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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: February, 2013

POSTED: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 8:56 AM
DYSFUNCTIONAL DEMOCRACY. "What worries me is that we are increasingly enmeshed in incompetent systems, that is, systems that exhibit pathological behaviour but can't fix themselves. ... Even more worrying is the suspicion that liberal democracy as currently practiced around the world, itself has become an incompetent system. ...The inability — and unwillingness — of many Western governments to regulate their banks, coupled with the huge costs then unilaterally imposed on citizens to rescue commercial enterprises judged 'too big to fail' has led to a widespread loss of trust in governments, and a perception that even nominally 'representative' democracies no longer produce administrations that serve the interests of their citizens." Source: John Naughton, academic, newspaper columnist, author of "From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet." (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

If the whole sequester nonsense makes you growl as much as it does me (and if you're behind in your sequester reading, I columnized on the topic this week), you'll love what a sharp-eyed reader sent me regarding the federal government and big banks.

As you may know, the total amount of federal spending to be cut under rules of sequestration is $1.2 trillion over the next several years, $85 billion of which is supposed to happen this year.

Well, a reader sends along a a Bloomberg.com study that turned up a fun fact: the 10 biggest U.S. banks get an annual taxpayer-funded subsidy of $83 billion.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 8:39 AM
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (left) and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett are both Republicans. (File photos)

EMILY's List, a national political PAC aimed at electing pro-choice women, Monday issued a statement saying it is placing Gov. Christie "on notice" as the wrong choice for New Jersey.

The group called Christie "appallingly anti-woman" and argued against his reelection this year.

“Chris Christie’s record is right wing and indefensible,” said Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List. “He’s anti-choice, anti-equal pay, and doles out billions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations while hammering working families with massive cuts to education and healthcare. Christie is a GOP extremist plain and simple, and New Jersey families need to know he’s not on their side."

POSTED: Monday, February 25, 2013, 9:02 AM

While I'm generally in the journalistic camp that thinks spouses and families of presidents, senators, governors, whoever, should be off the dart board until and unless they paint bullseyes on themselves, I can understand those -- and I suspect they are many -- offended by First Lady Michelle Obama's role in Sunday night's Oscar show.

If you went to bed early, the president's wife, dressed in a sparkly silver gown, announced from the White House the winner of this year's best picture, "Argo."

She was begowned because the White House hosted the nation's governors at a formal dinner because what better way to keep spending in the face of yet another economic crisis than feeding people already living on large taxpayer-funded salaries (the menu included seafood cocktail, seasonal salad, Aged Beef Ribsteak and chocolate opera cake).

POSTED: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 8:51 AM

A new report on the long-standing education achievement gap in public schools released Tuesday in Washington underscores the problem but offers few real solutions.

The Equity and Excellence Commission, a 27-member panel created by Congress, says there's an urgent need for change in the financing and management of urban schools such as Philadelphia's.

The Washington Post reports in detail.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 8:52 AM
Sarah Palin's demise at Fox News may be an end of an era.

Just when you thought it was safe to stop saying "You Betcha," Sarah Palin is coming back to the political scene.

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican veep nominee is scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference next month at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just south of Washington -- although you wouldn't think conservatives would meet any place named Gaylord.

Other speakers scheduled include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (presumably with water bottle within easy reach), former Florida governor Jeb Bush (the son/brother of former presidents), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (the son of a former would-be president) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (the country's first governor to survive a recall election).

POSTED: Monday, February 18, 2013, 8:38 AM
The U.S. Capitol building.

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Ah, President's Day! Enjoying the day off, boss? The three-day weekend?

BE: What day off? What three-day weekend?

POSTED: Friday, February 15, 2013, 9:18 AM
Gov. Tom Corbett on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. (AP)

Okay, it could be seen as The Wrath of Kane (Kahn) but it'll certainly draw The Wrath of Corb.

Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane's decision announced Thursday to nix Republican Gov. Corbett's lottery deal sets off a war.

This is, after all, the state's new top lawyer telling the state's old top lawyer that he either doesn't know or understand state law or is trying to weasel his way around it to push his penchant for privatization.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 8:55 AM
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens at right as President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

While watching C-SPAN before the State of the Union address Tuesday (which, by the way, is the best place to watch any political broadcast since it offers, straight, no-spin viewing often accompanied by intelligent conversation), I was struck by an interview with Gallup Poll editor-in-chief Frank Newport.

The interview focused on what issues are the highest priority for most Americans, which, as you might imagine, mostly conflict with whatever Congress and Washington occupies itself with at any given moment or even most of the time.

Gallup each month polls on this topic, and Newport was releasing the latest results to C-SPAN first.

About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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