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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #500 on: January 14, 2011, 04:25:25 PM »

I am more pessimistic.
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bigdog
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« Reply #501 on: January 17, 2011, 06:41:38 AM »

http://hosted2.ap.org/WTICAM/b7538a1b675b4d059de3e728edc01923/Article_2011-01-15-Presidential%20Appointments/id-22927b442e824facb162b13e5a8efff0

Presidential nominees stymied; Senate seeks change

JIM ABRAMS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate, in its inaugural session, rejected George Washington's nominee to be a naval officer in Savannah because the two Georgia senators wanted their guy in the job. The way of naming and confirming the nation's top officials hasn't become much smarter in the years since.

It's become a lot more of a problem.

President George W. Bush had only about half his political appointees on the job at the time of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in early 2009 found himself dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression without his team of deputies in place. The attempted bombing of an American airliner on Christmas Day 2009 occurred when the Transportation Security Administration was without an administrator.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, in a rare moment of agreement, opened the new Congress this month by endorsing a bipartisan effort to find ways to improve an unwieldy, unproductive system.

It's a challenge because there are so many ways to bog down a nomination.

Reid noted that the slow-moving Senate is now responsible for confirming 1,215 executive branch nominees and the number keeps rising. Brookings Institution senior fellows E.J. Dionne Jr. and William Galston wrote in a study that the number of core policy positions the president must fill has risen from 295 when Ronald Reagan took office to 422 for Barack Obama.

Then there's the onerous screening process, even for lower-level appointees. It's meant that an administration can take months to send a nomination to the Senate for confirmation. Finally, there's the increasingly partisan Senate, where a single lawmaker has the power to bottle up a nomination for months or kill it, sometimes for reasons unrelated to the person in line for the job.

Like their Georgia counterparts of old, Louisiana's two senators stood in the way of nominations last fall to protest the freeze on offshore drilling after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The White House said there would be a one-week delay in making public the president's budget proposal this year, partly because Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., had blocked a vote on Obama's choice to be budget director, Jack Lew, for more than a month.

"Among the democracies, the United States has created — without intending to — what is almost certainly the most ungainly  process of filling a government with qualified people," Dionne and Galston wrote.

A Commission on Public Service headed by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker recommended in 2003 turning one-third of all Senate-confirmed political positions into career jobs. The Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit group that promotes service in the federal government, wants the Senate to commit to voting on the president's top 50 national and economic security officials immediately after inauguration and having the top 500-plus appointees in place by the summer recess.

Those studies dealt primarily with executive office nominees and not the equally vexing issue of judges. There are more than 90 judicial vacancies in U.S. district and appellate courts today. Chief Justice John Roberts complained in a year-end report that "each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes."

Reid, D-Nev., and McConnell, R-Ky., suggested that the chairman and the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee — Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. — lead a working group to study ways to streamline the confirmation process. But progress probably depends on Democratic-led efforts to change Senate rules to make it harder for single senators to hold up legislation and nominees and to reduce the number of filibusters.

At the end of the last session of Congress, 43 nominees, including judges, awaited a vote by the full Senate. That compared with seven at the end of Bush's first two years in office, Reid's office said. Seven have been on the waiting list since 2009.

One result is that many competent people are dissuaded from accepting positions in government, said Max Stier, president of Partnership for Public Service.

"It's the rare individual who is both qualified and willing to run the obstacle course that is required," he said. Stier said there are examples of people, even those without background problems, who had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to get through the screening process.

Presidents sometimes turn to recess appointments — putting people in the jobs temporarily when the Senate is not in session. Obama warned Republicans last February that he would resort to this strategy because of holds on nominations he said were "motivated by a desire to leverage projects for a senator's state or simply to frustrate progress. It is precisely these kinds of tactics that enrage the American people."

Among his recess appointees: Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor now heading the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid; James Cole, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department; Craig Becker, as a member of the National Labor Relations Board.

Obama also avoided a drawn-out fight with Senate Republicans on Elizabeth Warren, his choice to head the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, by naming her to oversee creation of the fledgling agency. That post doesn't require confirmation.




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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #502 on: January 17, 2011, 11:30:11 AM »

"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in early 2009 found himself dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression without his team of deputies in place. The attempted bombing of an American airliner on Christmas Day 2009 occurred when the Transportation Security Administration was without an administrator."

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't that in great part because BO (Geithner) did not nominate anyone?

NOT DENYING THE LARGER ISSUE, but

a) the Dems strated it with their outrageious borking of Reagan's Judge Bork nomination (contrast the Reps subsequent  treatment of Ruth Bader Ginsberg;
b) BO has nominated some seriously radical people.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #503 on: January 17, 2011, 11:58:35 AM »

 MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
Coral Gables, Fla.

If Republicans were to run a classified ad for their 2012 presidential candidate, it might read something like this: GOP seeks popular former two-term governor of a large state for executive post. Qualified applicants will have a demonstrated understanding of the relationship between taxes and growth, a proven record on choice in education, and an ability to draw Hispanic voters. A commitment to states' rights and the U.S. constitution is a must.

Their candidate is out there. But Jeb Bush, Florida's governor from 1999 to 2007, insists that he's not applying for the job. Still, his ideas and style have gained national attention, so I braved the TSA gropers at New York's LaGuardia airport and hopped a flight to South Florida to talk to him.

As we sit down in his office, the tall Texas transplant raises the still-unratified Colombia free trade agreement, which has been in the news recently. Sitting on the FTA has created uncertainty that is emblematic of President Obama's broader economic policy, he says. Plus, Colombia is a U.S. ally. "We get all the benefits [that come] with a friend and this is how we treat them. It's just amazing," he says, shaking his head.

Mr. Bush's wife was born in Mexico, he is fluent in Spanish, and he lives in a heavily Hispanic state, so he has great interest in our hemisphere. He's also had unusual success earning the political support of Spanish-speaking Americans, so I ask him what tips he has for his immigrant-challenged party.

View Full Image

Terry Shoffner
 .His answer comes effortlessly. Hispanics aren't monolithic, he says, but all immigrants—"the newly arrived and the second generation"—share one trait: "They're aspirational." Conservative candidates, therefore, should promote "policies that reward people who are aspirational." That's what he did, and 60% of Democratic Hispanic voters supported his re-election in 2002, he says. Hispanic voters are growing in number, Mr. Bush points out, and "they are increasingly the swing voters in the swing states."

One problem for Republicans, he says, is that "the tone of our message is one of 'them and us' sometimes." At least that's what gets "magnified in the press," with immigration policy being the flash point. It's "a shame," he says, because Republicans and immigrants have a lot in common. "But if you send a signal that we really don't want you as part of our team, they're not going to join."

