Tax (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)
This holiday season, we’ve been
entertained by subjected to more political theater coming from DC. We had a Speaker of the House telling the Senate majority leader to go, um, entertain himself, a 2 am vote by the Senate, then an evening vote by the House, a president hopping back on his taxpayer funded jet to hit the beaches in Hawaii and of course proclamations that we had all been “saved”. Continue reading →
US agents, primarily from the Drug Enforcement Agency, have laundered millions of dollars in Mexican drug money the New York Times said this week. It would appear that every time Congressmen Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffetz and others try to peel back the lid on the Fast and Furious scandal, there is even more to discover.
Apparently “our” plan is to send guns and money to Mexican drug lords. The Times then understates the obvious:
“The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime.”
Um. Delicate questions? Really? I’m thinking more along the lines of a Chris Christie questioning……
Let me say again – this is not pocket change.
One D.E.A. official said it was not unusual for American agents to pick up two or three loads of Mexican drug money each week. A second official said that as Mexican cartels extended their operations from Latin America to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, the reach of the operations had grown as well. When asked how much money had been laundered as a part of the operations, the official would only say, “A lot.”
“If you’re going to get into the business of laundering money,” the official added, “then you have to be able to launder money.”
Congressman Issa announced that he is expanding his probe into the gun-running debacle. 52 congressmen, three U.S. senators, four presidential candidates, two sitting governors and one potential US Senate candidate from Utah are demanding Holder’s immediate resignation over Fast and Furious.
Good for Congressman Chaffetz. “Fast and Furious” is an embarrassment at best, but which frankly strikes me as downright criminal.
As the day started, there was no indication there would be anything out of the ordinary to rock the political boat, but things can change in a hurry. One tweet from one reporter saying that Congressman Jason Chaffetz was announcing his intentions today at 4 pm started a virtual Twitter explosion. Like a summer squall that comes on suddenly, politicos across the state – and the nation – began calling, texting, tweeting and writing. Before noon, speculation was running rampant that Chaffetz would in fact announce that he was NOT going to challenge 6-term incumbent Orrin Hatch.
So confident was Tribune reporter Robert Gehrke that he posted the first online article stating that Chaffetz was out of the Senate race hours before the press conference. He was followed in short order by ABC 4, Politico, WaPo, the New York Times, the Daily Caller and of course, the blogosphere – Hot Air and Michelle Malkin, to name two. (Stories have been updated)
Indeed, at 4 pm, Congressman Chaffetz, accompanied by his wife Julie, his campaign staff, his chief of staff and his communications director, told the assembled media peeps that he would be running for re-election to his House seat. Pointing to his sponsorship of the popular “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill, the Fast and Furious investigation in which he plays a major role and the earmark ban he pushed for, he said it was clear that he did not need to wait for seniority in order to be effective.
“Ultimately,” he said, “I can spend the next 15 months doing my job, or I can spend the next 15 months campaigning to do Senator Hatch’s.”
His announcement stunned most political insiders, including this blogger who has to now go find a hat to eat….
*Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love continues to make waves as she announces the formation of a Congressional Exploratory Committee. Jennifer Scott, former campaign manager for Jason Chaffetz, is advising Mayor Love. I expect her to be a formidable candidate. Daily Herald, Fox 13, DNews
*Senator Hatch said a few months ago that “governments have promised too much money in lifetime pensions” saying “…these governments are living in the past, playing irresponsibly with taxpayer money, and leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for too many lifetime pension promises.” According to NTU (the National Taxpayer’s Union) his pension currently stands at $125K per year, not including health care bennies – or Social Security payments. If he wins re-election and Republicans control the Senate next year, Hatch is in line to become the chair of the Senate Finance committee. chairman. The Senate Finance Committee oversees public employee pension plans. ABC4 The Utah Democratic chair questions why Hatch’s pension is more than 6 figures. ABC4
*Last night, Congressman Chaffetz held a townhall in American Fork. A lot of the meeting was focused on his potential rival, Senator Orrin Hatch. From the Trib: “They blew it,” he said of leaders during the Republican-dominated years between 2000 and 2006. Chaffetz then lowered the boom on Hatch. “You don’t have to have 36 years of seniority to get things done in Washington,” Chaffetz said. “Seniority doesn’t matter if you don’t vote right.” He held a similar meeting tonight in Ogden, with a similar response.
