My Latest

Friday, August 28, 2009

How GE's green lobbying is killing U.S. factory jobs

I traveled to a GE factory in Winchester, Virginia, to write my column on GE's green lobbying:
WINCHESTER, VA--“Government did us in,” says Dwayne Madigan, whose job will terminate when General Electric closes its factory next July.

Madigan makes a product that will soon be illegal to sell in the U.S. - a regular incandescent bulb. Two years ago, his employer, GE, lobbied in favor of the law that will outlaw the bulbs.

Madigan’s colleagues, waiting for their evening shift to begin, all know that GE is replacing the incandescents for now with compact fluorescents bulbs, which GE manufactures in China.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leaked e-mail shows how GE puts the government to work for GE

My column this week provides a look behind the scenes at the most prolific corporate lobbyist in the country--General Electric:
"The intersection between GE's interests and government action is clearer than ever," General Electric Vice Chairman John G. Rice wrote in an Aug. 19 e-mail to colleagues.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Matthew Cooper's misleading attack on the late Bob Novak

[Originally posted at "Beltway Confidential."]

Now, I don't agree with the notion that one should never speak ill of the recently deceased. Sure, there's no reason to bad-mouth the kid next door who died of cancer, even if he was a bully, but if a public figure passes away, balancing the paeans with critical material is valid.

And Bob Novak, my boss for nearly five years, was not only a public figure, he was intentional stirrer of strife. It's fitting to debate his legacy. Some critiques I've read of him this week were legitimate contributions to the discussion.

But if you wait until a man dies to badmouth him in print, and then attack him through name-calling and deceptive omission--well, that's not quite gentlemanly. I'm talking, in this instance, about Matthew Cooper's blog post at the Atlantic.

Cooper was caught up in the whole Valerie Plame mess, and like Novak, he protected his sources until he learned that the sources had already told prosecutors about their conversations and specifically relieved Cooper of his confidentiality pledge.

But Cooper tries to paint Novak in a black hat and himself in a white hat:

Novak had acted as a transmission belt for the malevolent leakers who sought to trash former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had the temerity to criticize the war and report that he had been to the African country of Niger at the behest of the CIA where his wife worked. My piece noted that the trashing of Wilson continued. My goal was not to serve as an open mike for the leakers--which Novak did--but to show them up.

There are many problems with this passage, but let's start with the glaring omission. Nowhere in the entire post, which talks about Novak's "leakers," and which mentions Scooter Libby and Karl Rove, does Cooper include the name of the man who told Novak Plame worked at the CIA, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Omitting Armitage's name allows Cooper to tout the line that liberals and Democrats tried to use in the 2004 election: a conservative columnist had teamed up with Karl Rove (who confirmed Armitage's nugget when Novak asked him about it) and Scooter Libby (whom Novak never spoke with) to kneecap Joe Wilson for opposing the war and exposing the White House's bad intelligence.

Cooper uses all the buzzwords of this meme: "malevolent leakers who sought to trash former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had the temerity to criticize the war...."

But Richard Armitage was basically a dove, and Novak had so consistently, and publicly opposed the Iraq War that it earned him the label of "Unpatriotic." In fact, Novak wasquestioning the pro-war intelligence in print long before Wilson was.

Consider this analysis by David Corn and Michael Isikoff--hardly Novak defenders:

The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone.

Novak's stance on Iraq seems relevant if you're going to lump him in with "malevolent leakers" attacking war critics. But by omitting even Armitage's name Cooper's piece seems, to borrow a phrase he uses to attack Novak, "more about destroying than illuminating."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Health-care reform's hidden gift to the HMOs

I cover, in my column today, an underreported detail about health-care reform:
Did you know that, if your job-based HMO wrongly denies you coverage for a medical treatment, and that denial leads to your injury or death, federal law may protect that insurer from paying any damages to you or your family?
Did you know that the House Democrats' health-care "reform" bill would cement this extraordinary legal immunity for the health insurance companies?
Despite the crusading anti-HMO rhetoric coming from the White House and some congressional Democrats this summer, the "reform" bills currently on Capitol Hill include many gifts to health insurers: The bills would all subsidize private insurance and mandate that individuals carry insurance; some also mandate employers insure their workers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Novak's public service: Exposing the power game

My column today pays tribute to my old boss:
With his columns, Novak helped foster a salutary skepticism of government and reinforced the distrust of power that lies at the core of American liberty.
Much of Novak's work involved tracking political horse races and getting inside dirt on candidates and elections. But Novak also loved digging into the bowels of the legislative and executive branches, and showing readers how the sausage is actually made.
In these days, when the president (like his predecessors) calls his critics "naysayers" and "cynics" and says the day for skepticism of government is past -- and when even many conservatives believe that government is responsible for solving all of the nation's problems -- Novak's lesson is indispensable.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Remembering Bob Novak

My Human Events remembrance of Novak:
In 2004, I was chatting with Novak at a conservative dinner at the Willard Intercontinental in downtown D.C. when Ralph Reed approached. Novak greeted Reed, introduced me, and began trading pleasantries, but within one minute the conversation had somehow become an on-background interview -- I noticed this, but I’m not sure Reed did, because of the subtlety with which Novak deflected any questions back at Reed and steered the conversation away from himself.
It was a remarkable trait to find in a professional pundit so successful and so opinionated: Novak might have been the best listener I’ve ever known.

