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Tully's blog

Burris 1, Reid 0

Senate Democrats Plan To Accept Burris

Senate Democrats plan to accept Roland Burris for President-elect Barack Obama's vacant seat.

...Senate officials in both parties, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for Senate members, said there is a growing expectation on Capitol Hill that the saga will end with Burris being seated.

...Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Rules Committee, told reporters Tuesday evening that Burris should be seated.

"If you don't seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America," the California Democrat said. "Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician. He has been attorney general, he has been controller, and he is very well-respected. I am hopeful that this will be settled."

This was a fight Reid could not win. He was stupid to pick it and grandstand on it the way he did. And he was stupid to drag Obama into it. (Obama was also stupid to get dragged into it. He should have stuck with his say-little approach here.)

Now what am I gonna do with all this popcorn? Well, I'm sure something will come along.

UPDATE: IOW, Sheriff Bart Senator Burris wins!

Burris Update: Harry Reid, Emperor!

Forget the Constitution and the Rule of Law--Harry Reid asserts that a majority in either the Senate or the House may exclude anyone they want to, for any reason or none.

"WE determine who sits in the Senate. And the House (of Representatives) determines who sits in the House. So there's clearly legal authority for US to do whatever WE want to do. This goes back for generations."

That's a breathtaking assertion of authority, one that boils down to the claim that the majority can completely control membership in either body entirely at their whim, regardless of little things like elections or appointments made under clear Constitutional authority. I note here as I have noted elsewhere, under such a non-standard a majority in either body could easily become perpetual, as the majority could vote to exclude anyone in the minority. Someone remind me again, why do they call it the "Democratic" Party?

Burris' attorney begs to disagree [PDF] with the various assertions offered by Reid for keeping his legally appointed client out of the Senate, and offers as to how the appointment is completely valid regardless of the Illinois Secretary of State's attempt to withold what he is obligated by law to provide--his signature and seal--by a direct citation of Marbury v. Madison.

In case anyone is still wondering about the purity of Reid's motives, his firm dedication to principle versus his dedication to partisan political gain, it's now been revealed that Reid repeatedly contacted Blagojevich before his arrest and attempted to strong-arm his choice of appointees.

Sources say the Senate majority leader pushed against Jackson and Davis — both democratic congressmen from Illinois — and against Jones — the Illinois Senate president who is the political godfather of President-elect Barack Obama — because he did not believe the three men were electable. He feared losing the seat to a Republican in a future election.

Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero confirmed that Reid (D-Nev.) and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — the new chief of the Senate Democratic political operation — each called Blagojevich’s campaign office separately Dec. 3. Sources believe that at least portions of the phone conversations are on tape.

Even granting Reid the sole motivation of "electability," one does notice common factors among Jackson, Davis, Jones, and Burris, the appointments to which Harry Reid was so opposed. Something that distinguishes them from Duckworth and Madigan, the two people Reid favored.

Eating our own....

One data point leads to speculation, but four data points begin to form a trend, and six provides some distinctive criteria. No black men wanted. Just white women. Reid thinks they're more "electable," despite recent events involving a certain Senator from Illinois, one who by some coincidence managed to get elected to that seat, and then upgraded considerably via election. No matter how you slice it, Reid's continued and repeated objections to black male Senatorial appointments have a consistency that's very hard to ignore. (I'd also note that Reid's current insistence that no Blago-made appointment would be acceptable bears overtones of Bills of Attainder, something else he might want to consult the Constitution about.)

In the meantime, it seems that Obama's pick for Secretary of Commerce, Governor Bill Richardson, is pulling out, citing a pending investigation of business dealings.

We're gonna need more popcorn for this circus.

Beggars At The Gates

....

U.S. governors seek $1 trillion federal assistance

Governors of five U.S. states urged the federal government to provide $1 trillion in aid to the country's 50 states to help pay for education, welfare and infrastructure as states struggle with steep budget deficits amid a deepening recession.

...Gov. David Paterson of New York said 43 states now have budget deficits totaling some $100 billion as tax revenues plunge.

So naturally, they want ten times that amount. Belt-tightening? What's that?