Yet might today's recent immigrants be natural Democrats, as they were in the 20th century after arriving from Europe? Democrats promise more entitlements, and immigrants tend to be on the lower economic rungs. Mr. Bush couldn't disagree more. "There are people who believe in expanding the welfare state across the spectrum of races and ethnicities and creeds," he says, but that's not a common value among Hispanics. "If you had to pick the values that would be held dear to a broad number of Hispanic voters, access to opportunity would be a higher value than guarantee of security, particularly amongst the newly arrived, meaning the last 20 years."

His insistence on engagement is not a call for multiculturalism. Quite the opposite: "The beauty of America—one of the things that so separates us [from the rest of the world]—is this ability to take people from disparate backgrounds that buy into the American ideal."

With regard to assimilation, he says, Hispanics have much to be proud of. "Second-generation Hispanics marry non-Hispanics at a higher rate than second-generation Irish or Italians. Second-generation Hispanics' English language capability rates are higher than previous immigrant groups'."

The former governor says immigration is fundamentally an economic matter. "I would argue that if we can't figure out how to control our border and move to a much more provocative and 21st-century immigration policy, the problems we face will become incredibly difficult to solve because we are not going to grow." Coming from the mild-mannered Mr. Bush, I take this to mean that government needs to grow bolder—not necessarily more confrontational—in its search for immigration solutions.

The country needs "younger people with energy and aspirations," he says. Without them, we could end up looking like Old Europe: What should be annual GDP growth of 3.5% could instead be 1.5%. After 10 years, that would amount to a difference of $3.8 trillion in economic activity. "So to me the immigration issue is an economic competitiveness issue, and we're missing it because we are incompetent in the government."

Mr. Bush would like to see "a very aggressive guest worker program that ebbs and flows with demand." He also wants to expand the H-1B visa program aggressively, allowing high-tech companies and others to recruit "highly educated, highly motivated people" from around the world.


To deal with the problem of illegals already in the country, meanwhile, Mr. Bush likes proposals that acknowledge the rule of law but also "give them a chance to change their status. If they learn English, pay a fine, accept a waiting time and have a clean record, some system like that makes sense to get people to come out of the shadows." Going forward, he thinks employer sanctions are justified because the E-verify system—an online government system that allows employers to check the legal status of job applicants—seems to work.

The nut of the problem is competency at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "If you have to deal with our friends at ICE, it's like a Kafka novel. Files just disappear," he says, speaking from personal experience with constituents and relatives.

Mr. Bush's fiscal record is also worth exploring, so I ask him about the importance of Florida having no income tax. It has been "hugely important" in attracting people with economic aspirations, he says. Part of the trick is controlling the growth of government. When he was governor, he says, he "did a whole series of things that institutionalized limited government," including building up a constitutionally mandated countercyclical reserve fund, putting checks on spending, creating debt-service limits, and prohibiting gimmicks that underfunded pensions.

Mr. Bush says that during his tenure Florida was "the only state to go from a double-A to a triple-A rating," in part because state pensions were among the best funded in the country. "So when states come hat-in-hand to Washington" looking for money, he says, "I would hate to see the really bad drunks getting more bourbon while the states that have done the right thing are penalized."

So new Republican governors should adopt rules for countercyclical budgeting and fully funded pensions? Too timid, Mr. Bush says. "I would argue for the elimination of the defined-benefit pension system. Might as well just get right to the end of the conversation, that's where this is all going." Then, "figure out a creative way to deal with the unfunded liabilities." That "means you have to take on the unions." He notes that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has so far "shown that you can take on these entrenched interests and be popular and sustain the efforts to change the state."

Mr. Bush points out that although Florida spends slightly less than the national average per student in education, it has had "the greatest gains in learning as measured by the [National Assessment for Educational Progress] scores." Florida Hispanics are leading the way in closing the achievement gap, he says, as his state's "low-income Hispanics now do better than the California average in the fourth-grade rating."

How did Florida do it? "Harder edge accountability, the most ambitious school choice programs in the country, and the elimination of social promotion from the third grade," he says. One program promised that if a school got a failing grade from evaluators two years out of five, parents could take the value of their children's education and use it at a private school. The program lasted more than five years before it was ruled unconstitutional (on the grounds that Florida's constitution guarantees students free public schools). But it "had a dramatic impact on improving lower-performing schools because the threat drove a lot of change."

I ask Mr. Bush if, having made so much bipartisan progress in Florida, he has any advice for the new Republican Congress. He starts with this: "There is a balance between standing on principle and finding common ground, and we need both. Common ground doesn't have to be compromise of principle."

Members of Congress can find common ground on issues like trade, he says. For example, "if the president is for the Korea [free trade agreement] but not for the Colombia FTA, it seems to me that Speaker Boehner would be absolutely correct in saying 'We're for you, Mr. President, but the merits also suggest that Colombia and Panama ought to be part of this.'"

Mr. Bush says it is wrong to oppose Mr. Obama at every turn. "On the bigger stuff where there are clear lines in the sand related to the size and scope of government, tax policy, spending, the environment and the regulatory agenda, there is probably not going to be common ground found. But there are other places like education where there could be common ground. And, I would hope, border security."

Constant political one-upping is particularly dangerous, Mr. Bush warns, because there could be a shock to the system in the near future. One possibility is "one of the states not being able to deal with its pension obligations and its structural budget problems." That could, in turn, "change the international financial community's regard for sovereign risk in the United States."

Still, Republicans need to fight for their ideals—against "the general idea that you solve problems by mandating, regulating and taxing," and for "trusting the interaction of free people to pursue their dreams." When I ask him for specifics, he says that the Republican House should pass a budget "that's real, that rolls back discretionary spending at a minimum to the 2008 level, and that begins the process of challenging the general size and scope of the government."

Then he points to Congressional oversight of the regulatory process. Congress has abdicated its constitutional duty to oversee "the executive branch's execution of law," he says. Instead, it has gone about "just reauthorizing laws without looking at the costs and benefits," especially with regard to environmental regulation. "I think we should sunset every law and do a review of the rules."


The field of Republican candidates looks so grim to me that I can't help but ask whether this isn't Mr. Bush's "moment." "This is my moment," he says to my less-than precise question. "I feel totally blessed with the wife I have and the life I have. On the important stuff, it is my time."

But I was referring to the presidential race. "I know you were. And I am not running," he says, smiling. But he wants to "play a role" and thinks that he's especially equipped to do so because he's not running. "I can really speak about things that are controversial, that a candidate might avoid—like immigration. And my view may not be in the mainstream of my party, but that doesn't bother me a bit."

Ms. O'Grady writes the Journal's Americas column.
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bigdog
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« Reply #504 on: January 17, 2011, 02:01:58 PM »

"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in early 2009 found himself dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression without his team of deputies in place. The attempted bombing of an American airliner on Christmas Day 2009 occurred when the Transportation Security Administration was without an administrator."

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't that in great part because BO (Geithner) did not nominate anyone?

NOT DENYING THE LARGER ISSUE, but

a) the Dems strated it with their outrageious borking of Reagan's Judge Bork nomination (contrast the Reps subsequent  treatment of Ruth Bader Ginsberg;
b) BO has nominated some seriously radical people.


