Archive for March 15th, 2010

ABC — Axelrod: Israel Settlement Approval an ‘Affront’; ‘Insult’

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The President’s top adviser David Axelrod told me that approval of new housing units by Israel in the Arab section of Jerusalem during Vice President Biden’s trip there last week was an “affront” and an “insult”. “What it did was it made more difficult a very difficult process,” Axelrod said in my “This Week” interview. Axelrod added that the move “seemed calculated to undermine” the so-called proximity talks going on between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

NY Times — Ohio Democrat to Skip Health Care Rally

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Representative John Boccieri, Democrat of Ohio, whose vote on major health care legislation could be crucial to the outcome, will not be attending President Obama’s health care rally on Monday in Strongsville, Ohio, not far from Mr. Boccieri’s own district, a spokeswoman said.

Dodd unveils sweeping financial regulation plan — Jim Kuhnhenn

Monday, March 15th, 2010

A new Democratic Senate bill to tame the financial markets would give the government new powers to break up firms that threaten the economy, force the industry to pay for its failures and create a consumer watchdog within the Federal Reserve.
Legislation unveiled Monday by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd falls shy of the ambitious restructuring of federal financial regulations envisioned by President Barack Obama or contained in legislation already passed in the House.

Wash Post — Newly powerful China defies Western nations with remarks, policies

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The shift has accelerated as China has emerged stronger from the global financial meltdown, with a world-beating economic expansion rate and a growing nationalist movement. China has long felt bullied by the West, and its stronger stance is challenging the long-held assumption shared among Western and Chinese businessmen, academics and government officials that a more powerful and prosperous China would be more positively inclined toward Western values and systems.

Clinton Myth Spins Obama Toward Midterm Massacre: Kevin Hassett

Monday, March 15th, 2010

March 15 (Bloomberg) — It is looking more and more like the Democratic Party’s idea of health-care reform will be enacted, notwithstanding the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts and the opposition of the American people.

If the legislation does survive the gathering political storm, then it will present historians with a fascinating puzzle. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton tried to enact universal health care, and his failure wiped out the Democratic Party in the next election. In 2010, history may show, President Barack Obama won passage of health-care legislation, and his success wiped out the Democratic Party in the next election, if not beyond.

Ross Douthat — Hollywood’s Political Fictions

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Americans believe in evil, but we’re uncomfortable with tragedy. We accept that there are wicked people in the world, with malice in their hearts and a devil whispering in their ears. But the idea that many debacles flow from choices made by decent, well-intentioned human beings is more difficult for us to wrap our minds around.

Politico — Lawmakers spend $1,000 a month on taxpayer-funded cars. “Emanuel Cleaver appears to be the biggest spender”

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The economy is still limping along, but some members of Congress are nevertheless riding in style: At least 10 House members are spending more than $1,000 a month in taxpayer money to lease cars.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver appears to be the biggest spender.

In the last quarter of 2009, the Missouri Democrat doled out $2,900 a month to lease a WiFi-equipped, handicap-accessible mobile office that runs on used cooking oil.

No room for error on U.S. debt

Monday, March 15th, 2010

NEW YORK (Fortune) — The United States isn’t in jeopardy of losing its gold-plated credit rating, though by one measure America is closer to the ratings-downgrade danger zone than Spain.

That’s according to credit rating agency Moody’s. In a quarterly report about sovereign debt, Moody’s analysts wrote that despite market worries about rising government debt levels, there is “no imminent rating pressure” for the United States and other big governments carrying its highest triple-A rating.

NY Times — Apple’s Spat With Google Is Getting Personal

Monday, March 15th, 2010

In the last six months, Apple and Google have jousted over acquisitions, patents, directors, advisers and iPhone applications. Mr. Jobs and Mr. Schmidt have taken shots at each other’s companies in the media and in private exchanges with employees.

This month, Apple sued HTC, the Taiwanese maker of mobile phones that run Google’s Android operating system, contending that HTC had violated iPhone patents. The move was widely seen as the beginning of a legal assault by Apple on Google itself, as well as an attempt to slow Google’s plans to extend its dominion to mobile devices.

Apple believes that devices like smartphones and tablets should have tightly controlled, proprietary standards and that customers should take advantage of services on those gadgets with applications downloaded from Apple’s own App Store.

WSJ — Swing Districts Oppose Health Reform. Sobering poll news for 35 key House members

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Voters in key congressional districts are clear in their opposition to what they have seen, read and heard on health-care reform. That’s one of the findings of a survey that will be released today by the Polling Company on behalf of Independent Women’s Voice. The survey consisted of 1,200 registered voters in 35 districts represented by members who could determine the outcome of the health-care debate. Twenty of those members voted for the House bill in November but now may be reconsidering. Fifteen voted against the bill but are under tremendous pressure to change their vote.

Democrats, Forever Changed — Peter Beinart

Monday, March 15th, 2010

For close to a decade now, Democrats have been arguing with each other about what kind of country this is, and what kind of party they should be. On one side stands a group of politicians, consultants and wonks who believe that America is, at its core, a pretty conservative place. These Democrats form something of a political generation. In their youth, they saw their party move left during Vietnam and get booted from power in 1968. Then they saw George McGovern, the most left-wing major party presidential candidate of the twentieth century, lose 49 states. Then they saw Jimmy Carter’s presidency destroyed in part because he looked weak during the Iran hostage crisis. Then they saw Ronald Reagan, once considered as an unelectable right-wing nut, become the most popular president of their adult lives.

