Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spitzer's Shame Deficit

Disgraced ex-New York governor Eliot Spitzer's certainly made his fair share of mistakes in life. Yet I only seem to recall him apologizing for one. The others he'll never apologize for, seeing as he views them as his greatest accomplishments (namely, turning New York's attorney general's office into the official micro-manager of the global financial industry -- never mind the billions in market capitalization destroyed as a result).

Writing today in, the recently fired CNN host is now calling on Attorney General Holder to take out Rupert Murdoch:
The Murdoch empire is falling apart—criminal behavior and disregard for basic ethics having permeated its highest ranks. News Corp. executives' claims of a full and thorough investigation and that there were only a few bad apples have been exposed as feeble and false. The pseudo-investigations conducted by Scotland Yard are likewise proving to be corrupt and unreliable. Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron's government is running for cover, but it cannot escape the untoward relationship that it had with Murdoch.

So how does all this concern Americans? First, it is hard to believe that the misbehavior in Murdoch's media empire stopped at the water's edge. Given the frequency with which he shuttled his senior executives and editors across the various oceans—Pacific as well as Atlantic—it is unlikely that the shoddy ethics were limited to Great Britain.

Much more importantly, the facts already pretty well established in Britain indicate violations of American law, in particular a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Justice Department has been going out of its way to undertake FCPA prosecutions and investigations in recent years, and the News Corp. case presents a pretty simple test for Attorney General Eric Holder: If the department fails to open an immediate investigation into News Corp.'s violations of the FCPA, there will have been a major breach of enforcement at Justice. Having failed to pursue Wall Street with any apparent vigor, this is an opportunity for the Justice Department to show it can flex its muscles at the right moment.
Are you man enough, Eric? Spitzer may as well call him a pussy, punch him in the face, and launch the investigation himself. That is his style, after all.

Only Spitzer could suggest an attorney general engage in blatant prosecutorial overreach while feigning devotion to the cause of justice. As everyone in New York is well aware, The Post -- one of Rupert Murdoch's prized holdings -- savages Spitzer with regularity and evident delight. Smelling blood in the water, Spitzer wants revenge. Using the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a way so utterly unrelated to its original purpose recalls Spitzer's serial abuse of New York's Martin Act. Many years ago, AIG's founder and then-CEO Hank Greenberg audaciously spoke out against Spitzer's politicization of NY's AG office. Spitzer responded by using his beloved Martin Act to force AIG to depose its leader, thereby initiating the company's lengthy, expensive, and widely destructive downfall. The re-insurance industry may have been destroyed in the process, but at least Eliot got his guy.

Speaking of serial abuse, if Salon's going to permit Spitzer to publish on its site, the least it can do is impose a quota on the word "should" -- perhaps one of the most obnoxious words in the English language. Example:
If DoJ does investigate and if a court were to find News Corp. liable, the penalties should extend beyond the traditional monetary fine. News Corp. should also have its FCC licenses revoked. Licensure and relicensure by the FCC require that the licensee abide by the law and serve the public interest. News Corp. appears to have blatantly violated this basic standard. Its licenses should be pulled.
There are many things Eric Holder SHOULD do. Listening to Eliot Spitzer is not one of them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Democrats: Let's Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment

In today's White House press conference, Press Secretary Jay Carney explained the president's opposition to a Balanced Budget Amendment:
The President believes that we do not need to amend the Constitution to cut the deficit. We need to get beyond politics as usual, and find bipartisan common ground.

A balanced budget amendment has, today and has always been, about ducking responsibility rather than taking our challenges head on. This is not -- we don’t need -- I mean, the Constitution should not be used to simply abdicate responsibility. What we need to do here is not complicated. It does not require a constitutional amendment and the ratification by preponderance of states here. It requires people rolling up their sleeves -- the leaders, the representatives of the people in the Congress and the President, the Vice President and others here -- and working out a compromise to achieve a goal that we all share, which is significant deficit reduction, a plan that gets our fiscal house in order that deals with our long-term debt.

