Wednesday, February 01, 2006

More on the SOTU

I have to go to bed soon, but before I do I just want to say that the State of the Union was brilliant. Bush picked several key issues, like reducing our dependence on foreign oil and making American students competitive in science and math, that Democrats and Republicans, and Americans in general should all be able to agree on. Democrats are now faced with a difficult choice. They can support these policies, and then watch the Republicans take the credit, or they can fight the policies, and be labled as obstructionists.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union Commentary

I decided to blog about the State of the Union as I was watching it. Below, you'll see the parts of the speech I thought resonated at the time I heard them. I'll add commentary later, right now I'm going to meet some liberal friends so we can "discuss" all that Bush said.

9:02- Cabinet Members enter. The talking heads on Fox News are talking about how they feel this State of the Union will be more modest than last year, since Bush's Social Security reform went nowhere last year. The theme for this SOTU is apparently "optimistic."

9:05- JUSTICE Sam Alito is looking around the room. He looks a little awed.

9:06- Apparently Newt Gingrich is one of the Fox News talking heads tonight. They're saying things are running about four minutes behind schedule.

9:07- "So much for the era of good feeling in Washington." says a talkin head.

9:08- "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States!"

[Applause #1]

9:10- Apparently, Cindy Sheehan was invited to sit in the gallery by a democrat from California. She was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor while the President was giving his speech because she was wearing an anti-war shirt, which violated House rules, and then was refused to cooperate when told she couldn't wear it.

9:11- The President has reached the podium. "Members of Congress, I have the high priveledge and the distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States."- Speaker Hastert

[Applause #2]

9:12- The President starts by honoring Coretta Scott King, who passed away today.

[Applause #3]

9:13- "There will always be differences and debate, but even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone..."

9:14- "Tonight the State of our Union is Strong, and together we will make it stronger."

[Applause #4]

9:15- 'The only way to secure the peace is by our leadership... so the United States of America will continue to lead.'

[Applause #5]

9:16- "Every step towards freedom in the world makes our country safer, so we will act boldly in freedom's cause."

[Applause # 6]

Apparently today there are 122 democracies in the world. Go world!

9:17- Syria, Burma, North Korea, and Iran get mentions as non-democratic.

[Applause #7]

Radical Islam- the perversion by a few of a noble faith

9:18- "We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it."

[Applause #8]

9:19- If we leave them alone, the terrorists won't leave us alone, they'll just bring their attacks to our shores. We would show that we no longer believe in our own ideals. "We will never surrender to evil."

[Applause #9]

9:20- He's reminding everyone that we are the ones who liberated Europe. It might be nice if Europe could remember that every once in awhile.

9:21- We're helping Iragi's build a cohesive government, and striking terrorist forces while training Iraqi forces.

[Applause #10]

9:22- In three years Iraq has gone from a dictatorship to national elections.

[Applause #11]

9:23- "The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home...but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington DC."

[Applause #12]

9:24- "There is a difference between responsible criticism... and defeatism... second guessing is not a strategy."

[Applause #13]

John Kerry looks displeased. I can't imagine why.

9:25- We must "...stand behind the American military in this vital mission."

[Applause #14]

9:26- A soldier who died last month left a note that said: "It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the knowledge that you would never have to."

The soldier's family is sitting behind the first lady.

[Applause #15- really long applause for the family and the soldier]

9:27- "As we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's military families."

[Applause #16]

9:28- "Ultimately the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their policy terror and fear...elections are vital, but they're only the beginning."

9:29- Leaders of Hamas need to reject terrorism and work for lasting peace.

[Applause #17]

9:30- Democracies in the middle east will not look like our own... but liberty is the future... because it is the right and hope of all humanity."

[Applause #18]

Boo Iran.

[Applause #19]

They're radical people and we can't let them gain nukes.
[Applause #20]

9:31- Bush is talking to the people of Iran about we hope to one day open ties with a free and democratic Iran. Call for revolution, anyone?

[Applause #21]

9:32- Showing compassion abroad: mentions issues like AIDS, Malaria, girls sold into slavery, poor education, etc. Helping the world helps us.

9:33- "The enemy has not lost the desire or the capability to attack us." Expresses thanks to law enforcement and counter-terrorism officials.

