What were the two biggest stories in America on March 1, 2012? One was the shocking and devastating news that Andrew Breitbart was dead, and the other was – (or should have been) Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s press conference on the results of his investigation into Barack Obama’s eligibility, because he found that the thing posted on the White House website, last April was a complete and utter forgery, as document experts have been saying since the beginning. Unfortunately, story #1 sucked the oxygen out of story #2.
I’m gonna keep talking about story #2. I think Andrew would approve, since he was apparently interested in the story, too. It came out during Thursday’s press conference that Andrew Breitbart’s last interview may well have been with Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
With the announcement of Andrew’s passing overnight we could not help recalling our conversation just 3 weeks ago in Washington, DC. Andrew said on Feb 9, 2012 in Washington, DC “wait til they see what happens March first.”
He’s talking about the Thursday night CPAC blog bash – I shared a cab ride back to the hotel with the blogger who wrote those words. He was a jovial bon-vivant, “out and proud”, laughing and joking in the back seat of the cab. I asked him who he was, and he said, Larry Sinclair.
Republicans are still concerned that the current field is weak, and both Rick Perry and Romney leaves them with doubts; Romney, because he’s a technocrat who doesn’t have firm convictions, and Perry, because people are not sure of his ability to articulate his views.
See Breitbart T.V.for a serious discussion of a possible Christie Run on Fox News Sunday, where Wall Street Journal editor, Paul Gigot shares some insider info on the situation. He claims that there have enough people who have gone to him now and said, “look this field is weak, and none of them may be able to beat the president, we need a republican president, we think you can do it. Now is your moment….”
He says he’s thinking about it now, very carefully.
I’ve noted the fact that Christie has repeatedly and forcefully denied that he has any interest in running in 2012 is a problem. After all, Obama did the very same thing after he was elected to the US Senate in 2004. In his case it always looked like the White House was the ultimate goal, and the denials were less than sincere. In Christie’s case, I have no doubt that when he was elected Governor of New Jersey, he had no greater aspirations than fixing the financial mess in that state. But now he can say , with the country’s bleak economic forecast, he’s been pulled into this thing almost against his will. We need someone who can fix the financial mess we’re in, and he’s the man to do it.
And here’s the thing about that speech at AEI: He didn’t use a teleprompter. Sitting in the audience about five or six rows back, I didn’t see a written speech. On either side of me were mainstream reporters who were entirely transfixed. His humor is dry, he treats the audience like adults and he’s refusing to parrot the usual blather that pols dole out to a cynical press corps. That room had wonks and Tea Party advocates. It had conservative and mainstream media. And to a person, the reaction to that performance was “Wow.”
Let’s consider for a moment Christie in the GOP debate. Can you imagine what he’d say about Perry’s backpedaling on Social Security? Could you imagine him letting Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) get away with nonsense about America bringing 9/11 on itself? Ooof. I imagine he’d brush off Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) with a shake of the head and a sly remark. (“Michele, that’s cuckoo land stuff. Mental retardation isn’t caused by a vaccination.”) And as for Romney, Christie would have a solid case to make that you really can govern as a full-throated conservative in a blue state.
Perhaps the best aspect to a Christie governance is his inclination to challenge conservatives, to aspire beyond rhetoric. At AEI he concluded:
[S]ome people say I’m too combative, some people say I’m too much of a fighter. Well, I’ll tell you, I’m fighting now because now is the time that matters most for New Jersey’s future and in America’s future. We are teetering on the edge of disaster. And I love when people talk about American exceptionalism but American exceptionalism has to include the courage to do the right thing. It cannot just be a belief that because we are exceptional, everything will work okay. Part of truly being exceptional is being willing to do the difficult things, is to stop playing the political games , stop looking at the bumper pool of politics and to step up and start doing the right thing. . . . See it seems to me, that what America is really all about is about a group of people who came from every corner of this earth because they wanted a chance for greatness. That’s what has made us the greatest country on Earth. Our calling for greatness at this time is to confront these issues, to say them out loud, and to stop playing around and to not waste another minute. . . .
Rubin includes more of the text from Christie’s speech in her post, which you should read to understand why people are so impressed.
One of the reasons why I was so behind a Paul Ryan run, is because people who have the gift of being able to speak brilliantly extemporaneously, are a rare commodity. We need such a person to run against Obama to clean his clock in a debate. Obama’s slick propaganda would be reduced to the weak pablum that it is, matched against the superior rhetorical skills of a Paul Ryan or Chris Christie.
Do we really need another affable Texan stammering into the microphone about “compassionate conservatism” or some such.?
