About that culture of corruption…

December 8, 2006 at 9:26 am

This story from the New York Times is the kind of story that Democrats, pre-2006 midterms, would have used in campaign commercials if it were about Republicans. But now, after the election, the story is about Democrats for the most part, and it shows that the overblown Dem campaign rhetoric about a “culture of corruption” was just political talk:

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who is to become speaker of the House, has promised new lobbying and ethics rules to end “the culture of corruption” that she says has infected Congress under Republican control. But lobbyists attending fund-raisers this week said they did not expect radical changes.

“There will be some changes on the margins that will be relatively short-lived,” said Erick R. Gustafson, a vice president of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Of the effort to purge politics of special-interest money and influence, Mr. Gustafson said: “It’s like trying to keep water out of your basement. It’s a structural problem. You may find a temporary solution, but the water will find a way in. Influence is like water. Money is just a means of influence.”

Many lobbyists stopped by three or four events on Wednesday evening. At a fund-raiser for Democrats newly elected to the House, Portia Reddick White, a lobbyist for the Transport Workers Union, said: “There’s a mood of euphoria, of excitement here. We sense that change is coming, that Congress might actually do something on a bipartisan basis for the working people of America.”

Dan Glickman, formerly a Democratic congressman from Kansas and now chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, hobnobbed with Representative-elect Paul W. Hodes, Democrat of New Hampshire, who is an entertainment lawyer, songwriter and champion of the arts. Mr. Hodes said the event would help him retire his campaign debt, which he estimated at $100,000.

Dem campaign promises

December 7, 2006 at 2:37 pm

Jonathan Perkins wonders if the recent outbreak of broken Democratic campaign promises is a sign of things to come.

NY Times editors slam congressional Dems

December 7, 2006 at 9:44 am

Stop the presses! The NY Times editorial board is going after Dems for cherry picking campaign promises:

Weeks before they take majority control of the Capitol, the Democrats are reported to be wriggling out of one of their most important campaign vows: to repair Congressional oversight of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Congress was found to be nothing less than “dysfunctional” on this duty by the Sept. 11 commission, which wisely recommended a full-scale revamping of the committee structure.

This necessarily means a wrenching change in the budget powers over intelligence exercised by the bulls of the defense appropriations process — a monopoly that reduces the intelligence committees to secondary lap dogs. When the Republican-controlled Congress showed no appetite for a turf fight, Democrats eagerly made a campaign vow to promptly enact all of the panel’s recommendations.

Now that they can taste power again, however, the victors seem to be having second thoughts. Instead of attempting wholesale committee reform in the first weeks of Congress, Democratic leaders may punt the idea toward oblivion in some sort of a study panel, according to The Washington Post. Nothing could be more disappointing to voters.

The Sept. 11 commission report was not sacred writ. And Democrats still vow to enact major commission recommendations to bolster port security and screen airport cargo. But the lawmakers cannot ignore the fact that they were found to be an organic part of the problem. Surely, the leaders of the new Congress know they will be risking the nation’s security, far more than their credibility, if they retreat from the vow to do a stronger job of oversight.

Dems talking Social Security

December 6, 2006 at 3:38 pm

This from today’s Evans-Novak Political Report:

Democrats are finally talking about reforms that would keep Social Security solvent, but they want a solution that the President had been unwilling to embrace in the past — tax-hikes generally, and specifically an increase in the maximum income subject to the Social Security tax. Conservatives are very distrustful of whether President Bush will keep his 2002 promise only to allow a tax hike over his own dead body.

The Bush Administration has been noticeably dodgy about this. In an interview on CNBC, Larry Kudlow could not get White House economic advisor Al Hubbard to promise that President Bush would not accept a tax-hike as part of the Social Security solution.

Reyes: We cannot afford to leave Iraq

December 6, 2006 at 11:51 am

The new Chairman of the House Intel Committee is breaking with many of his Democrat colleagues on the Iraq issue.

Newsweek reports:

In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to “dismantle the militias.”

Reyes rejects the idea of timetable withdrawals and appears to be intent on finishing the job in Iraq.

“We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies,” Reyes said. “We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq … We certainly can’t leave Iraq and run the risk that it becomes [like] Afghanistan” was before the 2001 invasion by the United States.

Reyes also stressed that there needed to be greater “political accountability” demanded of the Iraqi government. But on the core issue of the U.S. commitment, Reyes—a Vietnam War veteran who partially lost his hearing in that conflict—even compared his position to that of another Vietnam vet, Sen. John McCain, a staunch supporter of the Iraq war. Like Reyes, McCain also has called for an increase in U.S. troop strength. When asked how many additional troops he envisioned sending to Iraq, Reyes replied: “I would say 20,000 to 30,000—for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military.”

