Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BOEHNER'S CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE: House Dems Try To "Silence" GOP Minority On "Earmarks," and More!


Charles Signorile has an excellent post about Sen. Jim DeMint's proposed moratorium on earmarks (link). He points out the failure of Rep. Boehner's bill in the House, but there is more to that story. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in his latest email, adds:




As part of this effort, Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) launched a website, earmarkreform.house.gov, which served as a hub for information about Republicans' efforts to fix the broken appropriations process and to shine a light on the unethical earmarking practices of the majority. Now, Boehner is being forced to take down the website by the Office of the House Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Daniel Beard, a position Beard assumed with the support of Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic Leadership.



The decision was a dramatic reversal on the part of the Office of the CAO, and its timing is suspect. Boehner received approval from the CAO for the website in August. However, it was not launched until earlier this month. Suddenly, just when their efforts were gaining traction, Beard's office reversed its position, now claiming the site is against House Rules.



Leader Boehner is refusing to take down the site without a fuller explanation of why the site is allegedly violating House rules and an accounting of why this new decision was reached. You can read more at earmarkreform.house.gov (at least temporarily) or at Boehner's website.




Some may say that the GOP is "finding religion," after years of sinning, and they'd be right, to a degree. I see this as the fiscal conservatives, who have been complaining about spending all along, finally getting political traction. The "earmark" website has an article from Politico.com that features Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman as being a supporter of earmark reform. If that's not "bipartisan," I don't know what is. Here is the text, as well as the links from the site:




The spending habits of Congress - and pork-barrel earmarks, in particular - have become the clearest symbol of a broken Washington. With that in mind, House Republicans asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats to join them in supporting an immediate moratorium on all earmarks while a bipartisan select committee identifies ways to bring fundamental change to the way in which Washington spends taxpayers'money. The Majority's response: no thanks.



In spite of the Democrats' refusal to change the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars, House Republicans have committed themselves to a series of standards that will be the basis of their comprehensive earmark reform efforts. This website is dedicated to those standards and what House Republicans are doing to fix Washington by stopping earmarks.




UPDATES:



2/26/08 - Wall Street Journal.com Political Diary: John Boehner's Civil Disobedience on Earmarks



2/26/08 - Washington Times - Boehner Defends Anti-Earmark Site



2/26/08 - Los Angeles Daily News - Pork Habit is Hard to Break



2/25/08 - Roll Call: Boehner Defies Order to Remove Earmark Site



2/22/08 - Leader Alert: Democrats Move to Shut Down GOP Earmark Reform Site as Murtha Is Named "Porker of the Year"



2/14/08 - The Hill: Dem Leaders Shower Pork on Freshmen



2/12/08 - Politico: Waxman Won't Request Earmarks This Year



The website is still up, disobeying the CAO. I support this "civil disobedience." It's about time to stop political payoffs, and Rep. Boehner and Sen. DeMint are fighting the good fight. They deserve to be heard, and hopefully stop this abuse of power and money. I recognize that earmarks are a small percentage of government waste, but Congress is responsible for authorizing ALL spending, so "earmark reform" is a start



I haven't heard Obama or Hillary being asked about earmarks in any of their recent debates, though I didn't watch much of them. McCain was calling for earmark reform before the 2006 elections, in a bipartisan effort with Sen. Lieberman:.(link)




Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the committee, said he and McCain have proposed legislation -- the Bipartisan Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2005 -- that would require more frequent and detailed disclosure of lobbying activities "and, for the first time, full disclosure from grassroots lobbying firms paid to conduct mass television or direct mail campaigns to influence members of Congress." One such firm was used by Abramoff to conceal millions of dollars in payments that he received from overcharging Indian tribes, Lieberman said.




Here's Obama's "earmark tally: (link)




Obama's total earmark requests (when teamed up with other senators) is $399,766,475. The price tag for his solo earmark requests is $321,766,475.




That's a lot of money, but Hillary is even more exposed on this issue: It's not just how much money she spent in "political payoffs," it was who she paid. Even the liberal blogs have been all over her for this. Here is a list of links:




Daily Kos: Ethics, Earmarks, and the 2008 Race I've written a new article about Hillary Clinton and earmarks at Huffington Post.

I won't rehash all of the details, but here's the essential point: Hillary ...



John K. Wilson: Clinton By Far Worst Abuser Of Earmarks - Off The ... and Hillary "earmarks" facts, and all the other Hillary and Bill smut they will

roll out...conservatives will vote in huge numbers to keep the Clinton's out ...



Captain's Quarters Norman Hsu, now indicted on federal fraud charges, served on the board of the

New School, recipients of Hillary's earmarking largesse. ...



The Hill's Pundits Blog » Hillary's Earmarks Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) topped her presidential rivals in securing earmarks

from the taxpayers. In laudatory terms, the article gropes for an ...



