White House, Google violate lobbying pledge

Timothy P. Carney: White House, Google violate lobbying pledge

By: Timothy P. Carney
Examiner Columnist
June 25, 2010

(Ap File Photo) (AP file photo)

Maybe a $150 billion company with 21,000 employees and 20 percent profit margins doesn’t count as big business or a special interest if it talks about “changing the world from the bottom up, not from the top down,” as President Obama put it.

Maybe a millionaire who spends his days leaning on policymakers to benefit his company isn’t a lobbyist if he calls himself an “Internet evangelist.”

Or maybe Google’s cozy relationship with the White House — exposed more clearly by e-mails recently made public through the Freedom of Information Act — is just one more instance of the administration’s actions contradicting Obama’s reformer rhetoric about battling the special interests and freeing Washington from lobbyist influence.

Consumer Watchdog, a liberal nonprofit, used FOIA to obtain e-mails between White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin and his former colleagues at Google. McLaughlin was Google’s head of global public policy and government affairs, up until he joined the White House.

Despite the job title, McLaughlin wasn’t a registered lobbyist. Still, ethics rules created by an Obama executive order prohibit McLaughlin from “participat[ing] in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to” Google. But the e-mails show McLaughlin has been involved with formulating policy that directly affects Google, regularly trading e-mails with Google’s “evangelist,” and lobbyist.

The topic of net neutrality — where the Obama administration and Google share a pro-regulation position that would profit Google — appears repeatedly in McLaughlin-Google e-mails.

When one news report suggested the White House was backing away from the pro-Google regulations, Google Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf wrote a worried note to McLaughlin, asking, “Has there been so much flack from the Hill that you guys feel a need to back away?”

McLaughlin reassured his former colleague, “Don’t be silly. No one’s backed away from anything.”

Later, when McLaughlin took heat in the media for publicly comparing AT&T — Google’s rival in the net neutrality debate — to the communist Chinese government, Google lobbyist Alan Davidson sent McLaughlin a heads up that a reporter had called Google about it. Davidson assured McLaughlin that he would get the Open Internet Coalition — a pro-net-neutrality lobby headed by Google — to “have your back.”

“Thanks,” McLaughlin wrote back. Davidson followed up the next day, taking credit for killing the story.

McLaughlin knew he was barred from dealing with Google, the e-mails show. When Cerf passed him an e-mail about Google Earth and an issue regarding a border dispute in Cambodia, McLaughlin responded, “in my current position, I’m recused from anything having to do with Google.”

When I asked the White House about McLaughlin’s e-mails, Rick Weiss, a spokesman at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, responded that McLaughlin’s “e-mails to Vint did not run afoul of the pledge since Vint is a federal advisory committee member with whom Andrew is allowed to communicate on matters of relevance to that committee.”

But Cerf was using a Google.com e-mail address and writing about regulations Google was aggressively backing.

And only when I followed up with a question about the e-mails with lobbyist Davidson did Weiss admit “they did violate the President’s Ethics Pledge,” and note that McLaughlin had been reprimanded.

But what else is McLaughlin working on that directly affects his former colleagues with whom he is in regular contact? It’s hard to imagine many tech issues that don’t directly affect Google, and so it’s hard to imagine very many issues McLaughlin could work on that don’t clash with Obama’s ethics rules.

McLaughlin’s role is only one strand in the web of Google-Obama connections.

Google trailed only Goldman Sachs and Microsoft as a source of funds for Obama in 2008, providing $803,000 — 40 times what Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain raised from the company. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt was a fundraiser and adviser for Obama’s campaign.

Obama speaks a lot about battling the special interests. But, evidently, his friends don’t count.

 

Timothy P. Carney is The Washington Examiner’s lobbying editor. His K Street column appears on Wednesdays.

