the promise and popularity of his first months in office and the disappointment so widely felt later on.”

I’ve been waiting for someone on the center-left like Fallows to write a similar long-form treatment of what’s wrong with Obama for a long while now. I think we have a short version of it today from Bill Galston in the Wall Street Journal. Galston is a smart, moderate liberal. (The fact that he’s said nice things about me—see below— does not affect my judgment at all! No! It doesn’t!)

Galston’s column today, “The All-Spock-No-Kirk President” (here’s a Google portal for non-WSJ subscribers), is the rough equivalent of the old Fallows piece. Galston, who was a student of political philosophy with Allan Bloom among others, is clearly appalled by Obama’s naïvete, if you read carefully between the lines here (heh—an inside joke), especially the thought that Obama is a “Hobbesian optimist,” as revealed in the now notorious Jeffrey Goldberg interview from last week:

The question is whether Hobbesian optimism is a remarkable synthesis of apparent opposites or an elegant oxymoron. If you genuinely believe, as did theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, whom President Obama admires, that original sin is “the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith,” then you cannot believe that human nature progresses toward justice. At most you can hope that our species gradually becomes wiser about institutional arrangements that constrain the evils of which we are capable.

History has been cruel to many such hopes. In 1910, the British journalist and politician Norman Angell published “The Great Illusion,” a book arguing that the integration of European economies had grown to an extent that rendered war among them futile and self-defeating. In 1920, the League of Nations was designed to preserve the peace in the aftermath of the “war to end all wars.” . . .

Consistent with his progressivist understanding of history, the president offers a strong defense of what we have come to call soft power: “Diplomacy and technocrats and bureaucrats . . . are helping to keep America safe.” He is right, but he carries the point much too far. “Real power,” he asserts, means that “you can get what you want without having to exert violence.” Not so; military power is just as real as diplomatic and economic power, and sometimes it is the only thing than can work. Unlike Vladimir Putin, Mr. Obama has consistently ignored the ways in which the military balance on the ground shapes what is diplomatically possible.

Galston’s final judgment is:

In an era characterized by deep distrust of government, Mr. Obama’s failure to take public explanation seriously stands out in high relief.

Welcome back to the “passionless presidency.” Except that Mr. Obama’s real passion was to move the country left, at which he has had some success.



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