Jo Ann Emerson Asks For Forgiveness?

In the run-up to the 2010 elections, many Missouri bloggers tried to remind folks about Roy Blunt’s connection to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, both convicted felons, as well as Blunt’s other rather extensive ties to lobbyists. 

He trounced Robin Carnahan by a 54-41 margin.

Many also tried to point out his crucial role in the last-minute passing of the Medicare Part D entitlement—unfunded—which he acted out by helping the House Republican leadership cajole and caress as many reluctant Republicans as they could in order to get their votes, sometimes getting them to switch their votes. (FiredUp!Missouri has a nice summary of the sordid tale here.)

After all, as The Washington Post put it, the House leadership made sure their members knew the prescription drug benefit issue was important “to the party and the president.”

Yeah.  And to the drug companies.

The pharmaceutical industry benefits from the legislation because most of the cost is picked up by taxpayers and the Medicare program is not allowed to negotiate prices with the drug companies. Not allowed by law.  By a law that was pushed by Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt and enacted in 2003 by a majority of Republicans, including by Representative Jo Ann Emerson, a legislative neighbor of Blunt’s here in Missouri at the time.

As former Reagan domestic policy adviser and Bush I treasury official Bruce Bartlett said, “the Medicare drug benefit was a pure giveaway,” and it, “had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit.”  He added:

…anyone who voted for the drug benefit, especially someone who switched his vote to make its enactment possible, has zero credibility. People like Franks ought to have the decency to keep their mouths shut forever when it comes to blaming anyone else for increasing the national debt.

He finished with this:

It astonishes me that a party enacting anything like the drug benefit would have the chutzpah to view itself as fiscally responsible in any sense of the term. As far as I am concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt.

Well, Jo Ann Emerson, who represents the south central and southeast part of our state, was one of those Republicans who voted for the prescription drug bill to keep it alive in the House.  And she was one of those who changed her vote, at the behest of Roy Blunt.  And then she voted against it on final passage.

Go figure.

In any case, I’m not at this time going to knock Emerson for that vote-and-switch. That’s not the point I want to make.

I want to offer her some praise.

Perhaps out of some kind of legislative penance, she is trying to make amends.  According to Vermont Public Radio Emerson is co-sponsoring a bill with Vermont Democrat Peter Welch that would,

allow the federal government to negotiate prices for prescription drugs that are bought under the Medicare Part D program.

Congressman Welch has essentially called Medicare Part D a “corrupt bargain,” and claims that his and Emerson’s bill would save taxpayers $156 billion over the next ten years by giving the government the power to negotiate a bulk discount for drugs.

The idea has failed before but Welch is optimistic about the bill’s chances this time:

I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at passing it this year because there is such a focus on the budget. The total focus on the new Republican majority is on cutting spending. This is tailor-made to help them achieve that goal. It’s $160 billion in savings. I think it’s a very compelling argument and it will allow those who claim they want to taxpayer money a chance to do so.

I’m not exactly sure how proud Rep. Emerson is of her co-sponsorship of this bill, since I could find nothing about it on her website, but here’s hoping she will enthusiastically work out her penance for her past legislative sins, at least one of them at the urging of Roy Blunt.

And perhaps this proposal will serve as a test for those Republicans in Congress who talk big about the debt and deficit but often shrink in the presence of traditional Republican constituents like the drug companies.

Happy Thanksgiving Tom DeLay And Roy Blunt!

I wonder what Roy Blunt is thinking today.

Tom DeLay, who was once on top of the political world, is now a convicted felon.  Along with Jack Abramoff and others convicted of wrongdoing during the heady days of the GOP congressional majority, which was not that long ago, DeLay can now take his rightful place in the lineup of Republican rogues, who thought they were untouchable, in terms of political reality (which hit DeLay in 2005) and in terms of the law (which hit him today).

From the AP:

Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a scheme to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge, although prosecutors haven’t yet recommended a sentence…

Prosecutors said DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and whose tough tactics earned him the nickname “the Hammer,” used his political action committee to illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations into 2002 Texas legislative races through a money swap.

