Friday, July 20, 2012

Sometimes Things Just Don't Matter Anymore

[Before reading my comments in tonight's Final Five, I would ask that you please say a prayer for all those affected by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, this morning.]

I awoke this morning to repeated beeps from my phone, with each beep indicating that I had a new text message from Twitter. While most of the tweets I receive on my phone are mainly weather and traffic updates, I also receive news updates periodically throughout the day. When I finally grabbed my phone and looked at the updates, I was shocked to see what had transpired during the night.

Despite several events that would ordinarily have taken my attention away from current events today, this tragedy has consistently occupied my mind. I cannot imagine the pain being experienced by many in Aurora and the surrounding communities today. I cannot imagine the anxiety being experienced by a mother who will have to explain to her kids why daddy won't be home tonight. I cannot imagine the worry families felt as they waited to hear from their children, knowing they were in one of the theaters. As I sit at home, still shocked by this tragedy that occurred over 1000 miles away from me, I cannot imagine the magnitude of shock being experienced by those who live in the Denver area.

As I sat down to read stories and prepare tonight's Final Five, I came to realize how trivial many things seem in the wake of this tragedy. Tax cuts, jobs bills, budget deficits, and even the election seem small when compared to the sudden death of twelve innocent lives. The discussions about these topics are very important for our nation, but other events sometimes remind us of the triviality of our political disagreements. On a day like today, politics just does not seem that important.

Tonight, please remember all those affected by this tragedy. Please remember the families and friends of those who were killed. Please remember those who were injured and have a long road to recovery ahead. Please remember all the survivors from the theater: many will likely find it difficult to attend another movie or do other activities in public without fear. And finally, please remember the entire community of Aurora, CO, and the surrounding areas, as there will probably be very few who will be unaffected in any way.

Answers In Genesis, a faith-based ministry headquartered in my area, has a booklet titled Why Is there Death and Suffering?, available as a free PDF file. You can download it by clicking here. If you know anyone who is struggling because of this tragedy or any other event, please feel free to share it with them.

It Doesn't Take Long...

...for the media to politicize a tragedy. Less than six hours after the Colorado shootings this morning, ABC's Good Morning America attempted to blame it on the Tea Party. ABC reported that someone with the same name as the suspect was listed on a website for a nearby tea party group.



ABC later corrected the report, but how many people watched ABC this morning but will never read the correction published online?

Twitter users rushed to blame Rush Limbaugh for the tragedy, with posts like this:



For the record, here is what Rush actually said (from the transcript on Rush's website):
"Have you heard this new movie, the Batman movie, what is it, The Dark Knight Lights Up or whatever the name is. That's right, Dark Knight Rises. Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in The Dark Knight Rises is named Bane, B-a-n-e. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran and around which there's now this make-believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time. The release date's been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire breathing four eyed whatever it is villain in this movie is named Bane?"


And finally, no shooting can go without calls for greater gun control:





Jay Carney was also asked about the subject of gun control at this morning's press briefing. Carney responded:
"I would say as you know the president believes we need to take common sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing laws do not get them. ... We're making progress in that regard in terms of improving the volume and quality of information on background checks but I have nothing additional on that for you. This is obviously a recent event."


Here we are, less than twelve hours after one of America's largest mass shootings, and the left has already politicized the tragedy in at least three ways. 71 shot, 12 dead, and the media wants to blame it on the right and talk about gun control instead of mourning the victims. Keep it classy, liberals.

UPDATE: Right after posting, I came across this piece from Time. You can ignore everything I wrote earlier, because Time tells me that there's nothing wrong with politicizing a tragedy where twelve people lost their lives.

The Final Five: July 20, 2012


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Senate
Yesterday's Action
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Rejected the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3364, by a vote of 56 yeas to 42 nays.
  • Began consideration of the nomination of Michael A. Shipp to be District Judge for the District of New Jersey. A vote on cloture motion for confirmation of the nomination will occur at 5:30 PM on Monday, July 23.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will not meet today. The next meeting of the Senate is scheduled for 2:00 PM on Monday, July 23.


House of Representatives
Yesterday's Action
During business yesterday, the House took the following actions:
  • Passed H.R. 5856, the "Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013", by a vote of 326 yeas to 90 nays.
  • Passed H. Con. Res. 133, to authorize the use of the rotunda of the United States Capitol for an event to present the Congressional Gold Medal to Arnold Palmer.
  • Agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2527, the "National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act".

Today's Schedule:
The House will not meet today. The next meeting of the House is scheduled for 2:00 PM on Monday, July 23.


