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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus on Barack Obama’s slum lord problem, and global warming, Indian style.

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HH: We start this hour with two of the best bloggers in America. From Slate, Mickey Kaus, where his Kausfiles are updated on an unusual schedule that no one can quite decipher, Instapundit, which never stops updating, Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit. Gentlemen, welcome. I want to talk about the Boston Globe story, which I’ve touched on, played some of the audio from. Mickey Kaus, how important is this story which lays bare how business is done on the South Side of Chicago?

MK: I think it’s pretty important. You wonder why Hillary didn’t make a devastating negative ad out of it. Basically, as a result of Obama’s efforts, a lot of his friends made a lot of money from managing developments that turned into tenements, and while his constituents had to live in those tenements. That said, it’s very difficult to help poor people through housing, we’re discovering. Even the vaunted Gautreaux program, which sent poor people out in the suburbs, turns out not to have been a huge success. So you can’t fault him for trying and failing, but you know, he’s supposed to be better than that.

HH: Glenn Reynolds, have you had a chance to read the Boston Globe piece yet?

GR: I have indeed, and the takeaway story is from one of the tenants, who says no one should have to live like this, and no one did anything about it.

HH: And do you think, though, I think the takeaway…

GR: This was one of his constituents as a state senator. I mean, she shouldn’t have been lost in that big a crowd.

HH: What about the Rezko connection? There’s a lot of money sloshing around here. And for Rezko to help Obama start his career and then buy his house, and then go to jail, and now we find he’s a slum lord, Glenn Reynolds, does this have legs?

GR: It should. I mean, the press is doing its best to ignore it. If you had a similar story about McCain it would be getting a lot more traction. But whenever there’s a story about Obama that reflects badly on him, they do their best to sort of slow walk it and keep it from getting anywhere, because he’s their guy.

HH: Mickey Kaus, I found it very complicated, and I had to cut away a lot of the underbrush to get to the key points, which is Obama shipped a lot of money to his pals, and his pals put up crappy housing that no one should have to live in. Is that the takeaway?

MK: Or they managed crappy housing that already existed, and they didn’t do a very good job of it. His site now has a response to this. It’s not very effective. It makes one point that one of the projects for senior citizens was a success. But it doesn’t really refute the charges on the other points. There’s a lot of nitpicking and little refutations, but your listeners should go to see that. The big point here is not Rezko. It’s Valerie Jarrett.

HH: Good point.

MK: Because Rezko is under…he’s convicted, he’s out of the picture. The only question is whether he will turn on, under pressure somehow, turn on Obama. But Valerie Jarrett is at the center of Obama’s campaign. She’s still his right hand woman, key advisor. And she doesn’t come off well in this series at all.

HH: Let’s go back to you, Glenn Reynolds. When someone hires you into a law firm, as the managing partner, and brings you in, they’re a key influence in your life. That’s Valerie Jarrett, isn’t it?

GR: Yeah.

HH: How important a figure, then? How much attention should she be getting from the media?

GR: A lot more than she’s getting. So far, most of the attention she’s getting is from Mickey Kaus. And Mickey’s an imposing force, but he’s not the media.

MK: Well, I was tipped off to the story by people in the Washington press corps. So they all knew about it way before I did.

HH: Well, expand on that.

GR: So what, they wanted you to cover it to give them an excuse?

HH: Did you hear his question, Mickey?

MK: Sorry, no.

HH: He asked you, do you think they slipped the story to you to give you some running room, so that they can then cover it on your back?

MK: Well, I don’t think it was that conspiratorial. I just thought they’re skeptical of Obama in their private lives. And they’re probably all for them, but they’re skeptical, and they said hey, there was a great story in the Boston Globe you should read.

HH: Well, let’s look about this campaign. It’s been a tough week for Obama. Not only did this thing come out last week, Michelle Obama gave the speech to the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Conference. Obama had to come out against the California marriage amendment today. He flip-flopped on Iraq, he’s flip-flopped on public spending, he’s flip-flopped on Jerusalem, and he got some traction on that. Mickey Kaus, is this just a bit of white water? Or is this the start of something?

MK: Well, I like all of Obama’s flip-flops. I’m with Ann Althouse on that, and I think they helped him. It was a terrible week for McCain, because he made it clear, Hugh, to people like you, that he’s still for some form of amnesty, and he’s much more likely to produce it than Obama. That’s why I’m not for McCain. That’s your problem.

HH: Well actually, I like where he is, since he’s gone security first. Glenn, what do you think about the week?

GR: Oh, it’s been a bad week for Obama, and I think you can’t underestimate the Wesley Clark affair, which has gotten a lot of people on the right who have problems with McCain over stuff like immigration and campaign finance reform mad. And I think Wesley Clark, maybe he’s on Hillary’s payroll, and maybe she’s paying him to sabotage Obama. You know, that’s a good conspiratorial theory for you. Or maybe he’s just not that bright. But whatever it is, he’s definitely, by attacking McCain’s military service, he’s heating things up in a way that can’t possibly redound to Obama’s benefit.

