Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Not Over Until The Norm Coleman Sings

Just in case you were wondering how the Minnesota Senate race was going after three months, it's still up in the air, Al Franken leads by 225 votes, and Norm Coleman just won a court battle that will prolong this even further as now another 4,800 ballots must be considered.
Nearly 4,800 rejected absentee ballots may be reconsidered in the U.S. Senate recount trial, after the presiding three-judge panel issued a ruling today defining boundaries for the proceeding.

The court granted Democrat Al Franken’s request to limit the universe of ballots that Republican Norm Coleman can seek to have counted, rejecting Coleman’s attempt to have about 11,000 rejected absentee ballots reconsidered. But Franken had asked the judges to limit the review to only the 650 ballots cited by Coleman when he filed his lawsuit last month challenging the recount.

With Franken holding a 225-vote lead after the recount results were certified, the 4,800 ballots that may be reconsidered would appear to be enough to put the ultimate outcome in doubt.

The court order indicates that any of the ballots that complied with state law should be counted, along with those where errors occurred through no fault of the voter.

But the order limits Coleman to presenting evidence on those ballots specifically disclosed to the Franken legal team by Jan. 22.

Coleman lawyer Fritz Knaak said he believes that the number is about 4,800, and Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh said that was also her understanding.

Franken could widen his lead, or Coleman could gain, it could go either way at this point. We're not quite back to square one on the recount of the recount, but eventually somebody's going to rule that the recount has to stop, and then it will go in front of the US Supreme Court.

There may not be a second senator from Minnesota for another three months, if not longer.

The Gregg Gambit, Part 5

Bonnie Newman is Judd Gregg's replacement officially as the New Hampshire senator moves on to Commerce. Once again, what's Obama getting for the trouble?

[UPDATE] Rhodes scholar and Oxford grad Dr. Rae-Rae has no clue either.

And if Rae-Rae's coming up with Large Yellow Question Mark Over Head, then I certainly have no idea what Obama's getting with Gregg.

About now would be a great time for a leak as to what the deal is, cause right now it's looking like Obama has completely caved to the Sensible Village Centrists in order to score cool points with people who pretty much hate everything about him.

America doesn't have time for this drama shit. Pick real people to fill your cabinet and have them work on fixing the friggin' country, Barry. We're barreling down the highway to Hooverville and you're making nice with the people who want to dump every single crooked thing they did to create the situation on your shoulders when the engine blows. It's called a co-dependent relationship. Google it, Barry.


I Think We're Turning Japanese

Roubini's latest column is another must read, but the bottom line is this: (emphasis mine)
Thus, even if the US were to do everything right and fast enough (on the monetary, fiscal, bank cleanup and household debt reduction) we would still have a severe two year U-shaped recession until early 2010 with a weak recovery of growth (1% or so that feels like a recession even if you are technically out of it) in 2010-2011. But if the US does not do it right this severe U-shaped US and global recession may turn into a nasty multi-year L-shaped near depression like the one experienced by Japan. We don’t have to go back to the Great Depression (when output fell over 20% and unemployment peaked over 25%); even a stag-deflation and Near-Depression like the Japanese one would be most severe for the US and the global economy. And while six months ago I was putting the odds of this L-shaped near-depression at 10% or so such odds have now risen to one third. So time is of the essence and the clock is working against US and global policy makers. The time to stop dithering is well past; and the time to implement a program of forceful, coherent, credible, globally-coordinated monetary, fiscal, financial clean-up and debt-resolution is now. The US and global economy are truly risking a near-depression if the policy reaction is not bold, aggressive, sustainable and credible.
The clock is ticking. It's looking less and less like Obama is going to be able to actually do anything about the coming depression other than try to soften the blow. The GOP certainly won't let him spend the kind of money he needs to spend, and of course he'll only get the blame when the current plan in Congress fails to do anything more than slow us down a bit during the 20,000 foot freefall we're in.

Folks, Roubini has been dead, solid right for the last several years. If he says there's a one in three chance of a "near-depression" on the way (and he's been hedging his bets on the downside) I would pay attention to the man. A global economic catastrophe is in the works, and we're rapidly approaching the systemic failure point of the US economy.

Remember, even if Obama manages to stave off a depressionary scenario behind door number one, the other two doors contain a multi-year recession that will still be the worst in generations.

Going Through Withdrawal Pains

Another day, another Obama administration member with tax problems. The difference is without the friends on Capitol Hill that Tim Geither has, Nancy Killeifer has been forced to withdraw from her appointment.
Nancy Killefer withdrew her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government on Tuesday, saying she didn't want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to become a distraction for the Obama administration.

Killefer was the second major nominee to withdraw and the third to have tax problems complicate nominations after President Barack Obama announced he had chosen them.

In a brief letter to Obama, the 55-year-old executive with consulting giant McKinsey & Co. wrote that she had "come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay" that must be avoided in responding to urgent economic problems.

