Free Markets, Free People

Senate


Early voting numbers may spell Harry Reid’s electoral doom

Sharon Angle might not be anyone’s choice for Senator if she were running against anyone else, but apparently when the opponent is the much loved Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, she’ll do just fine:

In Reno’s Washoe County and Las Vegas’s Clark County, Republican turnout was disproportionately high over the first three voting days, according to local election officials. The two counties together make up 86 percent of the state’s voter population.

[...]

Some 47 percent of early voters in the bellwether Washoe County so far have been Republicans, while 40 percent have been Democrats, according to the Washoe County Registrar. Nearly 11,000 people had voted in Washoe over the first three days of early voting, which began Saturday.

Voter registration in the county is evenly split, 39 percent to 39 percent. The disproportionate turnout is a concrete indication of the Republican enthusiasm that is expected to portend a nationwide GOP wave.

Early voting is often an indicator of how a race will go on election day as it tends to demonstrate which side has, as the article notes, the most enthusiasm about the election. Right now the numbers are pointing to a decided advantage for the GOP.

Well, you say, that’s a heavily Republican county. What about turnout in a heavily Democratic one? The news is pretty much the same:

In Clark County, which is heavily Democratic, more Democrats than Republicans have voted, but Republicans are outperforming their share of the electorate.

Out of the nearly 47,000 votes cast in Clark County, 46 percent were Democrats, 39 percent Republicans, according to the Clark County Election Department. But while Democrats make up 46 percent of the county’s registered voters, Republicans constitute just 33 percent.

Harry Reid, the best argument going for not using seniority as a basis for picking your leaders, may end up being a statistic. Perhaps his loss will push unemployment back up over 10%. It would be a fitting end for a politician who has done much to "lead" us into the mess we now suffer.

I know its early and yes, I know he could eek out a win, but I’m just feeling it in my bones. Angle will be a junior Senator with little power and someone Nevadans can get rid of in 6 years if she turns out like I think she will. But I think they’re realizing that in relative terms, she’s a small price to pay for getting rid of Harry Reid.

I say, “Amen” to that.

~McQ


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 03 Oct 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Meg Whitman controvery in California, public pensions, and Obamacare.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 26 Sep 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale are joined by special guest Clyde Middleton from Liberty Pundits to discuss Barbara Boxer, the controversy surrounding the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, and the week’s Congressional antics.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


The GOP’s temporary strategy to block Obama admin legislation

In a few words it can be summed up by "deny funding".

Republicans will try to block money requested by the Obama administration to implement Democrats’ signature Wall Street and healthcare reforms in a stopgap spending measure expected to clear Congress next week. The GOP is seizing on the administration’s funding request as an opportunity to send a message to voters that it wants to reduce government spending and provide a check on President Obama.

Given they don’t have the votes to repeal it and override the presidential veto which is sure to follow any such attempt, this is about their only choice. How effective it would be – both politically and in reality – remain unknown. As one might imagine, the blowback potential is significant.

The first test – since Democrats haven’t passed a budget – is a continuing resolution (CR) necessary to keep government funded beyond Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.  It is needed to prevent a government shutdown.  Republicans are planning to target those parts of the spending request which apply to funding parts of the new legislation:

The Obama administration has asked appropriators crafting the CR to include roughly $20 billion in new spending, according to GOP appropriators.

That request includes $250 million for doctors, nurses, physician assistants and other primary-care health workers. In asking appropriators for the money, the administration said the increase in health workforce funding is needed to meet the demands of the newly insured under the Democrats’ healthcare act.

The administration also requested $14 million for the Treasury Department so it can carry out the new Wall Street reforms.

Says Sen. Lamar Alexander:

“If the question is whether to approve money to fund certain parts of the healthcare law, that’s certainly one way to try to limit its impact,” he said.

Indeed, without majorities or the White House, this is the only avenue that’s really open to the GOP.

Of course that’s brought the usual obstructionist charges from Democrats:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) blamed Republicans for the need to resort to a stopgap spending measure in the first place.

“I’d much prefer doing individual bills, but with the Republicans blocking everything, that’s hard to do,” Leahy said.

Yeah, bi-partisanship is a bitch, huh Senator – especially when you can’t just ram things through with an filibuster proof majority as you once could.  Someone get him a little cheese for that whine.

In the meantime this is the best way for the GOP to lessen the impact of the bad legislation this administration has passed, until they can gain the majorities and the White House and work toward repeal.

~McQ


Ezra Klein’s rather silly defense of the 17th Amendment (updates)

Ezra Klein seems to be bragging somewhat about something that frankly makes him look foolish.  Apparently he appeared on C-SPAN with Heritage’s Brian Darling.  Darling made the point that the Senate, by design, was supposed to be a voice of the states.  Klein disputes that, I assume, because he apparently doesn’t know his history. 

Responding to a questioner, [Brian Darling] went so far as to say he’d consider repeal of the 17th amendment, which would mean that senators would again be elected by state legislatures rather than voters.

