Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Announces Surrender Date

Obama Announces Surrender Date
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 27, 2009

Moments ago, while speaking at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Barack Obama announce that on “August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.” He further said that by that date in 2011 all troops will be gone from this troubled nation.

Such a pronouncement only gives encouragement to those who seek to continue to destabilize an already shaky nation and region of the world. All they need do is wait out the departure of American servicemen and women who have served so admirably prior to renewing their acts of terror and carnage. While former President Bush’s “mission accomplished” was premature, so too is Obama’s announcement to let our strategy be known to our enemies.

Many United States military troops who have sacrificed so much to diminish the threat of insurgence, know first hand that the job is not yet complete. Yes, such an announcement could only have been made possible thanks to the success of Central Command Chief General David Petraeus, his strategy, and the surge itself. But, to announce a date certain of withdrawal is akin to surrender and could ultimately jeopardize the safety of the American men and women on the job in Iraq.

To end American military involvement in Iraq is one thing, but to announce the date raises a white flag and is analogous to telling thieves when one’s house will be empty as its occupants take a vacation. Prolonging American involvement in Iraq serves little benefit when its own people should have stepped up some time ago; however, it’s the so-called strategy that is debatable.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Monday, February 23, 2009

DC - First in War, First in Peace, Never in Congress

DC – First in War, First in Peace, Never in Congress
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 23, 2009

“If the District of Columbia deserves a member of the House of Representatives, they deserve two senators as well,” said Senator John McCain (R-AZ) earlier in February.

I wholeheartedly agree with the former GOP presidential nominee. Now before those of you who know my staunch opposition to DC being awarded a voting member of Congress go become apoplectic, notice the premise to the entire statement: IF – the biggest two-letter word in the English language. Yes, IF DC deserves, but DC does not deserve a voting member in Congress or two senators. Besides, every time Washington gets senators they up and leave for places like Minnesota and Texas!

And let’s not overlook a little thing called the Constitution of the United States of America.

Article I, Section 2: “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States…”

Article I, Section 3: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state…”

Article I, Sections 2 and 3 clearly outlines that only states are to be represented by members of the two houses of Congress and DC is most certainly not a state. At one time, DC consisted of land from both Maryland and Virginia; today just former Maryland land comprises the seat of the nation’s government. Perhaps that land should revert back to the Free State and the residents of DC should be citizens of Maryland. Then, upon the counting of the census in 2010, Maryland would more than likely receive an additional member of Congress and the state losing the most population would drop one of its members. It has been done that way for years.

In a Washington Post column penned by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), he opined that the residents of DC “are the successors to the People of the several states – people of my home state, Maryland, who were stripped of their voting rights.” All the more reason to return them to Maryland, not, as Hoyer supports, give them a Congressional member.

Article I, Section 2: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union…”

If DC residents do not get a member of Congress, they should not be required to pay federal taxes or be subject to a military draft should one be necessary in the future. This would be fair, and to some extent has legs, as Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is willing to exempt Washingtonians from “federal income tax[es] until a constitutional amendment can be passed,” according to Marc Fisher of the Washington Post. Gohmert made no mention regarding DC residents potential military service.

And, by the way, a constitutional amendment would be the proper path to take for granting a member of Congress to DC, but supporters have seen the writing on the wall in previous failed attempts. The last attempt suffered defeat in 1985 when the amendment passed both houses in 1978, but the clock expired after a seven year limit to garner three-quarters of the state legislatures approval failed with only 16 states on board. This new vote by Congress is an attempt to sneak in through the back door.

Article I, Section 8: “…The Congress shall have Power To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of Government of the United States…”

Hoyer is using this Section as his way in the front door suggesting that the House can vote to grant DC its member of Congress. Why then, has this interpretation not been used in the past? It would seem that this Section grants Congress the authority to govern over the District and write and pass its laws.

The parenthetical “not exceeding ten Miles square” is interesting as if the framers limited the size of the seat of the nation’s government, it would not want to encourage a constant burgeoning of population to overflow its borders. Instead, it would seem the framers sought to limit the size of the government and thus the number of people who served in it. The framers did not intend to have people make the District a permanent home, instead it expected members of Congress would come to DC serve a couple of terms and then return to their lives as farmers, small businessmen, clerics, doctors, etc. Likewise their staffs, small that they were to be, as well as the people in the employ of the federal government. Constant turnover would keep people from growing roots in DC and losing touch with the folks back home.

