Archive for February 5th, 2009

Congressional Republicans Speak Out Against Unlawful Expansions Of Presidential Power For Political Gain!

Better late than never, right?

House Republicans are incensed about the prospect of the Census Bureau director reporting directly to the White House.

A senior White House official said the Obama administration intends to circumvent Commerce Secretary nominee Judd Gregg to assuage black and Hispanic leaders who had raised concerns about the New Hampshire Republican’s commitment to core functions of the department.

But that plan has produced hot-under-the-collar reactions from two leading Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. They see it as an effort by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to seize power over the politically delicate issue of counting Americans.

“Any attempt by the Obama administration to circumvent the census process for their political benefit will be met with fierce opposition as this ill-conceived proposal undermines a constitutionally obligated process that speaks to the very heart of our democracy,” said California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the committee.

Issa and North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the subcommittee that oversees census issues, sent a letter to President Obama detailing their concern that such a move might circumvent existing law and be used for partisan gain.

“Requiring the census director to report directly to the White House and placing responsibility for administration of the Bureau outside the Department of Commerce may even violate federal law,” they wrote. “According to Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Bureau is to be administered ‘within, and under the jurisdiction of, the Department of Commerce.’ According to U.S. Code, the Executive Branch is limited to providing support for the Bureau in the form of information and resources.”

(…)

“The constitutionally mandated decennial census needs to be fair, accurate and trusted. By circumventing the secretary of Commerce’s oversight of the Census Bureau and handing it directly to a political operative such as Mr. Emanuel, you are severely jeopardizing the fairness and accuracy of the 2010 census,” Issa and McHenry wrote.

Raise your hand if you didn’t see something like this coming a mile away.  The only element of it that I didn’t expect is the fact that they’re protesting a power Obama is trying to add, rather than the exercise of one he inherited.  Which makes it kind of a political gift from Obama.  On the other hand, we wouldn’t really want a Republican administering the census either.  Gee, maybe someone should have thought of this before Obama nominated yet another Republican.

February 5th, 2009 at 10:43pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Blue Dogs Bite Blue Men

Well, it’s come down to this – even Blue Men are getting laid off:

It’s a tough time to be a Blue Man.

Word has trickled out about significant layoffs in recent weeks at the long-running show, which has played the Briar Street Theatre in Chicago for more than a decade and also has outposts in Boston, Las Vegas and New York.

At its peak, the Chicago operation employed as many as eight blue men. Although the show uses only three at once, it offers a seasonally adjusted schedule of shows that have included as many as three shows a day.

Not right now. After the layoffs, the Chicago Blue Men are down to three full-time drummers, provocateurs and marshmallow munchers, plus a couple of part-time guys who fill in as needed. And while the schedule has always changed according to the time of year, the February slate looks much thinner than usual. The late-night show appears to have been nixed on several winter Fridays.

But do conservative Democrats care about the plight of the Blue Man?  Noooo.

The leadership of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative Democrats concerned about the federal deficit, sent an open letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Thursday complaining about the size of the House bill and supporting a Senate effort to toss out much of the spending.

“We believe that’s a highly worthwhile goal, and that there are additional provisions that would be better left for consideration in regular order,” said the letter, signed by Blue Dog leader Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) and the rest of the Blue Dog leadership.

Eleven Democrats voted against the stimulus package in the House, most of them Blue Dogs from conservative districts bothered by the spending. The letter said that many others voted for it because they expected it to be trimmed back in the Senate or in the conference committee that will hammer out the final package.

(…)

Congressional leaders had hoped to send the package to Obama before the Presidents Day holiday weekend, a deadline that appears increasingly unlikely in the face of growing opposition.

Thanks, Blue Dogs.  I hope you’re happy when all the remaining Blue Men collapse from exhaustion.

February 5th, 2009 at 08:25pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Obama,Politics,Wankers

Obama Makes A Mockery Of His Own Ethics Rule… And Progressivism

The wankery, it burns!

The leading candidate to head the Justice Department office that oversees legal policy and judicial nominations recently has been a lobbyist for several business clients, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and would require a waiver from the Obama administration’s recently imposed ethics rules.

(…)

The likely nominee to head Justice’s Office of Legal Policy, Mark Gitenstein, worked as a lobbyist for the chamber between 2000 and 2008, helping his firm earn more than $6 million in fees, according to federal lobbying records. The business alliance has pushed the White House and Congress to appoint judges and enact legislation that would make it harder for plaintiffs to sue large corporations and collect large damage awards, raising concerns from some activists.

