Tag Archives: Meredith Jessup

The Vision Is Getting Cloudier And Cloudier

Dustan Prial at Fox News:

So much for transparency.

Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from “surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.” Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings.”

The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network. Steven Mintz, founding partner of law firm Mintz & Gold LLC in New York, lamented what he described as “the backroom deal that was cut between Congress and the SEC to keep the  SEC’s failures secret. The only losers here are the American public.”

Michelle Malkin:

My column today puts the DISCLOSE debacle in the broader context of the Democrats’ reign of darkness. Underscoring the theme of theme of the column: The story from Fox Business on how the “financial reform” bill championed by Obama exempts the SEC from FOIA requests. The transparency farce continues.

Meredith Jessup at Townhall

Tiernan Ray at Barron’s:

Prial reports he hasn’t gotten any response to his request for comment on the matter from the SEC.

The article includes a document link from Scribd with text of the new law, HR 4173, Section 929I, in which it states the SEC Act of 1934 is amended to state the SEC is “not compelled to disclose records or information obtained […] including surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.”

The lawyer for Fox, Steven Mintz, with Mintz & Gold LLC in New York, says the network plans to challenge the SEC on its interpretation of the law.

Does this mean the SEC has just brazenly stepped outside Freedom of Information Act rules? I’m not sure. I plan to inquire with the SEC on its side of the story and will let you know what, if anything I find.

Note: Fox Business, of course, is a part of News Corp., also the publisher of Barron’s and of this blog.

Correction: As a few readers noted, the wrong section number was listed above for the relevant passage in HR 4173. It is Section 929I, as in Internet, not a numeral “1″ on the end. You can see the passage in the Library of Congress posting of the final version of the bill. My apologies for any confusion caused by the error.

Ed Morrissey:

The Dodd-Frank bill had a lot of bad ideas rolled into it, but this may be the worst.  As Mintz notes, the next time a Bernie Madoff-type scam occurs, the American public won’t have any idea about it, or about the SEC’s efforts to prevent it.  The use of FOIA has uncovered many problems at the SEC, which is undoubtedly why Chris Dodd and Barney Frank wanted the exemption.  Among the cases listed by Fox Business as having been boosted by FOIA requests are:

  • March 2009 – Fox used FOIA to discover that the SEC had investigated Madoff and R. Allen Stanford, but failed to follow through on prosecution in time to save investors.
  • 2009 – Fox again used FOIA to get records showing that the Fed knew AIG execs would get their bonuses under the bailout legislation proposed by Congress.
  • SEC whistleblower Gary Aguirre forced the SEC to release documents through FOIA requests that showed he was correct in accusing the agency of interfering in an investigation of Pequot Asset Management — and allowed him to get a settlement for wrongful termination.

None of these would have happened without FOIA.  Government has only one purpose in issuing FOIA exemptions — opacity.  Some functions in government require secrecy, but those should be limited to acute national security operations and other such public-safety tasks (such as raw FBI files, for instance).

Barack Obama and the Democrats don’t want people to see how the SEC does its work, and that should worry everyone who has watched the SEC blow its regulatory responsibilities over the last few years.  This is an agency that needs more oversight, not less, especially with its increased power and authority.

Daniel Foster at The Corner:

“No one will know until this is actually in place how it works.” With each passing day, Senator Dodd’s appraisal of the Democrats’ Fin-Reg bill get truer and truer.

Weasel Zippers:

Who wins when it comes to this misguided legislative POS? Lawyers.

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Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Morphs Into Barry! Barry! Barry!

Julie Mason at The Washington Examiner:

President Obama is going to New Jersey this week for remarks on the economy, with a little detour to NYC for a DNC fundraiser and a taping of “The View.” It’s his third appearance on the show, but the first of any sitting president — on any daytime talk show.

From the ABC release:

President Obama’s interview, scheduled to tape on Wednesday, July 28th, will touch on topics including his administration’s accomplishments, jobs, the economy, the Gulf oil spill, and family life inside the White House.

