The Spectacle Blog

Viet agrees with me

By on 5.23.06 | 5:46PM

I just read more deeply into the Wash Post story on the William Jefferson alleged bribery search warrant, and note with pleasure that my old friend Viet Dinh, former head of the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice and a highly respected GU Law Professor, agrees with me that the search does indeed pass constitutional muster. I don't ALWAYS agree with Viet -- for instance, I think he is mistaken in saying that Congress can give full voting rights to Wash DC's congressional representative without a constitutional amendment -- but on probably 19 of 20 issues, I'll gladly defer to his legal judgment. He's brilliant and principled, and he knows his stuff!

FBI Raid Was Okay

By on 5.23.06 | 5:21PM

I think congressional leaders are absolutely goofy to complain about the FBI search of Rep. William Jefferson's office. To be clear, I am generally a legislative supremacist: The Founders clearly saw Congress as a sort of "first among equals" of the three branches of the national government, as the late great Willmoore Kendall and George Carey made perfectly clear in their classic, "The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition." Nevertheless, Madisonian that I am, I argue strongly that there is NO separation of powers issue involved in the search of a congressman's office pursuant to a legally issued search warrant. Government property is not immune to searches for evidence of criminal wrongdoing. And why would it be? It belongs to us, the people of the United States, not to Congress itself.

More on Flake

By on 5.23.06 | 3:11PM

I had a chance to visit with Rep. Flake today, along with several other bloggers. His remarks and questions stuck to spending and immigration.

As I mentioned below, Flake plans to challenge individual earmarks in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill on the House floor this week. While the list of earmarks he will challenge is off the record, he did say he would offer about a dozen amendments to the bill. He said this sort of sunlight and asking questions about earmarks could have stopped Duke Cunningham's corruption in its tracks. Among the questions he will ask: where is the federal nexus for the earmark? Is it authorized? Who requested this? Does the Member requesting the earmark have financial ties to the beneficiary?

Flake said he has felt some heat over his plans from fellow Members, including Republican Study Committee members.

On the President's veto threat of the emergency supplemental, Flake said Members are "taking the President a little more seriously on this veto threat."

Everything But the Voters

By on 5.23.06 | 3:03PM

Sen. Chris Dodd (sad to say, Providence College, class of 1966) is considering a presidential run. Between the skeletons in the closet and the lack of a public demand, this makes as much sense as Gary Hart taking a look at a campaign for 2004.

Battling Earmarks

By on 5.23.06 | 2:59PM

Keep an eye on Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) this week as he challenges earmarks on the Agriculture Appropriations Bill on the House floor.

The House appropriations "cardinals" are still placing earmarks into the committee reports without revealing who requested them. There are over 400 in this bill. In other words, not a thing has changed in the House.

Pence Wins on Immigration

By on 5.23.06 | 1:54PM

Just got back from a speech at the Heritage Foundation by Mike Pence, on immigration.I really think he has the answer. I'll post a much lengthier commentary on it in about an hour, but for now let me just note that it combines the best parts of the House border-control act with the Krieble FOundation proposal I've touted here several times.

And let me also note this: Pence was very impressive. I'm sure that if he ran for president, for instance, a lot of Americans would welcome his candidacy. Just an observation, not an endorsement.

Leak Prosecutions?

By on 5.23.06 | 11:48AM

The New York Times, the Washington Post and law professor Jonathan Turley are suffering a severe case of nerves about Attorney General Gonzales's statement that the law may require prosecution of reporters who publish government secrets.  Today's WaPo editorial refers, again, to the wrong part of the law in the growing hysteria about the libs idea that the Bush administration is trying to violate the First Amendment and do something the law has never allowed.  (Hat tip to the PowerLine guys for a reminder on what's really the law).

The law that governs the James Risen - NSA terrorist surveillance leak situation is 18 US Code Section 798, which deals with the unauthorized disclosure or use of information regarding signals intelligence.  It says, in part:

(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes,

New Orleans explained

By on 5.23.06 | 11:36AM

If anybody really wants to understand what happened in the New Orleans mayoral race, this column explains it all very impressively and accurately. President Bush and longtime Republican office-seeker Rob Couhig put Mayor Nagin over the top. New Orleans will suffer as a result.

Lloyd Bentsen, in memoriam

By on 5.23.06 | 11:33AM

The AP reports that former Democratic senator, treasury secretary and vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen has died. He wasn't a conservative, but he was one of the old-style, gentlemanly, public-spirited, moderate Democrats whose kind are sorely missed these days. May he rest in the Lord's peace, and may his family know the Lord's grace.

Sometimes a Plane is Just a Plane …

By on 5.22.06 | 3:19PM

ABC News' "The Note" wonders what Karl Rove was doing in the airport in Chicago last week. The question no doubt sent three-quarters of the Daily Kos-sacks into a tizzy. After all, Joe Wilson scandal prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald is based there.

It is true that sometimes you're at the airport for a secret meeting to determine who the Supreme Court nominee will be later this summer to replace Justice Ginsburg.

Sometimes you're at the airport to plot how best to rig ballot machines to give your party landslide victories in an election year when your party is supposed to lose both the House and the Senate.

But sometimes you're at the airport just because your connecting flight happens to be there ... at an airport. Where planes take off and land. We know it's a difficult concept.

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