Commentary Magazine


Posts For: December 24, 2009

Vatican’s Pius Plea Does Little to Help

Catholic-Jewish relations have gotten shakier since the death of Pope John Paul II and the accession of his successor Pope Benedict XVI. John Paul was an extraordinary and historic figure. Having grown up among Jews and witnessed the Holocaust in Poland, the late pope had a special understanding of the difficult issues as well as of the history of persecution that divided Catholics and Jews. Building on the work of Pope John XXIII, John Paul helped reverse centuries of the teaching of contempt for Judaism that marked so much of Catholic thinking. In his comments as well as his actions—it was during his reign that the Vatican finally recognized the State of Israel—the pope exemplified a new spirit of reconciliation that did honor to his church as well as to the whole of humanity.

There is no reason to believe that Benedict XVI would like to change any of this. Indeed, he was a bulwark of his predecessor’s efforts. But the German-born Benedict has none of John Paul’s charm or his innate feel for what to say. Even when controversies arise that are not entirely his fault, the pontiff and his advisers tend to strike the wrong note, especially when it comes to the church’s contacts with Jews, as his blunder in revoking the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop revealed earlier this year.

The latest instance of Benedict’s maladroit manner comes with a Vatican statement yesterday, which claimed that the pope’s decision to move wartime Pope Pius XII closer to sainthood status “is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church.”

This past weekend, Benedict confirmed the “heroic virtues” of Pius—as well as those of John Paul II. This means that either would be beatified once a miracle is attributed to each. Sainthood could be conferred once a second miracle is credited to them.

The move to beautify Pius is a sore point for Jews who see him as, at best, an ineffectual moral leader who did little or nothing to save the victims of the Holocaust. Though some Catholics have expended a great deal of energy in defending or rationalizing his record, it has done little to reclaim his reputation. Pius was a careful politician who took few risks in his relations with the Nazis when what the world needed then was a man of sufficient moral stature to stand up against them and to excommunicate any Catholic who was part of the German war and extermination machines.

Coupling Pius with the truly saintly John Paul may be the Vatican’s attempt to dampen down the controversy but it is a mistake. The fact is, the more the church talks about this issue the worse it gets. Nevertheless, Jewish groups that chose to make a major issue out of this are also making a mistake. As much as Jews and other people of good conscience may be pained by the elevation of Pius, the question of who is or is not a Catholic saint is a strictly Catholic affair. It is not the business of the Jews or Protestants or anyone else to tell Catholics what they should believe any more than it would be the business of Catholics to tell others how to worship.

But if Pope Benedict wishes to emulate the path blazed by John Paul than he is going to have to realize that the series of blunders he has committed may well be interpreted as “hostile” acts that signal a reversal of the good feelings that his predecessor created. At a time when militant Islam is still on the rise in the world, threatening the entire West, both Jews and Catholics do well to concentrate on what they have in common rather than to pointlessly exacerbate theological or historical differences. That is a lesson that Pope Benedict should take to heart.

Catholic-Jewish relations have gotten shakier since the death of Pope John Paul II and the accession of his successor Pope Benedict XVI. John Paul was an extraordinary and historic figure. Having grown up among Jews and witnessed the Holocaust in Poland, the late pope had a special understanding of the difficult issues as well as of the history of persecution that divided Catholics and Jews. Building on the work of Pope John XXIII, John Paul helped reverse centuries of the teaching of contempt for Judaism that marked so much of Catholic thinking. In his comments as well as his actions—it was during his reign that the Vatican finally recognized the State of Israel—the pope exemplified a new spirit of reconciliation that did honor to his church as well as to the whole of humanity.

There is no reason to believe that Benedict XVI would like to change any of this. Indeed, he was a bulwark of his predecessor’s efforts. But the German-born Benedict has none of John Paul’s charm or his innate feel for what to say. Even when controversies arise that are not entirely his fault, the pontiff and his advisers tend to strike the wrong note, especially when it comes to the church’s contacts with Jews, as his blunder in revoking the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop revealed earlier this year.

The latest instance of Benedict’s maladroit manner comes with a Vatican statement yesterday, which claimed that the pope’s decision to move wartime Pope Pius XII closer to sainthood status “is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church.”

This past weekend, Benedict confirmed the “heroic virtues” of Pius—as well as those of John Paul II. This means that either would be beatified once a miracle is attributed to each. Sainthood could be conferred once a second miracle is credited to them.

