Archive for October, 2007

This afternoon, I did some more digging into the Bunusgate corruption scandal engulfing Pennsylvania. First, I called a contact I have in Pennsylvania. My contact told me that this scandal would take “2 or 3 years to play out.” I asked if that included potential trials. The matter-of-fact response was a firm “No.” After talking with my contact, I found this editorial, which tells me that there’s much unrest in Pennsylvania over the various scandals. Here’s a portion of that editorial:

The nub of the allegations is that big bonuses, paid supposedly for meritorious service on behalf of the people of Penn’s Wood, actually were paid for services rendered on behalf of re-electing legislative bosses and their lock-stepping minions. Hundreds of thousands of public dollars may be involved.

It goes on:

Capitol raids have been conducted. Folks are walking around looking like dogs awaiting the consequences of having eaten chicken bones. Published reports suggest there’s fire where smoke was spotted. Subpoenas have been issued. And birds apparently have been chirping to a state grand jury convened by Mr. Corbett.

The bad news for Democrats is that that’s the abridged version. Here’s some details to one facet of this scandal:

State Auditor General Jack Wagner’s interim audit on the PHEAA, the first audit done on the student-loan agency in its 44-year history, shows in sad detail how this state agency lost sight of its only mission and the reason for its existence: students, students, students.
You may recall that recently retired PHEAA Chief Executive Dick Willey and four vice presidents received more than $500,000 in bonuses this year. Wagner’s auditors discovered that, since July 1, 2004, the agency awarded $7.5 million in bonuses. That’s $7.5 million.
No matter how many times PHEAA apologists try to make the case that the PHEAA board was merely trying to keep compensation competitive with industry standards, this is obscene. Even if the entire student-loan business is corrupt, this is no less outrageous.

PHEAA knows that they’re toast and that they won’t be able to spin it. As bad as that audit finding is, this information might be more damaging:

Wagner’s report noted that the $6.4 million in bonuses the agency awarded its employees over the past three years could have given 1,702 students the maximum education grant, ranging from $3,300 to $4,500. Or the bonuses could have helped 2,563 borrowers with $2,500 in loan forgiveness. Wagner’s staff also uncovered this gem: Another $1.1 million in bonuses was dished out to the agency’s top 23 executives in September.

That’s almost $50,000 apiece in bonuses. This article provides the final nail in PHEAA’s coffin:

According to the Harrisburg, Pa., newspaper, the board of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, or Pheaa, voted on Friday to accept a list of recommendations to reduce its spending on financial-aid programs in the 2008-9 fiscal year by a projected 58 percent, to $44.4-million. Those cuts would mean a drop in the number of students receiving grants, and less money for nursing students and educators, as well as adults in job-training programs.

James Preston, Pheaa’s interim president, told The Patriot-News that the reductions were needed because of recently enacted cuts in federal subsidies on student loans and financial market conditions.

Here’s what we know from this information:

  • The executives got paid millions in bonuses over the years.
  • The state’s audit shows that the executives got paid lavish salaries. (Their president, Dick Willey, got paid $280K this year in salary, then got a hefty $180K bonus. He resigned early after announcing that he was retiring.)
  • The students get hurt by having their grant budget shrunk by 60 percent.
  • What’s wrong with that picture? I’m confident that that information will get most taxpayers seething. I’ll bet that parents are demanding to know how many times their taxes were raised to increase the grant budget only to have that money spent on directors’ salaries and bonuses.

