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Monday, November 27, 2006

ProfBainbridge.com Unveils Redesigned and Much Expanded Site as Portal to a Blog Magazine

Prof. Stephen Bainbridge of UCLA is among the most widely read law profs due in no small part to the fact he covers a wide variety of topics ranging from business and law issues to politics, wine and cars. He's also a member of The Examiner Blog Board of Contributors.

Bainbridge has now unveiled a massive redesign of his blog, but the overhaul is not simply to how profbainbridge.com looks. Bainbridge has changed the underlying concept of how he uses his blog. It is now actually a portal to a blog-based online magazine divided into three distinct sections, or blogs.

ProfBainbridge.com is now "the front page of a blog magazine in three sections." His Prof Bainbridge's Journal, for example, is where he covers politics, cars, non-business law, political incorrectness, dogs or whatever else strikes his fancy. Check out this post on a new study that indicates those sky-high CEO compensation packages may also result in higher pay for the folks back down the management line.

His Prof. Bainbridge's Business Associations Blog is where you will find his scholarly work, as well as posts concerning the work of others in business law that he finds worthy of comment. Check out this post on investor activism in, of all places, China.

The third section is Prof. Bainbridge on Wine. You will find much more than the results of the UCLA prof's most recent wine-tasting tour. Betcha didn't know there were First Amendment issues involved here. Check this out.

Congratulations to the good professor and let it be noted here that I expect ProfBainbridge.com could quite possibly be followed by a bunch of smart bloggers intent on directing the highest form of flattery in his direction.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Alaska "Seafood Waste" Earmark Shows Lengths to Which Advocates Go to Conceal Their Handiwork

A congressional insider provided the following account of an earmark contained in the proposed 2007 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Are not the senators and staffers who practice the following legislative concealment gulity of some form of fraud?

Here is just one example of the trickery that goes into hiding earmarks in appropriations bills and the hours of detective work necessary to find basic information about how tax dollars are being spent by Congress:

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Agriculture Appropriations bill contains a $2,009,878 earmark for a "seafood waste" project in Fairbanks, Alaska. Neither the bill nor its accompanying report contains a description of the purpose of this project, its intended goals or the actual amount of the earmark.

The purpose and actual amount of this earmark is a "hide and seek" exercise that requires extensive detective work.

The earmark is contained within a list of "Program Continuations" in the bill report, which states "the Committee directs the Agricultural Research Service to continue to fund the following areas of research in fiscal year 2007 at the same funding level recommended in fiscal year 2006."

The FY 2006 Agriculture appropriations conference report states that "The conference agreement includes increased funding in fiscal year 2006 to expand" the seafood waste earmark project by $75,000. The report again does not state what the purpose of the research is or what the total amount of the earmark is.

The Joint Explanatory Statement for the FY 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act published in the Congressional Record states a “further increase” is provided for "Seafood Waste, Fairbanks, AK (U of AK), $160,000 (of which $50,000 goes to the State of Alaska)."[1] Again, the actual amount and purpose are not provided.

Going back a year earlier, a "further increase" of $180,000 is provided for "Seafood Waste, Fairbanks, AK (U of AK)" in the FY 2004 Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations bill.[2]

The FY 2003 Consolidated appropriations bill report states,"The conferees have agreed to increased funding for… Seafood Waste, Fairbanks, AK" by $200,000.[3]

The term "seafood waste" does not appear in the FY 2002 Agriculture appropriations conference report. The conference report does, however, state:

"The statement of the managers remains silent on provisions that were in both the House and Senate bills that remain unchanged by this conference agreement, except as noted in this statement of the managers. … The House and Senate report language that is not changed by the conference is approved by the committee of conference. The statement of the managers, while repeating some report language for emphasis, does not intend to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided herein."[4]

There is no reference to "seafood waste" in the report for the FY 2002 House-passed Agriculture appropriations bill.

The FY 2002 Senate Agriculture appropriations bill, however, states:

"Seafood waste - While seafood is attractive now as an alternate food source, the disposal of seafood waste continues to be a national and international problem. Discarded fish waste and its other uses could potentially provide an additional source of revenue for seafood processors. The Committee provides an increase of $900,000 for fiscal year 2002 for ARS to develop a program with the University of Alaska on feedstuffs generated from materials usually wasted during processing of seafoods."[5]

There is no reference to "seafood waste" in the FY 2001 Agriculture appropriations bills or reports passed by both the House and Senate.

