The Spectacle Blog

Last note from Sessions, for now

By on 3.10.06 | 3:21PM

Finally, on a different subject, Sessions did note one encouraging development from what was a decidedly mixed-bag energy bill passed last year. Saying (accurately) that there hadn't been a single application for a new nuclear plant in years and years and years, Sessions reported that since the passage of the Energy bill, one of whose good provisions provided incentives for more nuke plants, a whopping 18 new requests for nuke plant permits have come in. That is great stuff: Nuclear energy is the cleanest around, with no automatic environmental problems, and new technology has made it safer by a huge degree than the already-safe nuke energy that was available 30 years ago. Even the snooty, self-proclaimed eco-friendly French have for decades produced the vast bulk of their own energy through nuke plants, and that's without the new, safer technology. So here's a toast to the nuclear power developers, may they forge ahead with their plans. Over time, their efforts will produce cleaner, less expensive energy for us all.

Wither Republicans

By on 3.10.06 | 3:21PM

It's not a piece of legislation many conservatives have paid attention to, but perhaps now they should. We're talking about the telecom reform bill that Rep. Joe Barton is pushing through the House Energy Committee. According to staff sources, the main goal here, apparently is to give the telephone companies like AT&T the ability to offer cable TV-like services over their broadband lines. What should have every conservative nervous though, says an Energy staffer, is an issue that Barton, as well as Rep. Ed Markey, is pushing that would essentially impose a new layer of regulations on the Internet. "The language would eventually lead to the federal government having a say over what compaines might be able to do with their broadband networks, what services could be offered on the Internet, how people could charge or make money on the Internet," says a staffer we spoke to on Friday afternoon. "It would cede a lot more control over the Internet to the FCC. It's there in the bill, and people are missing it." The legislation is expected to be made public sometim in the next two weeks, according to committee staff.

More Sessions

By on 3.10.06 | 3:13PM

Despite Sessions (through Domenici) calling out the Dems on spending and taxes, he minced no words for his fellow Republicans who keep spending more money. Noting that President Bush had proposed savings of $75 billion (5-years) in the RATE OF GROWTH of entitlements (set to grow at 8% a year even as inflation runs only 3% (our quick table math -- I welcome readers to double-check this, because I haven't -- is that just a 6% avg hike for five years rather than 8%, which is surely not too draconian, would yield the $75 billion savings), Sessions lamented that the Senate Budget COmmittee plan approved yesterday called for not a red cent of entitlement savings. Sessions' comment on this development: "Some people think that if we have a middle-of-the-road, milquetoast budget that avoids controversy, we'll somehow avoid political harm, but I say it's just the opposite. We'll kill the enthusiasm of our supporters; we will likely not only NOT gain, but we'll lose potentially" because of letting down the fiscally conservative GOP base.

"We've got tohonor the voters who got us here," Sessions added.

Sessions, finally

By on 3.10.06 | 2:58PM

I meant to post this earlier today, but better late than never: I had a lengthy meeting yesterday with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a true conservative gentleman, and he had some very interesting things to say. First, he quoted New Mexico's Sen. Pete Domenici asking this (supposedly a word for word quote that Sessions jotted down): "If the Democratic proposals all were passd, how much would it add to discretionary spending and mandatory spending, and for tax increases?" Domenici's answer, according to Sessions: $16.3 billion in added discretionary spending, $125 billion in additional 'mandatory' (entitlement) spending over five years, and tax increases of $125 billion.

(Quin commenting now:) Wow. Tax and tax, spend and spend. The GOP in Congress has been just awful for many years on spending, but only if you don't consider the alternative. No wonder nobody trusts the Dems in Congress with the public fisc!

More on my next post........

Re: Sources Say

By on 3.10.06 | 12:48PM

Before anyone points out that the AP moved news of Norton's resignation at 12:45, please note that the clock on this blog is about 16 minutes fast. You heard it here first, if only just...

Lou Dobbs as Howard Beale

By on 3.10.06 | 11:58AM

Reading the Wall Street Journal's article on the media's role in fanning the ports fire and ran across this understated paragraph:

Then Mr. Dobbs got on the story. The CNN commentator, who has redefined his career by editorializing against outsourcing, illegal immigration and big business, aired his initial report in which he expressed incredulity that the deal was being allowed to go forward. That report was followed by 15 others in the following 17 of his shows.

I've caught Lou Dobbs' hysterical shtick a few times since he went off the deep end, and I'm usually embarrassed for him.

Maybe he should lose all pretense of seriousness and fully turn into Peter Finch's character, Howard Beale, in the 1976 film Network.

Sources say …

By on 3.10.06 | 11:57AM

An unimpeachable source is informing us that Gale Norton is looking to spend more quality time in the cleaner air and more pristine wilderness she helped enable. If she's the one jumping ship, all the best.

Too bad that Abramoff isn't available to throw his hat in the ring. Clearly Interior was a department he cared deeply about.

Resignation Coming?

By on 3.10.06 | 11:48AM

Various people are hearing that we're going to have a resignation this afternoon in President Bush's Cabinet. We reported over the weekend that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had been considered the prime candidate to step aside. The other name to consider is Treasury Secretary Snow. He's been under a great deal of pressure lately to be more vocal. The Snow exit makes another rumor we've been hearing a bit more plausible, which is that current White House chief of staff Andy Card has been looking for "new challenges" at the same time that the President has been considering a new chief of staff. A Snow out, Card moving in to Treasury, would allow the President to put in place a war time consigliere type at chief of staff, to get a very wobbly White House staff in place.

The Economy Keeps on Rollin’

By on 3.10.06 | 11:29AM

The U.S. economy added 243,000 jobs in February, and unemployment dipped to 4.8 percent.

Re: Ports Message-Sending

By on 3.10.06 | 10:51AM

I should add, Dave, that you've got me convinced on the root irrationality question, and the first-order consequences are real. Fortunately we can move on without too many bruises. Big picture? The more fanged heads the mullahs grow, the closer the States and the Emirates grow.