Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

12/31/2004

Empty Coffers, Empty Rhetoric

Our good friend Minnesota Democrats Exposed, the first blog to ever link to DvK, yesterday posted the most recent fundraising letter from Senator Dayton. It's understood that such entreaties are chock full of "red meat" and hyperbole but we can't help but feel that the bit about "one party control of our federal government" is just a bit over the top. One party rule is what the Democratic Party supported in numerous Latin American nations throughout the '70s and '80s. What we have in the United States is an opposition party that is hopelessly out of touch with the economic, social and religious sensibilities of most Americans. Read for yourself.

From the Desk of Mark Dayton

Countdown to 2005

Thank you for your generous support of my re-election effort. With your help, I am able to prepare for the onslaught that I know awaits me. This is a small price to pay, however, for the opportunity to represent Minnesotans in the United States Senate and to fight for our beliefs and principles.

The Republicans have already stated their intentions to govern from the far-right and then to complete their takeover of Congress by defeating me and my Democratic colleagues in 2006. They are just a few Senate victories away from complete, one-party control of our federal government. If they succeed, this will be "our" government no longer.

I am more determined than I have ever been in my life to stand up against their extremist agenda. As the Revolutionary War hero, John Paul Jones, said, "I have not yet begun to fight!" I will continue to oppose the Bush Administration's misconduct of the war in Iraq, its brazen attempt to privatize Social Security, its reckless fiscal policy continuing record deficits, its denial of basic Constitutional and human rights, its handing of environmental protections over to the polluters, and its abandonment of fully-funded public education and quality health care for all Americans. Those are disasters well worth fighting against!

To do so, I must ask for your help again. I am making a year-end fundraising appeal to show a respectable year-end fund balance. I think it's absurd that political strength is measured by fundraising prowess, but that is the reality I face.

December 31 is a critical date in this effort. Like all campaigns we will release our current financial reports and this an important chance to demonstrate the great excitement and energy in Minnesota and start the drive towards the election and broader Democratic victories in 2006. This is a critical time, and I am asking you to please help me by making a new online contribution to my campaign of $25, $50, $100, or whatever you can give.

If you can help again, I would be deeply grateful. If not, I thank you for your previous support. Either way, I wish you a joyous holiday season!

Best regards,

Mark Dayton

Make It Stop

Dino, Dino, Dino...

It was close. They cheated. Please quit acting like a Democrat and demanding a revote.

We desperately need you to take out Maria in 2 years.

Year In Review

Lodged between Afghanistan's first-ever direct presidential election and the BoSox lifting the Bambino's curse we find this entry from the Star Tribune's 2004 Year In Review piece:

Oct. 12
• Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton, citing terrorist threats, closes his office on the Hill.


One can't help but think this is an event that will reverberate all the way to November, 2006.

Happy New Year!

12/30/2004

Great Expectations

For too long the U.S. Senate has been a graveyard for innovative legislation. This is partially because the Founders correctly designed a system whereby the Senate would be a more deliberative body designed to cool the passions of the 'vulgar' House. Nevertheless, with the Senate populated for the first time with a majority of former House members, we can expect many long-sought conservative reforms to come to fruition. This year 6 former Republican Representatives -- many from the class of 1994 -- made the move to the upper chamber:

Call them the five horsemen of the Republican Revolution: incoming US Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, and David Vitter of Louisiana.

Their arrival in the US Senate next week gives a powerful boost to both fiscal and social conservatives on issues ranging from judicial nominations and abortion rights to tax reform. It also tips the number of former House members in the Senate to 52 percent - the first time it has passed a majority. More than just an additional five GOP votes, they bring a hard-driving style and ideological focus that is at odds with the collegial culture of the Senate.

"The big question is to what extent they will maintain their House attitudes and behavior ... and the uncompromising, disputatious positions that House members are likely to take," says Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

There's already speculation about how this group will interact with Republican colleagues, especially the moderates who often swayed key votes in the last Congress. They could transform the tone of an institution that has been tottering between its clubby past and the more disciplined, partisan style of the US House.
Minnesota, for its part, will have a choice in 2006 between a calcified patrician whose concept of reform and innovation is the Great Society and a reformer who understands the promise of an ownership society.

Dayton's Withdrawal Method

If there was any question why Senator Dayton was denied a trip to Iraq with his fellow Armed Services Committee members, they can be put to rest. Minnesota's Senior Senator has seen fit to offer his thoughts on an appropriate timetable for U.S. withdrawal:

"We've been there for 18 months now ... We've got to start to define the remaining amount of time necessary for our forces to be there before they can leave with a victory secured."

Dayton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the committee should ask Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld what Congress can do to help accelerate the timetable.
Nothing would delight Saddam loyalists more than to have a strict timetable of withdrawal become U.S. policy. Simply put, it would allow them to bide their time until the flock is unguarded. Clearly Minnesota desperately needs another Senator that recognizes the enormous stakes in Iraq for U.S. national security, the long-suffering Iraqi people, and long-term stability in the Middle East. It would seem that Minnesota has an election every bit as momentous in November of 2006 as does Iraq in January 2005
Dayton correctly calls next month's scheduled elections "a very important first step toward self-determination for the Iraqi people". Those elections, we remind the Senator, would never take place if his foreign policy prescriptions had been followed.

12/29/2004

Unprecedented

This morning's Washington Times' Op-Ed makes the case that the systematic denial of an up or down vote on President Bush's judicial nominees defies all history and tradition. The irony of the Democratic party denying votes on superbly qualified candidates for the federal bench -- many of them minorities -- would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. The question to be decided is whether Senator Dayton will continue his habit of sustaining these filibusters as he faces the increasingly "purple" Minnesota electorate in just 22 months.

During the 108th Congress, in a campaign of unprecedented scope and breadth, Democratic senators successfully voted 20 times to deny cloture on judicial nominees. Invoking cloture would have ended the Democratic filibusters being waged to prevent an up or down vote for the 10 nominees to the appellate courts.
Indicative of their viciousness, consider the campaign Democrats waged against Miguel Estrada, whom President Bush nominated in 2001 and 2003 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, widely considered to be the most powerful federal court below the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Estrada arrived in the United States from Honduras at the age of 17; taught himself English; graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia; and worked as an editor of the Harvard Law Review before graduating magna cum laude; and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Mr. Estrada later argued 15 cases (and won 10) before the U.S. Supreme Court. Nevertheless, Democrats rallied on seven occasions to deny him an up or down vote. He clearly would have won a confirmation vote, which would have made him the first Hispanic ever to serve on the D.C. circuit court.
A review of Senate history illustrates just how unprecedented the Democrats' filibustering campaign against judicial appellate nominees has been. The Senate established cloture, or the right to end debate, in 1917 by passing Rule 22. Under current Senate rules, 60 votes (not 60 percent of those voting) are needed to invoke cloture and end debate in order for an up or down vote to be taken on a bill that is subject to filibuster or on a nominee. According to a Congressional Research Service report, "Cloture Attempts on Nominations," which was updated Dec. 11, 2002: "Until 1949, cloture could not be invoked on nominations. From 1949 through 2002, cloture was sought on 35 nominations, and invoked on 21. Only three of the 35 nominees were not confirmed."
From 1949 through 2000, cloture was sought on only 13 judicial nominations, including twice for William Rehnquist, whose nominations as both associate justice and chief justice of the Supreme Court were filibustered. In 12 of those 13 instances, the judicial nominee was eventually confirmed. Only Abe Fortas, whom President Johnson sought in 1968 to elevate from associate to chief justice of the Supreme Court, failed to be confirmed.
Thus, cloture was sought on only 13 judicial nominees during the 51-year period from 1949 through 2000. During President Bush's first term, however, cloture has been sought on 14 judicial nominations. In 2002, cloture motions were filed for four circuit-court nominees, all of whom were eventually confirmed. During 2003 and 2004, however, cloture motions have been sought for 10 circuit-court nominations; and Democrats have managed to deny it for each nominee, depriving all of them of an up or down vote.
Democrats have successfully filibustered 10 of the 45 circuit court nominations by President Bush that have made it to the Senate floor. That's more than 20 percent. It is a campaign that has been as unprecedented as it has been outrageous.


