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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The True Story Behind ACORN's Pimp Daddy O'Keefe's Arrest

Since the story broke of James O'Keefe's arrest, I have been thinking of what I thought of it, and I didn't want to jump to any conclusions as the mainstream media did. So, I waited until I received all of the facts before I posted anything. Now, we know what went on in New Orleans last tuesday and why he did what he did.

Briefly, here is what happened:

An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator's offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street on Monday about 11 a.m., dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu's 10th-floor office, O'Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affidavit, observed O'Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation. O'Keefe later admitted to agents that he recorded the event.

After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn't working. Flanagan did the same.

They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located. The staffer showed the men to the main General Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and Flanagan and Basel went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men's credentials. They said they left them in their vehicle.

The U.S. Marshal's Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter.

This left everyone wondering just what the hell was O'Keefe, the man who went into ACORN offices around the country posing as a pimp in order to secretly videotape employees attempting to help him smuggle underage prostitutes into the US and get away with it, and cohorts doing. Of course, liberals and most of the mainstream media jumped to the conclusion that he was trying to tape Senator Mary Landrieu's own phone conversations. However, as the story unfolded and the FBI affidavit was released, it turned out that the intent wasn't so nefarious but just as illegal:

A law enforcement official says the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls.

Instead, the official says, the men, led by conservative videomaker James O'Keefe, wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative. They were apparently motivated, the official says, by criticism that when Sen. Landrieu became a big player in the health care debate, people in Louisiana were having a hard time getting through on the phones to register their views. 

That is, the official says, what led the four men to pull this stunt -- to see how the local staffers would react if the phones went out. Would the staff just laugh it off, or would they express great concern that local folks couldn't get through?

Yesterday, O'Keefe released a statement discussing what happened in Landrieu's New Orleans office. Here is what he was doing in his own words:

I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill.  When asked about this, Senator Landrieu’s explanation was that, “Our lines have been jammed for weeks.”  I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for “weeks” because her phones were broken.  In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu’s district office – the people’s office – to ask the staff if their phones were working.

He admitted that he probably should have taken a different approach in investigating Landrieu, but he wasn't

He went on to lambaste the media for jumping to conclusions and blowing the story up in order to demonize him:

It has been amazing to witness the journalistic malpractice committed by many of the organizations covering this story.  MSNBC falsely claimed that I violated a non-existent “gag order.”  The Associated Press incorrectly reported that I “broke in” to an office which is open to the public.  The Washington Post has now had to print corrections in two stories on me.  And these are just a few examples of inaccurate and false reporting.  The public will judge whether reporters who can’t get their facts straight have the credibility to question my integrity as a journalist.

Obviously, this was way out of line and a serious felony. He should be greatly chastised for it. On the other hand, since this story broke, liberals are already trying to use this to get ACORN out of the doghouse by implying that O'Keefe must have used similar tactics to twist what really happened in the various ACORN offices, but it shouldn't be used, as it most definitely has been, to minimize his accomplishments and absolve ACORN more all of its illegal activities.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Video: NYC Mayor, NY Democratic Senators Flop & Don't Want Terror Trials In NYC Anymore, Claim Danger, Cost Is Too High...Um Duh!

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City and the Democratic New York Senators all echoed the same sudden concern in this video for having the terror trials in New York City. Where was all this concern for the safety, cost, and economic disruption a few months ago, when Obama first tabled the idea? There was not one peep out any of those three. Where did did this revelation come from? Ed Morrissey thinks that he knows:

Until the attempted bombing of Northwest 253 on Christmas Day, Obama appeared to have some momentum on the law-enforcement approach.  However, the outrage over reading a terrorist his rights and providing him an attorney rather than a lengthy interrogation to discover what we could about any impending attacks has seriously derailed both the trial process and the closure of Gitmo.  After all, if the terrorists can’t get tried in federal court, they will have to be both tried and held in military custody — which means Gitmo, at least for the foreseeable future.

