Category Archive 'Senate'
20 Dec 2009

Bribing Senator Nelson

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Publius, at Big Government, sums it up.

We’ll be blunt. The ‘health care reform’ legislation under consideration in the Senate is the most corrupt piece of legislation in our nation’s history. …

Exhibit A is the outright bribe extracted by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Corn Huckster State) from Sen. Harry Reid. As a result of Nelson’s performance in his role of Hamlet in the health care deliberations, we will have two health care systems in this country; one for Nebraska and one for the other 49 states.

In its quixotic attempt to ensure everyone has health insurance, the Reid legislation greatly expands Medicaid eligibility. Because Medicaid is a program whose costs are split between the federal and state governments, this expansion in eligibility raise costs dramatically for states. States will be forced to either raise taxes or cut other services to accommodate the forced increase in Medicaid spending.

Unless that state is Nebraska.

And then quoting the bill:

    The legislation would maintain and put into effect a number of procedures that might be difficult to sustain over a long period of time. Under current law and under the proposal, payment rates for physicians’ services in Medicare would be reduced by about 21 percent in 2010 and then decline further in subsequent years.

(Hey, American Medical Association, how’s that endorsement of this bill working for you?)

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

12 Dec 2009

Ungovernable America

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Prominent liberal blogger Matt Yglesias is finding that American democracy isn’t working out his way these days, and announces that it’s time to change the rules.

The smarter elements in Washington DC are starting to pick up on the fact that it’s not tactical errors on the part of the president that make it hard to get things done, it’s the fact that the country has become ungovernable. …

You can have a system in which a defeated minority still gets a share of governing authority and participates constructively in the victorious majority’s governing agenda, shaping policy around the margins in ways more to their liking. Or you can have a system in which a defeated minority rejects the majority’s governing agenda out of hand, seeks opening for attack, and hopes that failure on the part of the majority will bring them to power. But right now we have both simultaneously. It’s a system in which the minority benefits if the government fails, and the minority has the power to ensure failure. It’s insane, and it needs to be changed.

You can see just how badly they taught Civics at Dalton and at Harvard. Mr. Yglesias is clearly unaware that the basic role of the Senate as conceived by the framers was to obstruct the will of the majority and to prevent majorities tyrannizing over the minority.

In Federalist Paper 63, James Madison writes:

I shall not scruple to add, that such an institution may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions. As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice, and truth can regain their authority over the public mind? What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against the tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens the hemlock on one day and statues on the next.

20 Nov 2009

Here They Come

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Don Troiani, Bunker Hill

From Gateway Pundit:

Senate Democrats will only deliberate 10 hours on Saturday before they vote to nationalize one-sixth of the US economy.

The bill will nationalize the nation’s health care industry, increase costs, ration care, tax cosmetic surgery, cut Medicare, charge a monthly abortion fee, and take away your freedom.

Please take time tomorrow and Saturday to call your US Senator.

HERE IS THE PHONE LIST.

Don’t let the democrats destroy our health care system.

Support for this disastrous bill is down to 40% with 52% opposing.

01 Jul 2009

Franken Successfully Steals Election

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Minnesota’s new junior senator

Aided by a dishonest and partisan media, which scrupulously avoided investigating the facts and which faithfully reported the democrat party line, clown comedian and ultra-liberal Al Franken finally successfully stole last year’s close race for the senate seat from Minnesota when the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to interfere with an accomplished crime and instead declared him the winner.

The honorable exception in the major media was, as usual, the Wall Street Journal editorial page:

Mr. Franken trailed Mr. Coleman by 725 votes after the initial count on election night, and 215 after the first canvass. The Democrat’s strategy from the start was to manipulate the recount in a way that would discover votes that could add to his total. The Franken legal team swarmed the recount, aggressively demanding that votes that had been disqualified be added to his count, while others be denied for Mr. Coleman.

But the team’s real goldmine were absentee ballots, thousands of which the Franken team claimed had been mistakenly rejected. While Mr. Coleman’s lawyers demanded a uniform standard for how counties should re-evaluate these rejected ballots, the Franken team ginned up an additional 1,350 absentees from Franken-leaning counties. By the time this treasure hunt ended, Mr. Franken was 312 votes up, and Mr. Coleman was left to file legal briefs.

