Friday, September 30, 2005

The JPS Factor

Cap'n Ed raises an interesting rationale for why Senate Democrats may end up not filibustering President Bush's next SCOTUS nominee to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor:

John Paul Stevens.

O'Connor may have sometimes provided a swing vote, but overall the best Democrats can say about O'Connor is that she didn't turn out to be as conservative as they feared in 1981. She mostly represents the GOP's home turf. They will make a hue and cry about maintaining her moderation on the court, but they cannot afford to lose the filibuster over O'Connor.

John Paul Stevens, on the other hand, is 85 years old and not getting any younger at all. Stevens provides one of the most reliable of the liberal votes on the Court these days, and they have to have all the weapons available in case he retires or passes away. He remains in good health at the moment, but the chances of him staying that way for another three years aren't high enough for the Democrats to throw away the leverage they need to protect his seat if it comes up for replacement during a Bush term, regardless of the reason.
Mr. Morrissey makes a compelling case. With John Roberts' nomination, the Left lost no Olympian ground since he was replacing another constitutionalist in the late William Rehnquist. And even should a Michael Luttig or Edith Jones or Emilio Garza take Justice O'Connor's seat, they'll only be losing half a vote. (The Roe balance would still be 5-4 in favor.) And maybe not even that, since Justice Kennedy has pretty much sold out to the left side of the High Court as it is and, with O'Connor gone, would probably make it official. Whereas if they spend their filibuster on round 2, they risk becoming defenseless against losing a full vote should Justice Stevens become incapacitated or pass away. Suddenly Roe would be forfeit to a quintet of Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Luttig/Jones/Garza/et al, and the judge behind door #3. Will they take that chance?

But what we have to remember, and what the Cap'n isn't, is that calculating rationalism and sober strategic thinking have very little to do with how Senate Donks approach the confirmation process. They are the captives of their own crazed crypto-Marxist supporters, who are fit to be tied that all forty-four of their elected Senators and their lone "independent" appendage didn't seize Judge Roberts, bind, blindfold, and gag him, put him up against a wall, and shoot him. Those lunatics were positive that the new Chief Justice would be filibustered (heck, so was I) and President Bush forced to put up Janet Reno in his place. They don't think about hypotheticals eighteen months from now. They live entirely in the moment. And anybody who thinks that they will stand for another Bush choice getting through without pitched street battles is zonked out on happy pills. If that happens, the moveon.orgers and Kos-hacks and Moore-ons will be binding, blindfolding, gagging, and lining up Harry Reid and every minority member of the Judiciary Committee right along with him. And Reid & Co. damn well know it.

Another thing to consider is that after the post-Katrina kerfuffle, they think they've got Republicans on the run. Dems are convinced that Bush is so weakened that he won't dare appoint a "right-winger" to replace Justice O'Connor, and if he does majority 'Pubbies are so terrified of being seen as helping the "unpopular" White House (or crossing the "reasonable, mainstream" Donks) on anything that the McCain Mutineers will never let Bill Frist invoke the Byrd Option.

Much as I hate to say it, there's probably considerable truth to that perception. Probably not that comprehensive - I'd be (mildly) surprised if the President goes with a known constitutionalist, less so a closet one - but given that the Seven Dwarves pulled their backstabbing "Memo of Understanding" stunt four months ago in political conditions far more favorable to their party than the current ones, whether a filibuster could be broken has to be seen as a question mark.

Lastly, the logic of the confirmation equation doesn't auger for continuing to hold the filibuster option in reserve. There are simpy too many unknowns. Suppose Reid doesn't deploy it, Michael Luttig replaces O'Connor, and there are no more vacancies during Bush's second term? Or there is another vacancy (replacing Justice Stevens), but in the interim the Dems lose more seats in the '06 midterms, enough to make a filibuster far more difficult to mount? Or Stevens leaves, the Dems break even or even gain a seat or two next year, but the political conditions at the time make the triggering of the Byrd Option a more likely filibuster consequence?

At the end of the day, even if Dirty Harry were to suffer a sudden fit of sanity and raise his skinny, Barney Fifesque carcass sufficiently to snip the extremist puppet strings that manipulate his caucus, it's the odds of the confirmation filibuster being banned by the Republicans that has to be the overriding, determining factor in whether or not the Democrats go for "nuclear" obstruction. And, frankly, I don't think he'll find more favorable conditions for a filibuster showdown than right here, right now.

Of course, if the congressional GOP continues on its present suicidal course, the Democrats may regain majority control on both sides of the Hill, and the whole question will become moot.

One can only hope that Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue recognize that appointing and confirming another constitutionalist to Olympus is the best way that they can redeem the Judicial Branch - and themselves as well.

A Threshold That Guarantees Failure

Some libs (okay, pretty much all of them) just refuse to get it about the Iraqi constitution. Which means that some libs want Iraq right back the way it was before we liberated the country, which would be the likely end result of its defeat.

Here's an example, courtesy of Slate's Fred Kaplan:

When Iraqis go to the polls October 15 to vote on the constitution, it would probably be best if they rejected it. Elections for a new parliament are scheduled to take place this December in any case. Let them be for a new constitutional assembly (as current law provides in the event of a rejection), and let the process start over again. Further delay may prolong the chaos, but passage of this parchment will almost certainly make things worse—and for much longer still.

There's far less "chaos" than preached by the conventional wisdom it doesn't occur to him to question. But this prescription would gin it back up to those levels, which would be just fine with Kaplan.

Why does he think passing the constitution would be a bad idea? Because the Sunnis don't like it:

[T]he whole point of a constitution is to establish a foundation of consensus, to put forth a rule book that's accepted (even if reluctantly) by all the key factions; in short, to lay the groundwork on which politics can legitimately be played out.

This, Iraq's constitution clearly does not do.

Kaplan's right. The proposed Iraqi constitution doesn't satisfy all key factions. In that sense it enjoys the company of every other constitution that has ever been written. There's no such thing as a constitution that is universally accepted by all who will be subject to its dictates. Surely our own Constitution wasn't, which is why it took two full years to hash it out and then another two years before the requisite nine of thirteen states ratified it, and even then not everybody was happy with it.

But that's one of the first lessons of democracy: to borrow an old Rolling Stones title, "You can't always get what you want." What a constitutional system does ensure is that everybody has access to the political system for redress of grievances and sought-after modifications and all the other untidy fiddle-faddle of a free governing system. Democracy, in whichever form, whether parliamentary or republican, is a massive mess of competing interests that "legitimately play themselves out" by way of ballots and laws and process instead of terrorism and IEDs and suicide bombings.

Frankly, the Sunnis, being not even 20% of the Iraqi population, shouldn't be entitled to disproportionate deference. Yet Kaplan is essentially saying that they should have a veto over the entire process. That is all the less convincing an argument given that it is the Sunnis, whether ex-Saddamites or, more predominantly, foreign Sunni al Qaedaites, who have mounted the "insurgency" since before Iraq even regained its official sovereignty. It stands to reason to conclude that the Sunni faction will never accept anything less than the total dominance they enjoyed for decades under Saddam, and before that Iraq's British colonial overseers. Since they've fought democratization rabidly from day one, why should their grievances be given such undue consideration?

And yet the Kurds and Shi'ites did consider Sunni objections. They bent over backwards to placate the old Saddamite rump areas, even going a week past the deadline for completion of the document to try and woo them into signing off on it. And the Sunnis, who were unwilling, in the democratic tradition, to accept half a loaf in lieu of the entire bakery, still balked.

So the other two factions concluded deliberations, finalized the constitution, and the vote is going ahead next month, as scheduled. That's as it should be, because in a democracy, it's not about factions but about the process. Since the Sunnis alternated between attacking the process from without and undermining it from within but always remained outside of it, their continuing, unreasonable objections carry no weight and no credibility.

If the Sunnis are given a veto, there will never be a legitimate (i.e. non-Sunni-dominated) constitution, and the "insurgency" will just keep going until Iraqis sour on the very concept of democracy, we finally tire of the whole thing and leave regardless, and the country degenerates back into dicatorship.

Kinda like what happened in South Vietnam.

And that's an outcome about which people like Fred Kaplan would not feel dismay, but savage elation.

Why People Don't Trust The Market

John Stossel put that in the form of a question the other day, and then did a fine job of answering it:

The damage from hurricanes Rita and Katrina will send gas prices through the roof and destroy the economy!

"It's inevitable that this is just the beginning, it's not the end, of this gasoline crisis!" Senator Charles Schumer told me, as Rita approached last Friday. The New York Democrat went on to say that we're "twiddling our thumbs while Rome burns ... we are weakened in every way!"

Ah, yes, the perfect demagogue. Tub-thump a crisis where none exists on a topic about which most people know very little, and then stampede the public toward a "solution" that would generate the very crisis you claim to solve.

Sure enough, Chucky didn't disappoint:

He is eager to spend your money to cure his panic. Schumer wants a new "Manhattan Project" that would use huge amounts of your money to fund "independent energy sources." I reminded him that the last time government tried that, it wasted billions on the totally failed synfuels project. Schumer said that was a failure because "political leaders" chose synfuels, but this time Congress would have "non-politicians" decide what projects to fund.

Sure they would.

If non-politicians are going to decide what projects to fund, why do we need Chuck Schumer? We already have a system in which non-politicians decide what projects to fund.

It's called "the market."

God bless John Stossel. I hope he gets hired soon as a GOP media consultant, because this is the message upon which the majority needs to be expounding relentlessly.

Perhaps if they did, accusations of "gouging" would get laughed out of the public square, as they deserve to be:

Rather than "gouging" members of the public, gas station owners are actually helping them by raising prices. This may seem counter-intuitive, but we have to consider how supply, demand and price interact. Normally, supply and demand dictate price, as is the case when gas prices spike. When price, however, is fixed, as would be the case if an "anti-gouging" law was in effect, then demand will outstrip the supply available. Shortage is the inevitable result. Gas would be rationed in some way, whether it is by some arbitrary legal fiat or by long lines at the pump. A black market is also more likely.

