Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Supremes Grant Cert. in Chicago Gun Ban Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari to decide whether the second amendment applies to states and municipalities. The Court had several cases to choose from, given the split in the circuits, but chose the case involving Chicago's ban on hand-guns -- arguably the most restrictive law of its kind in the country.

Notably, this case is brought by Alan Gura, the same attorney who won Heller, last Term's opinion that held that the second amendment is an individual right rather than a collective right. Heller concerned a gun ban in the District of Columbia, a federal enclave, and therefore could be limited to federal gun bans.

Judge Larry Silberman (who wrote the D.C. Circuit opinion in Heller which the Supreme Court affirmed) notes for National Review that the Court can apply the second amendment to the states without incorporating it into the 14th amendment. The plain text of the second amendment is not limited to the issue of Congress infringing upon the right to bear arms; the language is much broader: ". . . the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The use of the passive voice suggests the right "shall not be infringed" applies to any level of government, including states and local governments.

For what it's worth, while on the Second Circuit, Justice Sonia Sotamayor voted that the second amendment is not incorporated into the 14th amendment.

The Court is considering incorporation not just through the due process clause of the 14the amendment, but also through the "privileges or immunities clause."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Obama's Internet Grab

[Guest posted by Annie Lee Mann]

Obama Adminstration Seeks Control of the Internet

The Obama administration is engaged in an effort to take control over internet and citizens’ freedom of speech and press under the guise of providing internet infrastructure security. If you don’t believe me, check it out: This link provides analysis, full text of bill and a PDF summary of key provisions. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is independent and a reliable source. I don’t think anyone could accuse them of being part of a right-wing conspiracy (I don’t think a lyricist for the Grateful Dead is a card-carrying member of the Klan or the NRA.).

It got too much attention as a single bill and has since be dissipated into 14 (!) other bills, but you should know about it. It wouldn’t cost as much as a government takeover of health care, but it might be even more frightening. This bill provides for outrageous and unprecedented power to be given to President to invade citizen privacy and even to shut down the internet. They seek to control – not just regulate – all electronic means of communication, both commercial and private.

Am I overreacting? Reading dire possibility into an honest effort to prevent cyberterrorism?

I don’t think so!

Okay, President Orwell, Mr. “judge me by the people with whom I surround myself.” For an extended version of the web surrounding our president, go to .

For now, let’s just look at his Czar for Diversity at the FCC, Mark Lloyd. The following are excerpts from his book “Prologue to a Farce,” subtitled “Communication and Democracy in America.” .

I can’t get free access to all the book, (and certainly don’t want to buy it!) but just in the first few pages Lloyd makes clear his passionate belief that the government should control all media because “Corporate America” doesn’t serve to inform our citizenry. Don’t take my word for it. Read for yourself:

“The ongoing American experiment in democracy is failing. And it is failing because we have allowed our public sphere to be dominated by the interest Madison called merchants.” (page 11) “The most powerful communications tool was deliberately placed in the hands of one faction in our republic: commercial industry. This faction has had many names over the course of our history. Madison called them the mercantile faction. . . today we call them Corporate America.” (p. 16, lamenting the slippery slope public communication went down when the decision was made not to have government-controlled telegraph)

[I can’t resist a sidebar. Everyone has seen , right? The cute little cartoon movie about the evils of capitalism that is being shown to schoolchildren nationwide? (complete with tests administered by teachers at the end to insure the Obama Youth get it?]

“The ideals of political equality and a government that operates in response to the informed consent of the governed are for most Americans only romantic notions. Our republic, the unique American mechanism for realizing the will of the people, is something warm and fuzzy to salute or sing about at best. At worst it is viewed as a dysfunctional and unreliable interference. But, in the main, it is regarded as merely another service provider, an odd cousin to the market.” (p.11) . [No, never mind singing the national anthem. Much better we should sing the praises of our f├╝hrer . ]

“The real questions is: What is the governing structure that will allow us to address the serious public injustices in our present?” (P.13)

“I will counter…[Thomas Jefferson’s outdated canard that that government is best which governs least, p.14] that … Americans clearly want many things that only government can provide: a clean environment, affordable health care, safe streets and so on. The answer to the problems of achieving our ideals of political equality and democratic deliberation is not to be found in limiting the only mechanism that can help us improve our society. “ (p. 15, emphasis added)

“We should never have allowed one faction to dominate our public sphere. Corporate liberty has overwhelmed citizen equality.” (p. 17)

“Indeed, as communications technologies become even more important to democratic participation, the government’s inherent responsibility to protect and advance democratic engagement is increased.” (p. 20) [all well and good unless you’ve read the provisions of the Cyber Security Act of 2009!!)

“[under the chapter sub-heading] The Altar of the First Amendment” p. 20

This book does not ignore the First Amendment. The First Amendment deserves our attention. . . I only seek to place it in a context with other communications policies.”

Not vital link, but interesting if you have time, because it leads to so much more: I missed the Daily Show, so was glad to see the clip!

The internet is key to bringing down totalitarians around the world, which is why they seek to ban or control it in China, and now in the U.S.A.

