District of Columbia

The White House is Wrong

Figures - President Bush denies House GOP special session.

I doubt this will have any affect on the House GOP leaders who are continuing their efforts this week from the House floor, but it is somewhat disheartening. The White House claims that there is no point in calling Congress back into session for a bill that the Democrats won't allow an up-down vote on.

The White House is wrong.

The point would be to force televised debate on an issue and shine a light on Pelosi's roadblocking. The point would be to support conservatives in Congress when they need it most. The point would be to align this White House with conservatives and give a badly needed boost to sagging conservative confidence in the Republican Party. The point would be to gain momentum for drilling - just serious discussion about drilling has made oil prices drop slightly, putting us on the road to easing the deathgrip high gas prices have on the nation's economy.

We're fooling ourselves if we don't believe that gas prices have been one of the primary causes for economic worry. And as we enter hurricane season in full force, with tropical storms already aiming dead-on at platforms and refineries in the Gulf, we need to do everything possible to give relief before the worst befalls us once again.

Incidentally, John McCain supports bringing Congress back into session.

The Antidote to "Spend-Too-Much"

We thank Grover Norquist for his thoughts on the crucial issue of transparency.  This is genuinely an area in which Republicans, at the State level, have made real progress and shown genuine leadership.  More like this, please. - Jon Henke

Republicans have learned how to deal with tax hikes.  Since 1986, pro-taxpayer candidates have signed the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" promising in writing to oppose any and all tax hikes. Those candidates like Bush 41 who signed and broke the pledge have been defeated.  A strong and public message to others.

Since 1992 more than 90 percent of all Republican candidates for House and Senate have signed and kept the pledge. In 1993, Clinton had to rely solely on Democrats when he passed his tax hike.

Thanks to the pledge and a GOP that branded itself as the party that will not raise taxes there has not been a major tax hike in Washington DC since 1993. That is fifteen years without a net tax hike from Congress. That is the longest period in American history without a significant tax hike.

Still spending has increased too much.  Much thought has gone into how we can "bell the cat" of spend-too-much.

There is now a strategy beginning to emerge.

In the fall of 2006, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas put his gubernatorial office's spending on the internet available for everyone in Texas-and the world-to see. The Texas Comptroller Susan Combs then did the same for all spending by all agencies in Texas, and legislation complementing her action was passed.

Of all state elected officials, Gov. Matt Blunt of Missouri probably went the furthest the fastest - issuing an executive order to put all state spending on the web with a search engine that makes it easy to follow how tax dollars are spent in the appropriately named "Show me State," and launching the site on the same day, on July 11, 2007. The Missouri Accountability Portal (MAP) has had more than seven million hits since.

Websites in Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Alaska are also up and running, with Kansas and Oklahoma being the results of legislation, while South Carolina and Alaska's websites were launched per gubernatorial action.

Similar laws have been passed in Utah, Washington State, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Hawaii, Minnesota and, most recently, Arizona. State constitutional officers have also embarked on their own spending transparency efforts.

Suddenly, every check written in Missouri and other transparency states becomes a potential "Bridge to Nowhere" - a teaching moment on "spend-too-much." We remember the six hundred dollar hammer of the Reagan years. Taxpayers and voters understandably have a hard time getting their heads around "Three Trillion dollars" in federal spending. However, they can grasp a single earmark, travel costs, or a high salary, with this type of information readily available at their fingertips on the Missouri Accountability Portal.

School districts, county governments and other local government entities are beginning to feel the pressure to open up their checkbooks to public scrutiny. Before the decade is out every state, city and school district will be fully transparent.  There is no good reason to say "no" to transparency. Only the corrupt have something to hide. Which politician wishes to advertise to the world that their books must be a secret?

The press loves transparency. It is the "lazy reporter wins a Pulitzer prize" legislation. Honest liberals like Ralph Nader have endorsed the effort. Conservatives trust that voters will benefit from seeing exactly how each check is spent.

As taxpayers are getting used to being able to tracking their tax dollars at a mouse click, we are beginning the long march to wrestling "spend- too- much" to the ground.

Americans for Tax Reform has also launched the Center for Fiscal Accountability, dedicated to shedding a light on government expenditures and promoting the principles of fiscal restraint and limited government. Sign up to receive a notification email when the website launches at www.fiscalaccountability.org.