HH: Go ahead, Mickey.

MK: It would redound to his benefit, because it takes Wesley Clark out of the vice presidential talk, which is a very good thing for all concerned.

HH: Yes, does. It raises up Anthony Zinni even higher. Let me play you guys Harry Reid yesterday on the Fox Business Channel, in what I think will become one of the totems of this campaign. Cut number 21:

HR: I would only add to what was just said about solar. We talk about cost competitiveness, but the one thing we fail to talk about is those costs that you don’t see on the bottom line. And that is coal makes us sick. Oil makes us sick. It’s global warming. It’s ruining our country. It’s ruining our world.

HH: All right. Glenn Reynolds, coal makes us sick. What do you make of this?

GR: Well, I mean, in a way, he’s right. Look, burning fossil fuels stinks. That’s why we should have been building a whole bunch of nuclear plants, which I understand Harry Reid’s been holding up because of the Yucca Mountain stuff. So you know, if you want clean power, it’s got to come from somewhere. The government’s shutting down used solar plants because they say they’re too environmentally bad on federal land. You can’t get a nuclear plant built. Harry Reid doesn’t want coal and oil. Ted Kennedy says we can’t have wind power, because it spoils his view. So what are we supposed to do? Where’s it supposed to come from?

HH: Mickey Kaus, I have to disagree with my good friend, Mr. Reynolds. Coal does not make me sick. It may make miners sick, and it may cause global warming. But it doesn’t make me sick. I just think that’s the kind of alarmist Chicken Little stuff that discredits the Democrats on energy from top to bottom. Your response?

MK: Well, I’m not up on the latest coal technology. Maybe they’ve cleaned it up. But the key point is that the Democrats seem to have bit hard on this global warming thing without really understanding the ways in which the public might not want to go whole hog for global warming. And as Glenn points out, they haven’t sketched a way where we can maintain our economy. They seem to be heading toward the direction of their far left fringe, which basically wants to use global warming as an excuse to shut down capitalism.

HH: Now I’ve got to play for you guys a little, it’s a clip from this morning’s BBC global report on global warming. It’s a little bit long, but I need your reactions. From the BBC this morning:

BBC: So does he think this is the right plan for India?

India: I think so, absolutely, because you know, it has the right level of ambition, it’s oriented towards what would be of benefit to Indian society. At the same time, it tackles an important global challenge. So I think overall, the trust is excellent.

BBC: You say you’re happy with the plan overall, but there is a lack of specifics, isn’t there? There’s a lack of time frames, and there’s also a lack of any kind of commitment to actually restrict or reduce India’s emissions of carbon dioxide. Isn’t that all worrying?

India: Well, not really. I mean, come to think of it. It’s a country where 400 million people don’t have access to electricity or any form of modern supply of energy. So you really can’t put in any restrictions, particularly since the developed world has not shown any major commitment to bring about a reduction. So you know, I think one has to be realistic.

BBC: Well, I know, but that’s all very well from the sort of moral justice point of view. But I mean, the fact is that energy consumption in India is expected to quadruple, isn’t it, over the next generation. And the fact is, probably that most of that electricity is going to be generated from coal-fired power stations. So overall, global levels of carbon dioxide are going to shoot up, even if many Indian villages don’t have access.

India: Undoubtedly so. Would one suggest that we deprive India of the benefits of development and supply of energy, which the rest of the world enjoys 20 times larger magnitude?

BBC: No, but then, how does one square the circle, sir? Because the prime minister once again repeated his pledge that Indian emissions of carbon dioxide per capita would not exceed those of developed countries. If there are three billion Indians and Chinese people consuming the amount of energy that Americans do at the moment, the planet is doomed, isn’t it?

India: Well, then, that’s precisely why you really need major reductions in the developed countries.

HH: Now that is the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Glenn Reynolds, I think giving away the game. The global warming game is about deindustrializing the West while China and India go on their merry way.

GR: OH, sure, and you know, what’s interesting is because politicians are diplomats care about symbols and not reality, Kyoto has been the big deal. The United States didn’t sign Kyoto, and our carbon emissions have actually dropped. Europe did, and theirs have gone up.

HH: Mickey Kaus, should we call the flag on that? I mean, just candor on this, this is the guy who gets all the press, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is huge, and here he is, he’s admitting it’s our problem, not his.

MK: Well, sure. If you look at it from a pragmatic point of view, as Glenn says, it’s much more important that India get air conditioning right than that we drive more Priuses. So I don’t quite understand why the third world doesn’t get the most advanced technology. That’s what usually happens, is they get to leap frog all the intermediate technologies, and we should make sure that they get it right. And that should be, pragmatically, that’s the top priority.

HH: But not deindustrialization. Mickey Kaus of Kausfiles, Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit, thank you both.

End of interview.


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