Archive for capitol hill

Meet The New Sheriff In D.C. Town - Rafael 'Ted' Cruz

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new sheriff

Well, the Texas senator may not officially hold that office, but he holds the power of that office. John Boehner is the Speaker of the House, but in name only -- or SINO for short.

Boehner lost the reins in 2012 when a nationally unknown Texan came riding into town, looking for a showdown at high noon. He was big hat and a bunch of Tea Party cattle. He was determined to make a name for himself by picking off the current big cock of the roost. And Raffy did just that. He picked the weakest, highest ranking Republican, and vowed to make an example of him. He would embarrass the Speaker and bring him to his knees. If successful, Washington, DC would become Raffy's own prairie oyster.

Then it happened. The cocky Texan called out the over-confident Ohioan -- for a showdown at high noon. And flanked with other armed Tea Party proteges, bullies and wildcatters, the showdown on shutting down the entire government took place. And when Speaker Boehner saw Cruz's snipers in trees and peering from behind stately columns, he knew he was in for a battle. The odds weren't in his favor as the Tea Party posse had staked out the best vantage points. Boehner, with more men, knew it was a trap. So he called a truce and caved in to the smaller, but better prepared enemy. He lived to fight another day.

That other day came this past week. Boehner, who thought he could rally his own militia on the immigration battle, took on the Tea Party stared down Cruz, the Texas rambler, and said, "I'll show you. "I'm pushing through immigration reform, but on my terms."

Here's how HuffPo reports on the gunfight:

Cruz may have once again demonstrated his clout with conservative lawmakers in the lower chamber, this time using his sway to quash immigration reform.

House Republicans who supported the "principles" of immigration reform floated by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, late last month grumbled Tuesday that the plan was dead on arrival because Cruz blasted it as "amnesty," spurring a blizzard of negative phone calls to House Republicans. "After that it was 'We'll get back to you on immigration reform,' " said one Republican congressman who declined to be identified.

It turns out that the SINO Sheriff was bluffing, hoping the Texan would back down -- but he didn't. The Battle of Immigration Reform Hill ended before it began. Once outlaw Raffy called it amnesty they both drew. Before Boehner could get his pistol out of his holster, he was winged in the shoulder by rootin' tootin' sharp shootin' Cruz and his Tea Party Pistoliers. 

Showdown

Dripping blood, Johnnie Boy cowered like a coward and handed over the gavel and limped away, aided by his two seemingly loyal deputies, Eric Cantor and the shy, and questionable, Paul Ryan. They joined a deserting posse and fled to the Hill, hoping to regroup.

Much to his surprise, upon making it back to their refugee camp on the edge of the Beltway, Boehner was faced with his internal critics. His own conservative backers were now calling loudly and publicly for his resignation. They want a new sheriff in town. One with balls. They demanded the neutered Boehner step aside.

Much to the House majority's surprise, Cruz said no. The cagey Texan realized that he could stir up problems for townsfolk if he controlled both houses of Congress. He could gum up the works in the Senate and also be puppeteer over the weakened, House Speaker.

Now the tar and feathers are being prepared for SINO Boehner. He'll hold on long enough to keep a scintilla of respect for his legacy - The Speaker Who Caved. His puppet strings are easily manipulated now by the man who truly runs Washington -- Rafael 'Ted' Cruz. Who says that Latinos are lacking a voice in Washington? Hell, right now they own that town.

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Bullying - Learned In School, Practiced In The Adult World - It Must Stop

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bullying

We've all been exposed in real life to bullying -- either as an innocent bystander, perhaps even as a swept-up in the moment participant or sadly as a victim. Let's be real with ourselves, even if we can't be with others. We're more likely to have contributed at some point than to have rushed to someone's defense. That doesn't make us bad. It means we're all human and we're all vulnerable. Nobody wants to be on the outside looking in. There are pressures many times to join in or be ostracized ourselves. So we take the weak or cowardly way out. The course of least resistance.

Like sucking our thumbs or picking our noses, we generally outgrow these dirty habits. Some of them are learned naturally, others in school. They generally start when we're young and vulnerable. That's where they're most likely going to be corrected. Yet for many, the bad habits continue on to later in life when the damage can be even worse.

If we don't find ourselves early enough, if we don't develop the strength to stand up for justice, fairness and tolerance for others not as well off or popular, the future isn't pretty. Below is a video that's worth looking at.

Bullying - Catch it early or it'll catch us: The translation at the end says,

"A day of work doesn't have to be like this. Nor a day at school. Bullying is learned!"

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GOP Rep. Forbes Seeks To Destroy His Party With Anti-Gay Actions

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You blockhead

How out of touch are the Republicans with the electorate? Very comes to mind. And how out of touch are some within their own party? More so. Especially if your name is Randy Forbes.