Moreover, as experience with rent control has shown, capping prices in times of scarcity also has the perverse effect of reducing the quantity of the good or service supplied. In other words, capping gas prices would actually lead to less gas being sold, as suppliers reduce the amount they are willing to sell in order to avoid loss. Shortages are therefore exacerbated. By contrast, anyone who tries "gouging" will find themselves with unsold supply and will be forced to lower their prices to offload it. [emphasis added]

The moral of this story? "Gouging" and the "economic populism" from which the charge is spawned are just loud-mouthed ignorance. Predation upon the real or imagined distress of the masses. Indeed, it is the selling of misery and scapegoatery, a more potent, and despicable, "bundling" than Microsofties ever dreamed of. It gets over because prices, especially of basics like groceries and gasoline, are very visible while the information and industry-specific arcana that goes into their determination are not.

Some pols who should know better get bulldozed into aping this irresponsible hysteria:

[T]here is an unfortunate tendency in the free-market community to buy into the alarmist rhetoric that suggests "gouging" does go on. When the President declared on September 1st that he would take a zero-tolerance approach to price-gouging, he unwittingly perpetuated a myth. Buying into the rhetoric of gouging validates what Prof. David Henderson calls "do-it-yourself economics." Worse than that, however, it victimizes responsible suppliers who are doing their best to ensure the maximization of supply. [emphasis added]

That victimization is the objective if pols who don't know better, or even worse, do but want suppliers framed and screwed anyway in order to grow their own power over the market they do not trust.

The moral of THAT story is, "Chucky Schumer gives me gas." Which he'd have to, because I doubt anybody would buy it from him.

Pity his "sinfools" scheme won't meet the same fate.

This Is What I'm Talking About....

The other day, in a long post about how majority Republicans' fiscal tranformation into the Democrats they replaced eleven years ago is putting that majority status in jeopardy, I penultimated with this graf:

Make no mistake about this: I am not urging GOP voters to hold their nose and keep supporting the party anyway or to flip 'em the bird and stay home in November 2006. I am simply saying what a lot of GOP voters will do. Whenever the base perceives that its elected officerholders have strayed from the faith and stopped listening to them, it will punish them regardless of the political cost. It happened across the board in 1998 over Republican reluctance to impeach Bill Clinton and on the Senate side in 2000 for its failure to convict him. If GOP leaders keep copping this appallingly arrogant attitude they'll take a whupping from their own supporters yet again, mark my words.

Deroy Murdock just called them "a collective embarrassment to the party of Lincoln and the republic he preserved." In today's American Spectator, Doug Bandow (admittedly a Libertarian rather than a conservative, much less a Republican, but still....) goes far beyond urging GOP voters to stay home:

The House Republican leadership must go. Even if that means the GOP loses control of Congress. Democrats spent decades practicing the policy of spending lavishly to win elections. Republicans refined the practice in just a few years.

More fundamentally, it took the Democrats four decades to fully succumb to the temptations of power, ruthlessly abusing their control of Capitol Hill. After only one decade the Republicans are proving to be even worse. [emphasis added]

Bandow isn't just taking opportunistic aim at Tom DeLay. He's opening fire on the entire leadership. And, I might add, going overboard to dump on Republican abuse, since (1) Democrats "succumbed to the temptations of power" decades before they finally lost it (it just took Republicans forty years to finally credibly challenge them for control) and (2) the mechanisms of abuse were already assembled when Republicans took control. Indeed, the wonder is that they've lasted a decade before their own "succumbing" with the full-blown temptation right under their noses for so long.

But Bandow doesn't ultimately stop at just the leadership, but urges the wholesale expulsion of every last Republican from congressional office:

When it comes to policy there seem to be ever fewer serious differences between the two leading political parties. Both expand government power, increase federal spending, lavish money on pork barrel projects, and put their own interests before that of the public at every turn. And these days, at last, the GOP appears to be more ruthless about using every bit of the power that it has accumulated for its own advantage.

While there are few substantive reasons to choose between the parties, there now is a practical reason to vote Democratic: to put at least one organ of national power into someone else's hands. As Lord Acton famously observed, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." [emphasis added]

There are two obvious (at least to me) problems with Bandow's conclusion:

1) The use of "ruthless" and "GOP" in the same sentence. Republicans don't know what to do with power. Even after eleven years they haven't figured it out. (Well, okay, maybe Tom DeLay does, which is why he's being persecuted.) That's the problem. What the House leadership is doing vis-a-vie post-Katrina relief spending and the RSC's drive to offset the cost with spending cuts isn't using majority power to its own advantage, because governing like Democrats will not help them politically. Columns like Murdock's and Bandow's and the others I linked to the other day are the deafening proof.

2) The Democrats, into whose hands Bandow would put "at least one organ of national power" ("at least?" Sounds like he'd hand the Donks the whole shooting match out of jilted spite), are far more corrupt, even now, than GOPers could ever dream of becoming, as well as seditiously insane. The middle of a war for national survival is not the time to settle intramural scores or indulge in "family" feuds, especially when doing so would surrender the national organs to people who would get us all killed.

But there is a bigger picture to this: Bandow is not alone. He's like the sneeze that heralds the onset of a head cold. Jay Homnick makes a more constructive but equally as ominous point about GOP profligacy alienating Republican-leaning independents who maybe don't advertise that leaning but tend to vote that way primarily on fiscal issues. Loss of those "silent Republicans" alone could cause the party problems next November. Pissing off core supporters who have an established track record of short-sighted fratricide could generate a ballot box disaster.

Although my "leanings" on this are hardly silent or secret, I am still not formally recommending support or plug-pulling on Republican congressional hegemony. I just point out the "leanings" of those who are always on a hair-trigger to lunge toward the latter. It is up to the GOP leadership of both houses to "learn from the past, that it not be repeated."

Well, What Did You Expect?

As soon as I saw a promo for ABC's new Hillary Clinton fantasy Commander in Chief, I said to myself...well, I didn't even have to say anything to myself. It was so obviously a Hillary Clinton fantasy - what its makers obviously consider to be a preview of things to come in the real world - that I just chuckled, shook my head for a bit, and went about my business.

Understand that the only thing I learned was the premise - a female vice president succeeds to the presidency upon the death of the president - and that Geena Davis was playing the lead role. I felt no need to research it, much less actually watch it when it aired. I knew what it was going to be instinctively.

Guess it's a good thing I'm not compelled to go to the trouble; otherwise I might have to expound extraneously like Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women's Forum:

Some may celebrate Commander in Chief for casting a woman as president, an office a woman has yet to hold. The problem is that Commander perpetuates more myths than it debunks. Most notably, it preaches that Americans — especially those inscrutable red-state types — are hostile to women in power. All evidence points in the opposite direction. Each year, female pioneers in industry and politics are greeted with popular applause. A 2003 Gallup poll found that nearly 9 in 10 Americans are open to the idea of voting for a woman for president. It’s quite possible that this figure understates the level of support since many of those who answered “no” probably were thinking specifically of one presumed female candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton.
Well, duh. The myths abound. Such as a "sexist pig" GOP president. Or the depiction of a Republican "gender gap" among women that has always been overblown when it existed at all (but the Democrat gap amongst men sure as hell does, and we never hear about THAT one). Or a "sexist pig" GOP House Speaker (named "Templeton," doubtless after the rat in Charlotte's Web). Or pretty much all Republicans on the show being "sexist pigs." Or the sexist pig GOP president even putting "McKenzie Allen" on his ticket to begin with. Or that dodge fooling the voters if his sexism is that overt. Or his believing that while on his death bed he can order her to resign. Or that he thinks she actually will. (Sheesh, in the real world at that point Allen would already be acting president because of this evident mental irregularity, doubtless the product of his "debilitating aneurysm".) Or that a Templeton presidency would bring back " burning, creationism in the classroom, invading every third world country." Or that the Speaker would be so petty and juvenile as to sabotage Allen's teleprompter during a congressional address.

Commander in Chief is the incredulous answer to the question, "Is it possible for Hollywood to come up with a TV show that makes West Wing look intelligent?" You wanna know how bad it gets? Forget the laughably tiresome anti-conservative stereotypes - try this. At one point (so I have since read), Speaker Templeton refers to a Nigerian woman sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery as “a woman who couldn’t keep her legs together.” This is meant as a misogynistic slam at President Allen, you understand. So how does she react? By threatening to invade Nigeria unless that adulterous woman is freed. And last time I looked, Nigeria was a third world country. Wonder what Allen's paranoid, hysterical left-wing staffers thought about that.

Well, actually, I don't - they were all for it, I'm sure. Such people plumb the depths of hypocrisy so pervasively that they've long since grown ethical gills.

If there's an irony in this show, it is that it presumes that a woman can't get elected president in her own right, but has to ride to power on the shoulders of a man. Kind of like Hillary Clinton did the first time around. And the double irony is that I, one of the "sexist pig Republicans" who never makes it on-screen, believe that Hillary Clinton will be elected president in 2008 (why and how are the purview of another post, and there'll be plenty of them soon enough).

But the country and capital President Rodham encounters in January 2009 won't look anything like the one Geena Davis finds. In the real world, "sexist pig" Republicans will be elbowing each other out of the way to become her towel boys and palm-frond wavers, for fear of being sent to the Alaska gulag on charges of, well, sexism.

All the same, if I were on watch in Abuja long about then, I'd have my military on full alert, just in case.

Farracops, Klan Springtime & Bennett Rings The Bell

If you wondered why the New Orleans police force fell apart in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, including going AWOL and even joining the looters of the Big Easy, part of the answer is probably as bad, or worse, than you suspected:

In June, the Bayou Buzz reported that [Mayor Ray "School Bus"] Nagin's police department hired [Nation of Islam Chieftain Louis] Farrakhan deputy Dennis Muhammad to conduct "sensitivity training" sessions for New Orleans' cops after a rise in "anti-police" sentiment in the city.

In an item picked up by the Drudge Report, Police Chief Eddie Compass explained that "members of the Nation of Islam have some type of relationship" with the community and might be able to help ease tensions.

The Muhammed appointment immediately sparked controversy, with New Orleans Police Association spokesman David Benelli telling the Bayou Buzz that his phone had "been ringing off the hook" with complaints from the rank and file.

