Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

How can we bailout the “American car industry” if we can’t decide what an American car is? “Once you put down the flags and shut off all the television ads with their Heartland, apple-pie America imagery, the truth of the car business is that it transcends national boundaries. A car or truck sold by a ‘Detroit’ auto maker such as GM, Ford or Chrysler could be less American — as defined by the government’s standards for ‘domestic content’ — than a car sold by Toyota, Honda or Nissan — all of which have substantial assembly and components operations in the U.S.”

Sen. Arlen Specter raised hard questions about Eric Holder, got no answers, got stiffed by Sen. Pat Leahy in his quest for more information and then supported Holder anyway. It’s hard to fathom why he went through all this and why he threw away whatever goodwill he earned from his own party. Perhaps Pat Toomey will reconsider that primary race.

Will Terry McAuliffe’s carpetbagger image and the sense he is trying to buy the Virginia Governorship with national money do him in? Well, it does sort of reinforce those concerns when he runs ads in January — which no Virginia gubernatorial candidate has ever done.

An embarrassing portrayal of George Stephanopoulos (chatting every day with his Democratic pals) who has tried hard to shed his image of a Democratic pol.

Fred Dicker calls Governor Paterson “a liar.” From the Republicans perspective, what is not to like about this? The Democrats are threatening a senate primary challenge, Paterson is in hot water, the Kennedy’s will like help fund whoever opposes Paterson and Sen. Gillibrand, and, in the meantime, Hillary Clinton’s seat is filled by perhaps the least doctrinaire Democrat who could possibly have gotten the nod. Sometimes you just get lucky.

Larry Kudlow pans the opening moves of Tim Geithner and Larry Summer. Kudlow argues for a strong dollar and incentives for investors (e.g. don’t scare them with the prospect of a tax hike), the Obama duo seem intent on pursuing the opposite.

Mickey Kaus continues his crusade to strip the coverage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) — i.e. “card check” legislation — of its spin. Somehow, two salient facts seem to escape most of the MSM coverage: the employees don’t get the choice for a secret ballot and current labor law already bans employer intimidation and interference with union organizing elections.

A clever ad by the anti-card check forces. Don’t run against the popular President, urge him to make the right “choice” and not cave into Big Labor. It isn’t bad advice, actually.

The hypocrisy factor is getting pretty high: “Newly installed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner issued new rules Tuesday restricting contacts with lobbyists – and then hired one to be his top aide. Mark Patterson, a former advocate for Goldman Sachs, will serve as chief of staff to Geithner as the Treasury Department revamps the Wall Street bailout program that sent an infusion of cash to his former employer.” So glad we’ve dispensed with business as usual in Washington.

The stimulus bill’s real cost is over a trillion — because you have to pay interest on the additional debt. Oh that.

The only question about Joe Biden’s apology to Chief Justice Roberts is whether the President made him do it or he figured out on his own that he was being disrespectful and unkind.

A smart take from S.E. Cupp: “While sending envoys to the Middle East is a fine step (and who better than George J Mitchell, steroid-czar extraordinaire?), it’s deeply troubling that our new president is seemingly apologizing to the Muslim community for the United States. In his own words, he said he told Mitchell to “start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating.” That’s strong language, and frankly, it’s completely inappropriate. The implication that the US behaves has been dictating to the Arab world or has been unwilling to try diplomacy in Muslim states like Iran, Iraq and others is preposterous and historically inaccurate. While I certainly hope that former Senator Mitchell and President Obama’s soft touch — which seems to come in the form of political self-deprecation — will solve the problems in the Middle East, I’ll reserve any optimism for a later time.”

Dan Mitchell of CATO explains what’s wrong with the stimulus plan. It’s not stimulative, for starters.

Another reason to oppose the stimulus plan: it contains a “buy American” protectionist provision for the domestic steel industry. The provision violates our international obligations. Wasn’t the Obama administration supposed to be respectful of our multilateral commitments?

Not even Democrats like it that much: “Republican criticism of the stimulus package that the House will vote on tonight has focused on its soaring price tag, but some Democrats on Capitol Hill and other administration supporters are voicing a separate critique: that the plan may fall short in its broader goal of transforming the American economy over the long term.    .   . For some House Democrats, the problem is less a matter of balancing the short and long term than a shortage of focus and will on the part of the administration. Their disappointment centers on the relatively small amount devoted to long-lasting infrastructure investments in favor of spending on a long list of government programs. While each serves a purpose, the critics say, they add up to less than the sum of their parts, and fall far short of the transformative New Deal-like vision many of them had entertained.” Well they could vote, “no.”

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