It is something we can do. And in some ways, while these are hard issues, it is something we can do easily if people accept the principle that we have to compromise to do it. So, no, we do not support the balanced budget amendments.
Which places the president even further to the left than Harry Reid. This afternoon, the National Republican Senatorial Committee distributed the following quotations from Senate Democrats:

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): “Before I ask for your vote, I owe it to you to tell you where I stand. I’m for… a balanced budget amendment.” (Rep. Brown, “Where I Stand,” YouTube, 11/1/06)

· BROWN: “I stood up to a President of my own party . . . In support of the balanced budget amendment, in restoring fiscal sanity to our government.” (Ohio Senate Debate, City Club Of Cleveland, 10/27/06)

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): “I crossed the line to help balance the budget, as one of the Democrats that broke with my party.” (Michigan Senate Debate, 10/22/00)

SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-AK): “It’s time to stop playing political brinksmanship with the budget and do what every Alaskan is doing - balance the budget.” (Sen. Begich, “Begich Statement On 2011 Budget Vote,” Press Release, 4/15/11)

SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): “Over the years, I have supported a balanced budget amendment…” (Sen. Bill Nelson, Congressional Record, S.1920, 3/29/11)

· “Senator Nelson has been a long-time supporter of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, going back to his service in the 1980s, and will continue to reach across the political divide...” (“Support For Balanced Budget Amendment,” Columbia County Observer, 3/8/11)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV):[T]he balanced budget amendment's very, very important to me and to every governor, to every state, to every household, especially in West Virginia. And if they can do it, they think we can do it also.” (U.S. Senate, Budget Committee, Hearing, 1/27/11)

SEN. BEN NELSON (D-NE): “I voted yes and support a balanced budget amendment that allows for flexibility in times of war and for natural disasters.” (Sen. Nelson, Press Statement, 3/4/11)

SEN. MARK UDALL (D-CO): “I've long gone by the saying, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. By restoring healthy and responsible spending through a reasonable Balanced Budget Amendment, we can begin filling in that hole.” (Sen. Udall, “Udall Co-Sponsors Balanced Budget Amendment,” Press Release, 2/1/11)

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): “U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet broke his hesitation on endorsing the balanced-budget amendment last week… pledging support for the idea.” (“Bennet Balancing His Approach To Budget,” Denver Post (CO), 3/6/11)

SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL (D-MO): “I think they should. …It would be great if that discipline were in place. Clearly it’s a goal we’ve got to work toward…” “…responding to a question of why the federal government can’t have a balanced budget amendment…” SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL (D-MO): “I think they should. …It would be great if that discipline were in place. Clearly it’s a goal we’ve got to work toward…” (“McCaskill For ‘Responsible’ Balanced Budget Amendment,” PoliticMo, 6/29/11)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): “New York families must continuously balance their checkbooks. Forty-nine states, including New York, require a balanced budget. An amendment to the Constitution will finally hold the federal government to the same, common sense standard.” (Rep. Gillibrand, “Nation Deserved A Balanced Budget,” The Time Union, 6/4/07)

SEN. TOM CARPER (D-DE): “As a Member of the House, when I served with Senator Santorum over there, we were great proponents of something called a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution…” (Sen. Carper, Congressional Record, S.8063-4, 7/14/04)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “…I believe we should have a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. I am willing to go for that.(Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.1333, 2/12/97)

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D-ND): “I believe deeply in the need to balance the Federal budget… I would support an amendment to the Constitution.” (Sen. Conrad, Congressional Record, S.1147, 2/10/97)

SEN. HERB KOHL (D-WI): “The balanced budget amendment does, in my opinion, embody a principle simple and vital enough to deserve inclusion in the Constitution.” (Sen. Kohl, Congressional Record, S.1609, 2/26/97)

· KOHL: “…I am committed to the concept of the balanced budget amendment.” (Sen. Kohl, Congressional Record, S.2947, 2/22/95)

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): “I took a position to support a Balanced Budget Amendment…” (Sen. Landrieu, Press Conference, 2/25/1997)

· “Landrieu had touted her support for the balanced budget amendment in order to win moderate votes … she would uphold her campaign promise.” (CNN’s Inside Politics, 2/28/97)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): “The spending trends are what really motivates me, and I hope others, to accept a constitutional balanced budget amendment.” (Sen. Feinstein, Congressional Record, S.1594, 2/26/97)

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA): “Mr. President, I have long supported a balanced budget amendment. I expect to do so again...” (Sen. Harkin, Congressional Record, S.2460, 2/10/95)

SEN. TIM JOHNSON (D-SD): “It is time to get our priorities straight. I've been a strong supporter of a balanced budget amendment…” (Rep. Johnson, Congressional Record, H.11213, 10/26/95)

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): “I have always supported a balanced budget. Montanans want a balanced budget. We must listen to the people and give them a balanced budget.” (Sen. Baucus, Congressional Record, S.2469, 2/10/95)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): “…we need to move toward a Balanced Budget Amendment.” (Rep. Durbin, Congressional Record, H.1310, 1/11/95)