Category Archives: Congress critters

Politifact needs to learn arithmetic

Last week Bill Maher said: “There are 278 Republicans in Congress. (With Eric Cantor’s defeat), they are now all Christian and all white except for one black senator, who was appointed.”

With tortured twisted reasoning, Politifact rates that Half True. First they describe the Dems:

The 2012 elections ushered in the first Buddhist in the Senate (Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, a Democrat), the first Hindu in either chamber (Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat), and the first Congress member to list her religious affiliation as “none” (Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat) . . . They joined two Muslims (Democrats) and a Unitarian Universalist (a Democrat).

They don’t offer a total of non-Christian Dems in Congress. It’s 37. Now here’s what they say of Congressional Republicans:

When it comes to Republicans,192 of 278 GOP members identify with a Protestant denomination (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.), 70 identify as Catholic, three are Orthodox Christian, and 12 are Mormon (more on that in a moment). Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, is Jewish and makes No. 278, but Brat, the Republican who could succeed him after the November election, is Catholic.

So until the next Congress is sworn in in January, we can count 277 Christian and one Jew. Politifact notes that some people don’t consider Mormons Christian. Which matters not at all because that’s how Mormons identify.

So that’s  37 non-Christian Dems and one (ONE) non-Christian Republican. Yup, that’s half alright.

Are Republicans all white?  Politifact says half-true because there are seven Hispanics. For some reason they felt compelled to mention that there are also three  GOP Senators .

To say the other Republicans in Congress are all white depends on your definition of “all white,” which isn’t always so easy to define.

There are no other African-American Republicans in Congress (there are 43 black Democrats). There also are no Asian or Pacific Islander Republicans in Congress (there are 13 Democrats).

But there are three Hispanic Republican senators and seven Hispanic Republicans in the House. Those Hispanics?

So there you go – the Dems have 56 and the GOP has seven. Definitely half.

 

 

Even I didn’t know it was this bad

From a column in The Hill today:

Even by the standards of a divided Congress . . . there has never been such an unproductive session of Congress.

NBC’s “First Read” recently published a chart comparing the productivity of today’s divided Congress (57 laws passed) to the work undertaken by a divided Congress during President Reagan’s terms – when Republicans controlled the Senate and Democrats controlled the House. The 97th, 98th and 99th Congresses respectively passed 473 laws, 623 laws, and 663 laws.

The article concluded: “It’s not even a close call. That [Democratic] House got a lot more done with its GOP rivals than this GOP House has with its [Democratic] counterparts.”

Calling Bill O’Reilly and all Christian warriors

Some damn organization calling itself the National Republican Congressional Committee has joined the vile War on Christmas. Suit up Patriots! Let’s get ’em.
Yep, this was inevitable. Also, it's not a video. Stop clicking it.

He doens’t look so dead to me.

Aha. Jim Inhofe is 78 years old and has been on Medicare, a truly socialized medical insurance plan, for 13 years. inhofe

Three weeks of bombing; missed every target

The final vote in the Senate was 81-18, with 27 Republicans voting yes.  Here are the Republicans who voted no (from NRO Online):

Senators David Vitter (La.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), John Cornyn (Texas), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Dean Heller (Ariz.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Tim Scott (S.C.), and Pat Roberts (Kan.). Senator Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) did not vote.

So what’s the message going to be on talk radio tomorrow?

No surprise here

From Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog today:

Banks are dumping T-bills. “With Washington’s fiscal standoff still unresolved, large financial firms have been unloading investments once considered pristine, suggesting a wild week ahead for markets. Banks are dumping short-term government debt, usually one of the most plain-vanilla investments available, amid fears that Congress and the White House won’t reach an agreement by Thursday to raise the debt ceiling…Senior Treasury officials convened by phone Sunday afternoon to discuss the evolving market conditions, an agency official said…The Securities and Exchange Commission is monitoring bank capital levels and the amount of short-term Treasurys held by financial firms, among other things.” Damian Paletta and Dan Strumpf in The Wall Street Journal.

World should ‘de-Americanise’, says China following default fears. “In China, Xinhua, the official government news agency, said that as American politicians continued to flounder over a deal to break the impasse, “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world”…Xinhua attacked America’s pre-eminent position in the world, adding that “such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated”.” Philip Sherwell and Malcolm Moore in The Telegraph (UK).

