Spend enough time listening to doubters and deniers of climate science speak, and you start to recognize certain familiar tics and tropes. There's the personal conversion story, for one. The skeptic explains how, once upon a time, he, too, blindly accepted everything climatologists have to say about how human activity is heating the planet.
The big news out of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)? Donald Trump—oh yes, Donald Trump—might run for president in 2012, as a Republican. He was a last-minute addition to the speaker's roster, and after he bounded up on stage here at the Marriott Wardman in Washington, D.C.—to calls of "You're Hired!"—he told the ecstatic crowd of conservatives that he'd make a decision by June. "The United States has become a whipping post for the rest of the world," Trump said.
If Republicans in the House want to thwart health care reform, they have all sorts of options at their fingertips. They can vote—boldly but quixotically—to repeal the whole thing. (Um, check.) They can kick up their heels and pray that the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act. (That might take awhile.) They can try to block new funding for the bill.
Here's how Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) explains his big about-face on climate change over the past year: "The consensus behind the climate change bill collapsed and then further deteriorated with the personal and political collapse of Vice President [Al] Gore," Kirk said in a brief interview last week. It was Gore's fault! Once upon a time, Kirk was one of the handful of Republicans who believed in climate change.
Are there any conservative legal scholars out there who dislike health care reform on the merits but still think the individual mandate is perfectly constitutional? There's Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried, for one. Earlier today, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutionality of the health care bill, Ronald Reagan's old solicitor general called the soundness of the mandate a "no-brainer." Fried opened his testimony by burnishing his conservative bona fides: "I come here not as a partisan for this act. I think there are lots of problems with it.
Of all the cuts conservatives want to make in government spending, foreign aid should be the easiest—at least politically. After all, most voters seem to have a wildly inflated view of how much we actually give to other countries (it's a microscopic slice of the overall budget), and the aid itself tends to be unpopular. Except every now and again a big foreign crisis comes up—tumultuous protests in Egypt, say—and suddenly that aid no longer seems quite so abstract or dispensable. Earlier today, in a scrum with reporters, Sen.
Cliff Stearns wanted answers. Just not, mind you, complicated answers. Stearns, the Florida Republican who now chairs the House energy and commerce oversight subcommittee, decided to hold a hearing Wednesday on Barack Obama’s promise to snip away outdated federal regulations. In theory, Stearns had the ideal witness: Cass Sunstein, the White House’s "regulatory czar," who, in his past life as a law professor (and frequent TNR contributor), seemed like he published a new book on subjects like cost-benefit analysis every few months.
Some cities have all the fun. Last week, the FBI arrested 125 suspected Mafia members across the Northeast—the largest mob bust in history. New York was, as usual, well-represented in the Mafia round-up, with no less than 34 made guys from the city’s five crime families dragged off to jail. Also getting in on the action were Providence (83-year-old Luigi Mannochio, accused of shaking down local strip clubs) and Newark (various union officials charged with extorting longshoremen). But, once again, Washington, D.C., wasn’t in the mix. No mobsters here. So what gives?
Maybe Rahm Emanuel won't get to run Chicago, after all. Earlier today, an Illinois appellate court ruled, on a 2-1 vote, that he doesn't satisfy the residency requirements to run for mayor. Quick backstory: Emanuel did own a home on the city's north end, but he rented it out when he went to go work as Obama's chief of staff, and now his tenant wouldn't let him move back in. So… he's off the ballot, for the time being.
Now that Republicans in the House have beat back health care reform (or, at least, passed a repeal bill that's destined to wilt in the Senate), it’s on to the next order of business—hacking away at government spending. Plenty of them can't wait. As Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake said on Thursday, “Some of us have been anxious to start cutting for awhile.” No doubt. But the eagerness of some conservatives to cut the budget as quickly and deeply is already creating headaches for the GOP leadership. For starters, Republicans already differ over just how much of the budget to slash this year.