What Mr. Franken understood was that courts would later be loathe to overrule decisions made by the canvassing board, however arbitrary those decisions were. He was right. The three-judge panel overseeing the Coleman legal challenge, and the Supreme Court that reviewed the panel’s findings, in essence found that Mr. Coleman hadn’t demonstrated a willful or malicious attempt on behalf of officials to deny him the election. And so they refused to reopen what had become a forbidding tangle of irregularities. Mr. Coleman didn’t lose the election. He lost the fight to stop the state canvassing board from changing the vote-counting rules after the fact.

This is now the second time Republicans have been beaten in this kind of legal street fight. In 2004, Dino Rossi was ahead in the election-night count for Washington Governor against Democrat Christine Gregoire. Ms. Gregoire’s team demanded the right to rifle through a list of provisional votes that hadn’t been counted, setting off a hunt for “new” Gregoire votes. By the third recount, she’d discovered enough to win. This was the model for the Franken team.

Mr. Franken now goes to the Senate having effectively stolen an election.

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As Chris Cillizza explains, the key to Franken’s successful election theft was: (1) being the first to bring in highly-paid talented legal big guns to manipulate a post-election ballot review process in his favor, and (2) media allies representing an artificially contrived and completely partisan recount as decisive and meaningful. Franken keeping his repulsive and excruciatingly vulgar personality under wraps for the duration helped a lot, too.

How did Franken manage to wind up on top? …

Marc Elias, a Democratic election attorney with Perkins Coie, was on the ground in Minnesota within days of the near-tie on election day. Elias spearheaded a series of legal victories in the early days of the recount that effectively defined the universe of votes that were counted and led to Franken going from behind on election night to ahead when they recount ended. By the time Ben Ginsberg, the Republicans’ election lawyer par excellence, got deeply involved, it was already too late. …

When the statewide recount ended, Franken led by 225 votes. … it’s hard to overstate how important the fact that Franken was (seemingly– JDZ) ahead was to setting public perception regarding the legal fight that ensued. Coleman was forced to be the aggressor legally, claiming that all sorts of ballots had been illegally counted (and not counted) while, through it all, the fact that Franken led by 225 votes hung over the proceedings. Voters tend to lose interest in politics quickly — particularly after an election as nasty and long as this race was — and that sort of fatigue played right into Franken’s hands. …

Franken’s problem throughout the race was, well, himself. … When the race ended in a tie, Franken did something very smart; he stayed out of the spotlight. He was rarely seen or heard and when he did pop into public view it was during an occasional visit to Washington when he was huddling with potential colleagues and getting briefed on issues by potential staffers.

When, oh, when will the Republican Party learn to play politics professionally against thugs, thieves, and liars? Watching Norm Coleman get rolled was like watching the team from St. Fauntleroy’s Academy for Young Gentlemen take on the Bowery Boys Reformatory team on the football gridiron. No contest at all.

07 May 2009

Obama Guantanamo Release Policy in Trouble

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Coming soon to a city near you?

Congressional Republicans (1, 2) and democrats are raising serious questions about Barack Obama’s plans to release terrorist detainees from the US holding facility in Guantanamo Bay into the United States, pointing to already existing statutes barring entry to recipients of terrorist training and introducing further legislation to block the president’s plans.

Jennifer Rubin, at Commentary, thinks Obama has painted himself into a corner on this one, and is going to incur serious political costs whichever way he decides in the end to proceed.

So what does the president do now? To go back on his promise to close Guantanamo would mean incurring the wrath of not only the Left in the U.S., but of the fawning European leaders and public who praised his decision to shut the place down. And it would, of course, be a humiliating admission that his initial pronouncement — made even before Eric Holder visited Guantanamo — was ill-conceived. He can try to fudge the issue or delay, but ultimately he has to do one or the other: proceed to close Guantanamo and begin releasing the detainees, or admit error and adhere to the Bush policy of housing dangerous terrorists there. It is not “a false choice,” but a very real one. We’ll see which audience, American or European, he is willing to offend.