The US would be the first major Western sovereign default since 1933 Germany. “Reneging on its debt obligations would make the U.S. the first major Western government to default since Nazi Germany 80 years ago. Germany unilaterally ceased payments on long-term borrowings on May 6, 1933, three months after Adolf Hitler was installed as Chancellor. The default helped cement Hitler’s power base following years of political instability as the Weimar Republic struggled with its crushing debts. “These are generally catastrophic economic events,” said Professor Eugene N. White, an economics historian at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “There is no happy ending.”” John Glover in Bloomberg.

Because they fired themselves

https://i2.wp.com/www.tedyoho.com/images/finalheader.png

Just like they hired themselves . . .

During a teletown hall Thursday evening hosted by Rep. Ted Yoho, a caller named Frank from Gainesville asked about furloughed workers.

“The people that had to work should be paid,” Frank said. “But the people that are home watching Netflix and whatever, I’m not sure that we should be sending them checks.”

Replied Yoho: “Well, when we voted on that they were supposed to come back to work as part of that deal. … I agree 100 percent with you. If they’re not working, they shouldn’t get paid.”

Ah Florida, my Florida . . . had enough? You bet.

Lessons learned? Nah, the righteous don’t need no stinkin’ lessons

From Ezra Klein (Wonkblog) this morning:

Thursday’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll hit the Republican Party like a bomb. It found, as Gallup had, the Republican Party (and, separately, the Tea Party) at “all-time lows in the history of the poll.” It found Republicans taking more blame for the shutdown than they had in 1995. It found more Americans believing the shutdown is a serious problem than in 1995.

Even worse for the GOP is what the pollsters called “the Boomerang Effect”: Both President Obama and Obamacare are more popular than they were a month ago. Obamacare in particular gained seven points.

The Boomerang Effect – yup, that’s exactly what happened after the GOP impeached Clinton (instead of doing the nation’s business). His favorability, which had been lackluster before the impeachment, soared.

Lessons never learned I guess.

Let’s round up some random stupid. Today: Rep. Joe Barton

220px-Joe_Barton_OfficialRep. Joe Barton (R-TX-Tea Party caucus), in Congress since 1985, is Chair Emeritus on the Energy and Commerce Committee. This is from a 2010 hearing on wind turbines:

“Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.”

Maybe he only plays the fool. Quotes like that take up all the oxygen while:

The organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) put Congressman Barton on its CREW’s Most Corrupt Report 2011.[45][46] The article states that on Barton’s 2008 financial disclosure statement, he inaccurately reported on the source of a natural gas interest that he bought into. The share was purchased through a longtime donor and supporter who later died. This was discovered by the Dallas Morning News in 2010.[47] According to the Dallas Morning News article, Barton made over $100,000 on the investment. The article and CREW Report both point out how Barton buying this undervalued asset from an “advisor” on energy issues could be a conflict of interest to the Congressman’s position as the Chair of the House’s Energy Subcommittee.

The Congressman’s ethics have been noticed at home, so he’s had a few challengers lately. Nevertheless, he’s never been re-elected with less than 60% of the vote.

Because we all want smart capable people representing us in Congress, don’t we.

Oh Michele we will miss you . . .

Before she leaves us for good, Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Outerspace) is doing her best for late night comics everywhere. Here’s she’s commenting on recent US foreign policy in the Middle East. Or something. And it means that End Times are near.

SPOILER ALERT! Best line ever ever ever:  “Yes it gives us fear in some respects because we want the retirement that our parents enjoyed.”

“This happened and as of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists, now what this says to me, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s end times history,” Bachmann told Jan Markell, radio host of “Understanding the Times,” on Saturday.

“Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha Come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand,” Bachmann added later. “And so when we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this; that these days would be as the days of Noah. We are seeing that in our time. Yes it gives us fear in some respects because we want the retirement that our parents enjoyed. Well they will, if they know Jesus Christ.”

As long as they keep it off the front page, this should be fine, yes?

. . . the exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress have remained open throughout the shutdown. . . the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs.  . . . cleaning and maintenance has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. . . . the decision to keep the gym open came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed. It also appears that the members gym in the Senate remains open on similar terms.

Notice that the staff gym is closed. Charming.

