WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would “automatically” punish family members of people who violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, levying sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
The provision was introduced as an amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, which lays out strong penalties for people who violate human rights, engage in censorship, or commit other abuses associated with the Iranian government.
Cotton also seeks to punish any family member of those people, “to include a spouse and any relative to the third degree,” including, “parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids,” Cotton said.
It really happened. Today. No kidding.
Federal assistance to Oklahoma? Duane notes that its two Senators (Inhofe and Coburn) aren’t too sure about that Federal funding stuff in theory. They didn’t want to step in after Sandy and they’re always trying to defund FEMA. But here’s what Inhofe had to say this morning on the teevee:
JANSING: You know there were a number of people along the East Coast who weren’t happy about your vote on Hurricane Sandy . . . you said the request for funding was a “slush fund.” . . . is there money to help the people here in your home state rebuild?
INHOFE: Well, let’s look at that. That was totally different . . .
Yup. Totally different. I get that.
What Inhofe and Coburn don’t seem to grasp – well, here, Duane says it best:
Yet despite the efforts of Inhofe and Coburn, the FEMA trucks will show up in Oklahoma throughout today and beyond. Those trucks are representatives of the American people, most of whom live far, far away from Moore.
Let me repeat that: Those trucks are representatives of the American people.
We can, however, take some comfort that both of the esteemed Senators, while not crazy about that food and rescue equipment part, did ask for prayers.
You may know that Duane lives in Joplin MO and two years ago a tornado devastated Joplin; 161 people died. His post a few days later is one I’ve never forgotten and it still touches me. Read it. That’s probably pretty close to what they’re feeling in Moore OK about now. It begins:
Sunday evening, before the onset of the cruel aftershocks that continue to pummel our devastated city with remorseless storms and rescue-impeding rains, my youngest son and I undertook a journey to a destination he—a high school student and baseball player—seemed desperate to see.
He wanted to go to his school.
Read the rest.
Posted in Blogsphere, broken government, Civics, Congress critters, Government, irony, Politics, taxes
Tagged Civics, congress, FEMA, government, Jim Inhofe, Joplin tornado, Moore OK, Oklahoma, Politics, Tom Coburn, tornados, weather
The chief (singularly cheerless) cheerleader - after FOX News of course - of the Benghazi non-scandal, Rep. Darryl Issa, chair of the House Oversight Committee, has a working thesis: ”scandals, scandals, it’s all scandals, and cover ups too!”. Having still failed to uncover any actual wrong-doing, he’s now subpoenaed Ambassador Thomas Pickering to testify about why Pickering didn’t interview Hillary Clinton for his investigation (the official one).
Pickering has said before that he would testify before Issa’s panel about last year’s Accountability Review Board report on the attack . . . Pickering and Mullen [Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pickering's co-chair] have refused, however, to submit to a transcribed interview with Issa and his staff, calling the closed-door proceeding an “inappropriate precondition” to their testimony.
“Your refusal to allow staff investigators to interview you is inconsistent with your commitment to be ‘tough and transparent’,” Issa wrote to Pickering. “In light of your continuing refusal to appear voluntarily for a transcribed interview … I have found it necessary to issue a subpoena to compel your appearance at a deposition.”
Lovely. Rep. Elijah Cummings put it clearly:
. . . the Chairman is now accusing Admiral Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Ambassador Pickering, a seven-time U.S. ambassador, of being complicit in a cover-up.”
Issa did not subpoena Mullen.
Charles Pierce at Esquire tells us today that Wall Street Journal columnist and TV pundit, Peggy of the Noonans, thinks Obama was rude to Dubayew Thursday down at that library opening. She scolds:
He veered into current policy disputes, using Mr. Bush’s failed comprehensive immigration reform to buttress his own effort. That was manipulative, graceless and typical.
Here’s what the fake President said, what Noonan described as ‘graceless’:
Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year, with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today, that we bring it home – for our families, and our economy, and our security, and for this incredible country that we love. And if we do that, it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush.
And there was this:
Back to the point. What was nice was that all of them-the Bush family, the Carters and Clintons-seemed like the old days. “The way we were.” They were full of endurance, stamina, effort. Also flaws, frailty, mess. But they weren’t . . . creepy.