Now, they remember that there are those out there that want to kill us. I swear that I've heard that from someone else. I can't remember where. Oh yeah!

It seems that Obama might be finally caving into bipartisan pressure to keep KSM out of NYC:

White House officials have told the Justice Department to consider other venues for the 9/11 terror trial that was to be held in lower Manhattan, the Daily News has learned.

The decision came after Mayor Bloomberg and other politicians across the state railed against President Obama's plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Manhattan Federal Court.

Attorney General Eric Holder now has to think of other places where the trial could take place, officials said.

It was not immediately clear if the reassessment means the trial will definitely be moved out of the city.

Where can we move them? Maybe (this may be a crazy thought)...Gitmo?

Well, that is probably wishful thinking but not entirely out of the realm of possibility. If New York City doesn't want them there, I'd be hard-pressed to think of a city that would want to take on that albatross.

It's good to see that Obama and some of the Democrats have come to their senses a bit. Hopefully, they'll do their trials in Gitmo where they belong.

Obama Gives Stone Cold Salute to 9/11 Survivors, Families

The Obama Administration has outdone themselves. According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the federal government will stop paying the doctor bills for 9/11 survivors that are suffering from complications resulting from the terrorist attack:

The state's two senators and 14 House members met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius just hours before President Obama implored in his speech to the nation for Congress to come together and deliver a government that delivers on its promises to the American people.

So the legislators were floored to learn the Democratic administration does not want to deliver for the tens of thousands of people who sacrificed after 9/11, and the untold numbers now getting sick.

"I was stunned — and very disappointed," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who like most of the other legislators had expected more of a discussion on how to more forward.

"To say the least, I was flabbergasted," said Staten Island Rep. Mike McMahon.

The 9/11 bill would spend about $11 billion over 30 years to care for the growing numbers of people getting sick from their service at Ground Zero, and to compensate families for their losses.

The bill is only $11B over 30 years. That is only about $367M per year. Yes, that is still a lot of money, but is a far cry that Obama wants to spend on Obamacare. The health bills will be over $1T over a much shorter amount of time. It's more than likely that Obamacare will cost over $11B per year, instead of over the course of thirty.

Normally, I don't think that the government should be paying for people's health care, but this is for the victims from a terrorist attack and an act of war. The circumstances are much different.

Why would Obama do this? This could only hurt him politically with everyone not just one side or the other. I know that his proposal of a spending freeze shows that he is trying to pivot and position himself as more of a deficit hawk and not a free-spender, but this is the wrong thing to cut. This will be a PR nightmare for him, if it ever gets into the consciousness of Americans. Of course, the mainstream media seems to be ignoring this story, but it may be too big to hide. If it does, he'll regret it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dem: They Told Us Not to Call It Stimulus, Although That's What It Is-Porkulus Lite

A California Democrat was caught on tape during a telephone town hall admitting what conservatives already knew and have been saying for months. The proposed "Jobs Bill" is actually just another mini-stimulus bill. Audio here:

Honest leadership … open government … and the Tooth Fairy.  Breitbart and Naked Emperor News catches Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) telling his constituents in a telephonic town hall meeting that the new stimulus bill Democrats will promote in coming weeks is “pretty much similar” to Porkulus, just smaller in scale — which isn’t exactly news, since even Democratic leadership isn’t foolish enough to think they can get another $787 billion after getting nothing more than the loss of 3.4 million jobs from the first one.  In an Orwellian admission, Sherman tells listeners that he’s been told not to call it a stimulus bill, but a “jobs bill,” even though he also admits that the jobs won’t come for years later...

“I’ve been pushing for aid to state and local governments.  First, because my own state is having such severe problems.  And second, from a macroeconomic standpoint, we’re trying to have jobs now, and construction projects, for example — they talk about them being shovel ready, but even if you’re ready to start building a bridge now, a big chunk of that work is going to be done in 2013, 2014.”

