1.) Inouye and other Senate dinosaurs make one last mad hobble for cash register — “In the waning days of the lame duck congressional session, Democrats controlling the Senate — in collaboration with a handful of old school Republicans — are pushing to wrap $1.27 trillion worth of unfinished budget work into a single ‘omnibus’ appropriations bill,” reports the AP. Sen. Jim DeMint hates this bill so much that he has threatened to read all 1,900 pages aloud if his colleagues do not make it smaller. To that end, a small contingent of fiscal guerillas are hoping to address the federal budget in the new year, when reinforcements will have arrived from Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Utah, and Kentucky. Until then, it’s DeMint, McCain, and Coburn attempting to hold back a red sea of pork. Their efforts are not completely futile. After requesting an earmark for the Kentucky National Guard to eradicate the most valuable cash crop in the United States, Sen. Mitch McConnell suddenly realized that he is not supposed to be spending other people’s money willy-nilly anymore, and had the earmark removed. “This is exactly what the American people said Nov. 2 they didn’t want us to do,” a chastened McConnell said.
2.) Financial Crisis Commission to commence publicly disintegrating today — “The four Republicans appointed to the commission investigating the root causes of the financial crisis plan to bypass the bipartisan panel and release their own report Wednesday, according to people familiar with the commission’s work,” reports the Huffington Post. The four dissenters “will likely focus their report on the explosive growth of subprime mortgages and the heavy role played by the federal government in pushing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase and insure them,” while concluding “that government policy helped inflate the housing bubble and that prices weren’t expected to crash because the government pushed homeownership so aggressively.” HuffPo seems to think that the separate report reflects the partisan nature of the panel, but fails to mention that this decade’s most vocal proponent of increased homeownership was none other than Pres. George W. Bush. In related news: Freddie Mac economist Jacob Kosoff has given two interviews in the last several months during which he apologized for his agency’s rabid promotion of subprime lending. “I thought subprime was the best thing in the world,” Kosoff told NPR’s Planet Money, adding that subprime advocates in Freddie Mac called themselves “Housers.”
3.) Chicago is back in court over gun rights — “Just days after Chicago’s gun ban was ruled unconstitutional, the city council unanimously approved the Responsible Gun Ownership Ordinance. One of its provisions is that all Chicago residents must present a signed affidavit from a firearms instructor, saying the prospective gun owner completed a training and safety course that includes at least one hour of range time,” reports The Daily Caller’s Amanda Carey. “There’s just one problem. The city of Chicago bans gun ranges. The only ranges in the city are available to federal employees and police.” This is called “playing games with the law,” and no city does it quite like Chi town, home of “We go play hoop.” Enter: Alan Gura, father of not one, but two SCOTUS-pleasing pro-gun lawsuits. If anyone can push back against Windy City blowhards, it’s him. His argument? “In electing to make regular range training a prerequisite for home gun possession, the City deprives itself of any theoretical ability to ban ranges needed for that training. Chicago cannot ban something it mandates as a condition of exercising a fundamental right.”
4.) Soda tax will not make fatties less fat — First Lady Michelle Obama, NY Mayor Michael Doomberg, and the other plutocrats fueling the war on fat people just lost an important munition: According to a study released by the Archives of Internal Medicine, “removing a U.S. subsidy to farmers that reduces the price of high fructose corn syrup, the main ingredient in sugar-sweetened beverages, would be more effective at containing obesity rates than taxing drinks.” Fat people could circumvent a soda tax by buying their pop in bulk, waiting for sales, or buying other sugary drinks as a substitute. The study also concluded that if implemented, a soda tax would not be as regressive as opponents fear: “The tax would have the least effect on both the richest 25 percent of U.S. households because they could afford it, and on the poorest 25 percent because they would get around the tax by buying generic versions.” Ergo, not only would it be less effective than reducing subsidies, it wouldn’t keep poor fatties (the most at-risk, according to Michelle, Doomberg, and others) from getting fatter.
5.) Court rules that the government cannot just rifle through your email without permission — “The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the government must have a search warrant before it can secretly seize and search emails stored by email service providers,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The court found that email users have the same reasonable expectation of privacy in their stored email as they do in their phone calls and postal mail.” Granted, just because the government should respect one’s Constitutional rights doesn’t mean it will, especially now that Google and the civilian-assassination-happy Obama Administration are attached at the hip. One cheer, then, for symbolic victory!
6.) Is being plugged in all the time bad for America’s families? — If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night to check the blinking light on your BlackBerry, or left the dinner table mid-meal to answer a chirping iPhone, perhaps it’s time to detox. “Over the past year I’ve started to notice that while technology allows us to connect to people far away, it can simultaneously disconnect us from people who may be directly in front of us,” writes the New York Times’ Nick Bilton. “Other friends — technology enthusiasts all — have told me they have set new rules with their spouse or partner. Some have agreed to no mobile phones in bed or on the couch, while others try to leave the gadgetry in their pockets when they go for brunch or dinner.” Think about it, Washington. As is the case with legislating, regulating, and pontificating, sometimes less is better than more.