Sigh. Really? Is daytime talk a realm that really needed conquering by a U.S. president? Yes, the president should be seen, and certainly “The View” has its moments — they do try to be topical. But this feels like a potentially high ick-factor scenario.

Among other things, it’s very pandering, and there’s a great potential for embarrassment, on all sides. Are they going to tell him how handsome he is and then Elizabeth Hasselbeck launches into him on national security?

Shani O. Hilton at Tapped:

Obama, who released a new National HIV/AIDS strategy last month, has a chance to shift the heat to the show’s hosts. When comedian D.L. Hughley visited the show in late June, he and host Sherri Shepherd had a “hot topics” discussion that touched on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS among black Americans.

Hughley said, “When you look at the prevalence of HIV in the African American community, it’s primarily young women getting it from men on the ‘down low.'” Shepherd added: “[HIV/AIDS] is so big in the black community with women because they’re having unprotected sex with men who have been having sex with … with men.”

But as Jorge Rivas at Colorlines magazine noted, that’s simply not true. Not only has the “down low” myth been debunked time and time again, it’s a dangerous idea that deflects attention from the real issues around the high rate of HIV and AIDS among black women. Unprotected heterosexual sex, and limited access to STD prevention and safe-sex tools, plus a lack of health care and regular screenings are the major contributing factors.

No one at The View bothered to correct Shepherd or Hughley. After GLAAD placed an ad in Variety magazine pointing out the misinformation being spread on the widely watched show and calling for a retraction, ABC non-responded, saying: “A guest moderator on the show expressed his interpretation of data about one way the virus can be transmitted. The topic of HIV/AIDS has been raised many times over the show’s 13 years, with many voices and opinions contributing to a conversation that we expect to continue as long as The View is on the air.”

Clearly, ABC was trying to couch Hughley’s statement as opinion. But when ill-informed opinions like Hughley’s and Shepherd’s are given air on a nationally syndicated show, there’s little reason for viewers to think those opinions aren’t fact. This is dangerous, if not deadly, because a clear public understanding of the factors that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS is crucial to containing the epidemic. And while it’s doubtful that Obama will directly address the HIV/AIDS mythology being shared on The View, for the sake of building stronger support for his initiative, he should.

Matt Lewis at Politics Daily:

News that President Obama was set to appear on ABC’s “The View” on Thursday — the first time a sitting U.S. president will appear on a daytime talk show — has been met with predicable concerns about the dignity of the presidency.

(During the 2008 campaign, Obama and John McCain both appeared on the program.)

But while you might expect Republicans to be critical of the president’s appearance on the show, even some of Obama’s fellow Democrats are skeptical.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”‘ Tuesday (video below), Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) was less than confident that Obama was making the right move. As Rendell said:

I think there are some shows . . . I wouldn’t put him on ‘Jerry Springer’ either, right? . . . It is different, a little bit. But look, I think the president of the United States has to go on serious shows. And ‘The View’ is — you can make a case that ‘The View’ is a serious show — but also rocks and rolls a little bit. I’m not sure he has to go on ‘The View’ to be open to questions.

Meredith Jessup at Townhall:

Who says President Obama doesn’t transcend petty political differences?  He is uniting people like never before… against him.

In the latest case of individuals putting politics aside to bash Obama, Pat Buchanan–who disagrees with most everything the president does–and Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., appeared on MSNBC yesterday and came to one sound conclusion: Obama should not go on “The View”:

Rendell: I think there’s got to be a little bit of dignity to the presidency.

Mika Brzezinski: What are you saying, Ed?

Willie Geist: What a horrible insult to “The View.”

Rendell: I think there are some shows I wouldn’t put him on, “Jerry Springer,” too, right? … I think the president of the United States has to go on serious shows. And “The View” is, you can make a case that it’s a serious show, but it also rocks and rolls a little bit. I’m not sure he has to go on “The View” to be open to questions.

