Archive for ‘Senate’

July 22, 2009

‘Transparency’ Looks a Lot Like Hell

At least for George Madison, nominated by President Obama to be general counsel for the Department of the Treasury, which means a hearing tomorrow morning with the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has a few questions for the luckless bastard . . .

July 15, 2009

IG-Gate: Whispers of hints of shadows

Ever been in one of those situations where you don’t know exactly what’s going on, but somebody’s hinting that something’s going on?

Read every word of this.

The subject was raised in an indirect sort of way. I just jotted down some notes and didn’t think too much about it. But my drive home from D.C. is more than an hour long, and as I mentally rehearsed what I’d seen and heard . . . Well, what was that about?

Maybe it was nothing. But maybe it was something. I’m trying to stay calm. Don’t try to predict the future.

Shoe leather is an amazing journalistic resource. This is the kind of reporting that gets the blood pumping. Because of unexpected complications in my itinerary, I didn’t park my car at Union Station until 4:09 p.m., but after I got through on the Hill, I was whistling a happy tune while I walked back down First Avenue, re-entering the marble lobby of the station at 6:37 p.m., as my meticulous notes show.

From the start: Tourists were still standing in line for a chance to get into the Sotomayor hearings, and I’d left my cell phone in the car. “Deep Cleavage” hadn’t returned my calls, and nobody was expecting my arrival on the Hill. It was pleasantly sunny but not hot, and the biggest hassle I had was having to empty my pockets and remove my belt — the buckle sets off the metal detectors — to enter the different congressional office buildings.

“The Other McCain,” said the receptionist, becoming accustomed to my unannounced arrivals. X is on vacation. Hmmm. What about X’s Deputy, Y? Not in. Well, how about Z?

I’m sitting on the sofa and, on the lobby TV, Lindsay Graham is applying a flamethrower to Sotomayor, trying to produce that “meltdown” he’d previously suggested was so unlikely. Get ’em, Goober! I’m almost willing to take back some of those homophobic slurs . . .

Good news! The receptionist says that Z will be there momentarily. Z is “Deep Cleavage.” We had never previously met but are already becoming . . . eh, bosom buddies. Z arrives and, as we make our way down the elevator to the basement cafeteria, this unexpected subject arises.

It must have been important, otherwise I wouldn’t have a full page of notes about it. But it wasn’t what I came to ask about. Deep Cleavage raises the subject and discusses it at some length before I even get a chance to start asking questions.

At the time, however, it didn’t register. We were both in somewhat of a hurry. I had other people to see, and Deep Cleavage had a 5 o’clock conference call. It seemed like we talked for 45 minutes but since I didn’t even go through the metal detectors until 4:25 p.m. — meticulous notes, you see — it couldn’t have been that long.

Au revoir, Deep Cleavage, and off I go. Another office, another TV screen with Sotomayor hearings. The person I came to see is not in, but the deputy is available. OK. Actually, much better than OK. Introduction to a staffer who is eager (!) to help. All the charm I can muster is employed in a quick chat in the hallway and I take my leave with a courtly bow. This could become a very important source.

Quickly cutting across the Capitol grounds toward Independence Avenue. The woman walking across from the other side of the avenue is talking on a cell phone, but looks up. “Excuse me, ma’am, but which one is [name of office building]?” She points to the building.

When I get there, neither the communication director nor the press secretary is in the office. The receptionist — actually, “staff assistant” is her title — isn’t exactly eager to help. It’s past 5:30 now, she’s running out the clock, and she doesn’t know me from Adam’s housecat.

Ah, but there is more than one way to skin Adam’s housecat and, with the help of directions from an older gentleman, I’m on my way through an underground tunnel to another office building.

In the tunnel, I encounter a cluster of young aides. Obviously, Republicans. The girls are too pretty to be Democrats. Turns out they’re Georgians and blonde Shannon, who just finished her junior year at UGA, went to Lassiter High. Ah, once dated a girl from Lassiter, and another one at Sprayberry, but that redhead from North Cobb — her backyard was the 10th tee at the country club and . . .

