WASHINGTON – It was the kind of legislation that rarely generates much debate in Congress: a bill to expand a local water recycling program.
However, the House spent more than three hours Thursday trying to decide whether to allow the creation of six recycling projects in the San Francisco area.
In the end, the bill passed easily, as everyone knew it would. The lengthy and often pointed debate amounted to a Republican gambit that increasing California‘s parched farm belt — and could help tilt some congressional races in the GOP’s favor next year.in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s backyard wouldn’t go over very well with voters in
Some of the nation’s most productive farmland has been idled because of a water shortage caused by three years of drought, as well as restrictions associated with protecting a native fish. Lawmakers from the San Joaquin Valley have described the economic devastation as their Hurricane Katrina, citing as high as 40 percent in some of the hardest-hit communities.
GOP strategists believe they have a winning plan for the next election by tying the economic woes to Democratic lawmakers.
“Water is going to be the issue in all thethat are part of the ,” said Joanna Burgos, spokeswoman for the . “When you have 40 percent unemployment because of a court order that could be solved by Congress, it’s hard to focus on any other subject.”
Previous water recycling projects have been noncontroversial. For example, Republican lawmakers Ken Calvert, and all sponsored legislation expanding or establishing recycling programs in their California districts. Those bills all passed overwhelmingly in the House.
, D-Calif., didn’t get such support. The recycling projects authorized through Miller’s bill would be located in the Bay area and would turn more than 7 million gallons of wastewater daily into water for parks, golf courses and landscaping.
In the long run, the program helps the farm belt, Miller said. If parks in his district need less water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, then more water could be made available for other uses, such as meeting the needs of farmers, he said.
“If you want to make it more difficult in the valley, then kill all the recycling projects,” Miller said. “If you want to make it less likely that water’s going to come to the valley, kill all the recycling projects.”
Opponents repeated the contention from San Joaquin Valley lawmakers that protections for fish are being given higher priority than people. Several mentioned San Francisco, Pelosi’s home, in their arguments.
“We are watering lawns in San Francisco and diverting more water to San Francisco,” said, R-Iowa, “and throwing dust in the face of the hardworking people in the valley.”
San Joaquin Valley.”, R-Wash., made it a point to note that the legislation provides millions of dollars for the speaker’s home turf. “All the while, tens of thousand of their fellow citizens suffer economic devastation just a few hours south and inland in the
Such arguments could make life difficult for Democratic representatives from the San Joaquin Valley, primarily Reps. Election Day, many of those voters will want to make a statement, said Dave Wasserman, an editor at the Cook Political Report.and . Republicans know that come
“To the extent that these Democrats are voting with Nancy Pelosi on anything, Republicans are going to have leverage to tie them with her and to try to send her a message,” Wasserman said.
The two Democrats seemed to take his point to heart. Both voted against Miller’s bill.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
RUSH: The estimable Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat, Texas, took to the floor of the House of Representatives last night. We have two sound bites of her remarks.
|LEE: I stand with the NFL Players Association not to make Rush Limbo (sic) any kind of national standard or a national hero or the national issue. He is not the kind of owner that the NFL needs. He does not represent the fullness of appreciation of athletes of all diverse backgrounds, no matter what he wants to pretend to say on his radio station. Just as they are about to select him as a judge for a Miss America contest, I can’t understand that, but that is their choice. Maybe they think he’ll bring in millions of listeners. But can you imagine a poor girl, scared already, to be able to ask a question about the person she admires most, and she says somebody that happens to be a different political affiliation, she is of course not a winner. But that’s their decision.
RUSH: I wonder if Ms. Jackson Lee has any regard for the truth. Does she have any regard for hoping, desiring to sound intelligent and knowledgeable or is she content and happy and proud to go to the floor of the House of Representatives and make a fool of herself? Do you think she knows the name Carrie Prejean? Maybe it will help here on “my radio station” if I explain to her who Carrie Prejean is. Miss California in the USA pageant. She was asked a purely political question by a lunatic, radical, sick, gay blogger about gay marriage. She gave the same answer to that question that the organizer of the pageant, Donald Trump, has given to that answer, and the president of the United States. She gave the same answer to the question as Obama gave and she was drummed out of her title. And here comes Sheila Jackson Lee, off now to protect not only the National Football League, helping to spread lies, but now hoping to protect the Miss America Pageant. The United States government has people who are now totally comfortable in targeting an individual citizen. Harry Reid has done it, now Sheila Jackson Lee is getting in on the action in the United States of America. Here’s the next sound bite.