Bob Novak, RIP

Robert D. Novak, who began covering Washington during the Eisenhower administration and later achieved fame as a columnist and television commentator, died in his home Tuesday morning after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 78.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Down with the Health Insurers

My column today is a letter to conservatives:
Dear conservatives: Health insurance companies are not your friends. Keep opposing a new government-run insurer, a single-payer plan, and new regulations on the HMOs. But grant that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is correct on this: Insurance companies are villains.
Insurance companies lobby for big-government regulations, subsidies, mandates, and tax-code distortions that funnel them money, keep out competition, and stultify innovation. These policies preserve the employer-based health-care system that mocks the idea of free-market competition. Then they cry "unfair competition" when government threatens to encroach on their government-protected monopolies.
But they're not just lobbying against a government option. Today, health insurers are lobbying to force you and me to buy their product or face a tax hike (the individual mandate).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Forget the talk: Insurers buy into Obamacare

In my column today--Some inconvenient facts about the insurance industry and ObamaCare:
Barack Obama last year received more campaign cash from health maintenance organizations than any politician before him ever did -- and it's not even close.
Obama raised more than $1.4 million in 2008 from the employees and executives of "Health Services/HMOs" as the Center for Responsive Politics labels them -- or "villains" as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls them. That's more than the combined haul of every Republican nominee since Ronald Reagan left office.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Obama's pattern of intolerance towards dissent

Things are getting ugly in the health-care reform debate. My column looks into how Obama is handling this:

Dissent, it turns out, is no longer patriotic. President Obama's White House and his Democratic National Committee (DNC) have unleashed an all-out assault on what they call "angry," "manufactured," and "lobbyist-funded" lies about health care reform. Look closely and you realize that's how they classify all dissent.
Obama, when speaking at Notre Dame this spring amid protests from pro-lifers, said, "When we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe -- that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground."
But his record of dealing with actual dissent paints a different picture, one that suggests he has so much faith in his own good intentions and clever plans - and so little skepticism about the power of government to do good - that he sees all disagreement with his policies as condemnable.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Special interests cash in on clunker boondoggle

My column today looks at the Cash-for-Clunkers boondoggle:
But the real benefit to business — and harm to the economy — comes after the car sale. The law requires the dealers destroy the “clunker” engine (which, to be eligible, was drivable upon trade-in), scrap the car and shred almost all its parts. This government-required waste reduces the supply of used cars on the road. Reduce the supply of drivable used cars, and you drive up the price of all cars.
This supply reduction is the real stimulus for automakers and new-car dealers, and it comes at the expense of every consumer who didn’t take advantage of Cash for Clunkers — especially those who can’t afford a new car. The program taxes used-car buyers to subsidize new-car buyers.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Barack Obama was Born in the United States

I didn't think I would have to ever write about this, because the evidence is fairly clear, and there's no legitimate evidence to the contrary, but let me say this: Barack Obama was born in the United States to a mother who was a U.S. citizen, and thus Obama is a U.S. citizen. And the new Kenyan birth certificate is demonstrably a fraud.

I'm writing this now because a couple of callers to Ringside Politics with a Punch doubted this, and one called me "naive" when I argued that Obama was demonstrably born here.

First, on the Kenyan birth certificate, check out David Weigel's take down.

The key points Weigel makes:

- It records Barack Obama Sr’s age as “26.” Obama Sr was born in 1936; his son was born in 1961.

- Its publication date is February 17, 1964, but it purports be a document of the “Republic of Kenya.” Kenya did not become a Republic until December 12, 1964, a year after it won independence from Great Britain.

- It’s signed by “registrar E.F. Lavender.” Earth Friendly Lavender is a kind of detergent, and government officials who use vanity initials on official documents are, to put it mildly, rare.

- The kicker? The image is part of the extremely ill-informed conspiracy theory that Obama was born in Mombasa—conveniently, one of the more Muslim parts of the country.

Then, on Obama's real birth certificate, and the birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser, check this story from

Yes, it is not totally impossible the real birth certificate and the birth announcement are somehow fake, but it is also possible that George W. Bush was born in Saskatchewan. There is no valid reason to believe Obama was born anywhere other than Hawaii. There is no valid reason to keep talking about the subject.