PIERCE: Back when the Clintons actually were in the White House, Peggy Noonan called the First Lady at the time, among other things, “a highly credentialed rube,” a “person who never ponders what is right,” and “a squat and grasping woman.” But not creepy, not like the current First Family.
(Psst, Peg doesn’t like the Kenyan much. And as she’s speaking here in family plurals – FLOTUS and the daughters? Also creepy. )
Posted in George Bush, immigration, Media, Obama, Politics
Tagged Bush, Bush Presidential library, congress, immigration reform, Media, Obama, Peggy Noonan, Politics
Maureen Dowd, who often makes my teeth hurt as much as Wolfe Blitzer, gets it exactly right today. The gun purchase background check legislation should have passed the Senate and could have passed the Senate, if it had just a little push from the Oval Office.
How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system . . . It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him . . .
President Obama thinks he can use emotion to bring pressure on Congress. But that’s not how adults with power respond to things. . . .
The president was oblivious to red-state Democrats facing tough elections. Bring the Alaskan Democrat Mark Begich to the White House residence, hand him a drink, and say, “How can we make this a bill you can vote for and defend?”
Sometimes you must leave the high road and fetch your brass knuckles. Obama should have called Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota over to the Oval Office and put on the squeeze: “Heidi, you’re brand new and you’re going to have a long career. You work with us, we’ll work with you. Public opinion is moving fast on this issue. The reason you get a six-year term is so you can have the guts to make tough votes. This is a totally defensible bill back home . . . ”
. . . Obama should have pressed his buddy [Sen Tom Coburn]: “Hey, Tom, just this once, why don’t you do more than just talk about making an agreement with the Democrats? You’re not running again. Do something big.”
This is where Obama fails. He needs to remind himself that he is “the most powerful man in the world” and then he needs to get his hands dirty.
See, there is justice.
Step aside Michelle Bachmann, there’s a new piece of low hanging fruit in town.
It seems Obama recently said “Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” when he was asked if he’d ever fired a gun.
Oh yeah? A statement like that calls for serious congressional attention because it’s an important matter and we can’t just take the word of the President of the United States. Because it’s too important.
Meet Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn:
“If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos? Why hasn’t he referenced this at any point in time?” Blackburn said Monday on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
H/T to Susie for this.
Dear House GOP:
You may have noticed that America doesn’t like you anymore. And America now expects the worst from you.
I have an idea how you can change that – pass the debt ceiling increase quickly, without a lot of drama. You’ll leave the punditocracy speechless.
Ehhh, they’ll never do it.
UPDATE 1/19: Yikes, they did do it! Yesterday. For three months. And I’m guessing when it comes back in 90 days, they’ll pass it if the spotlight can be turned elsewhere.
Well whoop-dee-do . . . your congress critters managed to pass something or other tonight.
Then a few minutes ago the Prez made some remarks in the Press Room. And he was good. Really good. The comments were organized, to the point and there were no wasted words. More of that please!
It’s a little known fact that the Office of the Speaker issues a memo every Monday morning assigning specific tie colors - by day, by staffer - so that there is no duplication of the under-the-chin-pastels. It’s working quite well.
Until now, US Rep Darryl Issa been merely been a stupid congress critter. An irritation. Until now:
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa(R-CA) compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government and placed their lives in danger when he released reams of State Department communications Friday, according to Obama administration officials.
Issa posted 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications related to Libya on the committee’s website afternoon as part of his effort to investigate security failures and expose contradictions in the administration’s statements regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi . . .
. . . But Issa didn’t bother to redact the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.
Troll caution: Assange/Issa not equivalent. Assange not a US Congressman.
This is my favorite part:
[Foreign Policy Magazine] pointed out that even WikiLeaks had approached the State Department and offered to negotiate retractions of sensitive information before releasing their cables. [Committee Spokesman Frederick] Hill confirmed that Issa did not grant the State Department that opportunity but said it was the State Department’s fault for not releasing the documents when they were first requested.
I just got an email campaign ad from Rep. Todd Aiken. I was thrilled because I’d been afraid he would never call, never write.
Here’s some of it. Check out the language:
For too long, the Party Bosses – the same ones that left Todd Akin for dead politicially — have come to you hat in hand for your support. They ask for your money, your time, and your energy.
They raise money from pro-life supporters like you and me, but they then turn around and give it to people like Scott Brown, but not Todd Akin. Enough is enough!
Like Mike Huckabee said: “If they don’t want us, then they don’t need us.”
Mike and Janet Huckabee have donated the maximum to Todd Akin because they know that Todd won’t just talk the talk, he will walk the walk.
Todd Akin doesn’t shy away from what he believes in. He will STAND UP for life, regardless of the political consequences. Won’t you consider helping Todd stand for life?
If you want a candidate who says “NO” to the corrupt Party Bosses and “YES” to life, support Todd Akin today!
I’m a day late with this, but now that I’ve seen it, it must be shared! Here’s a Labor Day thought from a leading light in the Republican leadership of the Congress of the United States.
As for the little people – you know, the ones who did things like build the Hoover Dam and the Brooklyn Bridge and the ones who died fighting for the eight-hour day – those people? La.zy.
Posted in Civics, Congress critters, History, Holidays, labor, Politics
Tagged congress, Eric Cantor tweets, history, labor, labor day, Politics
The Pledge of Allegiance, the one we all recited as school children (although mine most assuredly did not include under God* in the early grades) and still do at public events, was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. It started out as part of a marketing plan to offer flags to schools that subscribed to The Youth’s Companion, but quickly became a sincere patriotic effort. We all know how successful it was.
And Mr. Bellamy? Well.
Bellamy was a Christian Socialist who “championed ‘the rights of working people and the equal distribution of economic resources, which he believed was inherent in the teachings of Jesus.’” In 1891, Bellamy was forced from his Boston pulpit for his socialist sermons, and eventually stopped attending church altogether after moving to Florida, reportedly because of the racism he witnessed there.
* The words Under God were added in 1954 to protect us from godless Communism – by our feckless Congress Critters who, in matters sacred (like American uteri), were just as vigilant then as they are now.
(h/t Crazycrawfish for the info.)
VOTER ID: I have absolutely no problem with voter ID. My problem is with 1) making it difficult, and 2) rushing it. Voter ID? Not a bad idea. The way they’re doing it? That’s suppression.
NEW STUPID GOP MEME: “In 1962, six percent of Americans got federal entitlements. Now, it’s 35 percent.” Clever. Of course 1962 was before there was Medicare.
CYNICAL MUCH?: Our Congress Critters have made clear once again that they are incapable of acting, even to save the nation from the bullet they themselves aimed directly at 320 million Americans - the one that requires automatic spending cuts of $900 billion in January 2013. So, diversion is called for. Time for a shiny new thing. What to do? Why, pass a new bill, The Sequestration Transparency Act. A Nebraska newspaper describes it thusly: “having proven incapable . . . they now indignantly demand to know how the President plans to cut spending.” Not them, the President. Neat.
Posted in 2012 Elections, broken government, Civics, Congress critters, economy, elections, Government, Medicare, Politics, Random thoughts
Tagged broken government, congress, economy, Government spending, Medicare, Sequestration, US budget, voter ID, voter suppression, welfare
From The Hill just now . . . someone should take this gentleman into a quiet corner and calm him down. Maybe give him some milk and cookies.
Report: Rep. Steve King mulling bill to repeal everything Obama has signed
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an outspoken critic of just about everything President Obama supports, is considering introducing a bill that would repeal everything Obama has signed into law.
Posted in 2012 Elections, broken government, Congress critters, Meet the 112th!, Obama, partisanship, Politics
Tagged broken government, congress, elections, Obama, Politics, Rep. Steve King
First, RIP Gore Vidal, perhaps the last of this country’s ‘public intellectuals’: where are the likes of Buckley, Hitchens, Vidal? A brilliant mind, a brilliant wit, painfully honest and deeply patriotic – and a wonderful writer.
Here’s Michelle Bachmann today telling her Gore Vidal story:
“It’s very interesting because I had been a Democrats — and I’d actually worked on Jimmy Carter’s campaign. And I was reading a novel by Gore Vidal, and when I was reading it he was mocking the Founding Fathers. And all of a sudden it just occurred to me: I set the book down on my lap, I looked out the window of a train I was riding in, and I thought to myself, ‘I don’t think I’m a Democrat. I think I really am a Republican.’ Because the Founding Fathers were not the characters that I saw Gore Vidal portraying in his novel.”