Sadly, this has not happened and the District is 69 square miles. Carve out the residential neighborhoods including perimeter shopping and non-government businesses for annexation by Maryland. Those with concerns about its shape only need to look at some of the terribly misshapen Congressional districts in the name of seat preservation. It’s enough to cause Elbridge Gerry to turn over in his grave.

Article II, Section 1: “…Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the Number of Senators and Representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress…”

See Article I, Sections 2 and 3.

Amendment XXIII: “The District constituting the seat of the Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
            A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole numbers of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State…” (Ratified March 29, 1961; all three of the District of Columbia’s electoral votes have been cast for the Democratic candidate for president in every election since 1964.)

As far as I am concerned, the 23rd Amendment is in direct violation of the Constitution – Article II, Section 1, and the desires of the framers by awarding DC its three electoral votes. The District of Columbia was designed to be the seat of the government and not a permanent dwelling for the masses.

The notion of a compromise, as suggested by former Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), to give a member of Congress to DC and one to Utah simply because the Beehive State would be the next state due an additional member plays fast and loose with the Constitution. Would this even be up for discussion if Utah were not such an overwhelmingly Republican state? But that it is, does not guarantee its permanence. This leads down the slippery slope which can only end up with DC being granted two federal senators. This would be two virtually permanent Democratic strongholds as voters in DC trend eight to one for the Democrats.

Bottom line is DC is not a state and should not have state status, for that same slippery slope may lead to American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Those territories and possessions are not states either, but what the hell, let’s give them statehood privileges of congressmen and senators as well. Sound silly? So does nationalization of the banks, but that frightening possible reality will have to be the subject of another column on another day.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Burr-is In the Dems Side

A Burr-is In the Dem’s Side
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 20, 2009

When The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune call for a Democrat’s resignation, one can just picture the snow falling in hell. The gift that keeps on giving – Roland Burris and Illinois politics are embroiled in the continuing saga of “can anyone tell the truth in Honest Abe’s Land of Lincoln?”

Whether or not Burris perjured himself regarding his connection to former Illinois governor “Lightening” Rod Blagojevich and fundraising issues is becoming both murkier by the day and irrelevant as more and more supporters are calling for his resignation for the betterment of the people of Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, called for Burris’ resignation on Friday, February 20. Two days prior, nearly three dozen ministers and pastors from black churches who have supported Burris, have also called for him to step aside, demonstrating their lack of faith in the senator.

Judge Andrew Napolitano of the Fox News Channel indicated that Burris, could escape perjury charges, but still lose his law license for providing “misleading” testimony. Sadly such behavior would not cost Burris his Senate seat, but he has still demonstrated a diminution of honesty and integrity in the eyes of non-supporters and supporters alike. That would be strong circumstance for Burris to resign his seat and allow the people of Illinois to have their faith restored in a more forthright representative.

This situation is yet another reason to call for the amendment of the United States Constitution’s 17th Amendment which, while allowing for the direct election of federal senators, grants the governor the right to appoint a senate replacement upon a vacancy. As has been demonstrated in recent weeks, this process leaves quite a bit to be desired when witnessing the activities in Illinois, New York, Delaware and what might have been in New Hampshire. For more information on that subject, read my February 4 column entitled “Special Elections Should Trump Special Exceptions” at Such special elections would avoid the stench of impropriety and potential quid pro quo.

Although Burris continues to maintain his innocence, in the best interest of the citizens of Illinois he should resign.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rush to Bad Judgment

Rush to Bad Judgment
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 16, 2009

Congress and Barack Obama have mastered hurry up and wait to an art form; but it’s an art form that should rankle the American people to their core.

Obama wasted taxpayer dollars giving campaign-esque speeches in Elkhart, IN, East Peoria, IL and Fort Myers, FL demanding that Congress pass the so-called stimulus package as quickly as possible to meet his self-imposed deadline. The rush was no doubt to avoid having the details reach the light of day as the American people would wretch in horror if they knew how their hard-earned money was being given away, thus mortgaging their grandchildren’s futures.

