Serving God & Country....Defending Faith & Freedom

An Outreach of What's Right What's Left Ministry

 

 

Articles

What Net Neutrality Really Means

Assimilate Or Stay Home

Drive-by Muthings

Private Enterprise Rolling Snake Eyes in Gambling Fight

The War On Big Soda

Vouching for Vouchers

News with Views

Congress Chooses Pork Over Bullets
 

Spending Bill Still Out of Whack



 
 

 

 

 

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at chuck@citizenoutreach.com.

 

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What Net Neutrality Really Means

Posted by Chuck Muth
May 3, 2006 at 7:32 am

 

Those who coined the term "net neutrality" are hoping the words will make the public, and especially lawmakers, believe it’s a good thing. But if passed into law, this e-Trojan horse could inhibit further development of the Internet for years, if not decades to come, putting America at a distinct technological disadvantage with other nations in the world economy.

Already, this country hovers around 15th worldwide when it comes to broadband penetration. And while many Americans do not yet have access to broadband - sometimes called high-speed Internet - technology advances are quickly overloading our current bandwidth capacity to deliver live video, real-time gaming and broadcast quality movies.

The term "bandwidth" itself is probably confusing to many, but it’s important in this discussion. So let me try to ‘splain it in layman’s terms…

Think of a typical garden-variety garden hose. Now think of sending a small marble through the stretched-out garden hose as you hold one end above your head. No problem, right? The marble will roll right on through from beginning to end.

OK, now imagine trying to send a golf ball through that same garden hose. No can do, right? The golf ball is too big to roll through the narrow garden hose. And even if you were somehow able to get the golf ball into the hose, it would inevitably get stuck in the middle somewhere and block all the marbles you might try sending through behind it.

Think of the cable bringing your Internet connection into your home in the same way as the garden hose. And think of your typical email messages coming through the cable as the small marbles. Now think of someone trying to send you, say, Shrek II through that same cable. That movie is the proverbial golf ball trying to go through the garden hose.

In order for the Internet to deliver new services such as live video feeds and full-length movies, we’re going to need greater bandwidth to make sure such things come through without gumming up the works. The fact is, we do not currently have unlimited bandwidth. And until we do (if we ever do), we need to avoid the traffic jams and blockages which are sure to arise.

There is a reason the Internet was once called the Information Superhighway - and a highway is a good analogy here. Think of those times on the freeway when traffic is heavy and best described as stop-and-go. Now, those who are willing to pay more have the option of taking a shorter, less-congested toll road or drive in a high-occupancy lane. For some, the additional cost will be worth it; for others not. That’s what choices are all about. With the free-market, you get lots of choices. With government you get…well, things like the public school system.

Now let’s look at "net neutrality."

Let’s say you want to send a birthday card to your nephew Ronnie. You put a 39-cent stamp on the envelope and drop it off at the post office. And away it goes (you hope). Now let’s say that instead of sending little Ronnie a birthday card, you want to send him a shiny, new bicycle. If you support so-called "net neutrality," that means you think the government should require that the post office deliver Ronnie his shiny, new bike for the same price it charges to mail him the birthday card. The post office would have to be "neutral" in what it charges to mail any given item.

The fact is, mailing a bike eats up a lot more resources than mailing a card; just as it eats up a lot more resources to deliver broadcast quality movies through your Internet cable than it does to send a simple email. What "net neutrality" proponents are basically saying is that they want the government to guarantee that you can send a bike through the mail system for the same cost as a birthday card…which inevitably will mean the cost of mailing a birthday card will skyrocket.

"Net neutrality" is the camel’s nose under the tent leading to government control of the Internet - a line most conservatives and libertarians have refused to cross for more than a decade. The Internet has flourished thus far precisely because we’ve kept the government from taxing and regulating it. "Net neutrality" activists, such as the far-left MoveOn.org, are courting multiple dangers by inviting government oversight now. For one thing, technology changes overnight, but government regulations tend to respond with the all the speed of…well, the post office or the DMV.

