For the Last Time, David Brooks: Reconciliation Is not Being Used to Pass Health Care Reform

David Brooks must not read Newsweek. Or the Washington Post. Or The New Republic. Or, apparently, his own newspaper. Brooks, it seems, has not read any of those publications' explications of how a bill becomes law, and he has written an entire column based on his misunderstanding. Brooks opens with a ramble on human nature as social beings, decries groups that (Godwin's law alert), "see members of another group as less than human: Nazi and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi, Sunni and Shiite," and...

The Liberal Case for Gun Control Doesn't Get Far in the Supreme Court

The McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court case, argued on March 2, was a good opportunity for liberal advocates of gun rights to present their case in briefs. But they probably won't win the decision. In fact, there is not a single justice that will necessarily side with them. No liberal proponent of gun rights presented to the court. The side that they have taken was presented by the petitioner, Alan Gura, on behalf of the Second Amendment Foundation. Ten minutes of his 30 was given to the...

Don't Shoot the Messenger: Glenn Greenwald Blames NEWSWEEK for Problems We Diagnose

Regular readers of Newsweek.com are probably aware that sometimes we deploy sarcasm or irony to make points. I did not mean to be taken literally when I suggested that Republicans should declare all Massachusetts elections to be national referenda, nor did my colleague Daniel Stone when he said, regarding how the media covers and categorizes violent acts of protest, "Terrorists have beards [and] live in caves." And sometimes, as with all publications, a given sentence in one of our items...

Worthwhile Midwestern Initiative: Evan Bayh's 'New York Times' Op-Ed on Procedural Reform

I was pretty hard on Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) the other day, so I think it's only fair that I recognize his sensible op-ed in the Sunday New York Times. Bayh argues that bipartisanship has declined (duh). But unlike those who just bemoan the trend, or fools like Lincoln Chafee who argue, against all evidence since the Civil War, that a third party will emerge, Bayh actually proposes some credible measures to get the Senate working again. Some of his ideas are a little banal. I have no...

Evan Bayh Wants his Lasting Achievement to be Stifling Student Loan Reform

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) cast his impending retirement as an expression of disgust with Congress to do the people's business. So now that he's liberated from the obligations of raising money and similar grimy political considerations, we can expect Bayh to spend his remaining months in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body working with apolitical, high-minded intentions to do the people's business.We will be disappointed. Bayh has instead joined the corporate-tool...

White House Predicts Slow Job Growth

From NPR:The President's Council of Economic Advisers expects the U.S. to add an average of 95,000 jobs each month this year. In the annual Economic Report of the President, the CEA predicted that unemployment would remain at 10 percent in 2010, dipping down to 9.2 percent in 2011. Political implication: Bad news for incumbents, mainly Democrats. Thought: If Democrats were governing in a manner designed to improve their chances of winning reelection they would try to immediately...

A GOP Plan for Deficit Reduction

I've been hard on congressional Republicans recently for pandering to voters' ignorance by offering politically appealing but irresponsible slogans instead of a credible conservative vision of how to meet America's challenges, even those they harp on Obama for failing to address, such as our rising budget deficits. So, it is only fair that I praise Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for coming forward with a proposal that could actually reduce long-term deficits. Ryan would do so by...

The Press Evinces Soft Bigotry Against Republicans─By Not Expecting Them to Govern

A news item caught my eye Thursday, but it seems to have passed through the news cycle largely unnoticed: the Senate approved, by a straight party-line vote of 60-39, the annual increase in the debt ceiling. Normally a party-line vote indicates that there is some sort of stark ideological dispute. So if you don't know what the debt-ceiling-limit increase is, you might assume it's something along those line─analogous to tax cuts, say, or Social Security privatization. You would be...

Interesting Read: The Conservative Case for Train Travel

Over at Politics Daily, conservative commentator Matt Lewis articulates the conservative case for mass transit, especially trains and trolleys. Although sparing the environment from the impact of America's unsustainable driving habit is the most frequently cited reason on the left for reinvesting in mass transit, the word appears nowhere in Lewis's piece. Instead, Lewis makes his case on the grounds that trains are more efficient, reduce congestion, and have inherent social value....