The rush was such that not one member of either house of Congress could legitimately claim they actually read the 1000-plus page bill cover to cover. Any member who makes such a claim is a liar and should be removed from their cushy-tushy position for perjury. At a rate of roughly 650 words per minute, it would take 12 continuous hours to pour through the monstrosity, according to Mike Huckabee.

That a vote was taken on such a behemoth of a piece of legislation is irresponsible at the very least and perhaps even criminal. Every member who voted for this albatross should be recalled on the grounds of misconduct, misappropriation of taxpayer funds and irresponsibility. How can anyone in good conscience vote for something they have not read. Who’s to say some Congressional aide didn’t slip some language into the bill declaring war on Canada or giving voting rights to birds?

Shrieker of the House Nancy Pelosi and seven of her Democratic colleagues were in a rush to leave on their so-called working junket to Italy. Not flying a commercial airplane, the eight Democrats could have delayed their taxpayer funded flight at least a couple of days in order to actually do their jobs and read the bill prior to voting for it instead of automatically knee-jerk liberally voting blindly on the largest spending bill in the nation’s history. More irresponsibility.

And on top of all the insanity, after the rush job by Congress to get the crap package to Obama’s desk, there it sits until Tuesday, February 17 at the earliest when he will probably sign it – in Denver, using more taxpayer money. That is the epitome of irresponsibility – especially when Congress could have taken three or four more days to read the document that will irrevocably alter the economics of the United States.

Adding insult to injury, literally, were the unbelievably arrogant remarks made on the Senate floor by Charles (Chucky Schmucky) Schumer (D-NY). “And let me say this to all of the chattering class that so much focuses on those little, tiny, yes, porky amendments, the American people really don’t care.”

Apparently more than 1,500 people cared, and cared enough send bags of pork rinds to Schumer’s office at the behest of Leland Conway of 630-WLAP radio in Lexington, KY. Kudos to his listeners! We the aggravated and insulted should continue this effort. Schumer’s DC office address is 313 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510. The telephone number to his office is 202-224-6542. Send pork rinds, call and express your anger and displeasure in Schumer, but be polite and take the high road. Messages must be sent and efforts to defeat these scoundrels must occur in earnest.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Obama, La Hood-winked, Caterpillar and Canoodling

Obama, La Hood-winked, Caterpillar and Canoodling
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 12, 2009

The oft used phrase politics makes strange bedfellows could not be more apt when examining the relationship between two Illinois politicos Barack Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood. Of all places for Obama to visit in the latest stop along his “I’ve got to shove the stimulus package down America’s throats” tour was the East Peoria plant of Caterpillar.

Obama had scheduled stops in Illinois for the same day, February 12, to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. I don’t think Honest Abe would have looked too kindly upon Obama or La Hood. But of all places Obama could have visited, why Caterpillar?

Well, the over 80-year-old company that manufactures construction and mining equipment had planned to lay off roughly 22,000 workers according to Yet, one day prior, while speaking in Springfield, VA, Obama referenced Caterpillar in conjunction with upcoming construction projects and how the company would be able to rehire many of the unemployed. Obama reiterated the same thought while at Caterpillar noting that “Jim” could rehire workers upon passage of the stimulus bill.

At that point people’s crap detectors should have been working overtime. Jim, who Obama mentioned while at Caterpillar, is the beleaguered company’s CEO James W. Owens, who said there would be more layoffs before they start hiring again, also according to

So back to why Caterpillar for Obama’s visit. This is where La Hood comes in. La Hood is the former Republican Congressman who represented the district that includes Caterpillar’s corporate headquarters in Peoria prior to serving in Obama’s cabinet. Perhaps Caterpillar wouldn’t be in the financial straits it is currently experiencing if it hadn’t decided that a museum to itself was at the top of its “to do” list.

As I wrote on January 17, the Lakeview Museum in Peoria became possible partly due to a $330,000 earmark of La Hood’s and also due to Caterpillar’s own largesse. Oh, by the way, Caterpillar was La Hood’s biggest campaign donor. This earmark was merely the tip of the La Hood-wink pork-ladened iceberg.

In 2008 alone La Hood sent up legislation calling for $60 million in earmarks, ranking him in the top 10 percent of all Congressional porkers. This was partly made possible by sitting on the highly coveted Appropriations Committee and allowed La Hood-wink to funnel larded-up legislation toward some of his more generous political donors.