Mongiardo's Meltdown

Anyone who thought Dr. Lieut. Gov. wannbe a U.S. Sen. Dan Mongiardo's tackiness is limited to his overly-waxed eyebrows should listen to this audio. Mongiardo makes clear that he despises Gov. Steve Beshear, his job, and the U.S. Senate. In short, he's just plain bitter.

It is a happy, happy day for that one-tough-son-of-a-bitch, Jack Conway.

h/t Page One

Monday, September 28, 2009

McConnell: Administration Tactics "Unbelievable Outrage"

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the administration's "gag order" of Humana, which has been extended to other insurers, an "absolutely clear violation of the first amendment" and an "unbelievable outrage."

In a conference call with reporters, McConnell noted that the gag order, which prohibits Humana and its competitors from telling its customers how health care legislation would affect them, is part of the "administration's tactics with regard to trying to jam through" a health care bill that would reorganize one-sixth of the economy. "The tactics they're willing to resort to are without limit."

In addition, McConnell noted that the Democrats voted down a proposal to put the health care bill and Congressional Budget Office analysis of its price online for 72 hours before it could be voted upon. The combination of the gag order, the refusal to put the bill online and demonization of citizens at town hall meetings in August amount to a "pattern of intimidation." The takeaway, according to McConnell, is that the Democrats will "do anything to quiet the voices of dissent and keep Americans in the dark" in an effort to pass their bill.

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office told the Senate Finance Committee that Sen. Max Baucus's bill would likely result in substantial cuts to Medicare Advantage -- exactly the point that Humana had made to its subscribers in the letter that prompted the "gag order."

"What Humana did was speak the truth," McConnell said. The non-partisan CBO analysis "underscored that."

McConnell said that Democrats might be "prepared to throw [the government option] overboard and make this look like a centrist bill." Nonetheless, the bill will still increase taxes on "virtually everyone" by taxing medical devices and procedures. And it would cut Medicare benefits by millions of dollars.

Even if Democrats drop the "government option," and even if Democrats exclude illegal aliens from the bill's coverage, the "core bill is fundamentally flawed."

Rather than passing a thousand page bill that overhauls one-sixth of the economy, McConnell suggested an "incremental" series of bills to reduce health care costs and increase access to care. Specifically, McConnell identified tort reform, incentives for wellness, tax incentives for individual employees to purchase coverage like incentives now given to employers, and removing the barriers to interstate competition for insurance.

With respect to the prospect of the Democrats invoking the "Byrd Rule" to bypass a filibuster, McConnell suggested that using a "legislative loophole to rewrite one-sixth of the economy with 20 hours of debate" is "not a great way to win acceptability among a skeptical public."

Williams Responds to Farish

Sen. President David Williams has responded to the open letter that Bill Farish wrote in favor of slots at the tracks. Williams's response appears in Bloodline, and it is disappointing on several levels.

Williams continues to demonize anyone who support slots, in particular the race tracks. His attacks on Farish, however, are just bizarre. Note the paternalism: Williams asserts that "[o]nce slots arrive, horse-owners and trainers will get the short end of the stick."With all due respect to Williams, Farish can speak with much more authority than Williams on how slots (or anything) will affect the horse industry.

Nor is it appropriate to attack Farish for exercising his first amendment rights:

Bill Farish failed to mention his family’s financial affiliation with the tracks as well as to the 527 "issues" group formed by the tracks and their supporters to circumvent campaign finance laws in order to intimidate legislators to support slots. During the recent special election, his pro-slots 527 ran negative ads that never even once mentioned slots. State after state with gambling in the mix has been rife with stories of political corruption.

Corruption does not necessarily flow from a citizen expressing an opinion about how public policy affects the industry in which he works.

To be sure, the laws on 527s can and should be tightened to increase transparency. However, Williams's assertion that Farish "failed to mention his family's financial affiliation with the tracks" is just laughable. This is the family that bred and raced A.P. Indy, Minesharft and Lemon Drop Kid. Of course they have a financial affiliation with the tracks. The web site for Lane's End Farm makes this very clear.

Williams accuses Farish of causing false divisions: "those tied to the slots may do their best to raise the specter of false divisions and false hope." To the contrary, Farish's letter conveyed substantial unity across the horse industry in its support of slots.

It is Williams who has created unnecessary division within the Republican party over the issue. Particularly after agreeing to a tax increase that threatens our Bourbon industry, Williams has showed a hostility to the free market -- and Kentucky's signature industries -- that leaves many of us perplexed about the direction of his leadership.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bunning Demands Dems Put Bill On Line; Baucus Refuses

It was a brilliant but obvious request, and it should have passed unanimously. Sen. Jim Bunning proposed that the Senate Finance Committee post the $ 900 billion health care bill online 72 hours before it is voted upon. And while you're at it, Bunning suggested, go ahead and post the the Congressional Budget Office analysis of what it will cost.

Sen. Max "the Gag Order" Baucus, however says that it's just too hard to do, and his fellow Democrats went along with the ruse, defeating the motion 12-11.

Masters of the Sucker Punch, the Democrats don't want the little people to read the bill until it's too late. The same for those Humana subscribers who -- according to the Congressional Budget Office -- will in fact see their Medicare Advantage benefits cut if this bill becomes law. But Baucus and his cronies reason that if we don't tell them, they won't worry. And anyone who dares tell the Seniors what to expect will be punished with a federal investigation.

