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Flotsam and Jetsam

I’m not sure it was exactly a “My Pet Goat” moment, but the President-elect’s immediate reaction to Blago-gate was not his finest.

Blago says he’s innocent and not resigning. But really, the governorship is “(expletive) golden” — why give it up for free?

In case you thought merit was back in fashion, think again. Caroline Kennedy throws her hat into the ring.

Sen. Ken Salazar gets picked for Secretary of the Interior. So: “Like the governors of Illinois, New York, and Delaware, the Democratic governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, will now have an opportunity to name a successor to Sen. Salazar in the U.S. Senate.” The Democratic Governor had better choose very wisely, or they may have a load of vulnerable seats in 2010. To date, we’ve had the Biden family gambit and the Illinois Democrats who buried the idea of a special election. Like I said, they may have a load of vulnerable seats.

A number of Jewish charities are devastated by the Bernard Madoff scam. A breathtaking and painful reminder of the frailty of human nature. And the lesson for all investors to follow Ronald Reagan’s advice: Trust but verify.

The Blago case raises interesting issues. Did Blago do more than just talk about a “deal”? And  is this much different than the usual political log-rolling? The tightest part of the case: “In presenting his case, Mr. Fitzgerald said Mr. Blagojevich had crossed the line from deal-making to criminality, citing an example in the complaint in which the governor discussed with an aide obtaining a $300,000-a-year job from the Service Employees International Union in return for naming a candidate to the seat.”

Meanwhile Bill Richardson’s investigation gathers steam. We learn: “The probe is in a highly active stage at a time when President-elect  Barack Obama has chosen Richardson as his nominee for secretary of commerce, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.” Do we think the President-elect knew all about this or was he blindsided? And how is this confirmation hearing going to go — will Richardson take the 5th?

Things must be awful in the MSM if Jay Carney leaves TIME to work for Joe Biden. Joe Biden? The gaffes will be fun, but working for a guy described as intent on shrinking his job doesn’t seem like a move up.

The New York Times is on the attack, quite displeased with the lack of clarity from one of the President-elect’s nominees. Really: “Timothy Geithner, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for Treasury secretary, has some explaining to do. As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Mr. Geithner was a key decision maker last September when the government let Lehman Brothers fail and then, two days later, bailed out the insurer American International Group for $85 billion. Those decisions proved cataclysmic.”

If you don’t want to look to our own New Deal as guidance for the limits of Keynesian spending plans, try Japan. The WSJ reminds us: “Not to spoil the party, but this is not a new idea. Keynesian ‘pump-priming’ in a recession has often been tried, and as an economic stimulus it is overrated. The money that the government spends has to come from somewhere, which means from the private economy in higher taxes or borrowing. The public works are usually less productive than the foregone private investment.In the Age of Obama, we seem fated to re-explain these eternal lessons. So for today we thought we’d recount the history of the last major country that tried to spend its way to ‘stimulus’ — Japan during its ‘lost decade’ of the 1990s. ”

Politicians, like the UAW, have their own motives for avoiding a Big Three bankruptcy: “Those Washington politicians who repeat the mantra that ‘bankruptcy is not an option”‘ probably do so because they want to use free taxpayer money to bribe Detroit into manufacturing the green cars favored by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, rather than those cars American consumers want to buy. A Chapter 11 filing would remove these politicians’ leverage, thus explaining their desperation to avoid a bankruptcy.”


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