Obama and the War Against the Jews

Obama and the War Against the Jews

Posted By David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin On June 25, 2010 @ 12:25 am In FrontPage | 31 Comments

In a letter to President Obama this week, 87 Senators urged [1] the president to support Israel’s right to self-defense against the threats of terrorism from Hamas and Hezbollah and a nuclear-bound Iran that has repeatedly pledged to wipe Israel off the map. In another time, such counsel would be redundant. For most of Israel’s 60-year existence, the Jewish state has been able to count on the stalwart support of its American ally against the many enemies arrayed against it. As Arab states launched wars with exterminationist intent, and as the international community undermined Israel through the agency of the United Nations, America alone stood in Israel’s corner.

Under President Obama, however, such support for an embattled friend is no longer automatic. As Iran races virtually unimpeded toward a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration scolds Israel for daring to build new houses in its capital of Jerusalem. While Hamas, aided by Turkish jihadists, arms for a new war against Israel, the White House demands that Israel exercise a suicidal restraint. As Israel becomes ever more isolated, the Obama administration continues to reach out to its enemies in the Arab and Muslim world. In their new pamphlet, David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin trace the deterioration of the U.S.-Israeli relationship under President Obama, now at its lowest point in three decades. And they show that by emboldening Israel’s enemies, the administration is sowing the seeds of a new conflict, one will that could make it complicit in a new and devastating war against Israel. As a result of President Obama’s wrongheaded policies, Israel’s security – and America’s – is increasingly imperiled.

To read the pamphlet, click here [2].

To order the pamphlet, click here [3].

Lack of Obama Birth Certificate Questioned during US House Debate

Lack of Obama Birth Certificate Questioned during US House Debate

June 25th, 2010

Congressman Steve King (R-IA) couldn’t help but mention the lack of a most famous birth certificate during debate on the House Floor. Listen carefully so you don’t miss it during this video.

In extended remarks about how every American baby is born owing US Government Debt, he let this slip: “Little baby with ink on their foot, stamped right there on the birth certificate – there’s one in this country we haven’t seen,’” he said. “But the footprints on those we have seen. Those little babies owe Uncle Sam $44,000.”

Congress Mocking the Obama Birth Certificate
..

Obama’s amnesty for illegal aliens will bring us deadly and costly diseases

Obama’s amnesty for illegal aliens will bring us deadly and costly diseases

June 25th, 2010

By Kevin “Coach” Collins

A Child with Whooping Cough

The thought is disturbing but must be faced: Barack Obama’s administration is rapidly coming apart.

Each day he’s being exposed as an incompetent fraud and it’s driving him to be increasingly reckless and dangerous. He’s quickly morphing into something resembling a wounded animal.

Now we’re hearing rumors Obama is about to use an executive order to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens so they can vote Marxist/Democrat in November. This will preserve Obama’s power, and stress the healthcare system enough to stampede Americans into his single payer scheme.

As serious as this attack on our liberties will be, amnesty will also bring death and infirmity to our midst. Illegal aliens bring deadly diseases.

In California, a state soaked with illegals, there’s a Whooping cough epidemic. The number of cases of this contagious disease, which is deadly to babies, is moving toward a 60 year high. Is there any doubt this disease has been brought to us by illegal aliens?

Read More

Rashad Hussain declares Obama “Educator-in-Chief on Islam”

Rashad Hussain declares Obama “Educator-in-Chief on Islam”

June 25th, 2010

Powerline Blog

We have written a lot about Rashad Hussain, America’s special envoy to the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Saudi-based body formed in 1969 to “protect” Jerusalem from the Israelis. Hussain is a piece of work. See the posts collected here.