Let’s summarize my posts on Pennsylvania bonuses. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Brett Cott, a high-ranking policy analyst in the state House of Representatives, spent 11 weeks straight in Beaver Falls last year working on former House Democratic Whip Michael Veon’s unsuccessful re-election campaign.
  • Patrick Grill, also a policy analyst, squeezed in at least 10 trips from Harrisburg to Waynesburg to campaign for Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese.
  • Mr. Cott received a $25,065 bonus and Mr. Grill received $12,685.
  • 717 House Democratic staffers received taxpayer-fund bonuses worth $1.9 million in 2006.
  • House Democratic staffers received $435,000 in bonuses in 2005.
  • Seven employees of the state House Democratic caucus have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury investigating bonus payments to legislative staffers.
  • State House records show that six of the seven workers are or were employees of the House Democrats’ Office of Legislative Research.
  • A search warrant was obtained to search the House Democrats’ Office of Legislative Research.
  • When the search was conducted, investigators found folders titled opposition research, incumbent protection plan and memo on challenger in election.
  • It is illegal for campaign work to be done in state offices, on state equipment or by state employees on work time.
  • House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese of Waynesburg urged his bonus recipients not to tell anyone.
  • PHEAA executives got paid salaries in excess of $100,000, then got bonuses after that.
  • As a direct result of the excessive salaries and bonuses paid to these executives, the student grant budget was cut 60 percent.

These questions must be asked in the aftermath of the PHEAA scandal:

  • Why didn’t the legislature do any oversight into PHEAA’s salaries and bonuses?
  • Why didn’t the legislature write the law to eliminate the amount of bonus money paid to executives?
  • Shouldn’t the legislature, not PHEAA, set the grant and loan budgets?

Tell me why I shouldn’t think that this was a racket set up by legislators to benefit their cronies. This was a disgusting abuse of the system by power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats. That’s why it’s imperative to pass John Eichelberger’s law about bonuses and the transparency act. Without those controls, the same thing can happen again. That isn’t acceptable.

UPDATE: Welcome Gateway Pundit readers. Here’s the list of everything I’ve posted about these scandals & investigations:

State of Corruption
RINO
House Committee Guts Transparency Legislation
DeWeese The Reformer
Corruption At the Highest Levels
Three Cheers for John Eichelberger
The Investigation Continues
What Did They Know & When Did They Know It?

This is actually several scandals rolled into one. You’ll want to keep track of Sen. Eichelberger. He was elected last November & immediately went to work reforming Pennsylvania government. I think of him as a rising star in the GOP. I think you will, too.

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Rudy Giuliani didn’t waste time in blasting Charlie Rangel’s tax increase proposal yesterday. Here’s what Mr. Giuliani said:

In a radio interview, Giuliani said Rangel’s plan would be “devastating” to the economy.

“It makes no sense to be raising the rate on capital gains when we want more investment in this country,” Giuliani said on WHO-AM in Des Moines, Iowa. “All we’re saying to people is go find some place else to invest. The corporate tax rate in America is the second highest in the world. The President of France wants to lower the corporate tax rate in France because France is losing money, and their rate is lower than ours. So we’ve got a group of Democrats who want to go to the left of France in our economic policy. It doesn’t make any sense.”

It’s important to recognize that this isn’t Rangel’s bill. This is what Mrs. Clinton’s tax policy would look like if elected. It isn’t a stretch to think that Rangel is just Mrs. Clinton’s messenger. There’s no doubt that Rangel agrees with Mrs. Clinton in raising taxes. There also isn’t any doubt that this tax increase will cause the economy to falter if it became law.

The first Clinton tax hike didn’t hurt the economy because it was just starting its recovery from a recession. That isn’t the case now. Hiking taxes this much when the economy is looking like it’s heading for a recession is reckless, not to mention that it’ll hurt people from all economic groups. Look at this information and try convincing people that it wouldn’t kill job growth and economic growth:

Rangel’s bill would increase the tax rate on hedge fund managers pay on their compensation, often in the tens of millions of dollars, from the 15 percent capital gains rate to as high as 38 percent. He also wants a broader tax reform next year that would permanently repeal the minimum tax, put a surcharge on wealthy households, and lower the corporate tax rate.

The old anecdote that soaking the rich usually leads to rain showers in everyone’s neighborhoods applies here. When these taxes are applied, they’ll certainly have an impact on profits. That means that 401(k)’s will be adversely affected. That means jobs will be lost until the companies make back the money the tax increase took from them.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

That’s President Bush’s opinion on the Democratic leadership not getting their budget work done. In addition to them not getting the appropriations bills passed before the end of FY2007, their idea of compromise isn’t compromise:

Bush returned from a tour of the wildfire destruction in California last night to find the House having passed another children’s health insurance bill that he promises to veto, and he already had received another “fiscally irresponsible” bill earlier the week in which he said House and Senate negotiators haggling over $14 billion and $15 billion spending bills had driven their compromise up to $23 billion.

