Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rahm Emanuel's Profitable Stint At Mortgage Giant

The White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel listens as President Barack Obama delivers remarks to open the White House Forum on Health Reform in the East Room of the White House. (Tribune photo by Zbigniew Bzdak / March 5, 2009)

From The Chicago Tribune:

Short Freddie Mac stay made him at least $320,000.

Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.

One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago's Rahm Emanuel—now chief of staff to President Barack Obama—who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort.

Read more ....

This Does Not Give Me Confidence

From McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — The CIA, which has been monitoring foreign countries' use of electronic voting systems, has reported apparent vote-rigging schemes in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine and a raft of concerns about the machines' vulnerability to tampering.

Appearing last month before a U.S. Election Assistance Commission field hearing in Orlando, Fla., a CIA cybersecurity expert suggested that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his allies fixed a 2004 election recount, an assertion that could further roil U.S. relations with the Latin leader.

Read more ....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

VIDEO: Alexander the Great?

From The Politico:

At the White House’s celebration of Greek Independence Day Wednesday afternoon, President Obama got a little unexpected flattery from Archbishop Demetrios, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States

Listing a series of challenges Obama will need to deal with as president, Demetrios predicted: Demetrios to Obama: "Following the brilliant example of Alexander the will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues."

Read more ....

Democrats Hanging on to Madoff Donations While Members Agitate for Return of Legal AIG Bonuses

From Red State:

Democrats are Keeping Madoff Money While Demanding the Return of AIG Bonuses They Voted to Make Legal. You Can't Make This Stuff Up, Folks.

Washington Times reporter and friend of RedState Amanda Carpenter has a front page story in tomorrow’s paper on the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee’s (DSCC) refusal to return $100,000.00 in donations made by disgraced and indicted ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff.

The DSCC, led by Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, received four payments of $25,000.00 from Madoff between 2005 and 2008, with the most recent coming in September of the latter year — just three months before his $64 billion fraud was exposed.

Read more ....

New Obama Messiah Photo

U.S. President Barack Obama in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington, March 23, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

My Comment: If I was him .... I would be embarrassed.

Senate Rubber Stamps National Enslavement Bill -- A Commentary

From Prison Planet:

The Senate last night rubber stamped a nightmare domestic draft bill that legislates mandatory national service and creates an “army” of at least 7 million civilian enforcers working at the the behest of the government, while also containing language that threatens to ban free speech and the right to protest.

Last week, we reported on the House passage of the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act, which was carried with a 321-105 margin vote.

A passage contained in section 6104 of the original House version entitled “Duties,” in subsection B6, states that a commission will be set up to investigate, “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed.” This language has been dropped from the version passed by the Senate.

Read more ....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Knock On The Door -- A Commentary

From The American Thinker:

A sitting President of the United States is "organizing a political organization loyal to him, bound by a pledge, outside the government and existing party apparatus. The historical precedents are ominous."

What is so ominous about an organization? Americans, Alexis de Tocqueville famously observed, "constantly form associations.... If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society."

Certainly, thousands of organizations seek to influence the political debate. There's Newt Gingrich's American Solutions or the left-wing People for the American Way, for instance.

Read more ....

Dodd's Explanations Misleading, Incomplete

From Hartford Courant:

Sen. Christopher Dodd revealed himself again last week to be an unreliable source for explanations of his own actions. The five-term senator denied on CNN on Tuesday that he had anything to do with legislation passed in February that ratified $165 million or more in bonuses for executives at his generous campaign patron AIG, the financial giant sustaining itself on billions from the taxpayers.

A day later, Dodd returned to CNN to admit he'd done the deed that aided AIG executives. Dodd's penchant for incomplete and misleading answers was on display a few days before the bonus firestorm when he discussed his real estate dealings in Ireland and Washington, D.C., with two Courant reporters.

Read more ....

Dodd's Wife a Former Director of Bermuda-Based IPC Holdings, an AIG Controlled Company

From Real Clear Politics:

No wonder Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) went wobbly last week when asked about his February amendment ratifying hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to executives at insurance giant AIG. Dodd has been one of the company's favorite recipients of campaign contributions. But it turns out that Senator Dodd's wife has also benefited from past connections to AIG as well.

Read more ....

FBI Investigates Lobbying Firm That Is Generous Donor To Dicks, Murray

From Seattle Times:

Questions have been raised about whether some PMA-related campaign contributions were actually given by the people listed as donors. For example, thousands of dollars in contributions to Dicks, Washington Sen. Patty Murray and other lawmakers came from a sommelier and a golf-club employee who were identified as PMA officials on some campaign-finance reports.

Congressman Norm Dicks has never been shy about accepting campaign donations from favor seekers.

Now the FBI is investigating one of Dicks' most generous donors — the powerhouse lobbying firm PMA Group.

