Saturday, March 20, 2010

OBAMA Interview on FNC, Part One: Slaughter's "Deem as Passed" Rule OK

President Obama showed "masterful political skill" as he danced around Brett Baier's "deem as passed rule" question on FNC's Special Report Wednesday. He said he supported it, without actually saying it. Mr. Baier did a good job getting that much out of him, though it is actually a view expressed almost every night on Special Report (and other FNC shows) by AB Stoddard, one of the frequent panelists on Mr. Baier's show. It boils down to this: the vote on the rule is politically the same as a vote on the whole health care bill.

It sounds like a good point, but how many Dems who previously voted "no" will try to run on that vote in November, instead of this "rule" vote, whether it passes or fails? Technically, they will be telling the truth. They voted "no" to Obamacare. When they are confronted with their "rule" vote, they will explain, as Pelosi is currently fond of doing, that the GOP has used this gimmick hundreds of times. They'll also use Obama's current talking point of "process" over "substance," saying this was a "procedural" vote, as if it wasn't critical to passing the bill. I can hear them now: "When it came to the substance of the bill, I voted against it." See the Kerry precedent: "I was for the war, before I was against it." Don't think it won't happen.

The rule change has to come from the Rules Committee, headed by Rep. Louise Slaughter of NY. So the President is on the record as supporting the "Slaughter House Deem as Passed" Rule. Sounds scary to me, but it maybe the President won some converts after this interview...or not. This is just an analysis of Baier's first question, and Pres. Obama's response. Here's a link to FNC's "rush" transcript. Look at the transcript, to see how long and evasive his responses were, to put this in context. If you saw the interview, you know that Baier was trying to be probing, and stick to getting answers to his questions, but was hitting a wall. Still, he scored by getting the President to tacitly admit he supported the congressional process.

There are a few things that I have to take issue with, in the President's meandering response:

"You now have a proposal from me that will be in legislation, that has the toughest insurance reforms in history, makes sure that people are able to get insurance even if they've got preexisting conditions, makes sure that we are reducing costs for families and small businesses, by allowing them to buy into a pool, the same kind of pool that members of Congress have."

No, sir, right now, we don't have anything from you, other than vague outlines, which change on a daily basis.

"We know that this is going to reduce the deficit by over a trillion dollars."

No, we don't. Some very smart people think it may increase the deficit by that amount, at least. With the precedent of multi-trillion deficits in existing health care programs, how do you expect us to believe this?

(In response to Baier's interjection of some emailed questions) "I've got the exact same e-mails, that I could show you, that talk about why haven't we done something to make sure that I, a small business person, am getting as good a deal as members of Congress are getting, and don't have my insurance rates jacked up 40 percent?"

This was the second time he seemingly "said" that under Obamacare, all Americans would get the same "deal," or "kind of pool" that "members of Congress" get. He didn't actually say all Americans would be able to afford the same health care options as Congress. He certainly didn't promise anything, because he doesn't have an actual bill that can be read, and translated into normal language, as noted above. He seemed to have "skirted Demon Pass," while "throwing some smoke bombs," to use colorful metaphors.

The President continued this pattern, through most of the interview. I missed the last segment, and haven't read the transcript yet. I'll get to the rest of the questions this weekend, since there won't be any vote in Congress. The President promised it would be online for 72 hours before the vote, so it can't happen until Monday. Wait, he said that on all of the other "votes" since he's been in office, and not one of them were even available online (or offline-neither House nor Senate knew what the bills said) when they were voted on. Damn! I almost believed him...not! Fool me twice, and I'm the fool!

Well done, Brett! You made news with an incisive interview! I look forward to weighing in on the rest, because it gets alot more interesting. You've got alot of statements by the President that are blatant BS, and I'm surely just one of many people pointing it out. Think of this as what I was yelling at the TV during this part of the interview!

GOP "Backroom" Support For Lazio Over "Turncoat" Dem Levy In Gubenatorial Primary

According to the NY Post, there was a "secret" vote by NY's GOP senators last week, "to put party Chairman Ed Cox on notice that they want former US Rep. Rick Lazio - and not a turncoat Democrat - as their candidate for governor." That "turncoat Democrat" is Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who is looking at running on the GOP ticket. This all seems like a flashback to the 23rd CD race, where a bunch of county chairmen "selected" a bad candidate, who ended up dropping out, and endorsing the Democrat, rather than the Conservative challenger. Now, Rick Lazio is no Dede Scozzafava, and I don't think Levy will run on the Conservative line, if Lazio gets the nod, without a primary.

