The great Andrew McCarthy over at National Review has penned a stunning take down that, on the surface, is of newly outed I’m “NOT” a conservative Conor Friedersdorf. In fact, as you will see, McCarthy has quite effectively nailed the left in general in its appearance as members of the American legal profession, in this case the “Al-Qaeda Seven” and others.
Nobody does it better, to borrow from Carly Simon, than Andrew McCarthy. Here’s the link.
Amidst this week’s Middle East news one startling event has escaped the attention it deserves. According to news reports such as this one in The Wall Street Journal, an American diplomat in Damascus was detained and then “hooded by Syrian security agents and ‘roughed up’ before being released.”
This is a remarkable development. For one thing, it sums up as well as any anything could what the Obama Administration has gained from two years of buttering up the Assad regime, loosening sanctions, letting them into the World Trade Organization, sending an ambassador to Damascus, and making believe Assad is a reformer. It has gained us Assad’s contempt.
How did the United States react to this unprecedented, illegal action against the diplomatic immunity of our Embassy personnel? Why, we “formally protested.” That means we called Syria’s despicable ambassador into the State Department and told him this was terrible and must not be repeated.
That is not a serious response. If I were an American diplomat in a trouble spot, I would be hoping for a lot more than that-for example, in these circumstances, for throwing the Syrian ambassador out of this country. Our own ambassador in Damascus should never have been sent, was sent over the objections of Congress as a recess appointment, and should be recalled immediately.
Indeed. At this point one has to wonder what, if anything, would convince the White House to treat Assad like the enemy that he is — an enemy who, as Lee Smith argues, is as malignant as anything that could concievably replace him.
Quin Hillyer has made an airtight case that Pope John Paul II was objectively a great man. As with any great man, there are aspects of his career that are difficult to understand in the light of his accomplishments.
Of course, the most important was his handling or mishandling of the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Jason Berry, one of the journalists most responsible for shining a light on the abuses in the American Church, presents, in a book excerpt published in the Nation, a persuasive argument that the late Pope’s handling of the sex abuse scandal should at least slow down Catholics in a rush to declare JPII a saint. (He will be beatified on Sunday: beatification is the last step before canonization, which establishes sainthood.)
Not all of Berry’s criticisms are fair, but he identifies a real and serious shortcoming of JPII’s papacy. It’s one that is hard to square with Quin’s observations about JPII’s role in defeating Communism and also with more personal stories about him, such as this one from his longtime photographer:Continue reading…
My friend Quin Hillyer is asking about Rick Santorum, so as the resident Pennsylvanian here’s what I see. Note: I need to try and allow for the old prophet-in-his-own-land syndrome.
His bluntness is at once an asset and a liability. To use the old joke about Christ and his critics, were Rick to walk on water the headline would be “Santorum can’t swim”….And he is constitutionally incapable of not being blunt, which in this media environment is a problem for anybody. People will be (will be?…they are surely already!) out to get him…make him look like a homophobic, hate-mongering posterior. Surely the charming quote from ex-Senator Bob Kerrey will surface…”Is Santorum Latin for a—h—-?” The left’s treatment of a nominee Santorum, not to mention a President Santorum, would make their treatment of Bush look like the coverage of Kate Middleton. You could look forward to a race that would be cast by the liberal media as the Saint versus the Bigoted Jerk and-oh-by-the-way doesn’t he look like Hitler?
That’s from the left.
From the right, the Specter situation is a problem — although he can honestly say that without Arlen there may not have been Roberts and Alito. Also, conservatives here balked on his defense of earmarks…interpreted as a defense of the Establishment taste for pork, both a deadly problem with the right.
But integrity? Hard work? A serious vision on Islamic radicals and a willingness to confront that threat? Pro-life? Moral clarity in general? Right (correct) on economics, national security? Top notch. Which means a Santorum supporter will decidedly not be lukewarm. They will love him even more when the BS comes down, as it surely will. Not unlike the Palinistas, Santorumites are not lukewarm about their candidate.
One curious problem is Pennsylvania. As things go in our state, the real political power for either party comes when they hold the governorship. Governors here have real inside-the-party clout unless they seriously alienate. Senators — with no patronage to speak of — have never managed well here in this sense, no matter the party. A case in point was when the Reagan brain trust of 1976 tried to put Reagan over the top by naming then-Pennsylvania Senator Dick Schweiker as Reagan’s before-the-balloting VP choice. The idea was to snatch the Pennsylvania delegation from Ford. There was no GOP governor at the time (Democrat Milton Shapp had the job). It didn’t work. Why? Because even a sitting Senator didn’t have the ability to control the party machinery. So — the gambit lost.
The point? We have a brand new GOP governor, Tom Corbett. You can bet he will have considerable say in the leanings of the Pennsylvania GOP delegation. If he chooses not to back Santorum — Santorum is essentially starting baseless. That would be a real problem. The only way around this are early primary wins — NH, SC, etc. The Pennsylvania primary is later — April 24th or some such.
Does that help? Rick Santorum is a deeply honorable public servant. A real fighter for, as Superman seems suddenly reluctant to say, “truth, justice and the American way.” But every one of these prospectives has pluses and minuses and I think this is roughly fair about his.
Can he win? Personally, I think this year is going to be so open anybody can win under the right circumstances. He’s not as well positioned as Romney or Huckabee…but is it possible? You remember President Hillary Clinton, don’t you?
How far is the Obama administration willing to go to promote organized labor’s agenda? The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) recent decisions to pursue legal action against a private company and some state governments provide an answer to that question.
On April 20, NLRB Acting Genral Counsel Lafe Solomon (who is recess-appointed and has not been confirmed by the Senate) issued a formal complaint against Boeing for deciding to build some of its new 787 Dreamliner jets in a new facility in South Carolina, a right-to-work state.
Only two days later, Solomon wrote to the state attorneys general (AGs) of Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah, threatening to sue their states over their enactment of constitutional amendments protecting the right to a secret ballot in union elections. Those amendments preclude card check, which exposes workers to high-pressure tactics by union organizers who can then ask them to sign union cards out in the open.
Telling businesses where they may locate their facilities and states how they may amend their constitutions are, to put it mildly, highly unusual attempts to stretch federal power. But such abuse of the NLRB’s remit may be the best vehicle that Obama now has to reward his union allies — whose suport he will need in his 2012 reelection effort — following the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections.
Quite simply, this is unionization through regulation, whereby regulatory agencies circumvent Congress by “reinterpreting” the law beyond recognition.
Encouraginly, state officials are not taking this federal assault sitting down. In today’s Wall Street Journal, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley denounces the NLRB’s action against Boeing, calling it “a direct assault on the 22 right-to-work states across America.” Also this week, the four state AGs whom Solomon threatened responded to him. In a strongly worded letter, they unequivocally state their intent to defend their states’ laws if those are challenged.
In addition to undermining the rule of law — which is bad enough — the NLRB’s actions are economic insanity. In Forbes this week, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association of America, explains it well.
Our federal government has become the enemy of job creators. Look at the facts here: South Carolina’s Dreamliner production line would be in addition to, not instead of, Boeing’s production line in Seattle. Boeing is already facing a backlog of orders for the plane, and this NLRB action, if not reversed soon, will certainly cause it to lose orders for these American-built planes. The NLRB apparently wants the second line to also be produced in the Puget Sound area - also silly if you see what too much concentration of production capacity in one venue can do (witness the Sendai area in Japan). The greatest irony is that if Boeing had put this facility in Canada or even in China the NLRB probably could not have ordered its shutdown (but who knows given their perverse interpretation of the law).