01 May 2009

Specter’s Treachery May Actually Help

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William A. Jacobsen and Mike Dorf explain the irony.

[I]ronically, Specter’s defection may give Republicans the ability to filibuster judicial nominees at the Judiciary Committee level, so the nominees never get out of committee.

Huh, you say. Here’s the explanation, from Professor Michael Dorf of Cornell Law School at his excellent blog, Dorf on Law, written two days ago before Souter’s retirement was in play:

    Does Arlen Specter’s defection from R to D strengthen the President’s hand in Congress? Perhaps overall but not on judicial appointments because breaking (the equivalent of) a filibuster in the Senate Judiciary Committee requires the consent of at least one member of the minority. Before today, Specter was likely to be that one Republican. Now what?

The link in Dorf’s post is to Congress Matters, which has the Senate Judiciary Committee rule:

    IV. BRINGING A MATTER TO A VOTE
    The Chairman shall entertain a non-debatable motion to bring a matter before the Committee to a vote. If there is objection to bring the matter to a vote without further debate, a roll call vote of the Committee shall be taken, and debate shall be terminated if the motion to bring the matter to a vote without further debate passes with ten votes in the affirmative, one of which must be cast by the minority.

Now this is interesting. Specter could allow a nominee out of committee if Specter was a member of the Republican minority, but as part of the majority, he’s just another vote. Here are the other Republicans: Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, and Tom Coburn.

The weak link is Lindsey Graham, who was a member of the Gang of 14. If Graham says the course, the Republicans may not be able to stop runaway spending, military retrenchment, and an interrogation witch hunt. But Specter may have handed Republicans a gift.

And how fitting that Joe Biden arranged it all by convincing Specter to switch. Thanks, Joe. I’m sure your boss will appreciate your service as he ponders who he will nominate for the Supreme Court.

18 Apr 2009

“Obama Creates More Czars Than the Romanovs”

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After only three months in office, David J. Rothkopf declares Obama all-time champion of Czar creation.

With yesterday’s naming of Border Czar Alan Bersin, the Obama administration has by any reasonable reckoning passed the Romanov Dynasty in the production of czars. The Romanovs ruled Russia from 1613 with the ascension of Michael I through the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in 1917. During that time, they produced 18 czars. While it is harder to exactly count the number of Obama administration czars, with yesterday’s appointment it seems fair to say it is now certainly in excess of 18.

In addition to Bersin, we have energy czar Carol Browner, urban czar Adolfo Carrion, Jr., infotech czar Vivek Kundra, faith-based czar Joshua DuBois, health reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, new TARP czar Herb Allison, stimulus accountability czar Earl Devaney, non-proliferation czar Gary Samore, terrorism czar John Brennan, regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, and Guantanamo closure czar Daniel Fried. We also have a host of special envoys that fall into the czar category including AfPak special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell, special advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia Dennis Ross, Sudan special envoy J. Scott Gration and climate special envoy Todd Stern. That’s 18.

This is a very conservative estimate, however. I will allow you to pick whom you would like out of the remaining candidates. For example you could count de facto car czar Steve Rattner even though the administration went out of its way to say they weren’t going to have a car czar… before he ultimately emerged as the car czar. You could count National Director of Intelligence Dennis Blair, often referred to as the intelligence czar, although you might not want to because his job has a different kind of status on the org chart. I’m not going to count Paul Volcker who was referred to as Obama’s economic czar because Obama is not making much use of Volcker (at least according to reports).

But you certainly might want to count people deemed by the media to be the “cyber security czar” or the “AIDs czar” or the “green jobs czar” even if there are reasons to quibble about the designation of one or two of them.

Why do all these imperial appointments matter?

They matter procedurally because “Czar” appointments do not require Senatorial confirmation and represent an end-run around the Constitutional “Advise and Consent” prerogative of the US Senate. Obama can make any number of rancid radicals into “czars” of this, that, or the other thing, delegating to them large executive branch powers and responsibilities, even in cases of individuals who would not be confirmable by a vote in the Senate.