Passing legislation to regulate the Internet is an idea whose time should never come.

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Assimilate…Or Stay Home

By Chuck Muth

March 3, 2006

Anti-illegal immigration champion Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, appears to have drawn a Republican primary challenger…a development which should make the incumbent happy as a clam. Tancredo will most likely dispatch the challenger with relative ease, but the challenge itself should allow the incumbent to raise a boatload of campaign donations via direct mail from all over the country.

The opponent is a 42-year-old Colombian immigrant named Juan Botero. Botero believes "bad" illegal immigrants - drug dealers, gang members, terrorists - should be deported, but the "good" illegal aliens should be allowed to simply pay a fine and remain in the U.S. via a guest-worker program.

Gee, I wonder if the Bush gang had anything to do with this guy throwing his sombrero into the ring?

In any event, Botero is guilty of missing the same point almost everyone else who supports President Bush’s amnesty program misses. The American people couldn’t care less about forcing the illegals presently in the country to pay a "fine." And many wouldn’t object to some kind of guest worker program - but only after the feds get serious about enforcement FIRST.

No, the one thing that REALLY seems to bug most people about this issue is illegal immigrants coming to America…but not being willing to become Americans.

That includes learning to speak English and the government not printing government documents in Spanish. That means learning our nation’s founding history and taking some civics lessons (our native kids wouldn’t be hurt by a little of this in the public schools either). All immigrants should come here to embrace OUR system of government, not try to force us to embrace THEIRS.

After all, if their system of government is so great, why are they leaving THERE and coming HERE in the first place? Article printed from The Loft: http://www.gopusa.com/theloft URL to article: http://www.gopusa.com/theloft/?p=232

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Drive-by Muthings

By Chuck Muth On April 6, 2006 at 5:47 pm

* Sen. Hillary Clinton, New York Democrat, said this week that the House GOP immigration bill would make her and her Senate aides criminals. (Insert your own smart-aleck comment here)

* The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Maryland transportation officials announced this week a pilot program for screening commuter train passengers and their bags for explosive materials. Does anyone in their right mind think for even a minute this "pilot" program isn’t going to be adopted and expanded at great taxpayer expense and aggravation? It’s a basic law of physics: Bureaucracies expand. Republicans in Congress need to pull the plug on the TSA pronto, before this blob begins screening you before you get into your own car!

* At one point in time, it was Republicans who stood up for free speech and opposed the un-American McCain-Feingold campaign finance censorship law. Then one by one, enough of them caved and, thanks to President Bush’s signature on the bill, the abomination became law. Now, rather than seeking to undo or repeal this horrible mess, a majority of Republicans are attempting to EXPAND the speech restrictions beyond the major political parties to include so-called independent "527" organizations. It’s embarrassing and outrageous.

Tell me again why it’s so important for Republicans to maintain control of Congress?

* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opened their new Thomas R. Harkin Global Communications Center and moved into the Arlen Specter Headquarters and Emergency Operations Center on their main campus in Atlanta today. I wonder why the CDC would name two gigantic, taxpayer-funded government buildings after two sitting United States senators.

* The $67 billion "emergency" bill to fund war efforts in Iraq ballooned up to $107 billion this week as senators went of a porkapalooza spending binge, tossing in new money for flood damage, drought, energy costs, highway repairs, avian flu and fishing equipment for the Gulf Coast. The spend-o-rama clocked in at almost $100 million PER MINUTE of Senate debate.

Burp.

* The "emergency" war bill included some $27 billion in ADDITIONAL hurricane relief for Gulf Coast states, but even that wasn’t enough for Sen. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, who now "vows to block Senate confirmation of every Bush administration appointment until President Bush supports the new and higher figure."

Doesn’t the mob have a term for such a threat?

* "Budgets are about setting priorities," notes the Heritage Foundation. "National defense and homeland security are the federal government’s highest priorities, but lawmakers have boosted non-defense discretionary spending by 49 percent since 2001." Therefore, Heritage is calling on Congress to freeze non-defense discretionary spending through 2006.