But what are a few thousand destroyed jobs and legal chaos when there are unions to bail out?
My friend Lisa Fabrizio was right on target yesterday in giving some nice attention to former Sen. Rick Santorum. I’m curious to know what my friend Jeffrey Lord, who hails from Pennsylvania, thinks.
I’ll have more on Santorum’s latest in the near future. Suffice it to say that the man continues to impress.
In the Daily, Reihan Salam imagines a brilliant future for Indiana governor Mitch Daniels’s education reform bill that would make more than half the schoolkids in Indiana eligible for a school voucher:
Vouchers aren’t a panacea. A child’s home environment will always have a bigger impact on her success than her school environment, and there’s only so much we can do to change that. There are other good cost-saving ideas, like Daniels’s plan to give high schoolers who graduate a year early $3,500 in college aid - which would cost the state about $2,400 less than keeping a smart kid cooped up for senior year.
But well-designed vouchers will encourage the proliferation of new kinds of schools that can better meet the needs of today’s students, including those most at risk of dropping out. The hope is that the most successful schools will expand while the least successful will have to close up shop. Eventually, more flexible vouchers will allow students in public schools to choose to take certain courses, like advanced math or Mandarin, from low-cost virtual schools. Over time, the state education authorities will spend more time monitoring the quality of a wide variety of competing high-tech instructional providers than they spend running obsolete factory schools of their own. And we’ll have Mitch Daniels to thank.
The bill has passed the assembly and is headed for Daniels’s desk. It would be by far the most expansive voucher program in the country.
Did you know that the Obama administration pulled a $4 BILLION rug out from under Shell Oil? ALl on behalf of 245 Eskimos 70 miles away from a Shell project? Outrageous. That, and more, in this terrific piece by Ashton Ellis at CFIF.
During a speech last night in Las Vegas, Donald Trump uttered the f-word on several occasions and in a variety of ways. I will not repeat them here.
Perhaps Trump’s choice of words is an indication he isn’t going to run after all. Then again that might be wishful thinking on my part. If Trump does run and persists to speak in this boorish manner it will only help President Obama.
Or let me put it to you another way. Could you imagine Ronald Reagan dropping an F-bomb at the Brandenburg Gate?
After fumbling a bit re: the Arab Spring (of which he has been unduly skeptical), Charles Krauahammer is back with another truly superb column this morning, one that reveals his greatness as a columnist. Krauthammer hones in on what has been dubbed the Obama Doctrine, which the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza describes as “leading from behind.”
Krauthammer denies that this is a doctrine. “Doctrines,” he explains, “involve ideas, but…there are no discernible ones that make sense of Obama foreign policy… It’s been a foreign policy of hesitation, delay and indecision, marked by plaintive appeals to the (fictional) ‘international community’ to do what only America can,” he writes.
Krauthammer then utterly demolishes the facile rationalization offered up by an anonymous administration official for this fraudulent “Obama Doctrine”: “The relative power of the U.S. is declining, as rivals like China rise,” this official told Lizza, and “the U.S. is reviled in many parts of the world.”
But “what does China’s rising GDP have to do with American buck-passing on Libya, misjudging Iran, appeasing Syria?” asks Krauthammer. “The challenge of a rising Chinese military,” he notes, “is still exclusively regional. It would affect a war over Taiwan. It has zero effect on anything significantly beyond China’s coast.
“China,” Krauthammer notes, “has no blue-water navy. It has no foreign bases. It cannot project power globally. It might in the future - but by what logic should that paralyze us today?”
As for other countries supposedly hating us, when, pray tell, were we not reviled? asks Krauthammer.
During Vietnam? Or earlier, under Eisenhower? When his vice president, [Richard Nixon], was sent on a goodwill trip to Latin America, he was spat upon and so threatened by the crowds that he had to cut short his trip…
It is the fate of any assertive superpower to be envied, denounced and blamed for everything under the sun. Nothing has changed. Moreover, for a country so deeply reviled, why during the massive unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan and Syria have anti-American demonstrations been such a rarity?
Who truly reviles America the hegemon? The world that Obama lived in and shaped him intellectually: the elite universities; his Hyde Park milieu (including his not-to-be-mentioned friends, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn); the church he attended for two decades, ringing with sermons more virulently anti-American than anything heard in today’s full-throated uprising of the Arab Street.
It is the liberal elites who revile the American colossus and devoutly wish to see it cut down to size. Leading from behind - diminishing America’s global standing and assertiveness - is a reaction to their view of America, not the world’s.
Krauthammer has it exactly right. And that is why concerns about Obama’s alleged “foreign influences” are so misplaced: because in truth, Obama is all too American. But his America is that of the antagonistic and detached liberal academic knowledge class. And, as Georgetown University professor Jeanne Kilpatrick explained back in 1984, they always blame America first.
Liberals are worried about the end of their political ghettoes. Read all about it here.
Hope and change spring eternal at the New York Times. It didn’t bury yesterday’s bad economic news, headlining instead at the top of page 1 today: “GROWTH SLOWED IN FIRST QUARTER FOR U.S. ECONOMY: AN ANNUAL RATE OF 1.8%.”
But then there’s this priceless subhead: “May Be Temporary — Oil Prices and Winter Weather Blamed.”
Before you know it, the report itself is channeling Chance the Gardener: “Economists say many of these problems will fade later in the year and economic growth will hasten through the spring.”
I’m not making this up, not even the part that has one economist, her “fingers crossed,” hoping that “last quarter’s dismal news” was, in her words, “a pause, not a trend.”
I get that all powerful people and institutions want to control their image and their message. That’s part of their job, to create a mythology that allows them to continue being powerful.
But part of the press’ job is to do the opposite, to strip away the cloaks and veneers. By banning her, and by not acknowledging how contemporary media works, the White House did not just put Carla in a cage but more like one of those stifling pens reserved for calves on their way to being veal.
If a tenth of the press adopted this attitude politicians of both parties would be a lot less happy, sure, but the rest of us would simultaneously be infinitely better off. (Funny how that equation works, no?) Of course, such brave souls presumably would be denied the professional honor of being mocked by Jay Carney whenever they stray from the “stifling pen.” Such are the sacrifices, alas, occasionally required on behalf of the republic.
Random royal wedding thought: I know certain people in positions of power are infatuated with Great Britain’s NHS, but do we really want to emulate a healthcare system that cannot provide even its princes Propecia?
President Obama to visit Alabama to view devastation of tornadoes that have left 300 dead across the South (CNN)
Five presumed GOP presidential hopefuls will attend an Americans for Prosperity event for New Hampshire Senate Republican primary runner-up Ovide Lamontagne (Politico)
A growing number of Senate Democrats are siding against the White House and demanding that spending cuts be attached to debt limit vote (Washington Post)
NFL teams allowed to resume football operations while awaiting ruling from Eighth District Court of Appeals (USA Today)
Inflation expectations remain under control despite short-term price increases in food and other commodities (Wall Street Journal)
On this day in 1945, Dachau was liberated (History)
Video of the tornado in Tuscaloosa:
On the main site:
Petraeus and Panetta: Foiled at the Start, by Jed Babbin: Both men have superb reputations — but look who they’re working for.
Saint Wojtyła, by Quin Hillyer: When Pope John Paul II is beatified on Sunday, the world again will have reason to reflect on the great goodness of this remarkable man.
Avastin’s Double-Header, by Robert M. Goldberg: It’s one anyone interested in the health of his health care will be watching.
A Drop Here, A Drop There, by Peter Hannaford: Amazing how a drop in the budgetary bucket is soon worth millions and billions.