Fox News:

Czardom does not sit well with Sen. Robert Byrd. Though slowed by age, the West Virginia Democrat remains vigorous in his defense of the powers ceded to the Congress by the Constitution. He said he believes czars are a slick way of governing without having to answer to Congress.

There is no constitutional requirement that czars undergo those pesky Senate confirmation hearings.

Former Rep. Ernest Istook said he doesn’t like the term czar either because it’s too Russian.

“We could just call somebody the big boss, el jefe, head honcho, the big cheese,” he said. “My father used to refer to people as the chief cook and bottle washer.”

Istook said he believes the Obama team is using the appointment of czars to reinvent how the executive branch operates.

31 Dec 2008

Don’t Underestimate Blagojevich

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The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass advises. Playing the race card was a brilliant stroke which instantly put the national democrat party on the defensive.

Since he was federally charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been wrongly caricatured as some kind of hapless jester prancing on the edge of madness.

Jesters hold rattles with a likeness of their heads on the end of a stick, and they hop off into a corner, prattling to themselves. That’s what jesters do.

Jesters don’t pick up the race card in a nationally televised news conference and slam it into the face of every Democrat in the U.S. Senate, a palm heel strike to the tip of the nose, leaving all of them watery-eyed, their lips stinging.

Yet that’s what Blagojevich—aided by former Black Panther-turned-Daley-machine-functionary Bobby Rush—did at that stupendous news conference in Chicago on Tuesday. That’s when the governor appointed Democratic empty suit Roland Burris, an African-American, to fill the Senate seat vacated by Obama.

“Please don’t allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man,” said Blagojevich.

It was a brazen move, and a smart one, and though the race card was ugly, there was no passion in it. There was no lunacy involved.

“This is not about Roland, this is about Rod,” said savvy political consultant Thom Serafin when I called him while watching the circus of the politically bizarre. Serafin correctly predicted weeks ago that it would be Burris, shortly after Blagojevich was arrested and most other Senate hopefuls pulled out lest they be infected by the governor’s dilemma.

“This is Rod telling the political class that he’s still active, that he’s still around, that he’s still the governor,” Serafin said. “And how do they deny Roland Burris? They can’t.”

Read the whole thing.

11 Dec 2008

Who’s Better Qualified?

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Caroline Kennedy

NBC News New York:

Jennifer Lopez or Caroline Kennedy? Who is more qualified to be Hillary Clinton’s replacement as New York’s junior Senator?

Rep. Gary Ackerman, a veteran Queens Democrat wants to know.

“I don’t know what Caroline Kennedy’s qualifications are,” the 25-year Congressman said on Steve Malzberg’s WOR conservative chat-fest, becoming New York’s first prominent Democrat to openly challenge the credentials of JFK’s daughter as a potential replacement for Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“”Except that she has name recognition, but so does J.Lo,” Ackerman said, according to the New York Post. “I wouldn’t make J.Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications, but we haven’t seen them yet.

I thought we’d seen Jennifer Lopez’s qualifications in several films actually.


Jennifer Lopez

05 Nov 2008

Could Have Been Worse

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David Bernstein looks at the results and puts them in perspective.

The picture is of a solid Democratic win, but not the tsunami some had expected. Obama won the popular vote by a solid, but not crushing, margin of slightly less than six percent (52.4-46.5). Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole by a significantly greater margin and even greater relative percentage (49.25-40.71), and George Bush by a slightly lower margin, but higher relative percentage (43.01-37.45). Bush, meanwhile, beat Dukakis by a larger margin, 53.4 to 45.6. The Democrats picked up about twenty House seats, on the low end of the expected range. And, as noted above, they seem likely to pick up five or six Senate seats,which would make the Senate races either 18-16 in favor of the Democrats, or tied at 17-17, again on the low end of the expected range.

It would have taken a miracle, or at least a match between a really unattractive democrat who made many mistakes and a dynamic Republican with Reagansque charisma, to produce a GOP win this year with the economy in a mess and poor, clueless George W. Bush hanging around the elephant’s neck like a dead albatross.

Considering all the factors destining this to be the democrat’s year, it could have been much worse.

