Friday, September 28, 2007

The Hurrieder I Go, The Behinder I Get

It's frustrating being an Ed Morrissey wannabe. In order to properly keep up with the blogging fodder, I would need to quit my day job and do this full time, when, of course, I can't earn a living by doing this or my version of Heading Right Radio. So I'm perpetually several days behind the cutting edge. It's either that or give up sleeping.

Take congressional goings-on, where I'm now four stories behind again. So, rather than be able to write four separate posts, I have to cram them all into an omnibus "catch up" post instead.

And, given which party runs Congress these days, it's unremittingly depressing anyway.

***Now that the so-called "Ethics" bill (i.e. the Democrat Corruption Entrenchment Act of 2007) has been passed and signed into law, the coast is now clear for the Enemy Media to notice what an utter and complete fraud it is:
When no one was looking, someone cut a hole out of the Democrats' much-hyped ethics bill. A watchdog group which caught it suspects the Democrats of undermining their own effort to clean up Capitol Hill....
No shit, Sherlock. And there were plenty of us looking, wannabes or not.
....Dubbed "the biggest reform effort in a generation" by its sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 represented the Democrats' plan "to change the way Washington works." ...

The victim of the edit: a section that would boost public disclosure of earmarking. As it was approved by the Senate, the 2007 ethics bill required senators to disclose not only which earmarks they've requested, but also the name and location of each intended recipient. For instance, a $1 million earmark for an Army purchase may in fact be directed at a manufacturer in a senator's home state. The bill also required senators to detail the purpose of the earmark.

But the law as Bush signed it requires senators to publicly swear that neither they nor their family will personally benefit from any of the earmarks they have inserted. House members must still disclose the companies who stand to gain from their action.
The aforementioned Admiral wrote, I'm hoping with sacrcasm....:
It's good to see that some of the news media have begun to realize the sham that Harry Reid & Co. pushed into law. Too bad they didn't notice it before it passed....
Well, yeah - but isn't that the whole point? What good is a purported "watchdog" if he's asleep at his post by design and doesn't start barking until the wolves have devoured all the sheep? Don't shepherds take such dogs out and shoot them? Doesn't that suggest that they're really wolves themselves? And isn't the whole point of the "ethics" bill to enable Dirty Harry to "disingenuously claim to have cleaned up earmarks" for a party that is beyond embarrassment over their corrupt, partisan excesses?

***The federalization of the inter-state rugby scrum that is the contemporary presidential nominating process has officially begun:
Enough already, say three U.S. Senators in presenting what is one of those rarities, a truly non-partisan idea. They are Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). Their reasoning is that the chaotic current situation - compressing actual campaigning into about sixty days - has two things wrong with it. First, most candidates have neither the time nor the money to adequately campaign in so many states in such a short time. This deprives voters in many places of an opportunity to get to know the candidates on the ground. Secondly, the compression factor, requiring so much "up front" money, will have the effect of discouraging lesser-known candidates from making the race (those year-ahead televised debates are only warm-ups).

What the Senate trio proposes, beginning with the 2012 presidential election, is a series of four regional primaries: East, South, Midwest and West. The regions would draw straws to see which goes first that year. The next time, 2016, the region that went first in 2012 would drop to fourth place as each other region moved up, and so forth.

The regional primaries or caucuses would be held on the first Tuesday (or within six days of it) in March, April, May and June, respectively for the regions.

This plan would make campaign costs more rational (some media often cover good-sized regions and travel would be more concentrated) and reducing the cost of campaigning is always desirable. Television news coverage would be more concentrated geographically so that the viewing public would get a better idea of trends in a particular region.
On its face the Klobuchar-Alexander-Lieberman plan does make sense. More sense, at least, than the current irrational scheduling chaos, all driven by the phallic-superiority-impulse determination to be the state with the most "clout," whatever the hell that means anymore in this, or any, context. The lamentation to take away from it is that in order to restore some order to the primary campaigns, the principle of federalism must be dragged out to the edge of the figurative ditch and shot in the back of the head.

The punchline of K-A-L is that it grants Iowa and New Hampshire exemptions from this NCAA tournament-style regional scheduling format - which is, of course, what inspired this crazy interstate stampede in the first place. A truly impartial reorganization would have played no favorites at all.

We can expect rival bills to contain even more self-serving mulligans that, given Congress' current tilt, will be about as honest and above-board as Harry Reid's "ethics" legislation.

***Guess what John Dingell wants to do under the guise of "fighting global warming"? Impose Al Gore's early-90s, economically ruinous energy taxes:
Dealing with global warming will be painful, says one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress. To back up his claim he is proposing a recipe many people won’t like — a 50-cent gasoline tax, a carbon tax and scaling back tax breaks [specifically the mortgage interest deduction that is only sacrosanct, I guess, when arguing against a flat tax] for some home owners.

