US Senate

Bennet & Obama: Misery Loves Company

It's either pathetic or funny to see Sen. Michael Bennet desperately embracing President Obama for a Feb. 18 campaign event in Denver. (Read his manager's breathless email below.) The two out-of-touch liberal incumbents, each dropping like a rock, must hope they can defy gravity by holding hands. Bennet just fell further behind GOP front-runner Jane Norton, now trailing her by 14 points in the Rasmussen poll. Worse, his underfunded primary challenger Andrew Romanoff is only 7 points down to Norton in the same poll.

After Obama's impotence in campaigning for Dems in VA, NJ, and MA the past 100 days, what can he do in CO but make things worse for Bennet anyway?

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Thanks again for your support during this campaign, and I hope you'll be able to join us on February 18 for this great event.

Sincerely, Craig Hughes Campaign Manager Bennet for Colorado

Do no harm?

The one health care lesson the Congress should have learned in crafting their "reform" bill is the most fundamental tenet of medicine: do no harm.Unfortunately, the Congress is now playing the role of Dr. Kervorkian. So destructive are its politically-motivated machinations that it is in the process of setting back American medicine -- and the economy -- a generation. It may never be fully resuscitated.

And now that Joe Lieberman has lost his minute of sanity -- opposing the public option and the expansion of Medicare -- it seems certain that this colossus of social engineering will get passed in the Senate. It will ultimately reach Obama's desk and will be signed in a lavish "historic" signing ceremony, where it will be hailed as a monumental accomplishment in "bending the health care cost curve" or some such nonsensical lie.

Believe me: the only thing this bill bends is the truth.

Here are some facts to chew on:

-- The true cost of this bill is $2.5 Trillion -- not the $900 billion the CBO will say it is. How does it get away with being three times more expensive than they say it will be? Because the ten year CBO "score" is based on gimmickry: it accounts for ten years of taxes to pay for it, but only provides SIX years of services. The true cost of the next ten years will be in the trillions of dollars as the program becomes "pay as you go" in year 11.

-- The foundation of this plan is to compel -- under the penalty of prison -- people to buy insurance. The 10% of the uninsured in this country who have decided not to spend their money on insurance -- either because they are young and healthy or have decided to take the risk -- will now not have that option. But don't worry -- in the spirit of income redistribution, "other people" will pay for much of it in the form of subsidies. Still, the reality is that the Congress is infusing government into the private lives of people in a way that they never had before. The Nanny state on steroids.

-- The taxes on this will be enormous -- and will hit everyone regardless of age or economic status. Remember that pledge Obama made to not raise taxes on anyone making "less than $250,000 per year"? Fuggedaboutit! Everyone's going to pay on this one -- from new taxes to higher insurance premiums. And that's for starters. When this starts to break the bank, taxes on everything will rise, and you can bet that there are plans for a Value Added Tax and other stealth taxes in the works. Your pocketbook just became a lot thinner!

-- This bill includes command and control facilities run by the Federal Government that will control the private insurance industry, putting new and pernicious controls on coverage and underwriting. At the end of this road, government will be controlling every aspect of the coverage provided, and will be in charge of determining insurance premium rates and coverage levels -- and will, when things get tight, become a "rationing board". It may not be "Death Panels" -- but it will be pretty darn close.

-- The new burden on states to expand Medicaid will create even bigger problems in already-strained state budgets -- amounting to a massive new unfunded mandate. States like California that are already $20 billion in the red will have to come up with another $3 billion or so to cover the new state portion of Medicaid expansion. This will result in -- you guessed it -- new taxes to cover the short-fall.

-- There is nothing in this bill that will restrain medical malpractice liability or the massive cost that the health care tort bar places on medicine. The trial lawyers have gotten the pass that they have bought and paid for. The Democrats in Congress are in their pockets, and thus an important element of truly containing health care costs has been left out of this "historic" reform bill.

-- This bill does nothing to fix the current government health care entitlement, Medicare, which is a giant ponzi scheme that will be insolvent within 1o years.

-- The net effect of this health care bill, the trillion dollar stimulus packages and the vast unfunded entitlements in the current fiscal 2010-2011 budget are a disaster in the making. As the Wall Street Journal points out today in its lead editorial, the Democrats are now pushing for a $2 trillion increase in the federal debt ceiling, so they can not be burdened by any vestige of fiscal restraint:

It's a sign of how deep the fiscal pathologies run in this Congress that $2 trillion will buy the federal government only one year before it has to seek another debt hike—conveniently timed to come after the midterm elections. Since Democrats began running Congress again in 2007, the federal debt limit has climbed by 39%. The new hike will lift the borrowing cap by another 15%.