I don't think that a "he started it" is all that helpful.  That may be the case, and I do feel that Bork deserved a seat on the Bench, but there is more than that.  (Here's an opening) As the size of the government increases, which it has consistently across adminisitrations regardless of party, that then increases the number of political appointments that the president, with the Senate, is responsible for filling. 

And, whether you like it or not, the Senate has been responsible for preventing people from taking a place on the Supreme Court under necessary circumstances, as well (Fortas and the early Nixon defeats come to mind as examples).  I recognize that the Senate should not abdicate its advice and consent role, but I do think that a reform of the process could help the president, regardless of party. 

Small tangent: I think that reform should focus primarilt on the executive branch positions.  I think the president should have more latitude as on appointments for those who will work for him than for those in a co-equal branch of government with lifetime appointments. 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #505 on: January 17, 2011, 03:05:37 PM »

"I don't think that a "he started it" is all that helpful.  That may be the case, and I do feel that Bork deserved a seat on the Bench, but there is more than that."  I get that, but part of my point is that the Reps did NOT respond in kind over RBG (as you know, she was my Consitutional Law prof) who was and is a mega-liberal-- compare the treatment of Thomas's lynching. After a while, this starts to feel like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football. cf the silence over extreme comments from the left and outrage over straight up criiticism from the right e.g. Glen Beck. 

"(Here's an opening) As the size of the government increases, which it has consistently across adminisitrations regardless of party, that then increases the number of political appointments that the president, with the Senate, is responsible for filling."   Agreed.

"And, whether you like it or not, the Senate has been responsible for preventing people from taking a place on the Supreme Court under necessary circumstances, as well (Fortas and the early Nixon defeats come to mind as examples)" As does that ridiculous hack woman that Bush43 tried appointing.

"I recognize that the Senate should not abdicate its advice and consent role, but I do think that a reform of the process could help the president, regardless of party.  Small tangent: I think that reform should focus primarilt on the executive branch positions.  I think the president should have more latitude as on appointments for those who will work for him than for those in a co-equal branch of government with lifetime appointments."

A fair distinction.  I agree.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #506 on: January 18, 2011, 01:15:35 PM »

Our congressional thread disappeared with the election.. Just a political moment ago Dems had the House and 60 seats in the senate.  For 2012 no matter how Obama does, it will be hard for Dems to either swing the House back or to not to lose more ground if not the majority in the Senate because too many Dem incumbents have to defend their seats in red states.

North Dakota recently had 2 Dem senators in a state Bush carried by 28 points.  Byron Dorgan withdrew last year and Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad opted out for 2012 today.  A Republican former governor won Dorgan's seat in Nov. with a 55 point margin.

Kay Bailey Hutchison R-Texas is also stepping out but that just gives a large red state R party more time to find their best conservative candidate, likely to be to the right of Hutchison and likely to win.

Just like the lame duck, Obama's best chance to cut any favorable deal with congress on anything including a healthcare re-write or tax or entitlement reform going forward is now, before his  reelection contest.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #507 on: January 19, 2011, 09:03:49 AM »

Doug:

At the moment I am gettng charged $30 an hour at a business center at a Las Vegas hotel angry.  Let me think over whether to start a separate thread for Congressional matters.  I fear overfragmentation and blurred lines.  How would you define the subject matter for such a thread?

Marc
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DougMacG
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« Reply #508 on: January 19, 2011, 10:53:27 AM »

Crafty, Too early I suppose but the House and Senate races in 2012 will be very interesting and just as important as the Presidential race.  How it goes into threads is your call.

The House did a total flip twice in the last 3 cycles when the reelection rate was historically 98%.  In the Senate I count 13 vulnerable Dems and 2 vulnerable Rs.  A net change of 3 would make a 50-50 tie with the deciding vote possibly going to Vice President Rubio.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #509 on: January 22, 2011, 03:04:05 PM »

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Sat, January 22, 2011 -- 3:44 PM ET
-----

Tea Party Supporter Chosen to Lead New Hampshire Republicans

Jack Kimball, a Tea Party activist who ran for governor of
New Hampshire last year, was selected on Saturday to be the
new chairman of the Republican party in the state. He
defeated Juliana Bergeron, who had the backing of John H.
Sununu, the former governor and departing party chairman.

With the state's first-in-the-nation primary just over a year
away, Mr. Kimball's victory could further strengthen the role
of Tea Party members and possibly influence how presidential
candidates approach the state in the coming months.

Traditionally, party chairmen in New Hampshire remain neutral
in presidential primaries. But Mr. Kimball said recently that
the new party chairman should let presidential candidates
know that New Hampshire Republicans want their party to "get
back to its conservative values and stay there."

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
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bigdog
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« Reply #510 on: January 24, 2011, 02:44:22 PM »

Although this is a legal opinion, I place here because of the subject matter. 

http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2011/1stDistrict/January/1110033.pdf
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G M
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« Reply #511 on: January 24, 2011, 02:48:15 PM »

Bwahahahahaha!

Bad day for the world's toughest ballerina.
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bigdog
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« Reply #512 on: January 25, 2011, 07:04:32 PM »

http://www.suntimes.com/3483600-417/emanuel-court-illinois-appellate-ballot.html


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DougMacG
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« Reply #513 on: January 25, 2011, 11:58:34 PM »

The one year residency requirement doesn't seem to be in any dispute and everyone knows he moved to Washington DC to work for the President. How does Rahm have a leg to stand on? He leased a place to live in DC and he leased out his Illinois home to someone else for the same period.  A lease transfers possession.  It means his drivers license was wrong. He didn't have a legal right to live in the address where he said he lived. He transferred that right away - sold it - because he made plans to live somewhere else, not in Illinois.  He can't move back into what he alleged was his residence, even now. He had to rent somewhere else, which is fine except he hasn't been at the new place a year as of election day, or anywhere else in IL, like the law requires. I'm missing something? It's strange to me that there is a controversy.
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JDN
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« Reply #514 on: January 26, 2011, 08:52:23 AM »

I understand your point, but he kept roots in Chicago and moved to D.C. to serve is country (his politics are irrelevant) for a short time.  His intention at all times was to return to Chicago.
An elected official is exempt.  But because the law does not directly address the issue of a candidate they are not; I'm not sure this is fair.
One should not be penalized for serving their country.

To that end, the candidate argues that, regardless of whether
he meets the candidate eligibility requirements of subsection 3.1-
10-5(a) of the Municipal Code, he nonetheless may be qualified as
a candidate by virtue of section 3-2 of the Election Code, which
provides as follows:
"(a) A permanent abode is necessary to constitute a
residence within the meaning of Section 3-1. No elector or
spouse shall be deemed to have lost his or her residence in
any precinct or election district in this State by reason of
his or her absence on business of the United States, or of
this State." 10 ILCS 5/3-2 (West 2008).
According to the candidate, he falls within this exception
because his absence from Chicago was attributable to his service as
the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. We agree
with the candidate that his service constituted "business of the
United States" and thus that this exception applies to him. We
disagree, however, with his position that the exception saves his
candidacy. In our view, the exception embodied by section 3-2 of
the Election Code applies only to voter residency requirements, not
No. 1-11-003322 to candidate residency requirements.