Questions have been raised about whether some PMA-related campaign contributions were actually given by the people listed as donors. For example, thousands of dollars in contributions to Dicks, Washington Sen. Patty Murray and other lawmakers came from a sommelier and a golf-club employee who were identified as PMA officials on some campaign-finance reports. The investigation has prompted some lawmakers to distance themselves from the PMA-related contributions. Murray said she has donated $3,500 of her questionable contributions to Food Lifeline, a local charity. Other lawmakers have talked about doing something similar.

Read more ....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cuomo Wins Ruling To Name Merrill Bonus Recipients

Andrew Cuomo, the New York attorney general, won a legal battle on Wednesday to compel Bank of America to provide his office with the names of the Merrill employees with the 200 largest bonuses. (Chip East / Reuters)

From The International Herald Tribune:

Andrew M. Cuomo is starting to unearth some of the most closely guarded secrets on Wall Street: the identities of Merrill Lynch employees who collected large bonuses even as the brokerage firm lost billions.

Mr. Cuomo, the New York attorney general, won a legal battle on Wednesday to compel Bank of America, which bought Merrill in December, to provide his office with the names of the Merrill employees with the 200 largest bonuses. Mr. Cuomo said he would make the names public as early as Thursday.

Read more ....

Frank Asks Regulator to Pull Fannie, Freddie Bonuses

From Bloomberg:

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Retention bonuses for senior executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be canceled or recouped, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank told the companies’ federal regulator.

The public insists “rightfully” that large bonuses to executives at companies receiving government aid must stop, Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart today.

Read more ....

Dodd Defends Actions As An AIG Exec Returns $6 Million Bonus

From CNN:

(CNN) -- A defiant Sen. Chris Dodd defended his actions on bonuses for AIG executives Friday as news surfaced that a senior company executive was returning his $6 million bonus.

Dodd said he was misled on the issue of bonuses for AIG executives. He claimed he would not have drafted key legislative changes allowing the bonuses to move forward if he knew the purpose of those changes.

Meanwhile, a senior AIG executive said through a company spokesman that he will return his $6 million bonus. The executive, Doug Poling, is returning the money "because it's the correct thing to do," said Mark Herr, an AIG spokesman.

Read more ....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is This The End Of America? -- A Commentary

From The National Post:

Helicopter Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve is dropping trillions of fresh paper dollars on the world economy, the President of the United States is cracking jokes on late night comedy shows, his energy minister is threatening a trade war over carbon emissions, his treasury secretary is dithering over a banking reform program amid rising concerns over his competence and a monumentally dysfunctional U.S. Congress is launching another public jihad against corporations and bankers.

Read more ....

Does Congressman John Murtha Deserve The Department Of The Navy’s Highest Public Service Award?

Rep. John Murtha, D- Pa., a key ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, may try to force the closing of the Guantanamo detention facility. Matthew Cavanaugh / EPA file

A Petition To The Navy Re: Congressman John Murtha -- Pajamas Media

When I read the following email, I clicked posthaste on the link to sign the petition. (I don’t think I’ve ever been number 4 on a petition before, but the outrage was immediate. I think when you read it, you will want to sign too. But if by some remote chance you dither, remember this video of the man our Navy has seen fit to celebrate. But read the email first. That should suffice.)


Congressman John Murtha was recently awarded the Department of the Navy’s highest public service award for non-employees by the Secretary of the Navy. This is an outrage. As you probably know, John Murtha has been the worst of a bad lot in Congress who exploited those serving in combat for political purposes. He was the most outspoken member of Congress in aggressively attacking Marines as “cold blooded killers” who “murdered women and children” after the Haditha incident in November, 2005, BEFORE AN INVESTIGATION WAS EVEN CONDUCTED. In fact, he slandered the Marines to such an extent, and with such disregard for the truth, that one of them sued him for libel (rumor says there’s another libel suit to come soon). It is inconceivable that the Secretary of the Navy would give such an award to such a man, yet it happened not two weeks ago with muted response. I have created an online petition to express our outrage and disgust and I’m asking you to join me in signing it. Please use the link below to visit the petition and sign it; it will take less than two minutes. Additionally, please send it on to everyone you know who cares about the reputation of our active duty military and combat veterans, we can’t allow this to pass by unnoticed. Once we receive enough signatures, it will be noticed. It is essential that you forward on the link to others, it’s the only way this will generate momentum. Please take a few minutes to make sure that this petition doesn’t stop with you.

Fight Back

Semper Fi

The link to the petition is here.

My Comment: And Congress wants to know why their approval ratings are always in the cellar? This award is nothing more but trying to satisfy a Congressman's ego. Shame to the U.S. Navy brass for giving this award in the hope that he will accommodate their budgetary needs when the 2010 budget is decided upon in the next few weeks.

Between you and me .... Congressman's John Murtha is more concerned about himself and his friends than what the Navy may want. This PR stunt by the Navy is just that .... and it will be perceived and accepted by the public as that.