What concerns me is whether they will support a fair primary, or try to keep Levy off the ballot. These guys may be in the minority statewide, but they hold alot of power in the state party. NY State has a large emerging "grass roots" conservative movement, though it's not as "activist" as in some of the other parts of the nation. Most of us are working so hard just to get by, we don't have the time to attend rallies, and few of us have ever talked to any elected or party official. We know that most of these people are corrupt blowhards.Still, they have records to run on, and more people than ever are able to find those records, in the information age.

This is where the new "grass roots" movemet comes in. People are becoming more politically active online, as in the real world. Many conservative voters who had "given up" on voting are being brought back in by the wave of people who are "newly" active in politics. The rallying cry in NYS is "stop the spending," and people are looking for candidates whose record reflects that. They are tired of having the party "anoint" candidates that they have to hold their nose while voting for.

I voted for Lazio, when he lost to Hillary. Unfortunately, other than remembering that he had a decent voting record, I don't remember much about him. I loved it when he approached her, with a pledge to sign, at the debate, but can't remember what the "pledge" was about (probably about not raising taxes, or something like that). He was roundly condemned for that, but my point is that he just wasn't very impressive. He might have great ideas, but will he have what it takes to be the voice of fiscal sanity in Albany?

Levy, I don't know as much about, other than he's drawn fire over illegal immigration issues, in the past. He also is having a showdown with the Suffolk County Legislature over hiring new police, who are paid the highest salary in the world, apparently (sarcasm, there. They're highly compensated, compared to Nassau County and NYC). He wants to fund 70, the legislature wants 200. That's two things I like about him, but I have to look into the rest of his record as S. C. Executive. If he runs in the primary, I'll be sure to write about it. He seems more willing to "go against the grain," which is what our state needs right now.

Thanks to the Post, we know that the "long knives" are out for Levy, already. Of course, he's dealt with plenty of that from his own party, in the past, and he is still a sitting county executive. I think the GOP senators are scared, because he may represent the exact threat they fear the most: the voice of voters from both parties, who are saying "the party is over! STOP THE SPENDING!"

NYS is in bad shape, and there is a huge public spending machine in place, now fully owned by the Democrats. The GOP ran themselves out of power by being part of it, and disaffecting so many voters. Now that a natural constituency is emerging around the "tea party" movement, they need to listen to the people, and at least allow them to have a choice of candidates for governor.

Update: Levy has switched to the GOP, and entered the race. I also read that he was endorsed by the Conservative Party in his last race for county executive. I like this guy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gov. Paterson Exposes NYS Corruption: He's Just a Symptom

New York State is again in the corruption spotlight, wresting the dishonor back from Blago's Illiois. "The Accidental Governor," David Paterson, is not going to finish his term, I can confidently predict. There is a deeper story here than Gov. Paterson's downfall. The systemic political corruption in our state touches every politician and bureacrat in a leadership position, at every level of government. It deeply infects NYC, most counties, and permeates Albany. And yes, it's bipartisan. Still, examining Paterson reveals an insight into the mindset of our elected representatives, here in NYS.

The NY State Police have a recurring role in our political scandals, going back to Gov. Pataki, at least. They seem to have a political function, beyond the power of their union in Democratic Albany. Of course, with so many other powerful interests being catered to, they are relatively "behind the scenes," except when it comes to gubenatorial scandals. While Spitzer was found to have used them to spy on a political rival, Paterson allegedly used them to improperly pressure a woman to drop harassment charges against a senior advisor. Spitzer was taken down by a different scandal, but Paterson's actions re-open an examination of political corruption and influence in statewide law enforcement. This is just the tip of the iceberg, regarding NYS/City/local corruption.

