Saturday, August 11, 2007

Culture of Corruption

I was watching Hannity and Colmes the other night and they were discussing the efforts to reduce earmarks and other slimy congressional behaviors. They had a fellow on from California, U.S. Rep John Campbell (R-CA) who had challenged Mr Murtha (D-PA) over the latest earmarking extravaganza in what was passed as a Defense Spending bill. There were 1337 earmarks worth some 3 Billion dollars in that bill, including $150 Million to Murtha's district. Murtha, of course, vigorously defended not only the earmarks in that bill, but the entire earmarking process, saying that they "go over every single earmark" and that such earmarking legislation amounts to a "competitive bidding process" which results in technology which would be owned by the U.S. I have since been unable to find evidence of any such U.S. owned technology resulting from any of these "competitive bidding processes", though. Sounds a lot like Pelosi's euphemism thing being tried again. Let's not call them earmarks, let's call them "competitive bidding processes", mm-kay?

Now, leaving aside all of the hypocrisy over the newly elected Democrat majority's pledge to clean up congress and provide the most open and honest congress in history, Mr. Murtha's comments are seriously over the top in many other ways. He told a whopper about the nature of the earmarking process itself, he bristled and angrily dismissed the reasonable questions asked by Mr. Campbell and he basically told the American people to "bugger off" if they don't like the way things are done in his House. This guy's behavior is truly outrageous! But the military loves him, right? Not exactly. Military contractors in Pennsylvania love him, though.

But the thing that really got me going in watching the H&C coverage of that event on the House floor, was Alan Colmes's attempt to imply that Republicans think only Democrats are earmarkers. Of course he laid that little charge on Mr. Campbell, who was brave enough to actually come on the show and discuss his actions in the debacle, unlike the earmarking champion, John Murtha. Campbell told Colmes straight-off that earmarking is definitely a bi-partisan problem and that Republicans do it as often as, or maybe more than, Democrats. He followed that up with an interesting point, though. He said that there is a group of congresspeople that are dedicated to ending earmarks-as-usual in the legislature and that they are all...Republicans!

Isn't this the point? Sure, there are congresscritters of all parties out there gaming the system by back-scratching lobbyists, each other, and peddling their influence in oh, so many ways. But it seems as though the only ones seriously challenging this earmarking, pork-barreling, business-as-usual in the congress are...Republicans. Witness the recent attacks on these practices (which, I know, no one has heard about, because it just isn't important to the mainstream media) which have all been produced by a dedicated minority of lawmakers, and note that the only lawmakers with one-hundred percent support for these anti-pork amendments are...Republicans.

The Club for Growth congressional Re-Pork Card shows the records of congressfolks in voting for anti-pork legislation and lists some of the amendments proposed by the anti-porkers against some of the most egregious hunks of swine fat in this year's legislation. Check it out carefully! It clearly details the battle over earmarking and shows who the real reformers are. Of course most of the amendments (49 out of 50) proposed to curtail pork-barrel or earmark spending failed miserably, but at least these courageous legislators tried. These fifty amendments were proposed by John Campbell, Jeff Flake, Jeb Hensarling, Scott Garrett, and David Obey. Obey, the only Democrat, proposed one of the fifty amendments and then proceeded to vote against it! The rest of these Representatives are...Republicans.

So, yeah, the corruption in Congress is a bi-partisan problem but the solution, so far anyway, seems to be purely...Republican!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Opposite of Loser is...

There have been several years of US activity in Iraq for the public to criticize. Much of the criticism is entirely appropriate. Still, it seems that for the last couple of years the Democrat Party has based its entire party platform on the US losing the war. They say we have already lost, that it's become a civil war, that we need to withdraw because our presence is making matters worse, there, etc. All of their energy is focused on getting the US out of Iraq and accepting the military loss that they have already proclaimed. All this because...a US loss is a Bush/Republican loss.

Many snarky Republicans have said over the years that the Democrats want the US to lose in Iraq, and most reasonable people-me included- have said, "No. That can't be true." I think the jury is in on this one, though. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq by Army Gen. David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war. Good news on our progress from Petraeus would be "a real big problem for us", said the Congressman. Is Mr. Clyburn alone? I think not.

It is absolutely clear that leading Democrats do not want to see any good news coming from Iraq. Even if there is any good news, they'll go out of their way to dispute it. Witness our good friend and ABSCAM bribe ponderer, John (I support the troops!) Murtha
Murtha dismissed the claims of two longtime Iraq War critics who cite improvements in conditions in Iraq. Now if this was a considered, studied and intelligent refutation of flawed statements by the "longtime critics" of the war, I'd say agreeing or disagreeing with Mr. Murtha would be an individual choice, based upon one's opinion of the war and our progress. Since it was, rather, a knee-jerk reaction to some rare good news about the war, I'd say most of us should cry, "Bullshit"!

I don't know if the situation is actually getting better or if it's Global Warming that's assisting the lower death rates. I don't know if the situation in Iraq is stabler and safer as the Brookings Institute observers said, or if they were simply in the right place at the right time. I know what I want to see happen, though. I want to see things get better for the Iraqis and for the US. I want to see more stability and freedom in the Middle East. I want to see a group of sane nations stand up against insanity all around them. I want the US to win the peace in Iraq and then I want our troops to come home as the heroes they truly are.

That's the opposite of losing, in case any Democrats ask you how you'll know when we've won!