The move to beautify Pius is a sore point for Jews who see him as, at best, an ineffectual moral leader who did little or nothing to save the victims of the Holocaust. Though some Catholics have expended a great deal of energy in defending or rationalizing his record, it has done little to reclaim his reputation. Pius was a careful politician who took few risks in his relations with the Nazis when what the world needed then was a man of sufficient moral stature to stand up against them and to excommunicate any Catholic who was part of the German war and extermination machines.

Coupling Pius with the truly saintly John Paul may be the Vatican’s attempt to dampen down the controversy but it is a mistake. The fact is, the more the church talks about this issue the worse it gets. Nevertheless, Jewish groups that chose to make a major issue out of this are also making a mistake. As much as Jews and other people of good conscience may be pained by the elevation of Pius, the question of who is or is not a Catholic saint is a strictly Catholic affair. It is not the business of the Jews or Protestants or anyone else to tell Catholics what they should believe any more than it would be the business of Catholics to tell others how to worship.

But if Pope Benedict wishes to emulate the path blazed by John Paul than he is going to have to realize that the series of blunders he has committed may well be interpreted as “hostile” acts that signal a reversal of the good feelings that his predecessor created. At a time when militant Islam is still on the rise in the world, threatening the entire West, both Jews and Catholics do well to concentrate on what they have in common rather than to pointlessly exacerbate theological or historical differences. That is a lesson that Pope Benedict should take to heart.

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Blind Leftist Squirrel Finds His Global Warming Acorn

There are some people who are so odious that when you find yourself on the same side of an issue with them, your first instinct must be to question whether you were right in the first place. Alexander Cockburn is certainly such a person. He is a rabid leftist, apologist for totalitarians and a vicious hater of Israel. From his perch as editor of his own rag CounterPunch and as a columnist for the Nation, he has spewed forth nonsense and bile for a long time. But like the proverbial blind squirrel, it appears as though even Cockburn is capable of finding an acorn. That is the only way to explain the utterly rational and completely on-target attack on the Copenhagen Global Warming jamboree and the entire Climategate cover-up that he has written for the Nation and which can be read for free at RealClearPolitics.com.

The headline on the version of the piece that appeared in the Nation aptly summed up the way in which the belief that global warming is caused by human activity is now more a matter of religious faith than of rational science: “From Nicea to Copenhagen.” He describes Copenhagen as “surely the most outlandish foray into intellectual fantasizing since the fourth-century Christian bishops assembled in 325 AD for the Council of Nicaea to debate whether God the Father was supreme or had to share equal status in the pecking order of eternity with his Son and the Holy Ghost.”

Making the same point that Bret Stephens highlighted with greater clarity in the Wall Street Journal on December 1, Cockburn shows that money is more of a motivation for the environmental alarmists than for the skeptics:

It has been a standard ploy of the Warmers to revile the skeptics as whores of the energy industry, swaddled in munificent grants and with large personal stakes in discrediting AGW. Actually, the precise opposite is true. Billions in funding and research grants sluice into the big climate-modeling enterprises and a vast archipelago of research departments and “institutes of climate change” across academia. It’s where the money is. Skepticism, particularly for a young climatologist or atmospheric physicist, can be a career breaker.

He goes on to nail the Climategate e-mails as indicative of the falsity of the theory that global warming is caused by mankind and rightly notes that such corruption is far from uncommon in the sciences.

Cockburn is, of course, a marginal figure even on the Left; so his apostasy from the true faith on warming, which is itself a derivative of the Left’s antagonism to capitalism, is just a pinprick in the vast body of unthinking consensus that characterizes most of the media’s commentary on this issue. But his voice is just one more being raised to say that the emperors who met in Copenhagen have no clothes on. As such, no matter how distasteful it may be to find oneself in agreement with him, it must be considered a hopeful sign.

There are some people who are so odious that when you find yourself on the same side of an issue with them, your first instinct must be to question whether you were right in the first place. Alexander Cockburn is certainly such a person. He is a rabid leftist, apologist for totalitarians and a vicious hater of Israel. From his perch as editor of his own rag CounterPunch and as a columnist for the Nation, he has spewed forth nonsense and bile for a long time. But like the proverbial blind squirrel, it appears as though even Cockburn is capable of finding an acorn. That is the only way to explain the utterly rational and completely on-target attack on the Copenhagen Global Warming jamboree and the entire Climategate cover-up that he has written for the Nation and which can be read for free at RealClearPolitics.com.

