David Kirkpatrick

September 13, 2010

In advance of favorable midterm elections …

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:21 pm

… the “party of ‘no'” says, “maybe.”

Good news on the tax front. This at least hints the GOP isn’t willing to blow up tax cuts for a very huge majority of taxpayers just to side with the top two percent (or thereabouts) of households.

From the link:

The top Republican in the House of Representatives offered a hint of compromise on the divisive issue of taxes on Sunday, saying he would support extending tax cuts for the middle class even if cuts for the wealthy are allowed to expire.

Representative John Boehner said President Barack Obama’s proposal to renew lower tax rates for families making less than $250,000 but let the lower rates for wealthier Americans expire was “bad policy” — but he will support it if he must.

“If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll vote for it,” Boehner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.

“If the only option I have is to vote for those at 250 and below, of course I’m going to do that,” he said. “But I’m going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans.”

September 10, 2010

Good news from the U.S. Court of Appeals

Federally funded stem cell research back in business. Of course it’s stupid this is even a issue, much less a political football. I wrote out, and deleted, two sentences of snark about christianist theocons, but maybe those thoughts are better left to your imagination. Let’s just say I think the groups pushing against stem cell research are a serious threat to my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and everyone would be better off if they could just form their own society on an island somewhere and institute whatever manner of holy book law they wanted to live under.

From the link:

A federal appeals court here ruled Thursday that federal financing of embryonic stem cell research could continue while the court considers a judge’s order last month that banned the government from underwriting the work.

The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals could save research mice from being euthanized, cells in petri dishes from starving and scores of scientists from a suspension of paychecks, according to arguments the Obama administration made in the case.

It could also allow the National Institutes of Health to provide $78 million to 44 scientists whose research the agency had previously agreed to finance.

The stay also gives Congress time to consider legislation that would render the ban, and the court case behind it, largely moot, a prospect that some embattled Democrats have welcomed. Despite staunch opposition by some critics, embryonic stem cell research is popular, and a legislative fight on the issue could prove a tonic for Democrats battling a tough political environment.

August 28, 2010

Congress may pass emergency bill to restart stem cell research

And it can’t happen a day too soon. Allowing theocrats to hijack scientific and medical research only puts the United States that much more under the gun of losing dominance  in fields that will — will, not might — have a major influence on human life and the global marketplace in the very near future.

The release:

Congressman, CSHL president urge quick action to reverse judicial embryonic stem cell research ban

A federal judge’s decision ‘sets back’ vital work and handcuffs American science

Cold Spring Harbor, NY – Against a backdrop of some of the world’s most sophisticated biological research labs, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) this morning issued a challenge to his colleagues in Congress: immediately upon their return from summer recess, he urged, they should pass legislation that would reverse a recent Federal court decision that has brought embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. to a screeching halt.

Rep. Israel was seconded in his plea by Dr. Bruce Stillman, a renowned cancer researcher and President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which hosted the Congressman’s announcement to the press this morning. Also lending vocal support was Brooke Ellison, a stem cell research advocate and instructor at Stony Brook University, who, since a car accident in 1990, has been a quadriplegic.

Rep. Israel said the Aug. 23 decision by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, “sets back research, sets back patients, and sets back jobs,” on Long Island and across the nation. The decision, which prevents federally funded research from being conducted on any embryonic stem cells derived from human embryos, “has not only rolled back the Obama policy on stem cells, but has actually rolled back the Bush policy,” Israel noted.

The Congressman said he regards the legal appeals process too slow, given the gravity of the matter. “I don’t think we should wait for an appeal,” he said. “We’ve got to act, and act fast.” Congress has twice in the past decade passed bills giving the go-ahead for embryonic stem cell research. “The Judge said Congress created the policy, and only Congress can revisit it. Well, I want to take him up on that. When we return to Washington on Sept. 14, the House, as one of its first priorities, should re-pass the very legislation that it has passed twice before.” If passed by the Senate, such a bill would be almost certain to receive a presidential signature, thus ending any ambiguity about the will of Congress, Israel said.

President Stillman of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory praised Rep. Israel for taking a strong position on the issue and calling for an immediate remedy. “To the scientific community,” Dr. Stillman said, “this judicial decision was an absolute shock. Embryonic stem cells have been studied since the 1980s, and now the work has been forced to a complete stop. The judge’s decision reverses the policies of two presidents, goes far beyond the debate that we’ve seen in this country, and sets a standard that is unique in the world. This is now the only country in the world where you cannot do embryonic stem cell research.”

