“Selling Lead As Gold, Shit As Chanel No. 5″

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Matt Taibbi reports on "rocket dockets," the high-speed housing courts that are helping major banks by speeding through foreclosures in Florida:

[The rocket docket] exists to launder the crime and bury the evidence by speeding thousands of fraudulent and predatory loans to the ends of their life cycles, so that the houses attached to them can be sold again with clean paperwork. The judges, in fact, openly admit that their primary mission is not justice but speed. One Jacksonville judge, the Honorable A.C. Soud, even told a local newspaper that his goal is to resolve 25 cases per hour. Given the way the system is rigged, that means His Honor could well be throwing one ass on the street every 2.4 minutes.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Budget cuts in Britain lead to violent protests

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Trust the people. They’re never as dumb as you think they are,
American Thinker Blog

Reid asked Bennet to lead DSCC

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A senior Senate Democratic source told POLITICO this afternoon that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has asked Colorado Freshman Michael Bennet to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Bennet, who won an uphill battle for election to his appointed seat, "didn’t say yes, and he didn’t say no" in the Tuesday conversation with Reid, the source said. Bennet has been on a "thank you" tour of his state in the wake of his bruising campaign, but will need to decide soon on the committee post.

The case for Bennet is that the former Denver schools chief is a respected figure in Washington and with major Democratic donors who also identifies with swing state Democrats facing tough elections next cycle, like Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester. 

Patty Murray and Tom Udall had also been mentioned as possible DSCC chairs.

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Ben Smith’s Blog

America Declines To Lead

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 1px; margin-left: 1px;”> href=”http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/Obama-sit.jpg”> class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-46525″ title=”Obama sit” src=”http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/Obama-sit.jpg” alt=”” width=”358″ height=”239″ />

20 people with very different backgrounds are unlikely to reach consensus on anything substantial. To forge such a consensus requires leadership. This week’s G-20 meetings produced nothing of substance, which is no surprise because the United States did not lead.

First, let’s dispense with the idea that America can’t lead. The American economy is more than one-third larger than the second- and third-largest, China’s and Japan’s, combined. The dollar is the world’s currency. When they get nervous, central bankers all over the globe buy U.S. Treasuries, no matter how low the yield is. America, and only America, can lead.

But we didn’t and we haven’t. Our last G-20 initiative, to fight government intervention in currency markets, went nowhere. One reason it went nowhere was suspicion that the real American goal was not to uphold the principle of open competition but rather to devalue the dollar. This suspicion turned into open accusation when the Federal Reserve moved to href=”http://www.forbes.com/2010/11/10/quantiative-easing-bernanke-markets-equities-criticism.html?boxes=Homepagechannels”>dump yet more dollars into the international system. id=”more-46523″>

So the U.S. switched from exchange rates to demanding limits on trade imbalances, as measured by the current account. This at least was mentioned by the G-20, but not a single action was taken by the group or any individual member. Nor should action be expected. Again, a key reason is lack of American leadership.

Global imbalances stem first from imbalances in the U.S., as by far the largest economy. We haven’t saved enough. The economic crisis spurred ordinary Americans into saving, but the federal government immediately spent more to make up for it. Efforts to limit global imbalances run headlong into huge American budget deficits and extremely loose money that are explicitly intended to increase the American demand that is the single biggest factor in imbalances in the first place.

Statists in the U.S. cling to the argument that, someday, huge budget deficits and wildly loose money will bring unemployment down. Even if you think the jury’s still out on that one, the verdict has come in another count: America has chosen to put aside its mantle of global economic leader.

To add insult to injury, the U.S. apparently can’t even lead in a bilateral context. The href=”http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/11/Obama-Should-Approve-Korea-Trade-Agreement”>anticipated trade agreement with South Korea, known as KORUS, didn’t materialize either.  KORUS would have been a signal to the world that America can move forward on trade. But either President Obama doesn’t want to lead or he’s so politically dependent on protectionists at home that he can’t. In any case, vague statements out of Seoul don’t obscure the clear picture of self-inflicted American weakness.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Murkowski Continues To Lead In Write-In Count, Miller Camp Grows More Desparate

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

At the conclusion of the second day of write-in ballot counting in Alaska, the votes for Lisa Murkowski continues to grow:

The Division of Elections has reviewed write-in ballots for almost half the precincts in Alaska and is counting nearly 98 percent of them for Lisa Murkowski. The Murkowski campaign is acting confident of victory and is accusing Joe Miller of taking “desperate” measures to try to win.