The Georgians think I’m joking (I’m not) and they razz me when I start humming the University of Alabama fight song. This is fine amusement as we’re walking through the tunnel.

Reaching my destination, I connect with my source of last resort. We’re talking in the office vestibule when the Congressman, his wife and children pass through. My source doesn’t want to trouble the boss, but I know the magic.

“Congressman!” And immediately I’m shaking hands and schmoozing it up, making sure to praise the excellent services peformed by the congressman’s staffer, my source.

The congressman and family exit and, as soon as the door closes behind them, I high-five my source. That, my friend, is how it’s done: Impose yourself. They’re public servants, right? Well, I’m the freaking public.

Explain to the source who it is that I need to get direct contact with. We briefly discuss — of all people — Conor Friedersdorf, whose satire of my methods was both funny and accurate. If only I’d remembered to bring my pink camera . . .

Assured that I’ll be contacted by the person I need to talk to, I’m ready for the return trip. I ride down the elevator with a recently-elected Democratic member of Congress. I cut back across the Capitol grounds and a few minutes later, as I cross the intersection of First and C, I’m jazz-whistling “Georgia On My Mind.” The policeman on the corner says, “That’s something you don’t see anymore — people whistling while they walk.”

No, you sure don’t, I answer. What I don’t say is that you also don’t see reporters take their leave with a courtly bow. A sense of history — an evocative name — now occupies my mind, and I find myself switching the tune to “Shenandoah” as I cross past the Columbus monument toward Union Station. In a few days, there will be a major deadline, but this is far from my thoughts.

I’m going to beat you today — and didn’t I?

A 150-mile round-trip drive, 2 hours and 28 minutes on the Hill, and I’ve got notes for my next article, as well as a quick blog post at AmSpec, plus promises of connections to more sources in coming days. No sir, you can’t beat shoe leather, and it’s good for the soul.

Quick shout-out to Obi’s Sister, Dan Collins, The Rhetorican and WWU-AM/Camp of the Saints, and this from Jimmie Bise:

So, keep the faith, folks. We may well get that accountability and transparency Barack Obama promised us yet, no matter how hard he fights to break that promise.

Ah, Jimmie, my boy! When will you be back in DC? Check your schedule for Friday. What tales I have to tell, and what new friends you must meet. Y’all be sure and hit the tip jar — another courtly bow, and good-night!

July 9, 2009

Dear Republican Senators . . .

. . . while I love my wife very much and trust her completely, it has nonetheless come to my attention that some members of the Senate GOP caucus are so irresistible that any woman might be tempted to stray. And for $96,000 . . .

June 2, 2009

Cheap shot at Sotomayor’s opposition

Leading conservatives have signed a letter (text in PDF format) asking Republican Senators to filibuster Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Greg Sargent today takes a shot at this coalition:

The organizer of the pressure campaign — which has angered Senate GOP leaders — is identified as one Manuel Miranda, whom the paper only describes as a “former adviser on judicial issues to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.”
There’s a bit more to Manuel Miranda than that, however. Miranda, as longtime Congressional insiders will recall, was the GOP Senate staffer who was nailed in 2004 for hacking into the computers of Senate Dems and downloading thousands of documents relating to the strategies of Dem Senators on judicial nominations. . . .

Read the rest, but this is an idiotic and irrelevant attack. What happened was that there was a glitch in the congressional computer software, allowing Republican staffers to access an area of the system that Democratic staffers thought was private.

Nobody “hacked” anything. Miranda was merely the staffer who discovered the files showing that Democrats were blocking the judicial nomination of Miguel Estrada because he was Latino, highly qualified, and Dems feared the impact if Estrada eventually were nominated to the Supreme Court.

