Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Hill’s Aaron Blake looks at the short and long-term political implications of the stimulus bill, with an eye on 2010.

The stimulus package has emerged as the first major campaign issue of the 2010 election cycle, and a Republican Party eyeing a return to the majority is going all-in.

The near-universal GOP opposition to the stimulus means that, for 2010 at least, Democrats own the result. Republicans, meanwhile, are in the awkward position of banking on it, at least electorally, to fail.

In the end, only three Republicans voted for the stimulus package — all in the Senate — while 11 Democrats voted against it — all in the House.

The only senator who is up in 2010 to break party ranks was Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who is in the unenviable position of dealing with both a blue-trending state and a conservative backlash over the vote.

Potential primary opponents like former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and businessman Glen Meakem bristled at Specter’s vote and now have new motivation to challenge him next year.

“I really thought he was trying to avoid a primary challenge, and it’s very clear to me from this vote that he is really not anymore,” Meakem said, adding: “I think leading conservatives are going to coalesce around a candidate here in the next month or two.”

Another candidate with plenty riding on the vote is potential Senate candidate Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who has taken to criticizing Democratic leaders over their conduct.

Shuler drew a sharp rebuke from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) after he said Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “failed” to make the package bipartisan.

Shuler is considered a top potential challenger to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in 2010. And even if Shuler stays in the House, he could face a tough race in a very conservative district.

Unlike Shuler, many of those breaking ranks on the stimulus vote are safe, including several Blue Dog Democrats and Republican Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Blue Dog member Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) is facing a primary challenge from state Sen. Al Lawson, meaning his vote could be a liability. In announcing his intentions Wednesday, Lawson signaled that the vote would be front-and-center in the race.

The Republicans’ strategy is clear: they want the Democrats to own this bill if it fails. But if the economy is in recovery by Election Day, the whole thing will blow up in their face, and the Democrats can label them as obstructionists who voted against the economic recovery. We’ll see who gets the last laugh in about 19 months from now.

Hanna Ingber Win noticed an interesting development and wrote it up for Huffington Post:

The official press of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), requested an interview with President Obama, reports AHN.

The Islamic News Agency’s U.N. representative, Khosro Shayesteh told CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk that they have requested the interview and are waiting for a response from Obama to begin a dialogue. “The Iranian request for an interview with Obama comes at an opportune time for U.S.-Iran relations since both President Obama and Iran’s President have offered to begin negotiations, which were stalled during the eight years of the Bush Administration, and because Obama gave his first official interview as President to Al Arabiya,” said Falk.

You can’t argue with the logic behind Shayesteh’s comment given Obama and Ahmadinejad’s recent public statements. And in all fairness, Ahmadinejad has given interviews to foreign media, including CNN. This could be a very interesting first step in American-Iranian talks during Obama’s presidency.

If you needed any more evidence that the heyday of unregulated excess in American capitalism is over, check out this report in the Wall Street Journal.

Public anger over taxpayer-funded financial bailouts is prompting Congress to look for ways to better police the billions of dollars being injected into the same Wall Street firms that many critics believe caused the current economic crisis.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) are sponsoring a bill to hire hundreds of new Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Securities and Exchange Commission investigators to investigate financial fraud. The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday to highlight the issue.

The proposal would provide $80 million to hire 500 new FBI agents and $10 million to add new federal prosecutors and $20 million for 100 new SEC employees. All are going to be focused on investigating white-collar crime, including mortage and financial fraud that many believe helped cause the current global crisis.

The increase in resources is intended to remedy cuts that were made after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, which prompted federal law enforcement to focus more on terrorism.

Schumer says the FBI’s mortgage and financial fraud unit has 348 agents, down from 1,000 following the Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980s and 1990s.

If this happens, there will be some very nervous business executives on Wall Street and throughout America, and white collar defense attorneys in the private sector will make an obscene amount of money defending their clients. I would also expect big business to lobby heavily against this proposal and will promise to do a better job at policing itself, but the political reality is that the uproar over the economy and the multiple taxpayer-funded bailouts have Congress and the American people in a very foul mood. They won’t be very sympathetic.

Twitter Fail

Posted: February 11, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

This guy must be a lot of fun to play poker with.

Basically the story, as reported by the blog Not Larry Sabato, goes like this. Democrats currently control the Virginia State Senate, 21-19. But Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor is Bill Bolling, a Republican, and he would be a tie-breaking vote in the event of a 20-20 split. Today, one of the Democratic State Senators, Ralph Northam, agreed to switch sides, a move that would give the Republicans in the Senate a much greater share of power.

