Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Yorker piece on John Roberts

Toobin is not the biggest fan of the Chief Justice.

Is a coup possible?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Supreme Court Nomination Within a Week?

Posts seem to be in a dry spell following everyone's departure from Washington... tragic!

Anyway, in the spirit of interesting political news, it seems Obama will be picking a new Supreme Court nominee as early as next week. I suspect he's in a hurry to define his judicial legacy--unsurprising, given that the court has moved rightward in recent years, and the left is undoubtedly anxious for a nominee catering to their values.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

RIP Chuck Daly

Chuck Daly brought two NBA titles to Detroit with a tough defensive style and won gold with the Dream Team. The Hall of Fame coach leaves behind an influential legacy. He was renowned for his ability to create harmony out of diverse personalities at all levels of the game, whether they were Ivy Leaguers at Pennsylvania, Dream Teamers Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, or Pistons as dissimilar as Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars. This morning, Chuck passed away. 

Space won’t enter Ohio Senate race

Republicans missed a major chance at getting a seat in the House with Zach Space's decision to stay out of the Senate race in Ohio. I think Space probably would have eliminated Jennifer Brunner's chances, which would have left him as a formidable opponent to Lee Fisher. Because Space is not running for the Senate, he is almost assured his spot in the House again even though his district is Republican in nature. I think it is a waste for Republicans to be going after Space now because he is just too well-liked in his district to lose in 2010. The only way I could see him losing is if some scandal emerges causing him to withdraw and that will leave Republicans with one less target to go after in the upcoming election. The Senate race is most likely going to be given to Fisher now and that means Republicans will be down another seat in their effort to keep the filibuster prevalent. Fisher has amassed a huge war chest and his opponent Rob Portman still is struggling in the polls despite his great experience and service to the country. Portman will have to step up now that Democrats will not be fighting against themselves during the primary, and this is something I think he will struggle to accomplish.

Obama team retains Bush polar bear policy

With this decision by President Obama, it is clear that he believes cap and trade policies will be put in place by the end of the year. I think it is very important to protect our endangered wildlife especially in places like Alaska where the ice continues to melt away leaving less room for animals to roam. I agree that the Endangered Species Act was not the right way to attack the problem because that should be intended for things we definitely can control through our own actions in terms of hunting or poaching. The issue of global warming is something that is way too complex for the Endangered Species Act to be covering and President Obama must believe that there are alternatives to the problem. I think it will be very difficult for anything major to get done on the cap and trade issue in the near future simply because there are too many parties involved that will need to be given concessions. This is an issue that not all Democrats can rally upon, which takes away any potential filibuster prevention tactics they could have used. This notion will make it easy for Republicans to attack the issue and keep public support for the measure down.

White House aide resigns over N.Y. flyover

We finally have some closure on the incident that left New York City scrambling for cover. I think it is appropriate that the man who authorized the flyover the Statue of Liberty gave up his position. The picture cost way too much and could have been done through photoshop if it was that necessary. As for the other part of the mission, I can accept that practicing approaches and landings were included because the President needs to be in the best hands possible whenever he is in flight. However, when we fail to communicate properly with the department of defense and the air force when coordinating these operations then we have a definite problem. For Louis Caldera to not even consider notifying the White House or local officials in New York, he proved he was unfit to handle his job properly. Since we live in a culture of heightened national security, everything that can potentially cause damage should be evaluated by the proper authorities and if he felt he had the overriding authority to put the plan into action, then he does not understand what it means to be a government official. I am glad that he has decided to step down because he proved to me that he wasn't right for the job.

Souter’s Career

Roland Fryer, Education, Inner-City Kids

Here is a follow up to the discussion that Katie started on the blog a while back. It seems that a program Roland Fryer instated actually worked very well! Since Brooks didn't talk about the program in which you pay for student success, I'm guessing that's not the program he was talking about.

Friday, May 8, 2009

GOP base rips Cantor's National Council for a New America

I think the Republican base is making a mistake in blasting the attempts of Eric Cantor and John McCain to go after some of the more moderate and independent voters. When we allow our parties to go to the ultimate extremes, then many people are left choosing between candidates that do not truly represent their ideals or values. Republicans should have learned from President Bush's error in nixing out the moderate Republicans from Congress because it ended up costing the party many seats in 2006 and 2008. Instead of focusing on the extremely conservative candidates, it is better to start out with the candidates who have a best shot to win the election. I think it is better to have a person in place who will vote with you the majority of the time than a person who will be voting against you on almost all key issues. Republicans may have to give a little to gain the votes they need to pass the most important types of legislation. In the real scope of things, abortion and same-sex marriage are not the biggest problems the nation is facing and so conceding a bit in those areas to gain support on fiscal proposals seems like a smart way to go.