12/28/2004

Roll Over, Tom Jefferson

With a likely race looming in Minnesota between a member of the House (Kennedy) and Senate (Dayton), the proposed House rule change brought to light by today's St. Petersburg Times could affect the way campaign 2006 is conducted. True, it would only be seen by those of us who find ourselves watching CSPAN 2 at 11PM but would constitute a significant parliamentary change nonetheless:

Thomas Jefferson was looking for a way to promote civility between the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate while maintaining each chamber's independence. So he figured each body should all but ignore the other.

Now, more than 200 years after Jefferson crafted a parliamentary rule barring legislators from disparaging their esteemed colleagues in the "other chamber," House conservatives are seeking to overturn it.

The change would be largely symbolic. But in the context of today's contretemps at the Capitol, where the Senate often tempers or ignores bills passed by the more conservative House, it would give frustrated House members an outlet and, some hope, hold the offending senators more accountable.

The rule change, proposed by Florida Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, is one of 10 sought by a growing cadre of House conservatives, called the Republican Study Committee, that's pressing for more clout in the upcoming session of Congress.

Most of the proposed changes would make it more difficult, procedurally, to increase spending. None would alter history like Feeney's proposal.

He said the Jefferson-era prohibition stifles debate. "We ought to discuss current events, including what is happening or is not happening in the Senate. And, in regards to individual senators, we should be able to cite voting records, and quotes. ...


Frist Grows Backbone

Should Mark Kennedy make a move to the upper chamber after the 2006 elections, one of his first acts will be electing a new Majority Leader. That's because Senator Frist has vowed to leave the Senate after the 109th Congress adjourns to (presumably) seek the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. If Frist follows through on his threat to reform the judicial confirmation process and follow Senate tradition by seeking the two-thirds-to-one-third advantage in money and resources for the majority, he just might show he has the mettle to secure said nomination.

The GOP's four-seat gain in the Senate in November's election has emboldened Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) to limit the Democrats' influence by reworking the appropriations for Senate committee in hopes of giving Republicans a two-thirds-to-one-third advantage in resources.
Frist's willingness to use hardball tactics represents a change for the majority leader who took over at the start of the last Congress with a razor-thin 51-to-49 advantage and was criticized by some conservatives for failing to halt Democratic filibusters against 10 of President Bush's judicial nominees. For the first time, Frist now has the leverage to push through a conservative agenda, with or without the liberals in his own caucus.
By taking a tough stand on committee resources, Frist has angered Democrats grown accustomed to an equal share of funding. Starting with the 107th Congress in 2001, Republicans altered the allocation of committee resources to reflect the Senate's 50-50 split. When the GOP picked up a seat in the 2002 elections, Republicans received 51% of the resources to the Democrats' 49%.
Under Frist's plan, GOP committee staff would get two-thirds of the resources. Despite their gripes, Democrats operated exactly that way when they controlled the Senate with a 57-43 majority in 1993. Of the Senate's 18 committees, Democrats controlled two-thirds of resources on 12 of them. On four others, they had at least 60% of resources. When Republicans took control of the Senate in the 1994 election, they adopted the same practice.
"Throughout the recent history of the Senate, it's been majority two-thirds, minority one-third," Frist's spokesman, Bob Stevenson, told HUMAN EVENTS. "The majority needs to run the operation. They need to run the committee hearings. They need to operate the committees. Therefore, they need the larger staff."

Nuclear Option Not Nuclear?

DvK has lurched uncontrollably from calling the ending of judicial filibusters the 'nuclear option' to the 'constitutional option' -- and back again.

Here David Limbaugh makes the case in today's Townhall.com column that the 'nuclear option' is decidedly conventional:

The Constitution empowers the president to appoint judges with the advice and consent of the Senate. The advice and consent power was never intended to confer co-equal power on the Senate over judicial (and other) nominations. Rather, it was designed to provide a legislative check to reduce the risk that the president would appoint unqualified judges or those with poor character.

The Constitution also empowers the Senate to make its own rules. Rule XXII provides that upon the filing of a petition for cloture (to end further debate), "three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn" must vote to close the debate.

When 41 or more senators work in concert to forestall cloture, it is known as filibustering. The mere act of filibustering, by definition, is designed to thwart the will of the Senate majority. But, on the other hand, the majority of the Senate retains the power to change its own rules. So, at any time the Senate could, prospectively, change its rules on vote cloture altogether, or only as to certain types of votes.

Presently, the Republican Senate majority is contemplating a measure to change the rules on vote cloture only respecting the president's judicial nominations. This measure, Senate Resolution 138, should not be considered a power grab by the majority, but a necessary corrective measure to remedy the Democrat minority's unprecedented abuse of power over the president's judicial appointments.

The resolution is hardly radical in its scope or application. It would provide for a declining series of votes to end debate on judicial appointments. The first motion for cloture would still require a three-fifths vote, and the second and third attempts would require 57 and 54 votes, respectively, with all attempts thereafter requiring a simple majority.

Obviously, the resolution is not designed to cavalierly end thorough debate on the fitness of any judicial nominee, but would guarantee that the will of the Senate majority would eventually prevail.

Some have argued that this would be an extreme "nuclear option" that Republicans will exercise at their peril. The practice of filibustering, after all, has been around for years, and the Republicans shouldn't be so cocky as to replace it because they control the legislative and executive branches.

Not so fast. While filibustering has been around for years, it has rarely been used by a Senate minority to thwart the president's judicial appointment power. But President Bush has had at least seven of his judicial appointments blocked without a full vote of the Senate.

Up until this president's tenure, there was an understanding that Senate minorities wouldn't filibuster his judicial nominees, because to do so, in effect, upsets the Constitution's prescribed separation of powers -- one of the most important bulwarks in the Constitution designed to limit government by preventing any one branch from gaining too much power.

12/27/2004

Frosh Support 'Going Nuclear'

While DvK was taking Sunday off, our friends at Redstate.org were busy watching the Sunday talk shows. Mark Kilmer noted the goings on with Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation and some prominent incoming Freshmen (sans Obama):

Schieffer asked the men about Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's "threat" to "rule the filibuster out of order." Thune said he would support the move, as the nominees should have their floor votes. Isakson said that the ideal situation would be for the Dems to allow votes, but if it came to it, he would support Frist.

Would Dayton Oppose Thomas for CJ?

Jonathan Turley, law professor at GWU, posits in this morning's Los Angeles Times (registration required) that Clarence Thomas remains the front runner for Chief Justice when Mr. Rhenquist steps aside.

The entire piece is worth reading as it has less to do with the merits (or demerits from Turley's standpoint) of Thomas' opinions and more to do with Thomas' considerable political skills. For those watching the impending Dayton-Kennedy race it raises this question: would Dayton have the political cojanes to oppose the first African-American CJOTUS?

12/24/2004

What Child Is This?

How you answer determines everything. God bless.

12/23/2004

It's Time for Rossi v. Cantwell Blog

While the world's eyes have been focused on the stolen election in Ukraine, Washington State Democrats are showing the world that you can't beat the USA when it comes to voter fraud. To their credit they didn't do this.

Chris Muir in today's Day By Day cartoon -- in 3 panels -- sums up the tomfoolery being perpetrated by Washington State's Democratic Party. Bottom line: Christine Gregoire will purloin the Washington governor's race from Dino Rossi by 8 votes by virtue of a third recount, partisan court rulings, mysteriously discovered ballots, counting previously disqualified ballots in Democratic strongholds, etc. Orion warned us.

While this likely outcome is bad for the good people of Washington, it can be very good news for the rest of us. Let the word go forth that it is time for an enterprising blogger to begin the Rossi v. Cantwell blog for 2006!