And while the record is being set straight, Obama’s got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do regarding his own mathematics. During his speech-conference on Monday night February 9, Obama said his stimulus albatross would create or save four million jobs, yet two days later in Springfield, VA, at , he said his crap package would create or save three million jobs. Seems reminiscent of his campaign when each day the bar on the amount of income to be tax-increased kept dropping. Perhaps he just “misremembered.”

Additionally, Obama should be ashamed of himself for attempting to publicly embarrass freshman Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) and shanghai his vote on the stimulus monstrosity. This Obama did during his speech at Caterpillar, which is located in the heart of the 18th District once represented by La Hood, and now Schock. This is just the kind of arm-twisting that would make Rahm Emanuel proud.

Making matters worse is that this so-called stimulus package is due to be voted upon Friday, February 13, which violates Obama’s own campaign pledge of five days of sunshine prior to signing. The sunshine refers to the opportunity for the bill to be examined by the public in Obama’s so-called era of transparency.

As of on Thursday, February 12 Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) still had not received the bill, nor had his fellow legislators, he said, while being interviewed by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. Graham further said, “I’m embarrassed to be in a Congress that would pass this spend-fest.” Graham was then critical of the $400 million returned to the package to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and the $1 billion to NASA, calling it a “national disgrace,” and that this is not a bill to create “jobs, but to help senators get reelected.”

If the senator thinks his hands are tied, imagine how the American people must feel. This is the kind of powerlessness of which revolutions are born.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Master of His Domain, But Little Else

Master of His Domain, But Little Else
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 9, 2009

In his first prime time press conference Barack Obama was certainly master of his domain – holding court in a campaign-like speech interrupted by the occasional question.

Obama’s goal, clearly, was to remind the American people who won in November and who’s in charge today with his continued fear mongering imploring Congress to hurry up and pass the albatross of our grandchildren’s future – the so-called stimulus package. In that, he succeeded, however, the so-called stimulus package that he optioned out to Nancy Pelosi, Harry “I can smell the tourists” Reid and their merry band of liberals is still the same spending orgy.

Obama, creeping ever closer to socialism, said that only government can solve this crisis, yet in the same breath claimed that 90 percent of the jobs to be created are in private sector, with, of course, no explanation as to how. Flashback to earlier in the same day, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) pointed out that while small business creates 80 percent of the jobs in this country, only 3/10 of one percent of the so-called stimulus package is actually dedicated to small business.

More proof of the government boondoggle was presented by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) during the same afternoon. Inhofe noted, that of the roughly $1.2 trillion package, including interest – yes, the money is being borrowed, as the government ‘s cupboards are bare – a mere seven percent is actual stimulant and only $27 billion is being driven toward highway construction.

Yet, with enough pork to frighten all of Mecca, Obama had the audacity to say there wasn’t a single earmark in the so-called stimulus package. Inhofe pointed to trail improvements and federal building upgrades as examples of government excess spending that has no place in a real stimulus package. Just because no specific legislator’s name is attached to the various pork projects doesn’t mean their prints haven’t been found on the pen. Then Obama added that “I would love not to have to spend money right now.” This package was his idea.

Some of the money Obama wishes he did not have to spend is being designated for electric golf carts, decried Senator John Ensign (R-NV) on the Senate floor in a plea to “start over and get this right.”

Kyl, in his continued objections to the package indicated that it is a waste to spend $300 billion on government automobiles and another billion for Amtrak. Now that Joe Biden lives in the vice president’s residence, who else rides the beleaguered transportation system? “We are not being wise in the way we are spending this money,” said Kyl.

But to Obama, it’s all about control as he edges the nation closer to socialism. His blanket criticism during his press conference of the use of “corporate jets when it’s not necessary” is yet another example. Admittedly it is not the most prudent action for a financially strapped corporation to take, but if the company is not in Washington with its hand out, it is free to make whatever decision it chooses. However, don’t come begging for a bailout when stupidity catches up to you. Free markets depend upon the people, not the government, causing the success or failure of corporate America. When government crosses that line and has a hand in the corporate world, that is one step closer toward socialism.

Obama also reiterated his mantra of “step number one” being the creation or saving of four million jobs. Economists, conservative and liberal alike determined that the cost of such job creating has a price tag of approximately $300,000 per. That’s outrageous. And how exactly does the government plan to save jobs? That’s a question that has neither been asked by the fawning sycophants in the so-called media nor explained by Obama.

