Friday, September 21, 2007

Further Profiles in Non-Courage

Radley Balko Has the update:

All 13 members of Congress subpoenaed in the Duke Cunningham investigation have refused to turn over documents and testimony, citing congressional privilege. This was under advice from the House general counsel.

Keep in mind, this is the same Congress that, when questioned by Major League Baseball over its constitutional authority to investigate the steroid scandal, replied that its jurisdiction extended to "any time" and "on any matter."

So while they seem to think their subpoena power is universal, don't expect them to be held accountable themselves.

Raw Story has more details including an explanation for why Duncan Hunter is running for President. Why would a Congressman from California strap on the immigration issue and try to run all the way to the White House with it-? It stops the investigation and the Press from following too closely. If elected, long shot at best, he would get a free ride while in office following the precedent so widely argued by the Democrats about President Clinton...

The subpoenas were issued for "documents and testimony" by the lawyer for Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor named in Cunningham's case. Cunningham pled guilty and is serving eight years in prison.

Five lawmakers received subpoenas for documents and testimony: House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO), House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX); Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA); House Defense Appropriations Chairman John Murtha (D-PA); and ranking House Appropriations Republican Jerry Lewis (R-CA).

Other members were served subpoenas requesting only testimony.

Among them were: House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), erstwhile House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI); Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep John Doolittle (R-CA), Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL), and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA).

A spokesman for for Rep. Hunter told RAW STORY by email Tuesday that Hunter had been advised by House General Counsel that the subpoena was "inconsistent with the precedents and privileges of the House." Hunter is the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee and a candidate for president.

"Congressman Hunter intends to continue consulting with House Counsel on this matter and will proceed according to their judgment," Kasper said. (with a straight face-?-Andy)

Radley Balko way back in December of Oh-Five for Fox News , had some background on our "Courageous Leaders" in his story about Congress investigating steroid use in Major League Baseball... Just more examples of "Do as I say not as I do" Leadership from the back of the parade. (emphasis in red-Andy)

It probably won't surprise you to learn that there's some clear hypocrisy at play here, too. The same politicians railing against the failings of big-time sports have curiously difficult time keeping their own house in order. For example, John McCain — himself one of the "Keating Five" Senators tainted by the savings and loan scandal — says the federal government needs to regulate professional boxing because the sport is hopelessly corrupt.

That may well be. But then, so is Congress. Two high-profile members of McCain's own party have been indicted in just the last two months. His Senate majority leader is under investigation for insider trading. And of course, there's the legal, ongoing "corruption" that takes place in Congress every day, such as when members procure wasteful pork projects from the federal treasury to win favor with constituents back home, or when lobbyists give sweetheart jobs to the family members of senators and congressmen. The notion of Congress "cleaning up" another institution is laughable.

Likewise, Rep. Davis and fellow baseball antagonists say steroids and amphetamines give athletes an "unfair advantage" over the competition. Never mind that after the 2000 census, Davis led efforts to gerrymander his own congressional district to ensure he'd never need to worry about re-election. Due to gerrymandering, Davis ran unopposed in 2002, as did one in five of his congressional colleagues.

Davis also recently sneaked a provision into federal legislation that prevented an apartment complex from going up in his district because, according to the Washington Post, he feared it would bring too many Democrats into the area. And as head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, Davis fought to similarly gerrymander Republican districts across the country, effectively giving many voters just one candidate to choose from.

As for McCain, he's responsible for putting limits on campaign spending that will make it even more difficult for challengers to knock off incumbents in the House and Senate.

Such efforts make it more difficult for voters to hold the GOP accountable when, for example, its party leaders prove to be corrupt. While opinion polls show the public's approval of Congress consistently hovers around 40 percent, 98 percent of incumbents won re-election in 2004. According to a Cato Institute study by Patrick Basham and Dennis Polhill, "90 percent of Americans live in congressional districts where the outcome is so certain that their votes are irrelevant."

So it's difficult to take politicians like Davis and McCain seriously when they talk about healthy competition and unfair advantages. If a slugger has indeed been using steroids, he may well have cheated opposing pitchers of a fair duel, or paying customers of a level baseball game. But politicians like Davis do all they can to cheat voters out of honest elections and electoral accountability. Which is worse?

