Oops, they did it again. President Obama's grabby-handed environmental bureaucrats have earned yet another spanking from the federal judiciary over their "determined disregard" of the rule of law. Isn't it time to give these misbehaving government hooligans a permanent timeout?
Federal judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana excoriated the Obama Interior Department Wednesday for defying his May 2010 order to lift its groundless ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. Nine months later, not a single permit has been issued. Several deepwater platforms have moved out of the area to take their businesses — and an estimated 5,000 jobs — overseas. Billions of dollars in potential oil revenue and Gulf lease sales-related rent have also dried up.
Ed Schultz on Tuesday spent a great deal of time blaming the crisis in Egypt on rising food prices tying commodity inflation to former President George H.W. Bush and Wall Street speculators.
Not once in over fifteen minutes of air time were the name Bill Clinton or the two bills he signed into law that deregulated the financial services and commodity futures industries mentioned (videos follow with partial transcripts and commentary):
Teasing an upcoming story on new federal dietary guidelines on Monday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith announced: "The assault on salt. Chances are you are eating too much of it." Smith later introduced the segment by fretting: "Two out of three Americans are overweight or obese, an epidemic that is expected to send health care costs skyrocketing."
In the report that followed, correspondent Michelle Miller explained: "USDA is now urging Americans...to wean themselves off excess sodium and improve their overall eating habits." She spoke with nutritionist Lisa Young, who insisted, "We need to get the food industry on board." Miller declared: "...the problem is the salt that's already in processed foods....That's why the government is now pressuring food companies to cut the salt in their products or face regulation."
At the top of the 7:30AM ET half hour on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge happily proclaimed: "After 130 years, [Thomas] Edison's invention is basically being phased out....The government is replacing the incandescent bulb with a much more energy efficient light."
Wragge portrayed the government ban as a new "choice" for consumers: "Consumers will now have a choice of two different kinds of bulbs, the CFL and LED and we're going to tell you the difference and which one is better for you, which one's going to be a little more cost effective." Co-host Erica Hill lamented: "It's a tough transition....It's hard to let go." Wragge reassured her: "Well, we're going to hopefully make that process a little easier for you." Hill concluded: "It's been a good run, Thomas Edison."
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric proclaimed: "The federal commission that investigated the financial meltdown has reportedly concluded it could have been avoided. The New York Times says a report due out tomorrow finds plenty of fault to go around, including mismanagement by corporations and lax regulation by the government."
Couric made sure to point out: "The report also says that contrary to popular belief, the government's push to increase home ownership in this country was not a major contributor to the meltdown." What she failed to mention was that New York Times article also explained: "The partisan nature of the findings, however, could undermine its impact. Of the 10 commission members, only the six appointed by Democrats...attended the news conference [publicizing the report]." It went on to add: "The four Republican commissioners have prepared two separate dissents; three of them planned to hold a conference call Thursday afternoon."
Last week, the president wrote in the Wall Street Journal an article titled "Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System" in which he announced that he had issued an executive order to review all government regulations on a cost-benefit ratio basis. In itself, this is a good idea, although the president makes it explicit that the cost-benefit analysis must take account of — as benefits — intangible factors such as "equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts." Plenty of leeway there for career regulators and liberal political appointees to justify almost any oppressive regulation they may stumble over.
But what startles one is the that such a proposal could come from the same administration that has for the last two years been saddling the American economy and our personal lives with more new legislatively mandated regulations than we have ever experienced in such a short time.
The President that expanded the role, scope, and size of the federal government more than all that came before him or since is unquestionably Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Yet on Tuesday, moments after calling Congresswoman Michele Bachmann a "balloon head," MSNBC's Chris Matthews actually said FDR "bailed out capitalism in the '30s" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
"[W]hether you think a ban on police-style assault weapons such as the one Jared Lee Loughner used in Tuscon is good policy or not, it is curious to see that Republicans are not even bothering to make legitimate arguments against such proposals," Newsweek's Ben Adler scoffed in a January 18 The Gaggle blog post:
There is simply no precedent to support the claim that laws preventing civilians from obtaining weapons that can fire 30 bullets without reloading would violate the Second Amendment. This does not mean that one cannot have a valid concern that even constitutional laws place an undue burden on one's freedom, but that is a question of values and public policy tradeoffs, not constitutionality.