NMA touches on some of the issues in which Chris Christie differs from the base, not including his recent, almost disqualifying comments on global warming. Hopefully, he’ll look further into the issue and his position will “evolve”….
You can check his positions on major issues, here.
It appears that he is extremely weak on environmental issues:
Jersey shore for tourism instead of offshore drilling. (Aug 2011)
$157 million for Green Acres open-space acquisition. (Aug 2011)
The Real Cuba translated an article from El Nuevo Herald regarding some new information reportedly provided by U.S. intelligence sources:
US intelligence sources: Hugo Chávez is undergoing a “critical clinical condition”
June 24 – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is currently at a hospital in Havana, is undergoing a “critical clinical condition,” several U.S. intelligence sources said on Friday.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they could not confirm reports that the Venezuelan president is being treated for cancer of the prostate, which is the rumor that is currently being heard with increasing frequency in Venezuela’s high places.
But the health of the Venezuelan president, who underwent surgery two weeks ago in Havana, “is in a critical state, not grave, but critical, complicated,” said one of the sources, whose identity can not be revealed due to the sensitive location where he is.
Here’s a very awkward Google translation of his post on Chavez:
URGENT: THE ALLEGED CONFIDENTIAL HUGO CHAVEZ’S DISEASE (As I arrived)
The much heralded knee surgery was not so. It was a radical prostate removal. Vanity (manliness) of Acts led them to invent what the knee.
Biopsy result was bad post-op. We planned to travel to Cuba in CEMIC PET scan (Caracas wanted to avoid transfer to one of two private schools that are operating PET scans) to determine whether there were metastases.
To distract the attention of the disease, and against the advice of doctors, whirlwind trip was scheduled to Quito and Brasilia.
Coming to Cuba’s fever went up and took him straight to CEMIC. Upon arrival found a severe postoperative infection groin.
A few days after the infection is controlled, but the PET scan results are very encouraging to be abnormal cell activity in bone.
Determined to be treated with radiation therapy and daily sessions are set for 25 days, rest 10 days and 25 sessions.
There are many medical concerns for the subject bone and are still undecided how to treat it. Specialists from Germany, Russia and Spain have visited CEMIC.
There is much discussion about how to announce this, but are preparing contingency. Hair loss can not be overcome in the case of Chavez in a wig and his mood has been terrible, is fatalistic and believe that this is what “made” anyone. Not recommended to take your medication for depression while on radiotherapy.
There are opposing views on the secret part of the family says that people are not stupid “and know that something is very wrong, the other part of the family believes that if you know this is much more severe or the president may be unable for months there would be a war within the Chavez that no member of the family survive.
In short, Chavez would be suffering from a prostate cancer that has metastasized.
This already would explain several things: why Chavez never remarried; why he occasionally seems to get all bloated; why his ample clothing when he does an extended cadena as it could hide adult diapers better; why the mystery around the whole thing as prostate surgery for a macho man is tantamount to recognize that he is not that macho anymore.
Since the post of Gustavo is in Spanish, follows my interpretation of his text in English.
Apparently the “knee” problem was a way to hide the prostate surgery which today can be dealt well enough in a couple of weeks. But if we are to believe Gustavo the post biopsy was not encouraging and they decided to do some advanced body scans which in Venezuela can only be done in a couple of private clinics. Not only Chavez entourage would not trust the discretion of private clinics but it would have been also an admission that the “socialist” care was not as performing as the “capitalist” care since the regime had not been able to match the equipment of the private sector for “el pueblo“. Thus the trip to Cuba. One caveat here: where would have Chavez got prostate surgery in full discretion? Has he set an O.R. inside Miraflores or Fuerte Tiuna?
Before, for show, Chavez stopped in Brazil and Ecuador and that must have been a mistake because he got a post op infection. And also some people found him walking strangely well for someone with an alleged serious knee injury. Arriving in Cuba he got feverish soon and they had to drain the abscess. That would have been the real “emergency” part. In a way that was a convenient excuse to justify Chavez stay while the real stuff was being done, namely the body scans.
He seems to have recovered well enough form his infection but apparently the scans were not good and they decided to start radiotherapy. Another caveat: why not chemotherapy? The more so that he has metastasized. A explanation is that under chemo he would have had to resign temporarily since you might go bonkers during the treatment. Chavez cannot go for an interim prez to preserve his tough image of caudillo. Whatever it is, the lone photo of him in Havana shows him rather gaunt and leaning on both Castro brothers. Some people said it reeked of Photoshop but then again… it matches the symptoms.
