Capital Briefs March 23, 2009

MORE SCIENTISTS DOUBT GLOBAL WARMING: Last week, more than 59 additional scientists from around the world signed a report issued by the Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that raises serious questions about man-made global warming. This brings the total of international scientists who say they are skeptical of the issue so central to liberal environmentalists’ “green” campaigns to more than 700. Since the report came out late last year, an average of four skeptical scientists and climate researchers have signed on to it every week. At this point, the 700-plus dissenters now total more than 13 times the 52 United Nations scientists who wrote the initial much-hyped study on global warming in December 2007. One of the dissenters, Dr. Shigenori Maruyama of the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Department of Earth and Planetory Sciences, said that when the question of whether an increase in global temperature was due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations (as the U.N.-crafted report claims), 90% of the participants at the Japan Geoscience Union did not believe the report.

That’s what 55% of American voters say, according to a just-completed CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey. The poll, which also showed 43% did not believe he has bitten off more than he can chew, found that the President gets high marks on issues such as health care and troop deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, “but it seems that many Americans are worried he might lose his focus on economic recovery,” according to CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. The poll also showed that 58% of the American voters say Obama’s programs are “just about right” for the country, compared to 36% who say they are too liberal and 5% who say they are not liberal enough.

MADOFF MONEY: As swindled families and organizations now try to recover some of the $50 billion of their money lost by Bernard Madoff, it turns out that the disgraced financial advisor and wife Ruth were major political contributors, giving primarily to Democrats. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Madoffs have contributed $238,000 to federal candidates, parties and committees since 1991, with Democrats getting 88% of their money. Among those benefiting from the Madoffs were the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($102,000), Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon ($13,000), Charles Schumer of New York ($12,000), Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey ($8,600), Hillary Clinton of New York ($2,000), and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut ($1,500). The Madoffs also donated $250 to the National Abortion Rights Action League.

HAMILTON A MODERATE? Although the New York Times called President Obama’s first nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals a “moderate” and this claim was echoed at a White House press briefing last week, there is significant dissent from this characterization of U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton of Indiana. Hamilton, nephew of former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D.-Ind.), and nominated last week by Obama to a vacancy on the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, “was a fund-raiser for ACORN and served as vice president for litigation and a board member of the Indiana ACLU,” said Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network. Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center agreed, noting what he called “Hamilton’s extraordinary seven-year-long series of rulings obstructing Indiana’s implementation of its law providing for informed consent on abortion” Although a confirmation fight over Hamilton is very likely, the odds at this time favor his confirmation by the majority-Democrat Senate. Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, who had Hamilton as legal counsel while he was governor, has strongly endorsed the nominee as has the state’s moderate Republican Sen. Richard Lugar.

DODD WASN’T ONLY “FRIEND OF ANGELO”: As it turns out, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D.-Conn.) wasn’t the only VIP to benefit from below-market rates on a home loan courtesy of Countrywide Financial. According to documents from the mortgage titan that have emerged from the ongoing congressional investigation, a program known as “Friends of Angelo” (after Countrywide head Angelo Mozillo) made sweetheart loans to political VIPs. Among the recipients revealed so far are Dodd, Sen. Kent Conrad (D.-N.D.), former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former Fannie Mae chief executive officer James Johnson, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson, and Jackson’s daughter. No Republican name has yet come out. Many of Countrywide’s loans became toxic and in ’07, the company was purchased by Bank of America.