It seems to me that there is a silver lining to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (Fascist-NV) rule change to eliminate any semblance of a filibuster process and make the Senate's advise and consent function a purely democratic process, subject to the same transient passions as any other majority-rule institution. "Cooling saucer" be damned.
On the bright side, there may no longer be any practical use for the once powerful RINO politician. After all, not a single Republican vote will be required to impose the Democrats' will upon the once Constitutionally protected American citizen.
John Stossel took a peek into Nancy Pelosi's "bare" cupboard last night to see if she was correct in saying there is nothing left to cut. Brilliantly, he placed Social Security, Medicare and military spending on top of the cupboard since "those are so big they don't even fit in the cupboard." Mark Steyn takes on the same issue today saying, Too Much of the Federal Government Can't Be Shut Down.
"Mandatory spending" (Social Security, Medicare et al.) is authorized in perpetuity -- or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress' so-called federal budget process.
That's why you're reading government "shutdown" stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady's ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.
He segues from there to what passes for a spending prioritization process in the capitol of our national, nee federal, government.
Pace Sen. Reid, Republican proposals to allocate spending through targeted, mere multi-billion-dollar appropriations is not only not "irresponsible" but, in fact, a vast improvement over the "continuing resolution": To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, but continuing power corrupts continually.
America has no budget process. That's why it's the brokest nation in history. So a budgeting process that can't control the budget in a legislature that can't legislate leads to a government shutdown that shuts down open areas of grassland and the unmanned boat launch on the Bighorn River in Montana.
I've been Tweeting and Facebooking that we're witnessing day whatever-it-is of "Essential Government." In reality, what's still steaming ahead full is well beyond what is essential.
"The point isn’t that anyone in our country is Hitler," Paul said, repeating that he is not comparing anyone to Hitler. "But what I am saying that is in a democracy you could somehow elect someone who is very evil . . . When a democracy gets it wrong, you want the law to be in place."
Video still live here: http://www.c-span.org/Live-Video/C-SPAN2/
Damn I'm proud of the United States Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul.
UPDATE: Senator Rand Paul's fillibuster for individual rights and against an ever more powerful central government attracted an unusual ally to the Republican's side: Code Pink.
Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor — which delayed the vote to confirm John Brennan as director of the CIA — was unusual in that it brought together unlikely allies: libertarian-leaning Republicans, establishment Republicans, Democrats and even left-wing activists like Code Pink.
They're still as misguided a group of lemmings you'll ever see, but it is refreshing to see any willingness to stand with traditional foes over a particular principle. I'll say this for Code Pink: Their principles are almost completely wrong, but at least they have principles.
"The president is dangerously close to totalitarianism,"
So says libertarian ex-jurist Andrew Napolitano. And the IBD Editorial Page is inclined to agree.
The whole thrust has been the acquisition of power by the federal government centered on the White House. That is the theme of ObamaCare, which is not about health care but about making people as dependent on government benevolence, if we can use that word, as possible.
Those who stand in the way, whether it be the Supreme Court, Congress or institutions such as the Catholic Church, are to be either ignored when possible, or intimidated and bullied into silence and acquiescence in the proud tradition of President Obama's mentor, Saul Alinsky.
What is at stake here is freedom and whether we shall be governed by a document that begins with "we the people" or whether we shall be ruled, in totalitarian fashion, by a bill that says "the secretary shall determine" what our rights and freedoms are.
I recall my apolitical Texas cousin being bewildered by my warnings of Barack Obama's principles and ambitions prior to the 2008 election. "You're crazy" she said, when I told her he intended to become Robin Hood in the White House, and worse. Last month we had occasion to meet again. She now seems to have accepted that I wasn't just whistling Dixie. Neither is Judge Napolitano.
"There are certain things only a government can do," Obama says in the address. "And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and do not cause us harm."
That's all of politics in a nutshell my friends I'm not sure that that appeared in the print edition or is a blog feature, but click through if you want to read about how evil Bush politicized, underfunded and ignored the FDA at the expense of our safety. (You try doing all three of those!)
But this is what one of my favorite bass players would call "the crux of the biscuit." How many voters believe that? I'm afraid too many. A Republican-leaning relative of mine assured me one day that the only reason the grocery store doesn't sell bad meat is USDA regulation. Most people treat me like a crazy old delusional uncle when I tell them stories of the FDA, ImClone, Sam Waksal, and Martha Stewart. They think I am making it up.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a former member of the pork-dispensing Appropriations Committee, strongly opposed the moratorium, as did all but a handful of Democrats.
House Democrats such as John Murtha, D-Johnstown, a longtime Pelosi ally who got the "porker of the year" award from Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based watchdog group, weighed in as well. If the Senate won't give up its pork, they argued, why should the House?