Notwithstanding his flaws, Hussain has made a great contribution to understanding Barack Obama. This week in a speech a the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, Hussain announced a new title for Obama. According to Hussain, Obama is America’s “Educator-in-Chief on Islam.” He may be in over his head as the president of the United States, but he’s not bad at promoting Islam. Obama embodies the the melding of the left with Islamist forces at home and abroad. Stephen Schwartz reports:

The occasion was another “post-Cairo” conference, following on the event that welcomed Islamist ideologue Tariq Ramadan to Washington in April. Hussain also declared that Obama is “Educator-in-Chief” on the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which has produced diplomatic and political events around the capital for some years. Hussain affirmed with satisfaction that presidential iftar dinners, where the fast is broken after sundown, and which had formerly been limited to diplomats from Muslim countries, now welcomed American Muslims from throughout society.

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Obama Administration Launches Boycott of Arizona

Obama Administration Launches Boycott of Arizona

June 25th, 2010

Fox News

Two federal agencies have joined the “boycott Arizona” trend and nixed conferences there out of concern over the state’s immigration law, a Democratic Arizona congresswoman said, calling the development “very troubling.”

Any cancellations by the Department of Education and the U.S. Border Patrol may have been more out of a desire to steer clear of controversy than outright protest of the law. But Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who has written to dozens of cities and groups in a campaign to persuade them to end their boycotts, said it was disturbing to learn that the federal government would withdraw from the state over the issue.

“It is very troubling when the federal government becomes involved in a boycott against our state,” Giffords said in a written statement. “Although I personally disagree with the immigration law, it came about because of growing frustration over the federal government’s unwillingness to secure the border. The federal government’s participation in this boycott only adds to that frustration.”

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Dems Stonewall Obama Bribery Investigation

Dems Stonewall Obama Bribery Investigation

June 25th, 2010

By Michael Riley, Denver Post

Obama and Sestak

House Republicans failed in a push Wednesday to force the release of White House documents related to potential job offers made to two Democratic Senate primary challengers, Andrew Romanoff in Colorado and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.

The Resolution of Inquiry failed on a party-line vote in the House Judiciary Committee, 15-12, leaving Republicans with a diminishing set of options as they try to force a wider investigation into White House efforts to entice Democratic challengers out of two key Senate races.

In the debate before the vote, Democrats insisted administration officials have already addressed the issues sufficiently and pointed to more pressing problems of concern to voters, including the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But Republicans insisted there are still unanswered questions in both cases.

Read More

The U.S. Department of Illegal Alien Labor

Lead Story

The U.S. Department of Illegal Alien Labor

By Michelle Malkin  •  June 25, 2010 08:49 AM

My syndicated column today takes aim at open-borders Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. She’s already a familiar character to those of you who read Culture of Corruption (and here’s a reminder of the roll call vote on her Senate confirmation.)

***

The U.S. Department of Illegal Alien Labor
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2010

President Obama’s Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is supposed to represent American workers. What you need to know is that this longtime open-borders sympathizer has always had a rather radical definition of “American.” At a Latino voter registration project conference in Los Angeles many years ago, Solis asserted to thunderous applause, “We are all Americans, whether you are legalized or not.”

That’s right. The woman in charge of enforcing our employment laws doesn’t give a hoot about our immigration laws — or about the fundamental distinction between those who followed the rules in pursuit of the American dream and those who didn’t.

While in Congress, she opposed strengthening the border fence, supported expansion of illegal alien benefits (including driver’s licenses and in-state tuition discounts), embraced sanctuary cities that refused to cooperate with federal homeland security officials to enforce immigration laws, and aggressively championed a mass amnesty. Solis was steeped in the pro-illegal alien worker organizing movement in Southern California and was buoyed by amnesty-supporting Big Labor groups led by the Service Employees International Union (see also Trevor Loudon’s profile of her radical far-left ties). She has now caused a Capitol Hill firestorm over her new taxpayer-funded advertising and outreach campaign to illegal aliens regarding fair wages:

“I’m here to tell you that your president, your secretary of labor and this department will not allow anyone to be denied his or her rightful pay — especially when so many in our nation are working long, hard and often dangerous hours,” Solis says in the video pitch. “We can help, and we will help. If you work in this country, you are protected by our laws. And you can count on the U.S. Department of Labor to see to it that those protections work for you.”

