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Far-Right Marine Le Pen Leads Presidential Polling in France

March 6, 2011 Leave a comment

According to a Harris poll released on March 5, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, would come in first if the first round of  Presidential elections were held this year. That puts her ahead of  both President Sarkozy and Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry.

Marine Le Pen is the daughter of controversial founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen. She has also taken controversial positions on the European Union, immigration and other social issues.

Here is a video of Le Pen. Notice her startling analysis of the the European Union and the Euro. The comparison of the EU to a “dead star” is classic.

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House Votes To De-Fund IPCC!

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

(From Blaine Luetkemeyer)

House Passes Luetkemeyer Amendment to Halt Taxpayer Financing of UN Climate Panel

02/19/11

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a major victory for American taxpayers, the House of Representatives today passed a budget amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9) that would prohibit $13 million in taxpayer dollars from going to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization fraught with waste and engaged in dubious science.

The amendment, which is identical to a separate bill sponsored by Luetkemeyer, was passed in a direct challenge to the president’s request to fund the IPCC, which has provided information that purports to support the administration’s call for job-killing cap-and-tax legislation.  Luetkemeyer’s amendment was one of 19 amendments highlighted this week by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

“The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an entity that is fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science, which is the last thing hard-working American taxpayers should be paying for at a time of out-of-control spending and historic debt, which is why I am extremely pleased that my amendment passed,” Luetkemeyer said. “It is time for Washington to combat this year’s record budget deficit and fast-growing national debt. This amendment is part of that effort.”

The IPCC advises governments around the world on climate change, and supporters of cap-and-tax legislation have used questionable findings by the IPCC as reason to support onerous legislation.  Criticism of this science intensified over the last two years when emails publicly released from a university in England showed that leading global scientists intentionally manipulated climate data and suppressed legitimate arguments in peer-reviewed journals.  Researchers were asked to delete and destroy emails so that a small number of climate alarmists could continue to advance their environmental agenda.

More than 700 acclaimed international scientists have challenged the claims made by the IPCC.  These 700-plus dissenting scientists are affiliated with institutions like the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, the U.S. Air Force and Navy, NASA, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Incompetence of Obama” Ideation Spreads, Political Crisis Approaches

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

As we predicted yesterday in this post, the idea that Obama is incompetent and needs to be replaced as President of the United States is spreading and gaining traction even outside of conservative circles.

Over the weekend the idea will  probably ferment, and over the next few weeks it may emerge in force.

For now, this article by the Washington Post confirms that there is a crisis brewing over the incompetence of the Obama Administration concerning the underwear bomber, and this article lays out the case -in full- about the overall incompetence of Obama over the past year. I agree when Conrad Black says: “It has been a year of fecklessness, amateurism, and posturing. Less that is useful has been accomplished by this president in his first year than by any president since Herbert Hoover, and he was ambushed by the Great Depression after seven months.”

Obama and his Maoist comrades misunderstood their mandate. The American people do not like government spending and an increase in government power through bureaucracy. When Clinton said “the era of big government is over” he knew what he was doing, even if he didn’t really mean it. He knew that the Reagan Revolution was indeed a real revolution and that the American taxpayer, even as long ago as 1980, was not willing to finance the age-old anti-American and central planning dreams of socialist elites.

The Democrats defeated the Republican majority and George Bush because the well-funded Soros propoganda tanks were very successful in spreading the idea that Republicans were corrupt and wasteful of government money. (They got a heavy assist from the liberal advocacy media (LAME) as well.) Republicans did a piss-poor job of defending themselves, but now we can see the real color of the truth. We still hear about Larry Craig for God’s sake, while the LAME covers up stories about the abuse of power in the White House and the culture of corruption that permeates Obama’s administration.

It was almost a foregone conclusion during the 2008 campaign that Democrats weren’t going to raise taxes and that a Democratic administration would cut federal spending.  Obama himself said he was going to “take a scalpel” to federal spending in one debate. That is what people voted for. Instead, what they got was someone who does not believe that the Reagan Revolution was real, and that if it was, it was a well-managed public relations gimmick that kept the “real change” demanded by the people encumbered by a persistent cult of personality.

This is elitist thinking at its worst, and it is clear by the reaction of the LAME and other elites, that they find it easy to disregard the political will of a majority  because they believe the people expressing that will are misinformed, misguided, and led astray by corporate-financed media. But how can that be, if this heinous corporate media is themselves? No, what really afflicts this nation’s elites  is that it is  impossible for them to accept that conservatism has a rational basis and that it appeals to millions of thoughtful, reasonable voters.

