- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Higher prices

“Political Animal” Kevin Drum advises Sen. Barack Obama not to pander on the issue of energy and doesn’t think advocating higher energy prices would be “political suicide” even in an era of $4-per-gallon gasoline.

“The public is [angry], this storyline goes, and it doesn’t want airy wonkery. It just wants lower gas prices,” Mr. Drum sums up conventional wisdom as saying.

“But here’s an alternative suggestion: go the full monty in the other direction. Make a major speech in the ‘no easy solutions’ vein and attack [Sen. John] McCain for panicking and pandering. The basic pitch would be this: in the long term gasoline prices are going to go up no matter what we do. But this can happen in one of two ways.

“First, it can happen by simply doing nothing and allowing demand to increase - as it will after the initial shock of $4 gas wears off and people go back to their old driving habits. This will lead to higher wellhead prices for oil, and the beneficiaries will be OPEC and big multinational oil companies.

“Second, it can happen via a concerted effort to raise the price of energy via a cap-and-trade plan. This will reduce demand and lead to stabilized oil prices. The net price of oil will still go up thanks to the cost of auctioning off emission permits, but the additional money goes into American coffers, where it can be used to improve mass transit; fund clean energy research; reduce the impact on the poor; and help offset other taxes.”

July 4 care

Several leading conservative blogs are teaming up for “From the Frontlines,” an eight-hour Internet fundraiser to send care packages to U.S. troops overseas, in time for Independence Day. The organizers hope to raise $500,000 for what they expect to be the biggest care package shipment in history.

The eight-hour “Web-A-Ton” runs from 4 p.m. to midnight EDT on Thursday, co-hosted by Melanie Morgan of Move America Forward and Michelle Malkin of Hot Air. The other principal sponsor is UStream.tv, and people can watch the webcast or get more details at any of those three sites.

The program includes live interviews with U.S. service members. Such conservative luminaries as Rush Limbaugh, Nancy Reagan, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham and Oliver North will contribute.

Nuremburg 2?

The treatment of prisoners in the war on terrorism has produced the expected rhetoric over “torture” and “war crimes.” But an article on the New Republic says it may become the stuff of Nuremburg-like trials of U.S. officials.

New York lawyer Scott Horton wrote that “the Bush administration officials who pushed torture will need to be careful about their travel plans” - he specifies William J. Haynes, Douglas Feith, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Alberto Gonzales and David Addington - and called it “reasonably likely” that some European nation will claim “universal jurisdiction” over war crimes and try Bush administration officials.

Mr. Horton writes that Philippe Sands’ new book, “The Torture Team,” “contains an interview with an investigating magistrate in a European nation [who] … makes clear that he is already assembling a case, and is focused on American policymakers.”

Mr. Horton himself added that “in the past two years, I have spoken with two investigating magistrates in two different European nations, both pro-Iraq war NATO allies. Both were assembling war crimes charges against a small group of Bush administration officials.”

“‘You can rest assured that no charges will be brought before January 20, 2009,’ one told me. And after that? ‘It depends. We don’t expect extradition. But if one of the targets lands on our territory or on the territory of one of our cooperating jurisdictions, then we’ll be prepared to act.’”

But Megan McArdle at her Atlantic blog Asymmetrical Information calls such an action “incredibly stupid.”

“Seizing US officials and trying them for war crimes will be perceived by most of the American public as an act of war. … There would be not inconsiderable pressure to invade Spain to get them back. That we would do so seems farfetched. What does not seem so unlikely is that the US would almost have to pull out of any organization that supported this action, up to and including the UN,” she writes.

“It might be nice if international justice were like a real national legal system, where everyone, rich and poor, submits themselves to the impartial will of the courts. But it is not. This is not fair - life isn’t, you may have noticed.”

Race card

Sen. Barack Obama last week put words in Republican mouths, saying they would launch racist attacks against him in November.

“We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run,” he told a fundraiser in Florida. “They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”

But conservative bloggers pointed out that no prominent part of the McCain campaign, unlike Democrats in the primaries, had gone after him on either of the last two matters, and that the few campaign small fries who did were quickly sat upon.

“The ironic part of this argument is that it ignores the tactics his fellow Democrats used in the primary, while also overlooking John McCain´s efforts to distance himself from the same tactics,” wrote Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. “It was, after all, staffers on the Hillary Clinton campaign that sent the photo of Obama in African garb to the Drudge Report. It was Bill Clinton who suggested that Obama´s victory in South Carolina was no more significant than Jesse Jackson´s in 1988. It was Hillary who explicitly went after the white, working-class vote in the later primaries that bruised Obama so badly.

John McCain, meanwhile, was a lot more outspoken in criticizing his own supporters for relying on crypto-ethnic references. He immediately and publicly disowned, without any prompting, Bill Cunningham in Ohio after the radio host emphasized Obama´s middle name (Hussein) in his introductory remarks. McCain also fired one staffer for e-mailing a Jeremiah Wright video after explicitly saying that his campaign would have no comment on Wright or Trinity United. Meanwhile, Hillary could only offer a tepid ‘as far as I know’ repudiation of the rumor that Obama is/was a Muslim.”

Five dollars

The big news for the week in the blogosphere, from left to right, was the fight with the Associated Press over the wire service’s demand that the liberal Drudge Retort pay the rate news organizations do.

The legal fracas was widely reported in mainstream media outlets, including on the front page of The Washington Times.

“Two-dollars and fifty cents per word? Pardon my French, but here are two words, or five dollars worth, I gladly give free of charge to the AP,” wrote Dan Riehl. The two words are not printable in a family newspaper.

Contact Victor Morton for more information.



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