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IF YOU VOTED FOR JOE BIDEN HOPING FOR AN END TO WINE TARIFFS, WELL, SORRY, CHUMP! “When it comes to tariffs, it’s meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS: New Women’s March Board Member Hates Israel, Claims FBI Recruits For ISIS.

WAITAMINNIT, WAITAMINNIT, WHAT? The New York Post reports that “The New Boss” is complaining about the cost of croissants at LaGuardia Airport. Forget the cost of croissants, what the hell is she doing at an airport? Why isn’t she taking Amtrak? After all, in demanding the cessation of air travel she said:

“We’re like, ‘The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,’ and, like, this is the war; this is our World War II.”

Would that make her a Vidkun Quisling or a Pierre Laval?

MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE REALLY OLD BOSS: Pelosi Agrees To Term Limits, Secures Votes To Be The Next Speaker.

Was there ever a doubt?

SHOCKER: Valerie Jarrett Writes Op-Ed Supporting Pelosi for Speaker. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?”

BREAKING. ROD ROSENSTEIN HAS NOT BEEN FIRED AND HAS NOT RESIGNED: “But for today he’s safe. And as the poet said, ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’”

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: PA-18 Undecided, New Boss Lady at CIA and Much, Much More. “For the GOP, lots of freakouts or suggested freakouts by the smart set, but the Democrats aren’t running candidates like Conor Lamb in their races around America, they are running Chelsea Mannings so we will see how that plays out in November.”

POLITICO: Breitbart’s war on McMaster bites Bannon.

The attacks on McMaster have put Bannon in an especially awkward position with his new boss, retired Marine general John Kelly, who has been increasingly defensive of McMaster, a longtime friend and fellow general, according to interviews with 10 administration officials and people close to the White House. McMaster, who pushed Bannon off the National Security Council principals’ committee, hasn’t spoken to Bannon in weeks, one senior administration official said.

Trump’s chief strategist has been suspected in the past of orchestrating stories against his colleagues in Breitbart, which he ran before joining Trump’s campaign last August. Kelly has told West Wing staff that he won’t tolerate the infighting or anonymous comments to the press that characterized the tenure of Kelly’s predecessor Reince Priebus.

The continuing flood of negative stories targeting McMaster has served as a constant reminder that the problem was bigger than Priebus, who resigned two weeks ago.

As Ron Radosh asked earlier this week, “Will President Trump Stand with the Bannonites, or the Generals?”

EMILY ZANOTTI: Life After Ryan: Sen. Cotton May Soon Be Congress’ New Bossman and No. 1 Heartthrob.

Now, though, these two Congressional heartthrobs are locked in a battle that goes beyond the mere size of their biceps: a struggle over how the Republican Party will handle repealing, replacing or reforming the Affordable Care Act.

Ryan has, of course, proposed the American Health Care Act, which accomplishes some of the GOP’s campaign goals—like ending the healthcare mandate, for example, and guaranteeing right of free exercise for religious health care workers. But it is far from perfect, or even palatable, to most Republicans.

The Administration waffles on the plan daily, saying sometimes that “it’s just the first of a three-part” legislative series, and then pinning the blame for the bare-bones bill squarely on Ryan.

Sen. Cotton, however, has been riding to the rescue of concerned conservatives—perhaps the only one in the GOP badass enough to halt a train going swiftly off the tracks.

Ryan hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory, much less badassery, with the AHCA.

WASHINGTON EXAMINER EDITORIAL: There Is No Fourth Branch Of Government.

Before Scott Pruitt was confirmed as the Environmental Protection Agency’s new administrator, the New York Times reported agency staff fighting against his nomination. This is highly unusual and inappropriate. It shows not only how difficult his new job will be but also how necessary it is that he succeed. And it shows, too, how great a threat rogue bureaucracy can become to constitutional order.

EPA scientists, lawyers and experts participated in an influence campaign aimed at senators, urging them to vote against Pruitt as their new boss. Their union’s leader, John O’Grady, promised a continuous campaign against President Trump’s environmental policies that their tactics would include “reaching out to NGOs and having alliances with them” and “working with P.R. firms.”

It is widely known and understandable that government employees are not Trump’s best constituency. But this sort of activism by federal employees, even outside election season, gets into dangerous territory.

This is why we need civil service reform.

TRANSITION: Priebus flexes muscle in Trump Tower.

Reince Priebus is never far from Donald Trump’s side.

The outgoing chairman of the Republican National Committee and incoming White House chief of staff often joins Trump when he interviews candidates for his Cabinet in his cozy Trump Tower office. He accompanies Trump at high-level meetings, like their well-publicized dinner with Mitt Romney.

And he frequently makes jaunts with the president-elect in Trump’s jet, from a victory rally in Priebus’s native Wisconsin to a recent Army-Navy football game.

The consummate D.C. insider, Priebus has not just emerged as Trump’s public liaison to a still-skeptical GOP establishment; the 44-year-old political operative has also become a trusted adviser to and staunch defender of the president-elect, even as he competes for power and influence with rivals like Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, who were with Trump from the beginning.

Those who have been in the room with both Trump and Priebus say they wouldn’t describe Priebus as deferential to his new boss. In fact, Priebus appears at ease with Trump. He doesn’t hesitate to interject and offer his opinion, and the two often banter back and forth.

That’s not surprising to me.

RED LINES: Facing Reprisals, Aleppo Civilians Plea for International Help.

Antigovernment activists and Aleppo residents said at least 80 people have been killed since Monday, most of them either caught in the regime’s advance or discovered hiding in their homes. Regime firing squads killed most of them, they said.

“The Assad militias are maybe 300 meters away, no place now to go, it’s the last place,” Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, a teacher, said in a live video feed early Tuesday morning.

“I hope that you can do something for Aleppo people, for my daughter, for the other children. I hope you can do something to stop the expected massacres,” he said.

The United Nations called again Tuesday for an end to the fighting and the establishment of humanitarian corridors to allow people to flee safely. “Thousands with no part in the violence have literally nowhere safe to run,” the International Committee of the Red Cross also said.

Activist group Aleppo24, which has a network of contacts in the city, said regime forces had burned more than 15 women and children alive. Another group, the Halab News Network, alleged that regime forces were killing all wounded patients left in field hospitals.

As I’ve been writing for a year or two now, “If you think the Syrian Civil War is bad, just wait for the reprisals.”

And here they come.

