The BayhPartisan

Written by a Hoosier for the consumption of America. This blog will be dedicated to news on the Senator and adding to the great marketplace of ideas that has been lacking in this country over the last half decade.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Being an Intern For Evan Bayh

The Peru Tribune recently did an article covering a Butler student from the city who currently has the experience of being an intern for Senator Bayh. His internship runs until December 10. Some excerpts from the article:

"We're not there to meet other senators," Moser said. "We're there to learn policy making firsthand. The senator's office has done a great job of showing me that."

The Mac grad works with 30 to 40 people from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. along with eight other interns. The hardest part of the job has been learning his way around the three Senate office buildings and where things are.

Other job aspects entail drafting letters, doing research on issues and upcoming legislation and running errands for the 49-year-old senator. Moser also gives tours of the Capitol to Hoosiers.

Moser has been impressed with Bayh as well, even though he only sees him in passing.

"He has the best interests of Indiana at heart," Moser said. "It's amazing to see him in office. He knows how to get things done. ... It's amazing Indiana has that leadership."

John Warner Confirms Intel "Gap"

Today on Meet the Press, Senator John Warner, a Republican from Virginia who is on the Armed Services Committee, confirmed that there was a gap in the intelligence that the Senate received from the White House.

He stood by this statement in August of 2002:
"As I read and follow the debate, there appears to be a "gap" in the facts possessed by the Executive Branch and the facts possessed by the Legislative Branch."

This only goes to further discredit President Bush's assertion that the Senate received the exact intelligence that the White House possessed.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bayh Urges FEMA To Approve Tornado Reconstruction Funds

Senators Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar urged FEMA on Friday to approve funds needed by several counties in southern Indiana for cleanup efforts resulting from the recent tornado destruction.

"One of the things that impressed me most when I visited Evansville after the tornado was the outstanding job our first responders were doing to begin the rebuilding process," Senator Bayh said. "This funding will ensure that their efforts can continue by covering some of the growing expenses our counties are facing. The tornado left heartbreaking loss and incredible damage in its wake, but it has also reminded us of the importance of working together, and I am proud to join Senator Lugar in supporting Indiana's request for this funding."

Cleanup and recovery is expected to cost over 8 million dollars. The grants need to be approved quickly to ensure the cleanup effort is not slowed by a lack of funds from local counties.

Some photos and captions from the AP:

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., right, comforts Barbara Tonkin who lived in a mobile home that was destroyed in Eastbrook Mobile Home Park in Evansville, Ind., Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. The tornado ripped across southwestern Indiana and northern Kentucky, killing at least 22 people, wrecking homes and knocking out power to thousands, authorities said.(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., left, talks with Newburgh Town Council President Bill Kavanaugh, middle and Newburgh Police Chief Brett Sprinkle during his visit to the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park in Evansville, Ind., Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. The tornado ripped across southwestern Indiana and northern Kentucky, killing at least 22 people, wrecking homes and knocking out power to thousands, authorities said.(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

You Only Thought You Hated Congress...

I didnt think that my contempt for congress could get any worse after the Republican stunt to discredit John Murtha tonight. Let me fill you in on some more of todays congressional events:

"The Republican-controlled Congress helped itself to a $3,100 pay raise on Friday, then postponed work on bills to curb spending on social programs and cut taxes in favor of a two-week vacation."

"The cost-of-living increase for members of Congress — which will put pay for the rank and file at an estimated $165,200 a year — marked a brief truce in the pitched political battles that have flared in recent weeks on the war and domestic issues."

"So much so that the issue was not mentioned on the floor of either the House or Senate as lawmakers worked on legislation whose passage will assure bigger paychecks."

Sure...Americans dont mind if congress grants itsself cost of living increases when they vote down bills that would give the same cost of living increases for Americans who work at the minimum they did last month. But even this is not all that happened today:

"Pay raise harmony aside, Republicans spent the day celebrating a party-line, post-midnight vote in which the House cleared legislation to reduce deficits by $50 billion over five years. The vote was 217-215, with all the Democrats who voted in opposition, along with 14 GOP rebels."

"Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt of Missouri said Republicans would make their tax cut bill the top item on the agenda when lawmakers return to the Capitol in December."

"The House-passed measure attacks deficits by limiting spending for the first time in a decade on Medicaid, food stamps, student loans and other benefit programs that normally rise with inflation and eligibility."
And of course Americans dont mind that Republicans seek more tax cuts even though we are facing the largest deficits in our countries history...and these deficits havent even calculated in the costs of the Iraq war. As an added bonus, Republicans seek less money for healthcare for the disabled and elderly, less money for poor Americans to buy groceries, and less money for building up our future workforce to be able to compete in a world where manufacturing jobs will be non-existent and a college education mandatory. But even this is not all that congress has been able to accomplish today. The article continues....

"The Senate-passed companion measure calls for less deficit reduction, $35 billion over five years, but includes the ANWR provision.

The differences are expected to make it difficult for the House and Senate to reach a compromise by year's end, particularly since Republicans can't count on any Democratic support.

The tax bill presents difficulties of its own for a GOP majority struggling to translate last fall's election gains into this year's legislative achievements.

The Senate cleared a measure after 1:30 a.m. that calls for $60 billion in cuts over five years.

The measure drew bipartisan support, passing on a vote of 64-33. Its provisions would continue a series of existing tax breaks that otherwise will expire, and shelters 14 million upper middle-income families from higher taxes.

The White House has threatened a veto, citing a provision that raises taxes on oil companies."

Go figure. A tax on oil companies is the last thing this country needs.

The only positive event of note:

"A renewal of the Patriot Act remained in limbo as an unlikely coalition of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans sought curbs on the powers given law enforcement in the troubled first days after the 2001 terrorist attacks."

Every American needs to stay updated of the direction in which the Bush administration and the GOP controlled congress is taking our country. Keep in mind that the aformentioned events took place in 1 day of congress in session. We are going to be facing massive problems in the coming years, and voters need to decide in they agree with the direction that we are being led.

Missle Defense Success

Not completely sure about my support for the program...but this is newsworthy none-the-less.

The Navy on Thursday said it intercepted and destroyed a warhead as it separated from its booster rocket during a test off Hawaii — the first time a ship at sea has shot down a multi-stage missile.

The guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie fired an interceptor missile and knocked out the rocket's warhead about 100 miles above the Pacific, the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.

The achievement is considered significant because medium- and long-range ballistic missiles typically have at least two stages. Intercepting such missiles after they separate is difficult because sensors must be able to distinguish between the body of the missile and the warhead.

All previous tests of the sea-based missile defense system involved short-range missiles that stay intact.

The military's ground-based missile defense system in Alaska has successfully intercepted separating targets in five out of eight attempts.

Army & Marine Corps Recall 18,000 Body Armor Vests

Yesterday the Army and the Marine Corp issued a recall of 18,000 body armor vests which were manufactured in 2000 and 2001. A review by the Pentagon learned that these vests were still issued to both active duty and reserve troops even though they failed tests that were administered after thier manufacture.

Honestly...what else do I need to say. Pass this along. Check the link above.

Friday, November 18, 2005

House Republicans Continue Disprespect of Congress

If anyone is currently watching C-SPAN, you are witnessing a despicable political ploy by House Republicans. The Republicans have introduced a bill that would order an immediate withdrawal of US troops in Iraq. This is obviously a response to Representative John Murtha's recent call for a troop redeployment. Republicans introduced this bill as an attempt to discredit him by getting a unanimous vote against immediate withdraw.

What makes this ploy completely contemptuous is that it is politicizing the war in the most disgraceful of ways. John Murtha has a serious and genuine disagreement with the current policy in Iraq. His ideas are well thought out, and he is not calling for immediate withdrawal as Republican would lead you to believe. He wants an orderly drawdown to the outskirts of Iraq. There we would have a quick reaction force to go in as needed instead of having our troops shot at and blown up like fish in a barrel. House Republicans are simplifying his argument in their version of the bill in an attempt to dodge any real debate about the subject. On as serious of a matter as whether or not to withdraw troops from a warzone, would you expect each member of the House to have an average of less than 8 seconds of debate time? Of course not...but thats what has happened tonight. Republicans have staged a sideshow that totally disrepects the important decisions that we have elected them to make.

What adds to my disgust even more is that House Republicans are once again attempting to change House rules. This bill they are trying to force a vote on was just introduced today. House rules say that bills can not be brought to a vote the same day they are introduced. The the reason that the Republicans are forcing this vote today is because the House is about to be in a 2 week recess. Before there can be a vote on the Iraq bill, they must vote to change the rules. House Republicans simply have no respect for the traditions of the institution which they have been elected.

On top of that, John Murtha was just called a coward on the floor of the House. By now Im sure everyone knows his background. They have been trying to Swift-Boat him all day. Republicans have no interest in a real debate on the war in Iraq. They continue to attempt to smear anyone who has a genuine disagreement with the current policies.

No surprise. The immediate withdrawl bill was rejected 403 to 3. Every reader needs to focus on the '06 House and Senate races so Democrats can put a halt to this kinds of nonsence. Todays events are easily on my top 10 list of reasons to hate congress.

I would encourage you to check out The Kentucky Democrat blog for some more information.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tough Talk to China

Today I gave Bush a rare mental applaud. Some of what he said concerning China:

"Men and women who are allowed to control their own wealth will eventually insist on controlling their own lives and their own future," "As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it cannot be closed. As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well."

"Free nations are peaceful nations, free nations do not threaten their neighbors and free nations offer their citizens a hopeful vision of the future,"

"Modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society."

"China needs to provide a level playing field for American businesses seeking access to China's market," Bush said. Further, he said, China must fulfill its promise to move toward a more market-based currency.

Although not yet in China, rhetoric like this on their doorstep is needed...even though the Chinese wont be pleased. I even read a report that his speech was aired live and unedited in China on their national station. Once a Chinese govt. transcript of the broadcast was published, large sections of Bush's speech were deleted. Visible, worldwide pressure is what is needed to deal with the Chinese. The only displeasure I had with Bush'd speech was that he did not go far enough with his comments. We need to stand up for ourselves when unfair and illegal pressures are put on our economy. We also need to stand up for free countries like Taiwan. Telling the truth and not glossing over things, as Bush did, is what is necessary.

Texas Town Gets Free TV To Change Name

Television & cable advertising companies are being forced to continually become more creative in the face of new technologies such as DVR's. Product placement within TV shows and movies has been one of their latest pushes. Direct TV, however, has taken a bold new step away from advertising norms. A small Texas town has recently voted to change their name to Dish, Texas. In return, every resident and future resident of the town will get free satellite television service for the next 10 years. The vote to change the name passed the town council unanimously. I may lobby my town council to change our name to Exxon, Indiana.

Political Memoribilia

This is not a button from any of Evan Bayh's campaigns, but from one of his father's campaigns. Evan's father, Birch Bayh, served in many political offices both local and national throughout his life. Some of his accomplishments include:
- Indiana House (1954-62)
- US Senator (1963-1981)
- Very influential in passing Title IX - gave women equal opportunities in sports and education.
- Lead author in 2 constitutional ammendments
- 25th Ammendment which established presidential succession
- 26th Ammendment which lowered voting age to 18

Birch Bayh lost his 1980 re-election campaign to future vice president Dan Quayle.

Finally a quick factoid from Wikipedia:
On June 19, 1964, Bayh, his wife, Senator Ted Kennedy and legislative aide Edward Moss were on board a small plane that crashed in heavy fog near Springfield, Massachusetts. Senator Bayh pulled a badly injured Senator Kennedy from the wreckage. Senator and Mrs. Bayh were relatively unhurt, while the pilot and Moss were both killed in the crash.

Bayh Leads Push To Help Reservists

See the video interview: Here

Evan Bayh got the ammendment through the Senate that he wanted. This ammendment would aid in making up what many call the "patriot penalty" of reserve duty. Many times when a reservist is called to active duty they take a pay cut when leaving their civilian job. The bill that Senator Bayh introduced, and passed in the Senate, would offer up to $3000 of additional pay per month to make up this wage gap.

The ammendment also sets up a toll-free number for military families who face problems with thier mortgages and forclosures. Many military families are not aware of the protections that are available to them.

Bayh Joins Bipartisan Group Seeking to Curb Oil Consumption

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) is part of a bipartisan group of senators who are making a push to curb the nation's oil consumption.

The group is unveiling their plan Wednesday. They're getting support from an unusual coalition bringing together environmentalists and conservatives.

The diverse groups are putting pressure on lawmakers to find ways to curtail oil use, especially in transportation. They want to promote alternative fuels and new technologies less reliant on fossil fuel. Bayh says the nation must find a way to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, so it is prepared for the future. The senators say the plan would save 2.5 million barrels of oil a day within a decade and ten million barrels a day by 2031.

They should be releasing further information on this plan by the end of the day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Chinese Bandits

You have probably heard many stories about the unfair trade practices which China consistently utilizes. Ill briefly talk about one of the main transgressions - the illegal manipulation of currency by the Chinese.

Currency undervaluation by the Chinese has many effects on the American economy. The main effect is that it allows Chinese goods to be sold at a relative lower price within America, while American goods are sold at a relatively higher price in China. Most estimates put the undervaluation of the yuan between 15% and 40%. John Kerry often said during the last presidential campaign that Americans manufacturers can compete with anyone else on the planet if the playing field is level. How could we have an expectation to compete in a worldwide marketplace with a possible 40% price disparity against our goods?

Another major effect of the manipulation of Chinese currency by their government is that it keeps our trade deficit with them high. The way that the Chinese have been able to keep their currency undervalued is by pegging the valuation of their currency to our currency. If our dollar gets weaker, the yuan gets weaker. This doesn't allow market forces to make the corrections that normally occur in a free market. The American dollar cannot gain ground against the yuan. If the Chinese did not base their currencies valuation on the US dollar, then the trade deficit would begin to shrink as American goods would become cheaper. A correction that normally takes place in unregulated markets.

This trade disparity is not only visible between US and Chinese goods. Our trade between 3rd parties is also undercut by China's illegal practices. When the dollar falls, we should be able to expect a competitive advantage of our products in a free worldwide market. This does not happen however because the Chinese have their currency pegged to ours. When the prices of our products fall in the international market, so do the prices of Chinese goods. As things currently sit, American products can never expect to gain a comparative advantage against Chinese products.

Where is the WTO in all of this? To this American it feels like they are expecting us to bend over. This organization was built to promote and enforce fair trade practices between its members. It seems to be largely ineffective, as are most large bureaucratic international institutions. Hopefully Bush can start to remedy some of these situations with his trip to Asia this week. However I've learned to not hold out much hope for him employing policies that would help middle-class America.

Bayh to Bush: Stand Against Unfair Trade With China

U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., has joined 13 other colleagues in urging President Bush to take a stand against “unfair trade practices” in China and Japan when he visits both countries next week.

In a letter Bayh encouraged the President “to demand that China crack down on counterfeit products and that China and Japan stop the illegal manipulation of their currencies.”

“Part of the American promise is the idea that through hard work and ingenuity, every American can get ahead in life, but when we allow foreign countries to steal our ideas and cheat the system by manipulating their currencies, Americans lose their jobs and the opportunity to succeed,” Bayh said in a statement released on Thursday. “It’s time this administration showed the world they were serious about enforcing the rules of trade to protect American businesses and workers.”

“According to estimates,” the statement said, “China’s counterfeiting is a $16 billion industry that costs American industries billions in lost sales and hundred of thousands of American jobs. The automotive industry alone loses about $12 billion because of counterfeit parts. If the losses caused to just that industry were eliminated, it could hire 200,000 additional workers. In addition, China and Japan’s illegal manipulation of their currency creates an uneven playing field for American businesses and manufacturers. The undervaluation of the Chinese yuan, estimated between 15 and 40 percent, is tantamount to an illegal subsidy for Chinese companies, which puts U.S. companies at a significant disadvantage. At the same time, Japan continues to manipulate and artificially weaken the yen.”

On Wednesday Bayh and Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, introduced the Intellectual Property (IP) Rights Enforcement Act to enhance IP enforcement domestically and internationally by creating one organized force to oversee IP theft enforcement and by elevating the way IP theft is treated to the same level as money laundering and other black market crimes, the statement said.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Thomas Mann Presentation

Today I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Brookings Institution scholar Thomas Mann. He has written many books and is frequently a pundit on CNN and other stations. His presentation focused on "The State of American Democracy" and he is currently in the process of co-authoring a book with another Brookings scholar about the subject.

Dr. Mann's general thesis was that congress, as an independent functional institution, has been trumped by ideology and party values. He claims that this transference loyalties away from congress as an institution, leads to a weakening of the checks and balances which our founders intended to be in place as protection from a branch of government getting too much power.

Ill talk briefly about some main consequences of partisanship within our current congress. The first is the decline of a political center. The current congress lacks most of the values that made it an enduring and respectable institution. Debate, negotiation, bargaining, compromise - all these traditional norms that had been set in place by congress are being outed by a heavy partisan ideology.

Some other consequences of ideology driven politics that Dr. Mann mentioned include lack of quality lawmaking, no accountability, decline of ethics, and an overall diminishment of politics. There is now the attitude within our political spectrum that the ends we achieve justify the means that we used to get there.

The main area of the lecture that I was disappointed with was the prospects there are for change. He just didn't have very many and only spent a couple minutes on them. The main thing he mentioned was that citizens are the ones who will have to pressure for the change.

I wish I had this lecture on audio because this write-up simply cannot do it justice. The lecture was full of wonderful points and touched on many, many areas. I would encourage you to stay on the lookout for his upcoming book. Ill make a post about it once it is released.

Oil Company Execs Testify

The head honchos from many of the top US oil companies testified before congress today. They were asked to explain how they could be reaping record-setting gas profits at a time when the prices are eating away at the pocketbooks of Americans.

Of course all of the executives claim the same predictable thing. We don't control the crude oil prices and those prices have been rising. The recent hurricanes in the gulf have hurt our refining capacity. Price reflects the market value. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah is all I hear.

I would like every executive that made that claim to be charged with perjury before congress. The oil companies, not the markets, set the price of gasoline. Shell's Own website even tells us this fact explicitly. The companies look at the commodity prices and set the price levels at what they believe the market will bear. They take into effect the market forces, but the price of gas is not set by the markets as they want you to believe. They can get away with this because of the fact that there are only 5 major oil companies - which creates an oligopoly - a cabal that rivals the disrespect we see out of OPEC. This allows these 5 companies to set gas prices using their own expectations and indirect collusion with the other 4 companies.

The only glimmer of hope is from a Democrat named Ron Wyden out of Oregon. He is one of the only people who are calling for a congressional investigation of how gas prices are set. Please write your congressman and encourage them to do the same.

Bayh: Keep Our Heating Oil in the USA

In a letter to the nations largest oil companies, Senator Bayh and 11 others are asking oil companies to keep surplus heating oil in the US instead of sending it to countries with warmer climates.

Senator Bayh said today - "Hoosier families shouldn’t be left out in the cold while extra heating oil is sent to Mexico. Any extra heating oil should be used to help hard hit families at home who are facing winter heating bills that are hundreds of dollars above the norm. Families are already struggling with high energy costs—to ask them to do so while U.S. companies send excess supplies overseas is heartless.”

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bayh twins are hitting decade mark

U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., frequently refers to his twin 9-year-old sons as he introduces himself to Democrats throughout the country in preparation for a possible 2008 presidential bid.

But Bayh won't be able to do that much longer.

Tuesday, Bayh will have to talk about his twin 10-year-old boys.
Nick and Beau Bayh will celebrate their first decade with a family party Tuesday, followed by a weekend get-together with classmates. On the agenda is a trip to Dave & Busters, a combination restaurant and indoor arcade.

(Last year's birthday celebration included a rousing game of laser tag for which Nick's game name was "Cheney." And, as Bayh later told the real Dick Cheney, Nick won.)
Since last year, the twins have expanded the number of basketball teams they're on. Showing their Hoosier roots, Nick and Beau now play on three teams, including one in which they and their fellow fourth-graders compete against fifth-graders.

Beau also is goalie for a traveling hockey team, while Nick has started playing in tennis tournaments.

The boys attend St. Albans School, the private preparatory school in Washington their father attended, as did other notables, including former Vice President Al Gore.

Nick's favorite subject is math, while Beau really likes geography. Both enjoy spelling, which, mom Susan reports, is not something they picked up from either parent.

-Star Washington Bureau reporter Maureen Groppe

Corporate Communism

There has been an ongoing battle within state legislatures - being fought between state municipalities and giant telecom companies. The genesis of this battle is regarding whether or not cities have the right to offer broadband internet access to their constituents. Cities around the country are wanting to setup wireless networks that would cover everyone within the city limits...and offer it as a basic public utility. Telecom companies, mainly Verizon, have been using all of their resources to lobby state legislatures to pass laws that would prevent this action by cities.

Lets take the case of what happened in Pennsylvania. In the city of Philadelphia, more than 50% of the residents did not have access to broadband from any private company. This led the city to begin an initiative that would offer wireless internet access to everyone within the limits. This service would be available at a greatly discounted rate compared to the prices currently charged by most major service providers. Its not hard to see why Verizon many have a problem with this. Verizon's lobbyists took their problem to the Pennsylvania legislature and nearly got their ideal outcome. In exchange for letting Philadelphia set up their wireless internet program, Verizon itself would have the power to veto any municipality within the state from implementing their own wireless internet initiative. The bad thing is that this kind of legislation isn't confined to the Keystone State. There have been 14 other states to enact similar legislation.

Behold the power of money. Once again private citizens are begin bilked by corporate interests. Our capitalist system is supposed to be based on free competition - both in competitors and price. Yet companies who already own government legislated monopolies over most areas of the telecommunications industry continue to send money towards lobbyists with the sole intention and purpose of restricting consumer choice. And they usually win.

Can you guess where the largest wireless broadband cloud is within the US? Intuition would lead you to think of large metropolitan cities where access is limited and prices are high. The answer however is far from the large apartment buildings and crowded streets of cities like New York and Chicago. The largest wireless access area inside of the United States is located in rural Oregon. It covers 30 towns within a 700 square mile area, making it worlds largest Wi-Fi hotspot. This leads to a second question. Why would Verizon and other large telecommunications companies not seek to restrict the setup of such a large network in Oregon? The answer is profit. There is little profit potential in building the infrastructure to cover such a large landmass with a relatively small number of consumers within the area.

Companies like Verizon are the reason that cheap and efficient broadband connections are not as prevalent within the US as they are in many countries worldwide. I would urge all prominent government figures, including Senator Evan Bayh, to come out in support of laws that would encourage the competition which our economy is based on. A vote for regulations on cities, such as Pennsylvania Wi-Fi law, is a vote for big business interests over the interests of consumers. Its a vote for limiting internet access for inner city and poor Americans. Its a vote against capitalism and democracy.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bayh blasts Pentagon waste

U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., joined Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., to blast the Pentagon in the wake of reports of wasteful spending.

In a letter to the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Bayh and Clyburn demand a response to a recent Knight Ridder investigation which found “outrageous overspending at the Pentagon, including spending $20 for an 89 cent ice cube tray,” according to a statement released by Bayh’s office on Wednesday.

“This kind of reckless spending is a perfect example of government waste,” Bayh said. “It is especially inexcusable in light of our current budget situation and our continued efforts to provide our troops with much-needed equipment in Iraq. Wasteful spending is bad enough, but during a time of war, it literally becomes a matter of life and death, and it must be stopped.”

In October, the statement said, the Seattle Times and several other newspapers across the paper ran articles based on a Knight Ridder investigation detailing millions of dollars in overspending by the Pentagon department charged with purchasing food-related items. “The article pointed to a new prime-vendor purchasing system as the main cause for the overspending and noted that the new program has cost taxpayers 20 percent more than the old system for items such as coffee makers and ice cube trays. Under the new system, the Pentagon purchases from middle-men who set the prices for goods, instead of buying directly from manufacturers or seeking competitive bids, results in overcharges such as the $81 bill for a $20 coffee maker.”

“With every $20 ice tray, the Pentagon throws away money that could be used to purchase body armor or other equipment for our troops,” Bayh said. “We owe it to them and the American taxpayers to correct this problem as soon as possible.”
- Chesterton Tribune

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bayh on campaign to impress A-list politicos in N.H.

The entire article is a little long to post on here, but give it a look at the link above. The article lists many of the most prominent figures in New Hampshire politics, and recounts the contact Evan Bayh has had with them lately. He seems like he is getting around fairly well.

As a side note on Bayh's campaign...there was a minute or two long Fox News segment which talked about all of the presedential hopefuls that have gone to Iowa - both Republican and Democrat. They mentioned that there were 10 in all. Evan Bayh was the only one however who had a a videoclip of an interview briefly played. Hey, its not much, but every little bit helps.

Congress Calls On Oil Company Execs

The Senate is finally going to be asking some tough questions of oil company executives. Namely why they are having record high profits when millions of Americans are having huge portions of their disposable income sucked away at the pump. This is going to become even more of an issue once winter bears its full brunt on much of the nation and folks start receiving thier heating oil bills. Some Democrats are proposing bills that would tax some of these record profits that oil companies are receiving. Even the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, did not rule that out when he was asked that question at a news conference. The fact that these issues are even being discussed within congress is a feat considering the vast amount of money that those companies invest in Senators re-election accounts and in lobbyists.

Alito for the Court?

Let me start out by saying that I do not and probably will not support Samuel Alito for the bench. I have found however, hardly anything that makes me want to strongly oppose him.

On abortion:
There are two cases that have got a lot of press coverage regarding Alito.

The first one is Casey v. Planned Parenthood. This is where Alito dissented to a case that struck down the requirement of spousal notification before a woman can get an abortion. Alito reasoned that requiring notification did not cause an undue hardship on a woman seeking an abortion. In his dissent he even gave several exceptions to where a woman would not have to notify a husband...such as if the baby was not his, if the husband could not be found, or if she expected to be a victim of violence because of the pregnancy. Judge Alito was not with the majority decision on this case, but I can see how a person could have his point of view on this case. Are there any fathers rights issues? What undue hardships are there on a woman when notification is required other than the exceptions Alito listed? Critics argue that even though the law requires only notification, in the real world it would require consent of the husband. I do mostly agree with the critics position, but if they wanted to argue about how things happen in the real world, if a woman didn't want to tell her husband about the abortion, she could claim any one of the exceptions that Alito expressed in his dissent and not have to notify her husband. I just don't see this as a death threat to a woman's right to choose as many people are making it.

The second case that has been a topic of discussion was Stenburg v. Carhart. In this case, Judge Alito made a concurring opinion in a case which declared the ban of partial birth abortion to be unconstitutional. If Judge Alito would not declare partial birth abortion to be unconstitutional, would he really declare abortion to be unconstitutional. This case makes it look like he would be willing to follow stare decisis and is not ruling on cases based on an ideology.

On Gun Control:

This was the other main area of discussion concerning Judge Alito. Critics began calling him "Machine Gun Sammy" in light of his decision in United States v. Rybar. In this case, Judge Alito made a dissenting opinion in a case that convicted a federally licensed arms dealer of four felonies. Reading his dissent tells you not that he supports machine guns, but rather that he has a strict interpretation of the commerce clause. In this case he argued that since there was no attempt by the government to show any interstate commerce of the weapons or attempts to transport the weapons across state lines, then the federal government had no right to regulate his activity under the commerce clause. It would be the state governments job. Strict interpretations of the commerce clause in other policy areas are something that many liberals, including myself, would support.

These have been the main cases that people have been talking about. There are several other cases which I definitely disagree with Alito. I will probably end up posting on them. Yet are only a few cases out of a 15 year career enough to immediately disqualify someone without giving them a chance to speak for themselves before the Senate? I would claim that his record is not as bad as many people claim it is for the amount of time which he has been on the federal judiciary. He has many cases that have preferable opinions on free speech for instance. My prediction is that there will be no filibuster on him and he will be confirmed to the bench.

Bush Shows Reporter What's in His Pockets

Just an odd peice of news that most reporters would never asked if they got the chance to sit down with the President of the United States. When asked what was in his pockets, President Bush "fished in his pockets, then dramatically pulled his hands out holding nothing but a white handkerchief that he waved playfully in the air." The Latin America reporter then asked him if he even had a watch. Bush replied: "Si, Timex, but I'm not supposed to be endorsing products."

Bush Announces Bird Flu Plan

This plan seems remarkably similar to an ammendment within the Senate that I wrote about last week. That ammendment, which was co-written by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, was passed as a part of the HSS budget and accomplished the same four things that President Bush wants money appropriated for now. The ability to reset the agenda and guide the public debate is one of the perks of being in the Oval Office. Bush realized that he was behind the curve, and he never misses a chance to steal issues away from democrats who can never seen to get their message out in a coordinated way. The House has yet to act on its version of the bill.