Hillary's Earmarks (Spin Cycle) Hillary Clinton secured more earmarks for pet projects in the Defense funding

bill than anyone except Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin...




I wonder which of the three presidential candidates, all Senators, will be most hostile to congressional "earmarks." Perhaps the "maverick?" Independent voters need to take note of this, in the general election. McCain has flaws, but he's good on this issue. Let's hope his election will help fiscal reformers in the like DeMint and Boehner, and Waxman.



Let's also hope that all of these "reformers" actually want to cut "frivolous" government spending, beyond earmarks.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chris Matthews Has Dan Rather Comment on the NY Times Story About McCain! Liberal Lunacy!!

I have to admit, I laughed through this whole segment, after Dan started speaking about this subject, in response to Chris' first question. In fact, I laughed about this through the entire show. PUH-LEASE!

Hillary Nomination Will Disaffect More Voters Than McCain's Has

It's possible that Hillary's nomination process will be so divisive that all of the "new voters" that Obama has pulled in will "stay at home" in greater numbers than the "conservatives" who will "never vote for McCain." Also, will some "Independent" Democrats vote for McCain in protest of a perceived "theft" by Hillary of the nomination? Will they do so in greater numbers than "Ann Coulter" Republicans, who have promised to vote for Hillary over McCain. There will be far more of the former than the latter.

I have to add that many Hillary supporters will vote for McCain, if Obama is the Dem nominee. It's the flip side of the coin, but will make it a closer race, because there are fewer Hillary supporters than Obama supporters to be "disaffected," in the general election.

GOOD LUCK, HILLARY, BARACK, AND JOHN! Anything's possible!

Gov. Spitzer Update Pt. IV: NYRA and OTB Need Taxpayer Support?


This is one of the most recent, and biggest of Gov. Eliot Spitzer's 180 degree flip-flops on his "day one, everything changes" pre-election slogan. The New York Racing Association has just been given a 25-year renewal of it's franchise to run the horse tracks in NYS. In addition, he's offering NYC half of this year's 1.1 million dollar taxpayer subsidy that is needed to keep it's Off Track Betting corporation in business. Day one of year two, and everything stays the same.



Now, Spitzer is not solely responsible for the NYRA deal (See links to Bruno and the NYS legislature's disgraceful behavior ), and his "splitting the losses" deal is being rejected by Mayor Bloomberg, who is threatening to let OTB go out of business. However, both are indicative of Gov. Spitzer "caving" to the liberal political powers in the state. I can only express my disappointment at the direction he is continuing to take NYS in, and wonder what motivates him.



Here are some relevant excerpts, and links from the NY Post:



From the Sports pages (link):




The New York Racing Association has had the franchise to operate thoroughbred racing in New York since 1955. During those 53 years, there has been corruption and mismanagement at the highest levels, culminating with the operation filing for bankruptcy and NYRA basically driving New York racing into the ground...During his time as Attorney General, Spitzer made a name for himself by prosecuting high-profile cases related to white-collar crime and corruption. Perhaps it's time someone investigated Gov. Spitzer.




From Saturday's Op-Ed 02/23/08 (link):




NYRA's been mired in scandals for years - some of them probed by Spitzer himself as attorney general. Back then, he accused the outfit of fostering a "culture of criminality" and suggested that it be stripped of its franchise.



Certainly rank managerial incompetence drove NYRA's finances into the ground, prompting several state bailouts.



And while the gov insists that NYRA has since found religion, its woes linger: Last week's deal included a $105 million bailout to stave off bankruptcy.



Meanwhile, the authority managed to stave off private-sector interest in picking up the franchise by threatening a lawsuit over its tenuous claim that it owns the state land under the tracks.



How tenuous? Just ask AG Spitzer: "We own the land," Eliot insisted during his gubernatorial run. "[NYRA is] not going to use that as leverage. They are a state entity, created by the state . . . and they should be tossed out on their ear if they don't understand."



What a difference a year makes.



Spitzer quickly became a big advocate for NYRA's franchise renewal - even though the hapless, obstructionist, ethically challenged authority is the perfect example of the Albany status-quo he was elected to change.



As it was, the franchising process dragged on so long that the private investors lost interest, basically leaving NYRA as the only game in town.



Which apparently was the plan.




If it's not bad enough that Gov. Spitzer won't replace corrupt "public-private" bureaucracies with new private partners, let's look at what he's doing with NYC's OTB "corporation," another "public-private" venture that is costing taxpayer money to exist. Mayor Bloomberg is threatening to shut it down, but is he serious? (link)




The city's Off-Track-Betting Corp. was a step closer to shutting down yesterday as Mayor Bloomberg rejected an offer by the state to provide half the $1.1 million needed to keep the bookie operation from running out of cash in June.



"We're not in the splitting-losses business, particularly with our money," Bloomberg declared.



He said there's no way he'd ever spend taxpayer funds to subsidize a money-losing government betting operation.



