Archive | January 2010

Bush Lawyers Cleared In Torture Memo Kerfuffle


Newsweek:

…an upcoming Justice Department report from its ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), clears the Bush administration lawyers who authored the “torture” memos of professional-misconduct allegations.

The frothing will begin in 3… 2…

Obama Has Set Course For Political Disaster


I didn’t comment on these two articles earlier because I wanted to see if Mr. Obama had the political smarts to ignore this advice–or, failing him (a long shot in any event), that one of his other close advisers could talk him out of doing these silly things.

Alas, rather than letting saner heads prevail, last night’s State of the Union address clearly indicates that Mr. Obama has decided that the way to political victory is to yell “damn the polls, full speed ahead!” as David Plouffe advises, combined with the endless refrain of “Bush did it! Bush did it! Booooooooooooosh deeeeeeeeeeeeeed eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!” that James Carville advocates. After all, we know how both of the strategies above worked in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts in the last several months, right?

I guess I should keep my mouth shut… if Obama wants to lock his party’s course straight for the political iceberg, I should be happy, shouldn’t I? The problem is, the country is also being locked onto a disaster course, and I am not certain that the all-but-certainly-coming-soon GOP majority will be able to turn the wheel fast enough. And, honestly, I wish my nation well a heck of a lot more than I wish the opposition party ill.

House Democrats Not On Board With Obama’s Spending “Freeze”


The Hill:

House Democrats are rejecting an idea floated by the Obama administration to freeze or cut discretionary spending in 2011.

Key members of the House Appropriations and Budget committees told The Hill this month they would not go along with alternative spending plans being requested by White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, which are part of the administration’s plan to reduce the deficit.

Gee, did someone suggest recently that Congress might not go along with Obama’s proposed freeze-that’s-not-really-a-freeze?

Get Ready For The O-Bait And Switch Again


NRO:

President Obam will reportedly propose a three-year “freeze” on non-defense federal spending in Wednesday’s State of the Union address.

The freeze would take effect in October of this year, and would limit spending on non-security related programs (including defense and homeland security, but also “international programs” to $447 billion a year for the remainder of Obama’s first term, the Washington Post is reporting.

President Obama can propose all he wants, but unless and until Pelosi, Reid, and the rest of the Congressional Democrat Leadership signs on, it’s all empty words.

Hence, my suspicion is that Obama is having a quiet word to the Congressional Dems to just ignore what he will say, and keep on spending like… well… like Democrats! And then when a bill that breaks his proposed spending freeze hits his desk, he will say that “X” is just too important to veto, therefore he has to sign the whole bill. And then the spending freeze goes bye-bye.

Update: The WaPo explains more about the so-called “freeze”:

It would not restrain funding for the $787 billion economic stimulus package Obama pushed through Congress early last year, nor would it apply to a new bill aimed at creating jobs, which Democrats have identified as their top priority in the run-up to November’s congressional elections.

The House has approved a $156 billion package intended to lower the nation’s 10 percent unemployment rate, while the Senate is drafting an $80 billion package that includes tax cuts for businesses that hire new employees as well as aid for cash-strapped state governments and the unemployed.

It is also unlikely to affect the approximately $900 billion health-care bill, which has been on life-support since the Massachusetts vote.

As Ed Whelan said on NRO’s Corner, “Some freeze.”

A Scott Across The Bow


More commentary later, but here’s some of my cogitations from last night and early this morning:

With Scott Brown’s election, ObamaCare is as good as dead. The chances of Democrat Representatives from conservative districts voting for the Senate bill just took a nose-dive, as Obama’s ability to turn around tough elections has just been shown to be as much a mirage as jobs that would be “created or saved” by the “Stimulus” bill. All the other gimmicks to get ObamaCare passed (delaying Brown’s seating in the Senate, reconciliation, etc) are even faster ways of committing political seppuku than dropping it.

If President Obama is wise, he will drop health care like a hot potato, and do the same with cap-and-trade, illegal alien amnesty, and the rumored VAT tax. However, I doubt that he is that pragmatic, and thus he will continue the downhill slide that started as soon as it became clear that his campaign promises had been so many bait-and-switches.

