Saturday, February 28, 2009

Is Bunning the GOP's Burris?

Talk about embarrassing. In today's Chicago Tribune James Oliphant offered this unflattering analogy:

And you thought Democrats had a problem with Roland Burris?

Burris, the freshman senator from Illinois, has something in common with Jim Bunning, the irascible Republican senator from Kentucky. Their parties seem inclined to move on without them—if only they would get out of the way.

Friday, February 27, 2009

He's Still Preoccupied With 198 . . 4

And now for the Democrats' feature Orwellian attraction, setting out the case for why President Bush is guilty of war crimes, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) presents:

February 26, 2009

The hearing on “Getting to the Truth Through a Nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry” scheduled by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. will take place in Room 106 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building rather than the previously scheduled room of SD-226.

By order of the Chairman

Witness List

Hearing before the
Senate Judiciary Committee


“Getting to the Truth Through a Nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 106
10:00 a.m.

Thomas Pickering
Vice Chairman
Hills & Company, International Consultants
Washington, D.C.

Retired Vice Admiral Lee Gunn
Institute of Public Research at The CNA Corporation
Arlington, VA

John Farmer
Arsenault, Whipple, Farmer, Fasset and Azzarello
Chatham, NJ

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Better Late Than Never

President Barack Obama dismisses calls to scale back his massive plan to grow the government by asserting that Republicans are repeating the same old rhetoric.

Here's the difference. President George Bush did not govern as a fiscal conservative. He failed to veto one porker after the next. (The highway bill and the energy bill spring to mind as particularly egregious examples.)

Congressional Republicans went along for the spending spree, but it's hard to exercise discipline when daddy says you don't have to do your chores. Consequently, Republicans lost the trust of a sizable portion of the electorate. Having failed to govern like conservatives, Republicans watched our numbers erode -- the logical consequence of abandoning our principles.

It is therefore heartening to hear Congressional Republicans say "enough" to Obama's $3.55 trillion budget.

Reuters quotes Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell:

"I have serious concerns with this budget, which demands hard-working American families and job creators turn over more of their hard-earned money to the government to pay for unprecedented spending increases."

Likewise for other key Republicans:

"I think we just ought to admit we're broke. We can't continue to pile debt on the backs of our kids and grandkids," said House Republican Leader John Boehner.

Senator Judd Gregg, who recently withdrew as Obama's nominee to head the Commerce Department, citing differences over policy, offered a stinging rebuke of the president's budget plan.

"The budget outline shows a half-hearted attempt to reduce the trillion-dollar deficits we face, largely through more tax hikes that will only hurt the economy, when it should take this opportunity to exercise aggressive spending restraint," said Gregg, the top Republican on the Budget Committee.

And how great is it to have Gregg in the Senate! If Obama wants to raid any more Republicans for his cabinet, may we suggest Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins or Arlen Specter?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jindal's Response

He is the future of the Republican Party. Here are excerpts from the prepared remarks of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to President Barack Obama's address to Congress:

“As I grew up, my mom and dad taught me the values that attracted them to this country - and they instilled in me an immigrant’s wonder at the greatness of America. As a child, I remember going to the grocery store with my dad. Growing up in India, he had seen extreme poverty. And as we walked through the aisles, looking at the endless variety on the shelves, he would tell me: ‘Bobby, Americans can do anything.’ I still believe that to this day.

“Republicans are ready to work with the new President to provide those solutions. Here in my state of Louisiana, we don’t care what party you belong to if you have good ideas to make life better for our people. We need more of that attitude from both Democrats and Republicans in our nation’s capital. All of us want our economy to recover and our nation to prosper. So where we agree, Republicans must be the President’s strongest partners. And where we disagree, Republicans have a responsibility to be candid and offer better ideas for a path forward.

“The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirit of our citizens.

“To solve our current problems, Washington must lead. But the way to lead is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians. The way to lead is by empowering you - the American people. Because we believe that Americans can do anything.

“Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy. What it will do is grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt. Who among us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have, on things we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It’s irresponsible. And it’s no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs, or build a prosperous future for our children.

“In recent years, these distinctions in philosophy became less clear - because our party got away from its principles. You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline, and personal responsibility. Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Republicans lost your trust - and rightly so.

