Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Cruising the Web

Nancy Pelosi met personally with Charlie Rangel yesterday evening and he emerged telling reporters that he was still Chairman of Ways and Means. Amazing. After calls from quite a few Democrats that he step aside, she seems to be hell-bent on handing the Republicans a talking point all election season long about the new "culture of corruption" that she brought to the Washington swamp. Of course, who knows what the true story is since all sorts of media outlets are reporting different stories about whether he's going or not and who would replace him as chairman. Or maybe he's just taking a "leave of absence." Oh, come on, Nancy! Stand by your corrupt man.

The hypocrisy of politicians on Washington crying and screaming about Jim Bunning refusing unanimous consent to the extension of unemployment benefits is quite funny. As the WSJ points out, Harry Reid could have passed the bill any time he wanted to by asking for cloture. He clearly had the votes. All Bunning did was expose the emptiness of Congress and the President's pontificating about pay-go and how they firmly believe that they shouldn't pass new legislation that they haven't paid for either by cuts of tax increases. The Democrats are so proud of themselves for having reinstated pay-go after they took control. Then they proceeded to ignore it for all the spending that they've done for the stimulus and their plans for health care. Republicans have their own problems with hypocrisy since they ignored the idea of paying for programs as they went along when they were in control. But Bunning's proposal that the money for this $10 billion extension of benefits be taken out of unspent stimulus spends seems totally reasonable. But the Democrats would prefer the talking point against Bunning rather than following through on their previous pay-go rhetoric. And, by the way, contrary to media mischaracterizations, this was not a filibuster.

It sure sounds like the Supreme Court is ready to incorporate the Second Amendment after yesterday's hearing in McDonald v. Chicago. Lyle Denniston has the wrap-up at scotusblog of what went on in the hearing. And those hoping that the Court might use the "privileges and immunities clause" to do the incorporating have seen their hopes dashed with this put-down by Scalia to the lawyer, Alan Gura, making that argument.
“Why,” Scalia asked Gura, “are you asking us to overrule 140 years of prior law….unless you are bucking for a place on some law school faculty.” The Justice said the “privileges or immunities” argument was “the darling of the professorate” but wondered why Gura would “undertake that burden.” And Scalia noted that the “due process” clause — an open-ended provision that he has strongly attacked on other occasions– was available as the vehicle for incorporation, and added: “Even I have acquiesced in that.” Gura somewhat meekly said “we would be extremely happy:” if the Court used the “due process” clause to extend the Second Amendment’s reach.
Randy Barnett explains why the Supreme Court should have considered using the "privileges and immunities" clause. The justices just didn't seem to want to wade into that briar patch. Beyond my personal opinion that the Second Amendment should be incorporated along with most of the rest of the Bill of Rights, I'm just tickled pink about the timing of this case. My government classes were discussing the "privileges and immunities" clause on Monday and incorporation on Monday and Tuesday. So I could tell them that, just as we were going over which rights have not yet been incorporated, the Supreme Court was hearing a case on just that issue. I absolutely love it when current events are kind enough to parallel my curriculum.

Holman Jenkins bemoans the fact that Obama and the Democrats are ignoring the one reform that all health analysts agree is behind the rocketing costs in health care - the fact that we are stuck with a model of receiving insurance through our employers. This is an artifact from World War II when the government allowed tax benefits for companies that offered health care benefits as a way to get around wage controls. What began as a work-around-solution during wartime has become the sacred model that has been driving up costs ever since. What a reform the Democrats could have developed if they'd worked with the many Republicans who are willing to make such a change.

Senator Jim DeMint explains why it would be a terrible move for Obama to use his executive authority to designate up to 10 million acres of land from Montana to New Mexico as national monuments and thus prevent any sort of development or mining to be done on that land. The Senate just blocked an amendment that DeMint had proposed to block the President's authority to do this. Harry Reid of Nevada voted against the amendment that would have helped protect the 20% of Nevada left remaining from federal control from any further federal encroachment.

Ruth Marcus is shocked, shocked
that House Democrats have been searching out ways to get around the same ethics rules that they so prided themselves on passing in 2007.

The WSJ explains why Obama's plan to use reconciliation to pass his health care bill is substantively different from other uses of reconciliation. Only Washington politicians would come up with such a jerry-rigged system.
The process was designed for items that cut spending or affect tax revenue, to meet targets in the annual budget resolution. Democrats want to convert it into a jerry-rigged amendment process: That is, reconciliation wouldn't actually be used to pass ObamaCare per se. Instead, it would be used only to muscle through substantive changes to the bill that passed the Senate on Christmas Eve, without which 216 House Democrats won't vote for it. So Democrats would be writing amendments to current law that isn't in fact law at all—and can't become law without those amendments.
If they pull this off, we'll have a whole party of candidates claiming in the fall that they voted against it before they voted for it. Don't expect the voters to be snookered by such phony claims.

Marty Peretz unloads
on Bill Delahunt calling him a "a slippery and portentous politician" as well as a fool. Tell us what you really think.

Charlie Cook warns Republicans
that, if they take back the House, they will then be in the position of being in charge and absorbing all the anger against Washington that is providing the very wave that may sweep them into office.

Monica Crowley explains why President Obama's debt commission is a cover for raising taxes.

Dr. Mark E. Klein notes that President Obama had a virtual colonoscopy during his annual exam, but that this procedure is not covered under Medicare. All medical organizations agree that the virtual colonoscopy is just as effective as the more invasive one that anyone who has had one dreads. You don't have to drink that disgusting stuff ahead of time and suffer the painful consequences. You don't have to be sedated. You don't risk complications. More people would be willing to get a virtual one where they might delay getting the traditional one. Thus, it would save lives. But if you're dependent on Medicare you won't have that choice unless you can pay out of own your pocket. And if the Democrats have their way, we could all eventually be dependent on such decisions made by Washington bureaucrats.

Hillary Clinton irritates the British by saying they should sit down with the Argentinians to negotiate over the Falklands, but the British don't think there is anything to negotiate. This administration does seem to have a genius for ticking off what used to be our closest ally.

As the President prepares to go through with reconciliation, more doubts emerge as to whether it will be possible to get the House to approve the Senate bill which is the necessary step to the whole scenario. Karl at the Green Room points out that media stories that Nancy is winning over Democrats who voted no the first time are misleading and ignore those same representatives' own words that they're not planning to switch. Timothy Noah also is doubtful of Nancy's math.