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GOP Senator Tillis Hasn’t Read The Constitution In A While, Or Ever

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Oath
Oath

I know there isn’t a civics test a prospective Senator has to pass before running for office, but perhaps there should be.

Republicans have never made it easy for President Barack Obama to confirm judges. But Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) came up with a new reason the Senate shouldn’t be filling empty court seats: It’s not our job.

Democrats including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) made repeated requests Wednesday to confirm a batch of Obama’s judicial nominees who are ready for votes. Each time they tried, Tillis objected and suggested the Senate shouldn’t be spending time on judges.

“What we get are things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs,” he said. “I’m doing my job today and objecting to these measures so we can actually get back to pressing matters.”

It’s a weird thing to say since it is literally the Senate’s job to confirm judges, as spelled out in the Constitution. It’s also ironic that Tillis is the one saying this, given that he’s overseeing the longest federal court vacancy in the country. There’s been an empty seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina for 3,848 days, or 10.5 years.

(click here to continue reading GOP Senator: Confirming Obama’s Judges Has ‘Nothing To Do With Doing Our Jobs’.)

/Eye Roll!

For reference:

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Appointments Clause, empowers the President of the United States to appoint certain public officials with the “advice and consent” of the U.S. Senate. This clause also allows lower-level officials to be appointed without the advice and consent process.

He (the President) shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Councils, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

 

(click here to continue reading Appointments Clause – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 15th, 2016 at 8:16 am

Posted in government

Tagged with ,

Al Franken Ran As A Liberal, and Won

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Everything Is Political
Everything Is Political

Senator Al Franken won re-election with a novel strategy; he campaigned as he votes: as a Liberal! And won! Sadly, too many of his party tried to win by playing up their conservative side for some reason, and then lost. Seriously, what is the point of presenting oneself as Republican-Lite? Won’t voters just vote for the actual Republican?

Luckily for the Wellstone wing of the Democratic Party, there are a few smart guys, like Senator Franken:

Across the country, other Democratic Senate candidates distanced themselves from President Obama and the Democratic Party platform. Mark Warner, who squeaked by in Virginia, preferred to talk about how he’d tweak the Affordable Care Act than his vote for the bill, while arguing that he hasn’t actually voted with President Obama all that often. Mark Udall in Colorado decided he didn’t want to be seen with Obama. Challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky wouldn’t even say if she voted for Obama in 2012—after serving as one of his delegates to the national convention.

Franken took the opposite approach.

Instead of running away from the progressive accomplishments of the Obama era, he embraced them, railing against bankers, advocating for student loan reform—even defending the Affordable Care Act. Franken ran as an Elizabeth Warren-style Democrat, running a populist campaign that didn’t shirk discussion of the specific policies Democrats could pursue to help the middle class. And voters rewarded him. “This wasn’t a safe seat,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in an e-mail. “He earned his victory by being a proud populist Democrat for six years and inspiring voters.”

Franken’s Republican opponent, investment banker Mike McFadden, centered his campaign on painting Franken as an Obama shill. But Franken didn’t deny his ties to the president and the Democratic party—and he would have had a hard time of it if he tried. Franken was a favorite of the liberal base before entering politics thanks to his combative, unabashed left-winger radio persona on Air America and his anti-Fox News books. He joined Congress in 2009 as the Democrats’ 60th, filibuster-breaking vote, allowing the party to pass the Affordable Care Act. Since then he’s racked up a clear lefty record, regularly ranking among the most liberal members in the Senate.

(click here to continue reading Al Franken Was Liberal Enough, Tough Enough, and Doggone It, People Reelected Him | Mother Jones.)

Maybe in 2016, more Democrats will decide to run as liberals. Shocking concept, eh?

Democratic Strategists Are Clueless - Tom Tomorrow

Democratic Strategists Are Clueless – Tom Tomorrow

– via http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/10/1342914/-Cartoon-Midterm-mayhem

Written by Seth Anderson

November 14th, 2014 at 9:19 am

Senator Rockefeller Warns Marketing Data Giants: You’re On Notice

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Video Flag Z by Nam June Paik
Video Flag Z by Nam June Paik

We’ve long been dismayed by how powerful and secretive the massive data broker corporations have become. Our data is collected, often surreptitiously, then repackaged and sold to other corporations, and we don’t get a percentage of the profits, nor any real notice that this is happening.

Good news, maybe, from Washington, as reported by Kate Kaye of AdAge:

Today the Senate Commerce Committee held a long-awaited hearing about the consumer-data-broker industry.

