Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 2, 2010

Where Is the Secretary of 19 Million Cracks?

Hillary Clinton periodically expresses a spasm of concern that her reputation and legacy are going down the drain with the Obami. She trotted out a defense lawyer’s case at AIPAC for her own pro-Israel credentials. She gives a human-rights speech now and then. But largely she dutifully follows the administration’s line — which is to strongarm Israel and shove human rights under the bus. It must be particularly galling to her feminist admirers to watch her passivity in the face of outrage after outrage perpetrated by the “Muslim World” against women and girls. She is seemingly unmoved to do much of anything about what one sharp commentator described as the “dual impulses to demonize and dehumanize females” that is not merely tolerated, but codified in the “Muslim World,” which Hillary and her boss so ardently suck up to.

The latest comes to us from Foreign Policy:

The sad case of Elham Assi, a 13-year old Yemeni girl who died from internal hemorrhaging after being raped by her 23-year-old husband, has certainly sparked conversation in Yemen over the longstanding practice of child marriage. But the conversations — taking place everywhere from Sanaa kitchens to the parliament building — aren’t exactly what you’d expect.

Instead of addressing the question of children’s rights in a country where a quarter of all girls are married before they’re 15 and half before they’re 18, some Yemenis are treating Elham Assi’sdeath as a rallying point against the so-called imposition of a Western agenda. Instead of catalyzing protective legislation for children in Yemen, as the tragic 1911 Triangle Factory fire did for industrial laborers in the United States, her death may actually make it more likely that others will share her fate.

Rather than rush to raise the legal age of marriage and unburden their shame — well, that would mean they experienced shame — the Yemenis take umbrage at the notion that NGOs should press them to outlaw child brides:

Over the past few months, Sheikh Mohammed Hamzi, an official in the powerful Islamist party, al-Islaah, along with hundreds of other conservative lawmakers and clerics, has issued a clarion call to “true believers” to oppose the law, arguing that it is a first step toward allowing the West to take over Yemeni affairs. “We will not bend to the demands of Western NGOs. We have our own laws, our own values,” said Hamzi, who made headlines again this week when a coalition of Yemeni rights groups announced it would take legal action against the sheikh for maligning activists as infidels and agents of the West during his regular sermons at a Sanaa mosque.

Where is our secretary of state? Why do we allow brutalizers of women to assume spots on the UN Commission on the Status of Women? Well, Hillary is now in the service of an administration which seeks to ingratiate itself with regimes whose laws and “values” include the notion that “to deprive little girls of conjugation with men old enough to be their grandfathers is to treat them ‘unfairly.’” For those who imagined Hillary — who never tires of counting the votes she achieved on the way to losing the Democratic presidential nomination — was a great defender of women and children, it must come as a great shock that they rank so low on her list of priorities.

Hillary Clinton periodically expresses a spasm of concern that her reputation and legacy are going down the drain with the Obami. She trotted out a defense lawyer’s case at AIPAC for her own pro-Israel credentials. She gives a human-rights speech now and then. But largely she dutifully follows the administration’s line — which is to strongarm Israel and shove human rights under the bus. It must be particularly galling to her feminist admirers to watch her passivity in the face of outrage after outrage perpetrated by the “Muslim World” against women and girls. She is seemingly unmoved to do much of anything about what one sharp commentator described as the “dual impulses to demonize and dehumanize females” that is not merely tolerated, but codified in the “Muslim World,” which Hillary and her boss so ardently suck up to.

The latest comes to us from Foreign Policy:

The sad case of Elham Assi, a 13-year old Yemeni girl who died from internal hemorrhaging after being raped by her 23-year-old husband, has certainly sparked conversation in Yemen over the longstanding practice of child marriage. But the conversations — taking place everywhere from Sanaa kitchens to the parliament building — aren’t exactly what you’d expect.

Instead of addressing the question of children’s rights in a country where a quarter of all girls are married before they’re 15 and half before they’re 18, some Yemenis are treating Elham Assi’sdeath as a rallying point against the so-called imposition of a Western agenda. Instead of catalyzing protective legislation for children in Yemen, as the tragic 1911 Triangle Factory fire did for industrial laborers in the United States, her death may actually make it more likely that others will share her fate.