But Pat Foy, the chairman of the Empire State Development Corp., said in a conference call with reporters that the city doesn't have the authority to simply shut OTB, which is a creation of the state.



"It's our belief that the ultimate closedown of OTB would be inconsistent with state law," said Foy.



He expressed confidence that a solution to OTB's problems could be achieved before the deadline. Bloomberg didn't sound as upbeat.



He lashed out at Albany for excluding the city in recent talks that resulted in the bailout of the New York Racing Association, a deal the mayor said the city would not have made "under any circumstances."



"A 25-year lease to a nonprofit corporation that is in bankruptcy and has some of its people convicted of fraud would not be my first choice in terms of picking a partner to work with," Bloomberg said.



His biting remarks came during a meeting of the OTB board, which voted unanimously to proceed with a planned shutdown on June 16 unless Albany stops siphoning more in profits out of OTB than it produces...



...In the middle of the grim session, Bloomberg was handed a letter from Foy stating that Albany needed more time to develop a comprehensive strategy for dealing with all six OTBs around the state.



Foy told reporters that the bricks and mortars model for OTB was outdated and that future operations would be based on growth in phone betting and the Internet, probably in combination with NYRA and the other OTBs.



He pointed out that despite its hobbled finances, OTB produced $17.5 million for the city last year - which was more than the $16.8 million that the state took in.



OTB board Vice Chairman Mike Hess said he remained optimistic.



"I'm still very hopeful this can be remedied," he said.



One insider told The Post that what's taking place is a "big game of chicken. We're talking about who controls a $1 billion revenue stream. This is one where there's going to be a lot of twists and turns before it's over."




That's what it all comes down to, in the end. How much revenue can be squeezed out of the average citizen. Betting, smoking, and other "vice" taxes are among the most "regressive" taxes, hurting "Joe six-pack" much harder than Paris Hilton, but that doesn't matter to liberals like Gov. Spitzer. He just sees it as a "revenue stream," without regard to his "progressive" ideals. Bloomberg is no better, and wil probably "cave" on an OTB deal if the state picks up all of the current tab, I'll bet.



This is a very complex issue, and I am only "scratching the surface," here. There are questions of equal treatment under the law for other gambling options over the internet, and the built-in corruption of public-private corporations that have conflicting interests, for starters. Spitzer fails part IV of this evaluation, because he hasn't dealt with any of the obvious bad actors in the system. Indeed, he has rewarded them, to the taxpayers' detriment.



PS: Since this post is almost as much a prediction, as well as an update on Spitzer's latest antics, this will be the last of the SPITZER UPDATES. There's much more to say about Eliot, and the rest of the corrupt political class in NYS, and it's occasional national impact. Stay tuned to LEAVWORLD: GRAFFITI POLITTI and GRAFFITI POLITTI on Gather for this conservative NYer's view!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mayor Bloomberg Calls It FRAUD: NYC Primary Count


Mayor Bloomberg weighs in rather nonchalantly, I'd say. Words have meaning, however, and here's what he said about the NYC primary night vote counts: (link)



"If you want to call it significant undercounting, I guess that's a euphemism for fraud," said the mayor.



This is one of the few times I agree with the liberal Mayor of NYC, though I'm still wondering if this was more widespread. Bloomberg's assessment is almost a plea for further investigation.



Rob from the Say Anything blog asks, "Where's the Outrage?" -to which I'll add, "Who's in charge of this mess?"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Will "Superdelegate" Kennedy Go Against Mass. Voters' Choice?


Sen. Clinton won the Massachusetts primary, but Sen. Kennedy has endorsed Sen. Obama. I'm still waiting to hear any news organization ask him if he's willing to go against the "will of the people" of Massachusetts? Even if they know the answer (yes), wouldn't it be interesting to understand his reasoning for this decision?



Kennedy doesn't fear the voters' wrath, at this point of his "hiccup" career. As a "lion of the Democratic establishment," he can let others use this argument, attempting to get other "superdelegates" to support Obama, without anyone questioning his personal exception to it.



It will be interesting to see how these "superdelegates" split. I guarantee that Ted isn't going to pledge for Hillary, voters be damned. Maybe it should be called the "Un-Democratic" Party.

Supreme Court Rejects ACLU Domestic Spying Case


Crossposted from STOP THE ACLU: Supreme Court Rejects ACLU Domestic Spying Case...



Basically, because: the case had nothing to do with spying on domestic citizens; was supposed to be a secret program; and common sense the ACLU lacks. What it came down to was that none of the plaintiff's had any standing. The ACLU feared that some of their conversations with terrorist representatives might have been listened to, however they couldn't provide any evidence of that.



Wake Up America:




The ACLU consistently insists that programs such as the NSA wiretapping program goes against civil liberties and opposing opinions just as consistently insist that National Security depends on being able to monitor calls and contacts from the U.S. to terror groups outside the U.S to be able to protect America from further terrorist attacks.



