The DC Morning: 2/26/2010

Mike Riggs Contributor
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1.) Florida Republican party ready to implode — Thursday’s news that Senate candidate Marco Rubio used a GOP-issued credit card to buy musical equipment and repair his minivan were met by fellow Republicans with cries of “Transparency!” and “Minivans suck!” Today, the St. Pete Times reports that Rubio spent $134 at an “upscale Miami barber,” only to come out looking like a Haircuttery alumnus, and that former Florida GOP chairman Tom Slade is calling on the party to expose itself to anyone who wants a peek. “We’ve got to take a hit for it because we have mismanaged money that people gave us and used it for purposes they did not intend it to be used.” On top of it all, Charlie Crist, who would never pay $134 for a haircut that didn’t look like it cost twice as much, will likely come out of the GOP closet as an independent any day now.

2.) Sanford family to fall apart on live television today — The carrion-obsessed geeks that pass for a diligent and free press in South Carolina will film Jenny Sanford’s testimony before a Charleston judge today, the Post and Courier reports. According to a divorce attorney who has no connection to the case, Fridays are a “cattle call” for uncontested divorce cases, and the Sanford case may only last as long as 15 minutes if Gov. Mark Sanford is too busy playing gaucho to show up and argue with his wife. The court house has a limit of two cameras per marital collapse, meaning that Charleston outlets will have to share their coverage. By lunchtime, clips of Jenny Sanford righteously explaining that her husband needs stronger zippers will be ubiquitous, and the destruction of the American family due to hiking will be complete.

3.) Harry Reid to attend remedial math classes — “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised the $15 billion jobs bill the Senate passed yesterday will create or save more than 1 million jobs,” writes the Daily Caller’s Gautham Nagesh. “If Senator Reid’s math is correct, the $500 billion stimulus package the Democrats passed last January should have created or saved more than 25 million jobs. But not even the White House, which is hardly shy about touting the success of the Recovery Act, would dare float such an ambitious projection.” Reid’s figure, which no other elected official seems to feel comfortable getting behind, came from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which will be getting lots of money and has absolutely no discernible incentive to exaggerate the great things it will do with all of it. Writes Nagesh, “If the [Obama] administration, like Sen. Reid, were willing to trust the word of the leading advocacy group for state highway officials, then it’s clear that the entire stimulus should have been spent on the nation’s highways.”

4.) Ethics committee finally feels comfortable confronting Charlie Rangel — After years of shady dealings in Washington and his native New York, including–but not limited to–his “use of official stationery to raise money for a college center in his name and his belated financial disclosure of hundreds of thousands of dollars in previously unreported assets and income,” Rep. Charlie Rangel is finally on the hook for something–too bad the charge is nothing more than flying for free. According to the AP, Rangel, a “20-term lawmaker,” is the sixth member of the Congressional Black Caucus to be investigated for not knowing that you can’t just accept money from corporations to fly around the Caribbean. And like the five previous members of the CBC, Rangel is expected to be slapped on the wrist then dropped back into the sheep pen for “accepting corporate money for trips to Caribbean conferences in violation of House rules.” It seems that Democrats were just playing when they busted on Republicans for kid-gloving Tom DeLay.

5.) D.C. Council screws over smokers, learns harsh economic lesson — After hitting smokers with a cigarette excise tax that would make Daddy Warbucks bawl his eyes out, the D.C. City Council finds itself short millions of dollars: turns out smokers can just go to Maryland or Virginia to get their fix. The reasoning, according to a staffer at the CFO’s office, was that “we’d lose some smokers” but could rob the rest of them blind to fund illegitimate entitlement programs across the District. But after coming up short only half a year into the new tax, CFO Natwar Gandhi–in a rare act of realism–suggested in his fiscal report to the council that “[f]uture increases in the tax rate will likely generate less revenue rather than more.”

6.) Tennessee lawmakers: We don’t need no stinking degree — Multitasking Democratic State Rep. Mark Maddox has one eye on Tennessee taxpayers’ wallets and another on their kids’ wallets, as evidenced by his proposal of a bill that would qualify good, honest public servants–men like himself–to rule over the state’s academic system with little more than a bachelor’s degree and a track record of telling other people what to do. According to Inside Higher Ed, Maddox’s bill “states that any person who has served at least 10 years in one of [OR] more specific state government positions ‘shall be eligible to serve as president of any institution’ in the Tennessee Board of Regents system or ‘as chancellor of any institution’ in the University of Tennessee System, ‘provided that such person holds a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university.'” While critics wondered if Maddox was laying the groundwork for his own career change, Maddox insisted to Inside Higher Ed that he was “introducing the bill on behalf of ‘a friend,’ but he would not name the individual.”

VIDEO: Weiner says GOP ‘wholly owned subsidiary of insurance industry’