Rather than rush to raise the legal age of marriage and unburden their shame — well, that would mean they experienced shame — the Yemenis take umbrage at the notion that NGOs should press them to outlaw child brides:

Over the past few months, Sheikh Mohammed Hamzi, an official in the powerful Islamist party, al-Islaah, along with hundreds of other conservative lawmakers and clerics, has issued a clarion call to “true believers” to oppose the law, arguing that it is a first step toward allowing the West to take over Yemeni affairs. “We will not bend to the demands of Western NGOs. We have our own laws, our own values,” said Hamzi, who made headlines again this week when a coalition of Yemeni rights groups announced it would take legal action against the sheikh for maligning activists as infidels and agents of the West during his regular sermons at a Sanaa mosque.

Where is our secretary of state? Why do we allow brutalizers of women to assume spots on the UN Commission on the Status of Women? Well, Hillary is now in the service of an administration which seeks to ingratiate itself with regimes whose laws and “values” include the notion that “to deprive little girls of conjugation with men old enough to be their grandfathers is to treat them ‘unfairly.’” For those who imagined Hillary — who never tires of counting the votes she achieved on the way to losing the Democratic presidential nomination — was a great defender of women and children, it must come as a great shock that they rank so low on her list of priorities.

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Public Employee Compensation

A major issue is shaping up in this year’s election, and if Republicans will only take this issue and run with it, it will pay big dividends in November. 

The issue is public employee compensation.  There has been a steady drum beat of examples of government workers making out like bandits at the expense of the taxpayers. The latest is from San Francisco — where else? Investors Business Daily reports that the average salary for city workers there is $93,000. And that sum does not include benefits. A third of the city work force makes more than $100,000 each. The retired deputy police chief earned $516,118 in his last year, thanks to saved up vacation days, sick leave, overtime, etc. It is, of course, the last year’s compensation that largely determines the size of the pension public employees get.

Across the country, public employees earned, on average, $39.66 an hour. The private sector? The average was $27.42. In other words, public employees earn 44 percent more. A cornucopia of information on public employee compensation can be found at Sunshine Review, including this eye-opening chart:

Compensation

A. State and Local

B. Private Sector

Ratio A/B

Total Compensation $39.66 $27.42 1.45
Wages and salaries 26.01 19.39 1.34
Benefits 13.65 8.02 1.70
Paid leave 3.27 1.85 1.77
Supplemental pay 0.34 0.83 0.41
Health insurance 4.34 1.99 2.18
Defined-benefit pension 2.85 0.41 6.95
Defined-contribution pension 0.31 0.53 0.58
Other benefits 2.53 2.40 1.05

 

The Democrats are deeply beholden to public employee unions. The SEIU gave Democrats over $60 million in 2008 and they have been getting their money’s worth in return. One-third of the so-called stimulus money went to state and local governments to avoid layoffs of public employees. Republicans, however, owe them no favors, to put it mildly.

As long as they make it clear that they are not anti-union, but rather want to narrow the gap in compensation in order to give taxpayers relief, Republican candidates at all levels can earn votes by demanding a freeze on public-employee compensation until they are once more in line with private-sector pay scales and benefit packages. Republicans running for Congress could argue for a revision of the Wagner Act, which governs how unions and management negotiate labor contracts. It was written in 1935, when there were virtually no unionized public employees. But the dynamic in which unions and governments negotiate is completely different from the dynamic of private-sector negotiations.

Earning votes while saving taxpayers money and weakening the No.1 funder of the opposition party. What’s not to like?

A major issue is shaping up in this year’s election, and if Republicans will only take this issue and run with it, it will pay big dividends in November. 

The issue is public employee compensation.  There has been a steady drum beat of examples of government workers making out like bandits at the expense of the taxpayers. The latest is from San Francisco — where else? Investors Business Daily reports that the average salary for city workers there is $93,000. And that sum does not include benefits. A third of the city work force makes more than $100,000 each. The retired deputy police chief earned $516,118 in his last year, thanks to saved up vacation days, sick leave, overtime, etc. It is, of course, the last year’s compensation that largely determines the size of the pension public employees get.