TV Newser reports that Obama will be taping his guest appearance with Babs Walters & her motley crew tomorrow for the show that will air Thursday.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

Barack Obama will skip the Boy Scout 100 year Anniversary Jamboree…

Instead he will travel to New York City to appear on “The View.”

Maybe they’ll call him “sexy” again?

Wonkette:

President Barack Obama will do just about anything to avoid his most important duties in office, which involve, as Chuck Norris pointed out, doing Boy Scout stuff. The latest chapter in Obama’s conspiracy against America’s boy industry is that he’s now blaming his absence at this year’s Jamboree on a scheduling conflict: He is taping The View on Wednesday. Why does Obama continue to disrespect our brave children in uniform?

Housewives can vote, you see, whereas Boy Scouts cannot — even though these costumed boy-children must collect the Democracy Badge, the Electioneering Badge, the First-Past-the-Post Badge, the Gerrymandering Badge, the Proportional Representation Badge, the Instant-Runoff-Voting Badge, the Shooing Away Black Panthers Badge and the Nixon Honor Badge to become an Eagle Scout.

Thus, the leader of the free world will chat with a handful of quasi-celebrities about lady stuff (like their periods, probably), instead of doing his real job, which is hanging out with eight-year-olds and teaching them how to build a campfire.

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The First Cut Is The Deepest

Nick Bunkley at NYT:

President Obama’s auto task force pressed General Motors and Chrysler to close scores of dealerships without adequately considering the jobs that would be lost or having a firm idea of the cost savings that would be achieved, an audit of the process has concluded.

The report by Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program of the Treasury Department, said both carmakers needed to shut down some underperforming dealerships. But it questioned whether the cuts should have been made so quickly, particularly during a recession. The report, released on Sunday, estimated that tens of thousands of jobs were lost as a result.

“It is not at all clear that the greatly accelerated pace of the dealership closings during one of the most severe economic downturns in our nation’s history was either necessary for the sake of the companies’ economic survival or prudent for the sake of the nation’s economic recovery,” the report said.

The report does not make any recommendations, and serves more as a review of the process. It does not carry the authority to initiate any corrective action.

But it comes at a politically delicate time for the Obama administration, which is facing skepticism from the public about the strength of the recovery and criticism from Republicans who are seizing on the economy — including the effectiveness of the federal bailout — as an issue heading into the midterm elections.

Mark Tapscott at Washington Examiner:

The SIGTARP report will further contend, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking minority member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it is questionable whether the closings were “either necessary for the sake of the companies’ economic survival or prudent for the nation’s economic recovery.”

Issa, who has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s handling of the GM and Chrysler government takeovers, said the SIGTARP report should “serve as a wake-up call as to the implications of politically-orchestrated bailouts and how putting decisions about private enterprise in the hands of political appointees and bureaucrats can lead to costly and unintended consequences.”

The California Republican also said the fothcoming report will say “GM did not consistently follow its stated criteria and that there was little or no documentation of the decision-making process to terminate or retain dealerships with similar profiles, or of the appeals process” and that “making termination decisions with little or no transparency and making a review of many of these decisions impossible…”

This doesn’t come as any great shock.  Barack Obama put Steve Rattner in charge of running his auto bailout program, a man who had just as much experience in the auto industry as Obama did: he drove a few cars.  Rattner had to make a quick exit after just a few months when it became known that he was the target of a federal probe into questionable activities regarding the New York pension fund — and his replacement had just as much experience in the auto industry as Rattner did.

What was the main entry on Ron Bloom’s resume?  He was a union negotiator.

Let’s keep this in mind when Democrats insist that government can run industries better than the markets themselves.  Not only did the White House purposely evade bankruptcy laws in cutting sweet deals for unions during the bailout, but they also destroyed jobs in the process out of incompetency.  I’d bet that a number of union members are none too pleased with that outcome, even if the union bosses are.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

You are surprised? Obama’s notion that pristinely apolitical technocrats with great resumes can flip all the switches, turn the knobs, and get the economy purring is exploding before our eyes. The government doesn’t create wealth by massive spending, doesn’t do a better job than the private sector in running industries, and has an agenda based not on economics but on politics (e.g., protecting unions, sparing a vulnerable congressman).