“I’m trying to have everybody understand that this is going to cost and that it’s going to have a measure of pain that you’re not going to like,” Representative John Dingell, who is marking his 52nd year in Congress, said Wednesday in an interview with the Associated Press.
Sure makes the argument for term limits, doesn't it? Heck, it would almost make me re-think my opposition to mandatory euthanasia of the elderly, were it not that I'm now closer to that end of the life cycle than my youth.

At any rate, Dingell is full of shit about his justification for this confiscatory rampage. It has nothing to do with "saving the planet" and everything to do with "doin' what Donks do":
Some of the revenue would be used to reduce payroll taxes, but most would go elsewhere including for highway construction, mass transit, paying for Social Security and health programs and to help the poor pay energy bills.
Hell, I could care less if the stolen money was going to "anti-global warming" programs - the point is in a time of three-dollar-a-gallon gasoline where federal and state taxes account for over a dollar of that pump price, I don't want to be syphoned fifty cents more to subsidize the greasy bicycle paths and pork-happy mass transit boondoggles and bacon-wrapped "bridges to nowhere" of overtenured thieves like John Dingell - and Harry Reid.

Sheesh, the Republicans were pork-happy, but at least they were honest about it - and didn't try to mug me (extra) to pay the bill.

***Most Republicans, it seems, are no different than their forebearers: they're as gutless as the day is long.

Or, in other words, they didn't take my advice, and have chosen to go down with the SCHIP:
The Senate, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote yesterday, sent President Bush a $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, setting up the biggest domestic policy clash of his presidency and launching a fight that will reverberate into the 2008 elections.

Bush has vowed to veto the measure, but he has faced strong criticism from many fellow Republicans reluctant to turn away from a popular measure that would renew and expand an effective program aimed at low-income children. Democratic leaders, while still as many as two dozen votes short in the House, are campaigning hard for the first veto override of Bush's presidency.

They secured a veto-proof majority last night in the Senate, with the 67-29 tally including "yes" votes from eighteen of the forty-nine Republicans, including some of the President's most stalwart allies, such as Christopher S. Bond (MO), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) and Ted Stevens (AK). Democratic leaders are likely to send the measure to the White House next week, giving advocates a few more days to pressure Bush to sign it.

For Republicans, the issue is politically perilous. Every Senate Republican facing a difficult reelection bid bolted from Bush yesterday. Most House Republicans in swing districts abandoned him Tuesday when the House approved the bill 265-159. Those Republicans "took the vote that was easiest to explain," said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO). [emphasis added]
No, Mr. Blunt, they're gutless. They took the easy way out. They bowed to the Beltway Donk-Enemy Media Axis and screwed over their base supporters once again, who, if you'll recall, place a higher premium on small-government principle than on amoral pragmatism.

Besides, it's not as though there isn't a compelling case to be made against this misbegotten legislation. It's classic left-wing demogoguery: a measure that manifestly is NOT aimed at "low-income" children, but seeks to ensnare on the federal dole basically every "child" of the middle class, and holding "poor" children's coverage hostage to do it; that defines as "children" young adults up to the age of twenty-five; and purports to help pay for it via massive, Tennessee-style cigarette tax hikes that will only redistribute income FROM the "poor" TO the middle class; all of it wrapped up in the same tiresome "compassion" package designed to stigmatize Republicans as "cruel," "mean," "heartless" bastards if they so much as question any of it.

And of course, it's all about politics for the Democrats. They've already got the "poor" in the constituency bag; entitlements boondoggles like SCHIP help keep them poor and thus permanently indentured. Bury the same hooks in the jaws of the middle class - where elections are won, as James Carville and Stan Greenburg envisioned a decade and a half ago - and Democrats will return to the hegemonic heyday of FDR, only atop a socialist super-state that the [*AHEM*] cigarette-toking swindler could never have dreamed of. Whereas aping the Donks will get these craven Pachyderms not a strengthened lease on political life, but an increased absence of core supporters come next Election Day.

President Bush vetoing the SCHIP expansion, and congressional Republicans sustaining it in favor of their far less insane alternative, would be, thus, a bold, courageous, and, yes, compassionate stand both for the middle class AND the "poor" - both on its specifics merits, and in terms of not hastening the looming entitlements crunch by piling another huge piece of HillaryCare atop that already crumbling (try $50.5 TRILLION in unfunded Social Security liabilities alone) bureaucratic edifice.

You'd think that 'Pubbies could say as much in response to this "intense pressure" to which they get subjected on a daily basis. At least more often than once every forty years.

By 2034, I think it's going to be just a bit too late.