Kagan vs Miers for the Supreme Court

by Monica Crowley

In 2005, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement. 
President Bush (with the oh-so-”helpful” suggestion from Democrat Harry 
Reid) then named White House Counsel Harriet Miers as his choice to replace 
her.

A firestorm erupted. Critics on the right and left complained that she had 
never served as a judge, had no judicial experience or paper trail from 
which to gauge her judicial philosophy and temperament, and that she was 
named strictly because she was a woman.

Her nomination did not survive the withering criticism, and she withdrew, to 
be ultimately replaced by Samuel Alito.

Fast forward to today. President Obama has just nominated Elena Kagan, the 
current Solicitor General, to replace John Paul Stevens on the Court. In 
many ways, Kagan mirrors Miers: a female legal eagle with no judicial 
experience, paper trail, or known guiding legal philosophy.

Miers’s nomination went down because fellow conservatives criticized those 
things. Don’t expect Kagan’s fellow liberals to attack her on the same 
basis. Conservatives were intellectually honest about what they saw as 
gaping holes in Miers’s qualifications. I guarantee that liberals will not 
openly question the same voids in Kagan’s experience. Conservatives raised 
legitimate issues about Miers; liberals will circle the wagons on Kagan.

Miers bit the dust, and she probably deserved to. Kagan will not bite the 
dust, although she probably deserves to as well.

God Bless the American Soldier

by Jim Vinyard

Place: Van Dorn VA Hospital, Columbia, SC

When: April 8, 2010

Subject: Donovan (Don) Pike, USMC

It was early 1942 when the Japanese attacked the Philippines. The allied troops there were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces. One of those troops was Don Pike, USMC. He fought valiantly in the Battle of Bataan, but in the end, they were forced to surrender. The Japanese decided to transfer an estimated 75,000 captured Americans and Pilipino prisoners approximately 60 miles away. They had no effective mechanism to transport or care for these POW’s, so they decided to march them the distance.

The Bataan Death March resulted. This became a WWII war crime against the Japanese because of what they did to the POW’s along the way. It is well documented all the atrocities the Japanese committed. There were examples of unjustified murder by way of bayoneting, cutting off heads, shootings, cutting throats, disembowelments, rifle butt beatings and the refusal to offer food and water. It is estimated that 10,000-20,000 died along the way.

Don Pike quickly realized what his slim chances of survival were so one night he risked his life and escaped into the jungle. He did this and hid in the jungle for a period of time. He decided that his best chances were to try and get to Corregidor which was about 8 miles across the bay. He found a log to help him stay afloat and he started swimming. He eventually linked up with some Marines and joined them to continue fighting the Japanese until they could no longer fight. He was recaptured and taken to Camp O’Donnell where he stayed for a period of time. He was put into forced labor to help the Japanese to work on an airstrip in the Philippines and was later transferred to a slave ship and transported to Japan where he was placed again into forced slave labor for Mitsubishi in a coal mine. He was forced to work 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week until the 2nd atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, on August 9, 1945. The Japanese guards ran when this happened leaving the POWs on their own. The first thing Don saw, after being in total darkness for 44 months, was the mushroom cloud over Nagasaki. The POW’s knew the war was ending. He eventually made his way back to the United States and resumed his life as a Marine.

Fast forward now until April 8, 2010. Don recently suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed on his left side. He cannot take care of himself and he is now a patient in the Veterans Hospital in Columbia, SC. Friends of Don, wanted to be sure he was recognized for his tremendous service to the United States and his service in World War II in the United States Marine Corps. A request was made to General James T. Conway, Commanding General, Commandant of the Marine Corps, to recognize Don for his service to his country.

General Conway wrote the letter and forwarded it to the Marine Corps Inspector and Instructor Staff for Fox Company, 4th LAR, 4th Marine Division located in Eastover, South Carolina to make the presentation. They were assisted by the Harold E. (Speedy) Wilson Detachment, 1141, of the Marine Corps League who presented Don with an “Honorary Membership” to their detachment. There were many other people there in attendance to witness the presentation. It was a great thrill to see Don honored in the way he should have been. Don is now 88 years old and he was extremely proud to receive both these honors as a member of the “greatest generation”. Don is a member of the remaining few survivors of the Bataan Death March, which was one of the biggest military atrocities of the 20th Century.