Also in today’s WSJ is this tangentially related report by Gerald Seib:

If you happened to be listening carefully, Donald Trump told us something important a few days ago about the profoundly different approach he intends to take toward the Middle East and the threat of Islamic extremism.

The president-elect’s message was largely overlooked because it came in the middle of a typically raucous and rambling “thank you” rally in Cincinnati. News reports focused on his announcement that he would nominate as secretary of defense Gen. James Mattis—“Mad Dog Mattis” as he seems destined to be called by his new boss.

In a separate passage, one in which Mr. Trump clearly was following a script rather than freelancing, he said: “We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks.”

After wasting “$6 trillion” in Middle East fights, he said, “our goal is stability not chaos.”

He added: “We will partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism…In our dealings with other countries, we will seek shared interest wherever possible and pursue a new era of peace, understanding and goodwill.”

“Peace, understanding and goodwill” are all likely to run face first into Middle Eastern realities, but the rest has the potential for a healthy dose of realpolitik.

OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES: Journalist emails Jennifer Palmieri to give her a “heads up” on coming sex scandal story. “I need to give you a heads up on something Menendez-related that will affect your new boss so you have time to put together a plan for it. . . . Won’t be breaking news until next week, but likely to be big enough that you’ll want to plan for it in advance. And good luck with today.”

UPDATE: From the comments:

So far, the biggest thing I’ve learned from these Wikileaks documents is that big-shot journalists in New York and D.C. regularly take a big, steaming dump all over the standards and ethics that were drilled into my head back in journalism school like they were the Ten Commandments. Seriously, a lot of this stuff would get your ass fired in a heartbeat if you were a regular reporter at a TV station or newspaper out in flyover country.

So: One set of rules for them. Another set of rules for everybody else.


Or as they say, “It doesn’t matter what the legal and ethics people say, we need to win this mother***er.”

UPDATE: Oops, actually I think I have the wrong Matthew Miller. I thought it was this guy, but it’s this guy. He publishes in high-level places sometimes, but he’s a PR guy, really, not a journalist, though the difference grows ever more elusive.

VERIZON BUYS YAHOO FOR $4.8 BILLION, WILL KATIE COURIC KEEP HER JOB? “Now that Verizon is purchasing Yahoo’s ‘core assets’ including its news programming, it’s unclear if Couric’s new bosses will want this expensive and damaged asset as the face of ‘America’s number one wireless network.’ And as for Couric’s next act, it’s not clear if there’s anyone left to hire her to fail again for an eight figure salary. But she’ll always have the Hamptons.”


MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS: Clinton Vows to Put Coal Miners “Out of Business”.

MEET THE NEW BOSS: “Who Really Won The Cold War?”, John Schindler asks at the Federalist:

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has sent shockwaves far beyond Britain. There has been disbelief that the United Kingdom’s storied left-wing party opted to be led by a man so obviously contemptuous of his own society. In the wake of their recent electoral debacle under the uninspiring Ed Miliband, Labour has chosen as its leader an activist who resembles a walking leftist cliché.

* * * * * * * *

Barack Obama is the most left-wing president ever on social justice, yet he is a darling of Wall Street. Hillary Clinton, despite her belated interest in social issues, is deeply enmeshed in high finance and will never challenge it. Thus Bernie Sanders, who is an amalgam of Old and New Left, is treated like an atavism by mainstream liberals when he opens the economics can of worms.

Read the whole thing.

NEW PURITAN WATCH: Nanny state of the week: De Blasio to resurrect attempt at NYC big soda ban.

Meet the new boss…

JAMES TARANTO: Meet the New Boss: Sebelius steps down, and ObamaCare supporters pretend to rejoice.

We observed in October that a new HHS nominee’s confirmation hearings would subject ObamaCare to political scrutiny, which Democrats were understandably anxious to avoid. That’s still true. “There are going to be some troublemakers who use the confirmation of the next person charged with overseeing Obamacare to raise hell, much as they did last fall, about the law,” writes Scott.

The way we’d have put it is that critics will use the hearings to raise questions about ObamaCare. To stigmatize opposition lawmakers as “troublemakers” raising “hell” is reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, where dissent was labeled “hooliganism,” a term that has come back into vogue in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein hails the success of the Five Year Plan: “Obamacare has won. And that’s why Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign.” If Sebelius had quit during what Klein calls the “catastrophic launch”–see what we mean?–it would have been a sign of White House “panic” and “made it harder to save the law,” Klein argues.

It’s surely true that the immediate political risk of Sebelius’s resignation is considerably less now than it would have been then. In October it might have emboldened vulnerable Senate Democrats to abandon ObamaCare or at least press for serious legislative fixes. It’s late for that now. By maintaining party unity this long, Obama probably bought enough time to assure that Congress won’t threaten what is invariably called his “signature legislative achievement” this year.

Can blotting your copybook count as a “signature?”

HEY, RUBE! Americans Are Outraged Because in Voting for Obama, They Thought They Were Rejecting Bush. Meet the new boss, yada yada.

UPDATE: Heh. Obama’s Apology Letter To George W. Bush. “I am sorry that, as a United States senator and presidential candidate, I was critical of you about so many things I now, myself, am doing. . . . You can take heart that, even though I am a Democrat, I decided to keep going nearly all your vision and plans on national security and even take it to all-new levels.”

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Exclusive: Darpa Gets a New Boss, and Solyndra Is in Her Past. “Until last year, Arati Prabhakar worked for the venture capitalists who backed Solyndra, the green-tech firm that imploded in a scandal described by Mitt Romney as an example of the White House’s ‘crony capitalism.’ Now Prabhakar has a new job, this one in the Obama administration: running the Pentagon’s most important research agency. But being the geek-in-chief requires investing billions on risky, high-tech bets that aren’t so different from Solyndra. . . . Prabhakar’s appointment once again raises an issue the president’s reelection campaign would rather forget.”

AT A.T.F., MEET THE NEW BOSS, YADA YADA. “Jones was appointed to chair the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee back in August of 2009, and was briefed in Gunwalker. According to Senator Charles Grassley’s June 15, 2011 congressional testimony attachment 4, the chair of AGAC (Jones) was a member of the Southwest Border Strategy Group and attended at least one briefing on Fast and Furious in October 2009. He appears to be complicit in the coverup, just like Melson.”


