Thanks to my John Locke Foundation colleague Roy Cordato for calling attention to an article by Sheldon Richman of The Freeman about the Gulf oil spill, and how things could/should have been different in a real free market:
It took the Deepwater Horizon tragedy to bring out the fact that a single federal agency, the Minerals Management Service, is “responsible for both policing the oil industry and acting as its partner in drilling activities,” writes the New York Times. “Decades of law and custom have joined government and the oil industry in the pursuit of petroleum and profit. The Minerals Management Service brings in an average of $13 billion a year. Under federal law, even in the case of a major accident, the company responsible for the oil well acts in concert with government in cleanup activities.”
The coziness between government and the oil industry is also apparent in the cap on liability for damages – a paltry $75 million — from offshore oil spills (not including cleanup costs). The interesting question is whether BP’s dubious conduct would have been different without the cap. Hayward, the Wall Street Journal reports, “admitted the U.K.-based oil giant had not had the technology available to stop the leak, and said in hindsight it was ‘probably true’ that BP should have done more to prepare for an emergency of this kind.” Transocean, owner and operator of the rig, is petitioning to limit its own liability to $26.7 million….
The free market will undoubtedly take the rap — but it’s an unjust rap. According to Reuters, “Like BP, both Transocean … and Halliburton, a contractor, also pumped money into the campaign war chests of senators who sit on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee.”
I’ve been reading through young Elena Kagan’s most impressive senior thesis on early 20th century New York socialism. What a loss to the history profession that she did not continue in this vein. Such easy, clear command of material and felicity in presentation is rare to come by.
As for those who insist her interest in socialism betrayed no real sympathy for it — most recently Dave Weigel, the Washington Post’s leading scold of America’s right-wing — wishful thinking aside, they may be ignoring a real giveaway in her thesis, where time and again she tries to correct impressions that socialists were only marginally significant. Instead, in her view, a socialist party “whose program and ideology were winning over increasing numbers” was done in mainly by its internal divisions, by its “failure ever to achieve internal harmony.” To me that comes across as a lament — “an expression or feeling of grief,” according to my dictionary. And one only laments when what one hoped would happen did not.
By the way, Kagan may not have been up on her Russian history. The first mistake I’ve noticed comes on page 20 of her thesis, in this sentence: “In Russia, a very few had enrolled in People’s Will, a terrorist group that could claim responsibility for Czar Alexander I’s assasination [sic].” The pre-spellcheck misspelling aside, the czar assassinated by People’s Will was Alexander II, in 1881. Alexander I died in 1825, of causes unknown. You’d think Kagan would have had a greater sense of who freed Russia’s serfs.
On the other hand, maybe she did have some sense of Russian history. The very title of her senior thesis — “To The Final Conflict: Socialism In New York City, 1900-1933” — is an unmistakable play on the title of Edmund Wilson’s classic, sympathetic study of socialism’s rise and its culminating with Lenin’s return to Petrograd’s Finland Station in 1917. Talk about a giveaway.
AmSpecBlog readers by now should have noticed the frequent advertisements for the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change, which begins Sunday evening and runs through Tuesday afternoon. Yes, it is heavy on the skeptics (we prefer the term “realists;” you can call the alarmists “modelers”), and my colleague Dan Miller explains why:
James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at the sponsoring Heartland Institute and the person who recruited all of the 70-plus presenters at the May 16-18 conference, says many people — Heartland supporters and detractors — have asked why no “warmists” are on the agenda.
In fact, said Taylor, among his first invitations to speak went to those who dispute the predominant views of the global warming skeptics.
“I personally and cordially invited literally dozens of high-profile scientists who disagree with our speakers, including Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Michael Mann, Phil Jones, William Schlesinger, and many others,” Taylor said. “I planned to give each side equal time at the conference. Regrettably — and predictably — only two ‘warmists’ accepted my invitation to participate: Scott Denning of Colorado State University and Tam Hunt, a consultant on renewable energy and a lecturer at UC Santa Barbara’s School of Environmental Science & Management.”
All others declined, nearly all of them cordially.
We’ll just leave it to the imagination as to who didn’t decline cordially. Meanwhile, if you are interested in catching any of the keynote speeches (which will be delivered by astronaut Harrison Schmitt, Climate Audit’s Steve McIntyre (the Hockey Stick breaker), Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels, former Virginia Gov. George Allen, MIT’s Richard Lindzen, Heartland’s Jay Lehr, EIB climatologist Roy Spencer, and former Margaret Thatcher adviser Lord Christopher Monckton), PJTV will Webcast them live, in addition to doing interviews with many other attendees.
Just watch and enjoy.
WASHINGTON, Pa. — Pittsburgh TV station WPGH has suspended the latest ad for Democrat Mark Critz for making false claims. The ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee falsely claimed that Republican Tim Burns supports a 23 percent national sales tax and wants to ship jobs overseas.
The May 18 special election to fill the seat vacated by the death of Rep. Jack Murtha is one of the most closely watched campaigns in the country.
“Mark Critz and his Pelosi-backed attack machine have been lying about Tim Burns’ positions throughout this campaign,” said Kent Gates, a spokesman for Burns.
The news of the Pittsburgh station’s suspension of the ad broke the same day as Scott Brown’s appearance here at a midday rally for Burns, which drew hundreds of supporters and regional media to the courthouse downtown.
Find out with this cool calculator from USAToday.
(Hat tip: Jennifer Pollom)
Given my view that the term “pro-life Democrat” has become an oxymoron in the aftermath of ObamaCare, I wasn’t surprised at this story on Congress.org discussing tension in the bi-partisan House Pro-Life Caucus. Some “pro-life” Democrats who voted for the final health-care package are none too pleased at being targeted by pro-life groups in an election year:
Some members say they’re not sure whether the [caucus] will continue to function.
“Whether or not … we’ll continue working together, I don’t know,” said Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio). “I would hope so.”
Driehaus, who voted for the bill, said he thinks the group’s fate may rest in the hands of antiabortion groups such as National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List, which have taken a strong line against the bill.
Already, the caucus is being shaken up by the retirement of co-chairman Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who announced in April that he would not seek re-election after 17 years in office.
That was compounded last week, when Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) lost a Democratic primary after being hit with negative radio and TV ads by antiabortion groups for his vote for health care.
Rep. Driehaus is wrong. The fate of pro-life cooperation between the parties on ObamaCare always rested in Democrats’ hands. After compromising their principles for a flimsy executive order, now they want to avoid paying the price of opposition from legitimate pro-life advocates.
If Democrats truly had cared about cohesion in the caucus, they would have stuck to their guns and voted against legislation that lacked language banning taxpayer-subsidized abortion.
Sarah Palin started off her keynote speech at at this morning’s Susan B. Anthony List “Celebration of Life” breakfast in downtown Washington D.C. with a defense of her endorsement of Republican California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. Palin justified picking Fiorina over the other Republicans in the primary race by remarking that “anyone bold enough to proclaim their pro-life stance — or pro-NRA stance in a deep blue state” like California is “the real deal” when it comes to pro-life credentials.
