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Thursday, May 27, 2010

What the Media Can Learn From Karl Rove About Covering Politics

Posted by: Peter Roff on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 3:01:12 pm Comments (0)

To be frank, the journalists who cover U.S. elections are, by and large, not really up to the job. There are a select few, like former U.S. News columnist Michael Barone, the much-missed Tim Russert, and others who, as former practitioners of some aspect of the “dark arts” themselves, understand the subtexts and subtleties of campaigns and their strategies and can explain them in ways that are neither mind-numbing nor unbalanced.
They are too few in number. Many of the rest--but by no means all--of the stamped out, blow dried network types who report on poll numbers like they were sports’ scores and who are obsessed, to borrow a word from Sarah Palin, with playing “Gotcha” so obviously radiate contempt for the candidates they are assigned to cover or are so clearly in love with them that they fail to even approach objectivity.
For them, especially, it would useful, even instructive, to read Karl Rove’s memoir of his life in politics. Most books of this type are little more than an “I was there as history unfolded” collections of great moments and significant accomplishments. Rove’s Courage and Consequence is decidedly not that kind of book. Instead it is something more on the order of, well, a training manual for anyone who is interested in running campaigns or, of equal importance, covering them....

continue reading.

D.C. School Reform? Public Schools' Absurd New Condom Policy

Posted by: Peter Roff on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 2:44:31 pm Comments (0)

Officials in the District of Columbia, which has some of the worst-performing public schools in the nation, are concerned that their program for the distribution of free condoms in those schools is failing. According to the Washington Post, “High school students and college-age adults have been complaining to District officials that the free condoms the city has been offering are not of good enough quality and are too small.”
If that alone was not bad enough, students are also complaining that it is embarrassing to have to ask school nurses and other health professionals for them.
...continue reading.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Misstating Risk on 60 Minutes

Posted by: Andrew Langer on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 2:35:06 pm Comments (0)

Last night, 60 Minutes aired a broadcast on the plastic chemicals known as phthalates.


A large portion of the broadcast featured an interview with Dr. Shanna Swan, a biostatistician and Professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Swan has made a career seeking to demonstrate phthalates may be harmful. But in spite of her efforts, she has never found a direct correlation between phthalate exposure and the reproductive effects she claims. Moreover, none of her research has been reproduced or validated by the scientific community. STATS Trevor Butterworth recently published a piece on Forbes.com exposing the problems with Swan’s research and lack of credibility. As demonstrated by the Daubert ruling, Swan’s expert testimony has been dismissed by the courts because her studies were not “generally accepted” in the scientific community.

 

In the interview, Swan even admitted that her research does not offer conclusive evidence that phthalates are harmful. However, she continues to push out her message of fear to the media. Phthalates have become another victim of scare tactic propaganda, often perpetuated by activists like Swan and various special interest groups. The media picks up on these headlines and eventually you have frightened parents throwing out all plastic toys for no reason. A panic mode sets in, which can result in overreaction by individuals and our government.

 

Congress pushed the panic button when they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This law was passed in response to the lead scares which surfaced during the Christmas shopping season of 2007. However, in an effort to protect children from harmful products, Congress overreached and passed a sweeping law with regulations on many products which do not pose a threat—including a temporary “precautionary” ban on certain phthalates used in toys

 

Rather than protect consumers, these regulations have wasted millions of dollars in inventory for businesses, and ultimately increased the risks consumer products pose to children by requiring the use of less-studied alternative chemicals.

 

Sensational and baseless claims— like the ones prorogated by Swan in last night’s 60 Minutes broadcast—can have far-reaching consequences for consumers and businesses.
The facts in this case on phthalates are made clear by the scientific evidence which demonstrates that human exposure to phthalates is safe. To suggest otherwise is simply irresponsible.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Elena Kagan's Supreme Court Nomination is Stalling

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:56:36 pm Comments (0)

By now the White House must realize that its selection of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the next associate justice of the United States Supreme Court could be going better. Kagan, the former dean of the prestigious Harvard Law School, has spent the past week introducing herself to members of the U.S. Senate, but has yet to see the American people embrace her nomination--which may be an early indication that her hopes for confirmation may be headed to the rocks.
...continue reading.