Government in Vermont, by James M. Thunder: Gov. Shumlin makes a shaky case for healthcare as a right.
The Other 2012 Presidential Election, by George H. Wittman: For all its murkiness one thing is clear — the two contenders don’t like each other.
Houston, We’ve Got a Problem, by Ben Stein: We really are pretty far gone.
Winter in Wartime, by James Bowman: A well-made film that’s less about winter and wartime than about boyhood and its end.
While I have no intention of waking up at 4 a.m. to watch the nupitals of Prince William and Kate Middleton I do wish them well.
At the risk of judging a book by its cover, Kate Middleton’s smile is pricelessly radiant and could light up the darkest of nights. If she is anything like her smile then I would say William has married well. In which case it will probably be better than being King of England.
How’s this for turnabout?
In response to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) u-tube video aimed at scaring older Americans into opposing entitlement reform, Heritage Action for America has rolled out an opposing video that cuts into hard financial realities that face younger generations. The Democrats have never dealt honestly on the question of entitlement reform, but a broad cross section of Americans now recognize that Medicare and other entitlement programs are not sustainable. Moreover, there is more parity in the news media, which allows for reform efforts to find greater expression.
The Heritage Action for America video opens with a simple, inescapable fact.
“It will cost our kids billions to pay for the promises we made to ourselves.”
It then shows school age children with a shopping cart scrapping around a dumpster. It also shows one digging for a quarter out of swimming pool.
“Because liberals voted not to reform entitlements…” The younger generation is stuck with the bill.
The children in the ad hold up signs reading:
“America is Broke” “Please Help” “God Bless You”
The Democratic ad has all the appropriate sourcing from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and recycles the same shrill, fear mongering message of previous campaigns.
But the DCCC ad does not move the conversation forward toward meaningful policy changes that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and other lawmakers have proposed, Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America, said in an interview.
“Medicare is not on a sustainable path and is not a program on its current trajectory that is going to be there for future generations,” Needham said. “What the Ryan plans and others have done is to take the program and make certain that it is preserved and that it can continue to exist beyond where the current path will allow it.”
Over the next 20 to 30 years, young people today will be facing $44 trillion of accumulated debt, he added.
“There isn’t the type of monopoly in the media that use to exist,” Needham said. “The disadvantage is that there is an opening if you want to demagogue something, but those of who want to have adult conversations have an obligation to take advantage of the opportunity with new media to get our message out.”
Needham also said the country has a new appreciation for the entitlement situation and the rising sea of red ink.
“The writing is on the wall.”
Reason’s Nick Gillespie was looking around to find non-British conservatives who haven’t yet been persuaded by Eva Longoria and Rosario Dawson that it’s time for Obama-style immigration reform. He found my TAC piece on Jeff Flake. Though for the record, I actually do agree with Flake on travel to Cuba (among other things).
UPDATE: I have not checked to see what Joseph Antle thinks, however.
Today, British Foreign Secretary William Hague withdrew Syrian Ambassador Sami Khiyami’s invitation to tomorrow’s Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. In light of Syria’s recent actions against unarmed civilians, Hague deemed Khiyami’s presence at the festivities to be “unacceptable.” For its part, Buckingham Palace concurs with Hague’s decision stating “it is not considered appropriate for the Syrian ambassador to attend the wedding.”
So there you have it. The British monarchy has taken a stronger stand against Syrian tyranny than has the Obama Administration.
Why does this exist?
Does Michelle Obama or any member of the groups involved really think that this video will influence even one kid? So why make it?
Also, it’s a cruel joke to have Michelle Obama lecturing kids to play basketball for health reasons (as if kids ever do anything for health reasons) when her husband does nothing about corn subsidies.
Remember when labor unions, being protectors of American workers and all, supported immigration enforcement? Well, in AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s labor movement, that’s out the window. Trumka even goes so far as to advocate the administrative amnesty for illegal immigrants that has repeatedly been suggested in memos floating around DHS and USCIS.
While President Obama’s commitment to comprehensive immigration reform is vitally important, so much more can and should be done now to help ensure a solid foundation for tomorrow’s new Americans. The president can announce a policy of allowing DREAM Act-eligible young people to stay in America until Congress passes comprehensive immigration legislation - so we can stop deporting the next generation of America’s doctors, teachers and engineers.
President Obama can direct ICE not to interfere in workplaces where workers have fought to improve conditions or are currently doing so. ICE should target employers that exploit workers, not employers trying to do the right thing. And the President can implement a humane and common-sense new prosecutorial discretion policy in keeping with ICE’s existing enforcement priorities.
Trumka also touts the forthcoming May Day illegal alien protests, aka the protests by the “next generation of America’s doctors, teachers and engineers.”
CNN’s In the Arena has published an excerpt of Ron Paul’s Liberty Defined, in which he explains how he’s reconciled his pro-life stance with his libertarian philosophy. Paul begins with a harrowing personal recollection:
On one occasion in the 1960s when abortion was still illegal, I witnessed, while visiting a surgical suite as an OB/GYN resident, the abortion of a fetus that weighed approximately two pounds.
It was placed in a bucket, crying and struggling to breathe, and the medical personnel pretended not to notice.
Soon the crying stopped. This harrowing event forced me to think more seriously about this important issue.
That same day in the OB suite, an early delivery occurred and the infant born was only slightly larger than the one that was just aborted.
But in this room everybody did everything conceivable to save this child’s life. My conclusion that day was that we were overstepping the bounds of morality by picking and choosing who should live and who should die.
Essentially, Paul’s position is that an unborn child is entitled to all the constitutional protections that anyone else would be, and accordingly opposition to legalized abortion doesn’t conflict with libertarian politics. Paul details those constitutional protections. His position is fairly nuanced, and as a result, he explains, he gets in trouble with both the pro-life and the pro-choice factions.
I recommend reading the whole excerpt.
The Indiana House of Representatives voted 66 to 32 for a bill that stiffens the state’s abortion restrictions and defunds Planned Parenthood. Will Gov. Mitch Daniels sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature? If he plans to run for president in 2012, this is the first test of whether his “truce” on social issues is rhetorical or substantive.
Further complicating matters for Daniels is the belief that cutting off state funding for Planned Parenthood could run afoul of federal statutes preventing states from selectively allocating funds to agencies that service Medicaid recipients, potentially costing the state Medicaid dollars. Daniels recently told Laura Ingraham that “ours has been without question the most pro-life administration in our state’s history.”
UPDATE: Planned Parenthood is not suprisingly asking Daniels to veto, claiming perversely that not giving them government money will lead to bigger government.
The Supreme Court handed down a ruling today in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, holding that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts a rule in California state contract law that nullifies class-action waiver clauses (I know, your eyes are glazing over already, but bear with me). You wouldn’t know it from much of the coverage, which portrays this as a victory for corporations over consumers, but it is in fact a victory for consumers over attorneys.
The issue is whether a company can write a contract in which customers waive their right to join class action lawsuits in favor of arbitration under the FAA. The arguments against this assume that the class action lawsuits are inherently superior to arbitration. In fact, class action lawsuits have proven extremely prone to abuse; settlements often lead to massive paydays for the lawyers while members of the class receive trivial compensation (sometimes just a coupon). Ted Frank of the Center for Class Action Fairness, which regularly sues to rectify such abuses, explained this in November when the Court heard arguments in this case:
The general argument against arbitration is that it forces consumers into uneconomic proceedings, but no one can make that complaint about the AT&T Mobility contract, where the company agrees to pay the cost of the arbitration, not to seek attorney’s fees, and to pay a bounty if the arbitral award exceeds a written settlement offer. (And it’s telling how bad the class-action system is if a corporation is willing to agree to such consumer-friendly dispute resolution procedures in an effort to avoid it.) Nevertheless, the Ninth Circuit considered it “unconscionable.”
