- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

APOLOGIES

“Critics in his own party and Republican opponents are attacking Barack Obama’s emerging stance on national security with equal ferocity,” Clive Crook writes in the Financial Times.

“Many Democrats are furious that the president has broken his promise to abandon the Bush administration’s war-powers approach to fighting terrorism. , the former vice president Dick Cheney, and other conservatives attack him for doing the opposite - for keeping his promise and emasculating the U.S. anti-terror effort,” Mr. Crook said.

“The left’s complaints make far more sense than Mr. Cheney’s. Mr. Obama is adjusting the Bush administration’s policies here and there and seeks to put them on a sounder legal footing. This recalibration is significant and wise, but it is by no means the entirely new approach that he led everybody to expect.

“Mr. Obama is in the right, in my view, but he owes his supporters an apology for misleading them. He also owes George W. Bush an apology for saying that the last administration’s thinking was an affront to U.S. values, whereas his own policies would be entirely consonant with them. In office, he has found that the issue is more complicated. If he was surprised, he should not have been.”

A RIDDLE

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is widely regarded in the media as the ultimate authority on climate change,” writes Mark W. Hendrickson at www.townhall.com.

“Created by two divisions of the United Nations, and recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, its pronouncements are received as if they come down from Mount Olympus or Mount Sinai. The common presumption is that the IPCC has assembled the best scientific knowledge. Let’s take a closer look at this organization to see whether it merits such uncritical deference,” Mr. Hendrickson said.

“The IPCC’s February 2007 report stated: It is ‘very likely’ that human activity is causing global warming. Why then, just two months later, did the vice chair of the IPCC, Yuri Israel write, ‘the panic over global warming is totally unjustified’; ‘there is no serious threat to the climate’; and humanity is ‘hypothetically … more threatened by cold than by global warming’?

“IPCC press releases have warned about increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, yet Dr. Vincent Gray, a member of the IPCC’s expert reviewers’ panel asserts, ‘There is no relationship between warming and [the] level of gases in the atmosphere.’

“A 2001 IPCC report presented 245 potential scenarios. The media publicity that followed focused on the most extreme scenario, prompting the report’s lead author, atmospheric scientist Dr. John Christy, to rebuke media sensationalism and affirm, ‘The world is in much better shape than this doomsday scenario paints … the worst-case scenario [is] not going to happen.’

“Clearly, the IPCC does not speak as one voice when leading scientists on its panel contradict its official position. The solution to this apparent riddle lies in the structure of the IPCC itself. What the media report are the policymakers’ summaries, not the far lengthier reports prepared by scientists. The policymakers’ summaries are produced by a committee of 51 government appointees, many of whom are not scientists.”

ARNOLD’S ERROR

“While politicians debate whether this [past] week’s rejection of various spending initiatives in California marks the beginning of an antitax insurgency, I can’t help but wonder what might have been had Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately pushed for reform upon taking office in 2003,” Bill Whalen writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“The Arnold of the state’s recall election was the Barack Obama of the 2008 presidential election. He was a man of wealth and privilege, restyled as a populist outsider and overhyped by a fawning media, who came into office with a window of opportunity to achieve most anything his heart desired. For Mr. Schwarzenegger, that window remained open for about a year,” said Mr. Whalen, a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

“Sacramento Democrats recognized that taking on the celebrity governor was a fight they would lose. But Mr. Schwarzenegger failed to seize the opportunity. He needed to make entrenched lawmakers an offer: Either work with him on budget and government reform so everyone can have a nice bipartisan bill-signing, or expect a knockout fight at the polls over a set of ballot initiatives.

“Had he done so, he might have gotten some of the good ideas that the state needs - such as setting up a serious rainy-day fund and creating an honest spending cap - enacted into law. …

“Instead of reform, the man who promised to ‘blow up the boxes’ of government nearly six years ago embarked on a crusade to save the planet in an attempt to win re-election in 2006. If Arnold’s political obituary were to be written today, its narrative would turn on environmental issues, such as solar roof panels, hydrogen cars and curbing emissions. Missing would be the issues that got him elected in the first place - tax cuts, fiscal discipline and restoring dignity to Sacramento. The governor didn’t blow up the boxes. He just affixed ‘recycle’ labels to them.”

MINORITY GROUP

“The long Memorial Day weekend may be as good a time as any to ponder the question of whether the gap is widening between those who serve in the military and those in the political sector who help determine what the military does,” Gerald F. Seib writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“Certainly the number of Washington decision-makers with military experience continues to decline. In its profile of the Congress that convened at the beginning of the year, the Congressional Research Service notes that it continues a long-term slide in the number of lawmakers in Washington who have served in the military: ‘In the 111th Congress, there are 121 members who have served in the military, five less than in the 110th Congress. The House has 96 veterans (including two delegates); the Senate 25. …

” ‘The number of veterans in the 111th Congress reflects the trend of a steady decline in the number of members who have served in the military. For example, there were 298 veterans (240 representatives, 58 senators) in the 96th Congress (1979-1981); and 398 veterans (329 representatives, 69 senators) in the 91st Congress (1969-1971).’

“In addition, the current president isn’t a veteran. His national security adviser and his defense secretary are, but most of his top advisers aren’t. And it’s certainly a safe bet that veterans are a distinct minority among the Washington press corps.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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