» David Steinberg

David Steinberg

David Steinberg is the New York City Editor of PJ Media. Follow his tweets at @DavidSPJM.

So, Who Does Obama Want to Win in 2016?

Conflicts between narcissistic, ambitious, above-the-law personalities predictably follow a tragic — though funny to normal people — trend. The relationship between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton never stood a chance of being anything but textbook Shakespearean: the proximity to power of “ME!” personalities can be tracked by an inverse relationship with their grasp on how grownups are expected to behave after the age of, say, 25. At this point, both have descended to headgear-and-forehead-zit levels of maturity:

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Fine, I leaked the f-in’ email server story. But she totally started it.

He’s hot stuff, she’s all that. Was never gonna work. Despite her being the best chance for Obamacare, open borders immigration, and the other pillars of his “change” to survive the next few years and become established as historical legacy, he has transparently been sandbagging her campaign. He simply needed to lash out; that’s what faded messianic types do when the flock shrinks.

But it’s a mistake to consider that Obama has heretofore been hostile to his possible predecessors without any thought of what those actions mean for his accomplishments.

He can’t silently bear watching his self-possessed greatness be torn down. He must see to it that he be recalled as the root force behind progressivism’s charge. He needs his work to remain intact, and he will likely spend the coming years telling us about his historical role.

This is the path that leftist leaders take, pre-history to Woodrow Wilson to Jimmy Carter.

They don’t expect to fail, they inevitably do, then they employ the contradictory defense mechanisms of blaming everyone else for their failure while simultaneously preaching that they were ultimately somehow successful, perhaps in “a larger sense.”

The next president does matter to him. While he obviously has begun the process of ego defense — see his attack on Fox News yesterday — this is not a man who accepts that the writing is on the wall for his legacy. He still has hope that nothing will get rolled back — and perhaps he is right about that. And he also knows that it matters, as part of that fight, who wins the White House next.

Which makes his recent behavior mystifying.

Posted at 12:29 pm on May 14th, 2015 by David Steinberg

GOPointless: Jeb Hires … John Boehner’s Spokesman

Politico has announced that Michael Steel, John Boehner’s press secretary, is taking his conservative voter marginalization talents to South Beach:

Michael Steel, one of Speaker John Boehner’s top aides, is moving to Miami to work in a “leadership role” for Jeb Bush’s political action committee.

Steel has worked as the press secretary for Boehner since 2008, when the Ohio Republican was the minority leader of a battered Republican party in the House. He has guided Boehner’s communications operation for seven years, helping craft the strategy that made the Ohio Republican speaker, and subsequently playing a key role advising him in day-to-day governing, including high-stakes negotiations with President Barack Obama.

Steel will be an adviser to Bush’s Right to Rise Policy Solutions PAC, “with a leadership role in policy and communications,” according to a source familiar with the role. Right to Rise is the precursor to Bush’s all-but-certain presidential campaign.

If you needed a sign that the fix is in, that the party really has the House of Cards mentality required to push a third Bush, I’m not sure what else is required beyond Jeb taking on Boehner’s key staff.

If you still held out hope that GOP leadership sees 2016 as a chance to fight the existential threats created by Obama and not as a chance to consolidate the power of a couple dozen blue bloods … well, meet Michael Steel. This is the man who, as Breitbart’s Matt Boyle tweets, ”helped Romney/Ryan lose to Obama, and helped Boehner lie for years.”

The much-discussed GOP rift is nothing more profound than this: a minority class of royalty has the reins; the GOP voters and the many principled representatives and senators tiptoe around them. The non-sinecure wing of the party racks up electoral win after win, from Congress down to local municipalities, whereas the GOP royalty racks up legislative loss after loss.

Last November, the country class turned the House map all red except for a few blue pixels, but you can’t even see those on a standard-def monitor:

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The Democratic Party: “Still Visible at 1920 x 1080

That’s the good news, but you’d be mistaken to take any of that as a sign that the party’s national leadership — meaning no more than a handful of congressmen and a handful of “strategists” who wield an absurd amount of power yet aren’t known outside of greater D.C. – was the driver behind that victory. Voters drove that victory, not them. Party leadership simply rode it. And now, they do not have the principles, vision, or talent to make good on any of the citizen demands they’ve been blessed with the honor and duty of carrying out.

And it’s not them, it’s us. Shame on us for thinking a historic midterm landslide — two of them! — was enough legislative power that even the GOP establishment would be able to follow through on your demands, much less understand them:

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“Get a border fence built while Dems control Southeastern Iowa? I’M NOT FRIGGIN’ BATMAN.”

The folks now running the GOP will never, never, never get the job done for the voters. Whether you are a moderate or conservative, they will never claim a victory for you. Let’s stop pretending the GOP’s leadership problem, the party’s D.C. vs. country-class rift, is solvable. It isn’t

Perhaps it would be solvable if the rift was simply ideological. Conservative vs. moderate is about political ideas, but this rift doesn’t have a damn thing to do with ideas. The party will never stop failing legislatively because the rift is fundamentally about power and the establishment’s unbreakable desire to retain it. That’s why we use the term “establishment”: it’s about power for them. We knew that before the election, we hoped for a different result, and now we’re just four months older and crankier. I’m heartened that the GOP field for president contains more than one name with a track record of facing down the GOP’s leadership/strategist class, but let’s stop pretending that any of the GOP presidential nominees — save one — has any hope of being the party’s guiding voice. 