More than the specific maladies of ObamaCare (which are many), this is the core problem with Obama’s great legislative “accomplishment”: it assumes that a centralized bureaucracy can do a better job of containing costs and maintaining quality care than the hundreds of millions of citizens making daily decisions with their doctors. With each revelation — for example, that choice in doctors will be severely restricted – the public gets an inkling that the one-size-fits-all federalized health-care system is going to be every bit as expensive and every bit as objectionable as the nationalized health-care systems that have been tried out in other Western democracies.

All of this is a fine argument for government to do less, not more. Much less.

Moe Lane at Redstate:

The short version?  Having the government do your restructuring for you isn’t necessarily the brightest thing in the world.  Particularly when there’s a variety of conflicting objectives.  At least, if what you’re trying to do is actually create a better version of your company; if your goal is to use government fiat to streamline the operations of your newly government-owned automobile manufacturer it apparently works out just fine.

Nick Gillespie at Reason

Chris Shrunk at Autoblog:

The U.S. Treasury, obviously, doesn’t agree with Barofsky’s assessment. The Detroit Free Press quotes an anonymous source who points out that it was well known in the auto industry that Detroit automakers have too many dealers. Toyota, for instance, has a much smaller dealer body than GM. And the dealers Toyota does have average much higher sales volumes than dealers of domestic products. That theoretically leads to dealers with more marketing muscle in their perspective markets. Not all automaker executives wanted to shrink their dealer networks, either. Some feared the loss of sales that would follow shutting down retail outlets, but the task force reportedly felt those lost sales would be recouped within a few years

But while arguments can be made for or against shrinking the pool of retail outlets around the country, one fact is hard to ignore. A reported 35,000 dealer employees lost their jobs in 2009 and 2010, or over three percent of all dealership employees around the country – roughly equal to the 32,000 jobs lost within the industry.

Barofsky also touched on the process which both Chrysler and GM used to determine which dealers should stay and which should go. The auditor claimed that Chrysler stuck to its plan throughout, which is evidenced by the fact that only 28 dealers won their arbitration cases out of 789 stores that were closed last year. Barofsky claims that GM wasn’t so strict in determining which dealers to cut, and there wasn’t much documentation to show how and why the General cut its dealers. GM has since restated 666 of the 1,454 dealers it cut, though the company gave dealers more than a year to wind down operations, while Team Pentastar cut off its under-performing dealerships almost immediately.

UPDATE: William Tate

Meredith Jessup at Townhall

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4th Time Around

Arthur Delaney at Huffington Post:

The Senate rejected Wednesday — for the fourth time — a bill that would have reauthorized extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, by a vote of 58 to 38. Democrats will not make another effort to break the Republican filibuster before adjourning for the July 4 recess.

By the time lawmakers return to Washington, more than 2 million people who’ve been out of work for longer than six months will have missed checks they would have received if they’d been laid off closer to the beginning of the recession.

Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) last night prevented his fellow Democrats from finally passing legislation to extend needed unemployment insurance benefits to out of work Americans. It was the third time the legislation, which has been repeatedly pared down and reshaped in the hunt for votes, has failed to overcome a filibuster. But it was the first time that success or failure rested on a single deciding vote. And because Nelson, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, joined Republicans and blocked the bill, it will likely not pass until mid-July, after the Senate returns from Independence Day recess. By then Robert Byrd’s replacement will be seated, and Dems will have the votes they need to pass their jobs bill.

Here’s what happened.

The Senate was by all accounts done for the day, and any further attempts to extend unemployment insurance would have to wait another day. But at about 8 pm, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to give it one more shot and called the vote, which had to be held open to allow Senators caught unaware to reach the chamber. When it was all said and done, the final vote was 58-38 with three Republicans not voting.

