- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008



The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, on U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman:

When we last left U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the one-time Democratic vice presidential candidate was playing the turncoat, campaigning for his friend, Sen. John McCain, and making disparaging remarks about his old party and its nominee, Barack Obama.

It was a somewhat chastened Senator Lieberman who greeted reporters after Senate Democrats decided to be lenient with him, despite the lingering anger of some. In a secret ballot, they voted 42-13 to allow him to keep the chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. …

As a practical matter, he got off lightly for his betrayal of the millions of Democrats who had faith enough to vote for him in 2000. …

As much as Mr. Lieberman’s actions were a blot on his reputation, it made no sense to cast him into the outer darkness. If the Obama administration is to be all about bringing the American people together, why not start with a renegade senator who still has to prove that he is not a bum?

On the Net:


Houston Chronicle, on limiting children’s exposure to bisphenol A:

… (T)he U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still brooding over what to do about bisphenol A.

That’s the omnipresent chemical that makes baby bottles tough and helps keep the inside of metal cans bacteria-free. But a cascade of animal research also links BPA to behavioral disorders, breast cancer, heart attacks, fertility problems and diabetes.

Here, then, is what the FDA should do, considering its mission to protect U.S. consumers, not the chemical industry.

First, the FDA should promptly ban BPA from all containers for children’s food, formula and beverages.

It should require BPA labels on other products, warn consumers not to microwave plastics of any kind and consider an overall BPA ban in food and beverage containers.

And it should educate the public about what is already known about this chemical while pushing industry to replace it.

It’s not as if there’s a shortage of research on BPA. The FDA has just ignored it. …

On the Net:


The Denver Post, on President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet:

He promised to bring change to Washington, but so far, Barack Obama’s early administration lineup looks like a Clinton White House class reunion.

Voters were looking for hope, but not Hope, Ark.

But fear not, seekers of change. Sometimes you need experience to effect change.

By surrounding himself with Beltway veterans who know the ins and outs of Washington, it should be easier for Obama to push through his agenda. His first few appointments have more than whiffs of the bygone Clinton years.

His new chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was a senior adviser to Bill Clinton. His pick for attorney general, Eric Holder, was the deputy attorney general for Janet Reno during the Clinton years.

And, of course, he’s even considering Hillary Clinton for secretary of state.

We’re guessing there will be more to come. And that wouldn’t be a bad thing. …

Of course, Obama will make a pick that, in retrospect, probably wasn’t the best choice. But for now, it certainly seems most will know their way around the halls of power in Washington.

And just maybe that familiarity will make them best equipped to make good on the far-reaching change that Obama has promised.

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The Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel, on Congress:

Congressional lame-duck sessions are notoriously unproductive, and this one is no exception.

The Democratic leadership came back after the election with three goals - a bailout for the automobile industry, a second economic stimulus package and an extension of unemployment benefits.

Only the relatively uncontroversial granting of a three-month extension of the benefits passed as Congress was leaving town for Thanksgiving recess. …

The problem with lame-duck sessions is that the lawmakers who are retiring or have lost their seats have no incentive to be accommodating while the victorious party has every incentive to wait for the new Congress to be sworn in.

The lawmakers deadlocked on an auto industry bailout, with Democrats generally wanting the money to come from one source, the Republicans generally from another, and neither of them happy about a plan for a turnaround by the Big Three. …

There was a generational change, but it was due to outside factors like the actuarial tables and the criminal courts.

The Senate’s longest serving Republican, Ted Stevens, lost his bid for re-election, saving his colleagues from expelling him for his conviction on corruption charges. Stevens is 85. …

The House removed another long-serving lawmaker, Rep. John Dingell, 82, as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he had been either chairman or ranking minority member since 1981.

He will be replaced by Rep. Henry Waxman of California’s 3rd District.

Reporting on the change, The Washington Post enthused that Waxman’s “victory signaled the rise of a young, more environmentally conscious party.” Waxman is 69.

On the Net:


Chicago Tribune, on Christmas and the economy:

Every Who down in Whoville likes Christmas a lot, but the budgets to pay for the trappings are shot. And, no, we’re not going to write this entire piece in verse; we don’t have the in-house talent to sustain it and our freelance budget is hurting, but that’s precisely our point. Who can afford the holidays this year?

Retailers are bracing for a disappointing shopping season. Americans who are worried about losing their jobs, their homes and their life savings aren’t in the mood to line up for Nintendos. Employers have canceled Christmas parties and holiday bonuses. Shopping malls aren’t hiring seasonal workers, and local governments are cutting funds for their holiday displays or threatening to. No, Virginia, there is not a Santa Claus. Maybe next year. …

Whose idea was it to schedule the holidays in the fourth quarter? That short-sighted plan virtually guarantees that seasonal good cheer will be axed whenever we need it most. Right now, for example.

To riff on Dr. Seuss a little more: We have an idea. An awful idea! This page has a wonderful, awful idea!

You guessed it - a bailout. Why didn’t we think of it sooner? Taxpayers have already committed nearly a trillion dollars to saving mortgage monsters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, insurance giant AIG and the entire banking industry. What’s a few billion more for tinsel and lights? As long as Congress is working on a plan to save Detroit automakers from themselves, why not underwrite a few thousand office parties while we’re at it? How about a modest economic stimulus package, say, a $25 gift card for every American? …

On the Net:


The Boston Globe, on the Citigroup bailout:

Let’s stipulate that Citigroup is in deep trouble. Less than two months ago, the Wall Street giant looked healthy enough to bid for control of Wachovia Corp. when that Charlotte-based banking company began taking on water. The deal fell apart, and since then, Citigroup has taken $25 billion in federal bailout funds, its share price has plunged, and it is now seeking a new round of government help. Under a rescue agreement … the Treasury will inject another $20 billion into the company and guarantee $306 billion in loans and securities.

The deal seemed to reassure investors yesterday. Yet it also raised a new round of questions about how the Treasury and the Federal Reserve are handling the nation’s financial crisis. Is the government applying any consistent principles or measures in determining which troubled firms deserve to be bailed out, and to what degree? Or are the Treasury and the Fed just eyeballing it? …

Critics have accused Citigroup of taking too many risks. At this point, is there any amount of mismanagement that would disqualify Citigroup or any other financial firms from receiving taxpayer money, or does any large firm qualify for any amount of assistance that it might need? The bailout has other strings attached; the firm agreed to cut dividends and limit executive compensation. But at some point, should the firm’s managers, directors, and shareholders be sent packing altogether?

… How does the argument for propping up Citigroup differ from the one for propping up General Motors? Without criteria for whom to bail out when, answers seem less economic than political.

On the Net:


Paevaleht, Tallinn, Estonia, on the price of oil:

It was only in July that the price of “black gold” was quoted - at 147 dollars a barrel - three times higher than today. The fall in oil price has to do, first and foremost, with market reactions to lower growth pace of the world economy.

While the fall in oil price is undoubtedly cheerfully welcomed by consumers, one should keep in mind that the absurdly steep rise in oil price during the first half of the year is the main engine that has driven inflation.

Also, there is a fear that the fall in oil price could be bad news for the environment as many consumers may now reconsider plans to dispose their car - something that was seen by many as a sensible move when oil price was at its peak.

Higher world market prices for commodities such as oil is often used as a justification for hiking prices for local products and services. But when world market prices fall, it seems this reduction is rarely transferred to local prices in, say, cab rides or bus travel.

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