Across the country, public employees earned, on average, $39.66 an hour. The private sector? The average was $27.42. In other words, public employees earn 44 percent more. A cornucopia of information on public employee compensation can be found at Sunshine Review, including this eye-opening chart:

Compensation

A. State and Local

B. Private Sector

Ratio A/B

Total Compensation $39.66 $27.42 1.45
Wages and salaries 26.01 19.39 1.34
Benefits 13.65 8.02 1.70
Paid leave 3.27 1.85 1.77
Supplemental pay 0.34 0.83 0.41
Health insurance 4.34 1.99 2.18
Defined-benefit pension 2.85 0.41 6.95
Defined-contribution pension 0.31 0.53 0.58
Other benefits 2.53 2.40 1.05

 

The Democrats are deeply beholden to public employee unions. The SEIU gave Democrats over $60 million in 2008 and they have been getting their money’s worth in return. One-third of the so-called stimulus money went to state and local governments to avoid layoffs of public employees. Republicans, however, owe them no favors, to put it mildly.

As long as they make it clear that they are not anti-union, but rather want to narrow the gap in compensation in order to give taxpayers relief, Republican candidates at all levels can earn votes by demanding a freeze on public-employee compensation until they are once more in line with private-sector pay scales and benefit packages. Republicans running for Congress could argue for a revision of the Wagner Act, which governs how unions and management negotiate labor contracts. It was written in 1935, when there were virtually no unionized public employees. But the dynamic in which unions and governments negotiate is completely different from the dynamic of private-sector negotiations.

Earning votes while saving taxpayers money and weakening the No.1 funder of the opposition party. What’s not to like?

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That Mearsheimer Speech

Meryl Yourish compares passages from John Mearsheimer’s speech to the “Palestine Center” with statements from Charles Lindberg and Father Coughlin. Unsurprisingly, it’s hard to tell the three bigots apart.

Meryl Yourish compares passages from John Mearsheimer’s speech to the “Palestine Center” with statements from Charles Lindberg and Father Coughlin. Unsurprisingly, it’s hard to tell the three bigots apart.

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Obama’s Sudan Engagement

Our Sudan policy is a shanda. Activists on both sides of the aisle deplore the unctuous behavior of our special envoy, retired Major General Scott Gration. We have done nothing about its abysmal human-rights record, most recently documented by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Washington Post editors join the chorus of critics following the fraudulent reelection of Omar Hassan al-Bashir:

The election was widely acknowledged to be a fraud. Mr. Bashir’s principal opponents boycotted the race, and the vote was riddled with what the White House called “serious irregularities.”

Still, the reaction from the Obama administration and other Western governments was muted. Before the election, U.S. special envoy Scott Gration offered a low standard, declaring that the vote would be “as free and fair as possible.” The reasons for that temperance could be read in Mr. Bashir’s victory speech. After claiming his mandate, the strongman promptly promised to “complete the peace process in Darfur,” the western region where his regime waged a campaign of genocide; and also to “go ahead . . . on time” with a planned referendum in January that will determine whether southern Sudan becomes an independent country.

But nothing — not fraud, not documented religious atrocities — will knock the Obami off their predetermined course, the very same “engagement” strategy which has led to equally dismal results with Syria and Iran. The Obami imagine that they can do business with despots, and Bashir is no different:

The quid pro quo that Mr. Bashir is offering is clear: Accept him as a legitimate president and set aside the war crimes indictment, and he will allow southern Sudan to go peacefully and will preserve the fragile peace in Darfur. For the pragmatic Obama administration, which hasn’t hesitated to subordinate human rights principles in other parts of the world, it’s a tempting offer. After all, the alternative to a settlement in southern Sudan is another terrible war, like the one that killed 5 million in the two decades before 2005. And if Mr. Bashir can somehow strike a deal with Darfur’s myriad rebel groups — he has a preliminary pact with one — that could end the region’s humanitarian crisis.

Bashir certainly knows his audience. This sort of bargain with the devil is right up Obama’s alley. But alas, by demonstrating our willingness in Sudan and around the world to avert our eyes and fork over unilateral concessions, there is little incentive for Bashir to change his stripes and to play a constructive role in averting still more mass killings in Darfur.

Our reaction to provocation — be it stolen elections in Iran or Sudan or missile deliveries to Hezbollah — is to double-down on engagement, assure our foes that military force isn’t at play, and rush forth to explain that further engagement isn’t really a sign of weakness. But of course it is. And the world’s despots have pretty much figured out how to play the Obama team. Brutalize your people, crush opposition, and respond with a mix of threats and frothy promises. It seems to be a winning formula with this American administration. And, indeed, the despots are having a field day of late. Maybe it’s time for hope and change.