(If you need a giggle, google ‘Congressional gyms” as I just did and check out whose image dominates. If you guessed Paul Ryan, you would be wrong. It’s all selfies of tht body-proud camera hog and failed politician, Anthony Weiner. I guess he’ll live in image infamy, mostly without clothes.)

Sometimes the answer is so easy . . .

(UPDATED BELOW) Cousin Den made me laugh . . . again.

UPDATE: . . . and again . . . (from Eugene Robinson):

“Republicans in Congress are like a dog that chases cars and finally catches one. There is a fleeting sense of accomplishment, followed by sheer panic.”

Repeating myself, but . . .

Interesting that President Barry made this exact point yesterday. I guess he’s reading my Facebook feed cuz I said this on Monday in a comment thread – and in a post here. And I wish he’d said it sooner.

Obamacare is the law, as passed by the Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the US Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by the American people when they re-elected that President. That’s the way the US gov’t is designed to work. Half of those who tell pollsters they disapprove do so because it doesn’t go far enough – they wanted a single payer plan. The demand to defund or delay Obamacare comes from a single branch (and only a small minority of that branch) trying to undo – by holding hostage – a law created in the way designed by the Constitution.

 

Fascinating interview: WaPo and National Review

Ezra Klein today in his Wonkblog:

Robert Costa is the National Review’s Washington editor and one of the best-sourced reporters among House Republicans. Like many others, I’ve relied on his reporting in recent days about how House Republicans are strategizing around the government shutdown. But it left me with some questions, particularly around Speaker John Boehner’s strategy. We spoke by phone this afternoon, and a lightly edited transcript follows.

I found the interview informative. Here’s a small outtake:

EK: But why isn’t it [a clean resolution or a “CR”] an option? A few dozen unhappy members is an annoyance, but how is it a threat? Wouldn’t Boehner be better off just facing them down and then moving on with his speakership?

RC: So there are 30 to 40 true hardliners. But there’s another group of maybe 50 to 60 members who are very much pressured by the hardliners. So he may have the votes on paper. But he’d create chaos. It’d be like fiscal cliff level chaos. You could make the argument that if he brought a clean CR to the floor he might have 100-plus with him on the idea. But could they stand firm when pressured by the 30 or 40 hardliners and the outside groups?

While the House burns like Atlanta . . .

UPDATED BELOW: From Forbes magazine this morning:

But a new survey of 1,976 registered voters finds that only 33 percent believe that the health law should be repealed, delayed, or defunded. 29 percent believe that “Congress should make changes to improve the law,” 26 percent believe that “Congress should let the law take effect” and see what happens, and 12 percent believe that the law should be expanded. The bottom line? Voters are skeptical that Obamacare will live up to Democrats’ hype. But they also believe that it should be given a chance to succeed.

Universal health care (which Obamacare is most assuredly not – at least not yet) has been a political objective, indeed a platform goal, of the Democratic Party  since Truman (Teddy Roosevelt and Nixon liked it too). So it has been a stated goal of at least half this nation for decades. It is now the law, as passed by the Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the US Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by the American people when they re-elected the President who sponsored it. That’s exactly the way our Federal government was designed to work.

The House GOP is not pursuing the will of the American people, they are pursuing a Party objective. They forget that they are only one of three branches of government (and only half of that branch!). 

Our Founders knew well to build in protections against a tyranny of the minority. UPDATE: commenter Alan Scott points out – correctly – that I am wrong here. Our Founders built in protections against a Tyranny of MAJORITY. My bad.

The minority half of one branch of our government is on the wrong side of this.

Articles of Confederation bitchez!

Because that worked so well.  Who needs a balance of powers anyway? Checks and balances? Bleh.  We have a US Senator is ‘whipping’ votes in the House of Representatives. A significant cohort of the Congress is ideologically committed to the destruction of a strong Federal government. The House Speakership – designed to wield enormous power – now powerless. Who really needs him any more? Put the world economy at risk during a fragile recovery? So what if that usually leads to World Wars. That’s the world’s problem. – and damn Europeans and Mooslims.

Shut it down. Take it down! USA! USA! USA!

I asked my old friend Wikipedia for a few random factoids about the debt and that debt ceiling thingee:

  • 800px-US_Public_Debt_Ceiling_1981-2010US government indebtedness has been the norm in the financial history of the nation. The carriage of debt in Western Europe and North America by governments has been normal for the past 200 years, so the US situation is not unique.
  • The US has been in debt every year except for 1835.
  • Debts incurred during the American Revolutionary War and under the Articles of Confederation led to the first yearly report on the amount of the debt ($75,463,476.52 on January 1, 1791).
  • Every President since Herbert Hoover has added to the national debt expressed in absolute dollars. The debt ceiling has been raised 74 times since March 1962,[1] including 18 times under Ronald Reagan, eight times under Bill Clinton, seven times under George W. Bush, and three times under Barack Obama.

Seriously?

Ezra Klein yesterday (formatting added by Moe):

The House GOP’s debt limit bill — obtained by the National Review — isn’t a serious governing document. It’s not even a plausible opening bid. It’s a cry for help. In return for a one-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding:

  • a year-long delay of Obamacare,
  • Rep. Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan,
  • the Keystone XL pipeline,
  • more offshore oil drilling,
  • more drilling on federally protected lands,
  • rewriting of ash coal regulations,
  • a suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions,
  • more power over the regulatory process in general,
  • reform of the federal employee retirement program,
  • an overhaul of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations,
  • more power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget,
  • repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, more means-testing in Medicare,
  • repeal of the Public Health trust fund,
  • and more.

It’s tempting to think that this is Boehner teaching his conference a lesson. They told him what they wanted, and he’s going to let them have it — good and hard. House Republicans are walking into the debt-ceiling negotiations with an opening bid that makes them look ridiculous. This looks like an Onion parody of what the House’s debt-ceiling demands might be. It’s a wonder it’s not written in comic sans.

Filibuster(?) update . . .

. . . Ah well, I now hear that Cruz’ ‘filibuster’ is “in name only” as the vote has already been scheduled and his talkie-talkie can’t delay it further. So it’s theatre and therefore well suited to our Cuban Senator from Canada who is totally – TOTALLY – a natural born citizen.

Has anyone seen my old friend Paul?

paul ryan 2There was this guy, a Congressman – from Wisconsin I think – who ran for Vice President last year. Am I remembering that right? He was part of the House Leadership, a great young hope, brainy budget guy, all that. Plus cute.

Has anyone seen him in the last nine months? Ah! Paul Ryan, that’s his name! He still around?

And we know what happens in Libya . . .

(The rest of it almost writes itself . . . )

issa

He said that. Really [UPDATED**]

Paul Ryan is very concerned.

In a USA Today column, the Ayn Rand acolyte says that Obama is  “interested in tax reform for corporations, not for families or small business,” adding “the President claims his economic agenda is for the middle class, but it’s actually for the well-connected.”

He said that. Really.

I learned this from Dana Milbank who, in his column this morning, sees other Republicans picking up on that meme.

To further illustrate that they can say pretty much anything and be taken seriously, there’s this:

John Boehner, asked at a news conference this week about Obama’s series of speeches on the economy, replied: “If I had poll numbers as low as his, I’d probably be out doing the same thing if I were him.”

He said that. Really.

Milbank comes to the only possible conclusion:

Obama’s that rare socialist who is in bed with big business . . . Republicans haven’t decided whether Obama’s a socialist or a plutocrat, a tyrant or a weakling, arrogant or apologetic.

* I probably don’t have to add this, but it’s irresistible.  A year ago (and probably last week as well) Ryan accused Obama of supporting “a government-run economy” and of ‘denigrating people who are successful”. He charged the president with leading the nation toward a “cradle-to-grave, European style welfare state.”

He said that too. Really.

** UPDATE: My daily alert from The Patriot Post just popped into my mailbox and lookee here: Editor Mark Alexander isn’t aboard with Mr. Ryan. Alexander is offended by those economic policy speeches coming from one “Barack Hussein Obama”:

Obama has been regurgitating the same phony talking points since then, insisting the economy is improving but stirring the class-warfare pot claiming the middle class and poor are not keeping pace. Naturally, he suggests the solution is more taxes and government spending.

Hey, as it says above, whatever works.

Yet another bit of logic we must ignore if we want to stay F-R-E-E-E

This thing is kind of like health care. In spite of abundant evidence that Glass-Steagall worked (no bank failures for 50 years – approximately  ’33 to ’83), those enjoying the fruits of today’s perverse versions of capitalism and finance, who are dedicated to making money with money (making things is so yesterday), will not tolerate anything resembling a reinstatement of that law. And they will win.

