Archive for Senate – Page 2

Who's leaving the US Senate, in one handy chart

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US Senate letterheadbuh bye by Kelly Kincaid

The US Senate will be missing a few overpaid members in the near future. Recently, I posted Who's leaving the US House of Representatives, in one handy chart. Now it's time to fill you in on who's spending more time with their family running away from leaving the upper chamber.

So here you go, a sequel to Chart One. Meet Congressional Exodus, Version 2.0. This time you're getting a handy dandy at-a-glance opportunity to see which members of the US Senate are waving bye-bye.

members leaving the US Senate(Sorry, no link, subscription only, but attribution is on the image)

As annoying and frustrating as some of the departing Dems have been, at least they were Dems. Sort of. The next big challenge will be getting enough people to the polls (thanks for nothing, voter-suppressing Republicans) to maintain our majority.

This is where all of you come in. All kidding aside, this is of ultimate importance: Come November, your biggest priority should be to Get Out the Vote, and of course, getting yourselves to the ballot box. Let's avoid a 2010 redux, mmkay?

I'm repeating myself here, but for once I agree with every one of those who are exiting, even the ones I never see eye to eye with on anything ever. After all, who in their right mind would want to be a part of such a combative, obstructionist-filled, filibustery, when-the-hell-will-the-United-States-House-of-Representatives-pass-one-of-our-bills group of Citizens United progeny?

I don't want to belong to club Groucho Marx

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Clay Aiken For Congress? Really? Yes, Really And Hopefully

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ClayAikenw258h344

When I first heard about the possibility that Clay Aiken might run for Congress, I was a bit dubious -- nah, can that. I thought it was a joke. I let the little funny drift off until yesterday. That's when he officially announced his campaign. Later in the day on Lawrence O'Donnell's show, he had a segment on the young crooner whose previous claim to fame was runner up on American Idol and a long run on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice.

Turns out there's a bit more to this teen icon or heartthrob or whatever your preconceived notions of this man might be. According to The Daily Beast:

 [Aiken] shares a bit about his not-so-idyllic pre-Idol days (dad was an abusive drunk; young Clay and his mom slept on a neighbor’s living room floor for eight months) by way of explaining why he now feels moved to challenge Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers. (In a nutshell: She screwed struggling North Carolinians by backing sequestration and the shutdown.)

Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell showed a portion of the biographical film of the singer's background and why he wants to be a representative from his district in North Carolina. I have to say it's more than just impressive; it's moving, it's honest and genuine. He speaks clearly and precisely and spells out what he sees is wrong in Washington politics and what he'd do differently.

Celebrities have a difficult time with being taken seriously. Yet some have been able to overcome that challenge. One quickly comes to mind -- Ronnie Reagan.

Hopefully after you watch this short piece, you'll follow this contest with greater interest -- and perhaps those who are thinking of running might well be served by what Mr. Clay Aiken has to say.

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Surprise: Newest American Saboteurs are Democratic Senators

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aipac

When you hear names like Charlie Schumer, Mark Warner, Cory Booker, Kay Hagen, Mary Landrieu, Bob Casey and Richard Blumenthal, you usually hear that some Democratically sponsored bill has their support. And usually you're right, give or take one of the above.

Yet recently, led by Senator Bob Menendez, these US elected officials to the upper house have been sold a bill of goods. And it's not a jobs or education bill. Nor is it some health plan or civil rights issue. It's war.

Real war. A potential nuclear war.

Why these guys? This isn't the Republican Party war stalwarts, Lindsay Graham and John McCain. These are normal people -- at least as normal as it gets in the senate.

The truth is these new Hawk senators are on the dole. Not necessarily news there -- all elected officials are influenced by lobbyists. But this time, and I'm going to take heat for this, it's the Jewish Mafia. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). It's the most influential Jewish lobby group in the US. And historically they have backed candidates who fight for justice and equality in social issues, and political ones when it comes to Israel.

Now Israel has a special place in my heart. Not just because it's the Jewish homeland and I was born a Jew, but my wife is a Sabra, a native born Israeli. And once you have that in your blood, you're generally a dyed-in -the-wool supporter of anything the Israeli Knesset (parliament) proposes.