The courts are caught in the middle and have to walk a fine line between civil liberties and protecting America because ruling against one may "step on" the other.




However, in this case it was a position from the ACLU that was full of holes and couldn't pass muster to even be argued. The ACLU are calling it a catch 22 because the program being secret keeps them from being able to prove whether they haved been listened to. Really, I hope the government is listening in on the ACLU phone calls.



Here is the news:




"It's very disturbing that the president's actions will go unremarked upon by the court," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project. "In our view, it shouldn't be left to executive branch officials alone to determine the limits."



The Terrorist Surveillance Program no longer exists, although the administration has maintained it was legal.



The ACLU sued on behalf of itself, other lawyers, reporters and scholars, arguing that the program was illegal and that they had been forced to alter how they communicate with foreigners who were likely to have been targets of the wiretapping.




I'm just curious as to why the ACLU had to alter the way they were communicating with foreigners. When did the Constitution provide civil liberties for anyone besides American citizens? (See PS from Chris, below) What did the ACLU need to talk to foreigners about that they were afraid of the government knowing? Nice to see the ACLU slapped down with some common sense.



Michelle Malkin says, "America 1. ACLU 0!



Rusty at MPJ:




If the ACLU is correct, it means that the lapsing of the FISA law is no big deal. In fact, law enforcement may now have more ability to monitor terrorist activities because of the compromises included in the new law which give FISA courts much more power to oversee law-enforcement monitoring activities.




Pirate's Cove mocks the ACLU!

Liberty Pundit sums it all up nicely.



(PS from Chris: Foreigners within our borders are extended most of the same civil liberties as American citizens, but that is not germane to this case.)

OBAMA "ROBBED" UPDATE: THE COPS DID IT!

Here's an update to my last post (OBAMA "Robbed" In NYS Primary), starting with an excerpt from Tuesday's NY Post:


Doug Kellner, the Democratic co-chair of the state Board of Elections, said a report that Obama received not a single vote in about 80 of the city’s 6,106 election districts was no reason to suspect a conspiracy.

Kellner attributed the wrong figures to transcription errors by cops who
recorded and transmitted the data on primary night — and, he noted, they’d committed similar goofs before.

Hillary Rodham Clinton had the first position on voting-machine ballots. Obama was way over in the fifth position. In between were Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and John Edwards, with Dennis Kucinich in the sixth spot. All but Clinton and Obama had dropped out, but too late to have their names removed.

Kellner figures that when the other four received no votes, those zeroes
often mistakenly ended up under Obama’s name.

"The way the ballot was laid out," he said, "the likelihood of a zero’s
going in the Obama column was a lot greater than a zero’s going in the Clinton column."


OK, so how did Clinton register 0 votes in several districts, when she actually got "hundreds?" I love the line about the "cops" being at fault. That's a surefire way of deflecting blame. Also, where, when, and how many times has it happened before? Some documentation might help, but this story is going to fade fast, I now believe. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

OBAMA "Robbed" In NYS Primary: Not "IN" (Enough) With the "Corrupt Establishment"


NYS election officials are as inept or corrupt as the rest of the state bureaucracy. That's the kindest way I can frame this story. It looks like "clerical error" is the current excuse for corrupt bureaucrats. In NYC, it was warring factions of the Democratic party practicing their "dark arts" against each other, with Clinton being more powerful on her home turf, of course. Still, this is pretty blatant stuff, and if it is just "clerical error," the statewide returns need to be examined for similar "errors." That probably won't happen, but this story exposes one of the dirtiest political operations in the free world. (link)




Barack Obama's primary-night results were strikingly underrecorded in several districts around the city - in some cases leaving him with zero votes when, in fact, he had pulled in hundreds, the Board of Elections said yesterday.



Unofficial primary results gave Obama no votes in nearly 80 districts, including Harlem's 94th and other historically black areas - but many of those initial tallies proved to be wildly off the mark, the board said.



In some districts getting a recount, the senator from Illinois is even closer to defeating Hillary Clinton.



Initial results in the 94th, for example, showed a 141-0 sweep for Hillary Clinton, but the recount changed the tally to 261-136.



As yet, none of the results have been certified, but a ballot-by-ballot canvassing of all voting machines has begun, a board spokesperson said. Many of the mistakes were chalked up to human error -- and some Clinton tallies were wrong as well. In several congressional districts she was shown as having received zero votes when in fact she got hundreds, Boe said.




Pretty widespread, for "clerical error," don't you think? I got a real laugh from the fact that Hillary got shorted on votes in "several districts," while Obama got shorted in "almost 80." This shows that Obama has made real inroads with some of the corrupt NYC political eastablishment. Of course, it could just be an "anti - Hillary" faction of the NYC Dems, and not afraid to act on it.



I can't resist quoting two of our local lawmakers on this, even though Barron's a joke, and Perkins is wrong in his opening facts, though not necessarily his conclusion:




Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron called the understated figures "outrageous."