12/22/2004

Stocking Stuffer

Check out this for some Festivus cheer! And there's still 6 more years to go!

UPDATE: More serious commentary on the above here.

Charity Case

It's not quite Nixon goes to China, but Senator Dayton will leave this week on a tour of Iraq thanks to the charitable Senator Lieberman.

Bob Roberts, We Hardly Knew Ye

Early on election night 2002, when it became all too obvious that Tim Penny would not win Minnesota's gubernatorial race, he pulled out his six string and began playing for his disappointed entourage of supporters. This peculiar scene could be seen "live" on multiple network affiliates in the Twin Cities and was simultaneously heart-warming and disturbing -- eerily like Bob Roberts, one of only a handful of Tim Robbins films worth watching.

Musical talent aside, Penny has always been one of DvK's favorite Democrats for his sanity on fiscal and defense issues. We pine for the days when herds of similarly prudent Democrats roamed the plains in great numbers. Regardless of party affiliation, as The First Ring points out, Penny has returned to his old cogent self with his recent defense of President Bush's Social Security reform proposal. As the transcript below will reveal, Bush would do well to tap Penny as a spokesperson-in-chief for his monumental reform effort. It would also put Senator Dayton in the unenviable position of arguing a position contrary to one of Minnesota's most articulate Democrats:

”Well, with each passing generation, we’re going to be cutting and pasting, as we did back in 1983. Which means that for each age cohort, we’re going to end up taxing them more and paying them less. That’s the only way you can keep the current system in the black.

With personal accounts, they may have to give up a little in their basic benefit, but they have opportunity, through these personal accounts, to earn all of that back plus more.

Actually, we had the Social Security Administration run numbers on a plan that we did as part of the president’s commission. And it demonstrated that in every wage bracket, American workers in the future, under this sort of a combined system a floor of benefits under the traditional program, plus a supplement invested in these personal accounts, would do better than they would do under the promised benefits in the current system. So that’s how it affects the individual.

How it affects the system as a whole is simply that this then becomes a permanent fix. At some point in the future, with you then have a system that is solvent. It has enough revenue coming in each year to pay the safety net benefits. But it also has these supplemental accounts owned by the individuals. And those accounts then become money that the government can’t cut or take away from you in the future.”


12/21/2004

Senate Judiciary Committee Grows a Pair...

of solid conservatives. Read 2004 Weblog Award Winner for Best Conservative Blog -- Captain's Quarters' -- analysis of how the Republicans just made a more constitutional-friendly federal judiciary more likely. By adding Messrs. Brownback and Coburn the majority has insured that skulduggery will be kept to a minimum.

Dayton Didn't Get the Memo

Sunday's Boston Globe contained this story on a "big tent" approach to the abortion issue for the Democrats in an attempt to glean some red state voters:

WASHINGTON -- Leading Democrats, stung by election losses, are signaling they want the party to embrace antiabortion voters and candidates, softening the image of the party from one fiercely defensive of abortion rights to one that acknowledges the moral and religious qualms some Americans have about the issue.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who is one of the most ardent supporters of abortion rights in Congress, has encouraged Tim Roemer, a former representative with a strong voting record against abortion, to run for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. The Democrats' new Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, opposes abortion rights.

Senator Dayton -- not to be deterred -- has consistently voted lock-step with the abortion industry during his tenure by garnering a perfect 100% rating from both NARAL and Planned Parenthood. This includes his proud votes in defense of partial-birth abortion.


12/20/2004

Dayton Takes His 2006 Cues from Schumer?

Word comes from the New York Times this morning (registration required) that Senator Dayton is modeling his re-election effort on Brooklyn Lefty Charles Schumer's recent triumph:

Charles E. Schumer, New York's press-savvy senior senator, has made a name in his state with weekly Sunday news conferences, where he chases headlines on a slow news day. Now, his Democratic colleague in Minnesota, Mark Dayton, is doing the same with his re-election in 2006 approaching.
In his mission to revive Democratic prospects in the Senate, he faces the immediate task of helping defend five Democratic senators in states that President Bush carried or did surprisingly well in, analysts say. They are Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mr. Dayton of Minnesota, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Bill Nelson of Florida. One of them, Mr. Dayton, said Mr. Schumer gave him one valuable piece of advice over dinner: hold regular news conferences on Sunday, a ploy Mr. Schumer has long used to avoid competing with major news for the press's attention.
But even though Mr. Schumer is sometimes mocked for his press events, Mr. Dayton is high on Mr. Schumer's suggestion. "I'm trying to prey on the Minnesota press in the same way," Mr. Dayton said in an interview. "I've gained press that I could not have without his advice."
Somehow we missed those blockbuster Sunday press conferences. Nevertheless, DvK is puzzled why Dayton would model his re-election effort on that of one of the most left-wing members of the Senate. News flash: New York is cobalt blue while Minnesota is slowly turning a nice salmon color. Moreover, Schumer faced token Republican opposition in the guise of Howard Mills while Dayton will face an accomplished, telegenic Representative Kennedy. Mills received no support from the NRSC while Kennedy is certain to receive millions. Interesting strategy, Senator.

Heart Warming (Part Deux)

If you are a conservative or libertarian read and gloat.

From today's USA Today:

Bush is banking on "political capital" from the election to push through one of the most ambitious legislative agendas since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.

The president "knows by spending it and achieving results, he'll gain more capital," said David Hobbs, the departing White House legislative affairs director. "There's never a better time than now, shortly after his election. He's come out of the chute on a wide range of fronts."

The president highlighted his agenda at an economic summit here last week. He'll have a year to implement his program before the 2006 election season begins. His top priorities: creating private accounts in Social Security, simplifying the tax code and reining in corporate and medical lawsuits.

All have been on conservative wish lists for years.
Then take a deep breath and remember we deserve to go back to the desert for 40 years if we don't deliver:

"The Republican Party will quickly lose our majority if we don't follow through on the promise of major structural reform," DeMint says. "Now we have the numbers to at least make an attempt."
Therein lies a cautionary tale for Congressman Kennedy.

Heart Warming

Should Majority Leader Frist follow through with the "constitutional option", as Bob Novak suggests he will, he will likely become the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination among those who count: those who write the checks and those who knock on doors in New Hampshire.

Novak:
A scenario for an unspecified day in 2005: One of President Bush's judicial nominations is brought to the Senate floor. Majority Leader Bill Frist makes a point of order that only a simple majority is needed for confirmation. The point is upheld by the presiding officer, Vice President Dick Cheney. Democratic Leader Harry Reid challenges the ruling. Frist moves to table Reid's motion, ending debate. The motion is tabled, and the Senate proceeds to confirm the judicial nominee -- all in about 10 minutes.

12/19/2004

Yes, Social Security Has to be Fixed

12/18/2004

They Put a Man On the Moon

And FDR is dead. Read Jonah Goldberg's piece for a primer on the upcoming Social Security debate where Senator Dayton will no doubt cast his lot with the forces of status-quo and eventual insolvency.

12/17/2004

Brinksmanship

Collin Levey has some cautionary words for Senate Democrats in this morning's New York Post regarding their reckless use of the filibuster:

The filibuster's magic when applied to judicial nominees is that, through extended blathering, it raises the standard for confirmation to 60 votes, from 51. The GOP now has just 55 Senate seats, but several Democrats are up for reelection in 2006. If they spend the next two years in another riot of heel-dragging, they may just hand Republicans the 60 votes needed for cloture two years from now.

The last election showed that voters have remarkable aptitude to sift out the important lessons at the ballot box. They may not have followed every Beltway skirmish over judges, but they certainly understood the idea of Democratic obstructionism against a popular president.

The filibuster has traditionally been a useful and legitimate tool of the minority. Republicans are right to see Democrats' abuse of it as an unearned power grab, but they should realize that voters see it too — as one more reason the Democratic Party is not yet fit to govern again.