Palin chose to endorse Fiorina as the Republican candidate over the pro-choice Tom Campbell and the pro-life Chuck DeVore. Many conservative groups, such as RedState, favor DeVore as the more conservative candidate with better pro-life bona fides. The SBA List, however, is backing Fiorina, as they prioritize the elections of pro-life women.
The part of Palin’s speech that drew the biggest response from the audience was her story about her and her daughter Bristol’s difficult pregnancies — hers with Down Syndrome son Trig, and unwed teenager Bristol’s with son Tripp. It was a moving moment when Palin called Trig “our greatest blessing” and “the best thing that ever happened to me and to the Palin family,” and mentioned that Trig wakes up every morning clapping his hands and applauding the day.
A Ronald Reagan ad saved him once. Will an ad with Obama save Arlen Specter this time? Read what our Jeffrey Lord has to say in the Philadelphia Inquirer today. As always, Reagan comes out looking great, head and shoulders above the rest.
One of most enjoyable events on the calendar in Washington D.C. for those of us who support the conservative cause is the annual Bradley Prize award ceremony, which recognizes some of the movement’s most prominent scholars. It will be held this year on Wed. June 16.
Founded in 1985, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is “devoted to strengthening American democratic capitalism and institutions, principles and values that sustain and nature it.”
Last year, the founding members of The Federalist Society were awarded for the role they have played in working to restore “originalist” jurisprudence to its proper station. They were aptly described by columnist George Will as “intellectual insurgents.”
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, another recent reward recipient, acknowledged some of his leading antagonists in the U.S. Senate and in foreign capitals during his remarks a few years back. Bolton, who is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, represented U.S. interests at the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006. Bolton resigned when it became evident that he did not have enough support in Congress to continue in the position.
Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) were instrumental in blocking his confirmation.
“I should note Senators Lincoln Chafee and Senator Dodd who did so much to help make me eligible for this award, and the prominent citizens of Pyongyang, Damascus and Tehran, who also pitched in simply by being themselves,” Bolton said.
Earlier this month, the 2010 recipients were announced. They are: Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst for The Washington Examiner, and Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Paul A. Gigot, Editorial Page Editor of The Wall Street Journal, and winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary; Bradley A. Smith, Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law at Capital University, and a former member of the Federal Election Commission; and John B. Taylor, Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics, Stanford University, and the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics, the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.
“These accomplished and respected individuals are being recognized for achievements that are consistent with the mission statement of the Foundation, including the promotion of liberal democracy, democratic capitalism, and a vigorous defense of American institutions,” said Michael W. Grebe, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bradley Foundation.
While ACORN and its affiliate organizations remarket and rebrand themselves under different names, community activists who are working to restore the organization’s original mission to its proper station are maintaining the acronym.
Former insiders who formed a whistleblower group in response to an embezzlement scandal are cutting a distinct path under ACORN 8, which is named for eight board members who were blocked from launching a wider investigation of the national organization’s finances.
Marcel Reid, who chairs ACORN 8, submitted 31 questions at an ACORN national board meeting in July 2008 that included requests for the following information:
“Listing of all Accounting Firms (with contact information) for all ACORN related entities.”
“Copy of all existing contracts with the Accounting Firms for all ACORN related entities.”
“Copy of all organizational documentation for the `Chief Organizer Fund’
“Copy of all ACORN related payments made to the `Chief Organizer Fund.’
On April 1, ACORN’s leadership announced it was shutting down its national operations, but in reality the same network will remain in place under different names, according to sources who are familiar with the ongoing operations.
“ACORN is not dissolving,” Reid said. “It may be morphing, but there was never any genuine intention here to dissolve. Note the date the announcement was made, it was on April 1.”
Just a few months ago, ACORN, which stands in full for the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, threatened legal action against ACORN 8 over its use of the acronym. But it never came to pass.
“How can anyone oppose the original mission of ACORN, which is to empower lower and moderate income people?” Reid asks. “If those 31 questions had been answered ACORN would have been forced to close, or clean up.”
Going forward, ACORN 8 members will focus to two areas of activism, Reid explained. 1) Health and Wellness 2) Citizens’ Forum on Judicial Accountability.
“We are absolutely unfettered in our use of the ACORN name,” she said. “This gives us a wide reach and a completely different focus. The renamed ACORN groups were late to the party on healthcare and they were never really involved. We are also getting involved with judicial accountability because so many times we see people go to court and different levels of justice are metered out.”
Matthew Vadum, a senior analyst and editor with the Capital Research Center (CRC) has carefully tracked the renamed ACORN entities that remain active under new names. Most recently he identified Communities United, a spinoff of the former Washington D.C. affiliate.
The FBI conducted raids today in what officials say was an investigation related to the May 1 Times Square car-bomb attempt in New York City. A blogger friend of mine, Da Tech Guy, traveled to Watertown, Mass., this morning and phoned in reports from the scene of one of those raids:
The boarding house where the suspects were arrested is “next door to public housing” in an “ethnically mixed neighborhood.” Residents describe it as “a very quiet neighborhood” where “nothing ever happens - until today.” …
[T]he 2-story boarding house at 39 Waverly Ave. is located two doors down and across the street from Watertown Middle School (68 Waverly Ave.). Residents in the neighborhood … were awakened this morning by the sound of helicopters overhead. FBI agents have been seen taking papers and computers out of 39 Waverly, and have reportedly set up a temporary headquarters in the basement cafeteria of the Watertown Housing Authority (55 Waverly Ave.).
The boarding house at 39 Waverly is owned by absentee landlords and most people in the neighborhood don’t know their neighbors. That might make it “a perfect place” for would-be terrorists to keep a low profile, as one resident told Da Tech Guy …
In a subsequent interview with my friend, another local resident — who has relatives in law enforment — said she had spotted undercover agents staking out the Waverly Avenue neighborhood in recent days, so this was not a spur-of-the-moment raid.
One of the suspects was a Pakistani immigrant named Mohammad Bakht Zameen, according to New England Cable News. The Washington Post identified another as Pir Khan, reportedly the owner of a cab company. And the Boston Globe interviewed the landlord of the Waverly Avenue boarding house:
Baij Joshi, who manages the Watertown property for his father, Shubh, said the tenants on the first floor were several Pakistani men, who had lived there “more than two to three years.” He said some had spoken recently of taking trips to Pakistan.
“They seemed to be very good people. They paid the rent on time,” he said.
So whether or not they’re terrorists, these guys obviously aren’t bloggers.
Allahpundit notes this great moment, in which Elena Kagan pretends to admire Orrin Hatch’s gun:
Since Doug Hoffman’s electrifying campaign in last fall’s wild three-way special election in upstate New York (see “Battle Cry in the North Country”), other candidates have thrown their hats in the ring for the GOP nomination for the seat now held by Democrat Rep. Bill Owens. Among those candidates is Matt Doheny.