[Applause #22]

9:34- Support those people by giving them tools they need. Renew the Patriot Act.

[Applause #23- and I think I just saw a Democrat stand and clap to support that. Couldn't tell who.]

Talks about his authority to use wiretapping for calls to and from terrorists from people in the US. "We will not sit back and wait to be hit again."

[Applause #24]

9:36- "The only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically [more dangerous world- can remember the exact wording]"

"Together let us... lead this world towards freedom."

[Applause #25]

9:37- "Our economy is healthy and vigorous... 4.6 million new jobs- more than Japan and the EU combined."

[Applause #26]

9:38- "We hear claims that immigrants are bad for this economy even though this economy could not function without them."

[Applause #27]

9:39- "Our economy grows when our people have more of their own money to spend."

9:40- "More than four years of uniterrupted economic growth."

[Applause #28]

"Make the tax cuts permanent."

[Applause #29- there's some chant going on, but I can't understand it.]

9:41- "...stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009."

[Applause #30]

"I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform."

[Applause #31]

Something about a line-item veto, I missed it.

[Applause #32]

Start of baby boom retirees, "including two of my dad's favorite people: me and President Clinton."

[Applause #

9:43- "Congress did not act last year to save Social Security.

[Applause #34- from the Dems. I swear I saw Hillary giggling]

9:44- "The problem is not going away... we need to put aside partisan politics and get this problem solved."

[Applause #35]

"With open markets and a level playing field no one can out produce or out compete the American worker."

[Applause #36]

9:45- "Our nation needs orderly and controlled borders."

[Applause #37]

More about immigration.

[Applause #38]

9:46- We need a humane guest worker program.

[Applause #39]

We need affordable health care

[Applause #40- from everyone]

We will strengthen health savings accounts, etc.

[Applause #41]

We will do more to make this coverage portable.

[Applause #42]

We need medical liability reform so doctors aren't driven out of business.

[Applause #43]

9:48- "America is addicted to oil." Announces the Advanced Energy initiative, the key to solving our problem is technology.

[Applause #44]

9:49- More research on hybrid and hydrogen cars, and producing ethanol from stuff other than corn, hope to make it competitive within six years.

[Applause #45]

"Replace more than 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

[Applause #46]

9:50- "We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity." Announces the American Competitiveness initiative, to give kids a firm grounding in, among other things, math and science.

[Applause #47]

9:51- Funding for nanotechnology, supercomputing, etc. Make permanent tax credit for R&D.

[Applause #48]

9:52- Kids need to take more math and science courses, and more rigorous courses. Wants to train 70,000 high school teachers to teach math and science Advanced Placement classes.

[Applause #49]

9:53- "Our greatness is not measured by power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another." Violent crime dropped, drug use down, fewer abortions now than in any point in the last 3 decades, and teen pregnancy is falling for the 12th year in a row. "A revolution in conscience."

[Applause #50]

9:54- "Everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record."

[Applause #51]

9:55- People are discouraged by unethical conduct, activist judges, natural disasters, etc. "We have proven the pessimists wrong before, and we will do it again."

[Applause #52]

9:56- "The Supreme Court now has two superb new members on its bench."

[Applause #53]

Judges should be servants of the law.

[Applause #54]

"The United States is greatful to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor"

[Applause #55]

9:57- Urges legislation to ban use of human embryos or clones for medical research. "Human life... should never be put up for sale."

[Applause #56]

9:58- The American people expect officials to uphold public trust.

[Applause #57]

We must never betray that trust.

[Applause #58]

9:59- Laura Bush is leading an initiative to have adults become involved in the lives of at-risk children.

[Applause #59]

New programs to encourage kids to stay in school.

10:00- $85 billion so far to rebuild the gulf coast. "We must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm."

[Applause #60]

"I ask Congress... to provide new funding to states to end the waiting list for AIDS medicine in America."

[Applause #61]

10:01- Work with communities to find, treat, and prevent AIDS.

[Applause #62]

10:02- "Every great movement of history comes at a moment of great choosing." "We must decide: will we turn back, or finish well?"

10:03- The closing: "Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward - optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to come. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America."

