The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

January 2, 2014

Things we know that just ain't so

2013 will be remembered as the year President Barack Obama’s halo went askew. It deserves to be remembered for some other things.

It was the year Democrats killed the United States Senate. If you missed the story, it’s not surprising. When Sen. Harry Reid eliminated the filibuster, it was billed as the Democrats’ last-ditch response to Republican “obstructionism.” We were invited to play tu quoque because Republicans had threatened to invoke the “nuclear option” themselves in 2005. Largely ignored was Reid’s relentless assault on Senate traditions.

The body, most memorably described by George Washington as the “saucer” into which legislation was poured to cool, had been stripped of many of its traditions even before Reid pressed the nuclear button. “The amendment days are over,” Reid proclaimed in 2012. Underlining the point, he filled the “amendment tree” of every important piece of legislation, offering Republicans no opportunity to suggest alternatives. Reid then demanded a cloture vote, often on the same day. The Reid reign is more Capone than Cicero: no debate, no amendments, no time even to read bills. Protecting minority rights and preserving the Senate’s tradition of debate has always been a triumph of the American system. The year 2013 sounded a tocsin.

It was a bad year for those who think they understand and control vast, complicated systems. Yes, I’m thinking of Democrats and Obamacare, but also the sun. Climate activists have assured us with chilling urgency that the global temperature is rising and that turning the dial labeled carbon dioxide several clicks to the left will avert catastrophe. Except 1) it’s nearly impossible to reduce CO2 (think China and India); 2) it’s been 18 years since the atmosphere showed any warming despite increasing concentrations of CO2; and 3) money spent on reducing CO2 cannot be spent on other problems.

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