Barack Obama did not take the Manchin-Toomey expanded-background-checks bill’s defeat in the Senate very well. In fact, he called all of us opposed to that bill “liars” and said that this measure, which would not have prevented the shootings in Newtown or in Phoenix or any other of the well-known mass shootings, was a “common sense step to help keep our kids safe.”
It was never clear to me why Barack Obama or Pat Toomey thought the Constitution actually granted any power to Congress to regulate a non-interstate firearms sale that takes place across a table.
Senator Mike Lee explained that he voted against the bill because he recognized that all this was another liberal salami game, taking one more slice of our rights today and then coming back for another tomorrow.
The Toomey-Manchin amendment admirably attempted to carve out certain protections for gun owners, but today’s carve-outs are tomorrow’s loopholes. The current “gun show loophole” was itself once considered a legitimate carve-out that protected certain private sales.
Eratosthenes was moved to remark on the president’s sense of self-entitlement. When the left doesn’t get its way, the system has always failed.
I was just noticing this yesterday while listening to the President’s speech on the radio. If the democrats get their butts beat a hundred times in a row, we can predict they’re going to say some variation of exactly the same thing, a hundred times in a row, and that thing will be: This just goes to show that you voters have to give us more of a lock on power.
This is a big part of the reason why I don’t trust them, why their whole way of looking at politics is incompatible with the way the republic was built. Not wanting to over-simplify it too much, but they’re spoiled brats. It’s just like an ex-wife who wants her child support or alimony early: They got this idea in their heads about what is going to happen. Nobody gave them that idea. They literally just gathered around a conference table and wrote it all down. They formed the idea in what was, for all practical purposes, a vacuum, and nobody made any promises about any of it save for the promises they made to each other. On the strength of that thing not coming to pass, they portend misery and doom. Just like any spoiled brat.
They Won’t Give Me Their Guns!And it’s always something polarizing. They get a few RINOs to participate and on the strength of that, they throw around the word “bipartisan” like peas at a food fight or something…but really. If you haven’t been following the news too closely lately and someone described the bill to you and said “Now, what do you think is the Republican position on this and what do you think is the democrat position,” would you really stand their scratching your head going “duh??” because the bill is just so-common-sense and wonderful like Emperor Barry was saying yesterday?
In defeat, I would expect a party that really does deserve more power, to say, in America: Well, back to the drawing board. It wasn’t meant to be. Not right now, at any rate. ...
In defeat, the democrats always say the same thing: This was supposed to happen — we decided so — and it didn’t happen that way, so this shows things are really messed up! Voters, you have to help us get rid of those Republicans. When we said we wanted a form of government that works for everybody, we were not talking about them! Their opportunity to be represented in our nation’s capitol, is the one thing that is really, really, heap-big busted right now, and that has to be the next thing fixed.
It is being reported today that Harry Reid is demanding major Senate procedural concessions from minority Republicans designed to ensure simple majority passage of highly controversial legislation traditionally vulnerable to being blocked or delayed by the filibuster.
A coalition of liberal groups met at the headquarters of the National Education Association (NEA) shortly after Obama won reelection to set strategy for advancing his second-term agenda. One of the primary goals emerging from the meeting was enacting filibuster reform. ...
[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid has begun to show signs of impatience with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), with whom he has been negotiating for weeks. He said Tuesday that he and McConnell have made progress, but added, “[W]e’ve got a long way to go.”
The Nevada Democrat said he would give Republicans another 24 to 36 hours to agree to filibuster reform and then trigger the so-called nuclear option. This controversial tactic would allow him to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote.
“I hope within the next 24 to 36 hours we can get something we agree on. If not, we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done. The caucus will support me on that,” Reid told reporters.
Although its use has been threatened in the past to spur the minority party to agree to reforms, the nuclear option has never been used to change the standing rules, say parliamentary experts.
Reid has come under heavy pressure from liberal advocacy groups to drastically limit the minority party’s power to filibuster and delay legislation.
