Democrats Say: We Fear Marco!

The New York Times headlines: “Prospect of Hillary Clinton-Marco Rubio Matchup Unnerves Democrats.” As well it should:

They use words like “historic” and “charismatic,” phrases like “great potential” and “million-dollar smile.” They notice audience members moved to tears by an American-dream-come-true success story. When they look at the cold, hard political math, they get uneasy.

An incipient sense of anxiety is tugging at some Democrats — a feeling tersely captured in four words from a blog post written recently by a seasoned party strategist in Florida: “Marco Rubio scares me.”

The one who should really scare them is Hillary Clinton, as her ineptitude as a candidate becomes more palpable with every passing day. But the strategists quoted by the Times have a point: at this stage, the Republican who poses the starkest and most favorable contrast with Hillary is Rubio:

Democrats express concerns not only about whether Mr. Rubio, 43, a son of Cuban immigrants, will win over Hispanic voters, a growing and increasingly important slice of the electorate. They also worry that he would offer a sharp generational contrast to Mrs. Clinton, a fixture in American politics for nearly a quarter-century who will turn 69 less than two weeks before the election.

Do you think? Are Democrats really figuring this out just now?

Characteristically, even as they acknowledge his potential strength as a candidate, the Democrats can’t resist ripping him. Note the silly stereotypes they engage in while doing so:

“I think they do underestimate him,” [John] Morgan added. “He’s energetic, he’s photogenic, and he will say whatever you want him to say.”

What is that supposed to mean? Marco has always been his own man. He got his start taking on the establishment, in the form of incumbent Republican Governor Charlie Crist. And he has been remarkably consistent on the issues.

This one is equally oblivious:

Mr. Gelber praised Mr. Rubio’s ability to use his family’s story to convey compassion for people marginalized by society, but he said he believed, as many Democrats do, that this was disingenuous.

“It’s a little maddening when his policies are so inconsistent with that,” Mr. Gelber said. “My head would explode.”

The Democrats have been in power for six years, while wages have fallen, unemployment and underemployment have persisted, poverty has increased, food stamp usage has reached unprecedented heights, and economic inequality has widened. Yet they are so thick-skulled that they think it is tautological that their policies favor the poor and the downtrodden. They apparently are unable to comprehend that conservatives like Rubio (and us) actually believe that conservative policies work best, especially for those who are trying to climb the ladder of opportunity.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why Democrats tend to underestimate not just a politician like Marco Rubio, but Republicans in general.

Today’s Energy Unicorn: The Scent of Musk

What is it about Elon Musk? People must think his name is “Steve Jobs” in some obscure Slavic language. Sure, I think the Tesla is cool, and think they might lead to something useful some day, but right now they’re a boutique toy for affluent people. (A friend who drives a Tesla in a Midwestern state has a custom bumper sticker: “How do you like my coal-powered car?”) And I like Musk’s enthusiasm for private space travel, since NASA has gone the way of all government monopoly bureaucracies. Not much hope for the “final frontier” when the agency head says, as NASA’s new chief did in 2010, that NASA’s “foremost” mission was “reaching out to the Muslim world.” I don’t even think that wimp Jean-Luc Picard would go for that.

Anyway, Musk’s latest invention that has everyone thinking he’s saved the world is a battery for your house, called the Powerwall. It is being represented as a breakthrough in “distributed energy,” as it suggests you could charge up your battery on solar panels or windmills during the day, and use it to run your house overnight, or provide backup power in the event of a regular grid power outage. Cost for a 7 kilowatt battery: a bit north of $7,000. Based on the expected lifecycle of the Powerwall, it is still more expensive to use than getting electricity from the grid, except possibly in places like Hawaii with extremely high electric utility rates. Maybe it will get better and cheaper—though there is no “Moore’s Law” for batteries, or any other energy technology for that matter, despite Al Gore’s fondest whimseys. But for now, as Bloomberg reports:

“It’s a luxury good—really cool to have—but I don’t see an economic argument,” said Brian Warshay, an energy-smart-technologies analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In addition, even the 10-kilowatt version of the Powerwall will only power the average house for about five hours, and is not powerful enough to run your central air conditioning. Seeking Alpha reports:

To put the inadequacy of this product into perspective, here’s a great summary of the power requirements of many household items. It’s pretty clear that without “going crazy”, your house can easily draw 3kw of electricity; and yet, Tesla’s 10kWh back-up battery has continuous output of only 2kw, and thus is inadequate to run even a medium-sized house, and would be completely dead in five hours anyway, with no capacity to run central air conditioning or charge an electric car. (For a medium-sized house, a central air conditioner alone draws nearly 5kw.) Sure, to make that battery last longer than five hours, everyone could huddle into one broiling hot room and shut off everything but the refrigerator and a few light bulbs, but why would you do that when a comparably priced 16kw natural gas-fired generator can run your entire house (including the air-conditioning) for as many hours as needed, at a cost of less than $2/hour (assuming 195 cubic feet/hour consumption at full draw and a New York State gas price of less than $10 per 1000 cubic feet of gas)? (Okay, I concede that in a major earthquake, your gas service could suffer an outage, but for that situation, you can run a gas-fired generator off a propane tank.)

But the most devastating critique of the Musk hype comes from Will Boisvert of the Breakthrough Institute, the center-left think tank that takes energy seriously. In “The Grid Will Not Be Disrupted,” Boisvert writes:

But does all the messianic talk of battery-powered “disruption” and solar triumphalism stack up? Hardly. For all their ballyhooed price reductions, Tesla batteries are still way too feeble and expensive to come even within hyping distance of neither a reliable power supply, nor an off-grid revolution.

On cost, the average residential retail electricity prices in the US are $0.12 per-kWh, while electricity from Tesla’s Powerwall on paired rooftop solar would cost 30 c/kWh or more. Given that 80 percent of pre-orders for Tesla’s batteries are for the utility-scale Powerpack, not the residential Powerwall, battery storage will likely benefit big baseload power plants (the grid) more than solar homeowners. And no matter the staggering cost, battery storage cannot solve the problems of integrating unreliable wind and solar power into the electricity system. In fact, Tesla’s batteries spotlight just how deep and intractable those problems remain.

Do read the whole thing if you have time, as it’s a real tour de force. Be sure to take in this handy chart:

Tesla Powerwall copyAnd yes, we’re going to start giving out the Power Line Energy Unicorn Award, which is nearly as prestigious and easy to get as a Green Weenie. Here’s what it looks like:

Unicorn copy


Is Hillary’s Candidacy Just Another Business Deal?

Jennifer Rubin notes this morning that Hillary’s obviously terrible campaign skills are getting noticed in the mainstream media. It’s so bad that Hillary is actually going to launch her campaign a second time next month with a big public rally.

It is said that a lot of second- and third-tier Republican candidates (Carson, Huckabee, Fiorina, etc) are only running to enable them to get nice post-campaign media contracts from Fox News, and in a similar vein I’ve been wondering whether Hillary’s entire candidacy isn’t basically the same thing, just on the Clinton scale. And apparently I’m not the only one thinking this.  One of our readers writes in today:

Could it be that Madam Hillary and Uncle Tom Clinton have agreed in principle to bilk the country one last time, with Madam Hillary having virtually no desire to actually “become” president at all (thus avoiding ANY potential fate as befell her beloved spouse)?

One only needs to track the current level of funds earmarked to go to the campaign fund versus the extent of contributions that are misappropriated toward the Clinton “Trust” (actually their offshore accounts per se) at the end of the campaign. Then watch as God-forbid Madam Hillary is elected…but shortly thereafter must resign due to failing health and vast sums of retirement cash!!

My new theory is that indeed Hillary wants the nomination primarily for the market value it would confer on Clinton Inc., but that neither she nor Bill would mind her losing because it will cement their stratospheric market value for another decade either way. After all, once Obama becomes an ex-president, he’s going to become the top liberal draw—unless you are the first major party woman nominee for president. And if she happens to win, so much the better for Bill, who can keep charging $500,000 a speech.  (What? You think he’ll actually be the “first man” of the nation, taking on some kind of charitable cause like first ladies always have? Do you really not know the Clintons yet?)

Some enterprising reporter should ask whether Bill and Chelsea will continue to make paid speeches if she’s in the White House. If Hillary every answers a media question again.