“A few weeks ago, the President warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said ‘we may not be able to reverse.’ Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don’t let anyone tell you that we cannot recover - or that America’s best days are behind her.”

"Contankerous Kentuckian" Bunning: Support Me Or I Will Sue You!

Senator Bunning speaks curiouser and curiouser every day. Today's twist, as reported by

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he would sue the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) if it recruited a primary challenger against him.
. . . .
Committee officials last week met with Kentucky Senate President David Williams, who is exploring a challenge to Bunning.

Bunning threatened to sue the committee if it supported Williams or any other challenger.
“I would have a suit against the NRSC if they did that,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“Support of incumbents is the only reason for [the NRSC’s] existence,” Bunning added. “So if they recruited someone and supported them in a primary against me, I would be able to sue them because they’re not following their bylaws.”

Cornyn said Monday that the NRSC would support Bunning’s reelection bid, but that failed to appease the cantankerous Kentuckian.

“I don’t believe anything John Cornyn says. I’ve had miscommunications with John Cornyn from, I guess, the first week of this current session of the Senate,” Bunning stormed to the Courier-Journal. “He either doesn’t understand English or he doesn’t understand direct: ‘I’m going to run,’ which I said to him in the cloakroom of our chamber.”

Taxpayer-Funded Democrat Propaganda From Steny Hoyer

Another example from today's emails of taxpayer-funded "leadership" from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer:

From: Majority Leader Press <>
Date: February 24, 2009 11:53:58 AM CST
Subject: Getting Our Fiscal House in Order

February 24, 2009

Getting Our Fiscal House in Order

President Obama’s Honest, Responsible Budget WillSet Nation on Path to Sustainable Fiscal Future

When President Obama took office just over a month ago, he inherited President Bush’s record deficits, debt and an economy in shambles. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 59 percent of Americans are "very concerned” about the outrageous budget deficit accumulated over recent years. To address the concerns of all Americans and begin the long process of repairing the damage done, Congressional Democrats are working with President Obama to ensure that we continue to make the tough choices necessary to handle the challenges facing our nation and put us back on a fiscally sustainable path.

Read more on how Democrats plan to make the tough decisions necessary to set our country on a path to a sustainable fiscal future.


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Taxpayers Pay For House Democrats' Partisan Spin

Here's a "non-political information piece" emailed today by the House Majority Leader, Democrat Steny Hoyer -- written and distributed with taxpayer money, of course:

From: Majority Leader Press <>
Date: February 24, 2009 11:27:51 AM CST
Subject: You Can’t Spell “Earmark” Without an “R”

February 24, 2009

You Can’t Spell “Earmark” Without an “R”
While Republicans Try to Remake Themselves as the Party of Fiscal
Discipline, Their History of Out-of-Control Spending Proves Otherwise

As the House begins debate on the FY09 Consolidated Appropriations Act this week, Republicans are continuing to try to sweep their history under the rug and convince the American people that they are committed to fiscal responsibility. But their record on earmarks, and the amount of earmarks contained in the omnibus appropriations bill make it clear that Republicans are just using this as another political ploy.

Read more about how Republicans have distorted their poor record on fiscal responsibility, while Democrats continue to make significant reforms.


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Dude, You Offended My Grandma

A group of 13-year old boys were playing with my son a few days ago when one boy's father came and spoke quietly to him. The boy burst into tears and left with his dad. My son later informed me that this child's grandmother had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

That's the same disease that our Junior Senator Jim Bunning announced would kill Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg within nine months.

Bunning has now apologized "if" (if!) he offended Justice Ginsburg.

No word yet on whether he will apologize to the thousands of people battling pancreatic cancer, or their families and friends "if" they, too, were offended. Bunning, however, did something much worse than offend: he stole hope from those who need it the most.

Somebody, anybody needs to challenge Bunning in the primary if he persists on running for a third term. It would be an act of mercy not just to Kentucky and the Republican party but to Bunning himself. Bunning's premature announcement of Ginsburg's imminent demise comes just as he's gearing up; it's the warm-up of a campaign few can bear to watch. Somebody, please spare us from what he might say next.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Senator Bunning, Spellcheck Please! provides this update to the story below regarding Senator Bunning's inconsiderate remark concerning Justice Ginsburg's cancer diagnosis:

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) apologized today for a remark he made over the weekend regarding Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's health.

. . . .