Don't expect much from the New Ethics Legislation that the Democrats ran on and promised and delivered within their first week in the majority... It's more re-arrangement of furniture, more smoke, more mirrors and more "bugger-thy-neighbor"... Screwing the opposition is more important than investigating and removing scoundrels... Nothing really changed...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Leadership From The Rear Of The Parade

NRO's Byron York has the story... (HT Instapundit) Short and succinct showing Democratic "Leadership" in hiding... There will be no "Sister Souljah" moment here for the Democrats. Some of their weasels are saying to wait until March-April-May-June and then the Democrat Candidate will HAVE TO move to the center to stand a chance. Do they really think we will forget this bit of bravery? They all run claiming to be "leaders" but it looks like they are leading from the rear... I don't think these colors are true-blue or blood-red...They seem a pale yellow to me... I don't think any of these fine people will be writing or written up in any "Profiles In Courage"... Maybe we should have Dan Rather read this on the nightly news and close by saying "courage". His signature tag line... Would the irony be noticed-?

Senate Condemns MoveOn Ad

[Byron York]

The final vote was 72-25, with three not voting. Hillary Clinton voted against condemning MoveOn, while Barack Obama and Joseph Biden did not vote. Here are the nays:

Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Continuing with the "Whodathunkit?" surprises... OK...Shock and amazement...

Some of the senators who won the greatest support from the netroots in the last election, like McCaskill, Tester, Klobuchar, and Webb, voted to condemn the ad.

President Bush, being not quite the dummy he's supposed to be, lets the Democrats know he's watching their acts of bravery.

President Bush said Thursday that he has reached the conclusion that “most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like”

He added that he was disappointed that not more Democrats spoke out against it, saying it shows that they are more worried about alienating left-wing groups than the military. reacted to Bush’s statement with an attack of its own.

What’s disgusting is that the President has more interest in political attacks than developing an exit strategy to get our troops out of Iraq and end this awful war,” said Eli Pariser, the executive director of Political Action Committee.

Since MoveOn is unlikely to EVER say anything nice about the President, they are all too easily dismissed. The personal attacks take no talent, no work, no effort and really show the shallow level of examination and debate that passes for wise commentary among our fellow Americans on the Left side of the aisle... A few big words, a few facts, a few conclusions and the sale might be easier to get across. The constant hectoring and harrowing is boring. GIVE ME SOMETHING OF VALUE IN EXCHANGE FOR MY TIME IN READING YOUR THOUGHTS. If those who barely pay attention are bored, how must those who get a steady diet feel-?... What does the passing parade think of the elementary schoolyard name calling-? Does it really engender support-?

It's too bad the Right side of the aisle has to work... a good horse race might ensue... "Work, the curse of the chattering classes" coin a new phrase from an old one...

Opening Shots: Healthcare

Fame, makes a man take things over
Fame, lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, puts you there where things are hollow

From the album, Fame
David Bowie
- words and music by David Bowie, John Lennon and Carlos Alomar

"One of the best ways to win any game is to write the rules."

Michael S. Malone

Reading the initial reports and reactions to the latest iteration of One-Size-Fits-Most-HillaryCare, the two quotations seem prescient.

The slow accretion of HillaryCare through the SCHiP program would expand Federal coverage to poor families of four earning up to $80,000 a year. The other forms of accretion prophesied in the various editorials and learned writings of wise people include a plan to open the Veterans Administration to cover all verterans, not just thosew ith duty related injuries and illness, A further rumor, at this time, is that MediCare benefits will be granted to people at age 55. The primary beneficiaries of this political raid on the Treasury will be the automakers. They would remove billions of dollars in obligations for retiring and retired UAW employees from their balance sheet. This would allow them to pay their employees even more in wages.

All of the rumors. All of the schemes and plans do not get around the fundamental flaw in HillaryCare II. It will be mandatory that all citizens have healthcare. The plan would require employers to provide it, allow individuals to retain their present plans, provide tax credits to small businesses and give it away to the poor. Which "poor" is not really clear.

When asked HOW she will ensure that EVERYONE has health insurance she says "That'll be up to Congress". He further comments that she can envisage a time when a person must show proof pf health insurance to get a job gives an indication of where the pressures will come.

Governments do not like small business, small farmers, small entrepreneurs. They never act to defend, protect or encourage them until they are almost gone. A big enterprise is much easier to control. Pay attention to the large numbers and the small ones will take care of themselves is the attitude. Hillary's comments during the last go-round that "She can't be responsible for every undercapitalized business in America". The main engines of economic growth and prosperity are the small businesses. Central planning failed in every nation that has tried it. It fails because it does not respond to the individual needs, fails at innovation, fails to squeeze efficiencies out of the process, fails to negotiate vigorously for supplies and fails to charge a compensatory rate.