For the good Congresswoman, that apparently passes for actual reasoning.
Posted in books, Civics, Congress critters, Media, Politics, RIP, Tea Party
Tagged congress, Gore Vidal, Michelle Bachmann, news, Politics
Stand back McCarthy! (and where are Walsh and Wilson?)
John McCain is still that old guy down the street who yells at you. He is still the guy who was willing to risk this country in Sarah Palin’s hands. And he is too enamored of war for my comfort.
Another thing John McCain is? He is one damn stand-up guy.
What’s remarkable about this is that it is remarkable. Where were his colleagues? Who else spoke as forcibly? And publicly? Good on him. (video posted thanks to Orhan who once again came to the rescue.)
Posted in Civics, Congress critters, Government, Meet the 112th!, Politics, racism, religion, Tea Party, terrorism
Tagged Bachman, Civics, congress, Goemert, Huma Abedin, John McCain, McCarthyism, Politics, slander
What is it with these Republican men? They’re at it again in Congress because apparently contraception is still the enemy of freedom.
A Letter to the Editor in my paper a few weeks ago provided a nice list of religious beliefs and rules that are ignored, indeed violated, by civil law:
- The Catholic ban on divorce
- Muslim and Jewish laws about women and children
- Buddhist and HIndu prohibitions against killing animals
- Capital punishment
- Quakers and conscientious objectors pay taxes that finance wars
- Christian Scientist pay taxes to support medical care they abjure.
Posted in abortion, broken government, Congress critters, feminism, health care, Politics, religion
Tagged congress, contraception, government, health care, Politics, religion
This, from Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog at The Washington Post today:
14 Reasons why this is the worst Congress ever
And he lays them out, clearly, with graphics and – in spite of his blogname - in a non-wonky way, focusing on comparisons between this 112th Congress and previous.
He starts with this week’s 33rd vote in the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act:
Holding that vote once makes sense. Republicans had promised that much during the 2010 campaign. But 33 times? If doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result makes you insane, what does doing the same thing 33 times and expecting a different result make you?
Well, it makes you the 112th Congress.
Notwithstanding Mark Twain’s famous quip, Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress . . . but I repeat myself, these ladies and gentlemen – well, not so many ladies – are, indeed, The. Worst. Congress. Ever.
Posted in broken government, Congress critters, Government, History, Meet the 112th!, Politics
Tagged 112th Congress, ACA, congress, Ezra Klein, government, history of US Congress, Obamacare, Politics
Sen. James Inhofe, R-climate denier-OK, has long been one of the most puzzling members of that once august body. He regularly refuses to accept any ‘facts’ that interfere wtih his cherished opinions. In yesterday’s Senate hearing on the Law of the Sea Treaty (to which I listened, did I mention that?), he was almost a stereotype of himself, sputtering at Rumsfeld’s suggestion that a warming planet means we need new treaty agreements between nations – because, you know, Rush says . . .
Not Inhofe. Inhofe is not cute. This old dear is.
But I didn’t know about this – bet you didn’t either:
On October 21, 2010, at the age of 75, Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives. In a recorded telephone call, the men’s supervisor told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that Inhofe “scared the crap out of” workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a truck. And the airport manager, also speaking to the FAA in a recorded telephone call, opined, “I’ve got over 50 years flying, three tours of Vietnam, and I can assure you I have never seen such a reckless disregard for human life in my life. Something needs to be done. This guy is famous for these violations.”
In response to the incident, Inhofe stated that he “did nothing wrong”, and accused the FAA of “agency overreach” and causing a “feeling of desperation” in him. He agreed to take a remedial training program, and the FAA agreed not to pursue legal action against him if he took the program. In July 2011, Inhofe introduced a bill to create a “Pilot’s Bill of Rights”which he said would increase fairness in FAA enforcement actions.
The Sunlight Foundation has published a (seriously wonky) report that measures the grade levels at which our congress critters speak. Their study covers 1996 to this 112th Congress, in both the House and Senate. It’s getting a bit of notice around the buhlogospheric-system and deservedly so. Fascinating stuff.