Obama also added that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” during his press conference. Not surprisingly nobody had the temerity to ask what it is called when people who do not pay taxes are given a so-called tax rebate. Sure sounds like a free lunch.

But the topper of the press conference is a tie between that doddering fossil Helen Thomas referring to the “so-called terrorists” and Obama actually taking a question from the Huffington Post and granting that outlet legitimacy.

While the Obama halo has yet to tarnish in the eyes of the so-called mainstream media, the popularity of this reckless spending travesty continues to wane with each additional light shed upon its absurd recommendations.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

RINO Virus Striking the Senate

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt." – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval, 12 July 1816

RINO Virus Striking the Senate
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 8, 2009

With the potential, even likely, defections of Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (RINOs-ME) along with Arlen Specter (RINO-PA), Barack Obama’s scare tactics may succeed in garnering enough so-called Republican votes in order to secure passage of the heinous alleged stimulus proposal.

No Republican in his or her right mind should support such a pork-laden insult to the American people. Quite frankly, the Democrats should also be ashamed for supporting such an excuse for political posturing, but this is typical. Note recent comments made by Dick Durbin (D-IL) when he accused the GOP of not playing ball or being team players and for depriving poor children of the necessities of life that this bill would supposedly provide. Does anyone recall Durbin being a team player during the Bush administration?

And then there’s Obama himself taking to the bully pulpit on an almost daily basis reminding the American people that “a failure to act, and act now, will turn [this] crisis into a catastrophe,” something he said on February 4. Adding to his own audacity, Obama also suggested that to even have this debate is both “inexcusable and irresponsible.” What is irresponsible is a government that bails out the banking industry and has no idea what happened to more than $80 billion. What is also irresponsible is the role the RINOs are playing as enablers.

Well, to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, a man with whom Obama has been oft compared, the only thing we have to fear, is Obama’s fear mongering. His doom and gloomism is frighteningly reminiscent of the Carter years. With each passing day of debate and discovery of the actual components of this revolting pack of sewage, there is less and less support for the so-called stimulus package by the American populous themselves. As more and more pork projects are unearthed and made public it is the public that is becoming more and more outraged. Outrage over projects like redecorating the Commerce Department building, water slides, and planting grass seed around the Jefferson Memorial for example. Telephone calls have flooded senate offices in Washington, DC as well as locally across the country by concerned citizens not wanting their great-grandchildren to be the unfortunate recipients of the bills for this institutional largesse.

As we approach the bicentennial of the birth of a great leader, Abraham Lincoln, it is another Lincoln that deserves praise. Senator Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat, yes, a Democrat, said on February 7 during an impassioned speech from the Senate floor that “we have to be patient… We have to deal with this crisis and put ourselves back on track. We can do it with timely and temporary measures.”

These measures ought to be temporary, not a permanent, perpetual boondoggle of priming the pump that will lead to almost certain permanent and perpetual dependence upon government instead of personal and corporate responsibility. This kind of behavior will ultimately manifest itself until the United States no longer is a free market economy, but one where the government runs every aspect of our lives; and judging by how they have done thus far, that is something to truly fear.

What people should not be afraid of, is failure. Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times before he achieved success. When business fails, there are reasons – poor management, poor product design, poor salesmanship – whatever the reasons, go back to the drawing board – that’s the purpose of the research and development teams. Government did not bail out the makers of the Nash, Packer or Oldsmobile – my first car, by the way. No, they went the way of the flashbulb, typewriter and dinosaur.

The problem with this bill potentially failing is that the government doesn’t have brains enough to go back to the drawing board. Instead, the party in power, the Democrats, attempts to cajole the leading team of RINOS – Collins, Snowe and Specter to stray from the rest of their pack. The Dems almost nabbed Senators George Voinovich of Ohio and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – but not this time.

The CEOs and CFOs harping over the possibility of a “mere” $500,000 salary should be thankful they have jobs. Quite frankly, any company going to the government with hands out should relieve the CEO/CFO and the entire board of directors from duty. Clearly they have not managed their ship safely to shore. Stockholders ought to determine the salaries of those who will run the companies, after all the stockholders are the real owners of the companies. Offer a reasonable salary with bonus options relative to the success or lack of same. Salesmen work on commission, why not corporate bigwigs. If they don’t like that plan, go back to work, roll up your sleeves and don’t come to Washington hat in hand.

