Posts Tagged United States Congress
Poll: Americans Divided Over What Wild Animal They Would Like To See Congress Mauled By : The New Yorker
OCTOBER 12, 2013
POLL: AMERICANS DIVIDED OVER WHAT WILD ANIMAL THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE CONGRESS MAULED BY
POSTED BY ANDY BOROWITZ
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—As the partial government shutdown grinds on into its twelfth day, Americans remain deeply divided over what kind of wild animal they would most like to see Congress mauled by, according to a new poll released today.
While a majority of Americans say they would enjoy seeing Congress torn limb from limb by a ferocious bear, there is disagreement over which species of bear would be best suited for that assignment.
When asked, “What kind of bear would do the best job of savaging Congress with its fearsome paws?,” Americans gave grizzly bears the highest job-approval rating, followed by polar bears, and by brown bears in a distant third.
But the poll showed that there was also strong support for the idea of Congress being set upon by a pack of rapacious animals, with rabid hyenas the first choice of many respondents, followed by feral dogs and cats.
While insatiable, bloodthirsty mammals were most often cited as the animals Americans would like to see eviscerate Congress, there was significant support for another scenario, involving Congress being consumed by a swarm of predatory insects.
Fifteen per cent of those surveyed “strongly agreed” with the statement, “Being torn limb from limb by a grizzly bear or devoured by a pack of rabid hyenas is too good for these people. They should be eaten, very slowly, by a colony of hungry fire ants. Yes, that’s it—fire ants. That would be amazing.”
- Poll: Americans Divided Over What Wild Animal They Would Like To See Congress Mauled By (newyorker.com)
- Hunter mauled by grizzly bear will be in hospital for several weeks (theprovince.com)
- Man mauled by grizzly in Alaska recounts attacks (vindy.com)
- American voters support nationwide ban of big cat private ownership (yubanet.com)
- DNR: Six captive bears from Upstate moved to wildlife sanctuary (wyff4.com)
- The Nuisance Of Wildlife In My Neighborhood (bridgetcomp1101.wordpress.com)
- Man mauled by grizzly in Alaska recounts attack (cnsnews.com)
- Bears didn’t fare well during the 19th century (sanluisobispo.com)
- Man mauled by grizzly bear in Brooks Range recounts attack (juneauempire.com)
- The grizzly revealed: Bear’s natural history inspires both wonder and fear (vancouversun.com)
Making Sense, by Michael Reagan
“Waaaaa! You’re not playing fair!”
“Waaaaa! You’re going to bankrupt America!”
“Waaaaa! You guys started it!”
The crybabies in Washington are at it again.
Arguing, name-calling and throwing heated rhetoric around like “extortion” and “blow the whole thing up,” our so-called leaders are acting like out-of-control little kids in a sandbox.
They haven’t begun hitting each other over the head with chairs or waving weapons around on the Senate floor, but give them time.
It’s government by tantrum again. It’s government by threat and scare tactic and selective shutdown of federal programs.
It’s government by and for the people in government, instead of government by and for the people who elected them.
It’s the petty, partisan kind of government we’ve been getting for too long and the kind we can’t afford and don’t deserve.
And it’s time for the bums in Congress and the president to quit trying to score political points over the debt ceiling, and start acting like responsible adults.
The House and the Senate need to get their legislative acts together.
They need to pass the 13 appropriations bills like they’re supposed to, negotiate their differences in conference committees and then do the job they were elected to do — pass the darn legislation.
We all know Washington is not going to let the U.S. government default on Oct. 17, so let’s cut with the fear mongering and rhetoric.
All it does is make the markets fearful. It makes investors fearful. It makes retired people fearful.
By delaying and dithering and crybabying, our so-called leaders in Washington have made everyone in America nervous — and angry.
One reason the D.C. crowd can’t lead is because they’re so politically spineless. They can’t decide how to vote on anything important without reading a poll. I bet they don’t pick a tie to wear until they’ve consulted Gallup.
But leadership is not looking at polls. Leadership is leading.
My father was a leader. He went through six government shutdowns under Tip O’Neill. But Ronald Reagan led, and we came through the 1980s with a growing economy that benefitted all Americans.
We need leaders in Washington. We don’t need whiners. We don’t need fear-mongers.
We don’t need poll-watchers and wimps who can’t make a principled vote on issues of national importance like the debt ceiling, the budget or Obamacare.
If no one has the courage to stand up and lead in Washington, maybe we should default.
Maybe we need to show the rest of the world that America has finally hit bottom.
Maybe we should admit that we’ve finally become Europe or Greece. That we’ve finally become the United States of California.
All because we lack leadership.
As far as I can tell, most of the people in the United States are completely fed up with all the B.S. in D.C.