WaPo: Shocked By Its Own Pro Obama Bias

The Washington Post's Deborah Howell has a howeller in the Aug. 3 edition of the paper revealing how shocked and amazed she was that her own paper had a lopsided tally of Obama photographs compared to how many McCain photos appear in its pages. Of course, the amusing thing isn't that the Post had far more Obama photos than McCain pics but that, regardless of the raw numbers staring her in the face, Howell still insisted it wasn't because of bias. Apparently it's just because Obama has a "great smile." I guess we can mark that trenchant observation as the best reason to cover political candidates as far as the Washington Post is concerned. It's a big win for a justification for hard news, surely.

Howell apparently was contacted by a retired USA Today reporter who alerted her to the singular fact that Obama's photo appeared more often than did McCain's in the paper's A section from June 4 to July 14. Howell got curious and replicated that study, but expanded it to the entire paper and found interesting results.

What we found: 122 photos of Obama have been published in the paper during that time to 78 for McCain, counting tiny to big. Most of those photos ran inside the paper; most on the politics page. The Page 1 photos are closer: Obama had nine to McCain's seven. Five of Obama's were above the fold; McCain had four. Obama also got more color photos, 72 to 49, and more large photos -- mostly those that spanned three or more columns, 30 to 10.

Howell also tried to see the numbers in a wider context.

To look at the phenom factor, du Cille went to the Merlin database to see how many pictures have been run of Obama since he first appeared in Post pages in 2003. That would be 1,109. McCain's pictures go back to the early days of the database, 1995, with 1,032 published. Obama is still ahead.

So, why this disparity? Howell has some excuses... er, I mean explanations.

  • Obama is photogenic
  • He is an historical candidate
  • His backgrounds are more photogenic
  • He smiles more

There you go, Debbroah. That's what I like, making a strike for serious investigation like that.

Howell has a bit of help from the the retired journo in this high minded investigation, too.

Benedetto also thought that the photos of Obama were "more candid, personal, artistic, and flattering. . . . There were few artistic photos of McCain. Most were traditional campaign shots....

I see. So, "artistic photos" are what we are interested in to illuminate the news? It isn't anything like, well, the NEWS that we are interested in?

Howell has another excuse: it isn't their fault.

The vast majority of these photos were not taken by Post photographers but by wire service shooters.

I see. Passing the buck, eh?

Then, in faux shock, the news team that brings us this Obamarama makes like they are chastened.

Ed Thiede, assistant managing editor for the news desk, said that the numbers are "eye-opening. We should be more cognizant." Du Cille and Thiede were both surprised at the numbers. Du Cille said, "The disparity in the numbers is indeed hard to reconcile. As photojournalists, we always strive to be fair. We have tried to be balanced, but it seems that in a large operation such as ours, we need to monitor the use of political images even more closely."

And Howell ends with this stern warning to her fellows...

But these kinds of discrepancies feed distrust on the part of readers, especially conservative ones, who already complain that The Post is all for Obama.

Do ya think!?

Here I'd like to suggest a reason why Obama gets such favorable photos. I'd like to suggest that, contrary to Howell's claims to the contrary, there is bias in his favor indeed. Even if we take Howell's excuse that the photos that come from stringers and wire service shooters tend to give a bit of cover to the paper, it is still bias influencing those shots. Those wire service guys are all going for the Obama as Messiah shots of which we've become so boringly familiar. They are looking for, competing for, those "artistic shots" of Obama looking beneficent, surround in light, sporting a halo even. And the papers eat these photos up and then clamor for more. And it's all driven by the photographer's personal bias and excitement for Obama on one hand, and their assumptions that their editors back in the office similarly want the newest and most Obamarific photo and will pay handsomely for them.

There is the bias right there. Its endemic in the entire process from star-struck photog, to moon-eyed photo editor, to sycophantic page editor, to the printer and out the door to a unsuspecting public.

Howell next says she is going to tackle the actual stories to see if there were more Obamaholic writers than those intoxicated by McCain's story. I am curious who she will blame this time? If it is the wire service photographer's fault for the overwhelming disparity in Obama photos, maybe Howell will blame the Obamasized dictionary writers who surely gave them too many Barackable words to use?

Why, it's all just too Obamalicious.

Be sure and Visit my Home blog Publius' Forum. It's what's happening NOW!

Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, Michael Steele Named Co-Chairs of GOP Youth Convention

GINGRICH, JINDAL, STEELE TO LEAD GOP YOUTH CONVENTION GROUP

                                                     Media Contact (202)544-7525 Info@GOPYouthConvention.org                    

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2008 - Today GOP Youth Convention.Org announced that Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and GOPAC Chair and former Md. Lt Governor Michael Steele will serve as Honorary Co-chairs of its campaign to bring young people to the GOP National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"We are very excited that these outstanding leaders of the Republican Party will co-chair our campaign to bring a new generation of young leaders and volunteers to the GOP Convention in Minneapolis," said Namrata Idnani, a student co-chairman of the group.

In a special program over Labor Day weekend, GOP Youth Convention.Org will offer opportunities for young people from around the country to meet other young leaders, hear from and interact with elected officials, and learn how to be better grassroots organizers and political communicators. Other programs will extend throughout the week of the National Convention

"The new generation of leaders who join us in Minneapolis will experience a historic event: the nomination of John McCain for President of the United States," said Soren Dayton, Director of the GOP Youth Convention.

The group's education and training program will take place at Concordia University in Minneapolis, MN starting on Labor Day weekend and continuing throughout the week of the National Convention through Friday September 5th. An opening "welcome" party will take place at the Hard Rock cafe in Minneapolis during the evening on Friday, August 29. Other social events will continue throughout the Convention week.

Affordable accommodations are available for group participants.

For more information, interested individuals may call the group's office at (202) 544-7525, or visit our website at  www.gopyouthconvention.org

 

Tell The EPA You DON'T Want Their Meddling in the Economy Over Global Warming

The EPA is looking to expand its powers even more thanks to the Supreme Court of the United States. It is about to meddle ever more in our national economic health with its claimed "fixes" to the non-existent "problem" of global warming.

But, we citizens have a chance to have our say. The EPA has opened up to public comments on their latest power grab. I urge each of you to email your insistence that the EPA lay off our economy with their anti-capitalist notions of fixing the non-existent problem of global warming.

We only have 120 days to make our comments so get this to EVERYONE you know. To email a comment use this address: a-and-r-Docket@epa.gov

And be sure and put in the subject line of the e-mail the following information:

Docket ID Number: EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0318

Here is some of the info on the government website:

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting comment from all interested parties on options and questions to be considered for possible greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act. EPA is issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to gather information and determine how to proceed.

The Advance Notice

The ANPR is one of the steps EPA has taken in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. The Court found that the Clean Air Act authorizes EPA to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions if EPA determines they cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. The ANPR reflects the complexity and magnitude of the question of whether and how greenhouse gases could be effectively controlled under the Clean Air Act.

The document summarizes much of EPA's work and lays out concerns raised by other federal agencies during their review of this work. EPA is publishing this notice at this time because it is impossible to simultaneously address all the agencies' issues and respond to the agency’s legal obligations in a timely manner.

Key Issues for Discussion and Comment in the ANPR:

  • Descriptions of key provisions and programs in the CAA, and advantages and disadvantages of regulating GHGs under those provisions;
  • How a decision to regulate GHG emissions under one section of the CAA could or would lead to regulation of GHG emissions under other sections of the Act, including sections establishing permitting requirements for major stationary sources of air pollutants;
  • Issues relevant for Congress to consider for possible future climate legislation and the potential for overlap between future legislation and regulation under the existing CAA; and,
  • Scientific information relevant to, and the issues raised by, an endangerment analysis.

EPA will accept public comment on the ANPR for 120 days following its publication in the Federal Register.

Background

In April 2007, the Supreme Court concluded that GHGs meet the CAA definition of an air pollutant. Therefore, EPA has authority under the CAA to regulate GHGs subject to the endangerment test for new motor vehicles – an Agency determination that GHG emissions from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.

A decision to regulate GHG emissions for motor vehicles impacts whether other sources of GHG emissions would need to be regulated as well, including establishing permitting requirements for stationary sources of air pollutants.

To view the five technical supporting documents in the docket go to http://www.regulations.gov. The document titles are:

  1. Technical Support Document - Benefits
  2. Technical Support Document - Stationary Source
  3. Draft Technical Support Document - Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act
  4. Technical Support Document - Section 202 Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  5. Vehicle Technical Support Document - Mobile Source

Email them right away.

Be sure and Visit my Home blog Publius' Forum. It's what's happening NOW!

Let Our Congress Tweet!