Burris: Money will factor into reelection decision

Roland Burris stated the obvious in his recent interview when he declared that money would ultimately decide whether he runs or not. There is no way I see Democrats giving him the support he would need to win the seat either in fundraising or in political endorsements. He has way too much baggage attached to him and the Blago case will just bring out even more troubling details of Burris' involvement to get the seat in the first place. The way I see it, Burris would probably have to accrue $15-20 million to put forth a valiant effort and given his war chest stands below the $10,000 mark right now there doesn't appear to be any renewed hope that he can get that kind of money. I think Burris should try and stay out of the limelight as much as he possibly can because he does have some credibility and experience that would make him an attractive addition to a lobbying firm. Like he mentions, he has been able to get first-hand knowledge of the inner-workings of the Senate and the less attention that he draws to himself, the more likely people will be to forget his dealings with Blago in the long run.

Statue of Liberty's crown to reopen July 4

I think this a great move by President Obama because we need something to lift our spirits up on the special day this year. The timing could not be better for opening up the crown to tourists because we need to be showing that we continue to stand strong even during tough times. I have only been able to visit the Statue of Liberty once and it occurred after 9/11 so I was not able to go up to the crown, but I can only imagine what it feels like being at the very top of the structure. The one thing that I believe could be done differently is the lottery system that is going to be put in place. The details haven't exactly been disclosed but for the lucky 30 individuals who get to go up each hour, it will sure be a treat. It is very appropriate to maintain the standards of safety and security of everyone in the area and so the extra checkpoint individuals must go through is necessary. This marks one of the big moves that Ken Salazar has made in his new post and I can see other needed changes coming in the future.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Workin' At the Car Wash

New poll shows slump in Palin's popularity among Alaskans

Sarah Palin's desire to become a national figure has been hurting her numbers in her home state of Alaska. I can see why her numbers have been fading with her decisions to try an put in Republicans into the state legislature where typically Democrats have held firm. Yet, I think she is without a doubt going to win the spot of Governor again if she chooses to run. Alaskans have to be happy to have a figure who is seen on the national scale especially after the Ted Stevens' debacle cost them one of their most prized politicians. Palin has a lot to make up for in Alaska, but she has the time and power to do so if she desires. Having a majority of people approving what you are doing is something that many politicians fail to reach and so for her on a bad month to be only as low as 54% does not indicate much to be stressed out about. She has the backing she will need from the party in her race in 2010, but how much they are willing to support her if she intends to run for the presidency remains to be seen. I think the GOP has been reluctant to tout her so heavily as of yet because they understand that they need a fresh face and one without the baggage that Palin will carry with her.

In CVC, lawmakers need GPS

I found this story quite funny given my history in the CVC over the semester. I have had many similar experiences as some of the members of Congress in navigating through the CVC to get to where I needed to be. Every time I went over I did not have a problem finding my location or way around the building, but getting back to the House office buildings was quite a difficult task. Luckily the Capitol police were always nice enough to lend a helping hand and guide me in the right direction. I think the signage with directions could be improved, but the main way to really navigate through the CVC is just exploring and getting used to all the ins and outs of it. It is such a nice place in terms of design and layout that I often got consumed just by looking around at all of the different features. The meeting rooms are huge and on one occasion I spent ten minutes just going around a room admiring its artwork and architecture. Even though I visited the CVC frequently, I still gained a new perspective every time I walked through it and that made my experience even better.

Gates criticized over budget secrecy

I am a bit concerned over Robert Gates decision to keep his senior officials from talking with Congress on the budget process. I liked his move to cut some of the costs in the defense department, but at the same time we need to be giving our troops every opportunity to succeed while promoting safety and low risk situations for everyone involved. I think that it is important during the process of putting together an appropriate figure for the Pentagon to run on for top officials to be in communication with the people who will be granting the money needed. Unless there is some concern over releasing confidential information that would put the country's national security at risk, it does not make much sense to me for this gag-order to be in place. If Gates really wants to ensure the appropriation is the best it can be then he should offer himself and other members of his trusted circle to share what may or may not be needed for our troops. As we move forward in the process, I think Gates will have to open up more than he is right now because the only way to get things accomplished effectively is to sort through all of the potential areas and issues related to the defense department budget.