This is why so many liberal commentators feel free to insult conservative spokesmen and conservative organizations. They have read a few books about media and the formation of mass political cognition and they are convinced that anyone else who reads what they have, will automatically be in agreement with them. If not, well, they must just be dumb.

Anyway, that is what the Obama crowd thinks and it was clear that they were pursuing their health care reform despite popular opposition because they believed that people would not reject it once it was established. They expected the progressive movement to spread and that opponents would be so beleaguered by “progressive” propoganda by then, resistance would whittled to  a mere token. Ironically,  smart progressives eventually resorted to   a moral appeal to pass health care, while the opposition kept making arguments based on  economics and political science. Americans went with the latter, but this seems lost on the Left altogether.

The American people aren’t buying the most hallowed arguments in the rhetorical bag of tricks employed by American socialists. What remains to be seen, however,  is if Obama will be willing to backtrack far enough and long enough, so people forget what progressive policies really mean for the country.

Categories: My Commentary, Quick Hits

The unconstitutional Reid Bill

December 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Law professor Richard Epstein has made one in a number of arguments that show how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-the Reid Bill-is ultimately unconstitutional.

His argument is available at the Point of Law website in its entirety.

Even though other, equally valid arguments have been made about the Bill’s unconstitutionality in the context of its overreach by limiting individual choice, Epstein focuses on the Bill’s constitutional defects based on the Court’s past rulings in ratemaking cases.

Epstein says that this interpretation is confirmed by the CBO, which says that the Reid Bill essentially makes private health insurers a public utility and it places onerous new responsibilities on them at the same time it constricts their revenue stream.

This arrangement will most likely not pass constitutional muster, because the Fifth Amendment affords regulated health-insurance companies protection against the taking of property without compensation and without due process of law.

In ratemaking cases, Epstein contends, the Supreme Court has determined that the Constitution requires that regulations permit regulated firms to recover a risk-adjusted competitive rate of return.

In plain language, that means that any regulatory scheme placed upon a private industry, must allow it make  a return on their investment and to make enough profit to remain competitive with other insurers.

Epstein believes that the Reid Bill fails this test as it limits the ability of health-insurance companies to raise rates, and restricts their ability to deny coverage, thus making costs of providing insurance out of reach for insurers and will drive them out of the individual and small group plan insurance markets. This makes the regulatory scheme confiscatory and the Reid Bill unconstitutional.

In consideration of 2010 polling data.

December 23, 2009 1 comment

updated!

I try to avoid talking about polls and elections which are far off. Things can change and  it is difficult to foresee the outcomes of elections  far in advance.

But, given the inevitable passage of the health care reform bill, and the increasing likelihood that the US Senate will pass a cap-and-trade bill, the first (and perhaps only) chance that Americans who are opposed to these two massive pieces of “transformative” legislation will have  to repeal them (barring a few astonishing rulings by the Supreme Court) will be through the 2010 elections. So, it is important to see if there will likely be enough of a mandate to turn the tide.

Many people do not agree with me that cap-and-trade is inevitable in 2010, but one merely has to point to the successes of Copenhagen and the recent health care legislation to see that for Democrats, the socialist  mother wheel has appeared in the sky and is calling them home.  Either they pass the legislation they have been clamoring for now, and create the over-regulated society they have always dreamed of, or they retreat.

But why should they be incremental at this point when they have majorities immune to the conservative opposition? It makes no sense. As influential Brazilian journalist Olavo de Carvahlo wrote in an essay November 18, 2008 titled What Will Obama Do?:

whatever its proclaimed goals, any scheme of power will always safeguard its own continuity and expansion first and foremost… The existence and continuity of the scheme are a prior condition of its doing whatever it may want to do. Thus, what we must consider before anything else is what the head of state will necessarily have to do, not to reach this or that goal, nor to face the objective problems that afflict the nation or part of it, but simply to keep – and, in the case of a revolutionary leader, to increase – the power of action it already possesses.

So, I am expecting cap-and-trade to be close, but eventually get passed because all the power amassed and being enjoyed by Democrats now, has been in development for a number of years. The cap-and-trade struggle will involve the same political legerdemain that was evident in the process to pass the health care reform bill. Institutionalizing federal control of health care reform and a  cap-and-trade system are the most important components in building not only a domestic, permanent, progressive political architecture, but also a global one.