Bunning, is absolutely right: the health care bill should be put on line for citizens to read it before our elected officials vote on it.

According to the Washington Examiner, only one Democrat, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark, voted with Bunning. All the other Democrats essentially voted to hide the bill from the American people. So much for transparency.

Baucus's excuse is most amusing, given the Democrats' superiority on all things related to computer technology. After all, Al Gore invented the Internet, and President Barack Obama is the first president to refuse to give up his Blackberry. And recall how Democrats mocked Sen. John McCain for not being more proficient with a computer.

Nonetheless, Baucus claims -- with a straight face -- that it will take his staff two weeks to post the bill online. (Memo to Baucus: maybe you can get some of your federal investigators to help.)
Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., himself admitted that “This probably sounds a little crazy to some people that we are voting on something before we have seen legislative language.” Indeed.

Baucus's refusal to let citizens from around the country read the bill that will bankrupt our country and ruin our health care system -- it's almost as surprising as Iran having a second secret nuclear reactor.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

While McConnell Protected Free Speech, Bunning Snored

Give credit to Sen. Jim Bunning, who showed up the the Senate Finance Committee and condemned Sen. Max Baucus's latest iteration of Obamacare.

Unfortunately, Bunning then dozed off. Literally. Dana Milbank writes for the Washington Post,

"I do not support a government takeover of the health-care system," he [Bunning] railed. The proposal "confiscates more money from the taxpayers," he went on. "It tramples on American freedom and liberties."

After this vigorous display of open-mindedness, Bunning was spent. About an hour later, spectators noticed that the senator, who had been resting his chin in his hand, had fallen fast asleep. As giggles rippled through the chamber, an aide shook Bunning, who woke with a start.

Sen. Bunning has earned the right to take all the naps he wants, but it would be best if he wait until his successor is sworn in.

H/t: National Review

ABC News On McConnell Condemning Dem's Gag Order of Humana

ABC World News Tonight has a segment on McConnell's statement on the Senate floor, in which he called out Sen. Max Baucus and the Obama administration for placing a gag order on Humana.
It is rare to see McConnell so angry, and he has good right. As ABC notes, by silencing Humana from communicating with its subscribers about pending legislation, the Democrats have likely violated the first amendment.

ABC also points out that the substance of the Humana mailing at issue is true: current members of Medicare Advantage would see their benefits cut under the Baucus bill; that's one of the ways in which Democrats will attempt to pay for Obamacare.

Though ABC did not air it, in yesterday's hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed that approximately half of all benefits under Medicare Advantage would be cut:

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-WY): “So, Approximately Half Of The Additional Benefit Would Be Lost To Those Current Medicare Advantage Policy Holders?” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf: “For Those Who Would Be Enrolled Otherwise Under Current Law, Yes.”

Humana had the right -- and arguably the duty -- to inform its customers of how this proposed legislation will affect them. However, as the object of a heavily regulated industry, it is difficult for Humana to protect its free speech rights. If the ACLU really believes in free speech for everyone, it should bring suit on behalf of Humana's subscribers. And if the ACLU is too afraid to stand up to its liberal special interests, then a conservative public interest group needs to step up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

McConnell Calls Out Baucus's Intimidation of Humana

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has always been a stalwart defender of free speech, and so it was appropriate for him to condemn the federal "investigation" of Humana -- an attempt to intimidate Humana into silence about the ramifications of Obamacare.

McConnell made the following remarks on the floor of the Senate just a few minutes ago:

“I rise to call my colleagues’ attention to a disturbing development in the health care debate.

“A colleague of ours has called for an investigation into a major health care company because this company informed its customers of its concerns about health care legislation that this colleague of ours introduced.

“As a result, the federal government has now told all companies that provide Medicare Advantage to seniors to stop communicating with their clients about the effects of that legislation — even telling them what they can and cannot post on their websites. This gag order, enforced through an agency of the federal government at the request of a Senator, is wrong.

“It started when a company based in my hometown of Louisville — Humana — had the temerity, in the eyes of some of our colleagues, to explain to its customers that if Medicare Advantage is cut, as the chairman’s mark requires, it may have to reduce benefits, which, of course, is a common sense conclusion.

“Mr. President, this is America: Citizens, either as individuals or grouped together in companies, have a fundamental right to talk about legislation they favor or oppose. That is the core of the First Amendment’s protections on speech. Unfortunately, this is part of a troubling trend of efforts to dismiss the concerns raised by the American people over the past few months.

“Over the summer, we saw American citizens who raised concerns about the health care proposals before Congress dismissed as ‘un-American’ by leaders in Congress. That’s bad enough, but using the full weight of the federal government’s enforcement powers to stifle free speech should trouble all Americans — and all of us — even more.

“We cannot allow government officials to target individuals or companies because they do not like what they have to say.

"This latest effort to squelch free speech raises several serious questions:

“Is this what we have come to as a country — that an individual or company can no longer factually advocate their position on an incredibly important public policy issue?

Shouldn’t customers have a right to know the potential impact of a Congressional action?