Obama's attempt to close offshore tax havens

  • The corporate tax rate in the United States is 35% before exemptions, tax havens, and other deductions.
  • Of U.S. corporations with more than $250 million in assets or $50 million in sales, 25% paid no federal income taxes at all in 2005 (the most recent year for which such data is available). [GAO]
  • The average corporation pays 25.3% now. They paid more than 49 percent in the 1950s, 38 percent in the 1960s, and 33 percent in the 1970s.[CBPP]
  • One loophole frequently used by corporations: deferral. Right now, corporations are allowed to defer taxation on profits they make overseas until they bring the profits back to the U.S., allowing them to drastically reduce their tax rates. For example, GE went from a 35% tax rate down to a 5% tax rate by using tax deferrals. Bonus: this means that companies will not bring profits back to the U.S.[WSJ]

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New light shed on why Caroline Kennedy dropped out of consideration for NY senate seat

I'd still take this one with a grain of salt because I never believe any statements issued by people without backing it up, but it certainly sounds realistic enough to me. I can imagine that campaigning and the stress involved would turn me into a person I didn't like as well.

NBA great Dave Bing wins race for Detroit mayor

I am happy to see that Dave Bing won the hard fought election for mayor in Detroit. He is a guy that I feel has what it takes to get the city moving again towards a better future given his business acumen and name recognition. The problem with the economy has been the failure of the automobile industry and Bing has the experience in the area to bring forth some stalemate to Detroit's problems. I do see him as a long-term candidate for the position even though he will have to run again later this year to keep the seat for a full term. Bing has demonstrated to me that he is willing to do what it takes to be successful and that is something that his competitor was lacking. The only problem that I saw from the race was the lack of voter turnout. I can see why many people would see the election as unimportant given that the victor would only get four months in office before facing re-election, but it still would have been nice to see people voice their opinions one way or the other on the ballot. Given all of the ailments the city is facing in terms of the economy and its education system, Bing is up for a big challenge that he surely will not be able to solve in his short stay right now. So Bing has about four months to develop his plan and get it ready for citizens who will be looking for leadership next time around.

The Cannon building is crumbling

Just reading this report gave me a bit of perspective on the state of the Cannon office building that I frequently visited during my time on the Hill. I did notice some of the air conditioning problems that were documented, but I was unaware of the age of the system. I think that unless we are considering a new office building for the House, then we need to get some of these renovations put into place as soon as we can. Given the safety concerns with leaky pipes and damage to walls, it is just a matter of time before things get really messy and we will have to gut a major portion of the building. We may as well just get the work done now and save ourselves some hassles in the future. Given the number of people that come through the building on a given day, we could experience a major problem if the limestone starts falling and crumbling to the ground. I know that renovations will be expensive and with the economy the way it is money is tough to come by for Congress, but this just seems like a no-brainer type of spending that should occur in the near future. Hopefully, they will appropriate adequate funding to the renovation project because if not we may face significant damage down the road.

Florida GOPers look to Specter for inspiration

Despite the popularity of Governor Charlie Crist, he is now being hunted by Republicans who hope he does not take over the ticket for the upcoming Senate race. To me this is not the best thing for the party because the ultimate goal is to win and have a person who will vote on their side when it comes to the big debates. Even though Crist supported the stimulus package, he still is a Republican and I do not see him flipping like Specter did to get himself into office. If Marco Rubio is the best candidate for the job then that is fine, but Republicans should be focusing on areas that they are actually going to need every resource that they can get if they want to gain back some seats in the next election. Whether it be Crist or Rubio, I see Republicans holding onto the Florida seat. If that is the case then devoting more attention to places like Ohio and Missouri would better suit the future of the party especially with the news of Democrats stepping up their efforts in both states. Crist does have some making up to do to his party's base, but I think they could put it all behind them if they really want to win the seat and keep Democrats from taking over.

"Chef Spike to give Jumbo Slice a run for its money"

Given the affinity nearly everyone in this group has for Jumbo Slice, I felt I had to post this regardless of content. The actual article isn't that thrilling - Spike Mendelsohn from Top Chef is going to open a high-end pizzeria - but the headline made me think of you all :-)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Specter regrets 'no' vote on Sessions

Sen. Arlen Specter said Tuesday he regrets his vote against Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) two-decades ago that helped kill his nomination to the federal bench. Sessions, who has now assumed Specter's former position as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 to be a federal judge - but Specter provided a key "no" vote after allegations were made that Sessions had a poor record on race relations as Alabama attorney general. Sessions has called those allegations false and unfounded. 