I think they’d agree with me that starting today the message from all of us to our federal politicians should be, “Get the job done or resign — all of you.”
- Michael Reagan to Hollywood: Stop Lying on Film About My Dad (newsbusters.org)
- Idiots Against Guns by Michael Reagan (mbcalyn.com)
- Michael Reagan Exposes the Liberal Hollywood Lies in ‘The Butler’ (canadafreepress.com)
- Michael Reagan: ‘The Butler’ a ‘bunch of lies’ (politico.com)
- Goin’ in for the Kill – whose tantrum is it? I’ll tell you. (danielhauff.com)
- REAGAN: A Blessing for the GOP (aurorasentinel.com)
- Michael Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s Son, Slams ‘The Butler,’ Calling it ‘A bunch of lies’ (theepochtimes.com)
- Michael Reagan to Hollywood: Stop Lying on Film About My Dad (conservativebyte.com)
- Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill allowing more than two legal parents (twitchy.com)
- Michael Reagan: ‘The Butler’ lies (oddonion.com)
Spouses of the furloughed, to Congress: Take them back — please.
By Monica Hesse, Published: October 8
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post - Jeff Gates, who is furloughed from his Smithsonian museum job, asked his wife, Susie Krasnican, to make a sign for him to wear on the Metro when he went to work the four hours before the partial government shutdown occurred last Tuesday. Now, a week later, she has made her own sign.
She told him — and here her husband, Jeff Gates, a Smithsonian employee, joyfully remembers the exact wording — she told him: Pre-shutdown, “you used to be so intellectual.”
Nationwide, 800,000 federal employees were affected by the government shutdown, worrying about jobs, back pay, a sense of purpose. Consider the collateral damage: This means there are approximately 800,000 spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates or otherwise affected parties who have spent the past week worrying about furloughed loved ones. Whether they’re all right. Whether they’re watching all of the TiVo’d “Homeland” alone, when they are supposed to wait until tonight. What, exactly, they’re doing.
Congress, take my spouse back. Please.
“He’s taken pretty much all of the CDs off of the shelves,” E.L. Farris, an author in Northern Virginia, says of her husband, a lawyer who is among the shut down. She is chronicling the experience on her blog.
The moving of the CDs is part of a grand plot to arrange them by genre, then alphabetically, then by subgenre. “It’s becoming a very complicated plan,” Farris says. And it is accompanied by a parallel effort to organize their books according to the Dewey Decimal System.
Then there is “his whole escape plan,” she continues. Which is: After nine years of meaning to, Farris’s husband is compiling a first-class disaster preparedness kit. “He can finally find the time to get to Costco,” she explains. And so water bottles are piled in the basement. “You know those crank-up radios? We apparently need to get another one of those. And batteries. We have enough of those to light up the whole town.”
He is growing, she says, a furlough beard.
The furlough beard, that scourge of the furlough spouse. As the shutdown continues, the hair grows on the faces of housebound government employees around the country. It has become a movement, with a name: “Shaveless Shutdown continues to day 7,” a furloughed employee writes on Twitter. “If this doesn’t end soon, my wife may divorce me.”
The furloughed, according to their spouses, are sometimes not changing out of their pajamas until noon. They are eating all of the cereal or buying weird things for the house.
Some also are becoming industrious: finally cleaning out the storage room, picking up the kids from school, baking furlough desserts. Were it not for the uncertainty of it — the vagueness of when this will end, and whether back pay will come through before the next mortgage payment is due — it could be a lovely thing to have a furloughed spouse at home.
“It feels like an endless weekend,” says Krasnican, an artist who works from home. In good ways and bad. Her husband has been able to explore hobbies and pick up day-to-day slack around the house, but the ambiguity of the shutdown’s duration prevents him from tackling longer-term projects.
And then, of course, he’s talking to the cat.
“You’re not normally together as a couple during the day,” says Rob Maher, boyfriend to a furloughed government contractor. Romantic couples are typically sequestered away from each other for nine to 12 hours every day, locked in cubicles or home offices, free to engage in their daily routines without judgment.
Maher, for example, is a comedian; he works nights and then sleeps until 10 or 11 in the morning. His girlfriend, a government contractor, normally is out of the house by 6 a.m. Due to this schedule, their household has acquired a certain rhythm. Maher is typically in charge of housecleaning. But now that his girlfriend is home because of the shutdown, the natural order of the house has been disrupted. She also has begun cleaning. This is causing guilt and confusion. “If she’s cleaning in front of me, wait, does this mean that I should also be cleaning?” Maher asks. “Or did I not do a good enough job cleaning?”
And when he’s on Twitter, doing promotional stuff for his job, does she think he’s slacking off? Does she realize this is part of his work? “She’s at home, stressed about her future, and how am I helping? I’m making snarky comments online.”