“Is this what we believe as a Senate — that this body should debate a trillion-dollar health care bill that affects every American while using the powerful arm of government to shut down speech?

“Is this how citizens and companies can expect to be treated if health reform passes? That any health provider that disagrees with a powerful Senator will be subject to an investigation and a gag order?

“How is this any different than what the Washington Post and New York Times have done in lobbying for a reporter shield law? Would we stand by if the Judiciary Committee asked the FBI to investigate the media for taking positions on pending legislation we don’t agree with? Of course not.

Humana is headquartered in my hometown of Louisville, and yes, I care deeply about its 8,000 employees in Kentucky. But this gag order now applies to all Medicare Advantage providers.

“I would remind my colleagues that I have spent my career defending the First Amendment rights of people to criticize their elected officials, including me. I would make the same argument if this were a company based in San Francisco or Helena or Chicago.

“The right to free speech is at the core of our democracy. Free citizens have a First Amendment right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. This gag order on companies like Humana and those in all our states, in my view, is a clear violation of that right. It’s wrong.

“Employers that warn their customers about the effects of legislation aren’t the ones who should be getting warnings here. Senators who threaten Americans’ First Amendment rights are.”

McConnell is correct to highlight two important points. First, political speech is at the core of what the first amendment protects. Second, this is an abuse of power by the federal government aimed to intimidate anyone who would dare criticize it.

Bill Farish Is Right On Slots

I went to the first day of Keeneland's Yearling sale last week, and it was a blood bath. Not a single horse sold for a million dollars. Most final bids did not meet the minimum reserve; many did not even cover the cost of the stud fee.

Kentucky's horse industry is dying, and our leadership in Frankfort -- including Sen. Dave Williams -- is preventing the solution: video lottery terminals at the tracks.

Joe Arnold links up a letter from Bill Farish that underscores the unity within the horse industry on the need for VLTs:

The horse industry is as united as it has never been in the past. Opponents of VLTs have always relied on our discord to defeat the efforts to compete on a level playing field. Now that the industry has formed a united front, opponents seek to break us apart again. They will be unsuccessful in their efforts to do so. Kentucky breeders recognize that we must have a healthy horse economy in this state in order to run successful breeding operations. A healthy horse economy includes buyers willing to invest in our product and take their investment to the racetracks in the hopes of recouping their investment. Owners recognize that they need healthy racetracks offering good purses, so that they can attempt to win back some of their initial investment. Racetrack operators understand that they need breeders to produce and owners to race their horses at their tracks.

We are all in this together, and the attempt to break us into factions is disheartening. A fractured industry cannot survive, and a failed horse industry would be catastrophic for Kentucky's economy. Sadly, Sen. Williams seems less concerned about helping our industry, and more concerned about maintaining control over his Senate fiefdom.

Farish also has harsh words for Williams:

Sen. Williams and several members of his caucus are currently advocating that the government should stand in the way of our signature industry, and prevent it from being able to compete. Government interference with Kentucky businesses and job creation does not sound like a Republican philosophy I am familiar with. But regardless, saving 100,000 jobs and the industry that identifies our state all over the world does not rest in the domain of any political party. It should be the stated goal of all Kentuckians--regardless of political registration.

Well said, Mr. Farish.

Dems Censor Humana

In an affront to the first amendment, the Obama Administration is investigating Humana for writing to alert its subscribers as to how Obamacare could affect their benefits.

Notwithstanding that corporations have first amendment rights, the Obama Administration -- urged on by Sen. Max Baucus -- is "investigating" whether Humana engaged in "scare tactics."

The administration that was supposed to be about transparency does not want Medicare recipients to receive any information that contradicts the White House talking points. Therefore, it has cut off the insured from receiving Humana's perspective on the proposed health care legislation -- an important source of information for those customers.

I'm not holding my breath for the ACLU to come to Humana's rescue from this government censorship. Nor do I expect the administration and Sen. Baucus to start scrutinizing -- and censoring -- those letters that labor unions write to their members, urging them to contact their members of Congress in favor of Obamacare. This is viewpoint discrimination, pure and simple.


The Mail Online (via Hot Air) has one piece that will provoke two nightmares.

First, new intelligence about a head of state visit that took place during the Clinton administration:

Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin got so drunk during a visit to Washington that he was found standing outside the White House in his underpants trying to hail a cab to go and buy a pizza.

The drunken behaviour of Yeltsin, who was known for his fondness for vodka and died two years ago aged 76, were revealed by former US president Bill Clinton.


Clinton, who is no stranger to indiscretions of his own, sat down with historian Taylor Branch to give an "oral history" of his presidency.

Clinton always deed have a sense of irony.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Medvedev Praises Obama

Russian President Dimitri Medvedev praised President Barack Obama's decision to renege on America's promise to help our Eastern European allies with missile defense. Medvedev called Obama' move "responsible."

Obama promised that if elected, he'd make America popular again with the nations of the world. And he has succeeded with Russia. As for the former -- and future -- captive nations of the Eastern Block, not so much.