"I think this is an all-out effort to stop a campaign that is about to make history and render America's first black president," he said. "We need some kind of independent or federal agency to investigate this."



"Every election has problems, but in this case, all the problems seem to have been his," said state Sen. Bill Perkins (D-Harlem). "He got all the zeroes and undercounting.



"Some gross mistakes have been made. Very often, there are clerical errors. In this case, it was strictly with regards to Obama." Perkins told The Post the issue is more than the "one or two delegates" that could be added to Obama's tally, noting that if the results were accurately represented, there would not have been a "false momentum" for Hillary Rodham Clinton.



"It reflects the popularity and the weakness to her in her home state. It contributes to a false momentum," he said.




The story containing the Perkins quote (link) continues:




A spokeswoman for the Board of Elections, Valerie Vasquez, stressed that the reported numbers are "unofficial." Official results will be announced on Feb. 26.




There you have it. We won't know anything until the 26th, so consider this a "preview." NYS has a certain "shape" to our political scandals, of late. I'm sure the NYC elections people will find an explanation for this that will be quite satisfactory to their Albany superiors, and no-one will be punished, much less held accountable. There will be an outcry from "new media" outlets, while the MSM will ignore it. Election fraud is only a big issue when committed by Republicans.



There is a difference, this time. Many MSM outlets have started treating Hillary the way they usually treat Republicans. It would be interesting to see them "turn their attention" to this story, after the 26th. That's still over a week before her Mar. 4th "firewall" primaries in Texas and Ohio (VT and RI vote that day, as well). I wish her "lotsa luck" in that scenario, though it's highly unlikely.



The real issue is the corrupt, or inept, election officials. More of them back Hill in NYC, but some back Barack. Will either of them decry these tactics being used in their names? More to come on this story, for sure.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bolton and Miers Cited for Contempt of Congress: Welcome to the Club!


A legal battle over "executive privilege" is looming, after the US House of Representatives cited Harriet Miers and John Bolton for contempt of Congress. This action was taken because of their refusal to testify about the firings of several US Attorneys, which Congress has no purview over, in the first place. Here's an excerpt from the hill.com (link):




Ahead of the vote, Republicans had walked out in an effort to show that they want to work on a permanent update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) rather than be part of a "partisan fishing expedition," as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) put it.



The contempt vote raises the stakes between the White House and Congress in the battle over the fired U.S. attorneys and could set up a constitutional showdown between the legislative and executive branches.



The matter will now be referred to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.



If the fight comes to a head without a compromise having been reached, it could pit Congress's power to hold White officials in contempt against the president's right to assert executive privilege.



Democrats passed two resolutions through the adoption of a single rule, a procedural tactic that limited the time of debate, angering Republicans. One resolution holds Bolten and Miers in contempt. The second sets the stage for a civil suit the House would file against the administration to compel it to force Bolten and Miers to testify.




This is going nowhere fast, folks. Bolton has been a target of Democrats throughout his career, and Miers, who was the White House counsel when the firings took place, is a "target of opportunity." The Dems remember the backlash over Bush naming her to the Supreme Court, and figure she won't have alot of GOP defenders.



By the time this thing works it's way through the process, Bush won't be in office anymore. Do the House Dems realize that they have lower approval ratings than Bush because of just this kind of stunt? If Bolton and Miers are in contempt of Congress, they join the majority of Americans who feel exactly the same way.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

GOV SPITZER UPDATE Pt. III: Soft on Real Criminals; Still Bullying Opponents


Gov. Spitzer's first year in office has seen a liberalization of NY State's parolee releases, with a disturbing trend: (link)




January 19, 2008 -- ALBANY - Nearly every one of the 225 violent felons authorized for release during Gov. Spitzer's first 11 months in office had been convicted of murder, records made public by the state Parole Board yesterday showed.



The figures revealed that 215 of the inmates granted parole were convicted murderers while the rest had been convicted of either attempted murder or kidnapping.




Thankfully, this outrage has not gone unchallenged: (link):




February 6, 2008 -- ALBANY - Charging that Gov. Spitzer is "very soft on criminals," Senate Republicans yesterday announced legislation designed to stem the recent increase in paroles of inmates convicted of violent felonies such as murder...



Last year, Spitzer's first year in office, 235 violent felons, or 17.5 percent, were released from prison, compared with 148 during Republican Gov. Pataki's last year in 2006 and 73 in 2005.




Not that Spitzer stopped there: (link)




January 27, 2008 -- A doctor's note would be a get-out-of-jail-free card for many violent felons under a new cost-savings plan in Gov. Spitzer's budget.



Proposed legislation buried deep within Gov. Spitzer's budget plan last week would allow the state to free scores of seriously ill and incapacitated inmates now crowding prison hospitals - saving the state $5.4 million in annual medical costs.