Re: the stress. On Tuesday afternoon, House Republican leaders began pushing for debt-limit negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said his party would be open to negotiations if the House passed measures to reopen the government. President Obama called on Congress to vote and end the shutdown “right now.”
After eight full days of shutdown, is an end in sight?
“I definitely have the ideal furlough husband at home,” says Amy Lupold Bair, a social media marketer whose policy-analyst husband has been dominating household chores for the entirety of the shutdown. He is picking out outfits for their fourth-grade daughter, preparing snacks, assisting with homework — tasks that usually fall to Bair, because she works from home. He is assembling items for Goodwill. The boxes of uncertain contents stacked in the garage? He is unpacking them.
The boxes have been there how long?
“Since always!” Bair says. Since the day they bought their house three years ago and stuck them there.
He is bringing coffee and doughnuts to the office staff at their church, for a midday pick-me-up. He has begun to eye the leaf-laden gutters.
“We’ve joked that I’ve needed staffing for a very long time,” Bair says, so it’s been nice to have him at home.
However, she admits. However. “I can sense that he’s starting to get restless.”
Maybe it is time to get back to work.
- Hundreds of Washington state workers furloughed over shutdown (q13fox.com)
- Government shutdown 2013: Unemployment filed by 24,000 furloughed workers (wjla.com)
- Montana workers furloughed in federal shutdown file for unemployment (billingsgazette.com)
- SRS contractor furloughs 1,400 (thetandd.com)
- Some furloughed employees back to work at Fort Indiantown Gap (fox43.com)
- Federal workers prepare to lose their paychecks (tv.msnbc.com)
- SHUTDOWN REACTION: Furloughed Workers Protest (whotv.com)
- Lockheed Martin Furloughs 3,000 Workers as Shutdown Continues (dailyfinance.com)
- Furloughs ending for ‘most DOD civilians’, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says (al.com)
- Bill to assure pay for furloughed feds hits a snag in the Senate (al.com)
(Left to right) Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno and Special Agent Joseph M. Peters were killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on Sunday.
By Andrea Mitchell and Erin McClam, NBC News
In what veterans groups call an outrageous slight after the ultimate sacrifice, the shuttered federal government is withholding a $100,000 payment normally wired to relatives of soldiers killed at war.
The payment, known as the death gratuity, is typically sent to families of the fallen within 36 hours to help them cover funeral costs or travel to meet the flag-draped coffins of their loved ones.
The families of five American service members killed over the weekend in Afghanistan have been notified that they will not receive the payment.
“Impacting grieving families when they are at their absolute weakest point is just disgusting,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the largest organization of combat veterans in the United States.
“Veterans, military personnel and now their families are not to be used as leverage in this political game of blame,” he said. He called on leaders in Congress to “put the country ahead of their politics.”
Congress passed a law last week to pay the military during the shutdown. Pentagon officials studied it to assess whether it might cover the death gratuity and determined that it was not possible, a defense official told NBC News on Tuesday.
So the $100,000 payment, meant to tide families over until military survivor benefits kick in, was being withheld for relatives of the killed over the weekend in Afghanistan, four from the Army and one from the Marines.
“Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time,” said Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the Defense Department. “However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones serving in the Department of Defense.”
A defense official added that if the department were allowed to pay the death gratuity during the shutdown, it would be paid “with great relief.”
The Marine was Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr., 19, of Milwaukee, who the Pentagon said died Saturday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province. The Pentagon said that the death was under investigation.
Four soldiers were killed Sunday by an improvised bomb in Zhari district: 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, of San Diego; Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa.; Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24, of Springfield, Mo.; and Pfc. Cody Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore.
The mother and brother of Peters, who was assigned to the Army’s 5th Military Police Battalion, based in Italy, said that they were too upset to talk. His step-grandfather, Peters Jerry, said that the sergeant was getting out of the military after this tour, so that he could be home more with his 20-month-old son.
“It will be devastating,” Jerry said of the delay in the death gratuity. He said that he blamed Republicans and the Tea Party.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, pointed out that the country had never faced a war and a government shutdown at the same time. She also took note of the 12th anniversary, on Monday, of the war in Afghanistan — “a battle that barely brushes against most Americans’ lives.”
Families of the fallen often use the death gratuity to cover funeral and travel expenses, she said, because military paychecks stop immediately upon the death of a soldier, and life insurance payments can take a week or more to arrive.
“The casualties of war do not stop just because Washington does,” she wrote.
The shutdown . Republicans again insisted on a one-year delay in the federal health care law known as Obamacare in talks on how to make a deal on the budget and restore the government to full operation.
