<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/platform.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d8328112\x26blogName\x3dTapscott\x27s+Copy+Desk\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttps://tapscottscopydesk.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttps://tapscottscopydesk.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-5542592594603493774', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>
> > > > >

Monday, October 31, 2005

Look What the Powerline Guys Have Done!

They've added video to Powerline News for sports, politics, entertainment, you name it. And original news video available only on Powerline News Video is right around the corner, starting with exclusives from Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

John, Scott and Paul have been rather low-key about their Powerline News endeavour, but I think it's much more important than perhaps even they realize as a harbinger of how the Blogosphere is becoming the nation's basic news media.

Powerline News is coalescing the major previously disparate media elements of news, including print, audio and now video to one platform, the Internet blog. The process will take another major step forward when Powerline News begins offering original news coverage, perhaps in the form of in-depth special reports on big issues produced in partnership with like-minded organizations.

From there, Powerline News could originate beat-by-beat news coverage by becoming a trusted aggregator of trusted reporting produced by credible independent journalists - think Chris Nolan and Michael Yon. Compensation could be based on a regular retainer or a formula based on visits or page views per story.

Powerline's Scott Johnson offers this upbeat observation in announcing the addition of video:

"From there, the sky is the limit. Next time there is political upheaval or natural disaster anywhere in the world, anyone on the scene can send us video and, if we think it's newsworthy, we can put it up. This is only the beginning."

This is indeed only the beginning and it - or something very like it - could quite easily get much bigger much sooner than the Powerline trio or anybody else expects.

Remember, when Henry Ford produced his first Model T, he couldn't have envisioned the Ford GT.

Anti-First Amendment Campaign Finance "Reformers" Mis-representing Bloggers, Again

And again RedState.org's Mike Krempasky and Scepticseye's Allison Hayward have the facts here and here.

A New Direction for Porkbusters Campaign to Seek Public Support for Legislative Changes

N.Z. Bear sees the next phase as moving from raising public awareness of examples of pork busters to generating public awareness and support for specific legislative proposals to roll back the pork. Go here for the details.

Now They're Taking Hurricane Recovery Funds To Pay for Alaska's Medicaid

Unbelievable, simply unbelievable. Tim Chapman has the details here. Sort of puts that temper tantrum by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, on the Senate floor over the Coburn amendments last week into a whole new context.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tim Chapman is Making Blogosphere History

Tim Chapman is the Blogosphere's first full-time Capitol Hill reporter. He is the author of Townhall.com's "Capitol Report" blog, which means his "day job," his only job, is to get the real news about what Congress is and isn't doing, day in and day out.

Tim is a former colleague of mine at The Heritage Foundation where he was in the government relations department for more than a year. Before that, he worked on the Hill for a couple of Members of Congress as a deputy press secretary and a legislative correspondent. Tim and his wife Liz even live on Capitol Hill. That means he knows how the Hill works and he knows who is who.

Not only does Tim understand the often arcane nature of congressional processes, he knows the key staff on the congressional committees and in the caucuses where so much of the work of legislation is done. He goes to meetings mainstream journalists rarely see and he has a level of knowledge about congressional strategy and tactics that is rare in the newsroom.

Most important, Tim has a passion for getting the truth. He comes from a moderate conservative perspective to be sure, but he has no more illusions about the frailities and foibles of those in Congress who claim the conservative label than he does about those on the liberal side of aisle.

As you might have guessed by now, I have great respect and high hopes for Tim and not just because I've worked with him in the past. Tim really is in an historic position. Regular readers of Tapscott's Copy Desk know that my passion is to see the Blogosphere open the government to its "audience" - we, the people - just as it already has done with the mainstream media and its news consumers.

Because Tim is the first full-time congressional blogger, at least that I know of, that puts him in a unique class. Michael Yon has been doing sterling work as the Blogosphere's first reader-financed foreign correspondent in Iraq. Covering Congress may not be so potentially lethal, but it is no less important or historic.

So add Capitol Report to your blogroll and your list of favorite daily blog stops. Tim just started Capitol Report and is getting his sea legs but he's already broken some important stories and I have absolutely no doubt that they are just the first of many to come.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

MEMO TO SEN. COCHRAN: A Scam by Any Other Name is Still a Scam, Even in Congress

Andrew Grossman of The Heritage Foundation's Policy Blog notes that congressional rules don't allow the naming or renaming of a federal facility after a sitting Member of Congress. So why is this statement found in the Conference Report on the Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture Appropriations bill:

"The Federal facility located at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, Mississippi, and known as the 'Southern Horticultural Laboratory', shall be known and designated as the 'Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory': Provided, That any reference in law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to such Federal facility shall be deemed to be a reference to the 'Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory.'"

There is also the matter of the "Don Young Way" over in Alaska, which is an avenue named for the resident King of Pork, Rep. Don Young, R-AK. Go here for all the details, including a link to the rules adopted by the 109th Congress for itself. Maybe they ought to read their own rules once in a while?

UPDATE: 4:45 p.m.

But wait there is more. Tim Chapman over at Townhall.com's Capitol Report has the goods on a cozy little scene that took place earlier this week on the Senate floor. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-HW, popped in a little amendment to the Labor-HHS Appropriation bill that would rename a couple of Center for Disease Control buildings in Atlanta after Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA.

No other senators objected. Because these three were the only ones on the floor at the time.

Friday, October 28, 2005

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: People Dying of AIDS, Senate Buys Japanese Garden for CDC Instead

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, engaged in a dialogue on the Senate floor earlier this week regarding the former's amendment to transfer $60 million previously appropriated for construction upgrades that include a Japanese garden at an Atlanta federal building to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Their exchange provides a vivid demonstration of the warped priorities encouraged by pork barrel culture in Congress.

President Bush had previously asked Congress to appropriate $30 million for construction upgrades at the Center for Disease Control facilities in Atlanta, including the Japanese gardens. There was already $240 million in previously authorized but not yet spent funds for the construction program.

The House approved the $30 million sought by Bush but when the bill came to the Senate floor, Coburn noted that appropriation had been increased to $225 million, which meant there would be half a billion dollars available if the Senate version of the bill became law.

Coburn, who is a physician, offered the amendment to move $60 million from the CDC construction program to the AIDS effort. Doing so would mean "we will have enough funding to make sure everybody with HIV in this country has the medicine they need to stay alive," Coburn told the Senate, according to the Congressional Record for Oct. 26, 2005.

Coburn also told the Senate that the transfer was needed because "while people are dying from HIV, they cannot get medicines under the ADAP program because we cannot fund it significantly. We have multiple states with people on waiting lists. We have multiple states that cap the available benefits. It is a death sentence to those people with HIV today."

Coburn then noted that "the CDC has just completed a $62 million visitors center. I am asking for $60 million for people who have HIV, who are never going to get to the visitors center. I do not how we spent $62 million on a visitors center for the CDC but I believe that priority is wrong when people are dying from HIV and do not have the available medicines."

Sen. Specter then responded to Coburn by first claiming there was not Japanese garden spending at the CDC facility in Atlanta, but then upon being corrected by a staffer acknowledged that "maybe there could be a less expensive exotic garden than a Japanese garden."

The Senate then defeated the Coburn amendment on a 85-14 vote, with Specter among the Nays. See who voted how below.

Japanese gardens for the CDC bureaucrats in Atlanta. Slow, painful, unnecessary death for people with HIV. That's what we get with pork.

UPDATE: 11:00 a.m.

Ever wonder how federal buildings are named? The naming process often gets tied up in the pork barrel culture, too. Tim Chapman at Townhall.com's Capitol Report has the details on how Sen. Arlen Specter and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, got a couple of Atlanta CDC buildings named after them.

