Thursday, December 31, 2009
Nevermind that the flight originated in Holland. Nor that security failures weren't therefore the responsibility of the US.
Or that DeMint has held up the confirmation of the head of TSA, only nominated in September, until he gets a clear response from the nominee as to whether he plans to unionize TSA workers.
None of this now matters to Senate Democrats.
Talk about no shame.....
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I like New Hampshire's Republican Senator Judd Gregg quite a bit, but he's being naive on this issue.
The editorial recounts the various steps the liberal Democrats will take to slow roll their GOP counterparts.
By getting some Republicans on the panel, they will automatically have cover for "doing something" about the deficit, thus deflecting their party-line run-up of the deficit by a trillion dollars or more earlier this year.
Sooner or later, the commission's Democrats will force the group to state that higher taxes are the only "solution" to the former's reckless spending.
Instead, the editorial counsels,
"The Democrats will use a tax-and-spend commission to confront Republicans with the false choice between huge tax increases or fiscal disaster. Republicans should respond with their own choice: They'll agree to a deficit commission only if it takes tax increases off the table and forces all of Washington to confront the hard spending trade-offs between guns and butter, old and young, the poor and middle class, and social welfare and corporate welfare. Otherwise, Democrats should be forced to defend and finance their own destructive fiscal choices."
Here's another idea. Republicans beg off of this commission until they take back one or both Houses next November. Then they leave the debt ceiling alone and begin slashing federal spending while decreasing the federal debt ceiling.
Now that would be a path to longer term Republican control of Congress with a conservative slant that would be healthy for the US in the coming decades.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Mitch McConnell highlights reasons that it's hard to believe any Senator would have voted for this bill. And just how awful it really is.
Monday, December 28, 2009
His recounting of Wonderboy's original campaign promises is eye-opening. So is his list of the Senators who took favors for their states to pass this abomination.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
The US Senate's 60 Democrats presented America with the biggest lump of coal in the country's history on Christmas Eve.
This morning, they passed the abominable disaster they like to call 'health care reform.'
Here's John McCain in a clip from a Sunday appearance on Chris Wallace's Fox News program, discussing the bill, and why it is so disappointing.
I'm looking for the more recent clip featuring McCain naming Democratic Senators who sold out to pass this bill.
Have as Merry a Christmas as you can knowing this millstone is being hung around our necks by these clueless Democratic liberals.
Perhaps the silver lining is how this action will lead to their loss of power in both Houses next November, and, two years later, Wonderboy's ignominious defeat.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Anyone who resorts to claiming that a bill must be passed just to achieve 'something,' no matter what the contents, is both foolish, and believes voters are naive.
How can such an educated person expect others to have any confidence in him after he so blatantly calls for passing anything with the name 'health care,' rather than carefully crafting a truly bi-partisan bill which voters would want.
Rushing legislation of this intended magnitude is just folly. And every voter knows it.
Wonderboy is fooling no one. He's only portraying himself as devoid of common sense, values and morals. He is attempting to fool voters and, in the attempt, alienating those who were probably at least willing to give him a chance to prove his campaign rhetoric.
To those whose votes he didn't win, he has merely proved their fears correct.
Both of these groups will take their anger out on the appropriate candidates come November. Or, in some cases, primaries this spring.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Despite what this administration contends, Reagan had an equally bad economy with which to contend. Carter, following Ford's bumbling, managed to put the US economy into a stagflation free fall every bit the equal of last year's non-financial economic situation.
The financial panic was just that- an overreaction which allowed too much federal intervention, and effected too little cleansing of the financial sector.
That said, how is it that in the midst of such economic challenges, this administration chooses to put most of its effort behind a new entitlement program and a radical approach to the false issue of human control of the earth's climate changes.
As one Wall Street Journal writer noted, in the past, every other Democratic president attempting this ran into some other priority. Truman had the Korean War, Kennedy, the economy, then his own death, Johnson got Medicare, then Vietnam and inflation tabled the next steps. Clinton faced a Republican Congress.
Now, with majorities in both Houses, Wonderboy is aiming to top LBJ. But the economy's challenges would seem to get in his way.
At least, that's what voters think. The health care bills draw low support numbers among voters, while the specter of exorbitant energy costs from cap-and-tax draw their ire.
One would think the Democratic leaders in Congress, and our First Rookie, would think twice about so overtly crossing voters in an election year.
Perhaps it is about to be a replay of 1994 next November.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Suffice to say, that sort of experience can put you off your entire day.
It's difficult to overstate the pointlessness of Kerry's officiousness. As a failed presidential candidate, he has zero credibility on many issues. That morning, he was, of course, pushing climate change legislation.
Whatever that ultimately means.
In the wake of the East Anglian email scandal, it takes an especially dense, myopic, shall I say stupid person to claim, as Kerry did, that the science behind this farce is solid, and believable.
As did his fellow Democratic greenie, Al Gore, Kerry likened anyone who doesn't agree with him to also believing the earth is flat.
How can these guys simply ignore the leaked emails between the major global warming proponents in the earth sciences which displayed their hiding of inconvenient evidence that doesn't make their case, stonewalling of opposing views, and outright lies?