Governor Paterson is a product of a corrupt system. His father was a contemporary of Charles Rangel, David Dinkins, and other "old school" African American leaders, who gained power as Democrats starting in the '60's. Unfortunately, the system they inherited was already corrupt, and they did little better than their predecessors at improving their constituents' day to day life, or opportunities for a better one. They played the system, as most previous pols have, as a "me and my friends benefit" game, combined with a "pay to play" mindset toward constituents.

Paterson's short record in office shows numerous examples of these types of behaviors. His inability to control taxes and spending wouldn't be so flagrant, had he not talked so strongly about doing it. He has the propensity to do the exact opposite of what he says publicly. His process for filling Sen. Clinton's vacant seat was as convoluted, and probably corrupt, as the one in Illinois, which has Gov. Blago facing criminal charges. More recently, his role in selecting a developer to expand the Aqueduct race track to include slot machines is under investigation, as well as his attendance at game one of last year's World Series. Before you laugh, he may have committed perjury covering up how he got the tickets!

The latest news comes from the second "summit" of African American NY "leaders," who came out of the meeting at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, supporting Paterson remaining in office. Unfortunately, at least three of this "leadership" group are under investigation, as well. Their support plays against Paterson, and reflects badly on the whole NY Democratic "establishment," not to mention themselves. As one Harlem resident said about Rep. Charles Rangel, one of the members of the group who is under multiple investigations, "get your hand out of the cookie jar!"

The list of officials indicted, or under investigation in NY seems to grow every day. Gov. Paterson is only a symptom of this corruption, with his "accidental" rise to power. He's obviously been incompetent, throughout his political career. He's the son of Basil Paterson, who used his political power to get his son a career in politics. This is the same type of "old boy" network that minority leaders fought against, until they got power. It really is an institutionally corrupt political system, but that doesn't exonerate the players, it only explains why honest people don't get into NY politics.

Meanwhile, NY State is falling apart, financially. There is no "opposition" to the political corruption, even from the NYS GOP. They give "lip service" to tax and spending restraint, but often "go with the flow" when budget time comes up. Pataki started out doing the right thing, but quickly became tainted with the "tax and spend/pay to play" culture. By the end of his time in office, he was under investigation for many things, including a "sweetheart" sale of riverfront state owned land to a politically connected developer. His early tax-cutting reputation was in shreds, after the way he screwed middle class NYers. (Note that no-one took him seriously as a presidential candidate, or as a candidate against Sen. Gillebrand. He's not viable, thanks to his time in the sewer of the NYS Governorship.)

Spitzer was another "to the rescue" type, coming from the Left. He was going to "clean up" NYS government, the way he cleaned up Wall Street. We all know now how little he actually "cleaned up" Wall Street, and his contribution to NYS politics is becoming a legacy of corruption, thanks to David Patetrson. If there was ever a state that needed a "political insurrection" by the taxpaying people, it is New York. "Governor" Cuomo (this is 99.9% certain to happen) will not fix the system; he is part of it, and has been for years. NYS needs a governor like Chris Christie of New Jersey, someone who will take the bull by the horns, and challenge the entrenched liberal interests.

As for Paterson, he will be OK, in the aftermath of this. The past few weeks have probably been the worst of his life, and it will only get worse until he resigns. NY Democrats should be thinking along the same lines as I am about my NY Republican party: We need some new blood, and new leadership. This goes for all factions of both parties, whether in Harlem, Nassau County, Albany, or anywhere in the state. Let's learn from Paterson, and all of our fooolish elected officials' mistakes, and get serious about fixing our economic and political bases. That's what it will take to emerge from the current malaise infecting us.

Bunning Demonized for Emforcing "Pay-Go" Rule

This WSJ article about Sen. Jim Bunning's thwarting of the unemployment benefit extension is instructive, in that it doesn't once mention the "pay-go" rule, signed by Pres. Obama just weeks ago. The President went on youtube to announce it's passage, explaining that no new spending could go forward, without an offsetting cut in spending elsewhere. Why does no-one seem willing to enforce this law, except one retiring GOP Senator?

It's almost comical, how Sen. Bunning is being attacked by the people who support the law he's basing his objection on. Just weeks ago, they all lined up to claim the mantle of "fiscal responsibility." Now, all that's gone "out the window," apparently. The media are not doing their job, either, if the WSJ article is any indication of the broader coverage of this story.