Friday, January 12, 2007

Democrats' 100-Hour Agenda Advances Smoothly

The 110th Congress, the first in twelve years under Democratic leadership, continued today to push its much-lauded 100-Hour Plan. The House of Representatives, pushed by newly-elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi (the first woman to ever hold that office), passed yesterday morning a piece of legislation giving extensive federal funding to stem-cell research.
The bill, which would overturn a 2001 Bush Administration ban on such scientific activity, gives a tremendous boost to the controversial experimentation that has been at the center of the moral values debate since nit emerged onto the cultural stage some nine years ago in the late 1990's. Proponents of stem cell research argue that the science offers great promise to those suffering from spinal cord injuries (and the accompanying paralysis), blindess, most types of cancers, spinabifida, Alzheimer's, and a score of other diseases. To deny funding for such potentially life-giving treatment, they say, sacrifices medical advance and human health for the sake of ideology.
Critics of stem cell usage counter that, in creating and destroying embryos (which are used for in vitro fertilization), scientists are playing God with human life. One such person was Senator Sam Brownback (R, KS), who said of the Democratic measure, "We all want to find cures and treatments for the many diseases and maladies that affect millions of Americans, but there are better options than research that kills nascent human lives."
Mr. Brownback has the support of many other prominent Republicans, including President Bush, who has threatened to veto the act if it passes the Senate. Mr. Bush cast the first veto of his presidency in August of 2006, shooting down a nearly identical bill that had enjoyed bipartisan cooperation in both houses of Congress.
While the Senate will likely give narrow approval to the House's proposal, the draft seems to be headed for defeat; the vote in the lower chamber was 253 for, 174 against, short of the 290 needed to override a presidential veto. This problem is compounded by the fact that Democrats have a mere one-seat majority in the Senate and almost certainly would fail in any override attempt (assuming that such an effort made it out of the House).
An equally divisive bill came through the House this morning, this one requiring the federal government directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare patients with major pharmaceutical companies. Under current regulations, a noninterference clause prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Michael Levitt) from engaging in any such talks with the private drug industry.
President Bush has also threatened to veto this new law, saying that natural economic competition among insurance agencies should and will ensure the lowest possible costs for American consumers.
A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 81% of U.S. seniors supported direct bargaining between the government and drug companies, with 67% "strongly" wishing for the bill to be enacted.
While stem cell research and Medicare costs have created ire on both sides of the aisle, other aspects of the Democrats' ambitious plan have gone more easily. On January 5th, the House implemented a new "pay-as-you-go" policy, requiring that any federal tax cuts be met with tax increases in other economic sectors or reductions in government spending. A response to the historic deficits that have accrued under the Bush Administration, this effort has been widely praised.
Another Democratic action that has proven popular was the January 9th vote to implement the recommendations made by the 9/11 commission, which convened in the summer of 2004 to study the time leading up to September 11th and conclude what could have been done to prevent the attacks. If the legislation passes the Senate and is signed by the President (as it is expected to), all air and sea cargo entering the United States will have to be inspected before being unloaded onto American shores. Under the laws now in place, less than 5% of cargo reaching the U.S. is searched for hazardous materials. This provision will become fully effective within five years.
By far the most popular Democratic measure to date in the new Congress was lobbying reform initiated by that party on January 4th, which prohibited lawmakers from receiving gifts, going on trips, or taking flights paid for by interest groups. The act passed the House by 430 to 1.
On January 10th, the House voted 315 to 116 to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour within the next twenty-six months. The wage increase seems to be a solid piece of legislation, and is forecast to easily pass through the Senate. A Democratic effort to pass a similar bill last year was fought and eventually extinguished by conservative members in the then-Republican chamber.
Within the next week, Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership intend to continue advancing their agenda, with votes scheduled on legislation that would halve interest rates on college loans and end multi-billion dollar federal subsidies to large oil companies.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Some Numbers...

President Bush's approval rating, as of May 18, 2006?