Dr. Stillman said he believed that bringing the matter before Congress once more “will not only clarify the situation,” but will provide Congress with a golden opportunity “to make a strong statement to the people of this country and to patients like Brooke Ellison, who are counting on steady progress in stem cell research.” The prior passage by Congress of two bills enabling research with embryonic stem cells is evidence of the strong public support that exists for this type of research, Stillman said.

Brooke Ellison, who spoke from her wheelchair, said that “stem cell research has been used as a political see-saw,” subject to the uncertainties of the political process. “But this is not a political, judicial or ideological issue,” she said. “It’s a human issue. One that speaks to the very core of what it means to show basic human compassion.”

Dr. Stillman said that while most work involving stem cells at CSHL was not embryonic stem cell research, any labs in which embryonic cells are used will now be subject to the National Institutes of Health’s recent interpretation of Judge Lamberth’s ruling. He said there was still some ambiguity about whether the interpretation will hold up under inevitable challenge. But the point, Dr. Stillman emphasized, is that science cannot properly proceed and the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells cannot be discovered — by researchers working in America — unless research is permitted to proceed in unfettered fashion.

###

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is a private, not-for-profit research and education institution at the forefront of efforts in molecular biology and genetics to generate knowledge that will yield better diagnostics and treatments for cancer, neurological diseases and other major causes of human suffering. For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.

July 13, 2010

Congressional showdown to keep tax breaks …

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:44 pm

… for the top one percent or so of all taxpayers. Because the Bush 43 era tax policy did such wonders with the economy.

From the link:

While Democrats and Republicans alike want to keep the 2001 and 2003 tax reductions for families earning up to $250,000, President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats want to end the break for those who earn more. Republicans, contending a recovery from recession is no time to raise taxes, insist on continuing the Bush-era cuts for high-income people as well.

July 12, 2010

Diaper fetishist Senator calls for birther suits

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:46 pm

Not only did “family values” Republican David Vitter not resign after a scandal involving frequenting prostitutes to service an infantilism fetish, he’s now doubling down on challenging the voters in his district to reelect someone who is unfit to serve by supporting lawsuits claiming Obama is not a United States citizen.

The state of Hawaii cleared this matter up long, long ago, and really, don’t you think between Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the general someone would have used this issue as a devastating image and legal hammer is there was anything — and I mean any tiny shred — that gave credence to the idea Obama couldn’t legally serve as president.

From the link:

Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter says he supports conservative organizations challenging President Barack Obama’s citizenship in court.

Vitter, who is running for re-election, made the comments at a town hall event on Sunday when a constituent asked what he would do about what the questioner said was Obama’s ”refusal to produce a valid birth certificate.”

May 1, 2010

About that Arizona “green card” law

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:48 pm

Here’s the first two bits from today’s Mike Allen Playbook:

The Arizona Republic, the state’s largest newspaper, will publish a full-page, front-page editorial on Sunday calling on state leaders to put politics aside and work toward meaningful immigration reform. The newspaper, a partner in the POLITICO Network, will condemn the lack of leadership it says has been demonstrated by a host of elected officials, including senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, former governor and now Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as well as other local, state and national officials.

And:

Secretary of State Clinton, the first guest on the new HD ‘Meet the Press’ set, to NBC’s David Gregory (taped yesterday for air tomorrow): ‘This law … is written so broadly that if you were visiting in Arizona and you had an accent — and you were a citizen from, you know, my state of New York — you could be subjected to the kind of inquiry … that this law permits.’

GREGORY: ‘You think it invites profiling? Racial profiling?’

SECRETARY CLINTON: ‘I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. … I think … a state doesn’t have the authority to … try to impose their own immigration law — that is really the province of the federal government. … I don’t want to offer a legal opinion. … I’ll leave that to the Justice Department. But I know the attorney general of Arizona has raised questions about the legality.’

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Constitutionality of the law, the undue and unfair burden it will place on law enforcement officials in the state, and obviously its impact on illegal immigration in Arizona.

Another meme that’s going around and getting traction on both sides of the aisle is it could end up being something of a death blow the GOP nationwide. Maybe even as soon as this electoral cycle, taking some steam out of a likely very favorable Republican November.

I think the GOP lost the Latin vote with wild-eyed nativism during the Bush 43 years, particularly the second term, but any Latinos who had any inkling to vote Republican have most likely banished the thought. This attitude will last at least a generation, or maybe longer, right at a time when the Latino population (legal and voting) is growing around the country.