The state Thursday finished its second day of going through the write-in ballots in Juneau. More than 45,000 of them have been reviewed so far. Counting resumes this morning and is expected to continue through the weekend.

The Murkowski campaign said “it couldn’t be going any better” and that the Miller campaign has resorted to challenging perfectly spelled ballots.

“It’s an act of desperation,” said Anchorage ad executive John Tracy, part of the Murkowski campaign’s ballot-count-monitoring team. “Really the only thing that seems clear is that they’re trying to pump up their challenged ballot numbers.”

Examples were not hard to find of Miller observers challenging Murkowski ballots that were spelled accurately and looked to be filled out properly. More often, the challenged ballots had a letter misspelled in Murkowski’s last name or the word “Republican” written on the ballot next to it.

Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto said he couldn’t comment on the individual judgments made by his candidate’s ballot observers. But he said the campaign isn’t out to challenge straightforward votes. He said the Miller camp’s aim is to challenge misspelled ballots, those with legibility issues, that are filled in wrong, or otherwise open to question.


It appears as though Miller needs to keep about 12 percent of the write-ins from going for Murkowski. The count has been steady over the past two days, with more than 89 percent of the reviewed write-in votes going unchallenged for Murkowski, slightly more than the absolute minimum she would need.

As of right now, the unofficial results show “Lisa Murkowski” with 40,518 of the 45,132 write-in votes counting. Two other variations of Murkowski’s name — which appear to be instances where the person wrote in only her last name — have  4,294 (8%) of the vote so far. If this continues, it seems next to impossible for Miller to have the requisite number of challenges to allow his lawsuit to have any merit.
Over at Ace of Spades HQ, Gabriel Mailor takes a look at some of the more ridiculous Miller challenges, and makes this note about the most-discussed Alaska law which many are claiming requires absolutely exact spelling by a person casting a write-in vote:

State-law imposed burdens on the right to vote can be constitutional in many circumstances, but the court will weigh the injury to the right to vote against the interest asserted by the state. What interest will be asserted in favor of the exact-spelling rule? Accuracy in counting is undoubtedly an important public interest and it weighs heavily against the exact-spelling rule. Disfranchisement (and thus, inaccuracy) is the crux of the injury here. That’s an substantial injury, probably requiring strict scrutiny of the law. The only other state interest I can see is uniformity, but I doubt that will outweigh the injury. After all, uniformly throwing out all write-in votes would clearly not be a constitutional burden on the right to vote. Uniformity alone can’t get you there. Not in the face of voter disfranchisement.

Moreover, the Alaska Supreme Court has a lengthy line of cases holding that “the crucial question in determining the validity of ballot markings is one of voter intent.” For example, the statute requires that the bubble be completely filled in. But that hasn’t stopped the Alaska courts in the past from using the principle that voter intent is constitutionally protected to count votes in which the bubble is partially filled.

In short, the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted will be weighed against the exact-spelling rule. I can’t think of any interests that will weigh heavier than complete disfranchisement for a mere slip of a pen. And so I expect the courts will not side with Miller, but with the Division of Elections. After all, knocking down literacy tests for voting was a pretty big deal at one time.

So under Alaska case law interpreting the statute under which Miller is suing, it would seem clear that exact spelling is most emphatically not required. Miller, however, has another problem in that it appears that he may have filed suit in the wrong Court:

The state says that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller has no business going into federal court now to challenge the counting of write-in ballots for his opponent and urged a federal judge to dismiss the case he filed this week.