This brings us to war and peace. For nearly 30 years we've been in a cold war with Iran. We've had no formal diplomatic talks with them and we've been the world leader in getting other nations to impose austere economic sanctions against them. That was until about four months ago. There was a breakthrough. John Kerry reported back to the US that talks on stopping or at least tightening nuclear safeguards with Iran were possible. But like all negotiations, there's a bit of 'give a little' to 'get a little.' The price for us was to hold off on further economic sanctions while negotiations would take place (a six months moratorium). The price to the Iranians is to allow open international monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program -- full inspections.

This was a great tit for tat -- especially as pressure was building for war between our two countries.  That would ultimately would result in a nuclear conflagration. There's no way around that. Yet here's a potentially peaceful solution at hand. The only ones unhappy in that region are Saudi Arabia (remember where the 911 trainees spent much of their pre-attack time) and Israel -- the other nuclear armed country in the region who doesn't want any competition in weapons superiority. And I can understand that.

Obviously those in the pocket of the neo-cons -- the entire GOP party hierarchy -- were against this. But the Democrats? How could they be against peace -- especially one their President is working so hard to accomplish? And if you're looking at public opinion, over 60% favor a peaceful solution with Iran over war. So how could 16 Democrats come out and favor new sanctions which would lead to Iran pulling away from the negotiating table?

Obama was told in no uncertain words that new sanctions  against Iran would be a line in the sand by the their President. Secretary of State Kerry was told the talks would be DEAD if Congress passed new sanctions by the Iranian Foreign Minister. So until we find a reason not to, why not give peace a chance?

The Republicans want war and they've been able, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. to stir the pot and brainwash the Jewish senate members (or those gentile members who aren't totally anti-semitic) by selling a bill of goods that peace negotiations can't be trusted. Netanyahu along via the dangerous and borderline deranged John McCain (who's totally bonkers) contacted his influential PAC, the AIPAC, and forced them to exert pressure on the weak and vulnerable among the Democratic senators. Face it, backbone is not a prerequisite for being a Democrat.

But don't take my word for it. Here's Chris Hayes:

Finally, some sense of sanity. Obama spoke to the Democratic Senate Caucus last night and evidently they've seen the light of their wayward ways.

UPDATE: Since this airing, according to WAPO:

But editorial boards and commentators have harshly condemned the push for a vote. Many Senate Democrats have continued to remain silent, which could well be a sign of an unwillingness to sign on to the bill. A couple Dem senators have come out against it in the last couple of days, joining 10 Dem committee chairs who have already done the same. At last whip count, this bill will not get past Harry Reid and is now considered dead.

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Video- ABC’s Jonathan Karl Scoffs At Ted Cruz Being "Above Politics"

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Sen. Grinch McConnell Spreads War On Christmas

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Grinch McConnell

Mitch McConnell isn't making any friends on either side of the aisle lately. By definition of his obstructionist policies, the Democrats don't like the minority leader's determined actions to hold up nominees and bills facing full floor votes in the senate. It's that obstructionism that led Harry Reid to invoke the nuclear option  And plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.

Someone please explain to the minority leader how things work. We elect a President and he gets to make certain appointments. Then it's up to the Senate to decide if there's valid reason to not allow the chief executive to have his people. It's not for the opposing party (the losers) to deny the selections without a valid reason. Just not liking the President isn't one of those.

So now Obama's picks are sailing through the Senate. In the last ten days, more nominations have been approved than in the first 11 months of the session. The reason is simple. It's not the quality of the nominees. It's the lack of necessary votes by the minority to stop the elected President from doing his job and doing it the way he wants.

Now Mitch McConnell doesn't like Obama's selection of John Koskinen as IRS commissioner,. Notice I didn't say he objected to the nominee's qualifications, just this man's personality. Thus, we have a limited filibuster on the floor. This isn't going down well with Democrats who want to vote and go home, but it's also making the Republicans angry. Senators like Jim Inhofe.

THE HILL:

Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, went so far s to display an enlarged picture of his family on the Senate floor and plead with colleagues to let him get out of town in time to celebrate his 54th wedding anniversary.

“I would sure like those 20 kids and grand kids [who] are waiting for me for a big dinner on our 54th wedding anniversary tomorrow night,” he said motioning to the photo of his family behind me.

“So have mercy, give us a break and let’s try to get this thing voted on and go home,” he added, referring to the Defense authorization bill, which has been held up as part of the year-end gridlock.

So Mitch has his hands full, even with his own people. But interestingly, look at the self-serving reasons Inhofe gives in wanting to go home. He wants to party with his family. He wants to celebrate his anniversary. He wants mercy -- a break -- so he can just get things going and go home.