One wonders to what Mr. Muhammad was teaching NOPD'ers to be "sensitive." More likely he was trying to indoctrinate them in Farrakhan's execrable race hatred and bigotry, and perhaps a touch of Islamic fundamentalism as well.

In the bigger picture it shows that this recent Nagin-Farrakhan meeting was hardly anomalous, but appears to be an ongoing relationship, and would be little different than if it had come out in the aftermath of 9/11 that then-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani had had a long-running friendship with David Duke.

Somehow I don't think the Extreme Media would have been as reticent to give any coverage to that connection as they have been to this one. Otherwise we'd have heard more about West Virginia Democrat Senator Robert "KKK" Byrd's fond, glowing recollections of his time in the, well, KKK in his autobiography Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields:

According to the eight-term West Virginia Democrat, the Klan he remembers was "a fraternal group of elites – doctors, lawyers, clergy, judges and other 'upstanding' people."

At no time, said Byrd, did he hear his fellow Klansman preach violence against blacks, Jews or Catholics.

Byrd recalls that his admiration for the racist organization began early, when he was a little boy watching his father march in KKK parades.

"Watching from the window, young Byrd saw people dressed in white hoods and robes and wearing white masks over their faces. Some years later, he wrote, he learned that his father had been a member of the Klan and took part in the parade" - according to a Washington Post synopsis of Byrd's book.

By the age of 25, the top Democrat saw the Klan as an opportunity to prove his mettle. After joining up in 1942, Byrd rose quickly through the organizational ranks, earning his stripes within months as a Kleagle - the Klan term for recruiter.

Byrd excelled in the role - boasting in his book that he'd recruited at least 150 new Klansman. The feat helped him get elected to the position of "Exalted Cyclops" - a race Byrd proudly notes that he won "unanimously."

Trent Lott pays tribute to Strom Thurmond's 1948 Dixiecrat presidential run at the man's final birthday party and it generates a media firestorm. Bob Byrd writes a memoir that makes the Klan sound like the Kiwanis Club and there's nary a peep.

No wonder a Calypso Louis disciple can be mayor of a major American city, abandon countless helpless hurricane suvivors, and let his police department be debased into a racist paramilitary organization, and still be aided and abetted in casting all the blame due him onto President Bush - as well as the attempted quarter-trillion dollar shakedown of the American taxpayers to boot.

But, of course, as Dan Rather gushed the other day, Hurricane Katrina was the media's "finest hour."


UPDATE: With regard to Bill Bennett's "controversial" comment made on his radio program Morning in America ("I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.”) - which (1) is factual and (2) was offered as part of an argument against black abortion - Newmax lends some excellent perspective to the knee-jerk left-wing self-righteous reactions it has triggered:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said last year that the Supreme Court's lone black member was "an embarrassment to the court," is demanding that Bennett "issue an immediate apology not only to African Americans but to the nation.”

Left wing Democrat Ted Kennedy, whose brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, ordered the illegal wiretapping of Martin Luther King, called Bennett a "racist."

And Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, who suggested last year that most blacks hold menial jobs, called Bennett's comments "hateful" and "inflammatory" - and called on him to apologize. [emphases added]

And let's not forget the incipient racism evident in how the liberal media were so quick to believe and publicize the false horror stories of rape and cannibalism and war-zone-magnitude murder in majority-black New Orleans. Not only does it illustrate which side of the aisle is truly racist, but it also shows how cynically those racist tendencies are used - and projected - for base partisan advantage.

And let's remember something else: Bill Bennett is not a politician. He's not in government, hasn't been for a decade and a half, and is never going to be again. He's not even the media titan that Rush Limbaugh is. So why would a "controversial" comment on his modest radio program prompt such an eruption from top elected Democrat poobahs?

Seems to me Double-B was doing more than just making a provocative argument - he was also conducting a psychological exercise as well. Pavlov and his dogs, and all that.

Which, on Hannity & Colms last night, included a rolled-up newspaper:

"I'll not take instruction from Teddy Kennedy. A young woman likely drowned because of his negligence....He should make no judgments at all about other people. He shouldn't be in the Senate."

Like I said, Bennett will never be in politics again.

Heck, with that devastating bluntness, one has to question whether he's still a Republican....

UPDATE II: Here's Bennett's official statement:

"On Wednesday, a caller to my radio show proposed the idea that one good argument for the pro-life position would be that if we didn't have abortions, Social Security would be solvent. I stated my doubts about such a thesis, as well as my opposition to such a form of argument (the audio of the call is available at my Website:

"I then stated that such extrapolations of this argument can cut both ways, and cited the current bestseller, Freakonomics, which discusses the authors' thesis that abortion reduces crime.

"Then, putting my philosophy professor's hat on, I went on to reveal the limitations of such arguments by showing the absurdity in another such argument, along the same lines. I entertained what law school professors call 'the Socratic method' and what I would hope good social science professors still use in their seminars. In so doing, I suggested a hypothetical analogy while at the same time saying the proposition I was using about blacks and abortion was 'impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible,' just to ensure those who would have any doubt about what they were hearing, or for those who tuned in to the middle of the conversation.

"The issues of crime and race have been on many people's minds, and tongues, for the past month or so - in light of the situation in New Orleans; and the issues of race, crime, and abortion are well aired and ventilated in articles, the academy, the think tank community, and public policy. Indeed the whole issue of crime and race is not new in social science, nor popular literature. One of the authors of Freakonomics, himself, had an extended exchange on the discussion of these issues on the Internet some years back - which was also much debated in the think tank community in Washington.

"A thought experiment about public policy, on national radio, should not have received the condemnations it has. Anyone paying attention to this debate should be offended by those who have selectively quoted me, distorted my meaning, and taken out of context the dialogue I engaged in this week. Such distortions from 'leaders' of organizations and parties is a disgrace not only to the organizations and institutions they serve, but to the First Amendment.

"In sum, let me reiterate what I had hoped my long career had already established: that I renounce all forms of bigotry - and that my record in trying to provide opportunities for, as well as save the lives of, minorities in this country stands up just fine."

I guess the moral of the story is, "Don't employ the Socratic Method with people who can't count past ten without slurring the numbers or removing articles of clothing."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fristy's Side of the HCA Story

From, and for, the record:

“When I first ran for the Senate over 10 years ago, I made a commitment to the people of Tennessee that if elected, I would serve them to the best of my ability and uphold the highest ethical standards. I have tried to go above and beyond anything required by the Senate rules or the law.

“Now some questions have arisen, so let me tell you what I know and what I did.

“When deciding how to handle my family’s personal investments, I always sought expert advice and Senate Ethics Committee review and approval. Despite not being required to do so, I sought and obtained two Ethics Committee opinions acknowledging that my ownership of HCA stock complied with Senate rules and did not present a conflict of interest with my Senate duties. Despite not being required to do so, I later chose to place many of my investments in blind trusts, including my HCA stock. With these efforts, I have sought to guarantee that no conflict of interest existed. Review after review has found nothing wrong. Nevertheless, the complaints and questions have persisted.

“Because of these continuing questions, and looking ahead at my final years in the Senate and what might come next, I have for some time wanted to eliminate even the possibility of an appearance of a conflict by totally divesting of any HCA stock in my family’s trusts.

“In April, I asked my staff to determine if Senate rules and relevant laws would allow me to direct the trustees to sell any remaining HCA stock. After my staff reviewed relevant statutes and Senate rules and consulted with outside counsel and Senate Ethics Committee staff, I learned that the rules allowed me to direct the trustees to sell any remaining HCA stock in my blind trusts.

“In May, my staff worked with outside counsel and the Senate Ethics Committee staff to draft a written communication to the trustees. After obtaining pre-approval by mid-June from the Senate Ethics Committee, I issued a letter directing my trustees to sell any remaining HCA stock in my family’s trusts.

“Now I am being asked to explain this decision. I understand that. And I welcome it.

“An examination of the facts will demonstrate that I acted properly. I will cooperate with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to provide the information they need as quickly as possible. My only objective in selling the stock was to eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest. I had no information about HCA or its performance that was not publicly available when I directed the trustees to sell the stock.

“Now, I’m going to get back to work. While you all will have many questions, we will answer as much as we can, as fast as we can, consistent with the inquiries underway.

Is Jon Korzine In Trouble?

Could be. His New Jersey gubernatorial candidacy, thought to be a shoo-in in that heavily "blue" state, is taking on water at an alarming rate, as a double-digit poll lead not too long ago has shrunk to as little as four points over RINO underdog Doug Forrester:

A Quinnipiac poll gives Corzine a 48%-to-44% lead over Forrester - a 6-point drop from a month ago. Other recent polls have Corzine up by 9 points, but they also show him ceding a double-digit lead.

Forrester, no prize himself, is using his own not-inconsiderable personal fortune (that he used to drown hapless GOP rival Brett Schundler in a tsunami of slime) to compete with the moneybags Senator Korzine in the New York and Philadelphia media markets and is apparently doing more than just holding his own.

Korzine must think he's in trouble, a lot of trouble, because he's decided to take the most desperate gamble any imperiled Democrat candidate can ever accept - he's asked Bill "sadiM" Clinton to campaign for him:

"It's 911 time in the Corzine campaign. Obviously, he's in trouble," said a senior Democratic strategist.

Clinton will campaign with the Democratic U.S. senator today at Kean University in Union, hoping to turn around Corzine's stalled run for the New Jersey statehouse....

Strategists say it's not too late for Corzine to turn it around, and one said "it's not a surprise" he has tapped the ever-popular Clinton to help fix the problem.

{shaking head} Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Didn't Korzine pay any attention to Bob Toricelli's senate re-election bid three years ago? Surely that should look eerily familiar right about now - poll numbers collapsing, accusations of corruption (Corzine is accused of trying to conceal a $470,000 loan to ex-girlfriend Carla Katz, the head of New Jersey's largest state workers union), Doug Forrester as the Republican opponent.

Of course, Korzine hasn't sunk that low yet - Forrester had pulled ahead of Toricelli and was pulling away. Indeed, the New Jersey senior senator may be trying to recruit Mr. Bill to campaign for him now in order to avoid Don Clintone giving him the kiss of political death a few weeks from now, as Toricelli found out when he was unceremoniously (and illegally) shoved aside in favor of retread Frank Lautenberg.

