Lawmaker News

Sitting, Standing, Watching, Waiting

Here are some observations of this strange day in politics.

Sitting: The Democrats sat when the president implored the Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to improve education in this country.

Standing: The Democrats stood when the president said we should do something about the Sudan.

Watching: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) looked like she had a terrible case of indigestion as she watched the president gives his final State of the Union.

Waiting: Democrats will probably wait out the clock on the president’s call to make his tax cuts permanent. Get ready for the largest tax increase in history.

Sitting: The Democrats kept sitting when the president called on the Congress to pass legislation to allow our spy agencies to keep listening in on calls from known terrorists.

Standing: The Democrats stood for our veterans, but didn’t stand when the president called for fully funding our troops.

2008 Congress Preview

Peter Fenn & Frank Donatelli go over the many issues that were left on the table this year and are likely to come up next year in Congress.


No pain, no gain

If you don't like preachiness, stop reading now.  I'm about to write about the connections between performance-enhancing drugs and politics.

Of course athletes have been using steroids and HGH.  They, make that we, have been pounded with the message that one can achieve success and avoid the hard work simply by taking some sort of drug.

Since Boomerdom we've been conditioned to believe we can smoke, swallow or inject our way to a quick fix.  So it was a no-brainer for the modern baseball player to be tempted by performance enhancers.  They are a much easier path to hit home runs than the tedious and painful regimens that had become so quaintly obsolete.

The Significance of Joe Lieberman

There was a time when Joe Lieberman Democrats dominated the Democratic Party. Presidents such as Harry Truman, labor leaders like George Meany and Lane Kirkland, intellectuals such as Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Irving Kristol and senators such as Stuart Symington and Henry “Scoop” Jackson combined economic populism with a hard-line foreign policy that focused on fighting America’s enemies wherever they could be found. That was before the party became a captive of feminists, public-sector unions, trial lawyers and ultra-leftist bloggers. As Ronald Reagan, a former Democrat, used to say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left me.”

Thank God! Congress Saves Christmas!

Members of Congress are always threatening to ban frivolous lawsuits. Maybe they should begin by banning frivolous acts of Congress.

Case in point: a resolution actually voted on and approved by the House of Representatives this week declaring that Christmas is important.

It was a tough fight. Debate was fierce. Emotions ran high. But, in the end, advocates of Christmas managed to squeeze out a narrow victory, 372-9. The United States Congress is now officially on record as acknowledging “the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.”

Henry Hyde

Most people will remember Henry Hyde for his commitment to the unborn or for his role in the impeachment of Bill Clinton (a role he assumed with no great pleasure).

I remember Henry Hyde as simply the greatest orator of his generation.

Watching Hyde speak on the House floor was like watching Larry Bird play basketball or Tiger Woods play golf or Ted Williams swing a baseball bat. It was mesmerizing.

Troops Out! - Or Still There?

I've just put up our latest Quick Poll! question: "Will there be fewer than 100,000 US troops in Iraq on Election Day next year?" Scroll down the page and vote. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is contemplating legislation that would give Republican senators electoral cover to change administration policy while not pulling the rug out from beneath President Bush (See story in The Hill, Thursday, Nov 15).

Bear Any Burden?

A report put together by some Democratic staffers of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) said war costs would hit $1.6 trillion by the end of next year, doubling the $804 billion spent or requested by the administration. This includes both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

Democratic leaders unveiled the report as they plotted their latest bid to force Bush's hand on Iraq, warning he would not get any more money for the war this year — unless he agreed to troop withdrawal timetables.

Let's Have a Conversation

OK, so now she's getting rapped for not tipping a waitress when she said she really did, and so today I feel sorry for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). But how did the gender card play with you? It has been a whole 48 hours since the week-long story of Clinton as victim of the big boys, getting eaten up at a debate by those big mean boys. I wrote in my column this week about how Team Clinton pushed the story because they saw it as an opportunity. They must have run the calculation and crunched the numbers that this would make her look weak and decided it was worth it anyway. But I agree with what Tucker Carlson said on his MSNBC show this week, that Clinton's strength is her strength.

Hillary's Earmarks

In today's issue of The Hill, on the front page, is an article reporting that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) topped her presidential rivals in securing earmarks from the taxpayers. In laudatory terms, the article gropes for an explanation for her success, speculating on the impact of seniority and connections.

The article misses the point, clear to everybody else on earth, that earmarking is not something to be proud of. It is an abuse of legislative power that robs taxpayers of money and diverts it to pet projects, usually closely linked to campaign contributions to the friendly legislator who lined up the money. The article should have speculated on whether Hillary can live down the distinction of being the earmark queen rather than laud her for her effectiveness at ripping off the taxpayers.