Archive for August, 2011

The 2012 battlefield begins to take form

Political analyst Charlie Cook, at National Journal, sets out the dynamics of the 2012 presidential election:

“The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be one of oddest in memory and potentially far more dramatic than one might guess. Obviously, the general election is still more than 14 months away — and, in politics, and for that matter anything involving human behavior, predictions are dangerous. But the dynamics that seem to be emerging are fascinating.

On one hand, we have an incumbent president with dismally low job-approval ratings; his signature legislative accomplishment of health care reform remains very unpopular, and he is presiding over an enormously weak and worsening economy. This is a combination sufficiently bad to prevent any president’s reelection.

On the other hand, we have an opposing party whose center of gravity and energy levels have swung so far to one side of the ideological spectrum as to have been designed to alienate the independent and …

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Ohio governor pleads with foes to save him

Wow. This is quite a climbdown for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch:

Gov. John Kasich pleaded with organized labor leaders today to compromise on Senate Bill 5 and cancel a fall referendum on the controversial bill that peels back public employee collective bargaining rights.

Kasich said avoiding a fight over state Issue 2 is in “best interest of everyone, including public employee unions.” He asked the unions to “set aside political agendas and past offenses.”

But We Are Ohio, the coalition that is leading the effort to overturn the collective bargaining law, reacted negatively almost immediately.

“They can repeal the entire bill or join us in voting no on Nov. 8,” said spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas….

Senate Democratic leader Capri Cafaro of Hubbard said in a statement:

“The time to negotiate was during the legislative process, not 197 days after Senate Bill 5 was first introduced in the Ohio Senate. Unfortunately, it has taken too long for the …

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How did we get in this mess? Nouriel Roubini explains

Nouriel Roubini, an economist who has gained a good deal of fame and influence as the man who saw the Great Recession coming, talks to the Wall Street Journal about our current economic predicament, and how we got in this mess in the first place:

In short?

“Well honestly, it’s George Bush’s fault,” he says.

In his view, Bush cut taxes, “we spent $2 trillion for two unwinnable wars, we doubled discretionary spending,” we increased entitlement spending through Medicare Part D and we took a deregulatory approach to the economy that “caused the biggest economic and financial crisis ever.”

“(Obama) inherited the worst economic and financial crisis, and now they blame it on him,” Roubini says. “That’s what happened. We destroyed our financial sustainability.”

– Jay Bookman

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New revelations may threaten Murdoch empire

The scandal in Britain over phone hacking and other illegal actions by News Corp. editors and reporters has already had serious consequences for the company, including the resignation of prominent corporate officials, the closing of a major newspaper and testimony under pressure by Rupert Murdoch and others before Parliament.

But all of that may eventually seem minor compared to what’s ahead. Evidence released by a parliamentary committee, including letters from a News Corp. reporter and the company’s legal firm, could end up producing criminal charges against James Murdoch and others.

If backed by supporting evidence, the revelations threaten the Murdoch empire.

As The Guardian reports:

“The letters from Goodman and from the London law firm Harbottle & Lewis are among a cache of paperwork published by the Commons culture, media and sport select committee. One committee member, the Labour MP Tom Watson, said Goodman’s letter was “absolutely devastating”. He said: “Clive …

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Perry: We would treat Bernanke ‘pretty ugly down in Texas’

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we — we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — or treasonous in my opinion.”

– Texas Gov. Rick Perry,
speaking of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

I wonder how that phrase “treat him pretty ugly” translates into English from the original Texan? In talking about “what y’all would do to him,” I don’t think Perry means passing some proclamation of disapproval in the state Legislature. It sounds more personal, and more physical.

The man who got a “D” in economics at Texas A&M seems to be threatening the man who graduated from Harvard summa cum laude in economics and completed his doctoral work in economics at MIT.

And those other words, “treacherous” and “treasonous.”

Pretty serious talk there, governor. Those aren’t words to be flung about …

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Perry or Romney? A party eyes its future

So, conservative readers, I have a question that you in the end will have to answer:

This guy?


Or this guy?


Speaking realistically, those are your choices (at least, I hope they are. I hope this Michele Bachmann thing fades). The answer will determine more than the identity of your party’s champion against Barack Obama. It will also say a lot about the direction of the party itself.

