Commentary Magazine


Topic: energy bill

An Alternate History: In Which the Pundits Had Obama Pegged

David Brooks has an amusing column that speculates about what an alternative set of decisions by Obama (e.g.,an energy bill before ObamaCare, tax cuts instead of the spend-athon) would have looked like. I would quibble with some items: for example, the energy bill would not have been just about “technological advances, private sector growth and breakthrough productivity gains”; it would have been about taxes, taxes, taxes. But that’s minor.

The real amusement comes from the fact that the “alternate history” bears no resemblance at all to what Obama has done; it is the ultimate un-Obama. It’s not just a few decisions that were wrong. The real Obama at nearly every juncture made the wrong call (e.g., letting Nancy Pelosi run wild rather than “develop[ing] a political strategy they called Save Nancy From Herself”). The implication is that the real Obama blew it — again and again.

This says something about the pundits who believed they were getting un-Obama. They were impressed with image and with pants, but failed to comprehend what Obama was all about. They painted an un-Obama vision — moderate, responsible, evidence-based, unifying. The list could go on. All ludicrously off-base, except in some alternate reality. (Like the Star Trek episode where Spock had a beard.)

Moreover, the real “alternate history” would have to include this:

The mainstream media and liberal pundits — who had been derided by conservative critics as out of touch or as actively engaged in a conspiracy to present a pleasing but false image of Obama — were vindicated. The liberal print media and broadcast news networks enjoyed newfound credibility. The conservative pundits were thoroughly discredited. The New York Times, basking in the glow of its reaffirmation as the “newspaper of record,” saw a dramatic improvement in its balance sheet. Meanwhile, Fox News closed its doors, the blogosphere shriveled, the conservative activists hid under their beds, and the center-left coalition cemented its gains in the 2010 midterm elections.

Yeah, no resemblance to reality. Whatsoever.

David Brooks has an amusing column that speculates about what an alternative set of decisions by Obama (e.g.,an energy bill before ObamaCare, tax cuts instead of the spend-athon) would have looked like. I would quibble with some items: for example, the energy bill would not have been just about “technological advances, private sector growth and breakthrough productivity gains”; it would have been about taxes, taxes, taxes. But that’s minor.

The real amusement comes from the fact that the “alternate history” bears no resemblance at all to what Obama has done; it is the ultimate un-Obama. It’s not just a few decisions that were wrong. The real Obama at nearly every juncture made the wrong call (e.g., letting Nancy Pelosi run wild rather than “develop[ing] a political strategy they called Save Nancy From Herself”). The implication is that the real Obama blew it — again and again.

This says something about the pundits who believed they were getting un-Obama. They were impressed with image and with pants, but failed to comprehend what Obama was all about. They painted an un-Obama vision — moderate, responsible, evidence-based, unifying. The list could go on. All ludicrously off-base, except in some alternate reality. (Like the Star Trek episode where Spock had a beard.)

Moreover, the real “alternate history” would have to include this:

The mainstream media and liberal pundits — who had been derided by conservative critics as out of touch or as actively engaged in a conspiracy to present a pleasing but false image of Obama — were vindicated. The liberal print media and broadcast news networks enjoyed newfound credibility. The conservative pundits were thoroughly discredited. The New York Times, basking in the glow of its reaffirmation as the “newspaper of record,” saw a dramatic improvement in its balance sheet. Meanwhile, Fox News closed its doors, the blogosphere shriveled, the conservative activists hid under their beds, and the center-left coalition cemented its gains in the 2010 midterm elections.

Yeah, no resemblance to reality. Whatsoever.

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Good News: Climate Bill Dead

The economy is reeling under the weight of new mandates, regulations, and tax hikes (with potentially more on the way). The last thing investors or employers want to see is a jumbo energy tax disguised as a “climate-control” bill. So there are smiles all around with this news:

After a meeting of Senate Democrats, party leaders on Thursday said they had abandoned hope of passing a comprehensive energy bill this summer and would pursue a more limited measure focused primarily on responding the Gulf oil spill and including some tightening of energy efficiency standards. …

While Mr. Reid criticized Republicans, it is clear he did not have sufficient support in his own party for a broad energy bill. A number of Democratic lawmakers from manufacturing and coal-producing states were expected to oppose such a bill.

That hasn’t and won’t stop Reid and the White House from blaming Republican lawmakers. But this is one accusation to which Republicans should be glad to plead guilty. If Reid wants to accuse them of stopping another job-killing, tax-hiking, mammoth piece of legislation, I don’t think Republicans will mind.

The economy is reeling under the weight of new mandates, regulations, and tax hikes (with potentially more on the way). The last thing investors or employers want to see is a jumbo energy tax disguised as a “climate-control” bill. So there are smiles all around with this news:

After a meeting of Senate Democrats, party leaders on Thursday said they had abandoned hope of passing a comprehensive energy bill this summer and would pursue a more limited measure focused primarily on responding the Gulf oil spill and including some tightening of energy efficiency standards. …

While Mr. Reid criticized Republicans, it is clear he did not have sufficient support in his own party for a broad energy bill. A number of Democratic lawmakers from manufacturing and coal-producing states were expected to oppose such a bill.

That hasn’t and won’t stop Reid and the White House from blaming Republican lawmakers. But this is one accusation to which Republicans should be glad to plead guilty. If Reid wants to accuse them of stopping another job-killing, tax-hiking, mammoth piece of legislation, I don’t think Republicans will mind.

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Global Warming Isn’t Proved by Summer Heat or Disproved by Winter Snow

Last winter, when the Northeast was buried under record snowfalls, some political activists had a little fun at the expense of global-warming alarmists by quipping that it was going to keep snowing until Al Gore said “uncle.” Those who peddle environmental hysteria denounced this argument, which was obviously tongue-in-cheek, as the sort of know-nothing idiocy that you can expect from all those who refuse to accept the true religion of global warming. Flash forward to what is proving a hot summer in the Northeast and, amazingly, we find the New York Times’s economic columnist Dave Leonhardt using the same sort of logic as that of the pranksters who built an igloo on Capitol Hill last February and dubbed it Al Gore’s new home. The only difference is that the Grey Lady’s economic wise man is putting forward his case without irony or apology.

The lede of Leonhardt’s column on Tuesday used the current heat wave as the opener for his complaint against members of Congress who refuse to pass President Obama’s energy bill, which would inaugurate a system of massive tax increases on business under the guise of a “cap-and-trade” system that would supposedly decrease carbon usage. Increasing numbers of Americans are skeptical about the theories that assume human responsibility for any climate change, in part because the Climategate scandal showed the lack of integrity on the part of the scientists who have hyped alarmist scenarios rather than sober science. But Leonhardt repeats, again without irony, the talk about the Himalayan Glaciers melting, without noting that his own newspaper reported that the much-ballyhooed assertion that the glaciers would melt by 2030 was a fraud based on bogus science.

Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme won’t pass, despite the laments of both Leonhardt and his fellow Times-man Tom Friedman, largely because most Americans are appalled at the idea of such a massive power grab by the government and know that imposing these sort of punitive taxes at a time of deep recession is a prescription for an economic disaster.

But the point here is that Leonhardt’s effort to whip up support for global-warming legislation because of a heat wave in the middle of summer is as silly as anyone who claimed that the fact that it snowed in the winter meant the opposite about global warming. The problem with global-warming science is the manipulation of data to prove a preordained conclusion, such as the now discredited “hockey stick” diagram, which “proved” global warming. Leonhardt’s arguments in favor of his statist solutions to the possibility of climate change are weak. But his attempt, based on the current temperature spikes, to shame members of Congress who wisely want no part of this fiscal catastrophe in the making shows a lack of intellectual integrity that strips his advocacy of any credibility.