Can Brown win reelection in 2012? Right now, my best answer is, “it depends.” There are so many variables in that equation that anyone that claims they have it all figured out this early is probably smoking something illegal. I do know it will be an uphill fight in deep-blue Massachusetts, but then again, Scott’s already won one of those, so there’s no reason to discount his ability to do it again.

Pelosi: ObamaCare “One Way Or Another”


Here’s how your elected representatives are listening to the mood of the people towards ObamaCare:

So if Brown wins, what does that mean for the health care bill?

“Certainly the dynamic would change depending on what happens in Massachusetts,” Pelosi told us and our notebook-toting brethren Monday in San Francisco at an MLK event. “Just a question about how we would proceed. But it doesn’t mean we won’t have a health care bill.”

She went on to say that Brown has said he want to go back to the drawing board on health care. Not in my House, Madame Speaker said.

“There is no back to the drawing board,” Pelosi said. “The Republicans in Congress have said we will kill health care reform. They are the handmaidens of the insurance company.”

“Let’s remove all doubt, we will have health care — one way or another,” Pelosi said. “Back to the drawing board means a great big zero for the American people.”

Shorter version:

“We don’t care what the people say.”

If Brown does win tomorrow in Massachusetts, and they try to ram this past him and his vote, the voters are going to be that much angrier. Let’s hope that saner heads in the Democratic party prevail (but I doubt they will).

Is Massachusetts Turning Red?


Sorry for the light blogging, work has been hectic this last week.

But, I was able to keep up with some of the Brown/Coakley news, and it is most definitely not good for Coakley.

For instance, this and this really smack of desperation in the Coakley camp. Both are the subject of threatened legal challenges… from the Brown campaign on the first, and from UPS on the second.

And this makes me think that Brown has a good chance of winning. I mean (assuming everything there is authentic), SEIU members holding Brown signs?

This is what Democratic arrogance gets you… a seat in the deepest of dark blue territory could very well go red… although sort of a light-red, Brown is a bit of a RINO. Still, he’s sure to be a darned sight better than Coakley, and because of that, he’s got my support.

The House ObamaCare Margin Of Error Is Evaporating


Robert Wexler, D-Fla, has resigned and the state says it can’t afford a special election to replace him until April. There goes one pro-ObamaCare vote.

Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, is planning on resigning 28 Feb, and, you guessed it, they can’t afford an election to replace him until at least May, if even then. There goes another pro-ObamaCare vote.

I suspect there’s a lot of angst in Democratic circles these days.

Stimulus Of Road Construction Projects Doesn’t Help Unemployment


Believe it or not, the AP is now throwing cold water on another Obama accomplishment, the porkulus stimulus bill.

For the analysis, the AP reviewed Transportation Department data on more than $21 billion in stimulus projects in every state and Washington, D.C., and the Labor Department’s monthly unemployment data to assess the effects of road and bridge spending on local unemployment and construction employment. The analysis did not try to measure results of the broader aid that also was in the first stimulus such as tax cuts, unemployment benefits or money for states.

Even within the construction industry, which stood to benefit most from transportation money, the AP’s analysis found there was nearly no connection between stimulus money and the number of construction workers hired or fired since Congress passed the recovery program. The effect was so small, one economist compared it to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing against it.

“As a policy tool for creating jobs, this doesn’t seem to have much bite,” said Emory University economist Thomas Smith, who supported the stimulus and reviewed AP’s analysis. “In terms of creating jobs, it doesn’t seem like it’s created very many. It may well be employing lots of people but those two things are very different.”

Another Obubble burst, I guess.

Steele Called On The Carpet?


National Review Online:

RNC Chair Michael Steele has apparently cancelled an appearance on ABC’s webcast “Top Line” just thirty minutes before airtime, saying that he was called into an “emergency meeting” at RNC headquarters but declining to give further details.

Perhaps they’re discussing whether or not to take him up on his challenge of “[i]f you don’t want me in the job, fire me.”