HillaryCare II does not explain why anyone would stay with private insurance when Federal subsidies are available It doesn't explain what will happen to insurance companies that enact their cost controls to noisy voters who will shriek to their Congressman.

Governments Coerce. Business Can Only Convince. That is the main differences in the free market and the command and control of HillaryCare. Hillarycare will ultimately turn into a coercive, bloated, bureaucratic nightmare. Efficiency in Canada, The UK and Europe is called "rationing". Innovation means stealing the patent and intellectual property rights from inventors. at best. At worst, it means waiting for discards and buying old technology that is always years behind the US. The needs of all consumers/voters are treated equal. Lately, the UK and Canada have begun to limit, restrict and punish those who lead lifestyles that may led to greater medical costs, even though they also lead to an earlier death.

The problem with healthcare in America is the lack of competition. We have no consistent tidal forces driving costs down and efficiencies up. Wherever the market operates freely, disruption follows but, the ultimate winner is the consumer.

"Planning is as natural to the process of success as its absence is to the process of failure."

Robin Sieger

The above is a bit of sophistry to justify planning of any type. The presumption being that all plans are equal and that no plan = to failure. HillaryCare is a plan. It is not a great plan. It solves what SHE perceives to be THE problem. She is curing a symptom. She avoids the root cause. Like most politician she never sees real people. She sees people as needy and herself as provider of solutions. She is not unique in this view. She has 534 fellow citizens on Capitol Hill who got where they are by promising "something-for-nothing" to fools who never realized that "Whenever somebody is getting something for nothing, somebody else is getting nothing for something". Nobody would be elected by telling the truth. People want to believe in the promise of something more than they want something more tangible but less exciting.

President Bush made the right proposal when he sought to level the playing field. Everyone gets $15,000 tax deduction to pay for healthcare. Healthcare provided by employers is taxed as income. This puts the private person, corporate employee, small business person and newly unemployed all on the same footing. The really poor would get a subsidy just as they do now through the Earned Income Tax Credit.

It's a long 13.5 months until we have an election. We have not heard the last of this topic. We will soon be bombarded with fantastic demi-lies and semi-truths. It's up to us to read, listen and decide.... I am already bored. I do not want to wade through all of the verbiage in thick legagese that they will throw at us. I dislike shopping for a new health plan, why would I relish the idea of a few pounds of Political-Legal verbal-ese?.... The fear that they are counting on the weight, obtuse verbiage and deadly dullness to let them slip through some grand scheme...I do not trust those who would be our masters.

Establishment Media

I like to read Jay Rosen over at Press Think. He's a smart guy. Uses big words occasionally. Suffers from Bush Derangement Syndrome. A few months back he created a stir by accusing bloggers of being just re-write scamsters and not Real Reporters. Without Establishment Media they wouldn't exist, he claimed.

Most recently he wrote that the White House Press Corp was foolish for flying around with President Bush on the visit to Anbar and ASEAN Economic Conference. He got a reply from a White House Press Corp Member who, for obvious reasons choose to remain anonymous. This led to a series of public exchanges that are fun and well worth the read, if you love newspapers and care about the future of Establishment Media

I made a couple of comments and he took minor umbrage and sent me over to the folks at The Next Hurrah where a similar dialog was taking place.

I couldn't resist responding at both sites. Rosen got my juices flowing, TNH allowed me to expand and state my case for change in Establishment Media before it is gone... I don't ordinarily read such sites. I find personal attacks on the President offensive. I find any personal attacks shallow and boring. It really doesn't matter if the person is a private citizen or public figure. They reflect more on the character of the speaker (writer) than their object.

In the off chance that you wouldn't stumble across their sites or read their posts comments I will take the very tacky step of quoting myself... I urge you to follow the links and read the dialog. Its fun, interesting and shows why Establishment Media is in such a sad state.

There is (almost) no competition in news or reporting. It is in (almost) nobody's financial interest to rock the boat. Owners like profits. Editors like their jobs. Nobody wants to work hard. Politicians need press coverage. Politicians want to be celebrities but are too old and ugly. Choosing one political Party means a politician can look wise (depending on the party) find allies, get their name in the paper and get elected. Being controversial means feeding the press prepared statements. Spin-it, highlight it, give the press a power-point slide show or video... Depending on the party chosen, you the politician will either be attacked or ignored or given glowing praise. The issue is not important. Your mustering of facts are not important. Your veracity are not important. Only Political Party matters for then the Establishment Media know how to slant your story, vet your facts, picture you in front of something important...