The latest package calls for $350 billion to create jobs by building or repairing roads, bridges and other public works; $250 billion to maintain education; and another $250 billion in "counter-cyclical" spending such as extending unemployment benefits and food stamps, which are typically a responsibility of the states.

The remainder would be used to fund middle-class tax cuts, stimulate the embattled housing market, and stem the tide of home foreclosures through a loan-modification program.

And a partridge in a pear tree...what you shouldn't expect to see is any government employees taking pay cuts or losing their jobs, or any attempt to rein back government expenditures. That stuff is so private sector. But not all is doom and gloom...if the NYT is right, you too can cash in! Of course, you have to be a member of the Connected Club first.

With $700 billion in bailout money up for grabs, and billions of dollars worth of bad debt or failed bank assets most likely headed for sale or auction, these former officials are helping their clients get a piece of the bailout money or the chance to buy, at fire-sale prices, some of the bank assets taken over by the federal government.

Is this the HopeChange® you were looking for?

The Cannibal Feast: Dessert!

Aides: Democrats have plan if Burris shows up

Eating our own....

The aide familiar with Senate Democratic leaders' plans said if Burris tries to enter the Senate chamber, the Senate doorkeeper will stop Burris. If Burris were to persist, either trying to force his way onto the Senate floor or refusing to leave and causing a scene, U.S. Capitol Police would stop him, said the aide.

"They (police) probably won't arrest him" but they would call the sergeant-at-arms," the aide said.

I strongly urge Burris to show up. The spectacle of the white Senate Dems refusing to seat the only black Senator and having him instead hustled off by any form of law enforcement will be SO amusing. But wait, it gets better!

Senate Democratic leaders, who consider Governor Rod Blagojevich a loose cannon, also have discussed what might happen if Blagojevich shows up on Capitol Hill Tuesday, said the aide familiar with their plans. But the leaders see that move by Blagojevich as unlikely at this time.

This would be a "radioactive" situation, according to the aide, because Senate Democratic leaders could not deny Blagojevich entry, as sitting governors have floor privileges in the Senate. Governors are allowed to walk around the Senate chamber or talk with senators while on the floor, though they cannot vote or formally address the Senate.

So, Blago can go to the Senate floor and they can't stop him, but a legally appointed Senator can not. Priceless.

BONUS SHOT: Althouse offers a walk down memory lane...great imagery, Democrats!

The Last Open Thread....

...of 2008. Since Sydney, Australia has already been there, done that, I offer up some actual 2009 YouTubery by taking advantage of the International Date Line. (Not a real time warp...)

Here's wishing each and every one of our readers and posters a happy, safe, and prosperous 2009.

Holiday Open Thread

A holiday season open thread, because I don't think any of us are too into serious posting right now.

If I was, I'd go into how positively downright Clintonial the O-Team's self-exculpation in the Blago affair was, and how it really didn't answer any of the relevant questions.

In any case, each and every one of have a great holiday season, and travel safely.

Added (Simon): What Tully said. Have a safe and very merry Christmas everyone.

Fridays Need Open Threads...

...like Mars Needs Women.

In today's upcomng news we can expect a Blago info dump aimed at muddying the waters. Those salivating at the thought of Emanuel on a spit will likely be waiting in vain. Those noticing that Obama's "no contact" line was serious Clintonian parsing should know better than to expect anyone to care. Pretty obvious they didn't cut any deals, which is the heart of the matter. The rest is political voyeurism (I readily concede to being a political voyeur).

Bush appears to have cleared the way to spend $17 billion or so to kick the GM/Chrysler problem down the road and onto Obama's watch. For those who weren't paying attention, the previous deal, agreed to by NEARLY all parties, collapsed when the UAW refused to make any concessions. Oh yeah, Ford says they're cool without loans right now. I think my next truck will be a Ford.

If I had a nifty music video I'd insert it here. Instead, you get Mr. Bean's Nativity Play. Enjoy.

Have a good weekend, folks, and be careful out there.

Cannibal Watch: Hey, Rube!

The ever-obvious Glenn Greenwald answers the question that Glen Reynolds keeps asking..."who are the rubes?"

I tell you one and one makes three....

So many progressives were misled about what Obama is and what he believes. But it wasn't Obama who misled them. It was their own desires, their eagerness to see what they wanted to see rather than what reality offered.