This is the same Harry Reid who, in 2005, back when Republicans had a majority in the Senate and democrats were using the filibuster to block confirmation of nominations (like John Bolton for UN Ambassador) that they didn’t like, and Republicans threatened to change the Senate rules, accused Republicans excessive partisanship and of bending to “the whispered wishes of a few right wing activists,” and desperately demanded the preservation of the filibuster as an affirmation of bipartisanship.
If Reid uses the nuclear option, he is going to be very sorry in 2014 or 2016 when majority control of the Senate returns to Republicans.
James Webb ought to have been exactly the kind of candidate anyone of my political views would be eager to support, an Appalachian redneck who attended the Naval Academy and then served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, a war hero deservedly awarded the Nation’s second highest medal for valor, a former Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration, an intellectual who published several decent novels. What was not to like?
Reading it, followed by his 2008 A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America, I was persuaded that Jim Webb’s intention was to enter national politics as a second Andrew Jackson, that he was convinced that he had a role as a populist conservative champion of the values of rural working class America, that he intended to take on the liberal urban national elites on behalf of the same ordinary Americans among whom lay his own personal roots.
It seemed strange, then, that Webb proceeded to announce his intention to run as a democrat, challenging a conservative Republican incumbent, who was, at the time, one of the leading and most desirable conservative presidential prospects. It was not what anybody would call helpful to the conservative cause.
The next thing we knew, Webb went into attack mode, using an attempt by his opponent to mock the conniving presence of a Webb campaign agent filming him at one of his rallies to accuse George Allen of racism. Allen had referred to the opposition tracker of Indian extraction using a nonsense word, and Webb’s establishment media allies concocted an extravagantly implausible analysis of the word as an antique Moroccan slur applied to Negroes, imported into the Allen family’s customary parlance in Southern California by a mother of Shephardic Jewish ancestry.
This underhanded use of obviously false accusations of racism was pretty disgusting, particularly coming someone who would normally be expected to have good cause to fear being on the receiving end of similar accusations from the left.
James Webb proceeded to run for the Senate successfully, as an anti-war candidate no less, simultaneously waving around his Marine Corps son’s combat boots and insulting George W. Bush in public on the basis of his alleged grand indignation over the president’s sending his son into combat.
For a while, I entertained the hypothesis that all this villainy was perhaps merely the ruthless means by which Jim Webb meant to fight and claw his way into high office, and that once he had acquired a usable platform out would emerge the second incarnation of Old Hickory to turn the tables on the establishment and shake things up in Washington. They do train young men to be hard-nosed at Annapolis. The Marine Corps’s fighting techniques do not emphasize fair play for the enemy. Maybe Webb as just being a ruthless SOB for ultimately patriotic reasons. It seemed to me that a populist conservative democrat presidential contender would be a real game changer in national politics and the two party system as we know it could possibly never be the same. Maybe Webb would redeem himself in the end by challenging the current democrat party’s elite leftism and restoring the party of Jefferson and Jackson to its Southern libertarian and working class roots.
But then we saw James Webb the Senator. All the stuff in those books about “fighting” had nothing to do with Webb’s senatorial behavior. As Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid steered the ship of state hard left and opened wide the deficit sea valves, Senator James Henry Webb, Jr. representative of the Commonwealth of Virginia and of the Scots Irish culture of America faithfuly voted the left-wing party line every single time. Yes, Webb voted for the Porkulus. Yes, Webb voted for Obamacare. It seemed to me a pity that the democrats didn’t see their way clear to introduce a ban on handguns or a hunt ban, so we could watch good old Jim Webb vote with the democrat party on those, too.
In Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More, upon learning that his protege Richard Rich has been appointed Attorney General for Wales as a reward for betraying him by misquoting their private conversations, remarks, Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales? One might say much the same thing of Mr. Webb, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for one lousy six-year term in the Senate?