To be sure, no one should be scammed out of “fair wages.” Employers that hire and exploit illegal immigrant workers deserve full sanctions and punishment. But it’s the timing, tone-deafness and underlying blanket amnesty agenda of Solis’ illegal alien outreach that has so many American workers and their representatives on Capitol Hill rightly upset.

With double-digit unemployment and a growing nationwide revolt over Washington’s border security failures, why has Solis chosen now to hire 250 new government field investigators to bolster her illegal alien workers’ rights campaign? (Hint: Leftists unhappy with Obama’s lack of progress on “comprehensive immigration reform” need appeasing. This is a quick bone to distract them.)

Unfortunately, the federal government is not alone in lavishing attention and resources on workers who shouldn’t be here in the first place. As of 2008, California, Florida, Nevada, New York, Texas and Utah all expressly included illegal aliens in their state workers’ compensation plans — and more than a dozen other states implicitly cover them.

Solis’ public service announcement comes on the heels of little-noticed but far more troubling comments encouraging illegal alien workers in the Gulf Coast. Earlier this month, in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, according to Spanish language publication El Diario La Prensa, Solis signaled that her department was going out of its way to shield illegal immigrant laborers involved in cleanup efforts. “My purpose is to assist the workers with respect to safety and protection,” she said. “We’re protecting all workers regardless of migration status because that’s the federal law.” She told reporters that her department was in talks with local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials who had visited coastal worksites to try to verify that workers were legal.

No word yet on whether she gave ICE her “we are all Americans, whether you are legalized or not” lecture. But it’s a safe bet.

Jewish Clergy Group: Elena Kagan Isn’t ‘Kosher’ to Serve on Supreme Court

Jewish Clergy Group: Elena Kagan Isn’t ‘Kosher’ to Serve on Supreme Court
Friday, June 25, 2010
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor


Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America. (Photo courtesy of the Alliance)
(CNSNews.com) – Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is “not kosher” — meaning she is not fit to serve on the court — according to more than 850 Orthodox members of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. That’s the term the rabbis used about Kagan in a press release issued Thursday, saying “Elena Kagan is not kosher. She is not fit to sit on this Court — or any court.”
 
Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the alliance, told CNSNews.com on Thursday that “a great deal has been made about the fact that she would be the second Jewish woman on the court, and we want to signal to people across the country that we take no pride in this.” 
 
Levin said most people are happy when “one of their own” is nominated to such a high position. But, he added, “We feel that Elena Kagan turns traditional Judaism on its head – from a concept of a nation of priests and holy people, she is turning it into, ‘Let’s homosexualize every segment of society. And by the way, partial-birth babies have no right to be delivered.’”
 
In a statement issued Thursday, the rabbinical alliance called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to refuse to confirm Kagan to succeed the outgoing Justice John Paul Stevens.
 
“It is clear from Ms. Kagan’s record on issues such as abortion-on-demand, partial-birth-abortion, the radical homosexual and lesbian agenda, the “supremacy” of the anti-family panoply over religious liberties of biblical adherents, et. al., that she will function as a flame-throwing radical, hastening society’s already steep decline into Sodom and Gomorrah,” the rabbis said in the statement.
 
Levin told CNSNews.com that his fellow rabbis – and hundreds of thousands of Orthodox and traditional Jews – are puzzled at the president’s choice of Kagan.
 
“What exactly was Obama thinking, President Obama thinking, when he nominated Kagan? Because eventually, down the road, someone — or some group — is going to ‘take the hit’ for the crazy decisions that Kagan is bound to make. So we would have much preferred if President Obama had given this ‘distinction’ to another minority group, instead of singling out the Jews.”
 
Barring a rebuff from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Levin told CNSNews.com that the rabbis want someone in the Senate to launch a filibuster to stop Kagan’s nomination from coming to a vote.
 