If Manuel Miranda were a Democrat, he’d be celebrated as a “whistleblower,” instead of being smeared as a “hacker.” As it is, Miranda’s involvement in the anti-Sotomayor effort is being used in a ridiculous guilt-by-association smear. Look at a partial list of the other signatories on this letter to Senate Republicans:

Richard Viguerie, ConservativeHQ.com
David Keene, American Conservative Union
Gary Bauer, American Values
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Larry Pratt, Gun Owners of America
Dr. Virginia Armstrong, Eagle Forum’s Court Watch
Colin Hanna, Let Freedom Ring
Mark R. Levin. President, Landmark Legal Foundation
Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family
Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America
Rev. Miguel Rivera, National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders
Dr. Carl Herbster, AdvanceUSA
Donald E. Wildmon, American Family Association
Niger Innis, Congress of Racial Equality
Willes K. Lee, Hawaii Republican Party. Immediate Past Chairman
Ron Robinson, Young America’s Foundation
Michael P. Farris, Esq., Home School Legal Defense Association
Peter Flaherty, National Legal and Policy Center
Kelly Shackelford. Liberty Legal Institute
Dana Cody, Life Legal Defense Foundation.
Susan Carleson, American Civil Rights Union
Phillip Jauregui, Judicial Action Group,
Ilya Shapiro, Esq., Cato Institute
Dean John C. Eastman, Dean, Chapman University School of Law
Dean Mathew D. Staver, Liberty Univ. School of Law (Founder, Liberty Counsel)
Prof. Teresa S. Collett. University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minnesota
Prof. Ronald D. Rotunda, Chapman University School of Law
Michelle Gress, J.D., The Westchester Institute for Ethics
L. Brent Bozell III, Media Research Center
Thomas A. Glessner, JD, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates
Denise Singleton, American Federation of Senior Citizens
Jim Martin, 60 Plus Association
Rev. Rick Scarborough, Vision America
Rev. Louis Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition
Andrea Lafferty, Traditional Values Coalition
Keith Wiebe, American Association of Christian Schools
Debbie Joslin, Alaska Eagle Forum, Republican National Committeewoman, Alaska
Bruce Ash, Republican National Committeeman, Arizona
Steve Scheffler, Iowa Christian Alliance, Republican National Committeeman, Iowa
W. Ross Little, Jr., Republican National Committeeman, Louisiana
Curly Haugland, Republican National Committeeman, North Dakota
Cathie Adams, Texas Eagle Forum, Republican National Committeewoman, Texas
Kathy Terry, Republican National Committeewoman, Virginia
David Ridenour, The National Center for Public Policy Research
Amy Ridenour, Americans for the Preservation of Liberty
Jeffrey Mazzella, Center for Individual Freedom
William H. Shaker. Rule of Law Committee
William J. Murray, Religious Freedom Coalition
J. C. Willke, MD, International Right to Life Federation
Bradley Mattes, Life Issues Institute
Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, Human Life International
Dr. Patricia McEwen, Life Coalition International
Austin Ruse, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
Jennifer Kimball, Culture of Life Foundation
Eric Scheidler, Pro-Life Action League
John Jansen, Generations for Life
Mark L. Melcher – The Political Forum
Deal W. Hudson. Catholic Advocate
Brian Burch, Fidelis and CatholicVote.org
John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews.com
Tom Shields, Coalition for Marriage and Family
Chuck Muth, Citizen Outreach
William Greene, Ph.D., RightMarch.com
Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud
Mychal Massie, Project 21
Linda Harvey, Mission America
David Crowe, Restore America
Sandy Rios, Culture Campaign
Robert Peters, Morality in Media
Dave Bydalek, Family First
Richard Ford, Heritage Alliance
Peter LaBarbera, Americans for Truth
Tim Echols, Teenpact Leadership
Joseph Ureneck, The Fatherhood Coalition, Massachusetts
Daniel J. Cassidy, Editor, Sunlit Uplands, South Carolina
Steve Milloy, JunkScience.com
Don Feder, Feder Associates, Massachussetts
Janet M. LaRue, Esq., Jan LaRue Consulting, Texas
Martha Zoller, “The Martha Zoller Show”, Georgia News Network
Janet Parshall, Nationally Syndicated Talk show Host

If you know anything about the infrastructure of the Right, you see that this represents a very broad coalition, from libertarians like Cato’s Ilya Shapiro to a veritable Who’s Who of Christian conservative activists. No doubt, there are many others who would have signed — and I could name some that come to mind — if they weren’t worried about getting their educational non-profits entangled in this controversy.