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ccp
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« Reply #515 on: January 26, 2011, 10:22:56 AM »

I would not call his position as chief of staff to the WH as  "service of the United States".

He was in service to the Obama Adminsitration.

He was not drafted into service, it was not an elected position, it was a purely political appointment to a government job.  It was totally voluntary on his part and it required he relocate to Wash. DC. huh

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JDN
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« Reply #516 on: January 26, 2011, 10:37:06 AM »

Hmmm forgetting about his politics for a moment, this applies to either party, I don't think anyone truly doesn't think the position of "chief of staff" isn't serving one's country.  Even the Court did not
question this matter.  Just like the Secretary of Defense is serving our country.  Or the Secretary of State.  (I am acquainted with Warren Christopher; I assure you he took a huge pay cut to become Secretary of State; he called it a "duty to serve his country")  Or individuals in our military, they too serve our country, yet they weren't drafted, they volunteered to serve in Iraq or elsewhere; but I do think if they came from Chicago, and intended to return to Chicago, and then returned to Chicago, they should have the right to run for office in Chicago in the next election upon their honorable discharge.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #517 on: January 26, 2011, 10:51:42 AM »

Emanuel is a man I hold in low regard, but JDN's point about service seems fair to me.

That said, I am not sure we are tracking well this point about statutory interpretation:

"We agree with the candidate that his service constituted "business of the
United States" and thus that this exception applies to him. We
disagree, however, with his position that the exception saves his
candidacy. In our view, the exception embodied by section 3-2 of
the Election Code applies only to voter residency requirements, not
No. 1-11-003322 to candidate residency requirements."

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DougMacG
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« Reply #518 on: January 26, 2011, 11:20:46 AM »

My download of the appellate decision was partial, so I meant that literally, 'what am I missing'.  The exceptions were what I was missing, thank you, but he doesn't seem to fall exactly in them.  We will see.  The long term lease-out of his Chicago home was IMO the deal killer.  Otherwise he is arguably a Chicago resident away on business for the country, maintaining residency, even if he was seldom if ever able to come home. It makes his DL and his residency a fraud.  We all know Chief of Staff is of high importance, I sure he argued strongly for the Chicago Olympic bid for example, but it is not elected office or military service.  Typist for the Chief of Staff is important work too; let's not judge the value of his work, just note that he chose to take work and residence in Washington when he needed to be in Chicago if he wanted this job with a one year candidate residency requirement.  I wouldn't want to be the political adviser who told him this would be no problem.
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JDN
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« Reply #519 on: January 27, 2011, 08:34:10 PM »

Whether Emanuel is held in low regard or high regard, he was absent from Chicago serving his country.    And clearly he is not a carpetbagger having lived and represented Chicago.
Frankly, I was surprised that there was even an issue.  No longer. 

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met residency requirements and that his name will stay on the mayoral ballot in Chicago.


http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/01/27/emanuel.ballot/index.html?hpt=T2
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DougMacG
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« Reply #520 on: January 28, 2011, 12:30:35 PM »

Is a typist at 40k for a backroom federal office also serving their country or are they working a job.  If you leave to work in the private sector or a private charity are you serving our country?  Depends on who owns our language.  sad
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ccp
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« Reply #521 on: January 28, 2011, 01:47:04 PM »

Judge Napolitano last night stated the law is clear that he was not a resident for the time period involved.  Based on a literal interprestation of the law it is an open and shut case.
He added two other comments:

Illionios is Democrat and they tend to interpret law based on the politics (although we know this happens everywhere frequently)
and
it is best for the voters to decide who they want for mayor [so he would not make a "federal case out of the matter].

Doug writes,
"Is a typist at 40k for a backroom federal office also serving their country or are they working a job."

I would add the question was Emmanuel serving his country or himself?  Serving as WH chief of staff has to be one of the ultimate career moves.  I find calling it "serving one's country" as the partisan protector of the number one politician not in the same league as someone who "serves" in the military. Particularly one who volunteers though I gues one could even argue that volunteering for the military service is a form of career move (though I would not).

From Dick Morris who I quote often here:

***Dear Friend,

Have we learned our lesson? Do we now know to nip aspiring, radical, charismatic Chicago politicians in the bud? We missed our chance once. Now a second chance is coming around again.

Rahm Emanuel – the most ruthless, aggressive, ambitious, radical, take-no-prisoners politician in America – is running for Mayor of Chicago. The bottom rung of his ladder. From there, it’s the Senate and then the White House. This time as the boss.

Let’s knock him off the bottom rung before he rises further. Stop him before his political career metastases.

His style? Do anything, attack anybody, adopt any pose to get elected. Sound like his mentor in the White House?

So now we have a chance to intervene and stop Rahm.

I know you probably don’t live in Chicago. But we all live in the United States and, make no mistake, the presidency is Rahm’s goal.

There is an alternative. Gery Chico, former Chief of Staff to Mayor Richard Daley, is Rahm’s chief competitor. (Not counting former Senator Carol Mosley-Brown who conveniently forgot to pay her taxes last year). Chico is not ideal. He’s no tea party activist. But he is honest. And he’s to the right of Rahm. And he’s running second.

Our goal? Force Rahm into a runoff against Chico. And Chico can win. And we will all be saved from Obama II in the form of Rahm Emanuel.

Please give to our PAC to stop Rahm. Go to www.Rahmstoppers.com and donate! You will find it a whole lot cheaper and easier to stop him now that you will in the future.

We let Obama climb the ladder. We learned our lesson. Now let’s stop Rahm.

To help stop Rahm – Click Here!

Thanks,

Dick Morris****

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DougMacG
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« Reply #522 on: January 28, 2011, 06:01:03 PM »

How could they have contemplated appointed officials when they last reviewed their ordinance that clearly specifies elected officials and military.  There was probably an R. administration back then.

Personally I like to see liberals have to go back to a real jurisdiction and balance a budget.

Isn't our nation's formerly second largest city by definition a lobbyist of the federal government.  Wasn't there an administration rule (written by Emmanuel) banning administration officials from leaving to take a position lobbying back to the same government for money, subsidies and favorable legislation?
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DougMacG
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« Reply #523 on: February 01, 2011, 12:58:21 PM »

Many implications here, first is that right now Republican have a minority in the Senate, but they should have 15 reasonable sympathetic Dems up for reelection in red states to work with either to govern now or to isolate Obama to the left of the nation coming into his potential reelection.  Obama is another Dem who needs to carry a good number of 'red states' to win.
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"the contrast between the audience at Obama's first State of the Union last year and the audience this year is remarkable. Then there were 316 Democrats and 218 Republicans in Congress. This year there are 289 Republicans and 246 Democrats. No president has seen such a large change in the partisan composition of his State of the Union audience since Harry Truman."

