Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson To Launch Presidential Bid In February?

November 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Gary Johnson isn’t your typical Republican.

He supported Ron Paul in 2008, and has spent a good part of the 2010 election season speaking out in favor of California’s Prop 19, which would legalize marijuana. At the same time, he had a fairly successful eight years as Governor of New Mexico, and is one of that small set of Republican politicians who has been fairly consistent in governing as the fiscal conservative he campaigned as.

That’s why I find this possibility very interesting:

Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor, is hinting he will announce a 2012 presidential bid early next year — in February, to be exact.

Although Johnson refused to directly discuss his widely anticipated run, he did suggest in a meeting with The Daily Caller that should he run, he would announce his candidacy in February.

Johnson would be an incredible long shot, of course, but his candidacy would give voice to a libertarian-oriented wing of the GOP that, until now, only had a few Representatives like Ron Paul, Dana Rohrbacher, and Tom McClintock to count as one of it’s own. He’s one of the few potential Republican candidates for 2012 that actually interests me, so hopefully he’ll be able to make some kind of an impact.




Outside the Beltway

GOP Will Launch Hearings, Oversight Investigations To Build Public Support For Health Law Repeal

November 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) could head up the House Energy & Commerce Committee

Appearing on Meet the Press yesterday, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) — the chairman of the Republican Governors Association — predicted that if Republicans aren’t successful in repealing the health care law outright, “they will make such big changes in it over the next three years that you won’t recognize it.” And indeed, the GOP has promised to repeal the law “lock, stock, and barrel” if it regains the majority in the House after the midterm elections and has advocated defunding large parts of the measure. As as Kaiser Health News’ Marilyn Werber Serafini reports, the GOP seeks to use committee hearings and “oversight” investigations to build public support for this effort:

If Rep. Joe Barton becomes chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next year, the Texas Republican vows to make life miserable for Democratic defenders of the health care overhaul law.

He will drag Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Medicare chief Donald Berwick to Capitol Hill for regular grilling….

And that’s just the beginning. Barton has a list of seven problems he intends to spotlight, including how he believes the Obama administration covered up cost estimates of the law before it was enacted, inappropriately silenced insurers from warning customers about what they believed would be rate increases and wrongly spent money on brochures touting improvements to the Medicare Advantage program even though funding is being reduced.

Key Republicans are threatening to withhold funding for overhaul initiatives and to relentlessly pursue hearings and oversight investigations to challenge administration officials’ regulations and communications with the public. Committee chairmen have subpoena power, although holding the gavel is usually enough to get officials into the witness chair.

“Oversight of the existing law will build a case for full repeal,” said Barton. “We have to aggressively work to repeal the entire bill. As part of the process, we’ll have very aggressive oversight.”

In several recent reports, the Government Accountability Organization (GAO) has cleared the administration of any wrongdoing in disseminating pamphlets about the new Medicare Advantage cuts, but the validity of the attacks are less of a concern than their practical effects on the agencies’ implementation efforts.

Whatever the success of Republicans in repealing or defunding the law, over the short term, the GOP could slow implementation to a trickle, forcing regulators to reconsider potentially controversial regulations and defend even the most benign of decisions. Republicans, who have already released numerous reports detailing reform’s “broken promises” and attributing almost every story about rising health care costs to the Affordable Care Act, will redouble their efforts as they gear up their campaign against the law. But if there is a silver lining in the coming fight it’s that the renewed focus on the ACA could give the administration another opportunity to sell reform just as some its most popular provisions go into effect.

Wonk Room

Nevada Democrat Base Voters Launch Anti-Reid Commercial

October 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

From the Washington Times:

Things in Nevada are getting hotter. Not content with the direction the country and their home state is going in, a group of Nevada voters calling themselves “Concerned Nevadans That Care About Our Country” will launch an anti-Harry Reid ad this evening.

Members of this group represent those from traditional Democratic coalitions and base demographics, like: African-Americans, Latinos, and union members.

In the ad, these individuals urge Democratic Nevada voters to break away from their practice of supporting liberals like Harry Reid.

In fact, the ad goes one step further and looks to draw in union members who are disgruntled with union leadership’s pro-amnesty policies.

