Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Exactly two months after conservative commentators defeated President Bush on the nomination of Harriet Miers, we have seen Republican congressmen in the Senate (55% Republican) and House (53% Republican) expressing their personal preferences in a similar manner:

1. The defeat of ANWR
2. The extension of the Patriot Act for ONE MONTH!!! Whoppee!

From The Seattle Times:

The House balked Thursday at a Senate plan to extend the Patriot Act by six months to give Congress and Bush more time to work out their differences, instead forcing the Senate and administration to accept an extension until Feb. 3.

At the same time, the House approved the defense bill that was shorn of a provision promoted by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, that would have opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

. . .

Congress finished a year in which it rebuffed Bush on many of his top priorities and showed a new willingness to assert its prerogatives after four years during which the president largely dictated the terms and sought to expand executive power at the expense of the legislative branch. [emphasis mine]

. . .

The House action was a setback for Bush, who had repeatedly said he would not accept a "short-term extension."

Democratic lawmakers quickly hailed the House vote as a victory. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said: "Democrats are happy with a one-month extension of the Patriot Act. We always said that we would accept a short-term extension to give negotiators time to get the final bill right."

From CNN:

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, trimmed the extension to one month Thursday and criticized the Senate for trying to "duck the issue until the last week in June."

. . .

Sensenbrenner said he would have preferred no extension at all. But he agreed to Thursday's bill to avoid a special session.
[emphasis mine]

So nice to see a major Republican congressman tell us that no security is better than some security.

Democrats are happy. Republicans are in disarray.

3. More and more bad press on the Alito nomination with the coming argument that he is too extreme because he lobbied for overturning Roe v. Wade.

Congratulations National Review, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Phyllis Schlafly, Ann Coulter and milder critics like Rush Limbaugh. Isn’t it nice to see everyone expressing their opinion without regard to the consequences on the nation?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tribune Coverage of City Sewer Deal Stinks

In a long article Nick Budnick of the Portland Tribune gives Portland a pass on its massive sewage spills into the Willamette and other local waterways and its poor track record on meeting EPA clean water requirements.

The thrust of Budnick's article "Stink still rises in city sewer deal" is that rural Oregon Republicans complained to the EPA because farmers were "getting fined for letting a relatively small amount of cow feces . . . reach rivers" and "Portland was getting fined less for doing a lot worse." According to City Commissioner Sam Adams, the EPA then supposedly started to clamp down on Portland in order to "'curry favor with rural Republicans.'"

First, even if this is true, why should small violators like farmers who do little damage be fined when large violators get off simply because they have political clout? Isn't the real story that the City of Portland has used its political power to wiggle out of fines and lengthen the process of cleaning up its polluting infrastructure when farmers and other smaller polluters were never given the same consideration?

Second, reporter Nick Budnick only mentions in passing that Oregon's DEQ (under a Democratic state administration) hit Portland with major fines because of it recent massive sewage spills. (Note to Nick: Better check to see how much clout rural Republicans have on Oregon's DEQ.)

For years, to build the Big Pipe mandated by DEQ, the city shifted money away from maintenance. Lack of maintenance caused many of the clean-water violations that led DEQ to propose fining the city almost $500,000 last month.

Okay, let's get this straight. Portland had a sewage leak problem. So, it spent its money on a future project (the Big Pipe) instead of maintaining its present system. City officials (and the Tribune) seem to think that as long as you are working on a future fix for the sewage spill problem you didn't have to take reasonable steps to make sure that the present system is working properly.

Nick at the Tribune fails to mention in his article that because of Portland's negligence among other recent spills, Portland dumped 660,000 gallons of sewage into the Willamette River just in September and 511,000 gallons of sewage into Fanno Creek in October. Oops! A few cow feces and even high level industrial pollution sound good in comparison to that.

Unfortunately mentioning the severity of the City's DEQ problems would run counter to Nick's and the City Commissioners' thesis that Portland is being picked on by the EPA for political reasons rather than because they are the major polluter of Oregon's waters and are way behind on federal clean water standards. So, no real account is given of the DEQ violations.

Apparently both the EPA and the DEQ should give Portland a pass on its polluting behavior because, as Sam Adams, Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Environmental Services, puts it:

"We are on the verge of ratepayer revolt. We are not a cash cow for them. We are trying to maintain jobs and businesses in the city of Portland."

I wonder if this argument will work for automakers, paper mills, and chemical plants--not to mention farmers and their cows.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Day of Infamy

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

. . .

"I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

"Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

"With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God."

Franklin D. Roosevelt
The White House
December 8, 1941

hear FDR’s speech

Pearl Harbor casualties: 2,402
9/11 casualties: 2,948

Truly the Greatest Generation!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Never Forget

Thanks to Mike's America who pointed this link out from Cap'n Bob.