Of course, it requires 60 votes to break a filibuster, meaning Democrats were two votes shy. So why does this fall on Ben Nelson? When a cloture vote fails, the Majority Leader often switches his vote from yes to no. But he’s not joining the filibuster. It’s a parliamentary maneuver that allows him to bring the issue back to the floor easily at a later time, without having to go through the longer process of filing for cloture again.

That’s what happened last night. With the death of Robert Byrd, Democrats have 58 voting members. Last night, they were joined by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). That would have brought them to 60, breaking the filibuster…but Nelson said no. He’s opposed the legislation repeatedly on the grounds that it’s not completely paid for (though emergency extensions of unemployment benefits are often not paid for). He brought Democrats down to 59 votes — one short of the supermajority they needed — and because of that, Reid changed his vote, drawing the total down to 58.

A day earlier, Nelson released a long statement explaining his repeated opposition to the bill.

Steve Benen:

Here’s a statement from the senator’s office:

“The bill has been revised several times already and each time the deficit spending was less. Tough choices are possible and necessary to not add to the deficit,” Nelson said. “Some also say we need more emergency spending now to keep the recovery going. But in my view it could jeopardize the recovery and would add to our already enormous deficit, likely to be around $1.4 trillion for the second year in a row.”

This is simply incoherent. Nelson talks of “tough choices,” but chooses to emphasize the deficit over the economy. He also neglects to mention that he’s supported emergency funding for the jobless before, but is reversing course at a critically important time with a fragile economy.

But when Nelson says emergency spending “could jeopardize the recovery,” it sounds an awful lot like gibberish. The conservative Nebraskan has been deeply confused about this before, and his ongoing desire to emphasize the deficit over the economy is ridiculous. We’ve come to expect such nonsense from Republicans — the ones who got us into this mess, and who created the enormous deficit in the first place — but Nelson is supposed to know better.

Even if we take the senator’s statement at face value, it suggests Nelson should vote against extended unemployment benefits. It doesn’t explain, though, why he feels compelled to back a Republican filibuster. If he’s against the extension, fine, he can oppose it. But Ben Nelson is saying that jobless Americans have to suffer because he won’t even let the bill come to the floor for a vote.

It’s just indefensible.

Meredith Jessup at Townhall:

The GOP has, on numerous occasions, said they would vote on a stand-alone measure to extend unemployment benefits.  The Republicans also suggested–gasp!–that ol’ Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi loosen up some of the 40 % of stimulus funds that have gone unspent to help the underemployed.

Neither of these scenarios were acceptable to Dems who wanted to load the measure up with lots of other items in a pathetic attempt to get the GOP on record as being “against assistance for out-of-work Americans.”  Democrats need all this kind of help they can get for November’s elections and the AP seems more than willing to oblige.

Digby:

And it’s not just the failure to extend the unemployment benefits, it’s the reasoning behind it. There is the Rand Paul/Sharron Angle “tough love” prescription, of course, which I suspect is far more common than people will admit. (I have actually heard several conversations about somebody’s “lazy uncle” who refuses to take a job that he thinks is “beneath him.”) And then there’s the projected deficit, which throughout the Bush years of unnecessary wars, tax cuts and giveaways to their rich contributors these people said not a word, being used as an excuse to destroy the safety net. I’m hard pressed to think of a more cynical move, although the Iraq war was a helluva test run for how you can convince people not to believe their lying eyes, so perhaps this is a natural next step.

I’m guessing some of it has to do with wealth inequality and the resulting distance between the haves and have nots in everyday society. When the people who do your nails and bag your groceries and bus your table aren’t fully visible in your busy world of IPods and Blackberries, perhaps you begin to think of them as pets who need training or children who require discipline. I don’t know. But something has gone terribly wrong and decent people had better wake up and realize that this radical, nihilistic right wing ideology that calls itself “conservatism” is now in the process of bringing the cruelty of its racist past into the 21st century and applying it to the entire middle and working class of this country.