Anyone interested in knowing the purpose of this earmark would have to search back through five years of appropriations bills. Finding the amount of the earmark is even more complicated since the base amount is never provided, only the amount that the project is to increase each year.

A clerk from the Senate Appropriations Committee disclosed that the actual amount that the Alaska "seafood waste" earmark is to receive under the FY 2007 Agriculture appropriations bill is $2,009,878.

[1] CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - HOUSE, November 19, 2004, H10413.

[2] CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - HOUSE, November 25, 2003, H12448.




[5] Senate Report 107-41 to accompany S. 1191, page 35.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Would It Be Different Among U.S. Journalists?

Normblog describes a recent event in Wales that captures the sorry state of affairs visavis freedom of speech in the United Kingdom. Aussie journo Andrew Bolt isn't surprised. What is significant about this occurrence for those of us in the former North American colonies, however, is that it could easily be duplicated here in America.

HT: Instapundit

Friday, November 17, 2006

Whither the GOP? Now the Debate Gets Serious

Rep. John Boehner, R-OH, and Rep. Roy Blunt, R-MO, have been elected House Minority Leader and House Minority Whip, respectively, and both by wide margins of the House GOP caucus.

Thus, both the Senate GOP, which earlier this week elevated Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and Sen. Trent Lott, R-MS, and the House GOP have opted for familiarity and continuity instead of radical change in the wake of last Tuesday's massive election defeat.

As always happens when a majority party is thrust into the minority, a great debate is now gathering momentum within the GOP and the Right side of the Blogosphere about what to do next, especially whether or not to stay within the party or seek greener electoral pastures elsewhere.

The key issue here is whether the GOP can ever be a reliable tool for advancing the principles and programs that America's moderate conservative majority have supported for decades. I remain open to persuasion otherwise, but my view is the leadership decisions made by the Senate and House GOP provide abundant evidence that conservatives, libertarians and faith-based traditionalists should look elsewhere.

Mine is a minority view, at least for now. Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters has been especially pondering these questions since the election and is beginning to arrive at some conclusions.

Today Ed focuses on the need to find and recruit top quality conservative candidates:

"Given that our choices of leadership have become so constrained that Trent Lott represents the lesser of two evils to some, then it is incumbent on conservatives to start finding better choices for these offices.

"Over the next few weeks, I'll be dusting off my Not One Dime More domain and developing some initiatives designed to do just that. I'm tentatively calling this the First Principles Project, and I'll eventually need plenty of help from the CQ community."

Go here for more from Ed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


One of the great things about the Internet is how it is giving voice to so many young conservative stars-in-the-making. Like Mary Katharine Ham. With each succeeding edition of "Ham Nation," you can see her confidence growing and an influential, entertaining, thoughtful personae emerging.

If you doubt me, just watch the latest edition and MKH will explain why Democrats are the "psycho ex-girlfriend of American politics" and the GOP is the porkrind-gorging ex in denial "sitting on the couch eating Ho-Hos."

I'll bet Chris Matthews and Tim Russert had no idea Ho-Hos could have political implications!

Go here. Enjoy.

Milton Friedman, RIP

Economist and Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman has passed away today in San Francisco at age 94. Cause of death was heart failure, according to a Bloomberg report quoting his daughter.

His "Capitalism and Freedom" was one of the first handful of serious books I read as a young campus conservative way back in 1969 and from then on he has been a dependable fixture of a giant in the intellectual universe.

May he rest in peace from labors that bore fruit we will all enjoy for generations to come.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Seven Wise Suggestions for House GOPers from Gingrich

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gringrich has an excellent memo to the House GOP at Online Human Events today in which he offers seven very wise suggestions about how to regain majority status, as well as how to deal with the Bush White House, Blue Dog Democrats and incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Here are just two of Gingrich's points:

  • "To regain majority status, we have to focus on the country first and on Washington and the Congress second. If we are responsive to the country, they will support us and return us to power. If we are focused on action in Washington (whether White House action, legislative action or lobbyist and PAC action), we are probably entering a long period in minority status.
  • "Are House Republicans electing leaders to represent House Republican values and strategies to the White House or leaders to represent the White House to House Republicans? Over the next two years, House Republicans and the White House will have very different institutional interests and very different time horizons. If we want to regain majority status, we have to focus on the building of a grassroots coalition which supports real change in Washington."
Gingrich may be a presidential candidate in 2008, but his memo bears close study by all concerned. He doesn't say it explicitly, but it seems Gingrich is of the view that there is no rush to choose the new House GOP leadership.

