Friday, April 15, 2005

Defend marriage in once sentence or less

Today, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced the “one sentence marriage amendment”. The amendment is geared to advance the debate on the marriage issue more quickly. Several times before the marriage act has been stalled in Congress, but Brownback is hopeful that his new amendment will simplify the definition of marriage.

According to his Senate staff, Brownback “feels very strongly that in order to advance the debate on this issue we needed to have more alternatives on the table, and, as Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, he believes it to be is obligation to see that such a debate could proceed efficiently.”

Here is the actual language of the Senator’s amendment:

“Section 1: Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.

Section 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
This amendment looks to present one more option on this hotly contested issue. While stalwart actions against this definition of marriage are still expected, I am hopeful that Congress will enact legislation that provides a unified definition of marriage as being between a man and woman only.

As I receive more information on this issue, I will continue to post it. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Pirates of the Senate

At first even I was fooled. Republicans in Congress are trying to abolish the time-honored filibuster? Of course, then I had to bone up on my research and get the facts straight. This was just Democratic hoopla and minority bickering. Hill insiders tell me that we will begin seeing Republicans hammer the liberal rhetoric on this issue in the coming weeks.

The truth is that Senate Republicans are only attempting to restore the “advice and consent of Constitutional obligations of the Senate for judicial nominees.” In layman’s speak, Senate leadership is proposing to reconsider cloture* rules on judicial nominees. This isn’t an elimination of the filibuster by any means.

Democrats are once again flip-flopping. Ten years ago the Democrats tried to abolish the filibuster altogether. Senators Bingaman, Boxer, Feingold, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Lieberman, and Sarbanes all wanted to end the filibuster permanently. Now they want to "preserve" it?

In 1995, the only Senators on record supporting the end of the filibuster were all Democrats, nine of whom are still serving in the Senate. (See Karen Hosler, “Senators Vote 76-19 To Maintain Filibuster,” The [Baltimore] Sun, 1/6/95)

Nor is changing these rules unconstitutional as some would have you believe. Senate debate is governed by rules adopted by the Senate every two years at the convening of each new Senate. The number of votes for cloture has gone up and down throughout the years. Originally two-thirds (67 votes) was required to end a filibuster. Those rules were eventually changed to three-fifths (60 votes).

Ironically, those who allege the unconstitutionality of this issue are forgetting that it is the responsibility of the Senate to confirm presidential nominees under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. To block votes on judicial nominees negates legislative obligations prescribed in our legal framework.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has previously made proposals to adjust the rules so that a simple majority (51 votes) is required to end debate on judicial nominations only. The recent hype on the so-called “nuclear option” is to revisit this proposal to minimize the amount of votes needed to end debate.

This is largely a maneuver to fight fire with fire. Democrats in the Senate have been using the filibuster to block most of President Bush’s judicial nominations. This is a cheap political move lacking the refinements required of such a prestigious body. It is a misuse of the filibuster which was originally intended to block debate only on policy issues, but never on judicial nominations. Republican leadership is simply proposing that the Senate return to it’s Constitutional duties and move on with the business of the government.

Liberals argue that Republicans pulled the same tactics on Clinton nominees. The truth is that President Clinton’s nominees were not filibustered and never before has a judicial nominee with clear majority support been denied confirmation through a filibuster. According to
David Reinhard of The Oregonian, the confirmation rate for Bush nominations is the lowest of any modern president. Reinhard says that,
“A better figure would compare Bush’s four-year appellate confirmation rate to recent presidents. According to the American Enterprise Institute’s John Lott Jr., Bush’s four-year rate was 69 percent, the lowest of any modern president. Bill Clinton’s rate was 74 percent.” (David Reinhard, Op-Ed, “Judge Not Lest Ye Be … Filibuster,” The Oregonian, 3/17/05)
There was a record number of Clinton nominees to the federal bench that were confirmed in 1994 under a Democratic majority in the Senate. Fifty-four of these nominees were pushed through in the 3 months prior to the 1994 elections. Conversely, ten of fifty-two circuit court nominees from the Bush White House have been filibustered according to a recent AP story (Jesse J. Holland, “Senate Confirms First Judge Of Bush’s Second Term,” The Associated Press, 4/11/05). Blocking votes on judicial nominees is unprecedented.

This is an issue of principle, not politics. The Senate should be concerned with fulfilling its constitutional obligations. Either it confirms or doesn’t confirm judicial nominees. To thwart that function is to shut down a major tenant of government, and the democratic process itself.

In a press conference yesterday, Senator Frist
said, “At the end of the day, I fundamentally believe that advice and consent under the Constitution of the United States of America means that we should be given the opportunity to vote. And that's all that we're asking for. We're going to continue to work in that regard.”

The President’s nominees deserve a fair up or down vote. If these judges are as poor a selection as Senators like Minortity Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) say they are, then let the Senate decline their confirmation by vote. Anything else is poor gamesmanship.