Our concern is that the Administration and Congress view this debt as a way to force a permanently higher tax base for decades to come. The liberal grand strategy is to use their accidentally large majorities this year to pass new entitlements that start small but will explode in future years. U.S. creditors will then demand higher taxes—taking income taxes back to their pre-Reagan rates and adding a value-added tax too. This would expand federal spending as a share of GDP to as much as 30% from the pre-crisis 20%.

And of course this is the grand design -- to resurrect the pre-Reagan 70% marginal tax rates that will maximally punish wealth creation and success. Remember, this Congress is hostile to profit and capitalism, and would prefer to see a social democratic system ala Sweden, with 90% taxes and massive government programs to support every element of social interaction.

At the end of the day, all of this is being done on a purely partisan, party-line basis. There won't be one Republican voting for any of this. The 55 million people who voted for John McCain have been effectively told "screw you" by a president who campaigned as a "uniter" and as a "post-partisan" leader. What a joke. This is the most partisan president and most divided Congress in history. That this kind of vast social change can be foisted on the public -- 60% who now oppose it -- without a single bipartisan vote is an offense to republican democracy. When Medicare was passed it did so on a largely bipartisan basis -- 24 Republicans voted in favor in 1965. Today we have an even larger rework of the American economy and society and it will be a complete partisan putsch.

And that is typical of the left, which always thinks it knows best. The notion that conservatives might have some good ideas on health care has been scoffed at. Instead, you have a massive experiment in socialism being foisted on the American people by 60 left wing ideologues.

We are being sold down the river in a 2,000 page, $2.5 trillion boondoggle that no one understands -- but that we will be paying for in generations to come.

Senate underdogs spin polling their way

The emails from two US Senate candidates arrived the same day. First it was Republican Tom Wiens boasting of a new poll that shows he would top both Democrats, Sen. Michael Bennet and former Speaker Andrew Romanoff, if the 2010 election were held today. Then it was Romanoff crowing that he tops all comers from both parties in a Denver Business Journal poll. I was intrigued enough to click the links, but upon doing so, I learned there's more to the story in both cases.

Romanoff didn't mention that his DBJ triumph came in an unscientific reader-initiated straw poll, where some 1600 self-selected (or candidate-prompted) respondents took part.

Wiens didn't mention that his encouraging news came in context with overall results in a Rasmussen survey (randomly sampled and scientific, at least) where both of the other GOP contenders, Jane Norton and Ken Buck, ran stronger against both Democrats than he did.

Here is the DBJ straw poll tally on Colorado Senate 2010:

Andrew Romanoff - 29% Tom Wiens - 20% Jane Norton - 18% Michael Bennet - 13% Ken Buck - 8% Undecided and other - 11%

Below is the Rasmussen poll on Colorado Senate 2010, with interpretive text from Real Clear Politics.

After President Obama won Colorado last year, many believed the state was trending blue. However, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D), appointed this year to fill the vacant seat, trails three potential Republican opponents in a new Rasmussen poll (Dec. 8, 500 LV, MoE +/- 4.5%).

Bennet's favorable rating remains low, with 39% viewing him favorably and 46% unfavorably. All three Republicans -- Jane Norton, Tom Wiens and Ken Buck -- also lead Bennet's primary opponent, Andrew Romanoff.

Norton 45 - Romanoff 34 Norton 46 - Bennet 37 Wiens 41 - Romanoff 40 Wiens 42 - Bennet 41 Buck 41 - Romanoff 39 Buck 42 - Bennet 38

Udall still slippery on energy

Sen. Mark Udall, D-CO, is reported to be twisting arms for Senate votes on the economically ruinous cap-and-trade scheme already passed in the U.S. House. Hollywood leftie Henry Waxman’s is one of the names on the House bill, and few could name a Member of Congress who deserves more “credit” for laws burdening the U.S. economy and restricting the individual rights of U.S. citizens. Leftist Members of Congress like Udall are exempt from mainstream media criticism for conflicts of interest. However, Udall has one here in spades. His wife, Maggie Fox, is CEO and president of something called Alliance for Climate Protection, founded by Al Gore with money from his global warming horror movie. Typical of Big Enviro’s big bucks “charitable” [i.e., organized under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code] organizations, the Gore/Fox alliance has a companion lobbying organization, the Climate Protection Action Fund. Fox is CEO and president of that as well.