Losing substantial power in the  next elections will not matter to the Left; there are always more elections. Better to use the  majorities now to expand government power and hope the bills facilitating it cannot be repealed in the future by a blundering and confused Right. Premature announcements by the Republicans and conservatives of impending repeal, will most likely put them under such  serious media assault throughout 2010, it may serve to weaken their growing strength before election season anyway.

House of Representatives

The Republicans need to win 40 seats to regain control in the House of Representatives. It is not clear yet if this is shaping up to be possible or not. Most agree that Republicans will be able to make significant gains in the House in 2010, but no one knows the extent.

There were a few developments yesterday  related to elections that deserve mention.  Of course, the most significant development was the announcement by  Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama that he will be switching from the Democrat to the Republican Party. Griffith is a freshman congressman and a blue dog who voted against health care. Maybe he sees the writing on the wall for 2010.

This corresponds with the announced and somewhat unexpected resignations of four blue dog Democrats recently in Kansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee that would not be running for re-election in 2010. The collective wisdom is that for each of these seats polling data suggests they are  either  toss-ups or lean favorably Republican.

However, it is important to take into account that 12 incumbent Republican Representatives have also announced their resignation or retirement. Some of their districts, like the At-Large in Delaware or Michigan’s 2nd are vulnerable to Democrats.But Republicans have just topped Democrats in the generic Congressional poll:

Poll Date Sample Republicans Democrats Spread
RCP Average 12/3 – 12/20 43.3 40.8 Republicans +2.5
Rasmussen Reports 12/14 – 12/20 3500 LV 44 36 Republicans +8
USA Today/Gallup 12/11 – 12/13 898 RV 45 48 Democrats +3
Battleground 12/6 – 12/10 1000 LV 42 41 Republicans +1
Bloomberg 12/3 – 12/7 714 LV 42 38 Republicans +4

See All Generic Congressional Vote Polling Data

Even though there have been some positive developments for Republicans in light of the 2010 House elections, it is not at all clear how substantial the gains may be. Go to this link to see a comprehensive chart of the races.

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U.S. Senate

There are 36 seats up for election in the U.S. Senate in 2010 (38 if you include the special elections to be held in  Massachusetts and Texas). 19 seats are held by Democrats and 19 held by Republicans. 41 Democratic seats and 21 Republican seats will be retained by both parties as they will not be decided this year.

What this means is that in order to maintain control of the United States Senate, the Democratic Party only needs to win 9 of the total  19 Senate races they are running in, with Joe Biden providing the tie-breaker. On the other hand, Republicans would have to win 30 seats to gain control. That would mean that they would have to win all 19 races for seats they now hold and win 11 out of the 19 Democratic seats available in 2010. Barring a complete collapse for Democrats, many believe that is not going to happen.

So, the question becomes which Republican seats will be contestable by Dems in 2010 and what Democratic seats are visibly vulnerable at this point.

There are  7 Republican seats that have come open  due to resignation or retirement. These are FL, KS, KY, NH, OH, MO and  TX. It is generally believed that  New Hampshire and Ohio are toss-ups at this point. The rest are leaning Republican, but with some interesting developments in some of them.

Florida

Republicans will most likely hold onto this seat. However, Marco Rubio who is running against Governor Charlie Crist in the Republican primary has pulled even with him. Rubio is also supported by the Tea Party Movement and this is significant as the national media and leftists have tried to make it toxic for Republicans to embrace the Tea Partiers.

In the last couple of polls, Rubio has pulled even with Crist and he beats the leading Democratic candidate, Kendrick Meek, in the general election. This is a good sign for Rubio and it allows Republican supporters to safely abandon Crist for a potential winner.  The numbers show Rubio’s incredible gains against the Democratic candidate:

Date Sample Rubio (R) Meek (D) Spread
RCP Average 10/12 – 12/14 37.3 36.3 Rubio +1.0
Rasmussen Reports 12/14 – 12/14 49 35 Rubio +14
Daily Kos/R2000 11/16 – 11/18 30 38 Meek +8
Rasmussen Reports 10/20 – 10/20 46 31 Rubio +15
Quinnipiac 10/12 – 10/18 33 36 Meek +3
Rasmussen Reports 8/17 – 8/17 43 30 Rubio +13
Strategic Vision (R) 5/29 – 5/31 31 30 Rubio +1
Strategic Vision (R) 2/6 – 2/8 26 24 Rubio +2
Daily Kos/R2000 1/26 – 1/28 22 31 Meek +9

This chart shows Rubio’s gains against Crist:

Date Sample Crist (R) Rubio (R) Spread
RCP Average 10/12 – 12/14 46.7 38.3 Crist +8.4
Rasmussen Reports 12/14 – 12/14 431 LV 43 43 Tie
Daily Kos/R2000 11/16 – 11/18 400 RV 47 37 Crist +10
Rasmussen Reports 10/19 – 10/19 466 LV 49 35 Crist +14
Quinnipiac 10/12 – 10/18 396 LV 50 35 Crist +15
McLaughlin & Associates (R) 10/12 – 10/13 500 LV 53 29 Crist +24
Rasmussen Reports 8/17 – 8/17 470 LV 53 31 Crist +22
Quinnipiac 8/12 – 8/17 446 LV 55 26 Crist +29
Mason-Dixon 6/24 – 6/26 300 LV 51 23 Crist +28
Quinnipiac 6/2 – 6/7 486 RV 54 23 Crist +31
Strategic Vision (R) 5/29 – 5/31 468 LV 59 22 Crist +37
Mason-Dixon 5/14 – 5/18 300 LV 53 18 Crist +35

My bet is that he still has some ground to make up, but he is making Crist regret his embrace of Obama now.

Kentucky

One of the most interesting results of the polling data is that Rand Paul, Congressman Ron Paul’s son, has taken a commanding lead in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Kentucky against Secretary of State Trey Grayson. The numbers:

Paul-44%

Grayson-25%

Paul is running 54-18 amongst conservatives and is also  supported by the supposedly toxic Tea Party Movement. The Democrats believe that Rand Paul would be vulnerable as a Senate candidate. No doubt the campaign against him will try to link him to the “right-wing extremist” meme.

I think that’s pretty much played out by now.

There are a couple of somewhat vulnerable  incumbent Republicans according to the national political reports. These are Vitter in Louisiana and Burr in North Carolina. However, both incumbents hold 10-point leads or better over their Democratic rivals.

So, the best chance for Democrats to gain US Senate seats from Republicans is probably in New Hampshire and Ohio. But, Democrats  also have pronounced vulnerabilities in seats held by incumbents.

Democratic Vulnerabilities

Many observers believe that it is possible the Republicans can pick up seats from Democratic incumbents in AR, CO, CT, IL, ND, NV, and PA.

So what are the polls showing?

North Dakota

This is considered a safe seat for  Democrats by most observers. However,  one of the more interesting polls that came out yesterday was one for  a theoretical race for U.S. Senate between US Senator Byron Dorgan (D) and Gov. John Hoeven(R).  It shows that Republican challenger in the lead:

Hoeven (R)-58%

Dorgan (D)-36%

That is a large margin, however, some commentators have suggested that Hoeven may not run for the seat and other GOP challengers would not poll as high. Hoeven said he will announce his intentions soon.

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Pennsylvania

In another very positive development for Republicans, it appears that Pat Toomey is now beating Senator Arlen Specter slightly in Pennsylvania. Although most polls show them running even, if you click the link “all Pennsylvania Data” in the chart below, Toomey has been making steady gains since the summer and now runs almost even with Specter even in the polls where he is behind.

Toomey (R)-40

Specter (D)-40

Polling Data

Poll Date Toomey (R) Specter (D) Spread
RCP Average 10/7 – 12/14 40.5 40.3 Toomey +0.2
Quinnipiac 12/8 – 12/14 44 44 Tie
Rasmussen Reports 12/8 – 12/8 46 42 Toomey +4
Franklin & Marshall 10/20 – 10/25 31 33 Specter +2
Susquehanna 10/7 – 10/12 41 42 Specter +1

See All Pennsylvania Senate – Specter vs. Toomey Polling Data

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Connecticut

Sen. Christopher Dodd is losing ground to Rob Simmons and trails him in all polls, except those conducted by Daily Kos.  Dodd is also losing to, but appears to be stronger against Republican candidate Linda McMahon. Dodd has made up some ground against Simmons, but Simmons has improved his numbers steadily. However, it appears Dodd is in real trouble and there are many in Connecticut  asking if Dodd is electable in 2010.

