Behind closed doors

July 20, 2009

Robert Stacy McCain continues his series on the budding scandal around what appear to be efforts by the Obama people to bring to heel the Inspectors-General who are supposed to be the independent watchdogs making sure public money isn’t being misused. While looking into the quiet investigation by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee and the lawsuit by fired Inspector-General Gerald Walpin, McCain mentions something else that caught my eye: the move in Congress to leash Inspectors-General at five financial departments –including the SEC:

However, some informed Republican sources are beginning to call attention to other evidence of a concerted effort to blindfold, muzzle or neuter watchdogs — especially those who dare to growl at Democrats.

Why, for instance, did Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) rush through the House a bill that would give President Obama power to dismiss five inspectors general — including the IG for the Securities and Exchange Commission — who under existing law report to the agency heads?

The IGs themselves have protested against the Larson bill, which has yet to be debated in the Senate, and it has not escaped notice on Capitol Hill that Larson is a prominent “Friend of Chris.” That would be Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Dodd is under intense scrutiny for a number of shady-looking activities — “Chris Dodd Update” has become a regular feature at Professor Glenn Reynolds’ popular Instapundit blog — and Dodd is also facing a tough re-election bid next year.

No one on the Hill has yet directly suggested that the Larson bill — which could effectively muzzle watchdogs at five federal financial agencies — was specifically intended as assistance to the embattled chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. But as liberal bloggers used to say about the Bush administration’s activities, some Republicans have begun to “question the timing.”

Dodd was heavily criticized for his ties to and favors received from Angelo Mozilo, head of the now defunct Countrywide Financial, a firm at the center of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco and one ostensibly overseen by the Senate banking committee Dodd chaired. Dodd was also received a lot of money from other financial firms he was supposed to regulate. What a coincidence, then, that a congressman from Connecticut would introduce legislation weakening the IGs who might otherwise uncover information damaging to Dodd’s already teetering reelection chances.

I, too, question the timing.  Waiting

In addition to McCain, Byron York at the Washington Examiner has been following developments in (forgive me) “Inspector-Generalgate.” It’s worth keeping an eye on this; it may not look like much now, but I have the feeling that this is one of those slow-burning fuses that, when it finally does get to the powder, is going to blow up in the Chicago Boys’ faces.

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When the Eagle landed

July 20, 2009

Today is the 40th anniversary of one of the great moments in not just American history, but all humanity’s. Six thousand years after humans built their first cities, three men left the Earth and two of them walked on another world. On July 20th, 1969, the lunar module Eagle landed on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their famous walk. Here’s some remastered video from NASA of that time:

I was 11 at the time and remember watching the landing with my Dad and then rushing outside to look at the Moon. To someone like me who had grown up watching every mission from Mercury to Apollo and who loved science fiction movies and TV, this seemed like only the beginning of a fabulous adventure, not the high-water mark of a program that would die only a few missions later, a bright future that became a might-have-been.

With all due respect to the men and women who worked on the shuttle program (soon to be shut down) in the years after and especially to those who lost their lives, I still have to say it:

I remember when we had a real space program.

LINKS: Charles Krauthammer on The Moon We Left Behind. Tom Wolfe on the real reasons Washington gutted the space program. The speech Nixon would have given, had the mission ended in disaster. Exurban League has the transcript. Hot Air has links to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photos showing the various landing sites. From reader John H. in the comments come a link to a really neat site. Check it out: We Choose the Moon. Iowahawk presents a bold yet modest proprosal to reinvigorate the space program: send Congress to the Moon.

PARTING SHOT: To the lunatics out there who think the Moon landing was faked – where do you think we hid Obama’s birth certificate, eh?  Silly

ONE MORE THING: Poor Michael Collins. Not only was he left “upstairs” in the Apollo XI command module, but I forgot to mention him in the post.  Seems he always gets forgotten…