Gore is reported already to have amassed a huge fortune in a market for trading carbon credits, and that’s before any law has been enacted limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the purported reason for any such limits — the claims that the climate is warming and that atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from human activities is the cause — has been reduced to pseudoscience making mischief comparable to eugenics.

Just for the sake of changing the course of the argument, however, why not inquire of Udall and others in the global warming camp as to what sources of, say, electricity they propose as alternatives? “Renewables” like solar and wind is the stock answer. After decades of subsidies, and now laws mandating their use, these sources remain well under one percent of national electric output, and they obviously cannot run 24-7 even when they work.

The correct answer, of course, is nuclear. Udall has whispered that word somewhat approvingly. However, deep skepticism is warranted since most of Udall’s energy talk comes out of the Big Enviro side of his mouth. Despite its unequalled, half-century record for safety, Udall always raises that “issue” and can be expected to hide behind it when the chips are down and Big Enviro says, “No way, Mark.”

Click here for my op-ed on this subject in The Denver Post on July 27, and click here for the senator’s limp response. It’s time, as they say, to get down to brass tacks, so here’s an open letter:

Dear Sen. Udall: Many friends and I were happy to read your letter-to-the-editor in The Denver Post on July 29, responding to my op-ed published two days earlier. I had been attempting communication with your office for nearly eight weeks before I received two e-mails, slightly different but with substantially the same “boilerplate” I referred to in the op-ed.

It should surprise no one that you have supported WIPP. It commenced operations about two months after you took your seat in the U.S. House and now holds thousands of tons of TRU waste from your congressional district (Rocky Flats). My reference to Udall family complicity in delaying WIPP and adding huge sums to its cost was about events going back more than a decade before you were in Congress and needs no further elaboration here.

However, I’m reminded of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. I find at this website that your father was a sponsor. That was 27 years ago. My understandings are that, under this legislation, utilities (read, ratepayers) have now remitted about $30 billion to the federal fund it created; about $10 billion of that has been spent, largely or entirely on the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada; not an ounce of spent fuel has left temporary storage; and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now intends that the Yucca Mountain project be deep-sixed.

I reminded readers of my op-ed, “Preserving the myth that radioactive waste cannot be safely disposed has been a major goal of organized ‘environmentalists’ for decades.” A Denver Post article on Aug. 25 quotes you on Yucca Mountain, “a dead project.” Have you just rolled over and died for Sen. Reid?

Your claims of concern about anthropogenic global warming are not credible without a great deal more support for expanded nuclear power than this from your l-t-e: “I am more than open to expanding our use of nuclear power and recently said so on the floor of the Senate.” Frankly, sir, that’s not even a starter. The aforementioned Denver Post article about the bipartisan photo-op you and Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., held in front of trees killed years ago by pine beetles has a terrific headline, “Udall, McCain united in call for nuclear power,” but I hope you’ll excuse my skepticism after experiencing a decade or more of safety-shrouded doublespeak on the subject by Bill Richardson.

Perhaps as a red herring, your letter raised cost as an issue unfavorable to nuclear power. Nuclear power plants are delivering electricity cheaper than any other source today. Your “cleaner sources,” solar and wind, are the choices that have failed for decades on account of cost whenever they aren’t underwritten by direct government subsidies and/or laws like Colorado’s essentially mandatingtheir use without regard to cost. Uncertainty associated with the licensing process, and “leadership” such as you are getting from Sen. Reid, are the primary reasons I’d suggest for any reluctance by utility company boards and executives to build nuclear power plants we need.

Lastly, about global warming. People chasing money mostly from government grants and agency appropriations have now spent many tens of billions on “proving” that global warming continues, is a very bad thing, and is largely the result of increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human activities. Others who simply observe the world around us shake our heads in disbelief, wondering what planet you and these researchers live on. The climate is cooling, not warming, and the researchers among the crowd laughably claiming consensus about warming can’t make their expensive, complicated – and might I also suggest falsified in some cases? – models jibe with real world measurements.