…In every single one of my cases, my clients would have been better off, ex ante, with the AT&T Mobility arbitration provision than with what class action attorneys negotiated for them-even aside from the lower prices they would have realized in 90% of those cases. The fact that the arbitration provision does not provide classwide relief is hardly relevant: if hundreds of consumers bring identical claims under arbitration because the company is treating consumers uniformly unfairly, AT&T Mobility will eventually find it profitable to accommodate those complaints.
For a trip to Bizarro World, check out the absurd spin at the Center for American Progress’s site ThinkProgress, which claims the Court has “Nuke[d] Consumers’ Rights.” I hope CAP gets plenty of money from tort lawyers; they’re certainly earning it.
Well, the love of America no longer tugs at Superman’s cape. In the 900th issue of Superman, The Man of Steel renounces his American citizenship.
Frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long.
In December 2003, when Superman was re-released to comemorate its 25th anniversary, I attended a screening in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When Superman told Lois Lane he stood for “truth, justice and the American way” the theater broke out in laughter. It is worth remembering that in the 2006 film Superman Returns, The Caped Crusader stood only for truth and justice.
Then again it is probably just as well. Joe Shuster, the man who first drew Superman, was Canadian.
In the mood for a laugh?
Here’s a YouTube video posted by a Republican candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia — the City of Brotherly Love not having elected a Republican since…since…well…suffice to say no one reading this would remember.
The plot: A Dictator re-location office in Philadelphia interviews Gaddafi. Hilarious… and worse… pointedly true.
I don’t know a thing about the candidate, John Featherman, beyond a description as Republican and libertarian. Here’s his website.
I do know I found this video on the website of — the Democratic Party in a county outside Philadelphia!
Far more extensive thoughts on Obama’s transcripts and his lack of transparency.
The liberal media has apparently now decided that Donald Trump is a racist.
Bob Schieffer of CBS News accused Donald Trump of racial malice for calling for the release of President Obama’s collegiate grades. The veteran CBS correspondent and host of Face the Nation said, “That’s just code for saying he got into law school because he’s black. This is an ugly strain of racism that’s running through this whole thing. We can hope that kind of comes to an end too, but we’ll have to see.”
The New York Times has got in on the act as well with its latest editorial:
There was a price to the party for keeping the issue alive; inevitably, it was picked up by a cartoon candidate, Donald Trump, who rode birtherism directly to the prime-time promontories of cable TV. The Republican establishment began to wince as it became increasingly tied to Mr. Trump’s flirtations with racial provocation, and Karl Rove told him to knock it off. Naturally, he did not.
Finally, his taunting and the questions of television correspondents obliging Mr. Trump got on the president’s nerves. Mr. Obama was tactically smart to release the certificate and marginalize those who continue to keep the matter alive. It is tragic that American politics is fueled by such poisonous fire. Mr. Trump quickly moved on to a new fixation, questioning Mr. Obama’s academic credentials. Mr. Boehner, and other party leaders, have a new reason to call a halt to the politics of paranoia and intolerance.
From the outset, I have been very critical of Trump on the birther question and have repeatedly called him a buffoon. Yet calling Trump a racial provocateur is a sure sign of intellectual laziness and descends the depths of disingenuousness. Trump has been a prominent public figure for decades. If he bore racial animus it would showed itself long ago. As misguided as Trump was to focus his attention on Obama’s birth certificate, liberals are making the mistake of assuming that his criticism of President Obama is motivated solely by race.
With this in mind, how exactly is it “the politics of paranoia and intolerance” to ask President Obama to release his academic records? George W. Bush, Al Gore and John Kerry released their academic records. Why is it then unreasonable to demand the same of our current President?
Now there’s no doubt that Trump is baiting Obama. But he isn’t race-baiting. Trump isn’t going after Obama because of the color of his skin but because of its thinness. After all, Trump now has Obama on the defensive. At this point, Trump would be a fool if he didn’t demand that President Obama release his academic records.
Donald Trump can be called many things. A racist isn’t one of them.
President Obama to announce that CIA director Leon Panetta will replace Robert Gates as secretary of defense, and Gen. David Petraeus will replace Panetta (All Headline News)
The Indiana legislature has sent a bill defunding Planned Parenthood to Gov. Mitch Daniels’s desk (The Hill)
Nevada governor Brian Sandoval chooses Rep. Dean Heller to replace the resigning Sen. John Ensign (Las Vegas Sun)
At press conference, Ben Bernanke stressed that the ongoing deficits are not sustainable (Guardian)
On this day in 1789, the mutiny on the HMS Bounty took place (Washington Post)
Keynes vs. Hayek rap, part II:
On the main site:
Advantage Obama by Andrew Cline: Why he held his “Take that, Trump” press conference.
Debt Limit Fear Mongering, by Ron Ross: If the limit can be raised more or less at will, why have one at all?
Birtherdämmerung, by Robert Stacy McCain: The tragic twilight of an anti-Obama conspiracy theory.
Liberalism’s Death Croak, by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.: Its practitioners are no longer capable of engaging their adversaries.
Blessed Is Big Government, by George Neumayr: Lawrence O’Donnell’s Jesus Christ.
In Defense of Boring Men, by David Boze: Particularly when it comes to finding a serious challenger to Mr. Obama.
Most Dangerous Game, by Christopher Orlet: The ‘Knockout Game’ is coming to a city near you.
The Boss Man Goeth, by Paul Beston: George Steinbrenner’s influence on baseball will long survive him.
There’s a new documentary out exploring the scam the greens and (mostly) the Dems tried to pull over on you, nationally, and succeeded in cramming into numerous key states as part of their plan to soon say again how unfair it is that only a few suffer under such bad judgment, so really, everyone must be forced to do it to ‘level the playing field’ to right this wrong.
Trading on Thin Air interviews a wide array of parties to deconstruct the morass in which Europe finds itself, California is wading into, and several states like New Hampshire, New Jersey and Delaware are trying to wiggle out of. It is available on Hulu (Netflix, too, I understand, if you view that way).
At the Center for Individual Freedom, I explain that Ben Bernanke is playing a dangerous game, and that we all are likely to be the losers. Here.
It’s on. No longer are we to look at Plans A, B, C, or D (Spain, Germany, Denmark, Japan) as the supposed ‘clean energy economy’ successes. Nope. Those didn’t fare so well under scrutiny, so now Harry Reid has seen the future, and it works: ‘green energy’ in Red China.
Here’s to some fun walking through the vacuity of this latest comparison, a country whose average manufacturing job pays $0.64 per hour and which does not in fact mandate the things, but builds them to satisfy the vanity and lack of intellectual curiosity, or grasp, of Western politicians like Harry Reid.
Remember, this is the same team with the foresight to declare Denmark - a country with half the population of Manhattan - as a model for the U.S. energy economy (Oh yes, and China as a model for our high-speed rail future…)
Gallup has released results of its polling on the Paul Ryan Path to Prosperity. These are still just early results, but so far the plan is playing as well as could be expected with the public.
Another state has voted to limit the collective bargaining rights of public sector union workers, but without the political civil war that took place in Wisconsin. Why? Because the state in question was Massachusetts, and the legislators who did so were overwhelmingly Democratic. And the unions are none too happy about it.