Video: Congress, Geithner Knew About Bonuses On March 3rd

From Hot Air:

Tim Geithner and Congress claim that they got blindsided by the AIG bonuses late last week, before anyone had a chance to stop AIG from paying them. However, C-SPAN’s video library tells a very different story. Watch the clip from a March 3rd hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee in which Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) specifically mentions the upcoming payouts of over $162 million in bonuses to AIG execs, the very same number that inflamed Washington DC this week:

Read more ....

My Comment: Tim Geithner mentioned that he only learned about knowing the AIG bonuses on March 10. But on this video .... dated March 3 .... it clearly shows that he knew about AIG bonuses much earlier. The fact that it is a Congressman in a Congressional committee asking the question tells me that Congress must have learned about this bonus system before March 3.

So why all the hot air from Congress this week?

Dodd Draws Fire For Tortured Tale

Photo: The confusing way in which Dodd handled the bonus issue has many on the Hill scratching their heads. Photo: AP

From Politico:

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) could have prevented a media firestorm by giving a simple explanation about why Congress couldn’t stop AIG executives from receiving lavish bonuses — and about his role in the ongoing brouhaha.

But the confusing way in which the Banking Committee chairman has handled an issue that has turned into political nitroglycerin has many people on Capitol Hill scratching their heads — and venting their anger at Dodd.

The questions center on a tortured chronology. Initially, Dodd deflected blame about changing legislative language that allowed the big bonuses to go forward — but later acknowledged that he did alter the provision. Also inexplicable: why Dodd would struggle to explain the issue by himself for nearly 24 hours before Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted that he was the one who urged Dodd to make the changes.

Read more ....

My Comment: Tortured tale?!?!?! ... The Politico is too kind in their coverage of Sen. Dodd.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Research Center's Role Faces Scrutiny

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) helped establish Pennsylvania State University's Electro-Optics Center. Photo Credit: By Brendan Hoffman -- Bloomberg News

From Washington Post:

Advice From Murtha Allies Guided Funding Requests, Documents Show.

A Pennsylvania defense research center regularly consulted with two "handlers" close to Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) as it collected nearly $250 million in federal funding through the lawmaker, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and sources familiar with the funding requests. The center then channeled a significant portion of the funding to companies that were among Murtha's campaign supporters.

The two advisers included a lobbyist for PMA Group, a firm with close ties to Murtha that is the subject of a federal investigation into whether it made illegal contributions by reimbursing donors to the Pennsylvania lawmaker and other members of Congress. The Electro-Optics Center also relied on advice from a longtime Murtha friend who now works on the congressman's appropriations staff.

Read more ....

My Comment: Even Daily Kos is upset over what they see as a clear case of a conflict of interests. The link to their comments is HERE.

Why Tax Problems Have Plagued Team Obama

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington, detailing the Obama Administrations plans for the economic recovery. AP

From dcexaminer:

It’s been a recurring question about the young Obama administration: Why have so many of its nominees come down with tax problems?

Timothy Geithner, Tom Daschle, Ron Kirk, Nancy Killefer, and a number of others who didn’t make it to the nomination stage — all have been felled, or tainted, by unpaid tax bills ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $140,000. After the first few cases, Republican Rep. Eric Cantor quipped that “it’s easy for [Democrats] to sit here and advocate higher taxes because — you know what? — they don’t pay them.”

For their part, some Democrats have suggested that the Senate Finance Committee, which investigates nominees before confirmation, has gotten so nit-picky in examining tax returns that good candidates have gone down in flames. “The Finance Committee has gone a bit overboard, and I find it a little striking that a Democratic committee is doing this to a Democratic administration,” one anonymous insider told the Politico recently. “This has been a lot more in-depth and detailed, to the point of being silly.”

Read more ....

JournoList: Inside The Echo Chamber

CAIB Photo by Rick Stiles 2003

From Politico:

For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList.

Proof of a vast liberal media conspiracy?

Not at all, says Ezra Klein, the 24-year-old American Prospect blogging wunderkind who formed JournoList in February 2007. “Basically,” he says, “it’s just a list where journalists and policy wonks can discuss issues freely.”

Read more ....

My Comment
: No wonder the news print and other medias are dying. They are no longer doing reporting, they are just taking to each other and comparing notes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Waters Helped Bank Whose Stock She Once Owned

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (Photo from UC Santa Cruz)

From Rantburg:

If you have spent anytime watching the charade which passes as congressional banking hearings chaired by Barney Frank, the performances of Maxine Waters have been stunningly symptomatic of the epidemic of financial illiteracy and stupidity which graces the benches at those hearings. She epitomizes the extent to which commonsense and basic skills are an anathema to the current ruling class. This article drips in irony. I don't know how it will play out but the only person I can recall who can come close to her level of idiocy in her utterances is the much missed, lamented and currently furloughed Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

WASHINGTON -- When Rep. Barney Frank was looking to aid a Boston-based lender last fall, the Massachusetts Democrat urged Maxine Waters, a colleague on the House Financial Services Committee, to "stay out of it," he says. The reason: Ms. Waters, a longtime congresswoman from California, had close ties to the minority-owned institution, OneUnited Bank.

Ms. Waters and her husband have both held financial stakes in the bank. Until recently, her husband was a director. At the same time, Ms. Waters has publicly boosted OneUnited's executives and criticized its government regulators during congressional hearings. Last fall, she helped secure the bank a meeting with Treasury officials.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am speechless. She sits on the Banking Committee, and the chattering class in the main stream media is silent.

Maxine Waters' Ties To Bank Questioned

From L.A. Times/Blogs:

Questions have been emerging over the last few months about the actions of an L.A. congresswoman who reportedly set up a meeting between federal regulators and a bank seeking $50 million in bailout funds. Maxine Waters did so even though her family had financial ties to the bank. The Wall Street Journal has been reporting this story for a while, and today the New York Times weighed in:

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, requested the September meeting on behalf of executives at OneUnited, one of the nation’s largest black-owned banks. Ms. [Waters'] husband, Sidney Williams, had served on the bank’s board of directors until early last year and has owned at least $250,000 in stock in the institution. Treasury officials said the session with nearly a dozen senior banking regulators had been intended to allow minority-owned banks and their trade association to discuss the losses they had incurred from the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But Kevin Cohee, OneUnited’s chief executive, instead seized the opportunity to plead for special assistance for his bank, federal officials said.

Read more ....

Top Democrat In Holiday Home Intrigue

From Times Online:

Senator Christopher Dodd bought a share of the house in Galway 15 years ago.

A holiday home in Connemara is at the centre of a growing row in America involving a prominent Democrat politician, a convicted insider trader and the former president Bill Clinton.

The purchase of the home by Senator Christopher Dodd is being examined by the US Senate ethics committee after allegations that Edward Downe Jr, a businessman convicted of insider trading, acted as a “middle man” in the deal.

Eight years ago Dodd, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination against Barack Obama, lobbied Clinton, the then president, to grant Downe a pardon. This has prompted further questions about the financier’s involvement with the Galway house.

Read more ....

Update: Chris Dodd: A Few Real Estate Deals Among Friends -- Hartford Courant

Update #2: Dodd woes continue with Irish cottage --

My Comment: The U.S. main stream media is quiet on this story. The Brits are the only ones who are doing the heavy lifting.

Top 10 Senate RINOs

Photo: Sen. Olympia Snowe

From Human Events:

As part of HUMAN EVENTS ongoing campaign against Republicans in name only (RINOs) we have compiled a list of the Top 10 Most Liberal Republican Senators based on the American Conservative Union Ratings for 2008 (110th Congress, second session. The ratings all compare rather unfavorably with that of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), chairman of the Repubican Steering Committee. Sen. DeMint’s score was a perfect 100)

On the conservative scale, the ten lowest-scoring senators are:

Read more ....

My Comment: According to Human Events, Sen. Olympia Snowe is the #1 Rino. But because she is there for life (let's face it, Maine voters will never vote her out), my advice is for the Republicans to get use to it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Governor Corzine To Middle Class: Drop Dead

Gov. Jon Corzine at the State House in Trenton on Jan. 13, 2009.
Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger


"To help pay for the rebates, we have proposed eliminating the property tax deduction next year for everyone but seniors."

Gov. Jon Corzine said it Tuesday during his budget speech. I still can't believe I heard it.

Back in 1976, when I first started reporting on the antics in Trenton, the affable and smooth-talking Brendan Byrne sold the state on adopting an income tax by arguing that it would produce revenue for the property-tax rebates.

We've now reached the point where Byrne's Democratic successor is proposing to impose the income tax on the property tax to fund rebates. Worse, those rebates will now be cut off at a mere $75,000 in annual income.

Read more ....

My Comment: Do not worry Gov. Corzine. The turkeys in your state will still elect you for another term.

Rangel To Taxpayers: “Mind Your Own [Expletive Deleted] Business”

Photo: Rep. Charlie Rangel

From dcexaminer:

That was Rep. Charlie Rangel’s response when I recently confronted him about his mounting ethical and financial scandals. Rangel’s uncouth snit began in the Longworth House Office Building after I asked the New York Democrat about his publicly-subsidized luxury vehicle, shady property deals, and unpaid taxes.

Americans are struggling just to pay their bills. While the economy contracts by the month, politicians like Rangel are helping grow the government—and the taxes of those Americans with it.

As proof, Rangel, who chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, frolics around in a 17-foot, 300-horsepower Cadillac DeVille paid for by you, the taxpayer. What’s it costing us? According to official House records, $777 a month.

Read more ....

My Comment: Of course .... the main stream media is very quiet on this waste of tax payer money.

Inside Murtha's 'Earmark Factory'

From Politico:

Over the course of the past decade, Rep. John P. Murtha has earmarked millions of dollars for the Electro-Optics Center at Penn State University — money that has, in turn, gone to clients of the PMA Group, the Murtha-linked lobbying shop that was raided in November as part of a federal criminal probe.