Also, it's significant that the Gingrich piece is at OHE. Lots of good things are happening these days at America's oldest conservative journal and much of the credit goes to Rob Bluey, a very sharp young conservative journalist who understands online. Keep an eye on him and OHE.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Did Conservatives Get Bushquacked Last Tuesday?

The headline above was suggested as a caption for this cartoon by Nate Beeler, which appeared today on the editorial page of The Washington Examiner.

Monday, November 13, 2006

From the Have-They-Learned-Nothing? Department: House GOPers Return From Thumpin,' Set to Approve New Federal Programs

It's probably a mistake to put much hope in the outcome of the GOP congressional leadership races. Just check out this description from the Republican Study Committee of a proposal on the House calendar tomorrow.

The bill in question concerns underage drinking. Now there is a problem the Founders clearly intended to be covered as a federal responsibility under the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. Why else would there be no committee report accompanying the proposal concerning its constitutionality?

Note, too, that the bill is coming to the House floor as a result of a vote by the outgoing House GOP leadership - including Rep. John Boehner and Rep. Roy Blunt - to suspend House rules that prevent consideration of proposals that create at least three new federal programs without allowing debate and amendments.

In other words, the leading guys who just got booted out are suspending the rules to create a "fast track" for approving even more spending and more new federal programs. And Boehner wants to be the new House Minority Leader and Blount wants to be the Minority Whip!

If this passes ...

H.R. 864 - Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act - as amended (Roybal-Allard, D-CA)

Order of Business: The bill is scheduled for consideration on Tuesday, November 14, 2006, under a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended

Note: Under House Republican Conference Rules, legislation which creates at least three new programs may not be considered by the House on the Suspension Calendar. This rule may be waived by a vote of the elected Leadership. H.R. 864 received such a waiver from the elected Leadership.

Summary: H.R. 864 codifies the interagency coordinating committee focusing on underage drinking that had been operating informally since 2004 and directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enhance the efforts of the committee. The committee's purpose is to coordinate federal policy and program development with respect to underage drinking. The committee is to report annually to Congress. Additionally, HHS is to report annually to Congress on the states efforts to prevent underage drinking. H.R. 864 authorizes $4 million over four years for the committee.

H.R. 864 directs HHS to continue the Ad Council's national media public service announcements against underage drinking, and authorizes $4 million for the campaign. The Secretary must also report annually on the Ad Council's efforts.

The bill authorizes $20 million over four years for the establishment of a new grant program, which would award grants to entities eligible to receive grants under the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, "to design, test, evaluate and disseminate effective strategies to maximize the effectiveness of community-wide approaches to preventing and reducing underage drinking."

H.R. 864 authorizes $20 million over four years for a new grant program, which would directs award grants to states, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit entities to prevent and reduce the rate of underage alcohol consumption and binge drinking among students at institutes of higher learning.

The bill authorizes $24 million over four years for a new research initiative and directs HHS to research and compile data on underage drinking including the scope of the phenomena, and the involvement of alcohol in unnatural deaths of persons aged 12 to 20 years. HHS would be required to collect data and surveys on the identification of alcohol use and attitudes about alcohol use during pre- and early adolescence, and the development and identification successful clinical treatments for youth with alcohol problems.

Committee Action: H.R. 864 was introduced on February 16, 2005, and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health, which took no official action.

Cost to Taxpayers: A CBO score of H.R. 864 is unavailable. However, the bill authorizes appropriations of $72 million over the 2007-2010 period.

Does the Bill Expand the Size and Scope of the Federal Government?: Yes. The bill creates at least three new federal programs.

Does the Bill Contain Any New State-Government, Local-Government, or Private-Sector Mandates?: No.

Constitutional Authority: A committee report citing constitutional authority is unavailable.

RSC Staff Contact: Marcus Kelley; marcus.kelley@mail.house.gov; (202) 226-9717

UPDATE: Captain For Pence, Shadegg

Ed Morrissey says Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN, and Rep. John Shadegg, R-AZ, are his choices for House Minority Leader and House GOP Whip, respectively. He also likes either Rep. Jack Kingston, R-GA, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, for GOP Conference Chairman.

UPDATE II: Cool video for Pence, Shadegg

The Jawa Report's Ragnar Danneskjold has created a superb video that puts the current House leadership races in the proper perspective. It's got some great music and images, too.

UPDATE III: Spending-drunk House OKs new federal underage drinking programs

Approval came on a 373-23 vote. Here are the Members who voted no:

Barrett (SC)
Campbell (CA)

Inglis (SC)
Johnson, Sam
Jones (NC)
King (IA)

Taylor (MS)

There's Another Election This Week

This is posted on RedState.com. I would only add that I believe Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, is the obvious choice for Senate Minority Leader.