- Shutdown Shame: Denying Troop Death Benefits (defenseone.com)
- Government shutdown would delay death gratuities paid to survivors of fallen soldiers (al.com)
- How will the shutdown affect people in Hampton Roads? (wtkr.com)
- Tom Tarantino: Government Shutdown FAQ for Veterans (huffingtonpost.com)
- US shutdown: defence staff return to work (telegraph.co.uk)
- Troops could face pay delays if government shuts down (fox6now.com)
- Military Pay at Risk Under Government Shutdown (newday.blogs.cnn.com)
- Prolonged Shutdown Could Mean Hard Times for Veterans (kcrg.com)
- How a 2009 Law Is Protecting Veterans from the Government Shutdown (defenseone.com)
- US troops won’t get paid during shutdown: Pentagon (news.yahoo.com)
SEPTEMBER 29, 2013
BOEHNER ADVISES AMERICANS TO DELAY GETTING CANCER FOR A YEAR
POSTED BY ANDY BOROWITZ
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a special Sunday radio address, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered a health tip to the American people, advising them to delay getting cancer for a year.
“We’re involved in a high-stakes fight over our freedom from centralized government control of our lives,” said Mr. Boehner, speaking on behalf of his House colleagues. “You can do your part by delaying getting cancer.”
He added that heart disease, emphysema, and diabetes were among a laundry list of conditions that would be “patriotic to avoid for a year.”
“If you delay getting any of these things for the next twelve months, together we will win this fight,” he said.
In closing, he reassured the American people that in the event of a government shutdown, members of Congress’ health benefits would remain intact: “We want to be in tip-top shape to continue to do the excellent job we’re doing for you.”
- BOEHNER ADVISES AMERICANS TO DELAY GETTING CANCER FOR A YEAR (Satire) (kstreet607.com)
- Boehner Advises Americans to Delay Getting Cancer for a Year (newyorker.com)
- BOEHNER ADVISES AMERICANS TO DELAY GETTING CANCER FOR A YEAR (Satire) (hrexach.wordpress.com)
- Speaker of the House …. Useless John Boehner Satire!!! (hrexach.wordpress.com)
- Chaos in The GOP as Ted Cruz is Leading a House Rebellion Against John Boehner (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama Shaken by Boehner’s Support on Syria : The New Yorker (mbcalyn.com)
- Filing Bankruptcy in South Carolina and the Government Shutdown (scbankruptcyattorney.com)
- Boehner attacks Senate ‘arrogrance’… (speaker.gov)
- No 1-Year Delay – Boehner Never Blinks While Kissing Liberal Butt (im41.com)
- Filing Bankruptcy in South Carolina and the Government Shut Down (scbankruptcyattorney.com)
Bernie Sanders, ‘Two Wars Are Enough. Let’s Come Home and Address Our Serious Problems.’
On MSNBC today, Sen. Bernie Sanders made an intelligent and passionate argument for putting the middle class first while also dealing with the Syria issue.
Sen. Sanders said:
What the American people are saying is. We are at war in Afghanistan. We are at war in Iraq. We’ve lost thousands of soldiers, and trillions of dollars. How about coming home, and addressing the crisis facing the American people? Everybody understands that Assad is a horrendous dictator, and the use of chemical weapons is beyond words. It is totally disgusting. What we need is the world community to come together to address that issue. Other issues in the Middle East, but the American people are saying two wars are enough. Let’s come home and address our serious problems.
The position that Sen. Sanders is advocating is one that most of the left should be able to get behind. I think it would be morally wrong to ignore Assad’s use of chemical weapons because any response would be viewed as war, but an effort that is part of the world community would probably be much more heavily supported by the American people.
It would be great if Congress would deal with the important issues at home that Sen. Sanders laid out, but we all know that they won’t. As long as the Republican Party is in control of the House, nothing will be done on jobs and education. The only thing they are going to do on healthcare is to
It’s nice to think that by rejecting strikes against Syria we will be forcing Congress to focus on middle class issues, but that won’t be the case. To put Sen. Sanders’ argument another way, the biggest enemy of the middle class isn’t Assad in Syria. It’s the Republican control of the House of Representatives.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders: Two wars are enough (tv.msnbc.com)
- Bernie Sanders, ‘Two Wars Are Enough. Let’s Come Home and Address Our Serious Problems.’ (politicususa.com)
- Bernie Sanders Makes The Most Compelling Argument You’ll Ever Hear For NOT Striking Syria (politicususa.com)
- Bernie Sanders: Billions for ‘Another War,’ but No Money for Needs at Home (billmoyers.com)
- Senator Sanders on Syria: Stay Home And Address Our Serious Problems (crooksandliars.com)
- Bernie Sanders and Al Franken Call Assad’s Use of Chemical Weapons an Inhumane Atrocity (politicususa.com)
- Bernie Sanders: “Who Pays for Military Strikes Against Syria?” (classwarfareexists.com)
- Sen. Sanders airs concerns on Syria (vtdigger.org)
- Delegation unswayed by constituent opposition to Syria attack (vtdigger.org)
- On Syria: Every American of every political persuasion should watch this. Now. (dangerousminds.net)
Congress to debate Syria strike from September 9
Top Republicans praise Obama for seeking okay from Capitol Hill, but far from clear that lawmakers will give their backing for military action against the Assad regime
Vice President Joe Biden, left, follows President Barack Obama as he leaves the Rose Garden after making a statement about the crisis in Syria at the White House in Washington Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 (photo credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON — Leading congressional Republicans praised President Barack Obama’s decision to seek lawmakers’ approval before punishing Syria for a chemical attack. But it was far from clear whether they would support such a strike in a region rife with warfare and the specter of retaliation.
