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When Congress Screws Up: ESA, CPSIA and Obamacare

Sunday, July 26, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Lawyers spend a lot of their time dealing with the aftermath of people’s carelessness. Almost every single catastrophic injury victim I have ever advised or represented has been put in his or her condition because of the negligence of others, usually individuals.

That same level of negligence can and often does appear not from individuals but from companies and, of course, from legislatures, especially the U.S. Congress. For the past 20 years I have spent at least half of my lawyering on the consequences to private property owners and home builders of the incredibly poorly written federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Hardly a week goes by when another ESA-driven fiasco explodes, the most recent being the Delta smelt-driven drought in California’s central valley. In all of these years the Congress has not undertaken a single serious revision to the law despite the thousands of horror stories triggered by the law.

For the past year I have been drawn into the devastation brought about by the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (“CPSIA”) by my friend and products liability specialist Gary Wolensky and a parade of hard-working victims of this law, passed in late 2008. (Just this past week the agency charged with applying the act destroyed a large part of the children’s apparel market in a stroke.) It is difficult to communicate to laymen and even MSMers just how vast the damages are that have been brought about by CPSIA, but in an interview Friday with Rick Woldenberg the president of Learning Resources, I tried to work with Rick to present a primer on the CPSIA’s effects on the manufacturing sector that makes things for children. To get a glimpse of the law’s reach, keep an eye open for the number of kids who cross your field of vision today. Everything they are wearing, everything they are playing with, everything they are reading or touching is now regulated by the CPSIA’s draconian requirements. The costs of this law are staggering, and they were not intended by Congress.

Yet Congress won’t move a muscle to fix this mess. Rick and I speculated about the reasons for this lethargy on the Hill –the transcript of our conversation is here, and the podcast is here– but even as the costs mount and the job losses continue to accelerate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do nothing. It doesn’t matter how great the pain they have unintentionally inflicted. They just don’t care, or the political costs of admitting error are too high. Or both.

When an individual suffers an injury at the hands of another person or a business, an e-mail arrives or the phone rings in a lawyer’s office and the process of repairing that injury as best the law is able to do so begins. There’s a lot of unnecessary and costly litigation out there, but there is also an enormous number of necessary cases aimed at redressing wrongs.

When Congress screws up –with the ESA, with CPSIA, and almost certainly on a never-before-seen scale with Obamacare– there is no where to go except back to the lawmakers who broke the china to begin with.

Which is why Congress needs to be told to slow down and then stop their rush to radically rework American medicine. Most badly written laws only cost people money, though it is often an enormous amount of hard-earned and difficult-to-replace money.

The mistakes in this new, hastily written law covering the vast territory of American healthcare will cost lives. And even when that becomes obvious, as the terrible and unintended side effects of ESA and CPSIA have become obvious, still Congress won’t act to repair the damage. It never does.

Sign the petition to stop the Congress in its rush to tamper with American medicine.

Then call and e-mail the “Blue Dog Democrats” in the House and demand they stand up against the single-payer caucus in their party. If Obamacare passes the House it will be because these so-called moderate Democrats allow themselves to be pressured into a radical overhaul of American medicine that the voters in their districts don’t want and which the country cannot afford.

Chalres Krauthammer on the Cambridge Cops

Saturday, July 25, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I had Charles Krauthammer on yesterday’s show, and most of the discussion centered on the president’s intervention in the Professor Gates-Officer Crowley affair. The opening exchanges:

HH: Joined now by Fox News all star and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer. Charles, what a day for the news. What do you make of the President’s extraordinary appearance in the White House today to try and put the Gates-Officer Crowley matter behind him?

CK: Well, I think his folks realize they made a pretty big mistake. You know, it hearkens back to the old Democratic stereotype of Democrats, which actually was quite accurate for half a century, of soft on crime, and the flip side of that is tough on cops. And they just don’t respect the people of the thin, blue line between us and barbarism. And that’s what came out. Here was the president of the United States not knowing the facts, taking the side of a professor at Harvard over a cop who has an incredibly good and clean record of being respectful, particularly on issues of race, and secondly, accepting the narrative, that’s the word that the left loves, the narrative that the reason for the altercation was racism, for which there is no evidence. And I think the turning point was when the Cambridge Police Department held that press conference. It’s a multi-racial police department. They’ve got support from surrounding police departments saying that this simply wasn’t right, the President had got it wrong, that the police had acted correctly. That’s when they understood they did not want to stay in a confrontation with cops. That is really bad politically for Democrats, for all kinds of reasons, historical and political. And that’s when he had to beat a retreat.

HH: You know, Charles, when I saw that press conference, I said this is going to be far more significant than the incident, because it’s an example of people pushing back against the Obama administration, and against the President himself. No one’s really done that in that kind of a context thus far. I mean, people have tried, you know, DeMint got into it on the Waterloo thing, and other people have had t?te-?-t?tes with him, but no one stood up and said you’re not going to bully us, we’re not going to be intimidated the way that the Cambridge cops did today. And I think that may have a long-lasting effect on opposition to the President.

CK: And I think you’re right, and I think it’s even more significant that the issue on which the pushback came was on race. I mean, after all, go back to the Philadelphia race speech the President gave last year when he got in real trouble over Jeremiah Wright, a speech in which he basically blamed everybody, black, white and grandmother for racism except himself, and in which he refused to renounce Jeremiah Wright. Well, I thought it was an outrageous speech and a fraud, and yet you remember how the mainstream media heralded it as a second coming of Abraham Lincoln. I think Gary Wills wrote it should be taught in schools along with the great speeches of Abraham Lincoln. It was absurd. So he must have thought well, if he got away with that, which was truly scandalous, he’s untouchable on issues of race, and he can sort of freelance. And this is what he did when he answered that question at the press conference. So the fact that the pushback is on this issue, in which he must have thought himself invulnerable, must have been an amazing shock to him.

The entire transcript of the interview is here. Song of the Week: “I Will Praise Him” by the Rich Kasten Band

Friday, July 24, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

A Christian praise and worship song grabs song of the week honors at “I Will Praise Him” by the Rich Kasten Band.

We are now playing at least part of one song a day thanks to the assist of Perry Nunley who finds a “Perry’s Pick” of the day for a segment bump. The song of the week plays in its near-complete form on friday based on a voting cut-off sometime Thursday or Friday. (We have to vary this in order to prevent vote manipulation.) Feel free to lobby Perry via our Twitter feed using hashtag #hhrs.

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