Now the idea that Bush 43 had some unusual mojo with the Latin vote is way overstated. It was a Karl Rove talking point and point of emphasis because he saw the demographic future and knew it was key for Republicans to court the Latin vote. Cue the crazed and rabid GOPers in Congress who went into an anti-immigration frenzy overriding any efforts by the White House to own the issue.

At the time of Bush’s two elections, the Bush 43 administration publicly touted how he grabbed a historic level of Latino GOP support. That was a lie. I have it on very good authority (a deep insider in the White House at the time) that by the actual numbers Bush 41 claimed a higher portion of the Latin vote than the son, so don’t think the GOP began wasting a golden opportunity in the mid- to late-2000s with that bloc. The real issue is Karl Rove was right. The party desperately needed to begin gaining Latino support to remain a force nationwide in the coming decades.

The anti-immigration zealots in Congress began nailing that coffin shut with abandon, and this legislative move by Arizona just might have hammered the final nail home.

March 21, 2010

Health care reform is going to pass

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:35 pm

Love it, hate it or maybe just sick of hearing about it, this bill will pass today. Obama essentially staked his entire presidency on health care reform this past week, so there’s no shock this thing is going to become a law. Next stop Obama’s desk, and then on to SCOTUS?

Should have taken that $100 bet at Thanksgiving …

March 5, 2010

Small business loan relief courtesy of Congress

Finally.

From the link:

Added incentives for banks to make Small Business Administration-backed loans will continue through the end of March, thanks to a fresh funding infusion authorized by Congress as part of Tuesday’s bill extending unemployment benefits.

Since early last year, the SBA has waived its fees and offered banks guarantees of up to 90% on the small business loans the agency backs. Created as part of the Recovery Act, the deal sweeteners helped SBA-backed lending rebound from its near collapse in late 2008, in the wake of the financial crisis.

Congress initially authorized the incentives to continue through September of this year, but the measures proved so popular that their funding was quickly exhausted. The SBA has been relying since late November on temporary extensions to keep the incentives running.

The unemployment benefits extension bill — passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama late Tuesday after Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., dropped his objection — allocates $60 million to fund the program’s subsidies for another month.

Just this issue alone illustrates how Bunning’s so-called “principled” roadblock tactic put real short-term hurt on Main Street. Over 100,000 federal employees missed a paycheck because of that asshat’s grandstanding. How would you like to make a mortgage, or other bill, payment late because one Senator wanted to make an inane point about federal spending? Particularly a Senator who offered no fiscal backbone for eight years of profligate federal spending with zero attempt to pay for the outlay under the previous administration.

March 2, 2010

Is health care reform going to pass?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:19 pm

Looks like it. Here’s a solid analysis from Jonathan Bernstein guest-blogging at the Daily Dish.

From the link:

Item: Ten House Dems who voted against the bill the first time around are telling the AP (via Jonathan Chait) that they might vote yes this time around.  Chait is right about the incentives here as far as public statements are concerned.  I’d put it this way: there’s an easily understandable story of going from no, to maybe, to yes…but it makes no sense at all to go from no, to maybe, to no.

I should emphasize here that it is very, very rare for the majority to lose a high-stakes vote on final passage on the House floor.  You just don’t bring a bill to the floor unless you know you’re going to win.  I can’t imagine a reason that Nancy Pelosi and the White House would bring this to the floor knowing that they were going to lose, for some sort of spin advantage.  They either know that they have the votes, or it’s the biggest bluff in who knows how long.  Keep watching: does the president really announce the schedule tomorrow that was leaked today?  Does the Speaker really keep to that schedule, or do leaks start appearing about pushing it back a few days?  I don’t think so, however.  I think they have the votes.

February 8, 2010

No estate tax this year

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:41 pm

Well, so far at least. Congress let the estate tax lapse for 2010 meaning anyone lucky (unlucky? since you’re dead) enough to leave an estate this year will leave a larger estate since the Federal government isn’t taking its cut. Of course that might change in the future with some sort of retroactive tax. All in all it’s a confusing situation all around.

From the link:

More than a month into 2010, the Internal Revenue Service is not collecting estate tax on the money that wealthy people, including small business owners, leave to their heirs after they die. The unusual situation results because the U.S.Senate did not pass legislation late last year to remedy the scheduled expiration of the estate tax.The situation is confusing and unfair, and particularly hurts entrepreneurs doing succession planning, says Jonathan M.Bergman, a certified financial planner and vice-president of Palisades Hudson Financial Group, a fee-only financial planning firm in Scarsdale, N.Y. He spoke recently to Smart Answers columnist Karen E. Klein. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.

