John Murtha, Still Corrupt After All These Years
Chris Quinn's Hysterical Hyperbole
New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn is dismayed about the legislative gridlock in Albany, noting that it has prevented the State Senate from imposing her and Bloomberg's nearly billion-dollar
tax hike "revenue package" on New York City residents.
It's well known that New York is a dangerously undertaxed city, but I'm not sure Quinn's insistence that this is "close to life or death stuff" isn't just a touch overblown.
Yes, we want to lose you.
NYS Senate Dems Failing To Adjust Gracefully To Minority Status
Blame an evil billionaire outsider, question the residency of your defectors, and when all else fails, lock the chamber doors, shut your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and scream, "Malcolm Smith is still majority leader!"
It's a helluva playbook.
Holy $#!&: Twin Democrat Defections Hand NYS Senate Back to GOP
The State Senate has fallen silent after Republicans introduced a resolution electing Pedro Espada Jr. as temporary president of the Senate and Dean Skelos as majority leader.
Hiram Monserrate and Espada, both Democrats, apparently will vote with Republicans on the motion, and are doing so now in the midst of a procedural fight.
UPDATE: At 3:47 p.m., Espada was sworn in as president pro tem, and Skelos as majority leader. They called for an immediate meeting of the Rules Committee. All the Democrats but Monserrate, Espada, Ruben Diaz Sr. and Carl Kruger (the original, nominally Democratic "gang of four") are gone from the chamber.
UPDATE: Espada just told reporters that he decided to cross over the aisle and support the Republicans because of the "quagmire" that had occurred since Malcolm Smith and the Democrats took over. He said it has been "chaos" and that he and Monserrate will form a caucus of "reform Democrats."
It's too bad that half of the Gang of 2 is so clutzy, but I ain't complaining.
The State Senate had been in Republican hands for more than 40 years, until the Democrats eked out a majority last November. With all pillars of state government belonging to a single party (and with
gerrymandering redistricting on the horizon), this sudden reversal is likely welcome news for millions of New York taxpayers.
To what do we owe the defections? Did Monserrate and Espada catch sight of today's Rasmussen poll?
Update: All class, all the time.
During the coup, Democrats fled the chamber, turned out the lights, and cut off the Internet feed of chamber proceedings, leaving Republicans and their two Democratic friends to take the vote in the dark.
For the record, CBS News (et al), it wasn't a coup, strictly speaking. It was a leadership change effected through well-established, legal, democratic means, notwithstanding what erstwhile majority leader Malcolm Smith would have you believe.
Smith didn't see it that way. He said the coup was illegal and he was still the majority leader, although he only has about two dozen Democrats with him not the 32 he claims to have.
"Let's just be real clear. The Senate Democrats are still in the majority. Senator Malcolm Smith is still the majority leader," Smith said.
It is real clear, 3rd-person-self-referring Senator Smith. You're out. Skelos is in.
Just Because I Wrote It Doesn't Mean I Read It
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Hanna Barbera) is quite astonished that his colleagues might presume he's aware of the contents of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill.
He should check it out if he has a bit of free time over the long weekend. It's full of unpleasant surprises.
Obama's Financial Wizardry
Show me even one of our 43 mortal Presidents who had the power to burn through $100 billion without spending a dime.
The Obama administration has pledged a $108 billion contribution to the IMF, as part of a $500 billion global boost to IMF resources.
But the U.S. contribution became entangled in arcane — though politically important — budget math. The White House had argued that the action shouldn’t be characterized as a $108 billion expenditure, which would make it difficult to sell at a time when Congress has recently passed a series of multibillion-dollar spending bills.
The U.S. wouldn’t provide a lump sum, but would essentially make a line of credit available to the IMF, which the fund could draw on when it needed to make loans to other countries. In theory, the U.S. would hope to get the money back. So the White House argued that the budgetary impact should be calculated at zero.
He's like some magnificent hybrid of Jimmy Carter and Monty Brewster.
Pelosi's Prevarications To Date: A Dramatic Reenactment in 60 Seconds
So Madam Speaker, back in 2003, didn't pretty much everyone on both sides of the Congressional leadership aisle agree that enhanced (and demonstrably life-saving) interrogation techniques were warranted in select cases?
No, of course not. I've always vocally opposed it.
Then why didn't you speak out against it at the time?
I didn't know about it at the time.
You weren't briefed on it?
But here's proof that you were briefed on it.
Well, okay yes I was briefed on it, but it was only presented as a hypothetical. I didn't realize they had been or would actually use such tactics.
But here's proof that you were informed that it was not just a hypothetical, but already historical fact.
Well, okay yes I was "informed" and "told" about it, but that doesn't mean I was "briefed" on it.
... Are you serious?
