Friday, November 02, 2007

D.C. Droppings -- XIII

Jingle, Jangle, Rangel

First, a plug for a new Website, a free public version of the best of political news from the bible of down-the-middle Washington reporting, Congressional Quarterly.

CQ is an icon that has produced many of the nation’s best political reporters, and, until today, was available only by subscription at a cost affordable only by politicians and lobbyists. Today’s cover story, “Rangel’s Fundraising Soars — Thanks to Corporate America,” is an incisive and sometimes amusing account of how even liberal Democrats, once in power, cozy up to the corporate titans. And vice versa. The author of the article, will have a familiar last name.

“Just Shut Up”
My favorite sports radio program, “Mike and Mike in the Morning” (ESPN radio and ESPN2 TV) has a weekly feature called, “Just Shut Up,” in which the audience votes on which sports figure has said the dumbest thing in the past week.

Applied to politics, Hillary Clinton would have to retire that honor -- unless you believe the next president should be like the current and past president in terms of triangulating, spinning and reversing positions like Minnesota Fats.

Getting waxed in this week’s Democratic presidential debate, Clinton responded the next day by blaming “the guys” who are also running for ganging up on her. Sweetie, it’s politics, not the Ellen DeGeneres show, and as Bess Truman’s husband might have said, “If you can’t stand the kitchen, you gotta take some heat.”

My favorite Internet sig line ought to be her campaign slogan: “Give me ambiguity or give me something else.”

Second place in the “Just Shut Up” competition goes to President Bush for pouting that if the Senate doesn’t confirm his pro-torture attorney general nominee, he won’t appoint anyone else. That would make four consecutive years, including the term of Alberto Gonzales, of no attorney general at all.

Firemen First
Charlie Peters, the crusty old founder of the neo-liberal journal Washington Monthly, once coined the term “Firemen First” to explain how executive branch agencies get around penurious budgets handed down from above, be it a mayor or a president. The agencies go before the legislative appropriations committees where they have to defend what they are told they are getting. But when asked what items will have to be cut in order to live with impecunious spending limits, they say, “firemen first.” Meaning, of course, the legislature can’t allow that to happen and thus increases the agency’s spending level.

It is a fact of life in D.C. that presidents propose and Congress disposes. Agency budgets are routinely the stuff of politics. But here is a new one: An agency director has gone before Congress to demand that her budget be cut from what President Bush asked for.

Actually she is only the acting director, and she is acting like most Republicans in power. Unfortunately, she heads the last agency you would think needs less money: The Consumer Product Safety Commission, whose mission is engendered in its name.

Her name is Nancy Nord, and she told Congress she can’t effectively use the amount of money Bush requested. Today, the Washington Post reports a possible reason the CPSC doesn’t need more money: the same Ms. Nord and her Republican predecessor keep taking business trips paid for by the industries they are regulating.

Among things her agency is responsible for regulating are children's toys, cribs and strollers. Instead of "firemen first," this time it's "children last."

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