It’s Only Unfair When The Other Guys Do It

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about a video  Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, has done for the Democrat Senatorial Campaign. The video warns that if the Republicans take over the Senate, they might use a “tricky, little-known maneuver” to “ram through” their “right-wing policies” with only 51 votes, instead of the 60 votes “usually required” in the Senate. In case you have forgotten, that ‘tricky little-known maneuver’ is called reconciliation and was used by the Democrats to pass ObamaCare.

On October, 18, 2011, James Capretta posted an article at National Review which stated the following:

Without reconciliation, Obamacare would not have become law at all. It’s true that the main Obamacare structure was passed by the Senate in December 2009 under normal rules for legislative consideration. That’s because Democrats at that time had 60 votes (including two independent senators who caucus with them). They didn’t need to resort to reconciliation to pass the bill as long as  all 60 of their senators stuck together and supported passage, which they did.

But then Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate race in January 2010; the Democrats lost their 60-vote supermajority and could no longer close off debate on legislation without the help of at least one Republican senator.

At that point, the president and his allies had two choices. They could compromise with Republicans and bring back a bill to the Senate that could garner a large bipartisan majority. Or they could ignore the election results in Massachusetts and pull an unprecedented legislative maneuver, essentially switching from regular order to reconciliation at the eleventh hour, thereby bypassing any need for Republican support. As they had done at every other step in the process, the Democrats chose the partisan route. They created a separate bill, with scores and scores of legislative changes that essentially became the vehicle for a House-Senate conference on the legislation. That bill was designated a reconciliation bill. Then they passed the original Senate bill through the House on the explicit promise that it would be immediately amended by this highly unusual reconciliation bill, which then passed both the House and Senate a few days later, on an entirely party-line vote.

The article at Power Line states:

Reich knows all of this, but he is secure in the knowledge that the Democrats’ rank and file, including the donors to whom MoveOn’s video is addressed, are ignorant of the most basic facts of government and do not have memories that reach back to the distant past of 2010. So there is no effective constraint on dishonesty if you are a Democrat bent on fundraising.

In order to survive, a representative republic needs an informed electorate. It is unfortunate that at the moment America does not have one.

The Problem With Walking Down The Middle Of The Road Is That You Tend To Get Run Over

Hot Air posted an article today about the New Hampshire Senate primary. It seems as if Eric Cantor‘s defeat might have been the beginning of a trend. Scott Brown has been seen as the favorite to be the New Hampshire Senate candidate, but things may not be that simple.

The article explains:

One of the candidates, Karen Testerman, has dropped out of the race and tossed her support to former Senator Bob Smith…

Ms. Testerman made the following statement:

It is time for all of us to put aside pride and focus on our greater GOAL, that of fighting for Family, Faith and Freedom. I will not force our principle-driven primary voters to make a self-defeating choice. After much prayer and consultation, I will step aside to allow Senator Bob Smith to be the ONLY conservative name on the primary ballot.…

Senator Smith has a well-earned reputation of standing firm for our conservative beliefs and values and for fighting Washington to stop their overreach. Bob Smith was TEA Party before it had a name.

Scott Brown is a good man, but he has never claimed to be a conservative. He won the special election in Massachusetts to become the Senator to replace Ted Kennedy for two reasons–first of all, the Democrats did not see him coming and did not mobilize, second of all, he knocked on almost every door in the commonwealth and ran as the fifty-first vote against ObamaCare. The fifty-first vote didn’t work out because the Massachusetts Secretary of State delayed seating him in the Senate long enough so that he didn’t get to vote on ObamaCare, but that was the intention. The second time Scott Brown ran in Massachusetts, the Democrats threw everything they could at him to make sure he didn’t win. He didn’t have the support of the Tea Party and was totally outspent and outmaneuvered.

The New Hampshire Tea Party conservatives have never been a fan of Scott Brown. It is not a surprise that they would support a more conservative candidate.

Two Perspectives On The Massachusetts Special Election

Yesterday Massachusetts voted for Ed Markey to replace John Kerry in the Senate. Massachusetts is a very blue state, so the results were not really a surprise, but as Scott Brown has proved, a Republican can win in Massachusetts. Scott Brown won one election. He didn’t win the second time he ran. The first time Scott Brown ran for the Senate he had the support of the Tea Party. Scott Brown made it very clear that he was not a conservative, but that he opposed ObamaCare, the issue of the day. The second time Scott Brown ran, he ran as sort of a generic independent and distanced himself from the Tea Party. He lost. Therein lies the lesson.

Michael Graham posted an article in the Boston Herald today about yesterday’s election.

