Obscure presidents worth remembering

June 23, 2010

Okay, I admit to having a fondness for obscure presidents. I mean, who isn’t fascinated by the Fillmore administration? And Chester Arthur? Enough said, know what I mean?

Kidding aside, Alan Snyder at Big Government draws our attention to two nearly forgotten presidents who nevertheless have good advice for us, more than a century after they served: Presidents James Garfield (R) and Grover Cleveland (D). Snyder briefly tells their stories, showing why they were men of good character (fighting corruption and sticking to the Constitution, for example) and then gives quotes from each that are remarkably applicable to America’s present dilemmas. One of Garfield’s from before he was president serves to illustrate:

Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. …

If the next centennial [of the Declaration of Independence] does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Take a good look at Congress the last several years and, especially, since the Democrats took over in 2007. Don’t Garfield’s words seem prescient? And don’t they point the way to fixing it, and who has to do it?

Be sure to read the rest.

PS: Back to being an obscure-presidents geek! Here are some fun trivia about James Garfield and the story of Grover Cleveland’s secret surgery.

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Genius in action, Congress edition

May 3, 2010

Yet more proof that no one was paying attention when Congress wrote the recent health-care reform bill: according to a memo obtained by The Daily Caller, the Congressional Research Service believes Congress may have set itself, as well as state and local governments, up for huge fines.

A just-released memo from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) raises fresh constitutional concerns about a provision in President Obama’s health-care law that could impose tens of millions of dollars in fines on Congress, state and local governments.

As reported by The Daily Caller, Congress could be fined up to $50 million annually by its own health-care law if low-level aides apply for government subsidies to help pay their health-care costs.

The new memo from Congress’s research arm states that state and local governments would be on the hook for such fines as well – but argues those fines may be unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedents on federalism.

It’s comforting to know we’re lead by such careful, thoughtful, responsible men and women.

RELATED: An earlier example of high craftsmanship that went into ObamaCare.


When you pass a bill no one has read…

April 13, 2010

Stuff like this is bound to happen:

Baffled by Health Plan? So Are Some Lawmakers

In a new report, the Congressional Research Service says the law may have significant unintended consequences for the “personal health insurance coverage” of senators, representatives and their staff members.

For example, it says, the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.

(…)

The law apparently bars members of Congress from the federal employees health program, on the assumption that lawmakers should join many of their constituents in getting coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.

But the research service found that this provision was written in an imprecise, confusing way, so it is not clear when it takes effect.

The new exchanges do not have to be in operation until 2014. But because of a possible “drafting error,” the report says, Congress did not specify an effective date for the section excluding lawmakers from the existing program.

Under well-established canons of statutory interpretation, the report said, “a law takes effect on the date of its enactment” unless Congress clearly specifies otherwise. And Congress did not specify any other effective date for this part of the health care law. The law was enacted when President Obama signed it three weeks ago.

Schadenfreude is sweet, and sometimes there is justice in the universe.  Devil

And this quote just begs a “So NOW you’re asking??” response:

The confusion raises the inevitable question: If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans?

A lot of us were raising that and similar questions for nearly a year before this monstrosity passed, but then we had “leaders” like Congressman John Conyers (D-MyWifeIsAFelon) tell us they didn’t need to read the bill:

I can’t wait to watch as they scramble to fix this.

(via Exurban League)

LINKS: More at Hot Air, Fausta, and Sister Toldjah.


America gives its opinion of Congress

March 29, 2010

The Pew Research Center asked people to give a one-word impression of Congress, from which they built a word cloud. The size of a word relates to its frequency. Behold the result:

Vox populi, vox Dei.  Rolling on the floor

(via: American Thinker and International Liberty)


When are bonuses not evil?

August 26, 2009

When Congress decides to pay retention bonuses to its own staff, of course.

That’s different, you see.


If the job is too tough, then quit

August 4, 2009

Now we have another congressman whining about actually having to read bills before voting on them. First it was Representative John “You gotta be kidding” Conyers, and now it’s New Hampshire Democrat Paul Hodes telling the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph to get real:

Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes (NH-02) believes reading every bill in Congress “would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl and it would be hard to get done what needs to be done.”

Members of Congress who don’t read the bills they are voting on “is not necessarily the major problem with the way Congress functions,” he said.