So which way are you going to go? I’m going to ask our more liberal readers not to participate in the Bookman Straw Poll, so we can get a more accurate idea of how opinion breaks down among those folks who will actually make the decision in question.

– Jay Bookman

Who should be the 2012 Republican presidential nominee?

  • Mitt Romney
  • Rick Perry

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

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‘President Michele Bachmann’ has a ring to it

The Iowa Straw poll results:

1. Michele Bachmann: 4823 votes
2. Ron Paul: 4671
3. Tim Pawlenty: 2293
4. Rick Santorum: 1657
5. Herman Cain: 1456
6. Rick Perry 718
7. Mitt Romney: 567
8. Newt Gingrich: 385
9. Jon Huntsman 69
10. Thaddeus McCotter: 35

The Bachmann momentum builds. Really people? Bachmann?

Ron Paul, as usual, turns out every Libertarian in the state of Iowa. But his political ceiling remains about two feet higher than his floor.

Tim “I Got” Pawlenty of nothing gets walloped two-to-one by the Wide-Eyed Wonder and quits the race in abject embarrassment.

Rick Perry, the Ken doll from Texas, isn’t on the ballot but uses write-ins to beat the Massachusetts Ken doll, Mitt Romney.

Herman “Rock You Like a Herman” Cain peters out into a tropical depression somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle. Newt Gingrich trails badly — apparently they don’t have Twitter yet in Iowa. And watching Jon Huntsman try to hit up Republican voters is like watching Charlie Sheen prowl for …

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Family makes Travelin’ Music sound all the sweeter

The great Alison Krauss and Union Station play the Fox tomorrow night, but I won’t be in the audience. We’re headed off to a family wedding that, like most family weddings, will also serve as an excuse for an extended family reunion.

Like many of us, I’m the product of a mixed marriage: On Dad’s side, a hillbilly line going back centuries, to at least 1750 and probably earlier, in the hills of southwestern Virginia and West Virginia. On Mom’s side, more recent immigrants from Ireland and Finland, working folk who settled in the Plymouth, Mass. area. (This family event is on the Massachusetts side.)

As the family story goes, my West Virginia grandmother wasn’t exactly thrilled when Dad introduced her to his Catholic, New England-accented bride (they met while both were serving in the USAF). But they managed to work through that.

So this paean to family life, courtesy of Ms. Krauss and her friends, goes out to the soon-to-be newlyweds, Anna Lee and Tate. Good luck, and I’m …

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11th Circuit overturns health-insurance mandate

In a 2-1 decision, the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the individual mandate in the Obama administration’s health-care reform package is unconstitutional, but has upheld other parts of the package.

But without the mandate, much of the reform becomes fiscally impossible….

More to come.

UPDATE: Some pertinent quotes from opinion:

“Economic mandates such as the one contained in the Act are so unprecedented, however, that the government has been unable, either in its briefs or at oral argument, to point this Court to Supreme Court precedent that addresses their constitutionality. Nor does our independent review reveal such a precedent….

“The fact that Congress has never before exercised this supposed authority is telling. As the Supreme Court has noted, “the utter lack of statutes imposing obligations on the States’ executive (notwithstanding the attractiveness of that course to Congress), suggests an assumed absence of such power.”

… the …

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GOP candidates man bulwarks against compromise

The most telling moment of last night’s GOP debate came when host Bret Baier asked the eight candidates whether any of them would accept a debt-reduction deal that made $10 in spending cuts for every $1 increase in taxes.

Let’s talk this through, shall we? Let’s say the Democrats offered to accept $10 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years in return for $1 trillion in higher taxes.

That’s an average of $100 billion a year in higher taxes, which is not that much. On the other hand, it would also require average spending cuts of $1 trillion a year, which is immense. Cuts of that magnitude would strike at the heart of Medicare, Social Security and other entitlements.

Overall, such a deal would produce an $11 trillion reduction in the national debt over what it would have been. And every single person standing on that stage in Iowa would turn it down.

Every single one.

That offers a stark insight into GOP priorities. They may engage in hyperbolic rhetoric about the …

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