While it's true that courts have not examined the constitutionality on such a ban, it's completely ludicrous to say there is in no way a constitutional issue at play here. Courts invalidate legislation on the grounds of creating an"undue burden" on constitutional rights all the time, as well they should, seeing that the purpose of the Bill of Rights is, well, securing rights to citizens from the abridgement of the government.
On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Michelle Miller lectured Americans on their diet: "According to Consumer Reports Health, many Americans are simply deluding themselves, most say they eat well but don't....85% of Americans rarely, if ever, count calories. Another 79% never set foot on a scale."
At one point, Miller stopped by a New York City restaurant and warned: "...people have good intentions...but often sabotage themselves." She then harassed one patron eating a salad: "Take a look at this green salad with all that caesar dressing. Don't you think the dressing sort of ruins it for you?" The unidentified man replied: "Well, otherwise I'm not going to be able to eat it."
The Federal Communications Commission todsay voted to regulate the Internet for the first time, in what proponents have dubbed a "Net Neutrality" scheme. The new regulations forbid internet service providers from impeding access to legal web content. See the video below the fold for a good summary of what that means for Internet users.
Neither side of the debate over the regulation of ISPs is particularly fond of today's ruling. Regulation advocates were mostly hoping that the FCC would classify the Internet and regulate it as a government-granted monopoly, in much the same way that telephone service has been regulated since the 1930s. Opponents of the new regulations claim the policy is a solution in search of a problem, and that the they will stultify Web innovation.
Fortunately for both sides, then, forces are already at work to scale back the regulations.
Is Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps trying to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine through what he calls a "public value test" for broadcasters? The short answer is no, and Copps is adamant about that point. He points out that while the Fairness Doctrine regulated political speech by mandating equal time for all views on a given topic, the "public value test" will only require that broadcasters serve the "public interest", whatever that may be.
Copps is correct in a narrow sense. The federal government will not be policing political opinions. It will simply be ensuring that content meets a standard for public value.
What Copps fails to grasp is that "public value" is such a subjective term that it is almost unavoidable for political factors to play into a determination of whether or not certain content satisfies the definition. In other words, there is not official regulation of political speech, but such speech will almost surely be regulated indirectly.
There is no such thing as a "free" government benefit. Ask small-business owners who are footing skyrocketing bills for bottomless jobless benefits. While politicians in Washington negotiate a deal to provide welcome temporary payroll, income and estate tax relief to America's workers, struggling employers wonder how long they'll have to pay for the compassion of others — and whether they can survive.
The Beltway deal hinges on extending federal unemployment insurance for another 13 months. This would mark the sixth time that the deadline has been extended since June 2008.
In a Wednesday interview on BBC World News America, liberal FCC Commissioner Michael Copps told correspondent Katty Kay: "I think American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now....we are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country."
As TVNewser reported on Thursday, after Kay asked about instituting a "Public Value Test" of media outlets, Copps replied: "What we've had in recent years is an aberration where we have had no oversight of the media. For years and years we had some public interest guidelines...they agreed to serve the public interest and that public interest to me right now is crying 'news and information, news and information, news and information.'"
Chris Matthews on Wednesday called Republicans that are skeptical of man's role in global warming Luddites, referring to the 19th century movement in Great Britain that was opposed to changes associated with the Industrial Revolution.
Clearly missing the absurdity in his analogy, the "Hardball" host arrogantly stated (video follows with transcript and commentary):
There are times when one has to think the Manhattan building that is the home of the New York Times doesn't have any windows, doesn't have any television sets, and doesn't have any doors that allow employees to venture out and actually see what's happening in America beyond the walls of 620 Eighth Avenue.
Consider that after the impact the Tea Party has had on our nation's politics the past 20 months, and the historic elections that just took place on November 2, Times columnist Tom Friedman actually thinks Americans aren't interested in reducing the federal deficit but are instead yearning for higher taxes and greater government spending:
Apparently the sophomoric folks at Newsweek are getting a bit giddy during the short work week leading up to Thanksgiving.