Take the Michael Steel hiring to mean this: if anyone but Jeb wins, he or she will spend the term being hamstrung by the GOP, not aided by it

The most confounding part of this leader-follower dynamic is that the GOP establishment has managed to keep the majority of the party completely out of the board room, despite being the least intimidating political cabal since the Muppets went to Washington. Who on planet Earth — seriously, the whole thing — is intimidated by the “GOP Establishment” besides most other elected members of the GOP? The strategists and fundraisers behind Boehner, McConnell, and the others you know I’m referring to aren’t the icy, psychopathic manipulators of a Bond movie. They aren’t Putin. These guys are a bunch of lawyers, hangers-on, doughy guys who hit the elliptical twice a week.

And yet all of us, from the unengaged Republican citizen to us political careerists, act like there’s nothing we can do. We act like in the great historical record of American history, these guys matter, because they possess power. All of us have been dead wrong about where the power lies, and always will lie, in a party that runs on the voter’s belief in the rights of the individual. They don’t just need you more than you need them — their livelihoods don’t even exist without your consent. But we consented.

Want actual Republican advancements? Stop worrying about the Democrats until your own party leadership is exposed.

Peel back the curtain on the lamest show in town. Honestly, it’s about a dozen congressmen and a dozen strategists preventing that wonderful vibrant movement of principled voters that have better things to do with their lives than chase donors and committee spots. They aren’t faceless teflon billionaires, they’re sitting ducks to an inquisitive GOP electorate.

Posted at 2:58 pm on May 11th, 2015 by David Steinberg

Man vs. Nature, or Man vs. Man? Tsar Bomba, and Obama’s False Priorities

October 30, 1961, sets a crystalline example of what sort of power we have over nature: we cannot damage a fraction of what liberals, for a quarter-century or so, have believed we can. Yet, when viewed only at the scale that matters to human life, the hell we can make of nature is as terrible as imagined.

Put the following coordinates in Google Earth’s satellite view – 73.809948 N, 54.545890 E — and you can see what the worst blow man ever struck against nature actually did to the planet:

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That red marker marks the site where Tsar Bomba, the most destructive hydrogen bomb ever detonated, left a pinprick scuff on the Earth. The estimated 50-megatons-of-TNT explosion released a fraction of the energy unleashed by a late summer tropical depression.

To one who makes political decisions based on a worldview that man can cause or halt a rise of the seas, the Tsar Bomba detonation site represents reality. Industrialized humanity is not locked in battle with nature, as Secretary of State John Kerry believes; in reality we can’t get her attention. But on the scale of years and miles, irrelevant to nature, on which we measure our lives, Tsar Bomba is a terror.

Zoom in on that marker. Silly ideas like Man vs. Nature disappear, but real horrors like Man vs. Man take its place:

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You are looking at about 25 square miles of molten rock, cooled 50 years.

Gaia doesn’t care; she’s cooking a few trillion tons of rock under your feet right now. But Man certainly cares — 25 square miles of vaporized civilization would brings the species to economic and moral armageddon. Kerry and Obama direct their decision-making as if Man vs. Earth is a very real war, yet Man vs. Man’s evil is a topic for paranoids.

Could a nuclear Iran eventually produce a hydrogen bomb of this caliber? Folks, a nuclear anyone can eventually produce a nuclear anything. Once Iran is able to produce a nuclear weapon, no matter the yield, it represents the ultimate leverage. A bomb is bargaining power to put an immediate stop to any further inspections, after which the Iranian nuclear program continues unfettered.

It took 50 years of further technological development to produce a tool such as satellite photography with which to view the true scale of Man’s effect on nature. Look at the whole of Earth in comparison with our greatest explosion, and you’ll see mankind is irrelevant to nature when considered on nature’s scale.

But look much closer, at the miles and the Earth that we can grasp: Man’s point of view reveals Iran’s intentions to be a horror, and President Obama’s worldview irrational.

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Posted at 11:26 am on April 2nd, 2015 by David Steinberg

Was Strange Cantor Event Prelude to ‘Cantor for Virginia Governor 2017′?

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported on an unexpected event taking place in Virginia’s Seventh District headlined by that district’s former congressman. WaPo must have had a blast wording the headline, although they could also be praised for simply reporting the facts straight:

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They deliberately chose a pic of Cantor’s face expressing “I’m none-too-pleased to be the target of this surprise celebrity roast,” but Cantor actually was the headliner, offering tips for how to once again lead Virginia establishment Republicans to victory:

According to organizers, Cantor gave an invitation-only crowd of more than 100 people tips on how to frame their message to voters as Republicans prepare to defend their slim majority in the state Senate this year. Activists from the establishment wing of the party are also focused on delivering the swing state of Virginia for the party’s 2016 presidential nominee.