According to Gustavo’s source, the radio therapy will take 25 days twice, with a ten days rest, which explains quite well how they keep postponing the return announcement. In fact they are trying to postpone the traditional July 5th parade to the eight which pretty much would fall in between two treatments, maybe allowing Chavez to set foot in Venezuela for a couple of days. After all if you travel in a plane with a medical bed incorporated, well, you can manage the round trip with a minimum of damage.
I agree with O’Reilly’s analysis of Trump’s “bombastic” entrance into Republican politics. The reason why he’s “catching on” couldn’t be more obvious:
Trump isn’t tip-toeing around issues like Obama’s birth certificate, and school records, he’s hitting them with a sledge-hammer. People are fed up with the praetorian guard (AKA the MSM) protecting this man. Frustratingly, even most in the “respectable” conservative media have been too timid to broach the subject, even though Obama’s professed personal narrative has gaping holes, or doesn’t add up. Finally, someone is willing to go out there and ask the questions a lot of us want answers to. I don’t know what it is that’s on his birth certificate that he doesn’t want seen, but his refusal to produce it speaks for itself. And make no mistake. Despite the Democrat Media complex’s best efforts, the issue is no longer toxic to Republicans. It’s toxic to Obama.
CNNdid an investigative report which fairly conclusively establishes that Obama was born in Hawaii, but this jumped out at me:
Obama could file a Freedom of Information Act request to view his original birth certificate and make copies. But at this point, the White House maintains, nothing will satisfy the doubters.
Don’t you think that if he had done this a long time ago, it would have satisfied the vast majority of doubters? An Army doctor whorefused to deploy again to Afghanistan because he questioned Obama legitimacy, has been serving a six-month term at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas. Wouldn’t you think that the Commander in Chief would feel obligated to do everything in his power to prove to our men and women in uniform, that he’s a natural born citizen?
“Well I’ve been told very recently, Anderson, that the birth certificate is missing,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday. “I’ve been told that it’s not there or it doesn’t exist. And if that’s the case it’s a big problem.”
The former Hawaii elections official who maintains there’s no long-form birth certificate for Barack Obama in the Aloha State is now saying the president and his aides have been “caught fibbing” about Obama’s background, and the “embarrassing” situation is making it difficult to fess up to the truth.
Tim Adams, who was senior elections clerk for the city and county of Honolulu during the 2008 campaign, made the statements in a two-hour interview with a group looking to disprove claims made by so-called birthers, those challenging Obama’s legal qualification to be president.
“I think people believe there’s been some kind of cover-up. And I don’t think it’s some big nefarious conspiracy. I think it’s politics as usual,” Adams said March 31 on Reality Check Radio, an Internet program on BlogTalkRadio.
“Barack Obama’s official autobiography was put out to the public for the public’s consumption and we all know politicians – they have a public persona, it’s created for consumption by the electorate – and I think that they’ve been caught fibbing, and it’s embarrassing.”
Manhattan real estate mogul Donald Trump suggested in an interview Monday that President Barack Obama had been a poor student who did not deserve to be admitted to the Ivy League universities he attended. Trump, who is mulling a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, offered no proof for his claim but said he would continue to press the matter as he has the legitimacy of the president’s birth certificate.
“I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?” Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m thinking about it, I’m certainly looking into it. Let him show his records.”
Drew: Yeah, my sense is because of affirmative action, guys like me were going to Occidental instead of even better schools and guys like Obama were going to Occidental instead of, uh, less challenging schools. A lot of very successful people were there, were part of Obama’s social circle at the time.
Kengor:: Now, was Occidental known for radical left politics? Would that have been an attraction for Obama?
Drew:: Yeah, I’m certain that it was. It was considered sort of the “Moscow” of southern California. There were a lot of Marxist professors, many of whom I got to know pretty well, not just there but also at Williams College in Massachusetts. Two of the same Marxist-Socialist professors were on the staff with me at Williams.
Kengor: So, that might have been an attraction for him? I’m trying to think, what would have made him go to Hawaii to Occidental? Do you think Frank Marshall Davis could somehow have been an influence in having him choose Occidental?
Drew: I don’t have any evidence of that…
Kengor: Because they won’t release his records, I called them —
Drew: Yeah, I think that’s odd. I don’t know, I got straight A’s my first year, it sounds weird, but I don’t talk about it, Paul, you’d think that if Obama did well he’d release those transcripts.
Is it possible that Donald Trump has decided that the best way to make the media cover these issues is by bringing them up as a candidate for President?
And Howard Stern recently said: “Look! Ahhh…I know Donald Trump. He’s not running for President. He’s not going to run…It is, as you said… a joke. He’s doing it because it’s fun, and he’s out there doing his thing, and he’s having a good time with it, but he’s not running for president.”