And the Beat Goes On

DvK recently became aware of a 2006 fellow traveller: Rick Perry vs. the World. This blog is dedicated to following the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race from a Perry-centric point of view. It is also of particular interest to us because Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson has her sights on Perry's mansion and her plans will have repercussions throughout the Republican Senate majority.

Perry is the first of the 2006 blogs we are blogrolling but -- we presume -- the first of many.

12/16/2004

Dayton: On the Wrong Side of History

Almost every two-term presidency -- Democrat and Republican alike -- consists of modest domestic triumphs in the first term followed by a heavy dose of foreign policy in the second term as political capital is depleted. President Bush has already defied history by ushering two significant tax cuts through Congress and successfully waging two wars (while simultaneously restructuring the entire foreign policy apparatus and doctrine of the U.S. government) -- all in his first term.

Patrick Ruffini, until recently the webmaster for BC'04, and now blogger extraordinaire, correctly surmises in this post that -- contrary to 20th Century presidential history -- Bush's greatest triumphs are yet to come on the domestic front. The three legs of this coming revolution: tax, tort, and Social Security reform. Ruffini explains that "Taken in total, his proposals will revolutionize the American economy and completely change the way Americans interact with their government...The only people to face a hard future in this world are tax consultants, trial lawyers and government bureaucrats - they all may even have to go out and get real jobs."

How is Senator Dayton certain to vote on these three monumental reforms? Nay, Nay and Nay.

Dayton On the War Path

Dayton wants inquiry into armor
December 16, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Mark Dayton urged President Bush Wednesday to order an investigation into the government's failure to provide enough armored vehicles for soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a conference call with reporters, the Minnesota Democrat called the failure "outrageous and indefensible" and said Bush should ask everyone responsible to resign.

Dayton said he is upset by recent reports that makers of the armored vehicles and armor kits had the capacity to produce more armament upgrades but hadn't received orders to do so.
"Those disclosures directly contradict everything that I and my colleagues have been told repeatedly by service branch and Department of Defense representatives during the last year," he said.

Dayton made the request to the president in a letter that he released to the public on Wednesday.

Taylor Gross, a White House spokesman, said, "As the president has said, we are fully committed to ensuring that our armed forces have all the equipment they need to be successful in the war on terrorism."

Gross declined to comment specifically on Dayton's request.

Calls to the Department of Defense were not returned.

Let me get this straight: we should ask everyone responsible for procuring armor during a land war to resign? Calls to Senator Dayton's judgment were not returned.

12/15/2004

Mayday...

...not the communist holiday but rather the international signal of distress.

My preference is to not use this blog for personal communiques but circumstances necessitate otherwise. My company was recently purchased by another big technology firm. As a result this quota achieving salesperson will -- in all likelihood -- be out of work in a couple weeks. If there are any well-wishers out there who are looking for an enterprising individual who can move product out the door I would welcome an opportunity to do my song and dance. I also have a history in public-policy/non-profits and can be reached at the email listed under my Blogger profile in the upper-right margin. Now that the Spirit of America Blogger Challenge is almost concluded, perhaps you would like to direct your holiday charitable interests closer to home. The good news is there's an actual ROI with this charity. Thanks for your consideration.

We now return to our regularly scheduled defense of constitutional self-government.

Does Dayton Prefer Scalia or Thomas for CJ?

Ryan H. Sager offers his thoughts on the corner into which the Democrats have painted themselves regarding the looming Chief Justice vacancy in this Tech Central Station column.

Whoever thought there'd come a day when the Democrats would launch a "Draft Scalia" campaign for Chief Justice of the United States? Yet, amazingly, that's just what's happening.

The campaign hit the news on December 5, when incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid went on NBC's "Meet the Press" and discussed possible scenarios should Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who's currently undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer, retire in the near future.

Scalia "is one smart guy," Reid told Tim Russert. "I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute."

That got the attention of some people in Reid's party. "Outrageous," fumed Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. "Ethics issues alone" should keep Scalia on the back bench, yelped the president of the liberal Alliance for Justice, Nan Aron.

Apparently, these folks missed Reid on NPR on November 19, when he first floated the Scalia trial balloon. "If [the Bush White House], for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong," Reid said. "If they gave us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his decisions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind."

And there, of course, is the rub. It's not likely we'd be seeing the nation's top Democrat giving big, sloppy kisses to one iconic conservative Supreme Court justice unless the purpose were to make a cuckold of another. Apparently, the Democrats are so terrified that President Bush will nominate Justice Thomas to helm the court that they're slyly offering up a smooth confirmation should Scalia be tapped instead.

What an odd spectacle. And what an odd admission. It's hard to avoid the obvious conclusion: Bush's habit of appointing qualified minority candidates for top spots in his administration is having a profound effect on American politics -- or, at least, top Democrats seem to believe it is having such an effect.

Thomas' appointment would fit a natural progression. Appointed by the first President Bush in 1991, Thomas has since become a leading champion on the court of strict construction of the Constitution. Asked what kind of judges he would appoint in the future, Bush has consistently held Thomas (along with Scalia) up as an example.

Nothing would be less surprising than for Bush to seek to elevate this man.

And how similar this is to Bush's relationships with his two most prominent minority cabinet appointments to date, incoming Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and incoming Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

These are not token candidates. Bush is not using them as instruments to paint a cabinet that "looks like America." These are his confidants. These are the people he trusts. These are the people he respects.

How devastating it would be to the Democratic Party, its leaders are now seeing, were it to be a Republican president to appoint the first black chief justice in our nation's history.



You Can't Make This Stuff Up (Part Deux)

In the past 24 hours, nearly every blogger in town has had fun with Minnesota's faithless elector story. Dayton v. Kennedy has scrupulously avoided piling on and it is a bit off topic for this blog.

We can't resist our worst impulses. Minnesota Democrats Exposed exerts some real journalistic adeptness in procuring actual PDF files of Democratic Presidential Elector Oath forms and allows us to come to our own conclusions on the identity of the guilty party.

But our old friend 'Dead Ringer' wins the Golden Globe in the ROFLMAO category (note the bonus history lesson) with this offering on the person who voted for John Ewards for POTUS.


The Constitutional Option

First-term U.S. Senator -- and former Texas Attorney General -- John Cornyn is quickly emerging as one of the chief lieutenants of Majority Leader Frist on all things judicial. In this scholarly but eminently readable paper for the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Cornyn makes the case for a reform of the filibuster as it relates to the judicial confirmation process.

Cornyn writes, "the filibuster of judicial nominations have never been a part of Senate tradition before... Simply put, filibusters are the most virulent form of unnecessary delay one can imagine in the Senate's exercise of the judicial confirmation power... I firmly believe that, once a majority of Senators has determined that it has conducted an adequately thorough investigation into a nominee's qualifications and fitness for judicial service, that majority should possess the power and authority to act and to confirm judicial nominees it finds acceptable, without further delay."

Radical stuff, that.

Drawing on the Federalist Papers and 200 years of Senate tradition, Cornyn methodically makes the case for dramatic reform of the confirmation process for any president's judicial nominees. Cornyn continues, "If the Constitution provides that only a majority is necessary to confirm judges, any Senate rule that purports to prevent a majority of the Senate from exercising that confirmation function directly contradicts and offends our constitutional design. After all, no Senate rule can trump the Constitution."

Opponents and proponents of the plan to change Senate rules on the use of the filibuster have mistakingly called it "the nuclear option". Senator Cornyn shows us this proposed parliamentary change should correctly be called "the constitutional option".

Count on Senator Dayton's votes in favor of sustaining judicial filibusters to be a huge issue in November 2006.

12/14/2004

Bandwagon

Gallup notes a decisive upturn in the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Republicans post-election day.

Dayton v. Kennedy breathlessly awaits a corresponding survey from the highly accurate Star Tribune Minnesota Poll and accompanying insights into what it means for campaign '06.