The Tea Party's Test for Elena Kagan and the Supreme Court

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:52:24 pm Comments (0)

Since its inception the Tea Party movement has been met with considerable criticism from those who are opposed to its goals.
Flowing freely from the pens of some of the nation’s most prominent columnists are charges that it is too narrowly focused, that it lacks depth, that it is unrepresentative of the mainstream, or that it represents the darker side of the American character. One of them, writer and former Crossfire co-host Michael Kinsley has penned an essay in which he complains that Tea Party activists are, in contrast to the altruism of the anti-war demonstrators of the 1960s, “mostly self-interested.”
“They lack poetry: cut my taxes; don’t let the government mess with my Medicare; and so on,” Kinsley wrote on the website of The Atlantic magazine. “There is a nasty, sour, vindictive tone to the Tea Party that certainly existed in the antiwar movement and its offspring, but never dominated the atmosphere created by these groups. “
As usual, he’s missed the bus. Kinsley understates the radicalism of the '60s-era movement and its offspring, which seized buildings on college campuses, blew up others, caused riots in places like Chicago, and attacked police officers, among other less-than-altruistic deeds.
At the same time he overstates the threats posed by the Tea Party movement which is, after all, an almost exclusively peaceful protest. It is, in reality, a popular uprising dedicated to taking power back from a group of elites--most clearly but not exclusively represented by President Barack Obama and those who populate his administration--who seek to upend the cultural values and economic system that has made America a powerful force for good in the world. The Tea Parties are demanding from politicians in both parties a kind of accountability that has been lacking in the national government for some time....continue reading. 
 

2010 Census, State Elections Could Map a New Republican Majority

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:46:43 pm Comments (0)

Most political forecasters are now looking seriously at the possibility that Republicans will win back control of Congress this year. They are seeing the forest but not the trees. The real battle to determine the nation's political alignment for at least the next decade is happening down ballot and below the radar.
By law, the results of the 2010 census will lead to a reshuffling of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  And this year's elections will in many cases determine who will have the authority to draw each state's new congressional map, which, in turn, will shape the political battlefield until the next census in 2020. Both parties are girding for the fight, but the GOP is poised to emerge with its strongest hand in decades. Here's why:
... Keep Reading ...

On U.S. News - now Elena Kagan Reverses Course on Supreme Court Nominee Testimony

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:44:43 pm Comments (0)

So much for the “Kagan Standard.” Our nation’s newest Supreme Court nominee has already reversed herself.
Back in 1995, as written here previously, Kagan wrote of her belief that nominees to the nation’s highest court should have to answer questions about “the votes she would cast, the perspective she would add (or augment), and the direction in which she would move the institution.”
Now that she herself has been nominated it is being pointed out that she no longer believes what she wrote. As reported by the Daily Caller, an Internet-based publication, a senior White House aide is reminding people that Kagan has changed her mind.
...continue reading. 
 

Elena Kagan is the Ultimate Stealth Nominee to the Supreme Court

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:42:56 pm Comments (0)

In U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama has found the ultimate stealth nominee. Typically, the judicial confirmation process for those selected for the U.S. Supreme Court consists of an examination of a nominee’s prior legal decisions, speeches, articles written for prominent legal journals, and other examples, presumably, of their thinking about the law and the U.S. Constitution.
Kagan, the former dean of the Harvard Law School, is a policy wonk and an academic with very little practical legal experience. As a result, the record available for examination is very thin.
...continue reading. 
 

First Democratic Defection From Nancy Pelosi?