Earmarks for road and bridge projects, contracts for local defense companies, and grants to local governments and nonprofits can mean jobs back home. Then there's the political boost that lawmakers running for re-election reap from earmarks, especially endangered freshmen such as Nancy Boyda, D-Kan.
Can we at least pretend they're not trying to bribe us for their jobs?
Even after all the political posturing, it came as a surprise to the Democratic Congress that their approval rating of 11% is just half of the favorable rating received by Nazis in a German poll. The approval rate for Democrats was 11% - It was 25% for Nazis when asked if there was anything good to their control of Germany.
President Bush's ratings are within the margin of error.
Congressional insiders are formulating plans to gain more popularity than Nazis. Said one insider, "We never figured that calling President Bush a no good Nazi really meant that he had a higher level of populariity. But there it is."
Just in case the Democrats weren't entirely upset with Cindy Sheehan for failing to walk the party line, she decided to write this in the San Francisco Chronicle:
I was a lifelong Democrat only because the choices were limited. The Democrats are the party of slavery and were the party that started every war in the 20th century, except the other Bush debacle. The Federal Reserve, permanent federal income taxes, not one but two World Wars, Japanese concentration camps, and not one but two atom bombs dropped on the innocent citizens of Japan -- all brought to us via the Democrats.
The emphasis is mine. As Don Luskin asks, "Is she some kind of libertarian? In this, she's sounding a lot like Ron Paul."
The iPhone "highlights both the promise and the problems of the wireless industry today," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecom and the Internet. "This cutting edge technology breaks new ground … [but] consumers can't use this service with other wireless carriers" and those in areas not reached by AT&T cannot use the iPhone at all, he said.
Apple signed an agreement with AT&T to serve as the sole cell phone service provider for the iPhone. Those who purchase the iPhone, therefore, must switch to AT&T in order for their phone to work, incurring cancellation fees from current providers and locking themselves into a two-year contract with AT&T.
"Consumers feel trapped," Markey said at a hearing about regulation in the wireless industry.
"The iPhone could still change the world and be available for any consumer on any network, but we won't know until 2012, the year that AT&T's American exclusivity runs out," said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. "I think it's time the consumer becomes a decider, not the cell phone carriers."
Michigan Republican Fred Upton has a sensible rejoinder.
"Competition spurs carriers to innovate and build a better mousetrap," he said. "The iPhone is the newest mousetrap and now other carriers will be working to top it."
Squeaker of the Mouse Nancy Pelosi has spoken effusively about her children and grandchildren and how they've shaped her management style. Yet, she is the de facto head of the Democratic Party, which supports abortion on-demand and every level of government involvement.
Last year I partnered my company with the Whitpain Township Firefighter's Association as well as the Police Association to organize and host the 1st Annual John Kulick Memorial Golf Outing. Some background on the event, John was killed in Iraq last year and left behind a nine-year-old daughter.
As the father of a soon to be ten year old, and as a first responder, and retired US Army Officer I take my responsibilities in association with John's event very seriously.
I am writing this blog to make you aware of the response we received from Candidate for Congress Lois Murphy's office today when we called to follow up on the mailing we sent her campaign office two weeks ago.
As this is an election year I thought it might be a good idea to contact local candidates and office holders to gain their support of the event. When I approached [State] Senator Rob Wonderling he could not get his checkbook out soon enough to sponsor a hole. When you factor in that most of the people attending our event do not live in his district you start to get the feeling that Senator Wonderling actually acted out of respect for John and other First Responders.
Ms. Murphy is another story. Her representative's exact response was that they WERE NOT INTERESTED in supporting an event held to raise money for the children of deceased First Responders. Ms. Murphy is running for Congress on the Democratic ticket and could actually end up representing some of those reading this.
But Murphy, through a spokeswoman, said Gerlach could have done more to support emergency services in the district.
"Throughout his two decades as a career politician, Jim Gerlach has failed to support first responders and has voted twice (while in the state Senate) against providing $5 million for volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania," said Amy Bonitatibus, communications director for the Murphy campaign.
In Congress, Murphy will fight to ensure that first responders have the resources they need to do their jobs, she said.
"Pennsylvania's first responders deserve more than a part-time supporter in Congress," Bonitatibus said.
An update on my Lois Murphy Blog. Earlier this morning a check arrived for a hole sponsorship from Representative Jim Gerlach's office. This was as a result of the same mailing that Ms. Murphy's office rejected. Please note that his office and representatives have nothing to do with my blogs or e-mails on this subject. His office donated money based on their own decision making process, which I applaud.