They say that congressional speech has dropped a full grade level in that period, with Tea Party freshman accounting for much of the most recent decline. (Which Senator speaks at the lowest grade level? Can you guess? Rand Paul bitches!)
The whole thing is here and there are a few interesting sidebars on their blog as well. I don’t think it’s at all clear from the study (I did say it’s wonky) if the change has any significant effect on clarity or successful communication, which after all, is the point of language. But even if utility is unaffected . . .
This grabbed my attention.
Today’s Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level, the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level, and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. . . .
Posted in Blogsphere, Congress critters, education, Government, History, language, Meet the 112th!, Politics, Tea Party
Tagged congress, education, language, literacy, Politics, tea party
Terrific post yesterday about the banks and our Congress at The Erstwhile Conservative. Duane over there does – as I told him – the ‘heavy lifting’ while I occupy myself with Maru and oldies.
He points us to a warning from Sen. Byron Dorgan [ALERT: NY Times link] in 1999 about the dangers of repealing the Glass-Steagal Act, but they did it. They:
[Duane] . . . passed the Financial Services Modernization Act, which finally allowed commercial and investment banks and securities and insurance companies to stop slyly shacking up with each other and unite in unholy but legal matrimony.
[Dorgan in 1999] I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930′s is true in 2010…We have now decided in the name of modernization to forget the lessons of the past, of safety and of soundness.
Duane quotes two more Democratic Senators:
[Sen. Bernie Sanders today] Let me just say again what many people will not be happy to hear. Wall Street is extraordinarily powerful. Congress doesn’t regulate them, the big banks regulate what Congress does.
[Sen. Dick Durbin three years ago]…hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place
Let me, Moe, add another quote, a more recent one, from Bush 43′s speechwriter, David Frum:
Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Wall Street Journal editorial page between 2000 and 2011, and someone in the same period who read only the collected columns of Paul Krugman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of the current economic crisis? The answer, I think, should give us pause. [Note from Moe: Krugman warned constantly about repealing Glass-Steagel; the WSJ supported it.]
Posted in broken government, Congress critters, corporate power, economy, History, Occupy Wall Street, Plutocrats, Politics
Tagged banking lobby, Bernie Saders, Byron Dorgan, congress, David Frum, Dick Durbin, economy, Glass-Steagal Act, Paul Krugman, Politics, Wall Street
(Apologies to someone – I grabbed this Daily Kos link from a blogfriend and have now lost track. So whoever put this up before me, thanks. Nice catch.)
Sen Mitch McConnell now:
“The president crossed a dangerous line this week,” read McConnell’s prepared remarks. “And anyone who cares about liberty needs to call him out on it. The independence of the court must be defended.” [...]
So, some ‘reporters’ decided to visit the way back machine to see just where this ‘line’ not to be crossed falls.
Candidate Ronald Reagan then:
… campaigning in Birmingham, Ala., Thursday, Reagan blasted the court’s most recent abortion ruling as “an abuse of power as bad as the transgression of Watergate and the bribery on Capitol Hill.” …
Reagan administration then:
Attorney General William French Smith accused the federal courts of “constitutionally dubious and unwise intrusions upon the legislative domain,” and vowed to oppose such “subjective judicial policymaking.” [...]
President George W. Bush then:
For the judiciary, resisting this temptation is particularly important, because it’s the only branch that is unelected and whose officers serve for life. Unfortunately, some judges give in to temptation and make law instead of interpreting. Such judicial lawlessness is a threat to our democracy—and it needs to stop.
And oh yeah, the good Senator had few words back then too (about the Schiavo case):
MCCONNELL: I don’t know. These are findings of fact that presumably the court, had it looked at it de novo from the beginning, which is what we granted the federal courts the authority to do, could have taken into account
[Between the lines - the Court overstepped 'what we granted the federal courts the authority to do'?].
(there’s more at the link from lesser lights.)
Posted in Civics, Congress critters, Government, health care, History, insurance reform, irony, partisanship, Politics
Tagged ACA, congress, health care, news, Obama, partisanship, Politics, SCOTUS