….In recent years, he also has served as counsel to the chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, which pushed for changes in federal litigation rules and adding business-friendly judges to state courts.

If named by President Obama, Gitenstein would be another appointee who violates the White House’s ethics rules, which prevent anyone who has registered to lobby in the last two years from working in a related area of the administration….

(…)

The possibility of Gitenstein’s selection has begun to alarm some Obama supporters on the left. One reform organization, Public Citizen, this week launched a campaign against him, urging Obama not to go forward with the nomination.
“The American people deserve better than to have an opponent of their legal interests placed in a key Justice Department policy position,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch in a letter to the president.

(…)

If nominated, Gitenstein would require a waiver from the ethics rules. The White House has already acknowledged the need to exempt several high profile positions, including that of William Lynn III, recently a lobbyist for defense contractor Ratheon Corp., who was named to the No. 2 job at the Pentagon.

(…)

The Office of Legal Policy is a little-known but enormously powerful unit. It has primary responsibility for advising the administration on judicial selection and helping to shepherd judicial nominees through the Senate.

First of all, what is the point of even having ethics rules for appointees if Obama’s just going to keep waiving them? All that does is draw attention to his insincerity and lack of commitment to the standards he claims to have.

Second of all, he’s putting a Chamber Of Commerce lobbyist in charge of selecting judicial nominees? Really? Maybe this is just one of those phony trial-balloon stories, or the reporter’s getting punk’d, but it really doesn’t sound like it.

It’s hard to believe in Change when Change keeps nominating corrupt corporate hacks.

5 comments February 5th, 2009 at 11:42am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Wankers

Joe Trippi Feels My Pain

This is something that really, really bugs me:

Let’s face it – there is a reason why big corporations are willing to pay good people millions to influence government. They know it will be worth their while, financially. Right now, millions in campaign contributions coupled with millions spent on lobbying can result in billions worth of payback for special interests. It’s all legal. And being part of that system is irresistible to many who retire from Congress after years of public service.

But there are some big losers in that equation: The public. The American people have lost faith in a system dominated by money. We don’t have lobbyists looking out for the public good. And when non-profit groups do send liaisons to congressional offices, they don’t have the same clout as a lobbyist who can put together a $50,000 fundraiser later that evening.

As the $700 billion Wall Street bailout got debated before the 2008 election, constituents had plenty to say – placing thousands of calls and writing thousands of letters to congressional offices. The problem was that Congress wasn’t listening. Members of Congress (not “men”) were busy calling the same special interests that got our economy into this mess, listening to their requests and begging them for $2,300 checks.

The result was a bailout with no strings attached–taxpayer money that could be legally spent on bonuses, office redecorations, and airplanes. And the same special interests who cut the campaign checks back then are lobbying Congress now, begging for more handouts. Once again, the ones with disproportionate influence in this debate are the public.

We ordinary people have many more votes than rich people and corporations, yet we have no voice at all, even within what is supposedly our own party.  We can call and write until we’re blue in the face, and all our efforts can be trumped by cash infusions that we can’t match.  The money that politicians use to woo voters has become far more important than the voters themselves, and that’s undemocratic and wrong.

Trippi identifies a root cause and a possible solution, but I’m not sure whether it’ll work or not – even if it can be implemented, will the Democrats care?

The power of small-dollar donors was proven in the 2008 election like never before, and the incentives are beginning to realign in a way that promotes politicians catering to the little guy, not the big guy.

But there’s one snag. If politicians know that they can depend on small-dollar donors giving online while asking nothing concrete in return, and politicians can still take special interest cash that depends on results, the incentives remain wrong. Politicians will take the little guy’s money while still being disproportionately influenced by special interests.

That’s why the reform group I started with Lawrence Lessig, called Change Congress, launched a “donor strike” last month. In just a few weeks, 6,300 people who gave a combined $750,000 last election cycle promised not to give a penny more to federal candidates who don’t support the bipartisan Durbin-Specter bill which would fundamentally reform the system.

(…)

Every week, thousands of new people join the strike and give politicians a choice: you can have our money, the people’s money, or special-interest money, but you can no longer have both.

Given the choice, I kinda suspect that politicians will choose corporate money.  There’s a lot fewer points of contact, and they’re easier to please.  I still like the idea of withholding money from Democrats who betray us, though.  If they lose elections because of it, too bad.  They weren’t representing us anyway.

February 5th, 2009 at 07:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics,Wankers


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