29%

This makes him one of the most unpopular presidents in the history of polling, now behind only Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon (he tied with his father when he reached 29%). With Democrats favored over Republicans by fully fourteen percentage points in the polls and the election still six months away, our unfortunate President could well find himself with the lowest approval ratings ever recorded.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some Numbers...

President's Bush's approval rating has reached a record low of 32%, less than a third of the American people. This is according to a CNN poll conducted earlier this week. Even Fox News, that safe haven of network conservatism, rated Bush's performance at only 33%.
The most optimistic of the polls rated him at only 35%. All the same, the CNN poll seems to have gotten the greatest consensus, and is an onimous sign for an increasingly tenuous Republican as the 2006 Congressional election looms just six months away.
Should the President's and Congressional Republicans' approval ratings continue to sink at their present rate (or, indeed, should they even remain where they are), it would spell out a very optimistic prospect for the Democrats this November.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Some Numbers...

34%: Overall job approval rating for President George W. Bush, the lowest he has ever had.

36%: Overall job approval rating of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, at the height of the Watergate scandal.

52%: Percentage of Americans supporting impeachment if the President's wiretapping program is proven to have been illegal.

0: Number of Senate hearings being held to investigate the legality of the wiretaps.

What does this say to you?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Vice Presidential Hunting Accident

For the record, I invented this joke and am taking full credit for it.

"My opinion of the Vice President has changed."

"Oh, yes? How?"

"I used to think he was a liar. Now I can see he's a straight shooter."

This was literally the first thing to pop into this Editor's mind when he learned that the Vice President had accidentally shot a 78-year-old companion in the chest and head while quail hunting. We all have our faults.
The victim, who had a mild heart attack several days ago because of a bullet in his chest, is recovering in a Texas hospital.
The Vice President was criticized for not having his office make the information public until a full day after the incident took place. Some of this anger seems to be misguided, as the Vice President did have a friend of his make a public statement and did not actively attempt to conceal the accident.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