I'd say the 'flat earthers' are those Senators, and others, who, knowing of the contents of the East Anglian emails, don't stop to thoroughly review and revisit each and every piece of so-called published evidence ever provided by those arguing for these cumbersome, economy-wrecking carbon- and greenhouse gas-related government initiatives.
Thank God that this administration and cannot simply commit to ill-considered proposals from or at Copenhagen.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
What I didn't adequately touch on in that piece is the very perverse prospect of two of the major architects of the recent US financial services sector's crisis claiming to be capable of redesigning regulatory and related elements to prevent future occurrences of such problems.
Let's recall the facts. Barney Frank personally drove Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase higher proportions of option ARM, low-doc, no-doc and, generally, poorer-quality mortgages from the private sector. Chris Dodd and fellow Democratic Senator and Finance Committee member Kent Conrad both accepted sweetheart loans from Countrywide, Angelo Mozillo's mortgage finance company, while failing to adequately supervise and rein in the growth of poor quality, often improperly documented mortgage loans. Both also failed to act on Bush administration concerns regarding the explosive growth of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through guarantees of bonds backed by the poor quality loans.
Oh, and, by the way, Barney Frank, to my knowledge, has never addressed the contetion that a person with whom he was romantically involved was a lobbyist involved with Fannie Mae. I'm sure it's irrelevant.
Now, these Congressional worthies would have us believe that, having been instrumental in wrecking the residential finance sector and, by extension, the entire US finance sector, they are in a position to tell us how to organize, supervise and regulate the sector in the future to avoid similar calamities.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they overlook the rather simpler, more obvious solution, i.e., fewer government guarantees and less inept regulation.
If Fed, FDIC, OCC and other regulators had done their job in the first place, Frank's and Dodd's judgemental errors and political favoritism would have been stopped in their tracks. Unfortunately, our vast, overmanned and overly-complicated bank regulatory system failed in its primary mission.
Shouldn't that have triggered a more cold-eyed look at how the current players failed in their regulatory oversight jobs, rather than simply layering on more and more complicated rules, classifications and regulations?
How many people believe that, if someone failed to do their job in the first place, the right solution is to give them increased responsibilities and hope for a better outcome next time around?
Well, evidently, at least two- Frank and Dodd.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I lamented Geithner's wet noodle posture while "negotiating" with Goldman Sachs et. al. over paying them the full value due them from AIG for credit derivatives.
B mentioned conversations he has had with Fed officials who know Geithner. They characterized him as an operations guy. That is, a guy who knew how to run the financial plumbing of the Fed, meaning its various money transfer systems and such.
But nobody ever accused Geithner of being able to fill, let alone even shine, Paul Volcker's shoes. Volcker, you may recall, headed the New York Fed, before being chosen to become probably the most effective chairman of our central bank in its history.
Judging from his stumbles and misfires this year, it looks like my friend's information is correct. Geithner got fleeced by Wall Street CEOs, and, for that dismal performance, was rewarded with the job of Treasury Secretary.
No wonder we still have no sensible financial leadership in Washington.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
It's another one of those huge bills with so many hidden details and bad ideas that few Congressmen probably even know what they passed. It's sure to have loads of unintended consequences.
For example, certain large financial institutions will qualify for treatment as 'too big to fail,' and be subject to a federal government commission to determine if it is in danger of insolvency, and if it should be saved.
Funny, but I always thought that was up to creditors. Or, if it's a bank, perhaps the FDIC.
But some shadowy federal government panel?
What happened to bankruptcy as the normal process for those companies which get into too much financial trouble?
Ryan opined that this bill will abet "crony capitalism." That is, large, bloated financial service firms will make use of the revolving door between industry and government to insulate themselves from failure and buy government accommodation. The smaller banks, Ryan noted, will be hurt because they have to play by the rules without such connections.
You can bet that nowhere in this legislation did Frank allow his own culpability in driving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to securitize more questionable mortgage loans to be addressed and, for the future, prevented.
Instead, we will have a bewildering new set of rules for credit provision. Some will put onerous new demands on companies that simply want, as a by-product of their main business, to allow customers to buy using credit.
As Ryan indicated, by using health care as the big distraction, the Congressional Democrats are stealthily redesigning yet another sector of the US economy.
Monday, December 14, 2009
See her at 4:20 in the clip say, in a slightly shocked voice,
"Glenn Beck is somebody who incites people to violence?"
In that later program, Beck implored anyone to provide evidence that he ever incited anyone to violence.
No one, to my knowledge, has done so yet.
Certainly Walters had no evidence. So much for unbiased, responsible major media coverage, eh?
Friday, December 11, 2009
That's right. Democratic Senate majority leader equates speaking out against his health care bill with having been for slavery.
Never mind that Reid, nor his ally, Baucus, steadfastly stiff-armed Republican ideas and amendments to their bills.
Nor that many voters simply want more reasonable, reasoned, considered reform that is genuinely bipartisan.
No, to simpleton Harry Reid, if you are not backing his style of health care reform, then you're no better than someone who backed slavery.
So much for free speech and debate in America. Try that, and a Democratic Senator will accuse you of supporting slavery.