21 Jul 2008

McCain is Another Eisenhower, Just Lacking the Grin

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The New York Times explains how John McCain proceeded to avenge his defeat in the 2000 Republic presidential primaries by George W. Bush by turning himself into a power in the Senate via “swing-voting,” i.e. betraying the Republican leadership and the Bush Administration and voting with democrats like Ted Kennedy.

Previously a marginal player better known for heckling the Senate than for influencing it, Mr. McCain returned from the 2000 campaign with a new national reputation and a new political sophistication.

Over the next eight years, he mastered the art of political triangulation — variously teaming up with Mr. Lott against the president or the new Republican leaders, with Democrats against Republicans, and with the president against the Democrats — to become perhaps the chamber’s most influential member. …

John McCain prior to 2000 would not be known for his legislative skills or achievements,” said John Weaver, a former McCain adviser. “He voted with his party, and people ran to him on national security. But being the swing guy after 2000, he knew his turf was valuable, and he could use it to achieve things.”

He learned how to play the game, said Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska. “He is a lot more savvy than a lot of people realize — targeted, tactical, strategic — and sometimes only he knows what his real objective is,” Mr. Nelson said. …

John Zogby, a pollster Mr. McCain often consults, told him that the race had inverted his political profile: Democrats and independents liked him more than Republicans did. But he was also one of the most popular politicians in the country, and his biography as a war hero had kept a solid floor under his conservative support.

“It suggested that he would be able to finesse conservatives,” Mr. Zogby recalled in an interview. He told Mr. McCain that continuing to buck his party would be “very astute.” (The 2008 primary was a close call, but Mr. Zogby argues that he was vindicated: Mr. McCain won.)

Mr. McCain needed little encouragement. He still smoldered over what he considered the dirty 2000 primary, especially the slander campaign he believed had been waged against him. He had been liberated from party loyalty, Mr. Graham said.

“There was almost a sense of freedom,” Mr. Graham said. “It reinforced his impulse: I am going to be me.”

“Me,” in McCain’s case being a self-aggrandizing Machiavellian without a shred of conservative principle.

Let’s see: a military man, unintellectual, ruthlessly selfish and pragmatic, not above siding with liberal democrats in order to gain personal advantage. A “Me, Too, Only a Little Less” Republican. Yes, exactly, he’s Dwight Eisenhower all over again, just lacking the charm and the infectious grin.

29 Jan 2008

How Conservative is John McCain Really?

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Randall Hoven examines John McCain’s 82.3% ACU rating. His conclusion is “not very.”

Senator John McCain’s lifetime rating of 82.3% from the American Conservative Union is often cited as proof that he is conservative. Here is a closer look at that 82.3 rating.

First, a rating of 82.3 is not really that high. It puts Senator McCain in 39th place among senators serving in 2006, the latest year for which the ACU has its ratings posted online. For that most recent year in particular, McCain scored only 65, putting him in 47th place for that year. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), for example, scored 64 and 75, respectively, in 2006.

Generally, McCain has voted less conservatively in more recent years. His average for 1990-97 was 88, but was only 74 for 1998-2006. …

So where did McCain differ from the ACU? The big areas were taxes, campaign finance reform, the environment and, most recently, immigration. There was also a smattering of support for trial lawyers; federal intervention in health, education, safety or voting issues; internationalism; and some social issues. He was more consistently conservative on spending and defense issues. …

Many of the votes were close. In one third of these votes, a swing of only two senators would have changed the outcome. In over two thirds, a swing of ten senators would have changed the outcome. As someone remarked, McCain is like a baseball player who gets all his hits after two outs and no one on base, and all his outs with men in scoring position. …

McCain’s ACU ratings since 1998 put him on the liberal side among Republicans. The few Republicans consistently more liberal than McCain would be Chafee (formerly R-RI), Collins (R-ME), Snowe (R-ME) and Specter (R-PA). One could expect senators from northeastern states to be more liberal since their constituencies demand it, but McCain represents the fairly conservative state of Arizona. (Arizona’s other senator, Kyl, has a lifetime rating of 96.9, and half the representatives from there have ratings of 94.7 or higher.)

How much more liberal would McCain vote if his constituency put even the slightest pressure on him in that direction?

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