Sunday, November 19, 2006

Baldacci hoping to broadcast budget tutorial on public access TV

Here's a great idea. So many people are complaing about the budget situation here in Maine, and i'm sure that most of them don't even understand the very basics of how a budget is put together and where the money goes. Gov. Baldacci has come up with a great idea, something that Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald calls "Must see TV". I couldn't agree with him more. The goal of this program is to get more Mainers involved in the budget and to give them a true understanding of how it works. This is a win win situation for everyone.

Portland Press Herald /
Four years, ago, he introduced the "Budget Balancing Tool" on the state's Web site -- a high-tech opportunity for taxpayers to try their hand at balancing expenditures with revenues.
"Now," said Baldacci, " we're taking it up another step."
Granted, this baby is still "in development," as they say in TV land. But the goal is to produce a primer on the budget process and ship it out to public-access channels all over Maine in January.
That way, between grainy marathons showing your local town council or school board in action, you can sit back and let the governor walk you step-by-step through what most Mainers now call "that mess in Augusta."
Stifle that yawn. If you don't know the difference between "zero-based" and "baseline" budgeting, how can you possibly complain that state officials don't know what they're doing?
And if you're clueless about where the money's going -- 50 percent to education, 30 percent to health and human services and 20 percent to everything else -- where do you get off griping that your tax dollars are being wasted?
In other words, "The Budget Show" will be must-see TV.

Even Bill Becker, head of the Maine Heritage Policy Center sees this as a good idea. He of course has his take on how it shouldn't be an "informercial", but what do you expect.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Collins throws support behind Bush's OIRA candidate

Wow, you're such a moderate. You're proving it more and more everyday, like right now. You're throwing your support to the most anti-regulatory candidate to ever be nominated for director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. She's got a great track record, take a look...

American Prospective

Susan Dudley has spent the last eight years as director of regulatory policy for the Mercatus Center, an industry-funded think tank. In those eight years, she has opposed regulations that would: lower the threshold for arsenic in drinking water; set more stringent fuel economy standards for automobiles; provide more information to communities on toxic releases; limit the use of snowmobiles in national parks; reduce pollution emissions from motor vehicles and heavy duty trucks; and set standards for advanced airbag technology in automobiles.

Now, Dudley may soon oversee the regulations she has spent her career criticizing. At the eve of the August congressional recess, the Bush administration announced its intention to nominate Dudley as the new regulatory czar.

If appointed, Dudley would become the new administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a department within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with enormous power over health, safety, and environmental regulations. Through an obscure executive order which has never been authorized by Congress, all federal regulations deemed economically or otherwise significant, as determined by OIRA, require the approval of the agency’s administrator. The appointment of Susan Dudley would thus put a leading anti-regulatory zealot in charge of regulation.


In commenting on a proposed rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limiting the number of hours that truck drivers can be on the road without rest, for instance, Dudley claimed that the Department of Transportation had failed to “present data to support its assertion that fatigue systematically contributes to highway fatalities.” (In the final regulation, the agency apparently took the suggestions of Dudley and her industry allies to heart, weakening the standard to actually allow truck drivers to spend more hours on the road.) Dudley also argued that the EPA did not have enough information on the health effects of regulating ozone to justify setting air quality standards. Regarding the EPA’s limit on arsenic in drinking water, Dudley maintained that, “though evidence from other countries supports an association between arsenic and certain forms of cancer, the effect of exposure to the low doses present in the U.S. water supply is very uncertain, and science alone cannot determine the appropriate level [of protection]."

Ironically, Dudley has also argued against possibly the cheapest kind of regulatory intervention -- the simple release of information. Dudley claimed that releasing more information on hazardous chemicals through the Toxic Release Inventory was not justified because more information is not necessarily socially valuable. (“Even if we determine that information on the release of certain chemicals has a net social value, we cannot assume that more frequently reported information, or information on a broader range of chemicals would be more valuable.”) Dudley opposed the release of information concerning the potential consequences of leaks from chemical or industrial facilities, claiming that information “is unlikely to be of any public value.”

Cue Ms. Collins
After the hearing Collins told the press she was leaning toward supporting the nominee and expected to bring it to a committee vote during the December lame duck session.

