December 24, 2009
|under the hammer|
Under the Hammer
President Barack Hussein Obama and Sen. Harry Reid, with their desperate approach to passing a health care bill, put smart Democratic senators in the driver's seat. It is unfortunate for North Carolina that it appears our Democratic senator is willing to give her vote away to any health care bill that Reid and Obama float out there.
Democratic senators on both the left and the right demanded different provisions in the bill. It's great for the Democratic senators with some political savvy. All they had to do was indicate to someone that they might not vote for the bill and suddenly they are surrounded by reporters hanging on their every word and a SWAT team from the majority leader's office and the White House attempting to cater to their every whim.
Sen. Mary Landrieu wanted a mere $300 million for her home state of Louisiana and it was done. Other senators actually have policy and ethical concerns, which are not quite so easily met, but those smart enough to indicate that a no vote is a possibility are reaping the benefits.
North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, like the vast majority of the Democrats, is going to vote for whatever bill is proposed. It is amazing that at the last minute they are making changes demanded by senators and Obama says that it makes the bill even stronger. If that is the case then why weren't they in there in the first place?
North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr has an excellent proposal for health care reform that doesn't involve a government takeover of the health care industry and won't cost the taxpayers a fortune, but because Burr is a Republican, his proposal was dead on arrival.
I've heard from quite a few Republicans who voted for Hagan because they didn't like the fact that Liddy Dole had not lived in North Carolina since the 1950s and, even after being elected senator, Dole didn't bother to spend much time in the state she represented. But if you are against this health care reform bill and voted for Hagan, you supported the bill. The Democrats couldn't even attempt this bill without a 60-seat majority.
It must be pointed out that every single Democrat in the Senate is voting for this bill, and it appears that every single Republican will vote against it. Voting for the person not the party sounds good, but the reality is that an elected official in Washington who bucks his or her own party doesn't get far.
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I think Obama was wrong to go to the global "down with capitalism" climate change conference in Copenhagen. Has anyone else notied that he has been president less than a year and made two trips to Copenhagen and one to Oslo? If this were a spy movie he'd be up to something.
I can hear the men behind the plot scheming, "We've got to get him over here two more times before the end of the year. But how can we get the American president, with the entire world watching, to drop everything and fly to Scandinavia? The Olympic appeal was pretty transparent, but evidently we got away with it."
"What if we gave him the Nobel Peace Prize? Then he would have to go to Oslo."
"It's too obvious. Nobody is going to believe that Obama actually won the Nobel Peace Prize. They'll know something is up. He's been president less than a year and before that he did nothing. He hardly ever voted in the Senate. He didn't even volunteer or give money to charity. Hell, he didn't even give money to his relatives who are starving in Kenya. It's a real stretch. But then again, with the press so in love with him, we might just be able to pull it off."
"It's a piece of cake. If anybody questions it, we'll brand them as racists and refuse to answer questions."
"Then we'll get him back for the climate change thing. He has no idea what he is doing and no idea that it's stupid for him to go."
I can see it now up on the big screen.
Of course, another possibility is that Obama keeps going to Scandinavia for the same reason the governor of South Carolina had to keep going on trade missions to Argentina, but that wouldn't make a very good spy movie.
In the spy movie, the reason to go so often would be to meet secretly with someone who could not travel to the US without attracting attention, but could slip into Scandinavia – someone like Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
In the real world Obama should not have gone to Copenhagen, even if he supports the man-made global warming fantasy. He should not have gone because when the president of the United States attends a conference like that, it is to sign some important treaty or agreement. It's not to sign something with a couple of countries that means nothing other than we are all here and need to pretend to do something.
Obama has no experience and evidently doesn't listen to anyone, but it damages the world standing of the United States when the president goes to an international conference for no reason. If the president goes to a conference like that it has to be because something is being accomplished, not just because he really likes Copenhagen in the winter or because it's a convenient place to hold face-to-face conferences with someone.
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Ruffin Poole, one of former Gov. Mike Easley's lawyers has plead the Fifth Amendment before the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
Back in October, Poole got out of testifying about Easley in front of the Board of Elections without disclosing why he didn't have to testify, based on a ruling by a Wake County Superior Court judge.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals, however, took a different view of the case, and when Poole appeared before the Board of Elections this week he was told he had to testify or give some reason for not testifying. It was only after he was threatened with jail for contempt that Poole's attorney said his client would plead the Fifth Amendment, which is protection against self-incrimination.
Chairman of the Board of Elections Larry Leake, who pressed the issue, allowed Poole to plead the fifth and said that in accordance with the Constitution the board was not going to assume anything bad about Poole because he refused to testify.
However, you can't plead the fifth if you didn't do anything wrong. The Fifth Amendment says that individuals do not have to testify against themselves. If he didn't do anything wrong he wouldn't be eligible to plead the fifth, that is just common sense. The innocent don't need the Fifth Amendment, but the guilty do.
They aren't after him anyway. They are after Easley.
Easley is a crook, and this is a case where his crooked lawyer is doing everything in his power to protect Easley. The US Attorney's Office needs to complete its investigation unhampered by political considerations, and then Easley deserves a fair trial in front of a jury of his peers like any other crook.
Perhaps the Republicans need to point out more often that Easley's second in command is now the governor.
After this case hit the newspapers, Gov. Beverly Perdue paid for some free airplane flights she had taken during her campaign. But of course in Easley's case it wasn't just the flights. With Easley there is already a lot of evidence of quid pro quo. In other words, Easley did pay for the flights but he paid by appointing people to powerful boards and commissions and who knows what else. He didn't pay them in cash, he paid them with favors he could grant to them as governor.
Until he resigned on Dec. 8, Poole was on the board of the Golden LEAF Foundation, which has over $500 million to give away. The Golden LEAF Foundation gives away money from the state's share of the settlement with tobacco companies to organizations all across North Carolina. Being on that board gives someone access to half a billion dollars that can be given to any friend, relation or political ally smart enough to file the papers to form a 501(c)3, as well as to local governments that play ball or to economic development agencies to help out friends It's hard to see how the board could not be caught up in all of this.
The appointments to the Golden LEAF Foundation board are made by the governor, the speaker of the state House and the president pro tem of the state Senate. The former speaker of the house, Jim Black, is in prison. If there is any justice left in this state Easley will be serving time also, which leaves only President Pro Tem of the state Senate Marc Basnight. The three of them ran the state.
It doesn't seem likely that Black would bribe an elected state representative by handing him a bag of cash in the men's room of a breakfast restaurant, or that Easley would fly all over the state on private planes for free, and fly all over the state on personal business on state planes for free, and have friends set him up with fraudulent real estate transactions while Basnight, who worked with those two, is clean as a whistle.
If nothing else Basnight must have known what they were doing and should have let the people of North Carolina know, but it is far more likely that Basnight was involved in some nefarious activities of his own.
Some investigator needs to look at every grant awarded by the Golden LEAF Foundation while Easley's appointees were on the board. Having a slush fund of half a billion dollars that can be handed out to political allies is a lot of temptation.