Who's he? He's the Virginia congressional representative and a senior House Republican. He's eyeing a powerful committee chairmanship, the House Armed Services Committee. At the moment, the route is becoming a bit more circuitous with his recent stand on the LGBT community and it's up and coming GOP candidates. Politico writes:

The issue is particularly acute because House Republicans have two promising openly gay candidates in 2014 vying for seats held by Democrats. Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost to Democratic Rep. John Tierney in 2012, is running again in northeastern Massachusetts. And in San Diego, Carl DeMaio, a former city councilman, is trying to knock off Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

He's actually gone so far off the deep end that he's causing friction with some of his colleagues. He's been reported to be pushing the House GOP campaign arm to deny support for the party’s gay congressional candidates, especially Tisei who Speaker Boehner has campaigned for and DeMaio who stands a real shot at unseating his Democratic rival in a GOP leaning district.

Now when you consider that it's only recently that a few of the GOP have come out and supported LGBT rights, freedoms, even marriage (though they still won't touch the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the House) the public persona is to become more tolerant. The LGBT community votes and they are strong contributors to campaigns, so to ignore that block is well, blockheaded. I guess that's what you could call Rep. Randy Forbes.

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Rep. Senslessbrenner Against Flying Flags At Half Mast For Non-Americans

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flag at half mast

Respect is paid to people in many ways. Sometimes it's a thank you, or a tip of the hat. And in exceptional cases, those that have earned the greatest respect, there's even a traditional flying of the U.S. flag at half-mast. It might mark the passing of a single person, or in the case of a tragedy like 9-11 or Sandy Hook, the loss of many. The general rule is that this tradition is reserved for the highest degree of reverence. The ultimate acknowledgement.

Recently, with the passing of Nelson Mandela, President Obama ordered the flags on federal buildings to be lowered in recognition of the South African's passing. This Nobel Peace Prize winner, this international diplomat and civil rights crusader was being honored for the impact he had across the world. Not just in his nation. His footprint exceeded South Africa's borders. He was a citizen of the world, so to speak.

Yet this is not good enough for the Republican party here in the states. Now, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has made it clear that he feels  the U.S. should only lower flags to honor American citizens, and not foreign dignitaries like civil rights leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Sadly Sensenbrenner is not alone. It was reported today in Talking Points Memo

Sensenbrenner's assertion was received with "cheers" at the event, which was organized by the Republican Party of Waukesha County, according to Brookfield Now.

Does respect now based on a person's nationality? Is a man or woman deserving of our recognition only if he/she was an American? According to the Wisconsin representative and his GOP party, it does. I don't agree.

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Senate Gets A Spoonful Of Sugar With The Nuclear Option

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spoonful of sugar

Been there. Done that. The Republicans in the Senate seem to never learn. Their antics gain them momentary acknowledgement, then waft off like smoke from a chimney on a windy day.

The latest shenanigans in the Senate is the GOP's plan to talk all day and night to hold up an inevitable vote on Cornelia Pillard, one of President Obama’s picks for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. From THE HILL:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) started the extended debate Wednesday afternoon by slamming Pillard’s nomination and decrying the Democrats’ unilateral effort to rewrite Senate procedures.

A GOP source said that so far 36 senators have signed up for hour-long speaking slots on the Senate floor, which would tie up business until early Friday morning.

The tactic is similar to all-night talk sessions Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) held on the floor to protest the administration’s drone policy and the Affordable Care Act, respectively.

If anyone's curious about the effectiveness of this type of stunt, just ask Paul and Cruz. How did that work out for them? I think the drone policy and the ACA Law are still viable -- though the "Green Eggs And Ham" recitation was quite amusing. Maybe Cruz will read us "The Grinch That Stole Christmas" if he's back in time from the Mandela funeral.

So what's this really meant to do? Do the GOP senators really think America, tired and hungry with poor jobs opportunities and upcoming cuts to food stamps and unemployment benefits gives a flying "F" about this gaggle of incredulously selfish Republican men (and four women) stunting for attention? Do we care that the Senate might have to stay in session and lose one additional day of paid vacation while we hunger for jobs and food? Guess again. I hope they talk for 40 days and 40 nights -- work through the holidays and New Years. You're not going to get an ounce of compassion from the masses. We've had it with you.

A Senate Democratic leadership aide said the GOP floor protest will not stop the Senate from voting on other nominees Thursday.

"All they're doing is highlighting their own impotence," said the aide. "The Republicans no longer have the tools to delay that they had before."

The only thing Republicans are proving is that the "O" in GOP stands for 'Obstruction.' America's seen enough of that and now they want action. The Democrats are hell bent on providing it, too. The 'nuclear option' is going to be the "spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down." So open up wide, GOP, and say, "Ah..."

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You Say Tomato And I Say 'You're Stupid'

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tomato tomahto

Tomato, tomahto, potato, potahto, let's call the whole thing off. Thank you Gershwin brothers. Great song and so appropriate for this little expose.