LEE: Anybody that wants to call a quarterback in Pennsylvania and call him out, he happens to be African-American, as not being competent, just somebody that the media has promoted, not being talented, interestingly enough that football player is — happens to still be playing and doing a great job. Well, I don’t know why in the heck, other than the big dollar, that Rush Limbo (sic) would be interested in the NFL. And so we’re not interested in him, either.
RUSH: Well, then why did you take all that time to spread lies about me on the floor of the House of Representatives? I’m the guy, Ms. Jackson Lee, who has defended the money athletes make on the basis of their unique talents and the nature of the free market, which awards them their value, based on their ability to get it. She said much more than this, but that’s the flavor of it. So the whole media here has been poisoned. The Democrat Party has been poisoned with lies and fabrications and misstatements, quotes that were never made — (interruption) Snerdley is yelling in my ear, “What makes her a sports expert, who the hell is she?” See, this is the difference between me and Sheila Jackson Lee. If election time came around and I happened to live in her district I’d vote against her, but she can say what she wants. These are the people that have power over us. I don’t have any power where Sheila Jackson Lee is concerned, I have nothing to say about what she does, I have nothing to say about the way she votes, and I don’t seek any power over Sheila Jackson Lee. She on the other hand is just the opposite. She wants power over not just me but as many people as she can get. So there’s a storm, folks.
Now, we’ve all been through these things before. And I mentioned in the previous hour you’ve overwhelmed me with your e-mails and letters of support and your desire to do something. I know you want to be turned loose. I know there’s something you want to do, just take some kind of action. But we’ve been through this before. We’ve been through all these storms, and when the storm surge finally retreats and things return to a modicum of normalcy on the beach, the rock is still there, not going anywhere. We always come through these things better and in a more solid position than we were even when they all began, because these kind of tactics and this kind of behavior always end up backfiring on the perpetrators of lies and falsehoods. Maybe not immediately, but in the big scheme of things, they always do. Snerdley, you want to really get mad? I’ve got something that’s going to make you madder than you have been all week. And those of you, too, in the audience, if you’re mad now, wait ’til you hear the Reverend Jackson on local Chicago TV last night spreading the two false quotes.
|RUSH: Okay. So Rick Sanchez repeats the slavery quote, notes that I deny it, and then says it doesn’t matter. Do you know who Rick Sanchez is? Do you know he’s got two middle names? Rick “DUI” Sanchez, Rick “Leaving-the-Scene” Sanchez. Rick Sanchez was a hit-and-run driver when he lived in Miami, and he is a hit-and-run reporter. From the New York Observer, October 9th, 2007: “Mr. Sanchez had already survived what would ordinarily be a career-killer. While leaving a Miami Dolphins game with his father in 1990, Mr. Sanchez struck a drunken pedestrian, who later died of his injuries. According to police, Mr. Sanchez’s own blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit, and he left the scene before returning. He ultimately pleaded no contest to a DUI charge, but avoided jail time, and even remained on the air. Asked about the incident, Mr. Sanchez’s Ron Burgundy jocularity vanished in an instant.
“‘I don’t see where that has anything to do with anything,’ he said, and called the inquiry ‘a hatchet question.’ He soon regained his cool though. ‘Was it an unfortunate experience? Yes. Was it a learning experience? Absolutely. Do I wish it hadn’t happened? Of course,’ he allowed. ‘I was wrong, because I had a couple of cocktails, because I was over the legal limit,’ he went on. ‘It could have happened to anybody. … There were probably a lot of other people leaving the stadium that had had a couple of beers as well.'” From the Miami New Times, August 7th, 1991: “Minutes after midnight on the morning of December 10, 1990, an intoxicated Smuzinick darted out in front of a Volvo on a residential street near Joe Robbie Stadium. The driver of the car, WSVN-TV Channel 7 anchorman Rick Sanchez, became the subject of a subsequent January 16 New Times story that described the odd circumstances of the accident.