Jude Seymour of the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times reports that Conservative Party chairman Mike Long says he’s committed to supporting Hoffman this fall and that Doheny missed his chance last year:
Michael R. Long, state Conservative Party chairman, said he asked Mr. Doheny’s “handlers” to tell the hopeful that if he had interest in running against moderate Republican Dierdre K. Scozzafava in the 23rd Congressional District last fall, the third party would support his candidacy.
“The answer I got was: ‘No, he doesn’t want to alienate the Republican Party,’” the chairman recalled Wednesday. “He was in the mix as one of the guys I would have supported against Dede Scozzafava. He chose to play the inside baseball game.”
Mr. Hoffman, a Lake Placid accountant, took the party’s offer instead, using the line to push a social and fiscally conservative platform that received considerable support during the special election. He finished a close second to Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, with Ms. Scozzafava far behind.
“Matt Doheny failed at that defining moment,” the chairman said.
Mr. Hoffman, he added, showed “courage” and “earned” the party’s endorsement and line again in this year’s race. Mr. Doheny, Watertown, and Mr. Hoffman will face each other in a Republican primary. If Mr. Doheny prevails, there will again be a three-way race… .
Mr. Long’s specific objection was that Mr. Doheny had donated $2,400 - the maximum allowed by law - to Ms. Scozzafava on Oct. 10… .
Scozzafava notoriously quit the race the weekend before Election Day and endorsed the Democrat, Owens. She has since declared she will not seek re-election to the state assembly. But that’s history, whereas the possibility of another three-way election is present-tense.
To grasp the problem now facing the GOP in NY-23 requires an understanding of New York’s multi-party system. In addition to the Democratic and Republican parties, several other minor parties have ballot lines, and for a major-party candidate to pick up the endorsement of a minor party can be crucial in a close election. Last year in NY-23, for example, there were five parties on the ballot: Owens was on two lines (Democrat and Working Families parties), Scozzafava was on two lines (Republican and Independence) and Hoffman was on the Conservative line. If Hoffman wins the GOP nomination, he’ll be on at least two lines, and could win the Independence Party endorsement, as well.
Mike Long has made the argument that no Republican can win NY-23 without the Conservative Party’s endorsement, and he is adamant that the endorsement will go to Doug Hoffman this fall. So the question now is: Does the New York GOP wish to repeat last year’s disastrous attempt to prove Mike Long wrong?
There are some real health care reform howlers on Brad Ellsworth’s congressional website, but somehow this press release is only available through the way back machine: “In addition to meeting my pro-life principles, the plan reduces costs, improves access to affordable insurance options, covers pre-existing conditions, and does not add one penny to the deficit - my five principles for health care reform.”
The Indiana Democrat announced his support for the bill post-Stupak but pre-executive order. And earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the bill will cost $115 billion more than the original projections, bringing the total cost above $1 trillion for the first decade. Ellsworth is expected to be officially named the Democratic nominee for Sen. Evan Bayh’s seat this week.
The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove reports on Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag’s latest effort in the administration’s ongoing project of incrementally undermining Obama’s campaign trail promise not to raise taxes on citizens making less than $250,000 a year. Orszag is now claiming that Obama’s promise was not a promise so much as a “stance” or “preference”:
This morning at a Manhattan breakfast sponsored by Thomson Reuters, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag threw that pledge out the window. Instead, he described Obama’s “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge as a “stance” and a “preference” that is subject to study by the president’s newly formed bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility.
“The president has been very clear about what he prefers,” Orszag said under questioning from Thomson Reuters’ Chrystia Freeland. “That was his stance during the campaign, and he still believes that’s the right course forward. But he has also been very clear that we shall let the commission go do its work.”
Orszag is right that the president has “been very clear” in the sense that he said the words “let me be clear” very frequently. But it was in connection with the categorical statement, frequently repeated, that his administration would not raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000 per year and that furthermore he would deliver net spending and tax cuts.
It is not believable that the deficit commission will exclude broad-based tax increases from their recommendations. Obama and company know this, obviously, so it would be nice if they simply owned up to their backsliding and ended this useless and embarrassing shell game. The fact that Obama made those outrageously unachievable campaign promises about what could deliver while cutting spending and taxes is far more offensive than the fact that he is now breaking them.
Politico reports the gay community, specifically the National Stonewall Democrats and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), is furious with the Wall Street Journal. Why? Because they published a front page photo of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan playing…softball. Which is, who’da thunk…a gay slur of some sort.
Softball is gay? A woman playing softball is gay? Oh man!
Not to put too fine a point on this, but one of the rites of spring in Washington is softball. Most Senate and House offices, Cabinet departments, and so on have softball teams composed of the men and women of their staffs. On any given spring or early summer night in Washington, softball games stretch as far as the eye can see on the Mall. Having participated in this ritual for several years I can say it is as normal as — well — having a beer at a ballgame. It is very competitive, lots of fun, and for that time period the most important person in the office is not the boss but the person who is charged with booking a field and the best hitter.
Women play. All the time. And have for years. There is nothing the least abnormal in the sight, and the notion that a photo of Kagan doing this is somehow an anti-gay slur is somewhere just this side of nuts.
But an important conversation stopper if the real point is to stop a serious discussion of the beliefs she will bring to the Supreme Court.
It’s also an interesting look — yet again — into the psyche of those who believe in judging others by race or gender. Maybe GLAAD has something against lesbians? Which, by the way, the White House says the nominee is not. Who cares? What’s in her head? Now that’s important…and in this case what’s there is decidedly not good, beginning with that basic of free speech, which she wants to limit.
USA Today’s Doyle Rice almost always is on top of the latest hypothetical global warming scare study, and a couple of days ago he noticed a doozy:
Hot enough for you?
A worst-case scenario of global warming, in which temperatures would soar some 21 degrees, is that much of the world may simply become too hot for humans to live in, according to new research published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We found that … a 21-degree warming would put half of the world’s population in an uninhabitable environment,” says study co-author Matthew Huber of Purdue University.
While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the result of business-as-usual warming would be 7 degrees by 2100, eventual warming over several centuries of 25 degrees is feasible, says Huber.
Next on Rice’s radar: “What if Superman grew up in Germany instead of America?”
So, we read in the news how President Obama is badgering Spain to reduce the spending that’s bankrupting it, so as to avert becoming the Next Greece.
On eight occasions Obama told us to “think about what’s happening in countries like Spain” if we want to know what he has in mind for his own “green economy” statist experiment.
Spain’s socialists admitted a week ago that that spending is coming from their statist experiment in creating a “green economy”, and that they must cut it out, in order to avoid becoming the Next Greece.
Today, the same train wreck is being reintroduced in the Senate, to fulfill Obama’s continuing vow to replicate here that which has crashed and burned and he is condemning, over there.
Welcome to Obamaland. The particulars of which are explained in a fashion grandly more illuminating than this Obama-Zapatero dance, here.
The respected Franklin and Marshall College Poll has today released its latest results in Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary race — and things aren’t looking good for Arlen Specter.
Specter trails Congressman Joe Sestak 38%-29% among all registered Democrats, with 31% undecided. Among likely voters, Specter trails %38-36% with 25% saying they “don’t know.”
