Democrats Want To Fund ACORN, La Raza With Stimulus Bill

The Democrats reacted in anger when Senate Republicans blocked their latest economic stimulus bill. Harry Reid said that bankers and lenders were high-fiving each other in hallways after the GOP torpedoed the bill, but perhaps a better explanation of Reid’s disappointment comes from Bob Casey (D-PA). The beneficiaries of the bill turns out to be somewhat different than advertised:

Here’s the transcript:

Mr. CASEY: “We want to do a couple of things with this legislation, which we know is the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. Our Majority Leader, Senator Reid, and our leadership and the members of the Democratic Caucus set it out fairly specifically. A couple of basic things this legislation would have done: first of all, it would have continued what we started in the end of last year, foreclosure prevention counseling dollars, to give money to organizations around the country that are certifiably expert at this, organizations like La Raza. I know the presiding officer knows that group. We know also the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, known by the acronym ‘ACORN.’ They’re headquartered in Philadelphia. These are organizations which understand what a lender has to deal with but more importantly deal with borrowers when they’re borrowing money, when they’re dealing with the difficulty and complexity of borrowing money. These organizations would have helped even more so than they’re helping now with $200 million more of counseling money. That’s not going to happen right now because of what the other side did; they blocked that money by blocking this legislation.”

ACORN? Would this be the same ACORN that conducted voter fraud in Washington, resulting in felony charges against its officers there in 2007? Isn’t this the same organization that generated complaints and questions about their practices in several other jurisdictions during the 2006 election? How does shoving money into the pockets of ACORN provide an economic stimulus?
This doesn’t look like a stimulus package. It looks more like an investment in further voter fraud.

William F Buckley, RIP

William F Buckley, a giant among political pundits and the man who gave modern conservatism its intellectual foundation, died today at age 82. Fittingly, he died at his desk, probably working on his next column, as his son said in his announcement (via Hot Air):

William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.
Mr Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said.
Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, National Review.
He also found time to write more than 45 books, ranging from sailing odysseys to spy novels to celebrations of his own dashing daily life, and edit five more.
The more than 4.5 million words of his 5,600 biweekly newspaper columns, “On the Right,” would fill 45 more medium-sized books.
Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism — not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas — respectable in liberal post-World War II America. He mobilized the young enthusiasts who helped nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and saw his dreams fulfilled when Reagan and the Bushes captured the Oval Office.

Conservatives of all stripes owe Buckley a great debt, and not just for his columns and books that provided a call to arms for individual liberty and property rights. He brought together the disparate factions of the Right into one umbrella and made conservatism a potent political force. His great legacy will be National Review, the magazine that served as the center of the movement, and to this day features vigorous debate among the various stripes of conservatives.
Buckley will be missed, but his work will remain as lively and vibrant as ever. Few men and women can claim that kind of intellectual achievement and impact on society. Godspeed, sir, and thank you.

A Tale Of Two Caucuses

Two House caucuses, two members under indictment — and both give two very different responses. John Boehner, the House Minority Leader, publicly demanded Rick Renzi’s resignation from the House after his indictment on 35 charges of fraud, extortion, and other sundry corruption:

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is urging indicted Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) to resign.
“I have made it clear that I will hold our members to the highest standards of ethical conduct,” Boehner said in a statement Friday. “The charges contained in this indictment are completely unacceptable for a member of Congress, and I strongly urge Rep. Renzi to seriously consider whether he can continue to effectively represent his constituents under these circumstances. I expect to meet with Rep. Renzi at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss this situation and the best option for his constituents, our Conference, and the American people.”

This came a day after the indictments were published by the grand jury. Across the aisle, however, William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson remains in the House Democratic Caucus despite having been indicted on 16 counts of corruption-related felonies in June 2007. His trial just got delayed while he appeals the overruling of his attempt to hide his corruption behind the speech and debate clause of the Constitution.
Has Pelosi demanded that he resign his seat since his indictment? Has any Democrat in the House demanded that Jefferson step down after this indictment? No; the only action Pelosi took was to strip Jefferson of his seat on the Small Business Committee. Earlier, she had tried to put him on the Homeland Security Committee, only backing down when Republicans threatened to block it and debate all committee assignments on the House floor.
Now, which party acts more responsibly to clean up its own house, as well as the House?