Soft on crime? You decide. It's interesting to note that Gov. Spitzer still acts like he's the Attorney General, when it comes to his political opponents. By that I mean the bullying tactics he used when in that office, and how they've continued in his current post. See my previous post on this subject for the details. (link)



Some of his earlier bullying is coming back to bite him, as detailed exclusively by Frederick U. Dicker, in the NY Post. (link)




January 21, 2008 -- Public Service Commission officials may have hidden telephone records in an effort to undermine a Republican member's claim that she was threatened by Gov. Spitzer's top energy aide, The Post has learned.



Some phone records backing Commissioner Cheryl Buley's explosive claim that former Spitzer energy adviser Steven Mitnick sought to intimidate her weren't provided by the PSC last spring to Inspector General Kristine Hamann, a source close to the investigation said.




Spitzer and his administration have continued their "bullying" tactics more recently, as well: (link)




January 29, 2008 -- ALBANY - Gov. Spitzer and an aide privately threatened the Business Council after it criticized his record-high budget, backed a Senate GOP economic package, and hinted it would support a Republican candidate in a special Senate contest, sources have told The Post.



The sources, including several lobbyists close to the council, the state's largest business organization, said council leaders were bluntly told last week that their organization wouldn't be consulted on critical tax policy and economic decisions if they didn't stop criticizing Spitzer and praising the Senate GOP, which Spitzer has vowed to defeat in the November elections.




Ah, but it wouldn't be complete without a political "(cheap) shot across the bow," to cement the image Gov. Spitzer wants to project: (link)




February 12, 2008 -- ALBANY - Gov. Spitzer yesterday announced hearings on the subprime lending crisis, but invited only Democrats.



The move prompted charges that Spitzer was using the state Banking Department in an unprecedented effort to help Democrats win control of the GOP-controlled Senate.



"The governor is politicizing what is supposed to be a nonpartisan agency of the state," declared Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer).



Russ Haven, counsel to the New York Public Interest Research Group, called the Banking Department's action "odd," noting, he couldn't recall this happening in the past.



Bank Department spokeswoman Jacqueline McCormack contended Senate Republicans were excluded because "the initiative for the forums" came from Democrats.



A key lobbyist, noting that the forums will include representatives of the banking and mortgage service industry, told The Post, "That reads like a message from Spitzer for them to make contributions to the Senate Democrats."




Year two of Spitzer's tenure looks to be as bad, if not worse than his first. Spitzer's "ace in the hole" has been Hillary becoming president, because he would get to pick her replacement. Cindy Adams wrote, on Jan. 15th (almost a month ago), about local pols kissing up to Hillary, hoping she'll push them as her replacement to Spitzer: (link)




Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Lt. Gov. David Paterson, Long Island's Steve Israel, etc. - rushing to help her. Volunteering to knock on doors. Ingratiating themselves. On spec. In case she wins. Although the Gov appoints her successor, his decision alone, one vote and one vote only, no Senate confirmation required, they figure as president she could lean on Spitzer.




Uh-oh...his "ace in the hole" is no longer the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, much less the actual presidency. Here we go again. It's ironic that Hillary's troubles arguably started after she flubbed a question about Spitzer's "illegal driver's license" policy proposal. This guy has been more than his own worst enemy. He's hurting everyone in NY State.



I haven't always been a fan of the NYS Republican Party, but I am a NYS Republican. The party needs to fight Spitzer on all fronts, if they hope to defeat his blatant "bullying" tactics to "steamroll" his way into controlling the NY State Senate. I should thank Gov. Spitzer, for energizing NY's GOP, actually, if the backlash against his policies, and his political tactics, is as big as it deserves to be. Only time will tell, but I'm optimistic that NYers are already sick of Spitzer's "Steamroller Socialism."

Stephen Colbert, the NY GIANTS, and my Valentine's Day Gift from Anna


My girlfriend Anna went to the Modell's Sporting Goods store in Times Square after work on Tuesday, to buy me a Valentine's Day gift. After finding the very last (size large) NY GIANTS Superbowl Championship T-shirt, she saw Stephen Colbert (of The Colbert Report) in the store. He came right up to her, and asked her to help him find another GIANTS T-shirt, in size large.

Not wanting to tell him that she got the last one, she engaged him in small talk, telling him she loved the segment where he and Mike Huckabee played "air hockey" with a miniature state of Texas. He replied (I paraphrase) "thanks, and we didn't have any writers for that show."


They talked a little bit, and she said "he seemed kind of strange," but didn't elaborate, when telling me about it in our nightly phone conversation. He asked her if she was buying the shirt for herself. She said "No! It's for my boyfriend, for Valentine's Day!" He abruptly said "Well, I'll let you get back to your shopping."



Now, I don't know if he was flirting with her or not, but I'll get the full story on Valentine's Day, when she comes over with my GIANTS SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS T-shirt. (I got her some lovely gold earrings, and a set of 3 small gold rings, both of which she picked out.) I'm sure that Modell's had more of the shirts, in a storeroom. I mean, it's the "flagship" store, in Times Square.