When a reporter suggested that was not a position that was likely to be popular with many House Democrats, Reyes replied: “Well again, I differ in that I don’t want Iraq to become the next Afghanistan. We could not allow Iraq to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda, for Hamas, for Hizbullah, or anybody else. We cannot allow Iran or Syria to have a free hand in there to further destabilize the Middle East.”

The Newsweek piece goes on to quote Reyes as telling Pelosi that “we can’t afford” to leave Iraq. “And anybody who says, we are going pull out our troops immediately, is being dishonest,” said Reyes. “We’re all interested in getting out of Iraq. That’s a common goal. How we do it, I think, is the tough part. There are those that say, they don’t care what Iraq looks like once we leave there. Let’s just leave there. And I argue against that. I don’t think that’s responsible. And I think it plays right into the hands of Syria and Iran.”

Five days a week

December 6, 2006 at 9:53 am

As part of their effort to look like they work harder than the “do-nothing” Republican Congress, Democrats have installed a five-day work week for the 110th Congress. Two more days of legislative activity every week means another 12-24 hours of time conservatives will have to play defense against liberal legislation.

You have to hand it to the Dems. Not only is this a great messaging tactic, it is a great legislative tactic as well.

Of course, this all assumes they can keep their members, who have all grown accustomed to short weeks, in line.

The longest 100 hours of your life

December 1, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Nancy Pelosi’s first 100 hours as Speaker of the House are likely to stretch on for some time.

Byron York explains:

Pelosi plans to enact the Democrats’ “Six for ’06” agenda in 100 legislative hours — not real hours.  And a legislative hour is not just any hour that the House is open for business. “It’s when the House convenes, after the one-minutes and before the special orders,” says Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly, referring to the times of day when members of Congress will sometimes drone on about any issue that comes to mind.  At that pace, Daly says, the first 100 hours “could take a couple of weeks.”

Or maybe longer.  “We don’t really have a term ‘legislative hours,’” says a top Republican House aide.  Depending how that is defined, “it could last for several weeks.”

The Pelosi Translator

November 30, 2006 at 5:24 pm

Great stuff from Andy Roth.

Dems fail to back up key campaign promise

November 30, 2006 at 8:54 am

The Washington Post:

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.

It seems that old bulls in the Democratic Party having just found their way back to prized Committee Chairmanships are unwilling to give up any of their new turf in order to implement this 9/11 Commission recommendation. Here is what Heritage’s James Carafano wrote about this recommendation back in 2004:

The Commission’s criticism of the lack of effective congressional oversight of homeland security and intelligence is damning. Improving how the House and the Senate provide oversight of the Intelligence Community must be a priority. And as Heritage scholars have argued consistently, Congress must establish permanent homeland security committees in both houses.

More here:

There is no question that Congress has a major role to play in establishing an effective homeland security regime. While the Homeland Security Act of 2002 created a lead federal agency for many domestic security activities, that was only the first step. Building an effective department requires sound strategies, solid programs, personnel reforms, and integrating information technologies. Congressional oversight—lead by committees and professional staffs with the experience and expertise to address difficult, complex issues—plays an important role in achieving these ends. To this point, the Congress has failed to provide that kind of leadership.

Hillary hears footsteps

November 29, 2006 at 8:27 am

Hillary Clinton is reportedly worried about Barack Obama’s ability to defeat her in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primaries. I am more worried about Obama’s inability to beat her.

More on Rangel’s bad idea

November 28, 2006 at 10:32 am

Andrew Cline writing for the American Spectator:

Rangel has pushed for a draft for the past three years. He argues that the government would not start wars if the sons of the elites who decide such things were at risk of being deployed to fight the wars the elites start.The only problem with that thesis is that it has no basis whatsoever in reality. The United States had a draft from 1948 to 1973. We still went to Korea and (ahem) Vietnam. Rangel also has no idea who is actually in our military. He claims it’s the poor and unprivileged. (In other words, if you don’t study in school so you’ll have good career options, you’ll get stuck in Iraq.)

But the military today is not the military of the Civil War or even Vietnam. It is more educated and affluent than ever before. A report by Heritage Foundation researcher Tim Kane, released just before the election, found that “the average reading level of new soldiers is roughly a full grade level higher than their civilian peers” and that the high school graduation rate for enlistees was 17 percentage points higher than the rate for the civilian population.

The military is also not just a bunch of poor boys with no other options. “The wealthiest 40 percent of neighborhoods in America are the home of 45.6 percent of 2005 enlistees,” Kane found. “For every two U.S. recruits from the poorest neighborhoods, three come from the richest.”