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:

Significant Final Rules:
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: amending the phytosanitary treatment regulations to provide generic criteria for new irradiation treatment facilities in the Southern States of the United States.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: granting the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection authority to supervise certain nonbank covered persons for compliance with Federal consumer financial law and for other purposes.
  • Personnel Management Office: issuing final regulations to establish that an employee's same-sex domestic partner qualifies as a family member for purposes of eligibility for noncompetitive appointment based on overseas employment.
  • Personnel Management Office: its regulations on evacuation pay and the separate maintenance allowance for duty at Johnston Island to ensure that same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees and the children of such domestic partners have access to these benefits to the same extent as spouses of Federal employees and their children.
  • Personnel Management Office: changing regulations concerning alcohol and drug abuse counseling programs for employees and concerning agencies' use of appropriated funds to provide child care subsidies for lower-income civilian employees.
  • Personnel Management Office: adding same-sex domestic partners to the class of persons for which an insurable interest is presumed to exist.

Presidential Documents:
  • Presidential Proclamation 8841: proclaiming July 15 through July 21, 2012, as Captive Nations Week.
  • Presidential Memorandum: delegating to the Secretary of State the function and authority specified in section 570(e) of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1997 (Public Law 104-208) to waive and make the specified certification to the Congress regarding the prohibition on new investment in Burma under section 570(b) of the Act.
  • Presidential Determination No. 2012-12: determining that it is important to the national interest to furnish assistance under the Act, in an amount not to exceed $10 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund, for the purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Final Five: July 19, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Two Men Stopped at U.S. Border for Illegal Candy
Two men were stopped at a border crossing and told that their chocolate eggs were illegal, and they could be subject to a $15,000 fine for attempting to bring them across the border.


Topic One: The Obama Legacy
Welcome to the Obama recovery: "President Barack Obama speaks of his own presidency as a rough patch in our nation's history. "I don't need to tell you what we've been through over the last three and a half years because you've lived it," Obama said in Roanake, Va., last week. "Too many folks lost jobs. Too many people saw their homes lose value. Too many folks saw their savings take a hit." ... The truth is: We are in the Obama recovery now. If history is a guide, these are the best of the Obama times. The next presidential term — no matter who serves in the Oval Office — is likely to see another recession."

American will survive the Obama presidency: "America is strong and transcendent because of all these things together -- our people, God's great blessing of location and resources, our form of government and economy, our freedoms, our rights, and our pride. We are a proud nation, and Mr. President, "you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." Barack Obama is at best an aberration, a bump in the road, because in the end he is nothing more than a mix of hubris and narcissism. He pales in comparison to the greatness of America and who we are as a people. The dream our nation represents has drawn people the world over, willing to sacrifice everything to give their children the possibility of being an American."

The D.C. Daily: July 19, 2012


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Senate
Yesterday's Action
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Passed H.R. 1627, the "Honoring American Veterans Act".
  • Continued consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3364, the "Bring Jobs Home Act". An agreement was reached that a vote on the motion to invoke cloture be held at 2:15 PM on Thursday, July 19.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM. At 2:15 PM, the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3364, the "Bring Jobs Home Act".


House of Representatives
Yesterday's Action
During business yesterday, the House took the following actions:
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 5872, the "Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012", by a vote of 414 yeas to 2 nays.
  • Began consideration of H.R. 5856, the "Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013".

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 10:00 AM. The House is expected to resume consideration of H.R. 5856, the "Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013", subject to a rule.


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Small Business Administration: revising the small business size standards for nine industries in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 22, Utilities.

Significant Final Rules:
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission: governing the exception to the clearing requirement available to swap counterparties meeting certain conditions under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).

Presidential Documents:
  • Presidential Notice: continuing the national emergency with respect to significant transnational crime organizations.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Final Five: July 18, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Wash. Crows Blamed for 'Suspicious Powder' Scare
Traffic in Edmonds, Washington, came to a halt when a HazMat team responded suspicious white powder on the road. A witness later said that the powder was the result of crows dragging a partially-opened bag of flour.


Topic One: The Bain Argument
How Bain's outsourcing helped create American jobs: "Since 1986, Staples has opened 2,000 stores, eliminating the jobs of distributors and brokers who charged nasty markups for paper and office supplies. But it enabled hundreds of thousands of small (and not so small) businesses to stock themselves cheaply and conveniently and expand their operations. It's the same story elsewhere. Apple employs just 47,000 people, and Google under 25,000. Like Staples, they have destroyed many old jobs, like making paper maps and pink "While You Were Out" notepads. But by lowering the cost of doing business they've enabled innumerable entrepreneurs to start new businesses and employ hundreds of thousands, even millions, of workers world-wide—all while capital gets redeployed more effectively."

Would you rather have more of Staples or Solyndra? "Mr. Romney's Bain worked so well that it became the model for an entire industry. Mr. Romney helped create Staples, a start-up that worked and created tens of thousands of jobs. Mr. Obama financed Solyndra, which did not work. Neither did Abound Solar. The many Obama alternative-energy ventures play in different market segments, but they struggle for the same reason: They serve political agendas more than customers. Mr. Romney has attacked Mr. Obama's Solyndra investment in particular, but he hasn't linked it consistently to the President's failed model of government-led investing or contrasted it with the successful culture Mr. Romney built at Bain. What Bain did is what all successful organizations do: Seek to deliver products and services that are better, faster, cheaper. In some instances that means fewer employees, even if Mr. Obama still can't or won't grasp the concept that we live in a competitive world. How many readers of this editorial have jobs today because the founders of their companies figured out how to spend more money on a slower manufacturing process to create goods of lower quality?"

The outsourcing dividend: "We suffer today from having only half of this equation in place. We are voting with our dollars for goods and services that come from jobs outside America, but we have hamstrung our entrepreneurial class with taxes, regulations, and, above all, uncertainty as to the business climate they face in the future. And so we do not generate the jobs. We've got the destruction part right, but we've ignored the creative part. Now, I'll leave it to you to decide whether this administration's approach to this issue is driven by a misunderstanding of how our economy works. There's certainly plenty of evidence for that in Obama's remarks that the private sector is doing just fine or that if you build a business, you can't take credit for it because someone else (the government! who else?) provided the road you drive to work on. But we've got to get this second half right. Maybe Mitt Romney's the guy to do it. He does have a track record on both sides of this issue -- and it strikes me that we suffer today because we're missing that crucial balance."

The D.C. Daily: July 18, 2012


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Senate
Yesterday's Action
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Passed H.R. 205, the "HEARTH Act".
  • Passed S. Res. 483, commending efforts to promote and enhance public safety on the need for yellow corrugated stainless steel tubing bonding.
  • Rejected the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3369, the "DISCLOSE Act", by a vote of 53 yeas to 45 nays.
  • Began consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3364, the "Bring Jobs Home Act". A motion to invoke cloture was entered, and a vote on the motion will occur on Thursday, July 19.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM. The Senate's schedule was not released to the Congressional Register


House of Representatives
Yesterday's Action
During business yesterday, the House took the following actions:
  • Suspended the rules and passed S. 1959, the "Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2011".
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 6018, the "Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2013", by a vote of 333 yeas to 61 nays.
  • Suspended the rules and passed S. 2165, the "United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012".
  • Suspended the rules and passed S. 2009, the "Insular Areas Act of 2011", by a vote of 378 yeas to 11 nays.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 10:00 AM. The House is expected to consider H.R. 5872, the "Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012", under suspension of the rules and then begin consideration of H.R. 5856, the "Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013", subject to a rule.


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Small Business Administration: increasing small business size standards for one industry and one sub-industry in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 23, Construction.
  • Small Business Administration: increasing the small business size standards for 17 industries in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 71, Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: proposing amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the Portland cement industry for Portland cement plants issued under sections 112(d) of the Clean Air Act.

Significant Final Rules:
There were no final rules printed today.

Presidential Documents:
Presidential Notice: continuing the national emergency with respect to the former Liberian regime of Charles Taylor

Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Final Five: July 17, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Mayor of Alaska Village Walks on Four Paws
If you are in Talkeetna, Alaska, and need to talk to the mayor, be prepared to hear 'meow' for a response. Read the story about Stubbs's rise to the village's highest office.


Topic One: Entitlements
In the age of joblessness, Americans are turning to disability: "after two years, anyone receiving SSDI benefits is automatically eligible for Medicare. So the burgeoning ranks of the “disabled” contribute to the Medicare crisis. The CBO report says that in 2011, Medicare costs for SSDI recipients added up to $80 billion. What should we make of an ever-healthier country that produces a steadily growing number of citizens who think their best option is to be disabled? This is a financial problem; a political problem; but above all, a cultural problem. One thing we can say for sure, however, is that an administration that encourages economic growth rather than squashing the private sector will create more opportunities for those who would really rather not be disabled."

The goal of all entitlements is to round up votes: "In the end, it’s not about helping people, whether it’s subsidized flood insurance, food stamps, low-cost student loans, keeping kids on their parents’ insurance until their 26, government-backed mortgages, it’s about creating a permanent dependent class of voters who will vote for more government and more power. The latest example is the Obama administration running ads on Spanish-language stations to encourage Hispanics to sign up for food stamps. The ads made it clear that even non-citizens are eligible. By capturing their bellies, they’ll capture their votes. It’s that simple."

Obama is eliminating the incentive and benefit of work: "Poor, misinformed Mitt Romney. People shouldn’t have to work if they don’t want to. Government is supposed to plant clean, green money trees on everybody’s front lawn. That eighteen-month-old daughter of mine, she’s been promised the life of Julia! That is what the Modern Left shoots for. A life of total dependency. This is not done out of concern for anyone’s future. State-sponsored benevolence is not undertaken for the sake of altruism. It revolves around power. It revolves around control. Anyone who gives you your living can make those gifts as conditional as they desire. As we saw with the fiasco that is Obamacare; we’ll just have to pass the bills to see what is in them. So when President Obama denigrates hard work and self-sufficiency as fake and contrived while opening the spigots to poor out more welfare, he is telling you how he would prefer that America works. The more you depend upon the state and the less you employ individual initiative, the more that state controls you; the closer that state comes to owning you."

D.C. Daily: July 17, 2012


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Senate
Yesterday's Action
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Passed S. Res. 520, commending the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on the occasion of its 103rd anniversary.
  • Passed S. Res. 521, designating September 2012 as "National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month".
  • Passed S. Res. 522, designating September 2012 as "National Child Awareness Month".
  • Passed S. Res. 523, recognizing the heroic efforts of firefighters and military personnel in the United States to contain numerous wildfires that have affected tens of thousands of people.
  • Rejected the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3369, the "DISCLOSE Act", by a vote of 51 yeas to 44 nays. (Three-fifths support was necessary to invoke cloture.)
  • Confirmed the nomination of Kevin McNulty to be District Judge for the District of New Jersey, by a vote of 91 yeas to 3 nays.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 10:00 AM. The Senate is expected to reconsider the motion to invoke cloture on S. 3369, the "DISCLOSE Act".


House of Representatives
Yesterday's Action
The House was not in session yesterday.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 12:00 PM. The House is expected to consider five measures under suspension of the rules: 1) S. 2039, to allow a State or local government to construct levees on certain properties otherwise designated as open space lands; 2) S. 1959, the "Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2011"; 3) H.R. 6018, the "Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2013"; 4) S. 2165, the "United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012"; and 5) S. 2009, the "Insular Areas Act of 2011".


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission: allowing cooperatives meeting certain conditions to elect not to submit for clearing certain swaps that such cooperatives would otherwise be required to clear in accordance with Section 2(h)(1) of the CEA.
  • Education Department: implementing a new Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan in the Direct Loan program based on the President's “Pay As You Earn” repayment initiative.

Significant Final Rules:
There were no final rules printed today.

Presidential Documents:
There were no presidential documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Final Five: July 16, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Dutch Councilors Propose Penalties for Inaccurate Weather Reports
A councilman in a Dutch town has proposed fining weather forecasters for inaccurate weather reports.


Topic One: Voter ID
Fighting voter fraud: "Many conservatives have viewed the very real problem of voter fraud in America as a guarantee that the left will be able to use this nefarious means to steal crucial elections. There is little doubt that leftists would do this if they could, and in some cases they have succeeded (just ask former Senator Norm Coleman). The current leftist opposition to voter photo ID laws passed by a number of states on the spurious grounds of racism makes clear that the left feels that it needs to steal votes in order to win elections. Equally unsavory was the left's "Secretary of State Project" or SoPS, which was funded by George Soros to get "progressive" state officers to superintend the counting of votes."

Suppression is a false claim: "This rhetoric is nothing but divisive. I’m sure Mr. Jealous invoked this resemblance to create an emotional response to a momentous time in history. What he neglected to inform the oldest civil rights organization in the nation is that voter id prohibits voter fraud, which currently serves as the biggest hindrance to voting, (itself a sacred honor in this country that came via sacrifices and battles). It's time to rebuke the racial oratory that compels people to think that voter id is a race-driven agenda. Efforts to combat voter fraud are not meant to suppress minorities, or any ethnic group for that matter. What needs to be rejected is the notion that minorities are too simple-minded or na├»ve to get a government-issued ID. The liberal left claims they are defending minorities, but they are really insulting people's intelligence. They imply that minorities are incapable of completing a small task like obtaining ID."

D.C. Daily: July 16, 2012


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Senate
Friday's Action
The Senate was not in session Friday.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 2:00 PM. The Senate is expected to consider the nomination of Kevin McNulty to be District Judge for the District of New Jersey, and then resume consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3369, the "DISCLOSE Act".


House of Representatives
Yesterday's Action
The House met Friday in a pro forma session.
Today's Schedule:
The House will not meet today. The next scheduled meeting of the House will be at 12:00 PM on Tuesday, July 17.

Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:

Significant Final Rules:
  • Small Business Administration: amending its Surety Bond Guarantee (SBG) rules to implement a streamlined application process in the Prior Approval Program for contract amounts not exceeding $250,000.

Presidential Documents:
There were no presidential documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.