John McCaslin

What's all this about President Obama wanting to decide where Americans will live?

Such a scenario sounds far-fetched, but Ronald D. Utt, a senior research fellow for economic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation, draws attention to Mr. Obama's early opposition to "suburban sprawl," adding his intention to "alter the way Americans live" took a step closer to reality by his creation of an interdepartmental initiative on housing and transportation.

"While some may hope this effort is nothing more than the president's attempt to use the White House as a bully pulpit to encourage Americans to mimic the urbane lifestyle he experienced in an upscale Chicago neighborhood, the record of past such efforts by the federal government is more troubling," Mr. Utt writes in a background paper.

He recalls 1998, when President Clinton's Environmental Protection Agency threatened to withhold transportation funds from Georgia because the Atlanta region did not meet federal air-quality standards. The EPA said it would restore funding once Georgia discouraged single-family detached housing and encouraged public transit use and investment.

Carol Browner headed the EPA when the threat was imposed on Atlanta. Today, she is assistant to the president for energy and climate change.

FEE, FIE, FIDDLE-I-O

Speaking of commuters, we had to laugh at Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Thursday as he and President Obama discussed a vision for high-speed rail in America.

"I'm not sure it's good or bad," Mr. Biden said, "but my father referred to my many commutes - it exceeded over 7,900, they tell me. He said one day before he died, he said, 'You know ... that is the definition of a misspent adulthood, sitting on a train.' "

Mr. Biden commuted to Washington by train from his home in Wilmington, Del., during his entire Senate career.

FEAR THE RIGHT?

A group of conservative women is up in arms after the Department of Homeland Security released a controversial 10-page report warning against "right-wing extremism," despite a disclaimer: "The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis has no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but right-wing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emerging issues."

Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest public policy women's organization, points out the report also expresses concern about right-wing extremists' reaction to the election of President Obama.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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