So the fact that Manuel Miranda was the guy the organizer — helping draft the letter and soliciting signatories — is pretty doggone irrelevant, given this array of heavy hitters who signed up.

May 16, 2009

Republicans ‘begging’ Erick Erickson to shut down Facebook protest of NRSC

You may remember my reaction when the “treacherous bastards” at the National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsed Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate race — 15 months before the primary!

Erick Erickson of Red State started a Facebook group to protest the NRSC’s endorsement of Crist, and Erick just sent this message to group members:

Subject: They are listening
I’ve been getting all sorts of emails begging me to shut this group down.
Instead, please consider inviting ten friends each.
The NRSC will not listen to us unless we help shut down their fundraising. You can help.
Thanks,
Erick

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP.

Meanwhile, there is a new blog HQ for the grassroots anti-NRSC protest: NOT ONE RED CENT.

UPDATE: John Hawkins of Right Wing News is circulating this petition:

Dear Senator Cornyn,
We the undersigned believe that the National Republican Senatorial Committee should be committed to serving ALL the members of the Republican Party.
Additionally, the NRSC should be focused on defeating Democrats, not Republicans. Towards that end, we believe it was completely inappropriate for the NRSC to endorse a candidate in the Florida primary race.
Therefore, we request that both you and the NRSC alter your position on the Florida Senate race, maintain neutrality, and promise to spend no money directly or indirectly in that race.

Things are getting hot for Cornyn and the NRSC.

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Please also see my post at Hot Air Green Room: “Behind the ‘Not One Red Cent’ Rebellion.”

UPDATE III: Red Hot at Red State. And a Memeorandum thread. Certain left-wing bloggers are laughing, failing to understand what this is about. It is good that they don’t understand.

UPDATE IV: Welcome, Ann Coulter readers!

May 12, 2009

Those treacherous bastards!NRSC to endorse Charlie Crist?

Politico reports that the recto-cranial inversion cases at GOP-HQ are planning another atavistic blunder:

Even as Gov. Charlie Crist comes under fire from Florida conservatives, he will be getting some important political backing today as he announces that he’s running for the Senate in Florida.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee will be endorsing Crist, according to a senior Hill operative, marking the first time it has taken sides (for a non-incumbent) in a competitive GOP primary this election cycle.

(Via Memeorandum.) Why would any conservative ever send another dime to the NRSC after this? Marco Rubio is the conservative in that primary, and it was Charlie Crist whose endorsement of John McCain help deliver Florida to that dingbat loser.

To hell with Charlie Crist and to hell with the NRSC. Go give some money to Marco Rubio.

UPDATE: At AmSpecBlog, I quote the chairman of the Conservative Republican Alliance:

“In case the NRSC forgot, it was Governor Crist that openly supported the Obama ‘stimulus’ plan, and gave the plan political cover here in Florida,” CRA chairman Javier Manjarres said in a press release. “Why does the NRSC issue an endorsement without even waiting to find out where the respective candidates stand on the issues?”

Here’s Marco Rubio’s first ad hitting Crist:

UPDATE II: Mitch McConnell endorses Crist, prompting John Hawkins to ask:

Can endorsements from Kathleen Parker and Colin Powell be far behind at this point?

Hawkins is calling for Cornyn’s resignation as NRSC chairman. Just don’t send ’em money, whatever you do.

UPDATE III: Oh, good: Now Ed Morrissey hates me, too.

UPDATE IV: Lots more negative reaction from conservatives, including Erick Erickson of Red State, who calls our attention to Dan McLaughlin’s Red State blog post, “Charlie Crist picks a fight Republicans don’t need.”