Our Sudan policy is a shanda. Activists on both sides of the aisle deplore the unctuous behavior of our special envoy, retired Major General Scott Gration. We have done nothing about its abysmal human-rights record, most recently documented by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Washington Post editors join the chorus of critics following the fraudulent reelection of Omar Hassan al-Bashir:

The election was widely acknowledged to be a fraud. Mr. Bashir’s principal opponents boycotted the race, and the vote was riddled with what the White House called “serious irregularities.”

Still, the reaction from the Obama administration and other Western governments was muted. Before the election, U.S. special envoy Scott Gration offered a low standard, declaring that the vote would be “as free and fair as possible.” The reasons for that temperance could be read in Mr. Bashir’s victory speech. After claiming his mandate, the strongman promptly promised to “complete the peace process in Darfur,” the western region where his regime waged a campaign of genocide; and also to “go ahead . . . on time” with a planned referendum in January that will determine whether southern Sudan becomes an independent country.

But nothing — not fraud, not documented religious atrocities — will knock the Obami off their predetermined course, the very same “engagement” strategy which has led to equally dismal results with Syria and Iran. The Obami imagine that they can do business with despots, and Bashir is no different:

The quid pro quo that Mr. Bashir is offering is clear: Accept him as a legitimate president and set aside the war crimes indictment, and he will allow southern Sudan to go peacefully and will preserve the fragile peace in Darfur. For the pragmatic Obama administration, which hasn’t hesitated to subordinate human rights principles in other parts of the world, it’s a tempting offer. After all, the alternative to a settlement in southern Sudan is another terrible war, like the one that killed 5 million in the two decades before 2005. And if Mr. Bashir can somehow strike a deal with Darfur’s myriad rebel groups — he has a preliminary pact with one — that could end the region’s humanitarian crisis.

Bashir certainly knows his audience. This sort of bargain with the devil is right up Obama’s alley. But alas, by demonstrating our willingness in Sudan and around the world to avert our eyes and fork over unilateral concessions, there is little incentive for Bashir to change his stripes and to play a constructive role in averting still more mass killings in Darfur.

Our reaction to provocation — be it stolen elections in Iran or Sudan or missile deliveries to Hezbollah — is to double-down on engagement, assure our foes that military force isn’t at play, and rush forth to explain that further engagement isn’t really a sign of weakness. But of course it is. And the world’s despots have pretty much figured out how to play the Obama team. Brutalize your people, crush opposition, and respond with a mix of threats and frothy promises. It seems to be a winning formula with this American administration. And, indeed, the despots are having a field day of late. Maybe it’s time for hope and change.

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Linkage Has Officially Jumped the Shark

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration is in talks with Egypt, aimed at making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. This is a little like the drunk searching for his keys under the street lamp because it’s the only place where there is light. If the administration wants to prevent proliferation and/or an arms race in the region, there is only one place on which it needs to focus its attention: Iran.

But since the administration refuses to turn up the heat on the regime, it has gotten nowhere in confronting the actual nuclear threat in the Middle East. So, instead, it is inventing a new threat and dealing with that one. In this case, we’re back to the laughable idea that the United States can extract good behavior from bad regimes by setting an inspiring example of self-abnegation, especially one in which we refuse to show any “favoritism” to our allies.

But perhaps the richest part of this new gambit is the administration’s belief — but of course — that even this far-flung ambition depends on the success of the peace process.

“We’ve made a proposal to them that goes beyond what the US has been willing to do before,” one [administration] official reportedly said. Others added that progress would have to be made on the Israeli-Palestinian track before such an agreement could be made.

“We are concerned that the conditions are not right unless all members of the region participate, which would be unlikely unless there is a comprehensive peace plan which is accepted,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Ellen Tauscher, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, as saying.

Perhaps this week we’ll learn that the administration cannot deal with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico unless Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks commence immediately, or that cap-and-trade is doomed until there is a Palestinian state, or that the election crisis in Iraq, and Sunni-Shia tensions generally, will remain unresolved so long as Jewish housing projects move forward in Jerusalem. Or perhaps what’s really going on here is that the administration is simply inventing forums in which Israel can be isolated and castigated. All Obama is accomplishing through this increasingly bizarre obsession is guaranteeing himself more failure.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration is in talks with Egypt, aimed at making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. This is a little like the drunk searching for his keys under the street lamp because it’s the only place where there is light. If the administration wants to prevent proliferation and/or an arms race in the region, there is only one place on which it needs to focus its attention: Iran.