Considering that not even half of the money allocated in the first stimulus bill hasn't even been spent, yet. Why must we already pass another one? Shouldn't we spend that money first? This the Democrats in Congress trying to look busy, in order to claim that they are doing something, anything to help create jobs.

The sad fact is that Congress can do very little to stimulate the economy, and what they can do, cut taxes, they aren't doing. A spending spree will not do any long-lasting good. It may create a few government jobs, but it won't create nearly enough private sector jobs to justify the massive expenditure.

Democrats in SEC Overstep Their Authority Forcing Companies to Post Global Warming Risks

They are at it, again. This time it is the Democrats of the SEC that are trying to over reach in the name of global warming:

A politically divided Securities and Exchange Commission voted on Wednesday to make clear when companies must provide information to investors about the business risks associated with climate change.

The commission, in a 3 to 2 vote, decided to require that companies disclose in their public filings the impact of climate change on their businesses — from new regulations or legislation they may face domestically or abroad to potential changes in economic trends or physical risks to a company.

Chairman Mary L. Schapiro and the two Democrats on the commission supported the new requirements, while the two Republicans vehemently opposed them.

“I can only conclude that the purpose of this release is to place the imprimatur of the commission on the agenda of the social and environmental policy lobby, an agenda that falls outside of our expertise and beyond our fundamental mission of investor protection,” Republican commissioner Kathleen L. Casey said.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air analyzes this new development perfectly in his post:

Clearly, Casey correctly diagnoses the Democrats’ intentions on this point.  They want to highlight the potential damage that some corporations do through carbon emissions, while highlighting the benefits from others who play along on AGW.  Putting this in the jurisdiction of the SEC is a two-fer for the Obama administration — they can claim regulatory gains on both AGW and Wall Street.

But this may hold the potential for enormous backfire.  With the cap-and-trade legislation still on the docket, all of these corporations will have to forecast for higher energy prices, more restrictive manufacturing and service standards, and the costs of retrofitting.  The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress have consistently and drastically underestimated the impact of their bills on the private sector.  Now, by forcing companies to analyze the impact of their environmental agendas on their bottom lines, the American public can get a much clearer and much less optimistic take on cap-and-trade and carbon-tax regulations.  Because those reports will be part of the public record, analysts can compile a daunting picture of the burdens the Democratic agenda will create on private business and economic growth.

This effort still should have been killed as a ridiculous overreach on regulation.  Now that the SEC has forced the matter, their Democratic allies will shortly have reason to regret it.

The SEC is supposed to regulate and police Wall Street not carbon emissions. That is the job of Congress to pass bills like that. All this does is set up the corporations that use carbon-based energy to be demonized by the left and will attempt to shame them into turn to less efficient means of energy production, which will in turn raise energy prices, anyway. The Democrats are trying to sneak cap-and-trade through the back door. It should not go unnoticed by the American people.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Democrats: Forget Blaming Bush Just Call All Conservatives Whackjobs Etc, That'll Win Us Elections

After Coakley crashed and burned using the time-honored tradition of the Democrats campaigning against Bush, it seems that Democrats have seen the light and won't be using the "blame Bush" campaign platform, at least not as much:

“Given the pressure Republican candidates feel from the extreme right in their party, there is a critical – yet time-sensitive –opportunity for Democratic candidates,” a DSCC memo, obtained by CNN, states. “We have a finite window when Republicans candidates will feel susceptible to the extremists in their party. Given the urgent nature of this dynamic, we suggest an aggressive effort to get your opponents on the record.”

Specifically, the DSCC wants Democratic candidates to pin down their likely opponents on several hot-button issues, including:

- Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S.citizen?

- Do you think the Tenth Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum healthcare coverage standards?

- Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism, and should never have been created in the first place?

- Do you think President Obama is a socialist?

- Do you think America should return to a gold standard?