Last winter, when the Northeast was buried under record snowfalls, some political activists had a little fun at the expense of global-warming alarmists by quipping that it was going to keep snowing until Al Gore said “uncle.” Those who peddle environmental hysteria denounced this argument, which was obviously tongue-in-cheek, as the sort of know-nothing idiocy that you can expect from all those who refuse to accept the true religion of global warming. Flash forward to what is proving a hot summer in the Northeast and, amazingly, we find the New York Times’s economic columnist Dave Leonhardt using the same sort of logic as that of the pranksters who built an igloo on Capitol Hill last February and dubbed it Al Gore’s new home. The only difference is that the Grey Lady’s economic wise man is putting forward his case without irony or apology.

The lede of Leonhardt’s column on Tuesday used the current heat wave as the opener for his complaint against members of Congress who refuse to pass President Obama’s energy bill, which would inaugurate a system of massive tax increases on business under the guise of a “cap-and-trade” system that would supposedly decrease carbon usage. Increasing numbers of Americans are skeptical about the theories that assume human responsibility for any climate change, in part because the Climategate scandal showed the lack of integrity on the part of the scientists who have hyped alarmist scenarios rather than sober science. But Leonhardt repeats, again without irony, the talk about the Himalayan Glaciers melting, without noting that his own newspaper reported that the much-ballyhooed assertion that the glaciers would melt by 2030 was a fraud based on bogus science.

Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme won’t pass, despite the laments of both Leonhardt and his fellow Times-man Tom Friedman, largely because most Americans are appalled at the idea of such a massive power grab by the government and know that imposing these sort of punitive taxes at a time of deep recession is a prescription for an economic disaster.

But the point here is that Leonhardt’s effort to whip up support for global-warming legislation because of a heat wave in the middle of summer is as silly as anyone who claimed that the fact that it snowed in the winter meant the opposite about global warming. The problem with global-warming science is the manipulation of data to prove a preordained conclusion, such as the now discredited “hockey stick” diagram, which “proved” global warming. Leonhardt’s arguments in favor of his statist solutions to the possibility of climate change are weak. But his attempt, based on the current temperature spikes, to shame members of Congress who wisely want no part of this fiscal catastrophe in the making shows a lack of intellectual integrity that strips his advocacy of any credibility.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Worst press secretary in recent memory? Chris Cillizza says he is at least the winner of the “worst week” designation: “It took only 17 words [‘there is no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control’ of the House] for White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to set off the circular firing squad. … Republicans, meanwhile, could barely contain their glee at seeing their message — ‘We can take the House back, really, we can’ — seconded by the official White House mouthpiece.”

Worst Middle East diplomacy rebuke to date? “Fatah spokesperson Muhammad Dahlan announced that Fatah had rejected the U.S.’s offer Saturday to broker direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Worst political advice to Obama? Mark Penn suggests: “Between now and the midterms, the administration has to focus on what it can do to provide a sense of economic recovery. Perhaps the best arena for that is in an energy bill that creates a wide array of incentives to produce new forms of energy.” You understand how Hillary lost the nomination.

Worst column ever from James Fallows? He hopes Dick Cheney recovers so he can change his mind and undermine all his prior views.

Worst political problem for Obama? Howard Fineman says it’s the loss of independent voters: “The Democrats’ support among this group has fallen to as low as 35 percent in some polls. The reasons are clear. They do not believe that Obama’s actions have produced results — and for these practical voters, nothing else matters. The $787 billion stimulus bill is widely regarded as an expensive, unfocused dud, even when measured against the cautious claims the Obama camp originally made for it. Health-care reform remains, for most voters, a 2,000-page, impenetrable, and largely irrelevant mystery. The BP oil spill has hurt Obama’s ability to fend off GOP charges that he’s ineffective as a leader.”

Worst thing Israel could do regarding Iran? In a definitive analysis of Israel’s options, Reuel Marc Gerecht argues it would be to do nothing: “Without a raid, if the Iranians get the bomb, Europe’s appeasement reflex will kick in and the EU sanctions regime will collapse, leaving the Americans alone to contain the Islamic Republic. Most of the Gulf Arabs will probably kowtow to Persia, having more fear of Iran than confidence in the defensive assurances of the United States. And Sunni Arabs who don’t view an Iranian bomb as a plus for the Muslim world will, at daunting speed, become much more interested in ‘nuclear energy'; the Saudis, who likely helped Islamabad go nuclear, will just call in their chits with the Pakistani military.” The best option, of course, would be for the U.S. to act, but that seems unlikely.

Worst time to have an electoral wipe-out? In a Census year: “Big Republican gains in November [in state legislative races] could have lasting consequences. Legislators elected in the fall will redraw congressional boundaries next year. Control over the redistricting process could sway outcomes in dozens of districts over the next decade. ‘If you’re going to have a good year, have it in a year that ends in zero,’ says Ed Gillespie, a former Republican Party chairman who is heading up the GOP’s state-level efforts this year.”

Worst Justice Department in history? No contest. The latest: “One of the nation’s leading producers of X-rated videos, John Stagliano, was acquitted on federal obscenity charges Friday afternoon after a series of stumbles by the prosecution. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered the acquittal of Stagliano and two companies related to his Evil Angel studio on a defense motion before the defense presented any rebuttal to several days of evidence from the Justice Department. Leon called the government’s case ‘woefully lacking’ or ‘woefully inadequate,’ depending on whose account you follow.”

Worst press secretary in recent memory? Chris Cillizza says he is at least the winner of the “worst week” designation: “It took only 17 words [‘there is no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control’ of the House] for White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to set off the circular firing squad. … Republicans, meanwhile, could barely contain their glee at seeing their message — ‘We can take the House back, really, we can’ — seconded by the official White House mouthpiece.”

Worst Middle East diplomacy rebuke to date? “Fatah spokesperson Muhammad Dahlan announced that Fatah had rejected the U.S.’s offer Saturday to broker direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Worst political advice to Obama? Mark Penn suggests: “Between now and the midterms, the administration has to focus on what it can do to provide a sense of economic recovery. Perhaps the best arena for that is in an energy bill that creates a wide array of incentives to produce new forms of energy.” You understand how Hillary lost the nomination.

Worst column ever from James Fallows? He hopes Dick Cheney recovers so he can change his mind and undermine all his prior views.

Worst political problem for Obama? Howard Fineman says it’s the loss of independent voters: “The Democrats’ support among this group has fallen to as low as 35 percent in some polls. The reasons are clear. They do not believe that Obama’s actions have produced results — and for these practical voters, nothing else matters. The $787 billion stimulus bill is widely regarded as an expensive, unfocused dud, even when measured against the cautious claims the Obama camp originally made for it. Health-care reform remains, for most voters, a 2,000-page, impenetrable, and largely irrelevant mystery. The BP oil spill has hurt Obama’s ability to fend off GOP charges that he’s ineffective as a leader.”