Discussion is set to start only in the week of September 9, when the House returns from recess.
“I do believe (Syria) should not have impunity,” for the Aug. 21 attack near Damascus, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said by telephone. “But we need to understand what the whole scope of consequences is. What the president may perceive as limited…won’t stop there.”
The White House was expected to brief members of Congress throughout the weekend, part of what’s certain to be a full-court press to persuade lawmakers to sign off on what Obama described as a narrowly-focused operation that could be carried out anytime over the next few weeks.
Obama’s decision to consult Congress came after lawmakers widely demanded he seek authorization under the War Powers Act. The specter of the Iraq war hovered too, with lawmakers skittish over the Bush administration’s claim — later disproved — that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction.
“And all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote,” Obama said Saturday. “And in doing so, I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said the chemical weapons attack killed 1,429 people, of which he said 426 were children.
For now, many lawmakers were praising Obama for putting the question to Congress. But it is not expected to act until the House returns from recess Sept. 9.
“Under the Constitution, the responsibility to declare war lies with Congress,” said House Speaker John Boehner in a statement. Boehner, who is second in line to the presidency, said his chamber would consider the question the week of Sept. 9.
“We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised,” he said.
“The President’s role as commander-in-chief is always strengthened when he enjoys the expressed support of the Congress,” agreed the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Rep. Peter King, however, said Obama was abdicating his role as commander-in-chief. King, R-N.Y., suggested the president was undermining the authorities of future presidents and seeking a political shield for himself by going through Congress.
“The president doesn’t need 535 Members of Congress to enforce his own redline,” he said.
- Obama Pushes Off Syria Strike w/Congress Approval Due To Rosh Hashanah (jpupdates.com)
- Debate begins on question of a strike against Syria (wfaa.com)
- Obama confront skeptical Congress on Syria strike (thedailystar.net)
- Obama will hold off on Syria strike until Congress has its say (dailystar.com.lb)
- Peres backs Obama’s Syria policy, says he’s sure the US will strike (timesofisrael.com)
- ‘Disappointed’ Syria opposition thinks US Congress will OK strike (dailystar.com.lb)
- Members of Congress split over Syria decision (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- Obama backs off, will seek congressional OK for Syria strike (grumpyelder.com)
- Matthews Bark Attorney | “White House Talks Strategy for Confronting Congress on Syria” (matthewsbarkattorney.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s recoil on Syria strikes draws heat (news.blogs.cnn.com)
House Republicans Refuse to Come Back Early from Vacation to Discuss Syria
Nothing gets in the way of the Republican House avoiding work. Not even voting on military action in Syria.
House leaders issued a statement saying that “serious, substantive” questions were being raised regarding Syria and they are so glad that the President is asking them to vote because this is so important, constitution, blah blah – oh, and they are going to take the measure up on September 9th, which is another way of saying they are not coming back early from vacaction for this “serious, substantive” matter.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today issued the following joint statement.
“Under the Constitution, the responsibility to declare war lies with Congress. We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised. In consultation with the president, we expect the House to consider a measure the week of September 9th. This provides the president time to make his case to Congress and the American people.”
Can you imagine if Democrats had told Bush they’d get back to him on Iraq when they were done with vacation?
And it’s not as if there’s anything major to deal with, like that debt ceiling threat they’ve been lording over us or anything. It’s not as if they should plan more days instead of less, based on their inability to even decide what the Republican position will be on any given issue. Nope, they’re just going to add Syria to the list and hope for the best.
Frankly, since they have already set historical records with their laziness and failure to pass legislation — only passing 4 out of 12 appropriations bills before they took off on yet another vacation, and when they are there they do nothing but try to harm America, we should be grateful that they are on “vacation” again.
I can hardly wait to see how they handle this “serious” matter. If it’s with the same gravitas as they approach our economy, we’re in deep Cheney doo-doo.
Bets on how long it will take them to try to use Syria as leverage for defunding ObamaCare?
