Archive for March, 2010

Are state Republicans about to take plunge into the absurd?

I swear, Georgia Republicans have mashed their “stupid pedal” to the floorboard and it’s gotten stuck there.

First they tried to pass a constitutional amendment in the state Senate to declare that no Georgian could be mandated by government to buy health insurance, as if Georgia law could somehow supercede federal law. The amendment failed.

(The amendment was sponsored by state Sen. Judson Hill, who three years earlier had introduced legislation that would have — wait for it — forced Georgians to buy health insurance, even giving state officials the power to garnish wages of those who refused. At the time, Hill attributed the legislation to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is now one of the sternest critics of “Obamacare”. In other words, mandated health insurance was a good idea until it became part of the Democratic health-reform bill, at which point it became unconstitutional and the most dire threat to American liberty since General Cornwallis surrendered at …

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GoDaddy refuses to play Little Brother to China’s Big Brother

In theory, every country is entitled to set the rules by which business is governed within its borders. However, the insistence of the Chinese government that businesses agree to become co-conspirators in the repression of the Chinese people and the denial of free speech represents a serious test of that theory.

And that’s only one aspect of the challenge. Speaking in general terms, the rest of the world will eventually have to swallow China’s way of doing business, or China will be forced to conform to the standards set by the rest of the world. That’s true of everything from business law, currency manipulation and corruption to labor relations, product safety and global warming.

In short, China seeks all of the benefits of global commerce and investment with none of the obligations. It’s good to see companies and countries beginning to comprehend that fact, and to respond accordingly.

From the Washington Post:

GoDaddy.com Inc., the world’s largest domain name registration …

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Early polls give Obama a boost in health-care debate

Rasmussen reports a 10-point improvement since March 20 for President Obama in its unique and controversial “presidential approval index.” Its more standard approval/disapproval numbers are at 48/52, representing a five-point bump for Obama in recent days.

Gallup’s lastest three-day tracking numbers, just out, put Obama’s job approval numbers at 51-43, a five-point jump in the past week. A separate Gallup poll released yesterday found that 49 percent of Americans believe passage of health care reform was a good thing, while 40 percent say it was a bad thing.

However, those numbers are better than reported in other polls. CBS queried 649 adults last week on health care, then reinterviewed the same population a week later. It too found that support had jumped, although a plurality still opposed the bill:

“From what you’ve heard or read, do you approve or disapprove of the current health care reform bill?”

After vote:
Approve 42 percent/ Disapprove 46 percent

Before vote:
Approve …

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Obama, Netanyahu doing a complicated little dance

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama conferred twice yesterday at the White House, but the tone of the meetings was apparently chilly. As the Washington Post notes, the meetings had little of the pomp that normally accompanies a visit by another head of state.

“No reporters or photographers were invited to record the scene or even a handshake between the two leaders, who met one day after Netanyahu, in a speech to a pro-Israel group, rejected the administration’s plea that he halt construction in a disputed area of Jerusalem claimed by Palestinians as their capital.

Generally, a leader of an ally would expect to have a joint news conference with the president or at least a joint appearance before photographers. But the White House did not even immediately release a statement providing a summary of the meeting’s topics.”

Netanyahu is trying to work around Obama by building support for Israeli settlement policies in Congress and with the American public. …

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The ‘dark secret’ behind John Boehner’s opposition to health bill is revealed

House Minority Leader John Boehner, the George Hamilton of American politics,  got more than a little upset at the notion that the health-insurance reform measure might become law.  Before its passage, he warned ominously that it would  “ruin our nation.” And with final approval just minutes away, he got downright emotional in comments on the House floor:

But do you know WHY it made Boehner so mad?

HELL NO YOU DON”T!!!!

Because you didn’t read THIS part of the  bill!!

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Pay slashed for executives under TARP, yet for some reason they didnt’ flee

Last summer, Kenneth Feinberg was appointed the federal government’s “pay czar” over seven of the biggest private companies that had taken taxpayer-funded TARP bailouts to stay alive. (As an aside, that made Feinberg part of the right wing’s “Great Czar Poutrage of 2009″ — remember that one?)

