May 2, 2012

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Walter Russell Mead posts on the NY Times coverage of the June 5th vote in Wisconsin. This continues to be good news and we can hope victory there will be a precursor of November’s vote.

The New York Times has a long piece on the political situation in Wisconsin this morning, and in some ways it is reasonably balanced. The reporters note, for example, that the Koch brothers own a factory in Wisconsin that is unionized and that the union and management at the factory seem to have a reasonably productive relationship. It also gives controversial Governor Scott Walker some space to contest the arguments of his detractors.

Even so, it is a journalistic disaster: it tells you everything you need to know except the one thing you really need to know, and it reveals the soft pale underbelly of establishment journalism in America today.

The headline captures the focus of the piece: “Recall Election Tests Strategies For November.” The reporters look at how private and public sector unions on the one side and various conservative organizations on the other are organizing for the election over the petition to recall Governor Scott Walker and at how both sides think the issues and strategies shaping the recall will influence the outcome in November.

The piece does a reasonable job at getting the views of both sides, but no reader of the Times will be surprised to see that it wears its heart on its sleeve. The piece closes with a paean to the hope that labor will beat back the Republican challenge, calculated to warm the hearts of the NYT faithful: …

… But somehow the reporters and editors who put together this long story on the implications of the Wisconsin recall for American politics now and in November failed to take note of one tiny little fact: Governor Walker is increasingly favored to win the June recall.

Intrade, a site where people can in effect bet on political races, shows Walker with a 68.5 percent chance of re-election as of Sunday morning. …


One of Elizabeth Warren’s fans breaks with her in the Boston Herald.

… I just can’t shake the ridiculous image of you, Liz — a blue-eyed blonde almost as pasty white as me — letting yourself be described as a minority professor, a Native American, for years.

You’ve played the Indian card. You’ve grabbed for minority cred without enduring the minority grief. It’s poached diversity. It’s glommed onto, what, five generations removed, assuming there were some facts way, way back when, as your campaign aides claimed last night.

How long before wise guys in feathered headdresses start dancing around parking lots at your events? Somebody told me yesterday your campaign needs to lie low and “circle the wagons.” Whoops. That same someone quickly realized it was the pioneers who circled the wagons when your Cherokee ancestors were blazing across the prairie on the warpath.

Here’s the problem for you, Liz: We’re not talking some elaborate, arcane, confusing financial irregularity here that nobody can understand. Everybody gets this. It’s letting everyone think you’re something that you’re not. It’s letting stand the idea that you’re part of an aggrieved class of people. It’s a sin of omission, which is not as bad as a sin of commission — like, you know, the typical political ploy of pumping up resumes with fake claims of combat heroism and purple hearts. …


Peter Kirsanow asks some questions of the president at The Corner.

What was the thought process behind having Bill Clinton — who reportedly missed and/or bypassed more than one opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden — narrate a campaign ad suggesting  Mitt Romney would not have given Seal Team Six the order to kill the terrorist?

Is your campaign staff giving any consideration to using Mr. Clinton to impugn Mr. Romney’s marital fidelity? How about Reverend Wright to subtly raise suspicions about Mr. Romney’s faith? Or Tony Rezko to attack the governor’s business dealings?


Jennifer Rubin posts on the Clinton ad.

Suffice it to say that when David Brooks, my colleague Dana Milbank and President George W. Bush’s attorney general Michael Mukasey all agree that President Obama is going overboard on partisanship, the president might want to reconsider if he’s misjudged the public’s appetite for partisanship.

Brooks bemoans the tenor of the entire campaign, but this is as tough a rebuke of the president as he has leveled: “Part of the ad was Bill Clinton effectively talking about the decision to kill the terrorist. But, in the middle, the Obama people threw in a low-minded attack on Romney. The slam made Clinton look small, it made Obama look small, it turned a moment of genuine accomplishment into a political ploy, but it did follow the rules of gangland: At every second attack, at every opportunity, drive a shiv between the ribs.” From philosopher-king to thug in less than four years. It’s something when those who once held you in the highest esteem are now the most biting critics. …


Peter Wehner calls it disastrous political overreach.

Something fascinating–and potentially important–is happening in the 2012 presidential campaign.

The Obama campaign’s crass politicization of the killing of Osama bin Laden seems to have struck a nerve in just about everyone – from expected quarters (like the Wall Street Journal editorial page), to moderately conservative ones (like David Brooks of the New York Times), to liberal ones (like Dana Milbank of the Washington Post). But perhaps the most important criticisms are being made by Navy SEALs themselves, as Alana points out.

