The Spectacle Blog
As y'all will see from my posts below, I got waylaid from my original intention to report on the Pence immigration speech at Heritage. I promise I'll do so by noon tomorrow:It's important! For now, though, here is a link to his speech. I really do think it is the answer, in terms of a smart and true middle ground that offers a way out of the legislative morass on immigration.
Okay, the often-reliable Eric Pianin of the Washington Post has a book review in the front section today on the new book by former House Budget Chairman John Kasich that offers a skewed version of history. First, while Kasich deserves a lot of the credit in the successful fight to balance the budget, he never deserved quite SO MUCH of the amount of credit he was given then and that Pianin gives him today. Pianini writes: "Kasich was responsible for translating into reality the GOP's plans for balancing the budget, reforming welfare and slashing taxes." Not exactly. Kasich helped, but the budget committee is merely responsible for a broad fiscal outline. The nitty gritty is done by the Approps Committee and by the Ways and Means Committee; with a large GOP majority, the Budget Committee's work was the easy part. Go back and look at how many subcommittee hearings and how many pages of legislation Approps and W&M produced in 1995, versus the much lighter number from the Budget Committee, and you'll see what I mean.
DoD sent the new report on Chinese Military Power to the Hill today. (The best report on it is in WSJ). It's much like last year's (see Showdown for the full discussion) but has a few new items of considerable significance.
One of the points I've been arguing is that we can derive China's intents from the capabilities it is acquiring in its hell-for-leather military buildup. The new report contains as direct a proof as I could imagine. Here's the money quote from Lt. Gen. Liu Yazhou, deputy political commissar of the PLA Air Force:
"When a nation grows strong enough, it practices hegemony. The sole purpose of power is to pursue even greater power...Geography is destiny...when a country begins to rise, it should first set itself in an invincible position."
Now what was all that about "peaceful rise" we heard from Hu Jintao last month?
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!
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.
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."
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.