January 19, 2013
January 17, 2013
The urgently needed relief package needed by the residents of Long Island, New York City and New Jersey passed the House of Representatives this week. It was a real push to get it passed as right wing Republicans attempted to kill it or use it for their ideological agenda. The reason it passed was that 192 Democrats voted yes along with only 49 Republicans.
There was one Democrat, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), who joined with the other 179 Republicans who voted against the aid package.
There were some very interesting votes in the roll call vote on the relief package:
-Congressman Paul Ryan (WI), who ask for drought disaster aid, voted against aid for Sandy victims.
-However, Republican Congressman Eric Kantor (VA) voted yes.
-In Speaker John Boehner's (who by tradition usually doesn't vote) home state of Ohio, every single Republican voted against Sandy relief.
-In Florida, that has received billions of Federal Disaster relief over the years, fourteen Republicans voted no and three voted yes!
-Mississippi did a little better with two Republicans voting yes and one voting no.
January 14, 2013
When Congress adjourned in December without taking up desperately needed money for Hurricane Sandy relief, Republican John Boehner gave his word to an outraged public and to Northeast Republicans that $9 billion would be given as soon as the House gathered at the first of this month. That money was passed.
His second part of the promise was that this week, the remainder totaling $50 billion would be passed and sent to the devastated regions of the Northeast. That part of the promise, not surprisingly, is in serious trouble from Republican extremists in the House of Representatives. Despite the Speaker's promise to such individuals as Republican Congressman Peter King, Governor Chris Christie and the public, plans are underway either to stop the relief money or demand corresponding cuts in social programs as a criteria to aid those devastated by Sandy.
Never in the history of this country has any elected official attempted to stop relief and emergency assistance to an impacted people for political reasons. America has always prided itself on helping our neighbors in these horrible times of tragedy Certainly that has been illustrated by the outpouring of funds, supplies and workers from all over America to come to the aid of their fellow Americans especially in New York and New Jersey. Over 300,000 houses have been totally destroyed by the storm and close to 150 lives have been lost.
We saw the same American spirit with the Newtown school children shooting.
That awesome spirit apparently does not exist among House Republicans.
They would take the funds for our neighbors hurt by Sandy to cut programs that would help other people in need. They would hold hostage legislation that should have been passed over 70 days ago and let people suffer in the cold of winter for their own ideological nonsense. Those attempting to delay this disaster relief have no shame.
The question is can Speaker Boehner lead and get this urgently needed relief package passed or did he make a deal with the devil to simply hold the title of Speaker but not with any power?
We will find out the answer to that question this week and see if he can keep his promises to the tens of thousands who are suffering
January 12, 2013
Commentator and Author Robert Shrum writes of a new ideologue civil war that is gripping America. In his latest Daily Beast column, Shrum writes that with the extreme right in total control of the House of Representatives that the nation's Capital faces and endless battle by extremists to stop President Obama at any cost. Forget the needs of the nation, forget the unemployed and forget those programs which will make America great again and because the hardliners will just focus on the harming the President and his programs.
"Obama and Biden face a far more hostile, far less amenable Washington—not only without a super-majority in Congress, but with a filibuster-infested Senate and a Republican House, many of whose members seem hell-bent on crashing the economy. The vice president does deserve credit for getting the nation off the fiscal cliff—and the president deserves credit for sending him to the cliff without worrying that he would kick over the traces and without begrudging him the limelight. Biden was comfortable in a powerful but subordinate role and the modern Senate was comfortable with his activist intervention in legislative affairs.
He did a lot of good for the country and his own future as a potential 2016 candidate. But it’s important to remember what he did—which was not to secure a landmark advance of the kind Kennedy sought and Johnson got after he was president, but to staunch a big self-inflicted wound that would bleed the economy and the markets. This was truly consequential, but it was less a matter of making progress than of preventing retrogress. And as we look ahead, it’s illusory to suggest that Obama can magically work his will if he just becomes a pol-friendly operator—or if he lets Biden act like the mythical version of a pre-presidential LBJ.
The problem that may blight the next four years is an ideological chasm where the president’s attempts at reasonable compromise are routinely rebuffed, where a polarization to the right among Republicans is reinforced by resentment and a refusal to accept the results of the 2012 election. Or to put it plainly, they can’t believe Obama is still there—and they’re more than ready, or forced by their own extremists, to obstruct him at almost any cost."