To accompany David Graham's November 23 The Gaggle blog post, Newsweek editors included a photo manipulation featuring the face of Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) on the body of Adam in Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"
The photoshop was inspired by a March 2009 comment Shimkus made that reflects his religious beliefs, a comment that Graham apparently finds suitable for mockery and as evidence that Shimkus would be a poor choice to chair a committee that might deal with climate change-related issues and legislation:
Media Research Center Vice President of Business and Culture Dan Gainor appeared on Fox Business Channel’s ‘Varney & Co’ Nov. 19 to discuss Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s stated wish to shut down both Fox News and MSNBC.
The West Virginia Democrat recently said, “There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to Fox and to MSNBC: ‘Out. Off. End. Goodbye.’ It would be a big favor to political discourse.”
New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes appeared on a panel discussion on “The Role of Minority Party in Congress” held at the Wilson International Center for Scholars on Monday, and outlined four liberal complaints against Republicans for not sufficiently accommodating Barack Obama early in his presidency (when they were distinctly the minority party and rather powerless) on his allegedly moderate measures like health reform and financial regulation.
Blaming Republicans for Obama’s woes ignores the fact that the Democrats had just won huge filibuster-proof majorities in 2008. The party controlled the Senate by a 60-40 margin and the House of Representatives by a health 257-178. And conservatives would argue that Obama’s claims of bipartisanship were severely overstated and amounted to trying to pick off individual Republicans to get on board with his sweeping liberal agenda on stimulus and health care “reform,” instead of reaching out to the Republican caucus as a whole with more moderate and modest proposals.
Talking on the panel Monday, aired by C-SPAN, about the need for political accommodation in Congress, Calmes took “the risk of sounding like I’m expressing an opinion" in her closing remarks, about an hour and ten minutes into the discussion:
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, Keith Olbermann featured a "Worst Person" segment for the first time since indefinitely suspending it over two weeks ago as the MSNBC host decided to go after Pamela Geller, whom he called a "buffoon"; Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, who committed the sin of lumping MSNBC in with FNC while criticizing cable news; and frequent target FNC’s Roger Ailes.
In awarding the first place dishonor to Geller, he linked her opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque the bombing of a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida. Olbermann: "But our winner, Pam Geller. If anybody committed the original sin of stirring up the blind, stupid anger that is religious hatred in this country, it’s this buffoon."
He soon added: "Well, there is a problem with the two minutes hate:You may lose control of it, and it may come back to attack you. It spread from a proposed Islamic center in New York to an actual mosque bombing in Jacksonville to protests in Tennessee to this moronic anti-Sharia law law in Oklahoma and now Phoenix."
During Monday's12PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer helped promote the network's "Green is Progress" week by demanding greater government intervention to force people to follow an environmentalist agenda: "Until government says these are the standards that everyone has to aspire to, we're not really making progress."
Brewer made the comments while interviewing Practically Green CEO Susan Hunt Stevens and introduced the segment by touting the latest poll numbers on environmental awareness: "87% of Americans say they personally care about protecting the environment. 75% of Americans believe projects that protect the environment could also give us an economic boost....38% say the government should be most responsible for protecting the environment." However, she fretted people weren't making enough sacrifices: "...everybody says in a survey, 'oh, do you want to live greener? Do you personally care about the environment?' Yes. 'Are you willing to spend 25 cents extra in a federal gas tax that would definitely help improve the use of fuel?' Not so much."
CNN's Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer endorsed Matt Taibbi's bashing of conservatives on their Monday program. Spitzer marveled over the Rolling Stone editor's "brilliant" label of the Tea Party as "15 million pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid." This was the second straight evening that the network brought on an anti-conservative author to promote their latest work.