The poll also matches Republican Pat Toomey against both men, with Toomey beating both: Toomey wins over Specter 35%-33%, while beating Sestak 29%-28%.
The problem for both Specter or Sestak in the Toomey match-up is that the trend nationwide this year is for Republicans — and in that kind of setting Republicans historically have carried the day. In 1994, both Republicans Rick Santorum and Tom Ridge bested Democrats in close races for the Senate and governorship precisely because of this trend.
The House of Representatives is hearing testimony about its “Potty Parity Act,” which (according to the Bill’s sponsors) creates more federal women’s restrooms to combat “abdominal pain, and greater risk of cystitis and other urinary tract infections that, if left untreated, can cause renal damage.” Is it possible this Bill provides more valuable health care benefits than the ObamaCare bill enacted in March?
By Asher Embry
We all agree that toilets for the genders should
We hate to see long lines in which some women have to wait.
We’re glad to see the Congress probing porcelain, tile, and grout.
That’s where their focus should remain ‘til we can vote them out.
(You can read more of Asher Embry’s Political Verse at www.politicalverse.com.)
Yesterday USAToday published a piece on taxes that took a swipe at the Tea Party.
Some conservative political movements such as the “Tea Party” have criticized federal spending as being out of control. While spending is up, taxes have fallen to exceptionally low levels.
Federal, state and local taxes - including income, property, sales and other taxes - consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports….
“The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts,” says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.
Needless to say, USAToday and CAP have the facts wrong and the Tea Party has them right.
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, hardly a pro-Tea Party outlet, demurs, recognizing that including all payroll and state taxes brings the total bite closer to 30 percent than to 10 percent. Tino Sanandaji explains that USAToday arrives at the 9.2 percent figure by simply leaving all payroll taxes out of consideration, and that if you include all of the BEA’s reported government revenues the correct figure is 30.2 percent.
It becomes extra disgusting when these tricks are used to portray their political enemies as stupid and uninformed. For example, USA-Today portrays Tea Party follower as ignorant, because they are protesting taxes which are only 9.2%, the lowest in 60 years, and declining. The only problem with the story is that taxes are not only 9.2% on average, they are not the lowest in 60 years, and tax rates are not going to decline.
Remember also that during a recession tax revenue goes down even while tax rates stay the same, simply because firms and people are poorer. According to economic theory burden of taxation for society depends on the effective tax rates, not the tax revenue.
Lastly, the burden of government includes deficits, which are only delayed taxes (with interest). Are the Tea Partiers supposed to be mucked because they are prudent and take the future into account?
The last point is the most important. In 2009 total government spending was over 40 percent of national income. One way or another, that is the real tax rate that US citizens ultimately face.
It is to be expected that a finance reporter at a major newspaper and a liberal think tank economist know more about their subject of expertise than the Tea Partiers, who come from all walks of life and, if the left’s reports are correct, are ignorant, backward, and racist. And yet somehow that’s not the case.
Today at 1:30 pm Eastern time Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will host a press conference announcing the fifth Senate reinvention of “cap-and-trade” global warming legislation since 2003, the “American Power Act”. Call it the American Power Grab Act, instead, for reasons that will become obvious momentarily.
The orchestrated spectacle, with a cast expected to be in the dozens which massive alignment of special interest groups is apparently supposed to persuade you of the justness of their cause, is in fact a manifestation of all that is wrong with Washington and what Americans have become increasingly enraged by.
At this press conference, Sens. Kerry and Lieberman have both already indicated, they will insist that their scheme isn’t “cap-and-trade” because… they aren’t going to use that term this time around. Kerry has even said that “this is not an environment bill.” It seems that the public aren’t buying that argument, either, so it’s really about whatever appeals to you. Just not what it was about the previous four times they’ve tried to slip this Power Grab past you. Except that a summary of the bill makes plain it is, too, cap-and-trade. And worse. It includes billions of dollars each year in gas tax revenue to underwrite the wealth transfers these companies are so in favor of.
For this latest effort to hide an enormous tax and wealth transfer — a unilateral move that guarantees jobs will be shipped to China, India, Philippines, Mexico and elsewhere — — these lawmakers will be surrounded by numerous representatives of Big Green. That includes not just the wealthy pressure group industry but many among “Big Business”, numerous of whom are the benefactors enabling those pressure group chiefs’ huge salaries and vast PR budgets to scare you into accepting an agenda that uses the state to, oddly enough, enrich these same companies. Huh.
Sen. Lieberman has repeatedly teased the breadth of today’s organized scrum as proof that the scheme is now a good idea. Absent from his cheerleading is the fact that you are not represented at the table when your wealth and future prospects were being divvied up.
The reason for so many businesses leaping onto the stage today is also the dog that surely will not bark when the media report on industry’s touting of an enormous energy tax and wealth transfer from individuals: why do they support this?
The answer is because they have been promised a slice of the spoils taken from the average taxpayer and ratepayer. I detail who these companies are and how they hope to cash in on this scheme in my new book “Power Grab”. For example, consider Exelon. This Chicago-based utility, which today is expected to be represented both individually by its CEO and by its trade association the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), expects more than one billion dollars in increased profits for no additional capital investment if the scheme announced today passes. Their only cost would have been the lobbyists.
That’s just one company. But the windfall, arranged by politicians, comes from average American families. The company even admits the whole sordid mess in a Forbes article from earlier this year:
“Exelon needs that legislation to happen sooner rather than later. Without a carbon price of some sort, Exelon’s fortunes aren’t so bright…. ‘The conundrums are real,’ [Exelon CEO John] Rowe acknowledges. ‘There’s nothing that’s going to drive Exelon’s profit in the next couple of years wildly. It just isn’t going to happen.’
Except, of course, carbon legislation. And because of that, the company views spending on lobbying for legislation almost like a capital expense….
Exelon has very deep ties to the Obama Administration. Frank M. Clark, who runs ComEd, helped advise Obama before he ran for President and is one of Obama’s largest fundraisers. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, worked as a consultant to Exelon. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, helped create Exelon. Emanuel was hired by Rowe to help broker the $8.2 billion deal between Unicom and Peco when Emanuel was at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort). In his two-year career there Emanuel earned $16.2 million, according to congressional disclosures. His biggest deal was the Exelon merger.”
The article details how Exelon wrote the provisions allocating the energy use “allowances”, or ration coupons. Others, including (according to Sen. Kerry) BP, wrote the provisions applying to oil companies, to ensure costs are passed straight through to you.
I lay the particularly odious example of Exelon — and those of others on the dais, ranging from Duke Energy to GE to “Chicago Climate Exchange” members — bare in “Power Grab”. Before your elected representatives impose this on you later this year, as soon as by the July 4 congressional recess, educate yourself on the rhetoric and ruses employed to part you from your money and, if history is any guide, threaten your family’s lives and indeed your livelihood altogether.