[Applause #63]

Whoa... the Democrats talk about Bush's smirk, but what the heck is up with Tim Kaine? His left eyebrow keeps quirking up, and it's kinda creeping me out.

Well, it's better than last year's response. BOTH of Nancy Pelosi's eyebrows creeped me out.

Kaine's going on about NCLB. I don't really approve of it (well intentioned, but overall a mistake) but still, he's kinda in a glass house since Ted Kennedy helped write it.

Kaine's response is well written, even if I don't agree with anything he's saying. But he kinda sounds patronising- like he's speaking to children.

Ack. I can't stand Kaine, but it's not like his Republican opponent was much better. Kilgore ran a pathetic campaign. My thirteen year old brother could have managed it better.

Wahwahwah the evil Republicans hate the people they just want to help their buddies in the oil industry make money.

Yeah, that's why Bush wants us to develop alternative energy sources.

I must say, the fire in the fireplace in the background was a nice touch. Makes the message seem all homey-like.

Newt Gingrich says Kaine's response was about as good as the Democratic response could have been.

Checking In

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last couple days. My spring semester has started, and it looks like my courseload is going to be brutal. So far some assignments I know I'll have to complete this semester include a ten page policy paper for my American Public Policy class, a ten page SINGLE SPACED (single spaced, are you kidding me?) paper for my Science v. Religion class, five two page single spaced essays for Spanish, and half a dozen briefs a week on Supreme court cases for my Constitutional Law Class.

And I haven't even started my Honors Leadership Seminar yet, so God knows what I'll have to do for that...

And that's just my course work. I'm working with SPIN@UMBC (Student Political Involvement Network) to get a bill about tuition at public colleges passed in Annapolis. I also have to try and raise money for the college republicans. And if all that isn't enough, I have people from four different political campaigns knocking on my door to get me to help them out.

And since the academics and political activities above are all very important, and carry the potential to get me a job one day, my blog is probably gonna get the short end of the stick as far as attention goes. I'll still post when I can, hopefully a couple times a week, but don't expect daily updates and commentary on every single political crises of the day. I will be posting my reaction to the State of the Union either tonight or tomorrow, though.

Anyway, I think that's about it for now.

Except, one more thing I feel the need to say.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Still Not Long Enough

Previously, I mentioned the Judge in Vermont who gave a convicted child molester a 60-day prison sentence because he "no longer believed in punishment." Yesterday, the Judge altered his ruling.

BURLINGTON, Vt. - A judge who was widely vilified for giving a child molester a 60-day jail term imposed a new sentence Thursday, increasing the man’s prison time to three to 10 years.

Judge Edward Cashman said he felt he could now impose the longer sentence because the state had agreed to provide treatment to the man while he is behind bars. The state had initially said such treatment would not come until after the man served his time.

Mark Hulett, 34, pleaded guilty last year to charges that he had sexual contact with a girl during a four-year period beginning when she was 6...

...[Governor] Douglas said he considered the new sentence to still be too lenient considering the crime.

“It’s 18 times 60 days, so it’s certainly an improvement,” the governor said. “Personally, I think it’s inadequate for a crime of that magnitude, but it is certainly better than the first decision.”

Attorney General William Sorrell had also hoped for longer than three years, but he praised the judge for making the change. “I would have rather seen it be a longer sentence as a message to other would-be offenders, but I think Judge Cashman is big enough to change course,” he said.

While 3-10 years is certainly better than two months, I still don't think it's long enough, considering the heinous crime the defendent was found guilty of. This MSNBC poll shows that 82% of respondents agree.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

This Can't End Well

So much for the idea of peace in the region.

RAMALLAH, West Bank - The Islamic militant Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections, winning 76 seats in the 132-member legislature, election officials said Thursday. The rival Fatah Party, which controlled Palestinian politics for four decades, won 43 seats. Hamas supporters raised their flag over the Palestinian parliament and rushed into the building amid clashes with Fatah loyalists a day after winning parliamentary elections.

It is beyond me how people could vote for a terrorist organization like Hamas. This is from Hamas' Charter: the Martyr's Oath.

"Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious...The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realised...