I’ve never understood this sort of thing, and said so in the panel. The Founders didn’t wisely orient the Senate around states. They pragmatically oriented the Senate around states. But now that we’ve been the United States of America for a while and none of the states seem likely to secede, the fact that California has 69 times more people than Wyoming but the same representation in the Senate is an offensive anachronism, at least to Californians.

Secession?  Where did that come from?

It is certainly true, given that remark, that he doesn’t understand  Darling’s argument. Here’s Klein’s argument at the link in the cite:

In Philadelphia in 1787, the smaller states favored the New Jersey Plan — one chamber with equal representation per state — while James Madison argued for two chambers, both apportioned by population, which would benefit his Virginia.

The delegates finally settled on the Connecticut Compromise, or the Great Compromise. Seats in the lower chamber would be apportioned by population (with some residents counting more than others, of course) while seats in the upper chamber would be awarded two per state.

The idea was to safeguard states’ rights at a time when the former colonies were still trying to get used to this new country of theirs. But the big/small divide was nothing like what we have today. Virginia, the biggest of the original 13 states, had 538,000 people in 1780, or 12 times as many people as the smallest state, Delaware.

That version, I assume, is one he’s cobbled together to support his view that it was all a  pragmatic compromise.  But, of course, it wasn’t.  It was instead, a very carefully designed system of government.  And he misrepresents Madison’s view on the subject completely. 

How do I know? Because I’ve read Madison’s writing on the subject in the Federalist papers.

The debate at the time, the concern I should say, was transitioning from the Articles of Confederation to government under the Constitution.  All knew it meant a more powerful government at a national level and all were quite wary of that. Remember, those writing the Constitution were state delegations.  THAT was the great concern of theirs given the oppressive yoke of imperial England they had just removed from their necks.  All, while they may have differed on the structure – and that’s where the arguments took place – wanted a a more FEDERAL government than a NATIONAL government.

After outlining what a republican form of government is, Madison notes the concerns of those who think the Constitution will make it a NATIONAL government vs a FEDERAL government by outlining the differences between the national and federal types.  Here’s Madison in Federalist 39:

"But it was not sufficient," say the adversaries of the proposed Constitution, "for the convention to adhere to the republican form. They ought, with equal care, to have preserved the FEDERAL form, which regards the Union as a CONFEDERACY of sovereign states; instead of which, they have framed a NATIONAL government, which regards the Union as a CONSOLIDATION of the States."

So there, in the hand of the man who drafted the Constitution, are the working definitions of the two terms as they understood them.  Note how the FEDERAL form is defined.  As you read through the rest of Federalist 39, you’ll find Madison discussing both the NATIONAL model and the FEDERAL model and pointing out some of both are necessary.  They had a purely FEDERAL form under the Articles of Confederation.  It didn’t work well.  They knew that had to put some national powers into the hands of the new government, but they feared such a type of government, so they wanted to limit the scope of that power.  He specifically addresses the Congress and how it was purposely designed to limit the power of a national government while importantly preserving some federalism:

The House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America; and the people will be represented in the same proportion, and on the same principle, as they are in the legislature of a particular State. So far the government is NATIONAL, not FEDERAL. The Senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the States, as political and coequal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate, as they now are in the existing Congress. So far the government is FEDERAL, not NATIONAL.

That one paragraph, in its simplicity, points out for those who will take the time to read and understand it – something Klein may wish to do – that the Constitution wasn’t some “pragmatic” compromise.  Klein seems unable to understand that the purpose of the Senate is to provide coequal political representation to the states.  That representation was to act as a brake on both the national government and the people (another “national” entity) who were represented in the House.  The equal representation of the states in the Senate was also meant to prevent the larger states from running roughshod over the smaller states, something which happens quite frequently in the House.  What Klein seems to want is another House in the Senate.  He seems totally unfamiliar with why the Senate was designed as it was.  Just read his thoughts on how he’d structure it and you’ll see what I mean.

Madison considered the final product to be a necessary mix, not a pragmatic compromise, of federal and national power conferred on the government in order to make it work properly but keep the national power in check.  The mix of both was designed to give the government the necessary powers it lacked under the Articles of Confederation while also, and this is critical to the success of that design, preserving the rights and power of the states.  

The proposed Constitution, therefore, is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both. In its foundation it is federal, not national; in the sources from which the ordinary powers of the government are drawn, it is partly federal and partly national; in the operation of these powers, it is national, not federal; in the extent of them, again, it is federal, not national; and, finally, in the authoritative mode of introducing amendments, it is neither wholly federal nor wholly national.

The 17th Amendment destroyed that design and balance. Look at the mess that has wrought.  Repealing the 17th Amendment would begin to walk the national government back to this mix of government designed by the founders.  Since the amendment’s passage, the government has shifted to a wholly national government and states have essentially lost their sovereignty and their rights.  We have paid the price and suffer the consequences.