See also this important piece in Human Events regarding the House races.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Tapscottian View of the Elections

When Republicans worry more about staying in government than about limiting government, they get thrown out of government. That's the lesson of Nov. 7, 2006.

Conservatives have been warning the Washington Republican Establishment for years that a day of reckoning would come sooner or later if they continued to talk the talk of conservative reform such as the Contract with America without walking it as well. The day of reckoning arrived Tuesday. I am not confident that the GOP will ever again wield the power it held during the past 12 years.

All evening as I watched the returns Tuesday night and throughout the day today as I've read others' comments, I've found myself going back to the debate that ensued across the Right side of the Blogosphere in May. The debate was sparked by a Bruce Kesler post at Democracy Project entitled "Conservative Battle Fatigue."

Hugh Hewitt, the Blogfather of so many of us, christened that debate "Tapscottians versus Geraghtyites," with National Review Online's Jim Geraghty being the principal voice for those opposing the miscreants, malcontents and lone rangers who lined up with yours truly.

The fulcrum of that debate, of course, was what should be the proper attitude of conservatives and libertarians towards the GOP in the 2006 campaign. Should we stay home in protest or save the GOP's bacon yet again?

As told by Hugh, the Tapscottians advocated staying home on election day to punish the GOP for deviating from the limited government gospel no matter the consequences, even to the extent of a Democratic congressional majority being elected, while the Geraghtyites took the much more pragmatic approach of holding their noses and voting for the GOP, if only to assure sufficient support for the President on the war and in appointing conservative judges.

My purpose here, however, is not to refight that battle, but rather to review one of my concluding posts in light of Tuesday's results, the May 18 number entitled "Conservative Battle Fatique? What About the SCOTUS?"

That post opened by noting a Washington Post/ABC News survey that found 55 percent of those surveyed saying they wanted an alternative to Democrats and Republicans, then moved to comments by White House political maestro Karl Rove.

I believed Rove's comments confirmed that there was little hope of the GOP maintaining its congressional majority precisely because the response of the Bush White House and the GOP Establishment to the steadily worsening outlook would assure an election day disaster:

"Today it is doubtful the GOP can credibly offer another [Contract with America] unless it prefaces that offer with significant and concrete action toward enactment of long-promised conservative policies accomplished in a dramatic manner - 'emergency session' - that nationalizes the election on our terms rather than the Democrats' terms. Do Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert have the political acumen and courage to do this?"

The answer, of course, was no, they didn't, which meant the essential framing of the GOP congressional campaign would be left to Rove. Rove's strategy was built on the tried-and-true GOP Establishment axiom that "conservatives have no place to go," and therefore the biggest challenge was getting them to turnout on election day in sufficient numbers to overcome the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media.

It was essential for the Rove strategy to create the appearance of sufficient progress on key issues in order to "get the GOP base stirred up." But the "progress" was little more than smoke and mirrors and everybody in Washington knew it, as did millions of conservative voters who had heard the same broken record over and over again in the past.

Thus, the Rove strategy was doomed months before it was implemented:

"Karl Rove's idea that conservatives can be lured back in sufficient numbers to protect the GOP majority by focusing on four critical issues to create the appearance of such genuine progress reminds me of the last desperate effort of the Bush I re-election campaign to portray W's father as a conservative advocate. It wasn't credible then thanks to the broken 'read my lips' promise and it isn't credible now because Bush hasn't vetoed irresponsible spending and seems determined to grant amnesty to most of the 11 million illegal immigrants."

As predicted in May, the Rove strategy fell apart by election day. As the prospect of Speaker Pelosi loomed larger, there was a small surge in GOP support, but it started far too late to change the outcome and in any case couldn't achieve the needed intensity, thanks to the years of broken promises from the GOP Establishment.

But I wasn't completely pessimistic in May:

"The good news is the opportunity thereby created for conservatives to provide the credible alternative being sought by that 55 percent who are looking around for somebody else to support in November.

"So in my view the most likely scenario is this: The GOP Establishment won't/can't seize this opportunity and so will lose in November, but the Moonbat extremism that afflicts the Democrats will quickly squander their gains.

"With Bush finally using the veto, the period leading to the 2008 presidential race will be stalemate in Congress and continued opportunity for the creation and articulation of a credible new conservative alternative. The Democrats only hope will be a triangulating Hillary, but even that won't work if her negatives remain at their typical level."

