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Right Turn: December 12, 2010 - December 18, 2010

Friday question

It was quite a week for news hounds. The omnibus spending bill died. The Bush tax cuts survived. The Republicans gloated. The liberals (who we see, once again, have failed to dominate the political stage, or even their own party)...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 17, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Friday question  
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Individual mandate on the ropes?

Defenders of ObamaCare assured themselves -- and dragged out liberal legal "experts" to assure us -- that this week's District Court ruling finding ObamaCare's individual mandate to be unconstitutional was an aberration. Umm. Not so, it seems. The Wall Street...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 17, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  Obamacare, law  
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ObamaCare: the beginning of the end?

In response to one of my posts touching on the omnibus spending bill, reader jkk1943 observes (after praising the "much maligned Dr. No of the GOP," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell): The biggest poison pill in the bill was a...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 17, 2010; 12:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Obamacare  
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Why Paul Ryan excites conservatives

On the floor of the House last night, the incoming House budget committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wisc.) systematically dismantled the arguments against the tax agreement. It's worth watching. Ryan's arguments were addressed to both the left and the hard...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 17, 2010; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  House GOP, Taxes  
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Obama's problems: personality and policy

Today Michael Gersonilluminates President Obama's unique ability to offend and alienate opposing sides of an issue. Perhaps we should give it a name (Obamanomia?): Rather than explaining the economic benefits of the bill and taking quiet credit for a moment...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 17, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  President Obama  
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What next in the Middle East?

Since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech last week on the demise of the "peace process," pro-Israel activists and lawmakers have been trying to figure out what the administration is up to, and what it can do next. A leader...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 17, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  American Jews, Hillary Clinton, Israel  
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Morning Bits

Ross Douthat on the "serially insincere" Mitt Romney. "I believe that Mitt Romney is a more serious person, and would probably be a better president, than his campaign style suggests. But issue by issue, policy by policy, that same campaign...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 17, 2010; 7:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Morning Bits  
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Liberal Democrats don't matter, Bush tax cuts extended

Before the deal struck by the president and the Senate Republicans, House and Senate liberals insisted on votes to exclude upper income taxpayers from the Bush tax cut extensions. The Senate Democrats tried a couple of variations, including the millionaire...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 17, 2010; 12:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (82)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Harry Reid didn't have the votes

After exposing his party, the White House and himself to an avalanche of bad press and bipartisan criticism over the earmark-stuffed omnibus spending bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a sort of political Dunkirk moment, gave up and fled....

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 8:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
Categories:  Budget, Senate Democrats, Senate GOP  
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Newt Gingrich supports the tax deal

Unlike five senators, Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) and a few 2012 contenders, Newt Gingrich has come out in favor of the tax deal. In fact, he put out a video expressing his support, and specifically pointing to the benefits of...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Is J Street still relevant?

Yesterday, by a voice vote, with no time requested for opposition on the floor, the House passed a resolution opposing a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians. H.R. 1734 reads, in part: Resolved, by the House of Representatives that...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  American Jews, Israel  
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Ros-Lehtinen ready to shake up foreign policy establishment

The new House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is unabashedly delighted to be taking the gavel in hand and, with it, to start taking on a raft of foreign policy issues. She began a phone interview with...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 1:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  House GOP, foreign policy  
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How's that 'reset' working out?

As the Senate begins its START debate, and in the wake of John McCain's admonition last week to re-examine our relationship with Russia, it is worth noting how imbalanced our relationship with Russia has become. The foreign ministry of Georgia,...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  foreign policy  
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From the grave, they still earmark

You would think that at least death would halt earmarking. But no, that's not how Congress works. The Wall Street editorial board tells us: "The late John Murtha of Pennsylvania is so powerful he's still getting pork from his grave:...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Budget, economy  
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Is Mike Pence trying to blow up the tax agreement?

Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) took to the floor of the House this week to decry the tax agreement, claiming, "Uncertainty is the enemy of prosperity." He appeared on Fox News this morning to repeat his position, arguing that we don't...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  House GOP, Taxes  
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John Kerry tells Senate to give Putin whatever he wants

A Republican on Capitol Hill sent around an eye-opening e-mail last night that related to Sen. John Kerry's (D.-Mass.) opening remarks on the START ratification debate. Kerry told his colleagues that they should "make no mistake. We're not going to...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Obama is fine with 6,000 earmarks

Yesterday, we noted that Obama had once expressed determination to get rid of earmarks and "business as usual." But in case you thought he actually meant it, think again. Jake Tapper of ABC News reports: The Obama administration today told...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Budget, President Obama  
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Morning Bits

There are 81 senators who understand raising taxes stifles growth. "The Senate on Wednesday approved the $858 billion tax plan negotiated by the White House and Republican leaders -- the first concrete product of a new era of divided government...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 16, 2010; 7:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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START stopped?

Jackson Diehl reported on the latest problem for the administration regarding START ratification. As a simple vote-counting measure, it appears the White House is one vote short. Eight Republican Senators -- Jon Kyl, Lamar Alexander, John Thune, Chris Bond, Orrin...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 4:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Senate GOP, foreign policy  
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Does Obama support 6000 earmarks?

Blogger Guy Benson reminds us that Obama not so long ago spoke out on the subject of earmarks. In 2009 Obama grudgingly signed a $410 billion omnibus spending bill filled with earmarks but vowed, "This piece of legislation must mark...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 3:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Budget, President Obama  
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Is Obama serious about human rights?

Tim Rutten, writing in the Los Angeles Times, has a critically important column on a much under-reported subject: When America intervened to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christians -- mostly Chaldeans and Assyrians -- numbered about 1.4 million, or about 3%...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 1:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
Categories:  Human Rights, foreign policy  
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Congress less popular than ever

Gallup reports: Americans' assessment of Congress has hit a new low, with 13% saying they approve of the way Congress is handling its job. The 83% disapproval rating is also the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Budget, Senate Democrats  
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Plan B, if the pork-a-thon gets through

It's not clear whether a combination of outraged Republicans and nervous red state Democrats can filibuster the omnibus spending bill and its thousands of earmarks. But Bill Kristol has a marvelous suggestion if it gets through: Shouldn't the Republican House...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Budget  
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Harry Reid has a time management problem

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has created a traffic jam. After failing to pass a budget or separate appropriations bills this year, Reid dumped a mammoth omnibus spending bill in the laps of his colleagues, who already have the tax...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 9:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Obama White House, Senate Democrats  
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Are you in favor of raising taxes?

That is what Americans for Tax Reform, the toughest of the fiscal conservative groups, is in effect asking members of the Senate and Congress. Although ATR head Grover Norquist made clear that a two-year (rather than a permanent) extension of...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  House GOP, Senate GOP, Taxes  
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Morning Bits

So much for the liberal spin that the individual mandate isn't critical to Obamacare. Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius make the conservatives' argument: "Without an individual responsibility provision, controlling costs and ending discrimination against people with preexisting conditions doesn't work."...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 7:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Morning Bits  
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Spending bill tests discipline of both parties

The Omnibus spending measure introduced today by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has outraged Senate and House Republicans -- threatening not only government funding, but the rest of the Senate's lame duck agenda. What's in the bill? Republican Senate aides...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 6:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  House GOP, Senate Democrats, economy  
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Right Turn saw that one coming

On Monday morning, I wrote: "As for Pelosi, I suspect she won't even get a crumb. The Senate is due to vote on cloture this afternoon. If there are 60 votes (I'll bet the number will be at least 65),...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 4:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  House Democrats, Taxes  
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Ahmadinejad shows who is in charge

We have heard for years now from pundits on the left that we should essentially ignore the rantings of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yes, he talks about genocide. Yes, he stole the June 2009 elections. But, liberal pundits caution, he...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Iran, foreign policy  
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Mitt Romney opposes tax deal

Mitt Romney has raised some eyebrows with a USA Today op-ed opposing the tax agreement -- which garnered 83 votes in the Senate last night. It is a bit, shall we say, odd that he's only now piping up and...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  2012 campaign, Mitt Romney  
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A failure of liberal jurisprudence

The shock and rationalization (It won't stand! Oh, this can't be the law!) with which legal scholars and law professors (believe me, the two aren't synonymous) greeted the district court ruling striking down the individual health insurance mandate should come...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 11:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  law  
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Michael Steele is in, but does it matter?