UPDATE: 11:20 a.m.

Here's the Senate vote on the Coburn amendment to transfer funds to ADAP.

UPDATE: 1:18 p.m.

Please note that the Japanese garden is part of a $60 million package of construction upgrades. The garden is NOT a $60 million garden. My apologies for the awkward wording when this post initially appeared earlier today. Being an editor, I should have caught that earlier.

YEAs - 14
Burr (R-NC)Chafee (R-RI)Coburn (R-OK)Cornyn (R-TX)Dayton (D-MN)
DeWine (R-OH)Ensign (R-NV)Feingold (D-WI)Grassley (R-IA)Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)Smith (R-OR)Stabenow (D-MI)Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs - 85
Akaka (D-HI)Alexander (R-TN)Allard (R-CO)Allen (R-VA)Baucus (D-MT)Bayh (D-IN)Bennett (R-UT)Biden (D-DE)Bingaman (D-NM)Bond (R-MO)Boxer (D-CA)Brownback (R-KS)Bunning (R-KY)Burns (R-MT)Byrd (D-WV)Cantwell (D-WA)Carper (D-DE)Chambliss (R-GA)Clinton (D-NY)Cochran (R-MS)Coleman (R-MN)Collins (R-ME)Conrad (D-ND)Craig (R-ID)Crapo (R-ID)DeMint (R-SC)Dodd (D-CT)Dole (R-NC)Domenici (R-NM)
Dorgan (D-ND)Durbin (D-IL)Enzi (R-WY)Feinstein (D-CA)Frist (R-TN)Graham (R-SC)Gregg (R-NH)Hagel (R-NE)Harkin (D-IA)Hatch (R-UT)Hutchison (R-TX)Inhofe (R-OK)Inouye (D-HI)Isakson (R-GA)Jeffords (I-VT)Johnson (D-SD)Kennedy (D-MA)Kerry (D-MA)Kohl (D-WI)Kyl (R-AZ)Landrieu (D-LA)Lautenberg (D-NJ)Leahy (D-VT)Levin (D-MI)Lieberman (D-CT)Lincoln (D-AR)Lott (R-MS)Martinez (R-FL)McConnell (R-KY)
Mikulski (D-MD)Murkowski (R-AK)Murray (D-WA)Nelson (D-FL)Nelson (D-NE)Obama (D-IL)Pryor (D-AR)Reed (D-RI)Reid (D-NV)Roberts (R-KS)Rockefeller (D-WV)Salazar (D-CO)Santorum (R-PA)Sarbanes (D-MD)Schumer (D-NY)Sessions (R-AL)Shelby (R-AL)Snowe (R-ME)Specter (R-PA)Stevens (R-AK)Sununu (R-NH)Talent (R-MO)Thomas (R-WY)Thune (R-SD)Vitter (R-LA)Voinovich (R-OH)Warner (R-VA)

Not Voting - 1
Corzine (D-NJ)

Me, Too, Trevor!

Democracy Project's Trevor Bothwell says it all regarding Bill O'Reilly's constant haranging of the oil companies for their "exhorbitant" profits. Bothwell wonders when the most popular man in cable news is going to read a basic economics text so that his "bloviating" might actually make sense on such issues. Go here for the full, concise Bothwell.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Brookings Institution, The Heritage Foundation and National Press Foundation Jointly Host Media Seminar on Spending Crisis

A bit of history will be made Oct. 31 at the National Press Club when the Brookings Institution, The Heritage Foundation and the National Press Foundation jointly host "The Future America Cannot Afford: An Issue Seminar for the Media."

The event has an historic feel to it because it is the first time ever that Heritage and Brookings, which normally represent opposing viewpoints on many public policy issues, agree on the nature (if not the specific solutions) of such a fundamental problem as the critical need to reform federal entitlement spending. Also, the National Press Foundation has never before co-hosted such an event with one, much less two, think tanks.

The seminar will open with an address by David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States. Walker will be followed by a presentation on "The Big Choices" by Heritage's Stuart Butler and Brookings' Isabel Sawhill.

Two panel discussions follow the Butler-Sawhill presentation, with the first focusing on "The Health Care Problem" and featuring Heritage's Robert Moffitt and Jack Meyers of Brookings.

The second will focus on "Are Taxes or Spending Controls the Answer?" and will feature Bill Beach and Brian Riedl of Heritage, Joseph Minarik of the Committee for Economic Development and Robert Reischauer of the Urban Institute.

The seminar will conclude with a luncheon discussion focusing on the media's problems in covering the entitlements crisis and featuring Susan Milligan of The Boston Globe, David Wessel of The Wall Street Journal and Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters blog.

The seminar is free and open to mainstream journalists and bloggers only. For more information, contact: Mark.Tapscott@Heritage.org

Coburn Sees Progress on Porkbusters Effort, Vows Fight for the Long Run, Wants Spending Sunshine

Oklahoma's most familiar gift to America for many people is Will Rogers, the New Deal era humorist who was also at one time the most popular newspaper columnist in the country. The day may soon come, though, when Tom Coburn will also be widely considered as among the Sooner State's most important contributions to the national life.

I just participated in an extremely informative conference call with the Oklahoma Republican senator and a group of fellow bloggers, with the latter offering suggestions on how to build on the progress made on Capitol Hill in recent weeks toward implementing the concept behind the Porkbusters project.

It was clear virtually from the outset of the conversation that Coburn is absolutely serious about continuing and expanding this effort, which he began in the Senate last week with a blizzard of amendments transferring funds from well-known pork barrel projects like "the Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska to paying for Hurricane Katrina recovery and reconstruction.

The Coburn amendments were decisively defeated, but markers were laid down in the process and millions of Americans were watching closely (due in great part to the Blogosphere) as senators cast their votes on the proposals. As a result, those votes may well have more to do with the future career prospects of a number of senators who opposed Coburn than any of them, or the mainstream media, now realize.

Among the suggestions offered to Coburn from the bloggers participating in the conference call were posting appropriations bills on the internet before they are voted on in Congress, opening up proposed legislation for public review and comment via the internet and requiring detailed explanations in bill reports of individual pork barrel projects.

If you want to know more about Coburn, go here. For a description of the Senate's previous experience with allowing public comment on proposed legislation, check out this Glenn Reynolds column. And if you have suggestions for what should be the next step for the Porkbusters campaign, please post them right here in the comments for this post.

The importance of the Porkbusters campaign is not limited to getting rid of wasteful federal spending. Coburn will be doing the Republic an immense public service if that is all he achieves, but there is much more to it. He knows getting the fat out requires far greater transparency in the legislative process, and indeed the entire government, as well as a new attitude of honesty in the budget process and the politics of the budget.

That's why for those who recognize in Big Government the most serious threat to individual liberty, spreading the good word about Coburn's campaign ought to be Priority One. Like Lincoln said, "let the people know the facts and all will be well."

UPDATE: 3:00 p.m.

Here are posts from other bloggers on the Coburn conference call, as I see them appearing on the sites. Instapundit, Wizbang, Townhall.com's Capitol Report, Right Wing News and RedState.org.

Porkbusters-inspired Spending Reforms Gaining Significant Momentum in House and Senate

Tim Chapman's Capitol Report has the details. Lots to be encouraged by here, folks, with much of it coming from the Senate and linked to the work of Sen. Tom Coburn and his six Senate colleagues noted here yesterday on Tapscott's Copy Desk.