*The Pentagon respected the wishes of the families of the soldiers who died in the recent helicopter crash and would not allow the media to photograph the remains as they arrived at Dover AFB. Never fear – a White House photographer took pics anyway. AP
*And finally, if you did not watch the GOP debate tonight, you missed out on some good political theater. WaPo
*Biggest news of the day – the Wisconsin recall elections trying to flip the Senate back to Dem control were not successful. Four of the 6 challenged Senators retained their seats and Republicans retain control of the Senate. Unions spent eye-popping amounts of money on the elections, but were unsuccessful. Wisconsin voters know they have to get spending under control and today’s elections show they understand “reality is not negotiable.” NYTimes, The Guardian, MSNBC, Politico and just to show I read “the other side” too, HuffPo
*Back in DC, yet another article on the low lows Congress has sunk to – at least as far as approval ratings go. “Among registered voters, the numbers were even worse. Just 21 percent said Member of Congress deserved re-election while 70 — yes, 70 — percent said they didn’t. Those numbers suggest that 2012 — at least as of today — may be the rarest of elections: a pox on both parties.” Could we have two “wave” election cycles in a row? WaPo’s “The Fix”
*Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love announced the formation of a Congressional exploratory committee. She has not yet declared which seat she is running for, as redistricting is not yet completed. Daily Herald
*Obama’s campaign plan is to “kill” Mitt Romney. “Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,” said an important Democratic political strategist.” At least they acknowledge the list of accomplishments to run on is mighty thin….They also plan to call him “weird”, largely because of his LDS (Mormon) beliefs. Des News
*Utah Policy’s Jordan Garn pens a tongue-in-cheek piece about Las Vegas oddmakers making their predictions that Jason Chaffetz gets in the US Senate race. He writes: “Handicappers have tapped “highly likely” as the frontrunner for the next pronouncement, laying 2-1 odds. Other possibilities include: “strongly leaning,” 3-1 odds; “happy where I’m at,” 7-2; “definitely equivocating,” 5-1 odds; “acutely interested,” 7-1; and “partly cloudy with a chance for rain,” 13-1 odds.” Seems inevitable, doesn’t it? Utah Policy
*Utah ranks #1 in volunteer hours and got a nice write up in USA Today. That’s awesome. However, I think we can do better. What do you think?
*S&P downgraded our nation’s credit rating on Friday and the last 72 hours have been filled with polarized, partisan sniping. Why don’t we go straight to the source for the reasons for the downgrade? S&P ratings specialist John Chambers talks about those reasons.
*According to Politico, President Barack Obama “came out swinging against S&P on Monday — but Wall Street delivered an even harder 634-point punch in the gut over Washington’s handling of the debt and deficit crisis.” He announced he would unveil his own plan – but the White House had no time frame on when we should expect that plan.
*Governor Rick Perry is expected to announce his intentions to run for President of the United States at a RedState gathering this Saturday and from there, he heads to a New Hampshire event. He is expected to steal the thunder from the Iowa straw poll also happening on Saturday. Expect a big splash, then a whole lot of people looking a lot more closely at the governor from Texas.
*Closer to home, Congressman Jason Chaffetz began a week of town halls around the state. First on the schedule? Castle Dale, Utah, where the town hall turned into a tea party rally. Trib
*Meanwhile, potential rival Senator Orrin Hatch welcomed people to his new campaign offices in Murray – but couldn’t quite find the time to talk to the DREAM Act supporters who wanted to thank him in person. Hatch says he remains supportive of the DREAM Act, but acknowledges other things have to happen before it could be passed. Trib
*Riots are consuming London for the 3rd night in a row. Some see it not as a protest, but an opportunistic crime spree. Scary. Fox 13
Public Policy Polling (PPP) recently surveyed Utah voters on potential Senate match-ups in a general election. They found that Matheson could be a serious contender in a race with either Hatch or Chaffetz. The polling – by one of the most accurate companies out there – found that in a head-to-head competition, Senator Hatch and Congressman Matheson would start out virtually deadlocked, 44-45. A race between Chaffetz and Matheson shows a 5 point advantage for Matheson – 42-47.
The polling also shows approval ratings of under 50% for both Republicans – 46% for Hatch, 43% for Chaffetz – but a whopping 59% for Matheson. Matheson gets almost all of the Dem vote, a heavy majority of the independent/unaffiliated vote and STILL manages to capture 23% of the Republican vote against Chaffetz and 20% against Hatch.
To quote PPP, “If Matheson runs it will certainly be the most national attention a political race in Utah has drawn in many, many years.” It also highlights room in the Senate race for another GOP contender, someone like Senator Dan Liljenquist. Senator Liljenquist reformed Utah’s pension and Medicaid programs and has saved the state billions in just 2 years. He could make this race even more interesting than it already is.