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Flotsam and Jetsam

A smart take from Dan Gerstein on the dangers of Obama’s passivity in dealing with his party’s Congressional leaders. Both on the stimulus and on the Pelosi/CIA flap, Obama failed to take charge — and suffered the consequences.

Arlen Specter leaps forward as a character witness for Nancy Pelosi. No really — you can’t make this stuff up.

Your tax dollars at work, according to a Joseph Abrams Fox News report: “The federal government is spending $178,000 to better understand why drug-abusing prostitutes in Thailand are at greater risk for HIV infection, an endeavor taxpayer watchdogs are calling a huge waste of American taxpayers’ money.. . Researchers plan to interview 60 sex workers — 36 women and 24 kathoey [transgender prostitutes] — to understand the factors that make the prostitutes susceptible to HIV, including economic pressure, sex-change operations, their heavy use of drugs and a Buddhist fatalism that keeps them feeling resigned to their fate.”

As I noted yesterday, New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan has some . .  er . . . interesting urban policy ideas. The latest: “‘Job growth and business growth are critical, but also to some extent downsizing the city is, too,’ Lonegan told the paper. ‘You have neighborhoods in Camden I’ve visited that are boarded-up. They should be leveled. Why not make them into parks or forests?’” Some New Jersey politicians have taken offense at the image of bulldozing the Garden State’s urban areas (imagine that!). The latest poll (before this flap) has Lonegan trailing Chris Christie by 23 points.

A typical “process” story suggesting Pelosi’s real sin was “going off script.” No, it was lying about her involvement in the enhanced interrogation policies while conducting a witch hunt against others involved in the development of those policies. There is no script to get you through that one.

Karl Rove gets to the heart of the Obama about-faces: “Mr. Obama’s appealing campaign images turned out to have been fleeting. He ran hard to the left on national security to win the nomination, only to discover the campaign commitments he made were shallow and at odds with America’s security interests. Mr. Obama ran hard to the center on economic issues to win the general election. He has since discovered his campaign commitments were obstacles to ramming through the most ideologically liberal economic agenda since the Great Society. Mr. Obama either had very little grasp of what governing would involve or, if he did, he used words meant to mislead the public. Neither option is particularly encouraging.”

Not good: “The Federal Reserve’s latest forecasts for the U.S. economy are gloomier than the ones released three months earlier, with an expectation for higher unemployment and a steeper drop in economic activity.” The Fed now says  unemployment will be between 9.2% and 9.6% (not 8.5% to 8.8%) and  GDP will drop of between 1.3% and 2%, not the previous estimate of just a 0.5% to 1.3% drop.

James Capretta warns: “Democrats in Congress are bravely marching ahead with their plans to pass a $1 trillion-plus health-care plan. To succeed, they have to get their rank and file members to support massive tax hikes and arbitrary price controls in Medicare. If nothing else, the latest white paper from Senator Baucus should makes it clear that Republicans have nothing to gain by helping them.”


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