Liberation under the Piven doctrine effectively becomes a choice by the serfs of which aristocracy they believe will do best by them, since worth is determined by the political process anyway. Which side do we back by our “mass actions”? Liberation becomes the process of putting the “right” people in charge of the masses. It is not — it is never — putting the masses in charge of themselves.

Why not put the masses in charge of their own lives? Because that would require facilitating innumerable transactions and contracts between individuals. That would require self-interest and economic calculation to propel the system. That would mean a market, whose job it would be for the state to keep fair, and that were too little a role for such as Piven thinks should rule the roost.

Meet the new boss, yada yada.

EZRA LEVANT: NASA boss ignores world’s big polluters to pick on little ol’ Canada.

James Hansen, the head of one of President Barack Obama’s NASA labs, came to Canada last week to tell us not to allow a French company called Total to proceed with its Canadian oilsands project.

Even for Obama, that’s quite a foreign policy accomplishment: Interfering with two allies at once. NASA used to be about exploring space — that’s what the S stands for. But NASA’s new boss, Charles Bolden, recently told Al Jazeera TV that Obama has given him new marching orders: Inspire children to learn math, expand international relationships. “Perhaps foremost. he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.”

I guess that’s what happens when a “community organizer” becomes president.

But when you think about it, Hansen is following Obama’s instructions perfectly: The Saudis probably do “feel good” that NASA is trying to shut down their Canadian oil competitors.


I’M SURE THIS IS THE ISRAELIS’ FAULT SOMEHOW: Hamas destroys dozens of homes in southern Gaza:

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) – Hamas police wielding clubs beat and pushed residents out of dozens of homes in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on Sunday before knocking the buildings down with bulldozers, residents said.

Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers said the homes were built illegally on government land. Newly homeless residents were furious over Palestinians on bulldozers razing Palestinian homes.

For years, Palestinians have criticized Israel for destroying houses, mostly because they were built without permits issued by the military. Now, Rafah residents complained, their own government, run by the Islamic militant Hamas that seized power in Gaza in July 2007, has done the same.

Meet the new boss, who you only wish was the same as the old boss. . . .

MATTHEW HOY: “To make a long story short: An Instapundit reader is my new boss.”

A NON-OUTRAGE OUTRAGE: “The NY Times covers a trial balloon that would provoke outrage from the left if Bush-Cheney had proposed it. However, as the Times tells it, the proposal has no sponsorship at all – apparently it just fell from the sky, or something.” Meet the new boss, yada yada.


I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until the ABA denounces as “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers” President Obama’s use of signing statements to voice constitutional concerns about legislation he signs into law. See ABA Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine, Report at 5 (July 24, 2006) (“ABA Task Force Report”). The President quietly issued another such signing statement on Tuesday, the fourth constitutional signing statement of his young presidency. . . . President Obama has issued more constitutional signing statements than President Bush had at this point in his presidency.

When Bush did it, it was a lawless practice, giving rise to the fierce moral urgency of replacing him with a Democrat . . . who’d do the same thing.


President Obama and former Vice President Cheney weren’t so much a study in contrast today as a portrait of harmony. Both men agree that the Bush administration’s anti-terrorist policies were largely correct. Cheney signaled his acceptance of this view by vigorously defending those policies. Obama signaled it by largely adopting those same policies and emitting a fog of words to cover up the fact.

Meet the new boss, yada yada. Actually, he manages to yada yada on for quite a while.

Related: CNN Poll: Favorable opinion of Dick Cheney on the rise. Plus, a roundup of reactions from Tom Maguire.

ANDREW SULLIVAN FIGURES OUT WHO THE RUBES ARE: “I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach, and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away. . . . Yesterday, Robert Gibbs gave non-answer after non-answer on civil unions and Obama’s clear campaign pledge to grant equal federal rights for gay couples; non-answer after non-answer on the military’s remaining ban on honest servicemembers. What was once a categorical pledge is now – well let’s call it the toilet paper that it is.”

In entirely unrelated news, Obama has also flip-flopped on releasing the “torture” photos. Meet the new boss, yada yada. All of this was entirely predictable. And yet, his election was a matter of fierce moral urgency about which there could be no serious disagreement. . . .

UPDATE: More hope and change! Indefinite Detention Weighed. “The Obama administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on U.S. soil — indefinitely and without trial — as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Previously: “You were expecting a Chicago machine politician to show an enthusiasm for civil liberties?”

ANOTHER UPDATE: In the comments at Politico, limited sympathy for Andrew’s plight. My favorite: “Gee, it seems like I’ve lived through this before.”

And this rings true: “Shoulda stuck with conservatives sully, we woulda kept ya around. Chicago style politics just uses you until you run out of use. You have run out my friend.” As Jim Geraghty notes: “All statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.”

I talk to the wind. The wind cannot hear. And I don’t look as good as Kirsty Hawkshaw when I do it. . . .

JACOB SULLUM: Obama on Warrantless Surveillance: As Bad As Bush? Worse?

Meet the new boss, yada yada. You were expecting a Chicago machine politician to show an enthusiasm for civil liberties?

HMM: White House Mum On Legislation That Would Nix Bush “State Secrets Privilege”. “The White House’s silence on the bill will give more fodder to critics who charge that Obama has broken a campaign promise to dramatically scale back use of the Bush legal maneuver and wants the latitude to use it himself.” Meet the new boss, yada yada.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, YADA YADA: TPM: “Obama Mimics Bush on State Secrets”. Dan Froomkin calls it “Un-American.” Jake Tapper writes, “Meet Barack W. Bush.” What surprises me is that these people are surprised. It seemed obvious to me that Obama had no real commitment to civil liberties, and that talk to the contrary was just to fool the rubes.

Moe Lane, likewise.

SO I GUESS THE HONEYMOON’S REALLY OVER: Keith Olbermann goes after Obama. Meet the new boss, Keith. Yada, yada.

CORY DOCTOROW: Obama DOJ invents radical authoritarian theory to defend Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping. “I don’t expect the guy to walk on water, but I’d sure like it if he’d stop wallowing in the mud.” Meet the new boss, yada yada.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, YADA YADA: The Words Have Changed, but Have the Policies?

It’s almost like this movie.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, yada yada.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, YADA YADA: A screenshot from Memeorandum last night.

NEW YORK TIMES: Obama Widens Missile Strikes Inside Pakistan.

Question: “Wouldn’t it have saved a lot of time if Obama had just asked W to be his War-on-Terror czar?” Meet the new boss, yada yada.