January 31, 2011
Politics by the Numbers: Good Omens for the GOP in 2012
By Michael Barone

Numbers can tell a story. Looking back on Barack Obama's second State of the Union message, and looking forward to the congressional session and the 2012 elections, they tell a story that should leave Democrats uneasy.

Start off with the audience in the House chamber. Not all members of Congress attended; Obama briefly and Paul Ryan at greater length in his otherwise brief rebuttal both appropriately noted the absence of Gabrielle Giffords.

But the contrast between the audience at Obama's first State of the Union last year and the audience this year is remarkable. Then there were 316 Democrats and 218 Republicans in Congress. This year there are 289 Republicans and 246 Democrats. No president has seen such a large change in the partisan composition of his State of the Union audience since Harry Truman.

That obviously will have legislative consequences. Obama told Republicans to give up on all but the most minor changes to Obamacare. They're not going to follow this advice.

As for spending, Obama reiterated his call for a limited freeze on domestic discretionary spending and cuts in defense. Again, as Ryan made clear, this Congress has different ideas.

The political incentive for Obama is to sound consensual, not confrontational. The current uptick in his job approval, putting him just over 50 percent, began when he agreed with Republicans to continue current income tax rates rather than raise taxes on high earners.

But on Tuesday night, he continued to call for higher taxes on the greedy rich in a time of sluggish economic recovery. Not as consensual as one might expect.

House Democrats, almost all elected from safe districts, won't mind that. But they're not going to have much to say about legislative outcomes. House Republicans will take it as a poke in the eye and perhaps as an attempt to renege on a deal. Not helpful in reaching other agreements.

In the Senate, where Democrats have a 53-47 majority, but not iron control, the situation is different. In the 2012 cycle, 23 Democrats come up for re-election and only 10 Republicans. You can get a good idea of their political incentives by looking at the 2010 popular vote for the House in their states. Since the mid-1990s, when partisan percentages in presidential and House elections converged, the popular vote for the House has been a pretty good gauge of partisan balance.

Of the 10 Republican senators up for re-election, only two represent states where Democrats won the House vote -- Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. They're both well ahead in local polls.

For the 23 Democrats up for re-election, the picture is different. Eight represent states where the House vote was 53 percent to 65 percent Democratic and where Barack Obama got more than 60 percent in 2008. Count them all as safe.

But 12 represent states where Republicans got a majority of the House vote in 2010. These include big states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Virginia, and states like Montana and Nebraska, where Republican House candidates topped 60 percent. Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin round out the list.

In another three states -- New Mexico, Washington, Minnesota -- Republicans won between 46 percent and 48 percent of the House popular vote. These were solid Obama states in 2008. They don't look like solid Democratic states now.

The point is that Democratic senators from all or most of these 15 states have a political incentive to reach agreements with Republicans that go a lot further than Obama did at the State of the Union.

Finally, what about the portents for the 2012 presidential race? Well, start off with the fact that Democrats won the House popular vote in only two of the 17 states that do not have Senate elections next cycle. The other 15 went Republican.

Overall, Democrats carried the popular vote for the House in 15 states with 182 electoral votes in 2012; add three more for the District of Columbia. Democrats were within 5 percent of Republicans in House elections in five more states with 52 electoral votes.

That gets Democrats up to 237 electoral votes, 33 votes shy of the 270-vote majority and 128 short of the 365 electoral votes Obama won in 2008.
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G M
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« Reply #524 on: February 02, 2011, 08:35:04 AM »

A headline from the future with President Obama: "The Sunni-Shia Nuclear Arms Race Escalates".

I wonder how much gas will be then....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-saudis-iran

America is not short of allies in its quest to thwart Iran, though some are clearly more enthusiastic than the Obama administration for a definitive solution to Iran's nuclear designs. In one cable, a US diplomat noted how Saudi foreign affairs bureaucrats were moderate in their views on Iran, "but diverge significantly from the more bellicose advice we have gotten from senior Saudi royals".

In a conversation with a US diplomat, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain "argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their [Iran's] nuclear programme, by whatever means necessary. That programme must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it." Zeid Rifai, then president of the Jordanian senate, told a senior US official: "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."

In talks with US officials, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed favoured action against Iran, sooner rather than later. "I believe this guy is going to take us to war ... It's a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. He is young and aggressive."

In another exchange , a senior Saudi official warned that Gulf states may develop nuclear weapons of their own, or permit them to be based in their countries to deter the perceived Iranian threat.

No US ally is keener on military action than Israel, and officials there have repeatedly warned that time is running out. "If the Iranians continue to protect and harden their nuclear sites, it will be more difficult to target and damage them," the US embassy reported Israeli defence officials as saying in November 2009.

There are differing views within Israel. But the US embassy reported: "The IDF [Israeli Defence Force], however, strikes us as more inclined than ever to look toward a military strike, whether launched by Israel or by us, as the only way to destroy or even delay Iran's plans." Preparations for a strike would likely go undetected by Israel's allies or its enemies.

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told US officials in May last yearthat he and the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, agreed that a nuclear Iran would lead others in the region to develop nuclear weapons, resulting in "the biggest threat to non-proliferation efforts since the Cuban missile crisis".


The cables also expose frank, even rude, remarks about Iranian leaders, their trustworthiness and tactics at international meetings. Abdullah told another US diplomat: "The bottom line is that they cannot be trusted." Mubarak told a US congressman: "Iran is always stirring trouble." Others are learning from what they describe as Iranian deception. "They lie to us, and we lie to them," said Qatar's prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim Jaber al-Thani.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8298427/WikiLeaks-tension-in-the-Middle-East-and-Asia-has-direct-potential-to-lead-to-nuclear-war.html

WikiLeaks: tension in the Middle East and Asia has 'direct potential' to lead to nuclear war
Tension in the Middle East and Asia has given rise to an escalating atomic arms and missiles race which has “the direct potential to lead to nuclear war,” leaked diplomatic documents disclose.
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bigdog
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« Reply #525 on: February 05, 2011, 02:54:55 PM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/02/AR2011020204773.html
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DougMacG
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« Reply #526 on: February 05, 2011, 11:50:31 PM »

Interesting story BD.  I was struck by a few things, he spoke to a nearly empty chamber - I guess they aren't required to hear each other ramble on.  Milbank had a pretty funny line that Henry Clay was already eulogized - in 1852, and of course the date of this story - Feb. 2 - perhaps a bit early to know what kind of compromiser Rand Paul will be.  In an example of lousy reporting, the inference is made that Rand's obsession is lower taxes, but there isn't any proposal for that on the table or any word uttered yet that I know of.  Far as I know he is committed to cutting spending first and isn't afraid to cut everything.