Jim Vinyard joined the United States Marine Corps and took the oath on December 15, 1967 on the campus at Truman State University and went on to attain the rank of Captain. Jim is a feature writer for Guns & Patriots.

A Great Set Up?

Most people enter politics because they want to win. Sure, they may make a show of “public service” but as the behavior of most politicians demonstrates, they want to acquire and keep power. To do that they need to win. Political parties are established to get their candidates to win and advance the agenda the party believes in. If that party and the candidates within it do not have any guiding moral principles, winning becomes everything and any means are acceptable to that end.

Consider also that the leaders within a party are not as short sighted as most politicians, who cannot see past the next election or even this week’s poll. It is their job to ensure their party continues to win and they do whatever is necessary to ensure their dominance for years, if not decades. It has been clear since the sixties that the Democrat party has been much better at this than the Republican party. Winning is not the final goal, complete destruction of their opponents is. Certainly since the nomination of Judge Bork, the personal vilification of the opposition aided by a media that agrees with most of their worldview, the Democrats have nearly perfected their brand of smash-mouth politics. In their efforts they have lied, accepted intolerable levels of corruption among their own, distorted the very language of politics and have enacted policies that have been by any objective standard miserable failures. Irrespective of these things, they have been electorally successful, particularly on the national level. The Republicans have never come close to the supermajority they enjoyed last year and since the New Deal, have rarely held majorities at all.

I have said these things not to excuse Republicans, whose behavior has been far from angelic, but to propose a scenario in which the Democrat party may establish itself, at least at the national level, as the only party of consequence. Many of us have become educated to the fact that a government solution to a problem is recipe for disaster and that government spending is going to lead to financial Armageddon eventually. We now borrow nearly forty cents out of every dollar we spend. We complain about skyrocketing deficits yet this administration is going to double it again. We know that Medicare is bankrupt and Social Security’s demise has been moved forward by decades, placing the explosion of that financial time bomb within the next ten years. We are aware that the government uses various accounting tricks to make things seem better than they are. Even the financial community itself is starting to follow the lead of David Walker, former comptroller of the US, in warning about the “unsustainable” nature of all this.

Not all politicians are stupid. Some, perhaps, but not all. They may live in a bubble but most of them know what is going on. Sure, some of them may ignore it, others hope it doesn’t happen until they’re gone and a few are doing what they can to warn us. Then there are those who are trying to bring the system down. For them, the trick is to bring it down in a way they don’t get blamed for it. Democrats are very good at this. Chris Dodd and Barny Frank, in collusion with Fannie Mae and ACORN, were largely responsible for the housing collapse but since it happened during President Bush’s tenure, the Republicans got the blame. Ted Kennedy was responsible for creating HMO’s yet it was the Democrats that tied Republicans to those insurers and others, demonizing them to pass Health Care Reform. Those are just two examples and does not include their penchant for creating a crisis where none exists. Again, Republicans have tried to play the game and have created their own set of problems but the Democrats are so much better at it.

By all accounts, the Republicans are going to make great gains in November and in 2012, perhaps they will have the presidency as well. The problem is, the financial situation we have created will require the kind of drastic action anathema to politicians. Our whole political class operates on the principle that is exists to give goodies to the people, “bring home the bacon”, create new “rights” and entitlements. Actual cuts, much less the elimination of whole programs and departments as well as the reductions in benefits that will be necessary to keep us solvent go against all the momentum Washington has built up for eighty years. What happens if in the middle to the end of this decade it all comes apart? If the Democrats filibuster any attempts to cut taxes to help the economy or cut programs or benefits to reduce or eliminate the deficit and fix our broken “entitlements”? The current Democrat leadership has mashed down the accelerator as we approach the cliff. If they bail out and let the Republicans take the wheel knowing there is no chance to avoid a catastrophe, the Republicans will be blamed for the mess just as they were after the 1929 crash. They will be reduced to a small minority for decades and the march to Washington’s totalitarian control will be rapidly completed.