I would expect WaPo to be putting quotations around “establishment,” yet even they no longer see a need to expound on the term and how it has come to represent the left wing of the GOP. This is of primary importance: even the influential paper of the Democratic establishment, one not known for its sharp insight regarding the GOP rift, now identifies — without further explanation — Eric Cantor and his supporters as the left wing, inside-the-Beltway element of the Republican Party. He is colloquially known as being in opposition to the Tea Party, conservative wing of the GOP.

These facts on the ground are why last Saturday’s event struck both local and national observers as incomprehensible. The evening was described as a kickoff event for a newly formed statewide group calling itself the … Virginia Conservative Network.

Everyone, everyone knows what happened in 2014. Cantor was defeated by a challenge from the right. No one in America — let alone in Virginia’s Seventh — who follows national politics believes that Cantor had the conservative platform in that race. Most observers also know that Cantor, under the strategic guidance of campaign manager and Sopranos extra Ray Allen, moved Heaven and Earth to portray his opponent as not only an establishment Republican, but even as a liberal. The tactic failed dramatically, both by offering extra name recognition to Dave Brat and by underestimating the District’s knowledge of Cantor’s by-then extensive record.

Wrote WaPo, in yet another sentence that could be accurately classified either as “wise-ass” or as “straight reporting”:

The day-long meeting of the Virginia Conservative Network featured a who’s who of establishment Republicans in the mold of Cantor, many of whom are frustrated with the party’s loss of all five statewide offices in recent years.

In other words, the advisors who encouraged Cantor to fabricate his conservative bonafides for the purposes of defeating a conservative challenger, which resulted in a historic, history-making loss, have chosen to double down on the same strategy as a means for returning the establishment to power.

“Virginia Conservative Network” couldn’t even fool a liberal WaPo reporter four words into writing her headline. Yet it looks like it’s once more unto the breach for these ill-advised establishment Republicans.

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The remainder of the Washington Post article certainly didn’t help the establishment’s cause. The Post undersold the facts mentioned in their subhead: Dave Brat’s supporters didn’t merely “feel” shut out from the meeting. At least one was physically kept from entering, despite being invited into the room by two other attendees. Wrote WaPo:

Ron Headlund, a Brat volunteer, said he was blocked from the suburban Richmond DoubleTree hotel where the meeting was held.

That doesn’t remotely capture the pettiness of what actually occurred. Ron Hedlund was physically kept from entering the room by none other than Linwood Cobb, the former Seventh District GOP chairman who lost his seat entirely due to his tactics in furthering Eric Cantor’s career. “He grabbed my arm and stopped me,” Ron Hedlund told me. “I was motioned to by two acquaintances within the room, told to come in and join the meeting, and Cobb grabbed my arm and wouldn’t allow it.”

Ironically, and of course, WaPo actually quoted Cobb discussing the Virginia Conservative Network’s supposed “big tent” aspirations:

Cantor was joined by Linwood Cobb, his right-hand man in the Seventh District Republican Committee whose ouster foreshadowed Cantor’s own defeat.

Rep. Brat and his supporters were not invited, Cobb said, because the meeting was not focused on the district but on a statewide effort to expand the party by reaching out to minorities and other groups who might not normally vote Republican.

“The statewide aspect of it is a big factor of what we wanted to start working toward,” Cobb said in a phone interview. “We are not going to win statewide [by] just talking to conservative Republicans or just tea party Republicans. We’ve got to go beyond that to win.”

So the meeting “was not focused on the [Seventh] district,” it was focused on Districts 1 through 6 and 8 through 11 or something. Although it was held within the Seventh District, and the former Seventh District congressman gave the keynote, and the former Seventh District chairman played bouncer with a supporter of the current Seventh District leadership. Local conservative political blog The Bull Elephant summed up the circus:

Given the focus on “winning elections again” and “party unity,” it seems more than a little uncouth not to invite the guy who just wrote the book on how conservatives win elections. We suppose “unity” must have an alternate definition of which we are unaware.

And that particular concept of unity is what is troubling about this weekend’s meeting. For instance, one of the workshop sessions was entitled, “Reclaiming the Elephant.” There is a lot of meaning packed into that title, but just on the surface there is an implication that something that is rightfully theirs has been taken, and needs to be seized back. We’re sure a lot of this came with window dressing about tending to the Republican brand, etc., but underneath it all, the thing being reclaimed is simply power for its own sake. If it was truly about messaging and electoral temperament, how can one fault (and conspicuously exclude) a man who won a landslide campaigning — quite literally — on the Virginia Republican Creed?

The clear implication is that the 7th District Congressman and his ilk have stolen something, and Cantor and his gang plan to take it back.

Ron Hedlund later posted about his experience on Facebook:

Early Saturday morning of the CVN event, my phone starting buzzing with calls, text messages and voicemails from conservatives across the district asking me if I was aware of this meeting and wanting to know if I had, in fact, been invited. I was in absolute shock to learn that even the congressman himself was unaware of such an event …

While on a conference call with several concerned conservatives, I began to fathom the gravity of the situation and immediately started dressing and determined to make a trip across town to find out what this gathering was all about …

Turns out a few other concerned conservatives came by out of curiosity. Some, like myself, actually asked to pay the $20 registration fee and were denied entrance. They were told it was by invitation only.