Pollster Dates Simmons Dodd Other Undecided Not Voting Margin
GQR (D-Dodd) 12/15-17/09 51 46 +5R
Rasmussen 12/7/09 48 35 7 11 +13R
Quinnipiac 11/3-8/09 49 38 11 2 +11R
Quinnipiac 9/10-14/09 44 39 1 15 1 +5R
Rasmussen 9/10/09 49 39 5 6 +10R
DailyKos.com (D)/ Research 2000 9/8-10/09 46 42 12 +4R
Quinnipiac 7/16-20/09 48 39 0 10 2 +9R
Wilson (R-Schiff) 6/24-25/09 47 38 15 +9R
Quinnipiac 5/20-25/09 45 39 2 13 1 +6R
Quinnipiac 3/26-31/09 50 34 2 12 2 +16R
DailyKos.com (D)/ Research 2000 3/23-25/09 40 45 15 +5D
Quinnipiac 3/3-8/09 43 42 1 12 1 +1R

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Nevada

Senator Harry Reid is in trouble. He is losing to both Republican candidates, Tarkanian and Lowden. Although he has made some gains, he has been behind for a long time. Many are saying Reid’s numbers, especially because most Americans oppose the health care bill he shepherded, are unrecoverable. Presently he runs 6 points behind both Republican challengers.

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Colorado and Arkansas

Colorado is too early to call as appointed Senator Bennet will be running in a primary in 2010. The Democratic candidate will then be facing Lt. Gov. Jane Gordon in the general election. And Norton is polling well against Bennett:

Poll Date Sample Norton (R) Bennet (D) Spread
Rasmussen Reports 12/8 – 12/8 500 LV 46 37 Norton +9
Rasmussen Reports 9/15 – 9/15 500 LV 45 36 Norton +9

Arkansas will be competitive, but there is no clear Republican candidate. The incumbent, Blanche Lincoln, has been polling in the low forties. She is vulnerable.

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In another development yesterday,  Rudy Giuliani announced he will not run for higher office in New York. This is disappointing because the polling data shows he is the only candidate that gives Andrew Cuomo any competition for Governor and up until recently, he has been beating  Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand by huge margins for the U.S. Senate. The most recent polls show:

Giuliani (R)-49

Gilibrand(D)-42

She has closed a bit on him as  a poll in November showed:

Giuliani(R) -54

Gilibrand(D)-40

Even though New York is considered a safe seat for Democrats, it is clear that it is not that safe. But, the Republicans are weak in New York and are becoming weaker and have not announced a candidate for U.S. Senate yet. If it is a RINO like Dede Scozzafava, this seat will most likely be gifted to a weak Democratic candidate.

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So what to make of all this?

There are a number of predictions that the Republicans could regain the House in 2010. Many pollsters sympathetic to Democrats have been saying the trends show massive losses for Democrats. In 1994, most pundits did not believe that the Republicans would win a majority in 1994. That year, they needed to win 40 seats but instead won 52.

So, it remains a possibility that the Republicans can take the House.

It will be much harder in the U. S. Senate. Larry Sabato has said that “the Republicans have a chance to become relevant again in the Senate by netting a few seats. There is the possibility that they will do better, retain their incumbent seats and beat all the weak Democrats, which will yield a Senate of 52 Democrats and 48 Republicans.”

That’s probably the best case scenario for the Senate.

So, if the Republicans have a good year, there is a possibility they will be able to begin either slowing down or slowly repealing health care reform and cap-and-trade. However, it will be difficult to get anything done on either front while Obama holds the veto until 2012 and if the House and Senate remain fairly even.

I also think that it is clear the Tea Party Movement is having an effect on things. Republicans will probably do well by not running away from these millions of committed  American voters.

The Left is going to attack the Tea Party Movement regardless of what their actual positions are. It is time for Republicans to get their cajones back  and stand against the Obama-ite,  Soros-funded  mob, and embrace the Tea Party Movement and its ideas.

It appears the Tea Partiers stand ready to run interference against the left-wing mob, but only for candidates willing to stand up for principle. The Tea Party Movement may also be an important resource in coming years if 2010 does not go so well. It will be the center around which a long-term extra-governmental resistance to Big Government may must be organized.

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Controversial minister to oversee EU funds in Romania

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

This is not the most important thing going on today but the story highlights the audacity of EU political cronies. It also gives me the  chance to post  photos of  Elena Udrea, a pretty good-looking political hack. Aren’t you glad that CPN spans the globe looking for the most interesting stories of the day!

(from the EU Observer)

22.12.2009 @ 17:40 CET

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – A glamourous former advisor to the Romanian president has been nominated as minister for regional development, in charge of billions of euros in EU aid to a country struggling with corruption and maladministration.

In a skyrocketing career, the 36-year-old Elena Udrea is currently minister of tourism in a caretaker government led by Romania’s Emil Boc.

