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  • Newsverse: Elegy, Salt Lake City, May 2010

    By Jerry Adler SALT LAKE CITY— Senator Robert F. Bennett, an 18-year veteran Republican who had been seeking a fourth term, was stripped of his party’s nomination ... at the state convention here, becoming one of the first Congressional victims of the surging discontent from the Tea Party-infused Republican right.—The New York Times, May 8Death, as it must to all men, cameTo Robert Bennett in the nameOf Republican purity.Poor man, he never overcame.Accusations of civility.Implications of maturity.And as it must, obscuritySwept down to stake its claim.Instead of hemlock, he drank the tea.Instead of hemlock, he drank the teaHe was judged and found to beInsufficiently insane.Are you listening, John McCain?He would talk to Democrats.Which, to the crowd with tinfoil hats, Is like a moral stain.Some things you can’t explain.Some things you can’t explainThe words fall just like rainOn rock. And you’ll appearDefensive, insincere.The future now belongs to birthersMilitias, tenthers, and flat...
  • Letters: May 10, 2010

    ‘Why I Hate 3-D (And You Should Too)’ One can only hope next year’s inevitable flurry of romantic comedies now being double-lensed will nip this unpleasant fad in its protruding bud yet again. Michael Lennick, Bala, Canada
  • Why Americans Think Immigration Hurts the Economy

    At the heart of the debate over illegal immigration lies one key question: are immigrants good or bad for the economy? The American public overwhelmingly thinks they’re bad. In a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, 74 percent of respondents said illegal immigrants weakened the economy, compared to only 17 percent who said they strengthened it.
  • Arizona Puts Immigration on Center Stage

    Immigration has returned to center stage in the U.S. for wrong but not unreasonable motives. The law (S.B. 1070) signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April has set off an explosion of condemnations, justifications, and demonstrations. This brouhaha has brought the issue back to the fore, leading thousands to muse about, hope for, or decry the possibility of comprehensive reform. It is long overdue.
  • TV Ads and Travel Plans

    One way to assess the horse race in the last days of a campaign is to check the tone of TV ads and the travel plans of big-shot endorsers. Based on that formula, it looks like Rep. Joe Sestak is poised for victory against Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate race next Tuesday.I just checked with the White House to make sure there had been no last-minute changes of plan, and in fact there had not: President Barack Obama will NOT be going to the state—even to Philly, where he is popular—to campaign for the beleaguered Specter. The 80-year-old senator is desperate for a strong turnout in the city and the close-in suburbs. The Philadelphia machine, run for the last 15 years by former mayor and now Gov. Ed Rendell, is getting kind of creaky. Its aging minions aren't excited about working overtime for a guy—Specter—who was a Republican until about 10 minutes ago.Obama could help, especially among black voters, but he's not going again before Election Day,...
  • NYPD Developing CCTV Camera System That Will Be Better Than London’s

    New York Police Department is building a closed-circuit TV surveillance system which it hopes will eventually be more sophisticated and effective than the closed-circuit TV (CCTV) system used by police in London and other British cities. The widespread use of CCTV monitoring in Britain has been touted by UK authorities as a critical tool for solving crimes and maintaining public order but has been criticized by civil libertarians as a Big Brother–like widespread invasion of personal privacy....
  • The Earnest Shaun Donovan Takes Questions

    Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan was one of Mayor Bloomberg’s whiz kids before he joined the Obama administration. Meeting with reporters Thursday morning to tout glimmers of good economic news, he recalled the scene in the famous Bloomberg bullpen in New York when the first stimulus bill failed in Congress. As everyone watched the vote tally go down on a big screen, the mayor declared, “The world is ending.” With that as his yardstick, Donovan put the best face he could on an improving economy. He talked about the lessons learned from the housing crisis, among them the need to “rebalance” housing policy to make renting more attractive and affordable, and with less focus placed on homeownership as a pure good. At 40, Donovan is the youngest member of the cabinet, and clearly one of the brightest and most earnest about the mission he has been handed. He answered every question in detail and with great seriousness. He said the communities hurt the most by the mortgage crisis tend to be...
  • One Possible Source for Times Square Bomber's Funding: Dad

    One of the questions that continues to surround the investigation into the attempted Times Square car bombing: Where did suspect Faisal Shahzad get the financial resources to carry out the attack, including funds he used to travel back and forth to his native Pakistan for what he has told investigators was terrorist training in North Waziristan with the Pakistani Taliban, as well as money he used to buy a sophisticated rifle and the materials—including firecrackers, propane tanks, fertilizer, and a second-hand Nissan Pathfinder?
  • Meg Whitman’s ‘I Control My Media’ Strategy Continues to Backfire

    The story has gone from bad to worse for Meg Whitman. On the same day that a new poll shows the California-governor hopeful’s lead disappearing, state reporters have begun amplifying their complaints that Whitman was simply too isolated from the media. And that’s after she pumped almost $60 million of her own money into the race.The gripes are accurate. Whitman has agreed to only a handful of interviews, most with conservative columnists or ideologically declared reporters. She declined endorsement meetings with all of the state's major papers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, which published a punchy editorial today titled “What Meg Whitman’s Money Can’t Buy” that cautioned against a candidate who won’t answer tough questions. In January, in one of several bizarre standoffs, she declined reporters at a staged campaign event any face time. And when my colleague Andrew Romano profiled Whitman and a handful of other CEOs turned politicians for a story in February, Whitman’...
  • Thank You, South Carolina. Again. Seriously?