...The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: 'The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him...'
Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Muslim, male or female. A woman can go out to fight the enemy without her husband's permission, and so does the slave: without his master's permission...

And we're supposed to treat these people like legitimate, rational world leaders?

More Tragedy

As if losing seven children wasn't bad enough, the sadness wasn't over for the Mann family.

LAKE BUTLER, Florida (CNN) -- News of a crash in which seven children perished so upset their grandfather that he had a massive heart attack and died, the children's adoptive mother said.

"I lost my daddy tonight," Barbara Mann said Wednesday. "My dad died of a massive heart attack tonight over all this. He lost all seven of his grandkids ... I can't deal with this."

Please pray for the Mann family.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Seven Killed in School Bus Crash

This is tragic.

LAKE BUTLER, Fla.— Seven children were killed Wednesday and three others were seriously injured in a fiery accident involving a school bus, car and semi truck in rural north Florida, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

All seven children in the car died. They had been adopted by a single family. The car was driven by 15-year-old Nicki Mann, who was accompanied by her siblings Elizabeth Mann, 15, Johnny Mann, 13, Heaven Mann, 3, Ashley Kenn, 13, Miranda Finn, who was either 8-or 9-years-old, and Anthony Lamb, who was almost two years old. Lamb was in the process of being adopted, said FHP Lt. Mike Burroughs said.

Nicki Mann, who was driving illegally, was headed towards the children's home about two miles north of the crash site, Burroughs said.

It was unclear why the children were unaccompanied in the car. Nine students were on the bus, three of whom were ejected out of the bus during the crash, Burroughs said. The extent of their injuries was unclear.

Burroughs said three were seriously injured, while the rest had minor injuries. The operator of two Shands Hospitals said they initially received eight patients, five of whom were children. Two of those children were in fair condition and three in serious condition. Of the remaining three patients, two were treated and released, while the others remained hospitalized in good condition.

My prayers are with that families of the children involved. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose seven children in an instant.

An Open Letter to the President of Iran

Dear President Mahmoud Ahmanutjob,

If you don't mind, could you please stop acting like a complete and total psychopath? I know that might be hard for you, seeings as you're insane and all, but could you at least try?

I mean, it's bad enough that you have absolutely no knowledge of history. But to come out and claim that the holocaust never happened? That's just stupid. Nobody can respect a stupid person, and how do you expect them to believe anything else you say after a comment like that?

Then you go and threaten to wipe Israel off the map, and say that you're going to enrich uranium again. This is where I get confused: are you insane, or do you just have a death wish? The Israelis already have nukes, so unless you want Iran to be turned into a parking lot, maybe you should just shut up for awhile, k?

Anyway, the real reason I want you to shut up and pretend to be rational is that you're starting to freak some people out. And not in the "Ooo... look at the evil scary dictator" sort of way, but more in the "Maybe we should put him in a straightjacket to avoid damage to himself and others" sort of way. Now, normally I wouldn't care so much, because you're thousands of miles away. But you making people nervous makes it so that I have to pay $2.45 a gallon for gas, and that is just wrong.

Now, I know you might be thinking that you don't care about me paying lots of money for gas. After all, I'm a girl, and an infidel, and an American, and a capitalist pig, and all that sort of stuff, right? But you crazy people are always screaming that the war in Iraq was all about the oil. Well gas prices are way higher now than they were then, so unless you wanna see a real war about oil, I suggest you sit down and shut up.

Actually, that isn't entirely true. You would never get to see the war about oil, because we would kill you first.

Just thought you'd want to know.


PS~ Honestly, I'm kinda hoping you die soon. Don't take it personally, I just think you're a despicable excuse for a human being. Actually, on second thought, you should take that personally.

Why I Think Michael Moore is an Idiot

So I'm a few days behind on this, but cut me some slack, I've been out of town. I read this letter to Canada from Michael Moore, and just had to share my opinion of the stupidity contained therein.

Oh, Canada -- you're not really going to elect a Conservative majority on Monday, are you? That's a joke, right? I know you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of irony, but this is no longer funny.

Really? I think it's hilarious. Conservatives now control Canada, so where are Moore and Co. going to threaten to move during election time if their candidate loses?