So, why didn't you speak out against it at the time?
Because it wasn't my place to do so. My job was, um... to win the Congressional majority, so we could change policies years later.
I was fighting a war in Iraq at the time too, you know! I had to save my members!
Yes, the CIA is framing me.
Previously: Prevaricatin' Pelosi Tries Another Angle
Prevaricatin' Pelosi Tries Another Angle
Okay, so maybe she did know about the waterboarding six years ago, and she did know it was more than a hypothetical, and she would've objected at the time... but her respect for "appropriate legislative channels" tied her hands (and tongue).
For those of you keeping score at home, on deck is the gender card, followed by, "You've got the wrong twin."
It's Less Cute When You're Not a Fabulous A-Lister
It's been a rough few days for the paparazzi-unfriendly New York State Senate majority whip Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn). After being arrested on Friday, he was stripped today of his $22,000 leadership stipend by majority leader Malcolm Smith.
Parker, of Brooklyn, is accused of chasing down and confronting a New York Post photographer to prevent him from taking his picture Friday night. He's charged with felony and misdemeanor criminal mischief, assault and menacing. If convicted of a felony, he could lose his seat.
"I expect to be here every week," Parker said from Albany. "I think that the (court) system will work. It's worked for me in the past."
Indeed it has.
The encounter was the latest in a string of reported assaults involving Parker, who has held office since 2002.
In 2005, he was arrested on charges he punched a traffic agent who was writing him a ticket. The charges were dropped after Parker agreed to take an anger management class.
That year, Parker's security pass for state buildings was temporarily suspended for repeated violations of security regulations. A former aide complained that Parker had once assaulted her, then threatened her for talking about the incident.
Last summer, another aide filed a report with police saying Parker had shoved her and smashed her glasses during an argument. At the time, Parker claimed that the woman hit him first.
Smith said he's also awaiting a report on a recent confrontation he was told was "heated discussion" involving Parker and state police in an Albany parking garage.
If you ask me, Smith's giving off mixed signals. Earlier this year, he agreed to seat alleged lady-face-slasher (and habitual, self-dealing diverter of taxpayer funds) Hiram Monserrate into his new Senate majority.
To what can we credit the majority leader's suddenly limited tolerance for violent recidivism among his caucus members?
Previously: Clutzy Hiram Monserrate Sworn Into NYS Senate
Democratic Opposition To Card Check Grows
Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2009) – The Workforce Fairness Institute today issued the following statement concerning Senator Arlen Specter and the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA).
“Senator Specter has stated he will vote against cloture on the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act because it requires ‘compulsory arbitration’ and ‘elimination of the secret ballot.’ His change of party simply increases the number of Democrats opposing this job-killing legislation,” said Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute. “Union bosses like Andy Stern and Jimmy Hoffa may believe they can pressure elected officials into supporting their causes – much like they do workers signing union cards – but Senate Republicans and Democrats alike have clearly expressed an unwillingness to support legislation that removes the right of workers to vote on contracts and on the formation of a union."
The permanent campaign is a lot more affordable when you can conjure up free, hour-long prime-time infomercials across the dial.
Here’s your feelgood story of the day: President Obama is saying “thanks for all your support” to the media behemoths who carried his water during the campaign by swiping a valuable hour of time during May Sweeps:
White House officials have requested up to an hour of airtime for Wednesday, April 29, according to TV Week. The press conference, which falls on the 100th day of Obama’s presidency, will probably air in the 8 o’clock hour and address questions of the president’s performance.
Broadcast networks have not yet announced their response, but a source said that they will most likely agree to the administration’s request.
I don't know if I'll be able to catch the jubilee's premiere, but hopefully it'll become available in a collector's edition leather-bound DVD set or as a podcast or at least commemorated with a "100 Days of Hopenchange" logo.
Don't Call It a Comeback
Charitably, you might call it premature.
From Roger Stone:
Having worked for Richard Nixon, I know a little bit about come-backs. The key element is timing. After some time in the wilderness, a public image can be remade. Eliot Spitzer seems to have missed this point with the wildly premature roll-out of his most recent bid for public respectability.
Newsweek, owned by the Washington Post Company that so loathed Nixon for doing exactly what Spitzer did - using the Government to spy on political opponents, leads the charge for the Spitzer rehab with a cover story.
Newsday tells us Spitzer has mastered the art of the recovery although 'the steamroller' has yet to grant an interview for anything but soft-ball interviews and known sympathizers in the media. No tough questions about his actions. In his recent Today Show, interview Spitzer tried to minimize his use of prostitutes by saying "it was not long"but in fact, Spitzer regularly used call-girls, sometimes as often as twice a week, for at least ten years including the time he was Attorney General and was prosecuting call-girl rings!