Rand Paul was the '1 in a 96-1 vote to ban aiming pointing devices at airplanes (Different story: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2011/02/rand-paul-lone-dissenter-in-la.html).  'Paul told reporters after Thursday's vote that he believed the laser-pointer issue was one best handled by the states, not the federal government.'

Like Michele Bachmann and others, Rand Paul will be a mixed blessing for conservatives.  I like that he will be questioning whether things are appropriately a federal issue rather than just vote on what sounds good.

Cutting aid to Israel didn't need to be the first order of business with the turmoil in Egypt, but off he goes on that.  He probably never will vote to raise the debt limit, but they don't need 100 votes to do business.  I wonder if Milbank has done any stories on the compromises of Dick Durbin or Barbara Mikulsky...  Sen. Obama, another non-compromiser, voted against raising the debt limit, against the surge, and against all Presidential picks to the Supreme Court, even against Roberts who won 78 votes in the Senate.  It didn't seem to hurt his career.

I watched a full debate in that KY Senate race.  Rand faced a very moderate, reasonable, articulate opponent.  All Conway had to do to win IMO was say he would organize with the other side, not with Pelosi-Reid-Obama who are not exactly political mainstream in KY.  Conway could have passed for a moderate Republican, but I assume he was beholden to the people who got him there.

The political center of the Senate I think is where the action will be, if there is any, including the list of Dem Senators facing reelection in not very blue states.
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bigdog
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« Reply #527 on: February 06, 2011, 05:09:24 AM »

"Sen. Obama, another non-compromiser, voted against raising the debt limit, against the surge, and against all Presidential picks to the Supreme Court, even against Roberts who won 78 votes in the Senate.  It didn't seem to hurt his career."

On the other hand, I don't recall Senator Obama, or Durbin, for that matter, calling out Lincoln (my best guess as to who would be Illinois' most influential statesman like Kentucky's Henry Clay).  

"Rand Paul was the '1 in a 96-1 vote to ban aiming pointing devices at airplanes (Different story: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2011/02/rand-paul-lone-dissenter-in-la.html).  'Paul told reporters after Thursday's vote that he believed the laser-pointer issue was one best handled by the states, not the federal government.'"

This stance is just plain silly.  Interstate commerce clause?  Airline traffic certainly pertains.  FAA?  I have no problem with him, or anyone for that matter, questioning national government involvement in regulation.  But he should pick his fights with more care.  



« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 07:35:41 AM by bigdog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #528 on: February 06, 2011, 09:17:31 AM »


"This stance is just plain silly.  Interstate commerce clause?  Airline traffic certainly pertains.  FAA?  I have no problem with him, or anyone for that matter, questioning national government involvement in regulation.  But he should pick his fights with more care. "

Yup. If there is anything today that is clearly interstate commerce, aircraft would fall into that definition.
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bigdog
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« Reply #529 on: February 06, 2011, 10:34:46 AM »


"This stance is just plain silly.  Interstate commerce clause?  Airline traffic certainly pertains.  FAA?  I have no problem with him, or anyone for that matter, questioning national government involvement in regulation.  But he should pick his fights with more care. "

Yup. If there is anything today that is clearly interstate commerce, aircraft would fall into that definition.

Holy $hi+!  Did we just agree on something GM???!!! cool cool cool grin
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DougMacG
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« Reply #530 on: February 06, 2011, 11:21:25 AM »

Very funny! I also agree, those planes often cross state lines - with commerce! 

Not to rain on this lovefest, but there is a difference between being uncompromising on principles and just being wrong.  Compromise with an over-regulated economy would have been for the proponents of the new regulation to repeal one or more bad laws with it, then see what - Rand Paul - would do.

Of the new Senators, I am more interested in what Marco Rubio will do.  On this issue he turned into quite a centrist compromiser.  smiley
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G M
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« Reply #531 on: February 06, 2011, 11:25:43 AM »

Indeed, BD.

Doug,

It's important to focus like a laser beam on the really stupid overreaches by the federal gov't. Things that the average person would look at and agree with.

Like this: http://hotair.com/archives/2011/02/05/epa-to-regulate-dairy-milk-spills-as-per-oil-spills/
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DougMacG
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« Reply #532 on: February 06, 2011, 02:45:43 PM »

GM,  I did see that story (milk spill legislation) in the WSJ.  Much as I would like to avoid sarcasm in political commentary, how else can a sane person react and keep going.  Who knew that milk spills were crossing state lines like jet powered aircrafts and can you imagine the chaos and confusion we would have in this country if we had 50 different sets of milk spill standards.  What if those poorly educated southern (red) states had NO standards at all on milk spills?? (Do you think Glen Beck could be behind these spills?)

Tell me how that will cut 5 points off the unemployment rate or bring a better democracy to Bangladesh and I will be all over it.

I will regret writing this but while I floundered with no success to bring an awareness on the board to my perceived unfairness of killing off 40+ million or so partially developed human unborns in this civilized country over the years, 98% for convenience reasons, one articulate denier/opposer  of that unfairness posted elsewhere about the unfairness and discomfort of chickens cooped up in undersized chicken coops (true, no doubt).  I do not claim an understanding of other people's priorities.
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bigdog
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« Reply #533 on: February 07, 2011, 05:54:13 AM »



I thought that both President Obama and Bill O'Reilly did a great job. 
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DougMacG
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« Reply #534 on: February 07, 2011, 10:37:05 AM »

That was probably Obama's best interview I've seen, mostly honest and mostly persuasive (exceptions noted).  Without taking cable I don't see O'Reilly much.  Measured by ratings he is probably the best in the business.  Jim Lehrer was the best in my estimation but also haven't watched him in a long time.  O'Reilly is actually very similar except Lehrer never lets you know his own view. The mostly positive interview makes the 2 year boycott of Fox look rather childish. Also the questions about hatred of the President, which he handled very well, makes one question the way Obama harnessed, exploited and exacerbated hatred of Bush to get where he is.

A few dishonest moments:

(Q: Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth?) "Absolutely." "Bill, I didn't raise taxes once.  I lowered taxes over the last 2 years"

What a crock of an answer to the question muddled with a deceptive, true statement.  Because he was backed into a tax rate continuation agreement, he is "absolutely" not a man who wants to redistribute wealth??  In the State of the Union (that was what - 2 weeks ago??), he had fighting words about continuing his quest to get the people who now pay by far the most to pay far more. "The top 2%".  Did he think no viewer on this Sunday saw his State of the Union, or in the campaign, or will see him next time when he calls for that again? And he will! Or that we can't put 2 and 2 together??  Very telling about anyone's ability to look you in the eye and lie to your face about a crucial point in governing philosophy that is easily proven false by looking backward or forward in time - at his own words.
...

"What we said was, if you've got healthcare that you like, you keep it."

My God, has he been under a rock the last year while plans that people like, like mine, have been disappearing?  Yes, that is what they've been saying -  and it is patently false.
...