No wonder he's trailing both GOP candidates for his seat in next year's election.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
"As a former HP person who worked mostly with AT&T and Lucent around the time of Carly's hiring by HP, I have heard a lot about this from many former Bell System people.
First of all, at the time I was told that Carly was quite likely about to be fired by Lucent. I was also told by numerous people - some of whom worked very closely with Carly - that she was "cooking the books" and had been caught."
"I really wish there was more solid evidence of Carly's knowledge and involvement in this scandal."
Searching on Nina Aversano, the key whistleblower in the case, I located this Fortune article from the period. The piece, by respected writer Carol Loomis, dates from a few years after the scandal- 2003, to be exact.In it, she wrote,
"It is now 2 1/2 years later, and no one has donned stripes or even been indicted. Until the Aversano-Plunkett news came along, no one had even seemed about to be nailed by the SEC, which, though it cannot bring criminal charges against wrongdoers, can make their lives miserable with civil sanctions, such as forever barring them from big jobs in public companies. Even the matter of Aversano the Whistleblower has vaporized, culminating early this year in a settlement with deeply secret terms.
Meanwhile, Lucent's stock has been destroyed. From the peak of $258 billion, hit in December 1999, the company's market value has calamitously gone to $15.6 billion. (Included in that figure is $6.8 billion of current value for two companies that Lucent recently spun off, Avaya and Agere Systems.) And to people like Lucent's erstwhile chairman, Henry Schacht, that anemic $15.6 billion figure, reflecting a $2.13 share price for Lucent, looks almost thrilling: The company's shares got down to roughly a quarter of that in 2002."
In effect, Loomis notes that nobody really was ever held accountable for the fraud. Further, Lucent as much as admitted guilt by settling with Aversano, but on terms so strict that nobody's ever going to hear from her exactly what happened. Nor, one suspects, ever see the evidence, probably in the form of emails and memos, which Aversano held over Lucent's head.
One can muse about the potential for her to escape the terms, now that Lucent disappeared into Alcatel. But I wouldn't hold my breath, were I pursuing the truth behind this story.
For the purposes of this and the prior linked post, the question of Carly Fiorina's involvement in the scandal, these paragraphs in Loomis' article are germane,"Chronologically, except for skullduggery not yet uncovered, the first move was Aversano's. Now 58, Aversano was a longtime Bell employee whom McGinn in May 2000 had made president of North American sales to the "service provider" companies--including the regional Bells and their many upstart competitors. In that important job, in this company that has been way above average in putting women into high-ranking spots, Aversano reported to executive vice president Patricia Russo.
Aversano, says a former Lucent financial executive, was a hard-charger who reminded him of still another woman, Carly Fiorina, who'd left Lucent in 1999 to become CEO of Hewlett-Packard. After Aversano was promoted, she oversaw about 3,000 people bringing in 25% of Lucent's revenues. Counting 100,000 options given her in early 2000, Lucent figured her pay for the year, so Aversano testified, at a handsome $4.5 million."
Loomis' timeline is what makes the second reader's comment remain true. Because Fiorina was technically out of Lucent and safely at HP when this story actually broke, it's always been assumed, I guess, that she was innocent.
Yet, from comments I've heard from a person who was on the scene before Carly beat it out of Dodge, so to speak, I believe that the entire sales mis-statement game was already underway before Aversano was promoted. The other reader's comments suggest similar sentiments from other Lucent employees at the time of the events.
But it's precisely because Fiorina was gone by 2000, and so much attention was paid to the Aversano-McGinn fracas, and the subsequent settlement sealed records, that any compelling evidence of her involvement would have to be unearthed as a result of concerted efforts.
Since this is about politics, what I'm saying is that any of Fiorina's rivals for the California Senate seat would probably have to do their own digging. They'd need to interview former Lucent employees to learn who was doing what, when, and then go find them to ascertain, independently, if there were any reason to implicate Fiorina in the earliest stages of the sales forecasting and reporting scandal.
Given the timeframe of this story being a decade ago, it's unlikely that more of the truth will ever be revealed, unless it happens during this Senate campaign. Absent that, it will probably recede into the past, forever undisturbed again.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
He had been a guest on ABC's Good Morning America program. A woman named Robin Roberts interviewed him, using an exercise in which she asked O'Reilly to grade Wonderboy's performance on various dimensions.
When she asked him about health care, and Bill understandably and correctly gave a "D," Roberts reacted in shock. Here's the video of what happens next.
O'Reilly kept focusing on the bill's incomprehensibility, length, and lack of clarity. He even asked Roberts if she understood it.
That didn't deter the hostess from continuing to simply declare, in knee-jerk liberal fashion, that getting a health care bill would be an historic accomplishment.
The woman is so stupid that she couldn't understand that what you pass is more important that passing anything under a particular name.
It evidently was beyond her feeble mental ability to understand that simply calling something a health care reform bill doesn't mean it's any good for America.
This is one of the best examples of liberal media bias and infatuation with Wonderboy that you're ever likely to see.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Before Fiorina can take on the vulnerable Democrat, Barbara Boxer, she has to defeat a couple of competing Republicans.
With such a ferocious primary, and, no doubt, general election underway, I'm surprised there hasn't been more mention by Fiorina's competitors of her corporate background.