Worst thing Israel could do regarding Iran? In a definitive analysis of Israel’s options, Reuel Marc Gerecht argues it would be to do nothing: “Without a raid, if the Iranians get the bomb, Europe’s appeasement reflex will kick in and the EU sanctions regime will collapse, leaving the Americans alone to contain the Islamic Republic. Most of the Gulf Arabs will probably kowtow to Persia, having more fear of Iran than confidence in the defensive assurances of the United States. And Sunni Arabs who don’t view an Iranian bomb as a plus for the Muslim world will, at daunting speed, become much more interested in ‘nuclear energy'; the Saudis, who likely helped Islamabad go nuclear, will just call in their chits with the Pakistani military.” The best option, of course, would be for the U.S. to act, but that seems unlikely.

Worst time to have an electoral wipe-out? In a Census year: “Big Republican gains in November [in state legislative races] could have lasting consequences. Legislators elected in the fall will redraw congressional boundaries next year. Control over the redistricting process could sway outcomes in dozens of districts over the next decade. ‘If you’re going to have a good year, have it in a year that ends in zero,’ says Ed Gillespie, a former Republican Party chairman who is heading up the GOP’s state-level efforts this year.”

Worst Justice Department in history? No contest. The latest: “One of the nation’s leading producers of X-rated videos, John Stagliano, was acquitted on federal obscenity charges Friday afternoon after a series of stumbles by the prosecution. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered the acquittal of Stagliano and two companies related to his Evil Angel studio on a defense motion before the defense presented any rebuttal to several days of evidence from the Justice Department. Leon called the government’s case ‘woefully lacking’ or ‘woefully inadequate,’ depending on whose account you follow.”

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Thirty Days to Go

Here’s a headline that should cheer conservatives: “Countdown to August; 30 workdays left.” Indeed, it should cheer all Americans, for that is not much time at all for Democrats to do any more mischief. A chunk of that will be taken up by the Elena Kagan Supreme Court confirmation hearings. This brings a smile to the faces of conservatives who have wrestled the Obama agenda to the mat: “How can the Senate expect to pull off an energy bill or even consider immigration when it’s paralyzed by bills that used to be a slam-dunk, like war funding?”

As the report notes, the unwillingness to do more legislating isn’t only on the GOP side of the aisle:

Driven by a White House that wants to keep racking up accomplishments, Reid continues to add big-ticket items to the Senate agenda — like energy and immigration — while fellow Democrats keep trying to take them off. President Barack Obama wants a quick confirmation for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, but he also wants an energy bill and a final deal on Wall Street reform. But with just 30 workdays remaining before senators check out for the August break, Democrats are fatigued, still have a health care hangover and are increasingly pessimistic about what can actually get done.

The short time frame should also please Democrats, who now must admit that much of what they have done up until now has been unhelpful to their political fortunes. Better no more “accomplishments” than another unpopular measure over which they will be attacked.

Here’s a headline that should cheer conservatives: “Countdown to August; 30 workdays left.” Indeed, it should cheer all Americans, for that is not much time at all for Democrats to do any more mischief. A chunk of that will be taken up by the Elena Kagan Supreme Court confirmation hearings. This brings a smile to the faces of conservatives who have wrestled the Obama agenda to the mat: “How can the Senate expect to pull off an energy bill or even consider immigration when it’s paralyzed by bills that used to be a slam-dunk, like war funding?”

As the report notes, the unwillingness to do more legislating isn’t only on the GOP side of the aisle:

Driven by a White House that wants to keep racking up accomplishments, Reid continues to add big-ticket items to the Senate agenda — like energy and immigration — while fellow Democrats keep trying to take them off. President Barack Obama wants a quick confirmation for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, but he also wants an energy bill and a final deal on Wall Street reform. But with just 30 workdays remaining before senators check out for the August break, Democrats are fatigued, still have a health care hangover and are increasingly pessimistic about what can actually get done.

The short time frame should also please Democrats, who now must admit that much of what they have done up until now has been unhelpful to their political fortunes. Better no more “accomplishments” than another unpopular measure over which they will be attacked.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

With help from Saturday Night Live‘s Seth and Amy, Cliff May takes apart Jamie Rubin (no relation, thankfully).

With help from the IDF, we have a concise and thorough account of the flotilla incident.

With help from the increasingly unpopular president, “Republican candidates now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, June 13. That ties the GOP’s largest ever lead, first reached in April, since it first edged ahead of the Democrats a year ago.”

With help from the upcoming elections: “There aren’t enough votes to include climate change rules in a Senate energy bill, a top Democrat said Tuesday. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, dismissed any hopes his colleagues might have of including regulations to clamp down on emissions as part of a comprehensive energy bill this summer.”

With help from J Street (the Hamas lobby?), Israel’s enemies always have friends on Capitol Hill: “In the most open conflict in months between the left-leaning Israel group J Street and the traditional pro-Israel powerhouse AIPAC, the liberal group is asking members of Congress not to sign a letter backed by AIPAC that supports the Israeli side of the Gaza flotilla incident.”

With help from the NRA, House Democrats are in hot water again: “House Democrats are facing a backlash from some liberal and government reform advocacy groups over an exemption for the NRA. House Democrats are facing a backlash from some liberal and government reform advocacy groups over an exemption for the National Rifle Association that was added to a campaign finance bill.”

With the help of Rep. Peter King, we’re sniffing out who the real friends of Israel are: “Congressional Democrats say they want to defend Israel — but without taking on Israel’s enemies. Bizarre choice — so bizarre as to make their professed support for Israel practically meaningless. At issue is a resolution proposed by Rep. Pete King (R-Long Island) that calls on Washington to quit the US Human Rights Council — which two weeks ago voted 32-3 to condemn Israel’s raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla. Incredibly, not a single House Democrat — not even from the New York delegation — is willing to co-sponsor King’s resolution ‘unless we take out the language about the UN,’ he says. Why? No Democrat wants to go on record disagreeing with President Obama’s decision to end the Bush-era boycott of the anti-Israel council — whose members include such human-rights champions as Iran and Libya.”

With help from an inept White House and BP, Bobby Jindal is beginning to look like a leader: “Eight weeks into the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of the Mexico, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has told the National Guard that there’s no time left to wait for BP, so they’re taking matters into their own hands. In Fort Jackson, La., Jindal has ordered the Guard to start building barrier walls right in the middle of the ocean. The barriers, built nine miles off shore, are intended to keep the oil from reaching the coast by filling the gaps between barrier islands.”

With help from Saturday Night Live‘s Seth and Amy, Cliff May takes apart Jamie Rubin (no relation, thankfully).

With help from the IDF, we have a concise and thorough account of the flotilla incident.

With help from the increasingly unpopular president, “Republican candidates now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, June 13. That ties the GOP’s largest ever lead, first reached in April, since it first edged ahead of the Democrats a year ago.”

With help from the upcoming elections: “There aren’t enough votes to include climate change rules in a Senate energy bill, a top Democrat said Tuesday. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, dismissed any hopes his colleagues might have of including regulations to clamp down on emissions as part of a comprehensive energy bill this summer.”

With help from J Street (the Hamas lobby?), Israel’s enemies always have friends on Capitol Hill: “In the most open conflict in months between the left-leaning Israel group J Street and the traditional pro-Israel powerhouse AIPAC, the liberal group is asking members of Congress not to sign a letter backed by AIPAC that supports the Israeli side of the Gaza flotilla incident.”

With help from the NRA, House Democrats are in hot water again: “House Democrats are facing a backlash from some liberal and government reform advocacy groups over an exemption for the NRA. House Democrats are facing a backlash from some liberal and government reform advocacy groups over an exemption for the National Rifle Association that was added to a campaign finance bill.”