But that just leads into the other incredulous question: isn't Korzine aware that every prominent Democrat for whom Bill Clinton campaigns loses? In 2002 it was a clean sweep, everywhere from Walter Mondale in Norm Coleman's Minnesota senate victory to the Hawaii gubernatorial race where the GOP won for the first time since before statehood. And last fall, despite open heart surgery, Clinton managed to lend his anti-Midas touch to John Kerry's ignominous cavalcade of incoherence in time for Mr. French's well-earned defeat.

I would never have guessed this outcome to a race that never should have been competitive. And while it'll certainly be no favor to any hope of conservativizing the Garden State GOP any time soon, I think Jersey 'Pubbies can start getting ready for Governor Forrester.

And if not, well, it's not as if there'll be that much of a difference anyway.

Blanco Gets No Katrina Questions

Jonah Goldberg crapped a brick upon seeing this story, and I can't say that I blame him:

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, [appropriately and long-belatedly] blamed by the former leader of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin for many of the city's post-hurricane problems, was given no questions about her response to Hurricane Katrina when she appeared before a Senate committee to plead for more federal money.

She asked not to be questioned about it and the senators agreed.

Mrs. Blanco, a Democrat, was invited by the Senate Finance Committee to respond to charges by former FEMA Director Michael D. Brown, who the day before called Louisiana officials "dysfunctional" in handling the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."

"Today, I came really to talk about job creation," she said.

So she was invited to respond to Brownie's setting the record straight and then was excused from any questions? By a Republican-run committee?

Well, of course she was.

Look, I share J-Gold's outrage at rampaging Republican ninny-ism, but not his surprise. To reiterate yet again, President Bush set the "Republicans are to blame for all the post-Katrina foul-ups no matter how many of them Blanco and Nagin committed" theme two weeks ago. The way that the GOP-led House Katrina Committee drilled Mr. Brown the other day is incontrovertible evidence that no elected Pachyderm is going to buck his/her leader's surrender to that detestable left-wing template.

Besides, if Chuck Grassley's 'Pubbies had grilled her, she would just have turned on the tears and the Extreme press would have friccasseed them as "bullies" and "ogres" anyway.

The International Terrorism Center Is Dead

....Long may it molder.

And three cheers to New York Governor George Pataki for delivering the coup de grace (via Powerline):

Governor George Pataki has cancelled plans to build the controversial International Freedom Center at the World Trade Center site - and representatives of the center say the location change has forced the entire project to be scrapped.

The center had drawn criticism from some 9/11 victims' family members because it would not focus exclusively on the terror attacks. Family members also said the IFC could potentially contain exhibits that were anti-American.

Pataki said Wednesday that he's given the center a chance to clarify its intentions, but there's just too much opposition.

In a statement, Pataki said: “The creation of an institution that would show the world our unity and our resolve to preserve freedom in the wake of the horrific attacks is a noble pursuit. But freedom should unify us. This center has not.”
Now it should be understood, lest I oversell Governor Pataki's achievement, that he only banned the IFC from being constructed on the WTC site itself. The anti-American terror-symps could have built their Osama shrine anyplace else around Ground Zero. But in a very telling decision, they've chosen to forget the whole thing instead:

[F]reedom center officials abruptly terminated their project after learning of the governor's decision.

"We do not believe there is a viable alternative place for the IFC at the World Trade Center site," read the freedom center's statement. "We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end."

Based on this decision, one can only conclude that their "work" was to rub the noses of New Yorkers and Americans at large in dhimmist anti-nationalist self-loathing:

[T]heir reaction makes clear that they intended the IFC not just to present an alternative viewpoint espousing a why-do-they-hate-us exploration, but that they wanted to ensure that their approach supplanted the memorials that would directly recall the barbarity of the acts themselves.

The IFCers didn't want their golden bin Laden statue to compete with proper memorials to the thousands al Qaeda murdered four years ago; they wanted it to supplant them. They wanted the dead and their surviving loved ones to be silenced and forgotten as though they never existed. One can scarcely imagine OBL himself not favoring sentiments much different from these.

And when Governor Pataki denied them their site, they picked up their ball and went home. To which the proper response is, "Good riddance to bad rubbish!"

If only it was a last goodbye....

Earle Cleared DeLay Two Weeks Ago

That's the little detail that has emerged since yesterday's announcement by Dem hatchetman Ronnie Earle of the House Majority Leader's indictment on a nebulous "conspiracy" charge. And it may be that Earle was not acting on his own, but under orders from higher up the political food chain:

Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle's announcement yesterday that he was indicting House Majority Leader Tom DeLay came a little more than two weeks after Earle gave clear indications that the top Republican was off the hook.

"I have never said that DeLay is a target of the investigation," Earle told the Dallas Morning News on September 10.

Sources familiar with Earle's investigation had agreed that, before yesterday, it didn't look like the top Republican would be indicted.

On September 19, for instance, "ace" Newsweek sleuth Michael Isikoff reported that it looked like DeLay was in the clear:

"Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's two-year campaign fund-raising probe is expected to wind down soon without bringing charges against the House majority leader, according to lawyers close to the case who declined to be identified because of legal sensitivities," Isikoff reported.

"Earle doesn't plan to refer evidence to the prosecutor in DeLay's home district either," an Earle spokesman told Newsweek.

So what changed? The Hammer has a pretty good idea:

DeLay says reports that he was off the hook prompted a firestorm of outrage from national Democrats, who pressured Earle to reverse course.

And when this gaseous "conspiracy" charge goes nowhere, guess who will take the heat for it? Ronnie Earle.

And every expert who knows anything about this so-called investigation or Texas election law says it's going nowhere:

Most legal experts looking at the conspiracy indictment of U.S. Representative Tom DeLay said Wednesday that either an insider has turned against DeLay or the prosecutor may have gone too far.

"I can't imagine indicting a majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives without having a smoking gun, and that means someone who flipped on DeLay," said Buck Wood, an Austin lawyer who filed a related civil lawsuit on behalf of Democratic congressional candidates. "He's got to have corroborating evidence, too, bills and things proving where DeLay was at key times."

Several lawyers and law professors said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle could have talked the grand jury into a questionable indictment if he hasn't secured key witnesses who were "in the room" with DeLay. Otherwise, this conspiracy case could be too hard to prove with just circumstantial evidence, they said....

Houston lawyer David Berg said the case against DeLay could possibly be proved with a lot of circumstantial evidence such as cryptic e-mail, hotel and travel bills placing him at meetings, and his "fingerprints" somehow on the transactions.

"But what a prosecutor wants is someone in the meetings. I think someone has to have rolled over on DeLay," Berg said.

He said prosecutor Earle has too much at stake to move forward without strong evidence. Earle has to be careful because he has taken heat over his public anti-DeLay comments and is marked by his failure to convict U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX, some years ago, Berg said.

Attorneys familiar with the case said that key anti-DeLay cooperators, if they exist, could be co-defendants, insider Republicans or even witnesses from the contributing corporations....

The Texas law invoked against DeLay is loosely worded and casts a wide net. It merely requires that a conspirator must intentionally agree with at least one person that they or someone else in the conspiracy will commit an act to further a felony.

University of Houston professor David Crump said the government is nevertheless going to have to show the jury, no matter how many Travis County Democrats are sitting on it, that DeLay did something to promote a campaign-fund transfer that was against the law.

"Yes, it's possible to have a conspiracy in which one conspirator didn't do anything but merely agreed. But I've never seen it happen in reality. The agreement can't be that passive or tacit," Crump said....

Dick DeGuerin, an attorney for DeLay who beat Earle in the Hutchison case, said Wednesday that the prosecutor doesn't have just one cooperating witness — he has many. "I think everybody has cooperated with the government, and the evidence showed Tom DeLay did nothing wrong," he said.

He said none of the three accused men committed a crime since the funds were never improperly used.

The indictment does not follow the corporate-sponsored $190,000 into any specific account from which it was then used to improperly pay candidates. DeGuerin says it wasn't alleged in the indictment because it didn't happen. Any money sent to the candidates came properly from a separate individual donor account.

What Earle has here is an unprovable "conspiracy" to commit a legal act. Not only is there no "smoking gun," there's no "gun" at all - but there is plenty of smoke, as in being blown up the public's collective ass.

This has all the earmarks of the usual desperate Democrat "gotcha" lunge that will lead to their falling right into the PR compost heap yet again. Or, as Tom Bevan put it:

Democrats have pounced on the news with characteristic vigor, but if the rap against DeLay turns out to be bogus they may find themselves in the all too familiar position of facing a backlash for having overplayed a partisan hand.

To significantly modify the old Dow Chemical slogan, "Without Democrats, the Repubican majority itself would be impossible."

Of course, by that same token majority Republicans wouldn't be morphing into Democrats on an ever-rising number of issues, which is why DeLay may find that when he emerges from this latest opposition foray, his leadership post won't be waiting for him. But I don't feel like flogging that equine carcass today.

UPDATE: Brother Hinderaker, at a loss to find any legitimate legal justification for the DeLay indictment, speculates that it's part of an overall Democrat effort to pave the way for their promised filibuster of the President's next SCOTUS nominee.

Eh. Maybe if Earle had indicted Jon Cornyn, I could see it. From Texas, on the Judiciary Committee, and so forth. Hard to see what the Hammer has to do with that, even tangentially. And the press has been in an "anti-Republican feeding frenzy" for, oh, my entire lifetime at least.

My feeling is that, like sharks swim, eat, and make little sharks, so Donk hacks like Ronnie Earle abuse their authority to persecute Republicans for maximum partisan advantage.

But it's not as though I have any more specific guesses.

UPDATE 9/30: Here's a right-wing media bastion that has the long knives out for the Hammer.

Chief Justice John Roberts

By a vote of 78-22.

Jackasses voting against:


At least my state's two embarrassments (Cantwell and Patty Murray) split their votes.

Now the "fun" really begins.

A $9 Billion Start

Could there be hope for majority Republicans on the spending issue after all? And in the U.S. Senate, no less?