"why oh why did I do that...." - Specter must be thinking and waving his hands up in the air.

DC passes recognition of gay marriage

The D.C. City Council voted 12-1 to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. After initially passing unanimously grouped with some other uncontentious bills, Marion Barry objected and claimed he didn't realize what he was voting on, opening debate and resulting in the final 12-1 verdict with Barry as the sole dissenter.

Democrats leave Gitmo closing money out of bill

The more time that we delay in putting together an effective plan to move Gitmo detainees out of Cuba, the worse off we are going to be once President Obama's one year deadline hits. Personally, I do not really want detainees in my home state for the fact that they could induce terrorism in the U.S. that has not been able to occur at the base in Cuba. However, I understand that if we do not find a place for them to go then we are going to be in big trouble not only from a public relations standpoint, but also from a national security point of view. For better or worse, the deadline that the President set is now becoming an issue of concern to both parties and the lack of funding being made available for the effort is going to make it very hard for the President. In the scope of things I am not even sure the $50 million the President asked for was enough to secure facilities or ease security concerns, but now that his request has been rejected there is no way that we will be prepared to deal with the costs of moving detainees to the U.S. or other countries without a change in Congressional action. Republicans if they play this right will have a position to stand on in the next election and get a rise out of the national security conservatives around the country.

DoD paid Murtha's nephew's company

Even though I don't believe that Representative John Murtha went out of his way to get his nephew's company funding from the government, it does seem odd to me that a story like this would be coming to light. I can see how his constituents would love him for all of the money that he brings back to his state, but from a national perspective I think his consistent pressure on the earmarks and projects the government doles out is a bit too much. In all reality, I do not really care which companies or states receive funding if the projects and services they are providing maximize and bring the most profits back to the country and so I cannot blame Murtha if he actually feels this is the case. To that end, Murtha's nephew probably does do pretty good work for the Pentagon or else they would not have been given the contract, but the lack of competition over a contract in this economy is curious to me. With the recent report from the defense department indicating how a lot of money has been wasted and misused over the past few years, I think it is important to get the most out of everything that we spend and I think competition probably would aid in this process.

Democrats make major investment in Virginia

I can see why Democrats are actively pursuing the state of Virginia in hopes of turning the tide back in their favor. I was pretty impressed at how President Obama secured votes in this typically conservative state during the last election and it seems like a good place to go after Republicans. With the state's GOP leader being ticketed out of office for his struggles earlier this year, Virginia if gone after in the right manner can remain under Democratic control. The ads that they can put out on the reluctance of the competitor to accept stimulus money is either going to be a boon or a failure and what that means is that communication and issue framing are extremely important. The voters that they can attract to the polls with these messages probably aren't going to be the ones that Republicans can get so voter turnout will be huge if the governorship stays with Democrats. Given that they stand to lose in other states like New Jersey, Democrats not only have to work on keeping what they already have, but strengthening those ties significantly. If guys like Jon Corzine can lose favor so quickly it is just a matter of time before others share in his similar fate.

Next supreme court justice a woman?

Now that Souter is retiring, the speculation for the next justice will begin. This article raises some good points about what having a woman on the bench accomplishes. I agree with the author that there really are things men and women simply think differently about, and the case she mentioned is a great example (although I would think most guys I know would be embarrassed by being strip searched as well). Ginsberg is getting old as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if she retired in the near future. Will Obama see the value of having a woman - or women - on the bench?

One more reason to read the Post

If Pulitzers aren't enough to convince you that the Washington Post deserves a read, try this: their food section just won the James Beard Award for best newspaper food section. Foodies unite!

PETA Capitol pig farm?

Slightly outdated, but still funny. PETA is trying to get a pig pen, complete with pig poop, set up in front of the Capitol to illustrate the link between swine flu and meat-eating practices. Points for originality, I suppose, but... seriously?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tax Havens Might Get A Little Less Safe

Finally Obama comes out on the tax haven problem that plagues are country. Sure there's undoubted bonuses to allowing domestic multinational corporations to be able to operate at a lower tax rate with using them, but does that mean that 83 of the 100 largest American companies should do so? This article states that Citigroup has 427!!! I would venture to say that most major companies don't have 427 offices, yet in these islands a major company that has revenues in the tens of billions may have a small desk to represent billions in profits. Often the desk itself is not even occupied. I think this announcement will face harsh criticism on the hill, as so many members of congress receive funding from the very companies that tax havens aid. Yet something should be done, and the time frame he has proposed allows for economic recovery prior to the rebound.