Rep. John Murtha (D.-Pa.) appears to be suffering "Daschle-itis," a figurative disease which makes entrenched incumbents become national celebrities and, in the process, risk alienating the voters that put them in office.
Since seizing his party's anti-war mantle, Murtha has become a great draw for Democratic fundraisers, helping his party boost its prospects for a congressional takeover. Naturally, this helps his party-leadership bid as well.
But at the same time, his outspokenness made him a huge target for the Internet right. His district went for John Kerry with only 51% in 2004. What originally seemed like a long-shot bid by Diana Irey (R.) to unseat Murtha has taken on new credibility as she raises money from the Internet and as Murtha makes more and more outrageous statements.
One of the downsides of a vocal leadership role for Congressman is that the local voters still have to cast their ballots.
Ruth Ann Biesinger-Sliko, 55, a physical education teacher who came to see a fellow teacher and six of her former students return from Iraq, said Murtha has lost her vote because of his negativity about the war.
"I think that makes the guys feel terrible when he starts, you know, bashing. I think you need to support the guys," Biesinger-Sliko said. "I think it's created a lot of bad feelings for the people whose families are over there."
"I just believe everything he says is very true," said Cindy Saylor, 49, whose 19-year-old son was among those who returned home. "I think we need to get out of there. People are getting killed needlessly."
.. and finally.
Tom Geiger, a 79-year-old World War II veteran, said he thinks Murtha is "50 percent right and 50 percent wrong."
"Maybe they should have searched a little bit more" for weapons of mass destruction, Geiger said. "But once you're into it, you're stuck with it."
Democrats had hopes that an enraged Democratic base would turn out in larger numbers proportionately than an apparently discouraged Republican base. That didn't happen. That's not a good sign for Democrats in November. Republicans won in 2002 and 2004 in large part because they won the battle of turnout: John Kerry won 16 percent more popular votes than Al Gore, but George W. Bush won 23 percent more popular votes in 2004 than in 2000. The totals from the California 50th suggest that Democrats are gaining only a very small advantage in differential turnout this year, even though the national polls show Bush in much worse shape than in 2004 and suggest that Republican Party identification is down slightly.
The bad news for Republicans is that there is now more splintering on the right than on the left. Back in 2000, some 2 percent of voters nationally voted for Ralph Nader, even though there was no hot-button issue like Iraq to differentiate him from Al Gore. Less than 0.5 percent in contrast voted for Pat Buchanan. Conservatives were more unified than liberals. Now it seems to be the other way around. Discontent with Bush and/or the Republican Congress over immigration, spending, pork-barrel projects, the Dubai ports deal, the Republican leadership's protests over the search of Democrat Bill Jefferson's office—you can probably add a few items to the list—has now evidently got more voters on the right willing to cast a protest vote.
If Busby does go down to defeat, (which given the support she has received from the nutroots seems all but inevitable), and her ridiculous “misstatement” is a leading cause for said defeat, then the entire episode should prove instructive for those of us in the pundit class. It is true that the Republican Party has become frustrating on a good day, pathetic on a bad one. But in order to win all the individual races out there, the Democrats will have to provide a superior alternative. Given the state of the Democratic Party, this promises to be no easy feat.
You’d have to say the California 50th race was a winnable one for the Democrats, even if it weren’t the year of a putative Democratic tidal wave. After all, the former Republican incumbent now sports an orange jump suit. And yet, it appears like it won’t work out because the Democratic candidate just wasn’t up to snuff.
Much of the Dem post-primary spin has centered on the fact that Francine Busby performed capably given the Republican nature of CA 50.
But if Democrats plan on winning back the House, they’re going to have to win races in even redder territory. In fact, almost half of the Dems’ top pickup opportunities are in districts that Bush carried with over 55% in 2004.
So is this a local election year, or a nationalized election? I can't tell.
But as I've argued many times, the donkeys are clueless, planless, idealess, hate-America/hate-Bush anti-war types who only want to get back in power so they can empanel their own to hold "investigative" hearings that would harass the Bush Administration, the military, the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, the DHS, and FEMA. Plus, they'd try like hell to impeach Bush just because. Just because. That's a waste of time.
And nobody is going to vote for it.
It's no secret that that is the plan for Congressional Democrats. Even with Bush @ 33% or 36%, people don't want to impeach for spite.
If you have a legislative assistant for appropriations isn't that a sign that maybe this whole earmarks thing has gone too far?
Sen. Arlen Specter helped direct almost $50 million in Pentagon spending during the past four years to clients of the husband of one of his top aides, records show.
Specter, R-Pa., used a process called "earmarking" 13 times to set aside $48.7 million for six clients represented by lobbyist Michael Herson and the firm he co-founded, American Defense International. The clients paid Herson's firm nearly $1.5 million in fees since 2002, federal lobbying records show.
