Tuesday, September 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Is it just me, or does it seem as if the former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, is doing his gosh-darnedest of late to set himself as a major contender for the GOP nomination in 2024? He seems to be all of the place of late, and primarily as an opponent to the bailout package. He is attacking the Bush administration, and Paulson in particular, with more vigor than Obama and seems to be carving out political space for a run in four years.

Granted, he is also plugging a book, but he seems a lot more interested in making himself the chief voice of opposition to the bailout than he is in hawking the book.


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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: Bloomberg Called Ready to Announce Third-Term Bid

Right now, Mr. Bloomberg is barred by law from seeking re-election. But he will propose trying to revise the city’s 15-year-old term limits law, which would otherwise force him and dozens of other elected leaders out of office in 2024, the three people said.

In his announcement, Mr. Bloomberg, a former Wall Street trader and founder of a billion-dollar financial data firm, is expected to argue that the financial crisis unfolding in New York City demands his steady hand and proven business acumen.

Whenever politicians start deciding that they are indispensable and are willing to seek changes to the rules under which they were elected so as to remain in power, that is precisely the time that they should be ousted. The linkage of a one man (or woman) to a specific job as if they are the only person capable of competent governance in the time of emergency is a slap in the face of democracy as well as a display of naked egoism on the part of the politician who seeks a chance at an additional bite at the apple.

Yes, I understand that an election would be held, and that the voters could oust the individual in question. However, it is worth noting that incumbency has huge advantages that would skew any such contest. Further, beyond the questions of the the virtues of such an election, there is the very real issue of whether rules should be changed in mid-stream like this, as well as the desirability of treating a specific politician as so important that no one else could do his/her job. And make no mistake: while any given election two (or more) candidates try to make the argument that they are the best for the job. That is different, however, than a sitting politicians who is term-limited out of office to say that he should be given the chance to retain power by a direct manipulation of rules because circumstances are such that only he can deal with the challenges of the day.

Indeed, if Bloomberg wishes to help out in the financial crisis, one suspects that there are a variety of ways he could do so once he leaves office.

In terms of the political viability of the move, the NYT piece notes:

Mr. Bloomberg’s gambit carries significant political risk. The city’s term limits law was passed twice by voters, in 1993 and 1996, and several polls show widespread popular support for keeping it in place. Under the plan Mr. Bloomberg has outlined to associates, those voters will have no say in the matter, raising the possibility of a backlash.

But, the will of the voters appears not to be the paramount issue here:

The chances of passing legislation in the City Council are strong, according to interviews. In August, a New York Times survey of council members — two-thirds of whom are scheduled to be forced out of office in 2024 — found that a majority were willing to amend the term limits law.

The route Bloomberg appears to be taking is via the City Council, not a referendum. That move is telling in and of itself, as if he really thought there was a clamor for four more years, you’d think he’d take the issue to the voters.

Note: the “LatAm” reference in the title is to the fact that a number of Latin American presidents have overseen rules changes to allow additional terms. Off the top of my head: Carlos Menem did in Argentina, as did Alberto Fujimori in Peru and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Alvaro Uribe managed the feat once, and is being coy on whether he supports a chance at a third term.

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By Steven L. Taylor

I have largely ignored blogging the “horse race” to this point, and this post hardly constitutes a full-blown look at all the numbers. Still, I have been watching, and note in particular that the Gallup Daily tracking poll has Obama with a 6-point lead, after two days of 8-point leads. Given the poll’s 2% margin of error, these are important leads for Obama at the moment. The poll is of registered voters, not likely voters, and therefore should be interpreted in that light.

The last three days in particular strikes me as a noteworthy period of time, as it encompasses response to the debates, response to the financial crisis and response to McCain’s suspension/unsuspension of his campaign. At a minimum, the numbers tend to indicate that a) McCain was not able to gain from the debate, b) that Obama has the edge in regards to the financial crisis, and c) that McCain’s suspension maneuver did not work. Granted, one cannot say any of those things with great authority based on the numbers, as one set of numbers does not provide specific responses to specific events. Still, in general, it is a reasonable set of observations to make, especially given that the two candidates were tied in the poll right before the debates and the suspension.

Going beyond Gallup, the RCP average has Obama at +5.1% nationally, with only the Battleground track poll giving him a number lower than +5% (Battleground has it at 2%).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP; Gorbachev to form new Russian party

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will join forces with Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev to launch a new political party independent of the Kremlin, the billionaire businessman said on Tuesday.


The party will press for legal and economic reform and promote the growth of independent media, said Lebedev, who does not plan to bankroll the party himself but said it should be financed only from “non-state sources.”

He said the party favored “less state capitalism,” the development of independent media, itreform of the justice system and a stronger role for parliament, adding that it would take part in elections.

The party is likely to be called the “Independent Democratic Party” (the story notes that the name is “provisional”).

Certainly Russia is in need of strong, independent voices who are interested in promoting democratic development. One has to wonder, of course, as to whether the present political climate will allow such groups to function properly. The state’s treatment of Kasparov’s opposition party, for example, does not encourage one in this regard.

I would also note that it is interesting, if not ironic, for a former General Secretary of the CPSU to be allying with with a billionaire. Times do change…1

  1. Indeed, to my students, Gorbachev, let alone the USSR, are an artifact of the distant past. []
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Monday, September 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

The news is currently breaking that the House failed to pass the bailouot plan.

CNN reports:

What was supposed to be a 15-minute vote stretched past the half-hour mark as leadership scrambled for support. Investors who had been counting on the rescue plan sent the Dow Jones industrial average down as much as 700 points while watching the measure come up short of the necessary support, before rebounding slightly. The key stock reading was down more than 500 points.

The vote:

The measure needs 218 votes for passage. Democrats voted 141 to 94 in favor of the plan, while Republicans voted 65 to 133 against. That left the measure with 206 votes for and 227 against.

As I understood the news this morning, this is an unexpected result.

More later.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Last Monday the bailout plan was 3 pages in length. Today is it 110.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Ecuadoreans back new constitution

Ecuadorean voters have convincingly approved a new constitution that increases presidential powers, according to preliminary results.

Some 65% of voters backed the charter, an outcome President Rafael Correa hailed as a “historic win”.


The 444-article constitution will be the Andean nation’s 20th.

The BBC notes the following as “key points” in the new charter:

*Tightening controls of vital industries and reducing monopolies
*Declaring some foreign loans illegitimate
*Expropriating and redistributing idle farm land
*Allowing the president to stand for a second four-year term in office
*Giving free health care for older citizens
*Allowing civil marriage for gay partners

Boz has some comments.

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Sunday, September 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

More from The Corner:

Rich Lowry:

just for the record: I thought Palin was dreadful. She obviously didn’t have the reaction to the Charlie Gibson interview that I had hoped.

Mona Charon:

Palin was atrocious not just with Katie Couric but with friendlies like Sean Hannity.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Woman wakes up, should have smelled the coffee

The Iowa Department of Public Health says the woman reported a bat in her house but wasn’t too worried about it. She turned on her automatic coffee maker before bedtime and drank her coffee the next morning.

She discovered the bat in the filter when she went to clean it that night.

My question is: how did the bat get into the coffee maker?

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By Steven L. Taylor

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