From the Left: Blagojevich saga continues
The Illinois state legislature officially launched an impeachment inquiry into the shenanigans of Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich this week. Several weeks of hearings into Blagojevich’s pay-to-play schemes and other questionable acts are set to take place, perhaps leading to a full scale impeachment trial that may remove him from office. It is not, however, an open-and-shut case, which may explain why Blagojevich has no intention of stepping down quietly from his post. In fact, he has been reporting for duty as if nothing has changed, even signing into law a bill involving the same casino and horse-racing industries that he allegedly used to squeeze campaign contributions in exchange for his signature.
It turns out that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was not able to catch the sale of Obama’s Senate seat on tape, which would have greatly solidified his case. He was rushed into arresting Blagojevich because the Chicago Tribune was no longer interested in holding onto the story without publishing it. Great moments in American journalism, indeed.
Whether Blagojevich walks or pays the price for his corruption remains to be seen, but right now, all eyes are on Obama’s Senate seat. Illinois Democrats want Blagojevich out the door, but they are not interested in stripping him of his power to appoint Obama’s replacement. Still, Blagojevich’s lawyer says the governor will not make an appointment. Such a move would likely lead to a special election for the Senate seat that a Republican could win if the voters make Chicago’s crooked Democrat Party pay for playing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has vowed that the nation’s senators will not welcome a Blagojevich appointment to Washington. But if that appointment came from Illinois’s Democrat Lt. Governor? Well, that’s a different story.
Meanwhile, Team Obama has officially cleared itself of any wrongdoing in the scandal by releasing the following statement: “At the direction of the president-elect, a review of transition staff contacts with Governor Blagojevich and his office has been conducted and completed and is ready for release. That review affirmed the public statements of the president-elect that he had no contact with the governor or his staff, and that the president-elect’s staff was not involved in inappropriate discussions with the governor or his staff over the selection of his successor as U.S. senator.” Let’s move on folks, nothing to see here.
Ponzi scheme benefits Democrats
Speaking of corruption, Bernard Madoff, founder of Manhattan-based Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, was arrested and charged with securities fraud this week in what may be history’s largest Ponzi scheme. Investors in Madoff’s hedge funds may have lost anywhere from $17 billion to $50 billion. Investment details aside, Madoff was a major player in Washington politics — for the Democrats. Since 1993, the Madoff clan has donated more than $380,000 to individual politicians and political action committees, including $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In particular, DSCC head Sen. Chuck Schumer (the other senator from New York) received money from Madoff — $39,000 for his 1998 and 2004 races. One will search in vain for such details in Leftmedia stories about Madoff, however. Apparently, it isn’t worth a mention.
Hope ‘n’ Change: Obama’s education secretary
At first glance, Arne Duncan, Chicago’s top public school official, appeared to be a safe pick as Obama’s education secretary. Naturally, however, Duncan’s record doesn’t seem to merit his elevation. In America’s third-largest school district, Duncan did manage to improve graduation rates, but other statistics are disturbing, such as the fact that only 17 percent of eighth graders can read at grade level, and only 25 percent of all Chicago students scored above the national average in math. Duncan was also instrumental in the proposal of a homosexual high school in Chicago. Furthermore, Duncan is tied to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Bill Ayers’ brainchild for radicalizing, rather than educating, Chicago’s youth. Now Bill Ayers can influence all publicly educated American children. Finally, we find it curious that Obama thinks Duncan is worthy to be education secretary for his work in Chicago, even while the Obamas didn’t dare put their children into the public school system Duncan oversees.
In other Obama news, the president-elect has asked Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration on 20 January, a move that has created more anger on the Angry Left, if such a thing is possible. Obamaphiles are upset mainly because Warren led conservative support for California’s Proposition 8, which sought to re-ban same-sex marriage. Kevin Naff, editor of the homosexual rag the Washington Blade, called the choice a “slap in the faces” of homosexual voters. “We have just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality from a president beholden to bigoted conservative Christians. The election was supposed to have ended that era. It appears otherwise.” On the other hand, we’re not convinced Obama has truly seen the light.
Clinton reveals donors
Bill Clinton released the list of 205,000 donors to the Clinton Foundation Thursday as part of the deal with Barack Obama for Hillary Clinton’s spot in the cabinet as secretary of state. The donors include members of the Saudi royal family and other Middle Eastern leaders, and total foreign donations total more than $140 million. Though Clinton released donation amounts only in ranges and not exact amounts, we now know that Saudi Arabia gave at least $10 million and the ruling Zayed family of the United Arab Emirates donated between $1 million and $5 million. The governments of Oman, Qatar and Kuwait gave more than $1 million each, as did those of Australia, the Dominican Republic, Norway, Brunei and Taiwan. To put it mildly, considering U.S. interests around the world and in the Middle East in particular, these donations create an interesting dilemma for Hillary. The Clintons’ practices, which show how small time Gov. Blagojevich really was, should also provide some fodder for Republican senators interested in challenging her nomination.
News from the Swamp: Federal deficit skyrockets
Federal spending grew 25 percent in 2008 according to a joint White House-Treasury Department report released this week. Taxpayers will end up more than $1 trillion in the hole thanks to this steep rise, which is accounted for mostly by significant growth in veterans’ benefits and tax revenues that have remained static due to a yearlong recession. The scary part is that this trillion-dollar red mark comes before Uncle Sam’s bailout escapades are taken into account. President-elect Obama’s plan for another stimulus package early next year will only increase the federal deficit, which went from $162.8 billion in fiscal 2008 to $454.8 billion just one year later. But never fear, members of Congress are set to receive a pay raise of $4,700 a year beginning in January.
This “damn-the-torpedoes” strategy of not worrying about the deficit during times of economic strain will one day sink the American economy. This year, the federal government will spend $450 billion on just the interest on the national debt. That interest payment ranks fourth in total government outlays, behind Medicare-Medicaid, Social Security and defense. In 30 years, the government’s current tax revenue will cover only half of what it owes. We’re soon going to be looking for change, all right.
GOP House cleaning
After their devastating defeat in the November elections, Republicans are cleaning House in an attempt to reinvent the party and regain voter confidence. For starters, they have followed the scent of pork to the state of Alaska, where Rep. Don Young is the latest casualty in a purge that took down former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski in 2006 and, more recently, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. But unlike Murkowski, who was given the heave-ho by voters in favor of Sarah Palin, and Stevens, who was found guilty of accepting improper gifts, Young is being booted by Republican leadership in an effort to avoid another full-blown scandal.
Already associated with the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” Young is now rumored to be under criminal investigation for allegedly earmarking funds for a Florida freeway interchange (yes, 5,000 miles from home) that would have enriched a friend. At the time, Young was serving as chairman of the Transportation Committee.
Young’s descent began with his recent removal from the Republican Steering Committee, and his effective exclusion thereafter from party decision-making in Alaska, from having a role in setting the GOP agenda; it continued last week, when House Republican leader John Boehner informed Young that he will no longer be the Republican top dog of the Natural Resources Committee. Young has held a seat on the committee for many years, and served as its chair in the 1990s.
Still, Young will retain his office, his seniority, and his committee memberships, including the Natural Resources Committee. He continues to deny any wrongdoing and has expressed his confidence that he will be vindicated and will regain his post.
Vol. 08 No. 51
19 December 2008