In response to the ongoing controversey regarding members' of Congress use of the internet the Sunlight Foundation launched Let Our Congress Tweet!  Help us tell Congress to "embrace the communication technologies that we already use" like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace.  If you're on twitter I hope you sign our petition to show Congress that there is no reason our elected officials can't communicate with us where we are!
 
On the site, you can watch who's tweeting to sign the petition.  This kind of grassroots feedback to Congress has the potential to create real change.

If you want more information on franking rules check out Sunlight's Open House Project.  The Open House Project is a group of people who wrote a report to find ways to make Congress more technologically open and accessible to the public.   If you want to know more about the franking rules check out the chapter on Member Use Restrictions here

Full Disclosure: I am the Online Organizer and Outreach Coordinator for the Sunlight Foundation.

Will Heller Hurt Obama?

Despite the Obama campaign insisting that the Nov., 2007 Chicago Tribune article was "inartful" description of Obama's position, Obama has a nice long history of supporting the D.C. gun ban, including this video from February, 2008 on ABC 7 in the Washington area:

So, will Heller hurt Obama? Certainly, support for gun control isn't against party platform for him, but after all it's been argued here that drilling is the next gun control -- an issue that tilts largely toward the GOP stance, which Dems would be wise to lay off. Under Obama's banner of progressivism, though, he seems trapped in the 1970s and would be unlikely to move right on gun control, particularly if he's catering to an urban vote.

More importantly, however, the Heller waffling introduces yet another instance of Obama taking a key issue and attempting to change positions dramatically by means of vagueness. Look at the video, Obama tries to overcome a prior gaffe by giving a run at having it both ways and ultimately failing. It's rather difficult to "respect the second amendment and people's traditions" while taking away the guns. Can this be exploited as another instance of his dramatically changing stances, or at the very least, attempting to equivocate on something? In some ways, the "present" votes have not played enough of a role in the narrative yet; on the other hand, the right to bear arms could be the issue that helps mobilize veterans for McCain, if it's played well.

Katherine Miller blogs at Right-Wing Vitriol, the blog of the Vanderbilt Torch.

The "Tommy" Republicans

Go to fullsize image

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_(rock_opera)

"That deaf, dumb, and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball",

I am starting to think that the Republicans in Congress ( I won't bother with the White House these days--they are pretty much MIA)  resemble the lead character in the Who's masterpiece Tommy

Yes, they are deaf, dumb and blind. 

The mortgage bailout bill resembles yet another congressional boondoggle like "comprehensive immigration reform", ethanol, and the Farm Bill,  It's huge, it's expensive, it's not part of the party's basic agenda, and it's being fast tracked through Congress before the public is fully aware of what's going on.

Yesterday the Senate moved the Chris Dodd mortgage bailout bill forward by a 83-9 vote   http://www.boston.com/business/personalfinance/articles/2008/06/25/foreclosure_rescue_plan_advances/

since evidently everyone wants to "do something" about the problem. Including Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republican "leadership"

Of course, "doing something" means taking 400,000 of the worst loans in the system off the private sector' s hands and letting the taxpayers try and fix them.

The rush now is up to the podium to decide which financial giant came up with Dodd's plan. Not wanting Bank of America to hog the credit, Credit Suisse (not exactly a Main Street lender)now says yep, they drew the plan up to offload bad mortgages to the federal ledger and they sold the committee on the idea.

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/06/24/ST2008062401804.html

I'm sure they'll get every franc's worth out of this bill. And what do we get, even if it the new mortgages aren't as toxic as we expect.... how about a $500 million annual subsidy to liberal community activist groups like ACORN in perpetutity?http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080618/20080618006023.html?.v=1

(who said Barack Obama opposed public financing of political campaigns?) 

So our "leaders" are "Tommy" Republicans . They are deaf to the demands of their party's political base (immigration looks like a trend, now, doesn;t it?) Look at the reaction of the party's institutional conservative media allies.    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MmEwYzQ1NmY2NDc1ZGIzNTIzZDVkMTRhMzg4ZTA5ZGY=

http://www.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB121400275096293203.html

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Economy/wm1941.cfm

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_061608/content/01125114.guest.html

When the calls came to stop and make a reasoned decision whether to proceed with the mortgage bailout bill, our Republican senators were deaf. Once again, they just signed on.

And they are incredibly dumb too. What did they gain from Chris Dodd by letting him ram through this massive bailout bill?