Rep. Paul Ryan on what real health reform should look like

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Despite claims of transparency and calls for a “simple up-or-down vote,” there is nothing simple about this process. This convoluted legislative charade demonstrates how far the Democratic majority has wandered from real health-care reform and cost control, employing any means to achieve political victory.

Through any analytical lens, the legislation will not address the central problem of skyrocketing health-care costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that families’ premiums could rise 10 to 13 percent; private-sector actuarial estimates top these already high numbers. The higher costs are driven by federalizing the regulation of insurance, narrowing consumers’ options and reducing competition among providers. The health-care market would be dominated by government programs and the largest insurance companies, operating as de facto government utilities.

Obama’s Proposal is the Illusion of ‘Reform’ — Robert Samuelson

Monday, March 15th, 2010

WASHINGTON — One job of presidents is to educate Americans about crucial national problems. On health care, Barack Obama has failed. Almost everything you think you know about health care is probably wrong or, at least, half wrong. Great simplicities and distortions have been peddled in the name of achieving “universal health coverage.” The miseducation has worsened as the debate approaches its climax.

There’s a parallel here: housing. Most Americans favor homeownership, but uncritical pro-homeownership policies (lax lending standards, puny down payments, hefty housing subsidies) helped cause the financial crisis. The same thing is happening with health care. The appeal of universal insurance — who, by the way, wants to be uninsured? — justifies half-truths and dubious policies. That the process is repeating itself suggests that our political leaders don’t learn even from proximate calamities.

Washington Examiner — Think Washington is partisan now? Wait until after Obamacare

Monday, March 15th, 2010

“If they pull off this crazy scenario they are putting together, they are going to destroy a lot of the comity in the House,” said Brian Darling, a congressional expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Even in the current, highly partisan atmosphere, it can get a lot worse.”
Obama’s latest version of his health care overhaul has attracted no Republican support, so Democrats will try to pass it with narrow House and Senate majorities.

Tea Partiers Bring Energy, Change and Tumult to GOP — Michael Barone

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The political commentariat doesn’t know what to make of those thousands of Americans who have spontaneously thronged to tea parties and town hall meetings to oppose the big government programs of the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders.

Some on the left attack them as fascists or racists, though evidence of that is sorely lacking. David Brooks in The New York Times compared them to the New Left campus radicals of the 1970s, which comes closer to reality but doesn’t quite ring true.

David Cameron has still to conquer a generation-old national assumption, that the Tories are up to no good — Matthew D’Ancona

Monday, March 15th, 2010

One shadow cabinet member put it to me rather well last week. “When Blair won in 1997, it was a full white wedding, with a huge national party and all of the trimmings.” And if the Conservatives win the general election in a few weeks? “Oh, that’ll be much more like a second marriage: no bunting, somewhere like Chelsea Register Office.”

WSJ — Legal counsel to some of the detainees went far beyond vigorous representation of their clients. Doesn’t the public have a right to know?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The attorney general has the right to select whomever he chooses to work in his department, and to set policy as he sees fit. He does not, however, have the right to do it in the dark. The policies he advances must face the scrutiny of the American people, his No. 1 client.

The public has a right to know, for instance, that one of Mr. Holder’s early political hires in the department’s national security division was Jennifer Daskal, a former attorney for Human Rights Watch. Her work there centered on efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, shut down military commissions-which she calls “kangaroo courts”-and set detainees who cannot be tried in civilian courts free. She has written that freeing dangerous terrorists is an “assumption of risk” that we must take in order to cleanse the nation of Guantanamo’s moral stain. This suggests that Ms. Daskal, who serves on the Justice Department’s Detainee Policy Task Force, is entirely in sync with Mr. Holder and a White House whose chief counterterrorism official (John Brennan) considers a 20% detainee recidivism rate “not that bad.”

St. Petersburgh Times — Congress should make earmark ban permanent

Monday, March 15th, 2010

For once, efforts by Republicans and Democrats in Congress to one-up each other will be beneficial for taxpayers. After House Democrats moved last week to ban budget earmarks for private companies, Republicans responded by pledging to ban all earmarks, including those to state and local governments. Even the earmark king, Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores, is grudgingly coming around. Now the Senate needs to enact a similar ban, and the reforms should be permanent.

NY Times editorial tells pro-life Democrats: Ignore your consciences

Monday, March 15th, 2010

We are puzzled and dismayed that these legislators are willing to waste that opportunity because they say the onerous anti-abortion provisions in the Senate’s bill are still not onerous enough.

How did a small group get so much power? The answer has to do with the peculiarities of the legislative process and the fact that not a single Republican – for conviction or politics – is willing to vote for reform.

Op-Ed by Bill Sutton: “Judge Roy Bean”

Monday, March 15th, 2010

I come before you a humbled man, dear reader, hat in hand and foot in mouth.  For years, I have decried the Roe Decision as bad law with no solid precedence.  I was wrong, and have learned the error of my way.  Justice Blackmun was following a fine legal tradition when he delivered the much maligned opinion of the court.

What brought about this jurisprudential epiphany?  As is often the case, it began with an innocent, only moderately related, conversation.  I was involved in a conversation the topic of which was that Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carole Beier was a ridiculous excuse for a judge.  Anytime you discuss corrupt, insane and or booze-addled judges, one name must come to mind – Judge Roy Bean.  We were, and it did, but I was a little bit surprised when I was asked to explain exactly why Bean was a member of the incompetent judge Hall of Fame. (more…)