Copies of the Kerry/Lieberman/Graham/Not Graham carbon-cappin’, ratepayer-screwin’ bill are circulating via email in advance of its formal introduction tomorrow, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute offered a preview this afternoon:
Senator (John) Kerry has admitted that the bill was written in close consultation with the companies and industries to be regulated, including the Edison Electric Institute and major oil companies. Kerry recently remarked “Ironically, we’ve been working very closely with some of these oil companies in the last months,” referring to BP, Conoco Phillips, and Shell. This process could only be considered “ironic” by someone unacquainted with the history of special interest lobbying in Washington, D.C.
“Cap and trade regulation, far from disciplining the energy sector, is poised to become one of the greatest wealth transfers from consumers to private corporations in the nation’s history,” said (CEI’s Myron) Ebell. “General Electric, Exelon, BP, Goldman Sachs, and Duke Energy will make out like bandits because of provisions they have written. That’s not democracy or capitalism. It’s political corruption and crony capitalism.”
As public awareness of what cap and trade would cost American consumers has grown, the bill’s sponsors have responded not by amending their proposals, but by trying to fool the public with shifting terminology. Senator Kerry at one point renamed gasoline taxes “linked fees.” Sen. (Joseph) Lieberman remarked in April he was dropping the phrase “cap and trade” in favor of “emissions reduction targets,” going so far as to joke about the in-name-only difference by asking a reporter “Remember the Artist Previously Known as Prince?”
Remember the crisis formerly known as global warming?
Paul Crespo, a candidate for Congress in Florida, has an excellent op-ed in today’s Washington Times. Oddly enough, even though I work for the WashTimes, I didn’t even know he had submitted a piece (much less that we had run it) until just an hour ago, because I was so wrapped up in the Kagan nomination that I had shut out everything else. The reason it is odd is that Paul happens to have been my roommate one year at Georgetown University. Don’t hold that against him: We weren’t particularly close, and were in only the most intermittent (intermittent but friendly) contact in the two decades since. (In other words, if I’m objectionable, don’t assume that he is!) But I can say that I sat down with Paul last year several times and was very impressed. He has built quite a résumé, and always has been superbly intelligent. And he has long been active in conservative politics in Florida, always — as far as I could tell from a distance — in a constructive fashion. Endorsements in far-flung races aren’t my business. But I can say that the more people like Paul Crespo who run for office, the better. He’s a good guy.
As another aside, my smallish class at Georgetown somehow produced four people who have served as fulltime conservative columnists at various times: Crespo, in Florida; me; Deroy Murdock, who writes regularly for Scripps-Howard and National Review Online; and Jonathan Gurwitz, who does absolutely top-notch work for the San Antonio Express-News. Yet only I actually served on the staff of any of GU’s campus papers. It’s amazing how things work out sometimes.
But back to Paul: Do give his column a look. His race merits watching, both in a contested primary and in what promises to be a fairly hotly contested general election battle.
The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday released a new estimate attributing $115 billion in additional spending to the new national health care law, driving the full cost over the first decade to over $1 trillion.
But the CBO cautioned that it didn’t have enough information to project all of the additional costs.
The discrepancy between the new figures and the oft-cited $938 billion ObamaCare cost estimate comes because during the health care debate, the media only focused on the cost of the spending provisions aimed at expanding insurance coverage.
But the health care law also had all sorts of other discretionary spending costs, and implementation expenses, that were never calculated into a total figure. These include spending such as $39 billion for the Indian health improvement act; $34 billion in Federal Qualified Health Center grants; $9.1 billion in funding for the National Health Service Corps; and $5 billion to $10 billion in increased costs to the Internal Revenue service.
Add it all up, and it brings the cost of ObamaCare to $1.053 trillion from 2010 to 2019.
However, the way in which the law was drafted left the actual amount to be appropriated up in the air, merely writing “such sums as may be necessary,” which prevented the CBO from performing a full cost analysis:
For those activities, the lack of guidance in the legislation about how new activities should be conducted means that, in many cases, CBO does not have a sufficient basis for estimating what the “necessary” amounts might be over the 2010-2020 period.
H/t the Politico.
UPDATE: To clarify, the CBO earlier estimated $55 billion in discretionary costs, so this new estimate adds $60 million to that figure. However, it’s still true that discretionary spending was not included in the headline $938 billion number that deals only with the cost of expanding coverage. Therefore, combined spending easily tops $1 trillion.
Robert C. Clark, who was a colleague of Elena Kagan’s at Harvard Law School, takes to the Wall Street Journal op-ed page today to defend her treatment of military recruiters. His defense, though, relies on the omission of key facts:
In November 2004, however, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Solomon Amendment infringed improperly on law schools’ First Amendment freedoms. So Ms. Kagan returned the school to its pre-2002 practice of not allowing the military to use OCS, but allowing them to recruit via the student group.
Yet this reversion only lasted a semester because the Department of Defense again threatened to cut off federal funding to all of Harvard, and because the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Third Circuit’s decision. Once again, military recruiters were allowed to use OCS, even as the dean and most of the faculty and student body voiced opposition to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
A reader could be forgiven for inferring from this passage that after the Third Circuit struck down the Solomon Amendment, it no longer carried the force of law, and that it became good law again a semester later when the Supreme Court reversed the Third Circuit. But as I laid out in today’s column, that isn’t how it happened. The Third Circuit stayed its decision pending appeal, leaving the Solomon Amendment in force; Kagan reverted the law school to its pre-2002 policy anyway. She relented in 2005 only because of the DoD’s threat; the Supreme Court ruling that upheld Solomon (unanimously, by the way) did not come until 2006.
The fact that Professor Clark’s defense of Kagan’s 2004 decision requires him to elide such important details is a rather stark illustration of just how indefensible that decision actually was.
The Senate has passed an “audit the Fed” bill by 96 to 0, a major breakthrough for a cause associated with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) that nevertheless falls short of the comprehensive audit Paul favors. Paul’s preferred version has passed the House. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) agreed to some limits on the audit to get the bill to pass the Senate.
UPDATE: The Vitter Amendment, which would have allowed Paulian audits of the Fed going forward, was defeated 37-62. The vote breakdown is interesting.
A little over a year ago Chris Horner, among others, directed attention to a Spanish study conducted by Dr. Gabriel Calzada of King Juan Carlos University on environmentalism-driven economic incentives, which found that for every “green” job created due to government programs, 2.2 Spanish jobs were destroyed.
Today in Wall Street Journal Europe, Carlo Stagnaro and Luciano Lavecchia of Italian think tank Istituto Bruno Leoni introduce a similar study they conducted in their country, and they determined the employment effect from “green” incentives was more than twice as destructive as Spain’s:
…One green job costs on average as much 4.8 jobs in the entire economy, or 6.9 jobs in the industrial sector. The same amount of subsidies that have already been given or committed could produce nearly five times as many jobs if allowed to be spent by the private sector elsewhere in the economy.
Our results are largely consistent with the evidence provided by Professor Gabriel Calzada of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, who found that in Spain, one green job costs on average as much as 2.2 “dirty” jobs. The reason why the Italian figure is more than twice as high is mostly because Italy, unlike Spain, is technology importer, not a producer.