But since the administration refuses to turn up the heat on the regime, it has gotten nowhere in confronting the actual nuclear threat in the Middle East. So, instead, it is inventing a new threat and dealing with that one. In this case, we’re back to the laughable idea that the United States can extract good behavior from bad regimes by setting an inspiring example of self-abnegation, especially one in which we refuse to show any “favoritism” to our allies.

But perhaps the richest part of this new gambit is the administration’s belief — but of course — that even this far-flung ambition depends on the success of the peace process.

“We’ve made a proposal to them that goes beyond what the US has been willing to do before,” one [administration] official reportedly said. Others added that progress would have to be made on the Israeli-Palestinian track before such an agreement could be made.

“We are concerned that the conditions are not right unless all members of the region participate, which would be unlikely unless there is a comprehensive peace plan which is accepted,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Ellen Tauscher, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, as saying.

Perhaps this week we’ll learn that the administration cannot deal with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico unless Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks commence immediately, or that cap-and-trade is doomed until there is a Palestinian state, or that the election crisis in Iraq, and Sunni-Shia tensions generally, will remain unresolved so long as Jewish housing projects move forward in Jerusalem. Or perhaps what’s really going on here is that the administration is simply inventing forums in which Israel can be isolated and castigated. All Obama is accomplishing through this increasingly bizarre obsession is guaranteeing himself more failure.

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What About Jeb?

Steven Calabresi writes:

Republicans everywhere should take a close look at Jeb Bush as a presidential candidate in 2012. Jeb is tough on foreign policy and is a solid conservative, but he is a small government conservative who wants to cut taxes and spending. Jeb’s signature domestic policy issue is choice in education – an issue that social and economic conservatives care about passionately. He is fluent in Spanish, is married to an Hispanic-American, and could reach out to the socially conservative up-for-grabs Hispanic swing vote. Jeb was Governor of Florida for eight years and did a splendid job in every way. He is experienced and tough, and he knows the issues. Jeb is also articulate and persuasive. Republicans have a number of good presidential prospects to consider, but Jeb Bush deserves particular attention.

Calabresi is right — but there are, of course, some questions about a Jeb run in 2012. First, it’s not at all clear that he’s interested. He’s not doing the sorts of things — appearances at GOP events, spending PAC money on gratitude-inducing endorsements, etc. — which the other interested contenders do. It doesn’t mean those activities two years before the primaries are necessary to a successful candidacy; it simply indicates a  lack of fire-in-the-belly interest at this point. Second, his immigration stance is problematic but not fatal. John McCain survived the anti immigration reform phalanx to win the GOP race in 2008, so it’s been done before. But it would be a sore point with many in the conservative base. Third is the name. George W. Bush is looking darn good in retrospect, but it’s not clear the party or the country are ready for a third Bush. In some sense, it’s silly to knock him out because of his familial relationships, but anti-dynasty sentiment is real. And in a “move forward, not-the-same-old-Republicans” year, a candidate whose name rekindles the dog-days of the GOP may have a steep hill to climb.

Do any of these factors remove Jeb from consideration? Only the first — one can’t force unwilling candidates to run. But if we learned anything in 2008, it was that a pro-immigration reformer whose face is not fresh can, in the right primary setting, out-muscle better organized and funded candidates. There will be — because there always are — the unexpected and the unlikely candidates in 2012. So don’t count out anyone yet and certainly not an ex-governor as successful as Jeb in selling bread-and-butter conservative ideas to a diverse electorate.

Steven Calabresi writes:

Republicans everywhere should take a close look at Jeb Bush as a presidential candidate in 2012. Jeb is tough on foreign policy and is a solid conservative, but he is a small government conservative who wants to cut taxes and spending. Jeb’s signature domestic policy issue is choice in education – an issue that social and economic conservatives care about passionately. He is fluent in Spanish, is married to an Hispanic-American, and could reach out to the socially conservative up-for-grabs Hispanic swing vote. Jeb was Governor of Florida for eight years and did a splendid job in every way. He is experienced and tough, and he knows the issues. Jeb is also articulate and persuasive. Republicans have a number of good presidential prospects to consider, but Jeb Bush deserves particular attention.