Michael Graham reports:

The Gomez candidacy is the perfect reflection of the thinking of the failed Massachusetts Republican party leadership. Find a Republican who doesn’t like Republicans, make it someone with money to self-finance all the local consultants who need jobs, and — if possible — a woman or minority.

Have them run on the “I can’t wait to work with those great Democrats in D.C.” platform, spend as much time as possible criticizing the national GOP, and then ride that tide of independent voters to victory!

Gabriel Gomez met all those qualifications. And, as happened 99 times before, he lost.

DaTechGuy posted an article on his blog this morning that said pretty much the same thing in different words. He relates the events on the form of a fairy tale:

Once upon a time there was a political party in Massachusetts called the GOP that regularly lost elections for National office and that party had a choice to make.

For the 2nd time in four years they had a chance to face a Democrat after a tough primary race alone on a ballot without city counselors, town clerks,  governors counselors, ballots questions ,  state reps or senators that might have voters who supported them to help increase the Democrat party vote.

The last time this happened everyone, including the party expected to lose.  But the Tea Party base was energized, they volunteered in large numbers and they helped draw volunteers and funds from members of the GOP base nationwide.  Their candidate, with nothing to lose,  embraced that base and highlighted a single key issue that polled well among both the party and independents who made up the majority of the electorate in the campaign.

DaTechGuy points out that when Republican candidates alienate the Tea Party they lose. It’s not that the Tea Party is all that powerful, but the fact is that recently any enthusiasm and ideas in the Republican Party have come from the Tea Party.

The traditional Republican party has become part of the Washington establishment–they are more interested in holding on to power than representing the American people. There is very little difference between establishment Republicans and Democrats. The Tea Party is a direct threat to the Washington establishment–they want smaller government, lower taxes, transparency in government, etc. The Republican and Democrat parties represent themselves and the low-information voters who have no idea what is going on. As more Americans wake up to the direction our government is taking us, there will be fewer establishment candidates and more people who actually want to serve in office. Unless the establishment Republicans embrace the Tea Party, they will become a permanent minority party. As long as the Democrats have the unions and low-information voters, they will maintain their power in states like Massachusetts.

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Maintaining The Status Quo Even When It Doesn’t Work

Pete I, Da Tech Guy attended the meeting of the Massachusetts Republican Party last night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Natick, Massachusetts. The purpose of the meeting was to elect a new party leader. Pete posted the story today. The opening quote on the article is Bobby Jindel’s comment, “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party.” Well, the Massachusetts Republicans didn;t get that message.

The article at DaTechGuyBlog.com has videos of the election.  Basically what happened is that a vote marked RG was not counted, and another vote was taken. Had the vote counted, it would have been a tie vote. It seems as if they voted until they got the result the mainstream Republicans wanted.

The araticle reports:

After the votes were counted the outgoing chairman asked Rick Green to announce the results, which was a victory for Kirsten Hughes. After very brief remarks Ms Hughes immediately moved for the adjournment of the meeting while activist shouted for the vote total that was not announced. Eventually she announced the vote 41-39 Hughes. As the balloting was secret we don’t know if it was just a question of the two abstaining members going Hughes or several votes changing.

Rick Green represents the more conservative wing of the party; Kirsten Hughes represents the Scott Brown wing of the party. I would like to point out that the Scott Brown wing of the party has not achieved wonderful results. Scott Brown did not really run as a Republican last time–he ran as an independent. If the people in charge are ashamed of being Republicans, what future does the Republican party have in Massachusetts?

Please follow the link to DaTechGuyBlog to read the entire story.

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Why I Voted For Scott Brown

I not only voted for Scott Brown–last night I attended his hometown rally in Wrentham, MA. There were about a thousand people there.

I am a conservative. Some of my views on issues are not in agreement with some of Scott Brown’s votes. So why did I vote for him? Before Scott Brown was my U. S. Senator, he was the Massachusetts Senator from my district. I am also friends of some of the clients he helped when he practiced law in Massachusetts. I am also aware of his work on behalf of the fishing industry in Massachusetts.

Scott Brown is an honest, hard-working man. He loves America and wants to see all Americans prosper. We need him as our Senator in Washington.

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An Interesting Twist On The Massachusetts Senate Election

Today’s Weekly Standard posted an article (and a video) stating that union members who showed up to support Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren during the Wednesday night debate in Springfield, Massachusetts, were told that they would be fined if they were not there.

This is the video:

The article states:

This isn’t the first instance in a Massachusetts Senate race where unions have been accused of generating fake grassroots support for the Democrat.

In 2010, before Brown‘s victory in the special election, a union member wearing a shirt supporting the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, told a local blogger on camera that he had been paid $50 to wear the shirt but that he was actually voting for Brown.