...For whatever reasons, highly influential progressive factions committed themselves early, loyally and enthusiastically to Obama even though he never even courted that support, let alone made commitments to secure it.

That may have been perfectly justified -- by pragmatic calculations regarding electability, by excitement over his personality and charisma, by the belief that he was comparatively superior to the alternatives. Still, the fact remains that progressives, throughout the year, largely lent Obama their loyal support in exchange for very little. He never pretended that he wanted to implement or advance a progressive agenda. And he certainly never did anything to suggest he would oppose or undermine the Democratic establishment that has exerted power in the party over the last two decades.

Well, you know, we tried to tell them that Obama was an empty suit, a charismatic machine politician, a political Rorschach blot, that he "believed in" whatever was good for Obama. Indeed, Obama himself tried to tell them.

"I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." --Barack Obama in The Audacity of Hope

They just weren't listening.

[H/T to Reynolds, of course. You didn't think I would pay any attention to Sock Puppet Master Greenwald without reason, did you?]

Hey, Why Not?

What can I say? Yes, I play poker. Judging by past results, I am not totally incompetent at it. :-) I am happy to take the opportunity to compete. IF they will verify the registration in time for me to actually enter one of the remaining qualifier tourneys. What follows is the required blog posting for entry.

----------------------------------------

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

The WBCOOP is an online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers.

Registration code: 035792

----------------------------------------

Blago and the O-Team: Update

Byron York points out the problems of being innocent of specifics when dealing with Patrick Fitzgerald:

Could the Blago Scandal Ensnare Team Obama? You Betcha.
If you don’t think it can, you don’t know prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald

Given Rod Blagojevich’s profane railings against Barack Obama, revealed on federal wiretaps, few observers believe — although none know for sure — that the Obama camp engaged in any pay-for-play dealings with the governor, and therefore few see any legal problems for Team Obama resulting from the criminal investigation.

Seems about right to me, judging from the incomplete information we have. But that doesn't mean all is sunshine and puppies for the O-Team.

...Emanuel might be asked many questions, under penalty of perjury or false-statement charges. Prosecutors will compare his answers to what they have on tape. Perhaps they’ll invite him in for another session of questioning. Then they’ll compare his answers in the second session to his answers in the first. Perhaps they’ll repeat that a few times. As anyone in the Bush administration could advise Emanuel, it doesn’t matter if he did anything wrong or not. He just better have his answers in order.

Yep. Just ask Scooter Libby how that works. In the meantime this will continue to cast a shadow over the inaugural buzz, simply by being hometown scandal with major Obama ties, regardless of any specific innocence on the part of O-Team members. Emanuel would be wise to hang on to that seat in Congress for the very near term. It's always good to have a fallback employment option.

BONUS Blago/O-Team Memory Hole!:

Holder omitted Blagojevich link from questionnaire

Blagojevich and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder's role as "special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board" -- a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington, D.C. law firm up to $300,000.

Holder, however, omitted that event from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week -- an oversight he plans to correct after a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry, Obama's transition team indicated late Tuesday.

...Holder signed the questionnaire on Sunday -- five days after Blagojevich's arrest for allegedly putting Obama's U.S. Senate seat up for sale.

Oops.

BONUS Bonus Update!:

Jesse Jackson, Jr. an informant to Blago investigations

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. — who was cited in a criminal complaint against Rod Blagojevich — has been an informant for at least a decade with the U.S. Attorney's office, and has informed on the embattled governor of Illinois, though not in the case currently under investigation, Jackson spokesman Kenneth Edmonds told CNN Tuesday.

Yes, folks, truth is not only stranger than fiction, it's often more amusing as well.

Blagojevich and the O-Team: One Question Answered

Rahm Emanuel, Blagojevich staff talked

Rahm Emanuel, President-elect Barack Obama's pick to be White House chief of staff, had conversations with Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration about who would replace Obama in the U.S. Senate...

The revelation does not suggest Obama's new gatekeeper was involved in any talk of dealmaking involving the seat. But it does help fill in the gaps surrounding a question that Obama was unable or unwilling to answer this week: Did anyone on his staff have contact with Blagojevich about his choice for the Senate seat?