Will Accused Landrieu Burglar Play the Race Card?

James O'Keefe, the young conservative activist who posed as a pimp to sucker ACORN workers into advising him on how to buy a house with his imaginary ill-gotten gains, was arrested for attempting to illegally bug Sen. Mary Landrieu's office. As he told Fox News, with nary an objection from the anchors, he isn't really a pimp, clownish costume notwithstanding, because he is "one of the whitest guys ever." Curiously, the implication by a hero of the right's that all pimps are...

If at First Your Policy Fails, Try, Try Again

Michael Cohen wrote a piece for us Tuesday on how America has become increasingly ungovernable due to voters' disregard for basic arithmetic. If you take money out of the federal Treasury, via tax cuts, and you increase spending—via, say, a constant, wasteful military buildup, launching wars of choice, expanding entitlement spending, and stabilizing and stimulating the economy to avert a Great Depression—you will increase deficits and accrue debt. Some would argue that deficits are not...

Department of Dangerous Precedents

Who would have thought that Republicans would declare a Massachusetts Senate race, progenitor of the Kennedys and "Massachusetts liberal" Sen. John  Kerry, to be the arbiter of the national mood? But today my inbox has an e-mail from RNC chairman Michael Steele that reads:Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are ignoring the results of Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts last Tuesday. Instead of comprehending that voters in Massachusetts rejected the Democrats'...

More Than Health Care: How Will Massachusetts Affect the Larger Democratic Agenda?

As Michael Isikoff reported on Declassified, Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown does not support President Obama's counterterrorism policies, while Democrat Martha Coakley does. Thus, Isikoff writes, " But something Isikoff mentions in passing is especially important: Democrats, particularly moderate and red-state Democrats are moving toward Republican positions on sensitive issues, presumably to protect their re-election prospects. Consider, for instance, Sen. Lindsay Graham's...

Not Using 'Negro Dialect' Does Not Make Obama an Exception Among Black Politicians

One thing that has been lost in all the political bickering over Sen. Harry Reid's comments about President Obama's skin tone and dialect is the question of whether his comments were out of date in terms of their substance, not just their language. Reasonable people can agree that the term "Negro" is no longer widely used in public and disagree as to whether the term is offensive. But, what of Reid saying Obama does not speak in "Negro dialect" unless he chooses to as a...

Maybe Lack of Experience in D.C. Does Matter

At least, insofar as picking running mates goes. Of all the juicy revelations spilling out from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's new book Game Change, my favorite so far is the relatively unsalacious, but totally amusing, reports of beef between Obama and Joe Biden (which the White House denies.) Obama, you see, was mad about Biden's gaffes. "How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?" Obama supposedly demanded to know. No one schooled in the ways of Washington could be...

Harry Reid is no Trent Lott

No sooner did news break of Harry Reid's uttering a well-meaning but awfully outdated sounding endorsement of Barack Obama than the media invoked the specter of former Republican Senate Leader Trent Lott's career-killing racist remarks in 2002. If you've been living under a rock all weekend, the news is that John Heilmann and Mark Halperin's book reports that Reid told them he encouraged Obama to run for president in part because he is, "light-skinned" and has "no Negro...

Newsflash: Democrats in New York Overwhelmingly Pro-Choice

Harold Ford, Jr., the handsome young scion of a prominent Tennessee political family, once seemed to have promising political future. He was a moderate New Democrat congressman, hawkish on the budget deficit and foreign policy, not unlike another child of a Tennessee Democratic dynasty 20 years before who went on to big things: Al Gore Jr. In a banner year for Democrats, 2006, Ford made his move for an open Senate seat against a dreary Republican, Bob Corker, and, ran on as conservative a...

The Democratic Crack-Up: Immigration may be Next

It has become common, in this era of partisan ideological alignment and the resulting party-line votes in Congress, to see the two major political parties as cohesive units, with an agenda on the left or right across all issues. While there is an element of truth to that, Democrats and Republicans are coalitions of interest groups that often toe the party line on one issue (say, health-care reform) in exchange for the party's support on the issues that they care about. This has created...

Is Making Legislation Really Like Sausage-Making?

Ezra Klein notes, responding to complaints that the process by which health-care reform was passed is somehow less wholesome than with legislation past, "It's common to compare the legislative process to making sausage—the point being that it's ugly and grimy and you'll like it better if you don't watch too closely." Matthew Yglesias counters:"Sausage-making, whether you want to make it or not, is the way you make delicious sausage. If there were some better way to do...

Does the Obama Administration Deserve Blame for the Attempted Airplane Bombing? It's Fair to Ask.

Politico and Avi Zenilman at WhoRunsGov have been covering the Republican reaction to the Christmas Day alleged attempt to blow up a transatlantic flight before landing in Detroit. Not surprisingly, Republicans, who must recover their "national security party" credentials if they want to regain any national electoral majority, are criticizing the Obama administration for both its terrorism prevention and its response to this most recent incident. Said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking...

Trouble for Health-Care Reform in the House?

New York Democrat Louise M. Slaughter, who chairs the House rules committee—and, as CNN notes in a non sequitur in her bio line, is the only microbiologist in Congress—announced in a Web op-ed for CNN on Wednesday afternoon that she thinks the Senate version of health-care reform is too weak. She thinks the differences cannot be reconciled in conference committee and the Senate should "go back to the drawing board." Her primary complaints are what you would expect: no public option and...

Shocker: Unpopular Former Mayor Who Lost His Last Race Not Running for Office Again

I love to say "I told you so." So, I told you so. The Associated Press reports, "Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, viewed by many New York Republicans as a savior for the struggling party, said Tuesday that he won't run for political office next year." Apparently, Giuliani realized that making a lot of money while living in New York City would be more fun than battling the state's other top Republicans for a senatorial or gubernatorial nomination and then opposing either a...

Who's Really to Blame for Ben Nelson's Medicaid Buy-Off

So, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) is, understandably, aggravated that Democrats bribed Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) to vote for health-care reform by giving his state, and only his state, full federal funding for Medicaid expansion, while other states have to pay their fare share. Graham told CNN:But the Medicaid deal, for Senator Nelson—there's one state in the union where new enrollees for Medicaid will be signed up, and it won't cost anybody in that state money. It's not my state. I've got 30...

It's Semi-Official: Health-Care Reform Is on Schedule to Pass

The most important vote for health-care reform won't be the one that happens on Christmas Eve, when the bill presumably passes. It won't be the final vote to end debate. It was the vote that happened just after 1 o'clock Monday morning. As New York Times reports:The Senate voted on party lines to cut off a Republican of a package of changes to the health care bill by the majority leader, of Nevada. —a tally that is expected to be repeated four times as further procedural...

Surprisingly Good Policy on Health-Care Reform

My first instinct was to judge the final deal that secured Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb) support to be the kind of bad policy lamentably required to get anything done in a system where a resident of an empty, square-shaped state gets proportionally 50 times the representation of every Californian. Democratic leader Harry Reid had to literally buy off Nelson, whose stick-up artistry is, if not admirable, certainly impressive, with a provision that Nebraska—and only Nebraska—will be exempted...

The Myth That Democrats Are Soft on Crime

Ross Douthat has a very good column in The New York Times today, arguing that conservatives both deserve credit for the role that mass incarceration has played in reducing crime and that they should embrace policies that will reduce our incarceration rate while preserving those gains. Douthat notes that the 1960s and 1970s era of Great Society liberalism assumed, incorrectly, that crime could be fought only through programs such as welfare and education that addressed root causes like...

What Obama Should Say About Peace in Oslo

When the shocking news was announced that President Obama would receive a Nobel Peace Prize, many pundits across the political spectrum were understandably critical of awarding the world's most prestigious honor to a president who had just assumed office. Some on the left were more opposed to giving a peace prize to a president waging two wars. How Obama will address the first question when he accepts the award in Oslo on Thursday will have to be left to smarter speechwriters than I. The second...

Pages