Speaking of the Hammer, it was in 2003 that DeLay christened Roy Blunt—by literally passing to him what turned out to be a tainted hammer—as the Republican Whip, after DeLay became the Majority Leader.  That year, 2003, was an eventful year for Blunt.  From Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington—which rated Blunt as one of “the 13 most corrupt members of Congress“:

In 2003, Rep. Blunt divorced his wife of 31 years to marry Philip Morris (now Altria) lobbyist Abigail Perlman. Before it was known publicly that Rep. Blunt and Ms. Perlman were dating – and only hours after Rep. Blunt assumed his new role as Majority Whip – he tried to secretly insert a provision into Homeland Security legislation that would have benefitted Philip Morris, at the expense of competitors. Rep. Blunt’s provision would have made it harder to sell tobacco products over the Internet, and would have cracked down on the sale of contraband cigarettes. 

In addition, Rep. Blunt’s son Andrew lobbies on behalf of Philip Morris, a major client he picked up only four years out of law school.  Notably, Altria is Rep. Blunt’s largest campaign contributor, having donated more than $270,000 to political committees tied to him. 

In 2003, Rep. Blunt also helped his lobbyist son Andrew by inserting a provision into the $79 billion emergency appropriation for the war in Iraq to benefit U.S. shippers like United Parcel Service, Inc. and FedEx Corp… Andrew Blunt lobbies on behalf of UPS in Missouri, (in addition to Philip Morris)11 and UPS and FedEx have contributed at least $67,500 to Rep. Blunt since 2001…

Rep. Blunt has ties to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of criminal and congressional probes. In June 2003, Mr. Abramoff persuaded Majority Leader Tom DeLay to organize a letter, co-signed by Speaker Hastert, Whip Roy Blunt, and Deputy Whip Eric Cantor, that endorsed a view of gambling law benefitting Mr. Abramoff’s client, the Louisiana Coushatta, by blocking gambling competition by another tribe.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Abramoff has donated $8,500 to Rep. Blunt’s leadership PAC, Rely on Your Beliefs. 

Roy Blunt, who worked closely with his “friend” and now convicted felon Tom DeLay, was sent to the United States Senate with the blessing of Missouri’s tea partiers, who supposedly were “fed up” with Washington insider politics and deal-making.  Uh-huh.  Representative-elect Billy Long, the feddest of the fed-up crowd, even donated money to Blunt. Stay tuned for more hypocrisy, as Long’s legislative career begins.

Here are three videos featuring Roy Blunt and Tom DeLay. The first is Blunt assuming the job as Whip in 2003.  The second is of Blunt defending the Hammer, after DeLay was forced to resign his leadership post in the wake of the charges brought against him in Texas in 2005, which resulted in his conviction today (Blunt is at 2:15).  The third is a tribute to DeLay by Blunt, in which he praises his “friend.” 

Enjoy watching your new Senator! 

Thanks to Sean at FiredUpMissouri for lifting these from C-SPAN and posting them on YouTube.

A Steaming Blunt Refuses To Answer A Simple Question: Did He Know Her Or Not?

Although I don’t recall seeing anything about this story in the Joplin Globe or on our local “news” stations, some of you may know about the accusations—raised by the Democratic Party—that Roy Blunt employed a Nicaraguan woman by the name of Dora Narvaez, who, shall we say, wouldn’t survive the Arizona Test in terms of proving her U.S. citizenship.

The woman told the Kansas City Star that she worked for Blunt in 1990 for a period of six months, around the time she was seeking political asylum in the United States.  Blunt, who at the time was Missouri Secretary of State, had written a letter on her behalf to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, saying that,

Dora Narvaez has done some work for Roseann.

Roseann, of course, was Blunt’s first family-values wife.  But apparently when Blunt used the word “worked,” he didn’t mean it in the conventional sense.  When the story first came out, the Blunt campaign said that,

…the woman merely helped at some church events, and was never employed by the Blunts.