The two hosts devoted 12 straight and uninterrupted minutes during the first half of the 8 pm Eastern hour to their interview of Taibbi. Parker mentioned Taibbi's new book, "Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids and a Long Con that is Breaking America," in her introduction of the author and labeled it "a scathing and often hilarious account of the financial crisis...it's hard to make the financial crisis funny, but you did that successfully." She continue by quoting one of the writer's attacks on Sarah Palin: "I want to read you a description that you wrote of Sarah Palin. You called her a 'narcissistic money-grubbing hack.'"
After laughing at this label, the pseudo-conservative writer sought her guest's take on Palin: "She's got the Republican establishment scared to death, so there must be something more to Sarah than just that, huh?" Taibbi replied with some guarded praise of the former Alaska governor, along with the Tea Party movement:
At the top of Monday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric warned viewers: "They promised to fight childhood obesity, but the biggest chains may be working harder than ever to get kids hooked on fast foods." Moments later she touted a new study: "...the big chains promised to help fight childhood obesity, but a report out today suggests they've done the exact opposite."
Couric fretted over the findings: "...out of more than 3,000 possible kids meal combinations at the major chains, only 12 meet nutritional guidelines for pre-schoolers....last year, children between the ages of 6 and 11 saw 26% more ads for McDonald's than they did just two years earlier." Correspondent Ben Tracy attacked the marketing strategy: "First there's the hot new movie kids just have to see....Then there's the fast food movie toy tie in they just have to get. And with the toys come this, a Happy Meal packed with calories and fat....a happy deal for marketers but an unhealthy one for children."
They're back, they have their media water-carriers in place, and the Obama administration is smack dab in the middle of it.
The United Nations is pushing for countries in the developed world to keep their "promise" to, in the worlds of Charles J. Hanley at the Associated Press, "raise up to $100 billion a year in new money for poorer countries to cope with climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."
It's as if ClimateGate never happened (link is to NB's 120-plus posts on the topic). It's as if the IPCC and others associated with the scandal and the evidence-impaired claims of global warming -- er, climate change -- uh, make that climate disruption -- still have their reputations totally intact.
On Thursday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, as he plugged a segment on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s appeal to President Obama to cooperate with the GOP, host Keith Olbermann suggested that Obama should "kick" the "ass" of McConnell rather than surrender to the Republican Senator’s demands. Referring to McConnell during a plug, Olbermann complained: "Once again, he honestly explains what compromise means: agreeing with him. And instead of kicking him in the ass, the President agrees to sit down and chat."
After a few more plugs in which the Countdown host mocked McConnell for asking Obama to move in the Republican direction on issues, Olbermann got to the segment and played a clip of the Senate Republican Leader speaking to the conservative Heritage Foundation. After bringing aboard the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, the MSNBC host held his hands over his head and began the discussion: "Forgive me. I have to deal with this headache immediately, so I'm doing this right at the moment."
He soon asked Fineman if President Obama would ever realize that trying to compromise with Republicans "hasn’t gotten me a lick of spit" and give up:
HBO's Bill Maher spouted his usual anti-conservative and anti-Fox News rhetoric on Monday's Situation Room on CNN, attacking the Tea Party movement as "teabaggers [who] are all carrying the banner...of corporatist America" and accusing CNN's competitor of "filling people with misinformation." Maher also labeled Republican voters "far right" and a "fringe group of people who are very forceful."
The left-wing HBO host appeared for two segments starting at the bottom of the 5 pm Eastern hour. Anchor Wolf Blitzer began with an election-related question: "Let's talk a little bit about what's going to happen tomorrow. A lot of Democrats are worried. They're sitting on a potential political disaster tomorrow. Here's the question to you: why? What happened?"
Maher actually first blamed the Democrats: "Well- I mean, partly, it is the Democrats' fault. They don't do very good at bragging about their achievements. This Congress, which I'm sure is going to be tarred as a do-nothing Congress, actually was one of the more successful congresses in recent memory, probably not since Lyndon Johnson in 1965 has a Congress achieved so much." The guest predictably cited health care "reform" and financial reforms as his examples.
Blitzer followed-up by asking, "So is it just a matter of communications?" Maher launched his attack on Fox News in his reply:
In 2011, the two major legislative initiatives of the tea party Congress (pray the voters deliver such a congress) will be to get a grip on the deficit, and to begin to reverse the intrusion of the federal government in American lives and business.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will have the guts — and even the tea party public will give their support-for the entitlement cutting that deficit control and long-term fiscal soundness will require.