When journalists diffidently inquired a few months back about the Constitutional basis for mandated health insurance purchases, the response of democrat party Solons typically varied between blank incomprehension and clear indignation at the effrontery of anyone suggesting that any kind of limits on their power might exist.
Walter Olson remarks on a recent demonstration for the need of remedial high school civics lesson for US senators.
Last Tuesday, despite warnings of regulatory overreach, the Senate voted 73-25 in favor of S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, which would greatly expand the powers of the federal Food and Drug Administration and impose extensive new testing and paperwork requirements on farmers and food producers. Almost at once, however, the bill was derailed — whether temporarily or otherwise remains to be seen — by what the New York Times called an “arcane parliamentary mistake” and the L.A. Times considered a purely “technical flaw“. Roll Call put it more bluntly: “[Senate] Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.” While the New York Times weirdly cast Senate Republicans as the villains in the affair, other news sources more accurately reported that it was the (Democratic) House leadership that was standing up for its prerogatives:
“Unfortunately, [the Senate] passed a bill which is not consistent with the Constitution of the United States, so we are going to have to figure out how to do that consistent with the constitutional requirement that revenue bills start in the House,” [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer said.
According to Hoyer, this has happened multiple times this Congress, causing severe legislative angina.
“The Senate knows the rule and should follow the rule and they should be cognizant of the rule,” Hoyer scolded. “Nobody ought to be surprised by the rule. It is in the Constitution, and you have all been lectured and we have as well about reading the Constitution.”
To those familiar with the history of the U.S. Constitution, the Origination Clause should hardly count as arcane or technical. It stands as the very first sentence of Article I, Section 7: “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.” ...
With its two-year terms of office and less populous constituencies, the House of Representatives was of course designed to be the legislative branch closest to the people, most readily thrown out of office when it strays from the public mood. Those considerations aside, the Constitution is rightly celebrated for the way its framers made the House and Senate different from each other precisely in order to ensure jealousies and dissensions between the two, those jealousies and dissensions serving as a safeguard against hasty or ill-considered legislation. In this case it worked exactly as planned, and the self-regard of the House leadership will serve as the reason for another round of scrutiny for a bill that could badly use some. Somewhere up above the spirit of James Madison may have heard the scolding words of Rep. Hoyer, and smiled.
Things, of course, are not really different among House democrats either. Remember Alcee Hastings’ analysis of the legal dynamic behind the operations of American government?
Peter Robinson opines that Mitch McConnell is going to calling the shots much of the time anyway.
Over the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve noticed that Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has sounded a lot chirpier—and, frankly, a lot more aggressive—than a man ought to sound when he’s just drawn a bad hand. Why? Well, after looking over a few statistics, I think I know. Sen. McConnell doesn’t believe he’s drawn a bad hand at all. Just take a look a this:
Twenty-three Democratic senators must face re-election in two years (actually, 21 Democrats plus Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both Independents who caucus with the Democrats).
* Of those 23, five represent states that John McCain carried in 2008 and George W. Bush carried in 2004. To wit: Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia (although just elected this year, Manchin is merely filling out the unexpired term of the late Sen. Byrd).
* Four more Democratic senators facing re-election come from states that McCain lost in 2008—but that Bush carried four years earlier. Namely: Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Jim Webb of Virginia.
Which means that although he’ll have only 46 votes in the new Congress to call his own, Mitch McConnell will find that no fewer than nine Democrats are willing—perhaps even eager—to work with him.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on the latest manifestation of the influence of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel on contemporary American politics.
U.S. Senate candidates Ron Johnson and U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold clashed sharply Monday night on Ayn Rand’s famous novel “Atlas Shrugged,” about an economy crumbling under the weight of government intrusion and regulations. ...
While the two went back and forth on issues such as the economy, Social Security, the health care law and the war in Afghanistan, the most spirited discussion came from a book that was written in 1957 and remains popular among some conservatives and people who espouse limited government.
Rand’s book describes a dystopian America where the leading innovators leave society out of frustration with rules and regulations. It is a book that Johnson says he admires and has been a driving force in his political philosophy.