And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for this moron, Jeff Frederick, who is the Republican Party Chairman of Virginia and the owner of a shiny Twitter account! Frederick, upon hearing the news, tweeted the following:

What King of the Dimwits Jeff Frederick failed to take into consideration is that, by tweeting this information, he was tipping off the Senate Democrats about this bit of parliamentary prestidigitation. And once they found out, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw adjourned the session so that it couldn’t happen. And then, the Senate Democrats gathered together and promptly browbeat the ever-loving daylights out of Northam.

If they had pulled it off, this would have been a HUGE political coup for the Virginia GOP in the same year that the people of the state are going to elect a new governor. Incumbent Tim Kaine is term-limited and will move on to running the DNC full time after he leaves office. There’s a three-way race for the Democratic nomination, while the Republican candidate is running unopposed. Republicans had an opportunity to reboot with a narrow Senate majority in a state that has elected two consecutive Democrats to the governor’s mansion and voted for a Democratic president for the first time in more than four decades.

Something tells me that Jeff Frederick won’t be privvy to sensitive internal deliberations or strategizing from now on.

Update: An NRO reader suggests the perfect headline for this story. “Loose Twits Sink Shifts.”

The New York Times and ZDF teamed up to find out the fate of the man who was the most wanted escaped Nazi war criminal. Sadly, he successfully eluded justice and died a free man in Egypt. The article does a good job in tracing his steps since he fled Germany and describing his life as a fugitive for three decades. I’d like to think there’s a special spot in hell reserved for people like him, and that his atrocities catch up to him in the end.

On a related note, if you want an amazing story – albeit fictitious – about hunting Nazi fugitives, I highly recommend Daniel Silva’s “A Death in Vienna.”

jp2-maciel

Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel has been dead for a year, and while he endured public scrutiny and humiliation during his final years at the hands of the press and the Vatican, we now find out that wasn’t the only thing he did to disgrace himself, his vocation, the order he founded, and the Catholic Church. From the New York Times:

The Legionaries of Christ, an influential Roman Catholic religious order, have been shaken by new revelations that their founder, who died a year ago, had an affair with a woman and fathered a daughter just as he and his thriving conservative order were winning the acclaim of Pope John Paul II.

Before his death, the founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, had been forced to leave public ministry by Pope Benedict XVI because of accusations from more than a dozen men who said he had sexually abused them when they were students.

But most members of the Legion continued to defend Father Maciel, asserting that the accusations had not been proved. Father Maciel died in January 2008 at the age of 87, and was buried in Mexico, where he was born.

Now the order’s general director, the Rev. Álvaro Corcuera, is quietly visiting its religious communities and seminaries in the United States and informing members that their founder led a double life, current and former Legionaries said.

The order is not publicly confirming the details of the scandal.

Jim Fair, a spokesman for the Legionaries, said only: “We have learned some things about our founder’s life that are surprising and difficult for us to understand. We can confirm that there are some aspects of his life that were not appropriate for a Catholic priest.”

Some former members said they expected the order to renounce its founder, but Mr. Fair said: “He is the founder and he always will be the founder of the order. That’s one of the mysteries that we all see in life is that sometimes good things come out of less than perfect human beings.”

In Catholic religious orders, members are taught to identify with the spirituality and values of the founder. That was taken to an extreme in the Legionaries, said the Rev. Stephen Fichter, a priest in New Jersey who left the order after 14 years.

“Father Maciel was this mythical hero who was put on a pedestal and had all the answers,” Father Fichter said. “When you become a Legionarie, you have to read every letter Father Maciel ever wrote, like 15 or 16 volumes. To hear he’s been having this double life on the side, I just don’t see how they’re going to continue.”

Father Fichter, once the chief financial officer for the order, said he informed the Vatican three years ago that every time Father Maciel left Rome, “I always had to give him $10,000 in cash — $5,000 in American dollars and $5,000 in the currency of wherever he was going.”

Father Fichter added: “As Legionaries, we were taught a very strict poverty; if I went out of town and bought a Bic pen and a chocolate bar, I would have to turn in the receipts. And yet for Father Maciel there was never any accounting. It was always cash, never any paper trail. And because he was this incredible hero to us, we never even questioned it for a second.”

The Beatles song “Sexy Sadie” seems especially appropriate at this point. Especially the following lyric:

Sexy Sadie what have you done,
You made a fool of everyone

You ever heard of a basketball coach that won a 100-0 blowout being fired for it?

Me neither.