“We have a feeling people are getting scammed or screwed,” said Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., whose office sent inquiries to several data brokers in the past year. He called out data giants Acxiom, Epsilon and Experian, threatening to use more forceful ways of getting them to divulge information about how they do business and with whom.

One concern shared by Mr. Rockefeller and privacy advocates is predatory marketing activity conducted by financial firms or other companies targeting vulnerable groups such as the impoverished or immigrant populations. Another concern is the practice of scoring individuals determined by algorithmic data analysis and serving them with tailored offers. In some cases that could involve higher interest rates for loans or dynamic prices for products based on prior web behavior or demographic data.

“To date they have not given me complete answers,” said Mr. Rockefeller of Acxiom, Epsilon and Experian. “I’m putting these three companies on notice today…that I am considering further steps and I have steps I can use to get this information.”

Mr. Rockefeller sent letters to data companies such as Acxiom, Datalogix, Epsilon, Experian and Transunion in June, then broadened the inquiry to include media firms — typically big collectors of behavioral web data — like About.com, Babycenter.com, Cafemom.com, Time’s Health.com and Conde Nast’s Self.com.

 

(click here to continue reading Rockefeller to Marketing Data Giants: You’re On Notice | Privacy and Regulation – Advertising Age.)

Bares paying attention to…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 19th, 2013 at 11:04 am

Todd Akin Is Aching to Be In Charge of Your Ladyparts

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Locked up Tightly
Locked up Tightly

Maureen Dowd says what many, many have been saying recently re: Todd Akin and his party of mouth-breathers.

Other Republicans are trying to cover up their true identity to get elected. Even as party leaders attempted to lock the crazy uncle in the attic in Missouri, they were doing their own crazy thing down in Tampa, Fla., by reiterating language in their platform calling for a no-exceptions Constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, even in cases of rape, incest and threat to the life of the mother.

Paul Ryan, who teamed up with Akin in the House to sponsor harsh anti-abortion bills, may look young and hip and new generation, with his iPod full of heavy metal jams and his cute kids. But he’s just a fresh face on a Taliban creed — the evermore antediluvian, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-gay conservative core. Amiable in khakis and polo shirts, Ryan is the perfect modern leader to rally medieval Republicans who believe that Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs.

In asserting that women have the superpower to repel rape sperm, Akin ratcheted up the old chauvinist argument that gals who wear miniskirts and high-heels are “asking” for rape; now women who don’t have the presence of mind to conjure up a tubal spasm, a drone hormone, a magic spermicidal secretion or mere willpower to block conception during rape are “asking” for a baby.

“The biological facts are perhaps inconvenient, but whether the egg meets the sperm is a matter of luck or prevention,” says Dr. Paul Blumenthal, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who directs the Stanford Program for International Reproductive Education and Services. “If wishing that ‘I won’t get pregnant right now’ made it so, we wouldn’t need contraceptives.”

When you wish upon a rape.

Dr. Blumenthal is alarmed that Akin is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

“What is very disturbing to me is that people like Mr. Akin who have postulated this secret mechanism for avoiding pregnancy have developed their own make-believe world of science based on entirely self-serving beliefs of convenience or just ignorance,” he said. “I don’t think we want these people to be responsible for the lives of others.”

But, for all the Republican cant about how they want to keep government out of the lives of others, the ultraconservatives are panting to meddle in the lives of others. Contrary to President Obama’s refreshing assertion Monday that a bunch of male politicians shouldn’t be making health care decisions for women, this troglodyte tribe of men and Bachmann-esque women craves that responsibility.

(click here to continue reading Just Think No – NYTimes.com.)

 Todd Akin ben sargent 120821
Todd Akin – Christian Taliban by Ben Sargent 120821

Akin isn’t some outlier in the GOP, he’s just voicing what most of his colleagues have the political sense not to mention on television. He shouldn’t be forced out of the election for his views, but he shouldn’t be elected either. However, the odds are still 50-50 he’ll win; there are a lot of Missouri Christian Taliban who believe exactly what Akin and the GOP do – namely that the government should be in charge of a women’s body. 

Legitimate
Legitimate

The GOP convention in Tampa is going to codify this outrage, as Jodi Jacobson explains:

As of today, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan may find themselves in a wee bit of a bind.

For the past two days, the pair have been running around trying to assure the press and ultimately women voters that they really do believe in “real rape,” not just “legitimate rape,” that they are not as misogynistic as Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, and that, of course, a Romney-Ryan Administration would never eliminate rape and incest exceptions for abortion.