UPDATE: Paul Krugman at The New York Times

William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection

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Pee In A Cup And The Government Pays You (Well, Not Really)

Mara Gay at Politics Daily:

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has proposed an amendment to the jobs bill today that would require Americans seeking unemployment benefits and welfare to pass a drug test.

He said the current social safety net only feeds their addiction to both illegal substances and help from the federal government.

“Too many Americans are locked into a life of a dangerous dependency not only on drugs, but the federal assistance that serves to enable their addiction,” the senator said in a statement. “Drugs are a scourge on our society — hurting children, families and communities alike.”

The amendment comes as an attempt to pass the $140 billion jobs bill failed in the Senate. The bill would extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, but its price tag has elicited objections from both Republicans and Democrats.

Hatch said his amendment would help save taxpayer money and reduce the national deficit.

“This amendment is a way to help people get off of drugs to become productive and healthy members of society, while ensuring that valuable taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted,” the senator said today.

Joan McCarter at Daily Kos:

Being unemployed just isn’t denigrating enough for Orrin Hatch. You have to be punished it for, put under suspicion. That’s the Republican way. What’s next? Poor houses?

Ezra Klein:

A while back, Matt Yglesias wrote an insightful piece arguing that “ideas about freedom and small government are totally irrelevant to the actual political agenda [of the Republican Party].” I was reminded of it by the news that small-government advocate Orrin Hatch wants the state to perform mandatory drug tests on every one of the 15 million people receiving unemployment insurance or welfare benefits.

Meredith Jessup at Townhall:

I can hear the ACLU’s screams of injustice now.  Truth be told, this seems like such a basic, commonsense notion.  It’s definitely not a new idea, but props to Sen. Hatch for reintroducing it, especially at a time when the country can’t afford to waste a dime.

Annie Lowrey at Washington Independent:

Currently, about 4.4 million families receive assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. On top of that, 9.8 million people are receiving unemployment insurance in some form. Millions more get other kinds of aid. Granted, the federal government does plenty of drug testing already, but does it really want to process 15 million new urine samples? Plus pay for all the court cases the law would create? The Drug Policy Alliance notes that “a 2003 ruling by a federal appeals court that covers the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee ruled that states cannot drug test welfare recipients because it’s unconstitutional.”s.

Matt Welch at Reason:

This is, alas, nothing new. In addition to social-welfare recipients, lawmakers have identified several other sub-classes of people ripe for being forced by the state to urinate on command, including (but not limited to) student athletes, kids who dare take part in other extra-curricular activities, and even kids who do nothing all day but draw “I Heart Conor” in their Pee-Chees. (They still have those, right?)

Always missing from these flippant tramplings of our privacy rights are two classes of people: Lawmakers themselves, and recipients of corporate welfare. Wouldn’t you feel just a little safer if Patrick Kennedy got his fluids checked on regular basis? Ya think some of those juicy subsidies for film productions ever land in the hands of people who use drugs?

The moral of the story here is not new, but bears repeating: If you are at all dependent on the state, whether by choice or force, and you don’t have the good manners to be powerful, you will always stand the risk of being treated like a patient at a criminal asylum. It is as good a reason as any other to resist further encroachment of the government on our private lives.

Wonkette:

Famed Utah hazzan Senator Orrin Hatch proposed an amendment to the $140 billion jobs benefits extension bill today that would make make people seeking welfare benefits first pass a drug test. Welfare will now be a level playing field, as poor people will not be able to get away with taking steroids to make themselves super-poor. And also poor drug addicts will maybe starve and thus no longer be a problem, so that’s good.

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Obey!

David Rogers at Politico:

Bone-tired and facing a tough political landscape at home, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey announced Wednesday that he won’t seek reelection, ending a 41-year House career stamped by his unique talent and tempestuousness.

Rarely does a committee chairman of such power just walk away, and Obey’s decision is a blow to Democrats and marks the passing of one of the last major leaders of the 1970’s reforms that reshaped the modern House.

