- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2009

BIDEN’S GAFFES

Vice President Joe Biden is spending much of his time these days stumping for Democrats occupying vulnerable House seats,” Stephen Moore writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“In the last month, he has campaigned in 10 districts held by freshman Democrats, and raised more than $1 million for them. Political strategists have started referring to him as the House Democrats’ ‘sugar daddy,’ ” Mr. Moore said.

“But Mr. Biden’s gaffes of late may make him more of a liability than an asset for House members whose seats he’s supposed to be saving. Last week he pronounced that the stimulus plan was working beyond ‘my wildest dreams.’ Three days after the Labor Department announced another 260,000 lost jobs in September, he boasted in Connecticut that the stimulus has ‘saved or created one million jobs’ [nationwide]. In reality - one that too many voters have experienced first-hand - the economy has lost 2,884,000 jobs since the stimulus passed.

“Mr. Biden may be upbeat, but political operatives in the White House are getting slightly panicked about the economy. In the past, lousy job numbers were written off by Robert Gibbs and the White House spin machine because ‘we are losing jobs at a slower pace.’ In September, we lost jobs at a faster pace. Larry Kudlow of CNBC notes that the Department of Labor’s Household Survey (as opposed to the survey of businesses) indicates a 785,000 job loss in September - a ‘really bad number that indicates small businesses just aren’t hiring.’

“If job losses persist, Democrats seem to have no idea how to respond beyond more deficit-financed government spending. ‘Plan B,’ says Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, ‘is more of Plan A,’ i.e., another debt bomb stimulus. Given how out of sync Mr. Biden’s euphoria is, one wonders how much longer vulnerable Democrats will be inviting Mr. Obama’s chief cheerleader into their districts.”

ICY RECEPTION

Anthony Watts, writing at wattsupwiththat.com, notes that scientists now say that last year’s Antarctic summer ice melt was at its lowest levels since satellites started keeping track.

“Where are the headlines? Where are the press releases? Where is all the attention?” Mr. Watts asked.

“The ice melt across during the Antarctic summer (October-January) of 2008-2009 was the lowest ever recorded in the satellite history.

“Such was the finding reported last week by Marco Tedesco and Andrew Monaghan in the journal Geophysical Research Letters: ‘A 30-year minimum Antarctic snowmelt record occurred during austral summer 2008-2009 according to spaceborne microwave observations for 1980-2009. Strong positive phases of both the El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) were recorded during the months leading up to and including the 2008-2009 melt season.’

“The silence surrounding this publication was deafening,” Mr. Watts said. “It would seem that with oft-stoked fears of a disastrous sea-level rise coming this century any news that perhaps some signs may not be pointing to its imminent arrival would be greeted by a huge sigh of relief from all inhabitants of earth (not only the low-lying ones, but also the high-living ones, respectively under threat from rising seas or rising energy costs).

“But not a peep.

“But such is not always the case - or rather, such is not ever the case when ice melt is pushing the other end of the record scale.”

RANGEL’S WOES

“Republicans in the House of Representatives attempted to remove Charles Rangel as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, arguing that Rangel’s current ethics controversy has ‘held the House up to public ridicule.’ ” New York Times columnist Gail Collins writes.

“In my capacity as a person who has held the House up to public ridicule on numerous occasions, I would like to go on record as saying I do not need any 79-year-old committee chairman to help me do it. Really, it’s a breeze. Although perhaps slightly harder than before Tom DeLay dropped out of ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ ” the columnist said.

“The Republicans are, however, completely right about Rangel. Whenever a powerful committee chairman has so many problems that you need a timeline to keep all the allegations straight, he is a liability. When those problems revolve around things like failure to pay taxes, it is not a good plan to have him be in charge of tax policy.

“I say this with great sadness because Rangel is my congressman. My neighbors and I have heard about the totally ludicrous benefits that are showered upon the constituents of a powerful committee chair. Ever since he took control of the Ways and Means Committee, we have been waiting for our ship to come in. Perhaps bearing a special subsidy for families who live near a large number of pigeons. Or an extra lane on the West Side Highway that only residents of the 15th Congressional District are allowed to use.

“Despite my great stake in keeping Rangel in his current post of power, I’m not prepared to argue that you can have a chairman of the tax-writing committee who failed to declare $75,000 in rental income on a Caribbean villa on his tax returns. Or one who seems to think you can turn yourself into a resident of two different cities if it gets you cheaper housing - and that the House only requires its members to list their financial assets beginning with the letters F through M.”

INTRIGUING RACE

Rep. Mike Castle’s (R-Del.) decision to run for the Senate seat formerly occupied by Vice President Joe Biden instantly creates one of the most intriguing races of the 2010 midterm elections,” the Hill newspaper said Thursday in an editorial.

“In all likelihood, the veteran House member will find himself facing a Democrat with far less experience. But he will not for a second make the mistake of thinking his novice opponent will be easily beaten, for the man in question will probably be Beau Biden, the vice president’s son,” the newspaper noted.

“The younger Biden will come with electorally attractive qualifications; he is Delaware’s attorney general and this year has been serving in the National Guard in Iraq.

“Still, Castle’s entry into the fray can be expected to transform what could have been a sedate and largely uncontested coronation of Biden into a rough-and-tumble exercise in real democracy in which the outcome is unpredictable, which is as it should be.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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