Great idea. Fat chance.

* Citizens Against Government Waste released its annual "Pork Book" this week, detailing some $29 billion in pork barrel spending. Get all the gory details at www.cagw.org

* U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, launched a new oversight website this week which will provide the public with tools to track how their tax dollars are spent and help taxpayers access information on federal spending and congressional oversight. The new oversight website will feature a "taxpayer whistleblower" link, where citizens can anonymously submit tips on wasteful government spending programs.

Check it out at www.coburn.senate.gov/ffm

* Tom DeLay’s decision to exit, stage right, is the right decision for all concerned. DeLay, even if re-elected, would never again achieve the power he wielded in the House of Representatives as Majority Leader. And because of the forces lined up to pay back the Texas conservative, there was serious doubt about his ability to even hold onto his seat next November.

The decision to hang up his spurs now means he won’t face the embarrassment of a ballot box loss. It also denies the Democrats the ability to tie DeLay around the neck of every Republican congressional candidate around the country the way they once did with Newt Gingrich. The GOP and DeLay move on. And the D’s have to go back to the drawing board and build a new boogie-man. They don’t have "The Hammer" to kick around any more.

* Responding to outgoing House Majority Leader Tom Delay’s charge yesterday in the Washington Times that Republicans don’t have an agenda or a vision, House Republicans released a vision statement originally drafted earlier this year for current House Majority John Boehner: "We will promote the dignity and future of every individual by building a free society under a limited, accountable government that protects our liberty, security, and prosperity, for a brighter American Dream."

Game, set, match - DeLay.

* Last week in England, Secretary of State Condi Rice said to reporters, "I know we’ve made tactical errors (in Iraq), thousands of them I’m sure." That remark appears to have rubbed the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, the wrong way. When asked about Rice’s remark in a radio interview yesterday in Fargo, ND, Rumsfeld expressed puzzlement. "I don’t know what she was talking about, to be perfectly honest," Rummy said, suggesting the remark indicated that Rice didn’t understand warfare.

Such a conflict between two mega-personalities within the Bush administration does not bode well for what already appears to be a lame duck administration.

* "Cuba’s communist government has announced its candidacy for the United Nations’ new Human Rights Council (HRC)," reports CNS News. "The HRC is replacing U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), long criticized because rights-abusing states were accused of seeking admission to block criticism of themselves and their allies."

In other words, the more things change…

* Massachusetts this week became the first state in the nation to REQUIRE that every one of its citizens "have some form of health insurance." The poor will get "free" taxpayer-funded insurance and those who can afford their own insurance but elect not to will be severely penalized. Businesses who do not offer insurance to their employees will now have to pay the state a new $295 per employee tax.

In unrelated news, Massachusetts also announced its intention to run against Cuba for the UN’s new Human Rights Council.

* So Katie Couric is going to take Dan Rather’s place on the CBS Evening News. In other words, the more things change…

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

"I am a Republican because, like Ronald Reagan, I believe that freedom is America’s most important product."

- Late Reagan adviser Lyn Nofziger

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Private Enterprise Rolling Snake Eyes in Gambling Fight

Posted By Chuck Muth On March 26, 2006

While I recognize that an inordinate amount of hypocrisy is almost a prerequisite for politicians, the examples of such never cease to amaze, especially when it comes to Republicans. Which brings me this week to Rhode Island. And no, believe it or not, this does NOT relate to liberal Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee for a change.

Here’s the deal. Back in 1973, the people of Rhode Island held a constitutional convention in which a state-run lottery was approved. Then, in 1981, the state Supreme Court expanded the definition of "lottery" to include what became known as "video lotteries." You and I know "video lotteries" by their common name: slots.

Anyway, video lotteries have since been approved for two Rhode Island "facilities," one in Lincoln Park and the other in Newport Grand. You and I know "facilities" by their common name: casinos. The big difference being that the "house" in Lincoln Park and Newport Grand isn’t a privately-owned company, but the state. So the net revenues generated at the facilities aren’t profits, they’re, well…taxes.