Basically, they want to pin every conservative as a whackjob or, as Bob Beckel so eloquently put it, “birthers, ‘baggers, and blowhards”. Is this a good strategy to use? Not really, but it may be the best that they can do, after burning almost every bridge they had built with independents:

They’ve got nothing left to offer independents, as Brown’s win proved only too well, and they’re too fatally compromised by ObamaCare to recast themselves as small-government types now. If they want to win the center, their best bet — which doesn’t mean it’s a good bet — is to screech about “birthers, ‘baggers, and blowhards,”

This is really just a desperate attempt by the Democrats to distract from their own real incompetence and the issues, in order to make themselves look better to the electorate. However, I believe that most people will see through their talk and see it as the desperate charade that it really is.

Feingold Suggests Employer Tax Credits for Hiring New Workers

A Democrat actually put forth a good idea the other day that might actually increase job growth instead of killing it, for a change:

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) “introduced legislation today to help businesses hire workers and bring down unemployment through the creation of a jobs tax credit,” according to an e-mailed press release.

"The legislation creates a temporary jobs tax credit over the next two years for businesses that hire new employees, expand work hours for their current workforce, or simply raise worker pay."

This will help offset any extra cost that businesses will incur, when they hire a new employee. That could encourage employers to hire more without so much trepidation. My only worry is that they don't add more wasteful spending on such legislation that will offset any progress made from the tax credit.

Obama to Proposes "Spending Freeze" After Overseeing Spending Binge

Feeling the heat from the American people for spending like on a drunken sailor on a three-day pass that has culminated in a conservative Republican, Scott Brown, to win a Senate seat in a very liberal Massachusetts, Obama claims that he is now a deficit hawk. He will look to put a $250 Billion freeze on government spending:

In his budget for Fiscal Year 2011, to be presented on Monday, February 1, President Obama will propose a three-year hard freeze on non-security discretionary spending, to last from 2011 through 2013.I

This will save $250 billion over the next decade, senior administration officials told reporters. By 2015, non-security discretionary spending will be at its lowest level as a component of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 50 years.

The announcement will come at a time when the White House and Democrats are trying to deal with voters angry about a dysfunctional Washington, DC, with many concerned about the deficit and out-of-control government spending. The president and his team have said for months that he would address deficits in his State of the Union address, knowing that the massive spending in the Wall Street bailout and stimulus package would make many Americans uneasy, but the upset victory of Sen.-elect Scott Brown, R-Mass., underscored that concern.

It seems very hypocritical and more lip-service from Obama than a genuine attempt at curbing excess federal spending. He proposes the freeze after spending over $1 Trillion with the porkulus bill and before wanting to spend about another $1T on Obamacare. House minority leader John Boehner (R-OH) had a great retort to the freeze:

“given Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest."

This is truly a magic act that Obama is trying to pull over the American people. He claims to want to stop wasteful spending, while going for massively wasteful bills. If he truly wants to be taken seriously as a deficit hawk, he must rescind the porkulus bill and veto any health care bill that Congress puts in front of him, of it includes massive spending.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Obama, Congress Throw DC Underprivileged Children Under the School Bus

It has been a fear of many poor children and their parents that live in Washington DC that a Democratic-led government would cut funding to a successful program that would give scholarships to children, so they can go to private schools, instead of the abysmal DC public schools. Unfortunately, their fears have recently been realized:

Black leaders say that President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Congress have put politics ahead of helping low-income children in the District of Columbia by refusing to support a program that allows 1,700 children to go to a private school, including the school Obama’s two daughters attend.
Congress did not reauthorize funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) in the 2010-11 federal budget, ending a program that has helped thousands of disadvantaged children attend some of the best schools in the nation’s capitol since its inception in 2004.
And while Obama backed Congress’ move to continue funding scholarships for children already in the program until they graduate from high school, no new children will receive the $7,500 annual tuition scholarship.