Far be it from me, as an American, to suggest what you should do. You already have too many Americans telling you what to do. Well, actually, you've got just one American who keeps telling you to roll over and fetch and sit. I hope you don't feel this appeal of mine is too intrusive but I just couldn't sit by, as your friend, and say nothing. Yes, I agree, the Liberals have some 'splainin' to do. And yes, one party in power for more than a decade gets a little... long. But you have a parliamentary system (I'll bet you didn't know that -- see, that's why you need Americans telling you things!).

Yes. Talk to them as if they were a group of retarded five year olds. That's the way to convince them to vote your way.

These are no ordinary times, and as you go to the polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper because he's a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C'mon, where's your Canadian pride?

Honestly, the vast majority of Americans really couldn't care less who Canada elects to lead their country. It's doubtful that most people's opinions of Canada is really going to change much regardless of who is in charge.


I'm Back

I'm finally back from my visit with relatives in The Middle of Nowhere. Now, I don't have any medical evidence for this, but in the last four days I have formed the hypothesis that being in the presence of old people for an extended length of time, coupled with being located in Booniesville, Nowhere has something of a sedative effect. I think I took more naps in the last four days than I did all last semester (which is actually saying something).

I mean, don't get me wrong, I do enjoy visiting with my family, so long as they don't talk about politics (that side is ALL liberal). Talking with them about anything-but-politics is always enjoyable, but we can't talk all day long, and they aren't up for anything much more active. Which leads to lots of daytime television. Which leads to lots of naps.

Anyway, it's pretty late, so I'm going to do a quick roundup of some of the stories that have come up in the last few days. A bit hat tip goes to Right Wing News, which is where I'm pulling several of these links from. Others will come from a quick perusal of news sites.

Conservatives win Canada! There may be hope for out northern neighbors after all...

More on Canada- New Leader wants to mend ties with the US

President Bush: "It's amazing to me that people say, well he's just breaking the law. If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?"

Michael Moore Opens His Mouth and Crap Comes Out (Again)

I will definitely be commenting more about this one tomorrow.
Pics of Abramoff With Bush Prove Nothing

Just because Abramoff had a couple grip-and-grins with the President doesn't mean they're old buddies. I have a signed picture of myself with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, but that doesn't mean he knows me, or that he should be connected with anything I might do wrong.

Palestinian election still too close to call (could Hamas win control?)

Majority of Senators Support Alito

I think this will wind up very close to a party line vote. I think deep down the Democrats don't want to filibuster someone who is so qualified, and who was very open during the hearings. At the same time, they can't afford to vote to confirm him, and then getting hit with the backlash from their base if he ends up being a vote against Roe. It seems to me like we'll hear lots of moaning and dire predictions, but when push comes to shove the Democrats will not fight an up or down vote.

CDC Chief: Bird Flu "Not Media Hype"

That's all for now. I'll go over some of these in more detail tomorrow.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I Hate to Say it, but...

...I'm going to be gone for a couple days. I'm visiting relatives in Virginia for a few days, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to get online to post. I'll try, but no guarantees.

I should be back by Tuesday night, though, so expect something then.

From the Speaker

Just a quick post this morning, then I'm off to Annapolis for the day.

This is from the latest post on Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's blog.

Hello everyone. I hope all my friends out in blogosphere had a safe and happy holiday. It was good to have some time with my family, but now we’re back to business and getting ready for this second half of the legislative session.

I still have to giggle a little when 'Denny' uses the word "blogosphere." It's not something that many old people say.

I’ve been reading the headlines and watching everything going on, and I’m concerned. I used to teach government classes to high school students and I know that confidence in the integrity of our government is essential to our democratic system. So it makes me both angry and sad when a Member of Congress or former staffers betray that trust. Painful as it is, I’m glad that the judicial process is bringing people to justice. I said in my press conference this week what I deeply believe: It’s not acceptable for anyone to break the rules of the House or to break the law. And if anyone has done this, we need to hold them accountable.

Yes, if they're guilty, punish them to the fullest extent of the law.

I’ve asked David Dreier, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, to lead the lobbying reform effort in the House. He has been reaching out to Senator McCain and other reform leaders that have been working on this issue. I was encouraged when Senator McCain responded favorably to the thoughts I expressed in my press conference on Tuesday. Senator McCain seemed hopeful, as am I, that we can finally get something enacted into law.