The headline on the version of the piece that appeared in the Nation aptly summed up the way in which the belief that global warming is caused by human activity is now more a matter of religious faith than of rational science: “From Nicea to Copenhagen.” He describes Copenhagen as “surely the most outlandish foray into intellectual fantasizing since the fourth-century Christian bishops assembled in 325 AD for the Council of Nicaea to debate whether God the Father was supreme or had to share equal status in the pecking order of eternity with his Son and the Holy Ghost.”

Making the same point that Bret Stephens highlighted with greater clarity in the Wall Street Journal on December 1, Cockburn shows that money is more of a motivation for the environmental alarmists than for the skeptics:

It has been a standard ploy of the Warmers to revile the skeptics as whores of the energy industry, swaddled in munificent grants and with large personal stakes in discrediting AGW. Actually, the precise opposite is true. Billions in funding and research grants sluice into the big climate-modeling enterprises and a vast archipelago of research departments and “institutes of climate change” across academia. It’s where the money is. Skepticism, particularly for a young climatologist or atmospheric physicist, can be a career breaker.

He goes on to nail the Climategate e-mails as indicative of the falsity of the theory that global warming is caused by mankind and rightly notes that such corruption is far from uncommon in the sciences.

Cockburn is, of course, a marginal figure even on the Left; so his apostasy from the true faith on warming, which is itself a derivative of the Left’s antagonism to capitalism, is just a pinprick in the vast body of unthinking consensus that characterizes most of the media’s commentary on this issue. But his voice is just one more being raised to say that the emperors who met in Copenhagen have no clothes on. As such, no matter how distasteful it may be to find oneself in agreement with him, it must be considered a hopeful sign.

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Too Late?

Clinton secretary of commerce and member of a Democratic political dynasty, William M. Daley, sounds the warning for his party. He sees “political dangers” and “ominous poll results.” The Democrats, he says, are drifting too far Left, scaring Americans and risking a political catastrophe. He observes “the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.” What to do? It is not a difficult fix, he says:

All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan.

Well, it’s harder than it sounds because early this morning on a straight party line vote the Democrats in the Senate passed a huge government power grab. In the words of Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from the floor “we’re left with party line votes in the middle of the night, a couple of sweetheart deals to get it over the finish line, and a public that’s outraged.” So does the Democratic majority and White House want to implement the course correction suggested by Daley and dump the whole thing? And what about their plans  for a massive tax hike in the guise of letting the Bush tax cuts expire?

You see, to move back to the center, the Democrats and the White House would have to do a political about-face and repudiate a year of tax-and-spend policies. That might be advisable, but how likely is it? Not very. After all, Democrats fought tooth and nail for ObamaCare and Nancy Pelosi made her troops walk the plank on cap-and-trade. Daley says that if the Democrats would only follow his advice, “it may be too late to avoid some losses in 2010, [but] it is not too late to avoid the kind of rout that redraws the political map.” But they can’t–they’ve made their policy and political choices. If Daley is correct, then, after a year of Obamaism, we may be looking forward to that redrawn political map.

Clinton secretary of commerce and member of a Democratic political dynasty, William M. Daley, sounds the warning for his party. He sees “political dangers” and “ominous poll results.” The Democrats, he says, are drifting too far Left, scaring Americans and risking a political catastrophe. He observes “the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.” What to do? It is not a difficult fix, he says:

All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan.

Well, it’s harder than it sounds because early this morning on a straight party line vote the Democrats in the Senate passed a huge government power grab. In the words of Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from the floor “we’re left with party line votes in the middle of the night, a couple of sweetheart deals to get it over the finish line, and a public that’s outraged.” So does the Democratic majority and White House want to implement the course correction suggested by Daley and dump the whole thing? And what about their plans  for a massive tax hike in the guise of letting the Bush tax cuts expire?

You see, to move back to the center, the Democrats and the White House would have to do a political about-face and repudiate a year of tax-and-spend policies. That might be advisable, but how likely is it? Not very. After all, Democrats fought tooth and nail for ObamaCare and Nancy Pelosi made her troops walk the plank on cap-and-trade. Daley says that if the Democrats would only follow his advice, “it may be too late to avoid some losses in 2010, [but] it is not too late to avoid the kind of rout that redraws the political map.” But they can’t–they’ve made their policy and political choices. If Daley is correct, then, after a year of Obamaism, we may be looking forward to that redrawn political map.