You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Dayton v. Kennedy has chronicled, in recent days, Senator Coleman's increased visibility on the issue of the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal as a study in contrast between Minnesota's ineffectual senior senator and energetic junior senator.

To his credit, Senator Dayton has called the investigation a "worthy endeavor", although he would prefer Coleman's investigative prowess be aimed at Halliburton.

The facts: Annan presides over the largest financial scandal in the history of humankind. Despots from around the world (and various and sundry European socialists) are aware of the scandal and are on the take. Annan's son is knee-deep. Monies from the oil revenue which were intended to feed the starving people of Iraq are instead diverted to weapons which have since been used to kill scores of American soldiers attempting to liberate said starving people from Hussein's regime.

And a prominent bi-partisan group of Minnesota liberals are "deeply troubled" by Coleman's "extreme position" on the scandal as Kofi Annan is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul.


12/13/2004

What's At Stake

The next time you question why it is important to elect Senators who will vote for jurists who will adhere to the original intent of the Constitution, remember that the impending retirement of Chief Justice Rehnquist is likely just the first of many such vacancies over the next several years. From How Appealing:

An update of sorts on the health of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist: Those with no option other than to read tea leaves can now begin to speculate over the U.S. Supreme Court's announcement today that "Chief Justice Rehnquist will not participate in decisions argued during the November sitting, unless his vote is necessary to break a 4-4 tie." Lyle Denniston provides this report at "SCOTUSblog."


Welcome, Friends, from OpinionJournal.com

As noted when Club for Growth was kind enough to reference Dayton v. Kennedy last month, this blogger -- as a 14 year-old -- was busy reading Jude Wanniski's The Way the World Works and George Gilder's Wealth and Poverty. So it was only natural that while my peers were enjoying their reindeer games, my head was buried in the Editorial Page of the Wall Street Journal. What a geek!

So it was with joy that it was discovered -- upon looking at the blog for the first time in 48 hours -- that John Fund at OpinionJournal.com had made a brief reference to DvK.

Journal readers will find Dayton v. Kennedy to have a definite supply-side flavor. The good news is that you will find that Congressman Mark Kennedy has a savory supply-side flavor as well. The Congressman has an exemplary record of opposing tax increases and supporting legislation that liberates the productive forces of the economy.

It may be too early to have you bookmark us, but think kindly of Representative Kennedy as you decide where to allocate your dollars for 2006 Senate races -- should he run.

Please note that Dayton v. Kennedy is neither affiliated with, nor compensated by, Congressman Kennedy's yet-to-be-announced campaign. We will call 'em as we see 'em.

Great Thanks to Doug at Bogus Gold

Doug from Bogus Gold did an extraordinary job this weekend guest blogging. Thanks, Doug.

12/12/2004

Guest Blogger Signing Off

Gary asked me to post about news made by either Senator Dayton, or Rep. Kennedy in his absense. I hit them both yesterday, but neither was terribly newsworthy today.

So let me just offer a quick thanks to Gary for allowing me use of his forum this weekend, and thanks to the readers who tolerated me.

Gary is due back Monday. You can find me over at my own blog, Bogus Gold, in the future.

-posted by Doug

12/11/2004

Senator Dayton's Greatest Hits of 2004

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has compiled a list of the "big moments" for Minnesotans in Congress this year. Heading the list is Senator Mark Dayton. According to the famously left-leaning Star-Trib Dayton's "big moments" were the following:

• Drew national attention when he temporarily closed his Washington office, citing the possibility of a preelection terrorist attack.

• Clashed with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a nationally televised Senate hearing on Iraqi prisoner abuse.

• Said lawmakers shouldn't have better prescription drug coverage than ordinary Americans, then dropped his federal benefits until 2006, when seniors begin receiving new Medicare drug benefits.

• Boycotted a congressional speech by Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, saying it was a "production," staged by the Bush administration.

• Helped persuade the Chinese government to permit Luke Nassif, a Chinese boy undergoing heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic, to remain in the United States until his adoption by a Rochester couple is finalized.
In other words, Dayton's year consisted of:

  • Made an empty symbolic gesture by dropping his health insurance, leaving only his vast inherited fortune to rely upon for his healthcare needs.
If these are all the highlights a newspaper certain to endorse him for re-election in 2006 can come up with, Dayton's eventual re-election campaign is going to be mighty fun indeed.

-posted by Doug

Rep. Kennedy and the FAST Act

Congressman Mark Kennedy appeared this morning on The Taxpayer’s League Live radio show.

One topic he addressed was the House’s recently passed FAST Act (H.R. 1767, the Freeing Alternatives for Speedy Transportation Act), which Congressman Kennedy sponsored (the other sponsor being Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)).

At its essence, the purpose of the act is to relieve congestion by allowing new interstate lanes to be funded via user fees, rather than gas taxes. Allaying fears of toll booths and fee permanence, Kennedy emphasized three key requirements of the Act:

1. User fees could apply only to new lanes, not existing lanes.
2. Fees must be charged electronically. Toll booths are not permitted.
3. Once a lane has been paid for, the fee must be removed.

As the Heritage Foundation noted when the Act was introduced, this is not only an excellent reform, it is also badly needed:

"If America is to build its way out of worsening traffic congestion, it will need sources of revenue other than the gasoline tax. Because of improvements in fuel efficiency and a slowdown in the growth of 'vehicle miles traveled,' gas tax revenues have not been keeping up with road investment costs. At the same time, existing statutory diversions of up to one-third of federal gas tax revenues to non-highway purposes limit the benefits of a tax hike."
- posted by Doug


Guest Blogger Introduction

Despite the footer of this post claiming Gary’s authorship, he is in fact away for the weekend and has asked me to guest-blog in his place.

A quick introduction: My name is Doug, and I can normally be found at my own blog, Bogus Gold. My blog tends to be a bit more eclectic than Gary’s, with politics being only one of several topics I cover, though I’ll do my best to stay on topic here. As a fellow Minnesotan, I share Gary’s desire to send Senator Mark Dayton back to his (entirely inherited) fortune and idle lifestyle in 2006. Representative Mark Kennedy would be a fine replacement; and though he has yet to officially announce his intention to run, I share Gary’s expectation that he will so announce, and will win the Republican nomination.

Enough about me. On to topics of more importance…

-Doug

12/10/2004

Preview of Coming Attractions

Our friend 'Dead Ringer' (who is that masked man?) scoops all with these transcripts and observations from last evening's Coleman fundraiser in St. Paul:

Not to be undone in the speculations market, Coleman also offered an endorsement, of sorts, to Congressman Mark Kennedy, on the U.S. Senate campaign in 2006.

"I’m an ambitious guy and I think that ambition is okay. I have one ambition that I’d like you to help me with and that’s to become Minnesota’s senior senate in 2006. I saw Mark Kennedy tonight…and I think Mark is one of those people who could make that possible.” Coleman’s comments were loudly cheered with shouts of “Senator Kennedy” from individuals in the room. The Second District’s John Kline also said a few words, indirectly endorsing Kennedy when asked who he thought the Republican nominee would be against Evacuatin’ Dayton.

Kennedy himself was mum on the subject. That may change sooner rather than later.

Playing Politics With Homeland Security

With the Mall of America revealed to be a major potential target by terrorists, and with Minneapolis being a known training ground of 9/11 terrorists, it does seem imprudent that antiterrorism funding be cut for the Twin Cities, pork notwithstanding. As one would expect, Senators Coleman and Dayton are seeking to get those funds restored.

But remarkably, Senator Dayton is prepared to block former NYPD chief Bernard Kerik from assuming the head of the Department of Homeland Security as payback to the Bush Administration.

Blocking the highly-regarded Kerik during a time of war does not seem like good politics or good policy for Senator Dayton as he approaches a tough reelection campaign.

More on Daschle v. Thune and SDP

Captain Ed does yeoman's work in the wee hours to get the skinny from Jon Lauck and Jason Van Beek of Daschle v. Thune and South Dakota Politics, respectively. Read his two posts on the subject here and here.

