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Archive for the ‘Senators’ Category

>Bind American Politicians To Term Limits

>Reduce The Chance of Tyranical Rule — 
Insist on National Term Limits

July 31, 2009

Security Deposit for Term Limits?

Politicians do pay a price when they break a term limits pledge: No pledge breaker has ever been elected to higher office.

In 1992, Marty Meehan href=””>lawmakers passed a so-called ran for Congress promising to serve four terms at most. In 1995, he rebuked congressmen for violating similar pledges, saying, “The best test of any politicians’ credibility on term limits, is whether they are willing to . . . limit their own service.” Meehan even filed a letter of resignation with the House clerk that supposedly would go into effect should he break his own word. But he did break it, finally leaving Congress only in 2007.

Meehan had always wanted to be governor. That was not to be.
Term limits have always been popular, and it’s embarrassing to be known for breaking a term limits pledge.
A new outfit called Alliance for Bonded Term Limits believes more than reputation should take a hit when politicians violate a term limits pledge. They think candidates should legally contract to pay up if they wimp out.
The plan, according to their website, is to “provide a vehicle for sincere candidates to demonstrate their commitment to limited tenure in office by voluntarily bonding their term limit promise with personal assets in advance of the election. These bonded assets of substantial worth will be forfeited to charity only if their promise is broken.”
Will it work? So far, the organization just has an idea. It’s a gleam in someone’s eye. But let’s keep our fingers crossed.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

>Gun Lovers Beware: E.J. Dionne Is On The Loose


Arm the Senate!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Isn’t it time to dismantle the metal detectors, send the guards at the doors away and allow Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being free to carry their firearms into the nation’s Capitol?

I’ve been studying the deep thoughts of senators who regularly express their undying loyalty to the National Rifle Association, and I have decided that they should practice what they preach. They tell us that the best defense against crime is an armed citizenry and that laws restricting guns do nothing to stop violence.

If they believe that, why don’t they live by it?

Why would freedom-loving lawmakers want to hide behind guards and metal detectors? Shouldn’t NRA members be outraged that Second Amendment rights mean nothing in the very seat of our democracy?

Congress seems to think that gun restrictions are for wimps. It voted this year to allow people to bring their weapons into national parks, and pro-gun legislators have pushed for the right to carry in taverns, colleges and workplaces. Shouldn’t Congress set an example in its own workplace?

So why not let Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) pack the weapon of his choice on the Senate floor? Thune is the author of an amendment that would have allowed gun owners who had valid permits to carry concealed weapons into any state, even states with more restrictive gun laws. The amendment got 58 votes last week, two short of the 60 it needed to pass.

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Judging by what Thune said in defense of his amendment, he’d clearly feel safer if everyone in the Capitol could carry a gun.

“Law-abiding individuals have the right to self-defense, especially because the Supreme Court has consistently found that police have no constitutional obligation to protect individuals from other individuals,” he said. I guess that Thune doesn’t think those guards and the Capitol Police have any obligation to protect him.

He went on: “The benefits of conceal and carry extend to more than just the individuals who actually carry the firearms. Since criminals are unable to tell who is and who is not carrying a firearm just by looking at a potential victim, they are less likely to commit a crime when they fear they may come in direct contact with an individual who is armed.”

In other words, keeping guns out of the Capitol makes all our elected officials far less safe. If just a few senators had weapons, the criminals wouldn’t know which ones were armed, and all senators would be safer, right? Isn’t that better than highly intrusive gun control — i.e., keeping people with guns out of the Capitol in the first place?

“Additionally,” Thune said helpfully, “research shows that when unrestricted conceal and carry laws are passed, not only does it benefit those who are armed, but it also benefits others around them such as children.”

This is a fantastic opportunity. Arming all our legislators would make it safer for children, so senators could feel much more secure bringing their kids into the Capitol. This would promote family values and might even reduce the number of highly publicized extramarital affairs.

During the debate, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) quoted a constituent who told him: “When my family and I go out at night, it makes me feel safer just knowing I am able to have my concealed weapon.”

Why shouldn’t Vitter feel equally safe in the Capitol? Why should he have to go out on the streets to carry a gun?

The pro-gun folks love their studies. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) offered this one: “A study for the Department of Justice found 40 percent of felons had not committed certain crimes because they feared the potential victims would be armed.”

That doesn’t tell us much about the other 60 percent, but what the heck? If it’s good enough for Barrasso, let the good senator introduce the amendment to allow concealed carry in the Capitol.

Barrasso already dislikes the District of Columbia’s tough restrictions on weapons. “The gun laws in the District outlaw law-abiding citizens from self-defense,” he complained. So go for it, Senator! Make our nation’s Capitol an island of firearms liberty in a sea of oppression.