This cannot be what the Obama campaign predicted; and the fact that they would take their most notable achievement and employ it in a way that would be potentially counterproductive is a sign that the mindset of all the president’s men is so aggressive, so hyper-partisan, so mean-spirited and so desperate that they are acting in ways that are amateurish and self-defeating. It might also be a sign that Obama has so few genuine accomplishment to his name that when he actually is able to identify one, he mishandles it. They don’t have enough practice to know what to do with a real achievement. …


Here’s Alana Goodman’s post about the SEALS reactions.

Listening to the Obama campaign gush about the president’s courageous decision regarding the Osama bin Laden raid, you might think he was the one who piloted the helicopter, raided the compound, and fired the legendary shot. But what do the actual American heroes who risk their lives in these types of missions think? The Daily Mail spoke to several Navy SEALs who are mystified by the argument that President Obama’s decision was uniquely heroic: …


Goodman also points to the opposition of Ariana Huffington. 

Via Beltway Confidential: When even Ariana Huffington isn’t buying the premise of Obama’s campaign ad suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have ordered the Osama bin Laden raid, it’s probably time to re-evaluate that message:

“I agree with the Romney campaign, that using the Osama bin Laden assassination killing the great news that we had a year ago, in order to say basically that Obama did it and Romney may not have done it,” said Huffington. “It is one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job…but to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

If the message is so tasteless that it’s even offending Obama’s strident defenders, why did the campaign go ahead with it in the first place? Remember, this wasn’t just one commercial. Vice President Biden also brought up something similar in his foreign policy speech last week when he declared that “bin Laden is dead and GE is alive…If Romney was president, could we have used that same slogan in reverse?” …


Steven Malanga writes in the WSJ about states like Illinois that will soon be broken by the cost of their pension promises. 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently offered a stark assessment of the threat to his state’s future that is posed by mounting pension and retiree health-care bills for government workers. Unless Illinois enacts reform quickly, he said, the costs of these programs will force taxes so high that, “You won’t recruit a business, you won’t recruit a family to live here.”

We’re likely to hear more such worries in coming years. That’s because state and local governments across the country have accumulated several trillion dollars in unfunded retirement promises to public-sector workers, the costs of which will increasingly force taxes higher and crowd out other spending. Already businesses and residents are slowly starting to sit up and notice.

“Companies don’t want to buy shares in a phenomenal tax burden that will unfold over the decades,” the Chicago Tribune observed after Mr. Emanuel issued his warning on April 4. And neither will citizens.

Government retiree costs are likely to play an increasing role in the competition among states for business and people, because these liabilities are not evenly distributed. Some states have enormous retiree obligations that they will somehow have to pay; others have enacted significant reforms, or never made lofty promises to their workers in the first place.

Indiana’s debt for unfunded retiree health-care benefits, for example, amounts to just $81 per person. Neighboring Illinois’s accumulated obligations for the same benefit average $3,399 per person. …


Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, columns in NY Post about student debt.

With student-loan rates set to double, President Obama has been busy posing as Mr. Fixit. Too bad it’s just a pose.

The country has a serious student-debt problem, and also a student-loan problem. But they’re two different things.

The student-debt problem is that too many students are borrowing too much money to finance educations that won’t earn them enough to repay the loans. This leads to misery.

A recent Wall Street Journal story noted that many students are postponing marriage, children and home-buying because of the difficulty — in some cases, the impossibility — of keeping up student-loan payments.

This is bad for them and the economy, because they won’t be available to soak up the excess houses built during the housing bubble, which also was fueled by cheap government loans.

If they postpone having kids, fewer taxpayers will exist to fund Social Security and other programs in a few decades. …


Late night humor from Andrew Malcolm.

Conan: Burger King vows that all of its chickens and pigs will be raised cage-free. The animals replied, ‘Cool, now let’s talk about the part where we get turned into sandwiches.’

Conan: Kanye West is dating Kim Kardashian and recently had dinner with Kim’s whole family. There was an awkward moment when Kim’s parents told Kanye they expect him to do the right thing: Fake marry their daughter. And get the night on video.

Conan: Pizza Hut has a new pizza with multiple cheeseburgers stuffed into the crust. It’s the first pizza that comes with your choice of soda or an intervention.

Conan: Obama doesn’t want to criticize the Secret Service. Today he called the agent who refused to pay the prostitute “fiscally responsible.”

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