Capitol Hillbillies

Striking out

Six months after his nomination to be the nation’s top doc triggered fevered objections, James Holsinger just lost his best chance to finally get the job.

Holsinger, a Kentucky public-health physician who once wrote that homosexual sex is unnatural and can lead to death, has been cooling his heels since his Senate confirmation hearing in July, when he was flayed by Democrats and other gay-rights advocates for those views.

Can Congress stand up to Bush?

Does Congress have the guts to stand up to President George W. Bush and withhold funding for his illegal and immoral war in Iraq?

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill claim they do. Of course, they have claimed that before and then caved when Bush played the “support our troops” card.

Now Congressional leaders say they will withhold funding until after the first of the year and the propagandists at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are cranking out talking points saying the party of the donkey is making an ass of itself by abandoning our troops in the field.

Masters of strategic inaction

Americans shouldn’t expect much relief from the nation’s problems for the next 14 months. That would mean solving immigration, health care, Social Security, Medicare and a dozen other domestic- and foreign-policy dilemmas that cry out for attention and reform.

Neither end of the historic thoroughfare called Pennsylvania Avenue, the one connecting Congress and the president, will be much open to the other until a year from January, when there are some new occupants in the U.S. Capitol and one in the White House.

Another meaningless gesture?

House Democrats pushed through a $50 billion bill for the Iraq war Wednesday night that would require President Bush to start bringing troops home in coming weeks with a goal of ending combat by December 2008.

The legislation, passed 218-203, was largely a symbolic jab at Bush, who already has begun reducing force levels but opposes a congressionally mandated timetable on the war. And while the measure was unlikely to pass in the Senate — let alone overcome a presidential veto — Democrats said they wanted voters to know they weren’t giving up.

How to swamp a veto

George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter now have something in common. Congress has slapped down both presidents over costly water projects.

When Carter took office, he cut out of the federal budget a “hit list” of 19 water projects that he deemed wasteful pork-barrel spending. There are fewer things dearer to the lawmakers’ hearts than water projects. Carter was ultimately forced to accept most of them, but the bad start with Congress dogged him the rest of his term.

Appearance of impropriety

The term “appearance of impropriety” became a standard measurement in assessing conflicts of interest during the Supreme Court confirmation battles of the Nixon administration. It first came to prominence when the Senate rejected Judge Clement Haynsworth’s nomination because of his ownership of a small amount of stock in a company that came before his court, even though a favorable ruling he handed down did not impact that stock in any appreciable way.

Senate confirms Mukasey

The US Senate late Thursday confirmed Michael Mukasey as the country’s new attorney general, despite criticism of his refusal to say whether an interrogation method called “waterboarding” was legal.

Mukasey was confirmed on a 53 to 40 vote in the Democrat-controlled senate.

President George W. Bush’s pick for the country’s top law enforcement officer had appeared to be in jeopardy until this week because Mukasey had declined to declare that waterboarding was torture and therefore illegal.

A first! Congress overrides Bush veto!

The US Congress on Thursday overturned a veto by President George W. Bush for the first time in his presidency, giving approval to a bill on river and waterway projects.

“In overriding President Bush’s veto today, the Senate stood up for America’s waterways and water infrastructure,” said the influential Michigan Senator Carl Levin.

The Senate voted by 79 to 14 in favor of overturning Bush’s veto of the ambitious 23-billion dollar bill which the US leader believed was too costly.

House votes to protect gay workers

The Democratic-led House of Representatives on Wednesday defied a White House veto threat and voted to protect millions of Americans by outlawing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“This is truly a historic day,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, told her colleagues. “Discrimination has no place in America.”

The measure passed 235-184, falling far short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a possible veto by President George W. Bush.

GOP surprise in Cheney impeachment

House Democrats on Tuesday narrowly managed to avert a bruising debate on a proposal to impeach Dick Cheney after Republicans, in a surprise maneuver, voted in favor of taking up the measure.

Republicans, changing course midway through a vote, tried to force Democrats into a debate on the resolution sponsored by longshot presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

The anti-war Ohio Democrat, in his resolution, accused Cheney of purposely leading the country into war against Iraq and manipulating intelligence about Iraq’s ties with al-Qaida.