World Leaders’ Small Talk: iPads, Travel Plans & Virtual Koi Ponds

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: So what do world leaders chat about in those rare unscheduled minutes when they are gathered together before the start of a global summit session? At the APEC summit here in Yokohama Japan, the answer…

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Political Punch

The best-laid plans

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The future is not the realization of our hopes and dreams, a warning to mend our ways, an adventure to inspire us, nor a romance to touch our hearts. The future is just another place in spacetime.
– Robin Hanson

There is much to be said about the Simpson-Bowles Fiscal Commission Proposal. I’d like to start at the beginning. The co-chairs begin – rightly so – by stating their values. Front and center is the notion that:

1. We have a patriotic duty to come together on a plan that will make America better off tomorrow than it is today
• America cannot be great if we go broke. Our economy will not grow and our country will not be able to compete without a plan to get this crushing debt burden off our back.
• Throughout our history, Americans have always been willing to sacrifice to make our nation stronger over the long haul. That’s the promise of America: to give our children and grandchildren a better life.
• American families have spent the past 2 years making tough choices in their own lives. They expect us to do the same. The American people are counting on us to put politics aside, pull together not pull apart, and agree on a plan to live within our means and make America strong for the long haul.

Do we have a patriotic duty to come together on a plan that will make America better off tomorrow? Is such an endeavor even wise? Strategic planning stormed on to the scene in corporate America during the sixties. However, as Henry Mintzberg wrote 15 years ago:

Planning systems were expected to produce the best strategies as well as step-by-step instructions for carrying out those strategies so that the doers, the managers of businesses, could not get them wrong. As we now know, planning has not exactly worked out that way.

While certainly not dead, strategic planning has long since fallen from its pedestal.

We should have a national conversation on what, broadly speaking, we expect of our government in terms of Social Security, health care, defense and the plethora of smaller government services. We’ll want to sketch out how much those expectations might cost, and it’s even prudent to throw around ideas about how we might pay for those things.

What’s almost surely folly is the idea that we can choose specific fiscal proposals today that will safeguard prosperity tomorrow. It’s even worse to drape such notions in the flag and the notion that our grandchildren’s tomorrow turns on whether we choose the right plan today.

Karl Smith is an assistant professor of economics and government at the University of North Carolina and a blogger at

Ezra Klein

Feds remind pipeline operators to share emergency response plans

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The federal agency responsible for oversight of the nation’s oil and gas pipelines has issued an advisory bulletin reminding pipeline operators that they need to make their emergency response plans available to local emergency response officials.

Such information sharing is necessary, the agency said, because many pipelines go through public areas.

People who live near the Kalamazoo River know this all too well, and the Enbridge oil pipeline spill which dumped a million gallons of Canadian crude into that river system highlighted the lack of plans for coordination with local emergency responders along the pipeline. Several local emergency response officials told Michigan Messenger that they were unaware of the pipelines in their areas.

In a notice published in the Federal Register late last month the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Associate Administrator Jeffrey Weise said:

To ensure a prompt, effective, and coordinated response to any type of emergency involving a pipeline facility, pipeline operators are required to maintain an informed relationship with emergency responders in their jurisdiction.

PHMSA reminds pipeline operators of these requirements, and in particular, the need to share the operator’s emergency response plans with emergency responders. PHMSA recommends that operators provide such information to responders through the operator’s liaison and public awareness activities, including during joint emergency response drills.

He also said that PHMSA plans to evaluate how well operators have communicated about emergency plans during future inspections.

It’s unclear whether this advisory bulletin will have much impact.

According to The Washington Independent as of June, PHMSA had only 88 full-time inspectors to oversee the 2.3 million miles of pipelines in the United States.

According to PHMSA there are 2,879 miles of hazardous liquid pipeline in Michigan.

Michigan Messenger

Amidst Criticisms of Fed Action, President Obama Urges G-20 Leaders to Get Behind Plans for US Economic Growth

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Amidst criticisms that the US is trying to ‘devalue its way back to prosperity,’ President Obama wrote a letter to G-20 leaders arguing that the world needs the American economy to recover –indeed, that the US dollar’s strength and global economic health hinge upon it.

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Political Punch

Team Issa Plans Hundreds Of Oversight Hearings

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Darrell Issa — the chairman-in-waiting of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — wants each of his seven subcommittees to hold one or two hearings a week, for a total of seven hearings per week during a 40-week period, he told Politico. That would mean nearly 300 hearings.

Issa also said he is looking at members like Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Patrick McHenry of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio to chair some of the seven subcommittees of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Issa’s plan of 280 hearings in the next year would nearly triple the average annual number of hearings held by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) during the Bush administration.

“As Clint Eastwood says, a man needs to know his limitations,” Issa told Politico.

The California Republican, who has been making the media rounds since the GOP took the House, also hinted he may try to switch the name of the committee from the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to the Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

Issa first laid out his oversight plan in September and has said he’s interested in taking a look at ACORN as well as the bank bailout, the stimulus package and possibly health care reform. He has distanced himself from predictions that he’d investigate the job offer former President Bill Clinton made to Rep. Joe Sestak if he were to drop out of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary.


Nancy Pelosi Plans Big Bash to Celebrate “Accomplishments” like Increasing Spending, Debt and Losing the House

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Welcome to the FACEof the Democrat party and the 60+ loss of House seats in the 2010 midterm election … We can obviously see Nancy Pelosi did not get the message of the American voters.

Talk about out of touch, from the Drudge Report,  Nancy Pelosi is planning to throw a big bash to celebrate her “accomplishments.” Maybe she would also like to throw a party for herself in trying to become the Democrat House Minority leader? After all, Pelosi is responsible for the Democrats becoming the minority party in the House, why not reward her.