Thanks Ms. Collins for proving to us everyday that you care about the issues here in Maine. Did you know Maine has the highest asthma rate in the country, or that we're nicknamed "America's Tailpipe"? I'm sure you do. Your approval of this candidate shows your more aligned with President Bush and his agenda than Maine's agenda. Thanks a lot.

Cummings elected House Speaker
AUGUSTA, Maine — Rep. Glenn Cummings of Portland, who served as the Democratic floor leader in the Maine House of Representatives during the past session, won a key vote Wednesday that virtually assures he will be the House speaker for the next two years.

By a unanimous vote, the newly elected Democratic representatives nominated Cummings as their choice for speaker when the full House selects a leader Dec. 6, the day the Legislature formally convenes for its 2007-08 session.

Because his party has a commanding 89-60 majority over the Republicans in the House, Cummings is assured of taking the speaker´s gavel. The 151-member House also has two independents.

The fourth-term lawmaker congratulated his fellow Democrats for their significant Election Day gains in the House, where they previously held 74 seats, and also thanked Democratic candidates who ran and lost.

"Looking out at 89 Democrats is really a dream come true," said Cummings.

Definately a dream come true. Now if only we could get a ratio like that in the US House, now that will be a real big dream come true.

Terrorists paid $2 million for release of Fox News journalists

World News Daily
JERUSALEM – Palestinian terror groups and security organizations in the Gaza Strip received $2 million from a U.S. source in exchange for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped here last summer, a senior leader of one of the groups suspected of the abductions told WND.

The terror leader, from the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, said his organization's share of the money was used to purchase weapons, which he said would be utilized "to hit the Zionists."

He said he expects the payments for Centanni and Wiig's freedom will encourage Palestinian groups to carry out further kidnappings.

Though it doesn't exactly say in this article who paid the terror groups, it says it was a US source. It could be one of two things, someone from inside Fox News, or someone inside the government. If it was Fox News, thats treason, if it was the government...I don't even want to think about it.

Update: From wikipedia
'Section 948a of title 10 of the United States Code, as added by the Act, defines an "unlawful enemy combatant" as:

`(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces)'

Fox News...enemy combatant?

Snowe defeated in school naming race


Olympia Snowe has never lost an election during her more than three decades in politics, but she finished a close second in balloting in Auburn to choose a name for the city's newest school.

The winner in Tuesday's voting by nearly 650 students and adult residents of Auburn was Park Avenue Elementary, with 189 votes. Olympia Snowe Elementary was second, with 175. The other choices were Brann's Hill Elementary and Ledgewood Elementary.

The Auburn School Committee is expected to approve the new name for the school that serves 330 pupils from kindergarten through sixth grade.

If only that were the general election...

Bush admin wants Plame civil suit dismissed

The Bush administration, led by the Justice Department, is asking for the CIA Leak case to be dismissed on grounds of immunity. It's no surprise to anyone that they are doing this, as the results of this case could be disastrous for the administration. This of course is not the Fitzgerald investigation, this is merely in regards to the civil suit that was filed by Valerie and Joe Wilson.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration asked a federal judge on Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband against Vice President Dick Cheney and others for alleged involvement in disclosing her employment as a clandestine CIA operative.

Cheney and the other high-level defendants in the lawsuit have valid claims of immunity because of their official positions, Justice Department lawyers said in their request to have the case thrown out.


"The United States has a strong interest in ensuring that federal officials are appropriately protected from personal liability in lawsuits arising as a result of their official positions," the Justice Department said.

"The United States believes that... the individual federal defendants have valid claims of immunity," the document said. "The vice president possesses absolute immunity from civil damages claims in connection with acts taken within the scope of his office."

Here's the thing. I would agree with their point to an extent, if it wasn't for the fact that the name was disclosed for pure political reasons. In no way were the actions of officials in the administration taken in the interests of the country. They were merely in the interests of keeping Joe Wilson quiet. I'm hoping the Judge in this case realizes the sheer political nature of this leak and lets it continue on.

To everyone in the Bush adminstration: You had better get used to the fact of being investigated and have charges brought against you. You had your 6 years of no oversight, now it's our turn to clean this mess up.