"I apologize if my comments offended Justice Ginsberg," Bunning stated today in a press release, which misspelled her name. "That certainly was not my intent. It is great to see her back at the Supreme Court today and I hope she recovers quickly. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family."

Senator Bunning is breaking records with his wild pitches. Not since Governor Fletcher's plane buzzed the Capitol at President Reagan's funeral has a Kentucky politician made such an embarrassing impression in Washington, D.C.

McConnell's and Bunning's Statements Provide A Study In Contrasts

Both of Kentucky's U.S. Senators made the Strategy Memo this morning:

*Sen. Mitch McConnell doesn't quite call on Roland Burris to resign. "I think the Ethics Committee can work," he told CNN. "I think in this particular instance, it ought to work quickly, and resolve these differences and make a recommendation to the full Senate."

. . . .

*Sen. Jim Bunning predicts that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will pass away this year while speaking to a local Republican dinner. "Even though she was operated on, usually nine months is the longest that anybody would live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer," Bunning said, according to the Courier Journal.

The two snippets are good examples of the differences in style between McConnell and Bunning. Whereas McConnell deftly avoids comment on a matter not directly within his power to control, Bunning makes a gratuitous statement on a matter that really is better left unsaid.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Kill The Writing Portfolio

Now that there's finally some serious discussion in Frankfort about refining CATS testing, it's time to get rid of the writing portfolio, at least as applied in elementary and middle school.

I've watched my three boys suffer through the writing portfolio required in fourth grade. It is a waste of time. It assesses nothing. It is extremely stressful for the teacher, which the students then internalize.

The writing portfolio is centered on the concept of "peer reviews." That's right, fourth graders edit the other fourth graders. This is known as the blind leading the blind. The teacher is not allowed to edit the student's work, and the portfolios stay at school. So there is little opportunity for the student to receive meaningful feedback from an adult on his writing.

It's all well and good to teach students to revise and reflect. However, spending an entire year revising and reflecting on three pieces of writing is lunacy. These are short stories and feature articles, not dissertations.

Students would be better off writing multiple pieces on a shorter turnaround throughout the the year. That would better approximate the skills they will need in the workforce. It also would reduce the stress on teachers and students if everything didn't hang on three pieces of writing. Students will learn to analyze, write and revise by repeating the exercise on a variety of topics -- not by prolonging the process to the point of torturing all involved.

Students perform better when they enjoy what they are learning and feel confident that their skills are improving. The writing portfolio makes the act of writing seem terrifying and overwhelming.

In addition, the designation of fourth grade as a portfolio year (while not assessing math in fourth grade) necessarily means that math gets little teaching time. That's the unintended consequence of the writing portfolio. The next year, fifth grade teachers are forced to play catch up to remind the students of math skills that have laid dormant during portfolio year. Students should be immersed in math and writing every year.

Students assume that their portfolios are sent off to the Wizard of Frankfort for evaluation. Not so. At the end of the year, the portfolio is scored by teachers within the same school, which certainly puts them in an awkward position. Moreover, after a year of "peer review" it's hard to know what the score really measures.

In contrast, the "on demand" portion of the CATS test (essentially an essay) assesses only what an individual student wrote unassisted. That's a meaningful gauge of a student's writing ability. It also provides ample incentive for teachers to devote the instructional time to the mechanics of good writing.

Those (few) teachers who like the portfolio should be allowed to continue teaching it, but it should not be mandated.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Deconstruct This

We knew the lefties are into deconstructionism, but check out Michael Shaw at the Huffington Post for its peculiar application to the picture above:

Regarding the photo itself, it is interesting how it reveals a polarization with the two right-wingers, with [Senate Republican Leader Mitch] McConnell and [Chief Justice John] Roberts lined up and balancing off the left half of the photo while [President] Obama and the waiter carry the other half. I'm hesitant to put too much weight on the racial split (although there was a joke going around during and right after the election -- among blacks, mostly, as far as I could tell -- that the black candidate was being brought in to clean up the white man's mess). Where there is a definitive parallel between Obama and the waiter, however, is in the way Obama -- in physically and socially extending himself to the Minority Leader -- finds himself in the catering mode.

Obama catering to the right? If only it were so.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Senator Gregg Thinks Clearly Again

This just in from the Associated Press:

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire abruptly withdrew his nomination as commerce secretary Thursday, citing "irresolvable conflicts" with President Barack Obama's handling of the economic stimulus and 2010 census.

