Monday, November 15, 2010
Congressman Heath Shuler of North Carolina's Eleventh Congressional District has thrown his name into the Goblet of Fire. He is all over the national news as the guy who is going to challenge Nancy Pelosi.
Shuler is not going to defeat Pelosi in the Democratic Caucus. Indeed, the Democrats may be as sorry that he is a member of their team now as the Redskins were that they drafted him. I spoke to a knowledgeable Republican in Western North Carolina today. This person was a very active supporter of Jeff Miller, the Republican who ran against Shuler this year. He reports the following:
The word is out in North Carolina that Heath Shuler is going to change parties after his failed attempt to unseat Pelosi. The word is that he would be able to say that he tried to move the Dems to the center, but that they moved to the left instead, and as such, he would leave the party.
If Shuler does leave the Democratic Party, then just remember that you heard it here first.
The new GOP majority in the House of Representatives needs to be very judicious in the exercise of its majority power. The whole thesis of this blog is that the voters did not give the GOP a blank check. One area of great concern is the use of the House Government Affairs and Oversight Committee.
The GOP's most recent era of legislative majority was split into two pieces: (1) From 1995-2001 when Bill Clinton was president; and (2) 2001 and beyond when George Bush was president. During the first era, the Republicans used their majority status in the House to pursue partisan political investigations, which, I would submit, interfered with their primary purpose and helped lead to their downfall.
The quintessential Republican investigator of the 90s was Indiana Congressman Dan Burton. Don't get me wrong: Congressman Burton is a reliable conservative. He votes the right way on speding, taxes, right to life, constitutionalism etc. However, he guided some very partisan investigations of the Clintonistas. He is indeed the ghost of Congressional investigations past.
Congressman Burton was then and is now a member of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee. As a member of that committee during the Clinton Administration, he dug deeply into the death of Vincent Foster. His conduct was perhaps perceived as unbecoming of a member of the House of Representatives. Congressman Burton was unable to keep a lid on his contempt for President Clinton. He was at one point quoted as saying:
"If I could prove 10 percent of what I believe happened, he'd [Clinton] be gone. This guy's a scumbag. That's why I'm after him."
His tactics and drama were over the top, worthy of a conservative Michael Moore. In the end, the American people saw the Republican use of the House investigative power as very overtly partisan.
Those attitudes still prevail. Two recent Rasmussen polls are instructive. In one, Rasmussen finds that Americans don't want the GOP to use the House investigative power on the Obama Administration itself (40 per cent favor, 44 per cent oppose). In another, Rasmussen finds by a margin of 55-32 that Americans do want the GOP to use its House investigative power to examine the fiscal costs of Obamacare.
The lesson of 1998 is reflected in those two Rasmussen polls: Don't investigate "birther" allegations or Ground Zero Mosque developers or Reverend Wright, or anything else that would bee seen as partisan. DO aggressively analyze and investigate the devastating financial impact that Obamacare will have on the Republic. If they GOP takes the latter route, then they will do the nation a great service and reap political rewards. If the GOP takes the former route, then they risk awakening the Ghost of Investigations Past, and the failure that he will bring.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
"I will say in response to Mr. Seitz, ‘Let me help you pack.’ We have real problems in our state that we have to fix and we don’t have the time, nor the money, nor the patience any longer for people who put themselves before our citizens,”
- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in response to a school administrator who threatened to take his services to another state due to new caps on public salaries.
Alaska's Joe Miller doesn't appear to have a clue that he has absolutely no chance of winning the race for one of Alaska's two U.S. Senate seats. The race has gone into overtime, with hand counting of the write-in ballots taking up everyone's Saturday yesterday. A quote attributed to Mr. Miller by the Anchorage Daily News indicates that his team has failed to do some very basic mathematics.
"Miller, who visited the cavernous counting center on Juneau's outskirts, said he has not calculated what percentage of the vote would need to be challenged successfully for the race to be tight enough to possibly force a recount or make the prospect of a legal battle over ballots reality." (Anchorage Daily News, November 13, 2010)
What does that mean?
There are two possibilities:
(1) That no one in the Miller camp can do basic third-grade math;
(2) That Miller's camp has done the math, but wants to pretend that they haven't because there is a perception out there that they are challenging just enough write-in votes to keep the race "alive".
