Poll: Harry Reid trails Gov. Sandoval in hypothetical senate race

I doubt that Harry Reid is doing this year’s Democratic Senatorial candidates any favors with his deranged attacks on the Koch Brothers, his changes to longstanding filibuster rules as a means of confirming left-wing judicial nominees, and his over-the-top partisan bluster. A new poll suggests that he isn’t doing himself any favors either.

The survey, conducted this week by Harper Polling, shows Reid trailing Nevada’s popular governor Brian Sandoval by 10 points, 53-43. The pollsters are Republicans, but according to Nevada political pundit Jon Ralston, the poll seems credible.

Reid isn’t up for reelection until 2016. Sandoval is running for reelection this year. The Harper poll finds him leading in that race by 22 points.

According to the survey, Reid is plagued by a 55 percent unfavorable rating. But Ralston points out that Reid had a similar rating in 2010, yet defeated Sharron Angle by nearly 6 points.

That’s where Sandoval fits into the equation. If he remains a popular governor, it’s easy to believe that he could run more than 6 points stronger than Angle did, assuming he opts to challenge Reid.

Via Andrew Johnson at NRO.


The D.C. Circuit’s decision in the Halbig case applies the language of Obamacare against the extension of tax subsidies within the federal Obamacare exchange established by the federal government in 36 states that declined to set up their own. Liberal hacks of all stripes now cry “foul,” foremost among them Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.

Let us first go to the video below starring Gruber, smartly produced by American Commitment, with the accompanying hashtag #GruberGate.

American Commitment explains: “On at least seven occasions, Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber indicated states had to set up exchanges or subsidies would stop flowing. That way lay madness.

This is a position he now ridicules, of course, insisting nobody ever believed it. Gruber claims the statutory language he previously explicated was “a typo.”

But in two different speeches in January 2012, Gruber repeatedly acknowledged that subsidy eligibility required residing in a state that established an exchange.

Gruber in 2012: “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”

Gruber in 2012: “If your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens. So that’s the other threat, is will states do what they need to set it up.”

Gruber in 2012: “I guess I’m enough of a believer in democracy, to think that when the voters and states see that by not setting up an exchange the politicians in the state are costing state residents hundreds of millions and billions of dollars that they’ll eventually throw the guys out. But, I don’t know that for sure, and that is really the ultimate threat.”

These remarks were consistent five other comments from Gruber (March 2010, May 2011, November 2011, September 2012, and November 2012) included in the video showing that believed all 50 states had to establish exchanges for Obamacare to succeed, and states failing to do so constituted “a threat to its effective existence.”

When confronted with Gruber’s previous remarks, the White House could only characterize them as a “mistake.”

Shouldn’t that hashtag be #ShamelessLiar? I guess it would cut too big a swath through the Democratic Party.

Civil War on the Left, Part 9

Further to our occasional series about the civil war on the left (part 8 here), it is worth taking note of a new article by Paul Waldman in The American Prospect (one of the more smartly written lefty journals) entitled “Can Liberalism Survive Obama? Yes, It Can.”  I’ll skip over the obvious ironic mocking of the title, and proceed to some relevant excerpts:

It isn’t hard to find discontent with Barack Obama on the left, so long as you know where to look. . .

Adolph Reed Jr. wrote a cover story for Harper’s earlier this year excoriating the president and the milquetoasts who still support him, arguing that Obama’s election was “fundamentally an expression of the limits of the left in the United States—its decline, demoralization, and collapse.”

Given the political roller coaster of the last decade and a half, liberals would be forgiven for feeling worn-out, even cynical. . .  This period in the history of American liberalism—covering the Bush and Obama presidencies—looks like one of extended misery, followed by an explosion of hope, followed by disappointment and dismay. . . “There’s a realization,” says Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an organization that works to promote and assist progressive candidates, “that this is not a bold, progressive president. He’s ultimately not going to be a game-changer when it comes to taking on the powers that be.”