President Obama knows his football and he knows the WSJ Editorial Page but if he knew Paul Gigot (the editor) was from Green Bay maybe would have taken sides on the game.
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G M
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« Reply #535 on: February 07, 2011, 11:13:01 AM »

A narcissistic, overrated bag of hot air. Obama was there as well.
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G M
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« Reply #536 on: February 08, 2011, 02:03:43 PM »

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2011/02/fact-checking.html

Fact-Checking President Obama's Claim: 'I Didn't Raise Taxes Once'
From Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Obama:

    O'REILLY: Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth.

    OBAMA: Absolutely.

    O'REILLY: You deny that?

    OBAMA: Absolutely. I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years.I lowered taxes for the last two years.”

**Read it all.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #537 on: February 08, 2011, 04:15:19 PM »

A few of us have been pointing this out here, but it bears repeating in the face of our President's economic ignorance.

From Nov. 2006 on, the economy faced the promise of increased tax rates on new investment.  Returns follow investment years later so the tax rate facing investment decisions (build a plant, hire people etc) is the future rate, not the present one.  As the Obama Presidency became a reality to join the Pelosi-Reid majorities in congress and pass the tax rate hikes they promised, that impending increase played a big role in the asset and investment selloff of 2008 that tanked this economy.  In order to sell for value, sellers had to get ahead of those increases and ahead of the other sellers and acceleration (if not panic) set in. The selloff, collapse in value and doubling of unemployment delayed the tax hikes for 2 years and the shift back of congress created even more uncertainty with no settlement reached until the final hour temporary deal was struck with the outgoing congress.  That temporary deal means two more years of uncertainty continuing to put the brakes on new investment.  Obama's point is that the rates never went up, but his continuing promise to  raise them does the same economic damage or worse adding in the uncertainty.

The fact check articles list 2 dozen tax hikes under Obama from the healthcare bill, but the real ws damage done by this mismanaged sequence of events, and was largely unreported.  

Government revenues got the worst of both worlds: income lowered by the (impending) increases, but taxed only at the old, lower rate, leaving us trillions short, compounding the uncertainty of the policies going forward.

Uncertainty and unpredictability is what makes third world countries poor.  We gave it a try, suffered badly and learned nothing from it.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 05:38:15 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #538 on: February 09, 2011, 07:35:04 AM »

FWIW I've always regarded O'Reilly as a bit of a mediocrity.  I grant the intimidating nature of interviewing an American President and I respected the way Bill opened the interview with praise for the State Dept's action on behalf of FOX's attacked reporters in Egypt.

Where Bill came up profoundly short though was in failing to directly question/disupte Obama on taxes and redistribution.

I agree with BD that BO came across well (partially enabled by O'Reilly's failure to challenge him on two whopping lies).  It appears that BO has gotten something out of his reads about President Reagan-- at least the parts about his personality.  Indeed IMHO the ultimate reason that BO beat McCain was that BO spoke in positives.  He is going to be a much more formidable opponent in 2012 for it.  If the Reps are not both shrewd and careful while being aggressive, they are going to get outplayed.
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bigdog
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« Reply #539 on: February 09, 2011, 07:51:51 AM »

If the Reps are not both shrewd and careful while being aggressive, they are going to get outplayed.

Yep.  And the Republicans also need to hope that in the primary season they don't do the political equivilant of eating their young.  The winner of the nomination might have too much dirt associated with him (or her) to beat President Obama. 
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G M
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« Reply #540 on: February 09, 2011, 11:54:34 AM »

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/02/obama-deficit-approval-way-down-.html

Just as things looked brighter for Obama, Americans' approval of his deficit handling craters

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bigdog
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« Reply #541 on: February 09, 2011, 01:53:57 PM »

This is just political drivel by POTB.  Can't trust anything coming from this source.   grin

That comment out the way, my statement above is true, but not necessarily due to politics.  It has to do with the author's inability (or lack of willingness?) to read the Gallup Poll.  As with any good poll, the Gallup provides information with the results it publishes.  In this case, if one is willing to read the "fine print" one learns that "For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points."  In other words, according to the poll, statistically speaking there has been no change (68-4= 64, the results of the previous polls). 

This information is something that college students are aware by the end of introductory course on political science and/or statistics.  Shame on the author. 

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G M
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« Reply #542 on: February 09, 2011, 02:02:24 PM »

Are you saying that the MSM might have an agenda, BD?   wink

Is a "dead cat bounce" a better descriptor rather than "crater"?

http://www.gallup.com/poll/146021/Obama-Approval-Rating-Deficit-Sinks-New-Low.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=Politics%20-%20Presidential%20Job%20Approval
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bigdog
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« Reply #543 on: February 09, 2011, 08:49:31 PM »

Are you saying that the MSM might have an agenda, BD?   wink

I've never said otherwise, 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #544 on: February 18, 2011, 02:28:50 PM »

Washington and Lincoln—those birthday boys—ought to be smiling.

The 112th House of Representatives spent the week debating how to fund the rest of fiscal 2011. In sharp contrast to his recent predecessors, Speaker John Boehner is sticking to his vow to make the chamber more open and accountable. His committee chairmen having presented a base spending bill, Mr. Boehner threw open the floor for full discussion. Some 600 amendments came pouring in.

"Chaos," "a headache," "turmoil," "craziness," "confused," "wild," "uncontrolled" are just a few of the words the Washington press corps has used to describe the ensuing late-night debates. There's a far better word for what happened: democracy. It has been eons since the nation's elected representatives have had to study harder, debate with such earnestness, or commit themselves so publicly. Yes, it is messy. Yes, it is unpredictable. But as this Presidents Day approaches, it's a fabulous thing to behold.

And about time. The Democrats' style of management—on ObamaCare, cap and trade, financial regulation, stimulus—was to secretly craft bills and ram through a vote, denying members a chance to read, to debate, to amend. They learned this from former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who infamously micro- managed his GOP majority from 2003-2005. The House had become a place where the leadership called all the shots and the majority saluted.

But this week the country witnessed the House coming together to argue over and exercise its foremost responsibility: power over the purse. And from the look of the amendments, both sides were eager to use that funding authority to put the Obama policy machine on notice.

There were amendments to prohibit funds for the mortgage-modification program (Darrell Issa, R., Calif.), for wasteful broadband grants (Jim Matheson, D., Utah), for further TSA full-body scanning machines (Rush Holt, D., N.J.), for the salaries of State Department envoys tasked with shutting Guantanamo Bay (Tim Huelskamp, R., Kan.). And amendments designed to cut off funding for IRS agents enforcing ObamaCare.

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski
 .Americans got to see what happens when members of Congress exercise their collective knowledge of the federal government. Mr. Issa put forward amendments to prohibit the National Institutes of Health from spending money studying the impact of yoga on hot flashes in menopausal women. Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum offered to strike funding for the Department of Defense to sponsor Nascar race cars. Indiana Republican Todd Rokita proposed getting rid of money provided for dissertation research under a 1970 Housing Act.