And, now it appears that, all the while, the people really in charge of the GOP—fundamentalist anti-choicers among them—have been writing a party platform that not only makes all of that a lie, but is in effect a promise to make the personhood of fertilized eggs the law of the land.

The draft official platform strongly supports a “a human life amendment” to the Constitution:

“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” the draft platform declares. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

Let’s be very, very clear that such an amendment—which Mitt Romney has said unequivocally he would sign—would not only criminalize abortions of any kind for any reason, but also would outlaw many forms of contraception, in-vitro fertilization, and treatment of pregnant women with life-threatening conditions such as cancer. Moreover, it would also criminalize miscarriage.

(click here to continue reading As Romney and Ryan Dissemble, RNC Prepares Radical Anti-Choice Platform Based on Personhood | RH Reality Check.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 22nd, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Richard Lugar Should Retire

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Welcome to Indiana
Welcome to Indiana

I would not care if the Tea Party claimed another scalp, in this case, of Republican Dick Lugar. There is no rule that says just because a Senator has been in office for a while, they never have to face a primary again. 

Gail Collins writes:

INDIANA Next Tuesday we will learn whether Richard Lugar, a Republican, wins renomination for the Senate seat he has held for almost 36 years. This is the guy who won international renown for his work against nuclear proliferation. If he loses, the Tea Party will have claimed another victim, terrifying the remaining moderate Republican in the Senate.

His opponent, Richard Mourdock, the state treasurer, claims that Lugar has become a creature of Washington. Generally, these lost-touch-with-the-people campaigns are bogus. But it does seem peculiar that Lugar’s 2012 Indiana voting address was a house he sold in 1977.

Lugar, who has a home in the Washington suburbs, says he can’t afford a place in Indiana too. This is a guy who represents a state where the median price of a house in Gas City is $88,000. Also, Lugar owns a family farm outside Indianapolis, but apparently there is no family house on the family farm. Personally, I’d have gone for the family shed.

Anyway, here is our question: Would you rather see Lugar win, striking a blow for moderate-although-actually-pretty-darned-conservative-but-just-not-crazy Republicanism? Or would you prefer to see him lose and give the Democrats a chance to pick up an unexpected seat? Feel free to choose. It’s like the basketball playoffs. Every team has its good points. Except, of course, the Miami Heat.

(click here to continue reading Changing the Subject – NYTimes.com.)

Charles Pierce adds:

Richard Lugar, the Ent who has represented the state of Indiana in the U.S. Senate since shortly after George Rogers Clark kicked the bucket, is stuck in the middle of a primary dogfight with state treasurer Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party heartthrob. That being the case, one of the hottest issues in the race has been Lugar’s status as a “Washington insider,” since, as Tea Party logic demands, the more you know about how to function within the government, the less you know about Liberty (!), competence basically being another word for treason. Anyway, as a line of attack on this issue, Mourdock is making dinner out of how little time Lugar seems to spend back home in Indiana.

While Lugar is still leading in the polls, the trend lines are not good at all, as evidenced by the fact that, over the weekend, his campaign felt compelled to release an accounting of how much time Lugar spent in the state as opposed to the amount of time he was sequestered inside the Beltway: The low point was 1985, when he was in Indiana for 20 days. That was the year he became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The highest number came in his re-election years of 1982 and 1998, when he was in the state 92 days. As for the total number of days he spent in the state he has represented since 1977 over the course of full six-year terms, the highest was his first term, with 353 days in Indiana, and the lowest was his fifth, with 237.

(click here to continue reading Richard Lugar Re-Election 2012 – Dick Lugar’s Last Stand – Esquire.)

and, for good measure:

First of all, there is absolutely nothing prima facie wrong with any politician’s being challenged in a primary at any time in any place. God knows, the Democrats could use a couple of dozen more good solid primary fights. You can’t moan endlessly about how Americans take no interest in government and then complain when they actually do. That said, I am sorry, but the Reverend Danforth can go pound sand. He was in the Senate when the NCPAC campaigns were run. He was in the Senate when Lee Atwater was the presiding Republican genius. He was in the Senate when Newt Gingrich came to power. He likes to pretend that he’s become appalled by what’s happened to the party since he left the Senate, but he was there when all the forces were gathering, and it’s a little late to decide he doesn’t have the belly for the inevitable results. But, more to the historical point, it was Danforth most of all who is responsible for the phenomenon that is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and, in that fight, Danforth was as much a culture warrior as all the people who seem to offend him today.