What happens in the GOP in the next 90 days will determine whether the party ever again has a realistic chance of regaining majority status in Congress and the White House. If there is not a top-to-bottom housecleaning in the congressional leadership and the national and state party structures, nothing much will change.

Frankly, I doubt that the GOP can change enough to avoid a long slide into a political oblivion not unlike that suffered by the Whigs for their inability to confront the issue of slavery.

The GOP has talked about Big Government for decades, but, with the exception of the Reagan years, has done little to change Washington. Indeed, during Bush II, the GOP has expanded Big Government even faster than the Democrats.

So what about the presidential aspirants for 2008? That's a topic for another time and frankly right now, I don't see much reason to be hopeful there either. As Scarlet said, I'll think about that tomorrow.

UPDATE: The Bums Give Us the Rush

Hugh Hewitt is surprised and angry that the House GOP leadership is calling the caucus back to D.C. next week to elect a Minority leader and other new leadership, noting that "the rush to engineer a succession communicates an unwillingness to recognize the significance of the set-back yesterday."

Oh, it communicates that and so much more, Hugh.

UPDATE II: Voters Didn't Leave Conservatism, the GOP Did - Coburn

Here's the heart of Sen. Tom Coburn's statement on the election:

"Many factors contributed to these election results. The American people obviously are concerned about the conduct of the war in Iraq. Members of both parties have an obligation to work together to offer creative and constructive solutions that will help our troops accomplish their mission.

"The overriding theme of this election, however, is that voters are more interested in changing the culture in Washington than changing course in Washington, D.C. This election was not a rejection of conservative principles per se, but a rejection of corrupt, complacent and incompetent government.

"A recent CNN poll found that 54 percent of Americans believe government is doing too much while only 37 percent want government to do more. The results of this election reflect that attitude. Among the Republicans who lost their re-election bids a surprising number were political moderates who advocated a more activist government.

"Several Republican members of the appropriations committees, which have been on a spending binge, also were not re-elected. On the other hand, the two Republican senators who pulled off the most impressive victories were unapologetic conservatives, Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Ensign (R-NV). It is also notable that the Democrats who won or who ran competitive races sounded more like Ronald Reagan than Lyndon Johnson.

"This election does not show that voters have abandoned their belief in limited government; it shows that the Republican Party has abandoned them. In fact, these results represent the total failure of big government Republicanism."

UPDATE III: Conservatives voted for Democrats

That may seem like a shocking headline, but Mike Franc of The Heritage Foundation has an excellent column in today's edition of The Baltimore Sun in which he lays it out in stark numbers:

"In every competitive Senate election save
Rhode Island's, the Democrat won the votes of substantially more self-identified conservatives than the Republican did of liberals. One-fifth of all conservative voters in Pennsylvania, for example, voted for Democrat Bob Casey.

"Ohio's senator-elect, Sherrod Brown, who voted the conservative position only 8 percent of the time during his 14 years in the House (according to the American Conservative Union's scorecard), nevertheless won the votes of 23 percent of Ohio's conservatives.

"But even the support of all self-identified conservatives in those states would not have been enough to pull Sens. Rick Santorum and Mike DeWine over the finish line. Significantly, in at least three of the closest races - in
Missouri, Montana and Virginia - the net cost of losing these conservatives was greater than the Republican margin of defeat."

GOP Establishment-types will argue that such voting is like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face, but Franc's data is yet another indication of just how hollow was the argument that "conservatives have no place to go" except to vote for the party of Ted Stevens, Trent Lott and Jerry Lewis.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Here's the News Photo Your Local Newspaper Hasn't Published

It's all over the Internet, but few daily newspapers are publishing it. And then they wonder why they are losing circulation?

Hugh Hewitt and Dean Barnett have much, much more starting here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Coburn, Obama Show Freshmen Lone Rangers Can Impact Senate Big-Time

Remember the old saw that freshmen senators and representatives are best advised to sit quiety on the back benches of Congress and wait years for their turn to have any genuine say or influence?

It was true back in the day of Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun, but not now and certainly not for Oklahoma's Republican Sen. Tom Coburn and Illinois' Democrat Sen. Barack Obama, at least if the latest rankings of senatorial influence and power compiled by Knowlegis for Congress.org are to be believed.

The duo rank first and second in Senate influence among the senators elected in 2004, with the Illinois Democrat first with a score of 32.56 and the Oklahoma GOPer second at 25.06. The two rank 51st and 70th respectively overall in the Senate.