By October, Feinberg announced that he was cutting the base salary of top executives at those companies by an average of 90 percent; total compensation paid out in cash, stock and perks would be cut in half. In the minds of some, that drastic action meant real trouble ahead for those companies, as the AP reported at the time:

“These people are considered the brains of the machine. They are who can pull you through the tough times,” said Steven Hall, who runs an executive compensation firm that bears his name. “This will give them reason to leave.”

“There will be a fallout,” said Janice Reals Ellig, co-CEO of the executive search firm Chadick-Ellig. “Talent that is short-term-focused …

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Ga. legislators insist on right to accept expensive ‘gifts’ from lobbyists

Last November, Gov. Sonny Perdue and a staff member were flown by private jet to Austin, Texas, site of the 2009 Republican Governors Association meeting, and then home.

The $5,000 flight was provided courtesy of the thoughtful folks at Altria, the nation’s largest tobacco company. And that was hardly the only example of Altria’s altruism.

A few months earlier, an Altria lobbyist kicked in $387 to buy a nice dinner for Perdue and three staffers at the Beau Rivage Casino in Mississippi, site of the National Governors Association meeting.

In early February, the company spent $7,445 on a dinner for members of the state House and Senate agriculture committees. And late last year, an Altria lobbyist spent $437.71 for “hunting trip/relationship building at Southern Woods Plantation” on behalf of state Rep. David Knight. (That was just half of Knight’s bill — a second lobbyist covered the rest.)

Of course, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the gift from Altria has …

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A cup of coffee raised in tribute to Speaker Pelosi

In the wake of Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, health-insurance reform was widely proclaimed as a hopeless cause. As recently as January, to cite just one example of many, Washington überhack Fred Barnes was chortling that “the health care bill, ObamaCare, is dead with not the slightest prospect of resurrection.”

Nancy Pelosi accepts the speaker's gavel from John Boehner in 2007, becoming the first woman ever to hold that post.

Nancy Pelosi accepts the speaker's gavel from John Boehner in 2007, becoming the first woman ever to hold that post.

Reading through various accounts of its resurrection, I’ve been struck by the importance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. After the loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat, it was Pelosi who blew off White House suggestions to “go small” and seek small victories. And it was the speaker from San Francisco who instilled discipline into a notoriously undisciplined Democratic caucus and rounded up the votes needed for Sunday’s unlikely triumph.

“Just think,” she said from the House floor Sunday night, once success was assured, “we will be joining those who have …

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CNN poll: 59 percent of Americans oppose just-passed health-reform bill

In a new CNN poll released today, 59 percent of Americans say they oppose the health-insurance reform bill passed Sunday night, while just 39 percent support it. (13 percent say they oppose it because it isn’t liberal enough.)

On its face, that’s great news for the Republicans, and suggests that President Obama has a tough selling job in the weeks and months to come. It certainly gives the GOP some footing in their argument that the Democrats have overextended and will face a backlash come November.

However, a couple of other numbers in the poll ought to undercut that optimism. Asked who they trust more to handle changes in health care, Obama or congressional Republicans, Obama remains the clear favorite, by 51-39 percent. That will be important, because once this bill clears its last congressional hurdle, Obama rather than Congress will be seen as its chief defender and proponent.

Conversely, the leading critics of the bill will continue to be congressional Republicans, who …

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McCain issues whining: ‘”There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year’

“There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year. They have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.”

– U.S. Sen. John McCain. R-AZ

So having lost, Johnny and his angry friends are going to take their ball and go home. Petulance will take precedence over the best interests of the country. The Party of No is announcing its intention to become the Party of Hell No. With a heavy and quite important agenda yet ahead — financial regulation, immigration, long-term solutions to our budget problems, the economy — “there will be no cooperation for the rest of the year.”

Well, let’s see how that sits with the American people who pay their salary.

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