Juan Williams, a Democratic pundit from Fox News, took a huge exception to this turn of events:

“The cancellation of the program, in my view, has been an unprecedented move by the federal government, because this is a historic moment, historic government spending in our nation’s history – a time when the U.S. Treasury is giving hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street bailouts,” Juan Williams, political commentator, said at a press conference held last week at the National Press Club in Washington.
“Congress chose, in the midst of all this spending, to end a very small, $13 million dollar program that, according to the Department of Education (DOE), has increased and improved the reading scores of low-income children here in the District of Columbia,” he said.
“The move is a matter of politics, in my opinion, plain and simple,” Williams said. “Powerful special interest groups like the National Education Association are clearly committed to destroying and denying these programs as they benefit low-income families and denying them the same opportunities that powerful Washington politicians and privileged people take for granted – the power to choose a safe and effective school for their children.”
Williams, a Democrat and regular commentator for National Public Radio, said his own personal story – growing up in poverty with a single mom devoted to seeing that her children got an education – makes helping disadvantaged children a moral imperative. He also said Obama, who attended a private school on scholarships while growing up in Hawaii, should share his passion for school choice.

Arne Duncan, Obama's Secretary of Education, showed little reluctance to pulling the plug on the successful program, while giving a lame excuse:

As reported, when asked why the Obama administration did not support the reauthorization of OSP, Duncan said in a statement that school vouchers would not fix D.C.’s failing schools.
“I appreciate the desire of every family to have the best possible education for their child,” Duncan said. “I also understand that our role is to support children, parents and educators. That is why this Administration is devoting more resources and supports more ambitious reform of our public school systems than any administration in history.”

Let me translate more "resources" means more money. Just like the Democrats always do, they want to throw money at the broken system hoping that the money will magically cure all of the system's ills.

Instead they should change the system and give more money to the students so that they can attend the school's that are doing it better, until the public system improves.

Why won't they do it that way? Two words: teachers' union.

Change We Can Believe In? Obama Has Higher Disapproval Than Any Other President Going Into Their 2nd Year Evah

Well, it's definitely official, now. Obama's honeymoon with most of the American people is over. This does not bode well for Obama's agenda:

President Obama’s job approval in the January 2-4 Gallup Daily tracking was the second lowest in the modern era for Presidents starting their second year in office. Obama opened the new year with a 50%-44% job approval rating which was marginally higher than President Reagan’s 49%-40% rating at the start of 1982, but lower than the ratings held by both President Carter and President Clinton at the start of their second years.

Obama’s humdrum approval rating is undoubtedly causing anxiety and sleepless nights in the White House and in Democratic Party circles. An underwhelming approval rating not only diminishes support for Obama’s legislative agenda (see Reform, Health Care), it also has implications for House Democrats’ electoral fortunes. As Glen Bolger detailed in his post last week, a President’s job approval has a significant effect on his party’s gains or losses in the mid-term House elections. At 50%, Obama’s approval rating sits at the tipping point at which incumbent party losses in the House go from bad to worse.

One thing that this post doesn't point out is the disapproval ratings. It is the highest of any other US president since they started doing presidential approval polls during FDR's presidency. It looks like the low approval of his stimulus bill, health reform and cap-and-tax proposals have caught up to his rhetoric and charisma. Feel the hope and change.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coakley Claims There's No More We Can Do in Afghanistan, Our Job There is Done or Something

The special election to replace the recently departed Sen. Ted Kennedy is set to take place in Massachusetts a week from today, January 19th. It has been a brief but intense battle in between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown. Polls have it anywhere in between a Coakley blowout to a Brown 1-point victory. However, it's going to be very tough to turn the very liberal state purple. If the Republicans pull it off it'll break the Democrat's filibuster-proof majority, after holding it for only one year.

They had their final debate yesterday. Coakley, of course, played the "Bush Sucks" card that all Democrats have been using to garner support for the past three years.