- House GOP Leadership Statement on Syria (speaker.gov)
- House Republicans Refuse to Come Back Early from Vacation to Discuss Syria (politicususa.com)
- Congress defaults, Obama struts, innocents will die (laudyms.wordpress.com)
- US congressional leaders to receive Syria briefing on Thursday – Reuters (reuters.com)
- House GOP Leadership Responds On Syria (aryglobal.wordpress.com)
- Seriously? Don’t Attack Syria – Let the Middle East Muslims Handle Their Own Fucking Problems (bonjupatten.net)
- Ban Says Chemical Weapons Inspectors Will Leave Syria Saturday (hispanicbusiness.com)
- the critturs (niqnaq.wordpress.com)
- Obama will seek Congress permission before any military action against Syria (THAT’S A FIRST) (libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com)
- Britain recalls Parliament to discuss Syria (news.yahoo.com)
TIMOTHY EGAN August 1, 2013
Saboteurs in the Potato Salad
By TIMOTHY EGAN
Just now, a cell of several hundred people has been dispatched into the American summer, to picnics, town halls, radio stations, hospitals and Little League playing fields, with a mission to derail the economic recovery and drum up support for sabotaging federal law. They’re not terrorists, nor are they agents of a foreign government. This is your United States Congress, the Republican House, on recess for the next five weeks.
They even have a master plan, a 31-page kit put together by the House Republican Conference, for every member to follow while back home with the folks. It’s called “Fighting Washington for all Americans,” and includes a prototype op-ed piece, with a political version of the line usually reserved for dumping lovers: “This isn’t about me. It’s about you.”
Here’s a sample suggestion, from Page 28, of how to stage a phony public meeting with business owners:
“Confirm the theme(s) prior to the event and make sure the participants will be 100 percent on message. (Note: while they do not have to be Republicans, they need to be able to discuss the negative effects of Obamacare on their employees.)”
And what if I have a child with cancer, and the insurance company plans to dump him if Republicans stop Obamacare in its tracks? Can I attend? Or what if I’m counting on buying into the new health care exchanges in my state, saving hundreds of dollars on my insurance bill?
The kit has an answer: planting supporters, with prescreened softball questions, will ensure that such things never get asked. More important, this tactic will assure that any meeting with the dreaded public will go “in the direction that is most beneficial to the member,” as the blueprint states.
I thought this wasn’t about you.
Oh, and Republicans should be sure to “engage with all demographics,” the memo insists. It’s very specific about what that means: Asians, Latinos and women. Blacks aren’t mentioned. Lost cause. But millennials are included, because nothing works with young people like inauthenticity.
The planning kit’s instructions on how Republicans are to talk about the economy call to mind old Soviet bromides about record wheat harvests. The most loathed Congress in the history of polling has this message: “We’re working to spur economic growth and create more jobs.”
They’re not, of course. Not by any measure. Just the opposite. Their brinkmanship on the budget will probably cost 750,000 jobs this year, and about 900,000 next year, by the estimate of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
In truth, the biggest drag on a recovering economy is this Congress. The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, his candor increasing as his term winds down, said as much in his last appearances on the Hill. He faulted members for austerity and inaction.
But those obstructions were cotton candy in the spokes of a trike compared to what Republicans are planning when they return from five weeks of Potemkin politics. Unable to stop the Affordable Care Act by the normal rules of a democracy — e.g., the Supreme Court, or winning a national election — a core group of leading Republicans now plan to sabotage the law.
If the president doesn’t agree to halt operating funds for his signature achievement on the eve of its implementation, Republicans may shut down the government, throwing thousands of people out of work and disrupting a huge part of the economy. This could leave millions of the uninsured in the dark, and create chaos at hospitals and businesses.
As a further blackmailing tactic, Republicans are also threatening to stop paying the bills on things that they already agreed to pay for — the basic services of government. They would shutter national parks, defund federal law enforcement, slow Social Security payments. Fun stuff.
You won’t hear it from the saboteurs, but this economy is truly getting better. Over seven million new jobs have been created in the last 40 months, and this year is shaping up to be the best one for private-sector job growth since 1999. The stock market is at a record high. The housing market is robust again. The federal deficit is falling at the fastest rate in 60 years. And in June, the government actually ran a $116 billion surplus — that is, took in that much more than it spent.
But there are at least four million long-term unemployed Americans. The Great Recession did permanent damage to their lives and their families. Wages are stagnant; the cost of living is not. The price of college, the best elevator to the middle class, is cruelly high, forcing a generation of young people to carry oppressive debt for the first decade or so of their adult lives.