Other than the timing, and I wouldn’t put it past Democrat operatives to provide the catalyst for the catastrophe, you may be saying it won’t happen because we are so much better educated today. Really? Maybe you are because you have put in the effort but even now there are 45% of the people that approve of the president’s job even with all we know. The American people have been trained like Pavlov’s dogs to look to government to solve problems and if there are problems, it must be the party in power’s fault. The vast majority of the people in this country, after going through government schools and with the attention span of a gnat, are not going to think all this through. They are going to have a knee jerk reaction and will be susceptible to a new messiah who may make this president look tame in comparison. Only if we get a hold of our neighbors and somehow convince them that, as Reagan said, government is the problem, not the solution, will we have any hope of thwarting such a devious plan.

http://www.patricksamuels.com

Sen. Reid will not commit to reforming immigration this year

By Michael O’Brien

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could not commit on Sunday to moving immigration reform this year.

Reid said he would like to move comprehensive immigration reform, but stressed that some Republican support would be necessary, a difficult prospect in the current political environment.

“The Senate is not a body that is defined by time,” Reid said on “Al Punto” on the Spanish-language network Univision. “I’m going to move immigration as quickly as I can.”

Reid was among a group of Democrats to unveil an outline for immigration reform legislation in late April, though he backed off earlier indications that he might move immigration next after it drew Republican complaints, specifically from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

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“We are committed to do comprehensive immigration reform, the President supports us on that, but I tell everyone we can’t do a bill unless we get some Republican,” Reid stressed.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the second-ranking Senate Democrat behind Reid, acknowledged this weekend that the busy Senate schedule ahead could put in doubt efforts to do immigration reform this year.

President Barack Obama has said he wants reform set in motion this year, and House leaders have said that immigration reform must begin in the Senate.

Reid rejected the notion, though, that Latinos would stay at home or vote for Republicans this fall — especially in Nevada, where Reid is facing a tough reelection challenge — if Democrats come up short on immigration.

“I believe, as has been indicating in all the polling, that even people who are Hispanics who identify as being Republicans, are walking away from the Republicans,” Reid said. “This is an anti-immigrant party and is very clear.”

The Taxman Cometh

by Grover Norquist

President Obama is quoted in Jonathan Alter’s new book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, explaining how he lost control of the political momentum early in his administration, claiming that the unanimous Republican opposition in the House of Representatives to his stimulus spending bill “set the tenor for the whole year.”

“That helped to create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where it now controls the agenda for Republicans.”

Because the Democrat party was alone in passing the stimulus and then the budget and then the healthcare spending bill, the Democrats alone own the increasingly unpopular issue of overspending.

Obama is determined not to repeat this mistake when he moves to massively raise taxes after the 2010 election.

He needs cover, a useful idiot, a high profile Republican who can stand with him in the Rose Garden when he endorses a VAT and higher income taxes and energy taxes. He wants Republican fingerprints on the murder weapon. The Democrats are stuck with their ownership of overspending. They want to share the blame for the taxes to pay to continue their overspending.

To try and lure Republicans into a repeat of the Andrews Air Force Base negotiations that tricked President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to join hands with the Democrats to raise taxes to pay for higher spending, Obama has built a mousetrap he calls the “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform”.

Obama chose Democrat apparatchik Erskine Bowles as the Democrat co-chairman of this 18-member “commission” which, as Donald Lambro noted in HUMAN EVENTS, is heavily weighted down with tax increasers. Bowles has already said the point of the commission is to recommend tax hikes. Another Obama appointee, Alice Rivlin, said she wants to raise taxes “in a pro-growth way.”

Who to pick for the role of Republican enabler/collaborator? Obama chose former Wyoming Sen. Al Simpson. Why? Some have suggested that former Sen. Simpson has played Charlie Brown to the tax increasing Democrat’s Lucy and her football several times already. In 1990, Al Simpson voted to raise the top income-tax rate from 28% to 31% as part of the Andrews Air Force base deal. America was promised two dollars of spending reductions for every dollar of tax hikes. Taxes went up and so did spending.

In 1988, Simpson voted for the ill-fated Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act that would charge seniors a surtax of 15% of their annual income tax liability. This so enraged elderly taxpayers that Congress then abolished the very entitlement they had enacted only months before.