“It’s pretty stunning,” said Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected. The same Democrats who we contributed to in their campaigns. The same Democrats who tell us over and over again that they’re with us, that they believe in collective bargaining, that they believe in unions… . It’s a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber.”
The bill faces an uncertain outcome in the state senate, but it cleared the house by 111 to 42 with the support of the Democratic speaker.
Ezra Klein argues that Paul Ryan’s budget is flawed in ways that render it an unserious entry into the budget debate, and he disagrees with me and Ross Douthat that the plan can be tweaked over time. Since I’d mostly be repeating what Ross Douthat says here, I’ll confine myself to just two responses. First, if you compare the Ryan budget to the president’s deficit-reduction proposals rather than the original Roadmap, I don’t think there is any question which makes a more serious and specific attempt to resolve the fiscal crisis. Second, even though the Republicans control the House, the simple fact is that this budget isn’t any more likely to become law in the near term than either the House Progressive Caucus’ budget or the Republican Study Committee’s. So that means Republicans can learn from the Ryan plan and make necessary changes before there’s any likelihood of it governing the country. Even Kemp-Roth was changed slightly by the Reagan administration to get it to become law.
You just have to love this kind of thing.
The story so far.
Sean Hannity anchors a superb hour last Friday detailing liberal bias in the media.
Included in the legion of examples presented (there’s literally decades of this stuff out there, how Hannity and his editors narrowed this down to a mere hour’s worth is surely a story in itself) was a clip from CNN’s Anderson Cooper reporting on the Valerie Plame–Joe Wilson episode.
Mr. Cooper has stepped forward to cry foul, which you can find here over at Mediaite. The essence of Cooper’s beef is that he, Cooper, was selectively edited, although he is careful not to accuse Hannity of doing it personally and deliberately, of which there is no evidence. Mediaite writer Jon Bershad is practically chortling in his white wine over the idea of nailing Hannity.
Take a very careful look at the clip Mr. Cooper submits to exonerate himself. Cooper presents himself as saying this, adding more after showing what he views as the correct version of what he said in his Wilson report for CNN:
COOPER: A former US diplomat who investigated Africa’s suspected link to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program now says he is the victim of a Bush administration smear campaign. Administration officials say former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s report on Niger last year supported the now discredited claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa.
Wilson said that is not true. He spoke exclusively to TIME magazine today. He accuses the Administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
Having presented the clip that he sees as correcting Hannity’s charge of bias, Cooper adds this:
COOPER: So, see the difference? I was relaying what Valerie Plame’s husband was now claiming, I wasn’t saying it was true. Anyway, I try to choose my words very carefully and I don’t like it when someone cuts around them to make it seem like I’m saying something I’m not. I’m going to assume that Mr. Hannity had no idea what his editors were up to. I would hate to think that he would knowingly falsely edit something to make a point. After all, that would be biased.”
He then adds Hannity to his segment’s “Ridiculist.” Gleefully (but of course) Mediaite’s Bershad piles on, mocking, Hannity and in that wonderfully familiar tone of… what are the words… oh yes… liberal bias writes admiringly that “Cooper, for his part, was incredibly forgiving in the correction.”
As they say in the trade: stop the tape.
Let’s go back to the piece of tape Mr. Cooper presents to defend himself, a piece of tape Cooper selects himself. Listen to it again and what does one hear? One hears these words, and I have taken the liberty of putting the key words in bold print:
New questions presents themselves now that we finally can put the ridiculous birth certificate issue to rest. (Even if Obama were born in Kenya, which never made sense, he would still be a “natural born American citizen” via his mother’s citizenship, just as any American born abroad — while the mother is travelling, for instance — is indeed a natural born citizen.) The Donald, otherwise a huckster of the first order, has asked the right questions going forward: How did Obama get into Occidental, and thence to Columbia, and thence to Harvard Law? Show us the transcripts!
Having said that, this is a question that the media should ask, but that conservatives should not push too hard. Why? Because it’s really really really stupid, in politics, to ask a question to which you do not know the likely answer. What if conservatives keep banging the drum on transcripts, and then at the most opportune moment the president releases transcripts showing straight ‘A’ scholarship? That would give him a boost when so many other things are rightly bringing him down. I think it is telling, and a highly cynical media manipulation by Obama, and a sign of a pathetically servile news media, that Obama actually asked for and was provided network time this morning to make a statement about the release of the birth certificate. It is a subject unworthy of such attention. And it lets him paint his adversaries as fringe elements — just at a time when his poll numbers are again reaching record lows as gas prices approach record highs.
I have a real suspicion that his grades were mediocre. I also wonder how he managed to rise so high on the Harvard Law Review without actually writing published articles. I also have trouble believing that he ended up in Chicago at all without help, even way back then, from Bill Ayers, whose tenure in and around Columbia overlapped his own.
But I don’t know any of those things for sure. It would be nice to find out. It’s just not politically wise for major conservatives, or for conservative activists, to be the ones overwhelmingly driving these questions. They are questions to which a reasonably competent establishment media would have demanded answers long ago. They are questions that ought to be run-of-the-mill. They are questions that ought to be answered. They are not, however, the sorts of questions that should be allowed to run out of control the way the birther questions did. The real reasons to vote against Obama have to do with his extreme leftist ideology, his horrendous record, and his insufferable arrogance that leads him to push the outer bounds (and probably exceed those bounds) of permissible executive authority. That record is enough to discredit him. If the transcripts discredit him further, so much the better. But if they are released and show him to have been a fine student, they should not be allowed to overshadow his other, dangerous deficiencies.
The White House has released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate.
I sincerely hope this matter will finally be put to rest. Yet I suspect that some people won’t accept that Barack Obama was born in the United States regardless of the evidence supplied. C’est la vie.
As for Donald Trump, one could argue that he made something out of nothing. On the other hand, I suspect Trump will take full credit for this disclosure and say that if not for him the White House would have never made the documentation public. His potential candidacy for the White House could gather even more steam.
Well, perhaps now we will be able to address the small matter of our national debt.
UPDATE: Trump does not disappoint. He tells reporters in New Hampshire, “Today I’m very proud of myself, because I’ve accomplished something that no one else has been able to accomplish. Our president has finally released a birth certificate.”
Ben Bernanke will give the first ever press conference by a Fed chairman today at 2:15 following the release of the Federal Open Markets Committee decision announcement (Fox Business)
CIA director Leon Panetta reportedly will succeed Robert Gates as secretary of defense (Politico)
The DNC tries to launch campaign to get Boehner to cut “tax breaks” for oil companies (Democrats.org)
Obama to visit Chicago to tape an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show (Lynn Sweet)
The Treasury has begun making plans for a failure to raise the debt ceiling (Washington Post)
On this day in 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act (History)
For those worried about China overtaking the U.S. — here’s video of a Chinese street-sweeper:
On the main site:
Comedy’s Lion in Winter, by Gerald Nachman: The great Mort Sahl is alive and well and performing near San Francisco.
What Professor Obama Doesn’t Understand, by Peter Ferrara: Our president is proudly, willfully ignorant of economics at even the most basic level.
The Party of Ryan or The Party of Trump?, by Aaron Goldstein: Do we really want to go from Barack to buffoon?
Too Messy Even for Liberals, by Jeff Walton: The Episcopal Church passes on ordaining scandalized former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey.
Why Not Santorum? by Lisa Fabrizio: A plain speaker in a mendacious political climate.
Marching for Frogs, by Robert James Bidinotto: Watch out for “Save the Frogs,” the latest eco-scare.
April Showers, by Quin Hillyer: Spring needn’t celebrate only that life which is new.