Well, when we're talking about the Affordable Care Act, we're not going to call anything off. We'll tweek, fix, expand and provide coverage to all, but it's not now nor will it in the future be going away. And to borrow from another Gershwin classic, "our ACA's here to stay."

It's with nothing short of amazement that I've read the recent outrageous claims the Republican party are making about the ACA law. First they didn't like it despite it being their own plan. They they voted against it 45 or so times. After that they shut the government down over it. They followed that up with criticism and obstruction on the faulty rollout -- like none of their plans (like they've had any) have never faced a rocky start. Okay, give them this one -- the rollout was a disaster -- but the rollout wasn't the law. It was the delivery service.

That argument about the rollout is like blaming UPS when a package you were expecting didn't arrive or came damaged or late. It wasn't the fault of the contents of the package. It was the delivery service. Who you hired for the delivery service may have been a mistake, but your product didn't change. It was still as strong as when it was shipped.

After figuring that out once the website started running relatively well, the GOP nay-sayers needed another argument. So this one became, Obamacare is part of the war on women.

Oh yes, the pot calling the kettle black. The misogynist party went to some genius Republican strategist to concoct this one. Fight fire with fire, so to speak. Only the Democrats have flame throwers to the GOP's flicking their bic in this argument.

Here's the GOP's new take on the Democratic ACA law as voiced by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), a nurse who serves as the chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee. (Somewhat surprising that the GOP didn't pick a male nurse, so let's give them points for trying with dear, sweet but used, Renee.)

HUFFPO:

“If you want to talk about a ‘war on women,’ look no further than this healthcare law,” Ellmers countered in the weekly address. “After all, it’s often women who make the healthcare decisions for our families.  We put a lot of time and thought into these choices and how they’ll affect our budgets. So by canceling your insurance – despite a promise to let you keep your plan – the Obama administration is essentially saying it knows what’s best for you and your family.”

Let that digest a moment. Okay, that's long enough. No reason to wallow in the stupidity of those remarks very long.

This inanity drew a rather pointed and fact-based response from Ashley Etienne, Nancy Pelosi's spokesperson. Nancy undoubtedly was too dumbfounded to even utter a reply.

"This pathetic attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act is a profound insult to the intelligence of women across this country," she said.

"Under the Affordable Care Act insurance companies cannot charge women more than men for health insurance coverage, and hundreds of thousands of women are now enjoying access to preventive care, like breast and cervical screenings. The question before House Republicans is why they're trying so desperately to take these benefits away from women?," she continued.

There you have it. The GOP leaves no stone unturned, even if it's a rock that rolls back over and crushes them. The fact that women are covered without the stigma or expanded expense of being childbearing and therefore falling under the scrutiny of having a preexisting condition hasn't registered with GOP numbnut Renee Ellmers. Perhaps she forgot everything she learned in nursing school. I guess we should be glad she's in congress. They don't do anything there and in a hospital, who knows what harm a fool like herself could be doing to others.

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You Can Pay At The Pump Or At The Body Shop

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gas pumps

As if the price of gas isn't high enough already comes this news from The Hill:

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is introducing legislation that would nearly double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax that is traditionally used to pay for federal transportation projects.

Blumenauer's bill would increase the gas tax by 15 cents, matching a proposal that was included in the 2011 Simpson-Bowles budget reform recommendations.

The legislation would result in drivers paying an extra 33.4 cents per gallon on their purchases, in addition to state taxes.

On the surface, this pisses me off. But then I got to thinking, you know what else pisses me off? Last week I hit a pot hole at night and damaged my car and threw the front tire out of alignment. I got it adjusted, but I was out a hundred dollars.

Streets aren't repairing themselves on their own. And bridges, overpasses, rail lines and runways aren't getting any safer with the lack of action by the 113th congress. They're content with just talking about our need to upgrade infrastructure. They're not willing to do anything about it.

We can't wait much longer. We're paying for it one way or another. If I hit that pothole, how many other people have done the same and how many more will be following behind me?

Blumenauer's bill sounds pricey. But when you come down to it, his proposed increase, along with the current federal tax on gasoline comes to less than 10% of the current price/gallon -- an amount similar to the sales tax in many places right now. But look what we could get for that. Safety on the roads, high speed rail upgrades (currently they exist only in California), repaired airport runways.

I'm not generally down for tax increases, but rather for taxes going down. Yet I'm also not for automobile repairs that are caused by a crumbling infrastructure. Maybe it's better to pay the 10% at the pump than face body shop work or worse, the potential loss of life.

Can we put a price on that? We're already paying in more ways than one. And consider this as well: The last time the federal gas tax was increased was 1993. You don't remember, do you? That's because we learned to live with it. And we didn't suffer irreparably. Prices didn't increase. Productivity didn't go down. People didn't lose jobs. So maybe it's time to pay the piper -- so long as he uses the money to employ the workers to fix the problems. That means jobs which help our economy and that's something we have do have to fix right away.

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