With the help of Rep. Peter King, we’re sniffing out who the real friends of Israel are: “Congressional Democrats say they want to defend Israel — but without taking on Israel’s enemies. Bizarre choice — so bizarre as to make their professed support for Israel practically meaningless. At issue is a resolution proposed by Rep. Pete King (R-Long Island) that calls on Washington to quit the US Human Rights Council — which two weeks ago voted 32-3 to condemn Israel’s raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla. Incredibly, not a single House Democrat — not even from the New York delegation — is willing to co-sponsor King’s resolution ‘unless we take out the language about the UN,’ he says. Why? No Democrat wants to go on record disagreeing with President Obama’s decision to end the Bush-era boycott of the anti-Israel council — whose members include such human-rights champions as Iran and Libya.”

With help from an inept White House and BP, Bobby Jindal is beginning to look like a leader: “Eight weeks into the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of the Mexico, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has told the National Guard that there’s no time left to wait for BP, so they’re taking matters into their own hands. In Fort Jackson, La., Jindal has ordered the Guard to start building barrier walls right in the middle of the ocean. The barriers, built nine miles off shore, are intended to keep the oil from reaching the coast by filling the gaps between barrier islands.”

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Reid Stalls

You get the feeling that Harry Reid doesn’t want to get much of anything done in the Senate. Rather than negotiate with Senate Republicans to reach a deal on financial reform, he seems bent on bringing it up again and again, and having cloture defeated again and again. He plainly wants a campaign issue, not a deal. Then there is the face-off between cap-and-trade and immigration reform. The former is toxic for lawmakers from energy-producing states, while the latter is anathema to Big Labor. So again, stalling is the preferred route:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected a proposal from supporters of a stalled Senate energy bill that would move immigration reform through the regular committee process on a priority basis and allow the energy bill to move forward on the Senate floor. The proposal would tentatively set action on immigration for November, after the midterm elections — a delay that even some Democrats would welcome.

If you sense that the Democrats are paralyzed, you are right. They are in an electoral ditch and realize that just about everything they have done or may think of doing will annoy large segments of the electorate. So instead they prefer to create issues and run on GOP “obstructionism,” which is a bit rich considering that they have jumbo majorities in both houses. Convincing the voters — who are mad at them for running up the debt and passing a noxious health-care bill — that it’s really the minority party’s fault that nothing much will get done for the rest of the year will strain the Democratic spin machine. But with the mainstream media on their side, you can bet they’ll give it a try.

You get the feeling that Harry Reid doesn’t want to get much of anything done in the Senate. Rather than negotiate with Senate Republicans to reach a deal on financial reform, he seems bent on bringing it up again and again, and having cloture defeated again and again. He plainly wants a campaign issue, not a deal. Then there is the face-off between cap-and-trade and immigration reform. The former is toxic for lawmakers from energy-producing states, while the latter is anathema to Big Labor. So again, stalling is the preferred route:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected a proposal from supporters of a stalled Senate energy bill that would move immigration reform through the regular committee process on a priority basis and allow the energy bill to move forward on the Senate floor. The proposal would tentatively set action on immigration for November, after the midterm elections — a delay that even some Democrats would welcome.

If you sense that the Democrats are paralyzed, you are right. They are in an electoral ditch and realize that just about everything they have done or may think of doing will annoy large segments of the electorate. So instead they prefer to create issues and run on GOP “obstructionism,” which is a bit rich considering that they have jumbo majorities in both houses. Convincing the voters — who are mad at them for running up the debt and passing a noxious health-care bill — that it’s really the minority party’s fault that nothing much will get done for the rest of the year will strain the Democratic spin machine. But with the mainstream media on their side, you can bet they’ll give it a try.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

There’s something to cheer about: “The plan to unveil a bipartisan climate bill in the Senate on Monday collapsed over the weekend as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the bill’s three authors, declared he couldn’t support it if Democrats decided to prioritize immigration reform.”

Or is there? It seems Graham is just waiting for the Democrats’ immigration-reform ploy to blow over: “[Joe] Lieberman said [Harry] Reid pledged to bring the energy bill to the full Senate as soon as possible this year. In a separate conversation, according to Lieberman, Graham reiterated his support for the energy bill once it’s no longer tangled up with immigration legislation. ‘Now I’m encouraged,’ Lieberman said. Asked when the energy bill might advance, he said, ‘Sometime soon, as soon as we can get Lindsey on board.'”

Do we really think Obama is going to pick a non-judge to go toe-to-toe with Justices Alito, Scalia, and Roberts? “Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) says she’s once again on President Obama’s short list for appointment to the Supreme Court. In an interview with CNN, the term-limited governor says she has talked with people in the Obama administration about the upcoming nomination to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.” Well, it would nail down that all-important Canadian-American vote.

Delusions of grandeur time: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is talking up the healthcare reform law in a big way on the campaign trail. Reid, who led efforts to shepherd the $940 billion legislation through the Senate, is facing a tough reelection battle this fall. He spoke at several Democratic county conventions in northern Nevada on Saturday. ‘The most important thing we’ve done for the country and the world is health care’ he said.”

The GOP is expanding the playing field: “Representative David R. Obey has won 21 straight races, easily prevailing through wars and economic crises that have spanned presidencies from Nixon’s to Obama’s. Yet the discontent with Washington surging through politics is now threatening not only his seat but also Democratic control of Congress. Mr. Obey is one of nearly a dozen well-established House Democrats who are bracing for something they rarely face: serious competition. Their predicament is the latest sign of distress for their party and underlines why Republicans are confident of making big gains in November and perhaps even winning back the House.”

James Jones is now making Jewish jokes. The Forward, via Haaretz, notes that some were not amused: “After all, making jokes about greedy Jewish merchants can be seen at times as insensitive.”

An unnamed Obama official confesses: “We do not understand Syrian intentions. No one does, and until we get to that question we can never get to the root of the problem. … Until then it’s all damage control.” No one? Could it be that Assad is pushing the U.S. and Israel as far as they will go and cozying up to the Iranians, whom he sees as the rising power in the region? The Obami, however, are stumped.

On Friday, Charlie Crist has to decide whether to run for the Senate as an independent. Stories like this in the Miami Herald don’t help: “Charlie Crist, once Florida’s spectacularly popular governor, now in danger of seeing his political career washed up? ‘I honestly don’t know,’ Crist said Friday. ‘But I certainly think the economy played a role.” In hindsight, the warning signs were too numerous: Marco Rubio winning local ‘straw poll'; U.S. Senate elections that Crist brushed off as meaningless; prominent GOP allies publicly scolding him for endorsing President Barack Obama’s stimulus package; veteran party leaders beseeching him to remove or at least rein in his hand-picked Florida GOP chairman, Jim Greer.”

There’s something to cheer about: “The plan to unveil a bipartisan climate bill in the Senate on Monday collapsed over the weekend as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the bill’s three authors, declared he couldn’t support it if Democrats decided to prioritize immigration reform.”

Or is there? It seems Graham is just waiting for the Democrats’ immigration-reform ploy to blow over: “[Joe] Lieberman said [Harry] Reid pledged to bring the energy bill to the full Senate as soon as possible this year. In a separate conversation, according to Lieberman, Graham reiterated his support for the energy bill once it’s no longer tangled up with immigration legislation. ‘Now I’m encouraged,’ Lieberman said. Asked when the energy bill might advance, he said, ‘Sometime soon, as soon as we can get Lindsey on board.'”

