Are the Republicans degenerating or just revealing their true selves? With his latest charge that M. Mitt speaks French (Newt does too), it must be speculated that Newt is indulging in (self-)caricature. Of course it can always get worse--someone can appeal to states' rights. Here's a good explanation of why conservatives should speak of federalism instead--plus a few other New Year's political resolutions.
The EPA faced tough questioning at SCOTUS. Justice Alito to counsel for the government/EPA: "If you related the facts of this case . . . to an ordinary homeowner, don't you think most ordinary homeowners would say this kind of thing can't happen in the United States?" The case involved an alleged wetlands protection violation and whether the owners had a right to a judicial hearing. Chief Justice Roberts to counsel for the government: "What would you do, Mr. Stewart, if you received this compliance order? You don't think your property has wetlands on it and you get this compliance order from the EPA. What would you do?" Counsel responded meekly about obeying the law. See pp. 36-37 of the transcript of the oral argument. See pp. 42-44 for the government's reasoning for not granting hearings to those being prosecuted by the EPA. This is not mere Tocquevillean soft despotism! Even the liberal justices expressed sympathy for the landowners.
The Pacific Legal Foundation argued for the plaintiff landowners, the Sacketts. It will put up the audio later in the week. Someone who attended the oral argument told me that Mrs.Sackett had to restrain her husband from doing fist pumps when they heard the hostile questioning from the justices.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the President paid a surprise visit to the EPA yesterday, bucking up the staff and cheering them on. "When we clean up our nation's waterways, we generate more tourists for our local communities." In the Sacketts' backyard? Of course Obama allowed, in one of his typical throwaway lines, "we have an obligation every single day to think about how can we do our business a little bit better."