During the 2006 campaign, Baron Hill was interviewed by Indiana Insiders.
In this interview (I blogged about it at the time here), Mr. Hill was asked about a vote for him in the November election being a vote for Nancy Pelosi (D - San Francisco), who is now Speaker of the House.
Baron's response was unequivocal.
He said, "No, I'm not totally committed to that kind of a program."
See for yourself:
As with all things with Baron, it's a matter of degrees.
Sure, he seemed unequivocal.
Sure, he's not totally committed to that kind of a program.
But he is, as his voting record demonstrates, 96.55% committed to that kind of a program.
Congressman Baron Hill, who campaigned on defending Hoosier values, votes 96.55% of the time with Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco.
Granted, the Speaker doesn't vote at every House roll call.
In fact, the Speaker only votes on those bills that are most important to her and to her program.
On those bills, on the bills most important to Nancy Pelosi and her program and important enough to motivate her to actually vote, Baron Hill has voted with her 96.55% of the time to date (56 of 58 votes, to be precise).
As Baron said so himself during the campaign many times and lots of television ads, Hoosier values are pretty simple.
Given how he has voted, that's quite the claim when you look back at it.
Maybe Mr. Hill misunderstands Hoosier values.
I'm pretty sure that most Hoosiers in the 9th District don't think that Hoosier values are San Francisco values.
Certainly not 96.55% of the time.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
During the 2006 campaign, Baron Hill was interviewed by Indiana Insiders.
Friday, March 30, 2007
It seems that Congressman Baron Hill was named "Blue Dog of the Week" this past week by the Blue Dog Democrat Coalition in Congress.
His website has a nice press release touting the accomplishment, though as far as I can tell none of the local media have picked up on it at all.
The lack of attention is really a shame.
As any Yellow Dog, err, Blue Dog member will tell you, it's a high honor.
There are only forty-three Blue Dog Democrats and, with fifty-two weeks in a year, even someone with an elementary school education will recognize how rare and distinguished an honor it is to be named "Blue Dog of the Week."
Why, if he is lucky and the Math is with him, Baron might be named "Blue Dog of the Week" three times before he faces the voters again, and not just two times.
“By supporting this critical piece of legislation, Rep. Hill has demonstrated his commitment to the health and safety of the men and women who risk their lives to defend our country,” said Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. “As Blue Dogs we believe that the government’s chief responsibility is to protect the American people, and Rep. Hill has demonstrated that he is willing to fight for the men and women in uniform who carry out this critical task.”
Yes, Baron is willing to fight for the men and women in uniform.
Fight for them to be defunded unless they retreat back to the United States.
Fight to use their emergency funding bills to give money to special interests and pork barrel programs.
Mr. Hill will fight to support the troops. Honestly he will.
He just doesn't like their mission, even though he voted to send them over to do it in the first place.
That's not doing right by our troops, Baron.
Nope, sorry, not the resignation Republicans might be hoping for.
But a notable one nevertheless.
It seems that Mrs. Feinstein has gotten herself in a bit of an interesting ethical situation.
More interesting still, it was revealed by a lefty reporter, though you'll probably hear not a peep about the affair at all from big media.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein has resigned from the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee. As previously and extensively reviewed in these pages, Feinstein was chairperson and ranking member of MILCON for six years, during which time she had a conflict of interest due to her husband Richard C. Blum's ownership of two major defense contractors, who were awarded billions of dollars for military construction projects approved by Feinstein.
The MILCON subcommittee is not only in charge of supervising military construction, it also oversees "quality of life" issues for veterans, which includes building housing for military families and operating hospitals and clinics for wounded soldiers. Perhaps Feinstein is trying to disassociate herself from MILCON's incredible failure to provide decent medical care for wounded soldiers.
Two years ago, before the Washington Post became belatedly involved, the online magazine Salon.com exposed the horrors of deficient medical care for Iraq war veterans. While leading MILCON, Feinstein had ample warning of the medical-care meltdown. But she was not proactive on veteran's affairs.
Feinstein abandoned MILCON as her ethical problems were surfacing in the media, and as it was becoming clear that her subcommittee left grievously wounded veterans to rot while her family was profiting from the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It turns out that Blum also holds large investments in companies that were selling medical equipment and supplies and real estate leases—often without the benefit of competitive bidding—to the Department of Veterans Affairs, even as the system of medical care for veterans collapsed on his wife's watch.
You would think that, considering all the money Feinstein's family has pocketed by waging global warfare while ignoring the plight of wounded American soldiers, she would show a smidgeon of shame and resign from the entire Senate, not just a subcommittee. Conversely, you'd think she might stick around MILCON to try and fix the medical-care disaster she helped to engineer for the vets who were suckered into fighting her and Bush's panoply of unjust wars.
Remember, citizens, the culture of corruption is exclusively a Republican thing.
Democrats engaging in war profiteering at the expense of veterans don't count, nor do Democrats caught with cold hard bribe cash in their freezers.
It seems that Baron Hill has been appointed to the Joint Economic Committee, on which he once sat and did virtually nothing when he was last in Congress.
From this mighty perch, and now in the majority, Mr. Hill will be in a commanding role in future efforts to raise your taxes more than ever before.
Or not, and to block such tax increases, should he be of such a mind.
I wouldn't put much hope in him not voting for tax increases, though he did manage on Thursday to muster the spine to defy his party and vote against their bank-busting tax-raising budget.
Congratulations, Mr. Hill. I didn't think you had it in you.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The Seymour Tribune has editorialized this week against the war supplemental voted for by Congressman Baron Hill.
They urge that the timetable for retreat and the $20 billion plus in pork barrel spending be stripped out of the bill.
In short, they are asking that their hometown son (Baron is from Seymour) hold to his campaign promises.
Cut the pork and withdrawal dates
We agree with the premise that Iraqis must become accountable in policing their nation. We also agree that it's time for U.S. troops to wrap up their responsibilities in Iraq and turn them over to Iraqis.
But we don't think the Democratic House plan fixing a date for U.S. troop withdrawal serves Iraqi interests, U.S. interests or the interests of our troops on the ground in Iraq.
The $124 billion U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act seems more attuned to the interests of some U.S. agriculture sectors and fishermen with its $250 million in milk subsidies, $120 million for shrimp and menhaden fishermen, $75 million for peanut storage in Georgia and $25 million for spinach farmers in California.
What do those expenses - as well as $1.3 million for levees in New Orleans and $500 million to fight wildfires - have to do with supporting the troops?
We don't get it.
We contend that setting a date for the United States to withdraw its troops - September 2008 or sooner if certain conditions aren't met - is handing over vital information to Iraqi insurgents and others interested in disrupting that nation's efforts to come out from under the shadow of Saddam Hussein.
