31 January 2009

Go Steelers!

Full out partisanship now brought to you on this site.


Refusing blame and taking credit

The Iraqi provincial elections were peacefully conducted, under relatively free and fair conditions. They absolutely have a long way to go, but they've come a long way to a democratic state in a very short period (just look how long it took the U.S. to have free and open elections), and President Bush deserves at least the credit for envisioning this. President Obama, however, seems to be the one in the limelight, and feels free to lecture the Iraqis after having repeatedly said we have failed in Iraq.

Mr Obama urged the newly elected councils to "get seated, select new governors, and begin work on behalf of the Iraqi people who elected them".

On a different note, the promise of the Obama campaign to retire Hillary Clinton's debt has gone unfulfilled. The new Secretary of State still has a nearly $6M debt to vendors. It's a little awkward for a Sec. State to explain and enforce US policy overseas when she can't pay up. I hope this is one campaign promise that the President does keep. He certainly owes her that much.

30 January 2009

Michael Steele for RNC Chair

The AP and NPR have reported that Michael Steele has been elected over 6 balloting attempts to be the next RNC chair. He's an interesting man: socially conservative, moderately conservative fiscally but with some populist leanings, and the first African-American to head the RNC. He's been called to reclaim the party's strength with young voters.


A reply from Sen. Bill Nelson: Nope, not going to change a thing

Early this week, I wrote to Sen. Bill Nelson (D, FL), one of my two state senators. Sen. Mel Martinez is the other, and I have also written him. I demanded that unless the pork was removed from the stimulus bill, that he vote against it. I didn't actually hold out hope that he would bother, but was particularly disturbed by his reply, which I have pasted below. In essence, the Senator says that he understands that overspending and deficits can be bad, but since this plan (in his estimation) is targeted only on jobs-creation and helping people keep their homes (where he gets that, I have no idea after reading most of the bill), it's not a problem. Much of the letter is pandering drivel, but I'm guessing that this is what many in the Senate are thinking. I'm planning on writing the Senator back to protest being treated like a mindless four-year old, and to reiterate my original objections. I'm not sure what's worse: the drivel from my Senator or the lack of any answer from my Representative. Any thoughts on what to include?


Please do not reply to this e-mail. If you need to send another message to Senator Nelson, please use the form on his Web site: http://billnelson.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm#email

Thank you for contacting me about the economic stimulus package.

The American people are hurting. They are losing their homes, their jobs, their businesses and their life savings. Economists across the political spectrum agree that the government needs to take bold and immediate action to stimulate the economy and curb the risk of a protracted economic recession.

The economic stimulus package will provide critical tax relief, shore up unemployment benefits and food stamps, improve access to health care, and promote energy independence. I believe the stimulus package is narrowly targeted to spend and invest in ways that will get the economy moving again.

I understand your concerns about the stimulus package. Last year I voted against spending $700 billion to bail out Wall Street because the bill lacked meaningful relief for homeowners facing foreclosure and didn't include adequate protections for American taxpayers. I am committed to reducing wasteful spending and improving transparency in Federal funding. For too long have we ignored the consequences of a burgeoning Federal deficit.

As Congress considers measures to put the economy on the right track, I will be sure to keep your views in mind. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future.

P.S. From time to time, I compile electronic news briefs highlighting key issues and hot topics of particular importance to Floridians. If you'd like to receive these e-briefs, visit my Web site and sign up for them at http://billnelson.senate.gov/news/ebriefs.cfm

29 January 2009

Lilly Ledbetter and Mary Kay

Uppity Woman had a wonderful and timely blog on the signing today of the Lilly Ledbetter law that extends the filing time for employment discrimination lawsuits. It's a decision I utterly agree with, and one on which our new President is something of a hypocrite as pointed out by Uppity.

The whole thing reminds me of a report on NPR yesterday about increasing numbers of women turning to independent businesses, especially Mary Kay and Avon. As the daughter of a former Mary Kay rep., and a user of both businesses, I found this interesting and timely.

Oink! Can I have a do-over please?

The breakdown, of the 'stimulus,' err, Santa's wish-list, passed by the House of Representatives yesterday (without one Republican vote and without 12 Dems, brave souls), in the Wall Street Journal today is astounding. I'll be there at least some voters out there wishing they could have a do-over from last Nov. 2. I just 'loved' Nancy Pelosi's grin as she announced the votes last night - she looked like she was in rictus. This thing is pure pork, and I've already written my Senators to demand they vote against it without substantial revision. We probably do need a stimulus, something this bill ain't.

Here's an excerpt:

We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

In selling the plan, President Obama has said this bill will make "dramatic investments to revive our flagging economy." Well, you be the judge. Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects. There's another $40 billion for broadband and electric grid development, airports and clean water projects that are arguably worthwhile priorities.

Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren't likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President's new budget director, told Congress a year ago, "even those [public works] that are 'on the shelf' generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy."

28 January 2009

We're sorry, so sorry ...

Can't you just hear Brenda Lee singing her classic song when you read this? Apparently Ahmadinejad thinks that we will apologize for opposing nuclear development by Iran. Maybe we'll even apologize for Pres. Carter's decision to give refuge to the Shah. At least, that's what he thinks he can push on the new Obama Administration. Hopefully, Mr. Hope and Change will have the guts to stand up to him. Otherwise, get ready for rug burns.

Maybe They'll Have to Apologize .... to Bush

The New York Times has posted an article with the title, Early Voting in Iraq is Mostly Smooth. The usual problems with a young state exist, but an actual democratic election seems to be underway. Any bets on when they'll post an apology for their coverage of the prior administration?

25 January 2009

Change we can believe in?

On President Obama's first full day in office, he signed strict new 'transparency' rules, including regulations on the revolving door between K Street and government. Apparently those rules were signed a little too quickly because he turned around two days later to request an exception to these new rules to allow William Lynn to be the new Deputy Secretary of Defense. Mr. Lynn was a lobbyist until last month. This about face turned out to be too much for Campbell Brown on CNN, who pleaded with the Obama Administration to enact 'actual transparency.' On a slightly less serious note, The Technology Liberation Front is griping that the administration is violating transparency commitments by not immediately posting documents related to meetings with non-governmental entities.

So what do you think? Is this the kind of change the voters were hoping for?

In the meanwhile, the proposals for a 'Bad Bank,' to absorb all bad (or potentially bad) holdings by major banks (in the hopes of freeing up the credit markets) have now risen to as high as $6 trillion. These allocations would be on top of the stimulus proposals (running between $700 billion and $1 trillion), and on top of the allocations from last year. At this rate, the debt burden from the 2008 - 2010 fiscal years won't be paid for at least six generations. That's not the kind of change I'm hoping to pass on down to my child and future generations.

20 January 2009

Fearing fear

The oaths are over, and today's inauguration was indeed majestic. As Michael Reagan just said on ABC, it's President Obama's day, and he's earned it. Well, he's certainly earned the day. I don't know that I like the concept that he's 'earned' a $170M day secured by 40,000 personnel. That seems incredibly excessive, but at least the Inaugural Commission has promised to release donor names for those who gave more than $200.00.
I find myself thinking of Fred Barnes article in the Weekly Standard, titled "The Only Thing We Have to Fear." The article focuses on the big concerns that many of us have with the policy proposals that came out during the Obama campaign and subsequently. The first 'thing to fear' caught and held my attention throughout the rest of the article; we're afraid he doesn't know what he's talking about. Not in a general sense - he's a smart person and an excellent speaker. No, we are worried that he doesn't understand the fiscal and policy fallout that will occur if he enacts all he has said, and that he doesn't even have a solid plan in place (witnessed by the many changes to numbers of jobs, financing of the stimulus plan, tax rates, etc.). The rest of the article continued to ring true for me.
However, the main concept in the article; that we should be afraid; is not helpful and is unhealthy. It's our job as conservatives of all stripes to respect the office (and the man if possible), and provide opposition and challenge. Letting ourselves become paralyzed with fear will not help the party to rebuild, will not help advance our cause, and will make us seem like whiners, rather than an intelligent opposition. So don't be afraid, but be wary, cautious and willing to see if just maybe some of our worst fears are ungrounded.

19 January 2009

A timely (and appropriate) pardon

The New York Times published an article today on President Bush's last use of his authority to commute and pardon, by reducing the sentences of two border agents convicted of shooting an unarmed and fleeing drug dealer. The dealer apparently had 743 pounds of marijuana, and the agents shot him while he was 'running away.' It's true that they shot an unarmed man who was fleeing, and that there was no imminent danger to themselves or fellow agents. It's also true that the long-term effect was to protect the American public, and to keep our borders secure. Even Sen. Feinstein seemed to troubled by the continued prosecution of these agents. I think it's an appropriate use of his authority to pardon. It's surely a better use of that authority than the pardon of Mark Rich.

18 January 2009

Back and weirded out

The Moderate Conservative is back after a nearly two month break, and feeling like I've entered an alternative universe. My party is in disarray and retreat (Mel Martinez, why the h--- are you leaving after one term?!), and for some reason, I find myself identifying with the writing of Camille Paglia at Salon.com. Of course, she perpetually sounds like a liberal whose lost her bearings, and whose common sense makes her sympathetic to more conservative leanings. Just look at her article from right after the election (title link).

I hope I wasn't the only one disappointed by the pre-inaugural concert broadcast today on PBS on HBO (huh?). Not the music - most of that was pretty fun; it was the thematic sense gained from the music, speeches, prayer (by the lovely Gene Robinson), etc. The theme seemed to be one of, heah! Everything's good because we've intelligently elected the next Messiah, who has arisen to make all well. It all culminated with Pete Sieger singing "This land is your land ..." It's a song I enjoy, but was proclaimed to be the greatest song ever written about America. Help! Get me out of this time-space warp please!

On a happy note, the Steelers are hanging on to a razor-thin lead in the AFC championship. Just four minutes to go, and we're back in the Superbowl! Wait, no, we just won! Another touchdown with 4:24 to go. I love the long-haired dude whose name I can never remember, and I love Ben!

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