It is this hypocrisy which prevents Eliot Spitzer from ever having the public trust again.
Stone goes on to hint - none too subtly - that Kirstin Davis (the madam with whom Client #9 dealt) will divulge additional damaging information about Spitzer if he goes ahead with his plans to re-enter public life.
"And I Hate... the F***ing Eagles, Man."
Eagles founder Don Henley and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell sued Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and a campaign worker Friday in federal court in Los Angeles, alleging that DeVore infringed on the copyright of their 1984 hit "The Boys of Summer."
According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, DeVore, R-Irvine, and his Internet strategist Justin Hart created an online video in which new lyrics criticizing President Barack Obama replace Henley's words.
"The unauthorized use of Henley and Campbell's copyrighted work is synchronized with a series of photographic images of DeVore, Hart and President Barack Obama, among others," the lawsuit contends.
"Henley and Campbell did not, and would not, authorize the use of their song for this purpose," the suit said. "Viewers might also conclude that Henley and Campbell are political supporters of DeVore, which they are not."
DeVore is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer.
Henley, a longtime vocal supporter of Democratic causes, has drawn boos from fans in Orange County over the years for making political comments between songs during concerts.
E.M. Zanotti pens a preemptive amicus brief, in case it reaches the appellate stage.
"Mr. Henley has clearly missed that parody is a protected use of copyrighted material, through both the fair use exception and the laws explicit recognition that a derivative work, which this is, is a new work and therefore not subject to the copyright protections on the original work. Also, Mr. Henley clearly missed that this parody may, in fact, be better than the original song."
Update: Justin Hart (one of the two defendants) weighs in further.
One one side of the coin we have an excellent case. This was a parody (using a Don Henley son as a big trouble making lib) and a satire (on Obama). The former being absolutely protected, the latter being less so but still viable. Take, for instance, the Capitol Steps. Their Wiki page indicates that they never ask for permission for their parodies and satires.Still, there is the case against Jib Jab, which didn't turn out that way.
In short, it's relatively unsettled law in many respects. But I still feel confident we can go forward with it.
Update: More from Hart on the dead video link.
Here's the lowdown:1) The YouTube video was pulled early last week at the request of Henley2) We posted it on another streaming account (Hipcast)3) We filed an objection to YouTube pulling the item4) Henley had 10 days to rescind or file an actual lawsuit (which he did)5) Hipcast subsequently pulled it without the ability to counter (the jerks)6) We posted our second video of a Henley song "All She Wants to do is Tax, Tax" (which received 25,000 views)7) Henley doesn't own the rights to that but the REAL owners yanked it from YouTube yesterdayWe haven't decided whether to counter that one yet.Getting off the phone with a potential lawyer for our side we feel even more confident. The orchestration was a karaoke track from iTunes "(in the style of Don Henley)"He says our case is even stronger since Henley's lawyers indicated that they would have NEVER allowed permission for the use of the song. Which indicates that it's not about money but about politics.
Which Of These Things Would You Have To Be Paid the Least To Do?
From Jefferson to Dulles to Kissinger, there's a quiet dignity about the Secretary of State.
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Gun to my head, I suppose I'd go with #2.
Seacrest seems marginally more tolerable than Bubba, Carville, or Begala.
Saving the Markets From Free Marketeers
Regrettably, Bush opened the door to this Alice In Wonderlandish reasoning when he said, "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," leaving Joe Biden free to burrow a little further down the rabbit hole.
Vice President Biden, echoing President Franklin Roosevelt's famous admonition about saving capitalism from capitalists, urged world leaders on Saturday help "save the markets from free marketeers."
Biden made the remarks while speaking Saturday at the Progressive Governance Conference in Vina del Mar, Chile.
The assembled leaders "have to, in a sense, save the markets from free marketeers right now," Biden said in remarks released by the White House.
If we slide much further into the abyss of central planning and wealth confiscation, we may need to save democracy from the Democratic party.
Oh, La Vache
Qui est le President?
Translated from Le Figaro:
Barack Obama wrote to Jacques Chirac
The U.S. President has just sent a letter "very sympathetic" to Jacques Chirac, in the words of the latter. "I am confident that we can over the next four years working together in a spirit of peace and friendship to build a safer world," writes George W. Bush's successor to Nicolas Sarkozy's predecessor. In mentioning the word "peace," Obama makes implicit tribute to the action of the former French President who opposed the war in Iraq. A U.S. intervention which the future U.S. President had opposed as a Senator [sic], in a vote in Congress [sic].
Not Since Big Ern vs. Munson...
...has such an epic bowling gauntlet been thrown down.
I really think he should accept the challenge. He could steer the Pay-per-view revenues to the Special Olympics and probably fund the next century of games. Could be a good PR move in what's otherwise been a woefully impolitic month.