Nothing. In fact, Dodd is busy trying to continue the filbuster of the FISA spy bill so he can keep this administration--and the next one--from protecting our lives.  http://rawstory.com/news08/2008/06/24/feingold-dodd-planning-filibuster-of-wiretap-bill/

 Dumb. Very dumb.

Now how about blind? What has going along with the the various Democratic boondoggles accomplished for us? NADA! I've seen Congressional job approval at 11%. The GOP is losing the generic Congressional vote by 10-15% http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/generic_congressional_vote-901.html#polls

Obviously cooperating with the Democrats is just going to make the House and Senate Republicans part of the problem. OK, the public "wants something done". (which is not akin to passing corporate welfare. by the way). http://rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/general_business/most_americans_oppose_federal_bailout_for_homeowners

When the horror stories of fraud come to light, (and they will) we will be blamed probably more than the Democrats on this one since the public associates the GOP with bailing out big business.

But let's say the public decides they like this bill. If they give anyone credit for doing this, it will inure to Reid and Pelosi's benefit. Notice that tucked in the innards of these bills are programs which are designed to lock in support for liberals.

The "Tommy" Republicans aren't pinball wizards, they are pinball machines. Once again they are being played. .

 

 

Teachers Unions Succeed in Ending Scholarships

One would assume that everyone wants to see that our kids get the best education possible. I mean, who could possibly be against kids getting the best opportunities? Well, apparently the one entity that you'd expect to really care about kids is the one standing in the way of their education: teachers. Sadly, it is obvious that teachers as a group don't care a whit about kids, at least as far as their union is concerned.

Take the Republican led policy called the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. It is a program that provides worthy minority student in the Washington D.C. school system with $7,500 a year for tuition and fees at private schools. We all know that government schools are nearly universally substandard and this program helps minority kids find their way to better schools so that they might get a better education.

Naturally, the Teachers union opposes it.

Fortunately, Republicans seem to care about kids more and have been able to sustain this project for several years. But, now that the union lapdogs in the Democrat Party have become the emerging force in Washington, this great opportunity for minority kids is about to be eliminated.

The Washington Post reports that the Democrat led subcommittee on financial services and general government, the committee that funds this project, said that the good times are over.

A House Appropriations subcommittee voted yesterday to fund for another year the federal voucher program that allows about 2,000 low-income D.C. children to attend private schools. But the panel's chairman said that this was probably the last time that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program would receive full financial support from the government.

Of course this is because he is the slave to the anti-intellectuals in the teachers unions for it is they who oppose this program.

Once again, this sort of anti-kid, anti-education effort from a union proves that unions should never be allowed for jobs that are supposed to serve the public interest. Unions are entirely antithetical to the public weal and this is just one more example of that truth.

Be sure and Visit my Home blog Publius' Forum. It's what's happening NOW!

Let McCain Be McCain: Image & Candidacy

Myriad articles have come out recently both critiquing John McCain’s image and delivery, as well as reporting on GOP-insider calls for a new image—a better image—perhaps even a change thereof.  Of course, there is always merit in constructive criticism.  However, I think Republicans would do well to let McCain just be McCain for awhile.
 
Barack Obama is a strong speaker and will capitalize off his oratory advantage during the election.  McCain will most likely not fill a stadium the way Obama can with cheering underage non-voters and liberal sympathizers.  While many have lauded McCain’s mastery of town hall meetings, and welcomed his push joint venues with Obama, I still can’t shake the feeling that some Republicans want McCain to go at it Obama-style, or worse, their own.

Unfortunately, opinion polls and the electorate’s ratings show Republicans as deplorable, unfit for leadership, and out of sync with voters.  McCain has redeemed the GOP in many ways, and quite frankly, the Republican grassroots network saved itself by rising out of the Giuliani/Romney pitfall and picking a strong candidate, who happens to be a Republican.  Given the recent Republican record, hopefully independents and Reagan Democrats won’t hold that against him.
 
Why such a tone from a Republican?  Well, we lost power fair and square back in 2006—I’ll never forget watching a Senate debate on a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning amidst reports of rising energy prices coupled with a then-slightly-weakening dollar.  Let me be clear: I don’t want flags to be burned—but more importantly, I don’t want to lose elections and watch U.S. officials have high tea with Ahmadinejad.

Republicans in the House and Senate, governors, and even those down at the state and local levels would do well to follow the electorate’s cue— re-think your voting priorities, electoral strategies, find what works for you, and perhaps borrow something from the McCain handbook.  In the mean time, let’s give McCain some space.

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