Republicans in the House of Representatives stormed out in a showy display on Thursday, meaning the law allowing President Bush to have his spies listen in on your phone conversations will have expired before Congress resumes work after a weeklong President's Day holiday. This has no practical effect because the terms of the law allow our domestic spies to keep operating this way until the end of the year.
Bush, however, believes Democrats are endangering lives by letting the bill expire, though it was his rubberstamps who denied the House the quorum necessary to do business. At issue is an amendment that would allow lawsuits to proceed against the telephone companies that voluntarily invaded individual privacy. Bush hates that compromise.
Since the president will not sign a bill that does not protect the huge phone companies and he believes lack of a bill means there might be another terrorist attack on America, then Bush is putting big business ahead of American lives.
Wasn't That a Party!
I spent 16 hours indoors on Tuesday, without computer or phone service. It wasn't that there was an ice storm in DC. It was that I did my civic duty and served as an election judge at my neighborhood polling place. Even met a real Republican who is easygoing, funny and reasonable! You see, the 10 judges have to be divided between parties and someone from each party has to sign all the important ballot security checklists. So he and I teamed up for a bit. Turns out this guy has lost his job ... as a banker! That's the second Republican banker I know of who is probably on the verge of becoming a Democrat.
In our neck of the woods, Republicans are basically that way out of allegiance to their heritage of suspecting the motives and operations of big-government types. In other words, they are traditional Eastern moderate Republicans. That the party has such a difficult time locally and nationally is exemplified by party registration changes in the past 20 years. Locally, at least, the Democratic share of the pool of registered voters in my precinct has stayed level at about 60 percent. But Republican registrations have fallen to about 20 percent. The other 20 percent are registering as "unaffiliated."
This means the latter group cannot vote in primaries, and boy were some of them pissed on Tuesday when they showed up to vote in the Democratic race. Some states allow people to decide that day which party they want to vote with, but I much prefer the "closed primary" system where you have to declare what your party is and cannot cross over and cause trouble by voting for the worst candidate in the other party. Nothing wrong with partisanship. It's how our system operates, and if we didn't have parties, we certainly would have to invent them.
Treasure the Experience?
If experience were the true measure of excellence, then our best businesses, universities and professional sports teams would be led by the oldest individuals. Nobody under 70 should be allowed to be president. Pretty silly, huh? So it seems to me 35 years of experience is not just having graduated from law school and then attained the the age of 60. The key might be what kind of experience and what you have done with it.
And I think we will be seeing less and less of "experience" in Hillary Clinton's talking points. Finally, she may be understanding that a lot of Democrats just don't give a damn and may even feel screwed by bosses, preachers, union leaders and politicians who have a lot of experience.
Here is her experience. Clinton worked briefly for the Children's Defense Fund after serving on the impeachment committee staff, then went to Arkansas, became a political wife, joined an establishment corporate law firm in Little Rock, and became first lady of the state for the next 12, before becoming first lady of the country for the next 8.
That's okay with me. Each person has a unique set of talents and experiences. But Hillary Clinton has a remarkable record of lousy judgment bordering on criminality.
She screwed up health reform so badly it cost Democrats the loss of Congress for 12 years.So while Bill got a blow job, Hillary blew the job -- the fairly easy one of being first lady. But she is experienced.
At the beginning of the health care debate in 1993, she had promised to "demonize" opponents. This year, she has declared "let the fun begin" in terms of attacking Barack Obama and more recently has launched negative ads, wondering why he won't debate her every other day. The Democrats have already had 18 debates, and two more are scheduled. She was loath to debate her opponent for re-election to the Senate.
She was given the task of choosing a female attorney general nominee and blew it three times, if you recall the nanny problems of Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood and the final choice of Janet Reno, whom Bill has called his worst appointment. (Well maybe the post-pizza appointment with an intern was worse, but it's a close call.)
Mrs. Clinton came into the White House and, in order to give jobs to her friends and a relative of Bill's, she smeared and fired the nonpartisan "travel office," charging criminal activity by the head of the office. He was eventually found innocent by a jury after two hours of deliberation. I knew these people, I worked with these people and these people were not corrupt.
She recommended Lani Guinier to be assistant attorney general for civil rights enforcement without bothering to think of the firestorm when it became known that Guinier had views so radical (not that I disagreed with them) that even Ted Kennedy and Carol Mosely-Braun suggested she withdraw.
One of Clinton's former law partners she brought to Washington went to prison and another committed suicide.
Wrapping up, there was Filegate, Whitewater, pork belly futures, missing documents and counseling her husband to not settle out of court with Paula Jones leading to Bill's loss of his law license.
A Curt Monologue
The NBC apologies department has been working longer than 9 to 5 lately. After Chris Matthews unloaded on Hillary and David Shuster accused her of pimping out Chelsea, the network once again rolled out a mea culpa.
Seems Jane Fonda, on the Today Show, quoting from the play "The Vagina Monologues," used the mother of all banned words.
I sure can't understand the uproar, if there is to be one, considering that much worse has appeared in the Congressional Record.
Read it and snicker.