City of Brass

via Clammyc at Daily Kos, here is a partial list of what the House Republicans voted unanimously against in refusing to support the stimulus package that passed without them.

  • An increase in the maximum benefit under the former food stamp
    program (now called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or
  • An expansion of broadband internet access to rural areas of America;
  • Programs to improve infrastructure and develop rural communities;
  • Improvements to the criminal justice system;
  • funding for science and technology research;
  • Funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services;
  • Funding to repair, maintain and renovate the Department of Defense (DoD) facilities;
  • Energy efficiency projects and modernization of heating/cooling and electrical systems at the DoD;
  • Improving Army barracks;
  • Energy related research and development (renewable energy programs and expansion of existing weatherization activites);
  • Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers (remember the levees in New Orleans that weren’t funded?;
  • Modernization of the nation’s electrical grid;
  • Construction and repair of Federal facilities;
  • Funding for clean water programs and water infrastructure projects;
  • Capital improvements and maintenance for Forest Service and
    National Park Service, the Superfund program and wildland fire
  • Funding for the Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Funding for labor and employment training programs/Department of Labor;
  • Renovations to elementary and secondary schools;
  • Pell Grants and other student financial assistance;
  • Educational programs aimed at elementary and secondary education;
  • Defense construction projects – including hospitals, barracks and day care centers;
  • funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to be used on maintaining VA medical facilities and cemeteries;
  • Funding for Information Technology projects at the State Department;
  • Funding for highway construction;
  • Funding for housing assistance programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • Grants to states and cities for community development;
  • Refundable tax credits for middle and lower income families;
  • Increase tax credit for higher education;
  • Extension of tax credit for renewable energy production;
  • Increase the earned income tax credit for lower income families with three or more qualifying children;
  • Increased funding for emergency unemployment benefits for those who exhaust the amount of benefits they collect;
  • Temporary increase in amount of unemployment benefits;
  • Assistance to states for spending on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program;
  • Extension of Medicaid coverage to certain unemployed workers;
  • Assistance with COBRA premium payments for certain unemployed workers; and
  • Incentives for health care providers to use “health information
    technology” which would reduce health care costs for providers and
    lower premiums.

All of the above is dismissed as “socialism” and “pork” by conservative ideologues, who are primarily to blame for the dilution of those terms of any meaning due to repeated overuse in the past decade. It is clear that modern-day conservatism needs to reinvent itself by reconciling its principles with the very real challenges that ordinary families as well as the nation as a whole face. Blind insistence that any spending on these challenges is tantamount to “socialism” is not only politically tone-deaf, but harmful to the nation’s self-interest. Rod Dreher actually points to a new conservatism that might fill the bill.

As Moe Lane says at RedState, the Democrats own the bill now. But that cuts both ways.

It is official – by unanimous vote, Rod Blagojevich is no longer the Governor of Illinois. In fact he has been barred from seeking public office in the State of Illinois forever.

The Chicago Tribune has a fantastic live-blog of the day’s impeachment proceedings that provide a wonderful example of government in action. I think one state Senator put it best:

Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) said she went through
today’s proceedings with a heavy heart. But not all the legislators
felt sad about the experience.

“I’m happy to have participated
in this process,” said Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago). “Yeah, it’s
unprecedented, but future generations will know that we have this thing
called impeachment, and whenever any of our leaders, who are human
beings like us, overstep the boundaries, the process is in place,”
Meeks said. “We have this thing called impeachment and it’s bleeping
and we’ve used it the right way.”

Brilliant. It stands to reason that a politician may be corrupt; but the impeachment shows that the system is not.

I will be driving home to Chicago this weekend; I plan to see whether Blago’s name is still on all the open-road toll plazas.

UPDATE: Svend asks whether the impeachment trial gave Blago his due process. It’s important to note that the impeachment is a political trial, not a criminal one – Blago does face criminal charges from federal prosecutors, and in that trial he will assuredly get his witnesses and whatnot. But also keep in mind that Blago missed the deadlines to file for subpoenas and then complained of due process after the fact. The prosecutor for the House was working under the same rules as Blago’s defense and did not miss those deadlines. The simple truth is that Illinois has a solid constitutional basis for impeachment and the power to impeach is not an arbitrary one that can be wielded as a political cudgel; Blago’s case really did meet the (quite high) standard. For more on the issue of due process, see this post by Cornell law professor Michael Dorf. I also want to note that Blago’s trial got international attention – including Al Jazeera – so it again showed the world how in America, rule of law is paramount. The value of impeaching Blago thus has national benefit as well as for the state of Illinois.

This is wonderful and weird. I think it’s wonderful because it is so weird.

Perhaps we are seeing the rise of Obollywood?

Gary Farber sounded the alarm last month about President Obama’s nominee for National Intelligence Director, Denis Blair, who was complicit in genocide in East Timor during the Clinton Administration.

Unfortunately, no questions were asked about East Timor during Blair’s confirmation hearing. Blair also refused to categorically state what the attorney general already said explicitly, that waterboarding constituted torture.

This is not good. Blair’s nomination needs to be opposed on basic moral principle. Recall President Obama’s own words during the Inauguration speech:

And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today,
from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was
born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman
and child who seeks a future of peace
and dignity, and we are ready to
lead once more

Just words?

If Obama, who has lived in Indonesia (a fact he trumpets), is unaware of the history of the genocide in East Timor, then that’s quite an embarrassment, but it can be fixed, starting with replacing Blair as nominee for top spy. If he knows and nominated Blair anyway, then there’s a deeper problem that isn’t so easily fixed. But either way, the nomination of Blair must not be allowed to pass unchallenged.

UPDATE: Good, it seems that he was asked about it, only to deny it outright. I don’t know if it was followed up or not in further questioning. We will have to wait for the transcript of the confirmation hearing to see for sure.