It was Danforth who gave Thomas sanctimonous cover during the Senate confirmation hearings in which Thomas, at the very least, played Edward Scissorhands with the truth. Danforth even later wrote a book about it in which poor, misused soon-to-be Justice Thomas was nearly destroyed by the high-tech lynching he received, and in which Danforth confesses quite Heepishly that he may have been less than Christian in his defense of his protege. Well, horse hockey. You got what you wanted: a permanent seat on the Supreme Court for a vengeful conservative extremist. (In his book, Danforth argues that,”I did not think his political philosophy should be relevant to his nomination,” to which Clio, Muse Of History, replies, “WTF?” and opens another bottle of Virginia Gentleman.) I am utterly at the end of my patience with all of these “How could this ever have happened to my party?” arias from the people who could have stopped it at the time, but found it expedient not to do so. It’s enough to get me rooting for Richard Mourdock.

(click here to continue reading John Danforth on Dick Lugar – Dick Lugar and the Right’s Men Overboard – Esquire.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 3rd, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Some Senators Still Want to Conduct Insider Trading

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AIG and you
Payday ATM Cash

Even though this bill passed the Senate, despite the obstructionism of Oklahoma’s troll, Tom Coburn, you have to wonder why these Senators voted against (or abstained) the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act)

“Members of Congress and their staffers have the duty to the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor today. “They may not use privileged information they get on the job to personally profit, but the perception remains that a few members of Congress are using their positions as public servants to serve themselves instead… The STOCK Act will clear up any perception that it’s acceptable for members of Congress to profit from insider trading.”

Senators Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., voted against the motion. Five senators did not vote: Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

(click here to continue reading STOCK Act advances in the Senate – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.)

Well, at least Mark Kirk had an excuse. The rest of these jokers better prepare for an opposition ad to point out their position on enriching themselves while conducting the people’s business.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 2nd, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

GOP’s Payroll Tax Fiasco

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Nickles Not Pickles
Nickles Not Pickles

Wow, when even the notoriously extreme right-wingers who run the Wall Street editorial pages are annoyed with John Boehner’s Tea Party led revolt against the Republican members in the Senate, the GOP must really be in trouble. Pass me the popcorn!1

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.

The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.

Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.

(click here to continue reading Review & Outlook: The GOP’s Payroll Tax Fiasco – WSJ.com.)

All Yesterday's Parties
All Yesterday’s Parties

except for the part where the WSJ is wrong:

A mostly irrelevant side note to the Wall Street Journal op-ed everyone’s talking about is that they don’t seem to know what policy they’re talking about.

“House Republicans yesterday voted down the Senate’s two-month extension of the two-percentage-point payroll tax holiday to 4.2% from 6.2%,” the editors wrote. “They say the short extension makes no economic sense, but then neither does a one-year extension. No employer is going to hire a worker based on such a small and temporary decrease in employment costs, as this year’s tax holiday has demonstrated.”

They seem to have their payroll tax cuts mixed up. The two percent holiday that’s been in effect for the past year, and the extension Congress is fighting about right now, are both to employees’ share of the Social Security FICA tax. The theory behind the policy is that by increasing worker take-home pay, the cut provides suffering consumers with additional purchasing power, and thus stimulates demand, which is exactly what this sluggish economy needs.

Earlier in the year, President Obama proposed broadening this tax cut to include the employer share of the Social Security FICA tax. That policy operates on the theory that reducing cost-per-employee will create the incentive for job creation. It’s a weaker theory — a lot of big employers are already sitting on a bunch of cash, but aren’t hiring because they don’t have enough customers (see above about demand). But this is what the Wall Street Journal’s editors seem to think has been going on all year — and they’re completely wrong.

(click here to continue reading Sidebar: Blistering Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Gets Payroll Tax Cut Wrong | TPMDC.)

Footnotes:
  1. as the cliché goes []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 21st, 2011 at 9:07 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

GOP Whining as Voters Resist Medicare Destruction

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I Would Not Feel So Alone

Queue the Nelson Muntz laugh 1. Looks like Senator Reid is finally scheduling the Senate vote on Paul Ryan’s Destroy Medicare To Give Tax Breaks to Oil Corporations Bill. Perfect timing since the topic is getting a lot of news coverage.