Specifically, her proximity to a sales forecasting scandal at Lucent, and, of course, he mismanagement of HP while serving as CEO.
The HP situation is the more well-known. Fiorina was viewed as having bungled the Compaq acquisition, and done some damage with her reorganizations of the firm and heavy-handed approach at the legendary but weakly-performing technology icon.
Back in the late 1990s, after Lucent's spinoff from ATT, this scandal erupted regarding overly-ambitious sales forecasts. Nina Aversano became a whistle-blower and subsequently embroiled in a lawsuit with Lucent for breach of contract.
Guess who was head of the sales force at the time? Carly Fiorina.
I've always marveled at how Fiorina escaped being touched by the scandal which became rather sensational. I recently spoke with an old ATT colleague who was aware of the situation, and my suspicions were echoed. Mind you, I do not have proof that Fiorina was involved. But what I've learned is sufficient to convince me, personally, that she probably was, or, as head of sales, certainly aware.
Thus, it's hard for me to believe that some political opponent wouldn't be pursuing their own sources to unearth the truth about that two decade-old accounting scandal.
It may seem forgettable now, but, at the time, the newly-launched Lucent was depending upon information such as sales forecasts to drive its ever-increasing share price. A price which unexpectedly plummeted soon thereafter.
Perhaps memories of such distant corporate scandals have so faded that nobody will bother. But, to me, between that incident and Fiorina's HP experience, I would have a hard time understanding why I was voting for her for a Senate seat.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus, the driving force behind the Senate's health care bill, hid his romantic relationship with a woman whom he nominated for US attorney in Montana last year.
Baucus, who was separated, but not divorced, had taken up with Melodee Hanes. He subsequently urged her appointment as a US attorney in his home state, without, of course, making clear his personal interest in the matter.
As is now typical with these things, Baucus' office came clean over the weekend, the better to hide the ethical lapse amidst holiday-related stories.
What do these Senators, of either party, think it looks like when they play such obvious favorites in handing out politically plum jobs? Have they so totally lost perspective that they simply believe they can reward friends, donors and lovers with government jobs?
Evidently Max Baucus thinks so.
Do you want a health care bill designed by someone so ethically challenged? Would you now believe anything this guy says about anything, when he hid his behavior in the Melodee Hanes matter for so long?
Friday, December 4, 2009
The Anointed One only made a token 15 minute appearance, then hurried off to something else. Probably another speech, or reviewing the one he gave in Allentown this morning.
But the sound bite I kept hearing this morning on CNBC was this statement from Wonderboy's right-hand thug, Valerie Jarrett,
"If anyone has ideas on how to create jobs, I want to hear them."
Actually, it's a lie.
We know this because many business people and Republican Congressmen have called for two specific job-creating steps which Wonderboy refuses to acknowledge:
1. Rather than pass a $787B pork-laden "stimulus" bill, simply declare a personal income tax holiday for 2009.
2. Send legislation to Capitol Hill authorizing either permanent or very long term (10 years) reductions in payroll taxes for workers hired this year and kept for some minimum period.
These two steps would accomplish the very important task of allowing individuals, as employees and employers, to choose how to save, spend or invest their own money. Rather than have politicians construct massive spending programs to curry favor with voters or donors, using borrowed money, let individuals make their own economic choices.
This would increase individual economic freedom and liberty.
Thus, why Wonderboy and Jarrett aren't interested,
What the First Assistant Thus should have said was,
"If anyone out there has ideas which fit our far left, socialistic views on how to create jobs, I want to hear them. But I don't want to hear any ideas that promote individual control of ones own economic destiny."
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Now, the Center's head, Phil Jones, has stepped down amidst the furor. His colleague, American scientist Michael Mann, is being investigated by his university for wrongdoing connected to the emails and various articles he has written, and possible data manipulation or suppression.
Of course, America's liberal media has missed this story. Al Gore is also nowhere in sight as the scientists and science behind Warm Boy Al's current money machine is revealed to be a fraud.
California liberal Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Energy Committee, also seems to be absent as the climate research fraud becomes more clear.
Fortunately, the story is getting plenty of attention elsewhere around the globe. Other countries take much more seriously spending trillions of dollars for carbon emission controls when the science behind the prescriptions is now being called into serious question as the fabrication of a few self-anointed climate zealots.
Score one for common sense and freedom of information.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
At this point, it really doesn't matter what he says. Early releases of his speech indicate that he will focus more on promising a quick withdrawal of the forces he is sending than on their dispatch, or what they will do.
The three men I mentioned earlier, two West Point graduates who became President, and the first President of the Republic, who designated the site as so important, would certainly have disapproved of our First Rookie's inability to trust his commanders, make a prompt decision, and show real commitment to the war in Afghanistan.
I would not have wanted to be in uniform serving our country, at West Point, to watch this travesty. It's a disgrace to our country's armed services and the men and women currently enrolled at West Point that Wonderboy used the post as yet another prop in his never-ending teleplay that is his administration.
Too bad the service men and women being sent to Afghanistan are not in a theatrical production, like the president's speech, but are risking their lives. They deserve so much more in a commander in chief than they are getting from Obama.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
This week, his administration carefully leaked that Wonderboy, after months of staged "thinking" about his Afghanistan army commander's recommendation/request for 40,000 more troops, is cutting it back to 35,000.