Here’s a People’s Warrior on CNBC facing the conventional opposition, laced with a bit of hostile mockery. This video was viral a few days ago, until it briefly disappeared because CNBC filed a copyright claim against, I believe, the Senator. Ahem?

That is what brought this video to the attention of the fine folks at Upworthy. They note that “It gets amazing at 2:08. At 3:42, she uses their words against them. And at 4:39 [it really rocks].”

Listen to her ‘splain it all – clearly, simply and confidently.

Looks like today is ‘Posting-a-bunch-of-pictures-and-graphs-day’

Like this one via cousin Liz (family day too?) – this is from her Facebook page where she says “Now it’s all coming together . . . “. So much for “Representatives’ being representative.

congress wealth

Civilization is always ending, isn’t it. What a bitch.

Maybe the good Congressman Gomert (or, as watertiger has named him, Screwy-Louie) could have scrounged around and quoted someone a bit less randy than Solomon when condemning same-sex marriage.

According to the Bible at I Kings 11:1-7: Solomon had 700 official wives and about 300 concubines – so, a thousand ladies, give or take.

 

Boggles the mind

I’m skimming Bob Woodward’s book on the Obama Administration – The Price of Politics. I’ve read his books for years. They’re dry recitations of his reporting, utterly passionless and very readable.

In the last few years though, he’s begun to sound a bit like the ‘get off my lawn’ guy (encroaching on traditional McCain territory!). Still,  he writes a good book. So I sat down and I began.

By page 20, Woodward is giving credence to a complaint uttered by Eric Cantor after the vote on HR1, the first bill of that congress, Obama’s stimulus package. Cantor had whipped the congressional Republicans so effectively that not a single one of them voted for the bill. Not one.

Woodward:

What. . . surprised Cantor was how badly the White House had played what should have been a winning hand. Though Obama won the vote, he had unified and energized the losers (really? he was the one that did it?). . . . he had actually pushed them away . . . there had been no sincere contact, no inclusiveness, no real listening.

The vote, and Cantor’s complaint, came on January 28, 2009, eight days after Obama was inaugurated. A period during which Obama had met three times with the House leadership – including Cantor.

Terry Schiavo redux!

Here is today’s outrage – from the Washington Examiner:

lung

According to some of the usual noisemakers on the right, a Cabinet Secretary is the appropriate person to make decisions about who gets organ transplants and who doesn’t.

If the regulation in question were waived, 20 more children (including three at the same hospital) would be added to the regular ‘adult’ lung waiting list, which currently has 1600 people on it. So for this kid to get the lung, a political appointee would have to put her at the front of the list based on – what? Because it would be caring? Thoughtful? Because of a mother’s grief?

Image

Oh dear, it’s been a busy day.

meme

Now it’s even more urgent that Trump get back into politics

This is a disaster for we vapid, shallow news junkies and consumers of utter nonsense. Aiken lost. Palin is gone (mostly, give it a few more months). Is it going to have to be all Louis Gomert all the time? Come back Donald, come back. Please.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) announced early Wednesday that she would not seek a fifth term in Congress in 2014 but would keep fighting for the conservative principles that made her a favorite of the tea party movement and, she said, are vital to protecting the United States from moral and economic decline.

Because it’s so much easier to throw stones than waste time on all that problem solving stuff.

Some scandals be a-comin’ her way, so time is of the essence – there are riches out there, waiting to be scooped up before fame fades.

Wherein Rush ushers irony to the door . . . yet again

oliver northEveryone  is having their say about the IRS’ Lois Lerner who took the Fifth yesterday before a Congressional committee (just like that conservative icon Oliver North did). Here’s Fat Boy:

You have to be very careful in making judgments about people based on physical appearance, although I’ve gotten really good at it.

I guess we all see what we want to see when we look in the mirror. Anyway, I hear you Rush and I am being careful. I do think it through before I call anyone Fat Boy or “the morbidly-obese, four times married” . . . .  and after thinking it through, I feel I am morally entitled to toss schoolyard insults at you, because that’s what you do for a living. Good for the goose, good for the . . .

This actually happened, in the hallowed halls of the United States Congress, in the very heart of Western Civilization, in the 21st Century

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.