Monday, June 27, 2011

She's In!

Almost Time for the McConnell - Obama Debt Chat

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will meet with President Barack Obama at 5:00 today to discuss raising the nation's debt ceiling. We won't have to wonder what McConnell's position is:  he spells it for CNN. My favorite line: "The obvious solution is for Washington to make the kind of tough choices in its own budget that millions of Americans have been forced to impose on themselves over the past two years."  

Later today, I will sit down with President Barack Obama to discuss his request to increase the nation's debt ceiling, and I will make a request of my own: What, Mr. President, are you prepared to do about the massive deficits and debt that have grown dramatically on your watch?

What Republicans want is simple: We want to cut spending now, we want to cap runaway spending in the future and we want to save our entitlements and our country from bankruptcy by requiring the nation to balance its budget. We want to finally get our economy growing again at a pace that will lead to significant job growth.

The Democrats' response has been a mystifying call for more stimulus spending and huge tax hikes on American job creators. That's not serious, and it is my hope that the president will take those off the table today so that we can have a serious discussion about our country's economic future.

The president claimed last week at a New York fundraiser that he is prepared to bring down the nation's staggeringly high deficit and debt by trillions of dollars, but rather than provide any details, he only listed the things he refuses to cut. This is a problem I hope to raise with him today.

At some point, Democrats need to realize that the reason our nation's debt has skyrocketed 35% over the past two years is that government spending is out of control.

America does not face a debt crisis because we tax too little, but because Washington spends too much. And tax hikes can't pass the Congress. Not only is there bipartisan opposition, the consequences of massive new tax hikes would be fewer jobs.

The president spoke in his weekly address Saturday about wanting to help manufacturers create jobs. But we know that raising taxes on these same manufacturers, particularly in this economy, will have the opposite effect.

The obvious solution is for Washington to make the kind of tough choices in its own budget that millions of Americans have been forced to impose on themselves over the past two years. Yet President Obama and his allies in Congress remain unwilling to concede the point. Once they get their hands on taxpayer dollars, they seem incapable of letting go.

The $830 billion stimulus bill is just one example. When Democrats passed it, they made two predictions: first, that it would keep unemployment below 8%, and second, that it was a one-time cash infusion meant to prevent a wider crisis. Two years later, unemployment hovers above 9%, and Democrats now demand that we add new stimulus funding. Their commitment to spending and tax hikes is so deeply held, it seems, that they don't even recognize what terrible shape our economy is in and the fact that tax and spend policies of the past two years have made it worse.

Nor do they seem to recognize that the voters are asking for a different approach. Americans didn't elect dozens of additional Republicans to the House of Representatives last November because they wanted their taxes raised. They sent them here to reverse the runaway spending policies that failed.

Since the day the stimulus was signed, Washington has added $3.5 trillion to the national debt and roughly 2 million Americans have lost their jobs. More recently, a slew of troubling economic indicators and dire warnings from credit agencies about the dangers of our debt show that the time for serious action is now.

We have seen the consequences of giving Washington a blank check -- and we think it's time Washington make some of the hard choices that the average American has made over the past two and a half years.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

McConnell Demands Gitmo Trial for Bowling Green Terrorists

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell presses his demand that the Bowling Green terrorists be tried at Gitmo.  Here is his op-ed in this morning's Washington Post:



Speaking to a crowd of lawyers in Washington last week, Attorney General Eric Holder made an audacious claim about the war on terrorism. Overlooking the all-volunteer military force that has heroically battled terrorists and insurgents for nearly a decade, our outstanding intelligence and counterterrorism experts, and many others, Holder asserted that America’s “most effective terror-fighting weapon” is its civilian court system.

These comments insult those who have served on the front lines, but Holder’s clear intent was to justify the Obama administration’s two-year misadventure in treating captured terrorists like common criminals. This is evident most recently in Bowling Green, Ky., where two Iraqi nationals who have admitted to targeting American troops in Iraq were arrested last month.

Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi made their way to the United States from Iraq in 2009 through what appears to be a bureaucratic mistake. Expert intelligence and police work led to the discovery of their violent past and their plans to support their terrorist comrades from the safety of their new home. When they were arrested, they were plotting to equip foreign fighters in Iraq with missile launchers, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, sniper rifles, machine guns and cases of C4 explosives.

The Justice Department says Alwan and Hammadi should be tried in a civilian setting because they were caught here. This is ludicrous. The fact that bureaucrats mistakenly allowed two foreign fighters into the United States does not entitle them to all the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens. If it did, we’d have to grant the same rights and privileges to any foreign fighters who had escaped from the battlefield and illegally entered the United States. Once we knew who they were, our top priority should have been to capture, detain and interrogate them to ensure they could no longer harm Americans.

Outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta recently estimated that there are 1,000 members of al-Qaeda in Iraq operating in that country. Kentuckians, including the state’s Democratic governor, want to know why two of them are sitting in a Kentucky jail cell instead of the military facility we built for such men at Guantanamo. I called on the Obama administration last week to transfer them. I have not yet received an answer, nor have I heard a good argument as to why Guantanamo is not a superior alternative.

Aside from the propriety of housing and, if necessary, trying enemy combatants such as Alwan and Hammadi in a military setting, the costs and burdens of trying them in a civilian setting are significant. My constituents do not think that civilian judges and jurors in their community should be subjected to the risk of reprisal for participating in a terrorist trial. Nor should the broader community have to shoulder the security costs or inconvenience of such trials.

Consider the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in Alexandria, before the military commissions legislation was passed. Alexandria’s Democratic mayor summed up residents’ reaction: “We’ve had this experience and it was unpleasant,” he said. “Let someone else have it.” Last year, New Yorkers rejected Holder’s plan to try Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed in a civilian court in Manhattan, with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) calling the proposal to hold terror trials in New York a “wrongheaded idea.” In April, Holder reversed course and said the trial would be held at Guantanamo.

Like Bowling Green residents, New Yorkers knew that while it may be possible to try terrorists in civilian courtrooms, our overriding goal in such cases should be to prevail in the war against terrorism, not to make a point about the flexibility of our justice system.

Early on, the administration signaled its intent to use conventional law enforcement and courts to deal with unconventional enemies. The problem with this is that the civilian system was never intended to deal with foreign fighters or to gather intelligence in the pursuit of additional terrorists. The confusion surrounding the interrogation of the would-be Christmas Day bomber underscores this. Moreover, the criminal justice system is oriented toward prosecution, while our top priority in battling terrorism should be to find, capture and detain or kill those who would do us harm.

The administration has shown admirable flexibility in making decisions concerning national security and has shown that it is willing, on occasion, to put safety over ideology. President Obama launched a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, ignored calls to hastily withdraw from Iraq and recently agreed to extend the Patriot Act without weakening its provisions or making them harder to use. He should make the right decision about the treatment of captured enemy combatants.

Guantanamo is uniquely suited to the unconventional threat posed by foreign terrorists. By sending Alwan and Hammadi to Guantanamo, the president could again show his flexibility, make us safer and let Holder know that our civilian courts are off-limits to foreign fighters captured in the war on terrorism.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jerry Miller on the Judy Green Case

Metro Council Member Jerry T. Miller, in his weekly e-newsletter, had this to say about Councilwoman Judy Green's case:

Five members of the Louisville Metro Council have delivered a signed petition to the office of the Metro Council Clerk calling for the removal of Councilwoman Green in accordance with Metro Council Rules (Section 10.03) and State Law (KRS 67C.143).


The five members who have chosen to sign this petition are: Government Accountability and Ethics Committee Chairwoman Tina Ward Pugh (District 9) and Vice-Chairman Kevin Kramer (District 11), Majority Caucus Chair Madonna Flood (District 24), Majority Caucus Vice-Chair Barbara Shanklin (District 2) and Councilman Stuart Benson (District 20). These five members have met with legal counsel and agreed 


Now that a petition for removal has been submitted to the office of the President and Metro Council Clerk, the Metro Council is left with the responsibility of establishing procedures for a hearing on the removal. These procedures will help guide this Council and future ones should such a  need occur again.


It is our understanding that the process will take somewhere between 60-90 days to get underway. The timeline is based in accordance with legal standards accepted within the commonwealth, and with a focus on ensuring that Councilwoman Green has a fair and equitable amount of time to prepare for the hearing.


I and my 19 colleagues who are not currently part of either the petition or defense, must take every effort to ensure that there is no pre-judgment on our part. We must begin to review those documents which are already available regarding this petition, but must remember that both those petitioning and Councilwoman Green are to be given the opportunity to present their testimony to the Council as it sits as a court on this matter.


Thank you for your interest and understanding on this matter. I assure you, I take this matter seriously and am focused on conducting a fair and open hearing that is based on the facts presented.

Sen. John Hoeven Gives GOP Weekly Address

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) gives this week's Republican address, and he gets us back to the issue that most worries Americans:  jobs.  Hoeven explains how free trade with other countries will help create jobs here (and improve the living standards in other countries, too).  It's hard to believe that we have still not ratified our trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama.  This is way over-due.  Here's the link to his video.

Hoeven recently travelled to South Korea with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.  Hoeven uses South Korea as an example of how free trade creates jobs:

[South Koreans are] keenly aware that U.S. service members sacrificed so much to give them a free society and a free-market economy where they could pursue their dreams.

“South Korea is now a prosperous, modern nation, with a $1 trillion economy, and 49 million consumers, in large part because American service members won and now help preserve the peace. 
Korea is the 15th largest economy in the world, and our country’s 7th largest trading partner. . . .



“The U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement will eliminate or reduce more than 85 percent of the tariffs between the United States and Korea, including the eventual elimination of a 40 percent Korean tariff on American beef.

“Just one project we’ve been working on in my home state, a new beef processing facility, could mean a $100 million investment in our economy and 500 new jobs. In North Dakota that’s a big deal.

“But these free trade agreements are an even bigger deal for America. The South Korean Free Trade Agreement alone will increase our nation’s exports to that country by more than $10 billion and create 280,000 American jobs. In fact, for every 4 percent increase in American exports, we can create one million new American jobs.  . . .

Friday, June 17, 2011

When Will Conway Take Position on Kentucky Terrorists?

Elected officials across the Commonwealth of Kentucky are opining on where the Bowling Green terrorists should be tried, but no word yet from Attorney General Jack Conway.

Sen. Rand Paul has suggested to WHAS that perhaps the Kentucky terrorists can be detained and tried here in Kentucky, rather than at Gitmo. Paul said,

"I think the people who are on the ground and look at court safety and trials will have to look at that," Paul said, " And I think the only other way to look at it in a logical way would be to look at the other terror trials and - like I say - we've had several hundred terror trials in the U.S."


"I think in this instance, if you capture them here, I think the federal courts probably can take care of them much more swiftly than Guantanamo and actually give them very lengthy sentences if they are found guilty." 


Meanwhile, Gov. Steve Beshear is taking heat from Republican gubernatorial nominee David Williams for failing to call on the Obama administration to move the Kentucky terrorist trials to Gitmo.  To be fair to Beshear, however, he has questioned the safety of trying the two al Qaeda members in Kentucky.

Republican nominee for Attorney General Todd P'Pool, like Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, has demanded the Obama administration move the terrorist trials to Gitmo. McConnell brought up the issue on the Senate floor and later on Fox News, and has been very aggressive on the issue.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder implicitly reacted to McConnell, when Holder addressed the American Constitutional Society (the liberal counterpart to the Federalist Society).  According to the New York Times, Holder

did not mention Mr. McConnell or the Iraqi case. But he defended the executive branch’s prerogative of choosing which venue to try people in. “Decisions about how, where and when to prosecute must be made by prosecutors, not politicians,” he said.


And the attorney general specifically denounced calls to require all terrorism cases to be prosecuted by the military at Guantánamo rather than in the civilian courts, characterizing proponents of that approach as employing “fear-mongering” and “overheated rhetoric that is detached from history — and from the facts.”

Noting that no terrorism suspect arrested on United States soil had been tried by a military commission under either the Bush or the Obama administration, Mr. Holder said hundreds of such defendants had instead been successfully prosecuted in civilian courts. In none of those cases, he said, did a defendant escaped custody or did one of the judicial districts involved suffer retaliatory attacks.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has been curiously silent on the issue. His web site lists "Protecting Our Families" as one of his signature issues, but only refers to prosecuting elder abuse and the like.  Of course, elder abuse should be prosecuted.  But a platform against elder abuse does not bear on protecting Kentuckians from a retaliatory attack from al Qaeda operatives arrested in Bowling Green -- including one terrorist whose fingerprints were found on an IED in Iraq.

Yet in his failed Senate campaign against Rand Paul, Conway called for GITMO to be closed.  In one interview on YouTube, Conway indicated that although he didn't like the idea of terrorists being detained and tried in Kentucky but stated that it might be possible, with the hope that the U.S. military could keep us all safe.  Typical Conway waffle.

Politically, Conway is in the awkward position of crossing either Beshear (who seems to want the terrorists out of here) or the Eric Holder and the Obama administration and their obstinate disregard of the fears of those who will be in harms way if the terrorist are tried here, in a (red) flyover state.

Conway will irritate members of his base no  matter which way he comes out on the issue.

Question for Jack Conway -- and for that matter, Rand Paul:  how would you feel if your wife is called to serve on the jury of the Bowling Green terrorists?  The U.S. military is a mighty force.  But would you really want someone you loved on the jury that passes judgment on an al Qaeda terrorist? It's hard to be a politician's wife if you are in the witness protection program.

P'Pool Pounces on GITMO Issue

Republican nominee Todd P'Pool was smart to hit hard on an issue that has united Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul and even Gov. Steve Beshear:  send the Kentucky terrorists to GITMO.  Here's P'Pool's release:


Republican Attorney General candidate Todd P’Pool waded into the debate Friday about what whether suspected terrorists charged in Bowling Green on May 25th should be tried in a Kentucky civilian courtroom or at secure military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  
“As a conservative and a prosecutor, I believe the first and foremost priority of government should be keeping our citizens safe from enemies – foreign and domestic,” said P’Pool. “Terrorists should be tried as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, not here in Kentucky.”
Attorney General Jack Conway has previously issued calls to close Guantanamo Bay, and even chastised President Obama for campaigning to close Guantanamo Bay and not following through. In an interview viewable on YouTube, Conway even suggested that bringing suspected terrorists for trial on Kentucky soil might be acceptable.  That prompted P’Pool’s campaign manager, David Ray to assert that Conway was far from the mainstream opinion in Kentucky.
“Facing the possibility of having suspected terrorists tried on Kentucky soil, it’s not surprising that Jack Conway hasn’t challenged the Obama administration on this issue,” said Ray. “Conway’s reckless position could endanger Kentuckians and cost the state vast resources to protect and detain suspected terrorists. This is yet another issue where he owes the voters of Kentucky a thorough explanation.”
P’Pool also thanked Kentucky law enforcement for their efforts in keeping Kentuckians safe from this ongoing threat.
“Kentucky’s law enforcement represents some of our bravest citizens, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their role in this case. The high level of professionalism displayed bythe FBI’s Louisville Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky, the Louisville Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Justice Department’s National Security Division is to be commended.”
On May 25th, Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohaned Shareef Hammadi were charged by a federal grand jury with terrorism charges. According to the grand jury, the two Iraqi refugees were plotting to ship sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, explosives and money to their home country to be used in attacks on U.S. troops.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rand Paul on Libya

Sen. Rand Paul has long complained about unconstitutional wars, and in this release he schools the Obama administration on Libya:


The Obama Administration has failed miserably in its attempt to justify their unconstitutional war in Libya. Their attempt yesterday to convince Congress that we are in fact not engaged in hostilities was breathtaking in its implications for both Libya and for future presidential war authority.

“The argument that our military is not engaged in hostilities because the Libyan military is unable to effectively retaliate has two major problems. First, according to the Administration’s report, attacking Libyan air defense is one of the primary roles our military is playing. Of course they aren’t shooting back well, we blew up their air defense system.

“If you take the Administration’s logic to its natural, if extreme-sounding, conclusion, the bigger problem is this: Under their logic, the President could attack a country, even with nuclear weapons, and not consider it to be a war needing Congressional approval if the country is unable to retaliate. This policy completely violates his constitutional authority. It also sends a dangerous signal to rogue nations and schoolyard bullies alike: If we hit you hard enough that you can’t hit back, it doesn’t count as an attack.”

Al Gore Hearts Romney

For those who need another reason to pick a candidate, any candidate but Mitt Romney:  Al Gore has complimented Romney for his wisdom on the environment.

According to the Daily Caller, Gore said of Romney,“While other Republicans are running from the truth, he is sticking to his guns in the face of the anti-science wing of the Republican Party.” Gore referred to a Washington Post story about how Romney believes that human activity is causing global warming.

To be sure, Romney would have made a much better president than Barack Obama. He would have made a much better nominee than John McCain. He is a decent, honorable and intelligent.

But if Romney is the Republican nominee -- and all the mainstream media tout polls that supposedly point that direction -- Republicans will lose. We might as well just renominate Bob Dole again. Or McCain. None of these candidates can appeal to Reagan Democrats because they are just not conservative enough.

This is a center-right country and Romney is not a center-right candidate.  Obama modeled Obamacare after Romneycare.  Al Gore thinks Romney gets it on the environment.  And there has been a drumbeat of polls that keep telling us how electable Romney is.  He is not.

If Romney wins the nomination, it is time for a third party.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

McConnell on the National Debt

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has written an op-ed for tomorrow's Baltimore Sun on the need to cut spending as the president requests yet another raising of of the debt limit. As Rep. Herman Cain and Sen. Rand Paul have both noted, that search for wasteful spending needs to extend to military spending. Here's McConnell's op-ed:

Over the next several weeks, Republicans in Washington will be engaged in a critical mission: to persuadeDemocrats of the need to develop a plan that reins in our debt without raising taxes, which we know would kill jobs. This effort is taking place in the context of President Barack Obama's request to raise the nation's debt limit, and early indications suggest that many Democrats still need some convincing.
The key to success, in my view, is for everyone involved to view the debt limit vote as an opportunity — an opportunity to reduce Washington spending now and to save taxpayers trillions of dollars over the long term. It is also an opportunity to prevent the fiscal crisis that we all see coming, a crisis that would devastate jobs, trigger a massive foreclosure crisis and delay the economic recovery even more.
In other words, reluctant Democrats need to realize very soon that this is no mere academic or ideological debate. A failure to rein in our nation's debt would have painful and far-reaching consequences for every single American. This is why I have insisted that failing to make tough choices now poses a far greater threat to our nation's long-term prosperity than failing to raise the debt limit.
In the short term, we know that continued reluctance to lower the debt without raising taxes is hindering job creation. One study suggests that any nation carrying a debt at or above 90 percent of its economy loses one point of economic growth, which some argue is equivalent to 1 million jobs.



Washington-driven uncertainty is also inhibiting job creation. Right now, U.S. businesses are sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash. Most would love to invest it in new products and ventures, and yet they're holding back. Why? New and proposed regulations, the unknown costs of last year's health care bill, and the widespread expectation of tax hikes tomorrow to pay for spending binges today are a big part of it. Investment follows certainty, and that's one thing thisWhite House refuses to provide.
But another reason job creators are holding back is the uncertainty surrounding our fiscal future. Right now, Washington is borrowing roughly $4 billion every day above what it collects in taxes, more than $600 million of which goes to the interest on our debt. This troubling addiction to credit has created a situation in which nearly half our debt is held by foreign countries. If just one of them doubts our ability to repay — and the greater the debt, the likelier this is — economic calamity could swiftly ensue.
Scenarios like these seemed far-fetched just a few years ago, but the fiscal landscape has changed rapidly under Democratic control. True, both parties have contributed to a culture of overspending. Yet in just two years under President Obama, the nation's debt has skyrocketed 35 percent, from $10.6 trillion to $14.2 trillion; the annual deficit is more than three times the largest annual deficit ever recorded before his presidency, and the nation's debt is expected to keep rising year after year, as far as the eye can see.
Democratic refusal to get these deficits under control through spending cuts and entitlement reform is one reason the rating agency Standard and Poor's recently threatened to downgrade U.S. debt, and why Moody's Investor Services, which threatened a downgrade of U.S. debt earlier this month, also sees the ongoing debt limit talks as an opportunity for the parties to come together and avert a looming crisis.
Given the impact that our nation's debt has on jobs in the short term and on our nation's prosperity and success in the long term, it should not be difficult to convince lawmakers of the need for immediate action. Yet as recently as a few weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was still calling for a so-called "clean" vote on the debt limit that would leave the status quo on spending and debt intact. Too many Democrats still seem to think they can just wait this crisis out, in the hopes it will go away.
Still, a consensus appears to be emerging around the Republican call to action. The president, who several months ago supported raising the debt limit without any corresponding cuts, recently directed Vice PresidentJoe Biden to come up with a bipartisan plan to cut the deficits that he helped create. President Obama has also acknowledged in recent weeks the connection between getting our fiscal house in order and economic recovery. As he recently put it, "If we don't have a serious plan to tackle the debt and the deficit, that could actually end up being a bigger drag on the economy than anything else."
We shall see how serious the administration is about doing something truly significant. During past crises, President Obama has often seemed less interested in solving the problem than he was in giving a speech about it. But this is different. Unless we get our fiscal house in order soon, the consequences could be far more painful than some are willing to admit. The upcoming debt limit vote represents the best opportunity we have to keep that crisis at bay, foster the kind of job growth Americans desperately want, and put America back on a solid ground. Hopefully others will soon realize the time to act is now.


Michele Bachmann is No Dummy

Get ready for the mainstream media to try to portray Congresswoman Michele Bachmann as an ignorant air-head. She is nothing of the kind.

I met Bachmann at the Republican National Convention and liked her very much.  She struck me as smart, funny, warm and a true conservative. She was a tax lawyer, for goodness sake.  When was the last time you met a dumb tax lawyer?

Nothing drives liberals crazier than a conservative woman who is also beautiful. Nor will the feminists say one word to defend Bachmann from the coming vilification. 

Wonder how many weeks it will take SNL to roll out a Bachmann impersonator, complete with an exaggerated Minnesota accent.