Also from the link, here’s the bottom-line impact of this Congressional blunder:

How much tax revenue is lost when there’s no estate tax?

Around 1% of total Internal Revenue Service collections come from estate taxes.

February 5, 2010

Demand Question Time!

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:25 am

A new idea bumping around the blogosphere, and a good idea at that. The concept is to set up some formal or semi-formal exchange between the executive and legislative branches of government. Politics in D.C. is so dysfunctional right now Question Time would go a long ways toward breaking up some of the ossified Capital ways, and very possibly get government back on the track of actually solving problems and not trying to win the latest four hour news cycle.

Hit the link and check out the initial signatories — a strongly bipartisan and mixed ideological group. This is an idea whose time has come. An idea that might even be necessary right now. Once you hit the link be sure to sign the petition.

Here’s a take on the concept from 538’s Nate Silver:

As you may be aware, I’ve teamed up with a group of about 50 other thinkers, bloggers, insiders and outsiders to help promote the idea of Question Time — a regularly held, televised and webcasted forum in which the President would take questions from Members of the Congress, much as President Obama did with the Republican House delegation on January 29th and members of the Democratic Senate yesterday. This is truly a bipartisan endeavor, with everyone from Markos Moulitsas to Grover Norquist on board.You can sign our petition to Demand Question Time here, and follow us on twitter here.

And here’s more from the first link:

We live in a world that increasingly demands more dialogue than monologue. President Obama’s January 29th question-and-answer session with Republican leaders gave the public a remarkable window into the state of our union and governing process. It was riveting and educational. The exchanges were substantive, civil and candid. And in a rare break from our modern politics, sharp differences between elected leaders were on full public display without rancor or ridicule.

This was one of the best national political debates in many years. Citizens who watched the event were impressed, by many accounts. Journalists and commentators immediately responded by continuing the conversation of the ideas put forward by the president and his opponents — even the cable news cycle was disrupted for a day.

America could use more of this — an unfettered and public airing of political differences by our elected representatives. So we call on President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader John Boehner to hold these sessions regularly — and allow them to be broadcast and webcast live and without commercial interruption, sponsorship or intermediaries. We also urge the President and the Republican Senate caucus to follow suit. And we ask the President and the House and Senate caucuses of his own party to consider mounting similar direct question-and-answer sessions. We will ask future Presidents and Congresses to do the same.

February 1, 2010

The party of “no” is hard at work

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:19 pm

Hard at work doing nothing productive in the midst this extremely challenging economic climate. These tactics might (yes, might — there’s no given that this electoral cycle will favor the GOP) work in November, but real long-term damage is still being done to the Republican brand. Going with all tactics of negativity with no strategy or vision for the future aside from attempting to harm Democratic plans will not lead to electoral success.

From the link:

I got this note from someone with many decades’ experience in national politics, about a discussion between two Congressmen over details of the stimulus bill:

“GOP member: ‘I’d like this in the bill.’

“Dem member response: ‘If we put it in, will you vote for the bill?’

“GOP member:  ‘You know I can’t vote for the bill.’

“Dem member:  ‘Then why should we put it in the bill?’

“I witnessed this myself.”

I wrote back saying, “Great story!” and got the response I quote below and after the jump. It is worth reading because its argument has the valuable quality of being obvious — once it is pointed out. The emphasis is mine rather than in the original; it is to highlight a basic structural reality that has escaped most recent analysis of the “bipartisanship” challenge.

Also:

As I have pointed out a time or two or a thousand, the structural failures of American government are the country’s main problem right now. In this installment, we see that the US now has the drawbacks of a parliamentary system — absolute party-line voting by the opposition, for instance — without any of the advantages, from comparable solidarity among the governing party to the principle of “majority rules.” If Democrats could find a way to talk about structural issues — if everyone can find a way to talk about them — that would be at least a step. And the Dems could talk about the simple impossibility of governing when the opposition is committed to “No” as a bloc.

January 26, 2010

Avalanching sandpiles and Congress

I’m going to let the subhead for this Physics arXiv blog post say it all:

The behavior of Congress can be modeled by the same process that causes avalanches in sandpiles.

And with that, hit the link and read the entire short bit. It is worth it.

January 19, 2010

Taxation temperature? Cold days ahead for the financial industry

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:45 pm

And given the performance of the financial industry, coupled with some massive public relations missteps and populist uprising looking to put at least a few banker’s heads on pikes for a Main Street parade, it’s a pretty safe bet when D.C. goes looking for new money banking and financial services will be the most public targets.