In 1986, Simpson opposed President Ronald Reagan’s tax-reform proposal that drastically lowered the top income tax rate from 50% to 28%

Then there was Simpson’s vote for the 1982 TEFRA law that promised three dollars of spending restraint for every dollar of tax increases. The real result: higher taxes and higher spending.

In his last year in office, 1996, Simpson posted a weak 68% score on holding down taxes and spending, according to the National Taxpayers Union, one of the lowest of any Senate Republican. There were 37 Republicans ahead of him.

Obama chose Simpson because of his record. He has enthusiastically backed real tax increases while accepting phony promises to slash spending.

This writer has harped on Simpson’s record of tax hikes and suggested that Simpson is somewhat “grumpy.” Al Simpson responded in the Wall Street Journal on April 6 proclaiming “I got the best damn record on no taxes of any son-of-a-bitch in the Senate.”

Simpson could allay the fears of American taxpayers by stating clearly that he will vote in the commission for spending reductions and against any and all efforts to raise taxes. That would put the matter to rest. This is exactly what he has refused to do.

Oddly Simpson has tried to make his policy differences with taxpayers and me into a personal fight. Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC interviewed Simpson and then tweeted, “wait til you hear what Simpson has to say about norquist on our show tomorrow. Just finished taping. Watch out grover!”

On Mitchell’s show, Simpson launched an attack on me, making faces and funny noises to my concerns that once again he would be party to a “bi-partisan” cover for tax hikes. Simpson claimed “he’s (Grover’s) spending taxpayer money to send out this drivel.” (This was absurdly incorrect. Americans for Tax Reform has never and will never receive taxpayer dollars from any government.)

When Americans for Tax Reform staff requested a correction from the Andrea Mitchell show for Simpson’s incorrect assertion that ATR received taxpayer dollars, Simpson called ATR and left a long rambling voicemail insisting that he meant that since American taxpayers contribute to Americans for Tax Reform he meant that we were supported by voluntary contributions from taxpayers, not “taxpayer dollars” as in government grants. This followed an e-mail attesting to his conservative credentials (skipping over the tax hiking bits).

He kindly ended the e-mail, “See you on the road…You are a formidable opponent! I enjoy the scraps.”

But this is not about Al or me. It is about President Obama wanting his own Marshall Petain or Vidkun Quisling. Why does Al think Obama chose him? For his sense of humor and charming personality? Obama wants a Republican to stand next to him when he calls for imposing a Value Added Tax on America to pay for his overspending.

Al Simpson would serve America and taxpayers well by making it crystal clear that the VAT and tax hikes are not now or ever on the table. Until then we are wise to beware.

Cartoon courtesy of Brett Noel

Kratovil spent $320,679 on mailers

From: The Daily Times

WASHINGTON — Rep. Frank Kratovil wants you to know he’s fighting “out-of-control spending” in Washington. And he’s using your tax dollars to send that message.

The Maryland Democrat sent unsolicited mailers to his 1st District constituents last year — about his ideas for cutting taxes, creating jobs, solving economic problems, reforming health care and protecting veterans’ benefits — at taxpayer expense, as almost all lawmakers do.

All told, Kratovil spent $320,679 last year on mailers, telephone town halls and automated calls to constituents, House documents show. He ranks 15th among House members for money spent on taxpayer-funded communications.

“I think it serves a valuable purpose,” Kratovil said. “It allows me to communicate with constituents on major issues affecting them.”

Such communications qualify for the congressional franking privilege, which allows lawmakers to relay official business to constituents at taxpayer expense. Lawmakers are not permitted to send campaign-related material using the frank, although the distinction can be subtle.

The privilege dates back to 1775 and is commonly used by lawmakers. House members spent more than $45 million in 2009 on taxpayer-funded mass mailings, phone calls and electronic messaging to tout their records to constituents, alert them to town hall meetings and seek feedback, a review of House documents shows.

The franking privilege is a powerful advantage for incumbents in their efforts to fight off challengers.

Republican state Sen. Andy Harris, who is running for Kratovil’s seat, would not rule out using the privilege if elected, but said he would avoid sending “full color, campaign-style brochures at taxpayer expense.”

“Do you need to communicate with constituents? Certainly,” he said. “But there’s nothing wrong with a black-and-white letter. In the day of websites and the Internet, you can probably do almost all your communications through that method.”

