Uh Oh

John McCaslin
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Posted: Dec 30, 2008 12:23 PM
Uh Oh

Three weeks to go until Inauguration Day, and organizers of the corresponding pomp and ceremony are keeping their fingers crossed that any frigid temperatures keep glued to the north. Time will tell.

”The coldest weather of the winter season should be around the early to mid-January time frame,” predicts Harris-Mann Climatology in its long-range forecast for the Northeastern United States, including the nation's capital.

Noses and toes won't ever forget Jan. 21, 1985 (Jan. 20 fell Sunday, so the president privately took the oath of office that day at the White House), when sub-freezing temperatures ushered Ronald Reagan's public Inauguration into the Capitol Rotunda and rendered his parade trombones and the lips that blow into them inoperable.

It would become the coldest Inauguration Day on record, with a noon temperature of 7 degrees.

BLAGO TO GO

Crime and politics often go hand in hand, thus Washington malpractice lawyer Jack Olender's annual Top 10 Legal Predictions for the coming year always includes a well-known politician or two. His 2009 list does not disappoint:

”Blago will go. Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will leave office either after his upcoming impeachment by the Illinois legislature or even before the actual impeachment vote when he begins to read the writing on the wall that shows he will lose the impeachment vote. It is even odds that at some point in the process, he is likely to cop a plea to the 'pay-to-play' federal charges against him.”

Also of note, Mr. Olender predicts an increased workload for regulatory lawyers as newly-elected President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress “reverse the current deregulation of business and start enforcing strict safety standards.”

In addition, he sees appointments to federal courts taking “a swing to the left with more centrist judges being appointed and confirmed. Civil rights will be in fashion again.”

Mr. Olender's past predictions have a better than 90 percent success rate.

READ YOUR NEWS

New Year's resolution for investors, as recommended by the investment management firm Darrell & King: “Turn your TV off!”

FRIENDLIER SKIES

Have Americans cooled with the economy?

Inside the Beltway has discovered a recent downward trend in the number of “unruly passengers” aboard U.S. aircraft continued in 2008, according to preliminary Federal Aviation Administration data.

Following a peak of 304 FAA enforcement actions in 2004 (excluding security violations, which are handled by the Transportation Security Administration), 2008 witnessed only 95 cases brought against rowdy passengers, through Nov. 24.

Besides the 304 FAA enforcement actions in 2004, 203 cases were brought in 2005, 134 (the lowest number since at least 1995) in 2006, and 147 in 2007.

“Interfering with the duties of a crewmember violates federal law,” the FAA states. “[N]o person may assault, threaten, intimidate or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember's duties aboard an aircraft being operated.”

Fines for unruly passengers can be as costly as $25,000 per violation, although the FAA stresses one incident can result in multiple violations.

LOOPHOLES

The Federal Election Commission ruled that the campaign committee for Missouri Sen. Christopher S. Bond not be allowed to pay the senator's co-author for expenses related to a book project because the payments would constitute personal use of campaign funds.

That said, the FEC also ruled that KITPAC, the Republican senator's leadership PAC, can make the payments because the book is of interest to the PAC irrespective of Mr. Bond's candidacy for office and because there is no personal obligation on the part of the senator to compensate his co-author.