Enter the Narragansett Indian tribe and Harrah’s Entertainment. The two have partnered up together to open a privately-owned casino in West Warwick, RI. In both 2004 and 2005, state legislators passed bills allowing the people of West Warwick to vote for themselves on whether or not they wanted to approve the new privately-owned casino in their town. However, the state’s Supreme Court overruled the General Assembly, saying the bills were unconstitutional.

To reach this decision, the court played one heck of a game of legal Twister. Remember, the constitutional convention in 1973 only empowered the state to run a lottery. It said nothing about casinos. Then in 1992, slots were renamed and reclassified as video lotteries in order for the state to "constitutionally" open up the two government-owned casinos. But now that a private firm wants to open up a competing casino, the court laughingly ruled that the constitution only allows the state to run a casino by equating a full-scale casino to a number-drawn lottery.

Thanks to this goofy ruling, the only way for the people of West Warwick to get a chance to vote for themselves whether or not to approve the proposed privately-owned casino is for the entire state to first vote on a constitutional amendment which clarifies the clear language of what is already crystal clear to the Average Joe: that casinos and lotteries are two completely different things. But the only way for a constitutional amendment to make it on the ballot in Rhode Island is if the General Assembly approves and submits it. There’s no petition option for citizens to gather signatures and place a measure on the ballot themselves.

Now here’s where the world-class hypocrisy comes in to play.

Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri boldly proclaimed earlier this month, "Let the people decide." He was talking about a measure which would allow citizens to gather signatures to put an issue on the ballot without having to go through the General Assembly. But when asked about letting the people of West Warwick decide for themselves whether or not to approve the privately-owned casino, Carcieri just says no. Why the forked tongue on letting "the people decide"?

"We already have gambling in Lincoln and Newport," the governor said.

So? If there are already casinos in his state, what’s the big deal about letting "the people" in communities OTHER than Lincoln and Newport have a casino, too? Well, because ALL of the revenue from the Lincoln and Newport casinos goes to the state government - while the net revenue (after taxes) from the proposed West Warwick casino would go to a privately-owned business.

Heaven forefend!

Indeed, in objecting to a privately-owned casino project proposed for Johnston, RI, Gov. Carcieri actually said, "For every dollar such a new casino takes from Newport or Lincoln, Rhode Island is losing 35 cents. Why put a third one in when it will draw from the other two?"

You see, the government hates competition. There’s no objection to gambling. There’s no objection to casinos. A casino in another town would be fine, according to Gov. Carcieri, but only "if it’s operated and controlled by the state." Which is kinda like the old saying that you can get your car in any color you want…so long as it’s black.

It’s bad enough the Supreme Court decided that a tree was a goat, but for Gov. Carcieri to take a position that the people should be able to decide important public policy matters EXCEPT when those matters might limit government or promote free-market competition really takes the cake.

If Gov. Carcieri was anything close to an actual Republican, as opposed to a Lincoln Chafee Republican, he’d pressure the General Assembly to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot in November and let the people decide if the government should continue to hold a monopoly on gambling operations in the state. And if the people say they want free-market gaming competition, then the people of West Warwick should get to decide if they want a casino in their back yard at the earliest opportunity.

Anything less on Gov. Carcieri’s part is pure, unadulterated hypocrisy. And it’s darned hard to swallow.

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The War On Big Soda
By Chuck Muth
March 6, 2006

"Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that drinking soda can be hazardous to your health."

Look for that warning label on bottles and cans of Coke, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper and even Hawaiian Punch in stores near you in the not too distant future...that is, if the Health Nannies and the Trial Lawyers get their way. An Associated Press story this week reports that nutrition "experts" are "escalating the fight" against obesity, and they appear to be changing their focus from fast-food to soft drinks.

"In reports to be published in science journals this week, two groups of researchers hope to add evidence to the theory that soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks don't just go hand-in-hand with obesity, but actually cause it," the AP reports. "Not that these drinks are the only cause, but that they are one cause, perhaps the leading cause."

And once "science" takes that leap, the AP predicts the results could be "higher taxes on soda, restrictions on how and where it is sold - maybe even a surgeon general's warning on labels." As Barry Popkin, a "scientist" at the University of North Carolina boasted, "We've done it with cigarettes."

Yes, they did. And many of us fought the three-headed hydra of government bureaucrats, trial lawyers and junk scientists in their war against Big Tobacco. The bottom line for our side was simply that no one was pointing a gun at anyone's head and making them smoke cigarettes - just as no one is making anyone drink sodas today. But that didn't matter to a lot of fair-weathered conservatives who willingly joined the War on Tobacco simply because they didn't like cigarettes. Freedom and responsibility? Fuggetaboutit. Let's just get rid of Joe Camel, right?

Well, we tried to warn you people. And I'm not hesitant in the least to say, "I told you so." You allowed the hydra to get its nose under the tent. And now, flush with cash and success in "getting" Big Tobacco, they're coming for your Yoo-Hoo and your Pepsi. Serves you right.

Of course, some of you will still blow off this encroachment on freedom as nonsense. The government would never crack down on Gatorade the way it did Marlboros, right?

Wrong. They're already doing it. In legislatures and local governments across the country, a quiet but growing movement is already well underway to ban soda machines in schools. After all, what self-respecting social engineering project would dare move forward without a "for the kids" component, right?

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - who should know better -- signed two bills last fall banning vending machine sales of sodas, chocolate bars, crackers, chips, candy and other "junk" foods. The bills' sponsor, Democrat/Socialist state Sen. Martha Escutia, justifies her Big Brother bill thusly: "The benefits of having kids in class who are not on a sugar high, who are going to be able to concentrate and learn better - that's just as important as the obesity aspect."

Yes, dear reader, you read that right. The War on Soda is actually an effort to help kids learn better!

Forget about hiring competent teachers, paying them more, raising standards, dumping No Child Left Behind, getting back to basics, breaking up the government monopoly on education, providing school choice and kicking the teachers union out of the classroom. No, all we really need to do to raise student performance is kick the Coke machine out of the school cafeteria.

Good grief.

The California bans take effect in July 2007, and let me tell what's going to happen. Kids will continue to drink their favorite beverages. They'll continue to eat Snickers and Ding-Dongs. And if they can't purchase them on campus, they'll purchase them off campus. In addition, a black market in Fritos and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups will pop up under the gymnasium stands, as young entrepreneurs recognize the new demand and fill it from their back-packs.

Psssst. Wanna buy a Twix?

Eventually, the Dudley Do-Gooders such as Sen. Escutia and Gov. Schwarzenegger are going to pursue legislation to crack down on the Twinkie black market, banning not just the vending machines on campus, but penalizing mere possession, thus equating snacks with the likes of marijuana - which is already sold on campuses and the use of which only fuels an even greater demand for potato chips and donuts.

Hmm. I guess marijuana IS a gateway drug after all.

Eventually, our kids are going to be sent to the principal's office or suspended for getting caught sneaking a Hershey's bar between classes. Somehow I don't think this is what the Founders had in mind when they promoted the need for an educated populace in order to maintain our liberty. But does anyone care any longer?

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Vouching for Vouchers

Posted By Chuck Muth

April 20, 2006

The Associated Press ran a story this week on Milwaukee’s school voucher program, "the nation’s oldest and largest school voucher program," maintaining that there is "no clear-cut evidence after 15 years that sending youngsters to private school at taxpayer expense yields a better education."

As if that was the argument, even if true.

First, public education and public schools aren’t the same thing. If communities have a compelling reason to assure an educated populace, that doesn’t necessarily mean the government needs to run the schools. Indeed, a compelling argument could be made exactly opposite.

Second, the only reason the AP cites to back up its contention that there is no "clear-cut evidence" that vouchers work is the fact that the teachers unions and other education establishment advocates object. But there’s no clear-cut evidence that anything the teachers union or education establishment folks say on this subject should be taken seriously.

And lastly, school choice isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, about "proving" that the education received in private schools is better or worse than that received in the public schools. It’s about giving PARENTS, not the government, the power and right to make that choice.

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Chuck Muth’s News & Views, 5/30/06

May 30, 2006

WAR TAX FINALLY KILLED

"The Spanish-American War was fought in 1898 and lasted less than eight months, but Americans still pay an excise tax on phone service that was imposed to finance it. Last week, a mere 108 years after the end of that conflict, the Bush Administration moved to terminate the levy. Its duration is something to keep in mind the next time you hear a politician call for a ‘temporary’ tax.  Treasury Secretary John Snow said the Internal Revenue Service will no longer collect the 3% federal excise tax on long-distance phone calls and will offer refunds for the past three years."

- Wall Street Journal, 5/30/06

THE REAL LITMUS TEST ON THE RIGHT

"Republican members should insist that party leaders stop undermining (spending) restraint by using their positions for parochial gain. They ought to stop supporting leaders who call themselves conservatives just because they favor tax cuts. The real litmus test for conservatism is leadership on spending cuts and a willingness to forgo pork to set a good example for the rest of Congress."

- Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute

STUCK ON STUPID

"In America, the minute gasoline prices start to climb, the entire nation is transformed into a horde of gibbering, whining, state-dependent automatons… Republicans, demonstrating once again how urgently they want to reclaim the title of the Stupid Party back from the Democrats…want to offer every American a $100 tax rebate. Just like that. One hundred dollars to spend how they please and the Treasury will just have to deal with it."

- Times of London columnist Gerard Baker

KNOWING MANURE WHEN HE SEES IT

"Republican Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona says he grew up on a farm, ‘so I know manure when I see it.’ His colleagues think Mr. Flake is the real farm nuisance, however, after he tried and failed to strip spending earmarks from an $18.4 billion agriculture bill that passed the House this week.

"Mr. Flake counts 400 ag-bill earmarks in all, ranging from $100,000 for the National Grape and Wine Initiative to $180,000 for tomato production, to $229,000 for dairy education. The point of the latter was to ‘improve the image of the dairy industry.’ These are precisely the kinds of earmarks that have proliferated by 1,100% in the last decade and that Republicans claimed to have sworn off only weeks ago. Yet Mr. Flake’s amendment to strip them won only 93 votes."

- Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal, 5/27/06

PRETTY BIG DIVIDE

"The Senate and House started miles apart (on the immigration bill), and as a result of some amendments that were offered in the Senate, miles have become moons apart or oceans apart…"

- Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Houston Chronicle, 5/28/06

MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION

"As President Bush’s poll numbers drop dramatically even among his base, the question most frequently asked by angry Republicans is: Why, oh why, is Bush so stubbornly rejecting the advice of his supporters even though that advice is consistent with the thunderous message from public opinion surveys?"

- Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum

HONESTY ON IMMIGRATION BILL

"The words ‘path to citizenship’ is a buzzword for amnesty. We ought to be honest, it is amnesty."

- Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, "Meet the Press," 5/29/06

DEAL OF A LIFETIME

"Illegal aliens will have to ‘pay taxes’: That’s no penalty; they’re supposed to pay taxes. In fact, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, under Bush’s plan illegals would have the option to only have to pay three of their last five years in back taxes.

"They have to ‘keep their nose clean’ : Big deal. So does everybody else. They have to get a tamper-proof ID card: Oh, the humanity! They’ll have to stay employed: But isn’t that why they came here, to do jobs Americans won’t? They’ll have to learn English: That’s a benefit to the illegal.

"…Most of these ‘benchmarks’ would be required of any legal immigrant. They are in no way burdensome, yet (White House spokesman) Tony Snow makes them sound almost oppressive. The only real punishment on the entire list is the fine. Know what it is? A measly $2,000 payable in two $1,000 installments. When you consider what illegals get for their two grand, it’s the deal of a lifetime."

- Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, ripping apart the White House’s immigration policy, National Review Online, 4/25/06

MORE RIGHTS THAN A REAL CITIZEN

"Some people are worried that amnesty will give illegal aliens the same rights that American citizens have. In reality, it will give the illegals more rights than the average American citizen. Since most of the illegals are Mexican, that makes them a minority. Under affirmative action, combined with amnesty, they would have preferences in jobs and other benefits. Those who set up their own businesses would be entitled to preferences in getting government contracts. Their children would be able to get into college ahead of the children of American citizens with better academic qualifications."

- Columnist Thomas Sowell

NEW TUNE, SAME ‘OL CANNON

"Four years ago, U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon told the audience at a Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund dinner: ‘We love immigrants in Utah. We don’t make distinctions between legal and illegal.’ . . . A prominent champion of immigrant rights in Washington, Cannon says he hasn’t changed his position. Instead, he has repackaged it in reaction to a nationwide backlash against illegal immigration. . . . Cannon, who has unsuccessfully sponsored congressional bills that would legalize farmworkers, provide in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrant students and legalize those who excel in their studies, is a perennial target of anti-immigration forces."

- Los Angeles Time, 4/30/06

AS GOES CANNON, SO GOES IMMIGRATION ISSUE

"Late next month, just as the conference committee that will decide the fate of an immigration bill gets down to business, a GOP primary for a Utah House seat in the country’s most conservative congressional district may set the boundaries for any legislation that has a chance of passing both the House and Senate.

"Illegal immigration is the key issue in the race, and should five-term incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon of Provo lose to a restrictionist challenger, look for House Republicans to dig in their heels and block any bill that creates a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. ‘House Republicans are already spooked about immigration, and should one of our own lose on the issue, you will see panic break out,’ one GOP congressman told me.

"…Right now, things don’t look good for the Utah Republican. His standing among party activists has clearly been weakened by the images of recent mass demonstrations of illegal aliens. In the final round of voting at the GOP state convention two weeks ago, Mr. Cannon was outpolled, 52% to 48%, by political newcomer John Jacob. Because no one won the necessary 60% of the convention vote to avoid a primary, the two will go head to head at the ballot box June 27."

- John Fund On the Trail, OpinionJournal.com, 5/30/06

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Congress Chooses Pork Over Bullets

By Chuck Muth

May 24, 2006

"It appears that the House and Senate have agreed that the supplemental emergency spending bill will not exceed the amount requested by the President in an effort to avoid a veto," writes a Hill staffer to me this morning. 

"What they have NOT agreed to is removing the earmarks included in the Senate bill.  Therefore, any earmarks agreed to by the conference will come at the expense of our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, or Katrina reconstruction efforts in the Gulf Coast.  This once again underscores how Congress’ addiction to pork not only undermines our nation’s economic security, but also our international security."

This is outrageous.

First, there shouldn’t even BE an "emergency" spending bill for Katrina relief and the War on Terror. After five years of fighting the War on Terror, military appropriations should be included in the regular budget. Ditto relief efforts for Katrina. That disaster occurred last September, and billions have already been shelled out for relief. Where’s the "emergency"?

That being said, the "emergency" supplemental is a reality. The White House requested around $94 billion and the House approved around $94 billion. The Senate, on the other hand, loaded this baby up with pork and earmarks, swelling the bill to over $108 billion.

Now, apparently, the House and the Senate have agreed to keep the bill at $94 billion. But since the Senate refuses to give up any of its earmarks, that means some $14 billion is going to have to be cut from what is supposed to be "emergency" money needed for the war and hurricane relief.

If Congress chooses pork over bullets, President Bush should veto this bill whether it comes in at $94 billion or not. This unconscionable spending has to end!

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Spending Bill Still Out of Whack

URL to article: http://www.gopusa.com/theloft/?p=305

Posted By Chuck Muth On June 13, 2006 at 10:31 am

The House and the Senate have reached a compromise on H.R. 4939 - the Iraq-Katrina supplemental appropriations bill. The bill designates the entire $94.4 billion as “emergency” spending, thus getting around the budget resolutions already in place.

This is the largest appropriations measure ever considered by Congress. And while the agreement stripped out the $700 million requested for Mississippi’s “Railroad to Nowhere,” there are still several areas of concern, as outlined below by a Capitol Hill staffer who forwarded it to me this morning…

Items of Possible Concern

o $44.5 million provided to the “Former Soviet Union Threat Reduction Account” or “Nunn-Lugar Program” which aids in the dismantling of WMDs in the former Soviet Union.

o In addition to not being requested by the White House, this item was not contained in either the House or Senate passed version (i.e., it was added in conference).

o Provides $710.7 million for research and development (R&D) activities, $291.3 million below the House-passed level. It is unclear how such R&D funding is urgent, unforeseen, or temporary, therefore meriting inclusion in a war supplemental as opposed to being funded through regular order.

o The agreement appropriates $37.9 billion for activities related to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, $808 million less than the president’s request.

o The total includes $3 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces - including military, protective services, border patrol and police - and $1.9 billion for Afghan security personnel and the new Afghan Army. The total is roughly $1 billion less than requested.

o The agreement provides $228 million in unrequested funds to support advance procurement of seven new C-17 transport aircraft.

o $230 million in unrequested funds for the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

o Provides $17.5 million for police and judicial reform in Haiti.

o Army Corps of Engineers construction funding includes $30 million for flood control work in Sacramento, Calif., $2 million for the Hawaii Water Systems Technical Assistance Program and $1.5 million for North Padre Island, Texas. In addition, the bill provides $16 million for hurricane-damaged projects in Pennsylvania.

o The agreement allows the transfer of up to $140 million in funds provided for Navy shipbuilding by this measure and the supplemental appropriations provisions of the FY 2006 Defense Appropriations law (PL 109-148) for infrastructure improvements at Gulf Coast shipyards with existing shipbuilding contracts. (i.e., Northrop Grumman) The language replaces Senate-passed language that would have allowed the department to pay the costs of any business disruption to facilities or businesses incurred by a ship construction contractor as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

o Like the Senate bill, the measure provides a separate $176 million allotment, available until expended, for planning and construction for a new Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss.

o Provides $10 million for AmeriCorps funding.

o The agreement provides $702 million for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Emergency Relief Program. The funds provided by the agreement would be available until expended and would be used on projects identified on a Federal Highway Administration table, except for those projects addressed elsewhere in the measure. The agreement provides $108 million more than the Senate bill; the House bill had no highway funding; White House did not request this money.

o The measure rescinds $702 million in funds that were apportioned to states from the Highway Trust Fund, but were not obligated, excluding funds for safety programs or for population areas in a state. Conferees direct the FHWA to allow each state maximum flexibility in making adjustments among the apportioned highway programs.

o The bill proposed to pay for this funding with a rescission of excess highway contract authority. However, since the language does not also adjust the annual obligation limitations, it is unlikely to result in outlay savings and thus real savings to the taxpayer (according to Republican Study Committee).

o The agreement includes $500 million in assistance for agricultural producers, including farmers and ranchers, in areas affected by the 2005 hurricanes. The House bill did not include such provisions (nor did the White House request any), but the Senate bill provided $3.9 billion for agricultural producers affected by a number of events, including floods, droughts, and wildfires.

o $40 million for sugarcane producers in Florida, $40 million for sugarcane producers in Louisiana, $95 million for the Livestock Compensation Program, $45 million for the Livestock Indemnification Program, $95 million for producers of specialty and nursery crops, $17 million for dairy farmers, $15 million for producers and first handlers of the 2005 cottonseed crop. Language providing flexibility for aquaculture producer grants is also expected to cost $8 million. It also allows $9.6 million in funds to be used on administrative expenses.

o $90,000,000 for the National Marine Fisheries Service to provide technical assistance to States and industry for oyster bed and shrimp ground rehabilitation and to undertake cooperative research to monitor the recovery of Gulf fisheries; and not to exceed $5,000,000 to assist fishermen to recover from severe economic impacts due to fisheries disasters declared in 2005. (Not requested by the White House or House)

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