Chapman zeroes in on the Senate side version of "Operation Offset," the House effort that gives concrete form to the Porkbusters basic concept:

"Among other things, the Senate package calls for across the board spending cuts of 5 percent (excluding defense and homeland security spending), but more boldly, goes after two sacred cows: the new Medicare prescription drug package and members’ pork projects in the recently passed Transportation Bill.
"The proposal to delay the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug bill would save up to $9 billion, while stripping the Highway Bill of all its pork projects would save an additional $9 billion."

Chapman, by the way, is a former colleague here at The Heritage Foundation.


Senate GOP Leadership Must Confront Filibuster on Judicial Nominations

Now that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, President Bush, the Senate and the nation are back at square one and facing the same issue - How can the nomination process function so long as the minority party can block an up-or-down vote on a nominee by requiring a super-majority?

The "nuclear option" of a simply majority vote to change the Senate rules on how many votes are required to bring a nomination to the floor for an up or down vote must be taken. There is no way to avoid it that allows the nomination and confirmation of the kind of conservative judge Bush promised to appoint and the majority of Americans voted for in the last election.

John Roberts sits as Chief Justice now because he came as near as any human being could to being the perfect nominee. But there aren't any more Roberts, at least that we know of, and the President has promised to appoint only judges who interpret the law, not judges who make law from the bench.

Since the successful addition of any such nominee establishes the real possibility that liberal landmarks like Roe v Wade could be reversed, virtually any Bush nominee who is supported by most Republicans will be opposed by Democrats. And the Democrats will try to block any such nominee via the super-majority requirement.

Senate GOP leaders have staved off confronting the Democrats on this issue throughout 2005. The time for stalling is over. The issue must be decided - Will the Senate be run by the majority or by the minority?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Miers Should Withdraw

Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center is an extremely thoughtful person who presumes President Bush not only has the clear constitutional responsibility to nominate whomever he judges best qualified for the U.S. Supreme Court, but also that the chief executive ought to have the benefit of the doubt unless there are extremely persuasive reasons to the contrary and that in fact Bush has a long record of excellent choices for federal appeals and district court nominees.

After first supporting Bush in his nomination of Harriet Miers, however, Whelan has now concluded that the evidence is simply too great that Miers is not sufficiently qualified to serve on the nation's highest court. Whelan's Exhibit A is a 1993 speech Miers gave to a Dallas professional women's organization. You can read Whelan's NRO analysis here and the 1993 speech here.

Similarly, Powerline's Paul Mirengoff is among the most thoughtful and cautious (in the very most positive sense of the word) lawyers I know. He, too, has concluded Miers should withdraw because:

"I've found the time to read Miers' speech carefully. This is not the speech of a centrist (the worst case plausible scenario, I thought); it's the speech of a liberal. The behavior of liberal Senate Democrats over recent years relieves conservative Republican Senators of any obligation to vote for the confirmation of nominees who take positions like the ones Miers sets forth in this speech (e.g., 'abortion clinic protesters have become synonymous with terrorists' or, in the context of the abortion debate, 'where science cannot determine the facts and decisions vary based upon religious belief, then government should not act')."

When reasonable men like Whelan and Mirengoff conclude a nomination should be withdrawn, I have to conclude there is no longer defendable grounds upon which to continue advancing the cause. Therefore, I oppose the Miers nomination.

I've purposely kept silent on the issue since my initial observation that weak Senate GOP leadership leaves Bush only two choices. a perfect nominee (Roberts) or an untrackable nominee (Miers).

Now I realize the second choice is actually illusory because the absence of a concrete record in previous decisions as a judge or in published articles makes it inevitable that other material like speeches, media interviews and correspondence will become the governing evidence. Bush put himself on what could only become a fool's errand when he nominated Miers, whatever the reason in his heart that led to the decision.

For these reasons, I see no alternative to the conclusion that the Miers nomination should be withdrawn. Let us all now pray for a wiser second choice because the nation needs it.

UPDATE: 10/27/05

Democracy Project's Bruce Kesler remains steadfast in support of Miers and explains why in this column from the always-interesting Augusta Free Press. Kesler's basic point is this:

"Ms. Miers, indeed, brings something to the court it is sadly lacking, successful practical experience in local and federal governance that Americans should welcome as a breath of common sense. Our Founders were mostly not lawyers, but men of practical experience in governance."

UPDATE: 8:27 a.m.

Ed Morrissey notes the unexpected departure from the White House Miers lobbying effort of Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo: "Leo had been held as a standard around which movement conservatives could rally their trust and enthusiasm. That standard appears to have dissipated, leaving the White House with no political cover at all on their right."

As always, Morrissey gets right to the essential point. Read it all here.

UPDATE: 9:35 a.m.

Miers has withdrawn.

Bush Caves, Reinstates Davis-Bacon on Federally Funded Hurricane Recovery Projects; Will Drive Costs Higher But Make Unions Happy For Now

AP reports that President Bush has reversed course and reinstated the U.S. Department of Labor's Davis-Bacon regulations on federally funded hurricane recovery and reconstruction projects in the Gulf region:

"WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.
"Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was among congressmen critical of the administration's decision to waive the requirement and who met Wednesday with White House chief of staff Andrew Card. He said Card told them the wage requirement would be reinstated Nov. 8.
"'We thought it was bad policy and bad politics, and I guess they accepted our argument,' King told The Associated Press. 'There's no need to antagonize organized labor.'
King was part of a congressional delegation headed by Reps. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, that met with Card.
"In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, President Bush suspended provisions of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which sets wages for employees on federal contracts to ensure they are not underpaid.
"The administration contended the move would reduce rebuilding costs and help open opportunities to minority-owned companies, but unions and other critics said it would result in lower pay for workers."

Dr. Ron Utt, who was President Ronald Reagan's contracting out czar, previously praised Bush for the decision to lift Davis-Bacon from storm recovery work:

"President Bush is to be commended for showing the courage to take this important but controversial stand as the Gulf Coast region enters this difficult period of recovery and reconstruction. In the days that follow, he will confront many similar challenges and have to make many similarly difficult decisions, and not all of his choices will be popular with influential groups.

"In the case of the Davis-Bacon suspension, for example, some union leaders and their supporters in Congress will certainly be angry at the prospect of losing an unfair advantage, even if that advantage would have come at the expense of those whose lives have been destroyed by Katrina."

You can read Utt's full report here.

This latest decision, along with the lack of vocal White House support for the Coburn amendments last week and the growing fiasco of the Harriet Miers nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court could well ignite an open revolt on the Right that could seriously damage Bush's ability to get anything through Congress for the rest of his second term in the presidency.

It should be noted that a similar revolt was sparked by Bush 41's endorsement of a massive tax hike and nomination of David Souter for the high court, which were among the main factors that led to a disastrous 1992 re-election campaign. Current White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card was a high-ranking official in the Bush 41 administration as well.

Senate's "Fiscal Watch Team" Introduces Measure to Pay for Storm Recovery, Cut Federal Waste

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, leads the Fiscal Watch Team, which although unofficial also includes senators Sam Brownback, R-KS, Jim DeMint, R-SC, John Ensign, R-NV, John McCain, R-AZ, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and John Sununu, R- NH.

The Heritage Foundation's budget analyst, Brian Riedl, examines the team's proposal and concludes that the seven "deserve commendation for offering a specific, realistic agenda to restore fiscal sanity and save American taxpayers at least $115 billion over the next two years, and even more thereafter."

He adds that "their innovative proposal would cut wasteful spending, delay unaffordable new spending, and force belt-tightening across other programs." Not a bad day's work, at least for a United States senator, right!

Read all about it here.

MEMO TO CATHY YOUNG: These Are Facts About the OU "Suicide Bomber," Not Speculation

Cathy Young is a blogger and a contributing editor for Reason magazine, so it is especially disappointing to read such a bungled piece of analysis as her "When blog hysteria does real harm" in The Boston Globe.