State courts are the proper forum to interpret Alaska election law and the actions of state officials, Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton Walsh said in her motion to dismiss. Until the Alaska Supreme Court has spoken, Miller has no legal basis to make a federal case out of the issue, she said.

“The plaintiff (Miller) in this case has attempted to dress his state-law claims in federal-question clothing, in order to go forum shopping,” Paton Walsh wrote. “The Alaska Court System is the proper forum for this case. The Alaska Supreme Court is very familiar with the state’s election laws — issuing an election law decision as recently as two weeks ago — and is the appropriate court to interpret Alaska’s election statutes.”

Miller’s decision to file in Federal rather than State court is likely driven by the fact that his attorneys think that they’d have a better chance before a Federal District Court Judge. Of course, even if the Federal Court did decide to hear the case it would still be required to apply Alaska law on the ballot counting issues, including the Alaska Supreme Court precedents noted above. However, Miller’s lawyers are obviously gambling on the idea that a Federal judge would be less lenient in this regard than a State trial court judge. Based on my own experiences in Federal Courts here in Virginia, though, I would suspect that the most likely outcome is that the District Court Judge will refused to exercise jurisdiction over the case since it involves primarily issues of state law. It’s worth noting, for example, that Bush v. Gore started out as a lawsuit in state court in Florida challenging the ballot count in Palm Beach County.

One final note from the Anchorage Daily News strikes me as a further sign that the Miller campaign is becoming more desperate as the ballot count continues to go in Murkowski’s favor. For reasons I cannot quite understand, they’ve signed on a guy who has a reputation as a sleaze merchant:

Floyd Brown, the man responsible for the “Willie Horton” television ad that helped derail the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign in 1988, has signed up for the Joe Miller campaign.

Brown is here in Juneau Thursday for the write-in ballot review and has called a 4 p.m. press conference to discuss “the direction of the Miller campaign heading into the weekend.”

What direction that might be I can only imagine.

Photo: Anchorage Daily News

Outside the Beltway

A chance for Obama, Congress to lead

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Editor’s note: Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” “AC360°,” “John King, USA” and “State of the Union.”

Washington (CNN) – It took just eight days after the election for the two deficit commission chairmen to pounce. And the title page of their draft version of budget cuts doesn’t mince words: “The problem is real – the solution is painful – There’s no easy way out – Everything must be on the table – and Washington must lead.”

How’s that for an idea: Washington must lead!

CNN Political Ticker

So how many were killed in Operation Cast Lead altogether?

November 11, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Time magazine, in their article I linked to earlier, makes a passing comment:

Hamas suspended rocket attacks after Israel’s devastating December 2008 military incursion, which killed more than 700 of its fighters, and a similar number of civilians.

This comes after Hamas themselves admitted last week that around 700 of the dead from Cast Lead were militants.

This admission shows, nearly two years after the operation, that Israel’s estimate that 709 of the dead were fighters was quite accurate. Goldstone and PCHR, and HRW were all completely and provably wrong.

A ratio of 1:1 legitimate targets versus civilians in a war where the enemy hides among and disguises itself as civilian is literally unprecedented in war. It shows that the many people who airlly accuse Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza know nothing about war and are far more concerned with blaming the Jewish state for atrocities than for the rights of the civilians who were killed. They insist on a clinically clean war from only a single nation – the one nation that they want to delegitimize.

Now that the IDF figures on dead fighters have been proven correct, we need to now see if the total number of dead are closer to the IDF numbers or to the numbers given by “human rights” groups.

The IDF claims that a total of 1166 were killed. PCHR claims around 1415, of whom seven are either duplicates, blank or killed by Hamas.

At first glance, PCHR’s figures seem compelling, because they list out the names of all of the dead. But there is one basic inconsistency that they never answered.

On the last day of fighting, PCHR had counted 1251 killed. Their weekly report on January 21st revised the number to 1285. (While they tried hard to document the names of the victims during the war, the names of the additional 34 were never published.)

The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced a tally of 1314 victims on January 28th, and the Al Mazen center said it was 1268.