‘We’re waiting for the more courageous, decent senators – whether it’s a (Sen.) Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) or a (Sen.) Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) or a (Sen.) Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) – we’re looking for them to stand up and filibuster this embarrassing endangerment of a nomination,” Levin said.

Confirmation hearings for Kagan begin Monday at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Neither Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) nor  Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) — both members of the committee, known Kagan supporters and top Jewish members of the Senate — responded to calls for comment on this story

House, Senate leaders finalize details of sweeping financial overhaul

House, Senate leaders finalize details of sweeping financial overhaul

By Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 25, 2010; 11:36 AM

Key House and Senate lawmakers approved far-reaching new financial rules early Friday after weeks of division, delay and frantic last-minute dealmaking. The dawn compromise set up a potential vote in both houses of Congress next week that could send the landmark legislation to President Obama by July 4.

The final and most arduous compromise began to fall into place just after midnight. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) agreed to scale back a controversial provision that would have forced the nation’s biggest banks to spin off their lucrative derivatives-dealing businesses.

The panel also reached accord on the “Volcker rule,” named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. That measure would bar banks from trading with their own money, a practice known as proprietary trading.

Lawmakers pulled an all-nighter, wrapping up their work at 5:39 a.m. — more than 20 messy, mind-numbing hours after they began Thursday morning.

“It’s a great moment. I’m proud to have been here,” said a teary-eyed Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee led the effort in the Senate. “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time. It took a crisis to bring us to the point where we could actually get this job done.”

Both the House and Senate must approve the compromise legislation before it can go to Obama for his signature.

Despite myriad changes in recent days, Democrats appear poised to deliver a final bill that largely reflects the administration’s original blueprint unveiled almost precisely a year ago. Although it would not fundamentally alter the shape of Wall Street or break up the nation’s largest firms, the legislation would establish broad new oversight of the financial system.

A new consumer protection bureau housed in the Federal Reserve would have independent funding, an independent leader and near-total autonomy to write and enforce rules. The government would have broad new powers to seize and wind down large, failing financial firms and to oversee the $600 trillion derivatives market. In addition, a council of regulators, headed by the Treasury secretary, would monitor the financial landscape for potential systemic risks.

“The finish line is in sight. The bill that has emerged from conference is strong,” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in a statement early Friday. “It will offer families the protections they deserve, help safeguard their financial security and give the businesses of America access to the credit they need to expand and innovate.”

Obama, speaking to reporters before leaving for a meeting of global finance ministers and central bankers in Toronto, said the compromise legislation includes “90 percent of what I proposed when I took up this fight.”

The president said he is committed to a “strong, robust financial sector” but wants to curb abuses and tighten oversight to make the financial system more transparent and safe.

“The reforms making their way through Congress will hold Wall Street accountable,” Obama said, “so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one that we’re still recovering from.”

On the House side, the final tally was 20 to 11 to approve the conference committee’s report. On the Senate side, it was 7 to 5. The votes fell along party lines, earning no support from Republicans on the two panels.

Asked whether he expected the compromise legislation to pass the full Senate — which on May 20 approved an earlier version, 59-39, with support from four Republicans — Obama replied, “You bet.”

Republican lawmakers who serve on the financial panels blasted the compromise bill. “This legislation is a failure on both counts,” Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said in a statement that denounced the compromise as failing to address “shoddy underwriting practices” or problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “It will not encourage much-needed stability and confidence in our financial markets. It will not significantly reduce systemic risk in our financial sector.”

Lincoln’s provision on derivatives had for months remained a particularly thorny issue for Democrats, causing internal divisions that threatened to derail the massive legislation.

Although consumer advocates and many liberals supported her provision, it encountered stiff opposition from the Obama administration and some regulators, as well as from an influential bloc of moderate Democrats and House Democrats from New York, where much of the financial derivatives industry is concentrated.

Administration officials and Democratic leaders worked fervently to bridge the divide between Lincoln and those House Democrats. Top Treasury officials, including Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin and Michael Barr, an assistant secretary, roamed the Dirksen office building alongside White House economic adviser Diana Farrell, conferring with aides and key lawmakers. Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, worked the committee room throughout Thursday.