In many respects this issue has been blown out of proportion. Legislative rules in both Houses of Congress are often amended. The purpose of the “nuclear option” is to advance the purpose of the U.S. Senate. For certain Senators to block that process makes me question whether they know why they are there to begin with.

*Cloture is the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby overcome a filibuster. Under the cloture rule (Rule XXII), the Senate may limit consideration of a pending matter to 30 additional hours, but only by vote of three-fifths of the full Senate, normally 60 votes. Source:
Glossary of Senate Terms

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Send them to Melmac instead

Headline: “Wisconsin Gov. Dampens Cat Hunting Hopes” Fox, April 13

"I don't think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats," said Gov. Doyle, a Democrat who neither hunts nor owns a cat. "What it does is sort of hold us up as a state that everybody is kind of laughing at right now."
The Gov is right, we're all laughing. Hysterically. Wisconsin is still above the fray though. Neighbors South Dakota and Minnesota both allow wild cats to be shot.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bipartisan means ‘Do it my way’

If you have ever heard a politician tout the virtues of bipartisanship, you should know that it means nothing.

Oh, it’s true that “bipartisanship” comes in some forms. Usually it arrives on a meager bill like designating the Potato Commission, or to authorizing a special theme for a license plate. But that’s not true bipartisanship. Those are nonpartisan issues – how can you be bipartisan on an issue where no party line exists?

What politicians usually mean when lobbing bipartisan idiom is that the other side needs to adopt their views.

A perfect example of this came last week when Senate Republicans released their budget solutions. Senator Joseph Zarelli (R- Ridgefield) revealed that the half billion dollar tax increase wasn’t necessary, but that Democrats weren’t willing to quit spending.

House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler (D-Hoquiam) said Republicans should quite trying to make political hay and adopt a bipartisan spirit. “I wish they would work with us instead of jamming us with all this tax-and-spend criticism,” she said.

Kessler and her colleagues don’t really want to meet in the middle to fix the state’s budget woes. If you listened to any of the floor debate on the budget, you’d see that clearly. Instead our legislators should look to find a solution that does more than band-aids our budget with continued excessive spending. All else is drivel.

Monday, April 11, 2005

End the political charade, give DeLay a break

No doubt, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s travel practices have raised some ethical questions. Were there violations of House Ethics Rules in DeLay’s travels abroad? Did DeLay knowingly and intentionally violate these rules?

But further, the public (namely those who reside in DeLay’s district) should consider the character assailing by DeLay’s foes suspect. Sen. Rick Santorum (R–PA) said yesterday on ABC’s
This Week:

"Now you may not like some of the things he's done," said Santorum, who is up for re-election next year in Pennsylvania. "That's for the people of his district to decide, whether they want to approve that kind of behavior or not."
Two years ago Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) was forced into stepping down as Senate Majority Leader by way of the same tactics. When ambiguous racial comments were made by Lott regarding the late Sen. Strom Thurmond’s bid for the presidency, Lott was immersed into a firestorm that ended in his resignation from Senate leadership.

The GOP should not permit such sophomoric tactics on a second go-around. This formula appears to go as such: Take an allegation to which there is little or weak evidence of, blow it out of proportion, get the liberal media to back your efforts, and force a leader to step down.

My addendum to that formula would be: Continue to lose elections.

Cheap shots like that don’t work. While the opposition may succeed in waging a successful smear campaign, such tactics are not a majority-winning game plan.

Instead, the Democrats should follow the advice of their leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 8th) and focus on issues concerning the business of the government. Pelosi said in an
AP article last week that the controversy was distracting DeLay from dealing with more-pressing problems.

However, it would behoove DeLay to hold a press conference and be up front about his travel practices to diffuse the situation.It’s political common-sense to do so. When a high-profile politician hides from potentially damaging allegations, he will only be caught looking by the backspin.

Until then, political foes should back off and concentrate on issues with substance.

More on guber-election ‘oh four: WSJ’s Fund rocks truth

Wall Street Journal’s John Fund writes today of the ongoing election debacle here in the state of King County…er…Washington. Fund’s column appropriately summarizes the events over the last 5 months. Again, KC Election officials are growing increasingly weak in their arguments that this was a legit election.

[Dean] Logan admitted it had been "a messy process."

He wasn't kidding. During the two recounts, Mr. Logan's office discovered 566 "erroneously rejected" absentee ballots, plus another 150 uncounted ones that turned up in a warehouse. Evidence surfaced that dead people had "exercised their right to vote"; documentation was presented that 900 felons in King County alone had illegally voted and that military ballots were sent out too late to be counted. A total of 700 provisional ballots had been fed into voting machines before officials had determined their validity. In the four previous November elections, King County workers had never mishandled more than nine provisional ballots in a single election.

Fund’s column, Florida With Rain, can be found at

Shark Tales

Props to Stefan Sharkansky for his surge of good press in days of late. Shark appeared on Robert Mak’s Up Front on King 5 as well as receiving a mention in Fund’s column.

If you haven't done so already, check out It's one of the most informative blogs on Washington State politics.