Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bringing Sanity to the Senate

Fire of Liberty

If you're a long reader of this blog then you know that I've been saying that if the Republicans in Congress are serious about ending the bleeding at the polls and holding onto their current seats in effort to regain the majority in the future, then they've got to get serious about issues that concern the American people, most importantly holding down excessive(silly in some instances) spending. One shining gem who seems to be living up to his word and reputation as a budget hawk, who is concerned about the financial burdens being placed on future generations of Americans, is Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Now while the media will surely paint Senator Coburn as an obstructionist and most assuredly the Democrats are salivating about drawing up commercials using the Senate failing to enact cloture on Senator Reid's "Tomnibus" bill (Which combined some 50 plus bills together without going through their proper committees) to hurt the Republicans this fall, I believe that Senator Coburn has a lot of Americans cheering for this principled Oklahoman sticking to guns and keeping the Republicans together in defending the pocketbooks of their fellow Americans. I have to say that Jacob Sullum, syndicated columnist and senior editor at Reason, seems to sum up Senator Coburn current efforts to hold down such excessive spending in his most recent column when he noted the following:

It's not hard to see why Reid wants to avoid that. Although he dubbed his spending package the Advancing America's Priorities Act, the one thing it emphatically does not do is set priorities.

Is postpartum depression a bad thing? Sure it is. Then let's pass a law that "aims to eradicate the devastating effects of postpartum depression on American families." And let's call it the MOTHERS Act, even though MOTHERS is not, strictly speaking, the correct acronym for Mom's Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression.

Are flowers nice? Of course they are. So let's pay for a new greenhouse at the Smithsonian to house its orchid collection.

Are museums edifying? You bet. So let's sponsor a traveling exhibit commemorating the War of 1812 and "The Star Spangled Banner." While we're at it, let's make a donation to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Speaking of edification and other countries, why not create a foundation to encourage study abroad?

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Reid's wish list will cost about $10 billion over five years, at a time when the federal budget deficit has ballooned to a record $490 billion. Yet Reid marvels that "the rogue far right...has perfected the art of stopping good bills that help good people." Good bills that help good people: Could there possibly be a better governing philosophy?

I myself am partial to the notion, promoted by such rogue right-wingers as James Madison, that the federal government may exercise only those powers explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, which do not include subsidizing medical research, museums, or foreign travel for college students. As Madison pointed out, if Article I's General Welfare Clause is interpreted as blanket permission to spend money on good things, much of the rest of the Constitution is superfluous.

Coburn, known as the Dr. No of the Senate, does not go that far. Unlike Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the Dr. No of the House, Coburn generally does not oppose spending on constitutional grounds. But he does ask his colleagues to pay for new programs by cutting old ones instead of spending money they do not have. In a letter to Reid, he identified $45 billion in cuts that could be used to offset the cost of Advancing America's Priorities.

Now while folks might not be tuned into C-SPAN 2 as much as political junkies do, one hopes their paper carries Sullum's column. Even without Sullum's piece, I believe the Americans would be thankful of Senator Coburn and his fellow Republicans in the Senate to continue to stick to their guns and the rules of the Senate and allow this body of 100 to properly debate these bills and add amendments. It's time these Senators get back to principled politicians like the Founders, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and various others who were looking out for the American people's purse strings. So carry on Senator Coburn, the folks in heartland are cheering for your success.

*Here's a good piece by David Keane, chairman of the American Conservative Union, in the Hill on Senator Coburn and his principled stands.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Waiting for Congress or Godot?

Fire of Liberty

Well it looks like President Bush is on the right track with regards to high oil prices by removing an executive order on offshore drilling and has put the ball in Congress's court. Now while members of Congress will continue to hem and haw about how "we can't drill our way out of this" or "it'll take ten years to get a barrel of oil out of the ground," the Democratic controlled Congress(and a handful of Republicans) will only make themselves the villain and the main roadblock to greater domestic and more secure sources of energy. As I noted in a previous post, it's time for both sides to bend in each others way and open up the gates to all forms of energy exploration whether its petroleum based or alternative based energy. I for one think they should create a policy which is an amalgam of Boone Pickens plan, Newt Gingrich's Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less policy, McCain's Lexington Project(Which amongst many things includes a $300 million prize for an inventor who creates an affordable/efficient battery that surpasses the current plug-in hybrids, the building of more nuclear power plants.), tax breaks for alternatives, and swapping oil barren federal leases for lands that have oil/oil shale. No matter what, the American people are looking at Congress head-on and waiting for Congress to move. I'd suggest that playing keep-away until November might not be the best thing politically. The nation is too important for Congress to twiddle their thumbs and do nothing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

