February 06, 2014
When You've Lost the ACLU....
Today's bitter little ray of schadenfreude:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) slammed the Obama administration’s new proposed IRS rules to restrict the political activity of nonprofit 501(c)(4) groups in a 26-page comment submitted to the IRS and obtained by The Daily Caller.
ACLU said that the new “rule,” which is comprised of many different provisions, open the door to more of the kind of politically-motivated IRS targeting that snared conservative groups between 2010 and 2012.
ACLU also stated its “serious concerns with the rule… from a First Amendment perspective,” saying that “the proposed rule threatens to discourage or sterilize an enormous amount of political discourse in America,” and noted that even the ACLU Foundation’s activities would be negatively impacted.
This is particularly delicious:
“As we explain in detail in our comments below, while we support replacing the current ‘facts and circumstances’ test for political activity by affected tax-exempt organizations with a bright-line standard, we have serious concerns with the rule as proposed in the Notice, both from a First Amendment perspective and as a simple matter of workability,” ACLU Washington Legislative Officer director Laura W. Murphy and ACLU legislative counsel/policy advisor Gabriel Rottman stated in their comment to the IRS.
Executive waiver watch commences now.
January 15, 2014
That's Gonna Leave A Mark!
I'm not sure Jay Leno was ever really "on the farm" enough to really be considered *lost*, so his monologues on the Tonight Show for the past few years were only surprising to his bosses at NBC. But Jimmy Kimmel on the other hand...
I can't help but wonder how much fabric disappeared from office chairs at ABC this morning.
Update: Link fixed. Thanks for pointing it out, Ron.
Update II: Methinks that *someone* is not happy about this video's existence.
November 20, 2013
When You've Lost SNL and the Washington Post
Saturday Night Live:
Even the Party Faithful are bitterly clinging to their pitchforks:
...at a recent caucus meeting with Senate Democrats and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, one senator stood up and asked for a political point of contact at the White House.
“There’s been an increase in frustration because people feel like they are continuing to be blindsided,” said one Democrat who attended the caucus meeting, adding that there’s a “check-the-box” mentality at the White House in dealing with lawmakers.
CWCID for the last link: spd
We imagine the media can sympathize with that last bit.
October 31, 2013
When You've Lost....
...I expected more from Obama. I expected more at the Veterans Administration, since the President said that making sure that our veterans received the best treatment really mattered to him. It is remarkable that five years on, Obama still hasn’t resolved the dispute between the VA and the Department of Defense about providing a unified electronic medical records system that would follow active-duty personnel into retirement. The waste, heartache and delay caused by his inaction is appalling..
And I certainly expected more from the Affordable Care Act, since it is the most significant piece of social welfare legislation since the 1960s, and an absolutely crucial piece of our social safety net going forward. It is early days for the ACA and we should reserve judgment about whether this legislation was just too big and complicated a mess to implement. But, surely, SOMEONE–maybe many people–should be fired for these opening pratfalls. And we should also be able to get some of our money back from the private contractors who failed to implement the exchanges.
There is a larger point here. It lies in the nature of government work. It is near-impossible to fire anyone in the civil service–and without the fear of firing, the incentives for hard work diminish. (There are also very few rewards for finding creative solutions.) This is the 130th anniversary of our Civil Service system, enacted by Chester Alan Arthur. It may have been a good thing in 19th century, when even Abraham Lincoln was hiring political hacks to run the post offices–but it has transformed agencies like the VA and HHS into lugubrious sludge glaciers in the 21st century.
The President should set the tone for the way the federal government operates. This President hasn’t done that. He still has three more years in office to get it right, perhaps even to propose some radical changes in the work rules governing federal employment. He could even force DOD and VA to agree on the unified electronic records system that he promised.
Otherwise, there is a danger that the Obama Administration will be remembered as not even good enough for government work
And then there's this, which took real courage:
When the website doesn't work and the promises of 2009 and 2010 are revised, questions of credibility infect everything the administration says. This can lead to a death spiral as administration officials make bold assertions to distract from the current challenges. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted Monday night: "FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans." Of course the insurance companies wouldn't have had to change plans if it hadn’t been for Obamacare. This is spinning—which is to be expected from a president's defender—but its legalistic dissembling seems particularly weak in light of the president's initial promises. (It isn’t the only time the administration has claimed a FACT recently about health care that isn't one).
For congressional Republicans, these credibility challenges help obscure their recent flirtation with utter collapse. It's not just that Republicans benefit when the president’s signature legislation falters. This debate over his initial claim lends credibility to their longstanding opposition to the law. House Speaker John Boehner's office quickly provided reporters with a quotation from the GOP weekly radio address from September 2009, delivered by Rep. Tom Price: “On the stump, the president regularly tells Americans that ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.’ But if you read the bill, that just isn’t so. For starters, within five years, every health care plan will have to meet a new federal definition for coverage—one that your current plan might not match, even if you like it.” A key critique of the Republican Party's recent attempt to defund Obamacare was that it was a strategy born of limited vision. They couldn’t see that it was doomed to fail spectacularly. Four years ago, with the Affordable Care Act, they saw this moment coming.