Maybe Trump’s “thing” is – he can’t stand Obama, thinks he’s a fraud who’s hellbent on transforming the nation from the “Shining City on a Hill” into a third-world Socialist sh** hole., and is putting his foot down by doing everything in his power to get these issues out in the mainstream media where they can damage Obama going into the 2012 election.
Despite trying to keep ahold of ten tigers tails in both my personal and professional life, I still find some moments here and there to log on to Facebook, and keep up with friends and family. Today, I did so to find some family and friends posting this clip and crying about fascism, dictators, class warfare, and how it was threatening to democracy. My curiosity was peaked, so I decided to take one for the team and watch the Maddow clip. While I feel dumber and insulted for the experience, I’m still glad I did, because, as is the case with many such complaints, there is more to the story than what is presented.
I’m sorry, but in order to follow along, you have to watch. Closing your eyes helps.
The family member’s post referred to this as being akin to a “dictator” because the emergency manager appointed by the state could void union contracts and strip the local elected officials of their power. If that was all I knew, I might share some alarm, but having grown up in Michigan, I could recall that the state took over the City of Flint, and stripped the local elected officials of authority at the time. I got on google to confirm this, and found an article about it on the World Socialist Website as the first hit in the search. The article, dated November 16, 2002 states:
Flint, Michigan, the fourth largest city in the state with a population of 125,000, is in receivership. The municipal government in the former center of the General Motors auto empire has been plunged into bankruptcy as a result of successive plant closures, capped by the recent shutdown of the Buick City complex.
In May of 2002, Republican Governor John Engler declared a financial state of emergency in Flint and began proceedings to implement a state takeover. Engler named Ed Kurtz, former president of a private business college, to oversee Flint’s finances.
On August 20, the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that had temporarily halted a takeover by the state. A September 14 court ruling reaffirmed this decision, effectively ending attempts by the city council to block the takeover.
Since then Kurtz has proposed draconian budget cuts in an effort to erase a $40 million deficit. The cuts come at a time when Flint’s social services and infrastructure are already in a state of near-collapse. Among the proposals under consideration are layoffs of firefighters, the closure of community centers and cuts in trash collection.
So it sounds to me like there was already a legal basis for the state to “takeover” municipalities, and make financial decisions in the stead of local elected officials. I noted that this occurred when the city was in receivership which is a nice way of saying “bankruptcy”.
The other notable takeaway from the story is that a mayor in his third term was unable (or unwilling) to come to terms with mounting deficits. If only the taxpayers who continued to elect this mayor were the ones affected by his incompetence, this wouldn’t be an issue. However, the state of Michigan shares property tax revenue with cities throughout the state, so Flint’s budget deficits didn’t affect just Flint residents; it affected all state taxpayers.
Of course, this still doesn’t tell me what law the state relied on before, or how what is now being proposed is different, so I kept digging. The next helpful clue I found was this story by Michael P. McConnell of the Daily Tribune. The Tribune article described more about what the state is currently up to. One useful passage:
The GOP-dominated state House this week passed major revisions to the emergency financial manager law, Public Act 72, which would allow the state to take over a community’s operations before it goes into receivership. The revisions, which have yet to be passed by the state Senate, also grant emergency financial managers more authority to nullify union contracts and dissolve city councils.
So I glean that:
a) There is an emergency financial manager law already in effect;
b) And the proposal gives the emergency managers more power to nullify union contracts and dissolve city councils. [Emphasis Mine]
Back to the Search Engine. The law in question, Public Act 72 of 1990 already provided the governor with the ability to declare a financial emergency in a local unit of government, upon recommendation of a review team which investigates and issues recommendations. The state treasury provides a great summary of how this process works here. And keep in mind, the overall bill was made law back in 1990. There have been some amendments in intervening years, but the end results that I see my family and friends complaining of have already been in place, and used in cities such as Flint, Benton Harbor, and others.
So I decided to look at the text of the law currently in place. One subsection that jumped out at me:
141.1221 Additional actions by emergency financial manager.
(1) An emergency financial manager may take 1 or more of the following additional actions with respect to a unit of local government in which a financial emergency has been determined to exist:
(p) Exercise the authority and responsibilities of the chief administrative officer and governing body concerning the adoption, amendment, and enforcement of ordinances or resolutions affecting the financial condition of the unit of local government as provided in the following acts:
(i) The home rule city act, 1909 PA 279, MCL 117.1 to 117.38.
(ii) The fourth class city act, 1895 PA 215, MCL 81.1 to 113.20.