Founded in 1999 as a joint enterprise run by Penn State and the Office of Naval Research, the EOC promotes electronic research needed for state-of-the-art military equipment.

But sources familiar with the EOC’s operations say Murtha has used the center as a “front” for PMA and other lobbyists and contractors with ties to the Pennsylvania Democrat.

Read more ....

My Comment: This Congressman has one well oiled machine.

Has Edwards Told Wife He Fathered Baby? He Didn't Say, And No One Asked

Former Senator John Edwards

From McClatchy Newspapers:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards took another tentative step into the public spotlight Tuesday, speaking at Brown University about extreme poverty around the world and urging Americans to get involved in what he called a "fundamental moral issue."

Edwards, a two-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has struggled to get his message heard since a scandal about an affair he had with a former campaign staffer enveloped his personal life.

During 30 minutes of questions following Tuesday night's speech, just one person in the audience of nearly 600 came close to asking about the affair.

Read more ....

My Comment: From Presidential hopeful to this ..... it is rare to see someone fall so quick .... but he has no one to blame but himself.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lawmaker Goes After Ex-Fannie CEO Over Loan Deal

From AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican lawmaker is accusing the former chief executive of mortgage finance company Fannie Mae of being dishonest in testimony before Congress about discounts he received on his home loan.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California released documents Wednesday that he said showed former Fannie CEO Franklin Raines received special treatment in 2003 when he refinanced with Countrywide Financial Corp.

Countrywide, a lender at the center of the mortgage meltdown, was sold to Bank of America Corp. last year and has been the focus of allegations that it gave favorable loan terms to lawmakers and other key officials in Washington.

Read more ....

To Catch A (Tax) Thief

U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner
Karen Bleier / AFP / Getty

From The New York Post:

There was Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, boldly testifying Tuesday before Rep. Charlie Rangel's Ways & Means Committee - promising that the Obama administration intends to propose "a series of legislative and enforcement measures to reduce . . . tax evasion and avoidance."

Did he look Chairman Rangel in the eye when he said this?

Can he look himself in the eye at the shaving mirror each morning?

A crackdown on "tax evasion and avoidance"? Oh, the irony.

Only after he was nominated to Treasury did Geithner pay some $40,000 in taxes he blew off while working for the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2004.

Read more

10 Percent Of Georgia state Legislators Are Late Filing Or Paying Their State Taxes

Woody Marshall, The Telegraph - Georgia State Sen. Robert Brown.

Brown Says He Hasn’t Filed Federal, State Taxes In 2 Years --

ATLANTA — Nearly 10 percent of Georgia state legislators are late filing or paying their state taxes, and state Sen. Robert Brown is apparently among them.

Brown, D-Macon, said Wednesday he’s not sure whether he actually owes the state or federal government any money because he hasn’t filed tax returns. He said he’s gotten extensions, but he declined to give more information or say for what years he received filing extensions.

Read more ....

House Turns Back all For PMA Probe

From The Politico:

The House on Thursday night turned back another call to investigate the PMA Group, a once-powerful lobbying firm whose offices were recently raided by the FBI and which has close ties to Pennsylvania Rep. John P. Murtha (D).

Twenty-one Democrats, including nine freshmen, voted to proceed with debate on the measure offered by Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake (R) calling for an investigation of the lobbying firm. Most of the Democrats represent fiscally conservative districts.

Read more ....

My Comment: I call this protecting your own. Congress has no interest in embarrassing Murtha.

Sen. Dodd Yet To Declare Bid For 2010

From Yale Daily News:

By all accounts, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is vulnerable.

With 20 months until he is up for re-election, Dodd has yet to announce whether he will seek another term. And the five-term senator’s prospects are by no means positive — he is suffering in the polls and is recovering from political scandal. But the uncertainty regarding Dodd’s candidacy transcends his career alone; many Democrats are anxious about the political ramifications of his delay.

“Chris Dodd’s poll numbers are of concern,” Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz ’83, a Democratic candidate for Governor, said in a telephone interview with the News this week. “I am also concerned about the Republicans getting a head start in the race.”

Read more ....

My Comment: He is still going to run, and he will win simply because there are no "real" opponents running against him.

Kudlow is looking at the environment and the possibility of running against Sen. Dodd .... and he will be a good and viable candidate .... but I doubt that he will commit.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Report: Wall Street Spent $5 Billion For Political Influence

From CBS News:

A group called Wall Street Watch is out with a report that finds that “Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurance conglomerates made $1.7 billion in political contributions and spent another $3.4 billion on lobbyists” between 1998 and 2008.

The report, "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America," concludes that the contributions were “aimed at undercutting federal regulation” and ultimately “led directly to the current financial collapse.”

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a must read article. Money and influence walking hand in hand.

Congress Finds Another Place To Boost Spending: Congress

From McClatchy Newspapers:

WASHINGTON — Congress wants to boost spending on itself by nearly 11 percent this year, an increase that's part of a massive spending bill that has smaller increases for most agencies that deal with public health, education, energy, and other domestic needs.

