- The Washington Times - Friday, January 1, 2010

BEN NELSON’S WOE

“The Scriptures refer to reaping the whirlwind. That certainly describes Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson after the first statewide poll since the controversial deal he cut in exchange for his deciding vote on the Senate health care bill,” John Fund writes at OpinionJournal.com.

“A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that if he were running for re-election today, Mr. Nelson would lose to Nebraska’s GOP Gov. David Heineman by a stunning 61 percent to 30 percent. Only three years ago, Mr. Nelson won his current term with a solid 64 percent of the vote,” Mr. Fund said.

“Clearly, the senator’s fall in public esteem is a direct reaction to his having voted for the health care bill as part of a deal in which Nebraska was exempted from the costs of new federal Medicaid mandates. The ObamaCare bill was already unpopular enough in Nebraska, but became even more so when state residents discovered they would be saddled with it anyway, plus exposed to national ridicule over Mr. Nelson’s sweetheart deal. Now 53 percent strongly oppose the bill, while another 11 percent somewhat oppose it. Only 17 percent favor the deal that Mr. Nelson struck in order to vote for the bill.

“But the poll also shows a path to redemption. Asked how they would vote in the 2012 election if Sen. Nelson changed his vote and prevented the health care bill from becoming law, Nebraska voters give Gov. Heineman a lead of only 47 percent to 37 percent.

” ‘The revote results are nothing short of amazing,’ says Democratic pollster Pat Caddell, who notes that simply reversing his health care vote immediately reduces Mr. Nelson’s deficit by two-thirds. ‘The poll suggests the anger of Nebraska voters is deep and unusually intense, and not likely to dissipate quickly.’

“No doubt it was precisely his concern about the unpopularity of the bill back home that prompted Mr. Nelson to hedge his bets when he announced he would support it - he made clear at the time he might not vote for it again if the final compromise between House and Senate versions tilts too far to the left.”

CARBON NEWS

“Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere,” ScienceDaily.com reports.

“However, some studies have suggested that the ability of oceans and plants to absorb carbon dioxide recently may have begun to decline and that the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is therefore beginning to increase,” the Web site said.

“Many climate models also assume that the airborne fraction will increase. Because understanding of the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide is important for predicting future climate change, it is essential to have accurate knowledge of whether that fraction is changing or will change as emissions increase.

“To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

“In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.

“The research is published in Geophysical Research Letters.”

PURE PR

“Obama was going to get a full update [Thursday], showing he was on top of the terrorist plot and the efforts to get to the bottom of things. But alas, he is just talking on the phone to John Brennan and Janet Napolitano,” Jennifer Rubin writes in a blog at CommentaryMagazine.com.

“And he’s going to get some more reports. It is all, once again, spin zone: make it seem as if the president is urgently engaged, continue the endless churning of behind-closed-door reviews, and promise more of the same. (‘I anticipate receiving assessments from several agencies this evening and will review those tonight and over the course of the weekend. On Tuesday, in Washington, I will meet personally with relevant agency heads to discuss our ongoing reviews as well as security enhancements and intelligence-sharing improvements in our homeland security and counterterrorism operations.’) And no, Hillary Clinton was not one of those the president said he had consulted. (The mystery continues!)

“As I expected, there is nothing even remotely suggesting a systemic review of the administration’s approach to terror. They are focusing on relatively discrete matters, it seems (e.g., watch lists and the proverbial connecting of dots). And no comment, of course, on the release [Thursday] of Iranian terrorists who killed Americans. Because that’s totally different, you see.

“The capture and release of terrorists, the criminal-justice model, and the willful indifference to the ideological underpinnings of our enemies are not, I think, on the agenda. This is aboutcontaining the ‘failure’ and doing just enough to assure the public, though nothing to disrupt the ideological fixation of the administration.”

TERROR ISSUE

If the threat of terrorism really does become a major issue in the midterms, “it will reinforce another trend that doesn’t bode well for Democrats,” Reihan Salam writes at TheDailyBeast .com.

President Obama has never done well with working-class white voters, and Republicans expect to make gains in districts where they represent an above-average share of the electorate. But as Ron Brownstein recently noted in the National Journal - citing the work of Democratic pollster Geoff Garin - college-educated whites, a key Obama constituency, seem to be souring on the president,” Mr. Salam said.

“Many of these middle- and upper-middle-class voters are growing skeptical of the president’s economic agenda, fearing that it will mean bigger tax hikes than they saw coming during last year’s campaign. Michael Petrilli of the conservative Hoover Institution has argued that the GOP needs to win over “Whole Foods Republicans,” who can’t stand the culture war but who fret about the exploding national debt. What better way to draw these voters into a bigger tent than to promise a smarter, tougher, more effective approach to keeping frequent fliers safe and secure? …

“And Republicans will use lines of attack that Democrats will have a very hard time countering. For example, the Obama administration favors plans to unionize airport screeners, which might make problematic employees harder to fire. Translation: the White House chooses Big Labor over Homeland Security.”

• This is Greg Pierce’s final Inside Politics column.

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