Our figures only seem to confirm what is intuitive: That the green economy may be very profitable for those who receive the subsidies, but that they are detrimental to the overall economy.
Stagnaro and Lavecchia go into a good amount of detail explaining how they arrived at their conclusions. Warning: Despite what the authors’ claim, their findings will be counterintuitive to environmental activists, socialists, liberal bloggers, and the Obama administration — if you’ll permit me to be quadruply redundant.
That Daschle compromise also only applied to post-viability abortions, allowing the partial-birth procedure to be used earlier. Though without the permissive health language, it might have gotten some pro-life support.
In my column on Elena Kagan for the main site, I wrote:
On Monday, documents surfaced revealing that while working in the Clinton White House, Kagan advised President Clinton to support a compromise bill on banning late-term abortions. But it’s unclear whether such advice tells us anything about her personal views on the issue.
But Life News reminds us that the measure she supported (being pushed by Tom Daschle) really wasn’t a ban on partial birth abortions because it included a health exception that was broad enough to render any ban effectively meaningless, which is why it was strongly opposed by pro-life groups at the time.
Several national security conservatives led by former Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese have put out a 10-point manifesto aimed at “restoring peace through strength,” and they are calling on candidates and elected officials to sign on. You can read it here.
On the main site today I ruminate on the Gulf oil leak and BP’s inability (so far) to stop the gush, while speculating how heavy a hit the company may take financially. Today the Washington Post notes how Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressed a similar view (BP’s “life is very much on the line here,”) but then the newspaper explains how the company may be too big to fail:
Even though most investors have soured on BP, driving down its stock price by 19 percent and wiping out $36.7 billion of its market value since the explosion, the business remains a behemoth. The company has a market value of $152.6 billion, bolstered by a global marketing network, a lucrative oil venture in Russia, a promising contract to boost production in a giant Iraqi field and scores of other large interests. It remains the largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico. Measured by revenue or assets, it is among the world’s five largest companies….
For now, at least, BP’s prodigious costs combating the oil spill in the Gulf are outweighed by prodigious profits.
Perhaps so, but I don’t think many are left without doubts. Watch this video (yes, produced by a clean water advocacy group founded by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., but stunning nonetheless) and you can’t help but wonder if the massive and still-flowing leak outstrips man’s capability to clean it up in a reasonable time frame. BP’s ability to afford to clean it up plus pay damages to those who have been harmed by their mishap.
If the oil reaches the shores of the five Gulf states — or even if it doesn’t — the claims of economic harm made by the seafood and tourism industries alone will be enormous. And then on top of that there are the lawyers from Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council…
Meanwhile, today the New York Times follows their weekend article on BP’s questionable safety record (Exxon’s better!) with an analysis of how technological advancement in drilling has far surpassed oil companies’ ability to address problems if they happen — especially a mile below the water’s surface:
Environmentalists are saying they tried to raise the alarm to Congressional committees that the industry had no way to respond to a catastrophic blowout a mile below the sea.
Local officials in the gulf are beginning to ask, “What was Plan B?” The answer, oil industry engineers are acknowledging, was to deploy technology that has not changed much in 20 years — booms, skimmers and chemical dispersants — even as the drilling technology itself has improved.
“They have horribly underestimated the likelihood of a spill and therefore horribly underestimated the consequences of something going wrong,” said Robert G. Bea, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies offshore drilling. “So what we have now is some equivalent of a fire drill with paper towels and buckets for cleanup.”
And finally this morning, as Money Online reports, the predictable is happening before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
The three oil companies primarily involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill blamed each other Tuesday for the accident last month that left 11 workers dead and oil still spewing into the Gulf….
“Transocean’s blowout preventer failed to operate,” said Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America, according to prepared testimony….
“All offshore oil and gas production projects begin and end with the operator…in this case, BP,” said (Transocean chief executive Steven) Newman….
The well’s cementing was done by Halliburton. But Halliburton’s chief safety and environmental officer, Tim Probert, said responsibility also lay with BP.
“Halliburton, as a service provider to the well owner, is contractually bound to comply with the well owner’s instructions on all matters relating to the performance of all work-related activities,” said Probert.
Phyllis Chesler calls it a “weird piece which came at me out of left field, literally” — a column at the Web site of Zeek, a quarterly publication of the Forward, accusing Chesler of “single-minded zealotry” and “promoting the Religious Right and its Christian nationalism” as part of “The War Against Tolerance.”
Why would Chesler, a Jewish feminist, be assailed by a Jewish journal affiliated with the Forward? The author of the Zeek column, Rachel Tabachnick, is a regular contributor to a Web site called Talk2Action.org, founded in 2005 by Bruce Wilson. From there, the trail leads in an interesting direction:
What we do know is that Bruce Wilson has been posting at DailyKos as “Troutfishing” since October 2004, and that his fourth post - written the day after John Kerry’s defeat in the 2004 election - argued for the formation of a “progressive/liberal/Dem umbrella group which would be the left equivalent of the Christian Coalition.” …
Talk2Action, on which Wilson and Mrs. Tabachnick are “collaborating,” is a political project originated at Daily Kos in 2004 by a partisan opponent of the Bush administration. The goal of Talk2Action is to defeat Republicans by discrediting conservative Christians, portraying them as dangerous, intolerant kooks.
Chesler’s column about Rifka Bary, and her general work in discussing the oppression of women in Islamic societies (Chesler was once married to a Muslim and lived in Afghanistan), were rather disruptive of the “American Taliban” message that Wilson and Mrs. Tabachnick have been relentlessly promoting… .
Unlike the actual Taliban, of course, the Christian conservatives targeted by Talk2Action haven’t sent any car-bombers to Manhattan.
Rick Santorum has endorsed Carly Fiorina in the California Senate race, giving Fiorina another prominent conservative backer following the Sarah Palin endorsement.
After the Palin endorsement, the Chuck DeVore campaign took solace in the fact that there was a backlash against Palin among some Tea Partiers for endorsing Fiorina. In the case of Santorum, critics of Fiorina could point out that he endorsed Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in the 2004 Pennsylvania Senate primary. And DeVore claims the support of Jim DeMint and Mike Huckabee.
With that said, the difficullty for DeVore is that he can’t afford to split conservative support with Fiorina. Far behind in money and resources, DeVore’s chances rested on his ability to consolidate conservatives, tap into the grassroots energy, and gain parity through online fundraising. But unlike Marco Rubio in Florida, DeVore has not been able to catch fire, and it’s hard to see that happening with less than a month to go before the June 8 primary.
When Tom Campbell entered the race, the development was largely viewed as something that would be more damaging to Fiorina. And for sure, Fiorina still trails Campbell in most polls. But in the end, Campbell’s candidacy may have hurt DeVore, because the presence of a moderate to liberal Republican in the race has enabled Fiorina to appear more conservative.
So, a congressman says that climate science should be simplified to “Sixth Grade Level” because Americans “don’t get” it.