Do we really think Obama is going to pick a non-judge to go toe-to-toe with Justices Alito, Scalia, and Roberts? “Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) says she’s once again on President Obama’s short list for appointment to the Supreme Court. In an interview with CNN, the term-limited governor says she has talked with people in the Obama administration about the upcoming nomination to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.” Well, it would nail down that all-important Canadian-American vote.

Delusions of grandeur time: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is talking up the healthcare reform law in a big way on the campaign trail. Reid, who led efforts to shepherd the $940 billion legislation through the Senate, is facing a tough reelection battle this fall. He spoke at several Democratic county conventions in northern Nevada on Saturday. ‘The most important thing we’ve done for the country and the world is health care’ he said.”

The GOP is expanding the playing field: “Representative David R. Obey has won 21 straight races, easily prevailing through wars and economic crises that have spanned presidencies from Nixon’s to Obama’s. Yet the discontent with Washington surging through politics is now threatening not only his seat but also Democratic control of Congress. Mr. Obey is one of nearly a dozen well-established House Democrats who are bracing for something they rarely face: serious competition. Their predicament is the latest sign of distress for their party and underlines why Republicans are confident of making big gains in November and perhaps even winning back the House.”

James Jones is now making Jewish jokes. The Forward, via Haaretz, notes that some were not amused: “After all, making jokes about greedy Jewish merchants can be seen at times as insensitive.”

An unnamed Obama official confesses: “We do not understand Syrian intentions. No one does, and until we get to that question we can never get to the root of the problem. … Until then it’s all damage control.” No one? Could it be that Assad is pushing the U.S. and Israel as far as they will go and cozying up to the Iranians, whom he sees as the rising power in the region? The Obami, however, are stumped.

On Friday, Charlie Crist has to decide whether to run for the Senate as an independent. Stories like this in the Miami Herald don’t help: “Charlie Crist, once Florida’s spectacularly popular governor, now in danger of seeing his political career washed up? ‘I honestly don’t know,’ Crist said Friday. ‘But I certainly think the economy played a role.” In hindsight, the warning signs were too numerous: Marco Rubio winning local ‘straw poll'; U.S. Senate elections that Crist brushed off as meaningless; prominent GOP allies publicly scolding him for endorsing President Barack Obama’s stimulus package; veteran party leaders beseeching him to remove or at least rein in his hand-picked Florida GOP chairman, Jim Greer.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Patty Murray may be in trouble, especially if Dino Rossi gets into the Washington senate race.

At least one pro-Israel group is going after the Obami: “Activists for the Zionist Organization of America lobbied Congress to consider military action against Iran. In more than 100 meetings with members of Congress on Wednesday, the ZOA said hundreds of its activists also asked the lawmakers to defund the Palestinian Authority, press the U.S. embassy issue and enshrine anti-Jewish discrimination safeguards in education legislation.”

Read all of P.J. O’Rourke’s latest. A sample: “The secret to the Obama annoyance is snotty lecturing. His tone of voice sends us back to the worst place in college. . . . America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: ‘A students work for B students.'”

No surprise from Mahmoud Abbas: “Mr. President (Barack Obama) and members of the American administration, since you believe in this (an independent Palestinian state), it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution.” After all, Abbas has no incentive to do anything else.

Douglas Schoen keeps trying to save Democrats from themselves. Forget cap-and-trade and immigration reform, he says: “Instead, what the Democrats should be doing is taking up the issue of jobs, then jobs and then jobs once again. With the unemployment rate still hovering perilously close to 10 percent, the only way congressional Democrats and the administration can improve their eroding political position is by taking on the jobs issue systematically — not sporadically and spasmodically. Every approach should be put on the table: tax incentives for job creation, a payroll tax holiday and even infrastructure investment — if only to demonstrate the party’s commitment to doing everything possible to stimulate employment.”

Works for me: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that he will be ‘unable to move forward’ with the upcoming climate and energy bill he’s crafting if Democratic leaders push ahead with plans to move immigration legislation. Graham’s declaration could halt or unravel the months-long effort to craft a compromise climate measure he has undertaken with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). The measure is slated to be unveiled Monday.”

Dana Milbank is whining about Republican “leaders,” claiming that Charlie Crist is being drummed out of the party. Nonsense. Voters don’t like him and he’s losing. He’s threatening to bolt to keep his pathetic senate race alive. (By the way, you’ll recall Joe Lieberman never got a single mainstream column pleading for the Democrats’ sanity when he ran as an independent.)

Alan Dershowitz pushes J Street: “Do you believe that if America fails to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and if the Israeli government makes a considered decision that it must use military action, as a last resort, to prevent Iran from being able to deploy nuclear weapons, that Israel would have the right to engage in preventive self defense by attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? I am not asking whether Israel should or should not consider such attack, since I lack the military expertise to make that decision, as do you. I am asking whether Israel should have the right to make that decision. And I’m asking whether you believe the United States should seek to prevent Israel from acting on that decision as an absolute last resort?” More important, what does Obama think?

Patty Murray may be in trouble, especially if Dino Rossi gets into the Washington senate race.

At least one pro-Israel group is going after the Obami: “Activists for the Zionist Organization of America lobbied Congress to consider military action against Iran. In more than 100 meetings with members of Congress on Wednesday, the ZOA said hundreds of its activists also asked the lawmakers to defund the Palestinian Authority, press the U.S. embassy issue and enshrine anti-Jewish discrimination safeguards in education legislation.”

Read all of P.J. O’Rourke’s latest. A sample: “The secret to the Obama annoyance is snotty lecturing. His tone of voice sends us back to the worst place in college. . . . America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: ‘A students work for B students.'”

No surprise from Mahmoud Abbas: “Mr. President (Barack Obama) and members of the American administration, since you believe in this (an independent Palestinian state), it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution.” After all, Abbas has no incentive to do anything else.

Douglas Schoen keeps trying to save Democrats from themselves. Forget cap-and-trade and immigration reform, he says: “Instead, what the Democrats should be doing is taking up the issue of jobs, then jobs and then jobs once again. With the unemployment rate still hovering perilously close to 10 percent, the only way congressional Democrats and the administration can improve their eroding political position is by taking on the jobs issue systematically — not sporadically and spasmodically. Every approach should be put on the table: tax incentives for job creation, a payroll tax holiday and even infrastructure investment — if only to demonstrate the party’s commitment to doing everything possible to stimulate employment.”

Works for me: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that he will be ‘unable to move forward’ with the upcoming climate and energy bill he’s crafting if Democratic leaders push ahead with plans to move immigration legislation. Graham’s declaration could halt or unravel the months-long effort to craft a compromise climate measure he has undertaken with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). The measure is slated to be unveiled Monday.”

Dana Milbank is whining about Republican “leaders,” claiming that Charlie Crist is being drummed out of the party. Nonsense. Voters don’t like him and he’s losing. He’s threatening to bolt to keep his pathetic senate race alive. (By the way, you’ll recall Joe Lieberman never got a single mainstream column pleading for the Democrats’ sanity when he ran as an independent.)

Alan Dershowitz pushes J Street: “Do you believe that if America fails to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and if the Israeli government makes a considered decision that it must use military action, as a last resort, to prevent Iran from being able to deploy nuclear weapons, that Israel would have the right to engage in preventive self defense by attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? I am not asking whether Israel should or should not consider such attack, since I lack the military expertise to make that decision, as do you. I am asking whether Israel should have the right to make that decision. And I’m asking whether you believe the United States should seek to prevent Israel from acting on that decision as an absolute last resort?” More important, what does Obama think?

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Immigration Reform — Really? No.