If there was even a modest effort by Republicans to meet the president halfway on helping people with the big things in life, this Congress would not be polling at a level reserved for disbarred lawyers. Instead, those barren lawmakers have chosen to stage fake meetings with fake citizens, all to keep the government from performing any meaningful duties. How low can they go? Watch. But keep a safe distance.
- Vandals And Saboteurs, Ctd (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Vandals And Saboteurs (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Saboteurs amongst us (johncashon.wordpress.com)
- We don’t know if Snowden’s a traitor. But we do have evidence that Republicans are saboteurs. (prairieweather.typepad.com)
- Creativity Saboteurs (globalcitizensart.com)
- Chaos Looms – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Keep Silent, You’ll Get It (blinkutopia.com)
- Creativity Saboteurs (teacherlingo.com)
- ‘No-Government’ Conservatives and the Meta-Narrative (nationalreview.com)
- www.nytimes.com (ladhob.wordpress.com)
- Creativity Saboteurs (teacherlingo.com)
FRIDAY, AUG 2, 2013 02:26 PM CDT
A former House aide explains why lawmakers spend so much time meaninglessly cosponsoring bills
Eric Cantor (Credit: Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)
As your representatives in the least productive Congress in history head out on a five-week vacation, it’s worth considering what it is they do with their two-and-a-half day work weeks. They’re not funding the government. They’re not solving problems. They’re not passing legislation.
They do, however, spend a significant amount of time and effort on a well-known but not well-understood practice: bill co-sponsorships. And despite the inordinate attention given to rounding up co-sponsors, bragging about co-sponsors and arguing about co-sponsors, it turns out that co-sponsoring bills in Congress doesn’t matter. At least not legislatively.
Conventional wisdom says that the higher the number of co-sponsors, the greater the chance a bill has of becoming law – and that a bill with a low number of co-sponsors is doomed. These are both wrong.
My review of recent Congresses demonstrates that co-sponsorship is not a reliable indicator of a bill’s legislative success. While there may be non-legislative (read: political) reasons for co-sponsoring legislation, the effort spent on adding names to a bill in order to get it passed into law is wasted.
The House has only allowed members to co-sponsor bills since 1967, and permitted an unlimited number of co-sponsors only since 1978 (the Senate has allowed the practice since at least 1930). At any given moment, thousands of people – senators, representatives, former members, staffers, interns, organizers, activists, lobbyists, political operatives, advocates, constituents and concerned citizens – are engaged in the time-honored ritual of the search for co-sponsors.
Members buttonhole one another on the floor, in committee rooms and at events. Their staffs call, and email, and text. Activists tweet, and post, and share, and link and petition. Lobbyists ask, cajole and beg. Everyone distributes one-sheets, Dear Colleagues, buttons, posters and tchotchkes. They’re wasting their time: In the last three Congresses, an average of 78 percent of all non-commemorative bills enacted into law had 10 or fewer co-sponsors, and just over 21 percent had no co-sponsors at all. (For the purposes of this discussion, I have not included “commemorative” legislation with specific co-sponsor requirements – the renaming of post offices, courthouses and other federal buildings; bills producing ceremonial coins or medals; and other ceremonial designations such as scenic rivers, wildlife refuges, etc.)
This isn’t a little-known, back-room parliamentary practice. Lobbyists boast to their clients about how many co-sponsors they’ve snagged. Members heavily engage their constituents in the process. Whether or not a candidate has been a co-sponsor of a bill is a serious question in elections – particularly primaries. But it doesn’t get a bill passed.
This may come as a surprise to anyone who has ever organized, participated in or even simply followed with interest the process of rounding up co-sponsors. Even more surprising is the fact that the more co-sponsors a bill has, the less likely it is to be enacted. And it takes almost twice as long to enact bills with 100 or more co-sponsors than bills with none.
Depending on how one views the process, the effort isn’t always wasted; scoring a co-sponsor from the other side of the aisle can give a bill that most elusive of appearances: bipartisanship. Members who collect sponsors from the other party claim that they are proud to offer a “bipartisan” bill – even if the tally includes only a single Democrat or Republican. In this bitter, highly political climate, members welcome anything that removes – or even appears to remove – the charge of partisanship.
There are other advantages. A lesser-known member can raise his or her visibility by frequently co-sponsoring legislation – and thereby bank favors. Although, in my experience, a member who co-sponsors other legislators’ bills in the hopes of receiving reciprocal co-sponsorships shouldn’t hold their breath: While they may not mean much legislatively, so many people keep track of who’s “on” or “not on” a bill that co-sponsorships can’t simply be traded as quid pro quos.
And everyone increases their networking and communication. This is especially helpful with bills that are out of one’s area of expertise; I was introduced to organizations, advocates and lobbyists I would otherwise never have met if not for their requests for co-sponsorship.
