Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

The Speaker misspeaks

May 15, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, her eyes wide, her hands gesticulating wildly, on Thursday laid out a third version of what she knew and when she knew it about the Bush administration’s interrogation policies, edging ever closer to debating what the meaning of the word “is” is.

With even her own second-in-command now demanding more answers, the California Democrat, her voice barely audible at times, read a rambling statement at her weekly press briefing about her prior knowledge of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) employed under President Bush, insisting that she was not told in a September 2002 briefing that the U.S. government used waterboarding.

Minutes later, though, she acknowledged for the first time that her top security adviser had learned details of a February 2003 briefing in which lawmakers were told that American interrogators were in fact waterboarding suspected terrorists.

“My statement is clear, and let me read it again. Let me read it again I’m sorry I have to find the page,” said a flustered Mrs. Pelosi, shuffling through papers, her hands quivering a bit, as she sought to stick to her prepared text.

“When when when my staff person I’m sorry, the page is out of order five months later, my staff person told me that there had been a briefing informing that there had been a briefing and that a letter had been sent. I was not briefed on what was in that briefing; I was just informed that the briefing had taken place,” she said.

Read the rest from Joseph Curl
The Washington Times

Pelosi’s Self-Torture; An Unforced Error

May 15, 2009

“An unforced error” is what columnist Fred Barnes called Pelosi’s attack on the CIA yesterday — a day Pelosi chose to make herself the poster child on how Congress doesn’t work.

In the system of checks and balances, the Executive makes decisions based upon laws made by Congress and judged by the judiciary.

In this case, the Bush White House moved quickly to prevent further attacks after 9/11 and asked the Justice Department for their opinion.  Then the executive had the responsible agency, the CIA, brief Congress to allow the system of checks and balances to work.

No objections came from the Congress at the time — between 2002 and 2003 — but now Nancy Pelosi objects.  At first she objected that she wasn’t briefed.  She was.  Now she objects that the CIA lied.  It didn’t.

So now the top Democrat in the Congress, the Speaker of the House, the next in line for the presidency should the president and vice president perish, has created a problem for herself and shown all 6th grade students of American government exactly how it is not supposed to work….


From The Wall Street Journal

Given House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s acknowledged skill at torturing the Bush Administration in recent years, it no doubt afforded her critics some pleasure yesterday to watch her twist in the wind in front of the press over what she knew and when about the CIA’s terrorist interrogations. With mockery even from Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, Mrs. Pelosi has turned herself into a spectacle about a subject that she and fellow Democrats had themselves reduced to a spectacle of demagogic accusation and blame, repeatedly threatening to put Bush officials in the dock for “condoning torture.”

Read the rest:

Generic Ballot: Republicans 40% Democrats 39%

May 10, 2009

For the second straight week, Republicans edge out Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot. However, support for the Republican candidate is down a point from last week and the results appear to reflect a lack of enthusiasm for either party rather than gains for the GOP.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 40% would vote for their district’s Republican candidate while 39% would choose the Democrat.

From Rasmussen

Overall, the GOP lost one point this week, while the Democrats gained a point. This is now the third time in more than five years of Rasmussen polling the GOP has held a lead in the ballot.

Last week, Democrats fell to their lowest level of support in the past year while Republicans reached their high water mark.

Over the past year, Democratic support has ranged from a low of 38% to a high of 50%. In that same time period, Republicans have been preferred by 34% to 41% of voters nationwide.

During calendar 2009, Democratic support has ranged from 38% to 42% and the Republican range has been from 35% to 41%.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates also available on Twitter.

Democrats began the year holding a six- or seven-point lead over the GOP for the first several weeks of 2009. That began to slip in early February and the Republicans actually took a two-point lead for a single week in the middle of March. Since then, the results have ranged from dead even to a four point lead for the Democrats until the GOP regained lead in the last two polls.

Men now favor the GOP by a 47% to 33% margin. Women prefer the Democrats by a 45% to 34% margin.

This month’s look at partisan trends shows that the number of Republicans is down, the number of Democrats has stabilized, and unaffiliated voters have grown in size.

Separate Rasmussen polling shows that 69% of GOP voters think Republicans in Congress are out of touch with the party’s base.

The plurality of voters (42%) thinks that Senator Arlen Specter’s switch from Republican to Democrat will have no real impact on laws passed in the legislature.

Please sign up for the Rasmussen Reports daily e-mail update (it’s free)… let us keep you up to date with the latest public opinion news.

Obama’s rich supporters fear his tax plans show he’s a class warrior

May 10, 2009

Some of Barack Obama’s richest supporters fear they have elected a “class warrior” to the White House, who will turn America’s freewheeling capitalism into a more regulated European system.

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Telegraph (UK)

Barack Obama's rich supporters fear his tax plans reveal him as a class warrior
Barack Obama: some of his rich supporters fear he is becoming a class warrior Photo: AP

Wealthy Wall Street financiers and other business figures provided crucial support for Mr Obama during the election, backing him over the Republican candidate John McCain as the right leader to rescue the collapsing US economy.

But it is now dawning on many among them that Mr Obama was serious about his campaign trail promises to bring root and branch reform to corporate America – and that they were more than just election rhetoric.
Wealthy Democrat Supporters Dumbfounded… Realize Obama Will Take Their Money

A top Obama fundraiser and hedge fund manager said: “I’m appalled at the anti-Wall Street rhetoric. It was OK on the campaign but now it’s the real world. I’m surprised that Obama is turning out to be so left-wing. He’s a real class warrior.”

Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, a free enterprise think tank, said Democrats in Congress were unnerved by the president’s latest plan to raise $210 billion over 10 years from multinational corporations.

The money is needed to pay for a national debt that will double over the next five years; and triple over the next 10 years to $17.3 trillion. But the crackdown already faces fierce Democratic resistance.

“These big companies are based in New York Boston, Seattle and Silicon Valley, where Democrats dominate,” Mr Edwards said. “Obama’s tax plan is already cleaving him from his big corporate supporters,” he said.

Mr Obama made no secret of his plans to raise taxes on the “working rich” (individuals earning more than $200,000) by imposing a top income tax rate of almost 40 per cent, and there is little surprise that those plans remain on track, even during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

But Democratic opposition is building in Congress to many of the President’s proposals. A plan to reduce tax deductions for charitable gifts by richer people may have to be scrapped, because the charitable sector – which includes hospitals, museums and voluntary service groups – depends heavily on tax-deducted donations.

Charles Rangel, the New York chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which drafts tax legislation, raised a red flag about the proposal last week. “I would never want to adversely affect anything that is charitable or good,” he said.

Mr Obama also wants to “cap and trade” carbon emissions – seen by business as effectively yet another tax – to tackle global warming.

The president’s plans are direct repudiation of the model of light touch regulation credited with creating economic growth and wealth in America in recent decades.

Setting out his thoughts on the economy, Mr Obama told the New York Times magazine last week: “There was always an unsustainable feel about what had happened on Wall Street over the last 10, 15 years, and it’s not that different from the unsustainable nature of what was happening during the dot-com boom – where people in Silicon Valley could make enormous sums of money, even though what they were peddling never really had any signs it would ever make a profit.”

A senior Wall Street executive who remains an admirer of Mr Obama, told The Sunday Telegraph that the reforms were necessary after years of excess. “I think its refreshing that he has the chutzpah to deal with the previously untouchable abuses of the system like tax dodging and excessive executive pay,” he said.

“We badly need some European style social democracy, and Obama might as well start with health care reform.”

Read the rest:

Self Defeating U.S. War Strategy

May 8, 2009

THE most effective weapon terrorists have found to wield against us isn’t the headline-grabbing suicide bomber or even the deadly roadside bomb, the IED.

Such weapons can harm us, but they can’t stop us. Terror’s super-weapon is the lie.

Lying about civilian casualties is the one sure way to impede or even halt US (or Israeli) operations, to force such tight restrictions on our troops that they can’t win.

The casualty con’s so effective as both propaganda and tactic that terrorists everywhere have adopted the technique. It’s been so successful that our enemies long ago transitioned to the next phase: creating civilian casualties and blaming us.

It works. The media love the charge. Our troops and pilots are always guilty — even if proven innocent. Because so many on the left want us to be guilty.

Few journalists bother to investigate. If the Taliban, al Qaeda, Hezbollah or Hamas says it, it must be so. In Media Wonderland, terrorists never lie. Now every successful strike on a Taliban target generates the instant claim that the dead were all civilians.

And it isn’t just the media who back the Taliban. The Obama administration — a case study in instant foreign-policy ineptitude — signs up, too.

This week, Taliban terrorists publicly beheaded three civilians in Afghanistan’s Farah province, then herded women and children into compounds from which they fought government forces and US advisers.

With a vicious ground battle under way, the Talibs knew attack aircraft would appear. According to military sources, they set up the target. And, just in case, they slaughtered those women and children with grenades before any aircraft appeared. The entire massacre was a planned media event.

By Ralph Peters
The New York Post

Read the rest:

Reactions To Recession: Isreal Wants Huge Spending Cuts; Brits Mulling Huge Taxes; Obama Wants To Totally Fund Health Care, Education, Re-engineered Energy System

May 7, 2009

Fund education, health care, and environmental projects.  We’ve heard it over and over.

And the debt is already skyrocketing.

We are well past the stuff Barack Obama “inheritied” here: this is all of his own making.

The Obama plan sneaks out of the shade a bit more each day and guess what: it is an offer without a plan.  Speech text on the teleprompter without details or a reliable budget.

It is talk of transparency without real verifiable transparency.

It is we’ll be out of Gitmo — with no plan to make that happen.

The Obama plan is listen to your government on the flu: wash your hands.  Oh, and don’t listen to Joe Biden.

In Israel, the government is considering huge spending cuts to live in this uncertain recession era.
To Balance The Budget: Cutting Health Care, Education, Unemployment Benefits, Defense, and More
In Britain, taxes could top 61% of income.
Some of Britain’s Top Taxpayers Could Owe 61.5%
But in the USA we are expected to fund everything and trust our government.  We won.

Defying Logic: Obama Wants Congress To Give Him Money Without Plans (And The Money Is Borrowed)

Defying Logic: Obama Wants Congress To Give Him Money Without Plans (And The Money Is Borrowed)

May 7, 2009

President Obama requested funding from Congress to relocate the terrorists prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay prison.  But the funding request had no accompanying plan on what to do with the prisoners.  Mr. Obama’s promised to close Guantanamo Bay by January 2010.

The House Appropriations Committee withheld the funding: and asked for a plan.

“While I don’t mind defending a concrete program, I’m not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat.

But the White House asking for money without a concrete plan is not unusual: in fact, for the Obama Administration: that is the norm.

Cap and trade and the total re-engineering of the nation’s energy system to remove coal and oil?  We don’t know the total plan or much of the costs either.

The $787 billion stimulus was passed without a single lawmaker admitted he or she had read the request.  So why bother with writing down the tricky deatails of government spending?

Heath care?  The current Obama Administration request is for spending   The details of reform?  Yet to be worked out.

Education?  We don’t have a plan but we want the government to send everyone to college.  What will that cost and what will that mean?  We aren’t sure.

This wouldn’t seem so starkly stupid if we had the money to spend.  But this is borrowing huge sums from China and saddling out grandchildren with the debt: while we work out how the money will be spent, exactly.

Donna Smith of Reuters wrote, “Obama wants an overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. health care industry passed by the end of the year.”

She also wrote, “Obama has not put forward a specific plan and is leaving it to the Democratic-controlled Congress to write the legislation.”

Cart before the horse?  Or just stupid government?

Karl Rove: Obama Outsources His Presidency


From The Washington Times

The Senate’s top appropriator Monday vowed to restore funding President Obama requested to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, challenging his own Democratic Party leaders who expressed skepticism about the administration’s plan.

“It’s going to be in the bill,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye told The Washington Times. “Something like this should be resolved in the conference.”

The Hawaii Democrat said the $81 million the White House wants to shut down the detention center at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba could come with conditions, such as withholding the money until Mr. Obama presents a plan for relocating the roughly 240 terrorist suspects locked up on the island.

House Democratic leaders left the requested money out of their version of a $94 billion supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bucking the White House’s call for funding as it tries to make good on Mr. Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo Bay by January.

But the maneuver shored up Republican support critical to passing the bill and to avoid an embarrassing defeat for Mr. Obama at the hands of antiwar Democrats who will not support the additional funding primarily for military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republicans, who have been searching for an issue that resonates with voters, hammered the Guantanamo Bay closure in recent weeks.

Democratic leaders also balked at the administration’s lack of a plan to relocate the prisoners, even though they agree that the prison has become a symbol of U.S. excesses during President George W. Bush’s war on terror.

“While I don’t mind defending a concrete program, I’m not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat.

Mr. Obey, who supports the idea of closing the facility, said that when White House officials develop a plan, “they are welcome to come back and talk to us about it.”

Read the rest:

Donna Smith of Reuters on Health Care:

Sebelius: “Don’t trust me, trust the government”

May 7, 2009

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on health care reform yesterday.  Although the Obama Administration has submitted no health care reform plan to the congress, it has already asked for funding.  This is starkly similar to the plan to remove terrorist prisoners from Gitmo: funding requested without a plan.

The real question of the hearing was almost proposed by Sebelius herself: do most Americans trust their government to run health care?

Why so many flu deaths in Mexico? Lack of trust in government is a big factor….
U.S. Government Over States Flu Dangers, Now Worries Public May Ignore More Real Disease Threat

Obama’s Health Care Reform a Panacea For Voters in Jobless Recovery?


By Sean lengell
The Washington Times

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel Wednesday that a government-run health care plan is needed to keep in check the private insurance industry, which she says wields too much power and often fails to best serve the public.

“The president is committed to – and I’m committed to – a design that needs to level the playing field, and it’s on two fronts,” Mrs. Sebelius said while testifying during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on health care reform.

Those two fronts include a more regulated private sector and a government-run “public option” insurance plan, which President Obama and congressional Democrats say would provide needed competition for the private insurance market.

Private insurers too often cherry-pick the healthiest customers as a way to lower operating costs, said Mrs. Sebelius, who supports instituting restrictions that would prohibit medical insurers from denying coverage to at-risk persons.

“Getting rid of some of the pre-existing medical-condition barriers that allow [for] a skewed marketplace is important,” the former Democratic Kansas governor said. “But having a [public] option for individuals, having a choice for the Americans who don’t currently have coverage, and having competition to drive the best practices … I think can be very positive in the long run.”

The secretary’s comments come as liberal health care advocates increasingly have pressured the White House and Capitol Hill Democrats for a strong government-run health care option.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who wields considerable influence among his party’s left wing, said Monday that Democrats and Mr. Obama will suffer politically if they don’t strike more boldly on health care.

Mr. Dean, a former Vermont governor and a 2004 presidential candidate, said activists must make it clear to the Democrats who won’t back a public option to the plan “that your vote is going to be connected to how they do on health insurance.”

“The election of Barack Obama has turned over this country to a new generation,” he said. “We’re going to have an all-out fight about this … . We’re not going to go down again.”

The private health insurance industry has said it would be willing to stop charging higher rates for customers with health risks in exchange for a government mandate that people buy insurance.

“If we can get everybody in the health care system we can do the market reforms [Mrs. Sebelius] is talking about,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, one of the nation’s largest insurance lobbyists.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it fears a government-run health insurance option would force many – if not most or all – private insurers out of business.

Read the rest:

Obama’s Cap-and-Trade Will Kill Jobs, Manufacturing, Result in “Tax” For Everybody

May 6, 2009

Republicans are revving their engines in the cap-and-trade debate, trying to stymie legislation that will probably reach the House floor before Memorial Day.

The main thrust of their efforts is an “all of the above” approach to climate change, which House leadership pushed via a 20-member meeting in the Capitol today.

By Jillian Bandes

The event, called the American Energy Solutions Group Energy Summit, emphasized the feasibility of reducing global warming by pushing for other methods of energy production not in the Democrats’ plan. The summit was led by House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and featured policy wonks and state-level politicians.

The Democrats plan would do the opposite of “lowering energy cost, increasing supply, and providing energy for the American people,” said Pence. He said the region of the country that he represents – the Midwest – would suffer the most because that area of the country is most reliant on the use of fossil fuels.

There was urgency in the air. Democrats recently stated intentions to pass legislation before the end of the year, and an outside group has estimated the cost of their plan at $10,000 per American family. As the conference took place, Democrats were holding invitation-only meetings about cap-and-trade inside the White House.

The Republican get-together was large, open, and broadcast on television.

“What are the Democrats doing now?” asked Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) in front of a room full of reporters and cameras. “They’re trying to cut a deal behind closed doors.”

The “potential for unintended consequences” on cap-and-trade is “limitless,” said Paul Cicio, President of Industrial Energy Consumers of America, another speaker at the summit. The legislation threatened to dismantle the manufacturing industry, create trade wars, and make carbon into a competitive weapon.

Corruption In Obama Government Plus Loving Media is Taking us Where?

May 6, 2009

Barack Obama, who vowed he’d provide a transparent administration staffed with disinterested public servants with the self-restraint of Roman castrati, appointed an admitted tax cheat to run the Treasury Department — and he’s hardly the only one in the administration.

By Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online

New York representative Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is under investigation for, among other things, failing to report income from his Caribbean villa. Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, got sweetheart deals from subprime lender Countrywide and has yet to adequately explain his too-good-to-be-true deal on his million-dollar “cottage” in Ireland, which he may have gotten in exchange for finagling a pardon (from President Clinton) for a felon. Oh, Dodd also secretly protected those AIG bonuses that raised such a ruckus.

Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, Nancy Pelosi’s moral authority on military matters during the Iraq war, has been revealed as a kleptomaniac of sorts, delivering as much of the federal budget as possible to various cronies and lobbyists.

Former senator John Edwards, who had an affair even as he was scoring Oprah-points as the supportive husband during his wife’s battle with breast cancer, is being investigated by the feds for the improper use of campaign funds. It looks like the silky-haired champion of the little guys may have used their donations to bribe the alleged “baby mama” into silence.

And it would be a shame to let it pass that Obama’s Senate seat was put up for sale by the then-governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. A congressional ethics board is investigating whether Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. tried to buy it.

But you know what? We ain’t seen nothing yet. For starters, the real corruption isn’t what the media are ignoring or downplaying as isolated incidents. It’s what the media are hailing as strokes of bold, inspirational leadership. The White House, as a matter of policy, is rewriting legal contracts, picking winners (mostly labor unions and mortgage defaulters) and singling out losers (evil “speculators”), while much of the media continue to ponder whether Obama is already a greater president than FDR.

If a Republican administration, staffed with cronies from Goldman Sachs and Citibank, were cutting special deals for its political allies, I suspect we’d be hearing fewer FDR analogies and more nouns ending with the suffix “gate.”

Take Obama’s “car czar,” Steven Rattner. According to ABC’s Jake Tapper, Rattner is accused of threatening to use the White House to smear a Chrysler creditor if it refused to back the administration’s Chrysler bankruptcy plan. He’s also connected to a massive pension-fund scandal involving the investment firm he used to run. It’s alleged that Rattner’s firm bought the less-than-worthless DVD distribution rights to the achingly awful film Chooch — produced by the brother of an official in the New York comptroller’s office — as a thinly veiled bribe to gain access to New York pensions funds. Chooch, by the way, is Italian slang for “jackass,” which just happens to be the Democrats’ mascot.

More to the point, political corruption is inevitable whenever you give hacks — of either party — too much discretion over public funds. Businesses look to Washington for profits instead of to the market. The thing is, this has become the governing philosophy of the Democratic party, from banking and cars to health care and now student loans. The federal government is taking over, and the culture of corruption inevitably trickles down. That in itself should be a scandal. Call it “Choochgate.”

 Read the entire article: