Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cruising the Web

Well now that Mary Landrieu's pretense of exercising her supposed influence to get a Keystone bill through the Senate has fallen short, she seems to have no hope of winning her runoff election. Why should Louisiana voters choose to keep her there for her supposed influence when her influence couldn't get through a bill when her party is in control of the Senate? They can elect Cassidy and look for the new GOP majority to easily pass in January what Landrieu couldn't get done for the past several years. I count up 9 Democrats who voted Yea and who will be in the Senate come January. So the Republicans can easily pass the bill then. And they still won't have the 2/3 vote to override a veto. And now it turns out that she hasn't been such a leader on energy issues as she is now pretending. Bloomberg News reports,
Yet her outspokenness and perseverance in legislative forums is relatively new, emerging in the 10 months since she took over the chairmanship of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee and as she faces an uphill battle in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Representative Bill Cassidy.

Between January 2009 and this week, Landrieu didn't speak or submit written testimony or questions at almost 70 percent of the energy committee hearings, according to an analysis of congressional records, videos and transcripts....

But Landrieu hasn't always been so vocal on the energy panel. From 2009 to 2010 she was silent at or skipped 65 of 87 hearings. From 2011 to 2012, she didn't say anything at or didn't attend 50 of 66 meetings. And from 2013 to 2014, her presence was undetectable at 22 of 47 sessions. Some of those hearings covered important issues for her coastal state, including the potential for oil spills, gas prices, the Department of Energy's budget, nominations of key energy regulators, the implementation of the stimulus bill, and the current status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Defenders will say that legislators typically miss committee hearings. Perhaps that is evidence that Congress is doing too much missable stuff. I do an activity with my students when we cover the Congress unit and give them an excerpt that David Price, a Democratic representative from our area of North Carolina wrote. He includes a schedule from a typical day in his life as a congressman. The students soon notice that he has overlapping meetings all day long. He meets with constituents and interest groups, pops in at several committee meetings and then goes to several fundraisers in the evening. He's busy from early in the morning until late in the evening. Then I ask the class what he does not have on his schedule. Someone will finally notice that there is no time on his daily schedule for him to read bills, do research, or have a briefing on a policy. If this is what they're doing all day long, how do they have time to understand the policies they're voting on? They have to just vote the way their party leadership or interest groups or aides advise them to. Is this what the Founders had in mind when they set up a system of representative democracy?

I start off the unit on Congress by giving them Edmund Burke's famous speech on what it means to be a representative.
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
We discuss the trust model of a representative as Burke enunciates it and the delegate model in which a representative just votes how his or her constituents want. Some students prefer one model or the other. But what we seem to have now is something else in which representatives vote how their party or interest groups indicate they should. They are neither delegates of their constituents' choices or representatives whose judgment we can trust.

The NYT reports that, just as Al Sharpton has become a more important member of the liberal movement praised by Democrats from President Obama to Mayor de Blasio, he seems to have somehow neglected to pay taxes.
Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses.

And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.
And this is the man who has bragged about his influence in helping Obama choose the next attorney general. This guy has built his career on corruption and despicable race-baiting. Why should anyone expect him to have changed? Kudos to the NYT for this detailed report.

Politico says that Democrats are craving Obama's leadership. But wasn't it his leadership that has led them to lose both houses of Congress as well as several governorships and state legislators?
Democrats are in worse shape than when President Barack Obama came into office — the number of seats they have in Congress, the number of governors, a party approval rating that’s fallen behind Republicans for the first time in recent history, enthusiasm, energy. The White House, Brazile said when she came to meet with Simas, has got to focus for the next two years on getting the party into better shape, and Obama’s the best and most effective person to get out the message.
Story Continued Below
As much Hillary Clinton anticipation as there is, two weeks later, Democrats are still reeling and anxious. Obama may have built his political career without the party — and created anti-establishment alternatives — but he’s a lame duck with a new Congress that’s been elected to oppose him. He needs Democrats. And they need him.
“The base craves his leadership,” Brazile said in an interview later that week, following a meeting of the DNC committee that’s beginning to set the rules for the next presidential nomination. “They want him in the mix, talking about what Democrats accomplished, what Democrats are fighting for, and what the president has done to make lives better.”

....“He may or may not be the best messenger,” said Vic Fazio, the former California congressman who was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair for the 1994 rout. “But at this point, he is still our messenger. And the first year is very important.”
At least until the next presidential campaign begins in earnest, Democrats say, it’ll be up to Obama to centralize the Democratic message around something other than simply trying to paint the Republicans as extreme.
Isn't this what Obama has been blaming his party's losses on - that he hasn't been able to communicate to the American people how wonderful his policies have been for the country? And somehow, the American people are all too "stupid" to understand just how fantastic everything Obama has done has been for our country and world affairs.

Sean Davis collates all the evidence that Jonathan Gruber played a key position in designing Obamacare and that Democrats were touting him as such up until these embarrassing videos emerged.
Jonathan Gruber was a key architect of Obamacare who was intimately involved in the drafting of the legislation.

That is a fact. It is not arguable. It is not assailable. It is backed up by overwhelming contemporaneous evidence long before Gruber became a controversial figure whose loose lips threatened to sink the Obamacare ship. And the people who pimped Gruber as the all-knowing health care savior who single-handedly built the model that guaranteed a future of health care glory were not Obamacare’s critics. They were its most ardent proponents.
You can now watch a clarifying two-minute video of Gruber's greatest hits that pairs Democrats praising his importance for crafting the bill with some of his more honest videos expressing what the Democrats were thinking as they merrily misled the American people.

David Harsanyi explains why Obama's actions to try to legislate without Congress is ultimately more damaging to the country than whatever actions he takes on immigration. I've been teaching checks and balances this week in my A.P. Government class and I can't help thinking that the typical list of what the Constitution created for each branch to balance the others is now totally out of date. And the harm of creating the many precedents that Obama has created of executive action beyond the laws that Congress may or may not pass is a harm that will endure much longer than the effects of anything he does on immigration.

Mark Steyn isn't impressed with Obama's skills at social media and the role of the American media in deceiving the public.
Kate McMillan contrasts the fawning media coverage from a couple of years back about Obama's brilliant use of social media with the revelation that over 60 per cent of Obamacare Facebook comments come from just 100 users. She adds:
It doesn't matter if you "win" the social media battle. What matters is that you convince an incurious, supportive media that you've won. That's why they spend so much effort on faking it.
This is true, and an important point. Almost every aspect of Obama's "cool" - from his peerless communication skills to his genius at cutting-edge social media - is totally bogus. His real genius is in pulling the wool over the media's eyes, and given that they walk into the room wearing back-to-front ski-masks that doesn't take much doing, either. For example, Jonathan Gruber couldn't get away with his contempt for the American people if he didn't also have a contempt for the American media. In the latter case at least, it's well deserved.