“I am ready to turn the page, and frankly, I think that my district is ready for someone new to make a fresh start,” Obey said in an afternoon press conference in his committee’s meeting room.

Despite poor poll numbers at home, he insisted that he could win reelection in November but admitted he feared another reapportionment fight in the next Congress and a shift in the public mood against the aggressive public investments which have been his trademark.

“I do not want to be in the position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee of producing and defending lowest common denominator legislation that is inadequate to that task,” Obey said, “And given the mood of the country, that is what I would have to do if I stayed.”

The Wisconsin Democrat was facing some pretty ugly poll numbers back home, but his staff had insisted he would be running for another term.  Obey, a liberal powerhouse, was first elected in 1969 and has been in big anti-war figure since the 1970s.  Obey was also a big ally of Nancy Pelosi’s and, as Politico points out, following the death of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., earlier this year, Obey will be Pelosi’s second big loss on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Alex Pappas at The Daily Caller:

Wisconsin Rep. Dave Obey will not seek reelection, a huge break for Republicans and Sean Duffy, the insurgent GOP candidate of “Real World Boston” fame who’s challenging Obey for the seat.

The Wisconsin congressman is chairman of the House appropriations committee, and his absence from the race certainly makes the seat much more competitive for the GOP.

“People are yearning for different representation,” Duffy, 38, said during a conference call with reporters. “And now they’re gonna get it.”

Asked if he thought his campaign is responsible for Obey’s withdrawal from the race, he said, “If I was to guess, I’d guess that was one of the considerations.”

Duffy said the campaign will “still be focused on the same issues,” like balancing the budget and reducing the country’s $13 million debt.

Duffy serves as Ashland Count district attorney and wasn’t yet born when Obey took office in 1969. His campaign thus far has been about ousting Obey, a congressman who has been in office for too long and who, being chair of the appropriations committee, was a chief author of the stimulus bill.

David Weigel:

I’ve talked to Duffy several times and been so impressed — and so convinced that this was the sort of race that would determine this was a good or a watershed year for Republicans — that I dubbed him the No. 3 conservative to watch this year. He made an early bet against the stimulus package, coming out hard for repeal and blaming Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, for not writing a more stimulative bill. When I asked him whether he thought government spending could dig us out of the recession, here was his response:

Dave Obey believes that, but give me an example of when that’s worked. I haven’t seen where that’s worked. If it did, that would be the economic plan for countries all around the world.Talk like that attracted the attention of conservatives who helped Duffy raise about $500,000 — less than half as much as Obey, but for a campaign that explicitly promised to replace a power-broker who could bring money to the district with a small government conservative who would be totally disinterested in pork. You’ll hear people credit the endorsements of Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty for Duffy’s success, but that gets the story backward.

Dan Riehl:

Meanwhile, ponder David Obey’s decision. Obey got so caught up in Obama’s statism, he cued up the dark music and did a provocative fan dance as the presiding officer in the House during final passage of Obamacare. But voters were watching. Now, he can’t shed his skin for something akin to the small government, low tax number so in fashion with voters this year.

Updated: Representative David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the Appropriations Committee and one of the most powerful and longest-serving Democrats in Congress, announced today that he will not seek re-election and will step down after 41 years.

While it may have taken them a while to get through the case file, the better positioned GOP did manage to mostly break the Tea Party code. That’s why a closer look inside the numbers via the RNC’s Doug Heye shows GOP turnout numbers are surging, providing an important part of the plot. Irony, one of Lecter’s early quotes to Clarice mentioned “First principles.” And while it was a census taker, not necessarily a Democrat, Lecter enjoyed with “some favabeans and a nice chianti,” as things stand today, Conservatives and Republicans may want to have a bottle of sometime special handy come November to celebrate the devouring of big government liberal Democrats in the House and Senate in November. Cue 13 seconds of Sir Anthony Hopkins ff-ff-ff-ff-ff. heh!