Here are a few remarks that were planned to be part of the ad:

“Union Leaders are betraying their members by endorsing Reid and Extreme Liberal Policies”

“Unions are recruiting illegals and paying them 1/3 the union wage for union jobs”

“These practices exploit illegals, while simultaneously denying Americans jobs”

“Progressives like to exploit racial division for political advantage”

“I even a got a contract that’s a local 844 agreement where our general president and all these people deliberately kept the Hispanics out of this meeting, because what they wanted to do was to negotiate contractors for $ 11.96 an hour versus $ 37, and they did,” said Darrin Oglesbee (shown in the ad), of Iron Workers Local 416 in Las Vegas, during an interview with me on Monday.

“Here’s the kicker, their union dues, are the same as mine. The international is going to get their money, but [say] ‘sorry we short-changed you on your money there, buddy,’“ he said.

The union member presence in the ad is a potent weapon given membership is currently struggling with its leaders over policy from card check legislation to immigration reform. Union bosses are likely feeling uneasy about membership anger over job losses and union demands from the members.

A recent Water Cooler post of mine noted that union leadership could not get a guarantee that their members will vote the way the leadership wants them too. Union leadership may already be trying to quash rebellious behavior

Reno Nevada Union member Babette Rutherford already filed a complaint citing voter intimidation and bribery among other accusations toward union officials According to the complaint (h/t ATR):

“…voter intimidation, coercion, bribery, undue influence, and violations of the rules governing poll watchers.” In her complaint filed with the Nevada Secretary of State, Rutherford highlights three early voting stations where unions bussed workers to the polls and proceeded to “escort” and “watch” members vote. At the Boulevard Mall, Las Vegas early voting station, the registered poll watchers questioned the legality of the occurrences only to be told by the Election Board Team Leader that “union personnel were watching members vote because that’s the ‘whole point’ of busing them there.”

Read the whole thing here.


Big Government

US Marines launch operation against Taliban stronghold on the Pakistani border

October 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
afghanistan_map_thumb.jpg

Map of Afghanistan’s provinces. Click map to view larger image.

US Marines and Afghan security forces launched an operation against the Taliban stronghold of Baramcha in southern Helmand province.

Baracha, border town in the southern district of Dishu, is a known haven for the Taliban and al Qaeda in southern Helmand, and has been a major transit point for enemy forces moving in from Pakistan’s Baluchistan province into Afghanistan.

“The area is a Taliban command and control area that consists of narcotics trafficking, weapons and ammunition storage, improvised explosive device factories, and foreign fighter training areas,” an International Security Assistance Force press release stated. “Afghan and coalition forces are working together to remove the enemies’ transhipment center for fighters, weapons, and IED-making material.”

The Taliban in southern Helmand province receive the bulk of their support from the Movement of the Taliban in Baluchistan, a shadowy organization in Pakistan of which little is publicly known. The group supports operations against Afghan and Coalition forces, and operates without any restraint from the Pakistani military or government.

The operation in Baracha is ISAF’s latest an attempt to deny safe have to the Taliban in Helmand province. the districts of Dishu in the south, Bahgran in the north, and Washir in central Helmand are considered the Taliban’s remaining major stronghold in Helmand, while the districts of Sangin and Kajaki, as the Marjah area in Nad Ali are contested.

In neighboring Kandahar province, ISAF launched major operations over the past several months in the Taliban stronghold districts of Arghandab, Panjwai, and Zhari. The Taliban have been in full control of these districts for the past several years.

ISAF believes that the operations, combined with targeted campaign against mid and top-level Taliban leaders has the Taliban in the south in disarray.

The Long War Journal

Former JCS Chair Says Nuclear Launch Codes Went Missing For Months

October 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton says in a new book that a crucial part of the system of checks used to order a nuclear launch went missing for months during the Clinton Administration:

A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says in a new book that while Bill Clinton was in the White House, a key component of the president’s nuclear launch protocol went missing.

“The codes were actually missing for months. This is a big deal,” says General Hugh Shelton. “We dodged a silver bullet.”

In his book “Without Hesitation,” the retired Army general writes, “Even though movies may show the President wearing these codes around his neck, it’s pretty standard that they are safeguarded by one of his aides, but that aide sticks with him like glue.” He adds that President Clinton “assumed, I’m sure, that the aide had them like he was supposed to.”

What apparently was missing was a card with code numbers on it that allows the president to access a briefcase — called the “football” and kept by an aide always near the president — containing instructions for launching a nuclear attack.

Once a month, Defense Department officials conduct an in-person verification to make sure the president has the right codes. At least twice in a row, Shelton writes, a White House aide told the Pentagon checker that the president was in a meeting but gave a verbal assurance that the codes were with him.