You really can tell that our First Rookie has absolutely no sense of what the application of real military force is all about.
While not all combatants, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter and both Bushes all were at least in the military. Reagan deferred to his generals and admirals. Clinton tried to forget we had a military.
Thus, for the last 60 years, almost every American president has had some understanding that men and women die when a US president commits troops. Thus, because we are a democracy and, especially now, with a volunteer military, the commitment has to be well-reasoned, defensible, and calculated to not needless expend lives.
Instead, Wonderboy is playing political chess with American military personnels' lives.
He's worried about just accepting McChrystal's recommendation, for fear of rubber-stamping the dreaded, hated military's decisions. He won't cut and run, for fear of being justly criticized for "losing" Afghanistan. Especially after declaring it a necessary war during his pre-election campaign.
Thus, his solution to cavalierly cut some arbitrary number of to-be-deployed troops. Looks shrewd, to Wonderboy and his handlers, on paper.
Of course, to that crew, army personnel dispatched to Afghanistan are only so many flags on a map. Not real soldiers. The possibility that sending too few endangers the rest is so far from being understood by this president and his staff that it disgusts the average American.
Nowhere among Wonderboy's senior staff and handlers are any trustworthy, reputable advisers with military backgrounds.
This administration has no grasp of the nature and use of military power. Other than using military bases for photo opportunities, it can't figure out what to do with real global situations requiring the skilled application of American military power.
At least the coming sacrifices of American lives due to Wonderboy's incompetence may help usher him out of office that much sooner.
Monday, November 30, 2009
In a pre-Thanksgiving piece, he held forth on how thankful he is that last year's and this year's financial mess have muzzled those who argue for free markets. In his view, what befell the US economy and financial sector in the past year is a complete failure of free market ideology.
How wrong he is.
For many years, there has been an undercurrent of concern regarding the financial audits required of listed companies. Instead of actually assuring anyone of much of value, SEC-mandated audits lulled investors into ignorance, resulting in the Enron and WorldCom scandals.
Similarly, FDIC insurance for bank deposits caused retail customers to pay less attention to the actual health of their banks. It may seem like pocket change to pay off consumer deposits when insured banks go broke, but that money has to come from somewhere. The FDIC's outflows in recent years have exceeded their inflows from bank insurance levies.
Result? Society at large pays for the risks which indifferent consumers take with their money.
How about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Their GSE status caused everyone, including the Chinese government, to blithely assume that their bonds were as sound as Treasuries. Thus, nobody really paid any attention to the trash which Congressional leaders demanded the agencies to create out of mortgage loans to increasingly poorer, riskier home buyers. Low-doc, no-doc and option ARM mortgages became components of pass through bonds backed by the US government. Ratings agencies went along for the ride and income. Oh, they are protected, too. Special exemptions in US law allow them both an oligopoly and protection from lawsuits for their opinions and ratings.
It was mortgages cranked out by the private financial sector, passed through the GSEs and turned, like rancid sausage, into something different-looking, which polluted financial markets and ultimately led to severe equity losses on the book of several of the largest US commercial and investment banks.
Nowhere in all of this were so-called "free markets" operating. No, it was all coddled and wrapped in a big green blanket of US government guarantees, insurance and regulation.
These alleged safeguards are precisely why nobody bothered to conduct any serious due diligence of their own.
When mediocre civil servants couldn't even do their regulation and oversight jobs effectively, the whole mess exploded.
Thus, Frank got it completely backwards.
Last year's penultimate financial service sector problems stemmed from too much legislation, regulation and insurance by the federal government which supplanted investors' sound judgements and critical appraisals of risks. Risks of institutional failures, instrument quality and repayment failures.
We don't have too much free market capitalism which needs more regulation and supervision.
We have too little of the former, and far too much of the ineffectual latter.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Since then, I've decided there should be an additional item regarding deficits and balanced budgets. But that's for another post.
Today, I want to comment on an aspect of my ninth item which I had heretofore not realized.
In the June post, I wrote,
"9. Novice politicians gaining entry to the Senate due to the amendment requiring direct election of this body intended to be more deliberative and experienced than the House."
All I really focused on, thanks to Wonderboy's misguided election last November, was making sure that Senators have more qualifications than just age and citizenship.
Watching Mary Landrieu's comic performance during the voting to bring the Senate health care bill to the floor gave me another insight.
One unintended consequence of the direct election of Senators was the removal of an important check in the Constitutional system. It wasn't between the branches, but between the federal government and the states.
I've never seen this expressed anywhere else, so I thought I'd offer some observations.
Prior to the amendment providing for the direct election of Senators, as I noted in this post from March, 2008, quoting the Senate's own website,
"Just reflecting on the original mechanism for Senate election, it's easy to see how differently Senators prior to 1913 would behave, as opposed to modern Senators. Senators chosen by their state's political party leaders would almost of necessity be committed to the welfare of their state over their own career. Because they didn't really 'run' for the office, fund-raising, politicking as it is currently understood, and the appeal to voters' baser motivations probably didn't occur as they do today.