“In Washington, that’s called splitting the difference,” Bush said with some visible disgust.

It’s time to call this bunch ‘The Congress That Wouldn’t Govern’. Thus far, they’ve had more missteps and blunders than any congress since I started voting in 1974. That’s what you get when you put dimwits like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in charge. Instead of working diligently on the appropriations bills, Ms. Pelosi instead chose to pass another SCHIP bill that President Bush has promised to veto.

Thus far, a strong case can be made that neither house of Congress is the least bit adept at prioritizing their time. They wasted 100+ days before passing the latest Iraq war supplemental. They couldn’t leave on time for their August recess because they hadn’t passed a bill to let the NSA do their job of intercepting terrorist communications.

That’s before we’re talking about how much time they wasted on several amnesty bills that went nowhere. Their only ‘accomplishments’ thus far are increasing the minimum wage and earmark/ethics ‘reform’. The earmark reform is a RINO- Reform In Name Only. Pelosi and company couldn’t even pass a clean minimum wage bill. The first bill exempted Del Monte’s plant in Okinawa. Not surprisingly, Pelosi’s husband owns Del Monte stock. In fact, they only got the bill passed as part of the Iraq supplemental. Even then, they had to include small business tax cuts to get it through.

“I returned to Washington late last night, and when I got back to the White House, I was disappointed by what Congress had been doing, and even more disappointed what they had not been doing,” Bush said today, noting that the House had passed an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that “costs more” than the one he already had vetoed. It “moves millions of children” with private health care into government-funded insurance, he complained, and “it fails to do what needs to be done, to put poor children first.”

President Bush has found a perfect line to fight the Democrats’ SCHIP bill. Anytime he says that we need to “put poor children first”, he nails Democrats for trying to alter our health insurance system.

It isn’t so much that voters are paying close attention to the bills funding the Commerce Department or the Agriculture Department or the Interior Department. It’s enough for them to know that Congress didn’t even debate these bills until the new fiscal year had started.

The Democrats’ ineptitude and corruption is reason enough to end their run as majority party in the House. Add into that the House and Senate pushing legislation that would undercut the war effort in Iraq right when we’re getting things under control with respect to the Shiite militias and the AQI terrorists. Public opinion is shifting on Iraq as a result of Gen. Petraeus’ surge.

That doesn’t matter to the Nutters, though. They want out despite the positive reports coming from Iraq.

That’s before I start talking about Nancy Pelosi’s disastrous foreign ‘diplomacy’ efforts. Her ‘message from Ehud Olmert’ to Bashar Assad was quickly ridiculed and refuted. Prime Minister Olmert didn’t give her a message to deliver to Assad. Then there’s her ‘promising’ a vote on a resolution condemning the Turkish genocide of Armenians in the early 1900’s, which almost caused Turkey to kick us out of their country while interrupting our supply lines to northern Iraq.

Simply put, Reid and Pelosi have been a destructive force in the governance of our nation. Their foreign policy mistakes, coupled with their not taking their budgetary responsibilities seriously, are proof that this bunch can’t govern.

When you factor all these things, don’t you ask yourself “Had enough”? I have.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

I think it’s safe to say that Bill DeWeese is in trouble back home in Greene County. I’m basing my opinion on his tough fight in last year’s election and the ongoing Bonusgate scandal. It looks like he might have more trouble after this week, too. Let’s first look at last year’s election:

William DeWeese (D) 9,586 52.6%
Greg Hopkins (R) 8,633 47.4%

Bill DeWeese should’ve cruised to victory last year. Last year’s environment was toxic for Republicans. Incumbency should’ve been another advantage for DeWeese. Despite all that, DeWeese barely defeated Mr. Hopkins. The tightness of this race explains why Patrick Grill made at least 10 trips from Harrisburg to Waynesburg to campaign for Rep. DeWeese:

Brett Cott, a high-ranking policy analyst in the state House of Representatives, spent 11 weeks straight in Beaver Falls last year working on former House Democratic Whip Michael Veon’s unsuccessful re-election campaign. Patrick Grill, also a policy analyst, squeezed in at least 10 trips from Harrisburg to Waynesburg to campaign for Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese.