Arlen Specter blames GOP for the death of Jack Kemp

Poor taste award?

U.S. government loses immigrant identity-theft case

We finally have a verdict on the case we heard in the Supreme Court. The government lost its case and now it will have a much harder time with dealing in illegal immigration cases in the future.

Industries Push for Free Pollution Credits

I see it as a major problem for the President when we start talking about the number of free credits that are going to be distributed under the cap and trade plan under proposal. If we are going to start giving away so many credits to electrical companies, refineries, and other heavy greenhouse gas emission producers then we are going to have to determine what is the right number to begin with. There is no way that I see a cap and trade proposal being sucessful if electrical companies get the 40% free credits they are looking for on top of the 30% that refineries are trying to attain if President Obama hopes to generate cash to support his budget plan. Essentially if we gave that much away, we would be barely making any dent in the problem and we would not be serving as the example that China and India need to even consider taking such measures in their own countries. Even with the free credits that companies can recieve the costs for consumers are going to be increasing and so it will come down to whether or not the President and Democrats can frame the issue as a necessary movement towards the future where spending has to occur if we want to live in a better future world.

Which door will Rep. Mike Castle choose?

I think Representative Mike Castle should go after the Senate seat opening up in 2010 from Delaware. He already has the experience in the House with his 16 years of service and he could move onto a bigger stage in the Senate. I think he would definitely put up a good fight against Vice President Joe Biden's son given his more moderate stance on some of the big issues. The one area that the younger Biden could take advantage of if Castle doesn't run is the need to spend on transportation and infrastructure like Amtrak. Given that it is one of the more heavily invested states in the system, the large sum of money that VP Biden was able to accrue for the company was significant and his son's war service will only serve to boost the state's interest in him. I found it hard to believe that Beau was actually trailing in a poll with Castle as late as March because I thought he would have been a shoe-in to replace his father for Delaware. If Republicans can win this seat with Castle then maybe it will not be so bad for them come the midterm election cycle.

Where Souter Will Live

An oddly appealing place...

Biden: Avoid all public transportation!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Romney and Cantor Discuss What Went Wrong in '08

When I was watching CNN earlier today, I found it very interesting to listenn to what Republican leaders were touting as the main reason for their loss in the 2008 election cycle. Yes, the economy was a cause for concern especially when Senator McCain failed in his attempt to smooth things over with his colleagues and when he almost cancelled his debate I thought he was in for a long turn for the worst. One can claim that the two were neck and neck up to that point and when people really started believing in the downfall of the economy, Republicans were doomed by the way they reacted. However, I think there were a number of reasons that voters went to the polls in support of Democrats and the economy is just one of them. I was not very impressed by either Obama or McCain's plans to fix the economy during the campaign and so to me it was not really an issue of whose fault it was that caused the slump. People like to blame Republicans for the fall, but Congress, companies, and citizens were all at fault in one way or another. I do think that Republicans touting the economy as the reason for their loss can be used in a positive way if they can connect how the actions of Democrats and President Obama are making things run a turn for the worst. The manner in which they do that will have to be much better than what they did in New York and that should be a big goal for the party to work at for the next election.

Feds are looking at Edwards' campaign

Although we have not heard much from John Edwards lately, I remember the day the news of his affair breaking like it was yesterday. I was pretty shocked by what happened to him considering the state of his family at the time of its occurrence and it made me look at him from a totally different perspective. He had it all going for him and could have potentially had the job Eric Holder has now had he just stayed the course and held his cool during his wife's battle with her illness. Even though I think it was totally inappropriate for Edwards to have engaged himself with Rielle Hunter, at this point his political career is over with at least for the near future and it would surprise me very much if anything actually comes from the federal investigators' report on his use of campaign funding. Hunter got a lot of money for the work that she did for him, but he probably would have paid someone else a fee somewhat close to what she initially received for her work due to the desire to get technologically savvy with the campaign. I am a bit surprised that more has not come out Hunter in terms of the relationship, but it appears she really does care about him and that his friends have done a nice job of providing her with the house and privacy needed for Edwards at this time. Once this investigation is over with it will be interesting to see which way Edwards decides to move in because he will either be vindicated to a certain degree or made out to be more of a fool than we originally thought.