The congressional budget, which the Senate is considering this week as part of a $410 billion fiscal 2009 spending bill, is higher than the 8 percent overall boost for most domestic programs.

As a result, Congress now appears well on track to approve spending $4.4 billion on itself, up from $3.97 billion last year.

Read more ....

My Comment: In a middle of a recession, when money is tight .... they just want to spend.

Politicans And Celebrities Do Not Like To Pay Taxes

From Yahoo News/Christian Science Monitor:

Dublin, Ireland – The band that loves to rail against global corporate malfeasance is being criticized at home over allegations of tax dodging.

U2, whose new album, "No Line on the Horizon," is being released Tuesday in the United States, has lately found itself the focus of protests in Dublin over global tax avoidance.

The controversy stems from 2006, when the band moved its publishing company to the Netherlands to avoid a potential multi-million-euro tax bill after the Irish government capped artists' tax-free earnings at €250,000 ($315,000). By basing its operations in Amsterdam, U2 is only liable for a nominal royalty tax.

Read more ....

My Comment: Some people love to spend other people's money, but never their own.

UBS Refuses To Give U.S. Names, Replaces Chairman

From Yahoo News/Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Switzerland's largest bank held its ground on Wednesday in a dispute with the U.S. government, refusing to disclose the names of tens of thousands of rich American clients suspected by U.S. authorities of using secret Swiss bank accounts to dodge U.S. taxes.

A senior executive for UBS AG said at a Senate hearing that the bank regrets breaking U.S. tax laws, but it does not intend to hand over the client names being sought in a U.S. Internal Revenue Service lawsuit.

"UBS has now complied ... to the fullest extent possible without subjecting its employees to criminal prosecution in Switzerland," said Mark Branson, chief financial officer of UBS Global Wealth Management and Swiss Bank.

Read more ....

My Comment: I can just hear a huge sigh of relief among thousands of Americans right now. I can also easily predict that (rhetoric aside) there is no political will to push this to next level.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Senate Defeats Effort to Remove Earmarks

From New York Times:

WASHINGTON — In his latest crusade against the process lawmakers use to finance home-state projects known as earmarks, Senator John S. McCain took to the Senate floor this week with an arsenal of numbers, sharply criticizing the $410 billion omnibus spending bill as 2,967 pages of text, teeming with 9,000 earmarks.

But the only numbers that mattered on Tuesday were 63 to 32: the vote by which the Senate defeated Mr. McCain’s amendment to strip the earmarks from the spending measure, which is needed to finance the federal government through September.

While the bill is likely to be approved, the fight over earmarks will not end anytime soon.

The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats, sensitive to accusations that they were allowing earmarks to continue unchecked, are considering ways to adjust the budgeting system, which President Obama has said should be more open and transparent.

“That’s what the White House is working on,” its press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said Tuesday.

Read more ....

My Comment: While the Democrats represent 60% of earmarks requested .... they are 60% of the Congress.

Sigh .... plague on both parties.

AFL-CIO Union Execs Hold Winter Meeting at Luxury Miami Resort

My Comment: OK .... as thousands of Union workers are losing their jobs everyday .... the union bosses are having a good time. Where are the politicians and their outrage?

Loan Charity's High-Flying Guests Exposed

From CBS News:

CBS Evening News: Educational Nonprofit Under Fire For Transporting Politicians With Money That Could Have Gone To Students

(CBS) Educap is a multibillion-dollar student loan charity run by CEO Catherine Reynolds. As CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported Monday night, Educap is under investigation by the IRS and Congress for alleged abuse of its tax-exempt status because it charges high interest on charitable student loans, and provides lavish perks with millions in compensation for Reynolds and her husband.

CBS News has obtained exclusive details of what may have been the biggest charity perk: use of Educap's $31 million luxury jet, which costs thousands of dollars an hour to operate.

Read more ....

Geithner Touts Tackling Tax Evaders After Failing to Pay Own Taxes

From FOX News:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday that the Obama administration, which has been riddled with tax problems, is mounting plans to go after tax evaders.

The pot has issued the kettle an ultimatum: tax dodgers beware.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was forced to fork up $34,000 in unpaid back taxes, told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday that the Obama administration will be going after people who avoid and evade taxes.

In prepared remarks before Congress, he said the president is intent on "tackling tax shelters and other efforts to abuse our tax laws, including international tax evasion efforts."

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My Comment: His message is very clear. Do what I say .... not what I do.

The Politics Of Personal Destruction Planned In The White House

From Politico:

Top Democrats believe they have struck political gold by depicting Rush Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party, a full-scale effort first hatched by some of the most familiar names in politics and now being guided in part from inside the White House.

The strategy took shape after Democratic strategists Stanley Greenberg and James Carville included Limbaugh’s name in an October poll and learned their longtime tormentor was deeply unpopular with many Americans, especially younger voters. Then the conservative talk-radio host emerged as an unapologetic critic of Barack Obama shortly before his inauguration, when even many Republicans were showering him with praise.