Second Coming of Christ To Deliver Appropriate Commencement Address
President Barack Obama will be the principal speaker and the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of Notre Dame’s 164th University Commencement Ceremony at 2 p.m. May 17 (Sunday) in the Joyce Center on campus.
Mr. Obama will be the ninth U.S. president to be awarded an honorary degree by the University and the sixth to be the Commencement speaker.
This is a coup for my beloved alma mater, I suppose. I just hope they suppress the urge to rededicate the Jesus statue in His honor.
“He expressed his disappointment and he apologized, in a way that was very moving,” [Special Olympics Chairman Tim] Shriver said on “Good Morning America.” “It’s important to see that words hurt, and words do matter. And these words that in some respect can be seen as humiliating or a put-down of people with special needs do cause pain, and they do result in stereotypes."
President Barack Obama made his difficult week worse Thursday by saying his poor bowling skills are “like Special Olympics or something,” an athletic competition for people with disabilities. His spokesman quickly said Obama hadn’t intended any offense.
An Hourly Rate That Would Make Ashley Dupre Blush
As noted this morning by Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the combined cost of the stimulus and omnibus spendgasms amounts to roughly $1 billion for every hour since the 111th Congress took over.
“In just 50 days, Congress has voted to spend about $1.2 trillion between the Stimulus and the Omnibus,” McConnell says. “To put that in perspective, that’s about $24 billion a day, or about $1 billion an hour—most of it borrowed. There’s simply no question: government spending has spun out of control.”
Of course that tally doesn't include the interest costs associated with the new spending, nor the true cost of the stimulus bill's sticky new programs that are unlikely to be quashed in coming years. If you include the CBO's estimates of these costs, the $1.2 trillion becomes something closer to $4 trillion. And since Congress has only been in session for 27 of those 50 days (and only several hours on each of those 27 days), one could argue Congress is frittering away your money at a rate of more than $18 billion per hour on the job.
Here, as ever, insights from the Gipper seem germane:
"It's been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
Heartache: Superwebified POTUS With 400K Twitter Followers and 6 Million Facebook Friends Not a Blog Reader
As he settles into his new job, Mr. Obama said he spent much of his time reading briefing books, but still tried to stay in touch by perusing newspapers and thumbing through weekly newsmagazines. But he said he did not watch much television, except basketball games.
Mr. Obama rode to the White House partly on his savvy use of new technology, and he has a staff-written blog on his presidential Web site. Even so, he said he did not find blogs to be reliable, citing the economy as one example.
“Part of the reason we don’t spend a lot of time looking at blogs,” he said, “is because if you haven’t looked at it very carefully, then you may be under the impression that somehow there’s a clean answer one way or another — well, you just nationalize all the banks, or you just leave them alone and they’ll be fine.”
A cynical sort might offer the alternate explanation that by confining oneself to entrenched print media outlets (safe from the corrupting influence of Rupert Murdoch and non-graduates of Columbia J-School who have the occasional audacity to crassly debunk credentialed media forgeries), one's able to avoid the pesky cognitive dissonance that stems from encountering a less strictly regimented range of opinions and analyses.
That's why I hate cynics.
Obstruction Of Reduction Of Mortgage Deduction
Now, if they'd only look into thwarting the income tax hike, the capital gains tax hike, the carried interest tax hike, and the oil and gas tax hike, we'd be getting somewhere.
President Barack Obama is meeting strong Democratic Party resistance to his proposal to reduce tax deductions enjoyed by upper-income Americans and could be forced to drop or modify the idea.
Mr. Obama in his budget blueprint last week proposed a cap on itemized deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations to help pay for his health-care overhaul. The plan would cost wealthier taxpayers about $318 billion in new taxes over 10 years, according to government estimates.
But after objections from Democratic lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared to suggest at one point Wednesday that the administration was willing to consider dropping or modifying the proposal.
Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), the Senate's top tax writer as chairman of the Finance Committee, told Mr. Geithner he was especially concerned about paying for expanded health coverage with a deductions curb that "has nothing to do with health care." He added: "I'm wondering about the viability of that provision."
Scumbag Acknowledges Paternity
John Edwards, who literally tried to cash in on the recurrence of his wife's cancer during his Presidential bid; who - to his dubious credit - claimed he didn't know how sick she was when he was diddling his videographer on the side; and who pawned off the paternity of his lovechild with the woman on a moronically loyal, married campaign aide; has finally acknowledged he is the father of Rielle Hunter's baby.
Campaigning 101: How Not To Use The Internet
Screencap grabbed for posterity in case they ever notice this and fix it (which, for at least the last few hours, they haven't).