UPDATE: Obama Administration Still Defends State Secrets.

Plus this: “In the past, objecting to a Gitmo-Gulag comparison was evidence of a ‘withered moral sensibility,’ but I suspect we’re allowed to reject such false equivalencies now.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh: “Looks like we can schedule the Obama war crimes trial to run concurrently with Bush’s.”

Well, Fritz Hollings is already on board. . . .

Related thoughts at Dissenting Justice:

If progressives now believe that they overreached in condemning Bush, they should make this clear. If progressives simply wanted to drum Republicans out of power, they have made a mockery of the very values they claim to embrace.

Read the whole thing.

DISAPPOINTMENT AT DAILYKOS: Meet the new boss, yada yada.

JAMES TARANTO: A new rendition of an old song. Meet the new boss, yada yada.

GOOD THING THE ERA OF BUSH IS OVER! Obama Administration Invokes State Secrets Privilege in Anti-Torture Lawsuit. ‘Cause if Bush did this, it would be a sign of lawlessness, and incipient fascism. [Well, sure, if Bush did it. — ed. Yeah, that’s what I said.]

Plus, Glenn Greenwald: “Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability — resoundingly and disgracefully. . . . What makes this particularly appalling and inexcusable is that Senate Democrats had long vehemently opposed the use of the ‘state secrets’ privilege in exactly the way that the Bush administration used it in this case, even sponsoring legislation to limits its use and scope. Yet here is Obama, the very first chance he gets, invoking exactly this doctrine in its most expansive and abusive form.” Meet the new boss, yada yada. Some of us are more surprised about this than others . . . .

UPDATE: Much more at Memeorandum. And this comment from reader Douglas Mortimer: “So. Greenwald concludes that the Obama administration has adopted this litigation position for the obvious (to him) reason that they advocate having Executive Branch officials being able to act above and beyond the reach of the rule of law. Now why, pray tell, would they want a ruling like that? He makes it sound like they are simply squeamish about a prosecution of those GOP officials. However, the real justification couldn’t be bare and blatant self-interest and future self-protection of President Obama and his officials for doing the same things, could it? Could it?” Greenwald has shown a touching naivete where Obama is concerned, though it appears to be wearing thin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: “Change, hope, and torture coverups.”

MEET THE NEW BOSS, YADA YADA: Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool. “The role of the CIA’s controversial prisoner-transfer program may expand, intelligence experts say. . . . the Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.” And “human rights” groups are already covering for Obama, something that has not escaped notice. More on that flipflopping here, complete with before-and-after statements. (Bumped).

HOPE AND CHANGE! Obama Sides With Bush in Spy Case. “The Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants.” Meet the new boss, yada yada.

UPDATE: A reader points out that not long ago the warrantless eavesdropping program was a sign of incipient fascism. But now it’s hope and change!

OBAMA GIVES CIA INTERROGATORS a pass on torture. Of course he does.

UPDATE: Maybe he’s following Cass Sunstein’s advice.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Col. Douglas Mortimer emails:

Of course, indeed. Just this week, NPR (Terry Gross?) had some British yak talking about how he hopes during Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing, he is asked whether he thinks waterboarding is torture. The guest went to say that he hopes Holder says “yes,” and that he then goes on to investigate and prosecute everyone who was involved in waterboarding terrorist suspects and who was involved in approving the decision to allow it.

Yeah. Right. Like that’s gonna happen.

I’d be surprised. Plus this: Obama Taps CIA Veteran As Adviser On Terror. To a position that doesn’t require Senate confirmation. “The president-elect’s decision comes only six weeks after Brennan was forced to pull out of contention for the directorship of the CIA because of fears that his statements supporting some controversial interrogation techniques would have complicated his confirmation.” Meet the new boss, yada yada.

MORE: TalkLeft: “This reminds me of Bush’s tendency towards recess appointments to get around Senate confirmation.”

MEET THE NEW BOSS, YADA YADA: Obama repeating Bush’s “boneheaded move” at the NSC?

THE PANETTA PICK: A brave choice. “The choice is a brave one because it can open Mr. Obama to charges of appointing a loyalist to a crucial post. But that is exactly what is needed at this time.”

UPDATE: More on the Panetta pick: “He’s 70. A 70-year-old man with no background will lead the hunt for al Qaeda. . . . Whatever happened to deep knowledge and real-world experience? Now, you’re willing to go on assertions of good character and a cocky belief in the soundness of what your instincts tell you is obvious and right? That attitude is positively… Bushian.” Meet the new boss, yada yada!

OBAMA’S NEW DEAL is sounding kinda familiar: “The Obama tax-cut proposals, if enacted, could pack more punch in two years than either of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts did in their first two years.” Meet the new boss, yada yada. But Jim Lindgren thinks it’s “smart policy.”

HEH: Ted Rall: Look for Obama to be as devoted to war as Bush was. Meet the new boss, yada yada. If only these people had been smart enough to read InstaPundit before the election they wouldn’t be so surprised. And if only I had been smart enough to cash in on the t-shirt sales. . . .

UPDATE: Frank Rich will be buying the t-shirt soon, too! “I share these high hopes. But for the first time a faint tinge of Bush crept into my Obama reveries this month.” It won’t be the last . . . .


In a New York Times Magazine profile of Robert Gibbs, the incoming White House press secretary, Mark Leibovich reveals that the Obama campaign emulated the “Bush model” of tight information control. Campaign manager David Plouffe acknowledged that they “talked a lot about the Bush model” inside the campaign and, like the Bush White House, sought to limit the spread of information internally so as to avoid the leaking that badly damaged the campaigns of Obama’s rivals.

There are other similarities. During the 2004 election, Dick Cheney famously kicked the New York Times off his campaign plane. Obama apparently did the same to three newspapers this fall–the Washington Times, the New York Post, and the Dallas Morning News–all of which had endorsed John McCain. At the time, the Obama campaign cited space concerns. But when Leibovich asked Gibbs whether reporters were kicked off the plane for considerations other than space, Obama’s spokesman first said “no” but later amended his response. “On occasion, yes,” Gibbs said, adding that such instances were infrequent. “I mean, were there occasions? Sure.”

Read the whole thing.

BEAT THE NEW BOSS: D.C. libertarians plot their Obama administration strategies.

POLITICO: Liberals Voice Concerns About Obama: “Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices. Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left. Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss.” They told me that if I voted for John McCain, we’d get a third Bush term. And they were right!