So how is Rangel’s idea going over in poor neighborhoods?

“What, he was smoking pot or something?” 58-year-old James Brown of Harlem, one of Rangel’s own constituents, asked a New York Daily News reporter when asked for comment on Rangel’s plan.

Another Rangel constituent, 48-year-old Neil Davis, said Rangel “doesn’t represent the people of Harlem if he’s for the draft.”

UPDATE: Former Marine Corps Major Brian Bresnahan counters Rangel’s claims that the military is full of poor enlistees who have no other options:

I know our battalion of reserve Marines in Iraq was full of folks who took a pay cut when they were mobilized. In fact, the discrepancy in pay was so great for some of our enlisted Marines it created hardships for their families. We had Marines with graduate degrees and high level management positions in Fortune 500 companies.

There were enlisted Marines I served alongside who put lucrative computer programming jobs or the pursuit of a law degree on hold. Our battalion surgeon volunteered for the Navy Reserve to serve. He is one of the very few pediatric heart surgeons in the United States; certainly not a man without choices in life.

The angry parents and spouses of service members flooded some of the radio talk shows Monday with the stories of why their husband, wife, son, or daughter gave up scholarships, high paying jobs, or other opportunities to go fight.

So, Congressman Rangel simply made an incorrect scientific hypothesis. Honest mistake, right?

Wrong. The full measure of his outlook was unveiled when he expanded his argument about the troops and their deficiencies with respect to the rest of society. The truth is he doesn’t think much of us. In the end, his position and comments weren’t what anyone could call “supportive.”

Charlie Rangel’s bad idea

November 27, 2006 at 9:45 am

On Fox News Sunday yesterday Charlie Rangel took John Kerry’s “botched joke” and turned it into a straight-faced argument. This is from the transcript:

WALLACE: Congressman Rangel, you caused quite a stir this week when you said that you’re going to introduce a bill to reinstate the draft. Here’s what you said this week in a newspaper article. Let’s take a look. “The great majority of people bearing arms in this country, for this country in Iraq, are from the poorer communities in our inner cities and rural areas.”But a recent and very detailed study by the Heritage Foundation, Congressman, found the following and I’m going to put that up: 13 percent of recruits are from the poorest neighborhoods. That’s less than the national average of people living in those neighborhoods. Ninety-seven percent of recruits have high school diplomas. Among all Americans, the graduation rate is under 80 percent. And blacks make up 14.5 percent of recruits for the military; the national average is 12 percent.

Congressman, in fact, contrary to what you’ve been saying, isn’t the volunteer army better educated and more well-to-do than the general population?

RANGEL: Of course not. I want to make it abundantly clear that I have been advocating a draft ever since the president has been talking about war, and none of this comes within the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee.

But I want to make it abundantly clear, if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment.

If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.

So anyone who supports the war and is against everyone sharing in the sacrifice is being hypocritical about the whole thing. The record is clear, and once we are able to get hearings on this, everyone will see what they already know, and that is that those who have the least opportunities at this age find themselves in the military, as I did when I was 18 years old.

Notice how Rangel does not even try to address the well-documented facts put forth by the Heritage study. Hard data and facts are pesky little annoyances to Rangel who appears bent on pushing his insulting version of the truth.

Also notice how Rangel, with a straight face, insists that nobody would join the military unless they had no other career choices. How many of you reading this can count multiple friends and family who have chosen to serve in the military despite having lucrative career offers in other fields? I personally am lucky to know many such people. And regardless of this anecdotal test, the facts just don’t bear it out. As Wallace pointed out, the above mentioned study found the following:

Overall, the wartime recruits are more similar than dissimilar to their civilian counterparts. The all-volunteer force displays near proportional representation of income backgrounds. Whites serve in approximate proportion to their population, although representation of minority groups varies. Recruits must meet educational standards, and the military provides resources for furthering education to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend four-year colleges. Although rural representation is disproportional, the military offers the opportunity to gain new skills and enter industries that are not available in rural areas.

With regard to income, education, race, and regional background, the all-volunteer force is representative of our nation and meets standards set by Congress and the Department of Defense. In contrast to the patronizing slanders of antiwar critics, recruit quality is increasing as the war in Iraq continues. Although recent recruiting goals have been difficult to meet, re-enlistment is strong and recruit quality remains high. No evidence supports arguments for reinstating the draft or altering recruiting policies to achieve more equitable representation.

So not only is Charlie Rangel’s rhetoric insulting and demeaning to the finest military in the world, it is factually wrong.


November 27, 2006 at 8:17 am

Dems say they won’t pass any liberal laws in this Congress. Remember this one year from now.