Democrat Congressman Gene Taylor of Mississippi, who wisely voted against the House bill said, “The nation borrowed $800 billion between the Revolutionary War through Gerald Ford’s presidency. In one vote, the nation is going to borrow another $800 billion. This is nuts.”

What Democrats like Taylor and Republicans ought to be doing is trying to convince those who wish to shove this bill down the throats of the American people how wrong it is and scrap it. Trying to nickel and dime it down is akin to the old, but applicable, adage of the bandage on the bullet hole. Have the patience implored by Blanche Lincoln and invest the taxpayers money prudently and penuriously, if at all. What’s needed are more senators like Dr. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and South Carolina’s Jim De Mint – they are the cream of the Republican crop.

Lincoln also reminded her colleagues something that all elected officials should remember – “It is our responsibility, it is our duty, and it should be our honor to come together and work these problems out.” Responsibility, duty and honor. Elected officials best remember who put them in their positions in the first place. And the voters would do well to remember how those elected officials voted to spend the taxpayers’ money. For those who don’t approve, and the mounting objections speak volumes, the vote cast in November 2010 will speak louder yet when those elected officials are fired. We hired you and we can damn well fire you.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Special Elections Should Trump Special Exceptions

Special Elections Should Trump Special Exceptions
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 4, 2009

Hold the presses – I found something on which I agree with Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). Following the Rod Blagojevich impeachment/Roland Burris appointment soap opera and the seemingly endless will she be or won’t she be appointed surrounding Caroline Kennedy, Feingold had enough, and he is not the only one.

We, among others, are against this concept of place-holders taking seats in the United States Senate. This is not some gentrified body akin to the British House of Lords with seats passed down through the generations. In this country members of the Senate are elected – and elected directly by the people – so sayest the 17th Amendment of the Constitution, which was ratified April 8, 1913.

The one caveat to the direct election portion of the 17th Amendment is in the case of a vacancy, which is then filled by an appointment made by the governor. This is the place where smoke-filled, back-room deals are forged – assuming there are still places for people to legally smoke.

Since the ascendancy to the White House by Barack Obama, himself a former member of the world’s most exclusive club, the Senate has been raided. Former Senator Joe Biden of Delaware no longer needs the services of Amtrak as the vice president has a DC residence. Former New York Senator Hillary Clinton is now Secretary of State, former Senator Ken Salazar heads up the Interior Department and New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg is on the cusp of becoming the Commerce Secretary. That’s five senators who have already moved or will move on.

Feingold has called for, and rightfully so, ending the system of filling Senate vacancies via gubernatorial appointment. Instead, holding special elections is the answer. This avoids any of the stench of impropriety that dragged the Land of Lincoln through the mud and in the year of his bicentennial, no less. This avoids the speculation as to whether or not a seemingly pre-ordained nominee would actually be nominated. This avoids the concept of the place-holder – a person appointed to fill the vacancy under the prearranged agreement that the new senator would not seek election in his or her own right because that seat “belongs” to a particular other person.

Nonsense. The seat belongs to the people of the given state and should be up to them to determine who is privileged enough to sit in that seat for six years – or longer should the people say so. If the 17th Amendment granted the people the authority to directly elect its senators, that law should be consistent and grant the people the same authority when a vacancy occurs.

Throw it open to any qualified citizen of the state. There are but three qualifications to serve in the United State Senate: to have reached the age of 30 by the time of the swearing in, to have been a citizen of the United States for nine years and to be a resident of the state from which he or she has been elected. Nowhere in the Constitution are there any codicils granting anyone’s children a right to a vacated seat or that the new senator should be of the same political party as the former senator or any other quirky designation or stipulation regarding the filling of said vacancy. All of this can be avoided by amending the 17th Amendment, which based upon past history, see the 18th and 21st amendments, would require an entirely new amendment to the Constitution.

Does Beau Biden have a right to the senate seat long held by his father, now the vice president? Based upon the above criteria, he does – provided he earns his party’s nomination and wins a general election that November. But to have Ted Kaufman appointed to “hold” the seat for the younger Biden knowing Kaufman won’t seek the seat in an election is absurd and quite frankly smacks of un-Americanism.

What right does Judd Gregg have in suggesting to New Hampshire Governor John Lynch that he will only accept the Commerce Secretary nomination if another Republican is appointed in his place? None. Lynch, a Democrat has the legal right to appoint any qualified citizen of New Hampshire based upon the above criteria. By appointing Republican Bonnie Newman to fill out Gregg’s unexpired term only to have her not seek election in her own right creates an open seat in 2010 and gives the advantage to the Democrats. After all, from south of Maine through Virginia there would be but one Republican senator on the east coast – Newman. Should Al Franken manage to steal the Minnesota senate seat, currently undergoing a recount, the Democrats are but one seat shy of a veto-proof body.

If this is a nation that believes in the people’s right to elect its leaders, let’s ensure their right to do so by allowing for special elections to fill vacancies.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Daschle Dashed, and Rightfully So

Daschle Dashed, and Rightfully So
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 3, 2009

Former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle, the designee to serve in the cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human Services has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post even before the entire Senate could take up the confirmation vote.

Clearly, Daschle made the right move, falling on his sword for two reasons. The most publicized reason was his failure to pay more that $120,000 in back taxes. This was due in part to the former majority leader’s claim of ignorance that his driver and car service were considered income. Why the former senator continued to use such a service after leaving office is a dome-scratcher, especially in the so-called era of conservation.

But the other less discussed reason has to be the fact that Daschle’s wife is a lobbyist in the same industry, thus creating a certain conflict of interest. This is just another example of the new administration not doing their homework and hoping the good-old-boy network – the Senate – the most exclusive club in the world, would give their former colleague a pass. After all, the Senate confirmed Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary without breaking a sweat by a large margin, and he will be running the IRS after having tax payment issues. Geithner also had a woman in his employ whose legal immigrant status expired under his watch.

No doubt Daschle saw the writing on the wall when the New York Slimes came out against his being confirmed. Apparently the so-called paper of record is attempting to pull itself up from birdcage fodder, but don’t hold your breath. Now the Senate can go back to work and hopefully tear apart the so-called stimulus package being shoved down America’s throats.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Phelps' Faux Pot

Phelps’ Faux Pot
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 3, 2009

From the pool to pot Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps should probably sign on to endorse potato chips or ding dongs. His recent activities may finally explain his 8,000-plus caloric intake on a daily basis.

It’s a joke, sort of, but it’s really not funny. What is truly not funny is the lack of outcry from the companies with which Phelps has an association. Hopefully the companies for which Phelps shills had enough brains to require him to sign a contract that included a morals clause, and if so, it should be enforced.

At age 23, and if Dara Torres is any example, Phelps could very well compete in four more Olympiad. Whether he wants to be or not, he is a role model and as one has a social responsibility to be mindful of the fact that numerous eyes are always going to be on him. This in no way excludes Phelps from having a life, but breaking the law is another story. His recent marijuana smoking escapade in South Carolina could cost him up to $570 and up to 30 days in the gray-bar hotel – a penalty that should be fully enforced to the maximum. And if it costs him some endorsements, hopefully that will fall under the category of lesson learned.

I have nothing against Michael Phelps; I have never met the young man and I did in fact enjoy watching him break record after record this past summer in Beijing. That said, he should not get a pass because he is a celebrity. In fact, it is because of his celebrity that Phelps should suffer the most severe of penalties. Yes, there is a double standard – admittedly so. That may not be right, but it is a fact. As a role model who has many admirers, Phelps has a responsibility to carry himself in such a dignified manner to set a positive example to those who do look up to him. Young people should not get the idea that if an Olympic hero can smoke dope that they can as well. It’s called dope for a reason.

Former NBA star Charles Barkley has repeatedly said both during and after his playing days that he does not want to be anyone’s role model – that the role models should be parents and teachers. Well, in theory Barkley is absolutely right, but unfortunately, nobody is plunking down $100 to watch me teach an American History class. So, as long as people’s priorities are backwards, those gifted few who have athletic, cinematic, theatric and musical talent should remember their social and moral obligations while they are reaping their great rewards from those who watch their every move and hang on their every word. Fame and adulation are short and fleeting. They should be treasured and treated as a gift from G-d. Those who have those gifts should not be ingrates.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.