Damnit, 'Denny', you're a blogger now. We don't like McCain. His stupid collaboration with Feingold tries to tell us what to do, strictly limits speech on the internet 60 days before an election, and strongly favors the old school media that doesn't play nicely with conservatives (or tell the truth, for that matter). We certainly don't want McCain anywhere near lobbying reform. Get Shadegg to do it... it'd be a nice way to break im in as Majority Leader (hint, hint).

Gotta go, more later.

Update: Ok, I'm back now. Here is more from Speaker Hastert's blog post, focused on his goals for lobbying reform. They sound pretty good, though I would still prefer McCain not be in charge of it.

As Speaker I believe I need to do everything I can to help rebuild public trust. So I’ve been working hard on developing a plan for lobbying reform.

I’ve asked David Dreier, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, to lead the lobbying reform effort in the House. He has been reaching out to Senator McCain and other reform leaders that have been working on this issue. I was encouraged when Senator McCain responded favorably to the thoughts I expressed in my press conference on Tuesday. Senator McCain seemed hopeful, as am I, that we can finally get something enacted into law.

Chairman Dreier has also been reaching out to our Democratic colleagues because this is one issue where we need to come together. I was discouraged when the Democratic Leader issued a very negative statement following our press conference Tuesday. I guess that’s politics, especially in an election year, but I had hoped for the sake of the institution we could work together. But I felt better afterwards when I saw that she had essentially adopted all of our ideas when she rolled out her plan. So I guess that is progress. I’m going to continue to urge all my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to do the right thing on this issue. We really need to come together. I know that some feel that some of this reform is overkill and all we need to do is punish those who broke the rules. But I think we need to go further if we want, as an institution, to regain the trust of the American people.

And that starts with changing the rules so that there isn’t any doubt about what’s acceptable and what’s not.

At the press conference Tuesday, David and I talked about the plan we’re introducing when the House returns. I want to share a little of it with all of you.

Let me point out that we plan to start work on this the first day that lawmakers are back – February 1st. And the first thing we’re going to do is end the access that former Members of the House who have become lobbyists have to the floor, the gym and other locations. Even under current rules no former member is supposed to lobby on the House Floor, but I think we need to go a step further and not have them on the floor at all so there isn’t even the appearance of impropriety. I also hope we can very quickly pass legislation to take away the government pension from anyone who is convicted of a felony that is related to the performance of their duties as a Member of Congress.

There are some other reforms that I intend to introduce the first day we are back and hopefully get through hearings, passage in the House and Senate and onto the President’s desk before the end of March. That’s a quick pace for legislative action but I think we need to do it – and I think we can and still have time to get it right.

First, we want to ban privately sponsored travel. I know some fact-finding trips, giving speeches to organizations and participating in conferences outside of Washington is important, but the fact of the matter is private travel has been abused by some. Now, we just need to put an end to it.

The second thing we want to do is tighten the gift rules. Like I said at the press conference, Congressmen should still be able to accept a ball cap or a t-shirt from the proud students at a middle school in their districts. But they don’t need lunch or dinner on a lobbyist’s dime.

We also want to increase the reporting requirements for lobbyists. Most of them do a good job, representing legitimate interests -- interests many of you may be a part of, whether unions or industries or environmental groups. As I used to teach my High School students, the Constitution protects the rights of all Americans to petition their government whether through a letter or an email or through the representation of someone they have hired to represent their group. But the system is more accountable when all this lobbying is done in the bright light of disclosure.

We also need to reform what are called “earmarks.” This is where Representatives or Senators tell the bureaucracy that certain funds should go to specific projects. In many instances I think your elected representatives know more than the Washington bureaucracy about what the priorities in their district or state should be. And unlike the bureaucracy they are accountable for what they have earmarked at election time. But I am interested in the ideas that some of my colleagues are putting forward to make sure that this is a much more open and transparent process where those who suggest an earmark are accountable to the public for the merit of the projects being funded.