(HT: David All)
Hoy Hoy, Operator, Can You Connect Me With That Website?
Locke Looking Like Less Of a Lock
The rumored successor to Bill Richardson and Judd Gregg as the next doomed Commerce Secretary nominee is former Washington Governor Gary Locke.
Lest you worry that Locke has his own closeted deal-breakers, the Washington Post assures us:
Locke is regarded as a safe choice by senior officials in the Obama administration given his long history in public life, his strait-laced reputation and his bipartisan governing credentials.
And lest you believe the Washington Post, Michelle Malkin disabuses us of the fantasy of Locke's straight laces.
Money laundering, illegal campaign contributions, pay-for-play scandals... this guy's the whole package.
Spend and Tax
President Obama is putting the finishing touches on an ambitious first budget that seeks to cut the federal deficit in half over the next four years, primarily by raising taxes on businesses and the wealthy and by slashing spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, administration officials said.
Obama also seeks to increase tax collections, mainly by making good on his promise to eliminate some of the temporary tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003. While the budget would keep the breaks that benefit middle-income families, it would eliminate them for wealthy taxpayers, defined as families earning more than $250,000 a year. Those tax breaks would be permitted to expire on schedule in 2011. That means the top tax rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, the tax on capital gains would jump to 20 percent from 15 percent for wealthy filers and the tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million would be maintained at the current rate of 45 percent.
Obama also proposes "a fairly aggressive effort on tax enforcement" that would target corporate loopholes, the official said. And Obama's budget seeks to tax the earnings of hedge fund managers as normal income rather than at the lower 15 percent capital gains rate.
Contending with a sharp recession by reversing demonstrably effective pro-growth tax cuts... this can't miss.
Alas, Burris Does Bear the Blot of Blago
Some cynics saw erstwhile governor Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris as an underhanded and race-drenched way not only to dare the Senate to attempt to block him (recall Rep. Bobby Rush, at the same press conference, warning not to "hang or lynch" Burris by opposing him), but also to curry favor with black jurors who might one day sit in judgment the impeached governor at a criminal trial.
That may well all be true, but now it appears that Burris' candidacy fit the general Blagojevich template, wherein potential appointees are evaluated not only on the grounds of their qualifications and the racial cover they might provide down the line, but according to their willingness to pay up.
Powerline highlights the glaring discrepancies between Burris' testimony before the Illinois House impeachment panel, an affidavit filed last week showing he was hit up by Blago's brother for campaign cash, and revelations of additional conversations with the governor's proxies about the appointment, which had previously eluded Burris' recall.
Burris now claims he simply wasn't given a full opportunity to explain his answers during the impeachment hearing. Which is understandable. Because it would take a fair bit of time to qualify a "No, sir" in response to "At any time were you directly or indirectly aware of a quid pro quo with the governor for the appointment of this vacant Senate seat?" into something that reconciles with what we now know to be the truth.
As was gradually discovered over the course of Blagopalooza, the Senate never really had any grounds to refuse to seat a legal appointment made by a sitting governor, but they do have fairly broad authority to expel a sitting senator for misconduct with a two-thirds vote. It doesn't happen often (not since the 19th Century), but resignations pending expulsion proceedings are a bit more common (the last being Bob Packwood (R-OR) in 1995).
Given Harry Reid's dead-set opposition to seating Burris in the first place, maybe he'll take this opportunity to purge the Senate of the Blago taint.
Judd Gregg Withdraws To Spend More Time With His Principles
Ah, change. Finally, a Cabinet withdrawal not prompted by tax, nanny, or corruption issues.
“I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce. This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time. I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle.
“However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.
“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.
“I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.
“As we move forward, I expect there will be many issues and initiatives where I can and will work to assure the success of the President’s proposals. This will certainly be a goal of mine.
“Kathy and I also want to specifically thank Governor Lynch and Bonnie Newman for their friendship and assistance during this period. In addition we wish to thank all the people, especially in New Hampshire, who have been so kind and generous in their supportive comments.
“As a further matter of clarification, nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision. I will continue to represent the people of New Hampshire in the United States Senate.”
See, This Is Why You Take Time To Read the Trillion Dollar Bills
Even the ones billed as emergencies.
As discussed by Betsy McCaughey from the Hudson Institute (and as currently headlined at Drudge), there are multiple socialized healthcare noses that will get under the tent if the bill passes as is.
One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446).
If the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill passes the Senate in its current form, seniors in the U.S. will face similar rationing [to the U.K.]. Defenders of the system say that individuals benefit in younger years and sacrifice later.
The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid. The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181).
Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition.
Setting aside the issue of whether euro-style, rationed government care would be good for America, the notion that its groundwork belongs in the emergency stimulus bill is farcical. The very fact that it's being snuck through in the belly of a trillion-dollar Trojan horse speaks volumes about its merits as perceived by its own sponsors.