I sincerely hope Jeffrey Lord is right when he says that President Obama will not be re-elected.
I don’t discount the idea that the seeds have been sown for Obama’s defeat. Yet it remains to be seen if those seeds will blossom. After all, the election is still more than 18 months away and it is simply too soon to write Obama’s political obituary. I believe we lull ourselves into a false sense of security by adopting a mindset which cannot and will not consider the possibility Obama could win in 2012. Obama might not be competent at governing but he is more than competent when it comes to organizing people and money. Moreover, Obama will have most of the media in his corner once again. While we conservatives should plan for victory we should also plan for defeat. All possible outcomes must be considered including ones not to our liking. The worst thing you can do is to underestimate your opponent especially one that previously prevailed over you.
It is undoubtedly interesting to see both Lord and Eric Alterman compare President Obama to Jimmy Carter. But if Obama is going to be likened to the Man From Plains then I think one ought to ask where is Obama’s Ted Kennedy? If a Democrat were to challenge Obama in the caucuses and primaries I would be far more inclined to agree with Lord’s declaration. A formal challenge to Obama within the Democratic Party would reveal some very deep schisms over his agenda. While President Obama has been criticized from the Left on various matters I don’t think the disenchantment is such that Democrats are prepared to ex-communicate The Anointed One. At least not yet.
After Carter was defeated by Reagan in November 1980, The New York Times concluded, “On Election Day, Mr. Carter was the issue.” If Mr. Obama is the issue in November 2012 then Lord’s prediction will come to fruition. But as we all know at lot can happen between now and then which could cast President Obama in a positive light. And even if that doesn’t happen then his allies in the media will see to it that the light shines on him brightly regardless of our state of affairs.
I am not making the argument that President Obama can’t be defeated. He most certainly could. But this is hardly the time to be running a victory lap when we have yet to reach the starting gates.
Paul Krugman writes: ”…I see that John Taylor is peddling the zombie claim that there has been a huge expansion in the federal government under Obama.”
He produces this graph as evidence that there hasn’t been a huge expansion under Obama:
And he explains:
“Income security” is unemployment insurance, food stamps, SSI, refundable tax credits - in short, the social safety net. Medicaid is a means-tested program that also serves as part of the safety net. Yes, spending in these areas has surged - because the economy is depressed, and lots of people are unemployed.
What we’re seeing isn’t some drastic expansion of Big Government; we’re seeing the government we already had, responding to a terrible economic slump.
Krugman is right that automatic stabilizers and Medicaid have been the biggest drivers of the increase in spending so far. But the story is a little different when you look at those same numbers in absolute terms instead of growth rates (CBO data, in 2010 dollars):
As you can see, “everything else” is a much bigger category in absolute terms than one might guess from looking at Krugman’s graph.
But there’s still a weird element to this graph: the x-axis categories, again. Krugman includes two full years of the Bush administration (2007-2008) as Obama years. He explains that he used those divisions because 2007 was the last pre-recession year, and the recession has changed the size and composition of government outlays. The recession led to an increase in automatic stabilizer spending under Bush, too. In order to get a more direct comparison of Bush vs. Obama, I generated a graph illustrating Bush’s last two years vs. Obama’s first two:
By the growth of “everything else” in this graph, it looks like there has indeed been a “huge expansion” of the federal government under Obama, including both automatic stabilizers and everything else.
That being said, I don’t think that this is the best or even a good way to assess the growth of government under Obama. I would argue that there was a huge expansion of the federal government under Bush, so it by no means absolves Obama to say that he’s merely keeping pace with Bush’s spending increases. Furthermore, the biggest spending increase engineered by Obama — the health care bill — has not yet gone into effect.
But the suggestion that Obama hasn’t expanded the government at all, or the claim that “[t]he “Obama spending binge” was almost entirely mythical” (a claim Jonathan Chait makes based on Krugman’s post), is likely to lead readers away from the truth.
Today, Katie Couric formally confirmed what we have known for weeks - she’s leaving the anchor chair at CBS News. Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes is expected to be named her successor possibly as soon as next week.
Aside from being unable to lift CBS News out of the doldrums, Couric will be remembered for her Sarah Palin interview which Palin herself admits wasn’t her finest hour.
Yet when I think of Couric’s tenure at CBS News I think not of her interview with Palin but rather with the former Alaska Governor’s Democratic vice-presidential rival Joe Biden. This was the interview in which Couric asked Biden if he had to be “uber careful” while on the campaign trial. Biden not only said that he didn’t need to be careful but also told Couric that Franklin Delano Roosevelt went on television to talk to Americans about the 1929 stock market crash despite the fact FDR was neither President nor had TV been invented. And neither Ms. Couric nor the liberal media batted nary an eyelash. Of course, if Palin had made such a faux pas we would have never heard the end of it. Under those circumstances, Couric probably would have asked Palin to name FDR’s Secretary of the Treasury. But in this case it’s just Biden being Biden. So he gets no scrutiny. Nor do I think Couric would have made fun of Biden’s children.
Of course, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who sits in the anchor chair at CBS News or for that matter at ABC or NBC. They along with CNN, MSNBC, PBS and NPR will close ranks in support of President Obama. So perhaps in 2012, Biden will tell Scott Pelley how Woodrow Wilson went on radio to address the nation following the sinking of the Titanic.
At the wonderfully-named Catallaxy Files, my new favorite Australian Austrian economics blog, Sinclair Davidson catches Paul Krugman in an attempted deception.
Krugman reproduced this graph as evidence that “[t]he claim that only rich people pay taxes is a zombie lie - something that keeps coming back no matter how many times it’s killed by evidence”:
But Davidson isn’t having it. Notice the arbitrary groups on the x-axis: quintiles for the lower income groups, but increasingly smaller divisions for the top quintile. Davidson recreates the graph using uniform categories:
A totally different picture. The rich are paying the bulk of taxes. Krugman’s zombies are undead again.
Singer and guitarist Phoebe Snow passed away today due to complications of a stroke she suffered last year. She was 58.
Snow had a monster hit in 1975 with a song she wrote called “Poetry Man”. She also recorded a gospel inspired duet with Paul Simon called “Gone at Last.” Snow seemed on her way to superstardom. However, later that year, she gave birth to a daughter named Valerie who was severely disabled and required round the clock care. Instead of institutionalizing her daughter, Snow opted to take care of her at home on her own which she did until her death in 2007. Although music took a back seat Snow did sporadically record music and perform. At the time of her brain hemorrage, Snow was recording an album and planning to go on tour.
Here’s Snow performing “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” with Linda Ronstadt on a 1979 episode of Saturday Night Live.
Today’s USA Today/Gallup poll results bring good news for the GOP. Although the public has significant fears about the Paul Ryan plan for addressing entitlement spending, it looks like the opportunties for Democrats to capitalize on demagoguing the plan are limited.
First, the bad news: almost two-thirds of Americans think the Ryan plan will remove needed protections for the poor and disadvantaged to “protect the rich at the expense of everyone else.” Also, people are split between the Ryan plan and President Obama’s proposal.
The other responses, though, make it look like Republicans hold a strong hand in deficit negotiations. More than 75 percent of respondents think that the deficits resulted from too much spending as opposed to too little revenue, and a plurality believe that the problem should be addressed with mostly or entirely spending cuts. And when it comes to budget issues, the GOP holds a 12 percentage point trust advantage over Democrats.
The bottom line is that the Democrats early efforts to scare voters about the Republicans’ deficit plans have been a failure. That could change when voters learn more about the specifics included in the Path to Prosperity or as the elections approach, but for now the news is reassuring for Republicans trying to reform entitlements.