When they proposed just last month to overhaul Medicare, House Republicans were confident that the wind of budget politics was at their backs and that the country’s looming fiscal problems provided justification to begin reshaping the increasingly costly social welfare system. Blogs

But the last six weeks have left Republicans pointed into a stiff headwind. With polls and angry town hall meetings suggesting that many voters were wary if not opposed to the Medicare overhaul, party unity and optimism gave way to a slow-motion backtracking in the House and, in the Senate and on the presidential campaign trail, a bit of a Republican-on-Republican rumpus.

Even before the Republican loss Tuesday night in the race for a vacant House seat from New York — a contest fought in large part over the Medicare proposal — Democrats were clinging to the developments like koalas to eucalyptus trees, hoping that the plan’s toxicity among many voters would give them a shot at retaining control of the Senate and, in their most vivid dreams, taking back the House majority.

Eager to press their advantage, Senate Democrats will stage a vote on the Medicare plan as soon as Wednesday, forcing Senate Republicans into a yes-or-no choice that both sides know will become the basis of countless campaign commercials over the next year and a half.

 

Republicans have asked to have alternatives budgets also come up for an initial vote. Those alternatives include a plan crafted by Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania that contains many of the same cuts as Mr. Ryan’s plans but leaves Medicare out of the picture, and another by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, which includes a vast elimination of government services.

The Republicans would also like to write a bill reflecting Mr. Obama’s initial 2012 budget, which became an albatross for his party because it did not cut spending. However, because the Ryan plan already passed the House, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, could send the Ryan plan for votes alone, without bringing up other budget bills.

 

(click here to continue reading G.O.P. on the Defensive as Voters Resist Medicare Plan – NYTimes.com.)

Bag o shallots

According to TPM, the long planned vote is scheduled for this afternoon. Soon the GOP will be crying their crocodile tears on all the Sunday morning talk shows…

But we’re hearing that Sen. Reid will likely call a vote this afternoon on the Ryan Medicare Phase Out plan. In a press briefing a short time ago, Sen. Reid (D) said that the vote could come as early as 5 PM. And his office tells our Brian Beutler that the vote is “very likely” to happen as scheduled.

Late Update: And it’s confirmed. Vote will be held at 5 PM along with votes on Obama, Toomey and Paul budgets.

 

(click here to continue reading Senate to Vote on Ryan Plan | Talking Points Memo.)

Footnotes:
  1. you know, the kid from the Simpsons []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 25th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Harry Reid says he will schedule vote on Ryan’s Republican budget plan

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Veridis Quo

Wow, seems as if Senator Harry Reid might be doing something smart, for once.

Sam Stein has it from the horse’s mouth:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Wednesday that he would host a vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget as a means of forcing moderate GOP senators to weigh in on the legislation’s controversial proposals. He did not provide a specific date for when that vote will take place. “There will be an opportunity in the Senate to vote on the Ryan budget to see if Republican senators like the Ryan budget as much as the House did,” Reid said on a conference call with reporters. “Without going into the Ryan budget we will see how much the Republicans like it here in the Senate.”

…This is really great news. First off, it’s simply great politics—it utterly puts the screws to the GOP. …

By forcing a roll call, this will put the GOP on record for years to come about their views on Medicare. And many Republican senators are caught between a rock and a hard place: Vote for it, and you invite a permanent barrage of ready-made attack ads; vote against it, and you risk getting teabagged to death. Olympia Snowe, for instance, already faces that conundrum, but this vote has the power to affect many more senators well past 2012.

And if Reid really wants emphasize the “hard” in hardball, he’ll schedule the vote after Nevada Rep. Dean Heller get elevated to the Senate by Gov. Brian Sandoval in a week or so. That would force Heller to be the one guy to vote for Ryan’s Republican budget twice—or wind up voting for it before he voted against it. Somehow I feel that neither of these is a winning move… which means that for us, putting this to a vote most certainly is.

 

(click here to continue reading Daily Kos: Harry Reid says he will schedule vote on Ryan’s Republican budget plan.)

This vote is smart for the Dems – especially because in 2008/2010 election cycles, many Republicans ran a fear mongering campaign directed at seniors, with the message being that Medicaid/Medicare was in danger, and only by voting Republican would it be saved from the meddling Dems. Ooopsie…

Written by Seth Anderson

April 27th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Army Denies Doing What It Has Always Done

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Angry Waters

The Army spokes-liar for William Caldwell says the facts reported by Michael Hastings are not true, and proves it by assertion. Or actually, doesn’t prove it at all, just denies the evidence, and the New York Times dutifully reports it. Were you surprised? I wasn’t. Notice also Michael Hastings’ article isn’t linked to in this story: you aren’t supposed to read it and make up your own mind.

The spokesman for a three-star general accused of instructing troops to carry out “psychological operations” to sway visiting members of Congress said Saturday that the general was innocent of any wrongdoing.

Lt. Col. Shawn Stroud, communications director for NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, sent out a personal e-mail to friends and colleagues to “categorically deny the assertion” that the commander, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, or his officers “used an Information Operations cell to influence distinguished visitors.”

Rolling Stone magazine reported Thursday that General Caldwell or his senior aides improperly ordered a team of specialists to gather information about Congressional delegations to persuade them to endorse the allocation of more money and troops for the training effort.

“The evidence provided in the Rolling Stone article is misleading at best and outright false in many places,” Colonel Stroud wrote in the e-mail, which was labeled as a personal note and not an official news release. A copy of the e-mail was provided to The New York Times.

(click here to continue reading Officer Says General Didn’t Try to Sway Visiting Congress Members – NYTimes.com.)

and the NYT legal department must have gotten a phone call:

Correction: February 26, 2011

An earlier version of this article included a headline that misstated the status of the investigation of Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV. It is still ongoing, and he has not been cleared.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 26th, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with , ,

New Momentum For 9/11 Health Bill

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Freedom Isn't Free

One objection the Rethuglicans have to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is of funding. Faux deficit hawks like Tom Coburn want the costs of the bill to be paid for by reducing a social service, or gutting EPA, or something along those lines. Senators Gillibrand and Schumer proposed instead:

Summary of New Offsets for 9-11 Health Care Act (HR 847) In the substitute amendment planned for HR 847, three offsets will replace the House-passed bill’s “treaty swapping” provision. The offsets, described below, contain no new taxes or fees on the American taxpayers or American businesses. Furthermore, the substitute amendment is estimated to reduce the deficit by $57 million over 10 years.

1. Savings Generated by Reducing Future U.S. Government Procurement Payments by 2 Percent to Companies Located in non-GPA countries ($4.59 billion over 10 years) Every year, the United States spends between $35 billion to $40 billion per year on procurement of goods and services from foreign manufacturers and companies located abroad in countries that are not members of the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) instead of from American companies.

The 9/11 rescue worker bill would impose a 2 percent excise fee on foreign manufacturers/companies located in non-GPA countries receiving government disbursements made pursuant to future procurement agreements. This proposal would both legally and practically operate to prohibit companies from raising their prices to offset the new fee. Imposing this new fee will create short-term and long-term savings. In the short term, savings will materialize from competitive foreign contracts as companies offering substitute products and substitute processes will agree to digest all or some portion of the 2 percent fee decrease to attract/maintain lucrative U.S. procurement business. In the long term, foreign countries will be incentivized to sign the GPA and the U.S. will be incentivized to look to domestic sources to fill procurement needs.

Even though the cost of procurement to the U.S. Government might initially increase when we purchase U.S. goods and services, net revenues to the government will increase when U.S. employees and U.S. companies pay taxes on the procurement contracts they receive (as opposed to foreign companies and employees receiving these contracts who pay less/no taxes).

2. Continuation of H-1B and L-1 Visa Fee for Outsourcing Companies ($800 million over 10 years) As part of the Emergency Border Security Appropriations Act of 2010, which passed the Senate unanimously in August 2010, fees were raised on H-1B and L-1 visas for companies who have more than 50 percent of their employees on these visas (this affects outsourcing companies such as: Wipro, Tata, Infosys, Satyam—but does not affect American companies such as: Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, Apple, etc). This fee was set to expire on September 30, 2014. This bill will extend this fee until September 30, 2021 to continue leveling the playing field between companies that follow the Congressional intent behind these visa programs and companies that use these visas to outsource American jobs.

3. Continuation of Travel Promotion Fee ($1 billion over 10 years) The Travel Promotion Act, which passed the Senate 78-18 in 2010, placed a small travel promotion act fee on certain travelers to the United States that was set to expire in 2015. This fee will simply be extended until 2021 and sunsets at that point.

(click to continue reading Gillibrand, Schumer: New Momentum For 9/11 Health Bill | WKBW News 7: News, Sports, Weather | Buffalo, NY | Local.)

Senator Coburn (R-Lunatic) is having none of that:

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will not allow a proposal that would cover health-care costs for Ground Zero workers to go through the Senate before Christmas, a Coburn aide told Washington Wire this morning.

Mr. Coburn wants the package to be funded through spending cuts, the aide said. He and others in his party have questioned whether the money would overlap with workers’ compensation and other aid provided to Sept. 11 first responders. Mr. Coburn told Politico he wants the measure to work its way through committee rather than being fast-tracked, which would make it tough for senators to finish their work in the next few days.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 21st, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Russ Feingold Loss is a Loss for All of Us

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Watching - Polapan

More on why Russ Feingold losing his seat to a Tea Party Know Nothing is a travesty…

Civil liberties advocates lost a Senate stalwart Tuesday night when Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) was defeated by Ron Johnson, a little-known plastics manufacturer whose shibboleths against health care reform and government spending tapped into populist anger.

For years, Feingold was one of the few — and sometimes the only — voice in the Senate skeptical of the government’s increasing demands for domestic surveillance power and control of the internet. He was one of 16 Senators who voted against the Communications Decency Act of 1996, an internet censorship bill later struck down by the Supreme Court, was the only Senator in 2001 to vote against the USA Patriot Act, and he introduced a measure to censure President Bush for his illegal warrantless wiretapping program.

“Senator Feingold was a true champion of civil liberties,” said Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, based in Washington, D.C. “He spoke out against the Patriot Act and the dramatic growth of government surveillance programs when many other Senators stood by silently. His voice and his commitment to the Constitutional rights of all Americans will be missed.”

In 1997, before many Americans were online, Feingold set out to repeal the CDA, which criminalized sending “indecent materials” to minors on the net, even before the Supreme Court heard the case.

“One can be a speaker, a publisher and a listener using the internet,” Feingold said, years before the term Web 2.0 became trendy. “The threat of the Communications Decency Act is its undeniable ability to stifle this free-flowing speech on the Net.”

Feingold was a maverick in his own party, strongly opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and voting against the TARP bank bailouts. Unlike many Democrats, however, he embraced his vote on health care reform, saying there was nothing wrong with helping to get the uninsured health care.

(click to continue reading Civil Liberties Watchdog Feingold Loses Senate Seat | Threat Level | Wired.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 3rd, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Mark Kirk Is a Serial Liar

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Wonder if the Illinois Republican party wishes they could run the primary again? Nearly every thing Mark Kirk claims turns out to be a lie, which means more media scrutiny, and seemingly never ending embarrassments. Maybe Jack Ryan could take a few days off of his busy sex club schedule, and join in the race?

V O T E

CHICAGO — A leader of the church in upstate New York where Representative Mark S. Kirk of Illinois claimed he worked as a nursery school teacher said on Friday that he had overstated his role there.

The leader, Sally Grubb, a member of the administrative council at Forest Home Chapel, said Mr. Kirk, a Republican candidate for the United States Senate, had a limited role as a student while working part-time in a work-study program at Cornell University.

“He was never, ever considered a teacher,” Ms. Grubb said in a phone interview after spending two days researching the history of Mr. Kirk’s association with the nursery school. “He was just an additional pair of hands to help a primary teaching person.”

The Methodist church in Ithaca, N.Y., has been trying to determine whether Mr. Kirk worked there after The New York Times reported on Thursday about the brevity of Mr. Kirk’s teaching experience. Eight longtime members of the church, including two former pastors, said in interviews this week that they did not recall having a male nursery school teacher in 1981, when Mr. Kirk said he had worked there.

“I don’t remember any men who worked there,” said Thomas V. Wolfe, a former pastor at the church, who is now the dean of student affairs at Syracuse University. “It was a team of women. I used to go over every morning and have coffee with them. I don’t remember him.”

(click to continue reading School Says Representative Kirk Never Taught There – NYTimes.com.)

Why would Mark Kirk lie about something so minor like whether he taught in a nursery school or not? There is something very wrong with his brain, which means he’ll probably become fast friends with Joe Barton and his ilk.

Written by Seth Anderson

June 18th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Hypocrisy: A Parliamentary Procedure Oft Used

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When even Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute is calling out Republican bs for the hypocrisy it is…

Our Lady of the Green

Any veteran observer of Congress is used to the rampant hypocrisy over the use of parliamentary procedures that shifts totally from one side to the other as a majority moves to minority status, and vice versa. But I can’t recall a level of feigned indignation nearly as great as what we are seeing now from congressional Republicans and their acolytes at the Wall Street Journal, and on blogs, talk radio, and cable news. It reached a ridiculous level of misinformation and disinformation over the use of reconciliation, and now threatens to top that level over the projected use of a self-executing rule by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In the last Congress that Republicans controlled, from 2005 to 2006, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier used the self-executing rule more than 35 times, and was no stranger to the concept of “deem and pass.” That strategy, then decried by the House Democrats who are now using it, and now being called unconstitutional by WSJ editorialists, was defended by House Republicans in court (and upheld). Dreier used it for a $40 billion deficit reduction package so that his fellow GOPers could avoid an embarrassing vote on immigration. I don’t like self-executing rules by either party—I prefer the “regular order”—so I am not going to say this is a great idea by the Democrats. But even so—is there no shame anymore?

