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O'Rourke (The View From the Couch): News Balloons

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A number of small news balloons have been popping. One that's most local is the news that a couple of weeks ago Indiana's junior Senator, Evan Bayh, voted with nine other Democratic Senators to slash the estate tax (and, needless to say, with all the 41 Republican Senators), reduce it to 35 percent, for those couples who are getting more than 10 million. Ten million is the new exemption they set. So the tax falls on monies above 10 million. Whew! I'm saved from ever having to pay estate taxes! There was a lot of crocodile tears shed over the mythical "small business" people who would be affected if this tax measure didn't go through. Of course, estimates of the small businesses and farmers who might have to pony up is barely a hundred families. Another great step forward for tax fairness. Will it survive the conferees? Who knows? But, on our Senator Bayh's part, it is the mother of all earmarks for the Lilly family. Way to go Evan!

Next popping balloon is the Obama bow. (Not the new bow-wow to come to the White House.) Thankfully, Fox News is not letting go of Obama bowing to the Saudi King Abdullah. To the Queen of England our president merely did a head bob. But this time, thanks to the often played video tape, President Obama bows from the waist. The tape is getting the Zapruder film treatment. Usually, it's Republicans bowing to the Saudis and conservatives, most of the time, don't have problems with such obeisance to the mega-rich. It is disturbing to see our new change-is-everything president continuing the long tradition of worshiping oil sheiks. Jimmy Carter doomed his administration with his kindness to the Shah of Iran. Again, that most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis and their undead leader, Osama bin Laden, is a famous son of the bin Landen family, one of the country's most notable and wealthy, and absolutely no retribution has been carried out against the Saudis, or their al-Qaida supporters, sits there as one of those intractable facts that no one wants to explain. The camel in the room. So, the sorry tale continues, and Barack Obama bows. He, alas, does like to please. He has spent his life pleasing the powerful. It's a trait he shares with Bill Clinton. He probably bows to Robert Rubin. You don't go from nowhere to somewhere without pleasing the powerful.

Two courtroom dramas continue to stir the news occasionally. The Senator from Alaska, the old reprobate Ted Stevens, has gotten a get out of jail free card from Obama's new attorney general, Eric Holder, another pleaser of the powerful. The bad, bad prosecutors withheld evidence (of some sort) from the defense. Bad, bad, so the poor confused Senator that was can now complain all the handouts he got over the years were legit, legit. Justice prevails once again. Perhaps Stevens is one of the small businesses that will have estate tax problems now that he won't be spending his retirement years in a Federal hoosgal.

The other is the Senate race in Minnesota. I suppose some could claim this legal mosh pit with Al Franken and Norm Coleman would have happened to the entire nation if Justice Scalia and his henchpersons in their wisdom hadn't decided to give the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000. Congress, though, will be all the better with another TV personality in residence, ever since Sonny Bono ran into a tree. Skiing does kill a lot of famous people. But, enough already, let Al Franken reign. And, if Republicans aren't happy about letting an entertainer into their midst, let Rush Limbaugh run in some other state (Florida?) if he wants to be their version of comic Senator. The news balloons keep popping. And people keep losing jobs, homes, savings, etc. But the Obama kids have got a dog. One campaign promise kept.

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