You can decide which explanation better fits the facts. The fact is that Joe Miller and his supporters are in the final seconds of Joe's fifteen minutes of fame. They are in the unenviable position of having raised money to keep the challenge alive while at the same time having no chance to prevail. This hell is probably the result of bad self-serving advice of paid political operatives and/or attorneys who stand to milk the campaign for a few more dollars. Joe Miller is a good conservative and an honorable man. It is time for him to put an end to the madness.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
The Anchorage Daily News reports that approximately ninety-eight per cent of the write-in ballots in the race for one of Alaska's two U.S. Senate seats are counted for Lisa Murkowski. Simple mathematics says that Murkowski has won this race handily.
According to published results, "write-in" has garnered 98,565, with 87,517 for Republican Joe Miller. The ninety-eight percent trend is based on three days of counting; thus, it is a significant trend. Third-grade mathematics tells us that 98% of 98,565 is 96,593 votes for Lisa Murkowski. That total gives Murkowski a nine-thousand vote lead over Miller.
It is my sincere hope that the Miller campaign has someone who can do math at the third grade level because that person can now tell him that it is time to stand down. It is time to shut down the fundraising. It is time to stop the interviews on talk radio and Fox News. It is time to stop the attacks.
But based on reports published in the Anchorage Daily News, and based on the posts on Joe Miller's Facebook page, it does not appear that Miller. The Miller campaign is touting affidavits that they say are evidence of voter fraud. They are making chain-of-custody allegations. They are alleging that the group charged with ballot security is biased toward Senator Murkowski. They are challenging votes where the name is not spelled exactly right. They are challenging write-ins for every possible reason. This was very unnatractive when Al Gore did it in 2000 in Florida. It is very unattractive now.
They have a team of attorneys up there who are being funded by the NRSC, who started raising money after Mark Levin and others took them to task on talk radio. Senator Murkowski has stated that she would caucus with the GOP. I suspect that she is mature and experienced enough to appreciate that this is just politics, and as a result she will still caucus with the GOP. But the GOP should not take that for granted.
As an election law attorney with fourteen years experience, I can tell you that the Miller camp is using the "spaghetti justice" approach to election law. They are throwing the whole pot of pasta up on the wall to see what sticks. We have a job to do in Washington, one that Joe Miller passionately supports. It is my sincere hope that the person who understands third grade math prevails soon because the Alaska ballot count is a distraction from the task at hand: Balancing the federal budget and ending the Obama deficits.
Joe Miller's fifteen minutes of fame are expiring. Joe, please face that fact. You are making the Tea Party look bad now. You are making your patron, Sarah Palin look bad now. I understand that it is tough to face the silence after the campaign, but you are hurting the very cause for which you have so ably fought in this year's elections.
Friday, November 12, 2010
The debate over the nature of the 2010 GOP mandate continues.
This blog has only scratched the surface of what 2010 means. When thinking about 2010, we need to analyze this mandate in the light of past experience. In other words, the GOP need not repeat the past mistakes of either party.
In terms of past mistakes, 1998 jumps to mind. The GOP congress appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Bill Clinton's misdemeanors, which appointment led to impeachment hearings and a half-baked impeachment "trial". The work of the highly zealous special prosecutor, together with the work of the House Government Oversight Committee turned a situation where Slick Willie was clearly wrong into a situation where Slick Willie was the victim.
With Slick Willie giving an Oscar-worthy victim performance, the GOP lost seats in the 1998 midterm election.
One of those losses was particularly painful. My Congressman at the time lost his seat. My congressman was a tightwad fiscal conservative and one of the most hardworking public servants that you will ever meet. In his zeal, he used his time in the well of the House to sing a song parody "Twinkle Twinkle Kenneth Starr". C-SPAN captured the performance, which his ultra-liberal opponent used in massive ad buys. My congressman lost the election. His replacement, Rush Holt, still represents New Jersey's 12th Congressional District. He has the most liberal voting record in the House.
The song became a symbol of the very unpopular impeachment proceedings, Monica Lewinksy (pictured above) enjoyed her fifteen minutes of fame.
The unelected special prosecutor became the face of the GOP. He was an easy target. The GOP lost sight of fiscal restraint because impeachment had put our heads squarely up our derrieres. We never regained our focus. The GOP lost control of the debate, and as a result the public believed that we were more interested in marking Slick Willie with the Scarlet "A" than we were in governing.
I don't say this to place blame on others. Mea culpa: I was on the impeachment bandwagon big time, and even encouraged my congressman to vote to impeach the president.
So when we add 1998 and 2010, what is the sum?
Those of you who said 4008 are mathematically good, but humor challenged. The the sum is that the GOP should tread lightly where investigations of the Obama Administration are concerned, especially any investigation that smacks of impeachment or criminal charges. The public did not give the GOP the House to do that. Any inquiries by congressional committees should be civil and focus on excessive spending and reducing the size of this behemoth we call the federal government.