Brown went after Coakley for being soft on terrorists, which is a normal talking point to hit Democrats with during campaigns. However, Coakley said something about the War on Terror that seemed to justify all of Brown's accusations:

Coakley, the state attorney general, said she disagreed with Obama's decision and believes there are better ways to fight terrorist organizations than sending troops into every country where they have a presence. She also said it's time to bring home the troops still in Afghanistan.

"This is not about sending troops everywhere where we think al-Qaida is," she said. "I think we have done what we can in Afghanistan."

She is, basically, wanting to waive the white flag in Afghanistan. This would be a disaster as the Taliban and Al-Quaeda would no doubt return more emboldened then ever. They would claim a victorty over their "Great Satan", the United States. There would be no stopping them as they would feel like they could get away with pulling off further attacks as America would eventually cave.

In contrast, Brown supported the troop surge in Afghanistan and spoke out against letting captured terrorists "lawyer up".

Healthcare reform bill was, also, debated as, predictably, Brown opposed and Coakley unequivocally supports the bill, but it was the Afghanistan issue that really brought out how liberal Martha Coakley really is.

PS: Here's a video that I thought was really telling of this point:

Democrats Hit Replay Button: Candidates Re-Use Bush As GOP Bogeyman

Every time I hear a Democrat talk, I keep having to look at my calendar to make sure that I did step through a time portal and leap back to 2008. No, it turns out that I haven't. It is now 2010, and the Democrats are still blaming Bush for their lack of results:

Democrats swear its not 1994 all over. From the way they're talking, you'd think it was 2006.

Top Democrats are reformatting one of the main talking points from the year they took back the House and Senate, tying opponents in local elections to George W. Bush.

“The only playbook [Republicans] have is the playbook they had for the previous eight years, which drove the economy into a ditch that we're continuing to dig ourselves out of,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told The Daily Caller.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, cast the election in similar terms.

"Either we return to the failed economic policies of the past or we press forward and continue to focus on what’s most important, which is jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said, in a phone interview.

“If we allow this election to simply be a referendum on us, and not be one in which we remind the electorate where Republicans left the country when Barack Obama took office … then we will face the consequences of not having an election of contrasts,” Menendez said. “If we have an election of contrasts, which we clearly will — our candidates fully understand that this will be an election of contrasts in each and every state — we will fare well.”

Apparently, their only play in their playbook is the "Bush sucks" play.

They want to keep blaming Bush for the bad economy that Obama inherited, and there was some validity to that argument, at first. Bush didn't do a great job of reigning in companies, like Countrywide, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, when he had the chance. He didn't take a stand against those who were covering for them, like ACORN, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. However, the further we get into Obama's presidency the more it becomes his recession, as well.

Obama and Congress passed the stimulus monstrosity to keep us out of a prolonged recession and keep unemployment from hitting 10%. Unfortunately, neither happened. When will they find a new target and strategy?

How can we trust Democrats, like Markell, who claim that they are all about "jobs, jobs, jobs", when they have such a lousy track record for creating an economic atmosphere for job creation, so far?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

N Dakota: Sen Dorgan (D) Won't Run For Re-election, Opens a Huge Door For a Likely Republican Gain

A bombshell was dropped on the newswire late today:

Sen. Byron Dorgan, a 18-year veteran Democrat, dropped a late-day bombshell, announcing he will retire when his term ends this year. Dorgan's announcement represents an opportunity for Republicans: North Dakota is a Republican-leaning state, where President Obama got just 45% of the vote last year.