In early June House Majority Leader Eric Cantor brought the public into the process with “Cosponsor.gov.” This flashy new taxpayer-funded website allows citizens like you and me to “sign on” to legislation before Congress. The site, Cantor promised, would allow us to have “direct impact” on bills; while this site may add to his “techie” credentials, he won’t promise it will “impact” his decision to bring any bill to the floor for a vote (and, so far, it hasn’t).
Until I crunched the numbers, I wasn’t aware that co-sponsors had so little effect on legislative success; when I found out, though, I wasn’t shocked. When I was a legislative director, I often felt that co-sponsorships – both those that sought us and those we sought – were not a good use of our time. That they were for show. That they really only made it seem as if something was getting done, or that a member “supported” a bill, a cause, an ideal.
About a third of all emails I received as LD were requests to co-sponsor (or not co-sponsor) legislation. When lobbyists, advocates and activists weren’t calling to request a meeting, they were calling to talk about co-sponsoring a bill. The Dear Colleague service quickly and efficiently disperses hundreds of co-sponsorship requests a day to every member office.
More than whatever positive effects might be gained from co-sponsoring, Members and staff are more often motivated by the negative effects of not being a co-sponsor on an “important” bill than with whatever helpful legislative consequences could result from the addition of one more name. And not being on a “bad” bill is often as or even more important than being on the “good” ones.
A significant portion of our member office electronic mail and social media comments were questions about why we weren’t “on” a particular bill. Most – if not all – commenters had no idea that not only would the addition of a new co-sponsor not help the bill’s movement, but that simply putting one’s name on a bill means nothing. That, of course, didn’t matter: If we were asked to be on a bill, we at least had to investigate it. If we absolutely could not co-sponsor it, most of the time we had to provide a good reason – because most people who asked thought that it would move the bill along.
Just as there are members who habitually “drop” dozens – even hundreds – of bills each session, and then do little or nothing to advance them, there are members who habitually co-sponsor bills with no intention of doing anything further on them.
Some members and staffers truly do advocate for a bill they have co-sponsored by contacting the referred committees, helping to line up witnesses for hearings, tallying votes before a markup, and urging leadership to bring the bill to the floor. However, the “involvement” of the vast majority of co-sponsors on any given bill ends the moment they agree to co-sponsor it. And since the fact of the co-sponsorship does little or nothing to advance the bill, it turns out to be a kind of well-orchestrated scam.
As a professional staff member, charged with making decisions about which bills referred to the subcommittee should be considered, I found the number of co-sponsors had no bearing; if I believed the bill had merit, I would try to get it marked up. What was most surprising was that no original sponsors – and certainly no co-sponsors – of any bill referred to our subcommittee ever contacted us to push it along, urged us to consider it or even to inquire about its status.
As an LD, exactly as I was taught, every time I received a request to co-sponsor a bill I first looked at the list of current co-sponsors; not the bill summary or the status (nor, most times, even the subject). “Who’s on it already?” was, if not the dispositive question, certainly the first of several gates. If an intern or staffer presented me with a suggested bill to co-sponsor, the first page of the “coverage” they gave me had to be the list of co-sponsors.
Sometimes there are good reasons to be the only Democrat on a Republican bill, or the only member of a particular caucus, or the second – and lone – co-sponsor, but those aren’t the most important considerations. It is considered more essential to not be the odd person out or the one who seems to be against a bill by not being on it.
This practice creates tastemakers, who signal to others the “importance” of a bill by being on it or not. And the same groups of members tend to coalesce around the same original sponsors and issues. That, in turn, makes the omission of an expected name – or the addition of an unexpected one – newsworthy. But it doesn’t help to pass the bill.
That’s because co-sponsoring bills is legislatively ineffective. An inordinate amount of time, money and effort is expended on something that is almost certain to fail. And yet, the custom plays out session after session, because, obviously, the participants find something worthwhile in it. After all that work and expense, however, what they don’t find is their bills getting passed into law.
- D.C.’s favorite time-wasting scam: Co-sponsoring bills (salon.com)
- Sen. Toomey Joins Sens. Coburn & Paul To Restore Constitutional Limits On Congressional Power [press_release] (toomey.senate.gov)
- E-Advocacy: Free Tools for Monitoring Legislation (politicalsocialworker.org)
- The Helium Cliff: Will Government Gridlock Send Prices Skyward? (dailyfinance.com)
- House Bill to Defund Obamacare Gains 100 Cosponsors (breitbart.com)
- US lawmakers introduce call centre Bill, yet again (news.in.msn.com)
- What’s Congress Up To? How You Can Find Out (aarp.org)
- Exclusive–Rep. Graves: Grassroots Need to Keep Up Pressure to Defund Obamacare (breitbart.com)
- Speak Up: Tell Congress to Expand Childhood Cancer Research (wearitminiplants.wordpress.com)
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