Calabresi is right — but there are, of course, some questions about a Jeb run in 2012. First, it’s not at all clear that he’s interested. He’s not doing the sorts of things — appearances at GOP events, spending PAC money on gratitude-inducing endorsements, etc. — which the other interested contenders do. It doesn’t mean those activities two years before the primaries are necessary to a successful candidacy; it simply indicates a  lack of fire-in-the-belly interest at this point. Second, his immigration stance is problematic but not fatal. John McCain survived the anti immigration reform phalanx to win the GOP race in 2008, so it’s been done before. But it would be a sore point with many in the conservative base. Third is the name. George W. Bush is looking darn good in retrospect, but it’s not clear the party or the country are ready for a third Bush. In some sense, it’s silly to knock him out because of his familial relationships, but anti-dynasty sentiment is real. And in a “move forward, not-the-same-old-Republicans” year, a candidate whose name rekindles the dog-days of the GOP may have a steep hill to climb.

Do any of these factors remove Jeb from consideration? Only the first — one can’t force unwilling candidates to run. But if we learned anything in 2008, it was that a pro-immigration reformer whose face is not fresh can, in the right primary setting, out-muscle better organized and funded candidates. There will be — because there always are — the unexpected and the unlikely candidates in 2012. So don’t count out anyone yet and certainly not an ex-governor as successful as Jeb in selling bread-and-butter conservative ideas to a diverse electorate.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Warren Buffett doesn’t think Goldman Sachs did anything wrong: “t doesn’t make any difference whether it was Paulson on the other side of the deal or whether Goldman was on the other side of the deal or whether Berkshire was on the other side of the deal.”

Obama sure doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help Congressional Democrats: “President Barack Obama’s Washington-bashing could boomerang on his own party in Congress if he’s not careful, House Democratic leaders warned White House senior adviser Daivd Axelrod in a closed-door meeting Thursday. The fear — raised by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, campaign chief Chris Van Hollen and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn — is that Democrats have more to lose if anti-Washington sentiment is not directed at one party or the other.” Somehow Obama thinks voters won’t notice that he’s part of Washington.

Hezbollah and Syria have gotten the idea that the Obami aren’t going to do anything about the Scud missiles in Lebanon: “Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that the Lebanese militia had a ‘legal and humanitarian’ right to amass weapons in order to protect those ‘oppressed and threatened by Israel,’ Israel Radio reported Saturday.”

The Gray Lady criticizes Obama for not doing anything about the Florida oil spill for days: “The company, BP, seems to have been slow to ask for help, and, on Friday, both federal and state officials accused it of not moving aggressively or swiftly enough. Yet the administration should not have waited, and should have intervened much more quickly on its own initiative. A White House as politically attuned as this one should have been conscious of two obvious historical lessons. One was the Exxon Valdez, where a late and lame response by both industry and the federal government all but destroyed one of the country’s richest fishing grounds and ended up costing billions of dollars. The other was President George W. Bush’s hapless response to Hurricane Katrina.” Ouch.

Big Insurance can’t find anything wrong with the Obami’s financial-reform bill. But “don’t expect this fact to get in the way of Obama portraying this bill as a broadside to the special interests. And that reformer-vs-industry narrative, like an old blanket or a bowl of chicken-noodle soup, is too familiar and too comfortable for the mainstream press to shed.”

Matt Continetti doesn’t see anything that will absorb Obama and his fellow Democrats as much as bullying his opponents: “Iran is close to obtaining nuclear weapons. The euro zone is in crisis. The U.S. unemployment rate is near 10 percent. America’s social insurance programs threaten to bankrupt the country. And—most unusual—the Washington Nationals are above .500. But rest easy. None of this is distracting the Obama administration and congressional Democrats from their full-time occupation: demonizing the political opposition.”

Stuart Rothenberg doesn’t think Charlie Crist’s independent run changes much of anything in the senate outlook: “Florida Governor Charlie’ Crist’s switch out of the GOP Senate race and into the Senate contest as an Independent, combined with the entry of wealthy businessman Jeff Greene into the Democrat race, adds some uncertainty into the contest. But it doesn’t, in our view, change the bottom line entirely. Move from Clear Advantage for Incumbent Party to Narrow Advantage for Incumbent Party. Marco Rubio (R) remains the favorite, but the three-way contest is more unpredictable.” He thinks “the GOP seems most likely to net 5-7 Senate seats, with a 8-seat gain certainly possible (but still short of the 10-seat gain the GOP would need for control).”