Here’s a breakdown of seven potential tax changes coming this year. Over half target the financial industry.

From the link:

Tax banker bonuses more

The populist fury unleashed when bonuses were paid to AIG executives is back. This time it’s during bonus season on Wall Street, where investment banks are expected to distribute tens of billions of dollars to reward their employees for the banks’ 2009 performance.

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., will hold a hearing on Wall Street compensation next week. On the agenda will be consideration of bonus taxation, as well as President Obama’s proposal to tax banks to make up for any bailout money that isn’t repaid.

Frank’s committee doesn’t write tax law. That’s up to the House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees. But he is beating the drums for change.

“I think compensation has gotten excessive,” Frank said in a statement. “I want to underline what we are already doing. Frankly, in the hope that maybe the Senate will be even more inclined to [act].”

So don’t be surprised if talk of a banker bonus tax is revived. But it’s not clear how viable it would be. “That’s more politics than policy,” Schwarz said.

November 20, 2009

New jobs bill this year?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:53 pm

There’s not much time before the recess, but looks like some measure of employment relief could happen.

From the link:

Continued rising unemployment in the U.S. is prompting House Democratic leaders to consider a jobs bill before lawmakers leave Washington and end the first session of the 111th Congress on December 18, according to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md. Hoyer told reporters on November 17 that a second stimulus bill is unlikely, but lawmakers might consider taking some type of legislative action to boost jobs. He declined to list specific proposals that might be under consideration.

October 29, 2009

The public plan is in play

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:30 pm

And if the GOP is honestly against it I really wonder why the party took itself out of the sausage-making from day one.

From the link:

U.S. House leaders today plan to unveil legislation that would create a government-run health- insurance program, require employers to offer coverage to their workers and impose a new tax on the wealthiest Americans.

The legislation comes after three months of negotiations by House Democrats and represents the most sweeping changes to the nation’s health-care system since the 1965 creation of the federal Medicare program for the elderly. The measure would overhaul the insurance market, encourage greater use of preventive medicine and help Americans buy coverage.

“We think we’ll have the votes,” said California Representative George Miller, who runs the House Education and Labor Committee, after meeting with fellow Democrats yesterday. Formal debate is planned for next week, Miller said.

Lawmakers said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to a compromise over one of the most divisive issues facing Congress — the establishment of the government insurance program to compete with private insurers try to and drive down costs.

October 14, 2009

Congress and war power

A very sane proposal from the Cato Institute on returning the power to make war back to Congress and bringing back some semblance of the separation of power. The executive branch has co-opted war power, and the results have been not so stellar. The framers of the Constitution created the separation of power for a good reason and the recent power grab by the executive branch really exposes the sound reasoning behind that concept.

One of the reasons I voted for Obama is I thought he offered the best opportunity to get U.S. government back in balance after the Bush 43 administration. I didn’t see any of the GOP candidates making any substantial changes to Cheney’s rollback to the Nixon administration (and then some) and I certainly thought Clinton would have happily grabbed the full reins of an overly empowered White House.

From CATO Today in today’s inbox:

CATO HANDBOOK: RECLAIMING THE WAR POWER

No constitutional principle is more important than congressional control over the decision to go to war. In affairs of state, no more momentous decision can be made. For that reason, in a democratic republic, it is essential that that decision be made by the most broadly representative body: the legislature. In the Reclaiming the War Power chapter of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers, Gene Healy explains why Congress should:


– Cease trying to shirk its constitutional responsibilities in matters of war and peace,


– Insist that hostilities not be initiated by the executive branch unless and until Congress has authorized such action,


– Rediscover the power of the purse as a means of restricting the executive’s ability to wage unnecessary wars, and


– Reform the War Powers Resolution to make it an effective vehicle for restricting unilateral war making by the president.

October 13, 2009

If we’re going to pass health care reform …

… it’d make sense to do it right.

For better or worse, health care reform is going to pass. The votes are essentially there — and really have been all along. The angry Baby Boomers at town hall meetings over the summer were but a minor distraction in the big play on this issue.

With the knowledge something is going pass regarding health care, I’ve thought it makes the most sense to radically overhaul a much less than perfect system as things currently stand in the U.S., and I agree with Cato’s Michael Tanner that it’s “time to start over.”

The problem is there is no political will, or most likely any political ability, to remake health care. There might have been a shot for that during middle few years of the Bush 43 administration when the GOP held all the reins of power, but we know how successful Republicans were in promoted the stated goals of the party — small government (epic fail), personal responsibility (epic fail) and fiscal conservatism (nuclear fail.)