Obama expounds the limits of Iran’s anti-Semitism

In the course of his recent interview of President Obama — painful reading from beginning to end — Jeffrey Goldberg asked a somewhat challenging question regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. “You have argued,” Goldberg observed, “that people who subscribe to an anti-Semitic worldview, who explain the world through the prism of anti-Semitic ideology, are not rational, are not built for success, are not grounded in a reality that you and I might understand. And yet, you’ve also argued that the regime in Tehran—a regime you’ve described as anti-Semitic, among other problems that they have—is practical, and is responsive to incentive, and shows signs of rationality.” Oh, wise man, how do you square this particular circle? Obama responded:

Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. You know, if you look at the history of anti-Semitism, Jeff, there were a whole lot of European leaders—and there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country—

Goldberg (unfortunately) interrupted him at this point. Obama then continued:

They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what we’ve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have. That’s what the sanctions represent. That’s what the military option I’ve made clear I preserve represents. And so I think it is not at all contradictory to say that there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime, but that they also are interested in maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their own country, which requires that they get themselves out of what is a deep economic rut that we’ve put them in, and on that basis they are then willing and prepared potentially to strike an agreement on their nuclear program.

This appears to have been good enough for Goldberg, but it should make a serious man cry. Let me count the ways.

Obama is in the process of finalizing an absurd arrangement with Iran that will at the same time obviate the cost of its pursuit of nuclear weapons and reward the regime for entering into the arrangement. They will reap the economic rewards of taking advantage of President Obama’s surrender to their (absurd) terms.

The Islamic Republic continues its program of ideological anti-Semitism and regional expansion. We await Obama’s “ratchet.” The regime evidently fears it not. This is glorified hot air.

Obama reiterates “military option [he's] made clear[.]” The word “clear” here is the tell; it demonstrates that Obama is lying. There is no United States military option. Indeed, Obama’s public relations work on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran is suggestive of its removal from the shelf.

How does a seriously committed anti-Semitic regime weigh the costs and benefits of its anti-Semitism? I long for Professor Obama to draw from the well of his historical learning to apply the cost-benefit analysis to the Nazi regime of 1933-1945. Somebody get this man a copy of Lucy Dawidowicz’s The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945.

The Israelis draw the lesson they refer to in the slogan “Never again.” Emanuele Ottolenghi offers reflections that are precisely on point.

How does Professor Obama apply his cost-benefit analysis to the Iran’s 1979 bombing of the AMIA (Jewish) in Buenos Aires? It targeted Jews and killed 85 people. What costs was Iran prepared to incur? What costs has Iran incurred? The applicable cost-benefit analysis might illuminate how Iran thinks about the prospect of “eliminating” Israel by means of its proxies and with the nuclear weapons it is striving at all cost to obtain.

As for the regime’s alleged need to maintain a “semblance of legitimacy” inside Iran and therefore its alleged need to “get themselves out of a deep economic rut,” what does he mean? Obama is not saying that the regime lacks a semblance of legitimacy inside Iran at present. Obama himself continues to provide the regime something more than a “semblance of legitimacy.” Is the Supreme Leader feeling the pressure? No one outside Obama’s circle of friends can take this at face value.

Assuming that Obama intends his remarks to be taken seriously, which I don’t, I find Obama’s comments among the stupidest and most ignorant he has ever uttered, although I concede on this point that that the competition is stiff.

NOTE: Noah Rothman also takes a stab at doing justice to Obama’s comments here. It occurs to me that the words of Walter Laqueur in connection with Jan Karski’s mid-war report on the Holocaust in his book The Terrible Secret also apply here: “Democratic societies demonstrated on this occasion as on many others, before and after, that they are incapable of understanding political regimes of a different character….Democratic societies are accustomed to think in liberal, pragmatic categories; conflicts are believed to be based on misunderstandings and can be solved with a minimum of good will; extremism is a temporary aberration, so is irrational behavior in general, such as intolerance, cruelty, etc. The effort needed to overcome such basic psychological handicaps is immense….Each new generation faces this challenge again, for experience cannot be inherited.” In Obama’s world, I would add, experience can’t even be experienced. Ideological blinders render him obtuse (again assuming his words are to be taken at face value, which I don’t).

A Police-Involved Shooting In Omaha

On Wednesday, Omaha police officers attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Marcus Wheeler, 26, who was wanted for an earlier shooting. Wheeler opened fire on the officers and killed one of them, Kerrie Orozco, 29:

Officer Kerrie Orozco, 29, died at Creighton University Medical Center shortly after the 1 p.m. shooting, Schmaderer said at a news conference. Schmaderer said the suspect, 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler, also died at the hospital.