The Pertinence of Transparency
Welcome to the black list, ABC News.
You think Tapper made it out of that room without a leathery tongue lashing from Helen Thomas?
(HT: Hot Air)
Obama Now Officially President
Let's face it - you're not truly President until your brother gets busted.
Kenyan police say the half brother of President Barack Obama has been arrested for possession of marijuana.
Area police chief Joshua Omokulongolo said George Obama was picked up Saturday and was being held at the Huruma police post in the capital. Omokulongolo said officers found one joint of marijuana on him.
George joins an esteemed BROTUS roster that includes Billy Carter (comically failed beer baron, purveyor of White House access to Libya), Roger Clinton (coke dealer, reckless driver, peace disturber), Neil Bush (S&L scandal entanglee, among other things), and Ted Kennedy (bad bridge-stayer-onner).
(HT: Dan Riehl)
Bye Bye Blago Haiku Contest
My favorite so far...
that big hair back home
now it's just a distraction
um, let's eat waffles
Obama Kool-Aid Not Doing It For You Anymore?
How about something a little stronger?
Hope, Change, and Just One Eensy Weensy Lobbyist
I'm loath to even call attention to this stark reversal, as doing so is surely divisive and irrelevant in the post-partisan era, but what the heck.
Caroline Withdraws For, You Know, Personal Reasons; Update: Or, You Know, Not
Caroline Kennedy has told Gov. Paterson that she is withdrawing her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, The Post has learned.
Kennedy cited "personal reasons," according to sources. Her stunning move comes as sources revealed that Paterson had intended to appoint her to the now-vacant seat on Thursday.
Does it default to Cuomo, then? I guess he'll have to do. He's not royalty, but at least he's a legacy.
(HT: Ben Smith)
Update: Which is it, Highness?
Source: Caroline Kennedy remains in contest to fill Hillary Clinton's NY Senate seat.
Here's a possible chronology, including a fine bit of speculation from Allah:
- Paterson tells Kennedy he plans to tap Cuomo, but will hold off on his announcement until Friday if she wants to bow out "willingly".
- Kennedy bows out "willingly".
- Obama grimaces at the prospect of losing a lap Senator, calls Paterson to recommend he reconsider.
- Paterson (or Obama) lets Caroline know she's still in it, perhaps once again the front runner.
- The awkward Kennedy backpeddle ensues.
- Paterson announces he now hopes to make his pick by the end of the weekend.
Update: Ben Smith offers an arguably more odious explanation.
[O]ther Democrats who ought to be in a position to know are convinced that it's over, though the prevalent theory is that Paterson put out word that Kennedy had turned it down in order to box her in.
Update: She's back out, apparently.
There was complete confusion Wednesday night over whether or not Caroline Kennedy had dropped her bid for Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate seat.
However, late Wednesday night Kennedy confirmed an earlier New York Post report by releasing a statement saying she is removing herself as a candidate for the now vacant New York Senate seat.
"I informed Gov. Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate," Kennedy said in a statement obtained by CBS 2 HD.
Blagojevich Impeached, Patterson Confused
A nearly unanimous vote (114-1) in the Illinois House today assures Blago will head to the State Senate for removal hearings.
The "1" is Democrat Milton Patterson, representing - can you guess - the south side of Chicago.
[Patterson] said after the roll call that he didn’t feel it was his job to vote to impeach the governor. He declined comment on whether he approved of the job Blagojevich is doing.
Obama Preaches Malaise
Someone get this man a cardigan.
President-elect Obama is warning this morning that the economy “could become dramatically worse” and face unemployment above 10 percent without bipartisan support for a massive government stimulus program that would temporarily add to the record federal budget deficit but would “save or create at least three million jobs over the next few years.”
Here are the excerpts released by Obama aides:
I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world.
In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.
For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied. And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.
So hopeful! And familiar...
I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy... I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation ... with unmatched economic power and military might...
The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning.
A key feature of Obama's speech will be that pledge to "save or create at least three million jobs over the next few years." Of course, there's no way to measure "saved" jobs, so this nebulous metric enables Obama to claim things would've been even worse (three million jobs worse!) if we hadn't embarked on his trillion dollar adventure, even if it serves only to further constrain employment and to deepen and prolong the recession (as was the effect of New Deal spending programs during the Depression).
What's more, with an employed domestic work force of roughly 150 million, population growth of 0.9% and a stagnant unemployment rate would yield 3 million jobs in just over two years anyway. So we'll be spending $1 trillion in order to create 3 million jobs that will be created anyway? That seems like a bad bargain, at a price tag of more than $300,000 per job. Wouldn't it be simpler just to implement a national guaranteed minimum income of, say, $100,000 for three years?