“Some traditional Democrats, low-information people, are willing to give him a pass and say, ‘Oh, the Tea Party got in the way,’” he says. “But those who are more of the progressive movement and look at this through a more sophisticated lens see that there was a fundamental lack of willingness to fight in the beginning of his presidency that had ripple effects throughout.” The White House has from time to time made it clear that it dislikes liberal activists as much as the activists dislike it. As former press secretary Robert Gibbs put it, the “professional left … wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

There’s more—lot’s more—in the piece; more than anyone (even a liberal) needs to read to get the point.  I’ve got news for Waldman: Obama’s a far-left liberal, and this is as good as it gets.  Trust me on this—years from now, you and other lefties will look back on the Obama Administration as the golden age of progressive liberalism, as it slowly crumbles under the deadweight of its own bad ideas.

Waldman ends thus:

Liberal intellectuals, for whom slights are long remembered and compromises loom large, will continue to debate the ideological character of Barack Obama’s presidency for years to come. That debate is worth having for any number of reasons.

Oh please, please do have this debate.  It will provide endless entertainment for the rest of us.

Mid-Week in Pictures: Milton Friedman’s Birthday

It’s Milton Friedman’s 102nd birthday today, and as such a good excuse for some reminders of his greatness, and a few pics that illustrate the economic divide of our time.  This is perhaps my favorite Milton Friedman quote, just as true now as when he first wrote it: “The society that puts [economic] equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.”

Meanwhile, enjoy:

Freidman Day copy

Keynes explained copy

Krugman Explained copy

Keynsian Multiplier copy Keynesian Economics copy Economic Justice copy

Krugman Quote copy

Keynesians at Work copy


The politics of crying “impeachment” [UPDATED]

The Democrats have been fundraising like crazy based on claims that President Obama is in danger of being impeached by House Republicans. Last night, John wondered whether it’s good idea to tell your party’s members repeatedly that the leader of their party is in danger of being impeached.

The answer, I think, is that it is a good idea to the extent the message is heard only by party members. Few Democrats will be able to conceive of a rationale for impeaching their leader and nearly all will view the alleged threat of impeachment as confirmation that House Republicans are evil.

And the money will pour in.

But money isn’t the key to saving endangered Democrat-held Senate seats and making inroads into the House Republicans majority. Only the votes of independents and true moderates can accomplish these goals.

The Democrats can’t keep the “news” of possible impeachment to themselves. The question thus becomes whether it is a good idea for Democrats to cause independents and moderates to believe that President Obama is in danger of being impeached.

I don’t think so. Unlike Democrats, many independents and moderates understand the Republicans’ deep discontent and frustration with Obama. Polls show that these sentiments are no longer confined to Republicans.

Few independents and moderates favor impeaching Obama, and if the House were to move in that direction, these voters would sympathize with the president and blame Republicans. But unless and until impeachment proceedings commence, they will blame Obama for having put himself in a position where impeachment is being discussed by anyone.

If a child tells his parent that his school may suspend him, a normal parent will conclude that the child has put himself in jeopardy by misbehaving. So too, I suspect, with the Democrats’ cries of “impeachment.”

If independents and moderates credit the Democrats’ claims that Republicans might impeach Obama, they will also blame Republicans for going overboard in their opposition to Obama, just as the parent in the above example will probably worry that the school is overreacting. But there’s little reason to believe that many non-Democrats will credit claims that impeachment is in the cards, now that Speaker Boehner has said that it isn’t.

Thus, as months pass and no impeachment materializes, no blame will attach to Republicans. The remaining impression will be that of a problematic president whose party cried “wolf.”

There’s another dimension to the politics of “impeachment.” By some accounts, Obama is poised to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. There is speculation that the cries of “impeachment” are related to this impending development.

If House Republicans become so outraged by the amnesty that they talk seriously of impeachment, Democrats can say “I told you so” and Boehner may look like a liar. If House Republicans don’t talk seriously about impeachment, Obama will have lessened the firestorm and elements of the Republican base may become disillusioned.

But this strategy — if that’s what it is — seems too clever by a half. The lawlessness of a unilateral grant of amnesty by Obama will likely upset not just Republicans and conservatives but many independents and moderates. They still won’t favor impeachment, but they will understand more clearly why a case for impeachment can be made.

They will probably blame Obama even more for being a president whose name can appear in the same sentence as “impeachment” (is this what “hope and change” has come to?) And some may even credit House Republicans for their forbearance in not impeaching him.

UPDATE: A new AP/GfK poll finds that 68 percent of Americans now disapprove of Obama’s handling of immigration. Lawless action by Obama on an issue that Americans already think he’s mishandling will likely strengthen the sense that Obama has brought impeachment talk on himself.