Elena Udrea (c) has courted attention
in Romanian media for her looks
 (Photo: elenaudrea.ro)

Following Mr Boc’s upcoming re-appointment as prime minister, Ms Udrea is to add the regional development portfolio to her tourism job, putting her in control of €3.7 billion from the EU budget for 2007 to 2013, for the sake of improving housing, infrastructure and tourism.

Seen as a protégé of Romanian President Traian Basescu, Ms Udrea was the subject of a parliamentary inquiry in September, which recommended opening a criminal investigation into the way she had used public money to fund media campaigns.

Romanian Minister of Tourism

Ms Udrea says the inquiry was politically-driven in order to damage Ms Basescu’s re-election effort, while her office points out that the accusations were too weak to merit criminal charges.

The media inquiry is not the first time that the minister has been in the spotlight for corruption allegations, however.

Ms Udrea, who has posed for glossy lifestyle magazines in her underwear, is married to a Bucharest businessman who used to run a parking-lot monopoly in the city. She was appointed as Mr Basescu’s special advisor soon after he was elected president in late 2004, but resigned from the post in November 2005 amid accusations of cronyism concerning her husband’s business associates.

Her 2005 downfall was accelerated by a series of gaffes: On one occasion, during a TV show, she said that Norway was a presidential republic and a member of the EU.

Ms Udrea’s appointment as minister in charge of EU regional funds has outraged a number of Romanian commentators and political rivals.

Mr Basescu is putting back “the same discredited ministers in key positions,” Social Democrat leader Mircea Geoana, who narrowly lost the recent general elections, said on Monday (21 December).

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, an analyst with the Berlin-based Hertie School of Governance, told EUobserver: “To entrust Ms Udrea with the bulk of EU funds is simply scandalous … The Romanian media repeatedly reported the very favorable public contracts her husband’s company received in the last years and her privileged access to the president have made her a hugely controversial character.”

Dan Tapalaga, a Bucharest-based journalist, criticised Ms Udrea’s lack of technical expertise in dealing with her new role.

“Romania cannot afford to experiment with novices in key positions, we need someone who is an expert in local and regional governance, who knows what EU funds are about. Especially since Romania has been failing to implement a functional regional policy for years,” he said.

Ms Udrea’s office rejected claims that she lacks qualifications for the regional funding job, arguing that, as a minister for tourism, she was also responsible for overseeing EU-funded programs.

Commenting on the 2005 cronyism allegations, one of her staff told this website that: “Ms Udrea resigned four years ago from her duties as presidential advisor precisely in order to clarify this problem. This topic is no longer an issue.”

The EU commission said it does not comment on individual appointments, but noted that Brussels has a “shared responsibility” with Romanian authorities to ensure that EU funds are spent correctly.

“The primary responsibility for selecting which projects can benefit from EU funding lies with member states. They have to demonstrate that each individual project meets all eligibilty requirements. If they fail to do this, the commission can suspend payments or demand re-payment of funding which has been wrongly claimed,” Dennis Abbott, the spokesman for the regional policy commissioner, told EUobserver.

Elena Udrea

All projects which receive EU money must fully comply with community law in terms of transparent tender and public procurement rules, he added.

The EU commission has also launched a special monitoring mechanism on judicial reform and combatting of high-level corruption in Romania following its accession in 2007. The mechanism, which also applies to Bulgaria, was recently extended for an unlimited period of time.

Unions may decide to pull support from Senate health care bill

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Support for for the Senate’s compromise health care bill amongst the Democratic far-left is fading. Along with statements made today by former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean urging defeat of the bill, The Hill newspaper has reported that the SEIU has pulled out of a  Washington press conference scheduled for today where they, along with other liberal groups, were supposed to announce support for the legislation.

Earlier today Dean urged the Senate to reject the bill as Senate majority leader Harry Reid has taken out provisions that would include a government-funded insurance option and a medicare buy-in for persons who reach the age of 55.

The SEIU did not indicate that their reason for pulling out of the press conference was a loss of confidence in the bill. Instead, they announced that their executive board would convene an emergency meeting Wednesday night to decide “how to move forward.”

Earlier today, a 767 page amendment that would reinstate the single-payer, government-run insurance option was introdued by  Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. After Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) requested that the clerk read the entire amendment on the Senate floor, Sanders objected and the reading was stopped by the parliamentarian.

The Republican leadership have called this an unprecedented breach of the procedural rules as Senate procedures clearly state that  before an amendment is taken up for debate, it must be read by the clerk unless a waiver is granted or the reading is halted by unanimous consent. It cannot be stopped by the Senator who proposed the amendment.

Sanders withdrew the amendment shortly after.