“Sanchez, whom a Metro-Dade police officer said ‘smelled strongly of alcohol,’ first stopped his car but then later left the scene. A blood test to determine Sanchez’s sobriety was not administered until an hour and fifteen minutes after the collision. Though Sanchez says he tried to aid Smuzinick at the scene of the accident and flag down motorists, eyewitnesses claim the anchorman ignored the injured man and loudly told police and bystanders that blood tests were pointless, and would hurt his public image. His attorney, Richard Essen, now says the anchorman returned home and had ‘a couple of drinks to calm his nerves’ before returning to the scene,” before talking to the cops after striking somebody near the Dolphins Stadium and killing him. This is Rick Sanchez — and, hey, Rick? I got sources. I researched this. I sourced it. And I checked it before I decided to go on the air with it. This is how it’s done, Rick, and I’m not even a journalist.
|JACKSON: I stand with the players because he has been so insulting and so incendiary in his comments. The idea that James Earl Ray who killed Dr. King should get an award —
|Lisa, Prairie Home, Missouri, welcome to the EIB Network. Hi.
CALLER: Hello, Rush.
CALLER: What an honor.
RUSH: Thank you very much.
CALLER: I have a question for you.
CALLER: Does the government play any role in whether you purchase the St. Louis Rams team or not?
RUSH: Well, they’re trying to, members of the government are, Sheila Jackson Lee certainly is trying to.
CALLER: Well —
RUSH: They’re trying to intimidate. Look, let’s cut to the chase here, folks — and, Lisa, hang on. Let’s cut to the chase here. I can think of no liberal — no matter how foulmouthed, no matter how hateful, in entertainment or outside entertainment — who would be banned from being part of an NFL ownership group. I can’t think of one liberal inside or outside entertainment, foulmouthed or not. I can’t think of one liberal who would even be treated like this. This is all about smearing mainstream, traditional conservatism — and I, El Rushbo, happen to be the most prominent voice for mainstream, traditional conservatism. They cannot beat us, folks, in the arena of ideas. For my entire 21-year broadcast career, they have attempted to discredit me and everybody else who is prominent in conservatism. And it’s now descended to the point that they have to make up things I said! And then when we catch them making up things, they say, “Well, so what? He really believes them! He really believes the words we put in his mouth, and we know he believes them. We know who he is.” There are people… No liberal would ever be treated like this, no matter how foulmouthed. I mean, there are rappers that own parts of NBA teams. Lyrics to their songs we couldn’t play on this radio show. They’re celebrated. “Cool, daddy. Cool!” Now, Lisa, are you still there?
CALLER: Yes, sir.
RUSH: You sound very tired.
CALLER: No, I’m just nervous ’cause I’m getting to talk to you. Like, you’re like my idol.
RUSH: Aw. That’s great.
CALLER: I think you’re wonderful. Anyway, I think that if you can purchase the team, then you should purchase the team, and I do not understand why Sheila Jackson Lee is talking about it on the House floor if it’s no place for it.
RUSH: I just explained it.
CALLER: I agree. I agree.
RUSH: She’s not trying to keep me out of the NFL. This is just an attack on all of us who are conservatives. Look, they’re scared. Conservatism is in ascendancy. Conservatism is rising. Conservatism is growing. Obama’s in trouble, folks. You can’t take the politics out of me in this, ’cause it’s not about the National Football League. It’s just the latest vehicle for them to go after me.
Now, Lisa, I want you to hang on. Mr. Snerdley has to get some information from you because I am going to give you your choice of a Select Comfort bed because I know you’re tired. You sound tired. You’re probably not sleeping well as indicated by the nervousness you feel talking to me. So, Snerdley will get the information necessary to get you a Select Comfort bed, how to do it, the kind you want. The Sleep Number Select Comfort bed.
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By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
The Obama administration has cut funding for pro-democracy and human rights programs in Iran, reversing years of efforts during the Bush administration to help develop a civil society, congressional sources told Newsmax this week.
The move is apparently intended to please Iran’s rulers after they criticized President Obama and the State Department for allegedly seeking to fund a “velvet revolution” during the June presidential elections in Iran.
“It sounds like the Iranians complained in Geneva and we acceded to their demands,” a former senior government official familiar with the pro-democracy programs told Newsmax.
Word that the administration was planning to cut the pro-democracy programs leaked out in June, when the draft budget for the State Department sent to Congress zeroed out the funds.
The aid cut-back became public last week, when the executive director of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, which is affiliated with Yale University campus in New Haven, Conn., disclosed that her center’s request for a grant of $2.7 million had been denied.
“If there is one time that I expected to get funding, this was it,’’ Renee Redman told the Boston Globe last week. “I was surprised, because the world was watching human rights violations right there on television.”