As appealing as radical health care reform may be for anyone who takes a few hours to drill down into the issue, it’s just not going to happen. The GOP has taken itself out of the process by choice and great forces in the form of the American Medical Association, the pharmaceutical industry and the health insurance industry are lined up t ensure nothing earth-shattering, at least for their fiefdoms, comes to pass.

From the link:

And our current tax laws penalize people who don’t receive insurance through their work, meaning that if you lose your job, you lose your insurance.

The bills now before Congress don’t fix these problems. They simply pile on new mandates, regulations, taxes and subsidies. No amount of tinkering, or budgetary sleight of hand, can make them better.

It’s time for Congress to scrap its current flawed government-centered approach and start over with a focus on creating a consumer-oriented free market in health care.

After all, isn’t it better to get it done right than to just get it done?

September 29, 2009

Congress, the federal government and internet security

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:19 pm

I’m sympathetic to reality of cyberattack against the government, but I’m guessing it’s needless to say I’m against any form of government control over internet traffic.

From the link:

There is no kill switch for the Internet, no secret on-off button in an Oval Office drawer.

Yet when a Senate committee was exploring ways to secure computer networks, a provision to give the president the power to shut down Internet traffic to compromised Web sites in an emergency set off alarms.

Corporate leaders and privacy advocates quickly objected, saying the government must not seize control of the Internet.

Lawmakers dropped it, but the debate rages on. How much control should federal authorities have over the Web in a crisis? How much should be left to the private sector? It does own and operate at least 80 percent of the Internet and argues it can do a better job.

“We need to prepare for that digital disaster,” said Melissa Hathaway, the former White House cybersecurity adviser. “We need a system to identify, isolate and respond to cyberattacks at the speed of light.”

So far at least 18 bills have been introduced as Congress works carefully to give federal authorities the power to protect the country in the event of a massive cyberattack. Lawmakers do not want to violate personal and corporate privacy or squelching innovation. All involved acknowledge it isn’t going to be easy.

September 9, 2009

The big moment from Obama’s Congressional health care speech?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:31 pm

An amazing and massive unforced error from GOP Representative Joe Wilson.

Wilson’s apologized, but I’m going to guess it’s much too little, far too late for Wilson’s outburst (he yelled, “You lie,” at Obama during the early portion of the speech.) Republicans need to work hard to separate the party from the partisan nutjobs out there and public spectacles like this are a large step in the wrong direction.

August 20, 2009

Health care reform heading for split bill?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:57 am

Seems to be the favored option right now. I’m still fairly certain something substantial will pass within two years, and right now it looks as soon as four months.

July 31, 2009

“Cash for Clunkers” too popular

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:32 pm

Rendering visible a point long obvious — Main Street needs, wants and will put to good use federal bailout money.

From the link:

The House rushed Friday to pump $2 billion into a popular cash-for-clunkers program running near empty, with a leading Democrat saying ”consumers have spoken with their wallets.”A floor vote was under way at midday on the bill to refuel the car-purchase program. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had said earlier that the additional money would come from funds Congress approved earlier in the year as part of a $787 billion economic stimulus bill.

Hoyer, D-Md., said that at the request of House Republicans — whose approval was required for swift passage — the bill would include provisions for government auditors to make sure the money was being spent as intended.

March 19, 2009

House votes to tax AIG bonuses

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:23 pm

To the tune of 90 percent. We’ll see if the Senate does likewise and this bit of taxpayer outrage becomes a reality. I don’t like government being used in this fashion, but AIG is a pretty unsympathetic victim.

From the link:

Spurred on by a tidal wave of public anger over bonuses paid to executives of the foundering American International Group, the House voted 328 to 93 on Thursday to get back most of the money by levying a 90 percent tax on it.

February 12, 2009

DC to get a representative?

Looks likely. This is something the GOP has long fought under the assumption any elected official from Washington D.C. will be a Democrat. Of course D.C. residents have long — rightly — claimed they toiled under a taxation without representation condition.

I’m guessing with Democrats in charge of Pennsylvania Avenue and Congress this gets approved.

From the link:

A Senate committee voted 11-1 Wednesday to give the District a full voting seat in Congress, adding momentum to legislation that would end decades of frustration for residents of the nation’s capital. Backers declared that they have enough support pass the measure, while critics expressed concern about its constitutionality.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, said he is confident that the measure granting the District a House seat will win the 60 votes necessary to override a filibuster.

“This year, the 111th Congress has the opportunity to make history… by passing this legislation,” Mr. Lieberman said.