Hodes, who is the sole Democratic candidate in the race to replace the retiring New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, made the remarks during a recent editorial board meeting with the Nashua Telegraph.

“Hodes said it’s not realistic to expect members of Congress to read every bill word-for-word, as Congress took more than 2,000 votes in the session that ended in December,” the paper reports.

This year, Hodes voted in support of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and for so-called cap-and-trade legislation. Both measures were finalized late in the legislative process and rushed to a vote before any individual member could read the bills.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve got this whole representative democracy thing wrong. Am I silly to think someone I choose to run the government for me should actually understand the choices he makes, rather than push the voting buttons at random? By Mr. Hodes’ logic, why even show up at committee hearings to ask questions and hear witnesses? That’s got to be awfully hard, too, on the poor, overworked congresscritters.

Look, I don’t expect them to read every single bill that comes before the chamber, but on matters as consequential as a $787 billion “emergency” stimulus  bill, or health-care reforms and cap-and-trade measures that aim to establish federal control over vast swathes of the economy… You’re damn right I expect Hodes & Co. to read and understand the bills, or recuse themselves from voting on it!

And maybe they should resign, too, if that’s too much to ask of them.  Waiting

(via Hot Air)

On a related note, Iowahawk again turns over his blog to a guest-editorial, this time from Health and Human Services Secretary Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Democratic Republican Democratic Senator Arlen Specter on a growing crisis in America – that America’s Government Losing Faith in Out-of-Touch Constituents:

Nowhere has this disturbing trend been more evident than in the recent debate over health care reform. Like hundreds of our fellow legislators and government officials, we recently traveled to a town hall meeting to distribute a grassroots press release explaining why this critical legislation is a done deal. Our advance staffs said that should anticipate a respectful, positive hearing from local media and bused-in union members. Instead we were greeted by a rude howling mob of idiot “voters” who refused to listen to reason, and ruined what should have been a killer photo op for our re-election ad campaign.

Have these arrogant ivory tower armchair quarterbacks ever had to live with the pressures of being a working stiff Senator or Cabinet Secretary in Washington DC? Have they ever had to juggle markup language on a supplemental appropriations bill, or deal with an incompetent Chief of Staff who constantly double-books fund raising dinners? Apparently not, if their whiny obnoxious chants are any indication. “Read the Bill! Read the Bill!” blah, blah, blah, as if we weren’t already exhausted from writing and voting for the damned thing.

Mockery. It’s what makes American politics great. Hee hee


Good thing we killed the F-22

July 23, 2009

We wouldn’t want to worry possible opponents by having advanced fighters that are actually ready now, would we?

F-35 Fighter Two Years Behind Schedule: Pentagon Panel

An internal Pentagon oversight board has found that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is two years behind the publicly announced schedule, say multiple congressional aides familiar with the findings, sparking a sharp response from those invested in the debate over the F-22.

As Congress has debated the future of the F-22 fighter program, lawmakers have used the promise of the F-35 plane’s completion as a key plank in their argument that the F-22 line could be ended without a significant risk to national security.

Now, senators and aides are lamenting that the Pentagon oversight panel’s more pessimistic view on the F-35 program was not publicly released during the F-22 debate and are calling for more open disclosure of the problems with the development of the F-35.

The Pentagon’s Joint Estimate Team (JET), which was established to independently oversee the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, is at odds with the fighter’s Joint Program Office, the aides said. The oversight panel’s calculations determined that the fighter won’t be able to move out of the development phase and into full production mode until 2016, rather than 2014 as the program office has said. That’s assuming there are no further problems with the program, which has already faced cost overruns and schedule delays. The Government Accountability Office said the delay could cost as much as $7.4 billion.

“In every parameter and in every respect, the Joint Program Office’s projections were always a hell of a lot rosier than what the Joint Estimate Team found,” said one Senate aide who was briefed on the findings.

Doesn’t that make you feel secure? I know it reaffirms my faith in the fine, sober work Congress is doing overseeing our national security needs. Worried

LINKS: The Weekly Standard, which quotes a (yeah, anonymous) “defense expert:”

“Gates and company get caught hiding the ball once again. Just another piece of evidence suggesting the decision to end the F-22’s production was driven not by analysis and study but simply a desire to cut the budget.”