Possibly he is referring to that nice, insightful congressman from Georgia worried about islands tipping over during a global warming rant? Or the esteemed senator from Connecticut who said at a committee hearing in 2003 that 2002 turned out to be less warm than predicted because the economy slowed down? Or the senator from Rhode Island who said he knows it’s warming because his wife swims in the ocean and she’s sure she feels it? Or the guy in the same seat before him who said we know carbon dioxide is a problem because people asphyxiate in their garages every year?
That kind of not getting it? Good grief, is it November yet?
I’m sure this post by Andrew Sullivan, about rumors that Elena Kagan is a lesbian, will get a lot of attention. Sullivan asks if Obama is “going to use a Supreme Court nominee to advance the cause of the closet”:
And can we have a clear, factual statement as to the truth? In a free society in the 21st Century, it is not illegitimate to ask. And it is cowardly not to tell.
Before evaluating this claim, it is worth delving into Sullivan’s history of pronouncements on this topic — which, as on so many other topics, is wildly erratic.
Arlen Specter now trails Joe Sestak by five points among Democratic primary voters in both the Rasmussen and Moring Call polls. Sestak is up by 0.6 percent in the Real Clear Politics polling average. Now he has another issue on which to hit Specter from the left: While still a Republican, Specter voted against Elena Kagan for solicitor general.
On Friday, I linked to a press release by Al Gillis, a past president of the Massachusetts Republican Assembly, sharply criticizing GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker and calling on the Republican Governors Association to stop its advertising campaign against independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill. Very quickly, both in the comments here and at the popular Red Mass Group blog, there were responses that Gillis was not speaking for the Massachusetts Republican Assembly as a whole.
I contacted several MRA officers and board members this weekend and received an email from current Massachusetts Republican Assembly President Sandi Martinez. “The press release by Mr. Gillis cited in your blog as being from the Massachusetts Republican Assembly, was not authorized!” Martinez wrote (emphasis hers). “The MRA has not taken a position on any 2010 race. When and if we take a position on a candidate, it won’t be until the nominating convention, which has not as yet been scheduled.” Paul Ferro, the group’s secretary and a board member, seconded this in a telephone interview. For his part, Gillis told me over the telephone this afternoon, “I stand by what I wrote in the press release.” He said that he believes his views are shared by the “rank and file” MRA members and that the convention will confirm this.
As Phil says, Republicans probably won’t mount much of an effort to defeat Elena Kagan and are even less likely to succeed if they do. She is about as good as we can get from Obama; her nomination won’t affect the liberal-conservative balance on the Court; she’ll probably have to recuse herself from some cases; other than the military recruiters at Harvard, she really doesn’t have a “wise Latina” moment.
Still, the Republicans should make the confirmation hearings about the proper role of the judiciary and what a constitutionalist jurisprudence would look like. Wherever Kagan is at odds with this, it should be highlighted. Republicans should also not pay any lip service to the idea of Kagan as an umpire. Liberals regard the Supreme Court as another policymaking body and Obama is appointing her to preserve liberal policies on abortion, affirmative action, national security, the treatment of criminals, and other issues.
Given this last point, it will be interesting to see if Republicans continue their trend away from being a rubber stamp for whomever the president nominates to the Supreme Court. They voted overwhelmingly for Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg even after the borking of Robert Bork and the near-borking of Clarence Thomas. Republicans didn’t get serious until Harriet Miers and Sonia Sotomayor.
UPDATE: Maggie Gallagher argues that a vote for Kagan is a vote for gay marriage.
It looks like Republican Charles Djou is poised to win the special election in the district that includes President Obama’s birthplace of Honolulu, with national Democrats already withdrawing resources. CQ reports:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Monday morning that it will no longer invest resources in the May 22 special election in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional district, effectively ceding the race to Republicans and likely setting the party up for what could be their first special election loss of the cycle.
I spoke to Djou about the race and his political philosophy back in March.
By choosing Elena Kagan as his Supreme Court pick, President Obama will likely avert a bitter confirmation battle over the summer. While there’s always a chance that something unknown can surface to derail the pick, all the key signals point to a smooth confirmation.
The most important sign of how contentious any pick is likely to be is to look at the immediate reaction of the opposition. The most infamous example of this would be Ted Kennedy’s tirade against Robert Bork on the Senate floor within an hour of the nomination, in which Kennedy declared that, “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of the Government…” (Video here). And after President Bush nominated Harriet Miers, conservative activists immediately went to work trying to torpedo the appointment. But the case of Kagan, Republicans have been pretty tame initially, taking a respectful wait and see approach.
While critics will take issue with Kagan’s lack of experience as a judge, the advantage from a confirmation standpoint is that she’s much more of a blank slate and won’t have as much of a paper trail to go through, depriving opponents of ammunition.
Ultimately, Kagan is likely to face relatively smooth sailing because Republicans know Obama will get a nominee one way or another. It’s unlikely that anybody who Obama nominates would be any better than Kagan, but it’s quite possible that were her nomination rejected, that he could nominate somebody much worse.
President Obama just formally announced his appointment of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, touting her ability to understand the law intellectually while remaining aware of how it “affects lives or of ordinary people.”
Obama praised her temperment and her openess to different viewpoints, citing her recruitment of conservative professors when she served as dean of Harvard Law School. He also singled out her work as solicitor general on the losing side of the Citizen’s United free speech and campaign financing case.
On the personal side, Obama emphasized that Kagan was the granddaughter of immigrants whose mother served as a public shool teacher and father served as a housing lawyer representing tennants. He also described her as a “die hard Mets fan.”
Kagan echoed Obama’s general theme in her own statement, expressing her love for the law, “not because it’s challenging and endlessly interesting…but because law matters. Because it keeps us safe. Because it protects our most fundamental rights and freedoms. And because it is the foundation of our democracy.”
She thanked her two brothers, both school teachers, who were on hand for the announcement, while expressing sadness that her parents didn’t survive to be there. She reiterated that her parents were children of immigrants, and that her father worked to “represent everyday people” and to improve the community while her mother served her students.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just released the following statement on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Rather tame stuff:
“I congratulate Elena Kagan on her nomination. As we did with Justice Sotomayor last year, Senate Republicans will treat Ms. Kagan fairly. She has been nominated for a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court, and we will carefully review her brief litigation experience, as well as her judgment and her career in academia, both as a professor and as an administrator. Fulfilling our duty to advise and consent on a nomination to this office requires a thorough process, not a rush to judgment.
“The American people expect judges to apply the Constitution and laws of the United States fairly and impartially—as they are written, not how they could have been written but were not. Even though the President who nominates them has personal policy preferences, judges must not be a rubberstamp for any administration. Judges must not walk into court with a preconceived idea of who should win. Their job is to apply the law ‘without respect to persons,’ as the judicial oath states; it is not to pick winners or losers.
“Senate Republicans will have a vigorous debate on the importance of this principle. And we will diligently review the record of Ms. Kagan to ensure that she shares this principle and that she possesses the requisite experience to serve on the Supreme Court.”
Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci famously urged the Left to overthrow bourgeois hegemony by infiltrating and subverting the major institutions of society. The remarkable success of so-called “cultural Marxism” has, however, encountered an unexpected obstacle. Many Americans have stopped passively cooperating, and this annoys Mark Lilla to no end:
[W]e need to see [the Tea Party movement] as a manifestation of deeper social and even psychological changes that the country has undergone in the past half-century… . [I]t has given us a new political type: the antipolitical Jacobin. The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing-and unwarranted-confidence in the self… .
A million and a half students in the United States are now being taught by their parents at home, nearly double the number a decade ago, and representing about fifteen students for every public school in the country… .
We are experiencing just one more aftershock from the libertarian eruption that we all, whatever our partisan leanings, have willed into being. For half a century now Americans have been rebelling in the name of individual freedom… .
They don’t want the rule of the people, though that’s what they say. They want to be people without rules …
Lilla’s remarkable tantrum prompted me to remark:
What was the point of the Left’s “long march through the institutions” if, having captured those institutions, they can’t use them to tell everybody else what to do?
Daniel Larison is right that more Republicans deserve the Specter-Crist-Bennett treatment than get it, but he more or less answers his own question as to why this is the case. It is not easy or politically cost-free to oust entrenched incumbents in either party. Bob Bennett was made to pay for his political sins because the state convention system made it relatively easy and Utah’s Republican voting habits meant that tossing him out likely won’t cost the Republicans his Senate seat. Remember that Chris Cannon was also beaten under this system for supporting a single Bush administration proposal favored by other Republicans — amnesty for illegal immigrants.
The TARP bailouts and amnesty are both unpopular with the Republican base. More Republican legislators heeded the base on amnesty than on TARP, but even so few of the outliers have been ousted by anti-amnesty primary challengers. John McCain’s amnesty advocacy didn’t cost him the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. But it could conceivably help cost him renomination to his own Senate seat this year. How different issues are weighted and the quality of the primary challengers also has a lot to do with whether politicians can survive defying the party faithful.
That’s why I would also disagree that fiscal issues necessarily trump social issues, especially if we are talking about the Republican primary electorate rather than GOP elites. Moderate Republicans who lose their primaries tend to be vulnerable on a combination of both because that’s what conservative primary challengers need to put together a winning coalition. In Ohio, George Voinovich has avoided numerous primary challenges despite his fiscal moderation because of his strong social conservatism, particularly on abortion. Jeff Flake has beat back anti-amnesty challengers because of his fiscal conservatism.
Arlen Specter may have (barely) survived his 2004 primary, but the whole reason he was in serious trouble in the first place was precisely that he was vulnerable on both social and economic issues. Specter was saved because George W. Bush and Rick Santorum insisted they needed his vote in a 51-49 Republican Senate. Many conservatives who voted for Specter in 2004 felt instant buyer’s remorse once they were faced with a 55-45 Republican Senate where Specter’s vote was not needed.
That, rather than the primacy of fiscal issues, was the reason the stimulus became the final nail in Specter the Republican’s coffin. The conservative case for Specter in 2009 ran thus: There was no way Pat Toomey could hold Specter’s seat; Specter was the only person preventing a filibuster-proof Democratic majority; Specter might be a moderate, but he was reliable enough to filibuster when it counted. As polling showed Toomey could conceivably win, as the GOP’s 2010 electoral prospects improved nationwide, and Specter supported the stimulus rather than filibustering it, one by one the conservative case for his candidacy collapsed. Soon he concluded he could not win the Republican primary.
It’s true that Giuliani could not have run a credible Republican presidential campaign if he was as far to the left on fiscal issues as he was on social issues. Larison is right that taxes is considered a lowest-common-denominator Republican issue in a way that abortion is not (though again, McCain won the nomination despite voting against the Bush tax cuts, something that would have been inconceivable had he also been pro-choice). But it is equally true that if Giuliani was even halfway as conservative on social issues as he was on fiscal issues, he would have stood a chance at getting more primary votes than Ron Paul. His social liberalism, particularly on abortion, was the main reason he did not.
Radley Balko unloads on Elena Kagan this morning, noting all the times she’s sided with the government as Solicitor General. While he may well be right that Kagan will be relatively friendly to the executive branch, this line of argument is a bit misleading. As Tom Goldstein puts it in SCOTUSblog’s long dossier on Kagan:
Some critics (and supporters) attribute to Kagan views on certain legal issues based on positions she took as Solicitor General. That criticism (and praise) is misguided. The Solicitor General acts as the attorney for the United States and therefore asserts the position of the government, without regard to whether she personally shares the same view. For Kagan not to have zealously pursued the interests of the United States in each case would have been an abdication of her duties. There are only a few exceptions - rare throughout our history - in which the Solicitor General concludes that the government’s position has no reasonable basis and therefore refuses to assert it; Kagan has not participated in such an extreme case.
Radley has half a point when he says the the Solicitor General’s office “could at the very least have merely remained silent” on cases where a federal law was not directly challenged, but only half. Part of the SG’s mandate is to file amici curiae in any case where the federal government has an interest in the legal issue at stake; that the SG’s office would chime in when states are sued over criminal statutes is hardly surprising, as the constitutionality of state law and of federal law are related.
Serving as Solicitor General might make one more pro-government, just as the experience of being a defense attorney might make one more sympathetic to defendants. But to use the arguments that Kagan has advanced as SG to guess what positions she’d take on the bench is to make quite a leap.
NBC is reporting that, to no one’s surprise, Barack Obama will announce tomorrow morning that he is nominating Solicitor General Elena Kagan to fill John Paul Stevens’s seat on the Supreme Court. (I predicted it, but I don’t claim any special insight — pretty much everyone saw this coming.) As Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog wrote when he predicted Kagan’s nomination in Februrary, “The last nominee about whose views we knew so little was David Souter.”
Nonetheless, there is much to pick over in her relatively thin record. More on that tomorrow, and later in the week.
Perhaps no one is surprised to discover that New York Times columnist Frank Rich spends his Saturday nights watching MSNBC. What is surprising is that Rich excoriates the liberal network that failed to interrupt its White House Correspondents Dinner coverage for, you know, real news:
At 6:30 p.m. the abandoned Nissan Pathfinder was found smoking in Times Square… . Over the next hour and a half, several news organizations spread it as well while Times Square was evacuated. To clear the Broadway theater district at curtain time on Saturday night isn’t like emptying a high school; it’s a virtual military operation… . On MSNBC, which I was watching, it didn’t even merit a mention on a crawl… .
MSNBC was instead busy covering the correspondents dinner . . .
That MSNBC couldn’t be bothered to interrupt its two-hour coverage of these festivities to report on the attempted bombing was particularly embarrassing, given that the network’s headquarters are just blocks from Times Square. If NBC journalists in the Washington Hilton ballroom were too busy gawking at Justin Bieber to pounce on the bulletins moving through the BlackBerry-and-Twittersphere, you’d think someone back in New York would.
Apparently little short of King Kong climbing up 30 Rock could have grabbed the network’s attention… .
Perhaps even more surprising than Rich’s criticism of MSNBC is his admission that we are “a country at war.” It would have been nice if Rich had actually named the enemy, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online