There's Oil in Those Rocky Hills

Fire of Liberty

With oil hovering around the $145 mark and the reaction that members of Congress received this 4th of July weekend from their constituents on $4 plus a gallon of gas, you'd think that they'd get the idea that the American people want more energy. Now being that an alternative fuel source which is as efficient and available to petroleum based fuels is many years away members of Congress should be more willing to open the door up to all forms of petroleum exploration in the continental shelf and the interior US. One place that should be prime pickings during such times of high energy prices is the near 2 trillion barrels of oil that could be obtained from the vast veins of Rocky Mountain shale that are found in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. I know that the Green lobby will have a cow with such proposals, but I can imagine that some kind of compromise could be hammered out in which more funds and tax deductions could be devoted to more green alternatives in return for the oil companies to trade in their government leases(on land that was discovered to have no oil) for the right to mine the oil shale. Though one cannot see this happening in this election cycle, especially with Congress laying blame on higher prices on various entities, I can't fathom the prices going to high until Congress opens up the energy floodgates. The jury is out on Congress as they remain "stuck-on-stupid" with regards to domestic oil drilling/exploration, but they should keep in mind that the prices are rising, they're poll ratings are in singe digits and November is around the corner. If I was in Congress, I'd think about pushing some legislation on greater exploration real soon.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Obama's Elitist Behavior

Fire of Liberty

Now the Obama (and his fellow Democrats) campaign might think that they have the election in the bag and feel free to let the candidate to let his guard down and say what he wants as he coasts to 1600 Pennsylvania, but after hearing his most recent comments about how he can't fathom the notion of Americans calling for an English only policy(or make immigrants learn such), that American parents should teach their kids Spanish as well as noting that his embarrassment to see Americans go off into the world and fail to speak other languages properly, he might need to think again. Here's the video:

I guess the staff is not aware of the ire that exist in this nation over the issue of illegal immigrants and the failure of the nation to properly assimilate individuals who enter this nation(legally). This going off the script and delivering such condescending nonsense to folks in Georgia(And the rest of the heartland) just removes the mask and reveals the real Obama. So keep it up Senator Obama.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Zimbabwe's Further March to Hell

Fire of Liberty

In my June 12, 2008 post Mugabe's Deadly Actions, I noted that the regime in Zimbabwe had pulled out all stops and was using every bit of their power(absent the military) to intimidate the opposition(MDC) and its supporters to stay home come election day. Even though I expressed some optimism that the people of Zimbabwe would rise up and put an end to these horrific activities, I have to say I'm somewhat sympathetic with Morgan Tsvangirai, who was more concerned about the lives of his supporters and the voters of his country that he withdrew from the ballot prior to last weekend's runoff election. Now while the opposition will live to see another day and most likely will outlive Mugabe(Even though most dictators in modern times seem to live ripe old ages and die in extravagant luxury) it's a sad day for the the people of Zimbabwe, who will face years and years of political violence, ever increasing unemployment, stratospheric inflation, ever increasing hunger, and G-d knows whatever else comes down the pike as the ship of state under the helm of Robert Mugabe drifts into an iceberg field ocean. Such a further descent into one of Dante's four circles of Hell is already under way with two recent pieces here and here in London's The Daily Telegraph. The first points out how inflation is so high that the people have to spending some $50 billion Zimbabwe dollars for a can of baked beans and a whopping $409 billion for a kilogram of sausage. Even worse, the nation is heading for a large iceberg because the German company that supplies the paper for the currency has ceased all future orders. All in all, with such high inflation, no paper to print more money, unemployment rates hovering around 70 to 80% (if not worse) and the limited availability of food one can only wonder how long it will take before the country starts to look like Ethiopia, Sudan, or Somalia. In the second piece, Louis Weston writes that Mugabe's supporters are still roaming the countryside and pushing supporters of the MDC out of their homes and off their farms after Mugabe and his thugs in Zanu-PF took the election this past weekend. It's a crying shame that Mugabe and his clan can continue to do such horrors to their own people and the neighboring countries and the UN can only hand out heavy worded declarations, but then again such is the nature of such communities. Anyway, here's hoping that fortune shines on the people of Zimbabwe and deliver them from such evil.