Young's basic point is that there is no there there regarding Joel Hinrichs' Oct. 1 death just outside the University of Oklahoma's Memorial Stadium during the OU-Kansas State football game.

Young is responding to a number of bloggers, including several who like myself are also mainstream media journalists, who did some original reporting and concluded there are solid grounds upon which to question the official explanation that Hinrichs acted alone and intended only to kill himself.

But, like The Wall Street Journal, Young has to ignore some indisputable facts in order to arrive at her conclusion: "But was there any substance to the story? Apparently not. According to the authorities, there is no indication that Hinrichs was anything more than a depressed, troubled young man."

Jason Smith of Generation Why lays out the basic, undisputed facts Young and others must ignore:

1. Joe Hinrichs detonated a bomb on or near his body and killed himself.
2. The explosion occured in
close proximity to a stadium containing 84,000 people.
3. Investigators found a
huge cache of explosive material in Hinrichs' apartment.
4. Hinrichs inquired about purchasing
ammonium nitrate just before the event.
5. The
FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force have been leading the investigation.
6. The
search warrant was sealed from public view.
7. OU officials have taken an unprecedented step and
distributed emergency evacuation procedures to fans now, which happen to include a focus on backpack searches.
8. The FBI initially told Hinrichs' father there was no
suicide note, then contradicting such 2 weeks later.

To Smith's list I add the ninth and tenth facts: First, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 30,000 people have killed themselves in America annually for the past decade and more. Not one of them did in the same manner as Hinrichs. That makes Hinrichs an extreme outlier, which, the statisticians will tell you, means his case cannot be explained by the conventional factors that apply to the others.

And second, it is official FBI policy to treat all explosions like the Hinrichs death as a terrorist act "until proven otherwise," according to former FBI Assistant Director Pat D'Amur during a recent interview on CNN which you can view here. In the Hinrichs case, however, officials announced that he was not connected to terrorist organizations or activities within hours of his death, yet the Joint Task Force on Terrorism remains to this very day the lead agency investigating the case.

It requires quite a leap of faith - especially for a contributing editor of Reason - to blindly accept an official explanation that is clearly inadequate to the task of explaining these eight facts without reference to some kind of intent that goes beyond a mere suicide.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes people like Young to admit they were wrong after the next bomb explodes or is found on or near an American campus.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rep. Mike Pence Discusses His "Free Flow of Information Act of 2005" in the Distinguished Journalist Lecture at The Heritage Foundation

Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN, delivered the 2005 Distinguished Journalist Lecture earlier today at The Heritage Foundation. A former television and radio commentator, Pence is the prime sponsor of the "Free Flow of Information Act of 2005," which establishes in federal law for the first time ever statuatory protections for journalists and their confidential sources.

Among much else, Pence clarified what his proposal would do for bloggers, noting that he believes "most bloggers would be covered" but that in the final analysis "the courts will decide on a blog-by-blog basis" which sites are reporting news and which are only linking to others reporting the news.

I had the privilege of introducing Pence, who is also Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which is the largest caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite a pouring rain and wind, a standing-room-only crowd packed Heritage's Van Andel Center for the Pence presentation.

Among those attending were Rick Dunham, President of the National Press Club, and the Freedom Forum's Paul McMasters. Also in the audience were Allison Bethel, Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief, Alex Mooney, Executive Director of the National Journalism Center, and Allison Hayward, Editor of Sceptic's Eye blog.

You can listen to the entire proceding here as a webcast on The Heritage Foundation web site.

UPDATE: 10/26

Here's The Washington Times story by reporter Jennifer Harper on Pence's lecture.

Rosa Parks, RIP

If you doubt the power of one individual, simply look at the life of Rosa Parks. She said no on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus one day in 1955 and sparked the long-overdue Civl Rights Movement in America. A lifetime of courage was concentrated in that one word spoken to power. LaShawn Barber has a fitting tribute.

UPDATE: 9:05 a.m.

But do you know about Martha White in Baton Rouge in 1953? I certainly didn't. Thanks to Paul at Wizbang.

Who is Your Blogfather or Blogmother?

Politburo Diktat wants to know and is posting responses from bloggers everywhere. Me? Hugh Hewitt got me into this blogging thing in November 2004. How about you? Go here and join the fun.

Radio Blogger Has Michael Barone, NY Post Has John Podhoretz; They Know Everything Important You Need to Know About Plamegate, Judith Miller

It's all right here. Do not miss it.

UPDATE: 9:44 a.m.

New York Post columnist John Podhoretz dissects The New York Times' recent trashing of its own reporter, Judith Miller:

"The not-so-hidden truth is that Miller's critics believe that she bears some responsibility - maybe even all the responsibility - for the fact that America went to war with Iraq. Why? Because she published some articles that offered evidence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction - articles whose evidence turned out to be untrue. She didn't know it to be untrue, and neither did those who passed it to her. Nonetheless, she has become part of the lunatic case against the war - dragged into the never-ending BUSH LIED meme."

As usual, Podhoretz is right on target. Go here for the complete column.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Here's the "Good News Journalism" Politicians and Bureaucrats Just Love to Buy With Tax Dollars

Nothing but "good" news.

HT: Romanesko

Senate's Coburn Caucus Conservatives to Unveil New Porkbusters-Type Spending Cuts Proposal

Townhall.com Capitol Report's Tim Chapman says a new package of spending cuts will be unveiled tomorrow by senators Coburn, Ensign, McCain, DeMint, Graham, Sununu and Brownback.

UPDATE: 5:18 p.m.

More good news from the Coburnites - a Senate hearing that will actually focus on what the U.S. Constitution says about what Congress can and cannot do.

HT: Michelle Malkin

THOMAS is the Place to be for House, Senate Roll Call Information for Current Congress and Past, Too

A number of readers have emailed questions about where they can find comprehensive records of Senate and House roll call votes. The place to do that is on the congressional web site, THOMAS. Just click on the 109th Congress and follow the links to the chart with the vote number in the furthest-left column. Click on the vote number and you will be taken to a complete list of who voted how.

No, Wilma is Not More Proof of Global Warming

If you don't believe me, check out the quotes from Christopher Landsea of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division that appear in this piece by David Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Analysis.

HT: Amy Ridenour (Yes, they are related and quite happily I hear.)

Are Bloggers Toothless in Washington, D.C.?

Danny Glover, Editor of the National Journal's Beltway Blogroll, thinks the answer to the question posed by the headline above is a definite yes. Here's how he puts his argument:

"The bottom line is that on the big issues, bloggers are batting zero. Their only significant policy claim to fame this year occurred at the Federal Election Commission. The blog swarm against that agency arguably forced it to draft a less sweeping plan for applying campaign finance law to bloggers - but even that war is not over yet because the FEC has not finalized the rules.

"Bloggers are not powerless in policy circles and actually are gaining influence. Otherwise, official Washington would pay them no mind whatsoever - no conference calls with political chieftains, no question-and-answer sessions with lawmakers, and no other forms of outreach. But bloggers today are not as persuasive or as intimidating as they might like to believe."

To the extent the Blogosphere lacks whack in D.C. it is a reflection, in my judgement, of two factors:

First, the mainstream media has been the primary target for most of the Blogosphere's relatively brief history. In that arena, the power of the Blogosphere can be measured with one question addressed to Dan Rather or Eason Jordan and a host of other mainstreamers who have been effectively removed as the gatekeepers of America's news process.