Last week, Blunt told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he does not recall the woman at all:

Speaking to the Post-Dispatch editorial board today, Blunt said his family never had a “housekeeper,” though they did occasionally have someone, Blunt said, clean their home.

But Blunt said neither he, Roseann or their three children remember Narvaez filling that role.

“We often had somebody who would come in maybe twice a month,” Blunt said. “None of us remember her ever doing that.”

Blunt added: “I don’t know if I ever met the woman.”

So, yesterday KMBC’s Micheal Mahoney ask Blunt a simple question:

Did you know her or not?

An easy question, right?  “Did you know her or not?”

All Blunt had to do was say “yes” or “no” or “I don’t remember because I’ve remarried since then and I’ve made it a point to forget everything about my former family-values life.”

But here is how Blunt, who is steaming around the state on a last-minute tour, reacted:

Obviously, Mahoney hit a sore spot with his question.  And I suspect Blunt, like most Republican candidates these days, will be off-limits to reporters between now and next Tuesday.

And I also suspect that it won’t matter at all to most local voters (I predict: 65%+), who have consistently supported him through his family-values failures and his affection for lobbyists in general (like Big Tobacco) and in particular (like his second wife and other members of his family).  And, no, I’m not even going to bring up Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

Here is a video from the Missouri Democratic Party about the issue:.

 

Blunt Chickens Out On His Own Debate Proposal

Our own Joplin Globe made the Huffington Post today, in a story about the debating cowardice of Roy Blunt.

The story by Amanda Terkel began:

The debate over debating is heating up in Missouri’s Senate race, with Democrat Robin Carnahan accusing her opponent, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) of backing out on a package of debates that he originally proposed.

It seems that the once-courageous Blunt had written a letter to Carnahan inviting her to join him in six debates, including two on national television (Fox News Sunday and Meet The Press).  Carnahan says she accepted the invitations.

Now, however, Blunt has backed out of all but two of the debates, one in Kansas City on public television and one in Lake Ozark that will not be televised.  The Blunt logic in this strategy is obvious, no?

As Globe readers know, our paper was attempting to put together a debate between Blunt and Carnahan here in Joplin.  Terkel mentions the effort in her article:

On Sunday, the Joplin Globe in Missouri expressed disappointment and confusion with the Blunt campaign over its refusal to accept its invitation for a debate. “[Carnahan campaign spokesman Tony] Wyche, after we assured him of television coverage out of Joplin and Springfield, said that Carnahan would accept,” read the editorial. “Rich Chrismer, with Blunt’s campaign, did not decline our invitation. In fact he told me that Blunt had not declined any of the invitations. But, I didn’t get the yes I needed to move forward.”

In other words, Globe editor Carol Stark, who was trying to organize the debate, had to stop her efforts because Roy Blunt would not commit to doing it.  Damn.  When you’re afraid to debate in Republican-happy Joplin, you are really afraid.  It appears obvious, though, that the problematic part of Stark’s pitch was, “we assured him of television coverage.” Whoops.

So, not only won’t there be a debate in Joplin or Springfield, but  the largest television market in the state—St. Louis—is also off-limits for a Blunt debate appearance. 

Obviously, the more debates, particularly televised ones, the more Robin Carnahan can expose Blunt’s long record as a Republican, including his paling around with felons and other unsavory characters, and make him answer for it.

And just like the actions of Republican 7th District congressional candidate and debate-frightened Billy Long, Roy Blunt’s hide-in-the-weeds strategy should send a signal to attentive voters. 

Remarks And Asides

Terry Jones, pastor of the ironically-named Dove World Outreach Center, has decided that a Godly message to Muslims everywhere is in order. So, he has thoughtfully organized an “International Burn a Quran Day,” slated for September 11.

But…what if the Quran is not combustible?

In any case, my sources in the hereafter have informed me that Pastor Jones himself is scheduled to be barbecued sometime soon, possibly sooner than he might imagine.