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Re: The Culture of Corruption

Pete, your focus on the fundamental corruption at the heart of the Senate bill is, I think, exactly right and that corruption rather extraordinary. In the days after the Senate cloture vote on the health-care bill, you would think the mainstream media would be touting the bill’s benefits and focusing on the huge “win” for the president. But instead the buzz in both the mainstream and conservative media has not been about the merits of the “historic” legislation but about the backroom deals necessary to achieve its passage, which its sponsors assure us will usher in a wonderful era of improved health-care access and care.

We’re going to remember for years to come the names of the deals, just as surely as did the infamous Bridge to Nowhere become part of the political vocabulary: Louisiana Purchase, Cornhusker Kickback, U Con, Bayh Off, Handout Montana, and Gator Aid. Vermont and Massachusetts got billions more in Medicare funding. Sen. Roland Burris managed to slip in some funding for none other than ACORN, under the guise of improving minority community health. The scope and number of the deals are breathtaking, but it goes beyond the unseemliness of the average pork-barrel bill.

After all, this is not merely a transportation appropriations bill where the whole point is to dole out federal monies and the “game” is for each lawmaker to grab as much of the pie as possible for his own constituents. That might be distasteful to legislative purists and raise doubts as to whether all the money is being wisely spent. But it’s just about spreading the largess. In a case of transportation pork, one district gets a bike path and another doesn’t get the highway off-ramp, but neither district probably needed the project anyway.

In the case of health care, however, the bill rests on the premise that we are improving access to care and working toward a healthier society, reducing the problem of haves and have-nots. For decades that is how health-care “reform” has been sold by liberals.

But instead, what we “get” for health-care sweetheart deals is a new regime of rationed care, which will primarily impact the elderly. The nauseating plethora of backroom deals and special carve-outs for this or that state in health-care “reform,” therefore, is more egregious, and thus more politically toxic.

A central feature of this bill is the $500B cuts in Medicare funding, including slashing the popular Medicare Advantage plan and the imposition of a newly beefed-up Medicare Advisory Board, which will be empowered to devise new ways of cutting payments to doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and other health-care providers. In the absence of any real reform measures, the only feasible way to control costs is limiting care—i.e., rationing. Medicare already denies medical claims at double the rate of many large private insurers. And with $500B or so less to work with, many more Medicare claims will be denied.

This is what the Cornhusker Kickback and the rest of the bribe-a-thon are enabling. The Senate bill spared voters in a few states the harshest impact of the new care-depriving regime so that the same regime could be foisted on the entire country. Connecticut voters get $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits, Vermont voters get $10B in health-care centers, and hospitals in North Dakota and Iowa get richer Medicare reimbursement rates. Those deals made possible reduced rates of reimbursement and Medicare funding for the rest of the country, rates so paltry and unacceptable to a few key senators that they had to use all their pull to spare their own states. If it is unacceptable for them, why must the rest of the country live with it?

The colorfully named backroom deals may well induce a fiery public backlash, complicating the bill’s passage and negating any political benefit derived by its proponents. Voters will discover not only the ugly side of secret deals; they may also figure out that the moral justification for health care has been jettisoned by those who used their clout to squeeze care for millions of voters while sparing themselves the worst of that backlash.

Pete, your focus on the fundamental corruption at the heart of the Senate bill is, I think, exactly right and that corruption rather extraordinary. In the days after the Senate cloture vote on the health-care bill, you would think the mainstream media would be touting the bill’s benefits and focusing on the huge “win” for the president. But instead the buzz in both the mainstream and conservative media has not been about the merits of the “historic” legislation but about the backroom deals necessary to achieve its passage, which its sponsors assure us will usher in a wonderful era of improved health-care access and care.

We’re going to remember for years to come the names of the deals, just as surely as did the infamous Bridge to Nowhere become part of the political vocabulary: Louisiana Purchase, Cornhusker Kickback, U Con, Bayh Off, Handout Montana, and Gator Aid. Vermont and Massachusetts got billions more in Medicare funding. Sen. Roland Burris managed to slip in some funding for none other than ACORN, under the guise of improving minority community health. The scope and number of the deals are breathtaking, but it goes beyond the unseemliness of the average pork-barrel bill.

After all, this is not merely a transportation appropriations bill where the whole point is to dole out federal monies and the “game” is for each lawmaker to grab as much of the pie as possible for his own constituents. That might be distasteful to legislative purists and raise doubts as to whether all the money is being wisely spent. But it’s just about spreading the largess. In a case of transportation pork, one district gets a bike path and another doesn’t get the highway off-ramp, but neither district probably needed the project anyway.