January 19, 2009

House stimulus plan looks good from Governor’s mansion

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:01 pm

I’m not even going to speculate on how good, or bad, an idea the current stimulus plan might be. At this point ideas are a waste of time — something is coming, it’s going to be big and it’ll be totally driven by the Democratic Party.

It is probably a good sign that the states are given a little support. That was one area of the current financial crisis that could’ve become ugly.

From the link:

State officials got their first look of the massive economic package worth $825 billion that Congress promises to deliver next month to President-elect Barack Obama, and many liked what they saw.
 
House Democrats Jan. 15 released details of their version of a plancontaining $550 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax cuts that they say will help pull the country out of a financial freefall compared by some experts to the Great Depression.
 
Crucial to states, the two-year package includes $87 billion to help pay for Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that costs $330 billion annually and serves 59 million needy Americans, and at least $100 billion for infrastructure spending — two top priorities of many governors and state legislators.
 
“Obviously they heeded our concerns,” said Michael Bird, the National Conference of State Legislatures lobbyist in Washington, D.C. He said the package includes “ample funds to create jobs; help the most disadvantaged get through the recession and perhaps ease some of the really tough budget decisions that state legislatures are facing.”
 
In a surprise to some, the proposed package also contains $79 billion aimed to prevent states from cutting into schools and college funding and another $41 billion to local school districts. While states and localities were asking for help on the education front, the levels were much higher than many had expected.

January 15, 2009

Congress looking into nanotech safety

Hope this doesn’t stifle innovation. Congress sticking fingers into anything is usually a recipe for problems. Of course the source for this report is a pretty biased group in terms of wanting more oversight over nanotechnology.

The release from a few minutes ago:

Nanotech Safety High on Congress’ Priority List

New House bill addresses need for more risk research, oversight

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The House Science and Technology Committee today introduced legislation that highlights the growing attention on Capitol Hill for the need to strengthen federal efforts to learn more about the potential environmental, health and safety (EHS) risks posed by engineered nanomaterials. Nanotechnology is an emerging technology that promises to usher in the next Industrial Revolution and is the focus of an annual $1.5 billion federal research investment.

The new bill (H.R. 554) is almost identical to legislation that passed the House last year with overwhelming bi-partisan support by a vote of 407 to 6. The Senate was expected to mark up similar legislation, but lawmakers ran out of time during the session.

Introduction of the bill comes only months after former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official J. Clarence (Terry) Davies authored a report that makes a series of recommendations for improving federal risk research and oversight of engineered nanomaterials at EPA, the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The report published by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), Nanotechnology Oversight: An Agenda for the Next Administration, offers a host of proposals for how Congress, federal agencies and the White House can improve oversight of engineered nanomaterials; see: http://www.nanotechproject.org/publications/archive/pen13/.

“We know that when materials are developed at the nanoscale that they pose potential risks that do not appear at the macroscale,” says David Rejeski, PEN’s director. “This new bill shows that lawmakers recognize both nanotechnology’s enormous promise and possible problems. The legislation reflects mounting Congressional interest in understanding potential risks in order to protect the public and to encourage safe commercial development and investment.”

The House bill comes only weeks after a National Research Council (NRC) panel issued a highly critical report describing serious shortfalls in the Bush administration’s strategy to better understand the EHS risks of nanotechnology and to effectively manage those potential risks.

The NRC report, Review of the Federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health and Safety Research, calls for a significantly revamped national strategic plan that will minimize potential risks so that innovation will flourish and society will reap nanotechnology’s benefits in areas like medicine, energy, transportation and communications.

About Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide. In 2007, the global market for goods incorporating nanotechnology totaled $147 billion. Lux Research projects that figure will grow to $3.1 trillion by 2015.

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is an initiative launched by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business, government and the public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology. For more information about the project, log on to www.nanotechproject.org.

Source: The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
   
Web Site:  http://www.nanotechproject.org/

Obama caves to Congress on jobs credit

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:26 pm

I hope this doesn’t become a pattern. I’ll give Obama the benefit of the doubt and hope his economic team is asking for something the Democratic Congresss doesn’t want to give, so this move is part of quid pro quo.

From the link:

Aides to President-elect Obama have agreed to drop an unpopular idea to provide a $3,000 tax credit for companies hiring new workers from the economic stimulus package, setting up a new round of lobbying for tax cuts that could replace it, lawmakers said Jan. 13.

“Every member has five ideas” for how to replace the jobs creation tax credit, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told reporters after a meeting with Obama aides. Baucus did not elaborate on possibilities for replacing the credit, but other Finance Committee members floated suggestions for further expansions of renewable energy tax credits and a tax credit of up to $4,000 to help middle-class households pay for college.