_________________________

In case you missed it, Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee—the Michael Steele of his day—and former campaign manager for Bush’s 2004 campaign, has finally decided to tell the world he is a sodomite gay.

It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” Mehlman said.

Okay, fine.  Now, when will Michael Steele admit to the world that he is really white?

_______________________

By the way, Bill Maher outed Mehlman four years ago on Larry King’s show, to which King responded:

King: I never heard that. I’m walking around in a fog. I never…Ken Mehlman? I never heard that. But the question is…

Mayer: Maybe you don’t go to the same bathhouse I do, Larry.

Now, the thought of a naked Larry King in a bathhouse is enough to make most any man a heterosexual, I would think.

______________________

I heard Karl Rove say—while being gingerly massaged skillfully interviewed by the refurbished Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday—that Democratic economic policies have clearly been a “spending orgy.”  

Certainly, we can agree that Rove—part of an administration that screwed seven or eight million Americans so long and hard that they lost their jobs—would know an orgy when he sees one.

_______________________

For those of you attending Glenn Beck’s “I Have A Meme” rally this Saturday, just a word of caution: No firearms, ammunition, or explosives are allowed.  And there will absolutely be no alcoholic beverages.  But my impeachable sources tell me that Sarah Palin will be going commando. Have fun everyone!

_______________________

And speaking of Glenn Beck’s egofest this Saturday–the one in which he claims God will manifest his power in ways folks have likely never before seen in public (so much for parting the Red Sea)–none other than Erick Erickson is questioning the motives of the guy who is destined to sit on the left hand of God:

“The conservative movement is still split on Glenn and whether he’s doing it for himself or doing it for the movement,” said Erick Erickson, founder of the influential conservative blog Red State.

Now, when an intellectual slob like Erickson is questioning your motives, can a Noah-like flood be far behind?  I’d buy a big boat before Saturday, if I were you, Erick.

_______________________

Sarah Palin’s counterfactual son-in-law, Levi Johnston—a self described “f***in’ redneck“—is undertaking a campaign for either mayor or councilman of Wasilla—apparently his choice—and has been seen gun-shopping.  Even Sarah Palin doesn’t deserve this guy. 

Okay.  Maybe she does.

Levi has recently renounced his apology for “lying” about Palin.  “The only thing I wish I wouldn’t have done is put out that apology ’cause it kind of makes me sound like a liar,” he said.  

That kid is learnin’.

________________________

Roy Blunt’s partner-in-legislative-malfeasance, Tom DeLay, failed to talk a Texas judge into moving his trial on money laundering to a, well, more hospitable venue.  The bug-killing star-dancer will be tried in Austin, virtually the only place left in Texas where a conservative ideologue has a snowball’s chance of getting what he deserves.

_________________________

The Obama Justice Department has appealed a court ruling striking down a Bush administration policy that fined broadcasters for saying naughty words on live telly.

So, even though the evil Obama is bent on destroying America, he doesn’t want people like Bono saying “f**k” in front of the children while he is doing so.

Roy Blunt’s Unforgivable Role In The Life and Death of Terri Schiavo

More than five years have passed since the death of Terri Schiavo, the reportedly quiet and shy Pennsylvania girl, who those five years ago was the center of worldwide attention, as her husband Michael—the first man Terri ever kissed—finally succeeded in allowing her to pass away with not much dignity to spare.

Terri Schiavo was 26 years old when she suffered extensive brain damage, after collapsing at her home in St. Petersburg, Florida, the victim of cardiac arrest.  That was in 1990. After a couple of months in a coma, doctors diagnosed her as being in a persistent vegetative state, a diagnosis that would be challenged again and again over the next 15 years.

After a long trial of experimental therapy, and with hope gone, in 1998 Michael finally asked the Pinellas County Florida Sixth Circuit Court for permission to remove the feeding tube that had kept Terri alive for eight years.  Terri’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, understandably not wanting to let go of their daughter, fought Michael’s attempt to let his wife pass in peace.