When I was asked by more than one attendee to join them in the conference, I was assured the event was open to Republicans. I explained the situation of earlier denials, but they insisted I join them. My friend Ken Davis and I looked at each other and nodded in agreement: “Sure, let’s give it a shot.”

We followed Korey Stuart and Bill Thomas upstairs. As Bill Thomas was engaged in conversation with Linwood Cobb, I passed by toward the registration table and said hello to Mr. Cobb. At that very moment, his eyes grew as big as saucers and he reached out and grabbed my right forearm and jerked it toward him. All the while, he was angrily telling me that I was not allowed in. I turned to Bill Thomas, who was visibly shaken, and said, “See, I told you they would not allow me in.”

Bill Thomas was most apologetic and remained shaken. Linwood moved around in front of me and stood in the doorway to prevent my passage. Attempts and rational discussion were met with a stone face and absolute silence. Others inside including Korey Stuart were witness to Mr. Cobb’s antics.

I turned to walk away and sit in the lobby while others denied entrance came to watch those streaming in and out of the Virginia Conservative Network. I should point out that not all those in attendance were privy to the antics employed by the Cantor organization.

Delegate John O’Bannon came out to apologize for the strong-arm tactics and for not opening up the meeting to others. So too did Henrico County Chairman Don Boswell. He did not think this is how to unite the party and win elections. I was heartened to know that not all those suckered into Ray Allen’s trap wanted to play a part in it.

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So what really happened last Saturday? Obviously Virginia’s establishment GOP is looking to reorganize and reclaim its relevance, and further, to tear down the actual conservative wing of the party. Part of their strategy is to yet again pretend to not be the establishment. Many of the local GOP members invited to attend would not have come had they known the true circumstances, so that tactic was partially successful, at least until they saw the grabby bouncer.

But what does a reorganization of the establishment entail? Is there an end goal in mind?

I am hearing from several sources that the content of the meeting also including much discussion of 2017, not 2016.

In 2017, Virginia will be selecting its new governor, and this meeting on Saturday was reportedly less about regrouping the establishment and more about establishing the groundwork for a possible 2017 Eric Cantor run for Virginia governor.

This isn’t an out-of-the-blue development: back when Cantor vacated his seat several months early to join investment bank Moelis & Co., Politico reported the following regarding Cantor’s future plans, as per an unnamed aide:

Though the possibility of a political future seems unlikely now, Cantor still wants to leave open the possibility of running for office. He has said as much to players in New York and Washington. Cantor will be responsible for opening an office in Washington for the firm and Moelis is also hiring Kristi Way, his longtime Richmond-based chief of staff.

“It’s no secret Eric wants to leave that door open, but that’s not his focus now,” said one former senior Cantor aide.

Apparently, sources believe that, just five months into his position at Moelis, that is his focus now.

Further, the Virginia establishment is reportedly ready to go with a challenger to Dave Brat for 2016, though not one with a particularly enviable image in Virginia currently. Sources say former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling is even closer to announcing as a primary challenger to Brat in 2016 than Cantor is to announcing a run for governor.

In 2013, the GOP devastatingly lost a shot at the governorship when Ken Cuccinelli was narrowly defeated by Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The Virginia GOP establishment’s scorched-earth tactics with the conservative wing of the party was to blame. The conservative Cuccinelli didn’t get significant support from key members of party (not to mention the national GOP), and perhaps the biggest culprit was Bolling.

In an article titled “VA GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling Undermined Cuccinelli Campaign”, reporter Michael Patrick Leahy writes:

Virginia’s incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling helped Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly defeat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in several ways. Not only did Bolling refuse to endorse Cuccinelli, he also transferred $446,674 remaining in his gubernatorial campaign committee to his newly formed political action committee, the Virginia Mainstream Project, which spent no money to support Cuccinelli.

Bolling’s new political action committee was ostensibly established to support Republican candidates running for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2013 and the Virginia State Senate in 2015. Its relative inactivity, however, suggests it was more likely a place for Bolling to park his 2013 campaign cash as he worked behind the scenes to undermine Cuccinelli in hopes that he himself would become the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2017. It secured only two additional donations of $500, and spent a mere $45,760 on nine Delegate candidates in 2013, leaving it with a healthy bank account of $399,993 in cash unspent on election day.

Nothing says “big tent,” or “expanding the party” as per Linwood Cobb’s quote regarding the new organization, like sandbagging your party’s candidate in hopes of making a future run yourself. Now, sources say Bolling is apparently instead interested in taking a run at Brat, and this nascent Virginia Conservative Network is the first step in once again failing to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, anywhere, not even the Washington Post’s.

The rumblings are that Cantor and Bolling and Allen and Cobb want the Virginia GOP back, are using the same tactics that got them removed from power last time, and are demonstrating the same behavior that points to a governing motive of power rather than public service. None of it makes any sense strategically, politically, ideologically, or otherwise. Establishment’s gotta establishment, I suppose.