Truth is gone. Nowhere in the posts and discussions by Jarvis, Rosen or WHHWWR or here at TNH is there any indication of a quest for truth. Just a "story"... Personality tales will do when there is nothing else or when you get lazy.

The paying public is no longer buying just any old story. We can make up our own. We are as good at plausible scenarios as Hollywood, DC or any Establishment Media fabulist, fabricator, plagarist, enemy propagandist. We buy media and support the advertisers for news. We want the facts as close to the truth as possible. Our trust is being betrayed.

The Establishment Media seldom reports on each other or in competition with any other. Nobody is interested in trying to find a story that the others haven't already covered and vetted. Safety in numbers like a pack of Beagles. No responsibility for getting it wrong. No bonus rewards for getting it first.... Being fed the well spun pablum by the WH and all of Hollywood/DC. The Press follows the President like a pack of well fed Beagles.... The Clinton/Thompson WH media organization was a wonderful manipulation machine. When the "Bimbos" kept erupting, the Press played it down. Chewing more and more spin was easier than fighting for supper.... Lewinski was ignored by the WHPC as long as it could. Same with the Swiftboat claims, the challenge to the Rather/CBS story was ignored for months. Rather/CBS didn't defend themselves or the story with facts. FOX Cable news went first... The seven others followed. Now the Democrat candidates are trying to punish FOX. DO they think we don't notice that seven out of eight TV news channels carry the same stories with the same tilt with interchangeable blow-dry Pretty Faces-? (ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS, MSNBC, CNBC, and FOX)... Attacking FOX means they MUST be very very powerful... Or maybe they can't be controlled by threats to have their access cut off-? Either way Clinton and Edwards did FOX a great service and showed how tame the rest of the Establishment Media is. The Establishment Media could have had their own "Sister Souljah" moment by standing up and not allowing one of their industry to be censored and bullied... The silence was deafening.

The future of the News Industry is in the hands of Establishment Media... Lord Gnome now has the WSJ and NYPost and the whole NEWS Corp empire.... The NYTimes shareholders and bond holders may start to feel some pain in their wallets... Too bad the Boston Globe is gone... along with many other fine names and great histories... No company deserves to live forever... Betraying the trust of the marketplace is a fast way to vanish. The sad part is They don't go down fighting. They just go down... (K-R, McCormick, etc)

If the President is holding a briefing or interviews with bloggers it would indicate that the Establishment Media is losing its relevance. Quibbling about who or what was said etc ignores the basic point that the time of the single most powerful person on the planet was dedicated to spending a few minutes with heretofore unknown bloggers... Making jokes about whether the President has the mental capacity to hold a detailed conversation insults him, the American People who elected him twice and BOTH Harvard and Yale who awarded him a degree... Such comments (Rosen) only do more to support the notion that bias, hatred, bigotry are endemic in those who profess to seek facts and report the truth...

Being bigoted and biased and opinionated is good when there is competition. The market can decide and choose what it likes. When the voice is the same as seven out of eight TV news outlets and almost all the major print organs, its just cowardly. Speaking out when there is a market penalty is far more dangerous than speaking "what everybody knows to be true"... Rosen, Jarvis and WHHWWR show they do not want truth, they do not know how to compete and they would be much more content if we all would sit down and shut up. It's a nice game. It's also boring.

Brette Harte reported that a miner came to town and lost all his winnings in a crooked game. When asked why he had played, knowing it was crooked, he said "It's the Only Game in Town"... The internet is a disruptive force. It is neither good nor evil. It disrupts established order and changes the marketplace. Just as has flown under the radar with little to no Establishment Media inquiries about their management, financiers, friends, etc so too have the bloggers been ignored. There is good reporting going on. Rosen made a lot of headlines attacking those who offer comment and re-casting of Establishment Media. Too bad he couldn't see these free market editors doing for their audiences what the well paid professional editors were not doing. Too bad he fails to notice the real-live reporting that occurs around the blog-O-sphere.

There is more than one game in town and the numbers show the public is aware. The advertisers are following... Last Hurrah-? Not yet, but it's comming soon... and it doesn't have to be... That's the truly sad part.

The Jarvis I refer to is Jeff Jarvis of Another smart guy who occasionally uses big words. He is very New York in his outlook. He's a gentleman who never goes after the personality. I also believe he truly sees the Establishment Media in deep trouble and is concerned.