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It’s The Little Old Lady (From Teabagadena)

Much of this already compiled by David Weigel.

Rodney Hart at The Herald Whig:

Quincy Tea Party members wanted President Barack Obama to know they were present Wednesday afternoon during his appearance in Quincy.

About 200 people protesting Obama’s policies loudly chanted “USA, USA” as his motorcade made its way out of the Oakley-Lindsay Center, then sang “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye” as the vehicle went by.

The participants were vocal but well-behaved as they stood on the north side of York Street across from the OLC.

“Having the president come is really something,” organizer Steve McQueen said. “But we do not agree with all the policies of Obama and the current Congress, and we wanted to make sure he knows we are here.”

The crowd carried signs with messages ranging from “Give Us Liberty Not Debt” to yellow flags saying “Don’t Tread On Me.”

Urged on by people with megaphones, the crowd shouted slogans, among them “Remember in November” and “You work for us.”

Tea party groups protest government spending and policies infringing on personal freedoms. The Quincy Tea Party had a well-attended rally in Washington Park last fall.

“We’ve always been respectful and acted with dignity,” McQueen said. “We are out to make our case and make it peacefully.”

There were a few tense moments when the crowd moved west down York toward Third Street after the president’s motorcade arrived. A Secret Service agent asked the crowd to move back across the street to the north side.

When the crowd didn’t move and began singing “God Bless, America” and the national anthem, Quincy Deputy Police Chief Ron Dreyer called for members of the Mobile Field Force to walk up the street.

The officers, mainly from Metro East departments near St. Louis and dressed in full body armor, marched from the east and stood on the south side of York facing the protesters.

There was no physical contact, and the officers did not come close to the crowd, but there were catcalls and more than a few upset tea party members, including a woman who shouted, “This is communism!”

McQueen also assisted in asking people to step back to the north side of York. The crowd moved back, the officers stayed for about 15 minutes and left, and there were no other incidents.

“It’s just a communication issue. We were trying to get them to move across the street,” Quincy Deputy Police Chief Curt Kelty said. “We were just trying to move them back, they complied, and it was fine.”

Several of the Quincy Tea Party members thanked Kelty as they left the area.

Jim Hoft at Big Government:

The SWAT Team was called in today at the Quincy Tea Party Rally. Obama was speaking at the convention center this afternoon.
Unreal.

Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s place:

No word yet on how many crimes were carried out in town while the police were being ordered to monitor this seething cauldron of Tea Party rage, but it was a small price to pay to keep the area secure.

More pics and a video of the riot cops — including a very small geared-up officer that leads me to believe it might have been “take your SWAT kid to work day” — can be found here.

Meredith Jessup at Townhall:

Quincy, Ill., Tea Party protest convened this afternoon as President Barack Obama spoke at the nearby convention center.  Things got SO out of hand, the SWAT team was called in for crowd control.  Check out some of the horrifying images from the riot, via GatewayPundit:

In the background, in full riot gear… probably feeling pretty silly…

Reports from the scene are that the rowdy tea party group broke out into song with a spontaneous rendition of ‘God Bless America.’  Good thing they had tear gas on hand in case things got out of control…

Allah Pundit:

This isn’t a SWAT team, actually, just local cops in riot gear, but it is the first time I’ve ever seen police in armor do a jaunty little parade down the street when responding to an event. I assure you, when the NYPD rolls up in helmets and shields, they’re all business.

[…]

The cops were there for only 15 minutes but that was long enough for comedy gold. If you think the video’s funny, wait until you see Gateway Pundit’s photos. Calling all cars: Be on the lookout for an insurrectionist with blue hair…

David Weigel:

You’ll see these photos again, with or without the story of “SWAT teams” battling back average Americans. (It’s very important, for some reason, that Hoft point out that most of the protesters were elderly white women.) If tea partyers want to oppose actual police state SWAT tactics, though — and not just make overheated arguments about the looming “communism” of Barack Obama — I’d point them to the work of Radley Balko.

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