Posted at 2:41 am on January 23rd, 2015 by David Steinberg

CREEPY: Chris Mooney, WaPo Publish Intentions To Modify America’s Behavior

The most prominent champions of obeying “science!” as a reasoning force behind pushing progressivism tend to offer as little impartial reasoning — you know, the bedrock of the scientific process — as is necessary to sell their agenda. With a Vox-ish headline straight from the parking lot of a Rush concert — “The Next Energy Revolution Won’t Be In Wind Or Solar. It Will Be In Our Brains” — the Washington Post kicks off a three-part series selling a Behavioral revolution. First up: discussing how we can better mind-control our military to be good little soldiers in the war on climate change:

In the arid lands of the Mojave Desert, Marine regimental commander Jim Caley traveled alongside a 24-mile stretch of road and saw trucks, tanks and armored tracked vehicles all idling in the heat — and wasting enormous amounts of expensive fuel.

The Department of Defense is the single biggest user of energy in the U.S. — its energy bill in 2013 was $18.9 billion – and Caley now plays a central role in trying to ensure that just one of its branches, the Marine Corps, uses that power in the optimal way. The implications for the military are vast. For instance, the Marines alone have estimated that they could save $26 million per year through a 10 percent energy reduction at their installations and bases, to say nothing of Marine field operations, which used an estimated 1.5 million barrels of fuel in 2014.

Writer Chris Mooney begins by making the case that this is about the taxpayer, though his history as a climate-change warrior and a bigot targeting middle America throw that into question. If he cared about wasted tax expenditures alone, he wouldn’t be describing the entire Marine Corps base network saving $26 million as a “vast” improvement.

The Yankees will blow that much on a 40-year-old steroid-damaged lunatic this year alone.

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Firing this freak show? Vast improvement.

Rationally, the cost savings across the entire military could be legitimate — yet that $18.9 billion paid by the DoD in 2013 occurred before the global 50-60% drop in gas prices. When oil is this cheap, putting this much effort into an across-the board change in military energy usage is a waste of administrative resources.

Mooney knows this isn’t about money. So what’s it about?

Through behavioral changes alone — tweaking the ways that Marines drive their vehicles, power their outposts, handle their equipment — Caley thinks he can increase their overall battlefield range by as much as five days, a change that would provide immense tactical benefit by cutting down on refueling requirements (and the logistical hurdles and vulnerabilities associated with them). If he succeeds, the Marines would stand at the forefront of an energy revolution that may someday rival wind or solar in importance: one focused not on changing our technologies or devices, but on changing us. And its applications would touch every corner of our society, from how we behave in our homes to how we drive our cars.

Caley is a Marine; his interest in battlefield tactical changes is legitimate. Yet Mooney immediately steers the article away from national security and towards the revolutionary behavioral talk that is the lynchpin of progressivism, dating back to Marx and Woodrow Wilson. His concern is environmental, and his prescription is technocratic elitism.

He is using the Marines, who have a specific, legitimate concern in battlefield advantage, as a model for how to “nudge” the behavior of the average citizen, who does not have a life-and-death concern, and is in fact enjoying care-free usage of energy and a resulting quality-of-life benefit for the first time in years.

The issue doesn’t translate from military to civilian, it translates from military to eco-warrior. This creepy focus on controlling the behavior of the average person runs through most every environmental proposal, and touches endeavors from Michelle Obama’s centralizing of nutrition to gun control.

The Federal Government is not intended to be in the business of citizen behavioral modification; progressives like Mooney glom on to the government in these cases simply because that’s where the power to constrict the citizen happens to lie.

[T]he behavioral revolution in energy is also highly significant in the civilian sector, where truly Pentagon-sized energy gains could be reaped just by tweaking little behaviors. For instance, here are some published estimates of possible energy savings from behavioral changes. These shouldn’t be taken as exact, but rather as ballpark figures:

  • A roughly 1 percent overall U.S. household energy savings could be gained if people switched their washing machines from “hot wash, warm rinse” to “warm wash, cold rinse.”
  • 2.8 percent gain could come from setting the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees overnight.
  • Another 2 percent could be gained by driving cars at 60 miles per hour, rather than 70, on the highway.

Indeed, one 2009 study suggested that American households — which account for around 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions — could  achieve a 20 percent emissions reduction by changing which household appliances and objects they use, and how they use them. That’s greater than the total emissions of the country of France.

Leaving out the logical reasoning again, Mooney fails to mention why a “20 percent emissions reduction” is necessary or even desirable. Even using the UN IPCC models which claimed only a 5% chance that global average temperatures would be as low as they are today — in other words, horrendously failed models — does that 20 percent move the needle in any beneficial way?

The point is underscored by just how much Americans in similar circumstances can diverge in their energy use patterns. “You can have two families, demographically similar, living side by side, in similar apartments, and there will be something like two to four times difference between one family and the other in their consumption,” says Susan Mazur-Stommen, an anthropologist and independent consultant on energy efficiency. “And that will be attributable to behavioral differences.”

No kidding.

One family may enjoy reading by candlelight, one may run a home-based beauty salon. That two-to-four-times difference is due to human ingenuity, liberty, individuality, the pursuit of happiness.

Wanting to spur a “behaviorial revolution” to eliminate all of that is goddamn creepy. Live your own life, Mooney. The mantle of science certainly doesn’t belong with the anti-science left.