Don’t believe that all the union support for Ms. Warren is real.

 

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Quote Of The Week

DaTechGuy is the host of a Worcester political talk show (830 AM WCRN Saturday 10am to noon) and a dedicated reporter on the political scene. His blog, DaTechGuyBlog.com, reports on both national and state politics. Recently he interviewed Senator Scott Brown.

The quote of the week comes from the Senator in that interview. When the Senator was questioned about his appeal to voters, he replied:

“Last time I got votes from the Democratic party the independent party the republican party and quite frankly people who just like to party.”

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Something For Massachusetts Voters To Think About In November

This video was sent to me with a note from a friend who is working to save the fishing industry in New England. The video is from YouTube.

These are the comments included with the video:

 

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Using Taxpayer Money To Support Democrat Candidates

Howie Carr posted a story today in the Boston Herald about the voter registration forms that are being sent out with welfare checks in Massachusetts. What is being done in Massachusetts may be technically legal, but it definitely does not pass the smell test.

The Boston Herald reported yesterday that the group behind the plan to send out voter registration forms with welfare checks is headed by Elizabeth Warren‘s daughter. Elizabeth Warren is the Democrat candidate running against Republican Senator Scott Brown. This little exercise in democracy will cost the Massachusetts taxpayers $275,844. A letter and a voter registration form is being sent with every welfare check issued in the State.

The article in yesterday’s Boston Herald reported:

Demos, a group founded in the late 1990s to counter conservative think tanks, also counts President Obama as a founding board member.

The Herald reported today that the group recently forced the Bay State to send out nearly 500,000 voter registration cards to those on welfare at a cost of $276,000. Demos also has sued nine states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Louisiana.

The Bay State lawsuit, filed in conjunction with the ACORN offshoot New England United for Justice, comes as Warren faces a tight battle with Brown in a nationally-watched battle that could decide which Party controls the Senate.

Brown said he supports allowing all legal voters to register, but said officials shouldn’t do so with taxpayer dollars.

Note the ACORN connection. Unless all of us learn to fight for the integrity of our elections, these people are not going to go away.

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Elizabeth Warren Is the Democrat’s Choice To Run Against Scott Brown

Today’s New York Times is reporting that Elizabeth Warren has won the nomination of the Massachusetts Democrat Party and will be running against Scott Brown in November’s Senate race. Ms. Warren won nearly 96 percent of the votes at the state Democrat convention.

The article reports:

It was a foregone conclusion that Ms. Warren, who has been widely perceived as the presumptive nominee, would win the endorsement. The question was how many votes her rival, Marisa DeFranco, would receive. Ms. DeFranco, an immigration lawyer, needed 15 percent of the vote to earn a spot on the ballot.

During the past few days, Ms. Warren has been endorsed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

The article further reports:

Ms. Warren began the day with some good news with two new polls — from The Boston Globe and from Western New England University — showing her running essentially even with Mr. Brown.

Massachusetts is pretty much a one-party state, so I suppose it is not surprising to see Ms. Warren running even with Scott Brown, but I do find that somewhat hard to believe. In recent weeks it has become obvious that Ms. Warren has not been entirely honest about certain aspects of her heritage that she has used to advance her career. A lot of people I have talked to have been totally turned off to her as a candidate because of the ciaims of Indian heritage that may or may not be true. Scott Brown is likeable, personable (and frankly a whole lot less conservative than I would prefer), but he has never claimed to be a conservative, and I believe he has always voted for what he thought was in the best interest of the people he was elected to represent. Scott Brown is the best choice for the voters of Massachusetts–it will be interesting to see if they make that choice.

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What Are The Odds That There Will Be A New Democrat Senate Candidate In Massachusetts Before November ?

Breitbart.com posted an article today about some recipes submitted by Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren to the POW WOW CHOW cookbook. Howie Carr, a Boston talk-radio host, has uncovered some information that seems to show that the recipes were plagiarized. The information is posted on Howie Carr’s website. You can compare the recipes for yourself.

Ms. Warren has had a rough couple of weeks. There are a lot of unanswered questions about her supposed Indian heritage (which was very valuable in advancing her career) and now the POW WOW CHOW recipes look less than authentic. Ms. Warren has been raising money to run against Scott Brown for quite some time and has amassed a substantial war chest. Is that a guarantee that she will get the Democrat nomination? The Democrats pulled a switch in a New Jersey Senate election a few years ago (google “Jon Corzine”–it may take you a while to get the whole story!), but I don’t think they will do that is Massachusetts.