Of course, to pay for that, we'll probably need to pair it with a maximum income. But at least the rich - who have so grotesquely benefited from Bush policies - would then be paying their fair and patriotic share. We wouldn't want to set the maximum income quite as low as the minimum income (because that would carry a faint whiff of socialism), but perhaps 10% above, or at whatever modest premium Obama, Reid, and Pelosi deem to be "enough".
Have you voted yet today?
Clutzy Hiram Monserrate Sworn Into NYS Senate
Hiram Monserrate was sworn in as a new state senator Wednesday while authorities in New York City continued to investigate reports that he viciously attacked his girlfriend during an argument.
As he waited earlier in the Senate chamber, Monserrate said his girlfriend was not there; he didn't say why.
I can guess...
Monserrate was charged with assault and weapon possession after Karla Giraldo's face was slashed on Dec. 19 at his Queens home. Both the former New York City councilman and Giraldo say the incident was an accident - Monserrate told police that he tripped while holding a glass of water and that the glass accidentally hit her.
Hiram needs to be more careful. Ms. Giraldo required between 20 and 40 stitches to close up her face after the shards of glass were removed from in and around her eye. (Based on her injuries, the glass also appears to have punched her in the face.)
Jammie Wearing Fool notes that a security tape in the custody of law enforcement purportedly shows Monseratte "dragging the scared, bleeding woman from his apartment" and that the "woman looks scared out of her mind and trying to get away from this guy."
Notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary, New Yorkers familiar with Monseratte's record know he is not a violent criminal. In the past, his alleged misdeeds have always been limited to self-dealing, misappropriation of taxpayer money, and abuse of non-profit privileges.
Barack To the Future
"I've decided to appoint Sanjay Gupta as my Surgeon General."
"Sanjay Gupta! The TV doctor?!"
"And who's Vice President? Jerry Lewis?"
"And I suppose Judge Judy is Chief Justice!"
"And Jack Benny is Secretary of the Treasury!"
"And Leon Panetta is Director of the CIA!"
"Doc, you've gotta listen to me."
"I've had enough practical jokes for one evening. Good night, Future Boy!"
Have you voted yet today?
A Noun, a Verb, a Dubious Comparison, and a Backpeddling Spokeswoman
Joe Biden (he of genius IQ and sentence diagramming skills that can't be accurately measured by standard testing) once chortled that all Rudy Giulinai needs to make a sentence is "a noun and a verb and 9/11."
Turns out the Vice President-elect is nearly as linguistically skilled.
Vice-president-elect Joe Biden likened the country’s economic crisis to the attacks of 9/11 Monday in a private meeting on Capitol Hill.
Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said Biden “was speaking of how after September 11th, that the Congress came together and worked together for the sake of the country, that the Congress worked day and night to accomplish what was necessary. We did it then and we can do it now."
Update: Meanwhile, Barack Obama is using the more familiar sick patient imagery to describe the economy (in an attempt to drum up Congressional support for his dreadful and toxic Keynesian "cure"), which I suppose makes him the Münchausen caregiver in his own metaphor.
Bill Richardson Jingles His Keys For Us
... What were we talking about?
“Yesterday, I was hurting. I lost a Cabinet appointment. But I think people have to focus on what people are losing in this country. They’re losing their savings and their homes.”
The $300 Billion Tax Cut That Isn't
I railed about this on Strategy Room this morning, but I need to get it down on paper screen or it's going to continue to gnaw at me.
Barack Obama's ostensible $300 billion tax cut is anything but. It's being used as a lure, in order to - well, lure Republicans to the farcically irresponsible and inevitably feckless trillion-dollar Keynesian stimulus plan, but with tax cuts like these, who needs socialism?
So far the plan is lean on details, but there are a few things we do know.
- It will include a $500 rebate for nearly every working American (whether or not they pay federal income taxes). For low earners, this is welfare (an expensive and ineffective spending program rarely mistaken for a tax cut). But even for high earners, this is just a rebate. It's very similar to the stimulus checks that were sent out in 2008 (both in structure and size). I don't recall precisely how that worked out, but if I recall correctly, it solved everything.
- The "corporate tax cuts" included in the plan will enable businesses to accelerate write-offs related to losses incurred in 2008, and will offer some incremental job creation incentives. If Obama's past rhetoric is any guide, those job incentives will be strongly concentrated among (or possibly limited to) federally blessed "green jobs" and companies who promise not to make efficient and rational use of the global labor market send jobs overseas.