Second, Washington, D.C. and the federal public policy process of government is only just beginning to get focused attention in the Blogosphere, most notably in the Porkbusters campaign that is becoming something of a pilot project for future endeavours.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (for you young people out there, a "record" is a solid piece of vinyl with a round shape and music imprinted in grooves on its surface. We Boomers wasted countless hours listening to real rock n' roll on records when we were adolescents), I have argued for nearly a year that the next great challenge for the Blogosphere is doing for government the same opening-up process already achieved with the mainstream meda.

In fact, my very first post on Tapscott's Copy Desk was titled "Can the Blogosphere do for Government what it has done for the Mainstream Media." You can read that initial post here, as well as successor posts on the topic here, here and here.

Perhaps Danny's post and the experience last week with the Coburn amendments in the Porkbusters campaign will help hasten the much-needed discussion among bloggers on how we go about achieving that opening-up in government.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Michelle Malkin Has a Book Out With a Cover Worth Buying All by Itself

This may be the best book cover of 2005. Congratulations, Michelle! Captain's Quarters has something to say on this book, too.

The Pearcey Report is Launched!

Rick and Nancy Pearcey are the husband-and-wife team behind a new web site that promises a wealth of daily news and penetrating analyses from a variety of perspectives, as well as links to information sources such as think tanks and activist organizations engaged in studying and changing the world for the better.

If the Pearceys sound familiar, they should because he is a veteran journalist and she is author of a widely lauded recent book on applying the eternal epistemological principles of Christianity to understanding current issues and philosophies.

Here is the Pearcey's news release announcing The Pearcey Report:

Today marks the official launch of The Pearcey Report, a website of news, comment, information, and worldview. It can be viewed online at www.pearceyreport.com.

J. Richard Pearcey is editor and publisher of the report. Rick has worked as a journalist, writer, and editor in the Washington, D.C., area since the late 1980s.

Best-selling author Nancy Pearcey is editor-at-large. Her most recent book - "Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity" - was reviewed by Tapscott's Copy Desk
here. She is also the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar at the World Journalism Institute.

There is much to explore in the The Pearcey Report. A few highlights:

* News: The News section connects readers with breaking stories of the day from around the world -- in politics, international affairs, the arts, science, health, books, film, people, the odd tidbit, and more.

* Comment: The Comment section features insight and opinion from a variety of observers and news outlets.

* Articles: The Articles section offers a strategic and humane analysis of contemporary life, thought, and action. Expect to encounter the work of seminal Judeo-Christian worldview thinkers such as Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, Udo Middelmann, Os Guinness, and Nancy Pearcey.

* Information: The information component opens the door to the wider world of U.S. and international media -- and to a life beyond the crisis of the moment. Thus, in addition to websites for columnists, think tanks, and activist groups, also available are resources for further study, travel, world cities, and more.

Friday, October 21, 2005

One of The Week's Most Significant Events Got the Least Notice as Bloggers Invaded Capitol Hill

Almost lost among the Senate showdown precipitated by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, was an event that represented a milestone in the Blogosphere's ability to do for government what it has already done for the mainstream media.

The event was the first-ever Congressional Bloggers' Row and it was a smashing success. Townhall.com's Tim Chapman writes Tim Chapman's Capitol Report and he has the details, including a comprehensive description of who said what about which issues.

Loners in Lodi Look Like Network of ... Loners?

California Conservative points to another Sacremento Bee report on an ice cream truck driver in Lodi charged with providing material support to terrorists. A U.S. prosecutor argued against allowing the guy to be released on bail because it appears he is being supported "by a third party."

Any minute now we expect the FBI to issue a statement indicating the third party is simply a support group for lonely depressed individuals with troubled lives who may be contemplating strapping a bomb to their bodies and finding a quiet spot near a football stadium packed to the rafters with people in which to end it all.

Why I Have Given Up on HaloScan's Trackback

Because every time I try to trackback to somebody's blog post, I get error messages like this:

HTTP/1.1 200 OKServer: ApacheContent-Type: text/xmlVary: User-AgentExpires: Fri, 21 Oct 2005 10:07:03 GMTCache-Control: max-age=0, no-cache, no-storePragma: no-cacheDate: Fri, 21 Oct 2005 10:07:03 GMTContent-Length: 169Connection: closeX-N: S
1Server IP is too far away from source URL IP Server IP is too far away from source URL IP /t/trackback/3412322

And when I post them in the Haloscan Forum in the hope somebody, anybody will please tell me what it means, I get .... nothing.

I love to trackback, but seeing these messages over and over has finally gotten to be too much.

Iowahawk Offers Better Blogging Class - Heh!

New to blogging? Find yourself constantly tempted to imitate the master in your search for more daily traffic? Be careful. Iowahawk explains why it's vital that you properly understand the Rule of Pith in blogging:

"The lesson here is clear: as a good blog citizen, you should respect others' pithword rights, or at least create a cheap knockoff. The good news is that I've done an exhaustive records search, and discovered that the following somewhat similar pithy link words were all untrademarked: HO, HAHAHA, HEE HEE, SNORK, SNORNK, BWAHHHA, CHAH, HUH?, WTF?, GAH, PHEH, OMG, and YIRF. The bad news is that now I've copyrighted all of them and their variants, and have put Glenn Reynolds on retainer."

This wisdom is just a tiny sampler from Iowahawk's "How to Blog Good, Part 2." If this does not make you cackle, call your cardiologist because you are clearly approaching room temperature.

Can you imagine what would happen if Iowahawk and Chris Muir ever got into the same room at the same time?


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Is Tom Coburn Tough Enough?

That was quite a shock wave rocking the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate today when a freshman senator from Oklahoma stood on the floor of "the world's greatest deliberative body" and challenged his colleagues to end the charade.

The charade, that is, of endlessly mouthing the cliches of fiscal responsibility while taking to record levels the shameful practice of log-rolling - "I'll vote for your pet spending project no matter how bad it is if you vote for my pet spending project, no matter how bad it is."

Members of Congress call it "congressional courtesy." Weary taxpayers don't.

Closely related to log-rolling is the congressional maxim that "to get along, you have to go along," especially if you are a freshman or from a small state. Coburn is both a freshman and from a state with only a handful of electoral votes.

Senators and Representatives have been log-rolling since the First Congress, of course, but never before with the intensity of the current GOP-led Congress. Appropriations bills now routinely gain approval with hundreds or thousands of "earmarks," which is Hill-talk for pork barrel projects inserted by individual members to benefit their district or state.

But then came Hurricane Katrina and Coburn, who previously served time during the Clinton administration in the U.S. House before taking a term-limit induced sabbatical before winning a close election to the Senate in 2004. He hasn't really made much of a splash in the Senate until this week.

But yesterday he stood up and committed the unpardonable sin of not going along to get along. He offered amendments requiring that previously approved earmarks favored by colleagues be cancelled and the tax dollars instead spent on Hurricane recovery. There wasn't much money at stake in the particular projects targeted by Coburn, but it was the principle that mattered.

That's why so much of the response to Coburn was pure outrage from the unprincipled. Sen. Patty Murray, the very liberal Washington Democrat, warned that any senator supporting the Coburn amendments would find projects in his or her own state being given the evil eye by annoyed colleagues who don't want to rock the log-rolling boat.

And Alaska's Ted Stevens, the Old Bull Republican moderate who has been a major obstacle to conservative reform since the Reagan administration, stood on the floor and thundered that he would leave the Senate if the Coburn amendment passed.

Stevens needn't have worried, at least for now. His colleagues soundly defeated Coburn's proposal. In fact, only 15 brave senators said aye when the roll was called. The only surprise was how many familiar conservative names were, sadly, among the 82 senators who voted against Coburn. This speaks volumes about why so little actual conservative reform has been achieved since 1994. They talk the talk but they don't walk it.

