Saturday, April 04, 2009

 

Boulder Bound

So,  for the second year in a row, I'll be spending the week in Boulder, Colorado, for the Conference on World Affairs discussing great things and small. For those people in the area, these are the panels where you can find me.  

My Monday panel is called "Rebranding Republicans: Don't Misunderestimate Us." There's another event later in the week that also assesses the current and future state of the GOP.  So, if any RT readers have serious/semi-serious policy suggestions or strategic ideas that the Republican Party might want to adopt, let me know -- either in the comments section or e-mail me at robert.ageorge-at-gmail.com.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

 

Open Thread

Off to Colorado for my second Conference on World Affairs -- assuming I survive the Denver snowstorm I'm flying into! Chat on.

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Better Off Ted?

There's something in the water up in Alaska, right? No sooner does Attorney General Eric Holder petition the judge in the Ted Stevens graft case to drop all charges against the former Republican senator, than Alaska Republicans call for elected Democrat Mark Begich to resign so there can be a new election! Gov. Sarah Palin didn't quite go so far as to say that Begich should step down, but she certainly entertained the idea of a new election.

Oh, spare us. Let's get this straight: Prosecutorial misconduct brought by a Republican president's Justice Department results in a Republican senator being charged and convicted. But the duly elected Democrat senator should now step down -- after a Democratic attorney general chose to drop the charges? It's gotta be the long nights up there, right?

On the other hand, aside from being the right thing to do, Holder's move was one of the smartest political decisions to come down the pike in a while. The misconduct was pretty blatant: Prosecutors intentionally hid potentially exculpatory testimony from the defense.

The judge nearly declared a mistrial during the trial over similar reasons and held the same prosecutors in contempt for failure to hand over documents to the defense in the appeal process. And, oh, an FBI agent in the case may have been having an affair with a prosecution witness. Lovely.

With that background, it's likely just a formality that Judge Emmet Sullivan will grant Holder's motion next week.

The Alaska Republicans should just STFU. After all, Holder could have held the option to re-file the charges, given that Stevens is, you know, likely guilty of a number of ethical improprieties with respect to refurnishing his house.

But dropping the charges was very smart. First, it makes Holder look compassionate. Stevens is 85 years old, and putting him on trial again would look cruel. Besides, he's suffered the most appropriate punishment for someone charged with abusing the powers of his office: He lost his seat (which he had held for nearly 40 years).

Secondly, the Obama Justice Department looks fair and, yes, bipartisan by going easy on the older Republican. In contrast, the case was brought by the a George W. Bush U.S. Attorney and justice department. That was the same department that has been plagued with accusations of political prosecutions. While the Stevens case can't be considered partisan, it does throw an even greater cloud over the ethical culture of the previous administration.

And does it open the door for Holder to do something similar with former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who also claims prosecutorial misconduct? Perhaps.

Regardless, Holder -- and, by extension, Obama -- are demonstrating that good policy often makes very good politics.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

 

The "Where Da White Women At?" Act of 2009...

...is sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Pete King (R-NY).

Bill gives a poshumous pardon to former heavyweight champ Jack Johnson.


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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

 

No More Puns...

It's time I grew up and put away the silly wordplay that has been the bane of my (and friend's) existence. From this day forward, a pun shall never again escape my (e)lips... (Well, maybe once...).

A few worthy contributions of a special day...

The UK Guardian ceases print publication.

New Nine Inch Nails available now.

The latest YouTube videos.

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Obama Deficit Reduction Plan

Keep making appointments to administration; make them pay inevitable back taxes. Keep going until goal reached of reducing deficit in half. The way things are going, that coule be sometime next year.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

 

Life On Mars

ABC tried its hand this television season with an American version of BBC's "Life On Mars": A New York City detective gets hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. Bizarre hi-jinks ensue: He can't understand what he's doing there and must figure out how do his job as a cop without a cellphone, internet or any other modern conveniences. Anyway, the opening of LOM includes the line, "It's as if I've woken up on another planet." Hence, the title. Alas, it never quite caught fire in the ratings. The series finale is tomorrow evening (when Sam may or may not get home).

New Yorkers can be forgiven today if they feel something like they are suffering through the LOM plot: The state legislature acted yesterday as if it was on another planet -- and another time period -- by agreeing to a budget with a 10 percent increase in spending and an $ 8 billion tax hike (including multiple income tax hikes). In the middle of an ugly recession.

As my colleague, Fred Dicker, puts it, this $132 billion budget is a throwback to the days right before New York (city and state) nearly went bankrupt. It's all the worse, given that accidental Governor David Paterson said repeatedly last year that it was time for "belt-tightening" and that taxes would only be raised as a "last resort." Yeah, right. when politicians say that they will raise taxes only as a last resorty, better believe that that's the first resort they'll check into. For what it's worth, Paterson signed his political death warrant by agreeing to this budget (behind closed doors with Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and the real uber-Albany power, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver).

It will be difficult to become any less popular than Paterson is now (19 percent approval rating in the latest of several plunging polls). But, this budget may just do the trick.

Get ready to start saying Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


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