Ed's money line: Did Jason do his readers a disservice? His readers will give their final decision on his sitemeter. For the rest of us who are fortunate enough to receive these kind of offers, we should learn that only full disclosure will maintain our credibility.

What a magnificent lesson for our friends on the left regarding the self-regulating mechanisms of the free market that is the blogosphere.

12/09/2004

Full Disclosure

In light of the impending FEC ruling that will make blogging for a candidate a capital offense, let it be known that Dayton v. Kennedy is on no candidate's payroll. But with the controversy generated by today's disclosure that Daschle v. Thune and South Dakota Politics were being paid by the Thune campaign, I find it necessary to come to the defense of Professor Lauck (since he seems to be enduring the bulk of the assaults). Anyone who cared to do some investigating would know that Lauck had a history of working for then-Congressman Thune when he challenged Sen. Tim Johnson in 2002. Moreover, National Journal already made clear -- in not so veiled terms -- that Lauck and Van Beek of SDP were paid for their efforts:
GOP activists in the state -- several of whom were paid thousands of dollars by Sen.-elect John Thune's campaign committee for research consulting -- launched an unprecedented assault on the Argus Leader. Through an alliance of South Dakota-based Web logs, or blogs, and a pseudo-news Web site, the activists hammered away continuously at the paper's coverage of Daschle and raised persistent questions about the objectivity of its writers.
Simply put, anyone who did not know or suspect this was lazy or naive. Furthermore, Orion himself made clear that he thought candidates paying bloggers was the next phase in the evolution of the blogosphere. Dayton v. Kennedy is not for sale. I have never met Congressman Kennedy or Senator Dayton. This effort was simply borne out of a desire to see the Constitution defended, the Social Security system solvent, taxes reformed and our cities mushroom cloud-free.

Score One for Obstructionism

Last year President Bush placed Charles Pickering on the Fifth Circuit Court through recess appointment. The reason? Pickering's nomination was filibustered for over 3 years even though he clearly would have won a vote before the full Senate. Yesterday, Pickering chose to retire rather than be subjected, once again, to filibuster. His experience is illustrative of how the judicial confirmation process is driving gifted jurists away from the federal bench. Judicial filibusters -- and Senator Dayton's role in sustaining them -- will be an huge issue in the 2006 election.

Excerpts from Pickering's statement:

My nomination and permanent appointment to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has been pending before the full Senate for more than one year. The recess appointment given to me by President Bush on January 16, 2004 expires when Congress adjourns. Opposition by some Democratic senators prevented an up or down vote on my nomination. A minority of senators prevented the majority from confirming me to a permanent position on the Fifth Circuit. The actions of the minority leave me with no alternative than to retire as Congress adjourns.

My confirmation struggle lasted four years. Although I would prefer confirmation, I am in good spirits and at peace with the result. My faith is strong. I will continue to be involved in community and civic affairs. I will also speak out on issues relating to confirmation reform. I feel I can be a constructive voice in this vitally important debate.

The bitter fight over judicial confirmations threatens the quality and the independence of the judiciary. The mean-spiritedness and lack of civility reduces the pool of nominees willing to offer themselves for service on the bench. For the first time in the history of the Senate, judicial nominations were blocked by filibusters.

The recent election demonstrated that the American people rejected this unprecedented obstruction by the minority Senate leadership. Those voices will continue to be heard until the confirmation process is reformed and judicial filibusters ended.

Dayton v. Kennedy To Be Regulated?

CBSNews.com is reporting this morning that the Federal Election Commission is poised to issue new rules governing political blogs early next year. The impetus seems to be the decisive role played by several South Dakota blogs in 2004 with Daschle v. Thune at the vanguard.

Excerpts:
Internet blogs are providing a new and unregulated medium for politically motivated attacks. With the same First Amendment protections as newspapers, blogs are increasingly gaining influence.
While many are must-reads for political junkies, are some Internet blogs also being used as proxies for campaigns? In the nation’s hottest Senate race, this past year, the answer was yes.
Little over a month ago, the first Senate party leader in 52 years was ousted when South Dakota Republican John Thune defeated top Senate Democrat Tom Daschle. While more than $40 million was spent in the race, saturating the airwaves with advertising, a potentially more intriguing front was also opened.
The two leading South Dakota blogs – websites full of informal analysis, opinions and links – were authored by paid advisers to Thune’s campaign.
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the National Journal first cited Federal Election Commission documents showing that Jon Lauck, of Daschle v Thune, and Jason Van Beek, of South Dakota Politics, were advisers to the Thune campaign.
The documents, also obtained by CBS News, show that in June and October the Thune campaign paid Lauck $27,000 and Van Beek $8,000. Lauck had also worked on Thune’s 2002 congressional race.
Both blogs favored Thune, but neither gave any disclaimer during the election that the authors were on the payroll of the Republican candidate.
No laws have apparently been broken. Case precedent on political speech as it pertains to blogs does not exist. But where journalists' careers may be broken on ethics violations, bloggers are writing in the Wild West of cyberspace. There remains no code of ethics, or even an employer, to enforce any standard.
At minimum, the role of blogs in the Daschle-Thune race is a telling harbinger for 2006 and 2008. Some blogs could become new vehicles for the old political dirty tricks.
Beginning next year, the F.E.C. will institute new rules on the restricted uses of the Internet as it relates to political speech.
“I think those questions are going to have to be asked and answered,” said Lillian BeVier, a First Amendment expert at the University of Virginia. “It’s going to be an issue and it should be an issue.”

Wishful Thinking

In a recent issue of The Weekly Standard, Terry Eastland opines that replacing Chief Justice Rehnquist would be a relatively easy matter:

Whatever else Bush may take into account in selecting the first nominee, he must make sure that he picks a bona fide judicial conservative. Not only might the president not get another chance to nominate a justice, but it would make no sense to replace a judicial conservative, which Rehnquist most demonstrably is, with someone whose philosophy of judging is the opposite or, more likely, indiscernible because undeveloped. (Repeat after us: No more Souters--but also no more O'Connors.) Furthermore, a judicial conservative can be confirmed. Those Senate Democrats who insist on maintaining the Court's current ideological balance cannot credibly object to a successor to Rehnquist who holds the same philosophy as he. And moderate Senate Democrats can tell liberal interest groups that, after all, because this is already a "conservative seat," they can't be expected to go up against a recently reelected president on this nomination.

The president should be willing to expend in behalf of his choice some of that political capital he talked the other day about having earned. But the stars are well aligned for his first nomination: The president has every opportunity to select a stellar constitutional jurist, and to get him (pretty easily, we suspect) confirmed. Just do it.

12/08/2004

Hmmm. Maybe Darwin Was Right.

From David Brooks in yesterday's New York Times (registration required) comes a piece that will surely add 'natalist' to our political lexicon:

All across the industrialized world, birthrates are falling - in Western Europe, in Canada and in many regions of the United States. People are marrying later and having fewer kids. But spread around this country, and concentrated in certain areas, the natalists defy these trends.
They are having three, four or more kids. Their personal identity is defined by parenthood. They are more spiritually, emotionally and physically invested in their homes than in any other sphere of life, having concluded that parenthood is the most enriching and elevating thing they can do. Very often they have sacrificed pleasures like sophisticated movies, restaurant dining and foreign travel, let alone competitive careers and disposable income, for the sake of their parental calling.

George Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rates, and 25 of the top 26. John Kerry won the 16 states with the lowest rates.

In The New Republic Online, Joel Kotkin and William Frey observe, "Democrats swept the largely childless cities - true blue locales like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston and Manhattan have the lowest percentages of children in the nation - but generally had poor showings in those places where families are settling down, notably the Sun Belt cities, exurbs and outer suburbs of older metropolitan areas."

Politicians will try to pander to this group. They should know this is a spiritual movement, not a political one. The people who are having big families are explicitly rejecting materialistic incentives and hyperindividualism. It costs a middle-class family upward of $200,000 to raise a child. These people are saying money and ambition will not be their gods.