Mon Nov 08 2010 16:34:33 ET

Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the United States House of Representatives requests the pleasure of your company at a reception honoring the Accomplishments of the 111th Congress on Wednesday, the tenth day of November, two thousand ten at three thirty in the afternoon Cannon Caucus Room 345 Cannon House Office Building.

 The House losses might get even worse for Democrats as the GOP leads in 5 of 9 yet to be called races. In the end, the GOP House pick up might be 65 seats.

CA-11: Democrat Jerry McNerney is up 548 votes, but tens of thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots are still to be counted.
CA-20: Andy Vidak (R), a cherry farms, leads incumbent Jim Costa (D) by 648 votes.
IL-8: Republican Joe Walsh leads by 365 votes over incumbent Melissa Bean (D).
KY-6: County officials affirmed Ben Chandler’s (D) lead. The Lexington Herald-Leader: “U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, leads Republican Andy Barr by 649 votes, according to official vote totals from all 16 counties in the 6th Congressional District.
NY-1 (Suffolk County, Long Island): After a voting machine recanvass, Randy Altschuler (R) has taken over the lead from incumbent Tim Bishop (D).
NY-25: Tea Party-backed Ann Marie Buerkle (R) leads Dann Maffei (D) by 684 votes.
TX-27: Solomon Ortiz (D) trails by 799 792 votes with all the votes in. He’s going to request a recount.
VA-11: Gerry Connolly (D) claimed victory for a narrow win. By the way, he was hospitalized for an undisclosed condition.
WA-2: Rick Larsen (D) leads by 3,841 votes, a slight loss of votes from 4,100 after counting in Snohomish County.

The Gateway Pundit reminds us of other great Pelosi accomplishments like helping, along with Obama and Reid,  to triple the national debt in one year, see unemployment rise on her watch and lose the House in near record numbers.

EXIT QUESTION … Would Winston Churchill have thrown a party?

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Scared Monkeys

Israel announces East Jerusalem building plans as Netanyahu visits U.S.

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


The Israeli government has announced that construction will proceed on more than 1,300 housing units in East Jerusalem. The announcement comes while Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is in the U.S. The U.S. has duly expressed its “disappointment.”

Our readers will recall how incensed the Obama administration became when, during Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, the Israeli Interior Minister unveiled plans to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem. The timing of that announcement apparently was mistake, for which the Israelis apologized. President Obama nonetheless took deep offense and attempted to humiliate Netanyahu when he visited the White House.

The timing of the latest announcement, which comes in advance of a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, surely was premeditated. Presumably, the timing was intended, at least in part, to demonstrate that Israel is not concerned about the prospect of additional attempts at bullying by Obama administration.

As I suggested last night in connection with Netanyahu’s statement to Biden about Iran, in the aftermath of the American voters’ rebuke to the Obama administration, the one-sided nature of Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu looks like it’s going to change.

Power Line

Issa Plans Hundreds of Hearings

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Bill Clinton predicted this: According to Politico, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) “is already eyeing a massive expansion of oversight for next year, including hundreds of hearings; creating new subcommittees; and launching fresh investigations into the bank bailout, the stimulus and, potentially, health care reform.”

Issa said that he wants each of his seven subcommittees to hold “one or two hearings each week.”

“He also wants to organize aggressive oversight beyond his committee and plans to refer inquiries to other House panels, drawing even more incoming GOP chairmen to the cause of investigating the executive branch.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Foley Plans Statement On Whether He’ll Challenge Results

November 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley said Sunday that he’ll announce at 1 p.m. Monday his latest plans as to whether and how he’ll proceed with any possible challenge of official election results, announced Friday, that show Democrat Dan Malloy defeating him last Tuesday by 5,637 votes out of more than 1.1 million cast.

Foley said in a telephone interview that he doesn’t know yet what decision he’ll be announcing at a press conference in the lobby of Goodwin Square at 225 Asylum St. But he said lawyers have been examining statewide election results, and “our analysis” should be completed by Monday.

Foley said that the alternatives, if he decides to challenge the results of the closest Connecticut governor’s election in more than half a century, include:

-Pushing for a statewide recount, if the analysis of the results shows changes big enough to reduce the margin to within the 2,000-or-less-vote difference that legally triggers an automatic recount. Last week, there was a 2,000-vote swing in his favor because of erroneous recording of Torrington’s votes.

-Initiating a lawsuit to seek a remedy such as court order for a statewide recount, even if the official margin exceeds the 2,000-or-less vote threshold, if “irregularities” are found that are serious enough to “affect the outcome of the election.”

Capitol Watch

Obama visiting Muslim shrine in India — no plans to visit Hindu, Buddhist, or other shrines

November 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Obama is visiting Humayan’s Tomb. Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun was a sixteenth-century Mughal emperor, whose empire encompassed modern-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, and parts of northern India.

He is visiting, in other words, a Muslim shrine. He has no plans to visit any holy places of the Sikhs (such as the Golden Temple, Amritsar), or any Hindu holy places, Buddhist holy places, or Jain holy places. Nor does he plan to visit Nariman house, the Chabad house in Mumbai that was the chief target of the jihad mass-murderers who killed 173 people in November 2008.

Once again, Obama manifests a solicitude for Islam that he wouldn’t dream of extending to other faiths.

An entry from our If-People-Think-Obama-Is-A-Muslim-He-Has-No-One-But-Himself-To-Blame Department: from “Maurya, Humayun await Obamas,” in Rediff, November 7 (thanks to George):

Scores of policemen have also been posted outside the 16th century Humayun’s Tomb, which the Obamas are expected to visit later today.

Jihad Watch

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