Monthly Archives: February 2011

WHO WANTS A SHUTDOWN?

Early this morning, after a grueling week of conversations, amendments, and votes, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, a continuing resolution that will fund the government through September. The measure passed 235-189. Three Republicans voted against it, and no Democrats voted for it. The NV column totaled nine, and included Representatives McCollum, Paul, Quayle, and Stark.

I had very strong interest in several of the specific amendments and votes, but right now I only want to focus on the overall result.

The bottom line is that we have a continuing resolution that will fund the federal government through September.

The government is currently being funded by a continuing resolution that needs to be replaced by March 4.

The House of Representatives worked diligently to get H.R. 1 passed. It was a result of full participation by both parties. It was transparent to the public, and even those of us who work during the day were able to watch the proceedings on C-SPAN, as efforts continued well into the night.

They got it done. I would say “at the end of the day” but “early in the morning” is more appropriate.

The continuing resolution passed today is being unanimously described as the largest aggregate spending reduction in modern history, but that statement is deceptive unless you consider the colossal increase in spending that took place in 2009 and 2010.

Those increases were decisions made by Democrats who ruled the free world because they had the numbers to overcome Republican opposition.

We are long past any discussion about what Democrats inherited, especially when the last two years of the Bush administration coincided with the first two years of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid controlling congress.

Today, we reckon with the fallout of the spending decisions made by Obama, Reid, and Pelosi.

Republicans ran on these kinds of spending cuts and we elected them.

Due to recess next week, the Senate will not pick this up until Monday, February 28.

There is time to pass it and get it signed…if Democrats accept the cuts and move forward.

But the phrase “shutdown” has become a popular new talking point for Democrats, and the media has dutifully picked it up as well. Today’s edition of the local newspaper featured the headline “House GOP aims for largest budget cuts” and the subheading “Government could screech to a halt.”

Is that what the Democrats want?

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STAND YOUR GROUND

Last week, House Republicans announced the specifics of their plan for spending cuts. Nothing proposed came as a surprise to me.

It has been well known since November that the influx of new congressmen and congresswomen (especially those with strong Tea Party support) would challenge the veteran lawmakers to go further toward austerity than some of them find palatable.

Responding to direct questions along these lines, first-term congressman Tim Scott (R-SC) has expressed the need for a “philosophical paradigm shift” that would see the federal government employ the same fiscal discipline that a large business would require to be successful.

“In my opinion, 100 billion dollars did not go far enough,” Congressman Scott told CNN’s John King on January 21.

“I believe we can save more money, and put more money in the hands and pockets of taxpayers throughout America, and we have to do so,” Scott added before discussing South Carolina’s situation.

The hostile media strategy is simple: Capitalize on the natural tension.

If the House leadership doesn’t go far enough with spending cuts, you say the contingent of first-term fiscal conservatives has been “co-opted.” If the House leadership satisfies the expectations of those newcomers, you say the House leadership is weak.

Going into this crucial week of legislative discussion, I hope every single House Republican (of any level of experience) understands that the media already has narratives written for either of those possibilities.

So, to House Republicans, I say this: Remember who put you there.

The legacy media did not elect you. You know as well as I do that they did everything they could to keep you from getting to Washington. Your victories in November came because you persuaded so many of us that you had learned from mistakes of the past. You were elected by voters who understand the necessity of a different approach.

We sent you there to do what must be done to stabilize this nation for today and tomorrow.

Let the Democrats be who they are. They appear incapable of acknowledging mistakes or modifying their legislative philosophy. They seem resolved to ride their antiquated ideology to obsolescence.

You have shown otherwise. We want to make things right in this country, and you persuaded Republicans (old and new), Independents, and disaffected Democrats that you understand what is necessary and are willing to do what is required.

Stand your ground.

We have your back.

TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY…WHY ASK THE QUESTION?

Last week, a newspaper here in Pittsburgh announced that it had posed a question to readers:

Should Mark Kelly fly?

Kelly is an astronaut who had to decide if he should go on the last mission of the space shuttle Endeavor. The difficulty in his decision stems from the fact that his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), is recovering in a Houston rehabilitation facility, having been shot in the head during January’s deadly rampage in Tucson. The newspaper that asked this question reported today that the congresswoman could possibly attend the shuttle’s launch in April.

Kelly has since confirmed his decision to go on the mission.

According to the newspaper, the question of “to fly or not” was first debated on “media talk shows” during the week. The newspaper then asked its readers that same question. By a count of 24-10, respondents told Kelly to go ahead and fly.

The question appeared to be about the propriety of whichever decision Kelly made.

I challenge the propriety of the question itself.

An unknown number of people were involved in the publication of the question and 34 readers answered it.

Did anyone, at any point, contemplate why this question was even being asked?

What was the impact on anyone here that warranted the collection and aggregation of the responses?

Did Kelly ask for opinions? I know of no such appeal for the advice of strangers.

Whatever decision he made should have been respected, and he should have been trusted to make the right choice without input from anyone not affected by it.

If we want America to be what it can and should be, we need to change more than laws or lawmakers.

We need to change some patterns of thought.

We need to stay out of each other’s personal business.

If NASA says he can go, why is this otherwise private matter open to debate for people on the Boulevard of the Allies?

While the newspaper may have viewed this exercise as an encouragement for Kelly to fly, it also gave 30% of respondents the printed forum to say “no, you shouldn’t go.”

Even though the majority gave a blessing to the decision Kelly ultimately made, the question remains a very curious one.

This was an extremely sensitive decision, to be discussed and resolved by Kelly and those closest to him and the situation…not by the man on the street.

NO GROUNDHOG DAY FOR ME

Yesterday, I posted on my Facebook page a reference to the movie “Groundhog Day” and its observation of a repetitive phenomenon. To make my point, I repeated the same post three times. A friend told me that I was missing the key point of the movie, as it endorsed the idea of yielding a different outcome by doing something different during each subsequent occurrence of the repetitive event.

I took that statement to heart.

In my last blog, I made the observation that FoxNews.com uses material from the Associated Press. Some AP reports are carefully crafted to attack Republicans while simultaneously engaging in advocacy for Democrats. AP articles often read more like editorials than journalistic summaries of events. I propounded that the mere inclusion of those satisfied the “fair and balanced” marketing tagline for an online news source that is commonly mischaracterized as a fountain of Republican propaganda.

When I first acknowledged (in a Facebook conversation) that FoxNews.com uses AP material, I failed to note immediately that FoxNews.com redirects its links during the day. Perhaps they use AP articles as placeholders initially, and later replace them. I don’t know exactly how that process works. I got burned last time because I posted a link to an AP article, then went back to check it later and it displayed an original FoxNews.com report.

Unless you’ve been underground, in a cave, or monitoring the increasingly volatile situation in Egypt, you know that earlier this week Federal Judge Roger Vinson declared the “Affordable Care Act” to be unconstitutional and void in its entirety. It no longer is the law of the land, although Democrats are posturing as though they will proceed as if his ruling never occurred. For the purposes of context and specificity, I will now refer to the toxic legislation as the Unconstitutional Affordable Care Act, or the UACA.

This morning, I was perusing the articles on my FoxNews.com Android app, and read an article about the Senate’s rejection of a Republican attempt to repeal the UACA. I found an article that begins this way:

“To hear Senate Republicans tell it, the defeat of their attempt to repeal the Democrats’ health care overhaul was really a victory of sorts…”

That line should give you the entire context of the narrative that followed.

Here are some other excerpts, also of curious wording:

“The repeal effort sank…”

(I thought this was strong language for a vote that was decided by four out of a possible hundred.)

“Two other judges have upheld the law.”

(Doesn’t matter—federal court decisions are not votes to be tallied; one declaring the law unconstitutional in its entirety is all that’s necessary to strike down a law.)

 

“At its core, the law requires most Americans to purchase insurance, a so-called individual mandate…”

(This implies the author would call it something else…like what?)

“Republicans made clear they have plenty of ideas for replacement — of Democratic senators, if not the health care reform.”

(Apparently, the article’s author sees little significance that on January 20, H.RES.9 passed the U.S. House of Representatives, 253-175, instructing certain committees to report legislation “replacing the job-killing health care law.”

The specific committees charged were: The Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Ways and Means.)

But the author is absolutely correct that this vote gives us plenty of ideas about replacing Democratic senators.

By the way, the author’s name is LAURIE KELLMAN, of the ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Though I didn’t see that on the FoxNews.com mobile app (the main website did attribute it to the AP), I searched for the text of the first line, and the top result was the online home of the San Francisco Chronicle, which reprinted it along with the author’s name and official AP logo.

Having learned that this article might not still be available on FoxNews.com later, I took some notes and quickly wrote this blog in the morning.

I do this to make the point that FoxNews.com routinely uses unaltered AP articles that are blatantly biased toward Democrats. This is an observation that I will interject into any discussion about whether Fox News is “fair and balanced.” This is not just for opponents of Fox News…those who trust it as the most accurate source of what’s really going on should be mindful of this also.

I learned from an embarrassing experience over the weekend, and when presented with the opportunity the second time, I adapted accordingly.

No Groundhog Day for me.