Asked by a panelist about the book, Johnson said “Atlas” represents the producers of the world, while “Shrugged” represents how overburdened the producers are with rules, regulations and taxes.
“It’s a warning of what could happen to America,” Johnson said. “When you hear people talk about a tipping point, that’s what we’re concerned about. . . . We have more people who are net beneficiaries of government than are actually paying into the system. That’s a very serious thing to think about.”
“I believe in the community,” Feingold responded. “I believe in the community of Wisconsin. . . . You believe the producers are a very special group of people. I guess they’re better than the rest of us. When things aren’t going their way, you take the position that people shouldn’t have unemployment compensation because you have the view they don’t want to work.”
Johnson said he wasn’t against the minimum wage and the extension of unemployment benefits. He said the fact that Feingold was talking about that showed that the stimulus bill was a failure.
“The last thing we should be doing is increase taxes on anybody in this recovery,” Johnson said.
After the debate, Feingold said Johnson “had a very narrow view of who actually does the work in society. I think everybody is working hard.”
It sounds a lot like Hank Reardon debating Wesley Mouch.
Barack Obama reversed course and put Donald Berwick up for Senate confirmation after all today, after having had him sworn in as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid via a recess appointment.
When asked why, an Administration spokesman told reporters, it was just a formality. They aren’t fooling anyone. This is a clear signal that the White House believes that they are going to lose the Senate in November and the best possible chance of confirmation is right now.
Elena Kagan says (in a speech at Case Western Reserve in 1997) she “loved what happened in the Bork hearings… The Bork hearings were great, the Bork hearings were educational. The Bork hearings were the best thing that ever happened to Constitutional Democracy.”
Thursday was a painful day to be a democrat. Minnesota Senator Al Franken, recently promoted from Hollywood clown to legislative Solon, delivered firm evidence of his worthiness for high office by delivering a nine minute speech endorsing the Dodd “Financial Reform” bill in the course of which he pointed to a Washington Post Tom Toles cartoon as evidentiary proof of the need for the bill’s passage.
Franken then actually proceeded to elucidate the cartoon at length, explaining to his fellow senators exactly what each detail represented and just how the whole thing should be interpreted: “There you see an apple core. A fishhead skeleton. A banana. You don’t want those on the ice, you just don’t want that. That’s bad.”
If anyone ever doubted that Franken was playing himself as the baggage handler in Trading Places (1983), there you are.
Yesterday, Rush was joking about the dems being favor of “hardened criminals.” Kimberly Strassel explains the point of the Republican amendments offered during reconciliation.
‘And so when you walk into that ballot box, remember that it was my Democratic opponent who favored providing Viagra to pedophiles.”
That isn’t a campaign line any American has heard yet, but give it a few hours. The Senate this week took up its “reconciliation” bill, with its final changes to the law the president signed Tuesday. It wasn’t so much reconciliation as reckoning.
Democrats only got their ObamaCare victory by breaking every rule, and that was always going to come at a price. To lever the health bill through the House, Democrats used the arcane process of reconciliation. It got them a win, but it also meant Senate Democrats this week had to endure the political equivalent of water-boarding.
Here’s why: reconciliation allowed Republicans to bring up unlimited amendments. Because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) could not allow the reconciliation bill to be changed in any way—which would send it back to the House—his party was obliged to vote down every one of those amendments. And every one had been designed to make even hardened pols whimper.
Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered language to bar the government from subsidizing erectile dysfunction drugs for convicted pedophiles and rapists. Democrats voted . . . No! Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) proposed exempting wounded soldiers from the new tax on medical devices. Democrats: No way! Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) wanted to exempt critical access rural hospitals from funding cuts. Senate Democrats: Forget it! This was Republicans’ opportunity to lay out every ugly provision and consequence of ObamaCare, and Democrats—because of the process they’d chosen—had to defend it all.