The Seymour Tribune also ran one of Hill's clone letters defending his vote.
Interestingly, the issues their editorial takes with the war supplemental are completely, utterly, and totally different from the "misconceptions" addressed in Baron Hill's letter.
As pointed out below, this should be no surprise.
Deliberately misdirecting his response toward something completely different is Baron's favorite tactic when put in a corner.
He has always found it easier to defend himself with useless and irrelevant canards than to address what people are really questioning about his actions.
This time even his hometown newspaper isn't falling for it.
Fair warning in advance, there is an expletive in the last second or two of this video.
Now, on some level, this is hilarious. On others, it's sad.
A Humvee moving slowly or sitting still is a great target for insurgents with an RPG, so the soldiers can't exactly afford to sit in traffic. They have to keep moving, or they could end up dead.
At the same time, I am sure that bumping the rear ends of Iraqi cars to get them out of your way and driving down the wrong sides of their streets isn't doing much to win hearts and minds.
Matt Tully's column in the Indianapolis Star yesterday discussed the Governor's decision to back away from a proposal to build toll roads in central and northwestern Indiana.
As noted earlier, Tully agrees that Daniels' handling of the issue has served to further undermine the Democratic spin that the Governor doesn't listen.
Daniels graceful in retreat on toll road
There are good losses and bad losses.
With the death of his plan to build a toll road east and south of Indianapolis, and another one up north, Gov. Mitch Daniels suffered an unquestionably good loss.
Think about it.
Everywhere from Merrillville to Evansville, Daniels has been bashed for bulling ahead no matter the public will, for arrogantly pushing his ideas. The reputation is so strong that Democrats think they can build a 2008 governor's race around the theme that their candidate will be a listener-in-chief.
But now you have Daniels backing away from his latest toll road dream, humbly sounding like a master of diplomacy.
"We know the feeling of the people on this," he told reporters Monday, as he stood behind his desk. "I'm glad we had the debate, but that's the last of it you'll hear from me."
It was the right decision.
But it felt unnatural to watch Daniels retreat. It was like seeing Reggie Miller, back in the good old Pacer days, declining to take a last-second shot. Or U.S. Rep. Dan Burton turning down a free round of golf.
This just doesn't happen.
Daniels doesn't back off. Daniels doesn't retreat. His stubbornness is the thing Hoosiers love and hate about him.
He had no choice. His toll road proposal was going nowhere in the Democrat-controlled House, so Daniels made certain it died on his terms.
By killing an idea that was already three-quarters of the way to the death chamber, Daniels offered a high-profile counterpoint to the Democrats' "he doesn't listen" message.
"It was clear to me there was not a sufficient consensus to proceed," he said. ". . . I respect the very good questions that were raised and the sincerity of the people who raised them."
It was a carefully orchestrated message. But a good one.
Even in defeat, don't think Daniels is crying. His office began calling allies to announce his decision Friday but released it to the media Saturday -- a move that guaranteed a big splash in the Sunday papers. A veteran of politics, Daniels knows how to bury news you want buried: Release it late on a Friday. He also knows Sunday papers are the best read.
Headlines across the state, essentially saying, "I heard you," don't hurt.
Plus, Daniels saved himself the headache and heartburn of more hearings, organized by Democrats and full of loud opposition to the toll roads.
If Daniels made the best of a losing situation, he deserves credit for doing it so gracefully. He didn't criticize opponents. He didn't question their motives. He took the high toll road.
After Daniels met briefly with reporters Monday, I mentioned to him that retreating didn't seem to be in his nature.
He agreed but then opened his desk drawer and searched for an old scroll of paper.
"It's not like these," he said, unrolling the scroll, which included a list of campaign pledges. "This is what you're thinking of. I ran on these. And I talked about these about as openly as you can.
"I felt like I had a duty (to fulfill the pledges)," he added. "I take that very seriously."
The Indianapolis-area toll road, he said, wasn't on his list of campaign promises.
"Therefore, I don't have any problem, after we've heard from folks, saying, 'All right. Maybe we'll try something else.' "
He made a good point -- and a good decision. He also handled a good loss very well.
Just compare that to Pat Bauer's behavior after he was handed a defeat by his own caucus; the Speaker threw a tantrum and threatened to take his toupee and go home.
Mitch Daniels, in stark contrast, took it quite well; the people gave him lemons, and he made lemonade.
That's a real leader.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
It must be hard for Baron Hill to be so contradictory, saying one thing in his district and doing another when in Washington.
Campaigning upon one thing and then voting for the opposite once having been elected.
It is for these very things that Baron Hill was sent packing by the voters of the 9th District in Washington.
In 2006, Mr. Hill sought a return to Congress.
He promised that he had changed, and that he would no longer say one thing in the 9th District of Indiana while doing something else in the District of Columbia.
He has not done so. He has not changed.
True to form, Baron has written home in a letter to the News & Tribune to defend his latest vote.
You know, the one funding the reinforcements he denounced, mandating a timetable for retreat, attaching strings to money to delay it getting to the troops, and containing twenty billion in the sort of pork barrel government waste he promised to get rid of.
He had a press release, which I was intending to parody (as I have done with others before), but the letter is even better.
Like his earlier letters, he has submitted it as a clone letter; it has also been run by the Bloomington Herald-Times and the Seymour Tribune (so far).
It is an interesting mishmash of absurd assertions to contradict "misconceptions" that most people probably don't have, while simultaneously not addressing the concerns with the bill that most voters rightfully hold, namely that it is a pork-stuffed boondoggle that mandates retreat and ties the hands of the generals with a variety of new restrictions.
It is badly in need of a translation.
Hill responds to critics
Hill explains why vote wasn't a surrender to the far left, doesn't require retreating from Iraq, isn't hypocritical in funding the reinforcements he earlier denounced in nonbinding fashion, and didn't throw his claimed fiscal conservatism under the bus.
There are many misconceptions about the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act, and I would like to spell out exactly why I voted for this bill.
Please listen attentively while I explain to you why I am bowing to the wishes of the radical wing of my party and obeying the orders of Field Marshal Pelosi, Speaker of the House and General of the Armies, which were the real reasons that I voted for this legislation.
While you are listening attentively, I will completely ignore the real concerns and issues with the bill and completely and totally avoid addressing them at all.
The Field Marshal wishes for me to say something that she, err I, think is important: I must respect the wishes of the smallest and most vocal segment of my party to the detriment of all common sense and the wishes of my own constituents in Indiana.
I supported this important piece of legislation because it’s time for a change of course.
Obviously, the changes undertaken by the President thus far are insufficient.
It is not enough to fire the Secretary of Defense, sack all of the generals, and replace them with new and more competent people (including probably the best general in the entire army).
It is not enough to send reinforcements to get the job done, even though members of my own party were calling for just that before the President decided to listen to them and they were forced to disagree so that they could continue complaining about the war.
It is not enough to order new rules of engagement for our troops and to force the Iraqis to start deploying their own troops, which they are now doing.
It is not enough that the President and his commanders have drawn up an entirely new strategy with completely new tactics.
I refuse to give them the time for these things to succeed, despite having demanded in the election that they change course in the first place.
Their change of course does not suit me, and I am an expert.
I, Baron Hill, demand a completely new course, one that involves retreating from the field as quickly as I can get away with it politically.
It’s time to stop the open-ended commitment in Iraq.
I started this fight by voting to send our troops over there, but I've changed my mind. It's just too much to ask for me to finish what I started.
As a politician of some repute, I remind all of you that what I voted for on previous occasions should have no bearing on what I vote for now.
Consistency is for politicians with a modicum of conviction and, as I have amply demonstrated, I have little if any.
It’s time for the government of Iraq to take responsibility for their own security.
Rome wasn't built in a day, but the Iraqi security forces darned well better be, or we're leaving.
It’s time to start the process of bringing our troops home.
I support immediate retreat, based upon a fleeting hope that those crazy Islamic fundamentalist terrorists won't follow us back here.
It’s time to refocus our military efforts to combat terrorism.
There are no terrorists in Iraq.
The people blowing themselves up, cutting off heads, and setting off bombs are something else entirely. That Zarqawi fellow wasn't really a member of Al Qaeda, you see, he was something else. Some sort of freedom fighter, maybe.
Again, I am completely sure, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, that there are no terrorists in Iraq.
The insurgents are merely misunderstood impoverished people trying to blow themselves up to a better life.
It’s time to send a clear message that Congress will no longer provide a blank check to fund this war.
I am against further funding of the war. The only blank checks I am prepared to write are for peanut farmers, citrus growers, milk subsidies, spinach growers, salmon fisheries, shrimp harvesters, and new office space on Capitol Hill.
Remember, I will write blank checks for pork, but not for war.
And (don't tell anyone) the blank checks won't even be for pork in this district.
• Misconception No. 1: This bill does not support the troops. Supporting the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act is supporting the troops — before, during and after they are deployed. This bill enforces the Department of Defense’s current standards for military readiness and provides $2.5 billion in additional funding to ensure that our troops are properly equipped and trained; it provides $1.7 billion in additional funding for health care for our troops, and another $1.7 billion to ensure our veterans receive the care they need and deserve. Anything less is unacceptable.
• Misconception No. 1: Republicans spend more than Democrats. Hogwash. You can always rely upon Democrats to spend more than Republicans. Doesn't matter what the area or what we promised during the election, we Democrats always spend more. And given the collection of Republicans you sent packing last November, that's really saying something.
You should be proud of our ability to spend your money and raise your taxes, all while doing more of it than the President asked for and doing more of it than ever before.
• Misconception No. 2: This bill micromanages the war. The President has asked Congress to provide him with funding with “no strings attached.” And, the Democrats have said no more. This is not micromanaging, but forcing the President and Iraqi leadership to be held accountable for making real progress in Iraq. The bill also provides the President with the resources and flexibility necessary to manage the war in Iraq.
• Misconception No. 2: This bill does not micromanage the war. Pay no attention to the spending restrictions, the deployment guidelines, or the mandated timetable for retreat. Nope. Those are in the text of the bill, but I don't want to talk about them.
I, Baron Hill, am committed not only to spending more money than ever before, but also on limiting how it can be spent more than ever before.
Just don't call such limitations micromanaging. That's not micromanaging. It's something else. We'll invent a new word for it. How about Pelosimanaging? That sounds good.
• Misconception No. 3: This bill is soft on terrorism. This supplemental bill is tough on terrorism — tougher than the President’s current plan that pays little attention to Afghanistan. The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act adds $1 billion to the Department of Defense’s efforts in Afghanistan so as to refocus our military efforts on thwarting terrorism and eliminating Al-Qaeda.
• Misconception No. 3: I'll throw another useless canard in here for good measure, repeating that Democrats can always be relied upon to spend more money than Republicans.
This meaningless assertion will hopefully snow people into paying no attention to the fact that I have not addressed the bill substantively.
The uncomfortable fact is that it is stuffed with the pork I campaigned against, evades the pay-go rules I promised to restore, funds the reinforcements I voted against, and demands the retreat I said I wasn't in favor of back during the campaign.
I, Baron Hill, am proud to vote to spend taxpayer dollars on things that are so very important to me and to various special interests:
- $120 million for the fishing and shrimping industry (I like shrimp cocktails before the meals that lobbyists buy me; like I've always said, "there’s probably not a whole lot wrong with going to lunch with a lobbyist and having him pay for it")
- $100 million for citrus growers (I like eating roast duck in orange sauce when lobbyists are paying for dinner)
- $283 million for the "Milk Income Loss Program" (whatever that is)
- $74 million for peanut farmers (I like eating these at receptions held for me by lobbyists)
- $25 million for spinach growers (the President's father hates spinach, so we'll help the spinach growers)
- $25 million for livestock relief (I like eating Filet Mignon at dinners lobbyists buy me)
- $16 million for the establishment of more office space on Capitol Hill (I need a bigger office)
- $60 million for salmon fisheries (salmon is good for dinner when eating with lobbyists, too)
- Plus countless other things that you don't care about, but special interests that own my party do.
My fellow Hoosier, Congressman Mike Pence, called this legislation a "salad bar at Denny's", which is absurd. I, Baron Hill, wouldn't be caught dead eating in a place as low-brow and bourgeois as a Denny's.
As for giving more attention to Afghanistan, this is obviously quite necessary. It's not like NATO is already there, we aren't already sending more troops, and we aren't already gearing up for a spring offensive. Nope, not at all. Oh wait... Erm, uh, well, never mind.
The most powerful country on earth cannot be expected to walk and chew gum at the same time. I can't do that. Nobody expects me to do that, and I'm plenty smart. I'm a congressman, remember?
And I am told that the tanks in the heavy armored divisions and the mechanized troops currently in Baghdad will be of great use in Afghanistan, with its 20,000 foot plus mountain peaks. Tanks work plenty good in mountains, right?
Ultimately, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act holds both the President and the Iraqi government accountable by ensuring that real and tangible progress is made.
I don't want to talk about any progress currently being made because of the sending of reinforcements or because of General Petraeus and the strategic and tactical changes he ordered.
If I do have to talk about progress, I'll put some lipstick on this pig by pointing to this bill and then saying that it was responsible for any progress that is being made. Rest assured, citizens of the 9th District, that I'll take credit for any and all progress made by our soldiers as soon as I can.
It is time to turn over control of Iraq to their people.
The sooner they are not shooting at us, the sooner they can begin slaughtering each other.
The Iraqi people deserve whatever fate that our troops leaving gets them.
It is not important to finish this.
It is only important that we leave as quickly as we can.
The French were right about this from the start, so we must now strive to emulate them as closely as we can in all things, including rapid surrender.
Our troops have done their part. And, they have done it magnificently. The American people have done their part as well, by giving us their sons and daughters who ousted Saddam Hussein.
I support the troops. Really. Honestly. I support the troops.
I just hate their mission and I hate everything that they are doing, even though I voted to make them do it in the first place.
With the cost of this war approaching half a trillion dollars, it is time for the people of Iraq to spend their dollars, supply their troops and settle their differences. The destiny of Iraq is now in their hands.
I'd much rather be able to vote for emergency supplementals that send all of the money to pork barrel projects. We'll cut out the middle-man and get right down to it then. Far better that we spend half a trillion dollars on government programs and new pork barrels than on defending the United States, killing the enemy, and defeating the terrorists.
Whew. This letter is almost done. Hopefully, no one will notice that I pointed out three misconceptions held by nobody while ignoring all of the real problems everyone actually has with the bill.
This is a clever slight of hand, and I have extensive experience with it. People ask questions, and I give them answers that have absolutely nothing to do with what they asked and are utterly unrelated to the issue or subject at hand.
You'd be surprised how many useless idiots fall for it. They said during the campaign I worked for a lobbying firm in Washington. This was true, but I said it was a lie, and pointed out that I'd never been a lobbyist. Nobody noticed that they weren't even accusing me of that. Suckers.
I, of course, am not a sucker for voting for this bill, even though--while it bribed every wavering member of Congress under the sun--it contained absolutely no money at all for the 9th District. I didn't need to be persuaded or bribed to vote for this thing. I was in the can for it from the start.
Remember that, 9th District!
Whatever else they may say about Baron P. Hill, when the time came to vote to mandate retreat and to tie the hands of the generals, I wasn't bought.
I, the great Baron Hill, didn't need to be bought.
I was sold on it already.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Congressman John Campbell, a CPA, the Chairman of the Budget and Spending Taskforce of the Republican Study Committee (what a mouthful), and the author of the excellent Green Eye Shade Blog, has a post about the budget that has been proposed by the Democrats.
Surprise, surprise, it contains the largest tax increase in American history, a dubious honor last held by President Clinton and the last Democratic Congress, back in 1993.
When Democrats speak of fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism (the few that do without snickering to themselves, at least), those are code words for trying to balance the budget by raising taxes.
When Republicans speak of fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism (those that have had to bite their tongue for the past several years when certain GOP leaders threw those principles out the window), they want to balance the budget by spending less and by not growing the government more.
With this budget, the Democrats have demonstrated yet again their outstanding commitment to the cause of growing government, raising taxes, and not fixing the long-term problems with government programs like Medicare and Social Security.
In their budget, the Democrats will raise taxes by $390 billion over five years.
They will spend more than $42 billion more on non-defense spending this year alone.
And that doesn't even include the $20 billion plus in pork that was attached to the emergency spending supplemental boondoggle recently passed by the House.
Even with those tax increases, the Democrats' budget will raid the Social Security trust fund to help pay for their expansion of government and the growth of government spending.
They won't fix the looming catastrophe that is the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Their budget contains no provisions to fix long-term problems with entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.
Even the Democrats admit such problems exist, but they don't want to do anything about them. They are kicking the can down the road.
The blog of Americans for Tax Reform notes the cost of this staggering tax increase to the average citizen, and breaks it down state by state.
In Indiana, the Democratic budget will raise taxes by an average of $2,729.60 per Hoosier.
Can you spare that much money from your income to pay for the Democrats' budget?
And where is Congressman Baron Hill on this issue?
He campaigned on fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism.
Did Baron mean spending less and slowing the growth of government?
Or did he mean spending more and taxing even more on top of that?
He has already voted for numerous tax increases hidden within various spending bills under the disguise of "pay-go", like the increased taxes on ships carrying imports into the United States (which will be passed on to consumers buying those imports, Econ 101).
His vote on this budget, with its huge tax increase, will soon give us yet another example of the sort of "fiscal responsibility" that Baron Hill practices.
It's the sort of fiscal responsibility where Hoosiers have to be more careful, because your taxes are higher but the government is spending your money like never before.
Two new additions to the Hoosierpundit blogroll to announce today.
The first is Ellsworth Watch, which is keeping an eye on Brad Ellsworth over in the Bloody Eighth. Great stuff:
In yet another brazen display of willful spin, Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) has penned an op-ed piece in the Courier & Press attempting to explain his vote "supporting our troops and getting tougher on terrorism" (we have no word yet on whether Ellsworth also supports baby puppies and apple pie). Before the election Ellsworth said, "I'm against a drop-dead date of when to get out. I think that only would bolster the terrorists and those who are killing our soldiers and saying they ran us out and they won." Now, for reasons his column does not make clear, Mr. Ellsworth believes the exact opposite.
The second is Heartland Monitor, blogging about politics in Indiana in general.
Democrats have seemed all too excited about getting the next Governor's election under way. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get what you wanted. In the mean time democrats, keep your head on a swivel. You surely don't want to get mowed down by the green machine again.
Both are great reads.
An ad running today in the South Bend Tribune, urging Speaker Bauer to allow a vote on the gay marriage amendment:
Somehow, I don't think that someone who fancies himself as Indiana's own Tony Soprano will react well to that.
Hat tip: Advance Indiana.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Lee Hamilton, no doubt taking a break from solving all of America's ills, has written an opinion column for the News & Tribune urging members of Congress to "vote [their] consciences more often."
He even quotes Shakespeare.
You can't go wrong quoting Shakespeare, though it occurs to me that I've never cited the Bard as a Quote of the Day.
I'll have to fix that sometime.
There is a message in this, one that I think the Founders would endorse: that a representative democracy works best when representatives act according to their best judgment. Anything else constrains the Congress from giving full consideration to the collective wisdom and experience of its members. Shakespeare, I think, said it best in Hamlet:
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
and it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
That’s good advice for living, and splendid advice for anyone hoping to do the best job he or she can in Congress. It might even give us better government.
Here's the question, though.
What if your Congressman *cough* Baron Hill */cough* votes his conscience and his conscience doesn't match what he promised *cough* retreat and pork */cough*, and doesn't match the conscience of his constituents?
How much does having your predecessor quote Shakespeare help you then?
Sunday, March 25, 2007
The Indianapolis Star has an editorial urging the legislature to hurry up and address the issues facing the General Assembly before time runs out for the session.
At the same time, Matt Tully, citing a "leaked" Republican memo, has a column that describes Speaker Pat Bauer as a legislative mobster.
The Hair, it seems, plays political hardball.
It is not a coincidence that the General Assembly has reached this point, where there is so much to do and so little time to actually do it.
At the same time, the Indianapolis Star's lead political reporter put out a column explaining the interesting obstructionist tactics of the Democratic Speaker of the House.
The Star has criticized Bauer before for thwarting progress and blocking the General Assembly from actually doing anything.
It will probably do so again, for the current situation of much to be done and little time to do it is entirely of Bauer's making.
If the General Assembly gets nothing done, or fails to address many issues of importance to Hoosiers, it will be the Democratic Godfather, Pat "The Hair" Bauer that is responsible.
The Hair, I wager, is probably flattered by Tully's column.
Thugs tend to glorify in their thuggery getting attention.
For all Democratic spin of Governor Daniels being an intractable mean-spirited short guy (among other insults), it would appear that B. Patrick Bauer fits that bill far better and by far broader acclamation.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
As everyone with a pulse is no doubt already aware, the House of Representatives voted 218 to 212 on Friday to approve the so-called war supplemental put forward by the House Democratic leadership.
It was a bill stuffed to the gills with over $20 billion in pork barrel expenditures and government waste utterly unrelated to the war itself, yet even so determined by Field Marshal Pelosi to be "emergency spending".
The only emergency was the need for the House Democrats to actually pass something, and to take advantage of a golden opportunity to evade their own pay-go rules (which don't apply to emergency spending supplementals like this one) to gorge themselves at a trough of taxpayer money.
The bill funds the very deployment of reinforcements that the Democrats only recently voted to denounce in a nonbinding resolution, but it also mandates that those same reinforcements retreat from Iraq by sometime in 2008, along with the rest of the U.S. troops in Iraq.
The bill not only demands what the Washington Post has called "an unconditional retreat," but it also puts many strings on how the money is spent, tying the hands of commanders at the Pentagon, General Petraeus, and other generals on the ground in Iraq.
President Bush has vowed to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk with the retreat mandate, the deployment restrictions, and the unrelated spending still in it.
9th District Congressman Baron Hill, like his freshman colleagues Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth, joined the ranks of those voting in favor of this pork-stuffed retreat boondoggle.
Every Democratic congressman in Indiana has now, like the rest of their party and its leadership, become politically invested in the defeat of the United States in Iraq.
Not the defeat of George W. Bush, the President they so hate, but the defeat of the entire United States of America.
Hill, Donnelly, and Ellsworth campaigned on a moderate platform and spun themselves as conservative Democrats, but their votes have proven them to be anything but.
They campaigned on supporting the troops.
They campaigned on reigning in government spending.
They campaigned against growing budget deficits.
They campaigned against earmarks and pork barrel waste.
With this one vote, they have gone back on every one of those campaign promises.
They said that those campaign promises were Hoosier values, and that they would uphold them.
Defeat is not a Hoosier value.
The Indianapolis Star reports that Governor Daniels has dropped his proposals to build a toll road bypass around Indianapolis.
The Democrats are exultant, and their blog is full of self-congratulations at their supposed thwarting of Daniels' proposal.
It's an interesting assertion, to be sure.
First, they say that the governor is a hard-charging meanie pooh that never listens to the people and will do what he wants come hell or high water.
But when Daniels doesn't comply with their menacing partisan caricature of him--and that's all it is, really--they claim victory.
If Mitch Daniels was really the evil James Bond villain-governor that the Democrats and their Internet partisans have depicted him to be, he would not have bothered to drop the idea under any circumstance.
The Democrats don't want to admit that the governor is actually listening to the people.
If they do, the entire caricature they have attempted to construct of him will come tumbling down.
The meme of the meanie Guv would quickly unravel.
Despite the Democratic talking points to the contrary, Daniels was elected by listening to the people, and that he has been doing it all along.
He didn't stop listening to them when he won the election, but the Democrats have repeated the talking point that he doesn't listen so much that they have started to believe their own spin.
But when they can't conceal that the governor has indeed been listening, as they cannot with this story, their whole partisan construct falls apart.
The best line from the debate over the war on terrorism expense bill was from Mike Pence. "Spinach, shrimp, peanuts and shellfish?" said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). "That's not a war funding bill, that's the salad bar at Denny's." That says it all.
Yes, indeed it does.
|You Are 88% American|
You're as American as red meat and shooting ranges.
Tough and independent, you think big.
You love everything about the US, wrong or right.
And anyone who criticizes your home better not do it in front of you!
Friday, March 23, 2007
They've already voted (more on that later) on the bill, but the Washington Post has an editorial today decrying the pork stuffed into the war funding supplemental.
Congress is now less popular than the President.
Even the Los Angeles Times is criticizing Field Marshal Pelosi.
Now, the Washington Post's opinion page--usually a reliable organ for echoing Democratic Party talking points--is against the policy of micromanaged retreat and endless pork being undertaken by the House Democrats.
Retreat and Butter
Are Democrats in the House voting for farm subsidies or withdrawal from Iraq?
Friday, March 23, 2007; Page A16
TODAY THE House of Representatives is due to vote on a bill that would grant $25 million to spinach farmers in California. The legislation would also appropriate $75 million for peanut storage in Georgia and $15 million to protect Louisiana rice fields from saltwater. More substantially, there is $120 million for shrimp and menhaden fishermen, $250 million for milk subsidies, $500 million for wildfire suppression and $1.3 billion to build levees in New Orleans.
Altogether the House Democratic leadership has come up with more than $20 billion in new spending, much of it wasteful subsidies to agriculture or pork barrel projects aimed at individual members of Congress. At the tail of all of this logrolling and political bribery lies this stinger: Representatives who support the bill -- for whatever reason -- will be voting to require that all U.S. combat troops leave Iraq by August 2008, regardless of what happens during the next 17 months or whether U.S. commanders believe a pullout at that moment protects or endangers U.S. national security, not to mention the thousands of American trainers and Special Forces troops who would remain behind.
As it is, House Democrats are pressing a bill that has the endorsement of MoveOn.org but excludes the judgment of the U.S. commanders who would have to execute the retreat the bill mandates. It would heap money on unneedy dairy farmers while provoking a constitutional fight with the White House that could block the funding to equip troops in the field. Democrats who want to force a withdrawal should vote against war appropriations. They should not seek to use pork to buy a majority for an unconditional retreat that the majority does not support.
There you have it. Once again, put up or shut up.
Even the Washington Post views the bill drawn up by the House Democrats as "an unconditional retreat."
Fifteen British military servicemen, eight Royal Navy sailors and seven Marines, have been taken hostage at gunpoint by the Iranians.
I wonder if Baron Hill thinks that this, too, is circumstantial evidence.
That is what he thought when rifles bought by the Iranian government turned up killing our soldiers in Iraq.
If the murder of American and coalition servicemen in Iraq by Iranian weapons doesn't worry him and doesn't prove anything, then I am sure that mere kidnapping by Iranians won't convince him of anything either.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The Indianapolis Star reports that, alone so far of Indiana's three Democratic freshmen, Baron Hill has decided to vote for the so-called war supplemental proposed by Congressional Democratic leaders.
Freshmen Congressmen Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth apparently haven't made up their minds as yet.
Nancy Pelosi seems to have made up Hill's mind for him.
This is the same supplemental whose writing brought about an outburst by House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisconsin) at an angry liberal mother.
The bill establishes a timetable for retreating from Iraq in an "orderly withdrawal."
This despite the fact that the illustrious, taut-faced, and never-victorious Field Marshal Pelosi, Speaker of the House and General of the Armies, could not yesterday explain in any coherent way exactly what that timetable was.
Even David Obey, who wrote the legislation, didn't quite seem to know during the same conference.
Obey had the wrong century for the final date, though perhaps he was channeling memories of the Vietnam War.
Democrats do that a lot.
Having passed a resolution denouncing the deployment of reinforcements to the troops, the House Democrats are about to pass legislation that will fund those reinforcements, but mandate that they start retreating from Iraq at a fixed date.
First, they denounce the reinforcements (after some of them said before it was proposed that more troops were in fact needed).
Then they're going to fund the reinforcements, but with the catch of ordering them to retreat once they get there.
On top of this incomprehensible micromanagement of war policy, Field Marshal Pelosi's troops have loaded the bill with all manner of pork and unrelated items.
They have placed $20 billion into the bill in "emergency spending" that is utterly and totally unrelated to the war.
Among the ornaments hanging from this heavily-decorated and sagging Christmas tree:
$120 million bailout to the fishing and shrimping industry.
$100 million for citrus growers impacted by frost.
$283 million for the "Milk Income Loss Program".
$74 million to store peanuts for peanut farmers in Georgia.
$25 million for spinach growers.
$25 million for livestock relief.
$16 million for the establishment of more office space on Capitol Hill ($600 million is already being spent on this from other legislation).
$60 million for salmon fisheries.
$50 million for asbestos mitigation at the U.S. Capitol.
It also includes a minimum wage increase, which was supposed to be passed separately.
When it gets to the Senate, some Democrats hope to add even more items to the legislation and hang more ornaments upon the tree.
Among the things the Senate Democrats are looking to add?
Money for Colorado ranchers harmed by blizzards.
Funds for farmers growing mangoes.
Funds for farmers growing avocados.
Remember, this is the Democratic Party that said during the election it was going to do away with earmarks and cut pork-barrel government waste.
Baron Hill campaigned on doing away with earmarks and cutting spending.
This bill does none of that.
The princely cost of this boondoggle? Only $731 million per page.
Pelosi, Hill, and other Democrats now gorge themselves like pigs at the trough in ways that even the worst Republicans never managed.
Obviously, though Baron Hill and other "moderate" Democrats may claim to be fiscal conservatives, this pork-stuffed legislation is anything but.
But wait! There's more!
This is an emergency spending supplemental, which means that it is excluded from the so-called pay-go rules Democrats implemented when they took power.
Pay-go normally requires either tax increases or spending cuts to accompany any new non-defense discretionary spending.
Because it circumvents pay-go, the bill not only is filled to overflowing, but its additions will also go directly into the budget deficit that some Democrats, like Mr. Hill, campaigned on reigning in.
The entire bill is a giant poster child for hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy about the war. Hypocrisy about spending. Hypocrisy about earmarks. Hypocrisy about the budget deficit. Hypocrisy about campaign promises.
EDIT: David Mann has now written about Hill's position. Much to the surprise of all, he has done it without copying a press release.
Former Libertarian Kenn Gividen has a post today noting the architectural fees paid as a part of the construction of "designer" schools.
It's particularly pertinent given the career of the candidate being pushed by the Democratic establishment to be their party's nominee for governor, and his acknowledged history of being a significant party contributor and fundraiser.
And remember that recent study about the increased money going to school construction instead of actually getting to the students?
Let's also not forget the Democrats' budget, with its generous allocations for the construction of impressive new educational structures.
Take a look:
So how much do architects charge for designing government middle schools?
That's a fair question, considering an architect — whose company profits from designing government school buildings — is running for governor.
Answer: Anywhere from 5.00% to 6.30% of construction costs.
Creekside Middle School - $1,626,396
Riverside Junior High - $1,396.000
Wearidge Middle School - $1,400,000
Zionsville Middle School - $1,424,100
Brownsburg Middle School - $1,858,864
Jasper Middle School - $1,627,074
Westfield Middle School - $1,175,000
Columbus Central Middle School - $1,596,000
As Lewis Carroll once put it, curiouser and curiouser.
Praising the Colts, establishing a state beverage, delaying a vote on the gay marriage amendment, and allowing slots at race tracks.
It's good to know that our state legislators have been so active and so productive thus far in this session.
With so much free time obviously on their hands to delay and do other things, I'm sure that they'll have plenty of time to get to their constitutional responsibilities concerning the budget and to address real problems impacting Hoosiers and not just lobbyists.
They are not much like those shooter video games, but the public relations officers for Multi-National Force Iraq have been posting videos on YouTube of Coalition operations against insurgents in Iraq.
Here, Army Rangers clear an insurgent hideout in Ramadi.
You sure don't see anything like this on the nightly news.
You can view more of the MNFI videos here.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Video from the House Republican Conference.
I'd post the player itself, but they don't allow for embedding like YouTube does.
The Washington Times described it this way: "After members of the Capitol Hill press corps giggled and said they were confused, an exasperated Mrs. Pelosi finally blurted out: 'No matter what, by March 2008, the redeployment begins.' Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, dazzled reporters with his incoherence, stating that 'our troops must be out of a combat role by October - I mean by August of 19 - of 2007.' Mrs. Pelosi then reminded him that the correct date was actually 2008. Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, and committee staffers were unable to say precisely how much money was in the Iraq supplemental bill the panel was considering."
The Democrats don't have a clue what they are doing.
There's a headline you won't see screaming from any newspapers or run as the lead story on the nightly news on any of the networks, but it is now the case according to Gallup.
In case you are wondering about the polling, it is similar across other polls.
Congress had a brief bounce in popularity when the Democrats took over. A sort of honeymoon, if you will.
Now, however, their popularity is now lower than that of President Bush.
Given that we are immediately informed by the news media in breathlessly excited fashion whenever the President's approval ratings reach a new low, certainly the declining popularity of Democrats in Congress is likewise newsworthy.
In fact, the popularity of the Congress of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, and Baron Hill (had to get him in there somewhere) is now no different in statistical terms than it was when the Republicans were voted out of office in November of last year.
It took the Republicans a dozen years of deliberate effort at making missteps, spending too much, growing government too much, ignoring the American people, and departing too much from the principles that got them elected to get to that low point.
The Democrats have managed by single-minded pursue of their party's core principles of, eh, well, uh, retreat, err, withdrawal from Iraq and partisan attacks on the President, err, uh, vigorous Congressional oversight to get to the same point in less than a dozen weeks.
That's quite an achievement.
Hat tip: Powerline.
Three new deserving additions to the Hoosierpundit blogroll to announce today.
The first is Rhodopsin, a thoughtful and thorough blog fittingly named for the stuff that allows people to see better in darkness or dim lighting, which currently features a post about the gay marriage amendment.
If you've ever wonder why reports in the media about same-sex marriage are almost always accompanied by photos of women (usually attractive women) kissing, Rhodopsin will soon let you see why.
The second is My Thought World, which has beaten me to mocking certain state senators (one a candidate for governor) for trying to designate an official state beverage for Indiana (let alone making that beverage water).
The third is DisAssociatedPress, from Chad Phillips, formerly of the recently-defunct Capitol News (which just got removed from the newspaper roll, sadly).
Good reads, all.
At the News & Tribune, Daniel Robison has a guest column advocating in favor of moving Indiana's primary day forward from May to March.
While moving the primary forward makes sense, the ever-earlier nature of primaries means that March is nowhere near as early or important as it once was or might have been considered to be just a few short years ago.
Accordingly, moving the primary to March--many states are already moving their primaries forward--will not have as much of a positive impact for Indiana as it seems.
It is rather likely that both parties will have their nominees by the end of February (at this rate, they may have them this year, before a single vote is cast), which moots the point of supporting moving the primary to March with reasoning that it will garner Indiana more attention.
If you want Indiana to matter in presidential politics in a more substantive way, and thus gain visits and attention, the primary would have to be earlier than March.
It would have to be in February or even January.
Thus far, no one is proposing doing that.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
...At least that's how Democrats seem to perceive the announcement by Jim Schellinger that he will governor.
State Democrats, who have been beside themselves deriding the notion of bringing business sense to government for the past couple of years, seem to be having a religious conversion when it comes to Schellinger.
Hypocrisy is the coin of the realm for Hoosier Democrats, and now they're going to see if their establishment's candidate can win their own primary by espousing the very ideas and using the very same campaign strategy that they have attacked Mitch Daniels over for so long.
Will the Democratic base even be willing to nominate a Mitch-Lite candidate?
The party establishment seems hell bent upon forcing him upon the rest of the state.
"The right guy at the right time," former House Speaker John Gregg calls him.
Democratic State Chair Dan Parker has been championing Schellinger's candidacy more than the candidate himself.
Richard Young and Judy O'Bannon likely won't be pleased, nor Jill Long Thompson and Speaker Pat Bauer.
Bauer had sour grapes over Schellinger's declaration, saying, "To me, it's premature to have people running for governor when we are not finished with this major (legislative) session."
The Hair™ still wants some love and some attention, perhaps replete with more fundraisers during the legislative session to celebrate his greatness.
Former Libertarian Kenn Gividen has already set his sights on Schellinger, denouncing his architectural firm's political-contributions-for-building-contracts history.
The donations to campaigns are a matter of public record.
It would be interesting to go to every county clerk where Schellinger's firm built one of those nice shiny expensive buildings and see just which elected officials, from the school board to the local mayors and councils to the county offices, had money thrown in their direction by Schellinger, his firm, or someone who works at that firm.
The same could be done with state candidates and their campaigns, and then compared with the awarding of contracts to Schellinger's firm.
There would be a tale to be told, I think, and the results would likely be very interesting.
Back in January, some anti-war protesters spray painted the Capitol Building in Washington.
Now, some anti-war folks have vandalized a Congressman's office.
The offices of Michigan Republican Mike Rogers, a veteran of the Army and the FBI, were trashed and spray painted.
A banner was left behind saying that the Congressman has "blood on his hands" for the war.
These are delightful people that deface and destroy public property to try and get their point across.
Memo to the anti-war crowd: violence and intimidation in political discourse is wrong.
"It is unfortunate that a few criminals decided to attack the 8th District Congressional office in the middle of the night. This is an office which provides mid-Michigan citizens with assistance regarding Social Security, Medicare, the IRS, Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies."
"The aggressive destruction of federal property and vandalism was a callous attempt to intimidate Congressman Rogers and his staff."
"We all are entitled to our own opinion on the situation in Iraq but we are not entitled to destruction of taxpayer property and intimidation of federal officials. With an office in Lansing, regular office hours throughout the district, rapid response to constituent concerns and a 24-hour online office, Congressman Rogers prides himself on his constituent service and ensuring all voices are heard. Despite this vicious attack last night, the office continues to serve constituents today and we encourage folks to continue calling the Congressman for assistance, appointments and other information they may need."
Hopefully no one will vandalize Congressman Hill's office.
He did vote for the war, though, so I guess by such reasoning blood is on his hands too.
Monday, March 19, 2007
From the House Republican Study Committee comes the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights (viewable here, PDF warning).
It boils down to a few points:
The Republican Study Committee is proud to announce a new Taxpayer Bill of Rights. We stand committed to the belief that:
1. Taxpayers have a right to have a federal government that does not grow beyond their ability to pay for it.
2. Taxpayers have a right to receive back each dollar that they entrust to the government for their retirement.
3. Taxpayers have a right to expect the government to balance the budget without having their taxes raised.
4. Taxpayers have a right to a simple, fair tax code that they can understand.
To ensure these taxpayer rights, House conservatives hereby pledge to:
Restore fiscal discipline and find innovative new ways to do MORE with LESS.
Live up to our moral responsibility to save and secure Social Security for hard-working Americans and future generations.
Balance the budget WITHOUT raising taxes.
Create a common-sense tax code that is simple, fair and consistent.
For those who believe Washington spends too much, we agree. For those who believe Washington still taxes too much, we agree. For those who believe we must balance the budget, cut wasteful Washington spending and provide further, permanent tax relief, we agree. And so we pledge to do it better and get it RIGHT. The RSC will work tirelessly to decrease the federal budget so that hardworking Americans can keep more of what they earn. Leaders in Washington must never forget that tax money belongs to the taxpayers, not the government. Relief is on the way.
If Republicans had planted their campaign flag on a return to fresh ideas and put forth things like this before the 2006 election, they might well still have the majority.
With a return to being the party of ideas, they can get it back.
Congressman John Campbell (R, CA-48), the chairman of the Budget and Spending Taskforce of the Republican Study Committee, is posting at the excellent Green Eye Shade Blog over at Townhall.com.
It's not an official Obama ad (supposedly), but it sure takes it to Hillary Clinton.
Take a look.
The 2006 election will probably be remembered, thanks to things like TiVo and YouTube, as the last campaign waged primarily with old-style television ads.
Hat tip: Josh in the Box.
The Star's Matt Tully reports that Jim Schellinger will indeed seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
Dubbed the 800-pound gorilla by former House Speaker John Gregg, Schellinger will certainly instantly become the Democratic front runner by virtue of his automatic support from the state party establishment in Indianapolis.
Dan Parker, the Indiana Democratic Party's chairman, has probably talked more about Schellinger running for governor than the architect himself and the establishment always rallies to its candidate.
I am certain that Jim Schellinger will have an innovative campaign that will break new ground by touting success in business, the value of applying business sense to government, and the importance of having a wealthy guy in flannels talking to ordinary people about the their issues and state's problems.
These are all successful campaign themes, I suppose, and they always say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
The Schellinger campaign might even utilize a bus or an RV or something. That would be something Hoosiers have never seen before.
What with those years of steady campaign contributions to Democrats and mightily impressive (and mightily expensive) schools to his record, Schellinger is certain to go far.
Now that the 800-pound gorilla is in, attention seems to be turning to auditions for the role of supporting actor/actress in the lieutenant governor spot.
I suspect that someone will forget to tell Richard Young and Judy O'Bannon that the Democratic primary race is over.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
The right-of-center blogosphere has dubbed this speech given by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with the following vote that defeated the Democratic Iraq withdrawal timetable proposal earlier this week, as the "Mitchslap".
Memo to Senator McConnell's staff:
Make the next video of much better resolution and video quality.
The sound you are hearing is the wind slowly going out of the Democrats' sails.
They appear set to squander the momentum they gained in November on Iraq war resolutions.
Just as the Republicans expended the momentum of 2004 in the first half of 2005 on the political quagmire of trying to reform Social Security and the failed efforts to prevent the death of Terry Schiavo, the Democrats seem determined to drain their momentum on a wide variety of Iraq war resolutions.
The Republican base demanded action on Social Security. It demanded action on Terry Schiavo.
Both were probably insoluble by Congress to begin with, but the demands of the base had to be met anyway.
The Democratic base has demanded action on Iraq. This is as much tilting at windmills as privatizing Social Security or passing laws to prevent the unplugging of a hospital patient in Florida.
The war cannot be addressed by Congress short of a full suspension of funding, which would be political suicide for Democrats.
Even the Los Angeles Times is against Congress attempting to micromanage the war and trying to function as 535 commanders-in-chief.
Despite being unable to do anything, the Democrats continue to fritter away their political capital in vain efforts to pass largely meaningless and toothless resolutions about Iraq.
It is a Catch-22.
The Democrats must heed their leftist base, yet the more they heed it, the more time they waste and the less they can accomplish.
The Indianapolis Star has an article about a new state report that indicates that the proportion of state education funding actually making it to students has declined from last year.
The slice of the pie actually getting to students, they say, is shrinking.
With the $10 billion spent on education in Indiana, the 2% shift from 63% to 61% represents $200 million that should have been spent on students but has instead gone into other stuff.
What sort of other stuff? Expensive new buildings, it seems.
Indiana's expenditures devoted to school building projects exceed the national average, and grew significantly from last year (a growth rate of over 5.5%).
Meanwhile, the state Democratic establishment continues to glorify a potential challenger to Mitch Daniels.
You might recall that Jim Schellinger, who is facing nigh-coronation by the state Democratic Party despite other candidates already in the field, made his fortune as an architect for a firm that designs expensive schools that are pleasing to the eye.
Those sorts of nice shiny new buildings are exactly the thing that created the decline in the the proportion of funding actually getting to Hoosier children.
It should probably come as no surprise that Pat Bauer would steer a lot of money to new educational construction in the absurd sham / mathematical nightmare he calls a "budget".
It looks to me like the education pie slice going to Indiana's children shrank because Pat Bauer and the Democrats ate part of it.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Back during the 2006 election campaign, I took both Baron Hill's campaign and one of the supporters of Mike Sodrel to task on this blog for an interesting habit of copying and pasting press releases and letters.
This is a bit different than it being done by an actual reporter for a given newspaper, but it is nevertheless condemnable.
As I noted here, Shell Law (a supporter of then-Congressman Mike Sodrel) copied a Sodrel campaign press release and submitted it as a letter to the News & Tribune.
Because in that trench warfare campaign no action--however low--could ever be allowed to go unsurpassed--to ever-greater depths--by the other side, Baron Hill and his campaign decided to top Law's copying of a campaign press release.
They cut out the middleman (or in Miss Law's place, middlewoman), and (as noted here, near the middle) Baron sent in one of his own press releases disguised as a letter.
He even sent it to multiple newspapers (as noted here), which was enough to get me to write a letter (which I blogged about near the bottom, here) to News & Tribune pointing out just that fact.
Mr. Hill won the election, and the question bears repeating:
Once in office, will Mr. Hill answer the unique concerns of his individual constituents by copying and pasting as well?
Baron Hill has now answered.
With the vast resources of a full Congressional staff behind him, Mr. Hill has made a condemnable and sorry habit of doing just this very thing.
In this week's Corydon Democrat, for example, Baron Hill submitted the exact same letter that ran in the News & Tribune (first discussed here) several days ago.
It's not available online for some reason (probably because the Corydon Democrat's editors recognize spam when they see it), so I scanned it.
He also fired off a copy to the Jackson County Banner.
Mr. Hill probably got other newspapers in the district as well with this interesting form of Congressional newspaper spam, but they either haven't run it yet or don't post their letters online.
Not one of these letters was different from the other, even though Floyd County is very different from Harrison County and Harrison County is very different from Jackson County.
All, I think, deserve better than cookie-cutter or copy-and-paste treatment from their representative in Congress.
As I said earlier, there are not that many newspapers in the 9th District.
Is it really that difficult for Congressman Hill (or his staff, since the so-called "letter" is largely formed from parts of press releases) to write a unique letter for a given community newspaper?
One must assume that they would try to deal with each constituent uniquely, so it follows that they could deal with each community (and its newspaper) uniquely as well.
There are, as I said earlier, far fewer newspapers in the 9th District than there are constituents.
Maybe this letter spamming is common practice for Mr. Hill, but that doesn't make it right.
The people of the 9th District deserve better.