So what's next? No matter what they think, the future doesn't depend upon the Ted Stevens or Patty Murrays. It only depends on Tom Coburn. Today, he forced the Senate to decide which was more important - building a shelter for dogs and cats in Lincoln Chaffee's home state or helping people in Louisiana and Mississippi made homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

Ted Stevens' purple rage and Patty Murray's veiled threats represent the corrupt essence of Establishment Washington politics and today we saw what that establishment truly cares about. It isn't people without roofs over their heads in Louisiana or Mississippi.

So the question now is will Coburn remain steadfast? Senate rules still give individual senators great opportunities to force such showdowns. If Coburn stands his ground today, the American people will take care of tomorrow just fine.

Coburn understands that, which is why I think he is just the man for the job. He isn't here to stay here; he came back to Washington to do what he can as long as he can to help change America for the better. That's why the shouting and blustering on the Senate floor will only confirm for Coburn the rightness of his path.

If you doubt that, read this exchange between Coburn and Hugh Hewitt's guest host, Jef Rabbin, during an interview that took place as the Senate was voting on Coburn's amendments:
"JB: Well, does that bother you, Senator? I mean, are you worried so much about Oklahoma projects?
"TC: No. I don't ask for any projects. I ran on a platform of saying the biggest problem we face in our country is financial and economic, and cultural in Washington, that if we don't change that, I promised you I will not earmark a thing until the budget is in surplus.
"JB: Wow.
"TC: So I don't have any earmarks. So I don't have any...you know, there's no power over me to withhold earmarks, because I have none.
"JB: Well, how tough is it going to be, though, to undo this culture of pork? I mean, the porksters are all around you. I mean, we're not naming names, but you're outnumbered there pretty solidly, so...
"TC: Look, when the American people want things to change, they will change. Just as like in 1994, they changed? It's this year's time. Make them change. You know, hold them accountable.

"There's Democrats and Republicans up here, but we're all Americans, and we ought to be thinking about the heritage that has come before us, and the legacy that's going to follow us. And the legacy that's going to follow us today is a millstone around the neck of our grandchildren, because we're going to leave them so far in debt, and we haven't even begun to talk about how do we fix Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid."

God really must have a sense of irony; why else would He put a doctor with nothing to lose and a disaster of biblical proportions in exactly the right place at the right time to accomplish the right things?

Go get'em Tom!


My apologies to the good people of Oregon for my saddling you with Patty Murray and to the good people of Washington state for thereby not acknowledging your suffering. :-) The error is now corrected.


Here are the Yeas and Nays on the Coburn admendment to transfer funding from "the bridge to nowhere" in Alaska to Hurricane Katrina recovery in Louisiana and Mississippi:

YEAs ---15
Allard (R-CO)Allen (R-VA)Bayh (D-IN)Burr (R-NC)Coburn (R-OK)
Conrad (D-ND)DeMint (R-SC)DeWine (R-OH)Feingold (D-WI)Graham (R-SC)
Kyl (R-AZ)Landrieu (D-LA)Sessions (R-AL)Sununu (R-NH)Vitter (R-LA)

NAYs ---82
Akaka (D-HI)Alexander (R-TN)Baucus (D-MT)Bennett (R-UT)Biden (D-DE)Bingaman (D-NM)Bond (R-MO)Boxer (D-CA)Brownback (R-KS)Bunning (R-KY)Burns (R-MT)Byrd (D-WV)Cantwell (D-WA)Carper (D-DE)Chafee (R-RI)Chambliss (R-GA)Clinton (D-NY)Cochran (R-MS)Coleman (R-MN)Collins (R-ME)Cornyn (R-TX)Craig (R-ID)Crapo (R-ID)Dayton (D-MN)Dodd (D-CT)Dole (R-NC)Domenici (R-NM)Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)Ensign (R-NV)Enzi (R-WY)Feinstein (D-CA)Frist (R-TN)Grassley (R-IA)Gregg (R-NH)Hagel (R-NE)Harkin (D-IA)Hatch (R-UT)Hutchison (R-TX)Inhofe (R-OK)Inouye (D-HI)Isakson (R-GA)Jeffords (I-VT)Johnson (D-SD)Kennedy (D-MA)Kerry (D-MA)Kohl (D-WI)Lautenberg (D-NJ)Leahy (D-VT)Levin (D-MI)Lieberman (D-CT)Lincoln (D-AR)Lott (R-MS)Lugar (R-IN)Martinez (R-FL)McConnell (R-KY)
Mikulski (D-MD)Murkowski (R-AK)Murray (D-WA)Nelson (D-FL)Nelson (D-NE)Obama (D-IL)Pryor (D-AR)Reed (D-RI)Reid (D-NV)Roberts (R-KS)Rockefeller (D-WV)Salazar (D-CO)Santorum (R-PA)Sarbanes (D-MD)Shelby (R-AL)Smith (R-OR)Snowe (R-ME)Specter (R-PA)Stabenow (D-MI)Stevens (R-AK)Talent (R-MO)Thomas (R-WY)Thune (R-SD)Voinovich (R-OH)Warner (R-VA)Wyden (D-OR)

China Blocks Wikipedia?

Democracy Project's Bruce Kesler is all over the repression of the Internet by the Chinese Communist government. It appears the Wikipedia may be the latest victim. Does anybody else remember that China is still officially a Marxist-Leninist state, even though the tyrants who maintain control are deviationists on some economic questions?

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what Google, Cisco and Yahoo! have to say for themselves as the implications become clearer of their assisting the Chinese regime in repressing the Internet and using it for identifying political dissidents for punishment.

Michael Yon Will be on Boston WRKO's Pundit Review Radio Sunday, Live From Baghdad

Blogger Michael Yon has been up close and personal with the war in Iraq for months and his dispatches from the front lines rank among the most gripping and vivid accounts of Americans in combat ever published.

Yon will be on Boston WRKO's outstanding "Pundit Review Radio" program this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. EST, live from Baghdad. You can listen online here. PRR is highlighting the best (and since I was on recently some would also say) and the worst of the Blogosphere. Don't miss it!

Senate Overwhelmingly Rejects Three Coburn Anti-Pork Amendments

The U.S. Senate voted 86-13 against three anti-pork spending amendments offered by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK. The Coburn amendments would have repealed $500,000 previously authorized for a sculpture park in Seattle, Washington, $200,000 to build an animal shelter in Westerly, RI, and $200,000 to build a parking lot in Omaha, Nebraska, and re-directed the funds to help pay instead for Hurricane Katrina recovery.

It appears the majority of senators think it is more important to shelter dogs and cats in Rhode Island than people in Louisiana and Mississippi made homeless by Hurricane Katrina.


Sen. Patty Murray is issuing thinly-veiled threats to colleagues who might be inclined to support Coburnite movements. Getting that defensive this quick is probably an indication of just how scared the Big Spenders in both political parties are that the Coburnites will succeed.

And Glenn Reynolds hits the nail on the head: "I predict a revival of interest in term limits and a balanced budget amendment. But at least we've got their attention."

Hey, folks, don't be discouraged, this is just the opening round of what promises to be a long and probably bitter battle.