And so it went, into the wee Thursday hours. All Democrats in favor of taxing pacemakers? Aye! All Democrats in favor of keeping those seedy vote buyoffs? Aye! All Democrats in favor of raising taxes on middle-income families? Aye! All Democrats in favor of exempting themselves from elements of ObamaCare? Aye! All Democrats in favor of roasting small children in Aga ovens? (Okay, I made that one up, but you get the point.) Aye!
These votes are “ridiculous” huffed Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd. Republicans are not being “serious” grumped Mr. Reid. Of course, “ridiculous” and “not serious” better apply to ObamaCare, which was in fact the substantive point of amendments like Mr. Coburn’s. A 2005 survey found that some 800 convicted sex offenders had—whoops—received Medicaid-funded impotence drugs. This is what happens when a big, inefficient government runs health care, and as Mr. Coburn noted, it is about to do it on a bigger, more inefficient scale than ever, thanks to ObamaCare.
Since the health bureaucracy can’t be trusted, the only way to guarantee a subsidy’s end is to ban them with legislation. And since Democrats didn’t allow Republicans to help craft the bill, this was Mr. Coburn’s best shot. And since the majority had by then boxed itself in, it is now on record as being OK with little blue pills for pedophiles. Unfortunate, really, since most members obviously are not. But hey, three cheers for reconciliation!
No more hiding, either, by Democrats who voted for ObamaCare even as they claimed to have reservations. Republicans flushed them out, making each individual Democrat stand up to defend each individual piece. The record now shows that Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln is on board with higher premiums, that Colorado’s Michael Bennet is good to go with gutting Medicare Advantage, that Nevada’s Harry Reid is just fine with rationing, that New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand is cool with taxes on investment income, that California’s Barbara Boxer is right-o with employer mandates, and that Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter is willing to strip his home state of the right to opt out of the health law.
Fox News detects a partisan slant in potential virus warnings pertaining to Drudge Report, one of the most active and infliential agggregators on the Internet, whose reporting commonly, but not always, features a conservative perspective.
[A]n e-mail is circulating warning U.S. Senate staffers not to view one of the most popular news sites on the Web, claiming it could spread computer viruses.
The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, the chamber’s official gatekeeper, said the Drudge Report, a news aggregator, and whitepages.com, a telephone directory site, “are responsible for the many viruses popping up throughout the Senate,” according to an e-mail from the Environment and Public Works Committee obtained by FoxNews.com.
Another e-mail from a separate office warned that staffers who had visited the Drudge Report or White Pages had experienced viruses on their PCs.
“Please avoid using these sites until the Senate resolves this issue,” the e-mail read. “The Senate has been swamped the last couples (sic) days with this issue.”
But the Drudge Report suggested that politics might be behind the warning, noting in an original story that the e-mail came as the “health care drama in the Capitol reaches a grand finale.”
The Drudge Report noted that it served more than 29 million pages Monday without an e-mail complaint about “’pop ups,’ or the site serving ‘viruses.’” ...
A spokesman for the Environment and Public Works Committee said the Senate Help Desk cited the Drudge Report and whitepages.com only as possible examples of Web sites generating pop-up ads that might be causing a recent increase in the number of virus infections.
“Our non-partisan systems administrator notified both Majority and Minority staff that this issue had been brought to her attention,” the spokesman said in a written statement. “It is still not exactly clear where the increase in viruses is coming from, and staff have been advised to be cautious with outside Web sites at all times.”
A GOP aide to the Environment and Public Works Committee told FoxNews.com that there has been “a flurry of activity in the last couple of days” and that a couple of people on the staff had had “computer problems.”
But Brent Baker, the vice president for research and publications at the Media Research Center, wondered why the conservative Drudge was cited as an example instead of a liberal site like the Huffington Post.
I look at Drudge Report daily and I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that there is any legitimate basis for such warnings at all.
The Wall Street Journal explains that it is far from a foregone conclusion that the attempt to ram the health care bill through via Reconciliation will be possible.