Steele STILL Isn’t A Leader


The Hill:

In a startling radio interview, Steele unleashed on GOPers who have questioned his leadership of the party:

“I’m telling them and I’m looking them in the eye and say I’ve had enough of it. If you don’t want me in the job, fire me. But until then, shut up. Get with the program or get out of the way,” Steele told told ABC News Radio in an interview Thursday.

There’s more:

“I tell them to get a life. That’s old Washington, that’s old ways, and I don’t represent that, and that kills them.”

[...]

“Some of my prior chairmen who are running their mouths right now — how many farm teams did you build as chairman?”

“All I’m saying is cut it out. If we have party differences that are inside the party, let’s deal with them inside the party. You don’t see the Democrats running around trying to beat up their national chairman or embarrass him.”

As I said before, this man is not a leader.

A leader does not blast his own teammates in public. If criticism is needed, it’s delivered in private. And praise is delivered in public.

This outburst is, sadly, somewhat reminiscent of Mr. Obama’s outbursts when the peons weren’t accepting his programs quickly enough. It’s also reminiscent of many people I’ve known in my personal and professional life who are in over their head and know it; since they don’t know how to fix the problem, they lash out.

Steele basically invited the RNC to fire him. I’d say that’s probably not the worst idea in the world, now that he’s opened the door.

Cantor Sees 37 Democrat Representatives Who Might Switch On ObamaCare


The fight over ObamaCare, as I’ve said before, is far from over.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) has identified 37 Democrats (.pdf link) in the House who he thinks can be persuaded to vote Nay on the next iteration of ObamaCare. All he needs are for 3–THREE–of them to switch their votes, and the bill almost certainly dies right there and then. Pelosi and Reid would be incredibly stupid to bring it up again, guaranteeing that the debate would continue well into the time when non-political-wonks start paying attention to the election news.

This is the sort of leadership the GOP needs… fight back, push back, find the weak spot and start hammering it!

Domino Democrats


The Democrats are starting to fall like dominos:

US Senator from North Dakota Byron Dorgan.

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.

US Senator from Connecticut Chris Dodd.

I think this little musical interlude provides all the commentary necessary:

This Is The Best Guy The RNC Could Find For Chairman?


The Hill:

RNC Chairman Michael Steele said Monday night that he doesn’t think Republicans will win control of the House in 2010 .

Asked by Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel whether he believes the GOP is going to take over the House, the chairman of the Republican National Committee responded, “Not this year.”

This man is not–I say again, not–a leader.

A leader inspires people. A leader challenges people to stretch beyond what they think they can do. A leader says, “it may be hard, but we are going to do it anyway!”

Steele is a spineless bureaucrat. He’s the type who is afraid to step out and take chances. He’d rather be pessimistic, believing it’s better to “play it safe.” The problem with that is that such an attitude does not inspire people to reach deep down for the reserves that we all have but that so few ever access.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” Steele is trying to convince the GOP that they can’t take the House… woe to them if he succeeds.

No House/Senate Conference For ObamaCare; They’d Rather Play Ping-Pong


Once more, transparency turns out to be less important than socializing a big chunk of the American economy… not only were the ObamaCare negotiations not broadcast on C-SPAN as then-Senator Obama himself promised, now there won’t even be a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate bills… instead, they are going to use a tactic called ping-pong.

This is quite possibly the last gasp for ObamaCare… in the first place, at least one House lefty, and a high-ranking one at that, is not happy with this plan. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who happens to co-chair the House Progressive Congress, said:

“I am disappointed that there will be no formal conference process by which various constituencies can impact the discussion. I have not been approached about my concerns with the Senate bill, and I will be raising those at the Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. I and other progressives saw a conference as a means to improve the bill and have a real debate, and now with this behind-the-scenes approach, we’re concerned even more.”

That cannot be a good sign for the pro-ObamaCare forces.

However, the fact that ping-pong is a quieter way of working on this does make it easier for the Obamacrats to quietly bury it in the back of a desk drawer somewhere… and it’s quite possible that doing so is something they are thinking of.