Then one month around the year 2000, according to Shelton, when the time came to replace the codes with a new set, “the president’s aide said neither he nor the president had the codes — they had completely disappeared.”

The codes are only one part of  the system needed to order a launch so, even if someone had somehow gotten their hands on the codes they likely wouldn’t have been able to do anything with them. On the other hand, without the codes, it would have been difficult for President Clinton to order a launch if he wanted to:

Shelton says the president was given new codes within minutes when the previous codes could not be found, and the procedures have since been changed, so that the Pentagon aide who carries out the monthly check is required to wait at the White House until he or she can visually confirm the codes are in the possession of the president or an aide who is with him.

I would hope they’ve been changed.




Outside the Beltway

Castle Won’t Launch Write-In Bid

September 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

After losing the GOP Senate Primary to Christine O’Donnell, Mike Castle has decided that he will not launch a write-in bid for the seat once held by Joe Biden:

Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, who was upended by Tea Party insurgent Christine O’Donnell in the GOP Senate primary two weeks ago, has decided against a write-in bid for the open seat.

In a statement released late Wednesday night, Castle said, “While I would have been honored to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate, I do not believe that seeking office in this manner is in the best interest of all Delawareans. Therefore, it’s time for Jane and me to begin thinking about the next chapter of our lives.”

Castle’s four-paragraph statement did not mention O’Donnell or grant her an endorsement.

The move by the mild-mannered moderate is no surprise: Even after Castle caught some political observers off guard last week by flirting with the possibility of a write-in effort, his top aides always pegged the chances of it “under 5 percent.”

Castle, who served two terms as governor and then nine terms in the House, said he weighed a write-in bid seriously. A top Republican in Delaware told POLITICO he even went as far as polling a potential three-way race with O’Donnell and Democratic nominee Chris Coons.

Rasmussen Reports released a survey Monday that showed Castle drawing more votes from Coons than O’Donnell in a potential three-candidate contest.

“Many Delawareans have encouraged me to pursue a write-in candidate for the general election in November. I understand why people care so deeply about this election. I listened closely to many viewpoints and carefully considered the option of staying in the race,” Castle said.

This announcement would seem to foreclose the one opportunity that Christine O’Donnell would’ve had to win this race.




Outside the Beltway

BREAKING: Castle won’t launch write-in bid

September 29, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) – Rep. Mike Castle who lost the Republican Senate nomination in Delaware has decided not to launch a write-in bid for the seat.

“While I would have been honored to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate, I do not believe that seeking office in this manner is in the best interest of all Delawareans,” Castle said in a statement released Wednesday night.

In the statement Castle declined to endorse either candidate now running.

Castle had until tonight to decide if he would launch a write-in bid.

The GOP nominee Christine O’Donnell will face Democratic nominee Chris Coons in the general election in November. O’Donnell and Coons will face off in a CNN debate at the University of Delaware on October 13th.


CNN Political Ticker

Intercepted: Plot to launch Mumbai-style jihad massacres in Britain, France and Germany

September 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Hatched in Pakistan. “Multi-Attack Terror Plot On European Cities,” by Alex Watts for Sky News Online, September 28 (thanks to Alan of England):

Intelligence agencies have intercepted a terror plot to launch Mumbai-style attacks on Britain and other European countries, according to Sky News sources.

Sky’s foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall said militants based in Pakistan had been planning simultaneous strikes on London and major cities in France and Germany.

He said the plan was in the “advanced but not imminent stage” and the plotters had been tracked by spy agencies “for some time”.

Intelligence sources told Sky the planned attacks would have been similar to the commando-style raids carried out in Mumbai.

Then, Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba killed 166 people in a series of gun and grenade attacks in the Indian city.

The European plot was unearthed after intelligence sharing between London, France, Germany and the US.

It came as the Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated because of a bomb scare for the second time in two weeks….

Jihad Watch

EXCLUSIVE: Corporate Execs, GOP Firm Launch Stealth Ballot Campaign Against Georgia Workers’ Rights

September 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

yes5

When Georgia voters go to the polls this November, they will not only be voting for candidates for local, state, and federal office, but they will also be faced with five ballot amendments. The first amendment on the ballot is phrased innocuously enough:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?”