Still, it was too funny a story not to share. I told her I was going to post about it, and she didn't mind. In the immortal words of Cindy Adams, "ONLY IN NEW YORK, KIDS, ONLY IN NEW YORK."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

GOV SPITZER UPDATE Pt. II: The Budget; Taxing Crack and Other Crazy Ideas


Gov. Eliot Spitzer's 2008 budget is a pipe dream, in too many ways to count. The craziest idea in his '08 budget proposal is the so-called "crack tax," which would tax people caught selling illegal drugs. Spitzer wants to sell "tax stamps" to illegal drug dealers, with the promise that NY State tax authorities will not alert law enforcement. The counterpoint to this is that every person convicted of selling illegal drugs in NYS without a "tax stamp" on his packaging will be liable for the taxes, penalties, and interest to the State of NY (as if they will get any revenue from this). Read about it here and here.



Another bad idea that Gov. Spitzer floated was selling future lottery revenues for a short-term revenue boost, to a private contractor. I'm not the only one who thinks this is a crazy idea (link):




The possible sale was also blasted by the Manhattan Institute's E.J. McMahon, who said it could turn out to be "the mother of all one-shot revenues.



"No matter how you slice it, if you borrow money from a future revenue stream in the lottery to pay current expenses, you're creating problems for New Yorkers in the future," McMahon said. (NY Post)




He's also trying to revive the "grinch tax" on internet sales. This idea was killed before it was officially proposed, just before the Christmas shopping season. See my LEAVWORLD post about this crazy idea, for the details.



This only scratches the surface. Gov. Spitzer is "doubling up" on the excessive spending by the state, even drawing criticism from fellow Dems:




January 28, 2008 -- ALBANY - State government overtime pay jumped 10.1 percent last year - costing taxpayers $481.6 million - even as the number of workers on the state payroll reached its highest level since Mario Cuomo was governor.



"I think we're spending much too much and we have to look at ways to sort of attrition our expenses," Senate Democratic Minority Leader Malcolm Smith told reporters after addressing a statewide group of county officials.




NY State has one of the largest public-sector worforces in the nation. In a iberal's mind, the more the state spends on labor, the more tax revenue it generates. Spitzer seems to be on board with this train of thought, as cited in the NY Post (link):




Last year's bill for overtime was even higher than what the state paid out in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, according to figures compiled for The Post by the state Comptroller's Office.




Gov. Spitzer has found ways to save money, though. He has ended fingerprinting food-stamp recipients (link), cut funding for an office that conducts criminal background checks on prospective teachers (link), and compounded a previously broken promise of millions is school funding to NYC, much to Mayor Bloomberg's chagrin (link):




Bloomberg was equally emphatic that the city deserves its full share of revenue-sharing aid instead of the half that Spitzer has proposed.



During last year's budget negotiations, the state eliminated all but $20 million of the nearly $330 million in special aid to the city with a promise that the entire amount would be restored in the coming fiscal year.



But Spitzer proposed just $164 million in 2008-09 with a vow that the rest would be restored in 2009-10.



"It seems like a recurring theme," Bloomberg said of the promise of more aid for the city in future years.




There is something underliying this whole budget story. Something not mentioned yet, and that is what the NY State budget is dependent on: the NYS taxpayer. Here's another NY Post excerp (link):




The Spitzer administration, which only months ago expected bonuses to grow by 14 percent, now projects that they fell by a hefty 5.5 percent...



The declines are significant for New York state, where Wall Street taxes make up a whopping 20 percent of total state tax revenue.




In other words, "taxing the rich" is going to get alot less lucrative for the NYS pols in the immediate future. Where will they turn next? More regressive cigarette taxes and Lotto games (and other gambling revenue)? I'll tackle that in a later post, but Gov. Spitzer seems to be going in that direction.



Long before Gov. Spitzer, NYS has increased spending on pensions and health benefits that state workers contribute little or nothing to, while private sector businesses have had to make their employees share in the cost of this benefit, if they can even afford to offer it. My hope was that Gov. Spitzer could take on the public-sector unions, to control profligate state spending. He has largely failed.



In our Governor's defense, he has been praised by E.J. McMahon, in the NY Post:




Annoying a powerful ally - and embracing a concept he had rejected during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign - Spitzer said he would form a special commission to recommend a "fair and effective cap" on school taxes in New York




Politics can be dirty business, and political commenting can be even dirtier. I'm attacking Governor Spitzer as a huge disappointment on fiscal matters, in addition to his possible personal ethical lapses (see spygate link). I will tie these points together in the third post of this update, regarding his venomous personality, which seems to be the source of all his problems. There will be more than three parts to this update on Gov. Spitzer's latest escapades.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

GOV. SPITZER UPDATE, Pt I: Still Dodging "Spygate" Probes

NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer didn't make any New Year's resolutions to improve his performance, apparently. After a disastrous first year in office, with perhaps the greatest and swiftest decline in the history of polling, he sounded concilliatory in his latest "State of the State" speech. A closer look at what he's actually doing reveals a different picture. Since I've been out of circulation for a while, I've got quite a bit of Spitzer news to relate. This column deals with the Spygate scandal (No, not the Patriots' Spygate), and the three ongoing probes into this sordid mess.