Answer: Yes.

Given the information currently available, the odds that the O-Team did NOT know Blagojevich was soliciting offers for the appointment are essentially zero. And we already know from the affadavits that the O-Team refused any immediate and direct quid pro quo (which is not at all the same as refusing to deal). The remaining question now is, how exactly did the O-Team respond?

Inquiring minds want to know. And we may even get an answer someday.

One source confirmed that communications between Emanuel and the Blagojevich administration were captured on court-approved wiretaps.

UPDATE: Obama team: review shows no inappropriate contact

Just appropriate ones that they won't answer any questions about. But hey, they will document-dump on Christmas Eve!

More UPDATE: Jim Lindgren at Volokh interprets the Obama press release:

It would seem that there are contacts mentioned in the report; otherwise, there would be nothing to hold back for a week. Would it have killed them to admit that there were contacts between the Obama staff and Blagojevioch and his staff (which they couldn't yet disclose), but these contacts were not inappropriate? It's as if the Obama camp are responding to a discovery request and they just can't bring themselves to be fully forthcoming.

Hope! Change!

Why I Love Iowahawk

If Dave Burge were a she instead of a he, I'd give bigamy some serious consideration.

BREAKING: Feds Seize Blagojevich eBay Account

The ongoing corruption probe into Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich took a dramatic turn this evening, as federal agents working for US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced that they had seized the governor's eBay account. It is as yet unknown how the latest seizure will effect the outcome of the case...

Go there. See the pictures.

Second Helping

Because the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges just isn't enough, here's an article on some new info in the Obama/Rezko land deal:

A former Illinois bank official, now claiming whistleblower status, says bank officials replaced a loan reappraisal that he prepared for a Chicago property that was purchased by the wife of now-convicted felon Tony Rezko, part of which was later sold to next-door neighbor Barack Obama.

The company you keep, and so on.

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7th, 1941

The U.S.S. Arizona

The list of crew members still on duty aboard the U.S.S. Arizona.

The Spoils Of Goon?

Take that! And THAT!

Gateway Pundit points us to this interesting report that Bob McCulloch may be named U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.

You may remember Mr. McCulloch from this incident during the campaigns, where the Obama campaign asked Missouri law enforcement officials to persecute prosecute anyone running any campaign ads that the Obama folks didn't like, and said officials appeared to agree to be on board, enthusiastically joining the "Obama Goon Truth Squad."

The spoils of goon. Not exactly the HopeChange® people say they've been looking for, but certainly in line with the insider dealing some of us predicted. It's a brave new world....

"I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." --Barack Obama in The Audacity of Hope

All New Giant Sucking Sound!

Friday in a comment thread I made the following prediction:

What we will likely see instead is a much-hyped "plan" for the taxpayers to bail out Ford and fund the already-proposed GM/Chrysler merger, while also funding the VEBA shortfalls they're facing from the last UAW deal. And those VEBA shortfalls could be huge--the Big 3 are already committed to handing the UAW a $75 billion trust fund to handle retiree health care obligations.

Handing the Big 3 cash at this point is the exact same thing as handing it directly to the UAW for VEBA, because that's exactly where it will go, with no pain or concessions at all on the part of the union. I'm willing to predict that's exactly what the Big 3 ask for--that the taxpayer directly or indirectly pick up some or all of the tab for VEBA.

Can't you just smell the segue into "National Health Care" coming?

Today, David Broder in a WaPo op/ed:

Some have argued that Obama will be forced to delay his promised effort at health-care reform, either because of the urgency of the economic problems facing the country or because there will be no money in the budget to pay for such an enterprise.

But every indication is that he will not wait. Indeed, he could well argue that the current plight of the Big Three automakers stems in part from the burden that Ford, General Motors and Chrysler are carrying for the failures of our employer-based health-care system. One of their basic competitive disadvantages stems from the fact that Japanese and other foreign carmakers are operating in countries where government and society as a whole -- not individual companies -- pay the costs of health care.