    Last year South Carolina became one of the biggest punchlines in politics when Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, a presidential hopeful, tearfully admitted to an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman. Since his pathetic public apology, Sanford’s wife, Jenny, divorced him, appeared in Vogue, and revealed all in her bestselling book Staying True.   ...
  • How to Make an Obama Bush Scandal

    Everything that happens during Obama’s presidency seems to get termed his ‘Katrina’ or some other, usually inapt analogy. We explain the different approaches to naming an Obama Bush scandal, and how they might be applied in the future.
  • Kagan's Abortion Memo Shows Pragmatism

    When it comes to the abortion issue in a Democratic Supreme Court nomination, everybody plays their preassigned role. Pro-choice groups say they are encouraged by what they’ve heard and want to hear more. The opposing side says it’s deeply concerned. The nominee says she respects judicial precedence, stare decisis, and all that, and won’t answer hypothetical questions. And the president says he doesn’t have a litmus test.
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    Energy Bill: Something for Everyone, Everything for No One

    The energy bill cometh. That was how The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein characterized the scene in Washington today—the start of the official debate about the nation’s plan to combat climate change and craft a new energy landscape. (You can read the full bill here, or an official summary here.)There’s a lot in there, packed in tight. Nuclear proponents get the green light for new plants and research with $54 billion in federal loan guarantees. Renewable energy folks also get a boost with extended subsidies. There’s a directive to increase research on carbon capture and sequestration (a.k.a. clean coal), an intricate system to reduce greenhouse gases, and a full plan to integrate job creation at every step. Plus, about 15 pages in the 987-page bill address the hot-potato topic du jour: oil drilling, which will increase. But the difference is that states will be allowed to veto drilling projects within 75 miles of their coastline. And if that’s not enough, a revenue-sharing process will...
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    For Eric Cantor, the First Cut is the Shallowest

    We were alerted today to YouCut, an initiative from Eric Cantor that is "designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact." The procedure: Every week you get to vote to cut one of five things, and the House Republicans will bring your choice to the floor in an up-or-down vote. Which, you know, sound really great! We are, of course, amused that the proposed cuts so closely fit the preoccupations of the GOP (two of the five options are cuts in 'taxpayer subsidized union activities' and '--that last one would save a whopping $200,000 a year). Except that, well, honestly, Cantor's ambition seems a little small. Even if you enacted EVERY ONE of those proposals, the savings would be around $6 billion over five years. 2010 fed budget: $3.55 trillion. Forgive us if we’re a little underwhelmed at ‘cuts’ that, per year, amount to less than one...
  • Intel Paper Says Al Qaeda's Yemeni Affiliate More Determined Than Ever to Attack Inside U.S.

    An intelligence analysis prepared by an interagency "fusion center" in California says that recent on-line postings by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia are "actively promoting" attacks against targets inside the U.S. The "official use only" bulletin, produced by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies originally set up to deal with drug trafficking, is entitled "Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula's Online Rhetoric Signals Shift in Intentions." A copy of the document, dated April 27, was made available to Declassified for review....
  • More Polling on Evangelicals and Immigration Reform

    Yesterday, I noted that a new push by the National Association of Evangelicals in support of comprehensive immigration reform faces a key obstacle: opposition from the grassroots. I cited a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center that found deeper misgivings about immigration among white evangelicals than among other religious groups....
  • U.S. Weighs Official 'Terrorist Organization' Status for the Pakistani Taliban

    In light of evidence that the group known as the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attempted May 1 Times Square bombing, the Obama administration is "actively considering" designating it as a "foreign  terrorist organization" in the next few weeks—a move that would allow the U.S. government to freeze any assets belonging to the group and make it a federal crime to assist it, officials said Tuesday. But the disclosure, first made by State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley, immediately raised questions among some counterterrorism experts as to why Washington didn't act sooner. "I'm pretty surprised that it has taken the U.S. government such a long time to do this," says Hassan Abbas, a Columbia University professor and former Pakistani police officer who is considered the leading academic expert on the Pakistani Taliban. "This is certainly one of the most lethal [terrorist] groups in South Asia, and I would rank it in the top five of all...
  • Evangelical Campaign for Immigration Reform Faces Key Obstacle: Grassroots

    Today came the news that the National Association of Evangelicals is launching a new campaign in support of comprehensive immigration reform. It'll debut with a full-page ad in Roll Call on Thursday that will argue for including a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally. Among the signatories are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Mathew Staver of Liberty University School of Law, part of the institution founded by Jerry Falwell. According to CNN, the NAE will follow up by lobbying Republican leaders in Washington to negotiate with Democrats to pass a bill....
  • Oil Spill Raises Questions About Arctic Drilling

    It wasn’t that long ago that proponents of oil drilling, and even President Obama, were arguing that the threat of spills had been substantially reduced thanks to new advances in drilling technology. It’s a claim that sounds humbling in light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But rather than harp on the past, environmentalists are focusing their efforts on the future, specifically this summer, when another round of exploratory drilling is set to begin off the pristine coasts of Alaska.
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    Tea Party Could Upset Kentucky's GOP Primary

    Next Tuesday’s Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania is grabbing most of the advance attention, if for no other reason than the state’s proximity to the New York–D.C. media corridor.