That arcane maneuver will have to survive the scrutiny of a theoretically independent official charged with enforcing the rules of the Senate, the Senate parliamentarian.
The drama over health-care legislation is reaching a critical stage, and soon the spotlight may land on Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin.
Mr. Frumin is usually offstage, standing on the chamber dais whispering with the presiding officer about obscure points of Senate procedure. To lawmakers rushing to finish their long-stalled health bill, however, the $170,000-a-year Senate appointee suddenly has attained outsize prominence and power.
That is because Democratic senators, who unexpectedly lost their filibuster-proof majority in January, are relying on arcane congressional budget rules to complete the health-care revamp.
Those budget rules promise a huge procedural advantage by avoiding filibusters that require 60 votes to overcome.
But there is a big catch: Anything that is in a budget bill has to have a budget purpose. If not, the provision can be challenged under the “Byrd rule,” named for Sen. Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat.
And Mr. Frumin, as the parliamentarian, must decide whether the Byrd rule has been met.
Thus, in a series of tense private meetings known informally as “Byrd baths,” it is Mr. Frumin who will determine what stays in the legislation and what goes, according to people who have taken part in the past. (Provisions that are cut become “Byrd droppings.”) Mr. Frumin’s decisions could dictate whether the health-care overhaul will gain momentum or collapse.
Byrd-bath meetings, which are held in the parliamentarian’s cubbyhole office in the Capitol, can drag on for hours as lawmakers and staffers make their cases. Running debates can stretch over weeks.
“The whole [Byrd rule] process in my experience as parliamentarian is a rather wrenching one,” said Robert Dove, Mr. Frumin’s predecessor. “It’s just long and grueling.…I don’t envy him.”
The parliamentarian and his staff “are under huge pressure,” said Sen. Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican. “There are 100 elected senators and one parliamentarian, and the parliamentarian can determine what the 100 can do.”
Among the policies that could be bounced by the Byrd rule are a number of changes to how the insurance market operates. Mr. Dove expressed skepticism that the budget shortcuts were well-suited for such efforts.
“When [the budget process] is used to jam things through on a very narrow basis, that’s when it runs into problems,” he said. Still, “it’s so handy for any party that doesn’t have 60 votes.…so it’s a very tempting tool.”
Mr. Frumin, 63 years old, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
That health care bill sure looks like Byrd droppings to me.
Megan McArdle warns that trying an end run around the Senate’s rules will prove a costly mistake for democrats.
If the Democrats use budget reconciliation to bypass the Republicans, they will be making a big mistake.
Reconciliation is not meant to handle these sorts of problems; it’s meant to help Congress get revenues in line with outlays without letting protracted negotiations push us into a budget crisis. It’s not possible to do any sort of comprehensive, rational overhaul of the Senate health bill — which after all, was intended to be the opening salvo in a negotiation, not the final bill.
More broadly, for all that Democrats are declaring that they have a mandate, it’s pretty clear that the public does not want them to pass any of the health care bills on the table — which has to include the Obama plan, since it is only a minor tweak on the existing proposals. Polls have shown more Americans opposing passage than supporting it since early summer, and opposition has risen fairly steadily over time.
Democrats have had plenty of time to make their case. They have failed to do so. The longer they have talked, the more firmly the voters have rejected their ideas. If Congress goes ahead anyway, they will pay a terrible political price.
Many progressives are pushing the notion that having already once voted for it, Democrats will pay that political price no matter what, so they might as well pass it. That ignores several factors. First, a hated bill that failed last December is not going to engender the same ire as a hated bill that passed in May.
Back in 2005, when democrats held up George W. Bush’s judicial appointments in an unprecedented display of partisanship, the Republican majority in the Senate threatened to use the so-called “nuclear option,” i.e., to use reconciliation to overcome the filibuster to achieve judicial confirmations.
Diane Feinstein warns: “It begins with judicial nominations, next will be executive appointments, and then legislation.”