It is hard to take this seriously:

Democratic leaders in Congress have agreed to try to pass immigration legislation this year, placing the explosive issue ahead of an energy bill on their agenda and upending conventional wisdom that it was dead for now.

Democrats hope the measure will quell frustration among Hispanic voters at inaction on immigration in advance of the fall elections, where those voters could be crucial in many races. A comprehensive bill would include a path to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally, a priority for immigrant advocates but something opponents deride as amnesty.

There are many reasons why this seems implausible. There’s no time to draft and pass a mammoth piece of legislation from scratch, especially with a Supreme Court nomination pending. It’s very controversial, especially with organized labor. It didn’t pass last time, and it’s not clear there is a ground swell of support for it now. So what’s going on?

Well, for one thing, it’s an excuse to not doing anything on cap-and-trade, for which there is no Senate filibuster-proof majority. (There may not even be a simple majority.) So this gets cap-and-trade off the table without admitting yet another item on the Democratic wish list is unpassable. Second, it is a sop to Hispanic advocates, whom the Democrats figure can be mollified in much the same way as gay rights advocates are with distant promises for retraction of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – the strategy is to start the process and tell them the Democrats are working on it.

Therefore, I wouldn’t expect to see an immigration bill pass in either the House or Senate anytime soon. But elevating that to the next priority is another indication that the Democrats have run out of things they can jam through Congress. For that, we can be grateful.

It is hard to take this seriously:

Democratic leaders in Congress have agreed to try to pass immigration legislation this year, placing the explosive issue ahead of an energy bill on their agenda and upending conventional wisdom that it was dead for now.

Democrats hope the measure will quell frustration among Hispanic voters at inaction on immigration in advance of the fall elections, where those voters could be crucial in many races. A comprehensive bill would include a path to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally, a priority for immigrant advocates but something opponents deride as amnesty.

There are many reasons why this seems implausible. There’s no time to draft and pass a mammoth piece of legislation from scratch, especially with a Supreme Court nomination pending. It’s very controversial, especially with organized labor. It didn’t pass last time, and it’s not clear there is a ground swell of support for it now. So what’s going on?

Well, for one thing, it’s an excuse to not doing anything on cap-and-trade, for which there is no Senate filibuster-proof majority. (There may not even be a simple majority.) So this gets cap-and-trade off the table without admitting yet another item on the Democratic wish list is unpassable. Second, it is a sop to Hispanic advocates, whom the Democrats figure can be mollified in much the same way as gay rights advocates are with distant promises for retraction of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – the strategy is to start the process and tell them the Democrats are working on it.

Therefore, I wouldn’t expect to see an immigration bill pass in either the House or Senate anytime soon. But elevating that to the next priority is another indication that the Democrats have run out of things they can jam through Congress. For that, we can be grateful.

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Colorado Freshman at Risk Over ObamaCare

The Washington Post examines the plight of Colorado freshman Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey, who switched from no to yes on ObamaCare and is now, to say the least, at risk of losing her seat. (“Her vote left the endangered incumbent in an even more precarious position.”) Markey insists that all is well and that she’ll be rewarded for her vote. The Post dutifully digs up some constituents willing to praise her. But the signs are clear that this is just the sort of lawmaker likely to be sent packing by voters for following Nancy Pelosi and Obama over that precipice.

For starters, her rationale for vote-switching suggests she’s not all that bright — or thinks the voters aren’t. “She especially liked the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of how much the bill would reduce the deficit. ‘The clincher was the CBO score,’ she said.” Oh, good grief. Did she really believe a score that excluded the Doc Fix and ignored the phony double-counting was a clincher? Or was it the White House political spin — do it and the base will rally! — that pushed her to flip her vote?

A telltale sign of her predicament is that she seems not all that anxious to be associated with the president:

This year, Markey has the power of incumbency, but other factors work against her. She knows she will have to win reelection on her own. Would she like to have Obama back this fall?

“You know, if the president wanted to come, I would welcome him,” she said. Then she added: “I have not invited him. For me, this is going to be about what I’m doing in Congress.”

There’s good reason for that. In recent polling, Colorado voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 50 to 47 percent margin. Markey, after voting for Obama’s health-care monstrosity, will have her work cut out for her now as she must try to separate herself from the increasingly unpopular president. So it’s no wonder that Markey’s seat is now rated a toss-up by Charlie Cook’s Political Report (subscription required), which even before her health-care switcheroo explained:

Republicans will try to turn the tables on Markey by painting her as too liberal for the district and a foot soldier for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Unlike some other freshman Democratic colleagues from districts carried by McCain, Markey has not broken from the Democratic line on many legislative items thus far. After unveiling her sponsorship of the Employee Free Choice Act, or “card check,” Markey voted for Democrats’ “cap and trade” energy bill.

Markey may learn the perils of  hewing too closely to the Obama far-Left agenda and of ignoring her Republican-leaning district. And if her voting record proves politically fatal, her replacement will no doubt be among those unpersuaded by the phony CBO scoring and fully committed to repealing ObamaCare. As Obama said, that’s what elections are for.

The Washington Post examines the plight of Colorado freshman Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey, who switched from no to yes on ObamaCare and is now, to say the least, at risk of losing her seat. (“Her vote left the endangered incumbent in an even more precarious position.”) Markey insists that all is well and that she’ll be rewarded for her vote. The Post dutifully digs up some constituents willing to praise her. But the signs are clear that this is just the sort of lawmaker likely to be sent packing by voters for following Nancy Pelosi and Obama over that precipice.

For starters, her rationale for vote-switching suggests she’s not all that bright — or thinks the voters aren’t. “She especially liked the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of how much the bill would reduce the deficit. ‘The clincher was the CBO score,’ she said.” Oh, good grief. Did she really believe a score that excluded the Doc Fix and ignored the phony double-counting was a clincher? Or was it the White House political spin — do it and the base will rally! — that pushed her to flip her vote?

A telltale sign of her predicament is that she seems not all that anxious to be associated with the president:

This year, Markey has the power of incumbency, but other factors work against her. She knows she will have to win reelection on her own. Would she like to have Obama back this fall?

“You know, if the president wanted to come, I would welcome him,” she said. Then she added: “I have not invited him. For me, this is going to be about what I’m doing in Congress.”

There’s good reason for that. In recent polling, Colorado voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 50 to 47 percent margin. Markey, after voting for Obama’s health-care monstrosity, will have her work cut out for her now as she must try to separate herself from the increasingly unpopular president. So it’s no wonder that Markey’s seat is now rated a toss-up by Charlie Cook’s Political Report (subscription required), which even before her health-care switcheroo explained:

Republicans will try to turn the tables on Markey by painting her as too liberal for the district and a foot soldier for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Unlike some other freshman Democratic colleagues from districts carried by McCain, Markey has not broken from the Democratic line on many legislative items thus far. After unveiling her sponsorship of the Employee Free Choice Act, or “card check,” Markey voted for Democrats’ “cap and trade” energy bill.

Markey may learn the perils of  hewing too closely to the Obama far-Left agenda and of ignoring her Republican-leaning district. And if her voting record proves politically fatal, her replacement will no doubt be among those unpersuaded by the phony CBO scoring and fully committed to repealing ObamaCare. As Obama said, that’s what elections are for.