She offered no further details of her tax difficulties.

On the other hand, with Daschle too having his critics asking him to do the same thing and withdraw, today he did just that. Matt Cooper at TPM DC asks the post-Daschle questions.
After Daschle, a few big questions:

1. How many more officials are going to run into the tax buzzsaw. Just spoke to someone who is applying for a senior job in the administration. "If you haven't been preparing for public service your whole life, you're really kind of screwed," said the person. That may be a bit much, but it does raise the question of what tax indiscretion/error is now enough to derail your career in the Obama administration.

2. What's Plan B for HHS and the health care campaign? Remember Daschle was not only supposed to run the largest cabinet agency but also to quarterback health care reform. Will the jobs now be bifurcated?

3. What're the recriminations for Leo Hindery, the New York financier for whom Daschle worked? Did he do anything untoward or was this all Daschle's failure to keep his accounting straight?

4. How badly is Obama tarnished by this both in terms of his competence--two cabinet nominees choke before they reach their confirmation hearings--and his promise of reform.

5. It's No Fun Being Majority Leader. Look what's happened to the last majority leaders in the Senate. Bob Dole quit the post and his senate seat in 1996 and lost badly. Trent Lott got ushered out of office thanks to TPM and others who noted his praise of Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign. Bill Frist was a flameout. Now Daschle's career in public service seems at an end. Makes you not want to run for the leadership.

Somebody should point that last one out to Harry Reid. Is Obamacare now dead before it gets a chance to even get started?

As I said before, it's something of an unfair double standard compared to the nepotism, cronyism, and outright impropriety of Bush's cabinet picks. But Obama has to be held to a higher standard, fair or not, and this includes the members of his administration. Geithner really should take the hint and pack it in himself, for that matter.

At least Daschle fell on his sword, already putting himself above anyone Bush ever appointed that was crooked...and that was pretty much everyone.

The Gregg Gambit, Part 4

Yes, the Judd Gregg story is still driving me nuts. All indications are that Gregg will be named as Commerce Secretary today, which means Gov. Lynch will name a Republican to replace him. The thing that bothers me the most is that Obama needs a fiscal conservative Republican in his cabinet more than he needs 60 Dems in the Senate right now, which makes less and less sense to me the more I think about it.

Yes, the logical assumption is that there's some sort of major deal here, and there's several theories behind what that deal (or deals) may be. But the bottom line is this: the Obama administration has done a lousy, lousy job selling the stimulus package to the American people and instead has chosen to sell it to the GOP. The Republicans know two things, that a majority of Americans increasingly hate any idea of a stimulus package whatsoever, and that if they filibuster it and block it, the GOP can honestly claim they are doing America's will as the brave resistance.

What is Obama getting from Gregg that he specifically needs Gregg for? It's not 60 votes in the Senate. It's not a strong progressive voice in Commerce. If he blows the stimulus package and the GOP blocks it (and the GOP has to block it, they have no choice now as they have repeatedly portrayed the bill as "something they can't vote for") it's not going to really matter what Gregg does in Commerce, Obama's administration looks like a bunch of losers and the Village will forever push the notion that the GOP saved America from the Liberal Menace Of Nancy And Harry.

Who knows? Is Obama a genius, or is he getting completely owned by the Republicans on this? Obama cut some sort of deal? Great. Why is Obama cutting deals with the GOP in the first place? Why is Obama acting like he lost when supposedly "I won?" What's with the contrite act?

Obama's playing by the rules, by a code of honor. The GOP is playing to destroy the Democratic Party and establish a permanent rulership of what's left of the country. Who's the bigger fool here?

This Michael Steele Guy Can't Be That Bad, Right?

Newly elected RNC chair Michael Steele, less than a week into the position as the "leader of the Republican Party" gives us this golden quote:
"Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job."
Apparently somebody hasn't looked at the signature on his paycheck yet from the Republican National Committee, or the US Constitution, or the US military, the state National Guard, the friggin DMV, Zandardad (who spent a good 25 years working for one of those government things), the millions of state and federal employees working government jobs for the government, or the fact that Michael Steele himself was the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland...which I'm thinking qualifies as a government-created job.

For a brief millisecond I was convinced that maybe the election of an African-American like Michael Steele as RNC chair meant a more tolerant, open, and evolving Republican Party. The country does need a loyal and effective opposition no matter who is in charge, and that means at least two strong parties (and I'd personally argue we need a lot more than two.)

But rather than striving to be just thought of as a fool, Steele instead opened his mouth and confirmed it in the grand Bushian sense. He's nothing more than an empty suit, a hack that the GOP uses to feel good about itself when the racists in the party come out to scare the locals.

It's funny. If Steele was a Democrat, we'd immediately have wingnuts saying "Why does the Democratic Party hate our troops?"


Related Posts with Thumbnails