Schmaderer said Orozco was part of a fugitive task force looking for Wheeler to serve a felony arrest warrant. Wheeler, who was wanted on a warrant charging him in an earlier shooting, opened fire on the officers as they approached him. Officers fired back, and Wheeler was later found behind a neighbor’s house suffering from gunshot wounds, the chief said. …

“Mr. Wheeler is a convicted felon and a known gang member,” he said.

Mrs. Orozco had just had a baby:

Orozco was a seven-year veteran of the department and worked in its gang unit, Schmaderer said. She was also a new mother with a premature baby who is in an Omaha hospital.

“(The baby) is set to be released from the hospital tomorrow,” Schmaderer said, his voice breaking. …

Besides her daughter, Orozco is survived by her husband, Hector Orozco, two stepchildren ages 6 and 7, her mother and two siblings.

Kerrie Orozco coached baseball at an Omaha Boys and Girls Club, was a Special Olympics volunteer and served as president of the Police Officers’ Ball to benefit the Special Olympics, the chief said. She also took in rescue dogs and was a Girl Scout mentor.

Kerrie Orozco

Kerrie Orozco


There is nothing here for the Department of Justice to investigate, since there is no allegation that the Omaha police did anything wrong. So Loretta Lynch will take no notice. Nor will President Obama, Al Sharpton or anyone else suggest that the murder of Kerrie Orozco should inaugurate a candid national conversation, or should be an occasion for soul-searching. There will be no riots or demonstrations. Nothing happened in Omaha on Wednesday that advances any narrative of the Democratic Party. So there is nothing to see here, nothing to be said. No lessons to be drawn. You may as well just move along.

More evidence that the criminal justice system is too lenient

The big local news in the Washington, D.C. area is the capture of Daron Wint and his arrest for the murder of Savvas Savopoulos, his wife and 10 year-old child, and his housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa. According to reports, Wint worked for the company Savopoulos owned and operated.

The case against Wint appears to be extremely strong. Therefore, for purposes of this post, I will assume he committed the crimes.

Wint has an extensive criminal history in two states, which includes domestic violence, assault, and burglary. In Maryland, to cite a few examples, he was convicted of assaulting his girl friend in 2009. The next year, he pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property after allegedly threatening to kill a woman and her infant daughter, breaking into the woman’s apartment, stealing a television, and vandalizing her car.

Wint also has three assault convictions in upstate New York that date back to 2007. He served time for each conviction. And there is an outstanding arrest warrant against him for criminal contempt for violating an order of protection in a case that involved a former girlfriend in Oswego.

We are told that our criminal justice system is needlessly and heartlessly jailing young Black men. Daron Wint is a young black man who, given his extensive record of violence, should have been in jail.

The same is true of Demetrius Blackwell, who killed New York City police officer Brian Moore, and of Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard mass murderer.

We are also told that employers should be willing to hire young black men with criminal records. In fact, the Obama administration, via the EEOC, is suing employers for using criminal convictions to screen black job applicants. The government claims that, somehow, this screening (which it uses) can amount to racial discrimination even if applied race-neutrally.

However, Savvas Savopoulous, his family, and his housekeeper would almost certainly be alive today if, based on a criminal background check, his company had quietly passed over Daron Wint.

Notes on “Days of Rage” (3)

This concludes my series of posts on Bryan Burrough’s important and riveting new book, Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here. We recorded an interview with Burrough about the book earlier this week; the interview is posted here.

• Joanne Chesimard/Assata Shakur was a member and leader of the cop-killing Black Liberation Army. Burrough quotes others who characterize her as the group’s “heart and soul.” In 1973 she participated in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which Trooper Werner Foerster was murdered and Trooper James Harper seriously injured. In 1977, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of Foerster and of seven other felonies related to the shootout.

• Chesimard escaped from prison in New Jersey and has been on the lam since 1979. She is believed to be holed up in Havana, in the sheltering arms of the Communists who run the asylum and the asylum operation. In 2013 the FBI made Chesimard the first woman to be named to the Most Wanted Terrorists list. She has had a substantial reward out on her capture for several years. Burrough’s account of Chesimard’s escape from prison is dramatic and maddening.