A new old regime

Hamburger29 I wrote at some length about the inconsistency of administrative law with what we understand to be our constitutional system in “Crisis of the administrative state.” Searching around online for additional sources of learning on the subject, I happened to discover a listing for Professor Philip Hamburger’s then forthcoming book, Is Administrative Law Unlawful?

I brought the listing to the attention of our friends at National Review, hoping the magazine would take note of the book. I was afraid the book might die on the vine for lack of attention, but it has been reviewed both in the Wall Street Journal (behind the Journal’s subscription paywall) and the Weekly Standard. That’s quite an accomplishment for a sober work of legal scholarship published by a university press.

Our friends at NR sent me their review copy. Thanks to Rich Lowry and Michael Potemra, my review of the book appears in the current (August 11) issue of NR, on your newsstand now. This morning NR has posted the review online with a rewritten introduction to relate the book to the week’s headlines. Please check it out: “A new old regime.”

In his vitally important book, Professor Hamburger demonstrates the regressive nature of the Progressive project. He explains and vindicates the original project of the Constitution in erecting barriers to the exercise of absolute power. As Barack Obama brings the crisis of the administrative state to full boil, I believe that Professor Hamburger has given us, not a book of the season, but a book for all seasons.

NOTE: Thanks to the folks at RealClearPolitics for including the review in their honor roll this morning.

Tweeting Conor Powell

Hamas carefully manages civilian casualty statistics in Gaza as a tool of war. It embeds its men and materiel among civilian facilities such as hospitals, mosques and UN schools. When Israel targets weapons depots and sources of fire, these facilities may be targeted with resulting casualties.

Yet Hamas itself frequently turns out to be the direct cause of the civilian casualties, as in the case of Jihad Masharawi in 2012 and other incidents this time around. The media nevertheless attribute the responsibility for every such incident to Israel. See, for example, this Washington Post story along with the embedded statistics by Sudarsan Rhagavan.

Yesterday was a bad day for civilian casualties in Gaza. The Wall Street Journal reports that “UN blames Israel for shelter attack.” The editors of the New York Post provide the sane response in “Obama’s friendly fire.”

It’s important to get both the facts and the moral calculus right. I don’t think anyone has done a better than Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal column “Palestine makes you dumb” (behind the Journal’s subscription paywall). He writes in part:

Consider the media obsession with the body count. According to a daily tally in the New York Times, NYT -1.40% as of July 27 the war in Gaza had claimed 1,023 Palestinian lives as against 46 Israelis. How does the Times keep such an accurate count of Palestinian deaths? A footnote discloses “Palestinian death tallies are provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”

OK. So who runs the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza? Hamas does. As for the U.N., it gets its data mainly from two Palestinian agitprop NGOs, one of which, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, offers the remarkably precise statistic that, as of July 27, exactly 82% of deaths in Gaza have been civilians. Curiously, during the 2008-09 Gaza war, the center also reported an 82% civilian casualty rate.

When minutely exact statistics are provided in chaotic circumstances, it suggests the statistics are garbage. When a news organization relies—without clarification—on data provided by a bureaucratic organ of a terrorist organization, there’s something wrong there, too.

But let’s assume for argument’s sake that the numbers are accurate. Does this mean the Palestinians are the chief victims, and Israelis the main victimizers, in the conflict? By this dull logic we might want to rethink the moral equities of World War II, in which over one million German civilians perished at Allied hands compared with just 67,000 British and 12,000 American civilians.

The real utility of the body count is that it offers reporters and commentators who cite it the chance to ascribe implicit blame to Israel while evading questions about ultimate responsibility for the killing. Questions such as: Why is Hamas hiding rockets in U.N.-run schools, as acknowledged by the U.N. itself? What does it mean that Hamas has turned Gaza’s central hospital into “a de facto headquarters,” as reported by the Washington Post? And why does Hamas keep rejecting, or violating, cease-fires agreed to by Israel?

The media blight is universal. Take, for example, FOX News Channel’s man in Gaza, one Conor Powell. FOX anchors regularly turn to Powell for his hysterical recitation of civilian casualties. I gave Powell a try on Twitter earlier this week. Here is what turned out to be my Twitter soliloquy.