MEET THE NEW BOSS, YADA, YADA: Obama to delay repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. I’m guessing that this bodes poorly for a repeal of the Defense Of Marriage Act, too.

UPDATE: Brian Doherty: “Still, his apparent unwillingness to be bold on something he considers a matter of both justice and wise policy–and that he has clear political support on–should be disconcerting to his fans.”

And Gay Patriot is not amused.

JACOB SULLUM: “Barack Obama’s selection of Eric Holder as his attorney general is a very discouraging sign for anyone who hoped the new administration would de-escalate the war on drugs.” Meet the new boss, yada yada. As Nick Gillespie said on PJTV a while back, there was no good libertarian reason to vote for Obama — though some libertarians did.

OBAMA FANS ARE unhappy with the Clintons’ high-profile role. Meet the new boss, yada yada . . . . Best bit:

“These are people who believe in this stuff more than Barack himself does,” said a Democrat close to Obama’s campaign. “These guys didn’t put together a campaign in order to turn the government over to the Clintons.”

I think over the next four years they’ll discover that there’s a lot of stuff they believe in more than Barack does.


President-elect Barack Obama has imposed stricter conflict-of-interest restrictions on his White House transition team than any president before him. But a list of transition team members that his office made public on Friday includes a complicated tangle of ties to private influence-seekers.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss . . . .

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE CALLS ON OBAMA to keep his promise to keep Patrick Fitzgerald on as U.S. Attorney: “President-elect Barack Obama has said he’ll keep Fitzgerald in the job, and we trust he’ll keep his word. But Fitzgerald, who serves at the president’s pleasure, has powerful enemies. They know that as his list of cooperating witnesses lengthens—convicted fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko may be joining that club—so does his list of potential targets. Those with reason to fear Fitzgerald’s breath on their necks would love to see him dumped—or promoted high into Justice Department oblivion—when Obama takes office. . . . The sooner Obama silences speculation about the possible replacement of Fitzgerald, the better for both men: Obama will show that he’s a man of his word. And witnesses to corruption will know they aren’t cooperating with prosecutors who might soon have a new boss.”

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: House Republicans aren’t serious about earmark reform:

Just when it appeared House Republicans had turned the corner on earmark reform, party leaders did the unthinkable. They picked Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) for the vacant seat on the Appropriations Committee, bypassing conservative Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and the opportunity to show they were committed to real reform.

Bonner may talk a good game when it comes to earmark reform. However, his record is abysmal. The three-term Republican scored just 2% on the Club for Growth’s 2007 RePORK Card, meaning he voted for just one of the 50 anti-pork amendments offered by conservatives. Andy Roth notes that’s the same score as liberal Reps. Steny Hoyer, Bill Jefferson and James Moran. Flake, on the other hand, not only supported all 50, but he introduced many himself.

Ouch. The New Boss looks a lot like the old Boss.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Meet the new boss, yada yada:

While conservative senators have boasted recently about ditching the $1 million “hippie museum” earmark from a recent spending bill, they didn’t bother touching billions for Louisiana.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), in fact, put out a press release late last night declaring Thursday as “our $12 billion day.” Indeed, Louisiana received $3 billion in home reconstruction aid that was dropped into the Defense spending bill late in negotiations. That bill cleared the Senate on Thursday. Louisiana will receive $7 billion of the $23 billion water resources development act money thanks to the resounding override of President Bush’s veto of that bill. And the Pelican State will receive $2 billion in defense funds for various military projects and installations in that state under the Pentagon spending bill.

But she got her pork the old-fashioned way, as the price for supporting Mukasey.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, YADA YADA: “Earmarks. Back-room deals. Cronyism. This is the kind of stuff the Democrats pledged to clean up during their ‘Culture of Corruption’ campaign swing in 2006. But members like Murtha — influential power-brokers addicted to the old ways — have very effectively prevented them from keeping their promises. At the beginning of the year, Murtha called the Democrats’ ambitious ethics-reform proposals ‘total crap.’ Thanks to guys like him, that’s what they’ve amounted to.”

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: So much for promises that the new Democratic Congress was going to be different:

Move over Bridge to Nowhere. Congress is back in town, and clearly back to business even uglier than usual.

It takes hard work to come up with an earmark more egregious than that infamous Alaskan bridge, but California’s Dianne Feinstein is an industrious gal. Her latest pork–let’s call it Rambo’s View–deserves to be the poster child for everything wrong with today’s greedy earmark process.

The senator’s $4 billion handout (yes, you read that right) to wealthy West L.A. (yes, you read that right, too) is the ultimate example of how powerful members use earmarks to put their own parochial interests above national ones–in this case the needs of veterans. It’s a case study in how Congress uses the appropriations process to substitute its petty wants for the considered judgments of agency professionals. And it’s just the latest proof that, no matter how much outrage the American public might display over these deals–and no matter how often Congress promises to clean up its act–the elected have no intention of reforming the process. . . .

Given the recent uproar over Walter Reed, and Congress’s many calls that we do more for the men and women returning home wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan, you’d think no elected representative could possibly have the chutzpah to impede the VA’s considered attempts to inject efficiency into its facilities and provide better care for its constituents. Think ever so much again. It turns out the well-to-do in West L.A. consider the veteran’s center grounds their own little rolling, personal park, and they want it to stay that way–thank you very much.

Meet the new boss, yada yada.

PORK HYPOCRISY: “10 months later and Dr. Fiscal Crisis has become Mr. Hide The Earmark. He has gone from blasting that $26 million in pet projects for his district to grabbing $27 million for pet projects for his home district. Yee-haw!” Meet the new boss, yada yada.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The New York Times sniffs out some healthcare pork:

Despite promises by Congress to end the secrecy of earmarks and other pet projects, the House of Representatives has quietly funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to specific hospitals and health care providers under a bill passed this month to help low-income children.

Instead of naming the hospitals, the bill describes them in cryptic terms, so that identifying a beneficiary is like solving a riddle. Most of the provisions were added to the bill at the request of Democratic lawmakers. . . .

Republicans sometimes did the same thing when they controlled Congress. Under a 1999 law, for example, a small hospital in rural Dixon, Ill., was deemed to be in the Chicago area — 95 miles away — at the behest of its congressman, J. Dennis Hastert, who was then speaker.

Meet the new boss, yada yada. (Via Prairie Pundit).