In a statement just released by his office, Dorgan says he wants "to make time for other priorities" after more than 30 years in public life. He insists he's not disillusioned with politics, though he did express dismay over the increasingly partisan tone on Capitol Hill. Here is what Dorgan, 67, said in his statement:

"This decision does not relate to any dissatisfaction that I have about serving in the Senate. Yes, I wish there was less rancor and more bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate these days. But still, it is a great privilege to serve and I have the utmost respect for all of the men and women with whom I serve. . . And although he inherited an economy in serious trouble, I remain confident that President Obama is making the right decisions to put our country back on track. Further, my decision has no relationship to the prospect of a difficult election contest this year. Frankly, I think if I had decided to run for another term in the Senate I would be reelected."

Up until today, there was no indication that Dorgan might step down. The non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report rated the veteran Democrat as having a lock on re-election, and USA TODAY's Fredreka Schouten reports that Dorgan had a healthy campaign warchest of $3.9 million as of Sept. 30.

He may have more money than any other possible challenger at this time, but they forgot to mention his abysmal polling numbers.

To make matters worse for Dorgan, the former ND Governor Hoeven is said to be taking a serious look at running against him. In a poll from late December, Dorgan was 22 points behind the popular Republican governor in a heads-up race.

His support for Obamacare and vote for the Senate HCR bill aren't helping, either. Almost two-thirds of North Dakotans don't want the current healthcare bill to pass. While his personal approval numbers are as bad as one might think, compared to Hoeven's, it's very lopsided. He won't admit it, but his bad poll numbers and falling popularity of Obama and the Congressional attempts at healthcare reform was probably a huge factor in his decision not to run.

Most Transparent Congress Evah Strikes Again: Liberal Democrats Hold Secret Meetings to Negotiate HCR Compromise

Pelosi made the promise, after the Democrats won a heavy majority in the House, that this would be "the most transparent" Congress of all time. Since then, Congress has been everything but transparent or post-partisan. In fact, things seem to have become worse.

Now, Pelosi and other liberal Democrats aren't just keeping the Republicans in the dark. They are keeping the more fiscally and socially conservative members of their own party from the negotiating table:

Despite their claims to the contrary, the way that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have handled the healthcare bill has been anything but transparent. And, if the left-wing blogosphere is to be believed, the two congressional leaders intend to keep the deliberations secret as they try to merge the House and Senate versions of the legislation into something that will pass both chambers.

The Talking Points Memo website reported Monday that Democrats in both the House and Senate are saying the process will likely follow the path of the House taking up the Senate-passed legislation, amending it and sending it back to the Senate, which will have to pass it again. "This process cuts out the Republicans," a House Democratic aide told TPM, indicating the congressional majority intended to make sure the Republican minority would "not have a motion to recommit opportunity."

It also, say those who are following the issue, allows Pelosi to avoid having to cut deals with problematic House Democrats like Michigan's Bart Stupak, who has promised to do what he can to scuttle the final bill if it provides for federal funding of abortions.

Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is saying much the same thing, according to David Dayen at FireDogLake, another prominent left-wing website.

Dayen reported that the powerful California Democrat told constituents he would be coming back to Washington Tuesday to begin negotiations with Senate leaders and the White House about what a final healthcare bill will look like—even though the House doesn't come back into session until January 12.

According to Waxman, the process for moving will not include the standard House/Senate conference committee, because the motions to select and instruct conferees in the Senate "would need 60 votes all over again." Instead, whatever agreements made could be packaged in an amendment to the bills passed by the House and Senate.

By blocking out the Republicans—not to mention House Democrats who object to what the Senate passed—Pelosi and Reid are setting up a protracted game of "ping-pong," in which the legislation goes back and forth from the Senate to the House and back to the Senate again. They may be able to prevail as far as the legislation goes, ultimately, but at enormous cost to their majorities. And that may be the biggest secret of all as far as the healthcare debate is concerned, or at least the one Pelosi and Reid are most concerned about.

Now, I don't really have any problem with this game of "ping-pong" that Pelosi and Reid are playing. It'll, hopefully, keep this monstrous bill from becoming law. Then, we can start over and create a bill that'll really make health care more affordable and available without having a negative effect on the quality of that care or "bankrupting" the country.