Both continued to draw their state salaries while they campaigned, according to records obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Cott’s annual salary is $87,412 and Mr. Grill’s is $67,552. Altogether, at least 45 House Democratic employees campaigned on weekdays last year but never left the state payroll and still received bonuses as a reward for their state work, the records show.

Mr. DeWeese made the understatement of the week when he said this in his op-ed:

I have been straightforward in proclaiming that I was late to the call for reform. But after the toughest fight of my political career last year, I made a commitment to changing my ways.

The truth is that he still didn’t change his ways. Here’s proof of that:

The committee approved House Bill 443. In its original intent, this measure would have improved Pennsylvania’s weak open-records law. But when the Democratically controlled committee was through with it, House Bill 443 had become a step backwards. Considering that the existing open-records law is among the weakest nationwide, that is a depressing fact.

Both the committee’s process and the content of the bill are outrageous. Committee Chair Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, pushed through amendment after amendment, most of which the members were seeing for the first time. Their cumulative effect was to exempt broad categories of state records from being open. When members of the committee pleaded with Rep. Josephs to slow down by either holding more hearings or not reporting the bill to the floor for a quick vote, she refused.

Alarmingly, at one point she even said she could not do so because the Democratic leadership (Majority Leader H. William DeWeese, D- Waynesburg) didn’t want to. So much for caucus leaders sharing power. One other point about the committee chair: She had the nerve to address a pro-open records rally on Tuesday as a reform leader…and then led the way as the committee rammed through this travesty.

In other words, Bill DeWeese told Rep. Joseph to gut the transparency bill so that it was a Reform In Name Only, then wrote an op-ed for the newspaper talking about what a reformer he’d become.

Frankly, this guy is a dead man walking politically speaking. The good news for him is that Murtha can get him a job with one of his defense contractor buddies starting in 2009.

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That’s the word according to this article in Politico.com. That noise you hear are Nevada Republicans rejoicing.

The Nevada Democrat has been meeting with his “inner circle” over the past two months to chart his future, holding sessions in both Washington and Nevada, participants said.

The group includes Susan McCue, his former chief of staff; Gary Myrick, his current chief of staff; Penny Lee, a senior communications aide; Jimmy Ryan, a Citigroup lobbyist who oversaw the Senate floor for Reid; Mark Mellman, who handles Reid’s polling; and Jim Margolis, the Democratic political advertising specialist.

Reid has told the group that he will definitely seek a fifth term, according to McCue and others who have attended the sessions, and he is bringing back McCue, a top political adviser, to fortify his standing here and at home.

“He’s committed to running again,” said McCue, who announced on Wednesday that she is leaving her post as president and CEO of the anti-poverty ONE Campaign to return as a senior adviser to Reid.

With a job approval rating almost 1o points lower than President Bush, Reid doesn’t stand a chance. Frankly, I’m worried that he’ll drop out because that’d give Democrats a better shot at holding this seat.

Reid has faced a number of serious challenges since taking over as majority leader in January, including a hostile president, uncooperative Senate Republicans, an increasingly restless anti-Iraq-war faction within his own Democratic Party, behind-the-scenes jockeying among his Democratic colleagues for position in a post-Reid world and a looming showdown over this year’s spending bills.

His biggest challenge has been himself. He’s made a series of idiotic statements that’ve eroded his credibility. Chief among those statements was his “the surge has failed” statement. Reid is his own worst enemy. He’s incompetent. It hasn’t helped that he’s picked the wrong fights, either.

It doesn’t help to have your allies being your worst nightmare. He’s been forced to mimic MoveOn.org’s talking points to keep the campaign contributions rolling in. While MoveOn.org’s money is a welcome sight, their rhetoric isn’t. Simply put, it doesn’t play well in the Heartland.

