Archive for the 'From the Left' category

E. J. Dionne on Senate Stupidity

Nov 19 2009 Published by under Flaming Small-Minded Stupidity, From the Left

As many of my regular readers know, I often find myself frustrated by something that's happening (or, more often, not happening) in the United States Senate. Over the past several years, I've been repeatedly stunned by the near-complete absence of skill, competence, or leadership demonstrated by Harry Reid - particularly when it comes to actually getting the Senate to do anything more than twiddle, fiddle, and resolve.

Given that, I was mostly pleased with E.J. Dionne's take on the Senate problem in his most recent WaPo column. His analysis of the issue, the way he hi-lighted the Republican obstructionism even on bills that they ultimately voted for, and his suggestion that voters are getting fed up with the problem were all spot-on. Unfortunately, however, his conclusion did not quite manage to hit the mark dead-center:

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Vegan Ghouls

Jun 03 2009 Published by under Flaming Small-Minded Stupidity, From the Left

PETA is continuing their ever-successful quest to prove that mind-numbing insensitivity and flaming stupidity are not restricted to any particular portion of the political spectrum. This time, they're using the murder of Dr. George Tiller as the hook for a new set of pro-Vegetarian billboards in Wichita.

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David Vitter and Congressional Pay: This Time, He's Actually Right.

Mar 14 2009 Published by under Flaming Small-Minded Stupidity, From the Left

If you hadn't figured it out by now, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is not my favorite member of Congress. If asked for my personal ranking of Senators, I'd probably place him somewhere in the bottom 2%. That said, I really can't claim that he's always wrong. Every now and then, he proposes something that is completely reasonable - even if his motives aren't all that pure.

Last week, he proposed an amendment to the big spending bill that would have eliminated the automatic cost-of-living pay increase that Congress gives itself every year. The amendment was shot down, ostensibly because it would have required sending the bill back to the House for another vote there.

Senate Majority Leader Reid has said that he'd take the measure seriously if it came up as a stand-alone bill, and on March 6th Reid sponsored such a bill. Speaker of the House Pelosi declined to say if she'd be willing to allow a House vote on such a measure. (Congress did vote to eliminate this year's raise, but absent new legislation they'll get one automatically next year.)

Reid is reported to have said that Vitter's amendment was a "delaying tactic" that was being employed to try and further delay the spending bill. He may well be right. However, in fairness to Vitter, it should be noted that Vitter did, in fact, sponsor stand-alone legislation to do just that. In fact, he proposed the measure (S.102) back in early January, and it's been languishing in committee ever since.

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"Holds" on NOAA Administrator & Science Advisor Confirmations. Call Senators Now.

UPDATE: 4 Mar 09 There are now reports that Senator Menendez is not the only Senator holding up these nominations. I've got a new post up with the updated information and new suggestions for ways you can help.

The Washington Post is reporting that Senate votes to confirm Jane Lubchenco as NOAA Administrator and John Holdren as Science Advisor are currently being obstructed by a Democratic Senator. Quoting multiple unnamed sources, the Post says that New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez has placed an "anonymous hold" on the nominations in order to try to gain leverage for some issues related to Cuba that he's interested in.

Menendez's office, the Post reports, refused to confirm or deny the reports, saying only that it's their "policy" not to "speculate or comment" on matters related to anonymous holds. They also report, however, that a spokesman for Harry Reid said "We will work to try to address any concerns that he [Menendez] may have."

This is completely unacceptable. David Vitter might have been a jerk during last month's confirmation hearing, but even he declined to try to delay confirmation for these nominees. Both of these positions are important parts of the Obama Administration's environmental policy team. They are not unimportant positions, and both the nominees and the positions themselves deserve far more respect than Menendez is displaying. These people have agreed to serve their country. They should not be treated as pawns in whatever unrelated game the Senator is trying to play.

Please take a couple of minutes and contact Menendez's office. Tell him that science policy is too important to use as a pawn in whatever game he's playing. If you can, you should also contact the Majority Leader's office. Remind Senator Reid that science and the environment are important issues, and that you know he can, if he so chooses, push the nominations through over the hold. Contact your own senators, too, and ask them to bring whatever pressure they can on Menendez and Reid.

In his Inaugural Address, President Obama talked about restoring science to its rightful place. We can debate just what that should mean, but I'm sure we can all agree that the rightful place of science in public policy is not as a disposable pawn in an unrelated political game.

Contact information for the various Senators can be found below the jump.

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My kingdom for a leader.

Several days ago, Senator (and longshot Presidential candidate) Christopher Dodd (D-CT) made some news by promising to do whatever he could to block any legislation that would retroactively grant immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with President Bush's warrentless wiretapping program. He started off by placing a hold on the bill - a procedural move that would normally block the legislation from being voted on. After hearing that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to move the bill to the floor despite the hold, Dodd is now promising to go to the floor of the Senate and filibuster the bill if necessary.

That was late last week. Until yesterday, the only thing heard on this issue from the Clinton and Obama campaigns was the chirp of crickets. Yesterday, five days after Dodd's announcement (a period of time that bears an uncanny resemblance to the time needed to conduct focus groups or polls on the issue), the two camps both released statements outlining their candidate's position on the bill and the threatened filibuster.

From the Obama campaign:

"Senator Obama has serious concerns about many provisions in this bill, especially the provision on giving retroactive immunity to the telephone companies. He is hopeful that this bill can be improved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But if the bill comes to the Senate floor in its current form, he would support a filibuster of it."

From Clinton, in response to a question at a press availability:

"I am troubled by the concerns that have been raised by the recent legislation reported out of the Intelligence Committee. I haven't seen it so I can't express an opinion about it. But I don't trust the Bush Administration with our civil rights and liberties. So I'm going to study it very hard. As matters stand now, I could not support it and I would support a filibuster absent additional information coming forward that would convince me differently."

Personally, I liked the chirping crickets better. They've got more character than either statement - or, for that matter, than both combined. I don't think they could have come up with anything more milquetoasty if they tried - and they probably did. Their "support" for the filibuster is so lukewarm it's at room temperature.

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Pelosi and paying for the Iraq war. With friends like her, who needs Republicans?

Several Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled a revolutionary plan today that would radically change the way we are paying for the war in Iraq. Their shocking plan has been strongly condemned by Republicans around the country, and the Democratic leadership has responded - in classic fashion - by hiding under their desks and praying for it to go away. Their radical solution? We should do what we did during World War II and Vietnam, and add a surtax to the normal income tax to cover the (financial) costs.

Republicans were quick to attack the very concept of not making our children and grandchildren pay - with interest - for this war. Apparently, the concept of paying now for the war that we are fighting now is defeatest and an attempt to play politics with the troops. House Minority Leader John Boehner had this to say:

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