Natalists resist the declining fertility trends not because of income, education or other socioeconomic characteristics. It's attitudes. People with larger families tend to attend religious services more often, and tend to have more traditional gender roles.

Brett, Graham and Quincy will be making their contribution to a red Minnesota in the 2012, 2014 and 2020 elections, respectively.


Sowell: Go To Defcon1

Upon emerging from the stupor that is liberalism in the early '80s, this thirty-something blogger found great solace in the writings of Thomas Sowell. In this piece, Sowell says it's time for Senate Republicans to make like Emeril and kick it up a notch. Excerpts from yesterday's townhall.com column:

Who sits on the Supreme Court for life may be more important than who sits in the White House for four years. With vacancies to fill among federal judges in general and vacancies expected to occur on the aging Supreme Court in particular, the stakes are very high in the judicial appointments made in the next few years. We and our children will be living with the consequences for a long time

The highest stakes are democratic self-governance versus judicial fiats that threaten to make a mockery of the American system of government by elected officials.

If both the liberal agenda and the whole process of judicial lawlessness that serves it are ever to be stopped, Senate Republicans will have to face the question that Ronald Reagan used to ask: "If not us, who -- and if not now, when?"

George Will warns that someday the Republicans will be in the minority and Democrats can then use the proposed rule change to keep them from blocking legislation they don't like. But judicial nominations are too fundamental an issue, at a time when we stand at a legal crossroads, to worry that a rule change will, in effect, escalate the political arms race.

Alternatively, we could just get a filibuster-proof majority in '06...

Happy Hanukkah!

From President Bush's Hanukkah Message: Jewish tradition teaches that the Maccabees found only one small bottle of oil to be used for temple rituals, but that oil lasted eight days and nights. The miracle of this enduring light, remembered through the lighting of the Menorah, continues to symbolize the triumph of faith over tyranny.

The Miller household has been celebrating the anniversary of this miraculous protection of the Jewish people for several years now in an effort to show our children the Hebraic roots of our faith. Happy Hanukkah to all who observe the Festival of Lights.

12/07/2004

Kofi, You Hoser!

From Canada's National Post:

As Mr. Coleman argues, "the most extensive fraud in the history of the United Nations occurred on [Mr. Annan's] watch." Over the decade-long run of the oil-for-food program, the UN and several member states looked on as Saddam Hussein siphoned off at least 20% of its $100-billion revenues for his personal use. Hundreds of millions went to rebuilding the Iraqi army; more was paid out in kickbacks to Western politicians, governments, political parties, journalists and UN officials who looked the other way. Tens of millions funded terrorist training and operations around the world, particularly among Palestinians. The grandiose, sprawling palaces U.S. troops discovered when they liberated Baghdad and other Iraqi cities were constructed by Saddam and his family with the proceeds from oil sales meant to pay for food and medicines for ordinary Iraqis. Critics of the American- and British-backed sanctions against Iraq that were in place from the early 1990s until the 2003 invasion claimed they were responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis per year through malnutrition and disease. But we now know it was Saddam's lust for gold plumbing fixtures and weapons that caused the lion's share of Iraqi hardship.

Note to the Strib: that's what they call "the slightest whiff of proof".

Follow the Leader

We have noted in recent days the increasing stature of Minnesota's junior U.S. Senator, the Star Tribune notwithstanding. Today comes word that several House Republicans have joined the crusade and are calling for Annan's ouster.

From today's Washington Times:
Nineteen Republicans and one Democrat — Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi — had signed the resolution, as of late yesterday. Calls for Mr. Annan to step down already have come from Sen. Norm Coleman, the Minnesota Republican who is heading the main congressional inquiry into accusations of fraud, bribery and corruption in the United Nations' administration of the Iraq oil-for-food program.

Mr. Coleman's Senate inquiry already has determined that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime skimmed billions of dollars from the program, which allowed Iraq to sell small amounts of oil to pay for food and humanitarian assistance while it was under U.N. sanctions.

A separate group of Republicans led by Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican and member of the House International Relations Committee, yesterday pushed legislation that would tie the United States' U.N. funding to the organization's cooperation with investigators.

The corruption accusations have prompted numerous investigations, including several congressional inquiries, a U.S. Treasury Department investigation and a U.N.-commissioned inquiry conducted by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

But Mr. Flake and other Republicans say the United Nations is not cooperating with investigators, is withholding information, and has denied Mr. Volcker's investigation any subpoena power to get information.

"I'm convinced that the only way we can ensure the U.N.'s full cooperation is with the threat of withholding our funding," Mr. Flake said.

Waddya say we make Coleman Minnesota's senior U.S. Senator in oh, say, 23 months?

Dead Ringer (Again)

The First Ring blog once again proves itself worthy of a daily visit with this offering on the machinations leading up to the anticipated Dayton-Kennedy matchup.

It seems that little-known-outside-her-caucus Nora Slawik (DFL) is gearing up for a run for what she anticipates will be a Kiffmeyer-less race for Secretary of State. The reason? Kiffmeyer is expected to run for Kennedy's vacant House seat when he challenges Dayton.

Dizzy yet? While you're at The First Ring, check out the 'Dead Ringer's' post on Congressman Collin Peterson. Ringer's site should require a subscription for the insights he provides for free.

12/06/2004

Tango...Bravo...Whiskey...Zulu...Foxtrot...

Yesterday Michael Gerhardt and Erwin Chemerinsky, law professors at William & Mary and Duke respectively, coauthored a piece in the Los Angeles Times regarding the "nuclear option". The possible move "entails procedural moves culminating in a ruling by the Senate's presiding officer — Vice President Dick Cheney — declaring filibusters of judicial nominations unconstitutional. Democrats may appeal the ruling to the full Senate, but only 51 votes are needed to uphold it. With 55 members next year, Republicans believe that they will have sufficient numbers to uphold such a ruling."

Gerhardt and Chemerinsky are alarmed by the possibility and allege "Republicans apparently want to give Bush the unique legacy of 100% success in confirming his judicial nominations." What the two fail to mention is the unprecedented frequency with which the minority party has used the filibuster to thwart the President's nominations from moving toward a vote by the full Senate.

Republicans have been similarly cautious on the prospect of letting the genii out of the bottle and conservative instincts should advise caution before playing this card.

Then comes word today that incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has sent a warning shot across the bow of the White House. 'Don't even think about nominating Clarence Thomas for Chief Justice' is the message. The reason? "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice." Remarkably, Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press did not think this explosive accusation merited any justification.

To his credit, Majority Leader Frist is keeping the "nuclear option" in his quiver. "I will pursue every option that I have. And there are several options that we have."

12/05/2004

And a Minnesotan Shall Lead Them

On Friday we noted in They Don't Get It that the "Democrats like their blogging just like their economics: with a heavy dose of central planning." You may recall that Senator Reid, incoming Minority Leader, has decided to form a communications war room to coordinate with the lefty blogger community.

Today we learn, courtesy of the Strib, that Minnesota native Jim Manley will spearhead the new initiative. Manley, in an interview last week, said "The fundamental, core principles that Democrats stand for are still valid, but we need to do a much better job of communicating our message."

The prospect that the American people heard the Democrats message loud and clear -- and rejected it -- is too terrible to contemplate for Manley. But we do learn that Chris Lisi, chief spokesperson for Senator Dayton, strongly approves of Manley's elevation to the newly created position. "Jim a dynamite guy, he's a regular guy and he's exactly what the Democrats need to be in touch with regular Americans."

So he's got that going for him, which is nice.