Neglected questions were once again asked. Should we get rid of federal funding for the arts? Should the government be designating federal monuments? What's the role of NASA? And Congress finally got to air some dirty secrets.

One of this week's more symbolically rich cuts came from Arizona's Republican Jeff Flake, who won an amendment erasing $34 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pa. The center, despite serving no real purpose, had been protected for decades, via earmarks, by the late Defense appropriations chair John Murtha.

The nation witnessed Democrats—the members not in the majority—offer their own amendments, a courtesy Speaker Nancy Pelosi never extended. In the main, that meant seeing that nothing much has changed on that side of the aisle. Most Democratic amendments were to restore funds for even the most minor GOP cuts. Texas's Sheila Jackson Lee even went to the mat to continue funding for those road signs bragging about the stimulus.

Remarkably, voters saw Republicans disagree vehemently with each other. Just as remarkably, the world did not stop spinning. To the contrary, these arguments helped flesh out differences and proved it is possible for gentlemen to have honest disagreements. Nowhere was this more clear than in this week's vote to defund a second (duplicative) engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The engine is being developed in a town near Mr. Boehner's Ohio district, and the speaker is a supporter. Yet 100 Republicans joined 123 Democrats (and Defense Secretary Robert Gates) to oppose the second engine and save taxpayers $450 million this year and $3 billion in the long-run.

Mr. Boehner didn't have to allow that vote. Mrs. Pelosi wouldn't have. But in opening the House, Mr. Boehner has done far more than put reform above his own priorities. This week's exercise forced members to read the underlying spending bill; to understand the implications of hundreds of amendments; to remain on the floor for debate; and to go on record with votes for which voters will hold them accountable.

Some of these amendments are duplicates. Some weren't heard. Some failed. Even those that pass now must survive the Senate. But what isn't in doubt is that Congress, this week, earned its pay. Long may that last.

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G M
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« Reply #545 on: February 19, 2011, 02:11:33 PM »

A headline from the future with President Obama: "The Sunni-Shia Nuclear Arms Race Escalates".

I wonder how much gas will be then....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-saudis-iran

America is not short of allies in its quest to thwart Iran, though some are clearly more enthusiastic than the Obama administration for a definitive solution to Iran's nuclear designs. In one cable, a US diplomat noted how Saudi foreign affairs bureaucrats were moderate in their views on Iran, "but diverge significantly from the more bellicose advice we have gotten from senior Saudi royals".

In a conversation with a US diplomat, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain "argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their [Iran's] nuclear programme, by whatever means necessary. That programme must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it." Zeid Rifai, then president of the Jordanian senate, told a senior US official: "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."

In talks with US officials, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed favoured action against Iran, sooner rather than later. "I believe this guy is going to take us to war ... It's a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. He is young and aggressive."

In another exchange , a senior Saudi official warned that Gulf states may develop nuclear weapons of their own, or permit them to be based in their countries to deter the perceived Iranian threat.

No US ally is keener on military action than Israel, and officials there have repeatedly warned that time is running out. "If the Iranians continue to protect and harden their nuclear sites, it will be more difficult to target and damage them," the US embassy reported Israeli defence officials as saying in November 2009.

There are differing views within Israel. But the US embassy reported: "The IDF [Israeli Defence Force], however, strikes us as more inclined than ever to look toward a military strike, whether launched by Israel or by us, as the only way to destroy or even delay Iran's plans." Preparations for a strike would likely go undetected by Israel's allies or its enemies.

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told US officials in May last yearthat he and the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, agreed that a nuclear Iran would lead others in the region to develop nuclear weapons, resulting in "the biggest threat to non-proliferation efforts since the Cuban missile crisis".


The cables also expose frank, even rude, remarks about Iranian leaders, their trustworthiness and tactics at international meetings. Abdullah told another US diplomat: "The bottom line is that they cannot be trusted." Mubarak told a US congressman: "Iran is always stirring trouble." Others are learning from what they describe as Iranian deception. "They lie to us, and we lie to them," said Qatar's prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim Jaber al-Thani.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8298427/WikiLeaks-tension-in-the-Middle-East-and-Asia-has-direct-potential-to-lead-to-nuclear-war.html

WikiLeaks: tension in the Middle East and Asia has 'direct potential' to lead to nuclear war
Tension in the Middle East and Asia has given rise to an escalating atomic arms and missiles race which has “the direct potential to lead to nuclear war,” leaked diplomatic documents disclose.


http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2011/02/if-iran-become-nuclear-weapons.html

If Iran becomes a nuclear weapons state, would U.S. offer deterrence for Middle East allies?

If Iran is successful in developing a nuclear weapons capability, would the United States be willing to extend its umbrella of nuclear deterrence to protect allies in the Middle East?

That is a question the United States needs to start evaluating, according to Franklin C. Miller, a principal with the Scowcroft Group and a former member of President George W. Bush's National Security Council and special assistant to the president.

"I certainly believe people need to be thinking about that," Miller said today during a speech on the second day of the Nuclear Deterrence Summit being held just outside Washington in Crystal City, Va. The summit is hosted by Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor, part of ExchangeMonitor Publications.

Even though official government policy at this time is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state, Miller said it's important to start looking at whether the U.S. would want to offer a nuclear shield to that region and, if so, what steps would be needed to accomplish it.

There is a long history of U.S. providing nuclear deterrence in Europe, where weapons are deployed in multiple countries, and Asia, where the United States considered the use of nuclear weapons during the Korean War. There is no history, however, of providing a nuclear umbrella in the Middle East.

Would Congress and the American people be willing to put the homeland at risk to protect a Middle Eastern state? And, if Iran does develop nuclear weaponry, would its neighbors in the region be sufficiently assured by the U.S. offer of deterrence that they would give up their own nuclear option?

Miller's presentation created a buzz at the summit, which has attracted some of the leading voices in the nuclear weapons community.

One audience member quizzed Miller about why he thought it was necessary to raise the specter of using nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

"If you're comfortable having four or five new nuclear states in the Middle East, then that's fine. I'm not comfortable with that," Miller said.

Another audience member asked whether he thought Israel, which has a well known but undeclared nuclear capability, would accept an offer of protection under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

"No," Miller responded bluntly.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #546 on: February 19, 2011, 03:57:11 PM »

The Nuclear War or the Mid-East War, Peace, and SNAFU threads would be a better place for this.
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G M
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« Reply #547 on: February 19, 2011, 04:07:48 PM »

The original post from June 6, 2008 was in this thread.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #548 on: February 19, 2011, 04:34:28 PM »

Ah.
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G M
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« Reply #549 on: February 19, 2011, 04:39:29 PM »

Quote from: G M on June 06, 2008, 01:59:30 PM
A headline from the future with President Obama: "The Sunni-Shia Nuclear Arms Race Escalates".

I wonder how much gas will be then....
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