Individual House members count their franking expenditures in different ways, so the $45 million total may be even higher. The money paid for nearly 339 million mass communications sent by House members — an average of 770,000 per lawmaker — to residents of their districts.

# Eight of the Top 10 spenders in 2009 were freshmen, each of whom spent more than $400,000.

# Twenty-nine of 441 House members (435 voting and six nonvoting members) reported issuing no communications.

# Lawmakers spent the most money and sent the most communications during the fourth quarter (Oct. 1-Dec. 31). That may be partly because members want to share their views of the just-completed session and also because election-year limits on franking restrict their opportunity to communicate on a broad basis.

Kratovil’s franking total accounts for 884,557 mass communications with constituents. His staff determines the mailer topics based on questions from constituents.

There’s no limit on how much House members can spend on communication, though it must come out of the annual allowance they get to run their offices. Kratovil’s budget was $1.47 million last year. He said he didn’t spend about $97,000.

“I may have spent more (on franking) than some, but my guess is many did not return money to the Treasury,” Kratovil said.

Restrictions have been imposed on the franking privilege throughout the years to make mass mailings less promotional and more informational. Each communication must be reviewed and approved by a bipartisan commission before it can be issued. Even so, colorful mailers bragging about a representative’s accomplishments and reminding constituents how hard the member works for them are common, according to a review of several lawmakers’ franked pieces.

Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, said they should be banned entirely in an election year.

“Content restrictions, while minimally helpful, really haven’t solved the ultimate problem, which is that mass communications can serve as very favorable publicity for incumbents that challengers have to pay money to counter,” he said.

Harris said an appropriate standard for franking would be to send mailings, newsletters and other material only to constituents who express interest in receiving them.

“I’ve gotten these mailings at my house,” Harris said of Kratovil’s mailers. “I certainly never asked for them, and I certainly think the taxpayers don’t expect their hard-earned dollars to be used for that kind of communication.”

Kratovil said such communications helped his office recover more than $600,000 owed to constituents in veterans’ benefits, Social Security payments and other money. He said the communications also alert constituents when laws change, advise them about services his office offers and solicit their opinions on major issues.

He said that in terms of political advantage, the franking privilege is only as powerful as the “chicken dinners and banquets” he attends.

“The bottom line is, as a member of Congress, it’s important to be able to communicate with constituents,” he said. “That’s why the privilege is there.”

More Corruption and Igorance from Fannie Mae

By ALAN ZIBEL

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Fannie Mae has again asked taxpayers for more money after reporting a first-quarter loss of more than $13 billion.

The mortgage finance company, which was rescued by the government in September 2008, said it needs an additional $8.4 billion from the government to help cover mounting losses.

Fannie Mae says it lost $13.1 billion, or $2.29 per share, in the January-March period. That takes into account $1.5 billion in dividends paid to the Treasury Department. It compares with a loss of $23.2 billion, or $4.09 a share, in the year-ago period.

The rescue of Fannie Mae and sister company Freddie Mac is turning out to be one of the most expensive aftereffects of the financial meltdown. The new request for aid will bring Fannie Mae’s total to $83.6 billion. The total bill for the duo will now be nearly $145 billion.

Late last year, the Obama administration pledged to cover unlimited losses through 2012 for Freddie and Fannie, lifting an earlier cap of $400 billion.

Fannie and Freddie play a vital role in the mortgage market by purchasing mortgages from lenders and selling them to investors. Together the pair own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans worth about $5.5 trillion. That’s about half of all mortgages.

The two companies, however, loosened their lending standards for borrowers during the real estate boom and are reeling from the consequences.

With the housing market still on shaky ground, Obama administration officials say it is still too early to draft any proposals to reform the two companies or the broader housing finance system.

But Republicans argue the sweeping financial overhaul currently before Congress is incomplete without a plan for Fannie and Freddie. They propose transforming Fannie and Freddie into private companies with no government subsidies, or shutting them down completely.

The legislation “touches nearly every corner of the economy,” Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said in the GOP weekly radio and Internet address over the weekend. “But these major contributors to the crisis are left unscathed,” he added, singling out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.