"We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy," Gregg said in a statement released by his Senate office.

Pennies From Hodgenville

At today's Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Andy Brunhart, Deputy Director of the United States Mint, unveil the new design for the "tails" side of the Lincoln penny, which substitutes Abe's log cabin in Hodgenville for the Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln's Birthplace In Need Of A Railsplitter

Ice and winds have taken their toll on Lincoln's birthplace.

Lincoln's Ghost Is Life Of The Party

Lincoln lovers enjoy a spirited birthday party in Hodgenville.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

The statute of Abraham Lincoln, sculpted by A.A. Weinman in 1909, celebrates its centennial today in the town square of Hodgenville, Kentucky, where the 16th President was born 200 years ago today, on February 12, 1809.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get Ready To Pay The Shopping Bill

Nothing's stopping the Democrats now from going on their spending spree. According to Reuters:

U.S. Senate Republicans are not planning to try and use procedural maneuvers to delay passage of a proposed $789 billion economic stimulus bill, the party's leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said on Wednesday.

Now comes that sinking feeling that none of this is going to help the economy and our taxes will go up next year to pay for it all.

Tranche: My Favorite New Word

My day began with a national law firm's email alert, entitled "Financial markets in Crisis: TARP II -- Treasury's New Financial Stability Plan", which related that "[t]his update summarizes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's announcement regarding the Administration's plans for the second tranche of TARP funds . . .", at which point I stopped reading, I was so mesmerized by the word "tranche."

It is a word altogether fitting of the whole legislative fiasco taking place in Washington. "Tranche" is a word hardly no one uses in ordinary speech and, as a result, hardly no one knows what it means -- altogether fitting for the avalanche of federal spending that the Administration would just as soon no one know where it is going.

And "tranche" if you pronounce the "e" sounds so much like raunchy with a "t", which suggests the word is full of superfluous letters, just like the stimulus bill's hundreds of millions in pork that is not needed and, indeed, counterproductive because the future increase in federal debt and/or taxes to pay for it will crowd private investment out of the market.

"Tranche" also sounds so French, which may make up for the "Buy American" clause in the stimulus legislation that so irked our European friends, causing Obama sheepishly to order its removal.

"Tranche", in fact, sounds like it should be French for trash.

"Tranche" -- an altogether fitting word for what is being doled out these days from Washington.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Senator Collins Draws The Line At $800 Billion

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell may have Senator Susan Collins back in the Republican fold, at least until the Democrats pare the pork a bit. According to the New York Times:

. . . [I]n a sign of tough negotiations ahead, Senator Susan Collins, a Republican who helped broker the initial compromise, said she could not again vote for the measure if it stayed at the current size.

"I'm not saying what's in, what's out. I'm just saying the bottom line must be under $800 billion," she told reporters after the Senate vote.

Unbelievable. Only $800 billion added to the federal deficit apparently passes for fiscal restraint in the Obama era.

Stock Market To Obama (And Helen Thomas): We Are Not Impressed

Never before has such eloquence said so little -- that seems to be Wall Street's verdict on President Obama's first prime-time press conference held yesterday evening, as well as Treasury Secretary Geithner's press conference held this morning. The Dow thus far has fallen almost 300 points. Maybe the President should actually answer a question at the next press conference instead of giving a 10-minute non-responsive, dozer speech.

And what is it with Helen Thomas and her "alleged terrorist" questioning? One of her questions Obama actually could have answered quite easily, but even that one he dodged. Yes, Helen, al Qaida is in Pakistan.

Update: The final damage to the Dow today: -381.99.

Monday, February 9, 2009


In case you were wondering what the Democrats want Americans to eat in future debt and taxes, National Review has compiled a list of some of the ingredients in the sausage (aka stimulus legislation):

$50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
$380 million in the Senate bill for the Women, Infants and Children program
$300 million for grants to combat violence against women
$2 billion for federal child-care block grants
$6 billion for university building projects
$15 billion for boosting Pell Grant college scholarships
$4 billion for job-training programs, including $1.2 billion for "youths" up to the age of 24
$1 billion for community-development block grants
$4.2 billion for "neighborhood stabilization activities" (Think ACORN...)
$650 million for digital-TV coupons
$90 million to educate "vulnerable populations"
$15 billion for business-loss carry-backs
$145 billion for "Making Work Pay" tax credits
$83 billion for the earned income credit
$150 million for the Smithsonian
$34 million to renovate the Department of Commerce headquarters
$500 million for improvement projects for National Institutes of Health facilities
$44 million for repairs to Department of Agriculture headquarters
$350 million for Agriculture Department computers
$88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building
$448 million for constructing a new Homeland Security Department headquarters
$600 million to convert the federal auto fleet to hybrids
$450 million for NASA (carve-out for "climate-research missions")
$600 million for NOAA (carve-out for "climate modeling")
$1 billion for the Census Bureau
$89 billion for Medicaid
$30 billion for COBRA insurance extension
$36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits
$20 billion for food stamps
$4.5 billion for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
$850 million for Amtrak
$87 million for a polar icebreaking ship
$1.7 billion for the National Park System
$55 million for Historic Preservation Fund
$7.6 billion for "rural community advancement programs"$150 million for agricultural-commodity purchases
$150 million for "producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish"
$2 billion for renewable-energy research ($400 million for global-warming research)
$2 billion for a "clean coal" power plant in Illinois
$6.2 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program$3.5 billion for energy-efficiency and conservation block grants
$3.4 billion for the State Energy Program
$200 million for state and local electric-transport projects
$300 million for energy-efficient-appliance rebate programs
$400 million for hybrid cars for state and local governments
$1 billion for the manufacturing of advanced batteries
$1.5 billion for green-technology loan guarantees
$8 billion for innovative-technology loan-guarantee program$2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects
$4.5 billion for electricity grid
$79 billion for State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (Rewarding State governments that have not kept their fiscal house in order the last several years... Think California and New York)

Obama's Miscues

It took a reporter for an English newspaper, Toby Harnden of the Daily Telegraph, to articulate what is already worrying too many Americans about President Obama:

During last year's epic election campaign, Hillary Clinton said that in the White House "there is no time for on-the-job training". Joe Biden, too, remarked that the presidency was "not something that lends itself to on-the-job training". Both were aiming barbs at their then primary opponent. Mrs Clinton has since brought what she would refer to as her "lifetime of experience" to the role of Secretary of State, while Mr Biden has traded 36 years in the Senate for the vice-presidency. And the rookie they derided is President.
. . . .
The White House is now in damage-control mode. After Robert Gibbs, Mr Obama's spokesman, was lampooned by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show as a non-answering automaton in the mode of President George W Bush's press secretaries, former campaign strategist David Axelrod was dispatched to television studios to make the stimulus case. However, this was tinkering around the edges.
. . . .
In the early days of his presidency, Mr Obama has seemed passive and uncertain. Instead of drawing up his own economic stimulus bill, he sub-contracted the job to Democrats on Capitol Hill. They opted to spend money on projects for contraception and beautifying the National Mall – their doorstep – and gave Republicans an plenty of ammunition against the package.

Slipped into the small print was a "Buy America" provision that sent shock waves through capitals from Brussels to Beijing and triggered fears of trade wars and a new American protectionism. It was hard for the President to defend a bill he perhaps didn't fully support himself. .It was hard for the President to defend a bill he perhaps didn't fully support himself. He neither championed the package as imperfect but essential, nor sought to make meaningful changes to it. Instead, he attempted to charm Republican centrists with his own personality and the trappings of the White House by inviting them over for cocktails and a Super Bowl party. It didn't work. Of 219 Republicans on Capitol Hill, only three voted for the bill. Introducing a $500,000 pay cap for some Wall Street executives was empty – and possibly counter-productive – populism.
. . . .
The activists who formed the backbone of Mr Obama's election campaign appear less than energised. Few answered his call for house-party gatherings at the weekend to build support for the economic stimulus plan. Mr Obama could be forgiven a little nostalgia. Saturday Night Live gently ribbed him, imagining a national address in which he breaks off talking about economic gloom to say: "Remember election night. Grant Park in Chicago. Nice weather. Oprah. That white guy Oprah was crying on. Good times."

Governing, as Mr Obama is finding out, is not like an election campaign. Mr Bush's failures will give him some leeway and his transformative appeal remains potent. But making decisions and operating the levers of power is something completely new to him. And it shows.