In the case of health care, however, the bill rests on the premise that we are improving access to care and working toward a healthier society, reducing the problem of haves and have-nots. For decades that is how health-care “reform” has been sold by liberals.

But instead, what we “get” for health-care sweetheart deals is a new regime of rationed care, which will primarily impact the elderly. The nauseating plethora of backroom deals and special carve-outs for this or that state in health-care “reform,” therefore, is more egregious, and thus more politically toxic.

A central feature of this bill is the $500B cuts in Medicare funding, including slashing the popular Medicare Advantage plan and the imposition of a newly beefed-up Medicare Advisory Board, which will be empowered to devise new ways of cutting payments to doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and other health-care providers. In the absence of any real reform measures, the only feasible way to control costs is limiting care—i.e., rationing. Medicare already denies medical claims at double the rate of many large private insurers. And with $500B or so less to work with, many more Medicare claims will be denied.

This is what the Cornhusker Kickback and the rest of the bribe-a-thon are enabling. The Senate bill spared voters in a few states the harshest impact of the new care-depriving regime so that the same regime could be foisted on the entire country. Connecticut voters get $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits, Vermont voters get $10B in health-care centers, and hospitals in North Dakota and Iowa get richer Medicare reimbursement rates. Those deals made possible reduced rates of reimbursement and Medicare funding for the rest of the country, rates so paltry and unacceptable to a few key senators that they had to use all their pull to spare their own states. If it is unacceptable for them, why must the rest of the country live with it?

The colorfully named backroom deals may well induce a fiery public backlash, complicating the bill’s passage and negating any political benefit derived by its proponents. Voters will discover not only the ugly side of secret deals; they may also figure out that the moral justification for health care has been jettisoned by those who used their clout to squeeze care for millions of voters while sparing themselves the worst of that backlash.

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No End to It

Word comes that Sen. John Kerry may visit Tehran, in the Obami’s never-ending quest to engage the thugocracy that wishes not to be engaged. This report tells us:

Sen. John Kerry has suggested becoming the first high-level U.S. emissary to make a public visit to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, a move White House officials say they won’t oppose. . . “The wrong message would be sent to the Iranian people by such a high-level visit: The U.S. loves dictatorial regimes,” said Hossein Askari, a professor at George Washington University and former adviser to Iranian governments.

And what of those democracy protesters in the streets of Tehran, who’d prefer not to help solidify the mullahs’ reign of terror? Well, they’d rather Obama once again not cut their legs out from under them:

Many opponents of Tehran’s regime oppose such a visit, fearing it would lend legitimacy to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a time when his government is under continuing pressure from protests and opposition figures. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again this week to voice their opposition to the government following the death of a reformist cleric.

Those perpetually in search of a savvier, tougher and more resolute Obama, will again have their hopes dashed, it seems. No, this is a president who is “bearing witness” but sparing no opportunity to convey that democracy is not at the top of our agenda—nor is, apparently, moving ahead toward those “crippling sanctions.” We are perpetually in search of the unattainable deal, all the while providing the mullahs with time to proceed with their nuclear-weapons program and cementing the impression that this president is not determined to stand in their way.

Word comes that Sen. John Kerry may visit Tehran, in the Obami’s never-ending quest to engage the thugocracy that wishes not to be engaged. This report tells us:

Sen. John Kerry has suggested becoming the first high-level U.S. emissary to make a public visit to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, a move White House officials say they won’t oppose. . . “The wrong message would be sent to the Iranian people by such a high-level visit: The U.S. loves dictatorial regimes,” said Hossein Askari, a professor at George Washington University and former adviser to Iranian governments.

And what of those democracy protesters in the streets of Tehran, who’d prefer not to help solidify the mullahs’ reign of terror? Well, they’d rather Obama once again not cut their legs out from under them:

Many opponents of Tehran’s regime oppose such a visit, fearing it would lend legitimacy to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a time when his government is under continuing pressure from protests and opposition figures. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again this week to voice their opposition to the government following the death of a reformist cleric.