I can imagine Senators of that day truly behaving as the Constitution's architects intended, worrying less about their seat than carefully addressing major issues to the benefit of the country and their state."
Indirectly-elected Senators were an intentional Constitutional check on federal power. State-level political parties would ensure that Senators didn't expect lifetime careers. Rather, they were beholden to the state party, which, by necessity, had to do a good job for the state's voters, or lose its control over the legislatures.
This carefully-calibrated bias for states rights in the Senate was torn away with the passage of the 17th amendment.
After some reflection, I think it's this aspect of the direct election of Senators that has been most damaging. Representatives are subject to recall every two years. Senators, by contrast, manage to go six years between elections. Without the pre-selection by their own parties, I believe they have become disconnected from their states, to the detriment of the nation.
No longer answering to their own parties, Senators today seem to be in business mostly for themselves. Mary Landrieu's deal with Harry Reid to get a $300M dispensation for Louisiana in the health care bill does, in one sense, reflect her working for her state's benefit. But, in a larger sense, she really did damage to the nation. With no need to explain the larger benefits of the bill to her state-level Democratic party, Landrieu basically bought her seat forward with that $300M.
If she were being nominated by her party, she probably wouldn't have been quite so mercenary with everyone's money.
I believe that indirectly-elected Senators had to assure their parties back in the home state that they were working for both the country's and the state's good. If the state party saw voters leaning one way on an issue, they could and probably did make clear to the Senator how s/he should vote, if s/he were to remain in the seat.
Not so anymore. Now, it's mostly a popularity contest, with Senators often feeling themselves above the state party apparatus, once elected.
Issues like tax levels and fiscal rectitude don't seem to matter to the Senate anymore. They avoid taking responsibility for excessive spending, buying votes with it.
But the Senators of old didn't need to do that, because their voters were the state party politicians in the legislatures.
It seems to me that this unintended consequence has had seriously bad long term consequences for our nation. A key states' rights linkage, the indirect election of Senators, was removed, implicitly handing much more power to the federal government, and insulating Senators from any real pressure from their own states' parties.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Keith Johnson begins his article,
"The scientific community is buzzing over thousands of emails and documents -- posted on the Internet last week after being hacked from a prominent climate-change research center -- that some say raise ethical questions about a group of scientists who contend humans are responsible for global warming.
The correspondence between dozens of climate-change researchers, including many in the U.S., illustrates bitter feelings among those who believe human activities cause global warming toward rivals who argue that the link between humans and climate change remains uncertain.
Some emails also refer to efforts by scientists who believe man is causing global warming to exclude contrary views from important scientific publications."
Oops! No politicization or fraudulent behavior here, eh? And what about all those liberals contending that "the debate is over?"
The article continues,
""This is horrible," said Pat Michaels, a climate scientist at the Cato Institute in Washington who is mentioned negatively in the emails. "This is what everyone feared. Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone who does not view global warming as an end-of-the-world issue to publish papers. This isn't questionable practice, this is unethical." "
Yeah, it ends faster when your side lies about the facts, doesn't it?
The Journal piece reports,
"In all, more than 1,000 emails and more than 2,000 other documents were stolen Thursday from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the U.K. The identity of the hackers isn't certain, but the files were posted on a Russian file-sharing server late Thursday, and university officials confirmed over the weekend that their computer had been attacked and said the documents appeared to be genuine.
Most climate scientists today argue that the earth's temperature is rising, and nearly all of those agree that human activity is likely to be a prime or at least significant cause. But a vocal minority dispute one or both of those views.
A partial review of the hacked material suggests there was an effort at East Anglia, which houses an important center of global climate research, to shut out dissenters and their points of view.
In the emails, which date to 1996, researchers in the U.S. and the U.K. repeatedly take issue with climate research at odds with their own findings. In some cases, they discuss ways to rebut what they call "disinformation" using new articles in scientific journals or popular Web sites.
The emails include discussions of apparent efforts to make sure that reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that monitors climate science, include their own views and exclude others. In addition, emails show that climate scientists declined to make their data available to scientists whose views they disagreed with.
In another, Phil Jones, the director of the East Anglia climate center, suggested to climate scientist Michael Mann of Penn State University that skeptics' research was unwelcome: We "will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" Neither man could be reached for comment Sunday."
So, basically, these liberal global warming theorists have been at work for more than a decade lying, falsifying data, intimidating and foreclosing the publication of dissenters.
Not only does it seem that the debate on human sources of climate change isn't over. It appears that we can't even trust the data, since these emails provide evidence that it's been tainted by these biased researchers.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
That's the sort of arrogance displayed by Wisconsin Democrat and House member David Obey.
While griping about the cost of US military operations in Afghanistan, he proposed a "war surtax," but only on "the rich."
In an interview on ABC, Obey complained that Truman's Square Deal was ruined by the Korean War, Johnson's Great Society by that little distraction in Vietnam, and, now, on the brink of passing an unaffordable health care system redesign, fighting the War on Terror is proving, well, untimely.
So, despite having thrown fiscal caution to the wind with last year's TARP, this year's stimulus bill, cash for clunkers, several jobless benefits extensions, cap and trade legislation, and the incredibly expensive and unaffordable House health care bill, Obey chose an actually Constitutional governmental activity, providing for the common defense, to find fiscal probity.