On the whole, these tax "cuts" represent significant expansion of government intervention and of wealth redistribution (which is something akin to the opposite of tax cuts). The reason that actual tax cuts are well-indicated for digging out of economic recessions is that they encourage the useful deployment of capital by increasing the expected after-tax returns of those doing the deploying. For anyone who has trouble following the economic causality (e.g. elected officials on both sides of the aisle), Reagan in 1981 and Bush in 2001 provided us with strong, confirming empirical evidence. Few if any of the 300 billion dollars in Obama's package do anything of this sort.
If Congressional Republicans do sign on with the trillion-dollar stimulus in consideration for this package of tax "cuts", they will have sold their fiscal souls for an embarrassingly cheap price.
Bill Richardson Will Spend More Time With His Family
Wow. My money was on Rahm to be the one to bow out of the Obaministration before Inauguration Day. Who had Richardson?
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state.
"Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact," he said Sunday in a report by NBC News. "But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process."
Still two weeks to go of course. Plenty of time for Emanuel (or Holder or Clinton or Daschle) to reconsider their appetite for federal scrutiny.
Update: Drew at AoSHQ:
He's staying on as Governor of New Mexico, which is apparently a non-partisan position since the fact that Richardson is a Democrat isn't mentioned in the story.
Richardson is under investigation in a 'pay to play scheme' (sound familiar?) involving a company that received a state contract after making a contribution to Richardson's political action committee
A federal grand jury is investigating whether a financial firm improperly won more than $1.4 million in work for the state of New Mexico shortly after making contributions to political action committees of Gov. Bill Richardson (D).
The probe focuses on whether the governor's office urged a state agency to hire CDR Financial Products. ... In the New Mexico case, the FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating how CDR, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., won lucrative fees from the New Mexico Finance Authority in 2004 soon after donating $100,000 to two Richardson organizations.
Update: Inevitably, Team Obama insists this is not the Bill Richardson they thought they knew.
"I'm Not Going To Be IGNORED,
(HT: Hot Air)
5 Governors Demand $1 Trillion In Federal Aid
I'll give you one guess what those 5 governors have in common.
Evidence Of Caroline's Political Philosophy Unearthed, Hurriedly Re-earthed
And you thought her only qualifications were familial entitlement and sympathy. Turns out she's a deep political thinker, after all.
"Um, well, you know, I don't think this book will work a similar...transformation," Caroline said [in a 2002 radio interview about her father's book Profiles In Courage]. "But I really am interested in the issues and I think it's wonderful for people to get involved, people who are in politics find it so rewarding and I think it's a wonderful thing to do. I think everyone should participate as best they can. There are many ways to serve and make things better."
The Romney Plan
- Lower corporate tax rates
- Eliminate capital gains and dividend income taxes (at least for some income brackets)
- Focus stimulus spending on "shovel-ready" and genuinely necessary military projects
- Fund energy research, including nuclear
- Slash state governments (reduce headcount, eliminate duplicate and wasteful agencies)
- GOP blocks en masse any pork-infused spending bills
- Avoid knee-jerk over-regulation of financial services
- Don't grant unions any more power than they already have
I'll be pleasantly dumbfounded if more than one of these proposals - as paraphrased by me - comes to pass. (The last four are pure fantasy.) The country's just in too much of a collectivist, protectionist, Keynesian funk these days. We've got an inbound administration whose rhetoric in the face of economic turmoil is equal parts Roosevelt, Hoover, and Carter; and the public by and large is signing on as if we hadn't been to this rodeo before.
Spoiler alert: it ends poorly.
FOIA Request Confirms Obama's Taxpayer-Sponsored Fundraising Site "Change.gov" Violates All Kinds Of Rules
Michelle Malkin's got the whole story (including scans of the primary documents tracking Team Obama's initially thwarted efforts to register the domain), but suffice it to say the General Services Administration was against it before it was for it.
The FOIA documents sent to Lance O., which he forwarded to me, reveal that the GSA initially rejected Obama’s application for “Change.gov.” On Oct. 21, Peter Alterman, Deputy Associate Administrator of Technology Strategy at the GSA, denied the Obama campaign’s request for a government domain because:
1) It would be a a violation of the government’s naming conventions (too generic); and
2) using ‘change’ in the domain name would be political, since it was the trademark slogan of the Obama campaign.
The day after the election, on Nov. 5, GSA Chief Information Officer Casey Coleman overruled Alterman after apparently receiving a waiver from Chris Lu, Executive Director of Obama’s Transition Project. As reader Lance discovered through his FOIA request, Ms. Coleman did not elaborate on the granting of this waiver except to say that she had “determined that it is in the best interest of the Federal Government to register the subject domain name.”
As another GSA official who facilitated the convenient change in policy regarding change.gov exulted to the Obama campaign after the domain was granted, “Rock and roll!”
"Turn and face the strain..."