Three more banks fail

If we are to take something from FDR's struggle to bring back the banking industry it is that we are lucky to have the FDIC backing us up at this time. Even though the cost is going to be significant for the government to cover the insurable amount of deposits in each of the failed banks, it is nice to know that we are protected during tough times like these. For a large bank like the Silverton Bank in Georgia to be closing indicates that we still have to work on the economy despite some of the progress that has been made in the last month. It is unfortunate to see banks falling apart right now given the need for security and growth, but on the bright side we are working on getting their customers adequate care from other banks within the regional areas. The government is taking the right position in sticking by and helping transfer assets and deposits to other banks because ultimately we need banks to survive if we are going to store and spend money in the future. With the increase number of bank closures from last year already, we need President Obama, Congress and Timothy Geithner to move towards a comprehensive plan that will restore total trust and optimism in banks like FDR did back in his heyday.

Potomac Fever nearing 2,500 posts!

787 confirmed cases of Swine Flu worldwide

The World Health Organization has confirmed that there are 787 cases of people with the swine flu virus. New cases are emerging from Canada, where it is thought that "pigs may have been infected by a Canadian farmer who recently returned from a trip to Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak. The pigs have since been quarantined." In Hong Kong, after a man had visited Mexico and returned with 'flu-like symptoms', the Chinese government forced not just that man, but everyone in the hotel where he was staying to be quarantined. But, are we overreacting? Maybe just carry a mask with you and try to avoid 'sick' people....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

If you're going to miss print newspaper so much, cough up some cash for it!

A new study by USC says that although people are getting their news from online sources more often, they don't want print newspapers to go away. In fact, the percentage who say they support print newspapers has increased this year.

Okay, so you don't want to see print newspapers disappear? Great! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

"Kenyan Women Urge Sex Strike"

Women in Kenya are tired of the governmental instability and violence they've had to face - and they're showing their displeasure by not having sex for a week. It seems kind of silly at face value, but when you think about it it could end up being surprisingly effective. If they feel their voices are going unheard and that a call to action is needed, then more power to them for finding an effective method.

Although I have to say, my favorite part of the article was when one man was quoted: "Seven days is just too much!"

Place Your Bets, Place Your Bets (Note: Hamilton Does Not Condone Such Actions)

The Kentucky Derby is about to race. Why hasn't Obama made his picks like he did in the NCAA tournament? I'm rooting for General Quarters. Post on the comments prior to the race to put your picks in.

Rivals in New York House Special Took In Almost $4 Million

The campaign for New York's open seat in the House was very pricey given the short amount of time each candidate had to generate resources. I was surprised that Tedisco raised almost $500,000 less than Murphy because even though he was more well known in the district entering the race, he still had the Republicans working toward making a significant statement of change against President Obama's agenda. Republicans needed the seat more than Democrats because of the morale boost it could have given them, but the neck to neck fundraising that both parties were able to capture reduced some of the advantages that Republicans had at the start of the race. I also found it interesting how Democrats rose to the occasion after the race had technically been declared a victory for Murphy solely to give him a leg up should the need for money during a lawsuit occur. With Coleman still dragging out the process in Minnesota it was wise to give Murphy the money he would need to begin his battle. Although I do not see Tedisco going up against Murphy again in 2010, I could see Republicans launching an attack on Murphy with someone else and that could win back the seat if the advertisement process is conducted with better messages and structuring.

Will Congressman Be Allowed to Use Campaign Donations for Home Security?

Home security may just be another area of need for Congressmen when they are campaigning to ensure their safety and continued pursuit of office. I think the decision that the FEC is trying to make is legitimate in this case considering the threat that came around the last time Congressman Elton Gallegly was running for office. In the scope of things it the money that people send in for campaigns is to get their candidate into office and if their safety is at threat by crazy individuals then it is in the best interest of everyone involved to provide the home security for both mental and physical purposes. The cost that Gallegly is projecting it will take is relatively minimal for upgrades in his security forces and so as long as individuals understand that their money is being used for purposes like these, then it is something I feel would be an appropriate use of campaign funds. However, if the costs grow exorbitant due to security then the candidate may want to begin rethinking his/her approach and concentrate on the most safe way to get elected without wasting too much of citizens' money. The more candidates get out and talk to the everyday citizen the better informed the public can become and that is the ultimate goal in preparing for elections.

Can Federal Funds Prop Up the U.S. Wind Biz?

