CAP AND TRADE, CUT AND RUN
The Obama White House has been counting on the Democratic Senate to muscle through its controversial "cap and trade" bill by using the budget reconciliation process -- making it possible to enact the costly carbon tax plan with 51 votes rather than the 60 usually needed to cut off debate before a measure can be enacted.
That strategy was dealt a big blow last night after more than two dozen Senate Democrats sided with Republicans in publicly blocking use of the reconciliation loophole. A carbon bill now can't be attached to a budget resolution, one of the few Senate initiatives that under current rules can bypass the 60-vote threshold.
Republican Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska told reporters he was pleased that every Republican voted for his proposal, along with 26 Democrats. He said that many of his Democratic supporters opposed the reconciliation loophole on grounds of Senate procedure and tradition, but were also frankly leery of hitting voters with visibly higher prices for everything from electricity to gasoline.
"There are huge economic consequences to cap-and-trade legislation," Mr. Johanns said. "It will impact everybody."
Opposing sides on the climate change issue offered different interpretations of the vote. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, hailed the passage of the Johanns amendment as "the biggest vote of the year" so far in the Senate. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and a prime sponsor of "cap and trade," downplayed the significance of the vote: "The polluting industries are well-organized, supported by a phalanx in the Republican Party, and that is always a challenge," he told The Hill newspaper. "But I don't think we learned anything new today."
Mr. Whitehouse may think there's no lesson in yesterday's vote, but it looks as if a sizable "phalanx" of Democrats have discovered the political perils of slapping a huge tax on Americans. Two groups of Democratic senators seem most worried about "cap and trade: Those up for re-election in 2010, such as Michael Bennet of Colorado and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and those who hail from Midwestern states that disproportionately rely on carbon-emitting coal for their electricity generation. The latter include Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin.
Even Democrats appear uneager to go home and tell constituents to pay dramatically higher energy bills just to deliver a symbolic slap at climate change.
-- John Fund
WILL DODD FOLLOW THE TORRICELII PRECEDENT?
The last time a Democratic Senator from the Northeast was in as much ethical and political hot water as Connecticut's Chris Dodd, his state Democratic Party knew what to do with surgical precision. In the fall of 2002, New Jersey Senator Bob Torricelli had become embroiled in a scandal over gifts from a donor and allegations that he had performed favors in return. His party convened a hasty meeting and pressured him out of his reelection race even though the filing deadline for a replacement candidate had already passed. In his place, Democrats installed 78-year-old former Senator Frank Lautenberg who went on to hold the seat and still sits in the Senate today.
Democrats in Connecticut aren't likely to wait till the last minute before trying to dump Mr. Dodd. A new Quinnipiac University poll finds him already trailing his declared GOP challenger, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, by 34% to 50%. The major millstones around Mr. Dodd's neck include preferential mortgage treatment he received from the real estate giant Countrywide and his role in the AIG bonus imbroglio.
The numbers are so bad that Mr. Dodd's job performance now wins approval from only one-third of Connecticut voters. Matched up against Mr. Simmons, he wins only 58% of Democrats and a quarter of independent voters.
"A 33 percent job approval is unheard of for a 30-year incumbent, especially a Democrat in a blue state. Sen. Christopher Dodd's numbers among Democrats are especially devastating," says Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. "Voters won't vote for you if they don't trust you. Dodd must find a way to regain the trust of Connecticut voters, and do it before a Republican challenger -- and maybe a Democratic primary challenger -- gains too much momentum."
I doubt Connecticut Democrats will wait for a summer 2010 primary to deliver the bad news to Mr. Dodd. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has been waiting in the wings for decades, and he's reported to be eager to take on Mr. Dodd. Local political analysts expect the incumbent Senator to bow to political reality and retire.
But there is a stubborn streak in the Dodd family. His father was also a United States Senator from Connecticut, who in 1967 was censured by that body for financial irregularities involving campaign funds. Nonetheless, he chose to contest the Democratic primary in 1970, losing to New Left activist Joseph Duffy. Mr. Dodd then became an independent, running to retain his seat in the fall against Mr. Duffy and Republican Lowell Weicker. He placed third, handing the seat to Mr. Weicker.
Few people expect Mr. Dodd to follow in the footsteps of his father (as well as those of Joe Lieberman, who also fought for his Senate seat even after losing a Democratic primary). But Mr. Dodd is a proud man who may resist following the example of Bob Torricelli and leaving the stage quietly.