Ron Paul is forming an exploratory committee for a 2012 presidential bid, with a formal announcement to come later today in Iowa. Although not quite in the top tier, Paul polls better than Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, and Haley Barbour, who just took a pass on the race. If Paul runs, it will be his second Republican presidential campaign. He was the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988.
Greg Scandlen casts a skeptical eye on a Dartmouth Health Atlas study that claims to have found large, unexplained regional variations in Medicare use:
So the authors smugly assume that by adjusting for age, sex, race, and illness, they have eliminated any population differences that might contribute to different courses of treatment.
Golly, might there be anything else that distinguishes people in New York City from people in Ogden, Utah or Minot, North Dakota that might cause one population to be treated differently at the end of their lives? Let’s put on our thinking caps and noodle on this really, really hard.
Just maybe some people have different family structures and living conditions that enable them to stay at home during their last days, and just maybe these conditions are more favorable in Ogden and Minot than in New York. Conditions such as:
- Owning their own homes.
- Having intact families around, including adult children.
- Being strongly religious, especially Mormon in Ogden.
- Living in the same community all their lives.
- Residing in one or two story homes, rather than walk-up apartments.
- Having well-established networks of friends and civic associations.
- Enjoying a low rate of crime.
One final thought: If you download the study and look at the pretty maps, you will notice an almost perfect correlation between the areas where people most often die in the hospital and the areas where people are most likely to vote for Democrats. So here is another variable that stands out - the political orientation of the population. Is it possible that Democratic patients have an entitlement mentality that demands they be taken care of, while Republican patients are more self-reliant? Inquiring minds want to know.
A worthwhile question.
Ron Paul to announce the formation of a presidential election exploratory committtee (Newsmax)
Ford announces largest quarterly profit since 1998 (New York Times)
President Obama to do another round of local TV interviews; hoping to avoid testy exchanges this time (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
NFL players may show up for training as judge orders end to owners’ lockout; owners are appealing the ruling (ESPN)
John Boehner noncommittal about allowing debt ceiling vote before limit reached (Politico)
Jimmy Carter arrives in North Korea for nuclear disarmament discussions (Bloomberg)
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker tied with former senator Russ Feingold in theoretical recall matchup (TPM)
Grover Norquist lays out the case for spending-only debt cuts:
Today on the main site:
Supreme Court Allows Obamacare to Metastasize, by David Catron: With 11 words, the Court may have assured PPACA’s future as the driver of U.S. health care.
Obamaflation Arrives, by Jeffrey Lord: President Obama will not be re-elected. Period.
Newt’s Greatest Liability, by Daniel Allott: It’s not just the Religious Right that disdains marital infidelity.
Kangaroo Courts for Kangaroos, by Hal G.P. Colebatch: And don’t forget, dingoes have property rights too.
Two Fries Shy of a Happy Meal, by Ralph R. Reiland: A do-gooder Californian doesn’t like her little daughter’s appetite for toys and so is suing McDonald’s.
Redford’s Conspirator Fails to Delegitimize Military Tribunals, by Christopher N. Malagisi: Bad news for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Always Leave Them Laughing, by John R. Coyne, Jr.: Paul Johnson knows everything about history — and humor.
As if President Obama didn’t have enough problems with the Debt crisis, the Middle East crisis, the Energy crisis, and the Easter proclamation crisis, “Hub” Schlafly, inventor of the TelePrompTer, has died at 91.
By Asher Embry
At half-mast, White House flags will be;
O mourns his idol, “Hub” Schlafly.
Invented TelePrompTer box;
The irony: he worked for Fox.
(You can read more of Asher Embry’s Political Verse at www.politicalverse.com.)
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is not running for president in 2012, saying he didn’t have the certainty or all-consuming fire that a presidential bid requires. I’m genuinely surprised. Every indication I’d seen from the Barbour camp made it look like all systems were go. This marginally increases the chances of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels getting in the race.
The elite law firm King & Spalding has ordered one of its top attorneys, former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, to suspend his work on behalf of the Defense of Marriage Act. This in response to political pressure from the gay lobby and other left-wing interest groups that would like to kill the institution of marriage and replace it with something more nebulous and ill-defined.
Clement, to his personal and professional credit, has resigned from King & Spalding so that he can continue to represent the House of Representatives in this important legal case.
But what’s notable is the blatant politicization of the legal profession that this turn of events epitomizes. Elite law firms traditionally have said that they represent unsavory clients and unpopular causes not because they necessarily like these clients or agree with these causes, but because significant legal principles and the rule of law are at stake.
In the United States everyone has a constitutional right to legal representation. In our adversary legal system, justice and the rule of law depends upon effective legal counsel in the courtroom.
That’s why, we were lectured, back during the Bush administration, top law firms were practically falling over themselves to represent terrorist suspects at Gitmo. But apparently, some causes, such as traditional marriage, are just too “extreme” and beyond the pale to warrant legal representation.
I mean, come now: The nation’s top law firms do have their limits! Such is the Orwellian world in which we now live.
Equally ironic is that King & Spalding brags about its commitment to “diversity.” But of course, by this they mean racial and gender diversity. Diversity of thought and legal representation is an altogether different and unheralded matter. Diversity there doesn’t count and, in fact, is to be shunned and denied. Orwellian indeed.
By now, you’ve no doubt seen that former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement had to resign from King Spalding and join Viet Dinh’s Bancroft to continue his defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. Clement says he isn’t just quitting over DOMA itself: “Instead, I resign out of the firmly-held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters.”
Huffington Post reported last week on a testy exchange between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Sen. Rand Paul while Ryan was briefing Senate Republicans on his 2012 budget proposal, which has already passed the House. Rand Paul has proposed a budget that balances within five years while Ryan’s takes years to reach principal balance.
Sen. Paul said Rep. Ryan’s plan did not do enough to cut spending and relied on too much deficit spending for too long, according to the aides.
Ryan gave it right back to him. The budget committee chairman went directly after Sen. Paul’s five-year budget plan, which he had clearly studied closely. Ryan’s criticism went roughly like this: yes, he said, you slash the Department of Education and make fast, dramatic cuts, but you don’t deal with entitlement spending. In the out years the deficit would sky-rocket, he said, making an air chart with his hand moving through the air and pointing sharply upward.
The story goes on to note that Paul is planning separate proposals for dealing with entitlements, and has already teamed with Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Social Security reform — the one entitlement untouched by the Ryan budget. As my column today makes clear, I’m sympathetic to the broad outlines of what Ryan is trying to do and obviously I’m in agreement with Ross Douthat here:
The goal for conservatives, ultimately, has to be a sustainable right-of-center entitlement reform. If the Ryan budget is understood as a first step toward such a reform - a bold initial statement that establishes the G.O.P.’s seriousness on the deficit, provides a rough draft for later legislative efforts, and sets the stage for fruitful discussion and debate - then it will have served its purpose. If it’s treated as scripture that can’t be compromised or altered, then we’re all going to be in a lot of trouble.
Nevertheless, I do think there is something to Rand Paul’s critique. In addition to a blueprint going forward, Republicans need to contemplate what they can do right now. As I said in this earlier post, there are pitfalls to relying too heavily on the fiscal responsibility of future majorites, and not just Democratic ones. Significant parts of the Gingrich Congress’ legacy, for example, were undone by future Republican Congresses.
From Politico’s “Morning Energy”:
TOTAL RECALL - If environmentalists are going to get results in their push for clean energy, they need to pipe down about climate change and speak up about national security and job creation, Arnold Schwarzenegger told college energy clubs on a recent conference call [with Energy Secretary Steven Chu].