2006 State of the Union Address

President Bush delivered his sixth State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress this Tuesday, giving a largely general speech at a time when the country remains bitterly divided. The Address was marked, for the first time in this President’s history, by a lack of confrontational, controversial, or wide-ranging proposals. President Bush acknowledged his conservative base, issued the same standard calls for morality in the fields of science and public policy, and then went on to say essentially nothing for about an hour.
The President opened his speech by noting the loss of Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., who died the morning before the State of the Union was given. He called briefly for the spread of democracy in the Middle East and remarked that American soldiers were doing good in the world, whereupon he directed the attention of the packed House to the parents and sibling of a recently fallen U.S. serviceman who had been stationed in Iraq.
Many of his statements during the speech were so soft, so neutral and so watered-down, that virtually anyone would have agreed with what he was saying. However, criticism of Democratic policies, though veiled and indirect, was there. Lamenting the growing discontent over the Iraq war, the President declared that, “The decision to withdraw troops will be made by generals on the ground, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.”
This exclamation drew thunderous self-righteous applause and a standing ovation from the Republican half of the floor, whereas the Democratic side of the Chamber remained still as a statue, coldly looking on as the President smirked from the lectern at the front of the room. Like so many insults against the Democrats on Tuesday, this one was implied; the “politicians in Washington, D.C.” were of course the Left, who, it was to be understood, are removed from what “real” Americans think and whose criticism against the war is as “irresponsible” as it is elitist.
This statement was, however, misleading; very few Democrats have called for the immediate withdrawal of troops, and most are united around the fact that the American military must stay in Iraq until that country can govern itself. The opposition being expressed by the majority of the Left is not to American troop presence in Iraq, but rather the intelligence failures (or manipulation) that led to that presence in the first place. The idea that Democrats wish to pull the Army out of Iraq is a Republican myth propagated by conservative officials, whose constant reiteration that “immediate withdrawal is not the answer” leads many to believe that there is actually a faction seriously proposing that U.S. forces vacate the country, when in fact there is no such political movement within the mainstream Democratic Party.
The misrepresentation of Democratic intentions was not the only half-truth uttered in the State of the Union. The disaster in New Orleans was virtually skipped over, meriting only a few sentences in the entire speech. Even when acknowledging that something had gone wrong in Louisiana, President Bush merely addressed it in terms of the American people being “concerned.”
He also urged, for his fifth State of the Union in a row, that Congress invest more money in alternative energy sources like hydrogen to power cars, and said Americans must put a stop to this country’s “addiction to oil.” This marked perhaps one of the most ironic and telling portions of the speech, as it illustrated not only this nation’s perilous energy situation but also the consistent disconnect between what the White House says and reality.
For, despite having asked for five years in a row that Congress take steps to ease America’s dependence on foreign oil, the President continues to sponsor enormous tax cuts for the nation’s largest oil companies, granting them government subsidies at a time when they are already reaping in record profits. Indeed, the President’s initiatives have actually contributed to foreign oil dependence, which seems to lead one to the conclusion that President Bush is doing almost the exact opposite of what he says he will do. While earnestly portraying himself as an environmentalist who cares about the preservation of our nation’s natural beauty, he is simultaneously attacking environmental restrictions and attempting to have endangered species reclassified so that wealthy developers can build in their habitats. The difference between what George W. Bush says and what George W. Bush does has never been starker than it was last night. He is a man who espouses middle class values but feeds upper class corruption, a man who claims to represent the working people but whose tax cuts (for the wealthy) have hurt the poor before all others. A candidate who promised to return honor to the presidency, he has desecrated it by leading our country into war under false pretenses, repeatedly violating our Constitution, and using the name of our Lord to forward his despicable agenda.
All in all, the impression that one got of the State of the Union Address was that it was muffled. President Bush was like a rambunctious dog, that, having been boisterously wild in days before, has been trained through repeated lashings with a whip to be still. The President seemed as if he wanted to say more, but could, for fear of that political whip. All of President Bush’s other State of the Union speeches contained broad reform initiatives, especially last year’s, which acted as the starting point for his failed attempt to privatize Social Security. When the President noted that, “Congress failed to act on my Social Security initiatives,” the Democratic side of the floor burst into a cacophony of clapping and cheering. The President, visibly angered, wagged his finger at the Democratic legislators before continuing with the Address. It could not possibly have been more apparent that President Bush’s “political capital” has long since dissipated. He understands (or at least his speechwriters do) that he does not have the same kind of overwhelming support, even within his own party, that he once commanded. The 2006 State of the Union Address reflected a President whose many mistakes have made him a political pariah, an object of scorn for the majority of the American people, and, increasingly, a leader who simply cannot get things done. President Bush has two more State of the Union Addresses to deliver before he leaves office in 2009, but it seems that he may already beginning to walk down Lame Duck Lane.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An Endorsement of Impeachment: The Only Answer

For the last three years, President George W. Bush has authorized, without Congressional consent or the power of established law, illegal surveillance phone taps on thousands of innocent Americans.
The very fact that such wiretaps have proceeded without the consent of the specially appointed FISA court is extremely alarming, and the idea that those who authorized the illegal actions could continue to hold power is simply abominable, contrary to everything we know in this land about Constitutional supremacy and equality before the law. It is because of this most egregious of violations that we here at ConservativeDemocratNews are now officially calling for the impeachment of our nation’s 43rd Chief Executive, United States President George W. Bush. We extend our endorsement to all other democratic (lower case intentional) organizations advocating the legal removal of this President and the protection of that most sacred of documents, the United States Constitution. Mr. Bush, upon his accession in 2001, took an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He has now violated the terms of the agreement by which he became the Commander-in-Chief of this country, and no longer has the legal right to hold that office.
His usurpations of power have become too great, the danger to our Republic too real. Impeachment is the only remedy. The rule of law in the United States must be preserved.