The Price

Posted by , 14th October 2010

Walt MinnickTimothy Egan
10/14/2010

A rookie Democratic congressman named Walt Minnick is leading the polls in Idaho’s First Congressional District race. Minnick’s unlikely success in leading a district rated the third most Republican in the nation is because he reflects the Republican view that the government should not tell people how to live their personal lives. Egan looks at the mix of political convictions Minnick has and says this was typical of what used to be called the Western independent, governing from the middle, and, as Minnick says, pragmatic and moderate.

Egan blogs for The New York Times on American politics and life as seen from the West.

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Why Israel Won’t Abandon the Settlers

Posted by , 14th October 2010

EhudBarakYossi Klein Halevi
10/14/2010

Halevi considers Israeli Defense Minister Barak’s attempt to persuade the Netanyahu government to extend a freeze on settlement building. For all the ambivalence toward the settlements, Halevi says there is good reason why the Israeli government should heed Defense Minister Barak’s advice and extend a settlement freeze. A freeze would prove that the obstacle to Middle East agreement isn’t the settlements–blueprints exist for resolving the settlement issue in a comprehensive peace agreement–but eather the more basic refusal of the Palestinian leadership to accept the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty over any part of the land.

Halevi is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and a contributing editor of the New Republic.

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The Seat Not Taken

Posted by , 7th October 2010

Black discriminationJohn Edgar Wideman
10/7/2010

The author, a man of color, rides Amtrak’s high-speed Acela train from his home in New York City to a teaching job in Providence, R.I. Over four years he has conducted an informal sociological experiment and has noticed that people will shun a free seat if they have to sit next to him. After ruling out body or breath odor, an angry demeanor, or an appearance that would indicate he is a religious extremist or gangster, Wideman concludes he is left alone because of his race. Although he savors the extra space, the reason behind why he is riding alone is not only sad but scary when you examine it.

Wideman is a professor of Africana studies and literary arts at Brown and the author, most recently, of “Briefs.”

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Connecticut on the Ropes

Posted by , 7th October 2010

Linda McMahonGail Collins
10/7/2010

Collins looks at the political situation in Connecticut, where Republicans hope to win a 51st Senate seat. She looks at the credentials of businesswoman Republican Linda McMahon, who helped build her family’s World Wrestling Entertainment business into a sports empire but cannot make a political stand, and Democrat Richard Blumenthal, the state attorney general there who has demonstrated a commitment to job creation. Collins also looks at the recent debate there and what the candidates have promised.

Collins is a New York Times columnist.

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Sumo wrestling with federal deficits

Posted by , 7th October 2010

Jeb HensarlingGeorge F. Will
10/7/2010

Representative Jeb Hensarling is serving on Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and its 18 members are approaching their fiscal goals rather like Sumo wrestlers: with a lot of mutual staring but no contact as yet. Budget-balancing (excluding debt service) and finding ways to “meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook” are the commission’s main goals. But Hensarling says this creates a harmful distraction from the real problem: long-term debt incurred from Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. A record number of American citizens are concerned about deficits. Thus, when the commission gives its report in December, Congress will be populated with members potentially emboldened–but not legitimized–by their lack of political future.

Will is a twice-weekly columnist for The Post, writing about foreign and domestic politics and policy.

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The Terminator vs. Big Oil

Posted by , 6th October 2010

Texas OilThomas L. Friedman 10/6/2010 Two Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, are financing a campaign in California this election year, Prop 23, to roll back laws to slow global warming and promote clean energy because it would require their refineries to install new emission-control tools. The issue is not about jobs, but about enhancing the coffers of the oil companies, since financing has come primarily by billionaires outside the state. Friedman says California’s laws are the best thing we have in America to stimulate clean-tech. Fighting these oil companies at the ballot box is a worthy cause.

Friedman is a New York Times columnist.

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Credit for the Recovery

Posted by , 6th October 2010

Pile of moneyDaniel Gross
10/6/2010

Despite stories about consumer savings on the rise, the nation’s total indebtedness has also continued to rise, as have some measures of consumer debt. Gross points out that any decline in personal debt is “driven less by Americans giving up on credit cards than on credit card issuers giving up on Americans.” Lenders are writing off some debt as uncollectable. Still, the recovery is maturing, powered not merely by government stimulus and business investment, but also by increasing total consumer credit. This will be the root of our short-term salvation from the recession.

Gross, author of  “Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation”, is the economics editor and columnist at Yahoo! Finance.

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California Pot Initiative: Don’t Forget About Federal Law

Posted by , 6th October 2010

MarihuanaJohn Bartels, Peter Bensinger, Francis Mullen, Jack Lawn, Robert Bonner and Tom Constantine
10/6/2010

The authors consider the implications of California’s initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The “Pot Initiative” would violate federal law and nobody is going to be paying state taxes on marijuana when doing so would be a confession to a federal felony. Each of the authors, upon becoming administrators of the DEA, swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. It is in this spirit that they call on the Department of Justice (DoJ) to provide a legal position on California’s ballot initiative and to do so before the November election. They conclude that it would be helpful if the DoJ made it clear that if Proposition 19 passes, it will violate federal law and the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

The writers served as administrators of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration from its inception in July 1973 through November 2007.

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That’s Where the Money Is

Posted by , 5th October 2010

John BoehnerBob Herbert
10/5/2010

The fact that John Boehner has a real chance to be Speaker of the House of Representatives is astonishing, Herbert says, because he is one of the more sleazy politicians in Washington. In the 1990s he was doing the bidding of big tobacco and funneling money to his colleagues when it was legal. In addition, he is known to be at the bidding of several corporations, which Herbert lists. He says Boehner has always been willing to stick his neck out for the elite, and he is one of the people responsible for the state of affairs today, where ordinary working Americans have been left behind in the recession.

Herbert is a New York Times columnist.

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