Er, that’s not even selective memory. More like amnesia. I understand the part about running from your Plan A — after all, this very marching order first came from pollster Stanley Greenberg and led to John Kerry saying of his cap-and-trade bill “This is not an environment bill” (oddly, it amended the Clean Air Act, granted power to EPA, mentions ‘environment’ 97 times, ‘climate’ 220 times, ‘greenhouse’ 650 more times…but, hey, the pollster said say something else!).
But the Secretary and Governator are also forgetting that the damage these policies wreak has been specifically, thoroughly and professionally exposed as regards the very countries Obama used to tell us to look because they were his models (Spain, Denmark, Germany; the sole exception not receiving the full review is Japan).
He no longer cites them, obviously due to said exposés, but he still pushes the costly schemes (he knows, and cares not. That is disturbing).
Now they’re going to say ‘China!’. Which was not their first choice, but fifth, for a reason: to compare us with them is absurd.
And so about that ‘security’ thing.
Recall the recent ‘gathering storm’ (yes, Germans actually wrote that) and ‘it gets dark in Germany’ headlines. Now those headlines are popping up here, and for the same reason. Consider Climate Wire today (subscription required):
“RENEWABLE ENERGY: Fickle winds, intermittent sunshine start to stress U.S. power system”.
Keep that one handy for in the event O repeats his German example, which he seems to be holding on to in reserve, having whipped it out when he though no one was listening (in a Saturday radio address in December), but has otherwise avoided after Spain, Denmark and Germany were exposed. Such praise went the way praise for transport model, China, may now go (thanks to WaPo!)…though, as with renewables, the rail agenda itself will surely hang on, with only the rhetorical hints about where to look for how the story ends abandoned.
More on the importance of WaPo debunking the ‘China’s doing it!’ TP on high-speed rail later. But do bear in mind the relevance of one story to the other. The truth is that the president, like the movement he represents, opposes automobility and abundant energy because both liberate you. Just as George Will wrote about why liberals love trains, freedom of movement like abundant energy is “subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends [and …] encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.”
As regards their ‘say anything’ approach to create the world they seek to create, just remember as Mr. Alinsky taught them, the issue isn’t the issue. The reason (excuse) for doing what they demand is always changing, and this is because ere is no good reason for doing it. But if they told you what they really longed for it would be a non-starter. Which, in itself, is reason enough to stop this madness now.
Jim Pinkerton argues that Barack Obama can channel Harry Truman by running for reelection against a Republican Congress that misunderstood its mandate and tried to unravel the New Deal. Pinkerton:
The strategy of targeting the Republican Congress worked for Truman in 1948. Not only did the 33rd president score a come-from-behind victory over the hapless Dewey on November 2, but his coattails brought huge Democratic gains in both the Senate and the House—nine Senate seats, 75 House seats—bringing Democrats back into a substantial majority.
To sum up, Truman turned the ‘48 election into a referendum on the New Deal and the welfare state. Thanks to Truman’s efforts, in the minds of the voters, the choice was clear: Vote Truman and Democratic and keep the New Deal, or vote Republican and end the New Deal.
Pinkerton is right in two important respects: Harry Truman was closer to the American majority on size-of-government questions in 1948 and consequently beat the Taft Republicans in that election. But as I’ve argued elsewhere, the “Do Nothing” Congress had policy accomplishments that far outlasted its electoral majorities.
For starters, the 80th Congress did not try to repeal the New Deal. But when it did try to pare it back, it didn’t tinker around the edges. Wartime price controls were repealed. The closed shop was banned. The national health insurance program Pinkerton mentions in his column was defeated. Food stamps and embryonic federal subsidies for child care were abolished. And the federal role in the middle-class housing market was sharply limited. Virtually every one of these accomplishments significantly outlasted the Republicans’ congressional majority, with some lasting until today. The Truman health care, which was to the left of Obamacare, never became law. The spending that Congress cut largely stayed cut. A European-style economy and polity was avoided.
That doesn’t necessarily mean a confrontation between Obama and the Paul Ryan Republicans would end as well today. Obama has passed much of his legislative program and the Republicans haven’t cut anywhere nearly as much spending. The enactment of the Ryan plan would require lasting Republican majorities, not evanescent majorities. But given the stakes, that may well be an argument for moving boldly and decisively where possible and letting the political chips fall where they may. In other words, it may be as much of an argument against plans that require permanent Republican majorities as it is an argument for Republican passivity in the face of burgeoning debt and increasingly insolvent entitlements.
Biden economic adviser and stimulus advocate Jared Bernstein to leave the administration (Fox News)
The White House Easter Egg Roll is today (New York Times)
Wikileaks released stash of documents related to Guantanamo Bay (Miami Herald)
Gabby Giffords cleared to attend husband’s space shuttle launch (Huffington Post)
On this day in 1945, American and Russian forces link up in Berlin (History)
Earth Day hymns:
On the main site:
Obama’s Machete Hacks Up Pentagon Budget, by Jed Babbin: The one real cut in federal spending he’s proposed.
The Democrats’ War on Paul Ryan, by W. James Antle, III: It sounds very much like the liberal warnings against welfare reform.
Donald Trump’s Miracle Presidential Win, by John C. Wohlstetter: Here’s how it happened — and why.
Obama Faces Hard Times with Catholic Voters, by Deal W. Hudson & Matt Smith: He’ll have to do better than Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Bloomberg’s Out on Broadway, by RiShawn Biddle: That’s what he gets for going for a third term.
My Daughter’s Sikh Wedding, by Jonathan Aitken: Fortunately (from a new father-in-law’s point of view), media portrayals of the Sikhs are false and terribly unfair.
Preening to the Converted, by James Bowman: Why would a lovely, revelatory talent like Joyce DiDonato bad-mouth Fox News?
Canada’s election is one week away and the story of the election campaign Jack Layton and his New Democratic Party (NDP). (And yes, I used to be a member of the NDP.)
At the beginning of the campaign, the NDP was an afterthought. However, after strong performances in both the English and French language debates, Layton and the NDP have surged in the polls bumping the Liberals out of second place. The NDP has done particularly well in Quebec where it has rarely won seats. This unexpected development has the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and even the governing Conservatives are now directing their attention towards the NDP.
Should the NDP finish with the second most seats in the House of Commons it would be the first time that has happened in its fifty year history. Becoming the official opposition would be precedent in its own right. But if Stephen Harper and the Tories once again fail to secure a majority of seats there is a chance that Layton could become Canada’s first socialist Prime Minister. Of course, Stephen Harper and the Tories would get first crack at forming another minority government. However, Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff today indicated he would be willing to work with Layton even if it means Layton gets the keys to 24 Sussex Drive (the Canadian equivalent of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.) Ignatieff’s willingness to work with the NDP hasn’t prevented him from calling the NDP platform “science fiction” and “amateur.” But I guess Ignatieff will accept the NDP’s science fiction and amateur approach if it means he becomes Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Of course, a week in politics is a lifetime. It’s more than enough time for Canadian voters to have second thoughts about handing over the reins to the NDP. Given that Ignatieff has now given Layton his blessing it gives Harper a chance to paint the NDP and the Liberals with the same brush.
Should Jack Layton and the NDP take the lead in Canada’s next Parliament I think they will learn the hard way that governing isn’t easy, that most of their prescriptions are impractical and they will soon be overwhelmed by the task before them. In short, Jack Layton would be the Canadian version of Barack Obama.
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.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?