Where was that kind of thinking when it came to shutting down the government? How about voting on the unemployment insurance extension? Wouldn't those effected people like to get going with their lives, too? Where was your compassion then?

It's easy to put the blame on Mitch. He deserves it. But there's enough to spread around. I hope Harry keeps the GOP obstructionists as long as it takes to do what the President was elected to do -- run a government with the people he wants doing it. News flash to Republicans, Obama won. It's over a year now and you're still making believe it didn't happen. Well that'll give you something to talk about when you're still in session over the weekend instead of sipping your toddies and singing carols with the family. Obstructionism's a bitch, or should I say, a Grinch.

UPDATE:

McConnell, threatened with desertions from his GOP cohorts and Reid got together and with both sides wanting to go home for the holidays (how trite) an agreement was reached. The Republicans dropped their demand to use all of their allowed time to hold up votes and by mid-day today, all of the nominations and official business will be concluded. The last vote is scheduled for 1 PM EST.

The only casualty of this rush to the exits is the vote on the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve Board. A final vote on her confirmation is now planned for January 6, instead of this Saturday evening.

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Call Me, Irresponsible, Call Me John McCain

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shut up

Once again, it's Sunday's favorite talking heads GOP puppet John McCain who's running off at the mouth without really thinking of what he's saying. Along with his apology for overstating the significance of the Obama-Raul Castro handshake, McCain took to the winds with another tack.

This time it's the Obama White House not doing enough to find an American who disappeared while on a secret intelligence mission to Iran back in March of 2007. If you start first with the date, you'll find it's nearly two years before Obama was first inaugurated. If we're going to place initial blame on anyone, it should be the Bush Administration which had been in total charge of the CIA for over 7 years at that time.

Initially the report of American Robert Levinson going missing in Iran was that he was a U.S. citizen, a tourist. No mention was made publicly that he actually was a CIA spy. And realistically, getting caught is a routine risk these brave men and women serving in that capacity run. Though I'm not a CIA operative or know for sure, I've certainly heard through numbers of articles and documentaries that agents are told that their affiliation with "the organization" or "the Company" would be denied. So why the CIA didn't come forward to report US spy Robert Levinson went missing and is believed to be in Iranian hands makes a lot of sense.

Yet not to Senator McClain. According to Talking Points Memo:

McCain said he is confident the U.S. is doing all it can to learn what has happened to Robert Levinson, but he told CNN's "State of the Union" the CIA has not been forthcoming with the Congress about him.

With all the leaks the Congress is responsible for -- just look to Darrell Issa as a perfect example -- it's understandable sharing this kind of news with every congressperson is irresponsible. Maybe it was shared, but not with McCain or his committees. It might have been shared with others. Yet even if it wasn't disseminated, who do you point the finger at? I'd think the sitting president who in this case was George W. Bush.

The U.S. long has publicly described Levinson as a private citizen who traveled to an Iranian island on private business. McCain, R-Ariz., told CNN "the CIA did not tell the truth to the Congress" about Levinson.

As of this writing, the Iranian government actually has denied they are holding U.S. Spy, Levinson. and let's hope their right. It was only last week that the issue of Levinson being a CIA operative came to light:

An Associated Press investigation published last week found that Levinson was working for the CIA -- investigating the Iranian government. The U.S. long has publicly described Levinson as a private citizen who traveled to an Iranian island on private business.

How the AP got this info is something the CIA and perhaps congress might want to look into. But to have McCain going out on national television, taking away some deniability by the CIA on this man's true identity and his mission puts Levinson's life in a more precarious position. Frankly, it's irresponsible.

There still is no definitive proof of CIA sanctioned activity by Levinson.

After he vanished, the CIA at first told lawmakers he had previously done contract work for the agency, but he had no current relationship with the agency and there was no connection to Iran. However, in October 2007, Levinson's lawyer discovered emails in which Levinson told a CIA friend that he was working to develop a source with access to the Iranian government. The emails were turned over to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which touched off an internal CIA investigation.

Three veteran analysts were forced out of the CIA and seven others were disciplined as a result of a breach of agency rules.

Well if Levinson went rogue, it was bad enough. Sharing that news with others was his risk. But when this info came to light, the CIA did what it was supposed to do. It notified Congress. More so, it took action by firing and disciplining those guilty of leaking this info or taking part in this activity. Now McCain joins the public fray. Perhaps an investigation sanction against the senator from Arizona is called for.

Darrell Issa, are you listening?

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