-- John Fund
SPINNING A DISTRICT
In Tuesday's special election in New York's 20th District, the margin is now less than 50 votes, and thousands of absentee ballots remain to be counted. Meanwhile, as they position themselves for the fight ahead, both parties are distributing memos playing up the opposing party's strength in the district in order to make their own performance seem more impressive.
Democrats and Republicans, naturally, both want to appear to have over-performed, even if they lose. The result is a virtual orgy of cherry-picking of statistics to try to make the opposition look stronger.
A memo released by the Democratic National Committee yesterday described the district as "overwhelmingly Republican," "Republican-friendly," and "known for a generally rural conservative constituency." It also noted the district's Republican voter registration advantage and low percentage of minorities.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, in contrast, distributed memos claiming that it amounts to a "faulty argument" for Democrats to refer to NY-20 as a "Republican district." On the contrary, the district "has come to exemplify Democratic dominance in the Northeast in recent elections." The memo notes Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand won a lopsided victory there in 2008 despite her Republican opponent spending $6 million, an unusual amount for a House candidate to spend in a losing cause.
While the spin cycle was in full effect yesterday, the facts tell their own story. The area that is now the 20th District has historically been difficult for Democrats to win and Republicans currently hold a 70,000 voter registration advantage. But also true is that a Democrat has won the last two congressional elections in the district, including in 2008 by a 24-point margin. President Obama won the district by three points last year; President Bush won it by seven and eight points in his two national races.
Bottom line: Perhaps the only reliable conclusion is that, whatever factors were in play this week in this battleground district, one of them wasn't an overwhelming Obama honeymoon mood.
-- Kyle Trygstad, RealClearPolitics.com
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Allegedly the most charismatic politician in the world, Mr. Obama was a disappointment. It sounded as though he had a blocked nose and so his lack of energy may have been a symptom of a cold. Jet lag, too. He probably wished he could have stayed in bed. . . . He spoke slowly, in a meandering manner. Some might say that he was thoughtful and professorial. . . . Am I saying that he was a bore? Oh dear. I find that I possibly am. . . . Our old donkey Gordon, by comparison to this American visitor, was for once Mr. Eloquent, Mr. Quick-Off-The-Mark. Mr. Obama had managed to make Mr. Brown look good. Another amazing achievement" -- columnist Quentin Letts in Britain's Daily Mail, writing about yesterday's press conference involving President Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The U.S. has previously avoided the U.N. Human Rights Council, and with good reason: In its three-year history, the body has done little other than issue critiques of Israel and justify rights-abusing regimes. The council also has a hand in overseeing for the Durban Review Conference, a gathering that ostensibly fights racism, but in practice has become an anti-Semitic hate fest.
Even before it was created, the U.S. voted against the Human Rights Council, and there's no good reason it should get involved now. Yet in time for Mr. Obama's visit to the G-20 meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday announced that the U.S. has reversed its policy and will seek to join the Council.
It didn't take 15 minutes for Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, to declare victory over the Bush administration: "I see [the Obama decision] in line with his immediate decision to close Guantanamo and that means to engage and advance human rights not only in the United States but all over the world," she declared. Ms. Pillay, a South African judge, immediately dispatched letters to the U.S. and Canada (which also rejected the Durban "racism" conference) to attend the follow-up meeting in Geneva this month.
Mr. Obama, who previously had declined to send a representative to Durban II, is judged by some still to be on the fence. He may feel the Durban crew has been suitably chastened after several European powers also criticized its anti-Semitism and the group's call for laws against insulting Islam. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice says that the U.S. is now ready to join the U.N. Human Rights Council "because we believe that working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights." If that reasoning is extended to the Durban conference, Mr. Obama should expect bigtime blowback even from his own party.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
02 APRIL 09
Barack Hussein Obama aka Barry Soetoro
is a usurper
because he is not eligible to be President of the United States
because he is not a Natural Born Citizen
as required by Article Two, Section One, Clause Five
of the United States Constitution regardless of
where he was born (Mombassa, Hawaii, Chicago, or Mars)
because he was not born of TWO PARENTS
BOTH OF WHOM WERE UNITED STATES CITIZENS
at the time of his birth. His father was a subject/ciitizen
of Kenya/Great Britain
and his mother was too young to pass on her citizenship
according to the law in effect when he was born.
Check it out:
His usurpation cannot be corrected by Congress,
it can only be corrected by his removal
by an amendment to the Constitution.
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