Is anything going the Democrats’ way? Not really, says Charlie Cook: “The most recent, and quite compelling, bad omen surfaced in an April 27 Gallup report. The polling organization found that, based on interviews with more than 5,000 registered voters from April 1-25, Democrats had a 4-point lead in the generic congressional ballot test among those ‘not enthusiastic about voting.’ Among the all-important ‘very enthusiastic’ crowd, aka the folks most likely to vote, Democrats trailed by a whopping 20 points, 57 percent to 37 percent. . . . Even Democratic analysts don’t express much optimism about their party’s chances this fall.”

Warren Buffett doesn’t think Goldman Sachs did anything wrong: “t doesn’t make any difference whether it was Paulson on the other side of the deal or whether Goldman was on the other side of the deal or whether Berkshire was on the other side of the deal.”

Obama sure doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help Congressional Democrats: “President Barack Obama’s Washington-bashing could boomerang on his own party in Congress if he’s not careful, House Democratic leaders warned White House senior adviser Daivd Axelrod in a closed-door meeting Thursday. The fear — raised by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, campaign chief Chris Van Hollen and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn — is that Democrats have more to lose if anti-Washington sentiment is not directed at one party or the other.” Somehow Obama thinks voters won’t notice that he’s part of Washington.

Hezbollah and Syria have gotten the idea that the Obami aren’t going to do anything about the Scud missiles in Lebanon: “Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that the Lebanese militia had a ‘legal and humanitarian’ right to amass weapons in order to protect those ‘oppressed and threatened by Israel,’ Israel Radio reported Saturday.”

The Gray Lady criticizes Obama for not doing anything about the Florida oil spill for days: “The company, BP, seems to have been slow to ask for help, and, on Friday, both federal and state officials accused it of not moving aggressively or swiftly enough. Yet the administration should not have waited, and should have intervened much more quickly on its own initiative. A White House as politically attuned as this one should have been conscious of two obvious historical lessons. One was the Exxon Valdez, where a late and lame response by both industry and the federal government all but destroyed one of the country’s richest fishing grounds and ended up costing billions of dollars. The other was President George W. Bush’s hapless response to Hurricane Katrina.” Ouch.

Big Insurance can’t find anything wrong with the Obami’s financial-reform bill. But “don’t expect this fact to get in the way of Obama portraying this bill as a broadside to the special interests. And that reformer-vs-industry narrative, like an old blanket or a bowl of chicken-noodle soup, is too familiar and too comfortable for the mainstream press to shed.”

Matt Continetti doesn’t see anything that will absorb Obama and his fellow Democrats as much as bullying his opponents: “Iran is close to obtaining nuclear weapons. The euro zone is in crisis. The U.S. unemployment rate is near 10 percent. America’s social insurance programs threaten to bankrupt the country. And—most unusual—the Washington Nationals are above .500. But rest easy. None of this is distracting the Obama administration and congressional Democrats from their full-time occupation: demonizing the political opposition.”

Stuart Rothenberg doesn’t think Charlie Crist’s independent run changes much of anything in the senate outlook: “Florida Governor Charlie’ Crist’s switch out of the GOP Senate race and into the Senate contest as an Independent, combined with the entry of wealthy businessman Jeff Greene into the Democrat race, adds some uncertainty into the contest. But it doesn’t, in our view, change the bottom line entirely. Move from Clear Advantage for Incumbent Party to Narrow Advantage for Incumbent Party. Marco Rubio (R) remains the favorite, but the three-way contest is more unpredictable.” He thinks “the GOP seems most likely to net 5-7 Senate seats, with a 8-seat gain certainly possible (but still short of the 10-seat gain the GOP would need for control).”

Is anything going the Democrats’ way? Not really, says Charlie Cook: “The most recent, and quite compelling, bad omen surfaced in an April 27 Gallup report. The polling organization found that, based on interviews with more than 5,000 registered voters from April 1-25, Democrats had a 4-point lead in the generic congressional ballot test among those ‘not enthusiastic about voting.’ Among the all-important ‘very enthusiastic’ crowd, aka the folks most likely to vote, Democrats trailed by a whopping 20 points, 57 percent to 37 percent. . . . Even Democratic analysts don’t express much optimism about their party’s chances this fall.”

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