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Less than Meets the Eye — Again

The thing about Obama is that there is always less than meets the eye. He went to Copenhagen twice, each time with spinners expecting the fix was in and Obama could deliver a huge political win; but there was no game plan; there was no Chicago Olympics or global-warming deal. Obama intends to sweep away Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but not really. There is no executive order. There will be a long study and maybe, sometime, there will be congressional action. Obama had a plan for Iran: prove his bona fides by engagement, pivot to crippling sanctions, and hold military force as an option. Instead, he’s been meandering around in engagement and coming up with mini-sanctions. No cleverly devised plan after all.

Now we hear that the proposal to regulate CO2 by bureaucratic fiat is being whittled down to a mini-gambit that won’t go into effect until after 2010, when, by gosh, we’ll have a new Congress:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pledge Monday to move slowly on the implementation of upcoming greenhouse gas rules may give cover to some Capitol Hill Democrats to vote against blocking climate rules entirely, according to lobbyists and activists.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats on Monday that upcoming rules to limit emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities won’t take effect in 2010. She also told the eight Democrats — who mostly hail from coal-producing or coal-reliant states — that the rules will initially be narrower than EPA had planned.

On one level, this is another exercise in cynicism. You see, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has a plan to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. But the Hill reports, “One environmental lobbyist said EPA’s action ‘absolutely’ gives Democrats cover to vote against [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s plan by providing time for work on climate legislation.” On the other hand, it’s evidence that the Obami aren’t really equipped to push through much of their radical agenda, so they must resort once again to delay, misdirection, and half-measures to avoid wigging out their base. Still, the EPA’s newest mini-gambit isn’t enough to win over some Democrats, especially those from energy-producing states:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who led the letter to EPA from the eight Democrats, is preparing a bill that would temporarily prevent EPA rules while Congress works on a broader climate and energy bill. He praised EPA’s action but said it hasn’t changed his mind. “I am glad to see that the EPA is showing some willingness to set their timetable for regulation into the future — this is good progress, but I am concerned it may not go far enough,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.

The environmental lobbyists are squawking about the need to “defend science from politics, defend our children’s future from polluters, and defend our economy from the stranglehold of special interests.” Maybe that sort of thing worked better before Climategate, record unemployment, and Obama’s ratings collapse. But now, it reinforces the chasm between Obama’s agenda and his accomplishments. It is further proof that the Obami have a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to reinventing America or putting in a New Foundation, or whatever they call it these days. That’s very good news indeed.

The thing about Obama is that there is always less than meets the eye. He went to Copenhagen twice, each time with spinners expecting the fix was in and Obama could deliver a huge political win; but there was no game plan; there was no Chicago Olympics or global-warming deal. Obama intends to sweep away Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but not really. There is no executive order. There will be a long study and maybe, sometime, there will be congressional action. Obama had a plan for Iran: prove his bona fides by engagement, pivot to crippling sanctions, and hold military force as an option. Instead, he’s been meandering around in engagement and coming up with mini-sanctions. No cleverly devised plan after all.

Now we hear that the proposal to regulate CO2 by bureaucratic fiat is being whittled down to a mini-gambit that won’t go into effect until after 2010, when, by gosh, we’ll have a new Congress:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pledge Monday to move slowly on the implementation of upcoming greenhouse gas rules may give cover to some Capitol Hill Democrats to vote against blocking climate rules entirely, according to lobbyists and activists.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats on Monday that upcoming rules to limit emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities won’t take effect in 2010. She also told the eight Democrats — who mostly hail from coal-producing or coal-reliant states — that the rules will initially be narrower than EPA had planned.

On one level, this is another exercise in cynicism. You see, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has a plan to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. But the Hill reports, “One environmental lobbyist said EPA’s action ‘absolutely’ gives Democrats cover to vote against [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s plan by providing time for work on climate legislation.” On the other hand, it’s evidence that the Obami aren’t really equipped to push through much of their radical agenda, so they must resort once again to delay, misdirection, and half-measures to avoid wigging out their base. Still, the EPA’s newest mini-gambit isn’t enough to win over some Democrats, especially those from energy-producing states:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who led the letter to EPA from the eight Democrats, is preparing a bill that would temporarily prevent EPA rules while Congress works on a broader climate and energy bill. He praised EPA’s action but said it hasn’t changed his mind. “I am glad to see that the EPA is showing some willingness to set their timetable for regulation into the future — this is good progress, but I am concerned it may not go far enough,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.

The environmental lobbyists are squawking about the need to “defend science from politics, defend our children’s future from polluters, and defend our economy from the stranglehold of special interests.” Maybe that sort of thing worked better before Climategate, record unemployment, and Obama’s ratings collapse. But now, it reinforces the chasm between Obama’s agenda and his accomplishments. It is further proof that the Obami have a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to reinventing America or putting in a New Foundation, or whatever they call it these days. That’s very good news indeed.

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The Problem Isn’t The Lobbyists

A few reporters are onto some lobbyist connections in the Obama camp. We saw some of this earlier in the race when his “I don’t take oil company money” was shown to be less than accurate. But this whole argument, I’d say, is off base. (As is the effort by the McCain camp to purge its own lobbyists for the reasons discussed here.) It’s not as if lobbying is illegal. Last time I checked, it was protected by the First Amendment. The problem is politicians who cave into the special interests promoted by lobbyists.  David Brooks notes, speaking of the atrocious $307 billion farm bill,

Barack Obama talks about taking on the special interests. This farm bill would have been a perfect opportunity to do so. But Obama supported the bill, just as he supported the 2005 energy bill that was a Christmas tree for the oil and gas industries. Obama’s vote may help him win Iowa, but it will lead to higher global food prices and more hunger in Africa. Moreover, it raises questions about how exactly he expects to bring about the change that he promises.

So rather than count lobbyists, perhaps we should start counting dollars spent on boondoggles. This is a more meaningful measure of a candidates’ willingness to resist lobbyists’ invitations to spend the taxpayers dollars and override the public interest. And  it–rather than a neverending game of “spot the lobbyist”–might be a more fruitful exercise as we look for the next president.

A few reporters are onto some lobbyist connections in the Obama camp. We saw some of this earlier in the race when his “I don’t take oil company money” was shown to be less than accurate. But this whole argument, I’d say, is off base. (As is the effort by the McCain camp to purge its own lobbyists for the reasons discussed here.) It’s not as if lobbying is illegal. Last time I checked, it was protected by the First Amendment. The problem is politicians who cave into the special interests promoted by lobbyists.  David Brooks notes, speaking of the atrocious $307 billion farm bill,

Barack Obama talks about taking on the special interests. This farm bill would have been a perfect opportunity to do so. But Obama supported the bill, just as he supported the 2005 energy bill that was a Christmas tree for the oil and gas industries. Obama’s vote may help him win Iowa, but it will lead to higher global food prices and more hunger in Africa. Moreover, it raises questions about how exactly he expects to bring about the change that he promises.

So rather than count lobbyists, perhaps we should start counting dollars spent on boondoggles. This is a more meaningful measure of a candidates’ willingness to resist lobbyists’ invitations to spend the taxpayers dollars and override the public interest. And  it–rather than a neverending game of “spot the lobbyist”–might be a more fruitful exercise as we look for the next president.

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How Serious Is She?

Hillary Clinton said last night that “this race isn’t over.” But is she in it to win? Or only to maximize her potential bargaining leverage, satisfy her supporters, and keep her “I told you so” argument on the backburner for 2012? One way to find out is to see what she does in Oregon. She’s way behind there, and a big loss will wipe out whatever veneer of plausibility her campaign still has.

So if she really is determined to win, what should she do? Take a page from John McCain’s playbook and hammer Obama for voting for the much-reviled Bush-Cheney energy bill. That should play very well with super-liberal, super-Green Oregon voters.