DaTechGuy, a Massachusetts blogger, recently had a few thoughts on the subject–he pointed out that Marsia DeFranco (the other Democrat running in the Primary) is not setting the world on fire:

Marsia DeFranco has been a candidate for the US Senate since last year and has been campaigning since then. Her fundraising has been so successful that her campaign couldn’t loan me the money to replace my furnace even if it wanted to.

But money isn’t everything what about press. Lets look at how much coverage she has generated:

I did an exact search for the Name “Marisa DeFranco” in Google news over the last year (5/16/11 – 5/16/12) sorted by date, I got 208 results shown via 6 pages.

This is going to be an interesting November.

 

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I Hate To Pile On, But…

Elizabeth Warren is having a bad time right now. The facts have caught up with the dialogue. For a politician that is never a good thing (well, sometimes it is, if they are telling the truth!). I probably should mention at this point that I live in Massachusetts, will be voting for Scott Brown, and made a small donation to his campaign (considering the name of this website, that should not be a surprise).

In regard to the Indian claim, it really would have remained simply an item of family lore to have fun with if she hadn’t checked off a few boxes on her way to her current position. Every family has its urban legend–that’s part of the fun of being a family–but you are not supposed to try to advance your career by claiming whatever urban legend your family embraces.

Ms. Warren has a larger problem with truth and image in this campaign. On Tuesday, the Washington Examiner posted an article which included some of Ms. Warren’s employment history.

The article reports:

In addition to the story about Warren’s minority claims, the Boston Globe reported that Warren had a lucrative consulting job with Travelers Insurance in which she helped the company stop asbestos-related lawsuits, work that conflicts with her image as a consumer protection advocate who was once tapped to head the federal government’s newly created Consumer Protection Agency.

“I think the Native American story will pass,” University of Massachusetts political science professor Maurice Cunningham said. “But it’s a little hard to make the case you are purely for the consumer when you are working for Travelers Insurance.”

There are actually two disturbing things about the Travelers Insurance story. First, I understand that insurance companies (like any other business) are in business to make money, but that does not give them the right to try to squelch legitimate claims–if the asbestos-related lawsuits were legitimate and not over-the-top, there should have been no effort to stop them. If they were lawsuits where the lawyers made the money and the victims made little or nothing, they should have been stopped. (Tort reform, anyone?) Second, unless Ms. Warren can explain why she worked to stop the lawsuits, her credibility as a consumer advocate is about the same as her credibility as an Indian.

 

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The Massachusetts Senate Race

Scott Brown, Republican U.S. Senator represent...

Scott Brown, Republican U.S. Senator representing Massachusetts, at a U.S. Senate campaign event on December 31, 2009, in Plymouth Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Senate race in Massachusetts is going to be interesting. Scott Brown took the seat in a special election in 2010 after the death of Senator Kennedy. He was embraced by the Tea Party and traveled the state extensively to win votes. Senator Brown has not voted in line with the wishes of the Tea Party, but has definitely been his own man. I have not always agreed with his votes, but will be voting for him again–he is an honest man, and I believe he is trying to vote in the best interests of Massachusetts and America.

The other candidate for the Senate seat is Elizabeth Warren, currently a law professor at Harvard. Ms. Warren has made a few misstatements in her campaign that may be a problem for her.

Today’s Boston Herald reports:

Despite claiming she never used her Native American heritage when applying for a job, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign admitted last night the Democrat listed her minority status in professional directories for years when she taught at the University of Texas and the University of Pennsylvania.

Other than the fact that the statement calls into question Ms. Warren’s basic honesty, it really is no big deal.

The Herald further reports:

The Herald reported Friday that embattled Harvard Law School officials touted Warren’s Native American heritage — she reportedly has ancestors from the Cherokee and Delaware tribes — as proof of the faculty’s diversity.

The Warren campaign has said the U.S. Senate candidate never allowed Harvard Law to claim her as a minority hire. Warren herself has said she could not “recall” ever listing her Native American background when applying for college or a job.

It really is no big deal whether or not Ms. Warren was hired because of her racial background or not–it is a concern, however, that she feels necessary to lie about it during the campaign.

 

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Why Is It That The People Who Are Not Impacted By Higher Gas Prices Always Want The Rest Of Us To Pay More ?

I live in Massachusetts. After the redistricting this year, I was moved into Representative Barney Frank‘s district. Barney Frank is not running for re-election–thus there is an open seat. At the present time, there is only one Republican in the Massachusetts Congressional delegation–Scott Brown. If I have my way, there will be at least two after the 2012 election.