And things aren’t much easier back home. Reid, who will turn 68 in December, has also seen his personal approval ratings slump in Nevada, according to a recent poll by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Only 32 percent of Nevadans now approve of the job he’s doing, and 51 percent disapprove. This is a stark reversal from the previous poll in May, when 46 percent approved of Reid and 42 disapproved.

Incumbents don’t get re-elected with a JAR of 32 percent. Incumbents don’t get re-elcted with a 42 percent JAR. To borrow an old Don Meredith tune:

Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

You can put this race to sleep.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Tom Curry has written a good article on the defeat of the DREAM Act. Mr. Curry thinks one of the lessons people should take from this defeat is that the immigration issue has staying power:

Illegal immigration remains at a legislative impasse, and that may be a good thing for GOP chances since the party’s base in the South and West tends to be vehemently opposed to any accommodation with illegal immigrants.

In his post-vote assessment, the Dream Act’s chief sponsor, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said, “In a campaign year, it is a very difficult issue. If it’s a tough this year, it’s tougher next year.” Some senators, he said, “are running scared” on the illegal immigrant issue.

They should be running scared. Illegal immigration is costing states, counties and school boards tons of money. When an illegal immigrant visits an E/R, we pay for it in the form of higher premiums. When illegal immigrants attend school, taxpayers foot the bill in the form of higher property taxes, higher tuition and bigger state budget outlays.

Naturally, Dick Durbin started spinning this the minute it was defeated:

“Switchboards light up, the hates starts spewing, and people get concerned, to say the least,” Durbin told reporters.

It hasn’t dawned on Sen. Durbin that the reason why the “switchboards light up” is because we don’t like the additional costs and security risks that come with the illegal immigrants. It also hasn’t dawned on him that support for making citizens out of illegal immigrants is strongly opposed by Republicans, Democrats and independents. If Sen. Durbin continues saying that opponents to amnesty are haters, then I’ll point out that he’s talking about Republicans, Democrats and independents. Here’s proof that I’m right:

Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who is up for re-election next year, said the Dream Act was “huge, huge” as an issue on the minds of people in his state. “People are very upset, they’re outraged; it’s like amnesty, it’s virtually the same” he said after casting his “no” vote. Mail, phone calls, and e-mail on the issue pouring into his office were “off the wall,” Baucus said.

Most Montanans, he said, believed the bill would have given an unfair benefit to illegal immigrants. Baucus’s freshman Democratic colleague from Montana Sen. Jon Tester also voted “no,” as did another freshman Democrat, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Southern Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Robert Byrd of West Virginia all voted against the Dream Act.

It’s impossible to make the case that this was a party line vote. It wasn’t close to a party line vote because 12 Republicans voted for cloture while eight Democrats voted against cloture. Sen. Durbin can peddle that spin wherever he wants but people won’t believe him because his spin doesn’t match up with the facts.

Check out Kent Conrad’s statement:

The bill would have allowed illegal immigrants, if they passed background checks and became permanent legal residents, to qualify for lower in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities, a point cited by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D, who voted “no.”

Conrad explained that from his constituents in North Dakota, “I was hearing, ‘wait a minute, this is more generous than what we’re doing for people who were born in this country.’ And it’s certainly commendable to want to give this kind of educational assistance to people. But how can you justify that when we don’t do it for people who were raised in our country?”

From North Dakotans, Conrad said, “What I hear is, ‘look, you’ve got to secure the border. That’s got to be priority number one.’”

The question seems to be changing. The new question that people will demand an answer to is this: When will Washington listen to us?

It’s apparent that people think that politicians are tuning them out. That’s why their approval ratings are nearing Nixon/Saddam territory. If Washington politicians keep ignoring We The People, We The People will retire them involuntarily. This issue is why I firmly believe that it isn’t an anti-Republican election as much as it’s an anti-Washington, anti-corruption election.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

That’s the great news coming from Sen. Bob Kerrey today. For all intents and purposes, this keeps Chuck Hagel’s seat in Republican hands.

The former governor and U.S. senator from Nebraska cited family and unfinished plans at The New School university in New York, where he is president, in his decision not to run.

But “I got much closer to saying yes than I thought I would,” Kerrey said. “Bringing a voice of moderation in the Senate was very important to me,” Kerrey said. “I’m very worried about the direction of the country. We’re polarized on many issues.”

Kerrey, 64, would have brought Washington connections and fundraising ability to the race to replace Republican Chuck Hagel, who announced in early September he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Now that Kerrey is out, Democrats will likely turn to Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey, and if Fahey passes, Scott Kleeb, who lost the 3rd District Congressional race last year, has said he might jump in. Fahey said Wednesday he’ll take the next few weeks to decide whether to run. Kleeb said he won’t run against Fahey, and isn’t ready to make a decision about a possible Senate bid. No other Democrats have declared.

It’s immaterial which of Kleeb or Fahey runs. The Democrat running in next November’s general election will be facing current Nebraska AG Jon Bruning or former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns. Both are popular figures in a deep red state.

For months, pundits have generally believed that this race would only be competitive if Bob Kerrey ran. He had the name recognition, experience and fundraising ability to make this a fight. Now that Kerrey decided against running, you can pretty much tuck Nebraska solidly into the ‘staying red’ category.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Most people think that that’s an acronym for a Republican In Name Only. While it certainly means that, it means Reform In Name Only, too. Here’s what first got me thinking about that new definition of the acronym:

The committee approved House Bill 443. In its original intent, this measure would have improved Pennsylvania’s weak open-records law. But when the Democratically controlled committee was through with it, House Bill 443 had become a step backwards. Considering that the existing open-records law is among the weakest nationwide, that is a depressing fact.

Both the committee’s process and the content of the bill are outrageous. Committee Chair Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, pushed through amendment after amendment, most of which the members were seeing for the first time. Their cumulative effect was to exempt broad categories of state records from being open. When members of the committee pleaded with Rep. Josephs to slow down by either holding more hearings or not reporting the bill to the floor for a quick vote, she refused.

Alarmingly, at one point she even said she could not do so because the Democratic leadership (Majority Leader H. William DeWeese, D- Waynesburg) didn’t want to. So much for caucus leaders sharing power. One other point about the committee chair: She had the nerve to address a pro-open records rally on Tuesday as a reform leader…and then led the way as the committee rammed through this travesty.

Here’s my commentary later in that post:

It’s time that Pennsylvania voters rallied around a true reform agenda, not a RINO (Reform In Name Only) agenda. It’s obvious that Democrats like Babette Joseph and Bill DeWeese are intent on sabotaging the biggest reforms. My guess is that they’re more interested in privacy than transparency.

It’s my contention that these folks are mimicking the tactics used by Democrats in passing earmark/ethics ‘reform’. They pass legislation that has a great title, then gut the bill from having any effect in real life. This type fo tactic won’t work with the new paradigm. An Army of Davids can read bills. We’re approaching expert status in putting the pieces of the various policy puzzles together.

Thanks to Al Gore’s inventing the internet, we can read all kinds of source documents outlining policies and legislation. It’s only a matter of time before we expose bogus reform legislation. People like Bill DeWeese, Tony Sertich, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can’t hide information from us.

The even worse news for these control addicts is that this Army of Davids gets upset when someone tries pulling a fast one on people. When we get upset, we get working on that spinmeister’s defeat. In Sertich’s case, he’s in a safe seat. He’s essentially untouchable. When we can’t defeat the Tony Sertiches (Nancy Pelosi works, too) of the world, we tie their liberal, anti-transparency votes around other people’s necks.

Freshmen who frequently vote with Sertich will suffer because we’ll tell these freshmen’s constituents about all the votes they cast against common sense spending bills. These freshmen will suffer when they frequently vote for unsustainable spending increases, too.

We demand transparency. We demand reform. We demand sensible spending priorities. We demand that politicians keep taxes low on everyone so that the businessman and the worker prosper. These aren’t timid suggestions; they’re demands. We aren’t asking for the world. We’re just demanding politicians use common sense in doing the right thing for the right reasons.