• Now the local angle. Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison is a fan of hers. In 2000 Ellison gave a speech supporting SLA member Kathleen Soliah/Sara Jane Olson at the National Lawyers Guild Minnesota chapter fundraiser for Soliah/Olson in St. Paul. Ellison sought Soliah/Olson’s release from custody after her apprehension the previous year. Ellison also spoke favorably of cop killers Mumia Abu-Jamal and Chesimard. In a 2006 Star Tribune column on Ellison, my friend Kathy Kersten quoted from Ellison’s speech. (Kathy’s column is no longer accessible online but I excerpted it in this post.)

• Kathy gave us Ellison’s prayer for Chesimard/Shakur: “I am praying that Castro does not get to the point where he has to really barter with these guys over here because they’re going to get Assata Shakur, they’re going to get a whole lot of other people,” he told the crowd. “I hope the Cuba[n] people can stick to it, because the freedom of some good decent people depends on it.” When Kathy sought out Ellison for her column in 2006, he declined to comment on his current view of Soliah/Olson and Chesimard/Shakur. He’s just that kind of guy.

• Ellison was first elected to office as a state representative in 2002 and to Congress in 2006. Ellison now represents the beating heart of the radical left within the Democratic Party.

• George Jackson was an incarcerated convict with a thuggish bent and a long rap sheet. At his parole hearing in 1965, Burrough recalls, Jackson’s own father testified that he would be better off remaining in prison. In 1970 Jackson participated in the brutal murder of a prison guard in revenge for the killing of three black inmates. Radical attorney Fay Stender formulated the brilliant idea of turning Jackson into a celebrity by cobbling together his letters to family and friends for publication and by portraying him “as an innocent victim being persecuted for his revolutionary beliefs” (as Burrough puts it). With the help of a friendly editor at Bantam Books, Stender omitted the letter in which Jackson fantasized about poisoning the Chicago water supply — “in an effort to portray him as the American Dreyfus” (Burrough again).

• Published in October 1970, Jackson’s Soledead Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson became an immediate best-seller. In the New York Times Book Review, Julius Lester declared it “one of the most significant and important documents since the first black was pushed off the ship at Jamestown colony.”

• In 1971 Jackson attempted to break out of prison in an operation that involved the murder of five guards later found in Jackson’s cell with their throats slit. Jackson’s posthumous literary offering was Blood In My Eye, published in February 1972. Burrough finds it “a straightforward call for a bloody black-led revolution in the streets of America[.]” The Times expressed disappointment in Jackson’s second book, asserting that it “lack[ed] the visceral brilliance, the epistolary panache” of Soledad Brother.

• In death Jackson served as the inspiration for Donald DeFreeze, later to assume the name Cinque as the founder and leader of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

• Burrough’s book prompts me to reflect on the role played by the New York Times as an instrument of celebrity propping up the revolutionary left. As a corollary, the Times is invested in protecting the reputation of the left. It is, shall we say, not given much to introspection regarding the impact of its judgments.

• Not surprisingly, the Times assigned Burrough’s book for review to Maurice Isserman, a scholarly partisan of the leftist persuasion. The Times published Isserman’s subtly disparaging review under the heading “Blow-up.” Isserman’s review is almost a comic coda to the Times’s promotion of the literary contributions of Eldrdige Cleaver and George Jackson back in the day and, we may as well add, of Bill Ayers in a fawning profile by Dinitia Smith published on the evocative date of 9/11/01. (In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Timesman Bremt Staples gave up on Ayers.)

• Burrough notes over and over again how many of the radical terrorist perpetrators have escaped justice. Bill Ayers is a painful case in point, but he is far from alone. In a cruel irony, however, the wheels of justice caught up with FBI officials who dogged the terrorists. In the so-called Squad 47 established to investigate the bombings, the FBI had persistently committed and condoned official misconduct, partly in response to pressure from above. President Reagan ultimately pardoned the two senior FBI official convicted of crimes committed in pursuit of the Weatherman terrrists, Mark Felt (Deep Throat) and Edward Miller, while their case was pending on appeal in the DC Circuit. (Former FBI Director Patrick Gray had also been charged, but the case against him was dropped for lack of evidence.)

• I would like to close out these posts on Burrough’s book by giving the last word to Don Strickland, one of the FBI agents who dogged the terrorists as a member of Squad 47. Burrough quotes Strickland speaking inelegantly to the point in an interview he conducted for the book: “What really galls me is we did all this stuff, risking our lives every day, putting our lives on the line. And we end up being the villains! And these Weatherman scumbags end up being the f***ing Robin Hoods.”

Thanks for sticking with me through this series.