The tax elements of the package have been expected to cost about $300 billion over two years, and the total package is projected to be at least $775 billion.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters he is pushing to convert to a tax credit the deduction of up to $4,000 that is currently allowed for higher education expenses under the tax code, to provide assistance to individuals earning too much to get help from Pell grants but too little to afford tuition. The provision would cost an estimated $3 billion to $4 billion per year, Schumer said.

Committee members rejected the jobs creation tax credit amid concerns that it would be impossible to implement fairly and may not be stimulative since it would merely treat the symptoms of the economic slowdown, rather than its cause.

November 21, 2008

Dems want to bail out the Big Three

I guess the threat of a Chinese takeover of the US auto industry is going to drive more corporate socialism. Looks like elected Democrats want to fork over cash to the failing businesses.

Isn’t it time someone pointed out no one — no one — has any clue what is happening financially right now? Our treasure is being spilled and spent in the Middle East and now on Wall Street and the Rust(ed out) Belt. Main Street will eventually turn to garbage can fires and gunplay if this keeps up.

From the second link:

Democratic congressional leaders, seeking to salvage a bailout of the Big Three automakers, demanded executives provide a business survival plan in exchange for their support of up to $25 billion in loans.

The ultimatum came on Thursday after the Democratic leaders failed to persuade the White House and congressional Republicans to use part of a $700 billion financial rescue fund to prop up the auto industry.

Hanging in the balance is the future of General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler LLC, whose losses have mounted during a severe economic downturn that has prompted Americans to largely stop buying cars.

Shares of GM and Ford rebounded from multi-decade lows as the developments in Washington kept bailout hopes alive.

While many lawmakers are anxious to see the companies survive, Republicans have been more wary of whether the money would really help, and Democrats have been more inclined to be generous to the huge employers of unionized labor.

Democratic leaders acknowledged on Thursday a growing public resentment over government bailouts of U.S. business in slowing the automakers’ demands, saying they will take a look after the auto industry provides a roadmap to its survival.

If you’re getting unemployment …

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:30 pm

… good news, the checks have been extended.

From the link:

Jarred by new jobless alarms, Congress raced to approve legislation Thursday to keep unemployment checks flowing through the December holidays and into the new year for a million or more laid-off Americans whose benefits are running out.

The economic picture was only getting worse, if Wall Street was any indication. The Dow Jones industrials dropped more than 400 points for a second straight day, reaching the lowest level in more than five years, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell below lows established six years ago.

The Senate’s vote followed Thursday’s government report that laid-off workers’ new claims for jobless aid had reached a 16-year high and the number of Americans searching for work had surged past 10 million.

The White House, which had opposed broader legislation containing the benefits extension, urged passage of the new version and said President George W. Bush would quickly sign it.

November 13, 2008

Bush 43 regime and post-office executive privilege

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:13 pm

There is a historical precedent for presidents using executive privilege after leaving office, but legally the ground is pretty shaky.

I think Bush and his entire administration would be doing this at their own peril because the threat for international war crime prosecution is very, very real. And if a Democratic Congress decides Bush is stonewalling them one time too many, I doubt he finds much support in DC to protect every member of the Bush 43 regime.

I’ve already seen calls from the right to look into torture and other war crime policies put into practice by Bush. Our nation deserves no less because we remain a democratic nation of laws, domestic and international.

From the link:

The New York Times today raises the notion that after leaving office, George W. Bush may claim that executive privilege still applies, allowing him and members of his administration to continue to frustrate Congressional efforts to gain access to information on issues ranging from harsh interrogation tactics to the U.S. Attorney firings scandal.

Congressional Democrats, as well as outside watchdog groups, say they are determined to go on pursuing investigations into Bush administration malfeasance on these and other matters.

The Timesexplains that if Barack Obama, after taking office, decides to release information from his predecessor’s tenure, Bush could file a lawsuit claiming executive privilege. The dispute would likely go to the Supreme Court, and there appears to be little precedent that would guide a ruling.

Harry Truman made such a post-hoc claim of executive privilege in 1953, when subponaed to testify before a congressional committee about why he had appointed a suspected communist to the IMF. The committee backed down, meaning the claim became a historical precedent — and was subsequnetly invoked by Richard Nixon, while still president in 1973, when he refused to cooperate with the committee investigating Watergate.

But a lawyer who helped hastily put together the argument on Truman’s behalf today tells the Times: “I think, legally, we wrong.”

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