Daily Archives: July 9, 2010
Apparently, some gentleman involved in sport will cease playing a game in one city, and begin playing it in another. How…usual. #
Marc Ambinder attempts to spin the pending spy swap with Russia as proof that the “reset” has worked:
Sure, U.S. and Russian spy services are agitating for a spy swap, but the fact that the two countries managed to so quickly figure out a mutually beneficial solution after the arrests of Russian spies last week suggests that Moscow and Washington work together well and that both countries believe it is in their best interest to move on from the wilderness of mirrors. In other words, it’s a sign of a healthy relationship.
It is? They’re spies Mr. Ambinder, and if you knew a stinking thing about intel you’d know that they haven’t even begun to be debriefed. It is another example of this administration kow-towing to a foreign government and acceding to their demands instead of doing what is best for our country.
This is no more a sign that “reset” is working than was unilaterally pulling trashing our plan to deploy a missile defense in eastern Europe. There’s a reason the Russians are interested in quickly doing a spy swap. That reason has to do with the intelligence that could and would be gathered the longer the spies are held.
We give up 10 spies who, with prolonged interrogation, give us invaluable information about Moscow center (yes, that’s right, Moscow center is still in business), its mission, networks, purpose, directorates, etc. Instead, we ship them back post haste and get:
Russia apparently began pushing for the swap, offering up Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear weapons expert who was convicted of espionage in 2004 and is now in jail, according to Sutyagin’s attorney and family. Sutyagin was sentenced by a Russian court to 15 years on charges of passing classified military information to a British firm that prosecutors said was as a front for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Sutyagin’s brother Dmitry told ABC News Wednesday that American agents met with Sutyagin Tuesday in a Moscow prison.
Oh – now there’s an intelligence gold mine.
Amateur hour in the White House continues unabated.
Illinois seems bound and determined to take the title of "poster child for failed state government" away from basket cases Michigan and California.
Illinois is now billions behind in paying its bills. As Comptroller David Hynes points out:
“This is what the state owes right now to schools, rehabilitation centers, child care, the state university — and it’s getting worse every single day,” he says in his downtown office. Mr. Hynes shakes his head.
“This is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,” he says. “That is obscene.”
Well not that obscene apparently, to the governor. In the midst of all of this, he’s decided now is a great time to give many on his staff 20% raises.
No, seriously – raises. How freakin’ politically tone deaf can you be?
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has handed out raises—some of more than 20 percent—to his staff while proclaiming a message of "shared sacrifice" and planning spending cuts of $1.4 billion because the state is awash in debt.
The Democrat has given 43 salary increases averaging 11.4 percent to 35 staffers in the past 15 months, according to an Associated Press analysis of records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Remember all the jaw flapping that went on by Democrats about CEOs getting bonuses while their corporations were circling the drain? Well here’s the governmental equivalent.
And as if that’s not bad enough, the state is handing out 7% “cost of living” raises to government unions:
On July 1st this year, 40,000 or so AFSCME state employees happily collected a 7% percent “cost of living adjustment”. July 1st next year, they will get another 7%. In short, in 2 years, they will get a 14% raise. Even in good years, 7% is well over inflation.
Almost 6 billion in debt and unable to pay for “absolutely essential services” and yet handing out 7% cost of living raises to government union employees and up to 20% raises to staffers in the governors office?
Given that, how can anyone take Governor Pat Quinn seriously when he yammers on about “shared sacrifice”? Why should they believe him? The government aristocracy in Illinois has apparently completely removed itself from any sacrifice whatsoever. They give new meaning to Marie Antoinette’s famous words – “let them eat cake”.
It appears that Congressional Democrats are finally at the “acceptance” stage of the grieving process over their upcoming losses in Congress. And the reality of those losses is propelling some to look at the lame duck session of Congress as the last opportunity to pass some of their and their clientel’s most desired legislation.
In the House, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters last month that for bills like "card check"—the measure to curb secret-ballot union elections—"the lame duck would be the last chance, quite honestly, for the foreseeable future."
And you can count on them pulling out all the stops to do so. The same goes for the Senate:
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chair of the Senate committee overseeing labor issues, told the Bill Press radio show in June that "to those who think [card check] is dead, I say think again." He told Mr. Press "we’re still trying to maneuver" a way to pass some parts of the bill before the next Congress is sworn in.
Of course they are – the handwriting on the wall is in seemingly permanent marker. What they’re doing, frankly, isn’t surprising or unusual. But it could be very damaging. John Fund quotes Jay Rockefeller as saying, “I’ve got lots of things I want to get done”. The lame duck also said:
"It could be a huge deal," he told Roll Call last month. "We could get the country on a sound long-term fiscal path."
Which Fund opines, undoubtedly means new taxes in exchange for extending some (but not all) of the Bush tax cuts.
But wait there’s more. Fund lists a few probable lame duck priorities for the Democrats:
Senate ratification of the New Start nuclear treaty, a federally mandated universal voter registration system to override state laws, and a budget resolution to lock in increased agency spending.
Then there is pork. A Senate aide told me that "some of the biggest porkers on both sides of the aisle are leaving office this year, and a lame-duck session would be their last hurrah for spending." Likely suspects include key members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Congress’s "favor factory," such as Pennsylvania Democrat Arlen Specter and Utah Republican Bob Bennett.
President Obama failed to mention climate change legislation during his recent, Oval Office speech on the Gulf oil spill was that he wants to pass a modest energy bill this summer, then add carbon taxes or regulations in a conference committee with the House, most likely during a lame-duck session.
That’s a very ambitious and, frankly costly and destructive lame duck legislative agenda.
Whether or not they can get all those balls in the air remains to be seen. Blue Dog Democrats, who face the toughest races of all, may not be as easily gulled into supporting any of these items given the fallout from health care reform.
But that probably won’t stop Pelosi and Reid – of Obama – from pushing the agenda since they have to be aware this is likely their last chance to do so. And they proved with health care that they’ll throw anyone under the bus to get what they want.
To include the American people.