Robert Novak tells a very encouraging story:

The Senate was up to its old tricks Monday evening. It prepared to pass, without debate and under a procedure requiring unanimous consent, a federal infusion of $9 billion into state Medicaid programs under the pretext of Katrina relief. The bill, drafted in secret under bipartisan auspices, was stopped cold when Republican Senator John Ensign voiced his objection.

The bill's Democratic sponsors railed in outrage against Ensign, a 47-year-old first-termer from Las Vegas, who usually keeps a low profile. But he was not acting alone. Ensign belongs to, and, indeed, originated, a small group of Republicans who intend to stand guard on the Senate floor against such raids on the Treasury as Monday night's failure.

That $9 bil was going to such hurricane-ravaged locales as Alaska, and was not slated to even be carved out of the $62 billion blank check that Congress already sent (ostensibly) to the Gulf Coast. It was, in other words, bread & circuses as usual, and precisely the sort of thing that has gotten Republicans into such hot water with their supporters.

When Ensign objected, all hell broke loose on the other side. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) broke down in Tony-award-winning sobs, and Max Baucus (D-MT), ranking minority member of the Finance Committee and partner in crime with Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), blew his stack so violently that his head threatened to explode.

But guess what? The majority didn't run away, at least this time. John Sununu (R-NH) "coolly analy[zed] the bill's excessive spending." Just shined the light of public scrutiny on what was supposed to be a "cockroaches gathering in the dark corner of the kitchen to raid the fridge" sort of deal. And what could the Dems do but rage impotently?

This Senate answer to the House's Republican Study Committee includes Ensign, Sununu, Tom Coburn (R-OK), Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint (R's-SC), and the only real drawback to this equation:

The group includes Senator John McCain, who long has tried to wean Republicans from ever greater federal spending but attracted little support from GOP colleagues until recently.

He's only in it for another angle at swindling his way to the '08 GOP presidential nomination. But as that's something he'll never get in any case, it can't hurt if he does good here, even if his efforts aren't really sincere or politically altruistic.

Another piece of encouraging news is that, at least so Novak says, Senate 'Pubbies are starting to properly align their perpetual anxiety with what they should actually be afraid of:

Fear has enveloped Republicans who see themselves handing the banner of fiscal integrity to the Democrats. The GOP is losing the rhetoric war, even though Democrats mostly push for higher domestic spending, because Republicans, while standing firm against tax hikes, have also declined to cut spending. Fearing the worst in the 2006 and 2008 elections, Republican senators who would not be expected to do so are looking to McCain to lead the party back to fiscal responsibility.

McCain will only lead to where McCain wants to go, whether or not that destination includes fiscal responsibility. But the more Pachyderms that get on that bandwagon, the better the chances of salvaging their majorities a year from now.

Besides, by that time "Sailor" will be off on his next calculating crusade.

Fristy & The Birds

Still don't think that Captain Chirps (avian bird flu) is a big deal? In today's Washington Times, Senate Majority Leader (haha) Bill Frist sounds the alarm:

[T]he avian flu may not remain trivial for long. The virus — known as H5N1 — changes very quickly. Humans have no natural immunity to it. And infected birds may be able to transit it before they show symptoms. Any virus with these characteristics could devastate the human population while causing massive economic and social chaos....

Given the world has nearly four times more people and far more efficient means of travel [then during the 1918-19 Spanish flu outbreak], another pandemic could spread more quickly and kill more people than before. If it were to become transmissible between humans, avian flu might kill 160 million to 200 million people.

Given our inadequate preparation, indeed, many deaths could happen in the United States. The effects, needless to say, could be catastrophic: massive declines in GDP, limitations on travel and enormous loss of life....

Right now, our national stockpiles of anti-viral drugs sit at dangerously low levels — about 2% of what we would need in a serious outbreak — and no existing vaccine can provide perfect protection against the avian flu virus. Vaccine and drug production in the United States, furthermore, couldn't make up this difference quickly enough were a serious outbreak to occur. While HHS has drafted a Pandemic Influenza Response and Preparedness Plan, it remains incomplete....

The United States needs to act immediately: We should stockpile enough anti-viral drugs to treat at least half of the U.S. population while simultaneously improving our ability to defend against an outbreak at home or abroad.

Again, if you want to get some idea of what a pandemic of this magnitude might look like, read the first half of Stephen King's 1978 novel The Stand. I think we should all be able to agree that that, or anything remotely in the same ballpark, is a fate that we should do everything possible to avert.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Another Gem

From Mark Levin at The Corner:

Here's my first take on this indictment (I've only read the indictment and nothing more for now): The indictment is three pages in length. Other than a statement that "one or more" of 3 individuals, including Tom DeLay, entered into an illegal conspiracy, I can't find a single sentence tying Tom DeLay to a crime. That is, there's not a single sentence tying DeLay to the contribution. The indictment describes the alleged conduct of two other individuals, but nothing about DeLay. You would think if Ronnie Earle had even a thin reed of testimony linking DeLay to the contribution, it would have been noted in the indictment to justify the grand jury's action. Moreover, not only is there no information about DeLay committing acts in furtherance of a conspiracy, there's no information about DeLay entering into a conspiracy. I honestly believe that unless there's more, this is an egregious abuse of prosecutorial power. It's a disgrace. I understand that not everything has to be contained in an indictment, but how about something!

What the Democrats are doing has to be shouted from the rooftops. They are nothing but a bunch of liars.

DeLay Indictment: Unreported Facts

A little perspective, from Media Blog:

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Tom DeLay, for reasons that have entirely to do with the expansion of entitlement spending under his watch (see Bruce Bartlett's excellent piece on NRO today for details). But having said that, this indictment is totally phony. Here's why:

The indictment centers around a money swap that took place between the Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC), to which DeLay has ties, and the Republican National State Elections Committee (RNSEC). TRMPAC sent $190,000 to RNSEC, and RNSEC then sent the same total amount in seven checks ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 to Texas House candidates in 2002. Travis County DA Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, calls this money laundering, because the money that TRMPAC sent to RNSEC came from coporations, which are barred from contributing to campaigns in Texas.

What you won't hear in the press is that A) This is a perfectly legal move, and B) the Democrats did the exact same thing. An Institute on Money in State Politics study reveals that on Oct. 31, 2002, the Texas Democratic Party did the same thing when it sent $75,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and received $75,000 back from the DNC the very same day.

Here's what I wrote about this case last summer:
Just to put this $190,000 deal into perspective and demonstrate the petty, vindictive nature of this partisan investigation, the study also reveals that Democrats transferred a total of approximately $11 million dollars in soft money from its national parties to fund Texas campaigns in 2002, compared to $5.2 million transferred by Republicans.

I've been watching TV all day and no one has provided this context. I'll keep watching to see if the coverage gets more than fingernail-deep.

Bottom line: Even people who aren't fans of Tom DeLay should show some intellectual honesty and admit that this is an out-of-control prosecutor and a phony charge.

Intellectual honesty? From Democrats? Not likely.

Serendipitous Coincidence?

I can't help wondering at the timing of today's announcement by Travis County (Texas) District Attorney and flagrantly partisan Democrat hack Ronnie Earle that he has at last formally indicted (temporarily former) House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

As Powerline duly relayed, the Hammer issued the following statement:

These charges have no basis in the facts or the law. This is just another example of Ronnie Earle misusing his office for partisan vendettas. Despite the clearly political agenda of this prosecutor, Congressman DeLay has cooperated with officials throughout the entire process. Even in the last two weeks, Ronnie Earle himself had acknowledged publicly that Mr. DeLay was not a target of his investigation. However, as with many of Ronnie Earle's previous partisan investigations, Ronnie Earle refused to let the facts or the law get in the way of his partisan desire to indict a political foe.

This purely political investigation has been marked by illegal grand jury leaks, a fundraising speech by Ronnie Earle for Texas Democrats that inappropriately focused on the investigation, misuse of his office for partisan purposes, and extortion of money for Earle's pet projects from corporations in exchange for dismissing indictments he brought against them. Ronnie Earle's previous misuse of his office has resulted in failed prosecutions and we trust his partisan grandstanding will strike out again, as it should.

Ronnie Earle's 1994 indictment against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was quickly dismissed and his charges in the 1980s against former Attorney General Jim Mattox-another political foe of Earle-fell apart at trial.

We regret the people of Texas will once again have their taxpayer dollars wasted on Ronnie Earle's pursuit of headlines and political paybacks. Ronnie Earle began this investigation in 2002, after the Democrat Party lost the Texas state legislature to Republicans. For three years and through numerous grand juries, Ronnie Earle has tried to manufacture charges against Republicans involved in winning those elections using arcane statutes never before utilized in a case in the state. This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat.

Indeed it is. And it is well-timed politically coming in the wake of DeLay's recent pro-spending stances that have drawn him a great deal of heat from the Republican base. Before the past couple of weeks DeLay could confidently count on solid backing from his own partisan lines. But now, with conservatives aghast at the Hammer's oblivious declaration of victory on spending control in the midst of more pork than a Porky Pig cloning convention, there will be those Pachyderms who sit back fratricidally and let Earlean nature take its course.

It again illustrates, in a bigger picture sense, that Democrats recognize current GOP vulnerabilities better than Republicans do themselves. The only way for the latter to avert having those vulnerabilities fatally exploited is to recoil from a bunker mentality and start listening to their core constituents, as the Democrats are theirs.

For 'Pubbies, that's a no-lose combination.

UPDATE: The AmSpec Prowler concurs:

[T]he DeLay indictment should...serve as a broader wake up call to the Republican leadership in both the House and the Senate, as well as their network of folks on K Street: It's time for Republicans to start putting their house in order.

A smart politician like DeLay should never have allowed himself to be in the position that he now finds himself. Five years ago, [he] would not have. But power and influence and a watering down of talent surrounding him on staff opened him and his organization up to missteps. There is a real sense among many conservatives that the Republican Party has achieved in little more than 10 years of power what Democrats created over 40 and which led to their demise in 1994.

Republicans will stand by DeLay and fight for him. They should, and they should fight hard. But look for conservative Republicans to take this opportunity to align the party with a more 1994 approach to governing. The question now is whether Hastert and company are up to the job.