Current Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele confounded conventional wisdom and announced he would run for another term. Politics watchers should keep in mind several things. First, the notion that this will promote in-fighting and make life tough for the...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 10:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Senate tax deal vote wasn't even close

Okay, this was sort of embarrassing for the tax agreement critics. The Senate's final vote was 83-15. That's the kind of margin you rack up for recognition of National Girl Scout Day. And it suggests that hardliners on both sides...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 9:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Senate GOP, Taxes  
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Individual mandate not easily fixable

Ezra Klein argues that the death of the individual mandate in ObamaCare would not be fatal to the bill because the mandate can be restructured. There are two problems with this, one political and one legal. On the politics, within...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 8:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Obamacare, law  
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Morning Bits

Oh really? David Weinberger says this is the best argument for Mitt Romney in defense of ObamaCare: "Mr. Romney needs to make clear that, following the tradition of American federalism, RomneyCare was implemented at the state level. The important idea...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 7:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Morning Bits  
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No Labels = No Content

The Post reports today from New York: A mishmash coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents came together here Monday to launch a political organization that the members hope will change behavior in what they decried as an increasingly hyperpartisan system....

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 3:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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College maybe isn't for everyone?

For years now, both liberals and conservatives have sung the praises of college education, urging increased access to college and spending billions in aid to increase the flow of students into colleges and universities. But is this a good idea?...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  education  
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Mark Warner: anti-regulation, except in large doses

In today's Post, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) decries the red tape that has been spooling out from the federal government, which, he argues, impairs growth and job creation: Our economic recovery remains frustratingly sluggish, unemployment is still unacceptably high, and...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Senate Democrats  
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Challenge to ObamaCare's individual mandate survives first test

Yup, a district court judge in Virginia has ruled against a motion to for summary judgment seeking to dismiss the state attorney general's lawsuit claiming the individual mandate in President Obama's health-care law is unconstitutional. In legal terms this means...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 12:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  President Obama  
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Liberal disappointments = Obama moderation?

There has been much discussion over the last week that Obama's capitulation on taxes should be taken as a sign that he's not really all that liberal. That's wrong for a simple reason: the Republicans forced Obama to relent. He...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  2012 campaign, President Obama  
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Hillary Clinton's Middle East speech sounds retreat

On Friday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy forum. It was a curious speech, ambiguous and somewhat defensive. Direct talks, which actually had not been direct since Sept....

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Hillary Clinton, Israel  
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Friday question answered

Again, I want to thank all who commented on Friday's open thread on who is the big winner and who is the big loser in the Bush tax cuts deal. Kudos for the high level of discourse. There were a...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 9:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  President Obama, Taxes  
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Tax deal: purists vs. dealmakers

We've focused quite a bit -- because it's been such lively entertainment -- on the fight among Democrats over the tax agreement. There is also a vigorous debate on the right, but there it is generally, although not exclusively, a...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  House GOP, President Obama, Taxes  
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Morning Bits

In Sept. 2011 Americans will be commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11 while the U.N. will be engaging in another round of Israel defamation. "It's perverse. It's inexcusable. And it's business as usual in Turtle Bay. Sept. 2011, you see,...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 13, 2010; 7:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Morning Bits  
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Joe Lieberman, foreign policy maven

On Friday afternoon I spoke with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) about the array of foreign policy issues that popped up during the week. Through quiet pressure and a series of foreign policy speeches, Lieberman has persistently pressed the Obama administration...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 12, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Joe Lieberman, foreign policy  
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Sarah Palin in prose

Last week, I criticized Sarah Palin for using Twitter to render an ambiguous, off-the-cuff response to the bipartisan tax agreement. I understand that some of her supporters weren't too pleased with the suggestion that one of her favorite modes of...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 12, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Sarah Palin  
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Time to reset Iran policy

There's a Woody Allen joke that reminds us that everything our mothers told us was good for us -- milk, sun and red meat -- isn't, actually. After a week of feckless Iran diplomacy and discussion with some very smart...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 12, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (50)
Categories:  Iran, foreign policy  
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Morning Bits

Bill Clinton reminds us why he was a more effective president than the current one. Whose idea was it to leave Clinton alone to do the Q&A? The current president, it seems . President Obama reminds us he's second to...

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 12, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Morning Bits  
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