Monday, January 11, 2010

Morning Must Reads from DCExaminer

Wall Street Journal -- Reid Is Under Fire for 2008 Remarks

Republicans continue to embrace P.C. mau mauing, calling for Harry Reid to step down for having used the word “Negro” in early 2008. I thought their point was that Trent Lott was railroaded, not that the railroad should run both ways.
But the real question is whether Reid, whose reelection effort was already in deplorable condition, can weather the political storm of having been so condescending about then-Sen. Barack Obama – praising him for being “light skinned” and having "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
While Republicans were hoping to see Reid ousted as majority leader, they should be hoping he doesn’t go the way of Chris Dodd.
Reid is a dead Senator walking, and having to explain that his racism was paternalistic, not just mean old ordinary racism, will leave him all the more unelectable.
In a state where casinos can deliver fast fundraising for candidates (like Rep. Dina Titus or AG Catherine Masto) and Republican candidates are succeeding because of who they aren’t, not who they are, Reid’s departure could be serious trouble.
Writer Deborah Solomon also looks at the parlor game the book that includes Reid’s racially uncool comments has launched: what “bimbo eruption” did the Clinton campaign fear from the former president:
“‘Game Change,’ the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, also contends that Hillary … initially turned down his offer to become secretary of state due to concerns about her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Heilemann, in a ‘60 Minutes’ interview, said that upon being offered the job, Ms. Clinton told Mr. Obama, ‘You know, there's one last thing that's a problem, which is my husband. You've seen what this is like. It will be a circus if I take this job. There will be a new controversy every day that you'll have to deal with.’”

USA Today -- No one punished under congressional ethics rules
Writer Fredreka Schouten tells us that either the ethical behavior of members of Congress has improved dramatically, or that Democrats were just kidding when they said they would “drain the swamp” on Capitol Hill.
Since new ethics rules were put in place almost three years ago to much fanfare, no member of Congress has been punished. A strong letter to Roland Burris for misleading lawmakers about his dealings with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is about as tough as things have gotten in the Democratic regnum.
“The [ethics] committee has acknowledged 10 pending cases, including an inquiry into Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and whether he failed to disclose rental income and improperly solicited donations for a public service center named in his honor. Spokesman Emile Milne said Rangel ‘looks forward to the conclusion of the review he himself requested.’”

Wall Street Journal -- Insurance Mandate Feeds GOP's Attack on Legal Front
Democrats are confident that their health plan will survive mounting legal challenges on the basis of a broad, Roosevelt-era definition of “general Welfare” in the Constitution.
But since the health bills require for the first time in history that all citizens must buy a product supplied by a private company or face a government penalty, there is something new for courts to consider.
Writer Jess Bravin suggests that the concern may drive Democrats to embrace the idea of the House heath care “tax” instead of the Senate’s health “fines.”
“The Senate bill imposes a penalty of up to $750 for people who fail to comply with the insurance mandate. Although it would be collected by the Internal Revenue Service, Senate Democrats avoided calling it a tax.
The House version explicitly includes a ‘tax on individuals without acceptable health-care coverage.’”

Washington Post -- In China, fear of a real estate bubble
While America has been looking for a way to sustain an economic sugar high, China has been mainlining stimulus meth.
Writer Steven Mufson looks at how the Chinese government is now worried that the hosing bubble it helped inflate may pop to disastrous effect.
Some economists argue that China’s bubble will continue to inflate for years to come before popping like those in Japan and the U.S. because of rapid wage growth. But it’s also a system with less experienced at coping with risk.
“Speculation has become common. Wang Zhongwei, a 35-year-old stock market analyst who owns the apartment where he lives, bought two apartments in 2004 for investment purposes. He borrowed from family and friends to meet mortgage payments twice as big as his take-home pay. But in the middle of last year, he sold the apartments for twice what he paid and made $145,000, a fortune here.
‘It's much easier than working every day to make money,’ Wang said. ‘I work very hard and compete for my so-called career every day, but I don't make that much money from work.’ In November, he bought two more apartments.”

New York Times -- Two Ideological Foes Unite to Overturn Proposition 8
After a round of setbacks the push for gay marriage enters a high-stakes round with the start of a federal trial on whether California voters were allowed to ban the practice.
With gay marriage soon to be legal in DC and the federal courts taking up the issue in California, this will be a national political issue this election year.
It also, thanks to lead attorney Ted Olson, may be the moment when the libertarian solution – getting the government out of the marriage business. Joining Olson is his foe in Bush v. Gore, David Boies.
“The case comes at a time when gay groups have suffered several setbacks, including the defeat of same-sex marriage legislation in New York and New Jersey and a vote last fall that overturned such unions in Maine. Efforts to overturn Proposition 8 with another ballot measure in California also face uncertain prospects, with most major groups having decided to wait until at least 2012 to go back to the voters.
All of which has heightened expectations for the Boies and Olson case, filed in the spring after the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote after a bruising and costly campaign.”

-- My column for today on Michael Steele’s exit strategy is here.

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