Friday, September 17, 2010


“If I’m a little corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district”
-Jack "Abscam" Murtha

Other People's Money
Los Angeles Mayor and Democrat Villaraigosa is upsetting a lot of people on the left by his actions recently. Like many cities, LA has serious budgetary problems, and the city government is looking for ways to cut costs. Mayor Villaraigosa is letting some things go to pay for what he wants to continue funding, and one of those things is the city library system. Patrick Range MacDonald writes in LA Weekly:
Here, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa executed an unprecedented, and punishing, raid on the libraries. Last spring he convinced the City Council to close the city's central and eight regional libraries on Sundays, then slashed $22 million from the 2010-11 budget and closed all 73 libraries on Mondays beginning July 19. Library officials say as many as 15,000 youths — plus an untold number of adults — have been turned away every closed day this summer.
Well he has a few choices here: cut back the public employees' benefits and pensions, cut back on the fat salaries government workers, cut back on extraneous spending and leftist causes... or let libraries languish. Unlike a lot of things that a government tends to do, I would argue that libraries are a critical and proper state and local government expenditure. Apparently Mayor Villaraigosa disagrees.

Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) is a college group of conservatives. They were going to be part of the Palm Beach State College club rush events, but at the last moment were forcibly removed by campus police at the command of college administrator Olivia Ford-Morris. Why? Because they had materials on their table by the Heritage foundation criticizing President Obama. Ms Ford-Morris claims she never had any prior notification of their attendance and thus were removed, but evidence shows she had in fact given YAF approval to be there. Well, who would reasonably expect dissenting free speech to be allowed on a college campus anyway? Not if its conservative.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is trying to help Democratic Party candidate Coons, who is facing Christine O'Donnell in the senatorial election this November in Delaware. Here's what he said to help Coons out thanks to J Taylor Rushing at The Hill:
"I'm going to be very honest with you — Chris Coons, everybody knows him in the Democratic caucus. He's my pet. He's my favorite candidate."
I've always thought Chris Coons is going to win. I told him that and I tried to get him to run. I'm glad he's running. I just think the world of him. He's my pet."

What a wretched, pathetic little man Harry Reid is. Let's hope the people of Nevada retire this creepy fool. You'd have to imagine that he's hurt Coon's chances with that diatribe.

Speaking of Majority Leader Reid, he recently attended a clean energy summit, and arrived in a fleet of huge SUVs, according to Henry Payne at the Water Cooler. Look, he had a choice between walking 100 yards over the parking lot or driving and who is going to expect a Senator to walk? These guys love to talk about how we all have to change our lives and cut back to save the planet, but when it comes time to do the cutting, they always seem to end up more equal than others.

You might not care to buy a Nissan LEAF or a Chevrolet Volt, but you'll end up paying for one anyway if you live in America, as Donald Sensing points out. Thanks to the taxpayer-funded subsidies for people buying hybrid and electric cars, you're pitching in so celebrities can park one of these in their garage and talk about how green they are. Oh, and if you live in states like California, you're paying even more in state taxes. After bailing out mega corporations and paying for other peoples' mortgages, I'm sure you have plenty left over to buy other people's cars, too.

Randy Barnett has proposed a Federalist Bill of Rights, some of which I like and some I shrug at. In that document he has an idea of a state legislature veto of federal legislation in the form of a "repeal amendment." He writes at Volokh Conspiracy:
The Repeal Amendment should not be confused with the power to “nullify” unconstitutional laws possessed by federal courts. Unlike nullification, a repeal power allows two-thirds of the states to reject a federal law for policy reasons that are irrelevant to constitutional concerns. In this sense, a state repeal power is more like the president’s veto power.

This amendment reflects confidence in the collective wisdom of the men and women from diverse backgrounds, and elected by diverse constituencies, who comprise the modern legislatures of two-thirds of the states. Put another way, it allows thousands of democratically elected representatives outside the Beltway to check the will of 535 elected representatives in Washington, D.C.
Basically, if 2/3rds of the state legislatures vote to repeal a federal law, it is revoked. The law can be passed again by congress with a straight majority vote if they desire. I'm ambivalent about this; my initial response is that this probably wouldn't ever happen even if it was possible, but that it seems to violate the principles of the constitution. On the other hand, it would be a mechanism by which the people could impact laws passed through their state legislators (who are in theory more accountable and local) when congress gets too out of touch with the people. Typically the Volokh Conspiracy has a vibrant and very active commentary base, but nobody has discussed this at all so far.

Washington DC does not have congressional representatives, as it is a unique pocket of America meant to be politically neutral in the federal government. There are "delegates" from DC which sit in congress but have no vote, and one of them is named Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat. Ms Norton recently contacted a lobbyist and asked directly for contributions to her campaign, specifically and repeatedly noting that she's on the committee and subcommittee which deals with that lobbyist's area of interest and that she's working on a major project he'd be interested in. Having been in office for twenty terms, Ms Norton now claims Breitbart is misleading people by directly quoting her exact voicemail in its entirety on Big Government. Well if there's one thing a politician doesn't like, its the public learning the truth about them.

Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) had an idea for how to cut the deficit and show that congress really does mean to reel back on spending: cut salaries for congressmen this year. Her bill would have cut the pay for congress by 5% which would have saved $4.7 million dollars over one year alone. Granted, that's not a lot of money when congress is spending trillions, but it is a nice start. Now she's complaining that her bill hasn't even been allowed to get through committee. Mind you, Kirkpatrick voted for TARP, the "stimulus" package, and the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act, so this is probably just a political stunt, but it would be nice to see her bill go through anyway.

Jack Murtha may be dead, but his corrupt legacy of pork and waste lives on. Spencer Ackerman writes at Wired:
His successor, Rep. Mark Critz, gave Murtha an appropriate eulogy earlier this summer, slipping a $10 million earmark into the House version of next year’s defense funding bill to fund construction of a John P. Murtha Center for Public Service at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. If the earmark survives the snail’s-pace process of passing the bill during the current election season — and its prognosis is good — Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has pledged to match the cash with state money.

According to Critz’s explanation of the project, the 30,000 square-foot Center will primarily serve as a scholarly debating forum for policy issues and a repository for Murtha’s papers. But wait, you ask. How does the Murtha Center relate to the Department of Defense? Oh, it’ll inspire “students and the general public to become active in our communities, the military, and in public service.” See? Military applicability.
Even after death, leftists continue to damage the country with their spending.

Insurance companies have started to raise their rates as the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act starts taking hold of the US. But the Obama administration wants none of that. Kathleen Sebilius, Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services sent a letter out warning insurance companies not to blame the health care takeover plan for their price increases, writing "there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases." Well you'd hope that the government wouldn't tolerate misinformation, but its hard to avoid the impression that they'd have no problem with rate increases if only the companies wouldn't blame the Democrat Party's health care legislation.

Cambridge Massachusetts has installed a new system for a dog park which lights the park using dog poo. According to PhysOrg, collected dog waste is stored in tanks and as it decays, the resulting methane is separated out and used to light a single gas lamp. The article does not mention how much this rig costs nor how much light the lamp produces, but its an interesting idea, at least. Since the light was created by a conceptual artist trying to make a statement about waste and energy, its not any serious attempt to light the park.

Bloombugs, that's what New Yorkers are calling bedbugs, which are becoming epidemic in the city, at least that's the impression you get from news reports. Meanwhile, Bloomberg has been tireless in his efforts to cut salt, restrict fat from the diet of New Yorkers, and crack down on smoking. I know the dude is blind but isn't it just like a leftist to miss what should be done to focus on all their pet projects?

Burning a Koran has been hot in the news lately, but recently a man was fired for doing just that. The New Jersey Transit worker was fired for burning a Koran outside the planned Ground Zero Victory Mosque, and New York newspapers wasted no time labeling the man "radical." As far as I'm concerned they can fire (or hire) anyone for any reason they want, but I wonder if he'd be shown the door for burning a Bible? The Jammie Wearing Fool wonders if the ACLU will join this guy's case and defend him.

DeKalb County Georgia is suing a man for growing too many vegetables. According to WSTV, the man had a small local plot and was growing food to sell at farmer's markets and locally, as well as for personal use. His neighbors appreciate the rows of fig trees, cabbage, and other plants he grows on his 2 acre plot, but his crops violate the county's zoning ordinances. I guess the whole Victory Garden idea has been forgotten.

Poverty is on the rise, with the number of people entering poverty increasing by a record number through 2009. While it would be cheap and easy to blame Democrats and bash President Obama, in all honesty that's hardly surprising news during bad economic times. Surely the Democrats have done nothing to make matters better, but they aren't necessarily to blame for what's going on in the nation, at least not exclusively.

Pinch Sulzberger has finally admitted that the New York Times is dead, according to Henry Blodget at Business Insider. Scrambling to keep the paper in print without upgrading its content, the Times continues to be a loss every year and plunges continually in stock value. Maybe it will end up being sold for $1 to a leftist billionaire like Newsweek was. In any case, Sulzberger said "we will stop printing the New York Times sometime in the future, date TBD." That day is likely to be sooner than later, and will probably end up with an online presence only like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ended up.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams continues to be a "colorful character" as some like to say. First we found out that he seduced a sexually confused 17 year old boy he was mentoring (which he lied about, repeatedly), then we find that he's defaulted on mortgages three times, and now he's been accused of delaying construction on a new bridge with unreasonable demands, backing away from a 2008 commitment to help with the cost. He's the latest in what seems a long line of hard left mayors in the city who seem determined to drive all business out of the area, but they keep being elected by the locals. Recall attempts targeting the mayor have been largely incompetent and have amounted to nothing so far.

And that's the Word Around the net, September 17, 2010

1 comment:

eric said...

I love Barnett's idea, and while I'm not so sure such an Amendment, if passed, would ever actually be used, I do think it's very existence would be a powerful warning to federal government that is a little too comfortable taking its power for granted.

Another positive Volokh doesn't mention is that I think such an Amendment would encourage more formal and structured lines of communication between the state legislatures. It's kind of sad that we need them to all be talking to eachother in order to protect us from the federal government, but being sad makes it no less true.

I wrote my State Legislator a note encouraging her to sponsor a bill signalling our state's willingness to call for a Constitutional Convention if this "repeal amendment" bill passes in Virginia. Would love to see this idea get traction in state legislators.