In Case You Were Wondering How NPR Sees Tea Party Participants…


…they’ve helpfully provided this animation, entitled “Learn To Speak Tea Bag.”

Your tax dollars pay for NPR, by the way.

2010 May Be The Year Of The Obacklash


It looks like the coming year may be what Queen Elizabeth famously called an “annus horribilis” for President Obama.

First, yet another of his nominees is showing signs of an incomplete or sloppy vetting process:

The White House nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, documents obtained by The Washington Post show.

The disclosure comes as pressure builds from Democrats on Capitol Hill for quick January confirmation of Erroll Southers, whose nomination has been held up by GOP opponents. In the aftermath of an attempted airline bombing on Christmas Day, calls have intensified for lawmakers to install permanent leadership at the TSA, a critical agency in enforcing airline security.

Southers, a former FBI agent, has described inconsistencies in his accounts to Congress as “inadvertent” and the result of poor memory of an incident that dates back 20 years. He said in a Nov. 20 letter to key senators obtained by The Post that he had accepted full responsibility long ago for a “grave error in judgment” in accessing confidential criminal records about his then-estranged wife’s new boyfriend.

The next hit comes from Janet Napolitano’s noteworthy “the system worked” comment… even some Democrats are now starting to call for her to step down:

New Jersey State Senate President Richard Codey, a Democrat, wrote a letter to Napolitano this week calling on her to step down. He said Napolitano, an attorney and former Arizona governor, does not have the experience for the post she is in.

“We should have someone who doesn’t need to go in there and learn about terrorism, learn about security,” Codey told Fox News. “How close were these 300 people on this plane from losing their lives because homeland security broke down? Boy, it was really close.”

The Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and has grown into one of the largest Cabinet departments in the federal government. Charged with keeping the nation safe from terrorist attacks and responding to natural disasters, it covers the TSA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a slew of other agencies.

Codey said a candidate “well-versed” in intelligence should step into the job.

Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein also said Napolitano’s response to the incident should be the last straw.

“I tend to think she will be pushed out in the next couple of months,” Gerstein, a former adviser to Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said.

For now, the administration says it has absolute confidence in Napolitano. She is an active part of the internal review and on Thursday took additional steps to improve security at international airports.

And the third, and possibly the worst blow to Mr. Obama appears to be coming from his own left flank.

Sifry dismisses the myth that Obama campaign used the Internet to attract legions of volunteers who were then empowered to do more indpendently of the traditional central campaign headquarters, saying “nor, it is clear, was Obama’s campaign ever really about giving control to the grassroots. As Zephyr Teachout wrote here a while back, the campaign shared tasks with its supporters but didn’t share power.

“In some notable cases, volunteers were given substantial responsibilities in the field, and access to more data than would typically be shared by most top-down organizations. But in terms of empowering anyone, Obama’s campaign structure empowered its managers more than anyone else.”

Understand that Sifry is a man of the Left, not the Right. He’s a co-founder of the PDF and is editor of Tech President. He’s also been instrumental in helping grow the Sunlight Foundation and the proliferation of important New Media-focused groups it has spawned like the Open House Project that are devoted to encouraging greater transparency and accountability in government through the Internet and related technologies.

And along the same lines, from a lefty blogger:

I think that is exactly right, and the needle in much of the activist base is moving from “demotivated” to downright demoralized and antagonistic. Yet Obama and his administration, notably Rahm Emanuel, indignantly continue to poke sticks in the eyes of the activist base and boast about it; and it is not from necessity, it is from design and pleasure.

Quite frankly, the seeds of this should have been seen coming. I have never forgotten the shudders I felt when I read two interrelated articles by Matt Stoller and David Dayen discussing how, heading into the 2008 general election, Obama was not just benefitting from, but devouring and commandeering broad swaths of Democratic base activist groups and their power, and actively working to marginalize and cripple those that didn’t assimilate into his Borg.

To put it bluntly, the wheels are starting to come off Obama’s presidency. While it may be good for the GOP, it’s not good for the nation as a whole.

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