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My Comment: Enemies lists. Using the power of the Federal Government to attack private citizens. These are all ominous developments. The fact that it is occurring in the beginning of this Government's term in office .... not later .... bodes badly for what will be there in the months and years to come.

The Pension Nightmare Is Coming

Hidden Pension Fiasco May Foment Another $1 Trillion Bailout -- Bloomberg

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- The Chicago Transit Authority retirement plan had a $1.5 billion hole in its stash of assets in 2007. At the height of a four-year bull market, it didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay its retirees through 2013, meaning it was underfunded to the tune of 62 percent.

The CTA, which manages the second-largest public transit system in the U.S., had to hope for a huge contribution from the Illinois state legislature. That wasn’t going to happen.

Read more ....

My Comment: Underfunded pensions .... especially for public employees .... is going to create an even greater crisis than what we are going through today.

But when will this new crisis start? I do not know for sure .... but it probably will be sooner rather than later.

Would You Buy Blagojevich's Book?

From The State Journal Register:

Springfield-area lawmakers aren’t surprised former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is promising to tell all in the book deal his publicist announced Monday. But don’t expect to see them lining up at a bookstore for a copy.

Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, scoffed at the promise by Blagojevich to expose the “dark side” of state politics. Bomke also noted that the reported “six-figure deal” could be for anywhere from $100,000 to nearly $1 million.

In any case, he won’t be buying a copy.

Read more ....

My Comment: Three things on my mind. (1) Who would pay this ex-Gov. money for a book? (2) Who would buy the book? .... OK .... journalists and politicians would .... but that is about it. (3) What a waste of good trees.

Why I Distrust The Main Stream media

(Photo from The Fishbowl)

How Media Sucks Up To White House -- The Politico

In a profile last month, The Washington Post described deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina as a “low-profile aide” who begins “fixing President Obama’s problems” before 7 a.m., works 14 hours straight and then hits the gym.

Not to be outdone, POLITICO noted the next day that White House chief legislative liaison Phil Schiliro — another “low-profile” official but one possessing “Buddha-like Zen” — is already working in the West Wing by 6 a.m.

Time says reporters admire White House press secretary Robert Gibbs (“The President’s Warrior”) because he “has the president’s ear and can get to the commander in chief when an answer is needed.” The New Yorker says White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is “a political John McEnroe, known for both his mercurial temperament and his tactical brilliance,” yet is also uncommonly indifferent to both criticism and praise.

Welcome to the “beat sweetener.”

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

VIDEO: Cramer Goes Nuclear On Obama.

My Comment: Watch and enjoy.

Visclosky Under The Spotlight

From Hotair:

Perhaps Pete Visclosky may have felt safe from scrutiny as long as his pork-buddy John Murtha attracted all of the attention — from the media as well as federal investigators. With the collapse of lobbying group PMA, Visclosky finds himself exposed as a major player in PMA’s big-ticket contributions for pork projects. In fact, Visclosky may have more at stake in the federal probe of PMA than anyone, including Murtha (via Instapundit):

PMA Group was once one of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington, specializing in securing defense earmarks for its clients. Now, the firm is disintegrating amid a federal investigation into allegations that its founder, Paul Magliochetti, a former top aide to Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., steered donations to lawmakers through sham donors. …

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Pelosi's List: Who's On Her Bad Side?

From CBS News:

Nancy Pelosi likes to keep lists.

As a young political protégé of her father, Baltimore Mayor Tommy D’Alesandro, the preteen speaker-to-be would spend hours leafing through the list of voters her father had helped in some way - fixing a pothole, finding them a job, even getting them a hot meal.

It was known as the "favor file."

Those around Pelosi say she has always kept her own favor file. But, like her father, she has also maintained a "disfavor file" in her head - a roster of those whom she believes have screwed up, betrayed her, challenged her or merely annoyed her.

In some cases, Pelosi has mended fences with people on the list, most notably House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), a former party rival who has become an indispensable lieutenant.

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My Comment: A politician with an enemies list. We should not be surprised.

I am curious if Hillary Clinton is on it.

Roland Burris Has Enormous...Credentials

From Reason:

Dubious Blagojevich appointee Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) not only won't resign his seat. He's running again in 2010. He'll obviously be running on his impressive credentials. Check out his accomplishments page:

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My Comment: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Tax Problems Surface For Trade Rep. Nominee Kirk

Photo: U.S. Trade Representative-designate Ron Kirk . (Lawrence Jackson/Associated Press)

From The Washington Post:

Former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, who is President Obama's nominee to be the U.S. Trade Representative, failed to pay almost $10,000 in taxes during the past three years because of a series of mistakes, the Senate Finance Committee announced today.

Kirk's errors involved honoraria from speeches, on which he should have paid taxes; the cost of sports games, for which he deducted too much; and improper treatment of
accounting fees on his income taxes. Kirk has agreed to file amended returns.