McConnell Reacts to Obama Jettisoning Missile Defense

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell condemned the Obama administration's for abandoning America's promise to place a missile defense system in Eastern Europe:

The administration’s decision to abandon an important missile defense program for the defense of NATO and our allies in Poland and the Czech Republic, in my view, is both shortsighted and harmful to our long-term security interests. We must not turn our backs on two loyal allies in the War on Terror. Further, the administration has secured no apparent commitment from the Russians to work with us to reduce either the missile or nuclear threat from Iran. More troubling will be if the administration has made these concessions to Russia in pursuit of expediting ill-considered arms control deals.

Obama's decision will embolden Russia -- as if Vladimir Putin needed any encouragement. And it breaks America's word to our allies. This is the Carter administration all over again.

Thank you Mr. Obama...

Conservative's period of gloom and despair over Barack Obama's election are giving way to feelings of hope and optimism. Thanks to Mr. Obama,it looks like there may be a significant shift of power back to the other side of the aisle in the 2010 elections. there is no room for complacency, and there will be much tough campaigning between now and then, but conservatives should take heart that real Hope and Change may be on its way.

If you were to go into a laboratory to create the perfect foil for conservative ideals and values, it would be Barack Obama. In him the conservative movement has received a wonderful gift. He has forced conservatives to get back to their ideological roots, to return to the fundamentals of the cause and to more clearly articulate their divergence from liberalism.

And no, conservatives are not racists. There are hundreds of African-American men and women in this country that would make great Presidents. Unfortunately, Barack Obama is not one of them. Levying charges of racism for criticizing him is a cheap shot and an intellectual cop out.

This is a center/right country. There are those on the fringe, but the majority of Americans are somewhere right of center. The main reason that Barack Obama was elected was that he was not George Bush. He was elected by Democrats, Independents and Republicans that had some reservations about his politics and associations, but felt that those were outweighed by his promise of "hope and change".

Many of these folks have now discovered that they made a mistake. Barack Obama is off the scale to the left. Besides the fact that he is apparently in over his head from a managerial standpoint, most of his policies and ideas are outlandish. From healthcare reform to cap and trade to a host of others, people are beginning to understand that his policies will be a disaster for the working men and women of this country. If you are filthy rich or dirt poor, you may survive Obama's schemes. If you are anything in between these two extremes, you are in trouble.

Conservatives will not have to spend as much money next year coming up with clever campaign ads, all they will have to do is show clips of Barack Obama. So, thank you Mr. Obama. Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Little Feminist Outrage, Please

The citizen journalist expose of ACORN has revealed that the liberal front of "Community Organizers" is no friend to women. ACORN workers failed to condemn the objectification of women through prostitution. To the contrary, ACORN employees advised how to evade the tax and housing laws to allow a pimp to maximize his profits through illegal government subsidies.

Even worse, ACORN workers expressed no shock, no qualms about the importation of illegal immigrants, including children, to perform sex acts that could include abuse. That is, the ACORN employee confronted the possibility of conduct that was not just prostitution but a form of enslavement.

Where are the feminists? Why are they not rising up to condemn ACORN's willingness to aid and abet the exploitation of women and young girls?

Bin Laden Plugs Jimmy Carter's Book

Former President Jimmy Carter's anti-Semitic rant against Israel received a thumb's up from Osama bin Laden. It should be noted that Carter published his book a year and a half ago; apparently Amazon's shipping to the caves of the Khyber Pass is backlogged.

Here's how the New York Times reviewed Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” Carter

simply offers a narrative that is largely unsympathetic to Israel. Israeli bad faith fills the pages. Hollow statements by Israel’s enemies are presented without comment. Broader regional developments go largely unexamined. In other words, whether or not Carter is right that most Americans have a distorted view of the conflict, his contribution is to offer a distortion of his own.

It is a rare thing when the Paper of Record pans America's Worst President. Fortunately for Carter, bin Laden -- who has more followers than the Times has readers -- chose to "help" book sales. Here's the Times on bin Laden's review of Carter's book:

While the voice on the tape does not mention this book by name, it calls on Americans to “read what your former president, Carter, wrote regarding Israeli racism against our people in Palestine,” in a characterization of the book that goes beyond Mr. Carter’s own language.

President Barack Obama must be filled with Hope that bin Laden does not decide to endorse Obama's two books.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sen. Cornyn Gives GOP Weekly Address

Sen. John Cornyn gave the Republicans Weekly Address. He discussed Afghanistan and health care reform.

His remarks in support of President Barack Obama as our Commander-in-Chief -- assuring Obama of Republican support to win the war on terror in Afghanistan -- contrast with the limp support that Obama receives from his own party (not to mention the lack of support Democrats gave the Bush administration).

“The terrorists who attacked us on 9-11 enjoyed safe haven in Afghanistan – and that’s why winning in Afghanistan remains so important.

“The Afghan people, like the American people, are tired of war. But they do not want their country returned to the control of religious extremists. And neither do we.

“President Obama has renewed America’s commitment to Afghanistan. He has the right civilian and military leadership in place. These leaders are developing a campaign plan based on the successful ‘surge’ strategy that worked in Iraq.

“Our troops and their commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve broad bipartisan support. And they will have it.