Redman’s center has received $3 million under the State Department program, and has issued reports on human rights abuses. However, they were not active inside Iran and had no programs to support the pro-democracy movement itself, as such activities were considered “too provocative” by the State Department even under President George W. Bush.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who co-sponsored legislation earlier this year that greatly expands pro-democracy funding, questioned the wisdom of the Obama administration’s policy shift.
“It is disturbing that the State Department would cut off funding at precisely the moment when these brave investigations are needed most,” he said last week.
Lieberman’s bill, called the Victims of Iranian Censorship (VOICE) act, passed the Senate in July and has been incorporated into the annual defense appropriations bill, which is scheduled for a final vote this week.
The legislation expands funding for Farsi-language broadcasts by the Voice of America and Radio Farda and authorizes the State Department to spend up to $20 million to develop new technologies to help Iranians get around Internet censorship, and another $5 million for human rights documentation.
Congress continues to fund the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which last year handed out $450,000 to three Iranian-American organizations for media and Internet-related projects. But compared to the $75 million fund set up by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — now frozen by the Obama administration — the NED money is just a drop in the bucket.
“The State Department cut in pro-democracy funding for Iran is part and parcel of a very deliberate policy by President Obama to diminish the role of human rights and democracy as goals of U.S. foreign policy,” said Joshua Muravchik, a scholar focusing on democracy promotion with the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
“This is taking us back to a Nixonian approach to foreign policy, with the incompetence of Carter and the national self-effacement of George McGovern,” he told Newsmax.
President Nixon set aside democracy and human rights to deal with dictatorships such as Communist China and Soviet Russia, based on U.S. national interests. “The Obama administration has combined realism with policies that put the national interest quite low” on the scale of priorities, Muravchik said.
The Iran democracy programs have been shrouded in secrecy, even though they are not classified. David Denehy, a former program manager at the State Department, said he had agreed not to disclose specific grantees or projects, to protect participants who were working inside Iran.
“We did good things with Internet freedom, civil society organizations, and in helping to better inform the Iranian people and better connect them to the outside world,” he told Newsmax. “I don’t see why President Obama wouldn’t support these things. The United States philosophically should always stand on the side of freedom against tyranny.”
The Iranian regime has accused the United States of backing presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi before and after the disputed June 12 presidential elections.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unexpectedly poured fuel onto those suspicions. In an Aug. 9 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, she said that the Obama administration was torn between their desire to engage the regime and their sympathy for the protesters.
“And we knew that, if we stepped in too soon, too hard, the attention might very well shift and the leadership would try to use us to unify the country against the protesters. And that was — it was a hard judgment call. But I think we, in retrospect, handled it pretty well.
“Now, behind the scenes, we were doing a lot, as you know,” Clinton added, citing specifically the actions of a young State Department employee, Jared Cohen, who intervened with the management of Twitter to prevent them from shutting down access to Iranian bloggers for technical maintenance.
Iranians close to the protesters have argued that the Obama administration turned its back on them when they most needed moral support from Washington.
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Obama appoints an SEIU man with ties to Blago.
One of Big Labor’s priorities in Washington is to place allies in key government jobs where they can overturn existing labor policy without battles in Congress. This is a very good reason for the Senate to hold a hearing on the nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Mr. Becker is associate general counsel at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is most recently in the news for its close ties to Acorn, the disgraced housing shakedown operation. President Obama nominated Mr. Becker in April to the five-member NLRB, which has the critical job of supervising union elections, investigating labor practices, and interpreting the National Labor Relations Act. In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, Mr. Becker argued for rewriting current union-election rules in favor of labor. And he suggested the NLRB could do this by regulatory fiat, without a vote of Congress.
Yet now that he could soon have the power to act on this conviction, Mr. Becker won’t tell Congress if this is what he still believes. In written responses to questions from Republican Orrin Hatch, Mr. Becker promised only to “maintain an open mind about whether [his] suggestions should be implemented in any manner.” That sounds like his mind is made up but he won’t admit it lest it hurt his confirmation.
Mr. Becker also won’t give a clear answer about his role in preparing several pro-labor executive orders issued by President Obama shortly after inauguration. Mr. Becker’s name was found in at least one of the documents, suggesting that he had written it.
When asked by Sen. Hatch if he was “involved or responsible in any way” for these executive orders, Mr. Becker responded: “I was not responsible for [the specific executive orders] except as described below. As a member of the Presidential Transition Team, I was asked to provide advice and information concerning a possible executive order of the sort described. I was involved in researching, analyzing, preliminary drafting, and consulting with other members of the Transition team.” In other words, Mr. Becker was the main author but would rather not say so explicitly.