Welcome Back To The Fight

Earlier this week, I signed an open letter to Rep. John Shadegg along with a number of other conservatives asking the Arizona Republican to reconsider his decision to retire. A few minutes ago, I received the following statement from Shadegg’s office:

Ten days ago, when I announced my intention to leave Congress at the end of my current term, I said serving in the United States Congress on behalf of the people of Arizona is the single greatest privilege in my professional life. I have been blessed to follow in the tradition of the heroes of my childhood: Barry Goldwater, Paul Fannin, John Rhodes, Eldon Rudd, and others. Deciding not to run again was very difficult. My decision was based on my devotion to my family and my obligations to help them achieve their dreams and aspirations. Representing the people of Arizona in the U.S. Congress is a huge honor and privilege and one I did not want to give up, but I felt I should.
I expected my decision would elicit little reaction here in Arizona, and less in Washington. The events of the last week have, to say the least, stunned and deeply humbled me.
My decision was made after deep reflection and consultation with my family. It was entirely a personal decision between me and my family. The reactions of my constituents and my friends now suggest there were implications far broader than we had contemplated.
In the week following my announcement, thousands of people have contacted my office to encourage me to reconsider my decision. Dozens of old friends, some of whom I hadn’t spoken with in years, called my home urging me to reconsider.
One event I will never forget, epitomizes their messages to me. Last weekend, returning to Phoenix from Washington, I was trudging through Sky Harbor at 5:30 in the morning, having spent four hours sleeping at the Las Vegas airport awaiting a delayed flight. As I walked toward the baggage claim, an airport security worker was walking the opposite direction down the corridor, presumably on his way to work. We exchanged tired glances as we each headed on our separate ways, but just as we passed, he said “Run again!” Shocked, I simply said, “Thanks.” I did not know him, and we exchanged no other words. But he, like thousands of my constituents, just wanted me to know what he thought.
Ten days ago, I noted that as a nation we face “huge challenges” and that “my passion for the cause of freedom is as strong as ever.” One consistent theme runs through the messages and phone calls we have received from constituents since that announcement — precisely because of the challenges we face, now is not the time for me to leave Congress.
In 1994, I ran for office because I was compelled to serve the people of Arizona and my country in the United States House of Representatives. I believed then, as I do now, that Washington must change the way it works. My colleagues and I have fought to lower taxes, cut spending, and make government more transparent and accountable. That is a fight to which I am unwaveringly committed just as deeply today as I was in 1994.
I, also, have never been one to walk away from a fight. I have devoted most of my life and energy to serving Arizona in the ongoing struggle for freedom. I will never abandon that cause because I believe in people and the greatness of America. In deciding to leave Congress, I felt I could serve my country and continue to wage the battle for conservative principles just as effectively in private life. It turns out many others believe that would be a mistake.
Last Thursday, 146 of my colleagues in the U.S. House signed a letter asking me to reconsider, an unprecedented event. Yesterday I received a letter signed by the leaders of 33 different Conservative organizations from across America also urging me to reverse my announced intentions.
The letter signed by my colleagues in the U.S. House emphasized my hard work and expertise in health care reform. I have fought for patient-centered health care reform since my arrival in Congress. I fear we may be on the brink of dramatically damaging the delivery of health care in America — making it worse, not better. We all recognize the current system doesn’t work well for millions of Americans. Health care decisions are being made by third parties, such as insurance adjustors, employer personnel departments, and health care plans, not patients and their families. Many of the changes being promoted by some would make a bad situation even worse. They would move further away from patient choice, personal responsibility, and individual control and toward government run, bureaucrat-controlled health care.
The letter from Conservative leaders also noted the grave challenges confronting our nation today. The attacks of 9/11 demonstrated to the world the deadly threat radical Islam poses to civilization. It is my firm belief that we must confront this danger, without hesitation, if we are to keep it from destroying our society and the freedoms we hold dear. This is another threat I highlighted ten days ago.
The personal factors which led to my initial decision are very real and very important. My family has encouraged and supported my public service and they have sacrificed to allow me to serve the state and nation we all love. In discussing the reaction of my constituents to my decision, we have determined as a family that we are willing to continue to make these sacrifices because the cause is so worthwhile.
Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, when asked why he circulated the letter amongst my colleagues urging me to reconsider, quoted President Abraham Lincoln who when asked why he kept General Ulysses S. Grant responded: “I cannot spare the man, he fights.” Frankly, my family has encouraged me, over the last week to reconsider my decision and is willing to continue to sacrifice so I may continue to fight.
Serving the people of Arizona in the Congress is a tremendous honor and privilege. With the support of my wife, Shirley, my children, Courtney and Stephen, and with the support of the voters of the 3rd Congressional District in November, I will continue to fight for them and to uphold Conservative principles in United States House of Representatives. Therefore, I will campaign for re-election and will continue to fight in Congress for economic prosperity, human rights, personal freedom, and individual responsibility.

I’m reminded of Victor Lazlo’s last words to Rick as he leaves Casablanca. “Welcome back to the fight. This time, I know we’ll win.” At least we know we’ll have Shadegg’s reliable conservative voice in the House caucus in 2009.

Build Your Own Campaign At Slatecard

David All joined me today on Heading Right Radio to talk about his new effort at Slatecard. Slatecard allows bloggers to select a list of Republican candidates for national office and promote the list to their readers. The site makes it a breeze to select candidates from around the nation. I decided to focus mainly on those candidates whom I have interviewed and know to support national security, clean government, and fiscal discipline. Check it out, and consider contributing to some of these candidates:

A Direct Hit

UPDATE & BUMP: Eyeblast has the video of the actual hit and a portion of the Pentagon’s briefing:

Original post follows …
Does missile defense actually work? An impromptu mission to destroy a potentially hazardous failing satellite has proven that the system in place can make a direct hit on a fast-moving target. The USS Lake Erie scored a direct hit on a spy satellite traveling in polar orbit at 17,000 mile per hour, eliminating the fuel tank that had worried the US (via Worldwide Standard):

A Navy missile soaring 130 miles above the Pacific smashed a dying and potentially deadly U.S. spy satellite Wednesday and probably destroyed a tank carrying 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel, officials said.
Officials had expressed cautious optimism that the missile would hit the satellite, which was the size of a school bus. But they were less certain of hitting the smaller, more problematic fuel tank, whose contents posed what Bush administration officials deemed a potential health hazard to humans if it landed intact.
In a statement announcing that the Navy missile struck the satellite, the Pentagon said, “Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours.” It made no mention of early indications, but a defense official close to the situation said later that officials monitoring the collision saw what appeared to be an explosion, indicating that the fuel tank was hit.

Over the last twenty years and more, we have heard from a variety of experts explaining how this is impossible. A rocket, they claimed, could not reliably be expected to target another rocket. They derided missile defense systems as “Star Wars” fantasy and demanded that we stop pursuing destabilizing efforts to actually defend ourselves from potential missile attack.
The Patriot missile systems began proving their abilities against Scud attacks in the Gulf War. They didn’t have a perfect record, but they did have an impressive run of mid-air intercepts — so impressive that the Israelis bought Patriot batteries from us. In the last seven years, we have continued to develop these defense systems, after the Clinton administration tried to mothball it.
Now we see that we can precisely target moving objects that aren’t specifically intended as tests. The missile and the satellite had a closing velocity of 22,000 miles per hour, and yet the Navy hit a bullseye on the first try. It sends a message to people like Kim Jong-Il and Ali Khameini that their ballistic missile systems have just been made obsolete. It also sends a message to the defeatists and naysayers from the last quarter-century that, like so many other times, they have been proven wrong in their defeatism.
Eventually, this could end the ballistic missile era. If effective defenses become widely available, there will not be much point in maintaining ballistic missile inventories at all. Ronald Reagan had that very vision when he first proposed SDI and tried to get the Soviets to partner with him on it.

‘What Is There To Debate?’

Every time we suggested dropping Ron Paul from the national debates, his supporters would go nuts. They claimed in the one instance where he did get dropped, the January 3rd debate just before Iowa, that a grand conspiracy existed to keep his message from the people and to stop the 4% revolution. They demanded boycotts of Fox and of the Iowa GOP. Paul himself complained bitterly about his exclusion, and not without some justification.
Now that Paul’s focus has returned to his own Congressional race, he seems much less enthusiastic about debates. After declining to hold a debate with his primary challenger, Chris Peden, Paul got asked yesterday about this seeming hypocrisy at a town-hall meeting in his district. Check out Paul’s predictably hysterical response:

Peden needs to debate himself first? Maybe Paul has a habit of arguing with himself, but that doesn’t mean Peden needs to follow suit. It’s a strange response from a strange man.
Peden has a lot more credibility in this race than Paul had in the presidential campaign. If Paul and his supporters almost literally made a federal case out of ensuring that Paul had a chance to engage with constituents and with the other candidates in the race, what possible justification can they have for rejected a debate with Peden? It smells like fear coming out of the Paul campaign, and that’s not the first thing that’s stunk about it. (via Eric Dondero)

An Entreaty To John Shadegg

Many conservatives and anti-pork activists were disheartened to hear of John Shadegg’s decision to retire from the House. Over 140 of his Republican colleagues signed a letter asking him to reconsider and run again for his Arizona seat. Now, some of us outside of Congress want to also ask Rep. Shadegg to reconsider. If you’d like to add your voice, please contact Rep. Shadegg’s office at 202-224-3121.
Dear Representative Shadegg,
As conservatives in the Movement and advocates for a free society, we were saddened to read of your decision to retire from service as the representative from the 3rd District of Arizona.
We appreciate your sacrifice and commitment to protecting American freedom and liberty during your tenure. You have proven yourself to be an inspiring leader on critical issues facing this country such as holding the line on spending, reforming our healthcare system, and facing the growing threat of radicalism to our sovereignty and freedom.
The country is at a crossroads. And now more than ever your leadership is needed. We therefore ask that you reconsider your decision to retire from your position at this time so that we may continue to have you as a champion fighting for conservative values and principles on Capitol Hill.
Michelle Bernard
Independent Women’s Voice
Matthew Brouillette
Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, Pennsylvania
Marjorie Dannenfelser
Susan B. Anthony List
Michelle Easton
Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute
Erick Erickson
Ed Feulner
The Heritage Foundation
Jon Fleischman
Flash Report
Tom Giovanetti
Institute for Policy Innovation
David Keene
American Conservative Union
Karen Kerrigan
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Matt Kibbe
Merrill Matthews,Ph.D.
Council for Affordable Health Insurance
Paul Mirengoff
Power Line Blog
Mark R. Levin
Landmark Legal Foundation
Ed Morrissey
Captain’s Quarters Blog
Rob Neppell
Gary Palmer
Alabama Policy Institute
Duane Parde
National Taxpayers Union
Tim Phillips
Americans for Prosperity
Sally Pipes
Pacific Research Institute
Glenn Reynolds
Phyllis Schlafly
Eagle Forum
Tracie Sharp
State Policy Network
Fred Smith
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Pat Toomey
Club for Growth
Grace-Marie Turner
The Galen Institute
Bob Williams
Evergreen Freedom Foundation
Wendy Wright
Concerned Women for America

The Democratic Sell-Out

Robert Novak pulls together the politics of the Democratic refusal to call the Senate’s bipartisan FISA reform bill to the House floor last week. Instead of taking a vote that Blue Dog Democrats has assured her would pass on that bill, Pelosi tried embarrassing the White House by voting for a 21-day extension to the current reform bill — and that failed, with some Blue Dogs opposing it along with the Republicans, as well as some hard-Left Representatives that oppose FISA reform outright.
Why did Pelosi tube the bill that would have easily passed and therefore extended the protections passed by a Democratic Congress last year? Lots of reasons, and they’re all green:

The recess by House Democrats amounts to a judgment that losing the generous support of trial lawyers, the Democratic Party’s most important financial base, would be more dangerous than losing the anti-terrorist issue to Republicans. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the phone companies for giving individuals’ personal information to intelligence agencies without a warrant. Mike McConnell, the nonpartisan director of national intelligence, says delay in congressional action deters cooperation in detecting terrorism.
Big money is involved. Amanda Carpenter, a columnist, has prepared a spreadsheet showing that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in the telecommunications suits have contributed $1.5 million to Democratic senators and causes. Of the 29 Democratic senators who voted against the FISA bill last Tuesday, 24 took money from the trial lawyers (as did two absent senators, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama). Eric A. Isaacson of San Diego, one of the telecommunications plaintiffs’ lawyers, contributed to the recent unsuccessful presidential campaign of Sen. Chris Dodd, who led the Senate fight against the bill containing immunity.
The bill passed the Senate 68 to 29, with 19 Democrats voting aye. They included intelligence committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and three senators who defeated Republican incumbents in the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress: Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jim Webb of Virginia and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Of course, people will claim that the Republicans supported telecom immunity for the same reasons — for the contributions. Unfortunately, two arguments work against that. The Senate bill passed with bipartisan support, with Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) leading the way for immunity. Second, the telecom industry contributes almost equally to both parties. Open Secrets shows that 53% of all 2008 contributions from the telecoms go to Republicans, and 47% to Democrats.
In contrast, lawyers contribute a much larger amount of money overall, and direct much more of it to the Democrats. While the telecoms only have sent $3.1 million in overall contributions anywhere, lawyers have already contributed over $82 million. Just in their PAC funding, lawyers have spend almost twice as much as the telecoms, $6.1 million. Over 77% of that money went to Democrats.
When people wonder who has the ear of the Democratic Party, the answer is quite clear. Trial lawyers want immunity stopped so that they can participate in big paydays, and they’re willing to invest in the Democrats now to preserve them.

Presidents Day Prayers For A Former First Lady

The nation celebrates the 43 men who have led this country today, from George Washington to George W Bush on Presidents Day. However, our attention turns to a former First Lady, who had to be hospitalized yesterday after a fall. Nancy Reagan apparently broke no bones yesterday but remains hospitalized:

Former first lady Nancy Reagan was hospitalized after falling in her home in Bel-Air but is doing well, her spokeswoman said.
Reagan, 86, was taken to St. John’s Health Center, where doctors determined she did not break a hip Sunday as feared, spokeswoman Joanne Drake said…..
The former first lady is “joking and visiting in her room,” Drake said.

A fall at 86 is no joke, of course, and could have been catastrophic. Our prayers are with her for a full recovery.
With the theme of presidents in mind in the middle of a historic campaign, perhaps a couple of our national leaders deserve some special attention. George Washington, the first and the model for the rest, sometimes seems rather beatified by his place in history. People can discover the man behind the history by reading his letters, especially those preceding his presidency.
Abraham Lincoln perhaps gets more humanized than most historical figures already. While Washington can often seem remote and cold in a historical perspective, Lincoln gets remembered for his humor and personal warmth at least occasionally. The Project Gutenberg collection of his speeches and letters, compiled in an e-book, allows for a leisurely perusal of Lincoln’s communications, and reinforces his humanity while also revealing his contradictions and his brilliance.