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:38:14 pm Comments (0)

Given the depths to which the public’s feelings about Congress has sunk, it was only a matter of time before a Democrat running for Congress determined it would be a good idea to separate himself from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. West Virginia State Sen. Mike Oliverio, who hopes to unseat veteran Rep. Alan Mollohan in the May 11 Democratic primary, said this week that he hoped “there will be a better candidate than Nancy Pelosi” running for the speakership when the House votes to organize itself next January.
...continue reading.

Poll: Independent Voters Deserting the Democrats in Droves

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:34:39 pm Comments (0)

There are a number of interesting things about Resurgent Republic’s one-year anniversary poll, conducted at the end of April among 1,000 registered voters nationwide, but none more so than the clear evidence it provides that independent voters are deserting the Democrats in droves.
By a margin of better than 2 to 1, self-identified independents agreed that an increase in the number of Republicans in Congress is necessary in order to bring about “a check and balance on runaway Washington government.” Independents also agreed that the country is on “the wrong track” by a 65 to 25 percent margin.
Most surveys, including this one from Resurgent Republic, show the GOP electorate approaches the upcoming election with much greater intensity than the Democrats. Sixty-four percent of Republicans now say they are “absolutely certain to vote” in November.
...continue reading. 
 

On Citizens United, Democrats Demagogue Free Speech

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:19:22 pm Comments (0)

The Democrats appear to be so afraid of free speech, applied equally in the political arena that they have taken to—let’s be charitable—misstating the facts about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Citizens’ United case. Case in point is the assertion, which President Barack Obama himself made in his most recent State of the Union address, that the court’s ruling in Citizens’ United would “open the floodgates for special interests--including foreign corporations--to spend without limit in our elections.”
The idea that foreign interests might subvert the nation’s independence by interfering in the U.S. electoral process is a concern almost as old as the nation itself. It’s one reason the Founding Fathers included in Article II of the U.S. Constitution the provision that “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
As applied to the Citizens United decision, the idea that foreign dollars are suddenly going to pour into U.S. campaigns is big lie No. 1. Nevertheless, as my bloleague Linda Killian wrote here Saturday, the Democrats have made a prohibition against it the centerpiece of their legislative proposal to overturn the court’s decision. Such a move is unnecessary and demagogic.
...continue reading.

Democrat Hypocrisy on Abortion, Privacy Rights

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:08:29 pm Comments (0)

No one can ever accuse the government of being consistent. In fact, as two recent developments in different states suggest, it seems these days that the focus is far much more on the ends rather than on the means.
In one case, New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky--who wants to be attorney general--wants to force every resident of the state to become an organ donor. In another, the Oklahoma Legislature has enacted, over Gov. Brad Henry’s veto, a new law that requires women seeking abortions to first undergo an ultra-sound.
Democrats are, as might be expected, up in arms over the Oklahoma measure, arguing that it violates a woman’s right to privacy. They are, however, strangely silent over what Brodsky--who is also a Democrat--wants to do, as though somehow the harvesting of a person’s organs, without their explicit pre-mortem consent and possibly over the objection of family members, is not.
...continue reading. 
 

Obama, Democrats Using Arizona Law to Demagogue Immigration

Posted by: Unknown on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 3:46:08 pm Comments (0)

Washington is continuing to play ping-pong with the immigration issue. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who needs at least the lion’s share of the votes to be cast by Nevada’s Hispanic community if he hopes to be re-elected this November, is trying to push a bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t commit to doing anything about immigration unless and until the Senate acts first. And President Barack Obama stands there, wagging a disapproving finger at anyone who tries to address the problem.
The president and Congress’s Democratic leaders have ignored the issue up to now. Suddenly, they have a renewed interest in it--because a new Arizona law gives them the chance to demagogue on it.
The law says “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state ... where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.”
They think, because this law--as I wrote yesterday--gives local law enforcement officials the power to detain suspected illegal immigrants they can drive a wedge between Hispanic voters and the GOP by conjuring up the idea it is some kind of near-fascism. But, as my friend Rich Lowry explains at National Review Online, there’s a lot of hyperbole going on.
...continue reading. 
 
 

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