We still don't know if Spitzer instructed his top aides to have the State Police "keep tabs" on his biggest political rival, (Republican) Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. The cenrtal figure, former communications director Darren Dopp, faces fines and censure from the newly-created state Public Integrity Commission, and is still under investigation by the Albany DA, David Soares. After his resignation, he was hired by Spitzer-connected lobbyist Patricia Lynch. He is claiming "executive privilege" in the Senate's investigation, and his lawyer is invoking "lawyer/client privilege" for his former lawyer, in the state P.I.C. probe.

The Spitzer administration also has some explaining to do regarding another central figure in the scandal, William Howard. He was demoted from his post as a senior homeland security advisor, and State Police liason, to a secondary post at homeland security, after the scandal. A few weeks ago, however, Howard was promoted to chief of staff of the Homeland Security Office. This came at the same time that Spitzer granted the head of the Public Integrity Commission, Herbert Teitelbaum, a $15,000 raise. Yes, that's the same, newly-created P.I.C. that is investigating the scandal; and for good measure, Mr. Teitelbaum got a two and a half week vacation, after just six months on the job.

The commission has been criticized by it's predecessor's chairman, David Grandeau, as well as several good-government groups, including the state League of Women Voters and Common Cause/New York. Albany DA Soares has also been said to have aided in covering up Spitzer's legal exposure, after being forced to "reopen" the investigation. Senate Republicans charge in a legal brief regarding Spitzer's fight against their subpoenas that Soares "conducted no grand-jury probe, spoke to no one under oath and received only documents that were voluntarily turned over to him." Unfortunately, it looks like the Senate probe is the only one with the intent of finding out what the Governor knew, and when he knew it.

Please read all of the links to the NY Post's excellent reporting on this, because there are more details than I could cover here. Stay tuned for what he's been doing in his new budget (taxing internet sales, and illegal drugs!), and the continuation of his administration's bullying tactics, in following posts. I've broken this update into parts, to keep each post shorter. Search "Spitzer" on the NY Post website (link here) for my source stories, if you can't wait, though I'm starting work on Pt. II as soon as I get this posted.

Monday, February 04, 2008

LEAVWORLD ENDORSES ROMNEY IN THE NY PRIMARY


Eight years ago, I signed a petition to get John McCain on the NY Republican primary ballot. I supported George W. Bush, but I wanted a fair primary, and the NYS Republican party didn't. This year, there is no such controversy, and all GOP candidates are on the ballot.



It is a difficult choice, between Romney and NcCain. I was offended by McCain-Feingold, as well as Mac's "pro-amnesty" position on illegal immigration. Those are the two major reasons I am voting for Mitt Romney on Feb. 5th, though he's not favored to win in NY.



I will vote for either one of these fine gentlemen, if they are the GOP nominee. I'll just be holding my nose tighter if it's McCain. Anna's voting for Hillary, come hell, or high water. The GOP really has to "step up" this year, if we want to win the general election.



I say the GOP should take a page from the NY GIANTS' book, and beat the odds! We're the underdogs, politically, and anything can happen on Tuesday. Good luck to both Mitt and John!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

DESTROYING DREAMS OF PERFECTION: THE NY GIANTS BEAT HISTORY!

The NY Giants have crushed the NE Patriots' dreams of perfection. I predicted this, and am proud of my hometown team. All of the prognosticators favored the Pats, except for Frank, the comedian, on the Fox pre-game show. Anna says she saw Terry Bradshaw predicting a Giants' win, but I didn't see it.






Anna and Buffy (the Cosmic Kitty) were sitting on either side of me, and gave the Giants the superstitious boost they needed, from my POV. It was enough to WIN THE GAME, but we had to do it in dramatic fashion. Even though Eli stunk up the joint in the middle of the game, he came back, like a knight in shining armor, to win.







Thanks to the Patriots, for a great game, but the better team won.







Read my previous Superbowl posts:



CHRISTMAS PRESENTS: I WISH I GOT THESE WHEN I WAS 12!



The GIANTS vs. the "GREATRIOTS": The NFL Network Caved, and Showed a Great Game



GIANTS VS. "GREATRIOTS" II: SUPER BOWL! (PS, I'm Back!)



SUPERBOWL XLII MEDIA KICKOFF: Belichick, Brady, and Bundchen Invade NY; Romo Breaks Up With Simpson



THE NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS ARE THE SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS!