Capitol Hillbillies

Gonna play, gotta pay

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the government-chartered mortgage giants tumbling toward a taxpayer bailout — have not been penurious about making campaign contributions and engaging top lobbyists to grease their way on Capitol Hill.

Remembering the real Jesse Helms

In adulthood people will spend any amount of money, seek any therapy, and commit any act just to prove their parents were right. The pursuit to become what parents tell us we are is indelible on our lives.

You have to wonder with someone’s passing — especially someone who has whittled at the wood our society is made from — whose instructions that person was following.

Helms: Dead on the 4th of July

Former Sen. Jesse Helms (right), an unyielding champion of the conservative movement who spent three combative and sometimes caustic decades in Congress, where he relished his battles against liberals, Communists and occasionally a fellow Republican, died on the Fourth of July.

Congress approves Iraq war funds

The Senate passed a $162 billion war spending plan Thursday, sending to President Bush legislation that will pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan until the next president takes office.

Supremes uphold right to own guns

Silent on central questions of gun control for two centuries, the Supreme Court found its voice Thursday in a decision affirming the right to have guns for self-defense in the home and addressing a constitutional riddle almost as old as the republic over what it means to say the people may keep and bear arms.

The court’s 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns and imperiled similar prohibitions in other cities, Chicago and San Francisco among them. Federal gun restrictions, however, were expected to remain largely intact.

Hillary returns to her day job

Hillary Clinton’s fellow Senate Democrats embraced her on Tuesday with a pair of standing ovations, tears and cheers as she returned to the U.S. Capitol from her historic yet unsuccessful presidential bid.

"We’re happy to have her back," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters as he emerged with Clinton from a closed-door meeting with Democratic colleagues.

So, who’s gonna pay for all this?

Congressional Democrats and the White House have agreed on a $162 billion budget to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan well into the first year of the next president’s term in office. It will allow the winner enough time to consider how — or if — he wants to fight those wars.

Chinese hackers and gas pains

The apparent intrusion by Chinese hackers into the computers of congressmen and their legislative committees revealed this past week comes as no surprise to folks at the Pentagon and at least six other departments, including Commerce, State, Energy and Health and Human Services.

Gotta love those earmarks

When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 their leadership announced with great fanfare that they were going to do battle with out-of-control earmark spending, reining in the lawmakers’ personal pork projects and making them more transparent.