Based on the low approval ratings of the House and Senate, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that politicians that don’t heed us face an uphill fight next November.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

That’s essentially the question that Peter Hegseth asks in this NY Post op-ed. He’s asking why some Democrats still see Iraq as an unending nightmare. To be more accurate, he’s asking why Democrats are insisting on using 2006 data to formulate their opinions:

War critics painted a similar picture when violence in Iraq peaked in ’05 and ’06, using terms like “civil war” and “sectarian violence”, as they pushed for a rapid draw-down or immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces. An Iraq “at war with itself” shouldn’t be America’s problem, they argued. In fact, the existence of a “religious civil war” remains the chief antiwar talking point to this day.

Problem is, the new U.S. strategy has changed the facts on the grounds.

A year ago, the assertions of Sanchez and the antiwar critics were an accurate description of the violence throughout Iraq: Armed death squads freely roamed the streets in Baghdad and outlying areas, responding to massive bombings committed by al Qaeda. And vice versa. Each week saw hundreds of innocent Iraqis, the victims of sectarian attacks and reprisals, kidnapped and killed. Worst of all, compromised members of the security forces (Iraqis in uniform) were complicit in many killings.

Mr. Hegseth then makes a forceful case for using today’s data:

The critics had a point: American soldiers were simply caught in the middle, not permitted to take action to stop the violence, and yet still very much in harm’s way. But what the critics failed to see was that it didn’t have to be that way, that what the troops lacked was an adaptive strategy that recognized and addressed underlying causes of the violence.

Enter Gen. David Petraeus and a strategy that did just that. (The term “surge” is far too simplistic, as it implies simply throwing more forces at the problem, when Petraeus’ changes in tactics are even more important).

The new counterinsurgency approach, namely, to take territory from al Qaeda, hold it, secure it and empower tribal sheiks to work together and rebuild their communities, finally provides an effective “counteroffensive” to the chief tactics of al Qaeda militants and Shiite death squads.

Simply put, the Agenda Media cares infinitely more about carrying the Democrats’ water on this than they care about reporting all the facts about Iraq. That was proven when Howard Kurtz caught Robin Right and Barbara Starr admitting that declining casualty rates weren’t news but an increase would’ve been treated as news:

The U.S. military reported last week that troop deaths in Iraq went down for the fourth month in a row, and the Iraqi government reported that civilian deaths declined by half in September.

What to do? Well, CBS and NBC gave the new casualty figures a few sentences on their evening news programs, and the major papers played the news far from their front pages. Only ABC led with the story. In fact, the Washington Post’s media critic, Howard Kurtz, wondered about the short-shrift the media gave this news after four years of “continuously depressing” news. On CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” he asked the Washington Post’s Robin Wright and CNN’s Barbara Starr whether the news should have received more attention. Perish the thought, they both said; we’re not sure there is a trend yet.

OK, four months is not a trend. But Kurtz then asked the obvious question: If those casualties figures had gone up, wouldn’t that have made front pages? “Oh, I think inevitably it would have,” replied Starr. “I mean, that…by any definition, is news.”

The good news for the Bush administration is that lots of blogs are informing the people that the tide has turned. That’s what’s behind the Agenda Media outlets finally talking about positive developments in Iraq. I was talking about the Anbar Awakening in July. The Washington media elitists started reporting that a little over a week ago.

The debate is essentially over. Yes, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid talked tough yesterday about not being a rubberstamp for President Bush’s Iraq supplemental but everyone knows that they’ll fold like a lawn chair once President Bush starts pushing. Here’s what Reuters reported:

“Isn’t this getting to be a little old?” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democratic war opponent from Nevada, asked on the Senate floor after Bush spoke. Reid and other Democrats noted Bush had recently vetoed a bill to expand a popular children’s health program. “We’ve been fighting for America’s priorities while the president continues investing only in his failed war strategy,” Reid said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, said there would be no “blank checks” for the war. “Every line-item will be scrutinized,” he said. “Hearings will be held to determine the need for this spending request. Tough questions will be asked of this administration.”

Sen. Reid’s endless rants are getting tiring. It’s apparent that they’re getting on Nevadans’ nerves, too, with his approval rating hovering 15 points lower in Nevada than President Bush’s approval ratings.