Shrum continues with the fact that all the President's appointments are being endlessly attacked in Congress and by the right wing media outlets. Mother Theresa would have a hard time getting approval from this crowd of Republicans in the United States Senate. Shrum writes:
"Maybe the Republicans will attempt to decapitate the federal government by leaving it without major cabinet officials. In the end, they’ll fail—and thanks to the drafters of the Constitution, at least the deranged GOP House has no say in the confirmation process. But what’s happening is more proof that what we have in Washington is not a functioning Congress, but a one-ring circus on the far right.
And watch the freak show when the president proposes comprehensive immigration reform and moves forward on gun control. Already, Iowa Rep. Steve King has introduced a bill—which happens to be unconstitutional—that would deny citizenship to immigrant children born in this country. The only part of the Constitution that King and too many like him in the House seem to revere is the Second Amendment—in absolute and absolutely distorted terms. A week ago, I argued that it would be a mistake to bet against Biden’s chances of achieving progress on guns. After listening to the GOP stooges for the NRA—think of Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert, who said that a “hammer” could be “an assault weapon”—I’m ready to bet that not much gun legislation of any kind can get past Boehner’s brigades.
When the vice president said that Obama might act by executive order, the Drudge Report went into a frenzy, complete with pictures of Hitler and Stalin, apparently since taken down. The episode not only reveals the limitless shamelessness of Drudge, but the ugliness that pervades the opposition to Obama. And if you want to see it get even worse, just wait until the president selects someone to fill the next Supreme Court vacancy.
I hope I’m wrong—that somehow Boehner locates his conscience; that enough Republicans decide to do what’s right rather than far right; that the GOP heeds Chris Christie’s counsel that “compromise [is] not a dirty word.” But it’s more than possible that Christie will become an exile in his own party—and that the greatest nation on earth may become a hobbled, dysfunctional democracy.
If so, Americans will settle the issue at the polls in favor of progress—unless a dwindling, demographically depleted Republican Party succeeds for a while in imposing new Jim Crow–like restrictions on voting. But long-term, that’s a losing game. And today, the GOP is the party that won’t compromise; the party that threatens economic chaos; the anti-Medicare, anti–Social Security, anti-women, anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, anti-young party. There’s no future in that.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden may now have to prove their mettle as never before. The vice president has to be himself, not a reprise of a miscast LBJ. And the president has to be himself too, not the sudden apparition of an inauthentic pol.
Yes, it’s going to be not just a bumpy night, but probably a long, bumpy ride."
January 09, 2013
The Daily Beast has done a complete layout and background on the new Freshman Class in the United States Congress. You can see all of them on one page and then click to get more details. What an interesting and diverse class this year which include four new LGBT American Congresspeople.
The fantastic chart has cute little tidbits about each new member's claim to fame. Here are a few examples:
Congressman Eric Swalwell (D- CA) (Above): He used to hand out towels in the U.S. Capital Gym!
Beto O'Rourke (D- TX): Used to be a member of a heavy metal band called Foss and was arrested burglary and drunk driving.
Markwayne Mullin (R-OK): He is the youngest of seven children and took over the family plumbing business after high school.
Patrick Murphy (D- FL)(above): He is the youngest member of the House of Representatives at the age of 29 years old. He defeated Alan West! Murphy was a vet of the first Iraq War.
Roger Williams (R-TX): He was a baseball player on the Atlanta Braves farm team for four years and then returned home to sell used cars.
Tom Cotton (R- AR) (above): One of the few actually to serve in Afghanistan. He joined the serrvice after 9/11.
Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI): She will be the first American- Samoan and the first Hindu elected to Congress.
January 05, 2013
Congressman Paul Ryan (WI) who was the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate this year and is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2016, voted to stop any relief funds for Hurricane Sandy. The right wing ideologue was joined by sixty-six other Republicans who voted "NO" on emergency funds to help tens of thousands recover from the devastating hurricane!
By the way, Republican John Boehner didn't even vote on the relief package.
Because of such strong Republican opposition, it took the House seventy days to approve the measure while such funds for Hurricane Katrina were approved in just 10 days. Hurricane Sandy is the second most expensive disaster ever to hit the United States. Ironically five Congressman from Alabama, Florida , Louisiana and Mississippi all voted against relief while their districts received assistance in previous disasters.
January 03, 2013
While there is this almost cult like caucus in the House to cut every penny as always they graciously have made an exception for LGBT Americans. Refusing to grant relief to Hurricane Sandy victims after the Fiscal Cliff vote, they found time to appropriate $2 million more to fund lawyers to fight DOMA in the Supreme Court.