The wind power energy industry is one to keep an eye on in the future. I think that right now it has a good chance of becoming a major source of energy for us in the long run if we start developing the technology that makes it much more efficient to use on an everyday basis. I know when I have passed wind farms in California they seem to be doing a good job of turning the wind into power, but there is still room for major improvement. The person who I think stands to benefit greatly from this switch would be Boone Pickens the oil tycoon given his commitment to becoming the nation's leading wind power producer. It is guys like him that make this wind solution viable because they have the ability to ride out the tough times with the development right now and can continue to do valuable research. The stimulus money that has been targeted towards wind energy is not enough to cover the costs needed to get this thing in great motion, but it is a nice start and the tax credits and loans that the federal government is providing to wind users is something that could be very beneficial in terms of getting things churning.

Potomac Fever, Beware!

Po•to•mac Fe•ver

What is Potomac Fever?
Potomac fever is personality disorder that affects adults aged 18 and over. Initially, the person affected will experience occasional mild fevers. The disorder then progresses to a chronic exhibition of symptoms in the carrier. If left untreated, it can get worse. If the symptoms bother you, see your favorite idealist and learn ways to control Potomac fever.

What causes Potomac Fever?
Potomac fever is highly contagious, and as such, participation in American politics without bringing meaningful change for the public at large is both a result and a trigger for the disorder. Following in the footsteps of corrupt politicians, and working for them can also cause severe cases of Potomac fever, skipping initial phases of mild fevers. Sometimes, adolescents catch the fever by living in District of Columbia, or in such an environment as to expose them to bad politics.

What are the symptoms?

Lying, cronyism, nepotism, empty rhetoric, and deluding the public are the most apparent displays of Potomac fever.

How is it treated?

Not everyone in Washington D.C. has the Potomac fever, but figuring out who has it based on the symptoms and avoiding those people is essential in prevention. In order to treat mild Potomac Fever, staying away from those who have advanced cases can bring about change. Sometimes, an aggressive treatment is advised in treating Potomac Fever – this involves exposing politicians and other people who have advanced cases of Potomac fever, and trying to remedy the damage caused by such affected individuals.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Washington Post Co. reports loss, ad plunge

It is sad to see the Washington Post declining just like the rest of the newspaper industry, but it just signifies how special it once was to read news at the table in the morning while eating breakfast. I was unaware of the other holdings that the Washington Post company holds and it is good to see that they are diversified in areas of magazines and education. The Kaplan education company is one of the biggest and most known in helping prepare students for scholastic tests and it has been a company that I thought was doing pretty well. Students are bound to see some sort of increase in scoring and knowledge by working with Kaplan even if it is solely because they have to commit time and energy to fulfill the requirements. Newsweek is a magazine that I see as one of the leaders in the news industry even though its profits have declined as well. Having these holdings may allow the Post to continue on for a little while longer, but major changes have to made if the newspaper is going to continue serving people around the Capitol.

Capitol Power Plant to stop use of coal

It looks like the rally and march that environmental activists had earlier this year is paying some dividends for the Capitol Power Plant. I remember watching them march through my office window and thinking of the implications it would have on the future. With the all the attention on newer and cleaner energy sources, it does not surprise me that the Capitol will be leading by example. The question remains how quickly and how expensive the overhaul will occur. I do not doubt the benefits that can be accrued from a manuever to natural gas instead of coal, but it is going to be very expensive and it will take a lot of time to put into full force. It is a decision that will make the overall energy bill something for citizens to take notice of. I know that I have not given to much thought to how my surroundings become pleasant to be around and it is decisions like this that make me take a look at how energy is being used. Now the decision to transition into alternative energy is something that I think can be beneficial especially in states like Arizona where the solar industry could thrive if technology is put together in the right form, but the cost is going to be pretty high no matter how we attack this issue and the length of time that we have to address this issue is indeterminable despite President Obama's desire to move quickly. We have to do what is best for the short term and the long run and that is a question Congress and the President will ultimately have to make.

Obama gets 29 million viewers but FOX wins head-to-head

The President' press conference this week was a bit uneventful and for that it does not seem that he gained much out of speaking with the media other than to show that he is willing to take on questions and try to appeal to the public with plans for the future. For Fox, they have to be extremely happy with the results stemming from their decision to not hold the press conference. Not only did they gain the financial benefits of commercials and getting people to tune into one of their tv series, but they also did not so at the highest rate among the major news networks. None of the networks could top Fox in the time slot period and for that it has to be considered a financial success for the company. The problem I had with Fox's decision was that as a citizen of the U.S. I think it is important to listen when the President has something significant to communicate to the public. We only know as much as he is willing to let on and the optimism that could have been gained from the press conference could have been meaningful if the President turned it in that direction. With all of the problems that President Obama feels he needs to address, we owe it to ourselves to stay informed and committed to making success for our future. Now that Fox has seen how it can survive without showing the President, it may have more incentive to do so in future addresses to the public and that may or may not be a good thing depending on how you look at it.

Specter's switch

Indians vote in key third phase

Our office has been following the Indian elections very closely in the past few weeks. Both main parties, Congress and the BJP, have been citing a report detailing the amount of money lost from developing countries through illicit capital flight that was published by my office (Global Financial Integrity) in January. Under the microscope of the financial crisis, leaders of both parties have pledged to immediately recover the $22-27 billion that is shuttled out of India and into the shadow economy every year.
This promise, like the promises of Obama, Brown, Sarkozy and Merkel at the G20, is unlikely to come to fruition. World leaders can take steps to reform the shadow system by placing stricter controls on tax havens and tax evasion, but recovering the billions of dollars lost to capital flight from both developing and developed countries will be a much harder process than it sounds.

Goal Is College. Hurdle Is Finding Financial Aid.

With the huge hit that many colleges took in the stock market over the past year, I can see why the financial aid packages that students are being offered do not compare to that of year's past. Additionally, it seems like more and more students are applying to college these days and that causes less money to be available in the grand scheme of things. Although President Obama has made it one of his goals to increase the availability of loans and grants to students, it is still a very costly expenditure for a student to endure. In Arizona, there is a lot of concern over a tuition increase in the state universities. It has become such a big issue that the state Board of Regents actually has to waiver on whether it can do so without a ton of backlash. The problem I see for universities like this is not only have they seen a hit in their portfolios, but also state budget cuts are forcing colleges to make every dollar they spend more efficient and that comes at a cost to students. In order to maintain some the amenities available on campus tuition increases are a normal endeavor, but when it hits the pocketbooks of students and their families it can become something that makes going to college a stressful situation.

U.N. Council Sees No Need to Punish Sri Lanka

U.N. Security Councilmembers see no point withholding an IMF loan or taking other steps to punish Sri Lanka, the council's president said, as Colombo again rejected foreign calls for a ceasefire with rebels.  U.S. officials told Reuters this week that Washington was trying to delay the loan to pressure Sri Lanka to do more to help civilians caught in the fighting.

Confirmed number of swine flu cases jumps to 331

It's getting closer to DC each day. Perhaps congressional offices should be handing out masks for their constituents, especially in the states that have been affected. I guess vacationing with masks will be the next common  trait....

CDC chief: No need to avoid public transportation

With all of the media hype surrounding the swine flu it has caught my attention wherever I go and people are trying to take extra precautions as a result. When I got on the metro yesterday afternoon people were reluctant to hold onto the bars to steady themselves and shifted quite a bit as a result. Some people even were using little purell bottles to clean their hands and wade off germs. At the office, we had to get 12 bottles of hand sanitizer from the supply store and everyone had to wash their hands with it before continuing work. I thought it was a little overkill, but it still was something that the office felt was necessary given how bad the cold season hit and forced people to miss time from their desks. Just thinking about how it could impact us on an everyday basis does help make us more aware of the problems with using the same spaces and objects that others do like in metro cars or airplanes. That is something I had not concentrated too much attention to before, but I can see the value in taking in your surroundings and taking some precaution when necessary. I am glad to hear that the Center for Disease Control does not think we should be avoiding public transportation because of the constant use of many citizens.

IL Sen Poll: Kirk Looks Good

Now that the numbers have come in relaying information about Representative Mark Kirk's chances of winning the Illinois Senate seat, the race could get very interesting. I had been very impressed by his overall body of work prior to entering Congress eight years ago and he does seem like a candidate Republicans could rally behind in the more liberal leaning state. Kirk is moderate enough to garner support from indepdents and he definitely is one of the more intelligent members of Congress with his background in foreign affairs. The only candidate that I see challenging him so far is the state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias like the polls indicate. Yet, even those numbers are pretty even and it could turn either way depending on how the state comes out of the Blago situation. Burris has to be out of the race by now and I was surprised to see that he could even gain 19% of the vote when compared to Kirk or an undecided. He is lucky that there are more problems facing the nation than his involvment with Blago or else he would be left out in the cold right now. Whomever wins the Democratic primary had better be prepared to fight because Kirk has the makings for an upset victory for Republicans if he campaigns properly.