As for Robert Byrd saying that “Every line-item will be scrutinized,” that’s code for “I won’t sign off on this until I get my cut.”

Here’s Ms. Pelosi’s official statement:

“Demanding nearly $200 billion for Iraq while vetoing health care for 10 million children exemplifies the Bush Administration’s misplaced priorities. On key issues – from the Iraq war to children’s health insurance – the President continues to oppose the will of the American people and obstructs the New Direction Congress’ bipartisan agenda.

“For the cost of less than 40 days in Iraq, we could provide health care coverage to 10 million children for an entire year.

“The colossal cost of this war grows every day, in lives lost, dollars spent, and to our reputation around the world. The American people long ago rejected the President’s planned 10-year occupation of Iraq and want the Administration to provide a concrete plan to bring our troops home.

The choice is between a Democratic plan for responsible redeployment of our troops and the President’s plan to spend another trillion dollars for a 10-year war in Iraq. We must end this war.”

Talk about irresponsible. Ms. Pelosi is saying we should redeploy now that victory is within sight? That isn’t responsible. That’s irresponsible. Ms. Pelosi doesn’t think that we’re getting the news from the internet, not demagogic politicians with a political axe to grind.

Organizations like Vets For Freedom and Victory Caucus are aggregating news articles telling us what’s really happening. their credibility is still high. Pelosi and Reid don’t have any credibility left on this issue. Here’s Sen. Reid’s machismo-laden statement:

“President Bush wants us to rubber stamp another $200 billion in war funds, all borrowed money, none of it paid for, for next year alone. But when we sent a bipartisan CHIP bill to his desk to provide health insurance for the children of working families, the President called it too expensive. Let’s remember, every dime of the money for CHIP was paid for.

That’s spin if ever I heard it. It gets worse:

“The Iraq war is leaving us less secure, unprepared to fight an effective war on terror or respond to the unexpected. President Bush should not expect the Congress to rubber stamp this latest supplemental request. In the coming weeks, we will hold it up to the light of day and fight for the change in strategy and redeployment of troops that is long overdue.”

TRANSLATION: Over the next coming weeks, we’ll pretend to hold this bill up to the light of day so that our campaign contributions keep rolling in. Then we’ll fold like a lawn chair the minute President Bush starts pressuring us. We’ll talk about changing strategies and redeploying our troops to pay lip service to our nutroots allies but we can’t afford to listen to closely to them because following them blindly would spell disaster for us next November.

It’s also curious what information Sen. Reid is using in claiming that “The Iraq war is leaving us less secure.” That’s been the Democratic mantra since Howard Dean’s campaign in 2003. We still haven’t had a terrorist attack her in the US and violence is dropping dramatically in Iraq. Does that sound like we’re less secure?

Reid, Pelosi and Murtha haven’t figured it out that the New Media is making them look like idiots. We’re the ones who are knowledgeable and trustworthy. We aren’t spinning the news. We’re the people exposing Reid, Pelosi and Murtha as spinmeisters who’ll say anything to advance their agenda.

We’ve done our jobs so well that informed voters are now asking where the nightmare is. I suspect that the nightmare is the electoral implications winning will have on Democrats.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Earlier this week, I emailed Scott Wright from , telling him that I’d fire Childress & bring back Daunte. Yes, that’s a sign of desparation on my part. I admit that I’m tired of seeing QB’s with rag arms (Brad Johnson) or QB’s who shouldn’t be starting in the CFL (TJax). Daunte had his faults but he made all the throws and he was accurate. Anyway, Scott chose to answer my email on his Wright Stuff blog. Make sure you check Scott’s answer out.

I’d post his answer here but that might stop you from checking Scott’s website out. I’d feel bad for you if you didn’t check NFLDraftCountdown out. Like I said last year, Scott’s site is a must read for NFL Draft junkies like me. Scott spends the entire week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl as well as the weekend in Indianapolis at the annual NFL Annual Combine.

Scott is one of the most informed guys in the mock draft business. The best news is that we don’t have to subscribe like we’d have to for that ESPN guy.

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