(iii) The charter township act, 1947 PA 359, MCL 42.1 to 42.34.
(iv) 1851 PA 156, MCL 46.1 to 46.32.
(v) 1966 PA 293, MCL 45.501 to 45.521.
(vi) The general law village act, 1895 PA 3, MCL 61.1 to 74.25.
(vii) The home rule village act, 1909 PA 278, MCL 78.1 to 78.28.
(q) Reduce, suspend, or eliminate the salary, or other compensation of the chief administrative officer and members of the governing body of the unit of local government during the financial emergency. This subdivision does not authorize an emergency financial manager to impair vested retirement benefits. If an emergency financial manager has reduced, suspended, or eliminated the salary or other compensation of the chief administrative officer and members of the governing body of a unit of local government before the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision, the reduction, suspension, or elimination is valid to the same extent had it occurred after the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision.
Which would pretty much cover stripping local elected officials of their authority already. Check. To start at the beginning of the Act as it currently exists, start here.
Here’s how the existing law works: A review of a city or school district’s finances is triggered when one of several events happens, like payless paydays or a failure to meet pension obligations. The state treasurer puts a review panel in place to evaluate the local government’s fiscal health, and if there’s a financial emergency, an emergency manager is appointed.
Amendments to state law under discussion include expanding the list of events that can trigger the state review that leads to installation of an emergency manager, changing the powers of local elected officials during the emergency financial manager’s tenure, giving an emergency manager the power to modify or terminate labor contracts, allowing an emergency manager to consolidate or eliminate departments and allowing a current or recent elected official to serve as emergency manager.• Under the existing law, an emergency manager can renegotiate union contracts but not break them. The amendment would place some restrictions on the emergency manager’s ability to break contracts, namely, to prove it’s necessary, based on the financial emergency and the good of the public. Contract modifications would be temporary.
I found the article useful because it presented the potential challenges, and discussed the pros and cons of the proposed legislation without the end of the world hyperbole that Butch put on the story. The bills which have passed the House are HB4214-HB4218. I decided to see if I could find where the emergency manager now had the authority to disincorporate cities. I found it on-line 7, page 32 of HB 4214.
(cc) For municipal governments, disincorporate or dissolve the municipal government and assign its assets, debts, and liabilities as provided by law.
Of course, there are objective limitations on the use of this power that are enumerated in the bill. It isn’t the arbitrary whim that Butch alleges. But then, I’m sure that this was just an oversight on her part.
And for those who still want to ascribe sinister motives to the law, I direct you to the findings of the legislature when the law was initially passed in 1990:
141.1202 Legislative determinations.
The legislature hereby determines that the public health and welfare of the citizens of this state would be adversely affected by the insolvency of units of local government, including certain school districts, and that the survival of units of local government is vitally necessary to the interests of the people of this state to provide necessary governmental services. The legislature further determines that it is vitally necessary to protect the credit of the state and its political subdivisions and that it is a valid public purpose for the state to take action and to assist a unit of local government in a fiscal emergency situation to remedy this emergency situation by requiring prudent fiscal management. The legislature, therefore, determines that the authority and powers conferred by this act constitute a necessary program and serve a valid public purpose.
There really is a reason for it. If municipalities and school districts are so mismanaged that they cannot afford to provide the basic services that they are supposed to provide, then the state can and should step in to put that entity back in a place where it CAN provide those services. Many of the powers decried as harbingers of fascism and dictatorship already existed. The change that I predict is the most likely to be used is the power to void collectively bargained contracts, and frankly this doesn’t trouble me. For years, public sector unions have used collective bargaining to the taxpayers detriment. These public servants aren’t competing with other people for the job, and yet they have an enormous club at their disposal in the form of collective bargaining, and they could come to the table secure in the knowledge of two very salient facts.
One, the unions know that the people they are bargaining with aren’t using their own money; they are using everyone’s money. (And the government officials negotiating with the unions know this too.)
Two, the unions have often made VERY generous contributions to the election campaigns of the people they will be facing across the negotiating table. This would be a little like you or I buying the boss his job before we sat down to talk about the terms and conditions of our employment.
Unfortunately, the problem with these kinds of arrangements is that even other people’s money is a finite resource, as state and local governments across the land are starting to figure out.
John Gibson predicted this would happen when Comcast took over, a year ago. Now he’s saying, don’t listen to what TV gossip sites are saying – this is Comcast’s doing. You’ll want to listen to this whole thing. Gibson is never more fun than when he’s on the subject of Keith Olbermann.
I suspect last Friday was a sweet, sweet day for John Gibson.