I believe global warming is to the late 20th and early 21st centuries what the pseudoscience eugenics was to the early 20th. For a cogent discussion of eugenics and the historic mischief of politicized science, look here.

Isn’t it well past time for you to level with the people you represent and tell them the truth? I wouldn’t suggest that’s a decision that can be reached and implemented easily. You have been prominent among global warming alarmists for a long time. Further, I acknowledge the awkwardness of, uh, breakfast table talk and all if this were juxtaposed against your wife’s prominent position in the propaganda end of Al Gore’s carbon-cap-and-trade crusade.

But wouldn’t a mind change now be better than having most of one’s constituents look back in a couple of years, wondering what kind of fool would defy what was so obvious and vote to accelerate his country’s economic tailspin? You got elected to lead us toward sound public policy. In my experience, that’s occasionally neither easy nor comfortable. Honesty, however, sure makes for better sleeping.

I look forward to receiving a reply that addresses directly what is said in this letter. Respectfully, John Dendahl

Judicial impartiality and the Constitution

With President Barack Obama’s nomination of federal judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, the nation is in a debate about both the qualifications of the nominee and the proper criteria for selection. That the nation is divided over both obligates us to clarify their relationship to each other. Judge Sotomayor, whose Puerto Rican descent should not matter but it does because the President and she have that said it matters, is undergoing the by-now familiar microscopic examination that has attended these nominations since Judge Robert Bork was savaged by Senate Democrats in 1986. On paper the lady who has made much of her ethnicity is qualified, and she will be confirmed because her party has the votes.

I oppose this nomination for the simple reason that Judge Sotomayor does not understand, if she does not actively oppose, the United States Constitution as it was understood by its framers and ratifiers. But it is more important to set forth the grounds upon which this decision should be made than to emphasize the reasons why she should be rejected.

Both liberals and conservatives have a legitimate point about the requirements of constitutional jurisprudence but both have a blind spot. Liberals make much of the fact that the judges will inevitably bring to the table certain predispositions and preconceptions which will shape their decisions. This can hardly be doubted, but the question is whether the judges’ "baggage" will keep them from performing their duties well.

For if those predispositions and preconceptions are inconsistent with the character of the Constitution, not to mention the political philosophy which informs it in the Declaration of Independence, they carry no weight and should be disregarded. Hence, what race or gender one belongs to is irrelevant.

Conservatives contend that judges should not legislate from the bench but apply the Constitution and laws to the case before them. Their logic is unassailable but they are too prone to give bad laws the benefit of the doubt when they may in fact be unconstitutional. After all, most conservatives believe that Roe v. Wade (1973) was wrongly decided and even unconstitutional.

If this criticism seems unfair, consider the oft-repeated conservative criticism of "activist" judges who, pretty much as conservatives claim, go well beyond the role of judge and make up constitutional law that has no warrant in either the language of the Constitution or the judicial precedents relevant to a case. Is a judge who upholds the Constitution by striking down a state or federal statue in conflict with it a "passivist" judge?

Liberals criticize conservatives on the grounds that judges of their political philosophy are no less activist than liberals when it comes to their constitutional priorities. I grant the criticism, at least to this extent, that defense of the Constitution demands more of judges than simply applying the laws to a case.

However, judging is fundamentally different from legislating, as the former deals with specific cases and the latter devises general rules. We don’t want a Congress to decide who has violated its laws or to affix penalties for doing so. But we want all our public officials to abide by the Constitution because it is the supreme law and because it embodies justice.

The Constitution requires judges to be neutral between the parties in the cases which they decide, but it is not neutral about the requirements of justice. Its conception of justice entails "secur[ing] the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." The document empowers the federal and state governments to rule but also limits their powers in numerous ways. Beyond these limitations, ours is a republican constitution, that establishes rule by the people through their chosen representatives on behalf of purposes which their constitution spells out.

Our quarrel with judicial activism should be focused on a judge’s predilection to corrupt our Constitution with doctrines calculated to "transform" it from a guarantee of equal rights for all to a device for empowering government officials to favor allegedly underprivileged groups at the expense of everyone else. It is no accident that President Obama nominated a Latina woman with a class-based notion of justice, for such is what both of them want.

Our Constitution should be protected from the efforts of anyone to subvert it for unjust ends. The judges’ impartiality is in the service not of a neutral constitution but one which favors equal justice over class rule.