Let's note for the record that "our" health care system, for all its many warts and bleeding sores, did not set up the Big 3 for those retiree health care costs. The UAW and the Big 3's roll-over bargaining did, over decades. And now, with a union-friendly Democratic Party in conrol of both Congress and the White House they will both demand that the taxpayer pick up those "legacy" costs. They will point out (truthfully) that those "legacy" costs are used to construct the $75/hr labor cost figure being used against them, and that they would be much more competitive if they could offload them--on us, the taxpayers.

I'd really love to be wrong here.

Bigger Is Not Always Better

Glenn Reynolds points out this article in Washington Monthly, contrasting the failure rates of the mega-banks with those of smaller regional/local banks.

Too Small to Fail

Easily overlooked amid the crisis of big banks today, small-scale financial institutions are, for the most part, holding steady—and sometimes even better than steady. According to FDIC data, the failure rate among big banks (those with assets of $1 billion or more) is seven times greater than among small banks. Moreover, banks with less than $1 billion in assets—what are typically called community banks—are outperforming larger banks on most key measures, such as return on assets, charge-offs for bad loans, and net profit margin.

One reason community banks are doing so well right now is simply that they never became too clever for their own good. When other lenders, including underregulated giants like Ameriquest and Countrywide, started peddling ugly subprime mortgages, community banks stayed away. Banking regulations prevented them from taking on the kind of debt ratios assumed by their competitors, and ties to their customers and community ensured that predatory loans were out of the question.

I've mentioned this aspect of the mortgage meltdown before. I've been involved in some local low-income lending programs for home ownership (CHDO's) and they have done rather well, much better than the middle-income lending market has done with "fancier" products. Those that have done the best are those partnered with regional/local banks. And IMHO the reason they've done well is that those banks were immensely more likely to hold and service the loans they originated, and thus that much LESS likely to make loans just to package and sell them out. Thus, they exercised sound lending principles and judgement even when making sub-prime and higher-risk loans.

For Thee, Not For Me....

The proposed defenestration of Joe Leiberman is at hand.

Senator Says Secret-Ballot in Private Meeting to Determine Whether Democrats Punish Lieberman

Senate Democrats will vote by secret ballot on Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman ’s fate this week, according to North Dakota Sen. Byron L. Dorgan.

The caucus is due to meet Tuesday to decide whether Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut, should be punished for his aggressive support of Sen. John McCain , R-Ariz., for president.

...Lieberman, then, will be able to know how many of his colleagues stood with him but will not know their identities.

Apparently the Democrats believe that secret ballots are good things. Unless, of course, they're for union organization drives.

UPDATE: Leiberman keeps his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, gets symbolic slap on wrist with minor subcommittee chair loss. Vote was 42-13. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-Vt) is annoyed.

Oops!

NASA & AGW proponents blow it big-time.

The world has never seen such freezing heat

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

Smells like Gore Spirit!

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

This is the reliability and veracity level of that "consensus" science we've been warning you about. For reference, the illustration below gives you an idea of how much we've "suffered" from Global Warming over this last year.

The non-Hansen data from NOAA...

[H/T: Gateway Pundit]

Heh.

Divvying Up the Spoils

Glenn Reynolds finally notices something that's become increasingly obvious since I first posted on it right after the election.

HOPE AND CHANGE! "I'm actually beginning to think had Hillary won there would be fewer Clinton retreads coming on-board."

Plus, from The New York Times: "The selection of Mr. Emanuel and other veterans of President Bill Clinton’s administration to run the transition stood in contrast to Mr. Obama’s message about finally moving beyond the Clinton era."

UPDATE: Well, at least there won't be a bunch of Skull-and-Bones types running things. Oh, wait. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dan Riehl thinks the Clintonista influx is a good thing, and I agree. It's just not very changey.

I think it's somewhat of a good thing too, for many of the same reasons Riehl puts forth. To put it another way, it could be worse. LOTS worse. That will not prevent me from noticing the ongoing real-world process of The Game As It Is Really Played. After all, plus ça HopeyChange®, plus c'est la même chose!

UPDATE: Another Clintonista joins the O-team.

BONUS UPDATE: Chris Cilliza has a great short take in WaPo today on the bogus myth-narratives of this election season. I don't necessarily concur in every little detail, but I certainly do in general. Worth your time.

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