Who wouldn’t want to make the state more “economically competitive” by simply upholding “reasonable” competitive agreements? Yet, what voters may not know when they read their ballot is that it was put there by a campaign being backed by some of the state’s biggest corporate entities and strikes at the heart of the ability for workers to freely choose where, when, and how they work.

Currently, the state’s constitution prohibits employers within the state from making contracts that have the effect of “defeating or lessening competition.” This is essentially the purpose that non-compete clauses within employment contracts serve. Employers that utilize these provisions to prevent employees from freely working where, how, and when they choose after they switch employers. For example, a hardware store could use a non-compete agreement to ensure that any employee that leaves does not work for any of its competitors or even within the same industry for a number of years of its choosing. The hardware store would use the threat of lawsuits to enforce the contract.

Because of the wording of Georgia’s constitution, these clauses must be very narrowly written and are otherwise very difficult to enforce. The proposed amendment would strike “defeating or lessening competition” from the text of the constitution, giving judges much greater leeway to rule overbroad non-compete clauses constitutional, making it easier for judges to side with employers during litigation. Judges will also be “authorized to ‘blue pencil’ an unreasonable restrictive covenant to make it ‘reasonable’, making it much more likely” that employers win their lawsuits.

The main political force organizing in favor of amendment one is a group calling itself Jobs of Tomorrow. On its website, Jobs of Tomorrow implores voters to “keep jobs in Georgia” by voting for amendment one to close “loopholes in employment law.” While the website features pictures of happy office workers of every race, gender, and age, it does not mention who is actually organizing and funding the group.

Yet a perusal through the group’s filing documents with the Secretary of State reveals the three individuals who were responsible for its incorporation earlier this month. Its CEO is Duane Ackerman, its CFO is Tammi Stollberg, and SEC is Claudia Levitas:

jobbers

Who are Ackerman, Stollberg, and Levitas? They aren’t grassroots Americans demanding harsher contracts to stop employees from competing with their former employers. Duane Ackerman is the former CEO of telecom Bellsouth; he was also responsible for merging the company with AT&T and the layoffs of thousands of workers. He currently sits on the board of directors for Home Depot, UPS, and Allstate Corporation, all three of which have major operations in the state and a profit motive for stifling competition. Stollberg is currently the Vice President of Finance at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the lobbying arm of the state’s most powerful corporations. Claudia Levitas is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Georgia-based diner chain Huddle House. Rather than being grassroots Americans, the founders of the campaign are all well-connected corporate insiders who stand to benefit from an amendment that would make it easier for corporations to prevent their former employees from competing with them.

To do the graphic design and communications work for the campaign, the corporate executives sought out the elite Republican public relations the Stoneridge Group. Stoneridge has specialized in running projects for leading Republican campaign, including John McCain for President and Nathan Deal for Governor.

While these corporate executives and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce have worked hard to build this astroturf campaign to promote this anti-worker amendment, the economics of their argument falls flat. Jobs of Tomorrow maintains that stronger and more enforceable non-compete agreements will lead to job growth in the state, yet there is a wealth of empirical evidence that shows that they have actually stifled innovation and job growth. A comprehensive study by the University of Toronto in 2008 found that California’s outlawing of non-compete agreements helped it develop the innovation that was found in Silicon Valley and led to the decline of the Route 128 technology sector in Massachussetts, which allows very strict non-compete agreements. Additionally, researchers in a 2009 Harvard University study found that job mobility among “individuals who had firm specific skills or who specialized in a narrow range of technologies” fell more than 15 percent in the state of Michigan after it reversed a ban on non-compete agreements.

Think Progress

Dems launch first ad targeting O’Donnell

September 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
The DSCC is up with its first ad targeting O’Donnell.

The DSCC is up with its first ad targeting O’Donnell.

(CNN) – While it remains unclear if national Republicans will run ads in Delaware supporting Christine O’Donnell, Democrats are already up with a spot attacking the surprise Senate nominee.

In the ad that launched Sunday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee takes aim at questions surrounding O’Donnell’s financial history.

Full script after the jump:

We don’t know a lot about Christine O’Donnell. But here’s what we do know.

She’ll fit right in, in Washington.

O’Donnell spends money she doesn’t have. Hired employees she didn’t pay. Stiffed businesses. Didn’t pay her taxes.

One of Christine O’Donnell’s former employees summed it up: “We were constantly trying to hold her back from spending. She was financially completely irresponsible.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.


CNN Political Ticker

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