Today's Blogs

Betting on the House

Bloggers are thrilled that Ariz Rep. John Shadegg has joined the race for House majority leader. They also discuss a new Maryland law requiring Wal-Mart to provide more health benefits to workers, and news that researchers have bred pigs to glow in the dark.

Betting on the house: John Shadegg of Arizona announced his candidacy for House majority leader today, promising substantive ethics reform, and joining interim Majority Leader Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and John Boehner, R-Ohio, in the race to replace embattled Rep. Tom DeLay.

“The time has come for a new face in the House Republican leadership,” declare the directors of conservative syndicate Red State. “Whether we accept Boehner or Blunt … we would be choosing a compromised leader at a time when every indication is that the Democrats intend to wage war on ethics. We need a better choice,” they say. “John Shadegg is that choice.”

“He’s a tenacious partisan and a pretty stalwart defender of DeLay, but certainly compared to Boehner his bona fides as a principled right-wing outsider are real,” evaluates liberal Sam Rosenfeld at American Prospect homeroom TAPPED. “[A]ll in all, he’s about as legitimate a standard-bearer for ‘principled’ conservatism as one might realistically find in the House conference. … To the extent he could manage to shift conference policy and legislation in the [Republican Study Committee’s] direction, he would be promoting some seriously odious and unpopular positions.”

“I bet Shadegg pulls this off,” writes Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review conservative caucus The Corner. “Shadegg’s not going to be a virgin, but he signals a House saying ‘we know we need to be doing something diffferent, so we’ll be lead by someone different.’ ” Colleague Rich Lowry says that Shadegg is positioning himself as a candidate motivated by principle rather than careerism.

“I don’t know a lot about him, but I think it’s good that the race is opening up,” writes libertarian InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds. “I’d like to see the candidates talking about how they’re going to reform the House to make it more transparent and accountable,” he says. At center-right Real Clear Politics, Tom Bevan agrees that what is needed to defeat corruption isn’t heightened regulation but more transparency.

Others are frustrated that much of the leadership race seems to be negotiated behind closed doors. Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt laments that neither Blunt nor Boehner, considered the establishment candidates, have been making themselves available in advance of the election. At Talking Points Memo, guest-blogger and prominent liberal Matthew Yglesias wonders how Speaker Dennis Hastert has kept his job. “Admittedly, he’s not implicated in criminal activity the way Tom DeLay is, but in theory he’s in charge of the House Republican leadership operation,” he writes.

Read more about the race for House majority leader.

Bye-bye to low prices?: In a move widely believed to target Wal-Mart, the Maryland legislature voted Thursday to override an earlier veto by Gov. Robert Ehrlich and require companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payrolls on health insurance. The statute effectively shifts the burden of providing health plans to private companies and has been viewed with interest by legislatures around the country.

“The war on Wal-Mart,” declares conservative bigwig Michelle Malkin. “It’s on in Maryland, and the socialists are winning.” Many on the right agree that the law is a travesty of the regulatory state. “It’s kind of the opposite of liberty,” writes Orrin Judd, a libertarian-conservative, at BrothersJudd.

Some dispute the suggestion that Wal-Mart deprives its workers of adequate benefits. “If 15 times as many people apply for jobs as there are jobs available, obviously those people don’t feel that the wages and benefits of Wal-Mart are bad,” arguesSoccer Dad David Gerstman, advancing a popular economic argument. “Why do potential Wal-mart employees in Maryland need their legislature to tell them that these jobs don’t pay enough in wages and benefits? Why not let job seekers determine that themselves?”

Many to the left, predictably, disagree. At Ambivablog, critic Annie Gottlieb writes that deferred health-care costs complicate the superstore’s juggernaut business model. “Wal-Mart is, of course, the flagship of the new, competitive business model that keeps volume and profit high by keeping prices and labor costs low,” she notes. “But the cast-off costs of employee health care have to go somewhere, and most ironically, in this hypercapitalist model, they’re being borne by the public sector.”

At the New Republic colloquy The Plank, Jonathan Cohn calls the law “a fairly remarkable development given Wal-Mart’s political clout. It’s even more remarkable given that the state legislature actually overrode the governor’s veto to get the law passed,” he writes. “So maybe the Maryland law will do more good for low-wage employees (by shoring up their health insurance) than it will do bad for low-wage consumers (who will end up paying higher prices). Or maybe, as its critics say, it won’t. But if it convinces Wal-Mart to wash its hands of health care altogether and support a government-administered solution like every other industrialized country has, it will have been worth the effort.”

Read more about the new law.

What’s next? Green eggs?: Scientists working in Taiwan claim to have bred three fluorescent pigs that glow green in the dark, the BBC reports.

Southern Conservative Darrell says the experiment seems like a massive waste of time. “Finally, somebody had the ingenuity to tackle the problem of pigs that fail to be green and glow in the dark,” he writes. At Le Revue Gauche, Eugene Plawiuk disparages the experiment as “mad science,” and wonders why. “Like the purpose of this is what …. to find lost pigs in the dark? Or to have them wander around night clubs as a conversation piece?”  At science and technology clearinghouse Slashdot, contributor ScentCone has the answer nobody much cares about. “Transgenic pigs (and other critters) are valuable research tools because of their utility in studying human diseases. Tracking changes in some developing tissues is going to be easier,” he says, now that we can track those changes more easily through color-coding.

Read more blog posts about green pigs.