12/04/2004

Included

From this morning's Strib:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Mark Dayton will travel to Iraq to visit U.S. troops over the holidays, the Minnesota Democrat announced Friday.
No specific dates were announced.
Earlier this week, Dayton complained that his request to go to Iraq as part of a trip by the Senate Armed Services Committee had been declined.
On Friday, Dayton, a member of the committee, said he would participate in a separate trip organized by Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.
"Senator Dayton is very appreciative to Senator Lieberman for including him on this important trip," said Chris Lisi, Dayton's spokeswoman.
Dayton plans to meet with Minnesotans who are serving in Iraq and with government officials to discuss the country's upcoming elections.
On the trip, Dayton also will stop in Israel and Jordan.

12/03/2004

Time For Thompson v. Kohl Blog?

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson tenured his resignation today and signaled an appetite for a return to elective office.

"That's entirely possible. I happen to love politics. Why would I say no? There's a Senate seat open," he said. Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl's term expires in 2006.

Starting in the late '80s, Thompson was on the vanguard of the welfare reform movement which became law under President Clinton. He also championed school choice in Milwaukee public schools. As a runner-up in Bob Dole's 1996 search for a running mate, Thompson avoided the political oblivion that befell Jack Kemp and has proven to be an effective member of the Cabinet. Would-be bloggers in Wisconsin, take note. It's time to roll out the Thompson v. Kohl blog.

Let Every Vote Count!

A couple months before this November's election, Senator George Allen, head of the NRSC, proclaimed that defeating Tom Daschle would be the equivalent of picking up 3 Senate seats. We all know what happened in South Dakota last month but fewer of us know why. Professor Jon Lauck at Daschle v. Thune was indispensable in the effort to defeat the Obstructionist-in-Chief. For that reason (after appropriate genuflection in the direction of Powerline), I'm encouraging anyone and everyone to take a moment and vote for Daschle v. Thune for this year's Weblog Awards under the "Best Election Coverage" category.

Do they have a "Best Copy-Cat" category?

They Don't Get It

This bit from The Hotline earlier this week suggests that Democrats like their blogging just like their economics: with a heavy dose of central planning.

From The Hotline:
Incoming-Sen Min Leader Harry Reid (NV) "is forming a communications 'war room' to promote Democrats' messages and respond to Republican criticism." The "center will be launched" 1/4/05. Jim Manley, press secretary for Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), "has been hired as a staff director for the center" that will be located on Capitol Hill. Phil Singer, ex-media adviser to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), "will be communications director, handling 'rapid response.'" A "15-member message team will include press aides who will publicize Democratic activities to Internet news organizations and bloggers," Reid said. Reid press sec., Tessa Hafen, "will focus on Nevada media and regional news outlets" (Tetreault, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 11/30).

Methinks they miss the point. Evidently when Dan Rather accused Hinderaker, Johnson, et al of being "Republican operatives", he actually believed it. In DemWorld, every member of the center-right blogosphere takes its marching orders from Messrs. Rove and Mehlman each morning and regurgitate the pap to the awaiting rabble in Jesusland.

Un-uh. The reason this was the year of the blog is because free men and women used their wits and investigative powers to unearth some explosive stories. Several months later a network anchor's career is cut short and GWB will soon be inaugurated for a second term -- not because we all thought alike but precisely because we didn't.

Far be it from me to give free advice to the Dems, but you guys may want to consider a little bit of laissez-faire when it comes to your blogging.

Nevermind.


12/02/2004

Senator, Rising

Moments ago, Senator Coleman's national stature grew three sizes. On the Today show, Coleman calmly explained to Katie Couric that his call for Secretary-General Kofi Annan's resignation was not politically motivated but has everything to do with the fact the Oil-for-Food scandal is the biggest financial and political scandal, well, EVER!

Katie seemed unmoved but national Republican radar took note. We direct you to yesterday's post A Senator of Substance.

12/01/2004

Take Your Pick

Late Wednesday, Senator Dayton claimed that he was intentionally left off the Senate Armed Services Committee trip either because Republicans were targeting him for defeat in 2006, or because of his opposition to the war in Iraq. To which DvK asks, "why does it have to be either-or?"

In fact, there are several other possible explanations for Dayton being the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee left behind. Like this. Or this. Possibly this. Could be this. Or perhaps this.

Look away.


6 of One, Half Dozen of Another

Either it's a slow news day or everything us righties have been saying about the Strib is true. It seems that a "half-dozen"(!) people rallied outside Congressman Mark Kennedy's office to protest his alleged vote in favor of a House rule change to help Majority Leader Tom Delay. Not quite a protest of this size...

Meanwhile, it seems the media created uproar surrounding Delay's ethical issues was just that -- a creation. Cold Hearted Truth blog succinctly reveals the following:

In the aftermath of this rule change it appears that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has had a change of heart and has concluded that it now unlikely that DeLay would be indicted. Before this rule change the indictment was almost a forgone conclusion. This would appear to substantiate the original charges of the Republicans that the looming indictment was nothing more than a partisan cheap shot designed to take advantage of the old rule.

A Senator of Substance

It is difficult to imagine a more stark "stature gap" between Minnesota's Junior and Senior U.S. Senators. Minnesota's Senior Senator is a doctrinaire leftist who could walk across rice paper without leaving a trace.

Contrast that with Senator Norm Coleman. Less than 2 years into the job, Coleman is already in a position to bring enormous pressure to bear on the United Nations to reform itself -- namely by relieving Secretary-General Kofi Annan of his position. Here Coleman makes the case that Annan's administration is rife with corruption as exemplified in the Oil-for-Food scandal.

The money line: Since it was never likely that the U.N. Security Council, some of whose permanent members were awash in Saddam's favors, would ever call for Saddam's removal, the U.S. and its coalition partners were forced to put troops in harm's way to oust him by force. Today, money swindled from Oil-for-Food may be funding the insurgency against coalition troops in Iraq and other terrorist activities against U.S. interests. Simply put, the troops would probably not have been placed in such danger if the U.N. had done its job in administering sanctions and Oil-for-Food.

When it comes to the United Nations, I'm of the "end it, don't mend it" variety. But if such an institution must endure, it should weed out this corruption post-haste. We marvel at the irony that St. Paul's former mayor may be responsible for hastening the departure of Annan, a graduate of St. Paul's Macalester College. Will Macalester continue to trumpet their most famous graduate?

Meanwhile, wouldn't it be nice to have a second U.S. Senator of Substance?

Con Law Primer

The next time you wonder what all the fuss is about with judges, filibusters, Supreme Court appointments and "the nuclear option", read this piece by Bruce Fein. In it you will see the judicial philosophy of Clinton-apointee Justice Stephen Breyer laid bare.

Fein writes: The liberal appointee of President William Jefferson Clinton rhapsodizes over Constant's utopian visions: "active and constant participation in collective power [by every citizen]"; "sub[mission] to all the citizens without exception the care and assessment of their most sacred interests;" [and] ennoble[ment] [of the people's] thoughts and establish[ment] among them [of] a kind of intellectual equality which forms the glory and power of a people." The associate justice discovers a new constitutional right that had eluded his predecessors for more than two centuries — the people's right to an active and sleepless participation in the exercise of sovereign power, and elaborates that, "The people must have room to decide and leeway to make mistakes."

As James Madison amplified in The Federalist Papers, if every Athenian citizen were a Socrates, an assembly consisting of all would still be a mob. The legislative power was thought most vulnerable to abuse. Checks such as bicameralism and a qualified veto were embraced to forestall a mutability and proliferation of special interest laws. To proclaim a people's constitutional right to "active liberty," i.e., decisive influence over sovereign decisions akin to a daily plebiscite, is nonsense on stilts. Further, as Humpty Dumpty would say, that invented right can mean anything a justice wants it to mean, no more or less.

Justice Breyer does us a great favor by showing his hand. For nearly a half-century the left has attempted to use the courts to accomplish what it could not otherwise do through the various elected legislatures of the people. The long-term difference between the types of judges and justices offered up by the last President and the current President could not be more stark. Simply put, it is the difference between a constitutional republic and tyranny -- even the benevolent tyranny offered by Breyer and several of his robed colleagues. Consider that the next time you feel like resting on the successes of this year's election.