UPDATE II: Here's a J-Pod preview of how the Left is going to spin the DeLay indictment:

Next couple of days there will be a lot of gleeful liberals and Republicans claiming that this really does make it possible for Dems to take over the House and Senate in 2006. Here's how it will work. Comparisons, immediately, to the indictment of powerful Democrat Dan Rostenkowski in 1994 adding to the sense that Democrats were out of touch with ordinary Americans and helping bring about the GOP landslide in November 1994. Corrupt Dems in 1994 = corrupt Repubs in 2005. Add to the DeLay indictiment the talk about Bill Frist's stock sale and you have major-league talking points for Democrats all over the country. People will say that as it was with Rosty and the Dems, so it will be with DeLay and the GOP. There will also be comparisons between Bush's problematic poll position in 2005 after Katrina and Clinton's troubles after the failure of health care in 1994.

I wouldn't be too fretful about the above in and of itself. The Democrats got massacred in 1994 because of the Clinton tax hike and the attempted Hillarycare putsch. Rostenkowski's fall and the "out of touch" stuff were the parsley garnish at best.

Where I worry is how this combines and metastasizes with the other detrimental GOP trends of the moment stemming from the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. With the Bush Administration having finally been broken by the Extreme Media and congressional Republicans already in a panicked frenzy to try and spend themselves out of trouble they were never really in (but which the press convinced them they were), both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are in heap big trouble with a GOP base that is fed up with Republicans acting like Democrats, including the knee-jerk arrogance and condescension of the party leadership. Another ethics kerfuffle involving the very man who's been at the center of this intramural storm isn't going to reduce that festering disgruntlement.

Here's what I fear: the White House, fearful of Senate 'Pubbies cutting & running from a filibuster showdown with minority Democrats, goes the Souter route and appoints as obscure and anonymous a SCOTUS replacement of Justice O'Connor as it can find, and almost certainly a minority woman. Democrats, recognizing the selection as reflective of Bush's political weakness, make a show of Borking her but ultimately let her through. The Republican grassroots, expecting no less than "another Scalia or Thomas," erupts in full scale rebellion, creating an intra-party breach that is irreparable by any alternative gesture that the President or congressional GOP leaders could possibly offer, and which, of course, is not forthcoming anyway.

It becomes the Bush41 tax increase of the Bush43 presidency, Republicans get creamed in the '06 mid-terms, and Hillary Clinton's elevation to the White House two years later becomes a mere formality.

Yes, that's a worst-case scenario, and yes, I want to be optimistic, and yes, this Bush has a sound track record on judicial selections. But that was before he ran up the white flag to his enemies and accepted blame for post-Katrina "failures" that weren't his, and sacrificed his FEMA director as penance, and announced the Second Louisiana Purchase. This SCOTUS choice is being made in way too close proximity to that craven mindset, and that does not auger well for the dreams of a Justice Luttig, Justice Jones, Justice Garza, et al.

Sometimes historical turning points aren't recognized for what they are until long after the fact. And sometimes it isn't one turning point but a closely-packed cluster of them. September 2005 is beginning to look like the fulcrum marking the beginning of the end for Republican governance.

The resolution of Tom DeLay's fate, like Bill Frist's, will indeed "get ugly." But absent a significant course correction from the Pachyderms at the top, the true ugliness will be yet to come.

UPDATE III: You want ugly? It only took a few hours for the Left to start smearing Congressman David Dreier of California when he was rumored to be filling in for DeLay. And it turns out that the Hammer's guest host will be Roy Blunt of Missouri instead.

John, fell free to disregard Jim Geraghty's caveat....[h/t Michelle Malkin]

It's Official....

....Filibuster war has been declared:

Democrats have splintered almost evenly over Roberts' nomination as chief justice, leading to frustration among party activists who think their elected leaders did not put up a serious fight against him. Pollsters have told party leaders that a show of opposition against Bush's next nominee could be crucial to restoring enthusiasm among the rank and file on the left.

In an interview, Dean said Democratic unity is essential in the upcoming battle and that the party "absolutely" should be prepared to filibuster - holding unlimited debate and preventing an up-or-down vote - Bush's next high court nominee, if he taps someone they find unacceptably ideological. He cited appellate court judges Priscilla R. Owen and Janice Rogers Brown as two who would be likely to trigger such opposition.

"Those people are clearly not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure they don't," he said. "If we lose, better to go down fighting and standing for what we believe in, because we will not win an election if the public doesn't think we'll stand up for what we believe in."

We learn several things from Dr. Demented's comments.

1) Dems confuse ideology with competence;

2) That ideology is antithetical to the U.S. Constitution;

3) They are essentially held hostage by their extremist base;

4) Dean, at the very least, knows that his party will probably lose a filibuster showdown;

5) He still doesn't get that obstructionism in the face of three consecutive national electoral defeats - particularly so public a showdown - will guarantee that the losing streak will continue.

Ironically, the implication, and stakes, are eerily similar for Republicans. Getting a constitutionalist into the O'Connor seat and finally moving the SCOTUS rightward has been the top domestic policy motivator for that aformentioned GOP winning streak. The "memo of understanding" fiasco, topped off by the recent Republican spending sprees, has the GOP base in as big an uproar as its Donk counterpart, and equally demanding of not one scintilla of compromise or "stealth" tactics.

Both sides want a showdown. Both sides want a collision. Both sides want blood.

The question is will the Democrats greater responsiveness (some might say subservience) to their base be enough to offset the Republicans' superior numbers. As well as whether the President selects (1) a constitutionalist and (2) one of John Roberts' brilliance, poise, and overall excellence.

One thing is certain - the aforementioned MOU, like the Versailles Treaty, didn't settle anything in the confirmation wars, as some on the right predicted - though I'm not quite as sure of the conclusion to be drawn from it as Cap'n Ed is:

Now the Seven Republican Dwarves of the Gang of 14 will see the folly in compromising with the Democrats. They now have to make up their minds about whether to support Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court or to protect a filibuster that has been abused by the Democrats to overturn the results of two elections in terms of controlling judicial nominees. They could have resolved this four months ago, with the stakes less than today and with a lower level of media attention. Now they find themselves only a year away from an important election cycle, where the voters will surely remember whether they supported a Supreme Court pick rather than an obscure appellate nomination.

I'm still not convinced that the McCain mutineers will "see the folly" of their deal with the Donk devils. Three of them (Warner, DeWine, and Graham - Chaffee, Snowe, and Collins are RINOs, and John McCain is a law unto himself) signed on out of squeamishness over the nastiness of a filibuster/rule change showdown, the irony of which, then and now, was obvious - deferring the inevitable simply guaranteed greater stakes, greater visibility, and greater nastiness much closer to the next election. If their original "reasoning" holds, that should make them even less willing to back the Byrd Option.

However, the greater proximity to the '06 elections, and the changed political climate may auger for a better focus of the mind on the necessity of getting this rule change done and finally putting a stop to the Democrats' defiance of the results of the past three election cycles.

There is another certainty: on the outcome of this SCOTUS nomination will GOP electoral fortunes in 2006 turn. As I wrote the other day, they screw this up at their own peril.

Quote Of The Day (So Far)

...Goes to Hugh Hewitt for my second spit-take in ten minutes:

That's why we love Dan [Rather]. We don't need a fictional Ted Baxter. We have a real, breathing Ted Baxter, and he's still working for CBS!

Oh, my Lord, the next one's going to wet my pants....

It Figures....

Pardon me a moment whilst I wipe up the spray of saliva I just spat all over my monitor.

On second thought, while I'm doing that, read the quote that triggered the spit-take:

Former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation failed to meet at least six of 19 accountability standards established by the Better Business Bureau.

A report by the watchdog group said the Clinton Foundation lacks policies requiring performance reviews for its chief executive officer and for the foundation as a whole.

Also, the organization’s annual reports and Web site do not contain detailed financial statements or information about the group’s board of directors, the New York Sun reports.

"There are a number of concerns here,” said Bennett Weiner, head of the Better Business Bureau’s charity evaluation service.

Need a washcloth? I had to use a towel....

Only The Idiots

If ever there was a final nail to be pounded into the political coffin of a public official's credibility, this is it:

Raci[st] Nation of Islam chief Louis Farrakhan claimed on Friday that he had a private meeting with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, where Nagin gave him the information that Farrakhan later used to claim New Orleans' levees had been deliberately blown up.

And Charlie Rangel calls George Bush "the new Bull Connor"? Next thing you know we'll find out that there's a Democrat senator who's a former Klansman.

This meeting was corroborated by...oh, hell, read it for yourself:

News of Nagin's meeting with the incendiary black leader first surfaced Monday, September 19, when Nashim Nzinga, chief of staff for the New Black Panther Party, told Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes:

"Minister Louis Farrakhan charted two planes and put 16 people on them and flew to Dallas, Texas; Houston, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Jackson, Mississippi, on a fact-finding mission. And he met the mayor of New Orleans in Dallas, Texas, and was told these things directly from him."

Apparently the rampant, runaway racist fantasizing in this secret meeting didn't flow in just one direction:

In the same address to the Memphis Millions More rally, Farrakhan said Nagin told him that white racists used attack dogs and machine guns to keep blacks from escaping the Superdome.

"Mayor Nagin told us that those poor brothers and sisters that went to the Superdome, these were the ones who made it out of their houses but didn't have any money or means to get out of the city . . . So when the water began to rise around the Superdome, Mayor Nagin told them to get out and start marching over the bridge, the I-10, and get out of here. So they started marching. And when they got over that bridge into the next parish, which was white, they were met with attack dogs and machine guns."

Farrakhan claimed that Mayor Nagin told him warning shots were fired to keep the black evacuees at bay.

"This is Mayor Nagin talking to us," he told the Memphis gathering. "They fired the machine guns over the heads of the crowd. They accepted any white people that were there, but no black people."

The Extreme Media has, not all that curiously, kept this career-destroyer quiet in favor of pressing its relentless, gutteral attacks on President Bush. And, even less curiously, Mayor Nagin has not brought it up himself.

But now it is surfacing, and whereas "School Bus" and his people weren't at all reticent when it came to belittling the scapegoated former FEMA head Michael Brown's congressional testimony yesterday, Newsmax is reporting that, "Attempts to reach Mayor Nagin were unsuccessful, with calls to his office going unanswered."