The news about Kirk's mistakes comes as tax-related issues have become a topic of great sensitivity for the administration, following incidents with several high-profiled appointees whose nominations were threatened or derailed because of tax mistakes.

Read more .....

My Comment: It seems that those who pay their taxes are the exception in this cabinet.

Update: Not Another One! Now Trade Rep Pick Has Tax Issues -- TPM

Crooked Politicians Are Not The Only Ones Who Avoid Taxes. Many Of Their Supporters In The Entertainment Industry Are Guilty Of The Same Thing

Bono and Barack Obama

Tax Protesters Rattle U2 With Hypocrisy Jibes -- Times Online

The band's rooftop BBC gig is upstaged by a small group of protesters

The campaign to embarrass the members of U2 over their tax avoidance is getting its boots on.

Following a demonstration outside the offices of the Department of Finance in Dublin on Wednesday, campaigners continued their crusade on Friday in London.

During an “impromptu” gig by the band on the roof of the BBC headquarters, a small group of demonstrators staged a seemingly spontaneous protest berating the band for exploiting a tax shelter in the Netherlands.

Read more

My Comment: Bono lobbies politicians to give more money to Africa and other destitute nations .... but do not tell him that he should pay his taxes.

Self-Dealing Omitted: Rep. Grace Napolitano Pays Herself $200,000 In Interest On '98 Loan

Photo: Grace Napolitano (Image from The Washington Post)

From News Busters:

The Democrats campaigned to take over the reins of the majority in Congress by promising to "drain the swamp" of a "culture of corruption" by the Republican Party. Examples of Democratic corruption or self-dealing go largely unnoticed. For two weeks now, the national media has ignored a Los Angeles Times report that Rep. Grace Napolitano has paid herself more than $150,000 in interest on $150,000 she loaned herself in her initial 1998 House campaign. (The Whittier Daily News later amended that figure upward to $205,922.) With the exception of the Hannity show on Fox News, no one else in the national media has noticed. Andrew Zajac reported on February 14:

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk) has collected tens of thousands of dollars in personal income by charging double-digit interest on money she lent her campaign 11 years ago and soliciting donations from Washington lobbyists at "debt retirement" fundraisers.

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My Comment: This is a sweet deal. Be a loan shark to yourself, and collect the money from your campaign contributors.

White House Mum As Foes Rip Carrión

Photo: Adolfo Carrión

From The New York Daily News:

The White House stayed silent Sunday night on a Daily News investigation into developers' big-money donations to Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, who is President Obama's new urban policy pointman.

The News' probe of Carrión's cozy ties to developers with major Bronx construction projects provoked outrage from the politician's critics, but didn't stir a peep from the White House.

"We have no comment," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.

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My Comment: Adolfo Carrion represents Chicago politics .... New York style.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rep. Visclosky's Ties To Troubled PMA Group Run Deep

Photo: Rep. Pete Visclosky (Washington Post)

From Chicago Tribune:

WASHINGTON - He represents an area known for its rampant corruption, but Rep. Pete Visclosky has always had a reputation for staying above the fray.

That consensus is being challenged by revelations about the northwest Indiana Democrat's ties to a troubled defense lobbying firm.

PMA Group was once one of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington, specializing in securing defense earmarks for its clients. Now, the firm is disintegrating amid a federal investigation into allegations that its founder, Paul Magliochetti, a former top aide to Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., steered donations to lawmakers through sham donors.

PMA Group's top beneficiaries include Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds defense programs, and Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who also sits on the defense appropriations subcommittee.

Read more ....

Durbin: Race Factored In Burris Seating

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris (center) is surrounded by clergy members during a prayer service today to support him at the New Covenant Baptist Church on the South Side. (Tribune / Nuccio DiNuzzo)

From Chicago Breaking News:

Durbin, a fellow Democrat and Illinois' senior senator, noted that Rep. Bobby Rush, a Chicago Democrat, appeared at Gov. Rod Blagojevich's announcement of his appointment of Burris and used racially charged language to defend the appointment.

"My colleague from Illinois, Congressman Bobby Rush, made strong statements along those (racial) lines," Durbin said on WGN-AM (720). "They were painful and hurtful, and it became part of this calculation."

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My Comment: A rare admission to hear from a politician. Kudos to Senator Durbin.

Sen. Hatch's Secret Drug Firm Links

Senator Orin Hatch. Getty Images

From Washington Times:

Drugmaker money to Utah senator's charity escaped disclosure.

The pharmaceutical industry that long has benefited from Sen. Orrin G. Hatch's legislative efforts has directed large sums of money to a charity he helped found -- and still raises money for -- while also hiring the Republican lawmaker's son as a lobbyist.

Though Congress boasts that it is more transparent after passing new disclosure rules, Americans have had no way of knowing about the drugmakers' largesse to the charity, Utah Families Foundation. No way, that is, until a normally confidential tax filing was mistakenly released by the Internal Revenue Service to a nonprofit database last year.

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My Comment: If this was not a case of "conflict of interest", I would like to know why.