The Massachusetts Democrat party, in a truly typical move, put forth Joseph Kennedy III as the candidate for Barney Frank’s seat. I am not even sure he lives in the district he will represent, but he can afford to buy another house if he needs to. Qualifications? You’re kidding.

The Daily Caller that Joseph Kennedy III wrote an online letter to supporters calling for an end to “cheap oil.”

The online letter states:

Second, we need to get serious about our dependence on foreign oil. Energy independence is the goal most often talked about over the last 40 years while also the most neglected.

Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama – they’ve all talked about the same thing: the need to wean ourselves off our debilitating dependence on foreign oil.

The cycle that allows cheap oil to trump tough choices has to stop. 40 years is enough.

And while mortgaging our energy future to foreign interests, we’ve also surrendered our financial independence. We’ve run up $15 trillion in national debt.

Has it not occurred to this man that energy independence (development of our own energy sources) might be a better answer to this problem?

The article reminds us:

Since 2005, Kennedy’s father, former Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy Jr., has teamed up with Hugo Chavez, the anti-American, communist strongman of Venezuela, to bring free oil to poor people in the United States.

I hope the Massachusetts voters think carefully before they vote. Joseph Kennedy III is not a man we need in the House of Representatives right now. The increased cost of gasoline has stretched the budgets of all ordinary people–raising it more will do serious economic damage to the state and national economy. What in the world is this man thinking?

 

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Thuggery From The White House

President Obama cut his political teeth in Chicago. Chicago politically is an ugly city, and the President needs to learn some manners now that he is in the White House. His remarks about the Supreme Court yesterday were inappropriate and uncalled for.

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted a story on the President’s remarks. The President stated:

[…] I think the justices should understand that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions can actually get health care. So there’s not only an economic element to this and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this. And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate.

[…] for years what we’ve heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly-constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example, and I’m pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.

We need to remember that there are other ways to ensure that people have access to health insurance–a government takeover is not the only option. We also need to remember that overturning a bad law is not judicial activism.

The President also stated that Obamacare was passed by a strong majority. That is a lie. It was passed by a parliamentary trick because they did not have the votes to send it back to the Senate after reconciliation. The election of Scott Brown was a glaring example of how unpopular the legislation was. The popularity of a law has nothing to do with whether or not it is constitutional, but we do live in a representative republic where the laws are expected to reflect the desires of the governed.

The question in Obamacare is whether or not the government can force you to buy something you may not want to buy. If that principle stands, it is the end of our freedom as we know it. In passing Obamacare, Congress overstepped its bounds. It is now up to the Supreme Court to put things back in order.

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Abuse Of Small Businessmen

This is a press release from Senator Scott Brown’s website:

Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) filed a Freedom of Information Act request for an Inspector General report on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) illicit purchase and use of a $300,000 luxury fishing boat. The request was granted, and today Senator Brown spoke from the Senate floor to reveal the numerous abuses detailed in the previously unknown findings of the Inspector General. Click here to read the report.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

I rise today to inform you and the public of some highly disturbing information that I’ve just learned about a broken agency within our federal government – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

We all know that Washington doesn’t spend our money wisely. But sometimes it is worth highlighting examples of the corruption and waste.

Yesterday morning, I contacted the Commerce Department Inspector General to request a copy of their report on NOAA’s purchase of a $300,000 luxury boat.

It would be bad enough if they had purchased this boat with taxpayer dollars.

But they didn’t. They paid for it with money that should belong to our struggling fishermen.  They paid for it out of the fines that fishermen pay into the pot when they mistakenly catch the wrong kind of fish. Those dollars are supposed to stay in fishing communities to help the fishermen.

Here’s the boat. For a government vessel, that’s pretty flashy. Take a look inside. That’s a fully-appointed bar, the latest in on-board entertainment systems, and leather furniture complete with the ice chest and tackle rack.

Furthermore, the fines that fishermen have been paying are putting fishermen out of business. The stories will break your heart.

So let me again describe the situation: NOAA levied totally unreasonable fines against our fishermen. Then they used that money to buy themselves a luxury boat. So what else did the IG investigation find? Mr. President, here are the disturbing headlines. 

According to the IG, NOAA had no reasonable official use for this boat.  Let’s start there.  They didn’t need it. Period. They had some story about needing an “undercover vessel” to sneak up on whale watching vessels.  Imagine that – armed federal agents sneaking up on school groups and tourists trying to learn about nature. The IG found this to be as ridiculous. NOAA officials wanted this useless luxury boat, then they invented a reason to buy it with fishermen’s hard-earned dollars.

So why did NOAA go to such lengths to “manipulate” and “violate” the government purchasing rules to get this boat?  NOAA already has many boats and more cars than it has agents, so why add this to the inventory?  Well, Mr. President, they apparently didn’t need it for official purposes. We know that because the IG says that it was never – I repeat, never – used for official business.

The sad truth is that it was a fishermen-funded party boat for bureaucrats, Mr. President.  That’s right, while fishermen in Gloucester and New Bedford are struggling to put off foreclosure or mourning the loss of their livelihood because of NOAA’s overzealous enforcement, the NOAA office was living the good life on their dime.

NOAA officials used the boat for the following: trips to dockside restaurants; hamburger and hotdog BBQs and alcohol-fueled parties and with family and friends; and “pleasure cruises” at high rates of speed, with beer consumed on-board.

Even though federal rules ban non-employees from being on vessels, a NOAA supervisor even told a subordinate that his wife was welcome to “kick back and watch TV” on the boat.

They filed expense reports and reimbursed themselves for these trips.

What excuse did NOAA employees give for this behavior?  They needed to do all these things to maintain the recreational appearance of this “undercover” boat that was never even used for the “undercover” work that it was supposedly purchased for. 

Mr. President, let’s be honest.  A booze cruise is a booze cruise.

One NOAA officer decided to take his family on a weekend trip to a posh resort.  He took the undercover NOAA party boat to get there, but he was untrained in how to operate it and blew out a $30,000 engine. Rather than turn back and write the taxpayers a check, he simply abandoned it and took a marked NOAA law enforcement boat the rest of the way to their resort.  Nothing could get between this NOAA employee and a good time. When asked about that incident, the NOAA employee lied to the IG and said there was no family on board. That was just one of many instances of NOAA employees deliberately misleading the IG.

Another NOAA officer used the undercover NOAA boat to take his wife to lunch in Seattle. On this trip, the boat engines stalled in a shipping lane because the boat ran out of fuel due to another operator error. The guy didn’t know how to switch the tanks. So they were stuck drifting in a dangerous shipping lane. The officer and his wife apparently found the situation comical.  Well I don’t think that the fishermen in New Bedford are laughing. 

Again – the money that belonged to fishermen was paying for all this.

To this day, Mr. President, no one has been held accountable. Let me repeat. No one has been disciplined, fired, or even reprimanded for anything having to do with this boat. As you’ve seen here today, NOAA has a culture of corruption that has created a chasm of distrust between the agency and the fishing industry. 

Here is a list of all the problems I have encountered with NOAA since coming to the Senate: abusive treatment of fishermen, resulting in decimation of the fleet; investigations motivated by money; improper fines, leading to foreclosure and bankruptcy; “shredding parties” destroying 75%-80% of OLE documents; lying to Inspector General investigators; discouraging cooperation with the Inspector General; misleading Members of Congress; $300,000 party boat purchased with fishermen’s fines; $12,000 in party boat expenses paid with fishermen’s fines; $30,000 engine destroyed by NOAA employee on weekend vacation while using “undercover” NOAA craft.

This is simply unacceptable. This needs to change, and accountability starts at the top. NOAA’s leadership needs to change.

I am calling once more for President Obama to fire NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco.

If not now, when? If not for this, then for what?

Our fishermen and the American taxpayers deserve better from their Federal Government.

Scott Brown is my Senator. I don’t always agree with his votes, but I have to admit that he is living up to his pledge of going to Washington to represent the common man. He is absolutely right on this issue. I will be working to re-elect him in 2012 because I believe he truly represents the common man and the American taxpayer.

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The STOCK Bill Has Passed The Senate

The Hill reported at 6 o’clock tonight that the STOCK bill has passed the Senate by a vote of 96-3. The main purpose of the bill is to prevent lawmakers from using inside information for personal gain in trading stocks and bonds. However, there were a number of other provisions in the bill that would limit some of the extra benefits lawmakers receive that were defeated.

The article reports:

But the underlying proposal to ban lawmakers from using private information they learn in the course of their duties to profit from stock trades or other transactions received broad bipartisan support.

“We tried to focus at the specific task at hand, closing loopholes to ensure that members of Congress play by the exact same rules as everyone else,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a sponsor of the legislation.

“This sorely-needed bill will establish for the first time a clear fiduciary responsibility to the people we serve, removing any doubt that the SEC and CFTC are empowered to investigate and prosecute cases involving insider trading of non-public information that we have access to through our jobs,” she said.

Only three senators voted against final passage: Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).

Voting against this bill would be a definite liability for any Senator running for re-election in 2012. The bill was originally sponsored by Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts after he learned that insider trading was going on. The 60 Minutes piece on insider trading by Congress which aired a few months ago galvanized public opinion against the practice.

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Two Good Things Happening In The Senate

Scott Brown was elected as Senator from Massachusetts in a special election in January of 2010, after the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. I tend to be somewhat more conservative than Senator Brown and have disagreed with him on some of his votes, but I think he is a man of integrity who is trying to do what is best for the country and for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is responsible for two good things that happened in the Senate this week.

On his facebook page, Senator Brown reports:

On 12/14/11 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs passed Senator Brown’s revised STOCK Act, which would prohibit insider trading in Congress.

I have no idea what is in the revised bill, but it is an accomplishment to get it out of committee. Thomas.gov should have the revisions up tomorrow.

The second good thing is a Press Release Scott Brown released on December 13. In part, the Press Release reads:

Washington, DC – Following a series of major electric outages that have left millions of New Englanders without power in recent years, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators from the region today, including Senator Scott Brown (R-MA),  called for a hearing to review our nation’s electric grid reliability standards.  In a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senators highlighted the fact that power outages not only pose a threat to public safety, but also to local businesses and economies.

As an example, the Senators pointed to last month’s New England snowstorm that left more than 2 million utility customers without power, including 672,000 in Massachusetts, 315,000 in New Hampshire and 830,000 in Connecticut.

“This year, Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm caused hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents to lose power for days or weeks, often with little information about when the lights would turn back on,” said U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA).  “I share their frustration and, as we have learned, a reliable power grid is not just critical to our economy, but a matter of life and death.  I hope the Committee will hold this oversight hearing to reveal the extent of our energy reliability issues, and help our nation be better prepared for major disruptions to our power supply.”

“Power outages can have significant consequences, even life-threatening ones when they come during the brutal cold of winter.  Families can be forced out of their homes and businesses forced to close unexpectedly,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  “Unfortunately, over the past two years, significant and sustained outages have been occurring across New England with unacceptable regularity.  Our electric grid reliability standards are designed to protect the welfare of the American people and the American economy, and it’s time that we review their effectiveness and adequacy.”

“This hearing can be highly significant, not only in fact finding but change making,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).  “An oversight hearing should enable us to explore and expose defects in utility preparation and response, and empower reforms in policies and practices at every level.  The prolonged power outages from this past October’s storm had real and pernicious consequences for the economy, health, and safety of Connecticut residents.  An oversight hearing is essential to upgrade our reliability standards as well as improve Mutual Aid Agreements, so that states can protect against similar catastrophes.”

There is another issue here. An organization called EMPact America has been trying to wake Americans up to the dangers of an Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

The EMPact America website reports:

An EMP can be caused by a natural event like a severe solar storm or a malicious act using a weapon like a high-altitude nuclear burst. National experts have concluded that consequences of a natural or manmade EMP event could be long-lasting, continent-wide and cripple the U.S. critical electricity-dependent infrastructures, which are highly vulnerable and largely unprotected.

On a personal note. I have been aware of the potential of an EMP attack for a number of years. As I have previously stated on this website, I am not particularly scientifically inclined and not always totally logical. Before I retired, I worked about 20 miles from my home, I knew that in the case of an EMP attack my car would not work and I would want to get home if I was at work. Since I generally wore high heels to work, I always kept a pair of jogging shoes in the trunk of my car. That was my security blanket. I felt very secure until my husband pointed out to me that after an EMP attack I would have no way of getting into my trunk–it has an electronic latch. That is an example of one of the little things that would not work after an EMP attack.

Shielding the electric grid is not an expensive proposition. It needs to be done to protect the people of America. I am grateful Senator Brown is calling for hearings on the reliability of our power grid.

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Any Bets On Where This Will Go ?

Capital Building

Image via Wikipedia

On November 15, I posted an article (rightwinggranny.com) thanking Senator Scott Brown for his introductions of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge, or STOCK Act, (S.1871) which would clarify insider trading regulations that do not clearly identify whether the use of inside government information constitutes insider trading. On November 15, the bill was read and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Hearings were held.

USA Today reported on December 6 that the bill could be voted on by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee on December 14. If the committees vote for the measure, the full Congress could vote on it early next year.

The article reports that there is some opposition to the bill:

New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of Long Island said the STOCK Act could leave lawmakers vulnerable to “a witch hunt.”

“It’s flawed, and everybody knows it,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. “I hope there’s another way of doing this.”

Cleaver suggested alternative approaches, such as letting lawmakers put their investments into blind trusts handled by professional investment managers, or having the SEC issue guidance letters advising individual lawmakers on what’s legal.

Two Republican freshmen, Reps. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Francisco Canseco of Texas, have proposed letting lawmakers choose between a blind trust and reporting financial transactions more frequently.

Duffy’s legislation would require reporting them within three business days. Canseco’s proposal, which would change the internal rules of the House, would require reporting them within five business days after the end of each month.

I think one of the problems here is that for a long time we have expected Congress to police itself, and obviously it has not done a very good job. I am not sure that the current bill is the answer to the insider trading problem, but I can guarantee that doing nothing is not the answer. Congress needs to be under the same laws as the rest of us. It seems as if this bill would move that idea closer to reality.

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Received In My E-mail Tonight

November 16, 2011

LIEBERMAN, COLLINS TO HOLD HEARING
 ON INSIDER TRADING LAWS AND CONGRESS

60 Minutes Story Sparks Examination

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced Wednesday they would hold a hearing to examine how insider trading laws apply to Congress.

 The hearing, requested by Committee Member Scott Brown, R-Mass., and sparked by a 60 Minutes report, is intended to clarify the laws and rules that govern members of Congress who may profit personally from non-public information they learn in the course of their work.

“Insider trading by members of Congress – if it occurs — is a serious breach of the public trust,” said Lieberman. “No one in Congress should be enriching themselves based on information to which the general public has no access. Our hearing will set the record straight about how existing laws and ethics rules apply to Congress and whether they are sufficient to prevent unethical market trading.”

 Collins said: “Elected office is a place for public service, not personal gain. We have a duty to examine and address practices that can create the appearance of wrongdoing or undermine the public’s confidence in decisions made by Congress.

“I appreciate Senator Scott Brown’s leadership on this important issue. We need to assure the American people that the decisions we make are decisions of integrity, in which their interests are put first.”

 Senator Brown has introduced legislation intended to prevent members of Congress from profiting on information to which only they are privy. That bill has been referred to HSGAC. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., will introduce similar legislation soon. House members have introduced similar bills.
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Thank You, Scott Brown

Official portrait of Senator Scott Brown

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The article I posted this afternoon (just below this article) dealt with the fact that lawmakers exempted from the insider trading laws they impose on private traders. Evidently I was not the only one appalled by this.

CNN News reported this afternoon that Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has introduced the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge, or STOCK Act, (S.1871) which would clarify insider trading regulations that do not clearly identify whether the use of inside government information constitutes insider trading.

The article reports:

The bill filed Tuesday by Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown would make it illegal for elected congressional officials, their staffs and executive branch employees to use information about pending bills that’s not available to the general public in making investment decisions. It would also forbid them from making such information public for personal gain.

All of this attention to insider trading follows a report aired by CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday which highlighted instances in which congressional officials reportedly bought stocks around the same time Congress was discussing legislation affecting those companies or industries.

Based on recent reports on the number of Congressmen (and Congresswomen) who have drastically increased their net worth after being elected to Congress, this legislation is long overdue.

Thank you, Scott Brown.

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The Senate Campaign In Massachusetts Has Begun

Scott Brown, Republican U.S. Senator represent...

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The election is a year away, but in Massachusetts the race for the Senate seat currently held by Scott Brown is already underway. I have seen ads on television from various groups. I have seen some of the snide remarks made in the debates between Democrat candidates. I guess it’s going to be a long year.

Massachusetts voters are responsible for the people they send to Washington and the impact those people have on the economy. I received the following press release in my email tonight on some recent statements by Democrat Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren:

Professor Warren Calls For Higher Payroll Taxes On Small Business Owners
In The Same Speech, She Hypocritically Blames Others For “Voting Against” Small Businesses

 BOSTON – During a speech to the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren advocated raising payroll taxes on people making as little as $108,000 a year – a proposal that would impact the very same small businesses she accuses Republicans of “voting against.”

 As reported in today’s Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Warren answered a question from an audience member about payroll taxes by saying:

 Not shying away from point-blank questions from Gaudette Insurance Agency President Lee Gaudette about funding Social Security for the baby boom generation, Ms. Warren said that if income were taxed for Social Security at a flat rate, instead of having the taxable portion capped at $108,000, the program would pay for itself.

 Earlier in her speech, however, Warren said that “small businesses are the crucial engine of job creation in Massachusetts and across the country” and went on to accuse Republicans of “voting against small businesses.”

 “Professor Warren’s double-speak on small businesses is breathtaking,” said Nate Little, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Republican Party. “Her endorsement of a tax hike on those making $108,000 a year demonstrates how fundamentally out-of-touch she is with the concerns of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Next year’s election will be about the economy, and it’s clear that Professor Warren’s economic plans would crush the people she rightfully describes as the ‘engine of job creation.’”

The race begins.

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