Procedurally, however, the method is pretty straightforward. Congress passes a 10-year budget resolution, then passes appropriations and other bills to carry out those objectives. And, of course, the president has to sign them into law. That may result in the greatest Washington political battle since slavery, but at least the legislative method is obvious and straightforward.
Appearing as a guest on Wednesday’s The Ed Show on MSNBC, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter applauded President Obama for bringing "poetry" back into the campaign as he cited former New York Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo’s famous saying about campaigning "in poetry" and governing "in prose." Alter: "Look, he (Obama) overlearned Mario Cuomo's famous lesson. Cuomo said you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. And he took that too much to heart. He's been governing too much in prose. Finally, he's beginning to bring some of the poetry back, the poetry that moves people and inspires people. And it's about time."
The Newsweek columnist went on to credit President Obama with preventing another Great Depression after host Ed Schultz lamented that Obama is not receiving credit for recent gains in the stock market. Alter: "He saved them. He saved their fortunes. We were headed for a depression. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month when he took over. If we'd stayed on pace, we would have had another Great Depression in late 2009. He saved them."
The National Transportation Safety Board has again recommended that airlines require a separate seat for all children, regardless of age, eliminating the current practice of permitting children under the age of 2 to fly for free on the lap of a parent. Will mandating child restraint systems make air travel safer? The answer is probably yes but that's the visible.
Having to purchase an extra airplane ticket, some families will opt to drive to their destination instead. Thus, mandated CRS will force some families to switch to a less safe method of travel and some highway fatalities will represent the invisible victims of NTSB policy. By the way, if parents wanted a greater measure of safety for their infant, it's available to them right now. They can purchase a seat and seat restraint for their infant.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is charged with ensuring that drugs are safe and effective. Drugs must meet FDA approval before they can be marketed. FDA officials can make two kinds of errors. They can approve a drug that has unanticipated, dangerous side effects that might cause illness and death. Or, they can err by either not approving or causing huge delays in the marketing of a safe and effective drug. Statistically, these are known as the Type I and Type II errors.
FDA officials have a bias toward erring on the side of over-caution. If FDA officials err on the side of under-caution, approving an unsafe drug, they are attacked by the media, patient groups and investigated by Congress. Their victims, sick and dead people, are highly visible. If FDA officials err on the side of over caution, keeping a safe and effective drug off the market, who's to know? The victims are invisible.
With low poll approval ratings and the prospect of his congressional allies in Congress taking a drubbing in November, it's hardly surprising the liberal media are looking for any silver lining for Obama that it can find.
Enter Time magazine's Kate Pickert, who on the magazine's Swampland blog yesterday claimed that a ruling upholding ObamaCare's constitutionality yesterday was a "significant victory for the Obama administration."
A temporary boost, perhaps, but significant? The ruling was at the District Court level, and the public interest firm representing the plaintiffs plans to appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Plus Pickert herself noted that there are plenty of other court challenges against ObamaCare, and they are not all bound to come down the same way District Court Judge George Steeh ruled yesterday.
What is significant is how Judge Steeh's reasoning profoundly obliterates the scope of the Constitution's interstate commerce clause to define refraining from commerce as commerce. It's an open question if appellate courts agree.
CNN's new host Eliot Spitzer slammed the Tea Party movement on Tuesday's Parker-Spitzer: "I think that that piece of the Republican Party is vapid. It has no ideas....They're going to destroy our country." Spitzer also accused Tea Party members of forwarding a "Herbert Hoover vision of government...saying, we want to take away the very pieces of government that created the middle class."
The former New York governor of "Client Number Nine" infamy launched his attack on the nascent political movement minutes into the 8 pm Eastern, as he and his co-host, Kathleen Parker, discussed Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's new ad. After listing what he thought was positive about O'Donnell and her ad, Spitzer gave his "vapid" remark about the Tea Party and made his first mention of former President Hoover: