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Daily Archives: April 24, 2007

http://marklevinfan.freepgs.com/Audio/Levin042307Opening.wma Please listen. He says much the same thing I keep saying… only he’s better at saying it.

Mark Levin’s Bio  Pay particular attention to the his career during the Reagan presidency. Folks, this fellow ain’t just whistling “Dixie”.

Afternote: I cannot stess enough how much everybody, left and right, need to listen to Mark Levin.

Democrats Plan Scandal Offensive  <—- To read the article without commentary or added emphasis click on the title.

By: Jeff Patch and Patrick O’Connor
April 23, 2007 06:25 PM EST

House Democrats plan to recycle their “Culture of Corruption” slogan this week in an attempt to further tar congressional Republicans as scandals continue to plague the GOP. Democratic leaders hope this spring offensive puts Republicans on defense when the majority introduces a lobbying reform package early next month.

Their most recent campaign targets a series of alleged misdeeds, including the controversy surrounding eight fired U.S. attorneys and the recent FBI raids of California Republican Rep. John Doolittle’s home in Northern Virginia and a business associated with Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.). (Of course, they don’t mention Democrat corruption. Corruption is reserved only for the opposition. I wait with bated breath how they characterize their own dishonesty, such as spurious claims that send a man to jail for a noncrime, Nancy Pelosi’s treason and violation of the Logan Act, William Jefferson’s coffers, Dianne Feinstein’s contract manipulations,etc. )

“Our intention is to keep our foot on the gas as the party of reform,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who embraced the reformers’ mantle in the spring of 2005 as the Democrats’ then-campaign chief. (Politics as usual. There is nothing new here. Instead of working to better government they act like sore losers and do nothing that matters to their constituents, except for a select few, of couse, such as moveon.org, Daily Kos, and George Soros to name a few.)

The scandal that has emerged from the administration’s dismissal of eight federal prosecutors is “an umbrella” under which these other scandals fit, Emanuel said. He also criticized the GOP for failing to introduce reform principles even in the minority to govern the interaction between lobbyists and lawmakers and their staff. ( They need an umbrella of another non-crime to play political pinball with our national security and civil rights while catering to fascist regimes the world over. One wonders if their idea of reform will cover Democratic Party corruption as well or will it be a special type legislation that covers the opposition only. There are already “reforms” on the books that have that effect, because the Democrats don’t play by the rules. They break them frequently, using loopholes, oversights, committees, and fronts. Do we really want a government that claims one rule for itself and another for everybody else?

Not long ago… and I wish I could remember where I read it …there was an article written about the Republicans in the House complaining they were not allowed to speak or introduce bills on their own. This is another example of a self fulfilling prophecy perpetrated by the Democrats… they say Republicans are “failing to introduce” and make it appear so by not allowing them to do anything. )

Emanuel will focus on the firing of federal prosecutors during remarks Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, according to his office. Other House Democrats will highlight the FBI raids, among other alleged transgressions, in a series of press releases and floor speeches over the next two weeks, said Democratic aides. (I hope there is at least one reporter there who will ask the hard questions about what they propose to do about corruption on their side of Congress. )

“Culture of Corruption” became a popular refrain for congressional Democrats during their march to the majority, but House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) got Doolittle and Renzi to resign from sensitive committee posts in the wake of the FBI raids. (I don’t think people realized then that they were voting in the “Culture of Corruption” but I hope they do now. )

“While Democrats willfully ignore their own problems, Republicans are making good on their promises to confront ethics issues more proactively and decisively,” said Brian Kennedy, Boehner’s spokesman. “Turning the House into a three-ring finger-pointing circus won’t help restore trust between the public and members of the House, but it will help shatter all previously set records for shamelessness and hypocrisy in partisan politics.” (A very telling and concise report of our present Congress. The standard in Congress is: “Do as I say, not as I do.”)

This push on lobbying reform comes as supporters were becoming increasingly concerned that the House would not act on legislation. The issue stalled last year in the Republican-controlled Congress. Then in January, the House immediately approved a rules change banning gifts and travel on corporate jets. Democratic leaders promised to move a broader reform package by April to regulate the lobbying community. In contrast, the Senate passed its own lobbying reform legislation as its first order of business.

Democratic House leaders are making this next push as questions continue to haunt the GOP.

“These revelations reinforce in the public mind why they rejected the Republican Congress,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said about the dual revelations regarding the FBI raids and the unfolding U.S. attorneys scandal. (Will they fare any better in the next elections? All things considered, of course. They have not only done the very things they accused the Republicans of doing but have stepped up those actions into a whole new level.)

The DCCC is going to release a video on its website highlighting the ethical questions surrounding Doolittle later this week, said spokeswoman Jennifer Crider. The committee has made similar videos to criticize Republican Reps. Gary G. Miller of California and Heather Wilson of New Mexico, who has admitted to contacting one of the fired U.S. attorneys before the attorney’s dismissal. (Here is where it will get interesting… I believe an answering video highlighting Democratic Corruption will be a good answer to this. I’m positive someone will do it, too.)

Van Hollen said the firings “are part and parcel with an overall pattern of the Republicans’ abuse of power.” (I chuckled when I first read this. The Democrats abuse of power makes the Republicans look like small fish in a big pond of pirhanas. The Democrats don’t just stop at normal corruption, they usurp powers they were never meant to have under our Constitution and threaten anyone who questions them.)

Many freshman Democrats campaigned on cleaning up Washington, and these first-year legislators have been pushing their leaders to introduce a lobbying reform package. Twenty of them are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter in support of an independent ethics enforcement office that has been the subject of a task force run by Democratic Rep. Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts. Leadership aides said the measure would not be included in the lobbying reform package but could be addressed later. (This is one of the biggest pities of all. These Republican eating pirhanas will not stop with the opposition party. They will dine on members of their own party who believe that it is still the Democratic Party and operate on that assumption.)

Public Citizen lobbyist Craig Holman said that creating an outside enforcement mechanism is critical to lobbying and ethics reform because even the most far-reaching laws would be meaningless without effective enforcement. (And there you have it. Reform laws will be wielded with an iron fist against any and all opposition and applied sparingly if at all to those who “toe the party line”.)

“I suspect that Capuano wanted to do little to restructure the ethics process, other than tinkering,” said Holman, who is helping to circulate the freshman letter to gin up support for his efforts. “But now with the frosh letter, I believe there is additional pressure from Pelosi’s office for Capuano to do something, and we may see quite a bit more emerge from the task force.”

In an interview, Capuano would not discuss the specific recommendations his task force made to leadership, saying that no single measure holds the key to ethics reform. “The promise was never about a specific item,” he said. “The promise was to be more ethical.”

Two separate proposals — one by freshman Reps. Zack Space (D-Ohio) and Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and another by Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) — would create an entirely independent ethics agency. Another idea, offered by Reps. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), would establish an independent investigative office — the Office of Public Integrity — within the congressional ethics committee. A coalition of outside reform groups meets weekly to share ideas and plot strategy. (There really truly is no such thing as independent when it comes to politics. This agency will be in the hands of whoever wields the most power in the government, plain and simple. But, of course, it will allow the Democrats to raise more taxes won’t it? )

The groups, which include Democracy21, Public Citizen and the Campaign Legal Center, differ on some of the details in a reform package, but they have united around three main issues: full disclosure of bundling of campaign contributions by lobbyists; disclosure of “AstroTurf,” or paid campaigns to generate grass-roots responses; and increased revolving-door restrictions.

Groups that oppose some of these changes say they have been locked out of negotiations on the package. “There is a bit of irony that legislation advertised as bringing ‘sunshine’ to the legislative process is being written behind closed doors by inside-the-Beltway lobbyists,” said Lawrence A. Fineran of the National Association of Manufacturers. (Earlier in my commentary, I mentioned complaints that Republicans aren’t allowed to do anything… this rather ties into it, don’t you think?)

Bundling

The bundling provision would require lobbyists to disclose quarterly all the campaign donations they solicit and then give to candidates, the amount of money they raise and the number of fundraising events they host. ( I can see a lot of potential for abuse here.)

Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center, said she sees the bundling provision as “make or break,” but she’s worried members may recoil from allowing filings by lobbyists that highlight their names. Lobbyists have strongly objected to releasing such information, and many have vowed to stop raising money if the House passes such requirements.

Advocates for lobbying reform say Van Hollen supports the bundling measure, and they take that as a sign that he doesn’t think it would seriously affect congressional members’ ability to raise money. Van Hollen, along with Meehan, also introduced the idea in another House bill.

However, several associations, including the American Association for Justice, oppose this measure and are lobbying against it.

AstroTurf Disclosure

Reformers want to add a provision to the House bill that forces lobbying groups to disclose paid grass-roots efforts, such as phone calls to Congress generated to create support or opposition to legislation. A similar amendment failed in the Senate bill after a coalition of nonprofits, from the ACLU to the National Right to Life Committee, opposed it as an unfair restriction on free speech. (Does this mean that George Soros won’t be able to use organizations such as moveon.org and others of its ilk to tell the Democrats what to do or is this just for cutting off  access to our elected officials for the average small groups of citizens who are concerned with the direction of the country? If the latter is the case, I suppose we still have petitions, right?)

Meehan worked with advocacy groups on a compromise measure that would affect only lobbying groups that spent more than $100,000 per quarter on paid communications. It’s unclear whether members are willing to risk the ire of groups that oppose this, such as the National Rifle Association.

Revolving Door

Activists want to increase the revolving-door time frame from one year to two. They also would expand the lobbying activities covered. Currently, senior staffers who earned at least 75 percent of a member’s salary cannot lobby their former office; if reformers have their way, those staffers will not be able to lobby at all. This has been dubbed the “Billy Tauzin provision,” after the former Louisiana congressman who became Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s chief lobbyist after he retired in 2005.

 While there is a lot questionable about their reform bill proposals, the big part of this article for me was the corruption scandal agenda. Both our main parties, and likely the smaller independent parties as well, have corrupt officials. Right now I’d say it’s about equal pickings among them. To allow one party that kind of power over everybody else is national suicide.

April 2007
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