Congress now has no base outside of its staff, the reporters who cover it and Mom, and even she is wavering.

I am not laughing. I am not gloating. I am troubled. . . .

In a democracy, people must have faith in their institutions. In a totalitarian government, fear will do.

The problem is that neither party shows leaders in Washington who are in touch with the realities that their constituents face. Congressmen and senators have too much money, too much power and too much tenure.

Last year, the congressional Republicans went hog wild on pork spending. Prosecutors put a couple of them in prison for selling favors. One of them was caught messing with the House pages, who are the equivalent of political altar boys.

Voters threw the bums out. But unlike 1994, when voters voted in new Republican leadership, voters elected the old Democratic leadership. Democrat David Obey of Wisconsin became House appropriations chairman — again after a 12-year absence.

This is reform?

Meet the new boss, yada yada.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Meet the new boss, yada, yada:

At this point, “Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify ‘earmarks’ — lawmakers’ requests for specific projects and contracts for their states — in documents that accompany spending bills,” The Associated Press reported Monday.

And there’s more unhappy editorializing here:

The new game that House Appropriations Chairman David Obey intends to play with budget earmarks this year is worse than the usual hide-and-seek. He is taking the whole thing underground, as though he is to be trusted as a one-man auditor for congressional pork. If this is to be the new ethic that Democrats promised, voters might want their ballots back. . . .

The result, then, is that the earmark projects will receive almost no public scrutiny and no congressional debate. This is precisely the kind of environment in which convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff thrived, the kind of place he fondly called the “favor factory.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to drain this swamp, of course, but Democrats attached enough pork to the Iraq appropriations bill this spring to render that commitment a fraud. Neither the House nor the Senate has delivered on its promise to fully expose and limit the special-interest earmarks.

As budgetary gambits go, though, Obey’s is particularly insidious. It is what Democratic caucus chairman Rahm Emanuel last fall called “earmark abuse” when he introduced an amendment that sought to prohibit “the inclusion of earmarks and other provisions in conference reports without the language having first been in either the House or Senate legislation’s original language.”

That was when the Republicans were in charge. Now the Democrats run the bank, and it appears open for withdrawals again.

Could this kind of thing have any connection to the Democrats’ massive slide in the polls? Nahhh.

UPDATE: More backsliding here.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Meet the new boss, yada yada:

After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress’ pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.

Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify “earmarks” — lawmakers’ requests for specific projects and contracts for their states.

Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them. . . . What Obey is doing runs counter to new rules that Democrats promised would make such spending decisions more open.

I really didn’t think that the new Democratic Congress would — could! — turn out to be worse than the Republicans. But this is just another case of my political expectations, despite their modesty, being disappointed.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: CNN rounds up some delightful Congressional action. Well, okay, “delightful” isn’t the right word. They make a big point of noting how Democratic promises on pork have been broken repeatedly, with particular emphasis on David Obey’s stealth earmark move.

Meet the new boss, yada yada. (Via Tom Elia).

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Shockingly, more earmark issues with Rep. John Murtha:

Democrats controlling the House of Representatives demonstrated this month the hollowness of their claim that they have ended the corruption of 12 Republican years. Rep. John Murtha quietly slipped into the Intelligence authorization bill two earmarks costing taxpayers $5.5 million. The beneficiary was a contractor headquartered in Murtha’s hometown of Johnstown, Pa., whose executives have been generous political contributors to the powerful 17-term congressman.

This scandalous conduct would be unknown except for reforms by the new Democratic majority. But the remodeled system is not sufficiently transparent to expose in a timely manner machinations of Murtha and fellow earmarkers to his colleagues, much less to the public. It took Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the leading House earmark-buster, to discover the truth.

Jack Murtha, the maestro of imposing personal preferences on the appropriations process, looks increasingly like an embarrassment to Congress and the Democratic Party. But there is no Democratic will to curb Murtha, one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s closest associates. Nor are Republicans eager for a crackdown endangering their own earmarkers.

Meet the new boss, yada yada.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More and more news outlets seem to be noticing the Democrats’ disappointing performance on pork:

When the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed one of its first spending bills, funding the Energy Department for the rest of 2007, it proudly boasted that the legislation contained no money earmarked for lawmakers’ pet projects and stressed that any prior congressional requests for such spending “shall have no legal effect.”

Within days, however, lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) began directly contacting the Energy Department. They sought to secure money for their favorite causes outside of the congressional appropriations process — a practice that lobbyists and appropriations insiders call “phonemarking.” . . .

The number of earmarks, in which lawmakers target funds to specific spending projects, exploded over the past decade from about 3,000 in 1996 to more than 13,000 in 2006, according to the Congressional Research Service. Most earmarks made it into appropriations bills or their accompanying conference reports without identifying their sponsors. Upon taking control of Congress after November’s midterm elections, Democrats vowed to try to halve the number of earmarks, and to require lawmakers to disclose their requests and to certify that the money they are requesting will not benefit them.

But the new majority is already skirting its own reforms. . . . “Absolutely nothing has changed,” said the Center for Defense Information’s Winslow T. Wheeler, a Senate appropriations and national security aide who worked for both Democrats and Republicans over three decades before stepping down in 2002. “The rhetoric has changed but not the behavior, and the behavior has gotten worse in the sense that while they are pretending to reform things, they are still groveling in the trough.”

Meet the new boss, yada yada. Read the whole thing.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Meet the new boss, yada yada.

House Democratic leaders pushing a promised lobbying overhaul are facing resistance from balky lawmakers and fending off accusations that a prominent member is flouting new ethics rules.

The Democratic leaders were forced to scrap a promise to double the current one-year lobbying ban after lawmakers leave office. Now, they are struggling to pass legislation requiring lobbyists to disclose the campaign contributions they “bundle” — collect and deliver — to lawmakers. Failing to deliver on both measures would endanger similar provisions already passed by the Senate.

Other House rules changes this year appear to have done little to alter business as usual on Capitol Hill. House Democrats voted along party lines on Tuesday to block the censure of one of their most powerful members, Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania. He was accused of violating a new ethics rule that prohibits lawmakers from swapping pork for votes.

Still to come is a long-overdue report by a House committee considering the creation of an independent watchdog to monitor compliance with ethics rules. Democrats say the House is unlikely to endorse the idea, which the Senate has already rejected. . . . Some newly elected Democrats say they worry about potential perceptions that their party has failed to deliver its promised cleanup. “Many of the freshmen ran on a campaign of, as Speaker Pelosi would say, ‘draining the swamp,’ on ethics and ethics enforcement,” said Representative Ed Perlmutter, a first-term Colorado Democrat.

Those promises to produce the most ethical Congress in history are looking lamer and lamer. I’m beginning to think they never meant it at all. . . .

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Good grief, did somebody declare this “Make a mockery of Democratic promises for reform” week?

The House Appropriations Committee has decided to insert earmarks into all of the FY08 spending bills during the conferencing committees, instead of during the initial House-only process.

This will prevent lawmakers like Jeff Flake from offering amendments to strip out wasteful pork projects…which is EXACTLY why David Obey, the Approps Chairman, is changing the rules. In defending his move, Obey said ($),

“It’s my job to protect the committee.”

Apparently, Obey’s job to protect the American taxpayer is a lower priority. In a recent press release, Flake said, “This is a huge step backwards on earmark reform. As bad as the earmark process is now, this would make it immensely worse.”

On this, the porkbusting blogosphere should raise its alert status to DEFCON 1. First the Murtha debacle and now this? Things are getting out of control.

Actually, they’re getting back under the control of the same old bunch of sleazoids. Meet the new boss, yada yada.

UPDATE: And the new guys aren’t helping: Freshmen fail ethics test. Congratulations to Jim Cooper, though, for doing the right thing.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More on the Democrats’ broken promises of reform:

When Democrats took control of Congress last year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised voters that her party would “drain the swamp” and “lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.” Four month later, Democrats are reflooding the swamp with earmarks and more. . . .

No wonder the former head of the Congressional Accountability Project called Pelosi’s first pick for House Majority Leader “a one-man wrecking crew” of congressional ethics. Rogers has since filed a formal complaint, but don’t expect the House to hurry to consider it. Pelosi is defending Murtha against Rogers and other critics.

Earmarks have so distorted the legislative process that repealing even the worst of them is becoming nearly impossible. Members of Congress who dare challenge these sacred cows are on notice from Pelosi and Murtha that they will meet a similar fate as Rogers and Tiahrt. Looks like that swamp won’t be going dry anytime soon.

Meet the new boss, yada yada.

Meanwhile, from Roll Call, Mollohan, Town Do Battle Over Earmark:

The driving force behind earmarks is the notion that constituents back home will embrace the arrival of federal largesse in their neighborhoods.

But a town in West Virginia is trying to undo an earmark by taking back land a local nonprofit bought with federal money provided in an earmark from Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.).

Mollohan has been under investigation amid allegations that he has channeled earmarks to friends and campaign contributors and that he has profited personally from federal land purchases near property he owns.

Mollohan has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offense, but he stepped down from the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct last year when the investigation into his earmarks was revealed.

Since then, one of his earmarks has become a local battleground and appears likely to drag the Department of Commerce into a legal fight over land that Mollohan directed the agency to buy.

In February, Mollohan wrote to the Commerce Department warning that one of his earmarks was in jeopardy and suggesting “it appears that it is necessary for the Department to become a party to this case in order to protect its investment in the project and the property in issue.”

Mollohan was referring to an attempt by the town of Davis, W.Va., to condemn 6 acres of the portion of land that the Canaan Valley Institute bought in 2002 for $7 million, money that came from earmarks Mollohan had attached to the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. . . .

Mollohan takes credit for creating the CVI, which since 1995 has studied watershed science and conservation in northern West Virginia, and he has provided a steady stream of earmarks to the organization to sustain it.

But the earmarks for the institute and other Mollohan-sponsored nonprofits have not been without controversy in the county, which has raised concerns about the increase in tax-exempt property. Davis Mayor Joe Drenning, who said he would not discuss the condemnation case because it is in litigation, said “probably 60 percent of the county is either no taxes or very little taxes” because it is either held by federal agencies or federally funded nonprofit groups such as the CVI.

Whatever this is, it doesn’t sound much like constituent service.

Then, of course, there’s always the business with the jets. So far, Pelosi’s record on reform is rather poor.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Jeanne Cummings of The Politico reports:

It’s a familiar backpedaling pattern emerging early in the new Democratic-controlled Congress. From lobbying reforms to anti-corruption proposals to curbing earmarks, Democratic lawmakers who railed against Republican corruption a year ago have flinched from imposing the harshest standards on themselves. Consequently, this Democratic Congress may end up no better prepared to police itself than the Republicans were when the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal broke and the spate of criminal convictions it spawned surfaced as a primary reason for voters’ angst last fall.

Indeed, the public may become increasingly dependent on the lobbyists to disclose the business of lawmakers. Why? The outsiders will face more serious consequences if they don’t follow the law, including the threat of Justice Department investigations, than the incumbents. . . . Congress’ ability to turn seemingly strong reforms into something a bit squishier has already been on display this year. In January, both chambers vowed to crack down on earmarks, which are the very local budget projects slipped into spending bills to help the constituents of a particular House or Senate member. It’s an issue Democrats used against Republicans to accuse them of wasteful spending (remember the Alaskan “bridge to nowhere”?) and running up the deficit. House members passed a rule that was supposed to result in publication of the name of the member requesting an earmark. The Senate took a legislative approach to the reform. Neither was actually signed into law — a step that could have given it some staying power.

Jeez. Meet the new boss, yada yada.


Under their “Pay-Go” rules, congressional Democrats promised not to raise spending unless there was specific federal revenue available to pay for it. The Reserve Fund is their way of guaranteeing a funding increase when — wink, wink — at a later date they will have found the needed revenues. Call it the “Spend Now, Maybe Pay Later” approach to federal budgeting.

Today’s congressional Democrats aren’t unique in using a sleight of hand like the Reserve Fund to mask the fact they are spending more of our hard-earned tax dollars on another of their favored special interests.

When the Republicans were in the majority, they used fictions like counting projected budget savings in future years to make this year’s budget appear to be balanced or at least getting closer to being balanced.

The problem is that like all lies, Washington’s spending fictions are meant to obscure the truth about irresponsible budgets, bureaucratic waste, fraud and rampant conflicts of interest.

Meet the new boss, yada yada.

THE POLITICO: “Democrats are wielding a heavy hand on the House Rules Committee, committing many of the procedural sins for which they condemned Republicans during their 12 years in power. . . . If this sounds familiar, it is. Republicans made similar promises in 1994, only to renege when they took control of the Congress in 1995.” Meet the new boss, yada yada.


Powerful Democrat Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania threatened to deny any further spending projects to a Republican who challenged him over an earmark, his antagonist has charged — a potential violation of House rules.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) had challenged money Murtha inserted into an intelligence bill last week.

Rogers turned the tables later that night by saying he would propose a reprimand of Murtha for violating House rules.

Read the whole thing.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Meet the new boss, yada yada yada:

Such is life in Washington, where members of Congress still don’t get it.

Voters sent a clear message last November when they flipped 30 seats in the House and another six in the Senate, handing control to Democrats. Congress’s love affair with pork-barrel projects — and the secrecy associated with them — was viewed as a defining factor in the election.

Yet today, six months after the elections, the Senate still has not enacted rules making earmarks transparent. Democrats have repeatedly rebuffed efforts by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) despite promises to govern more openly.

In the House, Democrats have had difficulty following a new set of earmark rules adopted earlier this year. When an intelligence spending bill came up last week, Democrats hadn’t even told the ranking committee Republican, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), about pork projects in the bill, let alone other members or the public.

But the Democrats’ shenanigans aren’t nearly as surprising as some Republican failures on the issue. Shortly after the White House vowed to veto the pork-filled agriculture supplemental spending bill last Thursday, three Republicans — Reps. Greg Walden (Ore.), Mike Simpson (Idaho) and Denny Rehberg (Mont.) — not only spoke in favor of the bill, they condemned President Bush for opposing it.

Term limits, which I used to view with skepticism, are looking much more appealing.

I HAVEN’T PAID AS MUCH ATTENTION TO THE PELOSI EARMARKS STORY as I should have, but Stephen Spruiell has a roundup. Excerpt:

For now, it appears that the problem is less with Pelosi’s disclosure on this particular earmark and more with the state of earmark reform in general. The Democrats swept into power making a lot of noise about cleaning up the “culture of corruption” in Washington. Earmark reform was a big part of their stated agenda. First, they put a “moratorium on earmarks” until new rules governing them could be put into place. Then the House passed new earmark-disclosure requirements. “It’s good that we’re even having this discussion about Pelosi’s earmark,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, tells NRO, “because now [thanks to new disclosure requirements] we know that she’s the one who asked for it.”

But that’s where Democrats left it. The House rules apply only to the House. The Senate lumped earmark reform into its ethics and lobbying bill, which is now languishing in conference and has yet to take effect. Nevertheless, the Democrats must think these half-measures constitute thorough earmark reform, because the moratorium is long gone. The Water Resources Development Bill contains, along with Pelosi’s earmark, more than 800 others. Perhaps the most egregious is a provision to add sand to a California beach famous for its annual sandcastle competition.

The Democrats campaigned as a party that would clean up Washington. But the water-development bill, exemplified by Pelosi’s earmark, is nothing if not Beltway business as usual.

Meet the new boss, yada yada.

NIGERIA: “The government used the oil revenue, which is over two-thirds of of government income, to buy the recent elections. . . . The stolen oil money is spread around, with about ten percent of the population getting some of it, and doing what needs to be done to keep the thieving politicians in power. The majority of Nigerians get nothing, and the better armed politicians dare anyone to do anything about it. But the current government claimed to be reformers, and blamed all the former problems on corrupt military dictators.” Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: John Fund reports on politicizing the Congressional Research Service to cover up earmarks:

Nothing highlighted Congress’s spending problem in last year’s election more than earmarks, the special projects like Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” that members drop into last-minute conference reports leaving no opportunity to debate or amend them. Voters opted for change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they’ll only be getting more smoke and mirrors.

Democrats promised reform and instituted “a moratorium” on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service (CRS)–a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency–has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. “They claim it’ll be transparent, but they’re taking away the very data that lets us know what’s really happening,” says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. “I’m convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS.”

Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. “CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities, or individuals,” stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan. . . .

Despite claims they would bring reform, Congress’s new bosses are acting like the old bosses. Last Friday, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake sought clarification from House Appropriations Chairman David Obey about an incorrect listing of a NASA earmark in the Iraq supplemental bill. Rep. Obey responded: “The fact is, that an earmark is something that is requested by an individual member. This item was not requested by any individual member. It was put in the bill by me!” In other words, Mr. Obey believes his own earmarks are nothing of the kind.

Sen. Coburn plans to fight back. He says he will attach an amendment to every appropriations bill demanding CRS prepare a full report on the earmarks in it. “Let senators vote for secrecy and prove they don’t want a transparent process or let them deliver what they promised,” he says. “The choice will be theirs and the American people will be watching.”

We need to keep their feet to the fire, and force them to live up to their pre-election promises about earmarks.

UPDATE: House porkers on video.


Mollahan is, to say the least, “ethically challenged.” There’s no sensible reason for him to retain his seat on the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives. If Nancy Pelosi is serious about “draining the swamp,” she’ll kick Mollohan off the appropriations committee before she pounds her first gavel.

As for Byrd, his history of earmarking excesses makes Ted Stevens look like Ron Paul. Earmarking is little more than legalized corruption. It’s buying votes. Not only did Robert Byrd perfect the practice, he’s the one who put a “secret hold” on a bill that wouldn’t have even eliminated the practice, but would merely have added a bit of transparency to it. Democrats who rightly railed against the “Bridge to Nowhere” can’t be taken seriously if they sit back and let Byrd resume diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to wasteful pork projects in West Virginia. Harry Reid should remove him from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It won’t be easy — Byrd in particular is likely to raise holy hell. But if you’re going to change the culture of corruption in Washington, you’d go a long way toward demonstrating your seriousness by starting with your own party.

It would also be nice to see the lefty blogs pick up on this, and give Pelosi and Reid the cover they need to do the right thing.

UPDATE: Several readers have written to point out that Pelosi is set to pass over Rep. Jane Harman to make Rep. Alcee Hastings chair of the Intelligence Committee. Hastings is of course a formal federal judge who was impeached and removed from the bench by a Democratic Congress in 1989 for taking bribes. Apparently, the Congressional Black Caucus is demanding a chairmanship for Hastings to compensate for the loss of influence caused by Rep. William Jefferson’s removal from the Appropriations Committee — also due to corruption.

This, within 72 hours of the election. Meet the new boss…

Not the only libertarian to be suffering buyer’s remorse. . . .