Never mind borrowing for all those other socialistic programs which aren't Constitutionally sanctioned.
We only need to make people feel pain for actually defending the country from Muslim terrorists who are actively trying to kill Americans.
This guy is some piece of work. With Representatives like him, no wonder Congress is held in such low esteem nationwide.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Predictably, the liberal co-anchors on CNBC excoriated Paul for wanting to gut Fed independence. This morning, Paul noted the central bank's miserable performance in protecting the value of the dollar, its original objective, and wondered how much worse it could get?
One astute co-anchor mentioned Congress' own role in spending us into deficits, which have complicated the Fed's ability to fulfill its mandate, and Paul readily agreed.
Still, he contended, what's the purpose of a so-called independent Fed, if they do such a poor job? And then, for good measure, in a stroke of genius, he reminded the co-anchor that Congress created the Federal Reserve System and, thus, can well decide how to modify, eliminate or otherwise reconstitute a US central banking authority.
I'm not actually a big Ron Paul fan. I didn't vote for him in last year's primary for the presidential race. To me, he often behaves like a modern-day Don Quixote. His being from Texas lends that view a bit more credibility, being as close as it is to Mexico, a country of Spanish influence.
However, as Congress continues to spend at unprecedentedly faster rates, swelling the deficit and debt even more, at a time of sluggish economic conditions, Paul's economic libertarian concerns become more attractive. Even to a moderate like me.
I think the real attraction in Paul's arguments is for Congress to simply redesign the central bank entirely, aiming toward more simplicity, Constitutionality, and a more Friedmanesque approach to consistent monetary growth.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
From my recent reading of Amity Schlaes' excellent book, "The Forgotten Man," current reading of Mark Levin's "Tyranny and Liberty," and frequent viewings of Glenn Beck's Fox News Channel program, it's been easier for me to reflect upon the circumstances surrounding the Founding Fathers' as they wrote the Constitution.
Nearly forgotten now is the struggle those men had in securing the freedom to engage in economic activity as they wished. In the mercantilism system of Great Britain of that time, colonies supplied natural resources and raw materials. Finished goods were largely prohibited to be manufactured. It's not well-recalled now, but in that day, machinery, machine tools and plans for machines were not allowed out of Britain to her colonies.
The Revolution which Americans fought against Britain was as much about economic freedom as it was about political freedom and fair representation to a taxing, governing authority.
In reading about the men who founded our country, there are various references to John Hancock as the colonies' wealthiest man. But you never hear him berated for that. Nor any speeches during the framing of the Constitution calling for punitive taxes on Hancock or his ilk.
Rather than attempt to take the wealth of men like Hancock, the new Republic's structure tried to allow for any other man to rise to similar levels of wealth. The concepts of opportunity and ambition vastly outweighed those of envy or jealousy.
Now, we seem to have reversed this. All we hear is that business people earning "too much" need to pay higher taxes. That the important issues are to provide income and health care to the poor.
No longer does anyone seem to recall that the minimalist Constitution was so written in order to allow everyone to realize the fruits of their own labor and best efforts. It wasn't to levelize incomes and redistribute the new country's total personal incomes.
In short, thanks to the past seventy years' of post-FDR liberal pressure, our Republic is now more focused on seeing envy of economic success given priority over each person's opportunity to realize their own economic and other dreams.
Ambition is given lip-service, while laws are crafted to carry out envy-driven wealth- and income-transfers.
If you can't keep the wealth you create in America, what motivation is there for the poor to improve themselves? Why would anyone labor if the fruits are evaluated and that declared 'excess' by some politician confiscated?
Truly, one can see much more clearly in the current environment that liberals are primarily governed by envy, rather than the individual's ambition to create her/his own better life through one's own labor and talents.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Also carefully timed to this upswell of Palin publicity is Weekly Standard associate editor Matthew Continetti's book, "The Persecution of Sarah Palin."
What will all of this coordinated, concerted attention accomplish?
Probably not that much.
I read a friendly review of Palin's book in the Wall Street Journal this week, and it didn't exactly make me want to buy her book. The all-important 'next steps' chapter in the book was panned as a tepid campaign speech, full of platitudes but short of detail.
There's no getting by the reality that Palin's resignation as governor of Alaska prior to completing her term is a serious liability.
Fox News contributor and noted conservative columnist Mary Katherine Ham opined, on Bill O'Reilly's program, that Palin probably needs to win a House or Senate election in order to demonstrate some commitment to actually learning and grappling with federal-level issues, as well as provide some stability and length to her now-brief record of holding an important governing office.
Ham may be correct, but, unfortunately, two out of three of Alaska's Congressional delegation are already Republican, and the third, Mark Begich, just won election last year to Ted Stevens' seat.
So, there's really no room for Palin on that front.
Despite the many polls suggesting that Palin could improve her image and standing among independent voters, I personally just don't think Sarah Palin has the necessary experience to be seen as qualified for the 2012 presidential election cycle.
Yes, her values are solidly conservative. Yes, she has some valuable experience and perspectives on energy and environmental issues.
But having just suffered through one inexperienced president, it's unlikely Wonderboy's successful GOP opponent will be an equally-inexperienced candidate.