Lincoln came and went from the hearing room, meeting with members of the centrist New Democrat Coalition to try to find common ground and huddling with Dodd (D-Conn.); Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee; and other lawmakers.

In the very early morning hours Friday, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) — chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and a Lincoln supporter — introduced a proposal that would compel banks to spin off only their riskiest derivatives trades, including particular forms of credit-default swaps, which are complex financial bets that exacerbated the financial crisis.

At the same time, the proposal would allow banks to hold onto certain derivatives trading related to interest rates, currency rates, gold and silver. They also would be allowed to continue trading in derivatives in order to hedge against their own risks.

Under the compromise, the derivatives operations that firms spin out of their federally insured banks could still be retained in a separately capitalized affiliate. In addition, firms would have two years to institute the new rules.

The Senate agreed to the compromise language just after 2:30 a.m.

The cavernous Dirksen 106 conference room remained packed at that hour, but it was a chaotic and cluttered mass of humanity. Lawmakers had stopped trying to conceal their yawns. Aides who had worn down their BlackBerry batteries recharged them for the home stretch. Trash cans spilled over with coffee cups and sandwich wrappers. Empty Fritos bags and plastic Diet Coke bottles littered the room, along with reams of paper — old amendments, new amendments, handwritten amendments, amendments to amendments.

“So much for the paperless society,” Frank quipped at one point.

In reaching a deal on the Volcker rule, negotiators adopted a provision that mirrors language previously offered by Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), which would ban certain forms of proprietary trading and forbid firms from betting against securities they sell to clients. The Merkley-Levin measure never got a vote on the Senate floor.

“One goal of these limits is to reduce participation in high-risk activity that can cause significant losses at institutions which are central to the financial system,” Dodd said. “A second goal is to end the use of low-cost funds, to which insured depositories have access, from subsidizing high-risk activity.”

Under the agreement, firms would have up to two years to scale back their proprietary trading and investments in hedge funds and private equity funds. Banks also would be barred from betting against their clients on certain investments deals.

Even as they worked to toughen the Volcker language, lawmakers agreed to an exemption at the behest of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), one of the four Republicans who voted for the earlier version of the financial regulation bill.

Brown, whose state is a hub of the asset-management industry, wanted the bill to allow banks to invest at least a small amount of capital in hedge funds and private equity investments. The measure would prohibit a banks from investing more than 3 percent of their capital in private equity or hedge funds. It was one of a number of provisions tailored to hold onto key votes as the bill heads toward final passage.

Lawmakers squared away a handful of other lingering issues late Thursday and early Friday.

They agreed to exempt the nation’s 18,000 auto dealers from oversight by a new consumer financial protection watchdog, a striking legislative victory for one of the nation’s most influential lobbying groups and a blow to consumer advocates and Democratic leaders who had long opposed such a loophole. “It is time for people like myself to concede that the votes are not there to give the consumer regulator any role in this,” Frank said.

Lawmakers also voted to give shareholders more of a say on corporate governance, to place new restrictions on mortgage lending and to levy a risk-based assessment on large financial firms to help pay for the wide-ranging bill, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated would cost nearly $20 billion over the next decade.

Weary lawmakers wrapped up their work just after sunrise, only hours before Obama was scheduled to leave for Canada. Both Dodd and Frank said they hoped the passage of the legislation by their committees will help the United States lead the ongoing global effort to harmonize new financial safeguards.

“We’ve put in the hands of the president a very powerful set of tools for him to reassert American leadership in the world,” Frank said.

One of the last motions Friday was to name the bill after the two chairmen, who had shepherded the legislation through the House and the Senate over the past year. At 5:07 a.m., they agreed unanimously that it would be known as the Dodd-Frank bill, and the sound of applause echoed down the empty hallways.