“Republicans will support the deployment of additional troops – if requested by our commanders – as well as the resources our troops need to be successful as they attempt to deny safe haven to al Qaeda. Republicans will not waver in our support for our forces in the field or President Obama as he fulfills his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people.

“On Afghanistan, President Obama has shown the kind of leadership he promised during the campaign – he’s built consensus and earned bipartisan support.

On the issue of health care, Cornyn expressed disappointment over the administration's unwillingness to listen to Republican ideas or the concerns of the American people:

“At town halls and public events across the nation, the American people are asking the right questions about health care reform. Theyre asking:

- How can Washington lower health care costs by spending trillions of dollars more over the next ten years?

- How can Washington cut $500 billion from Medicare without reducing benefits for seniors?

- And how can a new government plan keep insurers honest when our existing entitlement programs are riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse?

“The President told us Wednesday night that ‘there remain some significant details to be ironed out.’ He wasn’t kidding.

“The most significant detail is the cost of his plan – and its impact on our long-term budget deficit. When you start counting in 2013, the first full year of implementation, the cost of the House bill comes to about $2.4 trillion over 10 years, according to the Senate Budget Committee.

“So instead of a top-down plan that will bust the budget, President Obama should work with Republicans on a bottom-up solution that the American people can support.

“Republicans want to save Medicare and Medicaid from bankruptcy by offering more choices to beneficiaries and by making providers compete for their business. Republicans want to expand access and lower the costs of private insurance by expanding competition at the state level. Republicans also want common-sense medical liability reform that eliminates junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. We need to put an end to jackpot justice and frivolous lawsuits, as well as the practice of defensive medicine.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dr. Dan Practices On The Gov. & Mrs. Gov.

Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Senator wannabe Dr. Dan Mongiardo sharpened his medical skills by giving a flu shot to Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, according to WHAS11.

Beshear places a lot of trust in the guy who would become governor in the event that Beshear becomes, um, incapacitated.

Dr. Dan will have plenty of time to practice medicine after the Democratic primary.

September 11, 2009

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell spoke today to honor the victims of Flight 93 who perished eight years ago today.

“It is an honor to be here today with family members of the brave heroes of Flight 93, whose important place in history will now be forever memorialized here.

“We will never forget their sacrifice, nor the sacrifices of so many others on that sad day.

“In the life of a nation, some moments are worth remembering. Others are impossible to forget. September 11, 2001, is both. With each passing year, the day becomes more distant, but the memories do not.

“Some remember a warm smile, a last goodbye, a wave from the departure gate, the color of a dress or a tie.

“Others remember hearing about a friend, or the friend of a friend, and contemplating the horrible details. And all of us remember exactly where we were the moment we realized what had happened, and exactly what we did on that day eight years ago.

“For many of us here, we did the same thing we’re doing now. We stood together here at the Capitol to show our solidarity with one another, with the victims, and with the rest of a nation stunned but not silenced by the face of evil. Our hearts were broken, but our spirits were not. And united in purpose, we resolved to confront those who had done these things, even as we comforted the families and friends of those to whom they were done.

“Eight years later, that confrontation continues. In far-off places, brave Americans are still inspired by the sacrifices of the victims of 9/11. Today, we also honor them.

“We will never forget those who died on September 11th, 2001, — those whose lives ended in a flash, or those who gave their lives that day so that others might live.

“All of these people hold a permanent place in our hearts, and in the story of our nation. That story is still unfolding. But we know the theme. It’s the same today as it always was: ordinary men and women pursuing their dreams, coming together in moments of crisis with the kind of heroism and sacrifice that people will speak of for centuries. Today we remember the men and women of 9/11 knowing that they will never be forgotten.”

God bless the family of these patriots.

The President should not be called a liar, but.....

First, let it be said that Joe Wilson's outburst at the President's address to congress was totally inappropriate. He said "You're lying!" in reference to the issue of insuring illegal aliens under the proposed healthcare reform. Such behavior simply cannot be tolerated by a representative in such a venue.

That being said, it must also be pointed out that because Barack Obama says something, that does not automatically make it true. He can say that illegals won't be insured, that the plan won't add to the deficit or that there will be no "death panels", but that does not mean that they are true statements.

Technically, there is language in HR 3200 that says no illegal aliens will receive benefits under the bill. Practically, there are many ways that they will be able to gain benefits.

The statement that the plan will not add to the deficit is laughable. It will add billions to the deficit and no honest, rational human being can say otherwise with a straight face (except for Barack Obama, I guess)

As to "death panels", no, there won't be panels of grim reapers in black robes telling Mrs. Smith that it is time to die. There will be well groomed, efficient bureaucrats effectively making the same rationing decisions in much more subtle and nuanced ways.

Technically, you cannot call the President a liar, because everything he talked about is prospective. Still, any thinking person can read HR 3200 and see clearly that if it is passed, much of what the President said will prove to be false. At that point, we still won't call him a liar, just gravely mistaken.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Too Little, Too Late

An entire nation waited and waited and waited for President Barack Obama to begin his speech -- much like we will wait for health care if 30 - 45 million people are suddenly added to the system. We received no apology or explanation for the delay.

And we received little in the way of specifics. The notion that Democrats' health care plan will not add one dime to the deficit is laughable. Are we really to believe that there is $ 900 billion in waste and abuse? There must be a lot of Medicare Cheats shaking in their hospital gowns today, a lot of underemployed bureaucrats quaking in their cubicles.

The Democrats' plan to pay for their plan assumes that so many of the governments' own employees are useless, and so many Medicare recipients are swindlers, that those people waste and abuse nearly a trillion dollars. It is an insult not just to the groups singled out but to the intelligence of the American people.

Now as for the bozo who called the president a liar in the middle of his speech, shame on you. Somebody, challenge this guy to a primary. The Big Tent is not big enough for that rudeness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

NRCC Welcomes Back Dems

The National Republican Congressional Committee has a new video that features Congressman John Yarmuth and colleagues at the summer town halls. Yarmuth gets included for his now viral clip: "The question is, how are we going to pay for it? I don't kow."

In fairness to Yarmuth, he clarified in a letter to the Courier-Journal that he does not know how we are going to pay for the sum total of the reckless spending that culminates in the deficit.

But when it comes to health care, he does know how to pay for it: by socking it to the rich. The problem with Yarmuth's plan is that he defines rich as those making more than $500,000. Many small businesses file as individuals. A business that makes $500,000 is big enough to keep a few people employed. It is not big enough to pay for nationalized health care. Indeed, forcing these business to pay any more taxes or endure any more government regulation will just worsen unemployment.

One other point on the NRCC video. It seems clear that many of the angry voters are conservative. It would be a mistake, however, for the party to assume that because they are hostile to the Democrats' plan that these people are Republican. Whether these people vote Republican will depend on whether the Republican party returns to and adheres to conservative principles.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Get Well, Rand Paul

WHAS is reporting that U.S. Senate hopeful Dr. Rand Paul has been hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery. We add our prayers that he gets well soon.

What Kentucky Will Pay For Cap and Tax

Most of us who do not work in the energy industry understand in general terms that the Democrats' Waxman-Markey energy plan,"Cap and Trade," will raise our energy costs. Here are some specifics from Americans For Tax Reform on what Kentuckians will pay -- and what we will lose -- if this becomes law:

According to a study by Karen Campbell, Ph.D. and David Kreutzer, Ph.D. at the Heritage Foundation, Kentucky will suffer the following losses in 2012 as a result of Cap and Tax:
  • A decline in Gross State Product of -$1,811,910,000
  • Total Personal Income Loss of -$2,313,260,000
  • Non-Farm Job losses of -21,942
An update to the Heritage Foundation’s study further shows an:
  • Increase in Electricity Prices from 2012-2035 of $567.51 per household.
  • Increase in Gas Prices from 2012-2035 of $0.65 per gallon.

Kentucky would lose billions of dollars and 20,000 plus non-farm jobs. Our state is too poor and too small to take that kind of a hit. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about how Cap and Tax would affect Kentucky is that unlike a natural disaster, this is a disaster that a Democratic Congress and Administration would inflict on us. Thankfully, this is a disaster that we can avert.

Trey Grayson On Israel

Recently I raised the issue of how the candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate view America's relationship with Israel. Both Dr. Rand Paul and Secretary of State Trey Grayson favor low taxes, limited government and an end to the profligate spending that fuels our deficits. That economic conservatism is necessary to win the GOP primary, but it is not, in my view sufficient. As voters, we must understand how the candidates view foreign policy, including our alliance with Israel as Iran develops its nuclear weapons.

Dr. Rand Paul's campaign responded by stating that he supports Israel: "Israel is a friend of America, he supports all allies with the United States." His statement was unequivocal but bereft of nuance or details. It's early in the campaign, and we look forward to hearing more from him on this and other issues.

Trey Grayson responded by noting that he has been to Israel twice and has written extensively about his travels. Grayson's "Face Book" friends received a contemporaneous diary of his 2008 trip to Israel with AIPAC. Plainly, Grayson has spent considerable time researching and reflecting on the Mid-East. The diary is 20 pages and makes for fascinating reading; his campaign should include it on his website.

Below is an excerpt of his 2008 diary, unedited for typos and grammatical errors -- just his raw reaction to what he saw in Gaza:

This part of the country (or at least the part closer to Gaza) reminds me of Kentucky. It has
rolling hills and is very agricultural. . . .Like many of the small towns in Kentucky, they are struggling with a lack of industry. Of course, there is one big difference. In Kentucky, our farmers and factory workers don't need to be on the look out for rocket and mortar fire from their neighbors.

I want to give you some background on Gaza itself. Gaza is a heavily populated area with 1.5 million residents squeezed into a small urban area on the Mediterranean Sea. We visited a lookout point near a
reservoir. We were outside of sniper range but inside of rocket range. In fact, there was scarring along the wall of the reservoir from a Qassam rocket that landed only a few hundred feet from where we
were. There was an older outlook closer to Gaza, but some Canadian visitors were shot at by snipers. As a result, no one goes to that lookout anymore.

From the lookout, you can see Israeli spy balloons. There also unmanned drones that fly around point cameras into Gaza. Quite often, Israel cameras will see terrorists using children as human shields
near the rocket launcher, or shooting the rockets from civilian areas, or both, to deter Israel from retaliating.

Prior to Israel's 2005 unilateral disengagement from Gaza (more on that in a second) 6,000 Israelis lived in settlements on Gaza. There were also 20-30,000 IDF troops in and around Gaza. After
disengagement, all of the settlers were moved out and their homes were bulldozed by Israel (so the Palestinians could build what they wanted on the land), and all troops withdrew to the borders. Israel still
sells power and fuel to the area, and it controls the borders tightly. This is called "disengagement". (Of course, the terrorists use the electricity to build rockets that they then fire at the Israeli power
plant that produces the electricity for Gaza residents as well as the southern third of Israel, but I am getting ahead of myself.)

Originally, the area was controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and this was viewed as a test for the unilateralism theory championed by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The idea was that, absent a strong
Palestinian government or authority with which to negotiate, Israel would set its own borders and hope that the Palestinians would be able to govern themselves and that this was the best way to achieve peace.
The hope was that this would help to reduce the suicide bombers and rocket attacks by removing Israeli control over the area. After all, this was rationale the Palestinians cited for such attacks.

Five days after disengagement, the first Qassam rockets fell on Israeli soil, even before Hamas forcibly took control of Gaza in 2006. When Hamas took control, it has only worsened. In fact, until last week's cease-fire, rockets were fired almost daily. When a rocket is fired, bomb sirens start to sound, giving you about 20 second at most to get to seek shelter

Qassam rockets are more or less hand made using agricultural products that everyone has as explosive materials. They have essentially no accuracy, which isn't a big deal for someone wanting to inflict terror
and have about a ten-mile range.

Israel erected a fence-only security barrier (no solid walls) along the border in 1994 to little protests. It worked well, with almost no penetration by suicide bombers. But the barrier doesn't stop snipers or rockets.

Grayson described meeting a young Israeli mother who had lived in Gaza. What she told him so disturbed him that it kept him awake at night:

At the lookout, we met with a woman named Tamar. She has a PhD and used to live in a settlement with her husband two children (both boys). She liked the settlement. It had good schools, was quite safe
and a good quiet place to live. The Israelis and Palestinians usually lived in harmony and had joint festivals. After disengagement, she and her family moved to Kibbutz Carmia, just a few miles outside of
Gaza. In theory, unlike most residents in the areas around Gaza, she and her family could move because they are professionals. They choose not to (more below).

Here are a few of Tamar's stories:

While in Gaza, before disengagement but after the Second Intifada started, the daughter of her next door neighbor daughter was murdered by terrorist. She and her boyfriend where shot while walking down a
street. The girl tried to hide behind a bush, but the terrorists tracked her down and shot her several more times until they were sure she was dead.

Also, while in Gaza, her husband slept with rifle next to bed, and they had a room with all concrete rooms, a "safe place". When the moved to Carmia, they moved to a trailer provided by the Israeli
government. Once they moved in, her son started patting down the walls, Tamar was wondering what he was doing. Once he had patted all the walls, he turned to her and said Mom, there is no safe place here.
The walls are too thin.

Even though she moved out of Gaza, because of the fear of rocket attacks, Tamar can't go to bathroom when the kids are home. She won't be able to get out in time and get the kids to the bomb shelter. She
has to give her children baths, so she will be near them if the bomb sirens go off. She has to shut off the faucet when soaping so she can hear the alarms. Her older son's epilepsy has gotten worse since

One day, she was driving with her two children and the bomb sirens started sounding. Knowing she didn't have enough time to get out of the car, unbuckle the kids and get to a shelter in the twenty or so
seconds that you have once the siren sounds, she instead put her car in park, unbuckled her own belt and covered up her kids to shield them, thus exposing herself. Her younger son, who might have been four at the time, asked her why she did that. She tried to deflect by saying she loved her sons and just wanted to give them a hug. He wouldn't buy it, and said, "I know why you did that. Don't lay over
me next time."

When she and her husband were deciding whether to move away from Qassam range, her younger son (age seven) urged them to stay. He said, Mom, when we moved out of Gaza they moved in. If we moved out the kibbutz, they will move there. If we move to Jerusalem, they will try to force us out. So let's stay and fight. That's what they did.

After speaking with Tamar, we drove through the town of Sderot, which has been the victim of thousands of rocket attacks over the past few years. Several bus stops had concrete bomb shelters. The town looked
pretty much like any other small town in Kentucky, but the residents have a very different life. The residents are growing more and more angry with the Israeli government for not doing more to help their
plight. They feel like the government doesn't care about the folks in the rural areas as much anyway, and if rockets were falling closer to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, more would be done.

Most Israelis know that military action is imminent. The status quo cannot be maintained. They know that many IDF soldiers will die. And while many Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists will die, so will
many civilians. And the international community will be blame
Israel for those deaths. If only those "experts" could talk to Tamar.

Grayson's travels included visits to the Knesset, meetings with people who briefed President Barack Obama on his trip to Israel and tours of ancient archaeological sites. When Grayson describes his visits to the Gethsemane and other places pivotal to Christianity, he conveys the spiritual significance to him personally.

It is therefore fitting that Grayson ends his travelogue to Israel by quoting Psalm 122: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."