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Comcast’s new employee

So she’s married to the son of the man known as “the fixer.” Well, that makes it all perfectly clear!

The new senior vice president of government affairs for Comcast Corp. in Washington, Meredith Attwell Baker, faces a host of lobbying limits because of her position on the Federal Communications Commission when the agency approved the cable company’s $30 billion merger with NBC Universal Inc. in January.

She cannot lobby the FCC or any executive agency until the end of the Obama administration – which, if President Obama wins a second term, will be six years – and she is permanently barred from lobbying the FCC on issues related to the NBCUniversal transaction, which she voted to approve in the 4-1 vote.

Baker said Friday that she was surprised that Comcast still wanted to hire her after learning of these restrictions because she would be “completely useless” dealing with the FCC.

“I want people to understand that I haven’t done anything wrong,” Baker said. “I have done everything to comply with the rules.”

[...] A lawyer with deep Republican ties in Texas and Washington, the 42-year-old Baker is the daughter-in-law of James A. Baker 3d, a former chief of staff for both President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush. She joined the regulatory agency after former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin resigned when Obama took office in 2009.

[...] U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat and Comcast critic, said she had concerns about Baker’s departure coming only months after the NBCU vote.

“I feel strongly that the process was compromised,” Waters said of the agency’s review of the Comcast/NBCU deal. “I do not believe that there were no discussions of her going to work for Comcast before the deal was approved. I think she knew when she took that vote that she would be going to work for Comcast.”

Added Waters, “She may deny there were discussions, but I don’t believe her.”

Baker said there were “absolutely no conversations.”

Baker is quite possibly telling the truth. After all, some things are just understood.

Federal employee pensions

I figured it was only a matter of time before this happened. I mean, God forbid that anyone other than bankers have a comfortable retirement in this country:

The generous pension system enjoyed by millions of federal workers from clerks to senators and judges has emerged as a key target in negotiations between Vice President Biden and congressional leaders looking to restrain the growing national debt.

Republicans have proposed saving more than $120 billion over the next decade by requiring the civilian workforce to contribute more toward retirement — a plan that would effectively impose an immediate 5 percent pay cut on more than 2 million federal employees. President Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission has also endorsed the idea, calling the federal system “out of line” with the private sector.

Yes, it’s true that the federal retirement system is better than that of the private sector, but that’s because the private sector has decimated their retirement benefits by comparison. So the “bipartisan” solution is to make retirement just as miserable for federal workers as it is for everyone else! Let’s not even get into the fact that federal workers have agreed to work for less pay in order to have a dependable retirement plan.

Now, administration officials have expressed interest in raising the amount that employees contribute to their pensions — though probably not as high as the GOP proposal, definitely not as fast and possibly not for all workers, according to people in both parties familiar with the discussions.

If adopted as part of a compromise plan to control federal borrowing, the proposal promises to test the resolve of local lawmakers — particularly Democrats — by forcing them to choose between the lofty goal of debt reduction and the interests of public-sector workers, who have come under fire from Republicans in Washington and several state capitals.

Take me home (country roads)

We used to see John Denver at the old Main Point all the time. Come on, admit it — you liked him, too:

Gentle on my mind

Lucinda does John Hartford’s tune:

In the early morning rain

Still raining. Peter, Paul and Mary:

The ten-fold path

You keep asking me, “What can we do?” Please read.

What can I say

Brandi Carlile:

Lovers cross

I once had a brief thing with a guy who looked just like Jim Croce. Maybe if he’d been able to write like him, I would have put up with him longer:

Fishtown

They take their fish seriously in the Fishtown neighborhood:

Foreign policy

Interesting that the late Richard Holbrooke thought our Afghanistan policy was too militarized, and believed our presence there could become Obama’s Vietnam.

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