But on March 12th, PCHR announced the final tally was 1417 (actually, a higher number, but they then revised it downward.) Al Mezan said it was 1342 on March 7th. And the PMOH raised its figures to 1440 and we already knew that they were lying

Yet nowhere do either organization document how they found the additional 80-160 people. Nowhere in their weekly reports do they mention the discovery of an additional hundred or so victims found under the rubble or discovered in hospitals.

The only hint I had found that perhaps PCHR was playing with the numbers – or that they had been mislead – was from a single, very anecdotal data point. The Palestinian Ministry of Health was keeping a tally of Gaza “victims of the siege,” a list of roughly 5-10 people a week who they said died because they couldn’t get adequate medical attention. As  I reported last year, the number of these “martyrs” dramatically decreased during Cast Lead – just when you would expect to have more of them.

While the numbers of “siege martyrs” is only a tiny percentage of those who die in Gaza every month, the decrease in reports of their deaths may indicate that, as Israel claimed, the discrepancy might be because of natural deaths in Gaza during the war.

To be fair, this is a very small data point, and there is no way I can prove it. But since the IDF has been vindicated in its figures of the number of terrorists killed, it is time to revisit the other number – the one that might indicate that instead of a ratio of 1:1 militants to civilians, the real ratio might be closer to 2:1, which would be an absolutely amazing achievement and prove beyond any doubt that the IDF is the most moral army in history.

Elder of Ziyon

Beshear Holds Early Lead

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A Public Policy Polling survey in Kentucky finds Gov. Steve Beshear (D) in good shape as he heads for re-election next year. Beshear leads Phil Moffett (R), 45% to 26%, and tops David Williams (R), 44% to 35%.

Key finding: 48% of voters approve of the job Beshear’s doing to 34% who
disapprove. Beshear’s on positive ground with independents at 47%/31%,
unusually good numbers for a Democrat at a time when those folks are
tending to lean strongly toward the GOP.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Beshear Holds Early Lead

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A Public Policy Polling survey in Kentucky finds Gov. Steve Beshear (D) in good shape as he heads for re-election next year. Beshear leads Phil Moffett (R), 45% to 26%, and tops David Williams (R), 44% to 35%.

Key finding: 48% of voters approve of the job Beshear’s doing to 34% who
disapprove. Beshear’s on positive ground with independents at 47%/31%,
unusually good numbers for a Democrat at a time when those folks are
tending to lean strongly toward the GOP.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) on Trade: President Obama Needs to Lead

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 1px; margin-left: 1px;”> classid=”clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000″ width=”400″ height=”240″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0″> name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /> name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /> name=”src” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/sdhP2gqBs28?fs=1&hl=en_US” /> name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /> type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”400″ height=”240″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/sdhP2gqBs28?fs=1&hl=en_US” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”>

This fall the left ran millions of dollars worth of ads demonizing href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrv-UDe5w4Q”>free trade and “foreign money.” Now President Barack Obama is in Asia negotiating the U.S. free trade agreement (KORUS) with South Korea.

href=”http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/11/Obama-Should-Approve-Korea-Trade-Agreement”>The case for KORUS should be a slam dunk. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that U.S. exports would increase $ 10–11 billion annually, if the agreement passed. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that approving the KORUS would lead to an increase of 250,000 jobs, while a failure to enact the agreement would lead to a loss of $ 35 billion in exports and a loss of 345,000 jobs.

Unfortunately the left’s protectionist rhetoric has taken its toll on Congress. From Seoul, South Korea, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) told a conference call today: id=”more-46432″>

We’ve had a very shrill political campaign, particularly ads that were running in Ohio and some of these others, by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the DNC and others that were very very harsh. President Obama needs to lead here. And I think he needs to reach out to members of his party in Congress and help on this lift.

Just five years ago the United States was South Korea’s largest trading partner. But since June 2007 when KORUS was first signed,  South Korea has moved forward with other trade negotiations. Now the U.S. is South Korea’s fourth largest trading partner behind the European Union, China, and Japan.

It is time for the Obama Administration to stop talking about free trade and begin implementing a trade policy. It’s time for President Obama to lead on trade.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

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