He was probably too busy selecting political cemetary plots and preparing for his tell-all book-writing sabbatical. I wonder if Calypso Louis will write the forward.

UPDATE: Chairman How, BTW, isn't disavowing Charlie Rangel's "Bush is our Bull Connor" slur:

The Democratic National Committee yesterday refused to distance itself from Representative Charles Rangel's comparison of President Bush to an infamous Southern segregationist, Theophilus "Bull" Connor, remarks the Republican National Committee identified as "hate speech" and urged the DNC to repudiate. ...

The DNC chairman, Howard Dean, appeared yesterday at a campaign stop on the Upper West Side with the Democrats' mayoral nominee, Fernando Ferrer, who has supported Mr. Rangel's remarks.

Asked at the campaign appearance by the New York Sun to respond to Mr. Rangel's statement and the RNC's requests, Dr. Dean said: "I think the chairman of the RNC ought to be embarrassed for what his party has done to America the last five years. ... It ought to be Mehlman that's apologizing to the people of New York City." Dr. Dean made no reference to Mr. Rangel's statements.

Do you want to say, "Daffy Duck," or shall I....?

[HT: CQ]

UPDATE 9/29: The way Newsmax tells it, no elected Democrat wants to go anywhere near the Nagin-Farrakhan secret meeting scandal, even if they are enthusiastically endorsing Charlie Rangel's "Bush is Bull Connor" slander:

Top Democrats who blasted President Bush for bungling the Hurricane Katrina crisis declined to comment on Wednesday on Nation of Islam chief Louis Farrakhan's claim that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin gave him key evidence suggesting his city's levees may have been blown up.

NewsMax called the offices of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Senators Hillary Clinton, Mary Landrieu, Barack Obama and Representative Charlie Rangel, as well as ex-President Clinton's Harlem office, and followed up with emails detailing Farrakhan's claims about his Nagin sit-down.

Not a single Democrat was willing to say whether it was appropriate for Nagin to huddle with the racially polarizing black leader, let alone feed him info that stoked Farrakhan's levee conspiracy theory.

Hey, this is the guy Dems are defending when they try to misdirect blame for post-Katina "bungling" onto the President. Remaining silent about not only Nagin's incompetence and buffoonery but his flagrant racism as well won't fray that connection, but will become yet another example of "silence speaking volumes."

More Kerry Misfires

John Kerry just can't help himself. Michael Franc, in a column for The Heritage Foundation, notes:

Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) delivered a stem-winder of a speech last week at Brown University. He alleged the President’s plan to rebuild the Gulf region would transform it “into a vast laboratory for right-wing ideological experiments.” He accused President Bush and his allies of “recycling all their failed policies and shipping them to Louisiana.”

Failed policies? You wanna talk about failed policies, Mr. Kerry? Franc goes on...

Excuse me? How exactly would Kerry describe the track record of liberal Great Society policies on education, housing, job training and welfare in New Orleans? After all, unlike the Ownership Society approach favored by the President and congressional conservatives, Lyndon Johnson’s legacy has been the norm in New Orleans and other large cities for four decades.

Exactly right. Louisiana has unfortunately been run by Democrats for way too long, hence the following track record:

Consider the following portrait of pre-Katrina New Orleans:

Poverty: The level of “extreme poverty,” which includes those with incomes 50% or less of the official poverty level, was nearly double the national average—10.35% compared to 5.7%. Overall, approximately one in four New Orleans residents lived below the official poverty line—again, twice the national average.

Collapse of marriage: The out-of-wedlock birth rate among African-Americans in New Orleans exceeded 75%, more than twice the national average of 34.6%, and considerably higher than the nationwide average for blacks. Not surprisingly, this catastrophic level of family breakdown gave New Orleans one of the highest welfare caseloads on a per capita basis in the nation.

Rampant illiteracy and innumeracy: As mentioned in last week’s column, the public school system in New Orleans receives failing grades as well. In the 2002-03 academic year, 60% of fourth graders tested “below basic” or worse in reading. Astonishingly, by eighth grade, three-quarters of New Orleans’ public school students couldn’t read at an acceptable level. The story is similar when it comes to math competency, with 68% of fourth graders and 65% of eighth graders being left behind.

Little upward economic mobility: Compared to the nation as a whole, New Orleans residents were much more likely to rent rather than own their homes and far less likely to work. Whether measured on a family, household or individual basis, income levels in New Orleans were woefully behind those in the rest of the nation.

Now, to be sure, those kinds of numbers are exactly what the Democrats love to see. The more people too stupid to fend for themselves and dependent on the government, and them, the better. That Kerry has the gall to call conservative policies "failures" is not surprising, but still hard to swallow.

Lawmakers such as Kerry who appear determined to consign New Orleans and other communities in the Gulf region to a repeat of these failed federal interventions need a reality check.

Not to mention they need to be booted out of office the next time they're up for reelection.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Can't Hide The Hate

My office television is rarely tuned into CNN, but for some reason today, it was. Did anyone else see and hear the CNN so-called reporter-ette's comment's on President Bush's trip to Texas and Louisiana today? She 'reports', (paraphrasing) 'President Bush is taking Air Force One on his ----nth trip to Texas and Louisiana today, one day after he asked Americans to conserve fuel.'

The hate and loathing for President Bush dripping from her filthy liberal mouth had the consistency of mayonnaise. I fervently hope that smart-ass liberal bitch gets breast cancer.

I'm sick and tired of liberal's double standards, their envy, their greed, their racism, and their love and support for America's enemies. Liberals hate the United States. Liberals are all traitors to the U.S. Liberals that claim to be patriots are a joke.

After reading the above, you say, "I" am the one full of hate. Yes, I hate liberals. I admit it. I'm proud of it. I proclaim it from the rooftops. "Surly you don't hate the members of your family that are liberals", you say. I most certainly do. I'll have nothing to do with them. They can pound sand.

JAS adds: Ten to one this reporterette is best buds with Arianna Huffington....

ONE MORE THING: This, of course, is why I never tune in to CNN.

BTW, has anybody heard any of these jackals express disappointment that Rita didn't wipe out Crawford, Texas? I've been expecting that for the past week.

OKAY, JUST ONE MORE: A caveat from Jim Geraghty:

Sad to say, it seems that more and more of the folks in the political world are starting to think that way. “If you disagree with me, you must be stupid, evil, or lying.” I’m not one for syrupy paeans to bygone eras of bipartisanship, but I don’t think it’s healthy to hate everyone who disagrees with you.

Now if we could just convince the other side....

War On The Right

Ten days ago I compiled a roundup of reactions to President Bush's "second Louisiana Purchase" speech from across the center-right spectrum. Feedback was mixed, but roughly divisible into two camps.

There were the ideological conservatives, bluntly exemplified by NRO's T.J. Walker:

Bush ignored the concepts of individual accountability and responsibility in his speech. In the Bush world, his new moral relativism makes no distinctions between those who bought flood insurance and those who didn't; those who choose to live in safe mountains high above sea level and those who build below sea level in flood zones predicted by every expert to be washed away. Bush's message was redistributionist, collectivist, and nannist. Individuals bear no responsibility for their misfortunes or for their own recovery. Any conservative with third grade math skills or beyond could smell trillions of dollars of budget deficit flowing out of Bush's mouth.

Arrayed against them were the political conservatives, best symbolized by Rush Limbaugh:

What the President did last night, I think a lot of you have a view that this was, "Okay, the President said to hell with conservatism and it's over with." He didn't do that. If you just look at the total amount of money being spent and you listen to the ways you hear it being spent, you might think, "Oh, God, we're just chucking it," but we're not. I think a subtitle of what the President's speech last night was could be this: Okay, libs, we've tried it your way for 60 years and now we're going to try it our way. He was talking about enterprise zones, school vouchers, turning renters into owners, rebuilding this place without rebuilding slums. They're not going to rebuild it the way it was with the same architecture and the same structure politically and everything else. It is a pretty decent opportunity here. [emphasis added]

As I wrote about my own feelings, I was, and am, conflicted:

I think what we got from the President is pretty much what I expected. And while my heart is with T.J. Walker, my head recalls Otto Von Bismarck's famous 1867 pronouncement: "Politics is the art of the possible."

As a relentless practicalist, that latter factor seems paramount to me. For example, a federal statute enacted in the late '80s called the Stafford Act requires the federal government to pick up at least three-quarters of the tab for disaster relief in which federal assistance has been requested and granted. This is what political conservatives are pointing to as cover for the enormous gusher of federal spending spraying out all over the Gulf Coast to rebuild after Katrina and Rita.

Now the ideological conservative in me reasons straightforwardly that (1) statutes can be repealed as well as enacted, (2) Republicans control both houses of Congress and the Executive, and therefore (3) just repeal the Stafford Act, cut off the spending spigots, and let the private sector and state and local governments fend for themselves, just as Grover Cleveland used to do once upon a time.

That would be the best medicine for all parties involved in the long run. But the political conservative in me knows it's a pipedream. Not even Newt Gingrich and his 1994 "revolutionaries" would have dared take such a stand for fiscal responsibility. And nobody, not even the most rock-ribbed right-wing critic of this domestic Marshall plan, is suggesting any such thing. It's just not politically feasible.

Perhaps if the ideological conservatives were going that far, it would be easier to dismiss them as out of touch with reality. But they are, in fact, being eminently reasonable. They're not really disputing the proposed expenditure of this $100-200 billion bones. What they're arguing is that these appropriations not be larded atop the existing budget, but rather offset with cuts elsewhere that, in an overall total of approximately $2.8 TRILLION, oughtn't be that difficult to find.

However, congressional Republicans, particularly the leadership in both houses, who can scarcely be described as conservative at all anymore, at least fiscally, are proving to be as stubbornly profligate as the Donks they replaced over a decade ago, and President Bush isn't exactly providing what anybody would recognize as Reaganian leadership himself.

Hence the avalanche of center-right op-ed headlines, of which this is but a sample:

The GOP's new "New Deal"

We're All in the Same Bloat

The End of Small Government

Is Bush's big spending a bridge to nowhere?

Rohrabacher: President Bush is No Reagan Conservative

Is this the end of “compassionate conservatism”?

Pork or hurricane relief?