[Click to continue reading Hypocrisy: A Parliamentary Procedure « The Enterprise Blog]

Amazing really, and if you have the stomach, see how often the Republican talking point is repeated in the next few weeks. I’d wager it will be repeated numerous times, even by the so-called “straight” media organizations1.

Footnotes:
  1. not Fox News, in other words []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2010 at 7:55 pm

David Brooks Caught in a Lie Again

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You would think the fact checkers of The New York Times would stop liars like David Brooks from publishing factually erroneous columns that embarrass the NYT brand. Apparently not. Differing opinions is one thing, but out and out lies?

Mr Rabbit

Ezra Klein writes:

The factual statements Brooks uses in his argument are wrong. Not arguable, or questionable, or suspicious. Wrong. And since everything else flows from those wrong facts, the rest of the column can’t be taken seriously.

“Reconciliation has been used with increasing frequency,” writes Brooks. “That was bad enough. But at least for the Bush tax cuts or the prescription drug bill, there was significant bipartisan support.” The outcome of letting reconciliation go from rare and bipartisan to common and partisan is that we will go from a Senate where “people are usually pretty decent to one another” to a Senate that “bleaches out normal behavior and the normal instincts of human sympathy.”

Chilling stuff, huh?

But none of Brooks’s evidence is true. Literally none of it. The budget reconciliation process was used six times between 1980 and 1989. It was used four times between 1990 and 1999. It was used five times between 2000 and 2009. And it has been used zero times since 2010. Peak reconciliation use, in other words, was in the ’80s, not the Aughts. The data aren’t hard to find. They were published on Brooks’s own op-ed page.

Nor has reconciliation been limited to bills with “significant bipartisan support.” To use Brooks’s example of the tax cuts, the 2003 tax cuts passed the Senate 50-50, with Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote. Two Democrats joined with the Republicans in that effort. Georgia’s Zell Miller, who would endorse George W. Bush in 2004 and effectively leave the Democratic Party, and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson. So I’d say that’s one Democrat. One Democrat alongside 49 Republicans. That’s not significant bipartisan support.

[Click to continue reading Ezra Klein – Everything David Brooks says about reconciliation is wrong ]

Mr. Klein continues on this vein, with examples and proof and EVERYTHING. You should click the link.

I’m quite curious as to how the editors of the NYT will handle this gaffe. Will there be a correction in tomorrow’s paper? An appended comment to the Op-Ed? or will they just ignore the egg on their faces?

A Little to the Left

Jonathan Chait adds at The New Republic:

Oh, the humanity!

So using a majority vote procedure to pass legislation that the minority party has used strict partisan discipline into whipping its members into opposing is fundamentally about denying the humanity of the Other. It is a sad thing, and both parties sadly share some blame, but on the matter before us, the Republicans are in fact correct.

In reality, Brooks’ conclusion is absurd. Does he really think that passing changes to the health care bill through reconciliation will materially effect how parties act in the future? He believes that the next Republican administration with more than 50 but fewer than 60 Senators would decline to pass a tax cut through reconciliation, but will now do so because the Democrats did it? I doubt even Karl Rove could say this with a straight face.

In any case, we don’t have to guess about the future. We can look to precedent. Bill Clinton passed the signature domestic achievement of his presidency, the 1993 deficit reduction bill, through reconciliation with zero Republican votes. Sadly, Brooks was not there to explain how this denied the Republicans’ humanity. In 2001, George W. Bush did get some Democrats to support his tax cut, most of them after it was a fait accompli. Why did he go through reconciliation, rather than regular order? It certainly had costs — he had to sunset the whole thing after ten years. He did it because he didn’t want to make the compromises he would have needed to get 60 votes. And if you think he would have given up the tax cut if a handful of Democrats hadn’t jumped aboard, you’re delusional.

[Click to continue reading David Brooks At His David Brooksiest | The New Republic]

If you want a laugh, you can read David Brooks for yourself

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

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