Those perpetually in search of a savvier, tougher and more resolute Obama, will again have their hopes dashed, it seems. No, this is a president who is “bearing witness” but sparing no opportunity to convey that democracy is not at the top of our agenda—nor is, apparently, moving ahead toward those “crippling sanctions.” We are perpetually in search of the unattainable deal, all the while providing the mullahs with time to proceed with their nuclear-weapons program and cementing the impression that this president is not determined to stand in their way.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Wow: “Republicans are stepping up their efforts to persuade more House Democrats to switch parties and are zeroing in on a second-term Pennsylvanian who is not ruling out such a move.” And this is when the Democrats have a 258-seat . . . er. . . make that 257-seat  majority.

RealClearPolitics average on ObamaCare: 38.4 percent approve and 51 disapprove. So, are Democrats going to run on this in 2010 as their signature achievement? Might explain why there are potential defections.

Voters would rather their representatives be doing something else: “Voters, as they have all year, rate cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term as President Obama’s number one budget priority. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% put deficit cutting in first place, followed by 22% who say health care reform is most important.”

Do we think she means it? “The Senate’s healthcare bill is fatally flawed, a senior Democrat atop a powerful committee said on Wednesday. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said that the Senate’s bill is so flawed that it’s unlikely to be resolved in conference with the bill to have passed the House.”

Well, liberal journalists seem nervous: “Yet for all the justifiable celebrations of this achievement, it’s fast becoming clear—as it should have always been—that Democrats are still a long way from home free when it comes to the final enactment of health-care reform into law. That ironing out of the differences between the House and Senate incarnations of the bill is going to be no easy thing.” And the key stumbling block may well be abortion. Can Nancy Pelosi find votes to make up for Re. Bart Stupak and pro-life Democrats unwilling to roll over as Sen. Ben Nelson did? We’ll find out.

The bill is so bad it renders Sen. Chuck Schumer mute: “Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson both slammed the Senate bill Monday, charging it would cost the city more than $500 million and rip a $1 billion-a-year hole in the state budget. Schumer, a veteran streetfighter for federal cash, has been suddenly recast as a defender of Washington—and a deal he helped cut that shafts New York. ‘He’s being uncharacteristically quiet in part because the numbers don’t look that good,’ said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. . . [Schumer] bristled at criticism that he stood by as other states won sweetheart deals.” Well, how come Nebraska got more than New York then?

Seems like there might be some legal challenges to the Cash for Cloture deals.

Not making this up: Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are demanding an investigation into Rahm Emanuel’s dealings with Freddie Mac. See, Obama is bringing people together.

Wow: “Republicans are stepping up their efforts to persuade more House Democrats to switch parties and are zeroing in on a second-term Pennsylvanian who is not ruling out such a move.” And this is when the Democrats have a 258-seat . . . er. . . make that 257-seat  majority.

RealClearPolitics average on ObamaCare: 38.4 percent approve and 51 disapprove. So, are Democrats going to run on this in 2010 as their signature achievement? Might explain why there are potential defections.

Voters would rather their representatives be doing something else: “Voters, as they have all year, rate cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term as President Obama’s number one budget priority. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% put deficit cutting in first place, followed by 22% who say health care reform is most important.”

Do we think she means it? “The Senate’s healthcare bill is fatally flawed, a senior Democrat atop a powerful committee said on Wednesday. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said that the Senate’s bill is so flawed that it’s unlikely to be resolved in conference with the bill to have passed the House.”

Well, liberal journalists seem nervous: “Yet for all the justifiable celebrations of this achievement, it’s fast becoming clear—as it should have always been—that Democrats are still a long way from home free when it comes to the final enactment of health-care reform into law. That ironing out of the differences between the House and Senate incarnations of the bill is going to be no easy thing.” And the key stumbling block may well be abortion. Can Nancy Pelosi find votes to make up for Re. Bart Stupak and pro-life Democrats unwilling to roll over as Sen. Ben Nelson did? We’ll find out.

The bill is so bad it renders Sen. Chuck Schumer mute: “Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson both slammed the Senate bill Monday, charging it would cost the city more than $500 million and rip a $1 billion-a-year hole in the state budget. Schumer, a veteran streetfighter for federal cash, has been suddenly recast as a defender of Washington—and a deal he helped cut that shafts New York. ‘He’s being uncharacteristically quiet in part because the numbers don’t look that good,’ said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. . . [Schumer] bristled at criticism that he stood by as other states won sweetheart deals.” Well, how come Nebraska got more than New York then?

Seems like there might be some legal challenges to the Cash for Cloture deals.

Not making this up: Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are demanding an investigation into Rahm Emanuel’s dealings with Freddie Mac. See, Obama is bringing people together.

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