Thus, a lengthy fight in the courts began, and it would not end until just before Terri’s death in 2005, closing with one of the most unseemly and disgusting political episodes in our nation’s history, certainly in the history of the Republican Party.

And near the center of that unseemly and disgusting political fiasco was our own Roy Blunt.

Blunt, who as Republican Majority Whip in 2005, was the right hand man of Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who while the Republicans controlled the House—and before he was forced to resign amid accusations of money laundering and violating campaign finance laws—was nicknamed “The Hammer” because of his fierce enforcement of ideological and party discipline and his tendency to punish his political enemies.

But before I get to Blunt’s role in the Terri Schiavo case, it’s important to understand the dynamics of what was happening back in 2005 regarding the case.

Tom DeLay, along with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, led the Republican charge to use the federal government to essentially ignore the years of state court litigation in Florida over whether the feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive should be removed and whether Terri would have wanted it removed. 

DeLay favored congressional action that would essentially usurp state jurisdiction in such matters in order to satisfy his Christian, “pro-life” sensibilities.  “Terri Schiavo doesn’t want to die,” DeLay confidently said at a press conference on March 18, 2005—with Roy Blunt at his side.

But others quickly concluded at the time that the Schiavo case was more about politics than compassion, Christian or otherwise. A memo written by a lawyer working for Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez surfaced, which declared the Schiavo case would be “a great political issue” that would “excite” the party’s pro-life base.

And of course it did.

But The Hammer, not content to merely play politics or argue the niceties of moral philosophy, actually attacked the Florida judge who heard the original Schiavo case and who had consistently ruled that Michael Schiavo’s request to administer mercy to his wife should be granted.  

That judge, George W. Greer, was a Southern Baptist Republican.  Here’s what Tom DeLay—again with Roy Blunt at his side—said about Judge Greer during the March 18, 2005, press conference, on the very day and at the very hour that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube was to be removed:

What this is about, is we have a state court with a judge that has been trying to kill Terri Schiavo for four and a half years…

Such was the venom pouring from the lips of The Exterminator, Mr. DeLay, in those days.  He also called removal of the feeding tube “an act of barbarism,” and accused three Democratic Senators, who failed to see things his way, of, well, I’ll just let him say it:

Those Senators responsible for blocking our bill yesterday afternoon—Senator Boxer, Senator Wyden, and Senator Levin—have put Mrs. Schiavo’s life at risk to prove a point, an unprecedented profile of cowardice.

Cowardice, he said. Unprecedented cowardice.

About a week later, The San Francisco Chronicle revealed that the DeLay family had faced a similar Schiavo-like situation back in 1988, when the family decided to allow the congressman’s father to die because, after a freak accident at home, he would “basically be a vegetable“:

“There was no point to even really talking about it,” Maxine DeLay, the congressman’s 81-year-old mother, recalled last week. “There was no way he (Charles) wanted to live like that. Tom knew, we all knew, his father wouldn’t have wanted to live that way.”*

Now, it turns out that Roy Blunt, who currently is laboring to become our U.S. Senator and thus a colleague of Senators Boxer, Wyden, and Levin, was in agreement with Delay’s “cowardice” assessment.  He said, moments after DeLay’s comment about the Senators:

I share the leader’s disappointment with less than a handful of individuals who stood in the way of that bill being sent to the president yesterday and this being resolved at that time.

So, Blunt essentially concurred with the “cowardice” characterization and continued with this:

It’s really hard to imagine a death a lot more hideous than simply deciding that you’re no longer going to allow someone to have food and water, and as you watch them dehydrate, and starve to death. It’s clear from watching the tapes of Terri Schiavo that she interacts with people, she’s aware of her surroundings, she attempts to communicate.

Fortunately, there were real journalists at this 2005 press conference.  One of them had this exchange with Dr. Blunt over his video diagnosis of Schiavo’s brain state:

Questioner: Mr. Blunt, you expressed a, kind of a medical opinion about Ms. Schiavo’s condition based on what you’ve seen on TV, and many, many doctors have pronounced her to be in a vegetative state. How is it that you think you’ve got a better handle on what condition she’s in than they do?

Blunt: You know her mother who sees her, I think every day, has a different opinion than they do, too.  And she appears to recognize her mother, to make attempts to communicate. And beyond that, if you want to get into the medical position here, I think the medical view is that she’s not being kept alive by any artificial means. She’s only being given food and water.  The medical care here is at a minimum to sustain life. It’s not like she’s on some huge life support system.  She’s very much alive, and the only way that she won’t be alive is if the people responsible for her care stop feeding her and stop giving her liquids.  I think that’s the medical line that needs to be drawn here.  But when you look at the films of her, her change—the way she appears to change when her mother comes into the room, there is a recognition there. 

Now, perhaps it never occurred to Roy Blunt, or any of the Republicans involved in the Schiavo legislative travesty, that Judge Greer—who had presided over the case from the beginning—had considered all the evidence, including the video and extensive medical testimony provided by real experts, not just the observations of a Republican legislator from Springfield, Mo., watching from afar.

At the first Schiavo trial in March of 2000, 18 witnesses testified about her medical condition and whether she preferred heroic care at the end of her life.  Judge Greer found that Terri was indeed in a persistent vegetative state and that her husband Michael’s claim that she would not want to be kept alive artificially was credible.  An appeals court affirmed that decision.

In April of 2001, Terri’s feeding tube was removed for the first but not the last time.  Further court action by the Schindlers resulted in the reinsertion of the tube within two days.  In 2002, an evidentiary hearing was held, involving CAT scan results, EEG data, and the testimony of five doctors—two of which were chosen by Terri’s parents.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia, which relates to Roy Blunt’s video diagnosis:

The five doctors examined Terri’s medical records, brain scans, the videos, and Terri herself. Drs. Cranford, Greer, and Bambakidis testified that Terri was in a persistent vegetative state. Drs. Maxfield and Hammesfahr testified that she was in a minimally conscious state. As part of the court-ordered medical exam, six hours of video of Terri were taped and filed at the Pinellas County courthouse. The tape included Terri with her mother and neurologist William Hammesfahr. The entire tape was viewed by Judge Greer, who wrote, Terri “clearly does not consistently respond to her mother.”  From that six hours of video, the Schindlers and their supporters produced six clips totaling almost six minutes and released those clips to public websites.

It’s hard to believe that Roy Blunt sat down and watched the entire six hours of video of Terri Schiavo.  Perhaps if he had done so, he would not have sat beside Tom DeLay at that press conference in March of 2005 and made an utter fool of himself.

In any case, he was at that press conference, which can be viewed here.  He was also on the Today show debating the issue, which can be found here. And there are other places one can find even more information, for those still unconvinced of Roy Blunt’s shameful role as co-pilot, while the Republican Party flew itself into legislative lunacy.

There is much more to the Schiavo case, and it makes for sad reading.  But eventually, DeLay, Frist, and Blunt got a version of their federal legislation—termed by DeLay as the Palm Sunday Compromise—passed by questionable means.

But to no avail.  Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, refused to bite. 

After seven years of court battles, Michael Schiavo finally prevailed.  Judge Greer’s last order to remove the feeding tube—the day Blunt and DeLay held their press conference—was upheld.

Terri Schiavo died at Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, not quite two weeks later.

Needless to say, the comprehensive post-mortem examination revealed that Judge Greer had made the correct decision.  Terri Schiavo’s brain was extensively and irreversibly damaged.  Her vegetative state was very real.

Although there is much to be learned from what Republicans attempted to do during the fight over the fate of Terri Schiavo, for voters in Missouri, one fact stands out.

The man who wants to be our representative in the U. S. Senate, who seeks entrance to “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” is, by virtue of his role in the Schiavo case, unworthy to represent us.  His judgment is flawed.

Scott Schiavo, Michael’s brother, said this to Jennifer Frey of The Washington Post just before Terri’s protracted death:

“It’s so sad that they’ve turned this wonderful person into a sideshow,” Scott says, his voice shaking. “Into a media circus. It’s such a shame. It really is. The one that’s hurt the most here is Terri. Her memory. They’re taking away whatever dignity she had left. They’re taking it away. And it really stinks.”

During the Republican Party’s relatively recent and disgraceful battle to use the power of the federal government to impose conservative pro-life doctrine on first a family, then a state judicial system, Roy Blunt was right there on the front line, fighting beside his conservative comrade, Tom DeLay.

And if only to give some measure of posthumous dignity back to Terri Schiavo, Missourians ought to end Roy Blunt’s legislative career this November.

______________________________________

*Related to DeLay’s own family decision about his father is the following exchange, which occurred at the March 18, 2005, DeLay-Blunt press conference:

Questioner:  The husband in this case—Terri Schiavo’s husband—has said that she expressed a verbal desire that she not continue in this sort of state.  How does the, sort of, the issue of sanctity between spouses in marriage fit into what the Congress is doing now?

DeLay: In my opinion, the sanctity of life overshadows the sanctity of marriage.  I don’t know what transpired between Terri and her husband.  All I know is Terri is alive, and this judge in Florida wants to pull her feeding tube and let her starve for two weeks. That is barbaric, and unless she had specifically written instructions in her own hand and with her signature, I don’t care what her husband says.

DeLay’s father did not leave any written instructions before his accident.

Maybe It Is Time To Repeal The 17th Amendment

What is it that one of the right’s brightest lights—George F. Will—and one of its nuttiest nuts—Alan Keyes—and one of its most ethically challenged exterminators—Tom DeLay—have in common?

Each having the usual conservative antipathy for democracy, they don’t much like the Seventeenth Amendment to our Constitution.

Will wrote last year,

The Framers established election of senators by state legislators, under which system the nation got the Great Triumvirate (Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Calhoun) and thrived. In 1913, progressives, believing that more, and more direct, democracy is always wonderful, got the 17th Amendment ratified. It stipulates popular election of senators, under which system Wisconsin has elected, among others, Joe McCarthy…

His opposition to the amendment is based on the idea that ordinary folks voting for U.S. Senators is a grave threat to the doctrine of separation of powers, an argument his side lost many, many moons ago.  But he continued:

…grounding the Senate in state legislatures served the structure of federalism. Giving the states an important role in determining the composition of the federal government gave the states power to resist what has happened since 1913 — the progressive (in two senses) reduction of the states to administrative extensions of the federal government.

Alan Keyes and Tom Delay and other Tea Party conservatives hold similar views, all based not as much on a principled reverence for federalism, but, as Will suggests, more out of a fear that “the people” would not vote sufficiently conservatively.

Whatever one thinks of their argument—there is a point to be made about the crippling effect of large-scale direct democracy—I was struck by what I found posted by Tom Schaller at FiveThirtyEight.

Titled, “Department of Colossally Stupid Ideas: Repeal 17th Amendment,” Schaller isn’t necessarily calling the philosophy behind the repeal movement stupid, but the politics of it:

What I want to point out is how patently stupid repealing the 17th Amendment would be for Republicans and conservatives–and yes, tea partiers–based on a simple fact: Democrats have long dominated the control of state legislatures. And they currently enjoy a level of dominance unlike they’ve experienced since the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He posted a graph that seems to confirm his point [click on to enlarge]:

As you can see, more than half of the time, since 1968, Democrats controlled the majority of state legislatures and thus would have had the upper hand in picking our U.S. Senators. 

But the most interesting thing about the graph is that at no time in the last 42 years have Republicans controlled a majority of state legislatures.  At no time.

Suddenly, I don’t find the idea of repealing the Seventeenth Amendment as troubling as I first thought.

Roy Blunt + Jack Abramoff = 17,900

Roy Blunt was given around 618 words today in the Joplin Globe to criticize Democratic efforts to “ram through their government takeover of health care.” Blunt is concerned that, “Washington Democrats are bent on fulfilling their New Year’s resolution behind closed doors and with no accountability.”

Okay. I’ll concede that Roy Blunt knows a little about making deals behind closed doors without accountability.  After all, as the Republican whip he made deals and twisted the arms of plenty of Republicans in the shadows of the Capitol during the push to get Bush’s unfunded prescription drug program through the House in 2003.  So, I’ll give him his props for knowing how such things are done.

But the rest of his “column” was just a rehash of the usual Republican lies, half-truths, quarter-truths and even smaller fractions of the truth that I have written so much about.  So, I won’t bother to refute them yet again.  Someone else can write into the Globe and do that. 

I will, however, comment on one thing that Blunt—skillfully, in my opinion—did in his, again, “column.”

Out of the 618 words, he managed to use the names Reid and Pelosi a total of 7 times.  That’s more than 1% of the words! 

Now, he could have substituted the words, “House bill” for Pelosi and “Senate bill” for Reid, but that just wouldn’t have had the punch that using the names of the two Democrats conservatives hate the most has.  It’s the equivalent of parading around in front of Dick Morris in open-toed shoes.  You know you’re going to get the response you’re looking for from those who have a fetish for either toesucking or liberal-hating.

In any case, I have to admire the neat use of the word-association trick, and I intend on using it from now on.  Every time I write a piece about Blunt, I will try to drop the name of Jack Abramoff here and there.  I can’t guarantee that it will amount to 1% of my words, but I will try.

Here’s my first attempt:

For those who may have forgotten, Abramoff is the former big-shot conservative Republican lobbyist-bully who is currently cooling his jets in a prison camp associated with the Federal Correctional Institution (a fancy name that liberals give to prisons) in Cumberland, Maryland.  He pled guilty to a series of felonies involving defrauding American Indian tribes and some elected officials. And during the first 10 months of the Bush administration, Abramofflogged nearly 200 contacts,” according to USA Today.  Now, that’s a nice display of the Republican principle of working hard for the money.

Anyway, while I have never read that Roy Blunt has called Abramoffone of his closest and dearest friends” (as the not-so-Tiny Dancer, Tom Delay has),  Blunt and Abramoff were quite chummy.  

I don’t know what this means, but if you Google Roy Blunt and Jack Abramoff you get 17,900 results.  Here are three paragraphs from one such result, courtesy of USA Today in 2005:

Rep. Roy Blunt and the man he wants to succeed as House majority leader, Tom DeLay, shared similar connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and to corporate lobbyists.

Blunt, R-Mo., wrote at least three letters helpful to Abramoff clients while collecting money from them. He swapped donations between his and DeLay’s political groups, ultimately enriching the Missouri political campaign of his son Matt.

And Blunt’s wife and another son, Andrew, lobby for many of the same companies that donate to the lawmaker’s political efforts.

The same story continues:

Blunt and DeLay and their aides frequently met with Abramoffs lobbying team and even jointly signed a letter supportive of an Indian tribe client at the heart of the Abramoff criminal investigation, according to records published by The Associated Press over the past year.

More:

DeLay raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 Republican National Convention and sent some of the excess to Blunt through a series of donations that benefited the causes of both men.

After transfers between political organizations, some of the money went to the campaign of Blunt’s son, Matt, in his successful 2000 campaign for secretary of state. Now the Republican governor of Missouri, Matt Blunt eventually received more than $160,000 in 2000.

Not finished yet:

In his ties to Abramoff, Blunt was among nearly three dozen members of Congress, including leaders from both parties, who pressed the government to block a Louisiana Indian tribe from opening a casino. The lawmakers received donations from rival tribes and their lobbyist, Abramoff, around the same time.

So, there is some material from only one of the 17,900 results you get when you associate Roy Blunt with Jack Abramoff on Google. 

More to come, but as of now, I have used 800 words about Roy Blunt and have managed to slip in “Abramoff” 13 times. 

This is easier than I thought.

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