Politicians not giving us much of a choice

Stuck on stupid

GOP in Turmoil

Conservative Blahs

GOP Leaders are naked

Republicans barely even try to control spending

A Flood of Free Money

Big Government De Ja Vu

The aforelinked Deroy Murdock effortlessly compiled a long shopping list of ample cuts that nobody outside the Beltway would miss:

Since the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, domestic discretionary spending has grown from $259 billion to $466 billion, an annual average of 5.5%, Cato Institute scholar Stephen Slivinski calculates. Under President Bush, this figure has accelerated 8% per annum, on average, far ahead of inflation.

On President Clinton's watch, the 1998 highway bill groaned under some 1,850 pork-barrel items. The 2005 highway bill, written and signed by Republicans, virtually suffocated beneath 6,371 fishy projects (including $2.5 million for the Blue Ridge Music Center), a 244% increase in fiduciary recklessness. This year's federal budget, Citizens Against Government Waste reports, featured 13,997 pork-barrel items, 31% more than in last year's spending plan!

Consider the disgraceful $223 million bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island — Population: 50. This equals $4.46 million per capita. Obscene? This is fiscal pornography. $223 million very generously could grant 892 storm-swept families $250,000 to rebuild or relocate....

On spending, the Republican Congress routinely exhibits the maturity and self-restraint of infants screaming for their pacifiers. From $1.4 million for the Ted Stevens International Airport (named after Alaska's Republican senior senator) to $50 million for a 4.5-acre, 20-story-high, indoor rainforest in Coralville, Iowa championed by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), no program is too extravagant or exotic to be left behind. Appropriations are limited only by legislators' imaginations and their brazen disregard for the commonweal....

According to columnist Robert Novak, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a fiscal hawk, discovered that shoddy accounting generated $41.5 billion in federal overpayments.

And that doesn't even mention the idea, which I think could be sold, of delaying - not repealing, but just delaying - the prescription drug boondoggle by a year.

A group of genuinely conservative House back-benchers called the Republican Study Committee has come up with a plan of spending reduction offsets, dubbed (naturally) Operation Offset, to help pay for hurricane relief. It comprises 122 ideas to save taxpayers $139 billion in 2006 alone, and $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. These include the aforementioned delay of the new, universal Medicare prescription-drug benefit, ditching highway pork projects, and dumping corporate and farm welfare programs.

Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) told a Capitol Hill press conference, "We're anticipating growing enthusiasm of the American people for offsetting these costs and sharpening our find these cuts."

"The American people" did not include the House GOP leadership, which stopped just short of having the RSC arrested for fiscal treason:

Asked to respond to critics who have urged him to reallocate this notorious bridge's budget to Katrina's victims, GOP Congressman Don Young, chairman of the 75-member House Transportation Committee, said: "They can kiss my ear!" He added: "That is the dumbest thing I ever heard." He also explained that Louisiana already received substantial money in the highway bill and that he helped generate $500,000 in Katrina relief at "the Seafood Invitational," a Roslyn, Washington golf tournament. "I raised enough money to give back to them voluntarily," Young said, "and that's it!"

Young was far from the only one paddling RSC ass:

Pence was far more discreet in Tuesday's session with his party's leadership, but that did not save him a going over, led by two powerful committee chairmen: Representative Don Young (Transportation Committee) and Representative Bill Thomas (Ways and Means Committee). The harshest treatment of Pence, however, was administered by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who does not like his rank-and-file members depicting a free-spending Republican Party. [emphasis added]

One wants to grab DeLay by the lapels and scream into his ashen face, "41 f'ing states are getting 'hurricane relief,' Congressman!!! Katrina and Rita affected FOUR! Count 'em, FOUR!!!" And he thinks that the public at large isn't already seeing the GOP as "free-spending"? Good God, even the Democrats recognize this opportunity:

Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, said the House [Minority] leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been at the forefront of cutting pork barrel spending, giving back $70 million from the highway bill to help with hurricane relief efforts.

"Eleven years ago we never expected this would be the case. Many people now long for a divided government because that may be what it takes to get more responsibility," said Schatz.
Nancy Pelosi has gotten to House Republicans' fiscal right. Nancy f'ing Pelosi. How's that make you feel, Mr. House Majority Leader? The term "stuck on stupid" comes to mind.

Does she mean it? Of course not. But if even that empty-headed a moron can see the convergence of ideological and political conservatism and the political hay to be made off of it, elected 'Pubbies had better believe that their own base is seeing it:

According to Rasmussen Reports, only 43% of self-identified conservatives support a spending spree along the Gulf Coast, while 37% are opposed. (Rasmussen found 50% support for the proposal overall.) "This is especially striking given how supportive the President's base has remained throughout his Administration," says Rasmussen. As of [last Thursday], Rasmussen showed 47% job approval for the President and 52% disapproval.

The next day it was down another point to 46%, which matches almost exactly the drop in Bush's approval number amongst Republicans (from 91% in July to 77% now). This ought to be ominous for the White House, because its entire political strategy since day one has been predicated on keeping the GOP base locked up airtight. Nettlesome issues like overspending and immigration have always had the potential to blow that political capital "lockbox" wide open, and for four and a half years the Bushies successfully whistled past that graveyard.

But no longer:

President Bush is in a perilous political state. His slipping poll numbers are partly a result of softening support from his Republican base. If Bush doesn't take decisive steps to try to offset the billions of new Katrina spending, the forecast will be: Danger, more softening ahead. Never in the Bush years has conservative discontent been so high, nor so justified. With a few false moves in the crucial weeks ahead, Bush could see even more of the life-blood squeezed from his presidency.

We all know the litany that got us to this point: Bush has never vetoed a congressional spending bill, even as Congress has agreed to fund an estimated 14,000 pork projects, up from around 1,000 in 1996; he has presided over a federal spending increase of 33% since 2001, with 55% of the increase in the last two years unrelated to defense, according to Brian Reidl of the Heritage Foundation; and he created a new entitlement, signing a $500 billion prescription-drug bill.

Conservatives could just manage to swallow all this, when there was the prospect of Social Security reform changing the politics of the nation's most important entitlement. Now, the Katrina aftermath appears to have driven a stake through the already doubtful Social Security reform, while slathering on ever more federal spending in response to the disaster. The turn of events casts all that has come before in an even worse light, and makes Bush fiscal mismanagement looks increasingly intolerable to conservatives.

And if the RSCers are correct in their worries, there could be even worse to come:

The beleaguered conservatives see all this spending leading inexorably to a tax increase, which would redistribute the tax burden to the disadvantage of the successful and threaten an economic recession. Barry Goldwater long ago assailed Dwight D. Eisenhower for presiding over a "Dime Store New Deal." That stinging rebuke no longer would be appropriate for today's Republicans. They outdo Democrats on pork and are in the same ballpark on entitlements. Even Katrina and now Rita do not restrain them.

Would a Republican Congress actually commit such fiscal and political suicide? Well, who would have thought that a Republican Congress would make its Dem predecessors look like skinflints? And while the President has ruled out any tax increases, remember that he promised to veto the highway bill at one time, too, and that never materialized.

The other, perhaps slightly more likely alternative outcome is that Republicans lose control of Congress next year and a Democrat-dominated successor does the tax-hiking honors, perhaps with a sufficient number of RINO defections to override a Bush veto, if he managed to finally muster one up. And what will Pachyderms be able to say? They're the ones running up this stupendous tab; they're the ones telling their own supporters with reasonable fiscal concerns that they themselves once championed to kiss their asses. Democrats would simply be assuming the role of "tax collectors for the GOP welfare state". The difference is they'd consider it to be a compliment.

Make no mistake about this: I am not urging GOP voters to hold their nose and keep supporting the party anyway or to flip 'em the bird and stay home in November 2006. I am simply saying what a lot of GOP voters will do. Whenever the base perceives that its elected officerholders have strayed from the faith and stopped listening to them, it will punish them regardless of the political cost. It happened across the board in 1998 over Republican reluctance to impeach Bill Clinton and on the Senate side in 2000 for its failure to convict him. If GOP leaders keep copping this appallingly arrogant attitude they'll take a whupping from their own supporters yet again, mark my words.

Mr. Murdock sounds the warning:

Reaganites like Jeff Flake, Mike Pence, and Tom Coburn should constitute the congressional leadership. Tom DeLay, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) are spending money at a pace that eclipses Democratic congresses. And, maddeningly, President Bush recoils from his veto pen like a vampire running from garlic. A dash of adult supervision could restrain his party's juvenile delinquency. Alas, Bush naps upstairs while the kids trash the living room.

"Operation Offset" and the true believers behind it are the honorable exception. But as a rule, Washington's GOP leadership is a collective embarrassment to the party of Lincoln and the republic he preserved.

This is more than just discontent, folks. And it doesn't look at all compatible with continued Republican hegemony.

'Pubbies have a little over thirteen months to fix this problem. If they know what's good for them, and wish to keep possession of their gavels and the perqs that go with them, they'd better stop acting like Democrats (in more ways than one) and return to the principles that got them there. Otherwise they'll find themselves back in the political wilderness, this time with nobody to rescue or even listen to them.

Or even a bridge.

UPDATE 9/28: Here's a bit more on the prescription drug boondoggle - and you'd better be sitting down for this:

Here are the facts as reported by the Social Security and Medicare actuaries earlier this year: The unfunded liability of Social Security in perpetuity is $11.1 trillion. The unfunded liability of Medicare is $68.1 trillion, of which $18.2 trillion is accounted for by the recently enacted drug benefit.

In short, even if President Bush had been successful in enacting a perfect Social Security reform bill, one that completely eliminated that program’s unfunded liability, we would still be $7 trillion worse off as a result of the extraordinarily ill-considered drug benefit. To put it another way, we could repeal the drug benefit, finance Social Security forever with no benefit cuts or tax increases, and still cut $7 trillion off our national indebtedness.

No wonder the President had so little credibility when he was out on the hustings flogging Social Security reform earlier this year. And to think that a repeal of the drug benefit is the thing that draws his veto threat.

If he was finally going to own up to a mistake, why couldn't it have been this one instead of FEMA's phantom foul-ups. At least the prescription drug boondoggle is real, and his.