Posted at 4:16 pm on January 22nd, 2015 by David Steinberg

Six Years In, Left Still Doesn’t Understand Who They Elected

Powerline’s Steven Hayward notes yesterday’s remarkable article at the Daily Beast by Leslie Gelb, a liberal blue-blood who pronounced Obama’s presidency dead and gone after being a no-show in Paris this week. Further, Gelb demonstrated the reappearance of JFK-style “muscular” liberalism, in which policy is governed by silly ideas about economic utopianism yet still connected to reality in terms of our enemies’ intentions. A national liberalism, instead of the international socialism favored by Obama.

Gelb made several recommendations for dismantling Obama’s foreign policy apparatus — he offers plenty of commentary and specifics, but Gelb’s recommendations boil down entirely to “fire the leftists and hire some adults,” many of whom are establishment Republicans. Writes Gelb:

Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing. It wasn’t just because President Obama’s or Vice President Biden’s absence was a horrendous gaffe. More than this, it demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years. It’s simply too dangerous to let Mr. Obama continue as is — with his current team and his way of making decisions. America, its allies, and friends could be heading into one of the most dangerous periods since the height of the Cold War.

That was remarkable in itself, but more remarkable still is the motivation behind Gelb’s revolt: he isn’t just embarrassed by Obama’s “poor optics” this time. Gelb noticed the substance of Obama’s weakness — it’s not an intellectual exercise in managing humanity anymore, it’s a bloody war, and Obama might just get us all killed.

Gelb’s unwritten eureka about leftism: Hope and Change was intellectuals playing parlor games! He finally understands the horror of his life having been a gamepiece.

Gelb doesn’t get himself all the way to understanding Obama as a man, however — this is present both in his recommendations and analysis. He writes:

In the end, making the national security system work comes down to one factor, one man –Barack Obama. He’s the key problem, and he’s the only one who can bring about a solution. He’s such a closed person. He’s first rate as an intellectual thinker, but he thinks about problems as an intellectual and not as a policy maker and a leader. Alas, that’s just too clear. He also doesn’t like to be challenged with give and take. If he were to bring in the kind of people I suggest, he would have to resolve at the outset to give them a full hearing and tangible respect for their views.

Gelb wouldn’t be making these recommendations if he understood that Obama does not see his presidency as a teetering failure, and never intended today’s foreign policy approach to be anything besides what it has become. This is a key distinction representing the right’s analytical achievement over the prior six years as compared to Gelb’s elitist commentariat left. We not only were right about liberalism, we were right about Obama’s character and intentions, both then and now. The past six years played out exactly as predicted, both by the 23-million-listener radio show and by the Tea Party shopowner in Iowa who went under, both of whom you mocked and continue to mock mercilessly.

Obama wasn’t in Paris for the same reason he hired and refuses to fire Eric Holder; for the same reason he tries to humiliate Netanyahu; for the same reason he apologized for Western civilization in Cairo; for the same reason he presented a “reset button” to a tyrant; for the same reason he helped usher the world’s foundational terror movement into power in Egypt; for the same reason Josh Earnest still — still! — was forbidden to say the word “Islamic terrorism.”

Obama does not want to overhaul his foreign policy, it’s doing perfectly fine in his estimation, and perhaps it’s just the ideal time to empty out Gitmo and reach out to Communist Cuba.

The liberal commentariat has far too much invested to trash both their own prognostications and their worldview all at once. Gelb and his colleagues will continue to find distractions to protect both their egos and their life’s work.

Posted at 11:03 am on January 15th, 2015 by David Steinberg

DISCONNECT: 75% of GOP Voters Want Boehner/McConnell Out, Yet Gohmert Faces Uphill Battle For 29 Defectors

A national poll of GOP voters supervised by Caddell Associates, Pat Caddell’s outfit, presented the following findings yesterday regarding tomorrow’s full House vote for the speaker position:

Only a quarter of GOP voters think [John] Boehner and [Mitch] McConnell should remain Speaker and Majority Leader. Three-fifths want someone new rather than Speaker Boehner and almost half want someone new rather than Leader McConnell.

As of now this finding has received scant media attention. It deserves more. The Daily Signal broke Caddell’s poll but somewhat buried that lede; Drudge linked the Daily Signal article halfway down his site. Otherwise, I see little attention given to it as of now.

(UPDATE: Looks like Mark Levin caught it.)

I spoke with a member of Louie Gohmert’s staff earlier this morning who pointed out the statistic to me, and mentioned how they thought that 25% figure is of primary importance regarding Gohmert’s challenge tomorrow. I certainly agree with that assessment, and I’m having trouble understanding how Boehner, D.C., and the media in general could dismiss it.

The opposition to GOP leadership is far greater than what we consider landslide numbers, yet the GOP fully intends to extend Boehner’s tenure tomorrow. All challenger Louie Gohmert needs to extend the process to a second round of votes is to whip 29 members — yet this outcome is being treated as an overwhelming long shot by the caucus and the D.C. media.

At some point — I suppose each man has a different threshold — the nature of power and corruptibility is supposed to yield to … I don’t know, shame? Or integrity, or something else laudable that bears a relation to campaign promises? Not to sound holier-than-thou, but I’m pretty sure John Boehner did not envision public service as a role in which someone should fiercely cling to power against the wishes of his electorate, and he certainly didn’t hope he’d eventually be that guy. And those occasionally strong and principled members of the GOP caucus surely didn’t all see themselves as pawns needing to kowtow to this eventuality.