The Huffington Post reported this morning:
- A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday slammed Republicans for taking "the extraordinary measure" of using the opening day rules package of the new Congress to authorize themselves to keep defending DOMA.
"Today, House Republicans will send a clear message to LGBT families: their fiscal responsibility mantra does not extend to their efforts to stand firmly on the wrong side of the future," said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
Hammill also noted that the rules package "for the first time" explicitly states that BLAG speaks for the full House on DOMA matters -- something he said is definitely not the case.
"As House Democrats have time and time again made clear, the BLAG does not speak for all Members of the House of Representatives and we will continue to oppose this wasteful use of taxpayer funds to defend DOMA," he said
For those of you in your 20's, believe it or not, there has been some great Speakers of the House in history. Your historical experience so far with Speakers has ranged from the incompetent to ugly and divisive. In your young lifetime you have had to experience bitter Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), the angry Newt Gingrich (R-GA) who divided the nation forever and not the sad and pitiful John Boehner (R-Ill).. Trust my young ones, there has been some great Speakers in both parties since the first one, Frederick Muhlenberg was elected in 1789! The roll call of great Speakers includes Henry Clay, James Polk , Joseph Cannon, Nicholas Longworth, Sam Rayburn. and Tip O'Neill. Nancy Pelosi did not serve enough time to be a great Speaker historically but was the first woman and great leader.
With the possible exception of Speaker James Lawrence Orr (D) who used his Speakership totally to promote and continue slavery, Speaker John Boehner certainly will go down in history as one of the worst Speakers in history. Without question he will make the top five. His Speakership at times borders on the pitiful and sad and is one where he is being led instead of leading.
Speaker Boehner has been whipped back and forth by his own extreme fringe members. He has allowed less than fifty members to dictate his Speakership. Boehner has been unable to deliver the votes, keep his word, have the capacity to lead and reassure the nation in a crisis. The Speaker has been unable to articulate effectively his positions. The Speaker has shown no capacity to build governing coalitions with the Democrats and to be tough with his own members. In short, history will have a very difficult time finding the strengths of his Speakership.
Speaker Boehner's holding up and allowing Hurricane Sandy relief to become a political issue is the low point in his Speakership. Hurricane Andrew, up to this point, took the longest to get Congressional approval and that took just 31 days. We are over 70 days and still no relief from the House. Disgraceful!
One of the great Speakers of our time was Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-Texas). Trust me those extreme right wingers would have falling in line in this time of national economic crisis or you would be seeing them cleaning the men's room in Capitol. Rayburn understood power, put his country first and delivered on his promises. Boehner would be well served to take time to read about Rayburn and hopefully learn a thing or two about power.
Unfortunately, ever since Speaker Newt Gingrich )R-GA) decided it was not in the nation's interest for the parties to work together to find solutions, the House of Representatives has been an ugly and divided place. More than any other institution, it has set the tone for division in America. The future doesn't look hopeful as the crazies will continue to dictate the direction of House. The odds of Democrats taking control look slim because of recent re-districting around the county.
Speaker Boehner is a good man who wanted to be Speaker so bad that he forgot to actually be one when elected. Sad.
January 02, 2013
Long Island Republican Peter King is in a rage over the failure of the Republican Party to pass relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The Congressman is urging all business leaders and New York donors not to contribute one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. As you can see from this interview, none of us should be surprised if King switches to either independent or Democrat in the near future.
King's district was devastated by the Hurricane.
In a pique of anger and expressing their rage at losing the vote on the financial compromise, House Republicans roared 'nay' when the bill providing $60 Billion in relief for those devastated by Hurricane Sandy came to a vote. No one can convince me if the bill had been relief for Texas or Florida that the legislation wouldn't have quickly passed.
Instead it was relief for liberal New York and that Governor Christie guy who did his job and refused to make political his state's biggest disaster. That made it easy for House Tea Party types to organize a gigantic finger pointed at New Jersey and New York.
While making this fringe element feel better about themselves the ramifications are serious. If they can't get this legislation done today then the entire appropriation process has start over with the new Congress! This could mean significant and horrible delay in getting relief to the tens of thousands of victims of Hurricane Sandy. Once again the right wing Republicans in the House have proven that the last thing on their minds is the people of the United States.
Literally their message to the thousands who are homeless and devastated by the storm is "Let them live in tents".