Don’t think this column is offered lightly. I want these guys to put up or shut up. If the NRA’s servants in Congress don’t take their arguments seriously enough to apply them to their own lives, maybe the rest of us should do more to stop them from imposing their nonsense on our country

Here were my comments in the Washington Post to the above article.

Without the sarcasm, Dionne might have said something smart. As it stands the Post just let this “little” man fart all over honest men, women, and children. So he doesn’t think carrying a gun works against criminals — so what? The fact remains, it does work. At armed Korean shops in LA during the riots, the thugs and looters let them alone. If I were a shop owner in New York or any large crime-ridden city I would want several guns at my disposal. If someone had a gun on your cashier, one shotgun blast in the offender’s legs would stop that. Soon the word would get around and every pick-pocket and thug in NY would be on notice — this owner is for real. I believe the Gun Lobby in the Senate should take Dionne up on his puny challenge.

Don White

>Harry Reid Is No Lyndon Johnson

Harry Reid:
Blog Purpose Personified

I created my Political Disconnect blog precisely because of one man, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev); and for the reasons that Robert Novak described today in his Washington Post article, “Decline of The Senate.”

In it he describes Senator Reid’s misuse of a parliamentary device called “filling the tree.” It means instead of debating issues and compromising, he intentionally fills the bill up with his own amendments, precluding anyone else’s. Partly because of people like Reid, it is Novak’s contention that the U.S. Senate is a miserable failure. Or in other words, the Senate, once called the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” is now largely worthless.
Reid complains that he has to resort to these tactics because he only enjoys a one-vote margin in the Senate.

But Novak describes the Senate when it was run by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson who also operated with a one-vote margin. What made Johnson different from Reid is that the former majority leader made his reputation as, in biographer Robert Caro’s words, “master of the Senate” because he relied on maneuver and negotiation, not dirty tricks.
“In contrast, Reid uses arcane parliamentary tactics to transform the Senate into another House of Representatives,” said Novak, “where the majority can dictate what amendments its members have to vote on.”

Sen. Arlen Specter, age 78, was feeling miserable Monday following chemotherapy the previous Friday. But believing the best antidote was hard work, Specter took the Senate floor with a speech that contrasted sharply from the partisan oratory now customary in the chamber.

Novak said Specter, a Republican centrist, has never been much of a partisan, but during five terms he has become a protector of the Senate’s faded reputation as the “world’s greatest deliberative body.” On Monday, Specter deplored Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s use of a parliamentary device called “filling the tree” to prevent the Republican minority from offering amendments to a bill.

As Specter spoke, the Senate chamber, as is typical, was empty, except for freshman Democrat Ben Cardin, there as presiding officer. Specter departed from customary Senate self-congratulation: “The American people live under the illusion that we have a United States Senate. The facts show that the Senate is realistically dysfunctional. It is on life support, perhaps even moribund. The only facet of Senate bipartisanship is the conspiracy of successive Republican and Democratic leaders to employ this procedural device known as filling the tree. It is known that way to insiders, and it is incomprehensible to outsiders.”

The device was used last week when Reid called up the bill responding to global warming, producing the state of futility that has haunted his year and a half as majority leader. Characteristically, Reid neither found the support needed to pass the bill nor attempted a compromise with opponents.

Debating an energy tax as gasoline prices hit $4 a gallon defied political logic. But Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, insisted and Reid bowed to her.

To prevent his Democratic colleagues from having to face politically difficult votes, Reid “filled the tree” with interlocking amendments staving off all other proposed changes. The procedure has been used by majority leaders of both parties since 1985, but it’s never been invoked as often as it has by Reid. This marked the 12th time he has resorted to the device.
What followed illustrates the decline of the Senate under Reid.
The Senate fell far short of the 60 votes needed to close debate on the bill. Though Reid blamed Republican intransigence, 10 Democratic senators — including five-term liberal stalwart Carl Levin of Michigan — had written Reid last Friday telling him they could not “support final passage of the bill” because of the economic impact it would have on their states. Reid set aside climate change legislation and moved to a bill that would impose an excess-profits tax on oil companies. He next asked senators to close off debate Tuesday, an effort that predictably fell short of the needed 60 votes.

When Republicans said Reid broke his pledge to confirm three of President Bush’s appeals court nominees by Memorial Day,Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell retaliated by requiring the entire climate-change bill to be read into the record (consuming more than 10 hours). This kind of squabbling would have been unheard of under Lyndon Johnson. But Novak pointed out that last week it was barely noticed.

An unusual result of the current parliamentary situation is that the climate-change bill remains the pending business of the Senate because of Republican refusal to let Reid dispose of it. The GOP strategy is to keep the issue at hand because of its political toxicity. Specter, trying to be an old-fashioned legislator, really wants to detoxify the bill but cannot because of the no-amendment rule. On Tuesday, he asked for hearings on his 16-month-old proposal to prohibit the majority leader from filling the tree.

Even an expected bigger Democratic majority next January in itself may not reverse this institutional decline.

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