HT: Instapundit, Powerline

UPDATE: 2:50 p.m. EST

Here's how each senator voted. A Yea vote was to kill the Coburn amendments:

Grouped By Vote Position
YEAs ---86
Akaka (D-HI)Alexander (R-TN)Allard (R-CO)Baucus (D-MT)Bayh (D-IN)Bennett (R-UT)Biden (D-DE)Bingaman (D-NM)Bond (R-MO)Boxer (D-CA)Brownback (R-KS)Bunning (R-KY)Burns (R-MT)Byrd (D-WV)Cantwell (D-WA)Carper (D-DE)Chafee (R-RI)Chambliss (R-GA)Clinton (D-NY)Cochran (R-MS)Coleman (R-MN)Collins (R-ME)Conrad (D-ND)Cornyn (R-TX)Craig (R-ID)Crapo (R-ID)Dayton (D-MN)DeWine (R-OH)Dodd (D-CT)
Dole (R-NC)Domenici (R-NM)Dorgan (D-ND)Durbin (D-IL)Enzi (R-WY)Feinstein (D-CA)Frist (R-TN)Grassley (R-IA)Gregg (R-NH)Harkin (D-IA)Hatch (R-UT)Hutchison (R-TX)Inhofe (R-OK)Inouye (D-HI)Isakson (R-GA)Jeffords (I-VT)Johnson (D-SD)Kennedy (D-MA)Kerry (D-MA)Kohl (D-WI)Landrieu (D-LA)Lautenberg (D-NJ)Leahy (D-VT)Levin (D-MI)Lieberman (D-CT)Lincoln (D-AR)Lott (R-MS)Lugar (R-IN)Martinez (R-FL)
McConnell (R-KY)Mikulski (D-MD)Murkowski (R-AK)Murray (D-WA)Nelson (D-FL)Nelson (D-NE)Obama (D-IL)Pryor (D-AR)Reed (D-RI)Reid (D-NV)Roberts (R-KS)Rockefeller (D-WV)Salazar (D-CO)Santorum (R-PA)Sarbanes (D-MD)Schumer (D-NY)Shelby (R-AL)Smith (R-OR)Snowe (R-ME)Specter (R-PA)Stabenow (D-MI)Stevens (R-AK)Thomas (R-WY)Thune (R-SD)Vitter (R-LA)Voinovich (R-OH)Warner (R-VA)Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs ---13
Allen (R-VA)Burr (R-NC)Coburn (R-OK)DeMint (R-SC)Ensign (R-NV)
Feingold (D-WI)Graham (R-SC)Hagel (R-NE)Kyl (R-AZ)McCain (R-AZ)
Sessions (R-AL)Sununu (R-NH)Talent (R-MO)

Not Voting - 1
Corzine (D-NJ)

UPDATE: 10/21/05

See also these Coburn posts:

Is Tom Coburn Tough Enough?
Mr. Smith is Back in Washington and his Name is Tom Coburn

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Mr. Smith is Back in Washington and His Name is Tom Coburn

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, has done the unthinkable and proposed an amendment to the Treasury, Transportation and HUD appropriations bill to transfer the $220 million previously earmarked by Rep. Don Young, R-AK, to build "the bridges to nowhere" pork barrel project in Alaska to help pay for the reconstruction of the "Twin Spans" bridge in Louisiana.

Here's why Coburn has done the unthinkable. Members just don't challenge each other's pork barrel projects, no matter what. It's ... just ... not ... done. You go along to get along. The Doctor from Oklahoma is the first to stand up and say "No" to another Member's favored pork barrel.

And Don Young is not just another Member. He's the GOP biggest fan of loading up the folks back home with pork. He crowed to the media about the recently passed $286 billion highway bill that he "stuffed it like a turkey."

Coburn's "Dear Colleague" letter explains the details of his proposal. The Coburn amendment is a masterful piece of truth in legislation that could set in motion a movement to end log rolling in Congress. This could become an historic turning point in the effort to restore accountability and honesty in Congress and the rest of government.

RedState.org's Mike Krempasky puts it this way:

"Make NO mistake - the establishment Republicans are terrified of this bill. The chutzpah of the little people demanding an end to one of the most immoral acts of Congress - earmarked pork spending - has got some in quite the tizzy. Word is that some are trying to stop the Coburn Amendment from even reaching the floor for a vote."

The Blogosphere just might be the difference between the Coburn amendment being buried by legislative legerdermain or being brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote that could make or break many political careers.

Time to tell your congressman and senators what you think about the Coburn amendment. If you don't know who they are, go here, enter your zip code in the appropriate place and you will be told your U.S. Representative's name and contact information. Go here for the same information for your state's two U.S. Senators.

Then email them, call them, write them letters. And tell your friends, family and neighbors to do the same. This could be a defining moment for America.

HT: Instapundit for the Coburn links.

UPDATE: 10/20/05

Yes, yes, I know, in the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Jimmy Stewart was trying to get more federal money for a Scout camp. That was in the New Deal era. Now Coburn is updating the symbol. We have come a long way since FDR!

UPDATE: 10/21/05

Welcome Instapundit, Powerline readers. You will also find these Coburn posts useful:

Senate Rejects Three Coburn Amendments
Is Tom Coburn Tough Enough?

Hinrichs Was Clean Shaven At Feedstore

University of Oklahoma student Joel Henry Hinrichs has a beard in photos that have appeared in the media since he died Oct. 1 when the bomb strapped to his body exploded near the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium during the OU-Kansas State football game.

But Tapscott's Copy Desk has learned that Hinrichs was clean-shaven when he appeared in a Norman, Oklahoma, feed store two days before his death seeking to purchase ammonium nitrate, a main ingredient in the bomb that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and in other terrorist attacks around the world.

It should be noted that Islamic suicide bombers often shave just prior to carrying out their deadly acts. This is not "proof" that Hinrichs was on a similar suicide bombing mission, of course, but his beard was one of his most memorable features. His father has said that his son "looked like Abraham Lincoln since he was in high school."

Just another coincidence, right?

Conservative Groups Say GOP Leadership's Proposed Spending Cuts Aren't Enough


Washington, D.C. -The American Conservative Union, The Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council and the Club for Growth, on behalf of a number of conservative organizations will hold a press conference on Thursday, October 20 at 10:00 am at 2261 Rayburn House Office Building to challenge Congress and the Bush Administration to rein in federal government spending.

WHO: Mr. David Keene, American Conservative Union
Dr. Edwin Feulner, The Heritage Foundation
The Honorable Pat Toomey, Club for Growth
Mr. Chuck Donovan, Family Research Council
Other conservative organizations

WHAT: News Conference

WHEN: Thursday, October 20, 2005
10:00 a.m.

WHERE: 2261 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC

"Our government has become so entangled in the forest of deficit spending that it seems to have lost any sense of discretion," says ACU's chairman David Keene. "Plans to offset federal spending on Katrina disaster relief and reconstruction such as the recent proposals made by the House Republican Study Committee, as well as the proposals put out forward by Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Blunt are a good start. But, organizations like ACU, Heritage, and the Club for Growth are concerned that these measures will do little to really reduce the out-of-control spending and $7.99 trillion federal debt. Much more must be done."

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Diana Banister or Kevin McVicker at (703) 739-5920.

Pence to Defend Journalist Shield Law Proposal at Distinguished Journalist Lecture at The Heritage Foundation

Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN, has introduced "The Free Flow of Information Act" that would establish a limited shield for journalists at the federal level similar to those already in place in a majority of states.

Pence will discuss the Judith Miller case, bloggers and his shield law proposal when he delivers the Distinguished Journalist Lecture at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday, 10/25, at 11:00 a.m.

Pence is chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, which represents the conservative members of the GOP in the lower chamber of Congress. He is a former Talk Radio host and one of the first Members of Congress to establish a blog.

Critics within and without the journalism community have expressed legitimate reservations about the Pence proposal, especially with regard to the propriety of legislation defining who is and who is not a journalist and the scope of the privilege.

A similar bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-IN, does not include bloggers under its definition. But these are problems that can be dealt with reasonably as part of the legislative process, if the legislation moves forward. For that to happen, journalists and bloggers need to recognize their common interest and work together, at least on this issue.