More probably, like Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin, in order to realize any presidential hopes, will have to be patient, take a longer, circuitous path, and win a nomination for election to the White House in something more like 7 or 11 years, rather than 3. And that means she has to find a worthy base from which to operate in the meantime, doing genuinely productive work while remaining close to, and occasionally, but not frequently, in the national political spotlight.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Initially, there really wasn't a lot to say. It seemed fairly straightforward. A Muslim US Army Major killed 13 and wounded many more in a zealous rage of terror.
It wasn't simple criminality. It was, once one heard the evidence that he yelled "God is Great" in Arabic, clearly a terrorist act.
The real story began with the Army's, media's and administration's denial of this fact. Their attempt to place political correctness above the primary mission of the US armed forces, which is the defense of our country.
But then it got worse. Much, much worse.
We learned last week that the Army actually had intercepted Hassan's phone calls to Al Queda operatives. That he had given a presentation contending that militant Muslims be released from US armed forces obligations, so they could return to sympathetic countries, the easier to wage war on the US.
It strains belief that this could really all be true. That our armed forces could be so badly managed as to know that an officer no longer believed his oath to defend our country, and was actually fomenting dissent in the ranks.
The Army let this continue, let the officer serve, and behaved as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
We now know we have serious problems. Perhaps on the scale of Britain's in handling its own Muslim population.
Much has already been written and spoken about the need to not paint all Muslims with a brush of suspicion. That's true. What is also true is that our armed forces must be purged of this focus on diversity at the expense of execution of its primary mission.
And the primacy of allegiance of all US service men and women to the country which they serve, above any other allegiance to any country, religion, or any other competing entity.
It appears that our nation's ability to defend itself is now vulnerable to this simply requirement being enforced in our military forces.
Monday, November 16, 2009
How the liberals complained that the Bush EPA forbid staffers who believed in global warming from voicing their opinions?
Now we learn, from a recent Wall Street Journal editorial by Kim Strassel, that Wonderboy's EPA is doing the same thing, in reverse. And to a well-documented, much more extreme degree.
Specifically, Dr. Alan Carlin "offered a report poking holes in the science underlying the theory of manmade global warming."
According to Strassel, Carlin's superior complained that his work didn't support the new administration's party line regulating carbon, and told Carlin to "move on to other issues, and forbade him from discussing it outside the office."
Strassel notes that EPA's Lisa Jackson initially promised "fishbowl"-like transparency at the agency, but has quickly changed her mind on this. As Strassel observes,
"The goal now is to rush the agency regulations through as quickly as possible, squashing threatening dissent and deflecting troublesome questions."
Regarding Carlin, Strassel asked him how he was treated, when in dissent, by the Bush administration. He replied that
"years ago he actually believed the science was "correct"- a position that put him at odds with the Bush administration. Mr. Carlin knew one of his top supervisors back then disagreed with him. "At no time did he say don't work on it, don't express those views which are contrary to mine. And he in effect allowed me to work on climate change for five years...I had no problems until March of this current year."
Even a husband and wife team of EPA staffers, Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, were told to pull a video which, though supporting global warming and carbon-reducing policies, criticized Wonderboy's administration's support of the cap-and-trade bill.
So much for free speech in Wonderboy's administration. Fair enough, if that was consistent with his campaign promises.
But, of course, it's not. That was just another lie by the First Rookie, told to get elected.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Anita Dunn's early departure from this post was announced by the administration this week. They stressed that she had always been an 'acting' employee, and planned to leave by early next year.
So, no big deal.
Still, it seems that it is a big deal.
Whenever an administration makes a big deal out of saying something is not a big deal, it almost always really is.
In this case, Beck uncovered Dunn's devotion to Mao and general swagger about embracing socialists and communists. Liberals didn't think it all that remarkable, but many voters who thought they elected a moderate, centrist Democrat sure did.
So now Dunn is gone. Beck is unofficially credited with his second kill of Wonderboy's aides. First Van Jones. Now Anita Dunn.
Who will be next? Will he get to be an ace before Wonderboy leaves in 2013?
Now Beck is hamming it up, closing each program with the words,
"...and goodnight Mrs. Dunn, whereEVAH you are!"
Friday, November 13, 2009
" Special treatment of federal employees/Congress with respect to pensions, healthcare and other benefits"
Among the more frustrating things members of Congress have done is exempted themselves and their entity from various laws which it imposes on all other Americans.
For instance, in the recent health care bills authored by Congressional Democrats, members of Congress were allowed to opt out of the socialized health care that the body will impose on the rest of the nation.
Members of Congress have their own pension and health care benefits. Because so many have made Congress a career, they can legislate perks for themselves which ordinary citizens can never receive.
It would be impossible to mention, in advance, every way in which Congressional members could feather their own nests via legislative exemptions. A simpler approach is to add an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting any language in any bill or law which allows for different treatment of Congressional members from other citizens. No exemptions.
Making this a Constitutional component gives it permanent standing and moves it beyond the reach of any future Congress.
Of course, if we had term limits, this would be less of a problem. However, until, and even then, it simply makes sense to remind federal legislators that they are not above their constituents, and are never entitled to special treatment simply because they won an election.