There are certainly other contributors to that situation, but the 17th Amendment is one of the biggest contributors.  Klein needs to acquaint himself with the actual design of the Constitutional government built by the founders like James Madison.  There’s an entire book that will do that for him – “The Federalist Papers”.  If he’d read them, he might not look quite so foolish the next time he attempts to pontificate on what the founders thought.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike, I suppose – Brian Darling’s rebuttal (replete with Federalist 39 reference).

UPDATE II: James Joyner and Steven Taylor join the fray. I’d only say to Dr. Taylor’s assertion that Madison’s writings in Fed.39 were a "post-hoc rationalization", that they could just as easily represent a "post-hoc realization" that they had in fact designed a very good model for government and thus the "eloquent" argument. Personally I’ve never been able to argue eloquently for anything in which I didn’t believe in passionately.

~McQ


It’s official – cap-and-trade is dead … for now

The Senate just pulled the plug on including cap-and-trade, even on a limited basis (only utilities). Any energy bill will be a scaled back version not including climate change legislation.

Senate Democrats pulled the plug on climate legislation Thursday, pushing the issue off into an uncertain future ahead of midterm elections where President Barack Obama’s party is girding for a drubbing.

Rather than a long-awaited measure capping greenhouse gases — or even a more limited bill directed only at electric utilities — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will move forward next week on a bipartisan energy-only bill that responds to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and contains other more popular energy items.

And, if the “drubbing” comes through – as it should – the possibility of that window opening again any time soon is poor.

But that doesn’t mean the Dems won’t at some point attempt it again – whether supported by the people or science.

I mean, look how many times they took a run at health care.

~McQ

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Cap-and-trade: And the good news is …

Cap-and-trade is on life support.  Or so says Politico, and, frankly, the clock.  With the August recess rapidly approaching and no bill yet on the floor of the Senate, it appears that the Senate won’t be passing an “Energy and Climate” bill this session.

That’s mostly because of the cap-and-trade provisions and the greenhouse emissions portion of the bill.   Because of those provisions, the necessary Republican votes simply aren’t there.  The bill, sponsored by John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, is scaled back from the original intent to have cap-and-trade apply to a broader sector of industry to only the energy industry.

As you might imagine, that industry isn’t at all pleased with the focus solely on them.  Lieberman and Kerry haven’t yet convinced them to sign on to the bill nor have they found the sweetners which would entice them.

Meanwhile, apparently some of the Republicans in the Senate have made it clear that this rush through of major legislation shouldn’t happen:

“He’s waiting until we have, like, two or three days to tackle a subject that usually takes seven or eight weeks,” GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander said of Reid. “That makes it very difficult.”

“Can I be very candid with you?” Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) asked. “This whole thing is very cynical. Anybody who’s been in the Senate for any period of time knows there’s no way — no way — an energy bill can get done between now and the election or even now and the end of the year.”

The “he” referred too in the quote is, of course, Senate Majority leader Reid. And apparently – at least it seems so now – the “we’ve got to rush this through” ploy is not going to carry the day. 

Some Senators think that Reid should take the cap-and-trade provisions out of the bill:

“If they’re serious about bringing it up next week, they’ve got to show it soon,” said Bill Wicker, spokesman for Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). “You can’t release it late Friday and expect people to read it and be prepared to debate it on Monday.”

But of course, Reid and the Democrats have never really cared one whit about debate or, in fact, anyone having the chance to read anything.  Witness the health care fiasco and even the financial regulation bill.  Both over 2,500 pages and what passed for “debate” was a farce.

Lieberman still hopes that the Senate will deal with the bill – even in a lame duck session.  Calling them “big and important issues regarding energy independence, pollution reduction, job creation”, he hopes the Senate won’t be constrained by some “artificial schedule.”  But time doesn’t stand still for anyone and reality is reality.  The possibility that this will pass this session isn’t at all good – and that’s good.

Says one source:

A former Senate Democratic aide said climate advocates need to start gearing up for 2011, which will require a big push from Obama, Democratic control of the House and support from Senate Republicans to have any chance of success. “The window is definitely almost shut, and if it closes without action in the next few weeks, a lot of advocates will need to take stock about when this could be realistically attempted again,” the former staffer said.

When can it realistically be attempted again?  In it’s present form not until the Democrats again have an overwhelming majority in the Senate.  And that, hopefully, won’t be for decades if at all.

In a version with cap-and-trade stripped out of it?  My guess would be something heavily influenced by the GOP will pass in the next Congress (and that should be, relatively speaking, “a good thing”).

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 18 Jul 10

In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss the dissatisfaction about President Obama’s competence, the oil spill, and the American stranded in Egypt.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Charlie Crist to launch independent Senate Run

Apparently, Charlie Crist has convinced himself that the people of Florida desire his leadership keenly, despite taking a vicious hammering in the polls for the Republican nomination. So, he’ll be announcing an independent run for US Senator.

Stick a fork in him. He’s done. The Republicans will henceforth treat him as if he has a case of virulent Ebola and herpes. I’ve got no clue where he’s going to get financing from.

The best he can do is split the Republican vote, and ensure a Democrat gets elected. If that happens he’ll be like a new Arlen Specter, except for being even more of a loser.

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