The event is open to the public and bloggers in the national capitol are especially encouraged to attend and post on Pence's presentation. Bloggers who wish to live-blog the event should contact: Mark Tapscott at 202-608-6155 or Mark.Tapscott@Heritage.org.

Here's Why Conservatives Should Support Judith Miller and a Federal Shield Law for Journalists

Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter who spent 86 days in jail for refusing to divulge sources to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the Plamegate scandal, spoke to the Society of Professional Journalists' national convention yesterday in Las Vegas.

Miller said she went to jail not merely to protect a single source - Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff - but to prevent Fitzgerald from forcing her to testify about her other sources in the intelligence community.

The issue was not protection of Libby but that she "could not risk a fishing expedition into all my intelligence sources." She agreed to testify before Fitzgerald's grand jury when he agreed to limit questioning to Libby.

Miller said if government can go rummaging around a reporter's notes and sources, then nobody with knowledge of official corruption will ever come forward to talk to reporters. "It is the freedom of people to talk to the press without getting in trouble, it is that right that's under assault today."

She received a standing ovation from about half of the assembled journalists, according to Breitbart. Can we assume then the half who remained seated have no objection to bureaucrats going through their files and notebooks?

That is precisely why conservatives and libertarians who support limited government should be Miller's most vocal supporters. There is no accountability of government without an independent media able to assure confidentiality to sources within government with knowledge of wrong-doing.

Can such a privilege be abused? Of course, just as the similar shield laws protecting lawyers, doctors and counselors such as priests and ministers can be abused. At the same time, there is no reason to make a journalist shield law any more absolute than is the case with other professions.

Reasonable protection of confidentiality of journalists' sources is no more the equivalent of granting special privileges to reporters that "put them above the law" than do shield laws for lawyers or doctors.

But the principle of limiting government and assuring its accountability requires preserving an independent media to the greatest degree possible. Conservatives and libertarians ought to be praising and defending Miller, not confusing her plight with the abuses of a liberal media that over the years have so poisoned the public's perception of journalism.

UPDATE: 6:00 p.m.

Miller testified today before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the shield law proposals and pointed to contrast between the near unanimity at the state level where reporters enjoy a nearly abolute or limited privilege and the federal level where no such privilege exists:

"In fact, as this panel knows, all but one state - Wyoming - have enacted shield laws or assured such protection through court rulings. But such protection of the public's right to know does not exist at the Federal level because of a more than 30-year old Supreme Court ruling that has spread confusion in Federal courts and news bureaus throughout the land.
"Because of that judicial chaos, reporters who ought to be able to rely on a state's law, may not be able to do so. Sometimes, through chance, a case may end up in a Federal rather than a state court. Not only does this lead to a lack of legal predictability and no real basis on which to govern one’s behavior, it is also fundamentally unfair.
"That is yet another reason why a Federal Shield Law is so essential. The Federal government should finally catch up with the will of the states, all but one of which now provide absolute or qualified protection for reporters and their sources. Most of these laws have been adopted in the 30 years since the Supreme Court's decision."

Go here for the complete text of Miller's testimony.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

You Just Think You Know What's In Karl Rove's Garage!

Brian Scott at Blue State Conservative brings the issue into focus here.

Senate Majority Leader's Top Budget Aide Claims Federal Spending "Not Profligate," Cutting Pork Would Make Little Difference for Uncle Sam

The following memorandum by Bill Hoagland is circulating in email format among majority staff aides on the Senate appropriations and budget panels. Hoagland is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's top aide on budget issues. The underlining here was not in the original email made available to Tapscott's Copy Desk.


October 8, 2005

From: Bill Hoagland

Subject: Republicans and Fiscal Responsibility

You asked have Republicans shown fiscal responsibility over the last 5 years?

The answer to this question will depend on your audience's definition of "fiscal responsibility." For some government spending will define fiscal responsibility, for others, the federal deficit will be their benchmark. A third, benchmark might simply be the state of the macro economy - after all, the end product of fiscal decisions should be measurable outcomes, such as the strength or weakness of the national economy.

Since the current Republican focus on "fiscal responsibility" appears to be on government spending, this note is limited to that subject.

Fiscal Responsibility as Government Spending.

The case can be made that government spending over the last 5 years has not been profligate, given the geopolitical situation post September 11. This is not to say, however, that there has not been unnecessary and wasteful spending - in a $2.5 trillion budget how could there not be?

But Republicans have become our own worst communicators on this subject by allowing fiscal responsibility to be defined by the media and outside groups' total focus on individual, parochial, Congressional projects as in the recently passed highway and energy bills. Eliminating all such projects might be useful, but would not substantively change the overall level of federal spending.

More recently, the expenditure of nearly $71 billion for the worst natural disaster in this country's history, has also raised concerns by some about fiscal largess. This even though, the federal government has both a statutory responsibility, if not a moral responsibility to respond to such disasters.

Further, for those Republicans and others who have not supported the President's foreign policies in Iraq and the consequential Global War on Terrorism spending that has followed, the $290 billion already appropriated since 2001 plus an additional $50 billion in this week's Senate-passed defense bill along with no indication when such spending will subside, becomes a convenient argument for critics tying foreign policy and fiscal responsibility into one package.

Finally, the Medicare Rx bill has become a symbol of federal spending out of control, though the actual spending from that legislation, let alone the benefits to be derived from it, have only now begun. The spending criticism of the Rx legislation falls into the category of anticipated spending, which there clearly will be, but not actual spending. And as you heard this week, the costs of the program could be significantly less than what was anticipated as increased competition in drug pricing now becomes a reality.

So objectively, how has federal spending over the last five years compared to previous time periods? For the federal fiscal year that just ended, it is estimated that total federal spending will have reached nearly $2.5 trillion. A large number obviously, but in the context of the largest and strongest economy in the world - a $12.3 trillion economy - no other industrial nation’s centralized government spends less than the United States measured as a share of their economy.

Federal spending as a share of our economy in 2005 represents about 20.2 percent. How does this ratio - federal spending to the size of our economy - compare to previous periods? For the decade of the 1980's, federal spending averaged 22.2 percent of GDP - a whole 2 percentage points higher than last year. That was a time President Reagan build up our national defenses and waged the final battle to end the Cold War. This increased spending was not without controversy also, but the Cold War was won!

For the decade of the 1990's - the Berlin Wall falls, the economy expands - and guess what? Federal spending as a share of an expanding economy averaged 20.7 percent. A whole half a percentage point higher than last year. Compared to the last two decades we have done a good job of maintaining the principles of limited, controlled federal spending.

When we turned into the new century, pre-September 11, 2001 spending averaged a historic low of 18.5 percent. It has been the increases in federal spending for the Global War on Terrorism that has been the most significant driver these last 5 years, not highway bills, not energy bills, nor a Medicare drug bill.

Since the turn of the new century, we have devoted significant resources to our national security. As a share of GDP, defense spending has increased from 3.0 percent in 2000 to 4.0 percent last year. In other words, if it were not for this 1 percentage point increase in funding for our national security between 2000 and last year, federal spending overall would be a remarkable 19.2 percent, well below the previous two decades.

Bottom line, federal spending has grown these last 5 years, but for very clear and understandable national security reasons. We should not use this fact as an excuse to lessen oversight, nor to eliminate and restrain federal spending where there is no proven, critical national need. But we, also do not need to be overly defensive that we have not exercised fiscal responsibility measured by this metric of spending.

UPDATE: 10/19/05

The Heritage Foundation's chief budget analyst, Brian Riedl, says wait just a minute, if defense only accounts for a third of the increased spending, Hoagland's case falls apart. Go here for Riedl's fisking of Hoagland's numbers.