And we want to tackle the issue of the 527 groups. A lot of these groups came out last year. They basically raise tons of money from anonymous donors and then use it to run distorted campaign ads. We saw a lot of them in the weeks before the hearings for Judge Alito, and we saw a lot of them crop up in the last election. In my opinion they have made our election more nasty and personal and less about issues. And the 527 groups are not accountable because they use a loophole to keep us from knowing who is donating the unlimited and unregulated money to put on these ads. Well, I for one intend to work very hard with John McCain and others to reform the way these 527 groups are run

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Yeah, I'm Easily Amused

Well this is more addicting than it has a right to be.

I blame FrankJ. from IMAO for getting me hooked on this. He's the one that linked to it in the first place.

Top Ten Ways the US Congress Could Be Run More Like a Plantation

As I've previously mentioned, Senator Hillary Clinton demonstrated an impressive case of foot-in-mouth disease when she said "“When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation and you know what I'm talking about...."

Now, anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together can tell that that was an ignorant think to say, especially in an African-American church on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. But, since Hillary said it, I'll play along.


10: Democrats have to pass tests on the Constitution to vote.

9: Senator Kennedy is put in the stocks and given only bread and water (no alcohol, oh the horror) whenever he uses the word "coathanger."

8: Senator Arlen Spector pulls out a bullwhip whenever the Democrats on the committe spend more that five minutes asking one question.

7: Senator Arlen Spector uses the bullwhip whenever a Democrat says "I" or "me" in a question that is supposed to be about Samuel Alito.

6: Sam Alito responds to Senator Kennedy's bloviations by telling him "stop questioning your betters, you worthless drunken murderous lout. And get me some water, I'm thirsty."

5: When a Democrat threatens a filibuster, they are told "You are not to be seen or heard. Now go pick up my dry cleaning."

4: When Congress isn't in session, Democratic Members can be seen repainting the Capitol, mowing the lawn, and shining Dennis Hastert's shoes.

3: "Uppity" Senators like Hillary Clinton are sold to other 'plantations' to be taught a lesson- like North Korea or Cuba.

2: Democrats only count as 3/5 of a person.

And the number one way the U.S. Congress could be more like a plantation is:

1: Democratic Members of Congress constantly try to escape oppression by fleeing north to Canada. Only in this case, no one cares enough to stop them.

Judge: No Prison Time for 'gay' Rapist Teacher

This is outrageous.

A former high school teacher who pleaded guilty to the homosexual rape of one of his teenage students will avoid jail time.

Gregory Pathiakis, 26, of Brockton, Mass., pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of rape of a child, enticement of a child under 16, five counts of possession of child pornography and one count of distribution of harmful material to a child, according to the Enterprise newspaper of Brockton, Mass.

Pathiakis, who quit his job after school officials questioned his extracurricular contact with students, was arrested in January 2004 after a 15-year-old boy told authorities the Middleboro High School teacher raped him Dec. 23, 2003.

Prosecutors asked Brockton Superior Court Judge Suzanne V. Delvecchio to give Pathiakis four to eight years in state prison, followed by five years probation. But she issued a suspended, 2 1/2-year jail term, followed by five years probation.

This is absolutely disgusting. This guy rapes a kid, and he walks free? Because some bleeding heart judge feels bad for the guy? You know who I feel bad for? The kid- you know, the actual victim in this case.

The boy wrote a statement, read by his father in court, telling the teacher, "I feel you deserve jail. You are a disgrace to all teachers."

The teen said the incident forced him to leave school and activities he loved and be homeschooled.

The boy's mother told the court, "You have destroyed our child and our family."

So we have a man in a position of authority use that advantage to rape a kid, and he gets away with no jail time. And this isn't an isolated case, either. Earlier this month a Vermont judge gave a man who repeatedly raped a little girl for four years a sixty day sentence because he "no longer believed in punishment."

I'm sorry, but no judge should have that much power. They're putting predators back out on the streets, and putting innocent people at risk. Not to mention it increases the likelihood of people taking the law into their own hands. I don't know about you guys, but if someone did that to my little brother and then got away with nothing but a slap on the wrist, I would take care of the matter myself. If the legal system wouldn't punish the person, I would, because you do not mess with my family and get away with it.

After all, with Judges like these, it isn't like I'd have to worry about jail time...