Who is well-served in this situation? Rationally, only John Boehner is served by his refusal to step aside. Further — and representing a precise analogy to the GOP leadership’s current sour relationship with its citizen members — the GOP House members who are still providing Boehner with the support he requires to maintain the speakership serve only their own interests, as defined by what Boehner can reward the loyalty with.

Logic: if the House members planning to vote for Boehner feared the voters wrath more than his, then Boehner would be gone. You don’t ignore 75% voter disapproval, 60% for Boehner, if you feel this vote could threaten your 2016 reelection. But they intend to ignore it.

Burn up the phone lines accordingly, folks. Gohmert is doing precisely what you asked of him in November, no?

Also read:

Don’t Get Too Excited About Boehner Being Ousted

Posted at 12:56 pm on January 5th, 2015 by David Steinberg

Rep. Brat: No Room For Political Strategy When Bill Funds Unconstitutional Act

I talked to Rep. Dave Brat by phone at 10:00 a.m. EST this morning to discuss last night’s House passage of the “cromnibus” bill supported by GOP leadership and President Obama.

Brat discussed why his “nay” vote was set in stone, his proposed amendment to the “cromnibus” banning funding of Obama’s executive amnesty (Brat gathered the support of 75 GOP reps, yet was not allowed to proceed by the Rules committee), and just what was happening on the floor in those final minutes, as it seemed many reps were still making up their minds.

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Steinberg: Your vote, first and foremost, was against funding Obama’s executive action on amnesty. Why was that your overriding concern amongst all the concerns with this bill?

Brat: Because it rises to the Constitutional level. You can have serious policy disagreements that are utilitarian in nature, where you are calculating benefits and costs. But this one was intentionally illegal. The president clearly asserted that he didn’t have the authority. The GOP said on paper that his act was illegal.

Once that’s been established, I don’t see how I can go forward in principle and vote for something that’s illegal. You have to act immediately to defund, to get that illegal act halted as soon as possible.

Steinberg: So your biggest concern is that any of this strategic, political positioning that we are witnessing, that all must go out the window, and not be treated as legitimate act when it involves funding an illegal act.

Brat: That’s right. And, just to be consistent, there are other outstanding issues that rise to that level, other unconstitutional actions that need to be stopped as well. That doesn’t weaken this challenge, we just need to prioritize our strategy, basing it on those higher first principles.

Steinberg: Can you share with us the behind-the-scenes message from leadership used to persuade a “Yea” vote? I assume you didn’t get too much arm-twisting as you set your position in stone ahead of time, but what was leadership doing to win over GOP votes?

Were they only using fear of public backlash about a shutdown? Were you hearing any other arguments from leadership in favor of the bill?

Brat: The substantive argument on the GOP side was that a lot of this was not our own doing. We were forced into an omnibus situation because the Senate would not pick up any of the bills that the House has put forward, none of the appropriation bills. So when that’s the case, you’re left having to do this piecemeal approach which no one thinks is good process.

The test is, in moving forward, to see that the leadership goes toward regular order, and deals with this executive overreach. They promised they would do that, and I think they are going to do it.

Steinberg: Pete Sessions [chairman of Rules committee] guaranteed an amendment in January after the new congress takes the oath, an amendment halting the amnesty action to be added to a bill and voted on in January. We heard little about that prior to this morning, was that plan known of prior to last night’s vote?

Brat: He promised that to us on Wednesday night, the evening we brought our proposed amendment to Rules. He put it in strong language, he said: “This is not a pledge, it’s my promise that we will put the Mulvaney amendment on to the defense bill coming in January.”

Steinberg: Do you think that promise may have helped contribute to winning some “yea” votes?

Posted at 12:39 pm on December 12th, 2014 by David Steinberg

UH OH: Obama: ’Like Your Plan, Keep Your Plan.’ Gruber, 2009: ‘Five Million People Will Lose Their Plan’

In Australia at the G20 summit yesterday, President Obama forcefully rejected the concept that the administration used deception to garner support for the passage of Obamacare. In recent days, a citizen journalist uncovered that Obamacare’s highly compensated chief architect Jonathan Gruber claimed deception was indeed used to hide the so-called “Cadillac tax”; other outlets subsequently identified at least six separate instances of Gruber stating that the law was designed to hide potentially unpalatable elements from the American voter.

Said Obama:

I would just advise every press outlet here: Pull up every clip and every story. I think it’s fair to say there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent … It was a tough debate.

As noted by Politico (above link), Obama’s statement regarding deception neglects that he already has admitted his frequent claims that Americans would not lose preexisting plans under Obamacare to have been a mistake. Politifact went so far as to label Obama’s “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan” as its “Lie Of The Year”.

Ironically, Obama’s statement yesterday at the G20 meeting appears to be spectacularly ill-advised. For not only did he seemingly forget that he has already admitted to a provision of the health care law having not been “extensively debated” and “fully transparent,” it was Jonathan Gruber himself who originally advised the administration that Obamacare would cause millions of Americans to lose their plans.

Last week, Nancy Pelosi stated that she did not even “know who [Jonathan Gruber] is.” In a matter of minutes, several outlets uncovered that Pelosi once referred to Gruber by name in a press release crafted by her office, and further, that she quoted “Jonathan Gruber of MIT’s analysis” in a 2009 interview.

On April 8, 2010, Jonathan Gruber himself cited his “Gruber analysis” in a memo released by the Center for American Progress. His memo was written as a defense of the necessity of the “individual mandate,” the requirement that all Americans must purchase health insurance or pay a fine. He referred to the “Gruber microsimulation model,” his model that produced the results Pelosi touted in the 2009 interview.

Wrote Gruber:

What would happen if we repealed the mandate?

Some critics have suggested repealing the mandate embedded in the PPACA, while retaining most of its more “popular” provisions. But such a policy would be disastrous for both the cost of insurance and the number of people covered.

I have developed the Gruber microsimulation model to estimate how health reforms would affect insurance markets; this is a very similar model to the one the Congressional Budget Office used to score the PPACA, and my model derives very similar to CBO. I can use this model to consider what would happen if Congress removed the mandate while keeping all other aspects of the law intact. I find that:

▪ Total insurance coverage would rise by fewer than 10 million persons rather than the 32 million persons estimated by CBO. The number of uninsured would be reduced by less than 20 percent rather than by about two-thirds.

▪ Employer-sponsored insurance, which is projected to erode by about 5 million persons under reform, would instead erode by over 20 million persons.

▪ The fully implemented cost of the legislation in 2019 would fall by only about 20 percent—we would spend 80 percent as much to cover fewer than one-third as many people.

Those who do not obtain coverage would be the healthiest individuals, causing enormous adverse selection in insurance markets. The average individual premium in the exchange would rise by about 40 percent without the mandate.

Posted at 12:51 pm on November 17th, 2014 by David Steinberg

Dave Brat: ‘This Is A Mandate,’ GOP Must ‘Execute Immediately’

I caught up with Dave Brat on the phone for an exclusive interview at 10:45 a.m. EST this morning. Unlike all the other Congressional rookies, Brat needs to hit the ground running since Eric Cantor chose not to complete his term.

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Steinberg: “Unlike any of last night’s rookie victors that I am aware of, you are taking office immediately. You’re being sworn in November 12, since Eric Cantor chose to not finish his term, and Virginia held an additional special election last night to give your district a representative for the next two months. Do you have any specific plans for this extra session you have as a representative?”

Brat: “First of all, we will be getting staffed up and getting the mechanics of the office in order, and Part Two will be handling all the bills on the way already. But Part Three is the main element, which I pledged to the Seventh District, and that’s to immediately start discussing the meat of these economy-related bills that are coming before us, having the hard economic discussions on the debt, deficits, the unfunded liabilities, taking on Obamacare, and securing the border.”

Steinberg: “On that, your district knows, viewers of your debate with Jack Trammell know, but most of America probably isn’t aware this morning that Dave Brat is the only Ph.D. economist in Congress. Democrat or Republican, House or Senate.

You were talking free market theory on the campaign trail! Did it register, did they respond well? Because this is a real litmus test – generally stump speeches avoid the nuts and bolts, the headier, high-level discussions on meney, thinking they’ll lose the audience.”

Brat: “I am very lucky here in the Seventh, and this isn’t a talking point, we have Patrick Henry from down in Richmond, and James Madison from up in the northwest of the district. The Seventh District is steeped in liberty. And they understand here that liberty is interconnected with economic liberty. It’s not a coincidence that Adam Smith, the founder of free market economics, wrote his book in 1776 as well.

I gave stump speeches that included extensive sections which were like reading the speech’s footnotes on economic topics. The press made a bit of fun of me – but the people loved them. They loved chatting back and forth. This wasn’t just me being an educator, we were all sharing economic ideas, constituent and representative. Because that’s this job.

We all know the free market system made this the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, yet right now we are moving away from that logic. Obamacare controls one-fifth of our economy. It’s a top-down, mandated, government control system. Before it was enacted, when it was theoretical, we could’ve learned the easy way! We could have listened to the free market economists, they told us exactly what was coming. Instead we passed it, waited to see, and now the bills are in the mailbox and the costs are shocking people.

When they see $5000 deductibles, the premiums rising about 30% at a minimum, the silver plan, the low plan, no one can afford it. But somehow the government can afford it? None of it is rational.”

Steinberg: “The takeaway here is that you are objectively not a conventional candidate to be bringing free market economics straight to the stump, yet you got a tremendous response, perhaps an unexpected response in D.C.

Now it looks like we saw something similar with Ed Gillespie last night. The polling simply didn’t match the ground in Virginia. You did some appearances with Gillespie – do you have any insight into how the Virginia grassroots and the Virginia GOP’s GOTV is outperforming the predictions? There seems to be an exceptionally efficient level of organization there right now.”

Brat: “Yes, absolutely, but it’s not just Virginia. It’s clear there was a national wave. Ed Gillespie did very well, I hope he manages to cross that line, I hope there’s a recount that gets him over the finish line, but I think it’s everything. It’s all resonating.”

Posted at 1:01 pm on November 5th, 2014 by David Steinberg