Or she might re-run the “3 a.m.” ad with an update ripped from the headlines to point out Obama’s lack of foreign policy know-how. Alternatively, she could go back to quoting exit poll numbers, this time citing Obama’s shockingly poor West Virginia numbers. Maybe she could drop from airplanes the latest column by Maureen Dowd:

Obama is acting the diffident debutante, pretending not to care that he was given a raspberry by a state he will need in the fall. He was dismissed not only by the voters Hillary usually gets, but was also edged out in blocs that usually prefer him — the under-30 set, college graduates and affluent voters.

But somehow I expect that she won’t do any of these things, for fear of bringing down the wrath of the Democratic establishment and forever ruining her political future. If her dream of a comeback in 2012 is to play out, Obama must lose, but she can’t be seen as the cause.

That leaves her with her West Virginia “I’m in it for the little people” appeal, which won’t be much of a sell in Oregon. And so, I think, she will likely lose by a wide margin there. Then, in a few weeks, she will end the race (somehow, I predict, without “quitting,” a no-no in the Clinton household).

If she’s right and her continued presence does no obvious harm to Obama’s chances in the general election, everyone will kiss and make up. But if not, and she further smudges Obama’s luster in the next few weeks (for example, by beating him in a state she’s not “supposed to win”), no one in the Democratic party will be very happy.

Hillary Clinton said last night that “this race isn’t over.” But is she in it to win? Or only to maximize her potential bargaining leverage, satisfy her supporters, and keep her “I told you so” argument on the backburner for 2012? One way to find out is to see what she does in Oregon. She’s way behind there, and a big loss will wipe out whatever veneer of plausibility her campaign still has.

So if she really is determined to win, what should she do? Take a page from John McCain’s playbook and hammer Obama for voting for the much-reviled Bush-Cheney energy bill. That should play very well with super-liberal, super-Green Oregon voters.

Or she might re-run the “3 a.m.” ad with an update ripped from the headlines to point out Obama’s lack of foreign policy know-how. Alternatively, she could go back to quoting exit poll numbers, this time citing Obama’s shockingly poor West Virginia numbers. Maybe she could drop from airplanes the latest column by Maureen Dowd:

Obama is acting the diffident debutante, pretending not to care that he was given a raspberry by a state he will need in the fall. He was dismissed not only by the voters Hillary usually gets, but was also edged out in blocs that usually prefer him — the under-30 set, college graduates and affluent voters.

But somehow I expect that she won’t do any of these things, for fear of bringing down the wrath of the Democratic establishment and forever ruining her political future. If her dream of a comeback in 2012 is to play out, Obama must lose, but she can’t be seen as the cause.

That leaves her with her West Virginia “I’m in it for the little people” appeal, which won’t be much of a sell in Oregon. And so, I think, she will likely lose by a wide margin there. Then, in a few weeks, she will end the race (somehow, I predict, without “quitting,” a no-no in the Clinton household).

If she’s right and her continued presence does no obvious harm to Obama’s chances in the general election, everyone will kiss and make up. But if not, and she further smudges Obama’s luster in the next few weeks (for example, by beating him in a state she’s not “supposed to win”), no one in the Democratic party will be very happy.

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Bizarro Environmental Fight

Barack Obama criticized John McCain sharply for McCain’s global warming speech, deeming it “breathtaking” in light of McCain’s alleged record of voting against (unnamed) efforts for clean energy. McCain’s camp turned the tables and bashed Obama for voting for the Bush energy bill. That’s right: McCain is attacking the Democratic near-nominee for voting with George W. Bush on energy.

McCain also caught a break today from Hillary Clinton, who put out a statement saying, “While Senator McCain’s proposals may be improvement on President Bush’s, that’s not saying much.” It’s been a good day for McCain: he’s distanced himself from President Bush, reminded voters how his opponent voted for the much-demonized Bush-Cheney energy bill, and had Clinton say he’s essentially a centrist.

Barack Obama criticized John McCain sharply for McCain’s global warming speech, deeming it “breathtaking” in light of McCain’s alleged record of voting against (unnamed) efforts for clean energy. McCain’s camp turned the tables and bashed Obama for voting for the Bush energy bill. That’s right: McCain is attacking the Democratic near-nominee for voting with George W. Bush on energy.

McCain also caught a break today from Hillary Clinton, who put out a statement saying, “While Senator McCain’s proposals may be improvement on President Bush’s, that’s not saying much.” It’s been a good day for McCain: he’s distanced himself from President Bush, reminded voters how his opponent voted for the much-demonized Bush-Cheney energy bill, and had Clinton say he’s essentially a centrist.

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Clinton Goes for the Knockout

Hillary Clinton is now letting Barack Obama have it. Karl Rove, some think, could not have done a harsher ad on Snob-gate. She says in her latest ad that his “I don’t take money from oil companies” line is a lie, or at least an exaggeration, since no one can directly accept corporate money. (A little late, but she’s basically right.) Then, for good measure, she throws in that he voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill.

This tells us a few things. First, Clinton thinks Obama’s brand (high-minded, honest, decent) is scuffed up and she’s going to make sure it gets permanently damaged. This is a character ad, the first one she’s used. Before learning about Snob-gate and Reverend Wright no one would have bought it. Now Clinton is hoping they will.

Second, she wants to win Pennsylvania by a healthy margin to give superdelegates something to think about. The morning after a convincing win, her refrain that Obama can’t win the big states and her argument that he can’t win working class voters will have some real oomph.

Third, she doesn’t much care if she echoes the same themes the McCain campaign is pursuing. She’s not above sinking her party in November. And if her polling (you know they poll this) says Obama is vulnerable on exactly the points the GOP is raising, then there is no reason, in her mind, to hold back.

So McCain doesn’t need his own money for an ad budget right now: he’s got Hillary’s. But if she by some miracle wins the nomination, she will be an infinitely more attractive candidate than the GOP anticipated to those critical Reagan Democrats. McCain better hope she wounds, but does not kill, her opponent. (The good news for him is that this is the most likely outcome.)

Hillary Clinton is now letting Barack Obama have it. Karl Rove, some think, could not have done a harsher ad on Snob-gate. She says in her latest ad that his “I don’t take money from oil companies” line is a lie, or at least an exaggeration, since no one can directly accept corporate money. (A little late, but she’s basically right.) Then, for good measure, she throws in that he voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill.

This tells us a few things. First, Clinton thinks Obama’s brand (high-minded, honest, decent) is scuffed up and she’s going to make sure it gets permanently damaged. This is a character ad, the first one she’s used. Before learning about Snob-gate and Reverend Wright no one would have bought it. Now Clinton is hoping they will.

Second, she wants to win Pennsylvania by a healthy margin to give superdelegates something to think about. The morning after a convincing win, her refrain that Obama can’t win the big states and her argument that he can’t win working class voters will have some real oomph.

Third, she doesn’t much care if she echoes the same themes the McCain campaign is pursuing. She’s not above sinking her party in November. And if her polling (you know they poll this) says Obama is vulnerable on exactly the points the GOP is raising, then there is no reason, in her mind, to hold back.

So McCain doesn’t need his own money for an ad budget right now: he’s got Hillary’s. But if she by some miracle wins the nomination, she will be an infinitely more attractive candidate than the GOP anticipated to those critical Reagan Democrats. McCain better hope she wounds, but does not kill, her opponent. (The good news for him is that this is the most likely outcome.)

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