Wednesday :: May 25, 2005

Knocked Backin' The Saddle Tramp

by pessimist

King George may have a shiny, new saddle, but that doesn't mean he's got the reins in his hands. In fact, events seem to indicate he doesn't:

House Votes to Loosen Stem Cell Restrictions Despite President Bush's Threat to Veto

Ignoring President Bush's veto threat, the House voted Tuesday to loosen limits on embryonic stem cell research, approving a measure supporters said could speed cures for diseases but opponents viewed as akin to abortion.

Bush called the bill a mistake and said he would veto it. "This bill would take us across a critical ethical line by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life," the president said before the vote. "Crossing this line would be a great mistake."

The House approved it by a 238-194 vote, well short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a veto.

Yippie, Aye! - NO! - My Way!

The foreign media sees significantly much more in this defiance of the C-Average Sovereign's agenda:

House defies Bush over stem cell bill

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 204, Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act

The House of Representatives defied George Bush last night and approved a bill loosening restrictions on stem cell research on human embryos, illustrating for the second time in as many days that the president is likely to face tough challenges from Congress during his second term. Although the bill fell a long way short of getting the two-thirds majority required to prevent a veto, it showed that even with a Republican majority in both houses the president cannot rely on Congress.

Hi Yo, Sliver! [sic]

Monday had witnessed a separate, long and bloody saga in the Senate over the approval of his judicial nominees. Although Mr Bush yesterday declared victory in the battle following Monday night's bipartisan compromise agreement over the appointments, observers pointed out it was not the total victory Republicans had been demanding. They also said the deal signalled limits on the president's executive power.

Personal interest also is playing a role in this Republican defiance of the Royal Will:

Reid Wants Swift Vote on Stem Cell Bill

The Republican chief sponsor of the Senate bill, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who is being treated for cancer, made a personal appeal for quick action on behalf of the nation's critically ill, "some of them, myself. I look in the mirror very day, barely recognize myself," said Specter, whose hair has been lost to chemotherapy treatment. "And not to have the availability of the best of medical care is simply atrocious."

Specter said that if Frist refuses to allow the bill a vote, "we are not without remedies," namely procedures by which senators can try to add the bill to another measure being considered on the floor.

Senate opponents have threatened a filibuster, but supporters say they have more than the 60 votes needed to overcome it. Frist has not scheduled the measure for floor debate. "There's no chance it will become law," said Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla., one of numerous abortion foes to oppose the House measure. "I don't know why the Senate would bother taking it up."

Maybe it's because some Republican senators see an advantage to meeting the desires of their constituents?

Slimy Poll Cat Varmints!

Some Republicans Angered They Weren't Warned About Polling of Constituents on Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Some House Republicans are angry that they were not warned about a GOP-commissioned survey in which their constituents were polled on the issue of human embryonic stem cell research in an effort by other Republican lawmakers to boost support for federal legislation that would expand government funding for such research, the Washington Times reports.
According to the survey of 1,300 registered voters in 13 Republican-controlled House districts, 66% of individuals surveyed said they support embryonic stem cell research and 27% said they oppose such research.

As I pointed out yesterday, the business community of America is getting tired of the religious social conservatives taking away the attention of the party from them and their issues. The knowledge that major profits are being denied them because of the religious values of a vocal minority rankles them greatly. Again, as I pointed out yesterday, they are interested in shifting their support away from the Bible-thumping boneheads and toward someone they consider a whole lot more rational in every sense of the word. And again, as I pointed out yesterday, their interest seem to be reaching John McCain, who is acting as if he's seeking their support by demonstrating that desired rationality:

Arizona Bu$hwackin'

For GOP, Deeper Fissures and a Looming Power Struggle

The fallout from the Senate compromise that averted a showdown over judicial filibusters fell most heavily on the Republican Party yesterday, signaling intraparty warfare that is likely to shape the battle for the party's 2008 presidential nomination and further strain the unity the GOP has enjoyed under President Bush.

Monday's surprise deal left two of the party's most prominent potential 2008 candidates, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), on opposite sides of an ideological and strategic divide that is likely to widen as the party begins in earnest to hunt for a successor to Bush.

McCain is at odds with the bulk of his party by challenging the religious right, as he did in his 2000 presidential campaign. His presidential aspirations depend more than ever on mobilizing and attracting independents and moderate Republicans.

It's my considered opinion that the business community is made up mostly of moderate Republicans, and their moderation is a recognition that their businesses aren't operating inside a cloister of a specific dogma. Instead, they have to deal with the world-at-large and all of the sects and denominations it contains if they expect to be profitable.

They also have to deal with balancing a budget to be able to take their profits, and the size of the Federal deficit has to be of concern to them. Thus, McCain has a ready constituency - if he can gain their trust. I believe that his organization of the fillibuster compromise can be seen as favorable to this constituency in that light. They aren't going to be too upset about this even if it isn't exactly what they might have desired - unlike those who must have it all:

The compromise forged by 14 Democratic and Republican senators represented a rare, if temporary, rebuff to religious and social conservatives. Their condemnations, whether from James Dobson's Focus on the Family, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh or conservative bloggers, were quick and strong. Dobson labeled it a "complete bailout and betrayal," and Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Women for America, branded the GOP negotiators "seven dwarves" who had given Democrats the right to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.

"It's a rebuff of both the president, Senator Frist and the socially conservative base of the party by a handful of senators," said Gary L. Bauer, a former presidential candidate and president of American Values. "The heart of the Republican Party is as unhappy as I can recall."

That unhappiness stems in part from the huge investment that conservative groups put into the fight to kill the use of the filibuster in judicial nominations. Much of the energy came from religious conservatives, and Frist even appeared in a telecast last month sponsored such groups that was designed to drum up support for up-or-down votes for all judicial nominees.

Perhaps mindful of the power of social and religious conservatives, other GOP senators with presidential aspirations, including George Allen (Va.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.), condemned the deal.

But Frist's inability or unwillingness to strike a deal with Harry M. Reid (Nev.), the Senate Democratic leader, empowered McCain and his allies to seize control of the debate. The body language of the two GOP senators -- McCain ebullient in announcing the deal, and Frist taut and drawn in interpreting it moments later on the Senate floor -- spoke volumes about the immediate reading of who won and who lost.

Even Bu$hCo Mediawhore David Broder has nice things to say about John McCain's performance. He's almost sounding like he wants to be the McCain Campaign media director:

His Faithful Median Companion

The Senate's Real Leader
By David S. Broder Wed May 25, 1:00 AM ET

The Monday night agreement to avert a showdown vote over judicial filibusters not only spared the Senate from a potentially ruinous clash, but also certified John McCain as the real leader of that body.

To be sure, McCain was only one of 14 senators -- seven from each party -- who forged an agreement to clear three of the roadblocked circuit court nominees at once, shelve two others, and reserve the option of future filibusters only for "exceptional circumstances." And the deal forged in McCain's office probably would not have been possible without the support of such Senate elders as Republican John Warner and Democrat Robert Byrd.

This was an ad hoc coalition, forged around one question, but the cadre of supporters he found in both parties is large enough -- if it remains cohesive -- to be a shaping force on many other legislative issues.
Three of McCain's collaborators -- Warner, Byrd and Dan Inouye of Hawaii -- are of the World War II generation, a time of national consensus. Only four of the negotiators -- Republicans Olympia Snowe and Mike DeWine, and Democrats Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson -- were of an age to have been swept up in the turmoil of Vietnam while in their twenties. Six of them are between 42 and 52, which means they were 16 or younger at the height of the anti-Vietnam protests. They are forerunners of a generation that may provide greater harmony in our politics as its members move into positions of leadership.

But no one else in the negotiating group has McCain's national stature, and no one else is a likely presidential contender three years from now. So, while such would-be candidates as George Allen of Virginia and Sam Brownback of Kansas lined up behind Frist, McCain took the harder road and helped organize the bipartisan effort that averted the looming crisis.

In contrast to Majority Leader Bill Frist, who was unable to negotiate a compromise with Minority Leader Harry Reid or hold his Republicans in line to clear the way for all of President Bush's nominees to be confirmed, McCain looks like the man who achieved his objectives.

If -- as many expect -- McCain and Frist find themselves rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, the gap in their performance will be remembered.

Go! Striders In Dis Guise!

I still see the looming split in the Republican Party - along with some from the more conservative elements of the Democrats - being the opportunity for the formation of a viable third political party in this country. I am not especially in favor of this particular formulation, but I feel that the dangers of one party rule in this nation have been more than amply demonstrated by the excesses of Bu$hCo since they stole power in December of 2000 [No - I won't get over it any quicker than you'll ever get over Hillary!], and that any balance-of-power formulation would be better than what we now have.

If that balance-of-power bloc is led by John McCain, then I believe that I could live with it. It may prove to be the only thing that can save what remains of this nation. Before it sinks into the sunset.

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