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In December 2004, Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch sued Capital One for failing to state in its advertisements that it could increase interest rates on credit cards. As part of a 2006 settlement, Capital One paid $749,999, of which $249,999 went to ACORN, $250,000 went to the nonprofit Legal Aid, and $250,000 to the State of Minnesota.
ACORN’s political action committee had endorsed Mike Hatch for attorney general in 1998 and 2002, and in 2006 for governor.
In 2008, Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor, James Nobles, conducted a review of the Capital One settlement and payment to ACORN. By letter, he asked Hatch’s successor, current state Attorney General Lori Swanson (who was given a grade of A+ from ACORN in 2008) for information about the settlement. Specifically, Nobles asked:
[Minnesota statute 16A-151] says: ‘A state official may not commence, pursue, or settle litigation, or settle a matter that could have resulted in litigation, in a manner that would result in money being distributed to a person or entity other than the state.’ An exception is… if the settlement amount is less than $750,000. It is alleged that the Attorney General’s office sought a judgment of $749,999 to avoid the prohibition [on diverting settlement money from the state]. Is that true? If not, please explain why the Attorney General’s office sought a $749,999 judgment.
Hatch’s letter begged more questions than it answered. In response to Nobles’ question about why Hatch sought and accepted a $749,999 settlement, exactly one dollar below the statutory threshold requiring all of the settlement money to be paid to the state, Hatch replied, “[t]he answer is because that is what the statute permitted.” That answer, of course, evades Nobles’ question. The settlement could have been for any amount or no amount whatsoever, rather than exactly one dollar below the threshold that would have required the settlement proceeds be paid to the state. That exactly one-dollar difference would have barred ACORN from receiving any portion of the settlement proceeds.
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By: Rebecca Larsen
The man who likes to call himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., is planning a Friday showdown with the feds.
The sheriff has announced he will defy the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by doing a street sweep for illegal immigrants one day after the expiration of the agreement that has permitted him to conduct such operations for the past three years. The sheriff has said he expects the deal not to be extended, though federal officials have remained publicly noncommittal.
Deputies, and Sheriff Arpaio, will stake out an intersection somewhere in the Phoenix metro area to stop cars for traffic violations – everything from speeding to broken taillights to driving while intoxicated. Both drivers and passengers will be held if deputies determine that they are illegal immigrants – regardless of how minor was the initial infraction.
Sheriff Arpaio is charging ahead because he claims he has jurisdiction under a 1996 federal law allowing police to detain someone briefly if that person could be in the country illegally.
“We will call Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] to see if they will take them from us,” Sheriff Arpaio told The Washington Times. “And if they tell me to let them go, I guess I’ll have to transport them myself to the border [about 175 miles] and turn them over to the Border Patrol.”
Sheriff Arpaio, 77 but looking 10 years younger, has been shaking up Maricopa County for 17 years, and he’s not ready to quiet down: “I just got re-elected last year, but I’m going to run again, and I’ve already raised a lot of money. They’ll have to put up with me for another seven years.”
With customary bravado, he will announce on his Web site the Friday sweep’s location shortly before it happens, enough time so protesters can show up: “The same ones who are out in front of my building every day calling me Hitler and a Nazi. I’m the poster boy for the open borders crowd.”
“We’re doing it the day after Oct. 15, in order to play a little game with them,” Sheriff Arpaio said. He said he expects to use a “new secret weapon,” but declined to say what it is.
Oct. 15 is the day he expects to find out whether federal officials will approve his pending application for a renewal of the contract with ICE to detain illegal immigrants. In the past few weeks, the sheriff has been loudly complaining that the contract will no longer allow street sweeps of the kind he plans Friday, potentially angering federal authorities, who still have the power not to extend the agreement at all.
For the past three years, Sheriff Arpaio has been working under what is known as a 287(g) contract, named for the section of a federal immigration-reform law that established the program in 1996.
That law allows for partnerships that permit local law-enforcement agencies to perform immigration functions traditionally reserved for the federal government – such as holding all illegal immigrants when arrested and bringing them to jail until they can be turned over to ICE for deportation. If immigrants are convicted, they serve their time and are then deported. If they are acquitted or charges are dropped, they are held until they can be deported.
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