Herson's wife, Vicki Siegel Herson, is Specter's legislative assistant for appropriations. She deals with Specter's work on the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense subcommittee, where all the earmarks originated. Siegel, who uses her maiden name at work, is a former lobbyist for defense contractors who has worked for Specter since 1999.
But somehow, just somehow, something nags in me and says "Reform? Don't trust him."
Senator McCain is, afterall, one of the fathers of the Campaign Finance Reform shackles which bind personal spending in a most unConstitutional way. Now he's interested in reforming the operation of K Street lobbyists?
But I can only imagine how this "reform" is going to turn out. We're going to get screwed. The right kind of lobbyist will skate on through.
My friend Tim Chapman over at Townhall went looking around the lobbying reform bill and writes...
Case in point is a little known provision tucked away in Senator John McCainâ€™s (R-AZ) lobby reform proposal (S. 2128) that would adversely affect many grassroots organizations on the right and left. If McCainâ€™s provision stays in tact, grassroots organizations would for the first time be subject to requirements and regulations that would devastate their ability to reach out to the general public.
The way McCainâ€™s provision is written, â€śgrassroots lobbyingâ€ť means â€śany attempt to influence the general public, or segments thereof, to engage in lobbying contacts whether or not those contacts were made on behalf of a client.â€ť So grassroots organizations could be prohibited from reaching out to people not already included in their membership. This legislation would seriously curtail many groupsâ€™ abilities to get their message out and arguably infringes on their 1st Amendment free speech rights.
I'll be damned.
This is not the first time this issue has come up. In 1994, Congress considered enacting legislation but was beat back by a coalition of grassroots organizations featuring a political odd couple: Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life Council.
Being that I'm a member a grassroots group that does at some level in an attempt to influence the general public (see the Pennsylvania legislative payraise and repeal issue this summer), stuff like this really gets under my skin. This group operates at the state level, however.
What is it with Senator McCain and his problem with the First Amendment?
The argument that conservatives should support Chafee rests entirely on the assumption that he's the only Republican who can win in Rhode Island. This logic may be what has led the National Republican Senatorial Committee to continue throwing resources behind him. The assumption may or may not be true, but, whatever the case, it is far from clear that the GOP â€” to say nothing of conservatives â€” gains anything from Chafee's continued presence in the Senate. When votes really matter, he can't be counted on. Positions such as the one he took on Alito allow Democrats and the media to speak of "bipartisan opposition" to the Bush administration. And if the GOP's majority ever depended on Chafee alone, there's every reason to believe he'd bolt the party, just as James Jeffords of Vermont did in 2001.
There is an alternative. Steven Laffey, the Republican mayor of Cranston, is running against Chafee in the September primary. His underdog campaign has shown both pluck and promise. Laffey has a track record of winning Democratic votes: That's the only way he could have been elected two times as mayor of Cranston, a city of about 80,000 residents, most of them Democrats. But on key issues, Laffey is a conservative: He supports tax cuts and the war in Iraq, opposes corporate welfare and other forms of wasteful spending, and is pro-life. The Club for Growth has decided to back him. His campaign has unfortunately chosen to bash "Big Oil" in some of its early advertising â€” but, as we said, it's difficult to be a Republican in Rhode Island.
Nothing quite like picking at a scab. Read their whole editorial.
An enraged Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) confronted Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) last week, excoriating them for lampooning his notorious “Bridge to Nowhere” as a multibillion-dollar boondoggle.
The chairman of the Transportation Committee had caught wind that the $223 million bridge was indeed going nowhere — and most House members learned yesterday that the project, which has caused Republicans acute embarrassment for two months, is being killed. So is another span, the $229 million “Don Young Way.”
According to witnesses, Young warned Flake and Musgrave that he planned to stay in Congress a long time and would not forget the stinging defeat.
Another ringing endorsement for term limits.
Republicans are the party of fiscal restraint. Not a reigning (aka eternally re-elected) monarchy to re-distribute the treasures of the nation.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) filed delinquent reports Friday for three trips she accepted from outside sponsors that were worth $8,580 and occurred as long as seven years ago, according to copies of the documents.
The filing is among hundreds of revisions from members of both parties who have amended missing or incomplete reports as scrutiny of lawmaker travel has intensified.
The most expensive trip was not reported on Pelosi's annual financial disclosure statement or on the travel disclosure form that is required within 30 days of a trip.
A more common violation among members filing corrections was to list a trip on the annual statement but not file the more detailed form about a specific trip. The House ethics committee plans to examine the tardy disclosures after being stalled since January in partisan disputes.