Dan Riehl is more approving, but perhaps he hasn’t studied the situation in Florida in the detail McLaughlin has. Basically, the old wobbly moderate, Crist, is stepping on the career of the promising Latino conservative, Rubio. It’s the exact opposite of what we need. It’s a triple disaster: Crist will forego a reasonably safe re-election bid as governor, to waste NRSC money running for an iffy Senate seat, creating an expensive GOP primary in the governor’s race. It’s just bad basic politics, all the way around, and only an idiot like Cornyn could think this was a smart move for the NRSC.

Jimmie Bise Jr. at Sundries Shack doesn’t want any of what John Cornyn is smoking.

April 25, 2009

Time to retire, Arlen

James Antle notes the Rasmussen poll showing Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter with only 30 percent of the Republican vote against 51 percent for conservative challenger Pat Toomey.

If Specter were a loyal Republican, he would retire, rather than (a) requiring the National Republican Senatorial Committee to spend money on his primary campaign and (b) forcing Toomey to spend millions on his own campaign.

But loyalty’s only ever gone one way with Arlen. Even if he could win the primary, Specter would lose the general election. Yet, like all RINOs, the man is vain and selfish. Expect Snarlin’ Arlen to wage a bitter fight, smearing Toomey with negative add, paid for with NRSC contributions.

No conservative should give a penny to the NRSC until Specter announces his retirement.

March 10, 2009

Fine-print foreign policy

Washington Post, via Dan Riehl:

Menendez knew that his hard-line approach to Cuba was a minority view within his party, and that it was at odds with Obama’s approach. But he did not expect to discover a significant policy change embedded in the text on an appropriations bill. His policy aides came across the language when the legislation was posted on a congressional Web site.
“The process by which these changes have been forced upon this body is so deeply offensive to me, and so deeply undemocratic, that it puts the omnibus appropriations package in jeopardy, in spite of all the other tremendously important funding that this bill would provide,” the enraged son of Cuban immigrants said last week on the Senate floor. Menendez even slapped a hold on a pair of Obama nominees to draw attention to the issue.

When they start trying to change U.S. foreign policy with the fine print of an appropriations bill, you know the Democrats have developed contempt for the voters, and think they are invulnerable to political challenge in the near term.

January 12, 2009

Ohio: The Open Borders State

The news that Rob Portman is running for the Ohio Senate seat being vacated by Sen. George Voinovich is being celebrated by some Republicans, including Quin Hillyer. But Portman’s C-minus grade on immigration by Numbers USA is only marginally better than the D-plus grades of Voinovich and ex-Sen. Mike DeWine.

What’s the matter with the Ohio GOP? Is there something in the water that causes testicular atrophy?

December 9, 2008

Senator Nanny? Please, no

The news that Fran Drescher may be interested in Hillary Clinton’s vacated Senate seat ought to send chills down America’s collective spine. I saw Drescher in Denver at the DNC Women’s Caucus:

Drescher, best known as TV’s “The Nanny,” said that Clinton had “put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling,” but urged support for Obama as “a defender of women’s rights.” A survivor of uterine cancer, she praised Obama for his sponsorship of the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act, and used her illness as an argument for abortion rights.
“My right to choose was taken away when I was given a radical hysterectomy to cure my cancer,” Drescher said. “I hate that I lost my right to choose, and you will, too.”
The logic of that statement doesn’t quite hold together — what Republican would deny a woman the ability to bear children, as Drescher’s hysterectomy did? — but it was nonetheless applauded heartily by the Women’s Caucus.

Just the fact that she’s reminded me of the DNC Women’s Caucus — the tambourines! those damned tambourines! — is enough to make me oppose Drescher’s Senate bid, even if she wasn’t a liberal idiot (which she is). Yet if Al Franken can come within 300 votes of a Senate seat, why not Fran?

One good thing about (shudder) Senator Drescher: Her election would automatically stop Democrats from ever again claiming that Sarah Palin is not qualified for high office.